Kind of like a medical condition. Are bloggers also journalists? One of my favorite blogs, Psychochild’s, says we aren’t because “we don’t have impetus to do the real work needed.” Most of the article attacks the misinformation from Randy Nelson’s online post at Joystiq, and Brian “Psychochild” Green is harsh in the comparison of Nelson’s post to real journalism. Ironically, it seems that Randy Nelson’s title at Joystiq is “Blogger.”
I full understand Psychochild’s point that unchecked facts and off the cuff hyperbole can be damaging to a game, and it sucks that the very emotionally-written post by Nelson hit Joystiq’s front page for a time. But, if Green wants vanilla, bland, just-the-facts-ma’am journalism, please show me where for MMOs (or even video games) I can get this.
A podcast you should all be supporting and listening to has as its first episode interviews on the death of EGM. EGM was an in-print monthly magazine embedded in the video game industry. It was filled with ads, reviews, cheats, tricks, and I guess journalism. It is as close a medium as I can think of for video games that nears Green’s want for “journalism.” Yet, I listened to the profanity-filled interviews, and I came to the conclusion that these “journalists” were not much different from me. They played video games, goofed off, wrote things, and it made it to print. The basic difference is video gaming and blogging are hobbies that I am not paid to enjoy or forced to play things I don’t enjoy. So, is the “impetus” I am lacking because there is no fiscal reward or managerial punishment attached?
Perhaps it is the blogger’s connection to the companies. I get some interviews here and there, but they usually take awhile to get. Some have fallen through after months of me sending reminder emails. I know that it is very unlikely I would get an email response to journalistic questions within a week from the bigger game companies. I even tried asking across-the-board game companies (which even Sanya Weathers was excited about) how we simple bloggers could strengthen ties to the game companies, and lackluster response by my contacts, missed deadlines, and the PAX flu took that dog down.
I think at the end of the day, we, developers, and for sure marketing departments, have a hard time pinning us down. The good bloggers, like those found to the right of this simple post, who write day in and day out their brutally honest words are journalists. We take facts, apply emotions, and type it out for an audience. I cannot believe that journalism could get any more inhuman when I see the Republican’s Fox News-lovechild or Obama’s in-the-pocket MSNBC. But, we are as a whole uncontrollable. At Kill Ten Rats, for instance, we will say what we want, and we won’t be bribed to say things we don’t.
I may be a statistical flier, but the media site that has gotten me to buy more games than any other form is Penny Arcade. Their posts are filled with linguistical wordplay and chthonic hyperbole and emotional responses to the games they play. But, they are honest. They lambaste so-called journalists who demand review copies in lieu of buying the game themselves.* They only take advertising money from games they feel are worth advertising. And, whether I agree or disagree, they call it like they see it. I can only aspire to achieve their degree of success, and I am not talking readership numbers or income. Their moral guideposts on writing about video games are lighthouses for any “journalist.”
What I can promise you, dear reader, is honesty. Kickbacks, manager edits, and advertising influence simply don’t exist here. If I am writing about a game, it means something. I wish that I could play all your favorite games to the degree I feel comfortable commenting and punditing about, but I can’t. None of us can, and therein lies the rub. We can’t be the journalists that I believe Green wants us to be because we don’t have the time to write about things that don’t entertain and interest us.
Before I close, I have to remark again on my own impetus. I can’t speak for other bloggers (as true as it may be for most), but for the few games I love and cherish, I have much more “impetus” to bring kernels of information than many a journalist. I can’t even count the amount of times I have found some news and it was snatched up like it was its own by Ten Ton Hammer or MMORPG.com. I have only my own theories on their journalistic theft but the timing and wording are good indicators. Heavy kudos to Massively, my favorite news site, that 9 times out of 10 at least hat tips the blogger that got them the information. Regardless, the amount of research – in-game and out – that I do for blogging, I would guess, far outweighs a journalist being forced to write about something she doesn’t love.
At the end of the day, I may not be a “journalist,” which is completely fine by me. I can still promise that I value the time it takes for you to read a post here. I value your thoughts, and I read every single comment on this blog for every post. I value any trust you have in Kill Ten Rats, and I do my best within my limited means to find all the facts. Thank you, dear reader, for letting me speak.
I had roses, and apologized to no one
*I tried my best to find this post on Penny Arcade where they call out a major gaming news site, but searching for that post when I don’t remember the game or the news site proved difficult.