Sunday, 17 February 2013

Why blogging isn't game journalism

If you've ever taken more than a passing interest in video games related media, games journalism specifically, to the point where you've considered working in the field of self congratulatory bullshit peddling. Then you most likely have heard something along the lines of this tweet, that I chanced upon.

Fair enough, that's a creative choice someone has made with their own content. But sooner or later someone in the games journalism fraternity  will tell you the simple fact that writing for a video game blog or fansite isn't real games journalism, you're just playing at being a games journalist. If you're expecting me to go on a instant tirade about how wrong that blanket statement is. Well I'm not going to, because those professional game journalists are 100% correct, blogging isn't real games journalism.

A blog can be set up by anyone with a internet connection and moderate computer skills. There's no training process involved, there's no hierarchy of  editor or publisher, there's no screening of your work. The only person that needs to be happy with what you've written is yourself. And bar some fancy search engine optimisation, you're writing for free. Blogs are cheapening the profession- and you only have to see the amount of sites looking for volunteer writers and up and coming writers more than willing to work for nothing, unaware that they're devaluing the very industry they so wish to work in- to prove that.
The blogs given a outlet to anyone who thinks their opinion matters and doesn't give a moment to stop and actually research a topic and who wouldn't know objectivity if it hit them over the head. You only have to do a cursory google search on a gaming related subject to find a blog post or youtube video where someone lets rip  on a subject, with no regard for reason or fact. Believe me when I tell you, being a gaming blogger is the absolute bottom of the barrel in the world of video games. Far below common consumers, who are smart enough to keep their opinions to forums. Game testers, who actually contribute to the process of making video games.  Even gaming TV presenters, because despite not having much care for the subject, at least they're professional enough that a company pays them for their work. It's why no blogger will ever make the jump to the big leagues, because they're simply not professional enough to hack it as a full time career. And I speak entirely of myself with that summery. Unfortunately it means I'm going to be writing in my usual, personal way to explain why what I do is the very last thing you should be doing if you want to write about and/or review games.

Before I wrote this blog I had spent the best part of six  years trying to get a break in gaming media in its various forms, in the vein hope of even the slightest bit of freelance work and  amongst the rare replies I would be told I wasn't needed because-after the obvious spelling and grammar problems- my writing style was too personal, I write like I talk, and that's the opposite of what a legit gaming website or magazine wants -as I've touched on before. I really tried to act professionally and play the industry game of networking but I couldn't knuckle down and do it. I had neither the talent or the training to take press releases that tend to be no more than a few sentences of relevant information and adapt it into a t least a paragraph of informative, yet formal text. Multiple times a day, five to six days a week. On top of going to press  events, interviewing people from the industry and members of the public. I was simply no good at it. I tried, for a while, to shamelessly buddy up to PR people- making sure I got their contact details and laughing at their jokes on facebook. Tirelessly trying to  find a PR person, at events, who could at the very least put me on his press list. Constantly emailing editors to no avail, while biting to bullet and working for free for the sake of giving me something to put on my portfolio. After six years of non-starts I resigned myself that I didn't have what it took to be anything in games journalism. Despite what it says on my discoloured business cards, I am nothing remotely close to a games journalist. And I'll tell you why, because I've never...

Lied my way into a job.
Pretended to be friends with someone up until the point they were no longer useful to me.
Presented rumour or our right lies as cast iron fact.
Been "less strict" on a review at the behest of my editor or in a attempt to crawl up the arse of a publisher.
Written a full review based off of playing a game for less than half an hour before taking it in to trade at CEX
Openly looked down on gamers for disagreeing with or criticising me.
Shown off whatever plastic shit a publisher has sent to me, thus giving the promo item the free publicity it was designed to garner.
Dismissed consumer issues and obvious conflicts of interest as a "non story."
Compromised my standards

I just couldn't do it. I struggled with myself to try and do the opposite and act like a real games journalist, but my personality doesn't allow it. Sorry legitimate games journalism, I'm just not cut out to be a soulless fucking automaton. For some reason, my personality compels me to do, at least, minor research into whatever game I'm going to cover, before covering a game event and try to get get as much information out of the PR people (which sometimes is like trying to draw blood out of a lemon)  for the write up while the "professional", coked up hack bastard, saunters in- not even knowing what actual game he's supposed to be covering- and is greeted like a long lost dog, before helping himself to whatever free food and drink is on offer before going to the toilets to shove enough powder up his nose to keep the economy of Bolivia going for six months.

But I needed the buzz to enjoy playing Prototype

And that's just the tip of the shitberg. The day I started trying to ingratiate myself to PR people or community managers (who are the monkeys to the PR's organ grinder), laughing at their shitty jokes, liking their links to awful viral videos on facebook I lost a piece of my soul. And one day I'll get it back. One day, just not anytime soon as hanging around with the kind of self important, backward thinking, booze guzzling, feculent hypocrites exasperated my drinking problem, as I had to be half cut just to be around the kind of wanker that will delight on noticing  the slightest error you've written, yet when the malformed prick become the editor of their own rotten little wrestling magazine, it's riddled with spelling, grammatical and factual errors.
"Don't listen to him, he's just jealous." Yeah, that's right. I burn with envy at a bunch of  privileged, borderline drug addicts and pathological wankers, who barely make a living wage so they need to survive off all the freebies they so desperately scrabble for. A profession that chastises it's audience for asking if having such a close relationship to game publishers is really the best thing when your job is to critique their product. Yet jumps at the chance to work in gaming PR. That must be it, I'm really just bitter because I don't have any Assassin's Creed hoodie tops and I never got a call back to be one of the seemingly hundred-odd, feckless morons at Rising Star Games.

Oh, and the whole, "don't write for free" thing? The lazy dick holes that  spout that old chestnut like to omit that if all the big magazine publishers and websites weren't allowed interns any more, they would all grind to a halt over night. And then they would go the route of fan/no budget sites  and advertise for voluntary writers instead. Don't doubt for a second the blogsphere is any great hot bed of creativity or reasoned thought, compared to anywhere else on the internet. And if you look for it, there is really is quality video game writing that deeply looks into a particular gaming subject,  looks at the other side of common augments or hype, legitimate industry experts  and those who can abstain from sucking corporate cock. But don't believe any of the hacks when they give it old sob story that blogs are devaluing games journalism. Because they're talking sheer bollocks. A site run by one guy, about retro games can never hope to devalue the games journalism industry any further than tweeting the name of a publisher for free consoles, censoring a fellow writer with legal action, presenting infomercials for publishers while still calling oneself a games journalist, using a quick look on metacritic as the basis for writing industry news, then whining like a kicked puppy when called out on it, constantly socialising with PR people and seeing nothing remotely wrong with it, or purposely giving a high score to a game that every other reviewer has shit on in a pathetic attempt to grab hits and get himself noticed on metacritic. And I would bet most people reading would be able to guess the exact story behind all those examples as well.

This is what those disgusting fucking hacks don't realise. They're no different from the very gamers they like to belittle for being entitled and selfish. But they're so caught up in their self importance they don't realise no amount of blogs, youtube rants or creepy Sonic the Hedgehog fan fiction can cheapen games journalism when it was never worth much anyway. Not after they whored it out until they got every canape, free bottle of Italian lager and Raiden action figure they can lay their greasy little hands on. Well fuck that, I'll stick with the bloke reviewing Master System games if you don't mind.

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