The Escapist Magazine
Issue 106
Good Night, Good Luck
Game journalism continues to come of age. Are we there yet?
Editor's Note Letters to the Editor

"From the developer's point of view, reviews are simple: They're either good or bad. If the review is good, chances are sales will be good, too (exception: Psychonauts). If the review is bad, all is not quite lost, as sometimes even a bad review will move copies (see: most EA games), but it's usually bad news. So, as far as a developer is concerned, there's a lot riding on whether or not the person his PR flak sends a review copy to likes it. The frustrating part - for developers - is that no matter how much effort they put into a game, no matter how perfectly they polish it, there's no guarantee they'll receive a good review - or any review at all."

Russ Pitts reviews the current state of the art of game reviews.

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"I was used to writing for newspapers. If I was really lucky, my editors would write 'nice!' on the check, but that was all the feedback I'd ever gotten. Writers of the wannabe flavor are essentially paranoid balls of neediness and insecurity. Those little editorial notes were like a single drag off a cigarette. The reaction to Tweety's first rant was like snorting cocaine. People loved it. There were hundreds of responses posted in less than a day. And I was hooked."

Sanya Weathers recounts her journey from journalist to developer and back again.

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"It's been four years since I got turned on to interesting game writing, which means it has been eight years since I started in this business, and the question on everyone's lips right now is 'Are we there yet?' Well, we're somewhere."

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"People want their opinions regurgitated back to them, which means a lot of sites focus on saying what's popular rather than what's true. If the website isn't on the bandwagon, they're closing the door on the larger potential readership.

"And so, people cater to the herd. You don't want to piss players off when you know, in general, how to avoid pissing the majority off, do you? It's something just about everyone who has ever worked on a game site has had to deal with. Say what the people want to hear, and they will love you for it. Say what the people don't want to hear, and they'll do worse than hate you, they'll stop reading."

Ryan Shwayder looks at whose integrity is for sale, and why they're selling it.

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"The larger cost of the entire approach is significant. Both journalists and developers like to portray games as items of cultural importance, but, so long as the subjects of game journalism are treated as little more than items for sale, it becomes difficult to make that case. 'What are you playing now?' and 'What are you looking forward to?' become the only questions anyone is interested in."

Troy Goodfellow examines the gaming media inherent future bias.

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