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The Media Games

Analyzing Game Journalism 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the wicked-awesome-is-not-an-impartial-phrase dept.
SSDNINJA writes "Joseph Jackmovich of gamrFeed analyzes 161 articles from Kotaku, Joystiq, and Destructoid to discover how well they report gaming news. He looks to find out if the stereotypes of game journalism being poorly sourced and sexist are anecdotal or based in fact."
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Analyzing Game Journalism

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  • And this is news? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Moraelin (679338) on Friday December 03, 2010 @04:49AM (#34428700) Journal

    And this is news? No, really. When you even have guys from those review sites occasionally joking things like "we wanted to move to a zero to five star rating system, but EA demanded 95% or more rating for their latest game, so we moved to a 95% to 100% system and gave them 95%", or when you occasionally see a review totally hating everything about a game (e.g., see the old Black And White review on Firing Squad which even went the extra mile to say that you might like it if it's your first game and can't compare it to a good game, but otherwise stay off) and then give it a 87% score... tell me anyone actually is gullible to base their buying decisions on that.

    Even the relatively 2000's trend of some site to pick on some 20 year old freeware game to trash and valiantly give a 5% rating, or make a list of "top 10 worst games ever" that nobody ever heard of, isn't really enough to make anyone with half a brain notice that you still don't see them giving less than 90% to anything new from a major publisher, or that they fail to mention major problems for major publishers.

    Well, I suppose it's good to have it officially. Maybe it'll sink in this time. Nah, who am I kidding.

    • by Skrapion (955066)

      The article doesn't really focus on the issue of game reviews, although I think we can all agree that there's a problem there.

      Actually, the article is kind of hypocritical and self-fellating. It discusses the importance of having multiple sources (but really, how much gaming news actually merits multiple sources?), the unprofessionalism of editorializing news stories (welcome to blogging) and of running stories that aren't game news (because it's unreasonable to assume that gamers would be interested in Pa

      • by nschubach (922175)

        I'm still trying to figure out how

        Killzone 3 Beta Open to PS Plus Subscribers Only – Destructoid

        Is aggressive or offensive.

        • Re:And this is news? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Skrapion (955066) <skorpion@nOsPAm.firefang.com> on Friday December 03, 2010 @10:08AM (#34430218) Homepage

          Probably because the article refers to "blasting some red eyed space Nazis".

          Is it offensive? Well, I think we as a society have long since stopped caring about offending Nazis, especially when it comes to the space-faring variety. But maybe some people are offended by the mere use of the word.

          Is it aggressive? Well, yeah. But it's an aggressive game. That just raises more questions: is it impossible to discuss the gameplay of an aggressive game without failing Jackmovich's litmus test?

          Oh, I also just noticed that this article was actually submitted by Jackmovich himself, although he submitted it under his Twitter alias and referred to himself in the third person. Normally I wouldn't care, but when you're making such a huge deal about journalistic integrity, it's a little sketchy.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Worldcrafter (796660)
            A couple things about this bug me:

            As you pointed out, the /. story was submitted by the article's author, but that was obfuscated in the summary. Alarm bells are ringing Willie.

            He goes out of his way to conduct this article like a scientific review, but at the heart of it, it's just an opinion piece.

            Take this article he deemed sexist: http://www.joystiq.com/2010/10/05/heres-where-cammie-dunaway-literally-went/ [joystiq.com] It's a short post with nothing but facts and a Lord of the Flies reference. It's not sexi
    • by pnuema (523776)
      You are reading the wrong sources then. PCGamer gave Call of Duty: Black Ops a 67% - a "do not buy even if you are a fan of the genre" review. (Personally, I think that score is too low - but the reviewer pointed out several of the games serious flaws that I missed in all of the shiny.) Every other reviewer out there tried to go down on the box. Out of all of games journalism, I've found them to be pretty reliable.
      • by Stevecrox (962208)
        I'd say that's too high, my friends are huge fans of CoD and so I have played all of the call of duty's and it doesn't look like the game designer is playing the game because of the the massive problems for the game on the PS3.

        My biggest issue has to do with player profiles, on modern warfare 2 importing them from anouther PS3 meant you lost the ability to earn trophies. On Black Ops you can't have multiple profiles, it simply spawns an identical version of the main account. Me and my friends like to get
        • by pnuema (523776)
          Perhaps you missed the "PC" part of PC Gamer. Reviews on the PS3 do not apply to the PC; they are different games. None of the issues you describe exist on the PC version.
  • ..is that they never do proper critique of products that are shit. instead they hype up something that's safe to hype up.

    the best game review I saw for a game was published around two decades ago(+couple of years), it was in finnish and said "p*sk* commando klooni", which translates to shit commando clone. the game was a shitty commando clone so that was just the right amount of information about it.

    for example, mass effect 1&2 were praised a lot on these journos - but none of them critiqued the blatant

    • Actually, mass effect 2 is a good game. Compared to ME1 and Dragon Age, i liked it.

      But they are nowhere near the old Bioware games.

    • Not to mention that Dragon Age 2 is turning into a ME clone as well. Don't get me wrong, I liked ME, it has a nice story. But it IS just a shooter disguised as an RPG. The worst is journalists trying to "alleviate people's fears about DAO2 turning into a ME clone" and then going on to confirm everything people have been fearing like they are good things, and people buy it...

      But I guess the worst are the brainless consumers that just put up with all of it and actually defend(!) companies releasing flawed pro

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        But it IS just a shooter disguised as an RPG.

        Doing a poor job of each.

        Sometimes, the smallest thing can make a game succeed or fail. For ME, it was some rather big things: it looked awful, the movements were clumsy and misleading, and the voice acting was community theater-awful. It was the game that made me realize what horrid effect consoles were having on the state of gaming.

        ME was one of the first games that made me realize just how easy to please the "gaming community" had become.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Sadly the only time I see "this game sucks!" is when it is either A)- A game by an unknown publisher, or B)- A game by a publisher that hasn't got the money to bribe them anymore with swag. The last really sucky review I remember seeing was for Blacksite: Area 51 which I actually own (hey it was $2, and was worth maybe $3) which was put out by Midway right before they went tits up. But if it is a triple AAA title you may as well give it up, as they will ALL trip over themselves to tell you how wonderful it

      • It says something that the closest thing to an "honest" review is butting right up against being a new application of Poe's Law.

        I also think there's room for concern when you see things like the metacritic page for Farcry2 where the "critic" rating is overwhelmingly positive with 26 positive reviews, 8 mixed, and none negative... while the user reviews are 275 positive to 271 negative with 105 mixed.

        It's the most blatantly lopsided set of reviews I've seen so far.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          It says something that the closest thing to an "honest" review is butting right up against being a new application of Poe's Law.

          Of course you can't count on sites that take advertising from game companies to be honest. I get better game reviews from reading RogueyWon's journals here on Slashdot than I find on some of the top game sites.

          I also think there's room for concern when you see things like the metacritic page for Farcry2 where the "critic" rating is overwhelmingly positive with 26 positive reviews,

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            I never got around to picking up Far Cry II, so I got a couple of questions if you don't mind, since as we know the game reviewers all wet themselves telling you how wonderful every triple A title is even if it sucks: Is the AI better or worse than Far Cry I? As I thought the AI in the first was one of the better examples, especially compared to some of the horrible "rubber band" AI (I'm looking at YOU EA!) out there. Can you still do the whole "sneaking death" thing like in the first one, where you could s

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              The AI in Far Cry 2 had some definite issues. You could be right in their face and they'd ignore you and you could be a quarter mile away and they'd see you. Sometimes it seemed better and sometimes it seemed worse. It was definitely the weakest point of Far Cry 2.

              As far as wide jungle spaces, there's none of that in FC2 because it takes place in SubSaharan Africa where there's little water and just a little scrub vegetation. There are lots of rocks, though.

              The "atmosphere" of FC2 is one of the strong p

    • by Pojut (1027544)

      ..is that they never do proper critique of products that are shit. instead they hype up something that's safe to hype up.

      This boils down to one, major problem: most game reviewers review games like they're critics, rather than gamers. That's one big reason why I love Ben Kuchera's reviews on Ars Technica [arstechnica.com]. He's had some public confrontations before in the comments and on his twitter, but his reviews almost always read like they were written by a gamer, not a journalist.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Same goes for movies and TV. Which is why there's often times really good movies that manage half a star. My favorite sketch comedy show of all time The State actually managed to get -1 star from one of the critics early on.

        The key is when reading a review to realize who is doing the review. If it's a movie critic and you're not wanting high concept art in a film you watch, then you can discount the comments about that. Also in terms of gaming, I tend to focus more on the comments they make about control
        • by Pojut (1027544)

          That's sort of how I try to approach my own game reviews on my site...I usually give a paragraph to the story or whatever, but most of my reviews focus on the experience of playing the game.

          I don't care what things look like on paper...I care what it's like to actually interact with them.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      for example, mass effect 1&2 were praised a lot on these journos - but none of them critiqued the blatant flaws in the game, so I'm pretty sure the next iteration will just expand more on those flaws(it's just a tunnel shooter disquised as a kotor clone).

      That's not a flaw, that's by design. If you expected anything but a KOTOR clone from ME, you are just foolish. KOTOR was an awesome game based on an awesome formula. I will play anything built on that formula and be delighted with it.

  • Missed opportunity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday December 03, 2010 @05:05AM (#34428770) Journal

    TFA strikes me as a bit of a missed opportunity. It makes some extremely valid points about the dependancy of gaming news sits on the good-will of developers and the impact that this has upon review scores (hello Kane & Lynch). Unfortunately, it drowns this in a morass of po-faced moralising about what "proper" journalism could be. Having a pop at Kotaku for mixing in silly or immature stories among the rest of the headlines is kind of missing the point; these are ultimately entertainment sites, talking about an entertainment medium while seeking to entertain their readers at the same time. A bit of sillyness is going to be par for the course.

    For the most part, gaming news is not real news. That's not to say there isn't a place for it. But it isn't in the same category as the kind of news coverage we expect of politics, wars or crime and it doesn't need to be held to the same standards. Occasionally, the gaming world produces a genuine news story (anybody remember Infinium Labs?), but I've generally found that the gaming press isn't too bad at covering these when they do occur. For the rest of the time, think of it as belonging to the same category as sports or showbiz news.

    The area where there is cause for concern is that surrounding developer/publisher pressure over review scores. Reviews, unlike gaming "news", fall more into the category of consumer advice than journalism and I think it's reasonable to expect appropriate standards. It really is quite obvious these days that games which come with a big name attached often seem to get review scores they don't deserve. Final Fantasy XIII is a dreadful game. You spend the first twenty five or so hours running down a straight path, fighting endless waves of identical enemies with an almost-uninteractive combat system. No matter how much the game may improve after that point (and the improvement is only mild), there's no way that 25 hours of boring on-rails gameplay shouldn't have a profound negative impact on review scores; and yet the game carried off a slew of 8/10 and 9/10 scores. Mario Galaxy 2 is not a bad game (it has some clever level design), but it has a good number of flaws, including a lack of innovation compared to its predecessor, an imprecise control system (in a game that requires a high degree of precision on many occasions) and outdated game-mechanics such as a lives-system. And yet it had ecstatic reviews, including a frankly incomprehensible 10/10 from IGN.

    The thing is that it's by no means clear that publisher pressure was responsible for the scores in the two cases listed above. Square and Nintendo both tend to have a pool of rabid fans (albeit a shrinking pool in both cases) and it's quite possible that the games were just handed to fanboys for review, who were never going to hold the game to objective standards. But the fact is that there are enough incidences of genuine publisher pressure (yes, Kane and Lynch, I'm still talking about you) that gamers' suspicions are inevitably going to be aroused. I think review sites need to do more to enhance their credibility.

    Some obvious steps might be:

    - Removing advertising on the actual review pages (advertising elsewhere on the site - ok - but it sends the wrong message when you plaster advertising over the review itself and people will see corruption even where it doesn't necessarily exist).

    - When a game review comes back with a score of 9/10 or higher (or whatever the equivalent in the site's scoring system), get a second opinion in there as part of the review.

    - Greater acknowledgement of bugs and stability issues in reviews and scores. If you look at the reviews of Medal of Honour and Fallout: New Vegas, two recent games that launched in a highly buggy state (on consoles as well as PC), it's clear that some sites acknoweldge the bugs in their review while others don't, but that it's very rare to see bugs actually taken into account in scoring.

    • It depends how you consider a numerical rating scale to work. The difference in quality between, say, Final Fantasy VI and XIII is much smaller than the difference between Final Fantasy VI and Big Rigs Off the Road Racing or ET for Atari. Rating FFXIII with a four or a five wouldn't accurately reflect this distinction.

    • by N1AK (864906)

      Mario Galaxy 2 is not a bad game (it has some clever level design), but it has a good number of flaws, including a lack of innovation compared to its predecessor, an imprecise control system (in a game that requires a high degree of precision on many occasions) and outdated game-mechanics such as a lives-system.

      Your saying the review is wrong because they've not given it the score you would. You're opinion is fine, but perhaps most people disagree with you and more closely align with IGNs opinion. I know I personal tend to use meta-review sites if I want a 'rating'. I use games websites to read about what they like/dislike. To take the example of Fallout. I know Fallout: New Vegas has a lot of glitch/bug issues. Personally this tends not to frustrate me, so I'm much more interested in the quality of the story and

      • by BenoitRen (998927)

        Your saying the review is wrong because they've not given it the score you would. You're opinion is fine, but perhaps most people disagree with you and more closely align with IGNs opinion.

        I'm glad you're not in journalism.

        • by BenoitRen (998927)

          Because of the horrible grammatical errors, that is. For some reason Slashdot isn't showing the style on my em elements.

        • by hedwards (940851)
          Actually, normally an editor would handle that. They do expect you to learn grammar, but it's mainly because the editor doesn't have time to have to correct every use of the wrong homophone in the article every article.
      • by RogueyWon (735973) *

        No, I think you can fairly easily say a 10/10 (or A+ or whatever a site's maximum-possible score is) if the game is not, in an objective sense, absolutely as good as it could possibly have been given the limitations as present hardware. If a game has even a single flaw within said limitations (and I don't think there has been a game during this hardware generation that hasn't) then it isn't a 10/10. 9.9/10 - sure. But when you give out a maximum possible score, you are saying "there is absolutely nothing ab

        • by Tridus (79566)

          Where do people get this idea from? Movies get 4/4 ratings all the time, and it doesn't mean that we need to re-invent the entire medium before we can make another movie that good.

          Perfection is impossible. Get over it.

          • by RogueyWon (735973) *

            Ok, I should have been more specific. If you have a 4 or 5 star rating, then fine, give out the maximum score to a very, very good, but still flawed product (be it a movie, a game, a restaurant or whatever). The average consumer will know that a 5 point scale is a bit of a fudge. A lot of review sites, however, use 100 point scales. It may be a rating out of 10, but IGN, for example, are happy to give out decimal scores. And a score out of 100 implies a more nuanced rating. Under those circumstances, it's r

            • by hedwards (940851)
              That's bullshit. It doesn't matter how many points you use, whether it's a 1 star or a billion stars. All that does is reduce the amount of rounding that goes on. Making it a 100 point scale just makes the misleading suggestion that there's more precision than there really is. I wouldn't personally trust a reviewer to get more than 10% worth of precision out of their review, and even that's being generous to them.
              • by Rizz (33500)

                Bingo. 1-5, that's all we need. Bad, poor, average, good, great. Let the number be the guide, let the text make the decision.

                • by Drantin (569921)

                  If only it were used that way... It's more like horrendous, horrible, horrid, average, great.

                  Or, if I'm being slightly more cynical, horrendous, horrible, horrid, wretched, average.

    • by pizzach (1011925) <<pizzach> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday December 03, 2010 @06:32AM (#34429064) Homepage

      "Dated design" is one of my most hated 2 words nowadays. I flip the bird to anyone who uses them. It basically means you are too old to deal with software that varies too much. All modern software must universally be the same.

      Some of the things that will force this phrase to pop up are:

      • Being forced to lose in the game.
      • Lack of horrifically long cut scenes
      • A FPS not having regenerating health
      • Not being forced through horrific long animations for spells and summons in RPGs.
      • Lack of voice acting.
      • 'unplayable' rough graphics. (snob much?)
      • Tank controls

      I want to destroy you people who are turning gaming into a monoculture. Auto healing in GoldenEye was one of the most rediculous features I have ever seen and takes a lot of the excitement out of it. Resident Evil used to actually be unique and not a matrix wanna be. (Seriously. The characters turn from something believably normal to super heros.) I want to be able to read my RPGs like a book sometimes. I sometimes actually like non-standard control schemes.

      You can take your generic interactive movies and shove it. Especially you game reviewers who push this all like crazy. I like a bit more variety in what I get.

      • by RogueyWon (735973) *

        I'm not arguing for homogenisation. I am arguing for getting rid of design elements that have not stood the test of time. Japanaese gaming in general (not just Nintendo) are struggling hugely with this in the current gaming generation.

        The lives system is a relic of the days when the best games were coin operated arcade machines and a substantial number of "home" games were arcade ports. In that context, it made sense. It's evolved its way out of most "major" games these days (leaving aside the likes of XBLA

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          These days, the likes of Bioware and Obsidian have worked out that there are ways of delivering the 30+ hours that an RPG allegedly requires (I'm not convinced on that personally) without including anything that feels like a grind to the player (certainly no running around in circles doing random encounters).

          For sixty bucks I expect at least twenty hours of engaging gameplay. A good game that long will always have you wanting more (e.g. Panzer Dragoon Saga). Leaving you wanting more without feeling like your ending was stolen should be the goal of every game.

          • Heh, while I played Mass Effect I had the feeling Bioware took some clues from Team Andromeda's finest.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          To use one of the ever-(un)popular slashdot car analogies, developers like Nintendo and Square are trying to sell cars that need to be hand-cranked to start, despite the fact that everybody else is using modern ignition systems. Variety of design choices is one thing; sticking with something that is outdated and noticably worse is quite another.

          I'm sorry but your bias is showing. Nintendo right now is the biggest seller of current generation consoles. And they did it via innovation, a more apt analogy would be to have a hand crank start on a car that drives you to work without your intervention. It stands to reason that they're doing something right if they're outselling the competition. I've got a Wii and the games are a lot of fun.

          The only bit of the Wii which is arguably outdated is the graphics, and let's face it, at least the graphics have

      • by Rayonic (462789)

        A lack of long cutscenes and spell animations is dated?? I'd say that those two things are dated. Most modern games aren't like Final Fantasy or Metal Gear Solid. Well I guess the newest Call of Duty has a lot of cutscenes, though I didn't hear about them being long.

        What really dates some older games for me is the interface. Some of the best loved classics of yesteryear have horribly clunky interfaces.

        • First person games with no freelook.
        • Layers upon laters of nested menus.
        • No key or button remapping.
        • Clutt
      • > Lack of horrifically long unskippable cut scenes

        FTFY.

        The second (or nth) time playing a game, I DON'T want to see your (shitty) cutscenes. This is one thing Sniper: Ghost Warrior got right on PC, ESC lets you *gasp* skip the mission / level cutscenes !

        Yes, I understand that game devs don't want to spend the time making sure their game works when the cutscenes are skipped, but seriously, that's what GOOD game design, implementation, and testing are for.

      • by dominion (3153)

        I want to be able to read my RPGs like a book sometimes.

        All I've ever wanted was the option to keep the voice acting in Japanese, with English subtitles. It would go a long way to making modern RPG's more enjoyable, since I don't speak Japanese, and can't accurately gauge whether Japanese voice actors are as terrible as I'm sure they are.

    • by Inda (580031)
      And I liked to take this opportunity to talk about Sims 3 on the Xbox 360, published by EA.

      The game's been out a month and the saving and loading bugs are well documented, even though EA will not publically admit they exist. The game is unplayable after, what looks to me like a memory overflow. You can 'invest' 40 hours on one game save, which always loads, but cannot be saved. Proper programming is not my forte, but a clean save of all the games variables sounds like an easy task to programme.

      The support f
      • by hedwards (940851)
        It depends on the game and how they do it. Some games are easier to create saves for than others are. It all depends upon how much information you're planning to save. Fallout: New Vegas, saves the location of bodies and the loot on them, but not the actual body itself. Which leads to the strange bug at times where you see the bodies show up. They seem to fall out of the sky sometimes and plop down where they were.

        Saving games for a game like that is more of a challenge than it is for a typical platforme
      • by Skrapion (955066)

        Saved games definitely aren't as trivial as they sound. When the game is running, it stores a whole lot of data that isn't needed in the saved games, so the programmer has to sift through all the data that's actually necessary to save -- transforming it into a different representation sometimes -- and then regenerate the extra data when loading the saved game. It's easy for something to slip through the cracks; usually all the bugs are worked out before release, but when the bug doesn't manifest itself un

    • by bonch (38532)

      Mario Galaxy 2 is not a bad game (it has some clever level design), but it has a good number of flaws, including a lack of innovation compared to its predecessor, an imprecise control system (in a game that requires a high degree of precision on many occasions) and outdated game-mechanics such as a lives-system. And yet it had ecstatic reviews, including a frankly incomprehensible 10/10 from IGN.

      Because it was a good game that outweighed its supposed flaws. In fact, your comment about outdated mechanics is

  • The inputs taken from each source are unven, and yet he's comparing them by percentages of the whole. If I were to make a study of 4 men and 2 women taking a test, and then complain that 66% of errors made by all of them were by men, then that would be misleading.

  • press "gift pack", well written magazine/website filling with stats/data and print friendly colorful images.
    http://www.qj.net/qjnet/xbox-360/dean-takahashi-halo-3-press-kit-nothing-less-than-a-bribe.html [qj.net]
    Follow the press kits, gifts.
    Watch the "transcribe often, anything positive goes, remove prior art comments" cult at work to ensure the material wealth keeps falling from the postal van.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Follow the press kits, gifts.

      That's a lot of work. Perhaps we should be rejecting out of hand any review which does not include a SECTION on the press kit?

  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday December 03, 2010 @05:52AM (#34428926)
    As someone who writes reviews (of games, hardware, apps etc) I have certainly come across the issues cited here although it does seem to be more of a problem with American writers/publishers Even back in the 80s/early 90's fellow writers moaned about US publications where the editors and writers were pressured by the advertising department to up ratings as said product's developer wanted to place ads. Other countries were less prone to this and in the UK where I have most experience, the editors used to delight in telling the ad department to 'go away' if they tried that stunt. Sure, some magazines did fall for that sort of pressure and most writers knew who they were and stayed well clear for reputational reasons.
    The bottom line is that 80-90% of anything you get sent to review is a 6 or 8 out of 10. Really crap stuff just doesn't get to market unless something's gone horribly wrong. In the main, stuff works well enough to fullfill its requirement in a reasonably well implemented way. Every now and then something truly bad would come along and that was wonderful, a chance to give a lower rating and hopefully some inciteful reasons as to why the product sucked. I've got a book here on the 'to be reviewed' pile right now that's going to get marked down because frankly, the title is a total lie. The content is OK but it's not what the title says it is. There is also the occassional item that is truly exception and will earn a 9 or very rarely a 10 but these are once or twice a year things.
    The web doesn't seem to have changed the overall dynamic much with writers producing copy that will attract clicks rather than do the job. Many publishers have dropped the per-word basis for paying writers and moved to a per-click basis. If your article gets lots of clicks, you earn more.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The bottom line is that 80-90% of anything you get sent to review is a 6 or 8 out of 10. Really crap stuff just doesn't get to market unless something's gone horribly wrong.

      And something goes horribly wrong on a regular basis now, I can't remember the last time I got a PC game that doesn't need a patch for example, and even some high-profile console games have shipped in an uncompleteable state, and had to be patched as well. So really, there should be reviews of released games less than six.

      • Fair point but I don't for a moment imagine any games reviewers play the game to the end. At best they'll use cheats supplied by the developer to jump to key points. If you're being paid say $100 to write a review, you're not going to spend 20 hours playing the games first as the $/hour rate would be ludicrous.

        What might be an idea is to do game reviews in two waves, the first lot in advance or just after release based on the above and a second after much more gameplay if the writer happens to like the ga
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          My take is that a magazine review not based on a complete playthrough (which does happen, sometimes the whole issue is sold based on a big review) is basically only going to tell me if a game is something I'd be interested in playing if it doesn't suck. Then I need to wait for a more in-depth review. Since I don't care about being an early adopter I just wait. Often I wait for the first or even second price break, which makes me the kind of customer the industry hates I'm sure, but fuck 'em, they're there t

        • by Hatta (162192)

          Fair point but I don't for a moment imagine any games reviewers play the game to the end.

          The AVGN at least makes a serious effort to play through the games he reviews, and he's not even a real reviewer. And those games are much harder than current games too. If a parody reviewer is putting in more work than published journalists, that really speaks to the poor state of games journalism.

          • >poor state of games journalism.
            Or more accurately, the poor pay these days. 15 years ago I got paid £300 to review a package. Now it's about £30-£50. Before I spent a day+ on it. Now it gets a couple of hours.
  • Since when do blogs count as journalism?

    The source material is linked as a matter of course because it's being covered on a blog. That's how Slashdot does it, and that's that the entire Internet does it...except for real news sites, at least.

    I visit these sites to get an entertaining take on the game industry, nothing more.

    • by nschubach (922175)

      I think this is VGChartz trying to validate their existence. I remember heading to that site sometime around the current Gen console releases and being inundated by people (both "editors" and "members") who would blatantly lean one way (their way.) Anyone that didn't agree with their methodology or their "editorials" would be berated. Heck, I don't know if the same people still post there, but there was something about their information posting that seemed, "bought." They came off pretentious and arroga

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Since the TV News, magazines and newspapers stopped doing anything that could reasonably be confused with journalism. Or at least cut it down to the point where it was the least amount possible and still be considered a news organization.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      When it comes to games, you'll find better journalism on blogs than in printed media. No periodical I'm aware of comes close to HG101 or Armchair Arcade for instance.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday December 03, 2010 @05:57AM (#34428940) Homepage Journal
    One of the main(if not the main) problem with games journalism is the fact that now everyone is rushing to be first. How many times have you seen reporters rush to break some "big story" only to have them sheepishly, if at all, admit a couple of days later that the story wasn't real or at the very least was greatly exaggerated? Games journalists are no different, everyone wants to be the first one to break a story, review a game etc to the point that they barely spend any time with the product that they are reviewing. How long does it take to complete a single player game nowadays? Usually 40 hours at least, and then if you consider online and how long it takes to really evaluate a game(balance issues, matching algorithms, stability etc) then you are looking at least a week, probably more for anyone just to slog through the thing, let alone arrange their thoughts into a coherent review.

    So either a) the reviews are rushed to get something out the door as soon as possible after release or b) the journalists are given review copies but basically told that they better not give the game a bad review or else the gravy train is going to be derailed.

    It's obviously a very difficult place most game journalists are in and the internet isn't making it any easier. Maybe someone should start a "slow cooked game review" site where they spend at least a week reviewing each game. Even if it means that you won't get the reviews until a week after launch.....
    • by Hatta (162192)

      This is why I stick to retro games. Sure, sometimes the reviews are colored with nostalgia, but it's also easier to see in hindsight which games have stood the test of time. There's no longer any time pressure to get a review out the door, and the reviewers are doing it for the love of gaming, not to get paid. The result is a much higher quality level of material coming out of the retro gaming community than modern gaming.

  • But if anyone has read any of the responses to anything Leigh Alexander has written recently, it's patently obvious sexism is (unfortunately) alive and well. She gets attacked for expressing her opinion. Now if it was Alex Leighander, then this would likely not be the case.
  • Disclaimer: I'm a reader of Kotaku, Destructoid and, occasionally, Joystiq. This said, I think the study should have been performed on proper gaming sites like IGN, Gamestop and GamesRadar, not those sellout ex-blogs whose main concern is now selling ads, forwarding marketing and PR emails and "going big".
    • by nschubach (922175)

      ...not those sellout ex-blogs whose main concern is now selling ads, forwarding marketing and PR emails and "going big".

      ...just like VGChartz.

  • Obvious omission (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NotFamousYet (937650) on Friday December 03, 2010 @06:21AM (#34429030)
    This article attempts to make a assessment of the quality of game journalism, without mentioning Edge, which is one of the most well received papers by the games industry. Indeed, Kotaku (which is banned from even mainstream forums such as Neogaf due to its poor quality) and Destructoid are not aiming for quality but general coverage. To my knowledge, Edge is the only gaming publication that attempts to write reviews and games theory articles on par with what movie and music critics do.
    • I was about to raise exactly the same point. I know Edge is something of a 'Marmite' publication; some people hate it with a real passion, labelling it pretentious or that most White Van Man title of "wanky art-bollocks". But it does remain to my mind one of the few places that treats games with any kind of reverence or actual critical appreciation, and try to at least transcend their seeming perception as an opiate for numbskull, gadget-addled teenagers.

  • by Legion303 (97901) on Friday December 03, 2010 @07:14AM (#34429202) Homepage

    Many online news sites are driven by marketing considerations. This is not news. Marketers need to be dragged into the street and shot.

    Ultimately I had to stop reading the article because even though the points he makes are valid overall, his methods were shit. You don't do into something like this with a hypothesis of game journalists in bed with companies and use metrics like "is this headline misleading?" You take your hypothesis, keep it to yourself, and give the metrics to a large group of people, and aggregate their answers. And you don't compare three different sites on the same graph with wildly different totals, as he did with the graph of how many sources each site used. Putting 9/46/8 for Kotaku next to 4/44/3 for Joystiq next to 11/36 for Destructoid only tells me the author can't count, and doesn't understand graphs.

  • Kotaku clearly is not a site that limits itself to gaming. So their graph of off-topic articles is a bit odd if you include Kotaku in the equation.
  • ... is a joke. The only reviews to trust are the cream of the crop user reviews.

    The whole "gaming news industry" is filled with morons and kickbacks. And the pretentiousness of the game industry that it is no par with movies is ridiculous. Games and movies are fundamentally different mediums even if they do have some amount of cross over. We've seen how crappy many games have turned out when they put too much emphasis on the movie part in their games and not enough game. Final fantasy 13 I'm looking a

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  • The main issue seems to be in the ratings systems. Game reviews rate games on an absolute scale, not a relative scale. If reviewers honestly rated EA's crap games relative to EA's gems, then there would be a whole lot of sub-5 ratings. However, even a relatively crap EA game, assuming you had never played a game before in your life, is still an impressive piece of work. Consumers would have to start demanding relative scales on ratings before they would help out in selecting a game for anyone but someon

  • So I'm supposed to believe that a website replacing S's with Z's in their name is more of a "respectable gaming publication" than the ones they are criticizing?

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