Press Released

Press Released
Why So Serious

Sean Sands | 28 Jun 2009 09:00
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That is, I think, how the way of the world should be. It is not simply that we are far from rocket science here, but frankly I like the balance between desire and accessibility for gaming minutia. The more layers you peel away from the onion, the less onion you have when you are done.

Our job isn't life changing. It is meant to be life enhancing. It's meant to give you the same kind of distraction and bemusement that the industry we cover strives for. Who really wants or needs hard-nosed, stony faced, stiff-upper-lip games journalism?

News today from Redwood City. Computer game designers employed by the Electronic Arts Corporation revealed details on a technological piece of computerized entertainment codenamed Vie for Nam II: Ultra Edition. The application developers claim to allow a "user" to take control of tiny digital men in simulated conflict. Controlled via input on a small plastic accessory which must be purchased separately, employees describe the product as a game, and insist it not be confused with actual training or violent propaganda...

For the most part, I have a terrific time writing about games. Why? Because I am writing about games. If you aren't having fun doing that, then what the hell is the point? So, like many of my colleagues, I take great pleasure in being colorful, occasionally controversial, opinionated and casual. I believe the great benefit of what we do is to provide distraction.

I appreciate people who approach the work we do with a professional commitment, but I also don't find much value in an overanalysis of how that work is done. The role of the press, the real press, is so vital to the nation that it is codified into the very fabric of government. That's not the kind of work we do, and I find some error in a philosophy that tries to elevate writing about video games above our mandate. I think, sometimes, we are so worried about being taken seriously, that we fail to see that the product was never intended to be.

Is it dangerous for games journalism to be a cheerleader? I'm just not sure. On the whole we have an audience, so that gives us influence and some minor degree of power, but does that make us part of a games development process? All things being equal, without some kind of enthusiast press, would there be more bad games or fewer good one? I'm not sure that I subscribe to that theory.

I love writing about games. I love being enthusiastic about some games, critical of others and being within a flexible framework that doesn't demand impartiality. When I read other games writers, I prefer to read the ones that allow their passion to be part of their career. I would never want it to be like reading a newspaper. I frankly prefer the environment where games analysis is like talking about your hobby with friends.

Sean Sands is a professional writer, co-founder of and rarely found taking himself very seriously at all.


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