The letter “I” has been giving gamers a bit of a stir recently. In the wake of the #GamerGate movement, gamers are calling for more objective game journalism. They are saying that game journalism has to be held up to the same standards as normal journalism, i.e. just the facts and only the facts.
Are we to be held to these standards in reviews and editorials too?
“YES!” much of the Twitter sphere cries, citing that game journalism is facts, and everything else is blogging. Unfortunately, I don’t think many of the people who are asking for this realize what “game journalism” really is.
First of all, game journalism is news. There is no problem saying that should be held up to the same standards as normal journalism. Facts are facts and should be reported accurately.
However, game journalism is also criticism, and criticism is, by definition, subjective. Criticism speaks about how one singular critics experiences with a game differ from the next. There is no objective criticism, that’s why so many review scores differ. Heck, different writers here at Cheat Code Central have given the same game wildly different scores. Without the subjectivity of criticism, we could only report to you the features of a game, and never tell you whether it was good or bad, never give you a score.
Game journalism is also speculation. Many game developers love to give tiny teases on the projects that they are working on. Us game journalists then take those teases and speculate on what they could be. However, this speculation is also not factual. It’s fantastical. It’s… well… speculative. However, performing this speculation not only allows us as journalists to get the news about the tease out to the public, it also allows us to prepare the public for what WE think the tease means. Heck, financial analysts get paid good money to do just this, but on a grander scale and with more money at stake.
Game journalism is ALSO analysis. There are plenty of classes on literary analysis on college campuses, but very few game analysis classes. As such, some of the only people who have a platform to ask “what does this game mean” are game journalists. Game journalists were the one who regarded Spec Ops: The Line as a criticism of the military shooter genre. Game journalists were some of the first to publicize the underlying atomic bomb story of Braid. Were we the first to figure these things out? No. But we DID have a platform to talk about it and so we broadcast these analyses to the world. These too are totally subjective.
All of these things, news, criticism, speculation, and analysis, are useful things. However, if we were to keep game journalism to nothing but facts, it would be a mere shell of what it is now. We would be in a world of no reviews, no teasers, no editorials, no analytical articles, no commentary, nothing! Heck, the very articles that support #GamerGate and similar movements could not exist in a world of facts alone, as choosing to support #GamerGate is a matter of opinion.
I think that our world of Game Journalism is pretty awesome if I do say so myself. Maybe in a world where games were a more accepted main stream style of media, we would have dedicated journalists, analysts, critics, and the like. But for now, I’m happy to review games, as much as I am to regurgitate facts from press releases to you guys. So if that’s games blogging instead of games journalism, I hope we all embrace games blogging from here on out.