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My Take On: The Self Destruction Of Gaming “Journalism”

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Before you begin reading this article, please note that I am neither a journalist nor a person of relevance in the gaming industry. I am a schmuck with a website, a show and a staff of no-nonsense individuals who speak freely without the shackles of slavery binding us to any industry – especially gaming. Now that you read that, you can either continue or hit that X-button in the corner and continue forging yourself a path with blinders on.

Since doing MTR live for the last few years, we have worked hard at giving brutally honest and humorous commentary on all aspects of our coverage. We are not experts, but we know a bit about everything which allows us to share our views on all content we cover. Honestly, one of the most cut-throat of industries to cover for us is the gaming industry. The gaming industry is built on small segments of genuine gaming love coupled with a menagerie of people fighting for a piece of the proverbial pie. These building blocks have created some engaging and entertaining personalities in the industry, but it has also created bitter, spiteful and negative atmospheres for anyone that is not a part of the gaming journalism “inner circle”.  This, my friends, is a shame because there are loads of talented people that may not have the connections or resources to be major players yet come equipped with vision, passion and a genuine love of the industry. Those individuals fight tooth and nail to get demos, event invites and access to coverage which most times is a crap shoot. I say crap shoot because smaller sites may lose out to the guy that has a paint-by-numbers website yet has those industry “connections”. It's not what you know, it's who you know, right?

I am sure you are wondering why I am touching on this topic when there are tons of things going on in gaming that should be addressed. My reasoning stems from keyboard warriors who decided to shit on a guy who clawed his way to the top to get in this so called “industry”. That individual is Hip Hop Gamer. I have had the pleasure of meeting Hip Hop Gamer on numerous occasions, and feel that he is one of the better ambassadors for the independent journalist and someone that is a prime example of hustle leading to opportunity. While our approaches are different, I respect the fact that he doesn’t give a shit about the standards expected by the industry. When HHG was announced as a member of EGM Now, I was genuinely happy for the guy because it's another step towards the mainstream and delivering something different. A few hours later, I saw a multiple page thread littered with congrats and kind words but sadly also filled with bias, loathing and criticism. This annoyed me not only because of what was said, but because guys were griping about his success. How can people sit there and tear down an individual that clawed his way out being of another gaming pundit and into someone with some klout? Sadly, in the short time involved in this “industry” I have seen firsthand the machinations of sites and individuals hard at work to ensure people on the come-up do not get ahead and recieve opportunities. It’s a sad thing to see. I’d rather read sites like Dual Shockers, Royal Flush, Talking About Games, VGN and Digital Noob then throw support behind corporate shills like IGN and Gamespot who deliver the equivalent of Entertainment Weekly for gamers. The independent sites I named above are but a few of which I read and enjoy. If I sat here and named every indy site I read, this article would become the equivalent of War and Peace. My Google reader gaming folder is filled with over 1k articles a day of gaming news mostly from independent sites. This content is more engaging and, at times, resonates more with me than the mainstream content churned out every day.

I’ll be honest when I say I don’t go out of my way for acceptance in the gaming industry. I’d rather let my product speak for me and not shameless pandering and begging. I don’t need to sit at an industry party with other site owners while shit-faced to grow my brand. I say that not only because I don’t drink, but because eyes are on you in every situation. (Something I picked up from the talented guys from 15 Minutes of Game.)  Every douchey move you do is watched and commented on behind close doors.  If you want to be someone in the industry it is one part who you know and one part what you produce to make this industry better. Sadly, the definition of “better” is open to interpretation.  To every disillusioned aspiring gaming journalist out there, all I can say is keep at it because the opportunities are out there if you stay at it long enough.

To all the smaller sites delivering hard-hitting and honest content I salute you. To the guys like HHG, Torrance Davis, JVB, Stephen Cosentino, Kevin Baird and Urriya and the ladies like Crixlee, Trina Finton and Angel Thanatos, I personally want to thank you for creating unique and engaging content that is good for the industry.

Founder | Editor in Chief
  1.  @NintendoLegend I don’t despise anyone in the industry but I am saddened that people who are trying to get a foot hold get the shaft. Upholding standards and cutting people off at the knees behind their backs are different things. I admire people that don’t deliver the same cookie cutter content others deliver. Anyone can install wordpress and copy and paste some press releases but the guys that deliver unique content just have more to offer gamers. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and if you want me to elaborate further by all means feel free to ask.-Rich

    1.  @MTRHost Okay, everything you just said sounds good. But in the first paragraph of your article, you yourself say that you are just “a schmuck with a website,” and then conclude by saying that if people do not like what you say, they can exit the site and continue browsing “with their blinders on.” You preach a message that says “People should help the little guy, appreciate true innovation, and creative distinctive work,” yet in a confrontational tone that alienates and makes it sound like you are on the defensive. I guess I am just confused. But I fully agree that cliques and back-stabbing truly suck and we need to champion more people who contribute constructive entertaining thoughts, regardless of whether they are “in the club” or not. However, ingredients like journalistic standards and, yes, networking connections are both essential as well. Not everyone on the bottom rung deserves to be lifted up, and not everyone who got to the top is a monster.But I know you didn’t go as far as to say that. I am likely just rambling at this point. I just want to see more positive notes on the scene (which I, too, am not a part of).

      1.  @NintendoLegend  My delivery was intended to come off that way lol. I am guessing you are not familiar with the show. Confrontation tone is kinda the way things go around here. Its meant to blunt. journalistic standards and networking are great but if done right. Think of a site like Joystiq talking about edible panties in Tokyo . What does that have to do with gaming? A big pile of nothing but they are one of the gold standards in gaming. A guy like you probably goes out of their way to break that stigma and I am sure its an uphill battle. In regards to “bottom rungers” you are right that some should not be elevated but let readers decide that and not some guy who’s made it based on the merits of whose ass he kissed. I definitely want to see more positive stuff from the community but its a long road. On a separate note tell me about your site. We do on interview series for our listeners focusing on other sites and brands worth checking out. I appreciate hearing from a peer that still values the old school way of doing things. 

        1.  @MTRHost
           Haha, alright, that’s fair — I can appreciate the value of a consistent tone. I actually sometimes encounter the opposite problem, being so lighthearted or humorous at times that it can be more difficult to be taken seriously at certain junctures. Blunt away.I completely agree with your panties example (by now, Kotaku is as much of a joke site as it is a serious source of gaming coverage, for another example). Sometimes it’s a sad, tragic thing to watch good writers put up utter garbage just because they know it’ll draw traffic for being so ridiculous and sensational, when they could be putting their talents to real, constructive use. That’s the real tragedy, for me, and the self-destruction at work: We have created an environment where it is just easier and more lucrative to write a “top 10 hottest chicks in video games” than to bother writing something with more responsible impact.I have two site: NintendoLegend.com is just my own blog as I work on writing a quality review for every American-released NES game. Fairly self-explanatory and straightforward.Then there is 1MoreCastle.com… which just launched yesterday. Collaborate features-based retro gaming site. Maybe start here for what it’s all about: https://1morecastle.com/2012/05/the-1-more-castle-manifesto/Either way, thanks. I’ll see ya around. 

  2. So, if I understand this piece correctly — You admire those who succeed in an industry despite not caring about its standards, and despise those within an industry who try to uphold standards?

  3. Inspirational, is the one word that I would say defined this article for me. As a fan of video games and writing, I was inspired to step up my game. 

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