Games Journalism 2012: The ... Sinkening

We didn’t have a 2012 thread yet, did we?

Anyway… Future US cuts 19 jobs:

According to recent Twitter posts, consumer gaming site GamesRadar lost at least four staff members, including producer Cheryll Del Rosario and editors Mike Grimm, Carolyn Gudmundson, and Matt Keast.

In a limited-access Facebook message, Future’s Chuck Osborn confirmed he was also among those let go. Osborn spent more than 13 years at Future, where he worked on PC Gamer and most recently served as group editor in chief of special interest media division Future Plus (@Gamer, Crochet Today).

And then there’s VE3D - a website I still had in my RSS feed collection for nostalgia’s sake, I guess.

Just wanted to let you all know that due to economic hardships, the staff budget at Voodoo Extreme was cut entirely yesterday. We’ve been offered the opportunity to stay on in a volunteer capacity, but the future of VE3D is unknown.

(If any of the people affected by this happen to frequent QT3: D’oh… Good luck and all the best!)

That sucks

Kotaku responds to Tiny Tower dev’s complaint that Zynga is ripping them off, by accusing them of ripping off SimTower

even though Tiny Tower isn’t anything like SimTower in any way whatsoever.

Newest PCG issue’s editorial starts off with Decker claiming that the magazine’s policy has always been game completion before reviewing the title. I laughed.

Why? Are you accusing him of lying?

That’s because it always has been. I never reviewed a game I didn’t finish in the eight years I was there (excluding games that don’t end). And if I ever found that a reviewer didn’t finish a game before turning in the review, I wouldn’t work with that person again.

[[B]Vox Gaming currently has seven extraordinarily talented writers (and me) chosen to help launch the site. All of those writers are men. If you looked at that fact and felt that something was amiss, I understand. I get it. If you are perturbed that there are no women on that list of contributors, I understand. You’re not just entitled to an opinion; you have every reason to be concerned.

[/B]](…for a group to come out and declare their intentions to take over the world and such without any women listed doesn’t just look like the status quo, it looks like a reaffirmation of all that sexism. You’re right to challenge us on it.My response is simple: Vox Games isn’t that. We aren’t that.

You should read the whole thing. It’s not long.

I found it refreshing, which is sad. It’ll be interesting to see if any action follows other than just emphatically repeating that you “get it.”

I am extremely excited to see the launch of Vox Games. The Verge instantly became my favorite site on the web. While I still read it in RSS, it’s a pleasure to navigate the front page from time to time, but every time I click on a link in my RSS feed, I’m never disappointed - all the content is well-written, well-researched, and elegantly presented.

Frankly, it was weird that Voodoo Extreme survived as long as it did as a uniquely branded site under IGN.

I have no idea if this is the right spot, but since its about gaming journalism, I figured it might be.

RPS is hiring a new fulltime journalist for their website - info can be found here. I know there are a few gaming journalists on the site,and thought I’d point out a potential job in case anyone was interested.

Over the years, I’ve had many writers review for me, including one guy who’d once been a full-timer at PCG. I’d assigned him an FPS to review, and at some point I touched base to see how the review was coming along. He said it was going alright and asked how much of the game I wanted him to finish before he sent the review in. A little surprised, I told him… it’s an FPS. I expect you to finish it.

He expressed surprise in return, so I explained our policy: if a game is “finishable” – meaning it’s an FPS or action-adventure and not a thousand-hour MMO – we expected all our reviewers to play through to the end. And his response was basically: “really?” I asked what the policy at PCG was, and he told me that finishing games was never mandatory, that they simply played games until they felt they’d seen enough.

In retrospect, I guess it’s possible this guy was lying, or maybe he actually misunderstood PCG’s policy, that no one ever spelled things out for him. But it never occurred to me to question what he told me – it felt like he was just confirming something we’d all assumed from the start. Still, it was pretty disappointing to hear.

Several years ago, I was attending the DICE conference in Vegas, and there was a panel with four videogame editors, who were asked why games so often get gushing previews followed by mediocre reviews. The obvious answer, for anyone who’d been an editor for 3 months was: because with limited time and resources, we tend to preview games we’re already excited about and we think our readers care about, and don’t feel it’s appropriate to start nitpicking something that’s obviously a work in progress. Therefore, it’s natural that previews skew a little positive.

But Greg Vederman’s response, and these were his exact words, was that he felt it was part of our (the media’s) job to be “cheerleaders for the industry.” That we’re all in this together, competing against movies and music and TV, and that hyping upcoming games was an important part of supporting the videogame industry. And I can’t remember more times in the last 15 years that I felt more embarassed to be a games journalist.

There was a time I really liked PCG. But looking back, and I think it was about the time Rob Smith left, it feels like it slipped into the same mediocrity as the rest of the industry. Not that they don’t have good writers, but have just lacked a proper captain.

We trying to be a little dramatic here?

Well, maybe there was a policy shift last decade but PCG was repeatedly caught years ago having reviews in print on newstands weeks before a game even went gold. I’ve read every single issue of the magazine and remember thinking at times years ago that the reviewer had failed to play the entire game.

Tim Rogers spends 60,000 words talking about how pokemon smell

Read the comments section as well.

I can fully address the same issue in three words: with their noses.


Good grief. What editor assumed that people would want to read that?

He probably heard that some people like mudkips.

Good for Tim Rogers. He got some saps to pay him money to write about his favorite subject: Tim Rogers.

Some of his Kotaku articles have been quite readable, but every once in a while he puts out something that plainly shows he’s still boldly carrying the torch for New Games LiveJournalism, possibly all alone. So very, very much alone.

I don’t know who that might’ve been, but the policy was in place when I joined up in 2003, and it still is today. We always did our best to uphold it.

I think you may’ve misinterpreted his point - or perhaps he didn’t state it clearly in this case. The way he always explained the “cheerleader” philosophy to me was pretty much in line with the obvious answer you cite: it’s about going out and finding the games that make us excited to be PC gamers, and making sure that as many people know about them as possible. That’s what he means by supporting the industry, and it’s quite different from hyping up any old game to make PC gaming look better than it is.

“Caught?” Our publicly stated policy was to review games when publishers told us they were ready to be reviewed. Magazines have long lead times - it’s roughly a month between when an issue is sent to the printer and when it shows up in mailboxes - so yeah, if you want to get a review to your readers when they’re still relevant, you have to review games well in advance of release. It’s a pretty good system: If you were sending a product to a reviewer, would you send them something that didn’t work right? You certainly wouldn’t send them a game they couldn’t play all the way through. But anyway, reviews based on pre-gold code are an entirely different issue from playing through the entire game.

The only time there was ever a “gold only” review policy was from May 2008 to January 2009. We tried to make it work for the extra perceived credibility, but found that it wasn’t worth the cost of having several major reviews reach readers two months after the game came out.

Care to be more specific?

I’m a game developer and I don’t care if somebody finishes a (or my) game before reviewing it, as long as they put in “enough” time to get a real feel for the game. Almost every AAA game is so full of padding these days to make it “worth” $60, I think it’s actually almost abuse to make a responsible professional journalist completely finish a game before weighing in on it. There are so few games out there where the 10th hour is qualitatively different from the 9th hour (and usually the 4th hour), and you can usually tell way in advance if you’re playing one of those and act accordingly.

This fetishism for finishing games before having an opinion about them contributes to the product-oriented $/hr view of games that a lot of people have, as opposed to the entertainment/artistic view (not to mention the narrative-oriented as opposed to the interactivity-oriented view) that I think would help push the art form forward.