Gaming Journalism 101
Okay, enough ranting for now. I think its about time I post something actually helpful, or so I thought.
It has been 4 years already, Gamers haven't even come close to dying, but I have a feeling that game journalism is. Take the recent turn of events for instance:
- Kingdom Come: Deliverence: boycotted and criticized by numerous game publications like Eurogamer, Kotaku, Polygon, PC Gamer, Gamespot, Giant Bomb etc. But, turns out to be successful nonetheless and was more popular than Wolfenstein II at one point. Heck, it was even used as an educatinal tool by local universities! Sure, its player base has dropped drastically, but its a single player game.
- Where The Water Taste Like Wine: heavy praised and advertised by game journos and even news publications, but ended up flopping so hard that the dev ended up throwing temper tantrums on Twitter. Gamers simply have no interest in it and claimed that "looks even less fun than Sunset".
So it appears that game journalists are still continuing to loose influence. Why is that happening? The answer is simple: they have learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING over the years.
So what if you want to write about games? Maybe because you love games and want to share your opinions? Well, maybe I can give you some tips on how not to end up with an Ethics tag next to your name on KiA...
1. Add Disclosure
No one is saying that you cannot write about the creations of your friends or fellow devs or assosiates, but you need to make sure that you make it clear that you are friends with the person you're writing about. Sure, you may not want to mention that because it may make your opinions look influenced and less convincing, but not mentioning it will definately NOT help you. Because if there's one thing those people at 8chan and KiA are good at, is to dig up information and records online, and once they do, face it, there's no defending your action. Such an incident happening once may not leave too big of a stain on your journalistic records, but should it happen again, people will automatically label you as "untrustworthy", as many has already done with the likes of Nathan Grayson, Ben Kuchera and Leigh Alexander.
2. Leave The Politics Out
When you are writing about games, remember what are you writing about: GAMES. So leave the irrelevant topics out, Democrats, Conservatives, queer, trans, gender politics, GamerGate, SJWs; don't even think about mentioning them! If you wan to rant about your politics, fine! Do it in another article!
Bear in mind that we are gamers, all we want is to have fun, we don't give a damn about politics; because if we do, we will visit proper news websites. The last thing we need is another Authur Gies.
3. Know What Your Readers Want To See
Besides knowing what not to write, its also necesary to know what your audience is coming to read. When you are reviewing the game, there are some of the useful information that it will be best for you to mention:
- Talk a bit about the devs and publishers. Give a bit of back story if necessary.
- Introduce us to the game and its lore.
- Gameplay and overall experience.
- Graphics, its style and quality.
- Any restrictions (like always-on DRM).
- Compatable systems.
- Are all the wanted features here?
- Any loot boxes or microtransactions?
- Any DLCs and are the worth buying?
- Bugs and glitiches that gamers should be watchful of.
- Some tips that may help you progress in games.
To add taste to your article, you can choose to use some humor, but avoid the satirical type, especially the type that makes fun of gamers or nerds in general. Because, its fair to say that our sense of humor was pretty much killed off a few years ago.
4. Remember Who Are Your Audience
A common error found amongst publications like Polygon these days is that instead of siding with gamers, they then to defend the type of people players despise the most: coporates that fail to deliver and left-wing ideologs. Sure, in modren standards, doing so makes you look "woke" and "progressive". But there're a few things people seems to forget very frequently:
- Gamers play and read about games.
- SJWs don't play games, they whine and complain.
- Coperates are not the voice of morality, they need to profit.
You gain nothing by alienating your own readers by siding with their enemies and calling them sexist, racist or immature. You only make yourself look greedy by defending anti-consumer acts like always-online SP or on-disk DLCs.
SJWs may pester and harass you should you side with the "Internet Nazis", corperates may give you a hard time if you criticize them. But in the end, SJWs lose credibility by eating themselves, and corperates lose money when their games flop. Gamers, well, are still your audience, the foundation of your career, and they will either raise you up or leave you to sink judging from the sides you take.
5. What Is Really Going On?
If something happend, there's a reason behind it. Don't just go like:
- Q: Why people hate Anita Sarkeesian?
- A: Sexism!
- Q: Why the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters flopped?
- A: Sexism!
- Q: Why are so many fans hating on Star Wars: The Last Jedi?
- A: Sexism!
If there're fans criticizing something, then you know something is worng, because fans are the ones who're supposed to know the subject they're talking about. If you want to write for fans, at least talk to them!
- Q: Why the Battlefield V trailer getting so much backlash?
- A: According to gamers' respoces, the trailer looks too chaotic to comprehand and it basically throws historical accuracy out of the window. Especially with the one-armed British female soldier. Gamers expect better from BF and are left more confused and angry than thrilled and excited.
Now that's much better.
6. Cover Both Sides
I've already mentioned this in my Millenial Blog rant , but I think its necessary to mention it again: you are a journalist, your job is the tell the story; its the commentator's and the reader's job to decide what's right or wrong. Honestly, you know there's a problem with the media when it does a worse job than Know Your Meme.
7. Don't Get Bitter, Just Get Better!
I'm no major fan of the late John Bain, but one thing I appricate him for is that he doesn't blame the game for being to hard. This is something that the journalists never do, they always blame the game for their own incompetence, going so far as to call hardcore games like Cuphead "ableist".
Just a quick question: How heartless must you be for you to use disabled people as stepping stones for your meaningless cause?
It won't kill you to admit that you're not the best gamer in the world, that there are plenty of veteran gamers who are a whole league above you. And these gamers want CHALLENGE, they want hardcore games that sharpens their senes and pump up their adrenaline. By what right do you have to deny them of this chance? If you found the game too hard, well, either GIT GUD or PLAY ANOTHER GAME!
Sure, you may argue that adding an easier than easy mode may make the game more "inclusive". But TBH, there's really no point making it. The gaming community is never inclusive to filthy casuals who never cared about playing games.
The worst crime is not admitting that you are incompetent or ignorant (we all are in some aspects), its knowing that you are but denying it and doing nothing about it.