Entertainment

Critical moves: video game journalism

Video games: I love playing, talking about and introducing people to the wonderful world of video games. For some, that is playing the game for streaming and video purposes. For me, it is writing about them. The act of writing about the gaming industry has led me to look more into what the industry is truly like and discover what is happening behind our most beloved games.

I recall a conversation I had with my mother about what I write about in the Quad. She asked me if there was even enough happening within the industry to write about something every week. While her question is reasonable for someone who isn’t really that exposed to video games (she views it as one of the reasons I don’t do well in school), if a person ever just peeked into what video game news and culture is like, they’ll understand that there is always something to cover. From smaller stuff like the release of indie titles, and more significant things, such as new practices within the industry and the discouragement of practices, like the piece you are reading right now. There is always something to write about, to the point that sometimes I struggle to pick what to discuss. That said, I would like to get an opinion of the industry off my chest.

Gaming journalism is an extremely underappreciated job in the gaming industry.

There are countless examples of gaming journalists who are told that they are incorrect even though the individual has done their due diligence in research. An excellent example of this happening in practice is a reported delay of “No Man’s Sky.” The journalist told the public that it was indeed confirmed that this highly anticipated game was not on schedule and would need more time to be completed. When this news first broke, people began to publicly exclaim their discontent with the delay – not initially at the developers, who, while not deserving of  harassment either in the slightest, but would at least make sense, but at the journalist that reported the delay in the first place.

Stories such as this give the impression that it would have been better for the journalist to not even bother getting involved in that story. With that attitude however, we would be completely in the dark about other important stories in the industry. Stories about crunch and in-game monetization for certain games, and harassment and lawsuits for copyright or sexual misconduct are essential stories about the industry that would never be brought to life if journalists were too afraid to reveal what is going on inside of the industry.

In short, despite being treated like trash by people in the industry and those even within their own field, they still continue to share the news about the gaming industry.

Arguably one of the most important stories for gaming was done by a man named Jason Schreier. He revealed the vicious world of game development for “Anthem” under Bioware by telling the world about how the employees were treated and the ironic mismanagement by upper management that led to flagrant abuse of their workforce, leading many to leave the company based purely off of stress and crunch.

Stories like these are essential to better working conditions and more power for employees in the industry. The impact of the story can be felt to this day. After the report, many games were delayed to reduce the need for harmful practices such as crunch. This is the power of excellent reporting in the industry.

Which leads directly into my next point about gaming journalists: they are not respected by the industry they are in. When that story about Bioware’s abuse toward their employees came out, the company made a public statement regarding the piece saying that what Schreier had done didn’t help the industry, but damaged it by putting others down. Let me remind you that some people despised the development of “Anthem” so much that they left game development altogether. Using Bioware’s logic, does that mean that completely wearing out your employees until breaking point make the industry a better place?

While that statement alone is absurd, it does follow the reliable pattern of the game industry when it comes to sentiments shared about game journalism.

Just like with any other industry, companies like to keep their mouths shut when it comes to their practices. It is pretty clear that most major AAA companies don’t view journalists with high regard. It certainly doesn’t help the fact that it was revealed that they have systems in place where they reveal information to some particular outlets but not others. There was a story once where a game developer gave some information specifically for that one news outlet to reveal. However, before that news outlet could write the article about the information that they were exclusively given, another outlet got the information as well and wrote their piece first. That angered the developer so much so that they constantly pressured that gaming news outlet on the way they acquired the information. It was borderline harassment.

Just like with any other industry, companies like to keep their mouths shut when it comes to their practices.

Even among people within gaming news media, journalists are not respected. While it has been some time now, there was once an outlet called Brash Games. This outlet was a startling example of how people within game journalism are not respected even in the slightest. The owner of the site, Paul Ryan (not the politician), erased evidence that writers left on the work that they made for the site, and didn’t pay his writers using the tried and tested currency of writing: exposure. We’re not talking about people who are in college writing for a college newspaper, but full-fledged writers who were not being paid for the work that they did. There are other aspects to this story, but the big takeaway was when the site was no longer considered trustworthy because of altered scores and ties to online gambling. Ryan began to lash out at the writers that had left his company. He even began publicly giving away extremely private information about said writers, such as the condition of their mental and physical health. Those writers are planning on suing him for his blatant disregard for their privacy in the end.

In short, despite being treated like trash by people in the industry and those even within their own field, they still continue to share the news about the gaming industry. Thank god for them.

Edward Park is a third-year student majoring in English education. EP909756@wcupa.edu.

Leave a Comment