The popularity of gaming-related websites has brought us very near the end of gaming journalism in printed form. The last few years have seen some of the industry’s most influential publications discontinue their monthly offerings: GamePro, Nintendo Power, NGamer, PlayStation: The Official Magazine — all gone.
However, most of the time I spent as a kid reading about games occurred in front of a computer screen. While many older gamers may decry Internet-exclusive outlets such as IGN and Gamespot, I don’t see why they are any less legitimate than printed periodicals.
Just like the video games we play, the journalism industry evolves and adapts itself to new technology and distribution models. Like it or not, Web-based journalism allows readers instant access to the latest news and rumors. This has not only allowed us to remain more informed about our hobby, but allowed us to become smarter consumers. Product reviews are available at the time of their release, allowing us to be better informed about how we invest our gaming dollar.
The industry’s migration to digital mediums has not been without its flaws. I’ve personally found that much of the gaming journalism industry has done nothing to dissolve the stereotypes that outsiders have about gamers. Take a quick journey through any of YouTube’s many popular gaming-related channels and you’ll find most of them populated by foul-mouthed, overgrown children spouting never-ending strings of dick jokes and sophomoric banter.
I’m not saying that gaming journalism should be the most erudite of affairs, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to attempt to maintain a bit of professional credibility. Writers are now transforming into multimedia personalities, in effect turning credible authorities on culturally pertinent technology into Dane Cook-esque sideshow weirdos that incessantly pander to message board geeks in order to rack up a modest Twitter following.
With the impending ubiquity of broadband Internet comes the apparent diminished demand for the written word. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. After all, gaming is the paramount manifestation of all earlier forms of media, and utilizing each one to educate its curious audience will only serve to promote its welfare.
But will gaming patrons — admittedly younger and lacking prolonged attention spans — value writing enough for content providers to continue investing in those capable of producing it?
Hopefully. There are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic. People are writing more than they ever have due to the social networking boom. Not only that, but professionally written articles are being shared with more people than ever before.
I am aware that this does not apply universally. Gaming, despite being one of the most profitable entertainment industries on the planet, operates a under a different code of conduct than most other enterprises. If the death of the instruction manual and overwhelming reliance on in-game cutscenes have taught me anything, it’s that gamers absolutely loathe reading. Even when asking for feedback on my work here at Retrovolve, most responses are somewhere along the lines of: “I didn’t read all of it, but it seems pretty cool.”
So what reasons do people like myself, especially those who have been able to make a comfortable living doing this type of work, have to continue pursuing financial well-being in what many consider a dying industry?
Well, that’s a tough question to effectively answer. There’s no doubt that the overall health of industry has suffered over in recent years. Even the most successful of gaming press outlets have cut staff, downsized offices, and even merged together in hopes of remaining economically viable. Sure, the industry as we know is shrinking, but is it dying?
It’s too early to say. It’s also too early to worry. Gaming is forever a part of pop culture, and there will always be a demand for content related to it. Video and audio content has not replaced the written word but have been a welcome companion to it.
I choose to write because it’s how I prefer to convey my enthusiasm for the subject, and I still believe there are those out there that can identify with me through my words. Skeptics may look upon people like myself and wonder why we’d seemingly waste our time writing about video games. The grocers and bankers of the world look down upon us for not devoting our time to more domestic doings and wonder why we simply won’t grow up.
I can assure you, that won’t dissuade any of us. As long as there is a controller in our hands and a keyboard at our fingertips, we will do what we do because we love doing it. Whether funded by multimedia conglomerates or a few guys with with a love for gaming and some free time, gaming journalism will live on.
It may not look the same ten years from now, but I, as well as many others like me, will be there to move it forward.