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The New Games Journalism 20

aanand writes "Superstar UK games journalist Kieron Gillen (his blog seems to be down at the time of writing) has written a fascinating editorial/essay on what he calls The New Games Journalism, in which he discusses the future of printed and electronic games writing, and offers some good insights into where the next generation of writers might be headed."
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The New Games Journalism

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  • wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dreadlord ( 671979 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:13AM (#8643825) Journal
    his blog seems to be down at the time of writing

    Wow, the fastest /.ing ever, just submitting the story was enough to take the site down.
    • Re:wow (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aanand ( 705284 )
      It's up now, oddly, which makes me look a bit stupid since he posted the essay there as well... at least there's a backup source for it now.
    • I think this is a new phenomenon... as soon as geekdom-savvy webmasters detect pings from any of the Slashdot editors, they perform an immediate preventative shutdown of their servers.

      The Slashdot Ping of Death.
  • by orthancstone ( 665890 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:41AM (#8643979)
    Some magazines will continue to exist for the few who somehow wish to have the few, magazine-exclusive new updates about games.

    The rest of us have moved on though. With the amount of information you can have at your finger tips immediately with online sites, I have no reason to go back to print media. Call of Duty's 1.3 patch came out yesterday; personally, I'd rather know that yesterday (due to the net) rather than on a cd in a couple of weeks with a gaming mag subscription. World of Warcraft has interesting updates all of the time that I'd have to wait to read about too.

    I'm not sure I buy this quality of writing argument though. Gamespot's writers (and the Gamespot Live folks) often make their stories/videos more entertaining than the main mags in circulation at the bookstores.

    I'd be bold and say printed mags will disappear, but I know that's not true. Despite massive amounts of annoying ads (another thing I can avoid with an internet subscription), some people still like to have a physical copy. They will continue to support a market, although the market will dwindle some over time.
    • by PainKilleR-CE ( 597083 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:21AM (#8644289)
      The biggest reason I have found to buy print mags any more is to get console demos. PC games demos are easy, a couple clicks and wait a while. Demos for console games are a little harder to come by, probably because rental is still a big medium for people to try out new games. The magazines are mostly fluff and ads anyway, so half the time I can learn more by looking at what's on the disc and playing a couple of demos than if I spent the time to read the whole thing (then again, I still manage to browse through the mags occasionally).

      The only time I pick up a mag without a cover disc is when I'm in an airport with a long flight ahead of me. Generally the mags help break up the time a bit and let me read something besides the book I brought with me.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:22AM (#8644296)
      Sorry for the Anonymous coward, but I can't remember my slashdot details.

      Important things to understand about the context:
      i) I'm specifically talking about British games magazines. The better British games mags simply walk all over their American counterparts in terms of writing. It's arrogant, I know, but it's also true.
      ii) While I'm making up this shit in reference to games mags, the general approach applies to all game writing, on magazines or not. Of course, like the original New Journalism, it becomes a lot harder to actually get good examples of it unless they get an amount of money to write the bastard things. It's time intensive in a way that most forms of writing simply aren't.

      Kieron Gillen
      • Having not had the opportunity to read British gaming mags, I cannot speak from personal knowledge of how good they are. Assuming your claim is true, though, the idea seems much more realistic.
        • Re:Fair enough (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:58AM (#8644708)
          I could be drunk and deluded. It's hardly unprecedented.

          I think the general theory holds, even if it's just the net-writers who pick up and run with it though. And it's something people who think about games writing are increasingly voicing anyway - I'm hardly being original here, just trying to bring together a selection of thought and put it into a coherent rant.

          Hopefully someone will be inspired to actually *try* it.

      • Having read both PCGamer UK and PCGamer US, I would have to disagree, at least based on this one example. The UK version is written like a games-oriented Maxim, while the US version is written in a much more professional and in-depth manner. Not that that's saying much.
    • I could be an innate Luddite (and anyone with a thousand books in their small apartment could probably be accused of that), but despite I am incredibly stingy with my online spending, I always pay for a PC games mag every month (the very one that Kieron was a regular contributer to in fact), since I like reading either on the go or over dinner - i.e., not on a computer. Reading newspapers on a PDA is fine, but for games reviews, I really do prefer full-colour glossiness. And even with broadband, a DVD of de
  • by darkmayo ( 251580 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:45AM (#8644002)
    More advertisments with hip dressed posers holding there new console and looking all edgy with there semi-emo coolness just dripping from the photo...

    more titties and celebrities who got paid more than what you make in a year for giving a little blurb about some game that "Omg I think its like totally cool"

    More sidetalking taco goodness.

    More articles that just make gamers look like morons who will snap up whatever POS they are hocking just because some guy name "Extreme Tony" who is as hip and cool as the guy in ad for a sidetalking taco says we should buy it.

    More bullshit in general.
  • insert credit [] addressed many of these same points in their feature Journalism: The Videogame [].
  • GMR Magazine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigman2003 ( 671309 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:59AM (#8644114) Homepage
    At EB Games they had/have some deal where when you become a 'member' you get GMR magazine for free. Well, sometimes if you are selling a lot of games back, you'll make more money by 'becoming a member' (giving $10 bucks- Homestarmy *2). And 'members' get a free magazine.

    So- basically you get a subscription to GMR for free.

    I think this is one of the best games magazines out there. There are TONS of funny little tidbits throughout the magazine, on the bottom of the page, at the end of the reviews, etc. that you need to go looking for- kind of like Mad magazine.

    Even the stupid listing of their staff is usually pretty funny- and the 'letters from subscribers' section is one of the most entertaining reads I get all month. It is as if someone combed through Slashdot Games and found the best 10 posts and put some 'snappy answers to stupid questions' reply.

    At first I thought I woulnd't like the magazine, because it is multi-platform. I really don't have any reason to read about a Gamecube exclusive- I don't have a GC. But I read every article in the magazine, because it is written in an entertaining way. And now I am much better informed about what is happening out there in the gaming world.

    I also read the 'Official Xbox Magazine' - because it has demo disks each month. Unfortunately this magazine suffers from some serious fan-boyism- which is to be expected from the 'Official' magazine. So trusting the previews or reviews of games is difficult, because they buy/sell ALL of the hype.

    If EB ever offers you some stupid membership, with a magazine- give it a shot. Because you gotta read something while sitting on the toilet.
    • Yeah, I've definitely learned to adjust my expectations of OXM reviews being accurate. For example, this month, despite their glowing review of Breakdown, and the decent demo, I just couldn't shake the feeling that the graphics and the jumping would make the game mediocre. So after waiting for more reasonable reviews from IGN and GameSpot, which bashed the game for its many problems, I'm glad I didn't rush out and buy the game. I might still rent it though, but I don't see how OXM could have given this g

    This may turn a little manifesto, but forgive me. It's a juvenile form, but such posturing can occasionally serve a purpose. And sometimes, as Kate Bush's Cloudbusting is currently informing me, just saying it could even make it happen.

    I return from Delfter Krug and an evening with comrades. After the traditional lusting after barmaids and discussing the various challenges facing the geek nation, we turn to one of the conversations that I, as a devotee of the gaming press, prayed t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Videogame writing is probably the poorest in the entire publishing industry. Game reviews are worse than the very shallowest movie reviews; at least movie reviewers almost always see the complete film. You say these magazines are little more than buying guides -- well, if a catalog is a buying guide, than maybe. Previews are almost always breathlessly aroused by the thinnest drip of screenshottage and developer quotes. Reviews have more to do with the surrounding hype and the reviewer's "prestige" -- IG
    • I know you want to justify your favorite lonely pastime but face it: it doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.

      That attitude is one of the reasons a lot of games journalism is shit. Of course it deserves to be taken seriously. It's just that hardly anyone seems to want to do so.
  • Whom do we trust? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) * <[ten.lemmuhnhoj] [ta] [lemmuhj]> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @12:56PM (#8646072) Homepage
    This is a trend that I've been observing for the last 18 months or so, and I really have to give Penny Arcade kudos for bringing it to a point:

    Most gamers, overall, don't trust review sites.

    And why should we? We read the same hype for a game coming out in six months from a magazine or one of the new giant conglomerates of GameSpy IGN Gamespot (former Gamespot and Gamecenter) and Daily Radar (the latter which has mercifully passed on). "This game will be the greatest! Look at the graphics! Reasons to bash this other console or game before it's released!"

    And when the game comes out, some reviewers will stick to their guns calling it great, some will trash it and we'll never talk about ti again, because the "Next Great Game!" is about to be released.

    We've come to see it's all just marketing. It's not that it wasn't before, but back when Voodoo Extreme first popped up, it was just Billy "Wicked" Wilson talking about going to Kung Fu and what was happening in the gaming world.

    Then IGN bought it, and what is it now? I haven't even looked at it for probably years now.

    It's not that marketing and commercialism is bad, but after awhile it's like having nothing but Ding Dongs to eat. You start to hunger for something more. You start to wonder if your next meal will be different or more of the same.

    Tycho and Gabe mentioned this when they bashed reviewers. Not just for "I like this game it's cool and you suck", but for pointing out how innaccurate their reviewers were, as if maybe - just maybe! - the game hadn't truly been played. That some "reporter" had spent an hour with the game, decided they didn't like it, and that was it.

    So who do we trust? And that's probably the reason why, as Mr. Gillon pointed out, we're looking not for reviews and articles, but people. People who are like us, or even not like us - but we get to know their opinions and viewpoints so we feel like we can trust them. When Tycho says he likes a game, we know his stances on RPGs or card games or whatever, and can judge based on that.

    When Timothy Long of Insert Credit [] talks about a how he got Astroboy [] off of a former bunny girl, how he's playing the game is as important as the game review itself. We know him, and while we might not always agree, at least we know why he feels that way about the game.

    I read "Bow, Nigger" as referrenced by Mr. Gillon, and thought it was one of the best damn articles I've read this year - and it made me want to go play "Jedi Knight II". It's been sitting on a shelf at home, waiting for me, but now I understand how it can be played.

    I wonder what will happen to game magazines in the long run. Readership is down, and I imagine most of them will wind up like either Nintendo Power - really just an advertisement for Nintendo, or Gamefan, a former magazine made of game lovers that crashed during the Dot-Com Bust.

    Probably it will be as it always is: cycles. Something new rises up (like Mr. Gillon mentions, the alternative scene in Seattle from musicians tired of being force-fed 80's culture). It has underground movement, then one day somebody realizes you can make money off of it (see also "rap music"). It gets popular, then turned into the same marketing glitz, and then the soul is gone, and it starts up again.

    Game magazines will do the same. I predict that in a few years we'll have a true "Fanzine" pop up - maybe all on the Internet, maybe sold through a few fans online, propped up with CafePress like goodies. It will grow, people will love the folks running it, and then it will get bought out and everything good about it will be gone.

    And we'll start again. Like we always do. Because in the end, while we don't think we can trust people, we're always looking to reach out and form those communities to tell each other how we feel about what we enjoy.

    Some will just do it better than others - and the cycle all starts again.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle