Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Autarkic Games Journalism

Quite a few people that I usually read writings from when it comes to games (see right-hand blogroll) have grown increasingly disillusioned with the process of games and their journalism. In plenty of cases, this is an understandable process, but also a dangerous one. To clarify a bit, I'm not simply talking about the average burnout or break that people cite taking from games every few months (or just how 'the system' functions). No, I'm referring to a deteriorating attachment to the medium itself. Any gamer with any kind with a productive drive will want to write about games at some point, its nearly unavoidable. However, the extent and debate that has been raised in the past years stem from some sense of broken structure that videogames journalism just can't seem to live up to.

Why? Well because the audience is a bunch of ungrateful, ignorant, and digital bigots. It's really just that simple. The plus to take from this is that the ideals that bigotry (or any bigotry for that matter) stems from is fueled by passion. Passion dictates what we attach meaning to in our lives. This of course, is in line with my theory that everyone I meet is individually selfish to their own ends. Don't get me wrong, sometimes we can band together and get a bit more accomplished than we could alone, but at the end of the day those gathered acumens only serve the same purpose as 'one really big person' (not the genuine collection of individual wills as usually professed).

When I look at a news story these days, I don't look for inspiring bits of insight meant to shape some new corner of my head, I look for the fundamental facts. If I happen to enjoy the writing from a particular person, yeah that's more in my favor. However, I don't consider myself above reading someone I generally avoid because their 'voice' irritates me, that's just not how I operate. Hell, I'll even read someone with typos and grammatical errors running rampant throughout their article if some semblance of a message is still there for me. That's also why you won't catch me paying excruciating detail to any of my ramblings here. With perverted 'purple prose' and mistakes I've seen but am too proud to fix, I am more than a little enamored with myself for these things than I should be (I even once tricked a certain young man into reading a post of mine by demanding he fix all my grammatical errors *coughCodycough*). I remain smitten with myself because these subsystems of writing work flawlessly as intended, a filter to keep me under the water.

I've always liked being there because I enjoy the term "independent" (anybody who really knows me will see some irony there as well). Most of the actual writing I do is at two 'o clock in the morning when I could be considered legally drunk. In my spare day hours, I spend them mostly editing that stuff down to what I would consider to be an ideal piece of work on my part. This blog and any post I've made about on games however, has always been creative exhaust. Stuff I'm spewing out of the crack of my metaphorical ass while I chug along doing things I find much more rewarding (and if I have my way, things which will never see the light of day).

"People who have a problem with boxes are people who don't fit in them."
-Eric Foreman, House M.D.
Season 4, Episode 12, "Don't Ever Change"

What I see as a huge plus these days are just genuine people from all walks who are willing to write thought-provoking and insightful pieces for little to no cost at all. They are doing this with controlled and productive bursts of their own passion and also because they have comfortable distances from what they're writing about, games. Even if their actual profession remains games related, some spell out almost subconsciously how their own personal lines have been drawn amongst themselves (when some realize this difference, the shift is absolute).

Consider Rob Zacny, who runs around cooking with a significant other, formally studied and & well-versed in history and classics. Now, go wander around The Escapist and 1UP.com.

Consider Jeff Grubb, local delivery guy who once got screwed over for a carding error. Now, go wander around GameTopius, 1UP.com, and Kombo.

Consider Leigh Alexander, who probably has more of a problem with music than she ever will with games. Now, go wander around Gamasutra.

Consider Nick, a sociological grad student who wastes his time quipping after my tweets. Now, go wander around B4GD.

Consider L.B. Jeffries, a law school student who will either turn out very depressed or really neutral in a few years. Now, go wander around PopMatters.

Consider Sarah Kelly, a biochem. student that probably spends way too much time with her head in a book. Now, go wander around 1UP.com.

Consider Michael Abbott, a theatre professor with a penchant for being way too nice. Now, go look at The Brainy Gamer.

Consider everybody on my god damn blog roll if you're ambitious enough. Certainly some aren't in a condition to have this kind of soothing distance, but its worth noting nonetheless. What the above examples are really meant to illustrate are simply the diversity amongst gamers and nothing more. Rather than having those differences affect the games industry's interior from the outside, most have lazily opted for some half-jacked Matrix ripoff, trying to offer 'pseudo objective insight' (that's just a paradoxical phrase to me), and provide false grounds free of bias for themselves to stand on.

A by-product of this reality are the cliques some writers tend to adhere to. Now that's not meant to be as much of a slight as it comes off as, just an abrasive attempt on my part to have people realize their place in the puzzle. The academics mainly stick with the academics, the fun-junkies with their lot, and the bohemian crowds and so on. They stay inside their little ponds, leaking whatever "truth" suits them into the growing cesspool of society at large. The different cardinal truths neither clash nor mesh. No one is invalidated, but nobody is right. If I had one wish I'd ask for every single major game reporting site to go ice-cold for a one week, it would confirm my point at the very least. If the internet has given one gift to everyone, it's the power to be heard when you have no reason to be yelling in the first place.