L.B. Jeffries at Banana Pepper Martinis recently posted this about video game “Journalism” versus Critique. It’s a very interesting read for anyone up on video games and is an important question to ponder for writers like me, and for readers like you. In addition to the recent symposium started by former 1UP Editor Shawn Elliot, the very nature of video game “journalism” is being scrutinized. There’s a lot of stirring as come to realize that most video game “journalism” is more along the lines of enthusiast press, and that there are actually very few journlists in the industry. As L.B. Jeffries asserts in his article, journalists aren’t supposed to analyze, they simply present the facts. This isn’t the nature of the industry, and it’s far from the standard. Analysis is the name of the game.
The topic is very broad in nature, but the question that I’m most concerned with is Reviews vs. Critique. The industry standard has become: Graphics, Gameplay, Sound, Replayability, Conclusion. We use such a system here at Gamerlimit.com, and such is par for the course in the industry. The real question is whether or not readers want or are even ready for genuine critique of video games not unsimilar to the way film critics analyze movies.
The nature of the business is to get reviews out promptly before or after release, and to appeal to a “Looks good, shoot guns, doesn’t suck.” mentality. Most people are simply looking to find out if a game does or does not “suck”, it is indeed all about the dollar. However, as games are positioned further as something more than simply entertainment, a more in-depth way of analysis may also be viable. This would mean moving away from the score based reviews we’re all so used to.
Everything is still up in the air, and it should be interesting for the audience to watch, as the writers debate.