Monday, 10 March 2014

"There's No Games Journalism."

No Videogame Journalism

Back in November of last year I attended a talk at Birmingham City University on the importance of high quality journalism in the development of Mark Williams-Thomas's televised exposé of Jimmy Savile. 

It was an immensely interesting talk featuring both Mark Williams-Thomas and Donal MacIntyre speaking not only of the exposé itself, but on why they personally believed in journalism as a concept and what it can and has done for "the people". Simply put, they view journalism as the pursuit of truth for the benefit of the public.

Sitting and listening to the two men talk with each other and answer questions from the large number of journalism students in attendance brought forth a personal epiphany, and I remember turning to my girlfriend after the show and uttering the following:

"There's no games journalism."

To be clear, I don't mean that there's no videogame journalism in the sense that the "journalism" we have is flawed or corrupt, but simply that it never existed in the first place. Gaming enthusiast writers have always been the ones to put pen to paper and create the gaming magazine and the gaming news websites, not journalists. And somewhere along the line the term "videogame journalism" was adopted, but the tone and the quality of the content being produced has, if anything, remained exactly the same.

Instead of journalists whom gamers and consumers can depend on to keep videogame companies in check, we have writers who construct news posts based on press releases sent by a company one day, and the next day receive swag and promo videogame copies from the same company for review. That's not journalism.

I used to called myself a videogame journalist due to convention, and older descriptions of me across the web likely carry the term, however after the talk at Birmingham City University, the idea of calling myself a journalist was not only incorrect, but it undermined the hard work of actual journalists who spend their days exposing crooked politicians, money grabbing companies, and all those in power who prey on the weak.

There's definitely space for videogame related journalism, and it's something I'd certainly like to see in the future. There's far too many bloated, money hungry publishers out there that'd gladly spit in the eyes of their most loyal consumers if it meant a quick buck for their suited share holders. But in my personal opinion, that kind of work needs to be carried out by trained and qualified journalists, not enthusiasts, and that the world of videogame reviews and press release paraphrasing needs to be set apart completely from the work of said journalists.

I said back in November that I'd do a follow-up to the talk and it's something I've always intended to do. In fact, I have the entirety of the talk recorded on my dictaphone which, let it be noted, is for my own personal use only. My plan is to transcribe the parts relevant to the importance of journalism and post it on this blog along with my own comments.

For the time being, however, here's two articles that highlight my own failed attempts at banging on the impenetrable doors of videogame publishers:

Wishing Upon A Phantasy Star [MegaWestgarth]
Dear Sega: The Disappointment of a Non-Response [Sega Addicts]

Above image owned by DC Comics. Used without permission.


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