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Gaming journalism

Posted by Chrysos Friday December 7 2007 at 10:48AM
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30 years ago we didn't have a gaming industry and we certainly didn't have journalists spending time writing articles about games. A lot has changed in a short time. Now we can buy glossy magazines from newsstands, read articles on websites (free or for a fee), read articles in established magazines that have added a (usually very small) feature on games and even watch gaming shows on television.

I am in no way shape or form part of the gaming industry (except as a consumer) so I can't speak from experience but I can't imagine that many people worldwide graduating from journalism schools are looking to break into gaming journalism. Which leads to the question who is writing all these reviews we read.

For a time it seemed to be difficult to find a derogatory remark in any of the articles in the glossy magazines. Of course if you buy the Official "insert brand of your choice" Magazine you wouldn't really expect them to write anything negative about their own games. However from the more general and independent looking magazines you would have expected the occasional bad review. Maybe they there were only good games out there or maybe they made the editorial decision to only write reviews of good games.

On the various internet sites there will be a wide range of quality but in the competitive open market the best of it should rise to the surface (our favourite MMORPG site being a prime example). On the glossy magazines you would expect that writers of proven quality would be hired on internet and fan sites no such expectation exists. After all anybody can start his own website and write reviews on games or any other subject.  This isn't a bad thing, some of the best reviews I've read have been on forums written by Joe Blogg.

Personally I don't hold tv gaming programs in high regard. For some reason they all seem to be geared at the 12 to 15 year old market. No matter that the average age of the gamer is considerably higher than this. I find this a pity as tv seems a perfect medium for gaming reviews being able to actually show you some game play. Luckily the internet steps up again and anybody can go to YouTube and search for reviews of varying quality.

Who knows in the years to come journalism schools will cover gaming as part of the curriculum. I don't think a gaming journalist will ever pull in a Pulitzer prize but there is a lot of room still for the industry to grow into to.

Where it all began

Posted by Chrysos Tuesday November 20 2007 at 2:34AM
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In the beginning it was 1968.

Where it all began was several years later in the arcades. Many an hour of my formative years was spent feeding coins into those beautiful machines and playing the available games. The arcades themselves were usually dingy dark spaces but the idea of having your initials up there in the realms of the tops scores just kept pulling me back. Arcades as we knew them quietly died out but not before I was lucky enough to visit Japan 20 years ago and experience arcade gaming there. It was like someone who had been used to only shopping in a corner store in Russia during the cold war all of a sudden being let loose in an American shopping mall. When the Japanese like something they really like something.

My first personal system was the Atari 2600. Ok so I never was and never will be a front runner, I know there were people out there for years already playing at home and I was a Johnny come lately. I still remember though the feeling of utter disbelief and joy when my mother walked into that store and bought me my Atari 2600. I still remember where the store is and I could today blindfolded walk to the shelf my Atari was taken from to give to me. Looking back at the games now (Asteroids, Pitfall, River Raid, that one where you had to save miners in a collapsed mine) are far below the level of what we can play for free on our internet browsers with nothing more installed than some Java. I guess you had to be there.

I don't like change so I again missed the boat on several gaming systems and didn't buy anything new until a friend who worked in an electronics store twisted my arm and made me buy the Sega megadrive. My Atari games were basically unending, arcades games impossible to beat (I love gaming but I'm not particularly good) so Sonic the hedgehog introduced me to the concept of actually finishing a game. I had good times with my Sega but increasingly school, sports and even on occasion girls were taking up more and more of my time.

Then I started work, became financially independent and discovered PC gaming. Again I wasn't first but I did see terms like RTS and FPS become common place. I was there for the first in the series of now established franchises and saw the birth of Lara Croft.  Games came and went and then the big mistake. For months I had been following EQ on the internet. I was getting more and more excited, this sounded like a great game I needed to be involved in. I discussed it with a friend who at the time was already working in IT and he advised me not to try EQ. With sound reasoning he explained the problems of a sever based game with so many people playing it and I, fool that I was, listened.

When GTA3 was released I returned to console gaming and bought a PS2. GTA3 was the most fun I had had in a long time and locked me back into console gaming for a while. I was lucky enough to become a tester for PS2 online games and killed my fair share of terrorists in Socom. Possibly an embarrassing admission but the PS2 then finally gave me my first MMO experience. I played EQOA for a while but quickly decided this was something I needed to do on a PC and my MMO career was launched. Which is where I am now quietly flying through Eve space waiting for my next chance to kill dragons.