The Rest of the Story

The Rest of the Story
Game Journalists on Game Journalism

Michael Zenke | 14 Nov 2006 07:00
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Greg Kasavin: I think blogs have emerged as a threat to the online status quo, and I like them if only for that reason. This year, GameSpot started live-blogging from key events, like the E3 press conferences, and we surely wouldn't have done this were it not for competitive forces that inspired us to come up with a way to report faster when time was of the essence. In turn, these forces allowed us to create something better for our audience. As for the print media, I think this makes it all the more necessary for print to focus on what it can offer that online can't. Online, I can get news the instant that it happens and I can get video of the games I care about. As a result, I rarely read gaming publications anymore, and when I do I'm more interested in the nicely presented, well-researched, well-written, in-depth feature articles than in old news or short, premature reviews.

TE: Robert Summa's dismissal from Joystiq resulted from him hyping an upcoming update that turned out to be a banal press release. Did the punishment fit the crime? What is your take on hype and sensationalism as tools for game journalism?

Chris Kohler: I'll answer this tomorrow, when I reveal some exclusive news you won't believe about the Wii.

Greg Kasavin: I think as audiences grow older and in some cases more mature, they begin to see hype more transparently for what it is. And in many cases, they still might be OK with it, like someone who enjoys reading tabloids for what they are. Games are an entertainment business, and people like getting excited and worked up about games they care about. In turn, I think the gaming media can and should express natural excitement when it arises. And I also think bait-and-switch, "boy who cried wolf"-style tactics of hyping stuff followed by it under-delivering on the promises results in natural consequences. I think people interested in games will always prefer a trustworthy, dependable source of information to one that builds a track record of letting them down.

Chris Morris: Hype and sensationalism are regrettable, but they've been a part of media for longer than gaming has been around. They'll continue to be a part of any media for a long, long time. Certainly some organizations go to the extreme in an attempt to win eyeballs - and it hurts us all. But let's be honest, every media outlet has been guilty of some type of sensationalism before.

Luke Smith: How many times have you gone to a major game site because they've told you to check back at such-and-such-a-time for "something awesome"? If you've gone more than once, that's too much. Hype gets so out of control, gamers are living in the age of the megaton and whatever desperate hope they have that Final Fantasy XIII is coming to Xbox 360 is only fueled when websites pull shenanigans like that - it's almost never as big of a deal as people want it to be. We have to be responsible for our actions and held accountable when we manipulate the expectations of gamers.

TE: Many gamers seem increasingly jaded toward previews. Some have leveled charges that preview writers for many sites and magazines tend to hold back their true impressions of a game. Should preview writers hold back, or expose readers to every harsh opinion a preview build elicits?

Greg Kasavin: I think preview writers should be responsible about giving works-in-progress the benefit of the doubt. Any game that isn't finished has the opportunity to get better. This doesn't mean a previewer shouldn't cite perceived issues in a preview build, but he or she probably shouldn't pass final judgment on that preview build, either. I think transparency and context is key to a good preview. If I was really excited by something I saw or played at E3, I'd be more than happy to express that as best I can, but I'd also remember to qualify the remarks by saying that all I saw was, say, a 15-minute non-playable demo and who-only-knows when the final game will come out. If there's jadedness toward preview stories, I think it's more due to the limited amount of access previewers get when creating those previews, or due to there being one too many previews of a given product from a single outlet.

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