Slate: "Gaming Journalism is Over"

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#1 Edited by cfisher2833 (2150 posts) -

Slate readers are over, declining—a dead demographic.

Why on Earth would I start a column with this thesis? There is no faster way to alienate my audience—that is, the people who pay my bills. And yet, this is exactly what writers at not one but half a dozen online gaming publications did to theiraudiences last week, and it points to a significant shift in the business of gaming. Gamers are not over, but gaming journalism is.

Some background: Recently, there were some egregious incidents of harassment in the gaming community,as I covered in a previous piece. The harassment story quickly spiraled into a much larger fight, clumsily dubbed #GamerGate, between an angry, mostly anonymous mass of gamers and the gaming press. The fight blew up on Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, gaming sites, 4chan, and elsewhere last week. With rhetorical shrapnel flying everywhere, one ironic low was achieved when popular and resolutely positive gamer Steven Williams, aka Boogie2988, found himself simultaneously maligned as a brainwashed feminist by self-declared men’s rights activists and fat-shamed by self-declared social justice advocates. Another low was when thoughtful freelance gaming writer Jenn Frank decided to leave the field altogether after being unfairly singled out for relentless criticism.

Trying to sort through GamerGate is like sinking into quicksand, but the generaltenor of the discussion has been: A fair number of gamers hate the journalists who cover them, and the journalists hate them back.

The biggest problem with all these claims that “gamers are over” is that they are demonstrably untrue.

The attacks on the press have ranged from well-reasoned to offensive to paranoid, but the gaming journalists unwisely decided to respond to the growing, nebulous anger by declaring that “gamers” were dead. Such articles appeared concurrently in Gamasutra(“ ‘Gamers’ are over” and “A guide to ending ‘gamers’ ”), Destructoid (“There are gamers at the gate, but they may already be dead”), Kotaku (“We might be witnessing the ‘death of an identity’ ”) andRock, Paper, Shotgun (“Gamers are over”), as well as Ars Technica (“The death of the ‘gamers’ ”), Vice (“Killing the gamer identity”) and BuzzFeed (“Gaming is leaving ‘gamers’ behind”). These articles share some traits in common besides their theses: They are unconvincing, lacking in hard evidence, and big on wishful thinking. A good number of them link to an obscure blog post by academic Dan Golding, “The End of Gamers,” which argues, again without evidence, that “the gamer identity has been broken” and that the current unrest “is an attempt to retain hegemony.”Kotaku writer Nathan Grayson linked to a similarly obtuse piece of academic argot(“ ‘Gamer’ is selfish ... conservative ... tribalistic”), which in Grayson’s words “breaks down the difference between ‘gamer’ as a manufactured identity versus loving games on multiple levels.” I’ve written essays comparing games to the work of artist Kurt Schwitters and poet Kenneth Rexroth, and even I can’t muster this level of vacuous self-importance on the subject.

Returning to the real world, the biggest problem with all these claims is that they are demonstrably untrue. A quick glance at financials shows that “gamers” are not going anywhere. If “gamers” really are dying, no one told the marketing departments for these publications, which continue to trumpet their “gamer” demographic to advertisers. What is going on instead is projection. As long as these journalists held a monopoly on gaming coverage, they could maintain a dismal relationship with their audience in spite of the fact that “most games coverage is almost indistinguishable from PR,” in the words of disaffected game columnist Robert Florence, who himself wrote about corruption in gaming journalism before quitting Eurogamer. But all that’s changing with the rise of long-form amateur gaming journalism and game commentating on YouTube and Twitch.tv, the latter of which was just bought by Amazon for $1 billion as the gaming press was declaring the end of gamers.

Game companies and developers are now reaching out directly to quasi-amateur enthusiasts as a better way to build their brands, both because the gamers are more influential than the gaming journalists, and because these enthusiasts have far better relationships with their audiences than gaming journalists do. (Admittedly, most anyone does.) This week, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto signaled a focus on hard-core gamers, and Nintendo has already been shutting out the video game press for years. As Gamasutra’s Keza MacDonald wrote in June, the increasingly direct relationship between gamers and game companies has “removed what used to be [game journalism’s] function: to tell people about games.” Another Gamasutra article cited game developers saying that YouTube coverage had far more impact than all website coverage combined.

I generally don’t read gaming websites because I don’t like sifting through rewritten press releases and underage toothbrush incest anime coverage to find one or two genuine pieces of content. Instead I go to affable enthusiasts on YouTube and Twitch, people like Ryan Letourneau (Northernlion), Michelle(TheRPGMinx), Nick Reinecke (RockLeeSmile), Daniel Hardcastle (NerdCubed), and the unfathomably popular Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie), a 24-year-old gamer who has 30 million subscribers, the most viewed YouTube channel of all time, andmakes $4 million a year off his channel by, more or less, playing video games.

It is understandable that online gaming journalists would be uncomfortable in this situation. The antagonism of the gaming press toward its audience stems partly from justified outrage at the horrible behavior of a small subset of it, but also from helpless resentment toward the entirety of the press’s shrinking audience—hence the self-defeating attempt to generalize the former into the latter. Rather than stressing that the vast majority of gamers are reasonable people who don’t harass women, hold reactionary, protectionist views, or start vitriolic online campaigns against the press, the websites trashed the entire term “gamer” and, to no one’s surprise, earned 10 times the enmity overnight.

These articles were additionally unseemly because gamers were being preached to by the very same people who have been commodifying them. As Florence said, so much of the game journalist’s job has indeed been glorified PR, and the rest is not reportage but cultural think pieces, like the ones that have earned so much opprobrium over the last week. Consequently, great, lesser-known stories—and games—fall by the wayside. Just one example: Stephen Lavelle, akaIncrepare, is one of the most fascinating game designers around, but he has been largely ignored by the gaming press, even as he’s grabbed the attention of theNew Yorker. I found out about him from Northernlion’s channel. (Disclosure: I have corresponded with Lavelle; I wrote to tell him how much I like his games.)

Maybe gamers don’t trust their press as much as they trust the enthusiasts because the press doesn’t seem as engaged with the games themselves. Compared with the enthusiasts, the journalists’ hearts aren’t in it. This isn’t true for criticism of other art forms. Sure, there are always hack writers, but Pauline Kael didn’t have to put together five hype-building posts about Destiny for every thoughtful review she wrote. Gaming journalists are caught between capitalist reality and their own frustrated aspirations to be serious cultural critics. But they cannot solve their problems by preaching about the death of their audience. That audience is dying only in that it is leaving them, a process the journalists have evidently decided to accelerate. Game journalists are rage-quitting their meal ticket.

Link

I thought it was a pretty good article. It fits in with that one indie dev's metrics that showed his game received far more purchases after the released of a Nerdcubed video than it did after gaming sites gave it coverage.

#2 Posted by uninspiredcup (12257 posts) -

My gods.

#3 Edited by Heil68 (46716 posts) -

Nobody is going to read that.

#4 Posted by parkurtommo (27645 posts) -

@Heil68 said:

Nobody is going to read that.

I read it!

#5 Edited by Seabas989 (10887 posts) -
@parkurtommo said:

@Heil68 said:

Nobody is going to read that.

I read it!

#6 Posted by ReadingRainbow4 (15989 posts) -

gaming journalists have taken an irreparable blow to their credibility. It's going to be interesting to see the fallout when this is over and how it shapes the environment.

The sad thing is, not everyone who writes about games for a living is part of the problem, unfortunately it's a very right/leftist sided conflict right now.

#7 Posted by topgunmv (10332 posts) -

You should provide a link to the original article in the op for those interested in giving the author hits.

#8 Posted by PS4hasNOgames (2295 posts) -

There are not too many credible gaming journalists out there, the few that I do respect seem to work for IGN.

#9 Posted by clyde46 (47409 posts) -

@ps4hasnogames said:

There are not too many credible gaming journalists out there, the few that I do respect seem to work for IGN.

From what I've seen IGN has kept reasonably quiet on this.

#10 Edited by CrownKingArthur (5262 posts) -
@ReadingRainbow4 said:

gaming journalists have taken an irreparable blow to their credibility. It's going to be interesting to see the fallout when this is over and how it shapes the environment.

The sad thing is, not everyone who writes about games for a living is part of the problem, unfortunately it's a very right/leftist sided conflict right now.

agreed. its my understanding the supporters of gamergate mostly want noble things, like less sensationalist clickbait journalism, more transparency etc.

#11 Edited by ReadingRainbow4 (15989 posts) -

@CrownKingArthur said:
@ReadingRainbow4 said:

gaming journalists have taken an irreparable blow to their credibility. It's going to be interesting to see the fallout when this is over and how it shapes the environment.

The sad thing is, not everyone who writes about games for a living is part of the problem, unfortunately it's a very right/leftist sided conflict right now.

agreed. its my understanding the supporters of gamergate mostly want noble things, like less sensationalist clickbait journalism, more transparency etc.

Exactly, Zoey's penchant for being a slut and her dishonesty was just the back door left open that allowed this all to catch so much fire. Their little club got bum rushed almost exclusively because of her actions.

#12 Posted by Jacanuk (5545 posts) -

He is right

Gaming journalism is dead but its not because of the reasons he are trying to point out, its because gaming journalism has never or will it ever exist. And it will be good the day journalists become a protected title so not every joe game and sarah critic can call themselves something they never would be able to be.

#13 Edited by Shewgenja (10671 posts) -

The problem is, gaming is fucking huge now and people want to rewind the hands of time to the early 90's to turn gaming into something it isn't due to their personal agendas.

If gaming is dead, then movies and hollywood are dead. Asinine conclusions from people who are, ironically, themselves not on the goddamn boat.

Good article! OP. Yes, I read it.

#14 Edited by Randolph (10542 posts) -

@Seabas989 said:
@parkurtommo said:

@Heil68 said:

Nobody is going to read that.

I read it!

#15 Posted by clyde46 (47409 posts) -

I am loving this. Its the Chemo to the games industrys cancer. Those games jouro's are seeing their readership and ad money dry up because publishers and devs have finally switched on to the idea that what better way to sell your game then by having real gamers sell it for you. I fully agree with the author in how he describes most of the content written on many mainstream sites as nothing more than rehashed PR drivel.

No longer do I go to the gaming press for coverage of video games. I hit up places like Youtube and forums like this where I can get usually unbiased opinions of games. The gaming press has fallen off the wagon and are in a panic now, however by lashing out the way they have done has done nothing for the creditability. The more they scream and shout, the more damage they are doing to themselves. Money talks at the end of the day and if these sites want to keep people coming back I'm completely dumb struck as to why they are making an enemy out of their userbase.

This whole thing with Zoe Quinn has really caused the boiling pot to spill over. Long has it been suspected that there was a lot of backroom deals going on but this was the first time it was brought into the light and shown to the world. Of course Zoe being a women and a feminist, it dragged all the SJW's into the swirling whirlpool and now they are jumping on this bandwagon of using the gamer as a scapegoat.

The fact of the matter is this. You can't make an enemy out of your readership. No readership = no money and no money = no job.

#16 Edited by parkurtommo (27645 posts) -

@clyde46 said:

I am loving this. Its the Chemo to the games industrys cancer.

Yes, chemo for stage 4 cancer.

#17 Edited by ReadingRainbow4 (15989 posts) -

@clyde46 said:

I am loving this. Its the Chemo to the games industrys cancer. Those games jouro's are seeing their readership and ad money dry up because publishers and devs have finally switched on to the idea that what better way to sell your game then by having real gamers sell it for you. I fully agree with the author in how he describes most of the content written on many mainstream sites as nothing more than rehashed PR drivel.

No longer do I go to the gaming press for coverage of video games. I hit up places like Youtube and forums like this where I can get usually unbiased opinions of games. The gaming press has fallen off the wagon and are in a panic now, however by lashing out the way they have done has done nothing for the creditability. The more they scream and shout, the more damage they are doing to themselves. Money talks at the end of the day and if these sites want to keep people coming back I'm completely dumb struck as to why they are making an enemy out of their userbase.

This whole thing with Zoe Quinn has really caused the boiling pot to spill over. Long has it been suspected that there was a lot of backroom deals going on but this was the first time it was brought into the light and shown to the world. Of course Zoe being a women and a feminist, it dragged all the SJW's into the swirling whirlpool and now they are jumping on this bandwagon of using the gamer as a scapegoat.

The fact of the matter is this. You can't make an enemy out of your readership. No readership = no money and no money = no job.

The best part is they're making it ten times harder for themselves, Zoey wanted this all to blow over, so does Legobutts. Well guess what? Your rabid white knight apologists are preventing that from happening even more than Gamergate. It's a self defeating preservation system.

None of these "twittle'ing" idiots understand the term radio silence.

And it's so damn beautiful.

#18 Posted by SambaLele (5528 posts) -

@Seabas989 said:
@parkurtommo said:

@Heil68 said:

Nobody is going to read that.

I read it!

#19 Posted by Renegade_Fury (17465 posts) -

I read it, and I agree. All these "journalists" care about is feeding us some pseudo-intellectual garbage, when all we really want to know is whether a game is fun or not.; The End. It should be no surprise that we respect and turn to our fellow enthusiasts over these pretentious and agenda filled douches, because guess what? That's what we've always done. We never needed these type of people, and so I think these "journalists" are writing in the wrong industry if they want to keep harping on about the meaning of life, their personal issues, or some other mumbo jumbo.

#20 Edited by enzyme36 (1634 posts) -

There was a nice thread a week ago that pointed out all these attacks on gamers... Kudos

#21 Posted by speedfreak48t5p (9253 posts) -

If I want quality gaming journalism, I'll just go on IGN. Simple as that.

#22 Posted by Bread_or_Decide (18436 posts) -

@Heil68 said:

Nobody is going to read that.

I read it....yeah I can't believe it either.

BTW youtube critics are being secretly bought and paid for these days as well. Integrity is nowhere to be found.

#23 Posted by billing (634 posts) -

Gaming Journalism sucks because its the same shit over and over again.

#24 Edited by SambaLele (5528 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

He is right

Gaming journalism is dead but its not because of the reasons he are trying to point out, its because gaming journalism has never or will it ever exist. And it will be good the day journalists become a protected title so not every joe game and sarah critic can call themselves something they never would be able to be.

If it didn't exist to begin with, then it isn't dead. Something that does not exist was never alive. I get your point, but the fact is that these media outlets sold the image of being "journalism" websites, and there're bound to be people to buy into it. That's the problem. We can't simply assume everyone will be aware of the COI involved, that these are glorified outsourced PR/marketing agencies. This is a hundred millions + consumers market every gen, without counting the PC platform (then who knows how many people we should be considering)...

@Bread_or_Decide said:

@Heil68 said:

Nobody is going to read that.

I read it....yeah I can't believe it either.

BTW youtube critics are being secretly bought and paid for these days as well. Integrity is nowhere to be found.

I'm feeling gaming forums are a better place, even considering the huge bias we get from fanboys. Actually, it's like at least people are open and disclose their bias before-hand, even if they didn't intend to. I hope companies don't start paying forum members to talk positively about their games... nah. Wouldn't be effective anyway I guess.

#25 Posted by cainetao11 (19102 posts) -

That is a good article. In the end neither is right in behavior. I mean its no secret there are some immature, emotional babies that do stupid things in the gamers side. But there is some questionable writing or should I say promoting in the journalism. The truth is, money or the money spent is the consumer. So they will get the benefit of companies favor over journalists.

#26 Edited by Shinobishyguy (22574 posts) -

For those who are in the know about gamergate check out #notyourshield on twitter

Social justice weenies are getting BTFO by the same people they claim to support

#27 Edited by WilliamRLBaker (28476 posts) -

Gamer gate roundtable with ed morrissey, internet aristocrat, adam baldwin, kevin glass.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-ed-morrissey-show

#28 Edited by blackace (21319 posts) -

iwkoqt.gif

Hhhmm.. no.

#29 Edited by ReadingRainbow4 (15989 posts) -

@Shinobishyguy said:

For those who are in the know about gamergate check out #notyourshield on twitter

Social justice weenies are getting BTFO by the same people they claim to support

It's so damn hilarious, these dirt bags have had the furguson newsfeed trending on their twitter pages and now they're getting told to shut the fuck up by the same people that were getting shot at with beanbags and water nozzles, live ammo, lol.

It's like "You want to talk about oppression? You're little internet warrior white knight bullshit means nothing to me, I have a bruised ass, my clothes are drenched and my house was nearly burned down. don't lump us together with you idiots we have enough problems."

#30 Edited by ReadingRainbow4 (15989 posts) -

@blackace said:

Hhhmm.. no.

This might be more your speed.

#31 Posted by Zidaneski (8484 posts) -

I'm glad this happened, now everyone knows that most gaming sites just do PR and hype. If you want to have someone give an unbiased objectionable review of a game you gotta talk to ones that aren't getting paid to run their mouths off, and yes that means not all youtubers are good for reviews.

#32 Edited by SambaLele (5528 posts) -

@WilliamRLBaker said:

Gamer gate roundtable with ed morrissey, internet aristocrat, adam baldwin, kevin glass.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-ed-morrissey-show

Damn, missed that. Can't find it anywhere. Hope they put it on youtube.

What about another article for the time being, this time, by Forbes. The narrative could be a bit better, but this is the best recollection of what happened that I've found. Very worth the read.

#33 Posted by Kaze_no_Mirai (11603 posts) -

@clyde46 said:

@ps4hasnogames said:

There are not too many credible gaming journalists out there, the few that I do respect seem to work for IGN.

From what I've seen IGN has kept reasonably quiet on this.

They had been pretty cool about it until they published the article about the letter signed by 600 devs against hate in the industry. They closed down the comments multiple times and deleted an insane amount of comments whenever people would bring up facts about Zoe Quinn and Sarkeesian. Reasonable, polite, fact based post without a hint of anger or foul language. People couldn't even say anything remotely against the article or the letter without getting their comment deleted.

#34 Posted by Bruin1986 (1338 posts) -

Can someone please give me a synopsis of what this whole "gamers/game journalists are dead" phenomenon is exactly?

I read through the OP's article but I haven't been paying much attention to the interwebs in the past few weeks.

Did I miss something? What triggered this whole backlash? What is the main argument being made exactly?

That gaming journalists are bucking to capitalist pressure from big publishers/devs and acting more like cheerleaders than real critics?

#35 Posted by inb4uall (6310 posts) -
@parkurtommo said:

@Heil68 said:

Nobody is going to read that.

I read it!

Me too.

#36 Edited by inb4uall (6310 posts) -

The gamespot staff should make an indie youtube gaming channel once they all get laid off.

#37 Edited by SambaLele (5528 posts) -

@Bruin1986 said:

Can someone please give me a synopsis of what this whole "gamers/game journalists are dead" phenomenon is exactly?

I read through the OP's article but I haven't been paying much attention to the interwebs in the past few weeks.

Did I miss something? What triggered this whole backlash? What is the main argument being made exactly?

That gaming journalists are bucking to capitalist pressure from big publishers/devs and acting more like cheerleaders than real critics?

Best way is to read the Forbes article I linked in my previous post, this one, and the OP's. If you want to know more... dig yourself a bit of info from google. Seriously. May even check KnowYourMeme on "quinnspiracy", "vivian james" (this was pretty funny actually), check the hashtags #gamergate and #notyourshield on twitter, and so on.

#38 Posted by HadOne2Many (1469 posts) -

I'd be interested to see how many gaming journalist actually have journalism degrees. Less than 1% probably. It really is a joke. Perhaps if they had some integrity people wouldn't be so quick to lash out at them.

#39 Posted by Mr-Powers (462 posts) -

I don't need to read all that.

#40 Edited by clyde46 (47409 posts) -

@mr-powers said:

I don't need to read all that.

You missed out.

#41 Edited by wis3boi (31930 posts) -

@mr-powers said:

I can't understand the words in all that.

ftfy

#42 Posted by FireEmblem_Man (9086 posts) -

Time for these so called game journal is to enter the real world and find jobs. It was only a matter of time that gaming journalism would have a huge meltdown. Thank you oh great Master Malstrom for predicting this a long time ago.

#43 Edited by harry_james_pot (11160 posts) -

That was pretty good.

@SambaLele said:

@WilliamRLBaker said:

Gamer gate roundtable with ed morrissey, internet aristocrat, adam baldwin, kevin glass.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-ed-morrissey-show

Damn, missed that. Can't find it anywhere. Hope they put it on youtube.

Here. I skipped to the part where the game conversation start.

Loading Video...
#44 Posted by LegatoSkyheart (26217 posts) -

This is a more believable article than the "Gamers are over" articles.

#45 Posted by FireEmblem_Man (9086 posts) -

@ReadingRainbow4 said:

@Shinobishyguy said:

For those who are in the know about gamergate check out #notyourshield on twitter

Social justice weenies are getting BTFO by the same people they claim to support

It's so damn hilarious, these dirt bags have had the furguson newsfeed trending on their twitter pages and now they're getting told to shut the fuck up by the same people that were getting shot at with beanbags and water nozzles, live ammo, lol.

It's like "You want to talk about oppression? You're little internet warrior white knight bullshit means nothing to me, I have a bruised ass, my clothes are drenched and my house was nearly burned down. don't lump us together with you idiots we have enough problems."

You know what's funny, this was predicted 4 years ago! 4 YEARS!

Link to Master Malstrom's blog

#46 Posted by TheEroica (14381 posts) -

@animal-father

#47 Posted by SambaLele (5528 posts) -

@harry_james_pot said:

That was pretty good.

@SambaLele said:

@WilliamRLBaker said:

Gamer gate roundtable with ed morrissey, internet aristocrat, adam baldwin, kevin glass.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-ed-morrissey-show

Damn, missed that. Can't find it anywhere. Hope they put it on youtube.

Here. I skipped to the part where the game conversation start.

Loading Video...

Thanks! lots of new info I didn't know about!

#48 Posted by Cloud_imperium (5708 posts) -

Most game journalists of today are new gamers from few years ago , who prefer story telling over everything . Story related stuff is important in video games (always had been) but it is NOT the most important thing in a video game .

Look at Shadow Warrior critic reviews and user reviews . Huge difference . Then look at 1-2 hours games like Gone Home , and look at its score . Its so high because of its plot . Then there are your GOTYs , where game that appeals to casuals the most , wins . Meh .

#49 Posted by nutcrackr (12829 posts) -

People who missed the gamersgate stuff, you are truly blessed. It's been absolute garbage for gaming.

#50 Posted by lamprey263 (25250 posts) -

That was long, but a good read. Frankly I thought on its face the "gamers are dying" articles were stupid, and if anything a reaction to the Quinn and Sarkeesian bullshit. But it makes a good point. Financial, gamers and gaming is still all there. It's gamers and companies that want less to do with gaming journalists. Gamers are finding less faith in gaming journalists and more in common with the gaming enthusiast with a YouTube channel to make a greater connection with the gamer. But these are not just new sources of game coverage, they're personalities that in many cases are advocates for gaming consumers, and they too are very critical of the tactics of game publishers as well as gaming journalism and the effects of gaming.

It's also a good acknowledgement that gaming press has generalized gamers and their audience as something awful and basically talked down to them and is in the process of alienating them, I found that a nice addition to all this. And they have. I'm not sure if it'll cause gamers to leave their sources for news and their gatherings for discussing this stuff but in many ways it was giving the finger to the people who keep them in business. And yes, it's not gamers that are dying, they're leaving the gaming journalism centers and migrating to enthusiasts; instead, it's game journalism that's dying, and I can agree with this.