Those who attempt to breathe life into game writing, the so-called "New Game Journalists," can only describe what it's like to play a game, but even then the writer doing the playing (regardless of what drugs he's taking) is sitting in a chair, staring at a screen, not careening across the desert in a stolen Cadillac, hiding barbiturates from highway patrolmen. Picture Hunter Thompson playing a Fear and Loathing videogame and then writing about the experience. "We can't pause here, this is bat country!" It somehow fails to capture the imagination.
There will be no Pulitzers awarded for the best description of an afternoon playing Second Life, no schools of journalism named after the guy wearing a Zelda T-shirt under a corduroy blazer and no posthumous Medals of Freedom awarded to game journos killed in action serving as embedded correspondents at Ubisoft Montreal. Those of us who write about games are preaching to a singularly insular choir, all of whom already believe they know the sermon, verse-by-verse, and who check in merely to affirm that knowledge, then blog about it on their own site; rarely to learn something new.
In an entertainment medium, the media coverage is part of the entertainment, and we, the writers, are all actors on that stage. So should the Lester Bangs of videogaming ever make his entrance, what kind of writer will he be? Honestly, I don't care and neither should you. As Bangs himself might say, f--- Lester Bangs, I want the Party. And to hell with all of this sentimental, pedantic journalistic saber-rattling. As important as the quality of game journalism may be to the maturation of the industry, of far more importance should be the quality of the games themselves and the explanations of why that should matter to people who don't yet know.
I think it is time to come out of the bedroom, stop fiddling with our joysticks and get serious; but not about games, and not about game writing. We've spent far too much time wanking over that diorama. It's time now to get serious about communicating; our thoughts, our ideas and our love of the industry and why any of that should matter.
Maybe Klosterman was right. Maybe if we're still looking for our Lester Bangs, it's because we don't yet have a writer who can communicate those thoughts. Or if we do, and he's sitting around waiting for his muse, then the question he needs to be asking isn't "How do you become a serious journalist?" but rather "How do you become a serious industry?"
Russ Pitts is an Associate Editor for The Escapist. He has written and produced for television, theatre and film, has been writing on the web since it was invented and claims to have played every console ever made.