Questions continued

What is the video game industry?

Not a hard question, and going to Wikipedia gives the answer. It calls it “the economic sector involved with the development, marketing and sale of video games.” A more detailed description would call it a multi-billion dollar industry with mixed futures and might be running out of ideas. The fate of the game industry directly impacts tens of millions of gamers worldwide; it’s no wonder that we pay so much attention to it.

What goes behind a videogame?

A bit harder, but search “game development” on Google and the Internet delivers. Game development requires a lot of hard work: designers, programmers, artists, testers and even producers slave over the game for months and still have to resort to crunch time for completion. If you’re working in the game industry itself, you could also respond by describing abstract design theories, the pain of programming and the procedures of sound engineering, AI design, level design, engine development, etc. If you’re Michael Pachter, you might also add anecdotal evidence regarding the degree of poor management in the industry.

What is the video game journalism industry?

Wikipedia offers “a branch of journalism concerned with the reporting and discussion of video games [,] typically based on a core reveal/preview/review cycle.” It’s not a multi-billion dollar industry, but it is also an important gear in the game industry’s machine. The most popular game websites are also some of the most visited websites worldwide. The game journalism industry is impressive in its size: game-related news can be found on the internet, on the tube, in newspapers and sometimes in magazines. The game journalism industry ostensibly represents the maturity of video games as a medium, as game journalism has become a vibrant industry in itself.

“Ostensibly” is the key word.

What goes behind a piece of game journalism?

There’s no article for “game journalism development”. The first page of google, however, throws some hints, and the consensus is “not much”. Game journalism involves low ethics, low professionalism, a bit of conflict and too much partying. In the unlikely event that you work in the game journalism industry itself, you could also wax poetic about abstract journalistic theories like new game journalism and new new game journalism. The few journalists who have jobs with the big sites or the big blogs could complain about sacrificing integrity for revenue.

How do we fix game journalism?

Here’s where things get difficult.
You could say that game journalists are just bad writers, but that doesn’t explain why the few among them who can write gets ignored by the press. How many people today know about the piece that exemplified a supposed revolution in game journalism?
You could say that the audience is too low-brow, but when the main gamer demographic is in their twenties you would expect them to realize the low quality of journalism. In fact, countless people have, and they have all pleaded for action. But these blogs gather a few comments and then vanish into the sea of the internet, ignored by the majority.

The game journalism industry seems like a series of paradoxes. Everyone knows there’s something to fix, and yet everyone also agrees not to fix it. The industry is concentrated on the internet, but the freedom provided by the largest network known to man doesn’t apply. The journalist wants to be known for his/her quality reporting, but will die before giving up his/her coda one-liners. Is this brave new world doomed to be treated as a joke by the one outside?

Do you want to learn about ways to fix game journalism?

So we don’t know how to fix game journalism, or we figure out parts of it but can’t pull it all together. There is one piece missing in this puzzle, and to find it we must go back. What goes behind a piece of game journalism?

Some astute readers would have realized there is one answer missing in this question compared to the same question regarding game development. The game industry has a Michael Pachter while game journalism does not. There’s no smart-alecky consultant who pulls the industry together and analyzes its market. More succintly, we know how to improve the factors of production regarding game journalism, but we don’t know any economics regarding this balloning market. As history has shown, when the economy isn’t analysed, things can go very wrong, and it can only be fixed through strategies that consider the economy as a whole.

Am I the Michael Pachter of game journalism? Hardly. But this blog will try to investigate this industry’s market and hopefully shed insight in the process. The only way we can end the vicious cycle is to fix the economy as a whole, and I hope this revisionist approach to the problem can eventually lead to the answer.

Continue…

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