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?).