Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best and Worst of 2011 – Games Journalism Edition

Great games journalism pieces are not few and far between. If you look hard enough, if you read more than the standard press release rehashes, and if you dig a little deeper there are writers out there who are surpassing the quick news hits that lie on the surface of games journalism.

Here are the best and worst pieces of this year.


Level with me

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has been hosting a series of interviews conducted by game developer Robert “Radiator” Yang, and every one of them is brilliant. Just a few weeks ago they reached the climax of the interviews, a combined effort by all the interviewees to create a level in Portal 2. Having played it myself, I can see each of the interview subjects influences, particular method of game development, and signatures in each environment.

Who’s been interviewed? Dear Esther creator Dan Pinchbeck, Design Reboot’s Jack “Gauss” Monahan, former Grin Level Designer Magnar Jenssen, Blendo Games’ Brendon Chung, Stanley Parable creator Davey Wreden, Proteus creator Ed Key, and Kairo developer Richard Perrin. You don’t see this kind of active games journalism too often.

It has to do with scope.

Good games journalism is about interesting content and hearing voices from the community talk about games. Doing this kind of journalism is informative and it appeals to a base who wants to know what modern-day innovators are doing with game design. Furthering this each interviewee helped to design a level that showcases their talents and their ideas. Their interviews were virtually manifested into a video game, the very medium they are discussing. This is active, constructive, revolutionary games journalism. And they’re damn good reads.


Steal this look - I Got My Fashion Sense from Video Games (And You Can, Too!)

I really want to qualify 2011’s worst piece of gaming journalism before talking about it. The question that has stuck with me while reading Tim Roger’s article I Got My Fashion Sense from Video Games (And You Can, Too!) is whether or not he was writing tongue and cheek, you know, ironically. It could be said that it’s a deductive piece about living a video game flushed life, but it begs a serious question:

Are we supposed to take the article seriously?

That’s probably the most unnerving part of his article, you just don’t know where he’s coming from. Rogers is a video game journalist who’s written articles on topics like how he hated living in Japan and different aspects of game culture. His article is in no way poorly written – a few mistakes here or there, but it suffers from not really say anything. It’s one thing to write an article that comments on specific aspects of gaming culture like clothing, but to write something like this, perhaps ironically in order to get hits and comments, is just wrong.

A lot of bulk journalism is about getting hits, about getting the information out first even if it’s wrong or if it’s meant to instigate flame wars. It makes me wonder if Kotaku publishes Roger’s articles because they know it’ll get people commenting and passing it along to other readers. It’s at once a-sort-of interesting piece and it’s a hit grabber made to publicize something no one really cares about. It doesn’t say anything, and how can we take it seriously when it makes games journalism look like an exercise in editorial narcissism?

Am I wrong about this being the worst piece of games journalism of 2011. Probably yes, but it pales in comparison to the efforts made by Rock, Paper, Shotgun above.


That is it for the best and the worst games journalism of 2011. Rock, Paper, Shotgun and Radiator Yang did an amazing job of interviewing and involving level designers in their journalistic efforts. Tim Rogers did an amazing job of writing a damned long article that was actually pretty funny in some parts. And $35 dollar underwear is comfortable, but a luxury no one should be able to afford.

Oh, and take a look at this runner-up piece of crap example of games journalism for the lulz:

No comments:

Post a Comment