When the Gaming Media Changed: Memories of Garwulf's Corner

When the Gaming Media Changed: Memories of Garwulf's Corner

Author Robert Marks takes a look back at video game journalism in the 2000s and when things began to change in how the industry was covered, including his participation with a column called Garwulf's Corner.

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the only thing I would like to point out would be that some of your sections skip around in time, and caused me to have to re-read a couple paragraphs just to know when/what you were talking about. ex: in one sentence you are talking about 2000 in a way that seems like the column was just being started, and then you bring up 1998 as the start date in the next, and then you start talking about 2002 in the next sentence this came off confusing.

I like the overall piece (at times it feel a little bit too self-aggrandizing) though I do wish that many forums on the internet would return to a more discors for discors sake mentality though that has gone away more, and more since the second major renaissance in online writing happened when: those that would now be considered bro-gamers started to find these websites.

A wonderful read there, Mr Marks. It took me back to a time when gamers were supportive of each other.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on where you think gaming media went wrong. Personally, I think that came about as a result of the relationship between developer and publisher gradually getting more and more abusive and more money orientated. This was back when the stock market went into recession.

Eh. I was intrigued by this look back at a turning point in video game journalism and indeed at how society itself looked at gaming by someone who was in the thick of it. However, a sizable part of the article read as the author patting himself on the back, I'd have liked less of that and more specifics about how things evolved from 2000 to 2002.
It did get me interested in the Garwulf's Corner book to see how the issues were being presented and framed back then compared to now, at least video games struggle for legitimacy as a medium seems to still be very current despite the progress made since then.

Gunner 51:
A wonderful read there, Mr Marks. It took me back to a time when gamers were supportive of each other.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on where you think gaming media went wrong. Personally, I think that came about as a result of the relationship between developer and publisher gradually getting more and more abusive and more money orientated. This was back when the stock market went into recession.

I'm glad you like it - if you like that, you'll love the book even more... (and that's my shameless plug for this morning).

But, as far as where the gaming media went wrong, I may actually be the wrong person to ask. Back when Garwulf's Corner and the EverQuest Companion were being written, I was very engaged in/with the games media. But, since then I've kind of drifted in and out. So, I was there for 2000-2003...I wasn't really there for 2008-2010 (I was mainly writing for a law faculty and working on my Master of Arts degree).

The thing is that the mainstream games media back around 2000 was basically a PR branch of game publishing companies. You'd see games get bad reviews sometimes, but even then how well a graphics engine would render a trenchcoat was considered newsworthy. If I had to guess, what we're seeing is an ongoing struggle (or at least a tug of war) between the games media and the video game industry that's gone back to the mid-1990s at least.

I think, as far as the breadth of coverage goes, that my hopes and dreams have come true - you CAN have discussions about sexism, racism, representation of minorities, etc. That was unheard-of 14 years ago. You CAN have a feminist commentary, a Marxist commentary, a psychological commentary, a capitalist commentary, etc. When industry news breaks, it actually gets coverage in the games media, rather than just the business section of the newspaper. It's the difference between the media covering the games industry and the games as a medium, and covering toys. That's all stuff the games media needed, and I actually got to see it happen.

(So, you can imagine how it felt over the last couple of months as all this got attacked. I think I described it to a few people as "like having my heart ripped out of my chest.")

As far as the relationship between game publishers and the media goes, the big block (it seems to me) was that there was a race to get the game review out, and a publication that could publish its review upon the release of the game would get more readers than one that had to publish the month after. This meant that game publishers could play favorites and influence the score just by threatening to deny a magazine an advance review copy. The games media was young enough that they needed the publishers more than the publishers needed them.

(Now, speaking as somebody who happens to own and operate a book publishing company, pre-release reviews are very important, and I'll send dozens copies of books out before the on-sale date to try to get them. But, there's an understanding that I need the reviews more than the reviewers need my books, and with very few exceptions, reviews that have been paid for are not taken as credible by those who need to see them, aka bookstores - and those exceptions can cost upwards of $500+.)

So, we're still watching this develop. There are places where the games media made some serious missteps - no editor in their right mind should be allowing his/her reviewers to accept free tablets from a game publisher, or to participate in a "tweet you love the PS[whatever] to win a prize" - seriously, those should be offenses resulting in instant job termination. But, that's part of the growing pains - things are a lot better today than they were 14 years ago, and building professionalism takes time, particularly for a media that less than a generation ago was little more than a set of toy commercials. You don't get into this media without loving video games - so, I have faith that the games media will find its way.

And those are my thoughts, for what they're worth (2 cents, perhaps?).

Robert B. Marks:
When the Gaming Media Changed: Memories of Garwulf's Corner

Author Robert Marks takes a look back at video game journalism in the 2000s and when things began to change in how the industry was covered, including his participation with a column called Garwulf's Corner.

Read Full Article

I was a huge reader of Garwulf's Corner, and I wanted to thank you for all the awesome articles over those years. I used to have conversations with friends about games as a kid, but very few of my friends saw games as much else than just toys. Later, after graduating, I stumbled across your column (think it was the second one) and I was happy someone else saw something in games to converse about besides graphics.
I had just started to attend LAN's then, and we would get together on our forum between monthly LAN's and discuss things your articles spoke of as well as other things...
So again, thanks for the years of great articles and pioneering such things.
Also thanks for Demonsbane.

Robert B. Marks:

sic...

I have indeed observed that you can get varying viewpoints on various games and the issues around them without the place turning into the the much maligned Youtube Comments Section. I know that some site called Game People tried a variation on this. Instead of a single review, the site would have idividual reviews of a single game depending on what "type" of person they were. (Whether they were shooter fans, RPG fans, someone with a busy life etc)

However, I don't think Game People are still around because I don't think they've done anything to their website since April of last year. But having read your reply, I am once again optimistic that things will improve in gaming media.

The bit about the First Amendment really surprised me. I knew there was a pushback against the emergence of a new media culture but I didn't know there was actually a constitutional challenge over it.

Imperioratorex Caprae: Thank you - it was my pleasure! If you're interested (yes, another shameless plug - it's a new morning, so I don't think anybody will mind too much...), the book has some new stuff in it, including some later columns written for a magazine called Blurred Edge which never really got off the ground.

Redlin5: It was a surprise to us too. But, as strange as it may sound, if you were in your 30s when 1980 rolled around, it was a point of view you could probably get behind. If you actually look at the console games (Atari, ColecoVision, etc.) back then, they really WERE toys, for all intents and purposes. It took the computer games and the home computer to give video games a sophisticated enough platform that they could become something more. And, if you were a parent who had bought an Atari for his/her kids, it would have been easy to lump Police Quest in with Donkey Kong - after all, they were still games, they were just on a computer instead of the television.

As I said, in retrospect, it really was a fight we could have lost. I'm very happy we didn't.

It's nice to learn some of the videogame history that I missed (the University didn't leave me enough time and money to follow close enough the gaming industry and community evolution). It was good to return to gaming and found it better than before.

 

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