Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A Video Game Blog? How Original!

If you’ve come across this in your travels then welcome to Grahf Games. I realize that there are hundreds of video game blogs out there, and that a vast majority of them are underwhelming for one reason or another: not enough updates, too limited a scope, or written by people who, while meaning well, really aren’t cut out for a job in the industry. Let me say that I sincerely hope that this doesn’t turn out to be one of those blogs.

Of course, there’s a reason why there are so many blogs out there to begin with: the video game industry is larger than ever before. Three major companies compete for attention in a multi-billion dollar a year industry that supports hundreds of jobs that range from the creation of games themselves to their marketing and coverage. The sheer proliferation of gaming culture throughout the world has seen the title gamer go from being something applied to children and “geeks” to being accepted as a part of day to day life. Who’s to say that your co-workers or bosses don’t go raiding on WoW after work every night? Who’s to say that you aren’t in a guild with doctors, lawyers, even politicians, and that you just don’t know that CommanderDeathKill is Johnny Depp or some equally famous star, enjoying the anonymity of the internet and the games thereupon?

And of course, as gamers have progressed, so to must the games they play. This latest generation has seen multiple advents, such as the proliferation of motion controls, 3D gaming, the rise of the microtransaction, episodic gaming, and many other variables have entered the market, and only time will tell whether the entrance is for good or ill.

That is part of what I will inevitably talking about, because it is something that must indeed be talked about. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

At the moment what I’d like to address is the methodology of gaming journalism itself. From the large established portions of the community like Game Informer and Electronic Gaming Monthly, to the self run blogs and youtube channels run by people who want to get their name out there, there is no lack of coverage.  Of course, expansive coverage does not by any means guarantee the nature or quality of said coverage.

While I’m not going in completely blind, the water is still awfully dark, and here there definitely be monsters. So in my quest to start off on the right foot I sought some advice from a name that will undoubtedly be familiar to quite of few of you: WiNGSPANTT, the creator of Top Tier Tactics. WiNG was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions when others had basically ignored or otherwise stonedwalled my inquires, and what he told me was quite elucidating; it was also a tad frightening.

For example, WiNG was quick to point out that:

“the entire field of game journalism is basically a cycle of corruption/sycophantic pandering propagated by the public relations (PR) firms who represent major gaming studios. Insofar as that is concerned, your merits and degrees are not important to these people – their only concern is getting their target demographics hyped about their upcoming titles and to secure favorable coverage of said titles”

You might like to think that this might be an overly cynical view of the current state of affairs, but it doesn’t even take a hard look around to see that there’s a lot more veracity to this statement then a lot of people would like to admit. Recent scandals like the Duke Nukem’ Forever Redner Group fiasco and the Kane and Lynch Gamespot Review spring to mind as the most immediate examples. But even going to the mundane level you can see the taint of timidity: G4’s E3 coverage was a joke, with any nay-saying few and far between almost sickeningly high levels of adulation being given out for anything that came across their cameras.

G4 is a big name, which leaves little excuse for their actions, but what can a small-timer just starting out hope to do? Retain your integrity at the cost of losing any potential in-roads from fickle developers, or become an echo-chamber and get somewhere, but never be allowed to say what you really feel about anything, even if only slightly negative.

Frankly, given the choice, I’m going with the latter every time. I’d rather have the freedom to say what I want to say than have security at the cost of a gag-order. It means that this is going to be a hard road right from the gate, but frankly as clichéd as it sounds you learn a hell of a lot more doing it the hard way than you ever will the easy way, and I sincerely hope that the adage doesn’t fail me now.

As far as what to expect goes, your guess is probably only a little worse off than mine. I’m off to a running start without even finding my legs; so my style, my topics, and just about everything else might change wildly from what anyone least of which myself expected them to be at the onset.

There will be game reviews, of course. But for a while they might not be the main focus of the blog. Instead I’m hoping to share my thoughts on the industry as a whole: where it’s at, where it’s been, the good the bad the mediocre and the just plain ludicrous. While there will be honesty and there will be bile, anyone expecting diatribes to compare with a certain Brit known for his caustic outlook will be sorely disappointed. I’m not going to be overly negative just for the sake of being so, because it’s just as pointless as being overly positive. Again, that being said I will take no quarter and expect none given in return.

If you’re still with me so far I commend you for having the iron constitution to sit through what will undoubtedly go down as one of those painful first post memories. Hopefully our journey together will be long and fruitful, or that someone will at least get some laughs out of it (likely at my expense). I hope to become a familiar face to you all, and look forward to hearing your comments, concerns, and criticisms, lord knows I’ll need them all in the long run.

I'd like to finish this first post by thanking WiNGSPANTT for his time and tutelage, and thanking anyone who read this. I hope to update this blog at least three times a week, possibly even more if time allows, so stay tuned for talk about motion controls, nostalgia, sequels, the current console generation, and most imperatively of all, Team Fortress 2 hats.

2 comments:

  1. My strongest advice is not just talking about the games themselves but maybe doing articles on the art of reviewing itself, comparative stuff and some deeper digging into the way games are conceived, made, and released. I hope you stick to this, as I get a good impression from this article.

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  2. Hey Grahf, I'm a recent grad from Australia who shares a lot of the sentiments you described. I too contacted WiNG and received similar advice from him.

    I wish you the best in your endeavour and hopefully with more people like you and WiNG we can start to turn this thing around. Inspiration is certainly hard to find these days.

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