Are Gaming Journalists Irrelevant?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Are Gaming Journalists Irrelevant?

Any time a notion like that crops up, it's the kind of thing that should take anyone aback. Are game journalists irrelevant? The answer, as is commonly the case with any broad question like that, is a little of yes and a little of no.

The notion of games journalists' irrelevance started up quite some time ago, as gaming news magazines began to shut down, much like print mags did, in the face of growing online competition. With G4's shutdown, some began to wonder if maybe the day of the games journalist had fallen, and the blogger stood to take his--or sometimes her--place. That was when some cracks started showing up in the online model. An increasingly left-leaning model focusing less on gameplay and more on social justice didn't help things, and when the games press started looking increasingly more, well, wrong about matters that should have been oddly commonplace.

Consider Polygon; increasingly focused on the antics of feminist game scold Anita Sarkeesian and less able to actually play games as demonstrated by its Doom demonstration in which it didn't exactly perform well with the game reportedly set to easy mode, some began to wonder if Polygon should actually be talking about things it didn't really understand. Throw in some unusual commentary from GameSpot staffers that discussed issues of graphics coming from a comparison between a PS4 and a PC not running at its fullest capability and that sort of shook confidence even further. Top it off with IGN staffers projecting the Xbox One's superiority to PC because the Xbox One can record gameplay and you're left to wonder if IGN has ever heard of, you know, Pewdiepie.

Then, consider YouTube. A panoply of game players, game commenters, and game analysts can currently be found therein, attempting to play, comment on and analyze games. They're not having the best run of things lately as copyright law attempts to shut down many such operations, but with campaigns like #WTFU going on, this may well change under the force of massed complaint.

So to answer the question in the setup, no, game journalists aren't irrelevant, and I don't say that just because I am one and I'd like to continue being one. It's just that, once again, they're changing. They're moving from monolithic magazines to being one man operations, ultimately beholden to the crowds that sponsor them via Patreon or via views and subscriptions on YouTube. This isn't necessarily the best approach--even these one-man shows need steady cash flow to operate fully and can't be expected to pander to every whim of the crowd lest they go out of business--but it does make them more responsive to readers and viewers' interests by necessity.

Game journalists' roles in the gaming market, in the gaming press, are changing, and there's no doubt about that. But that doesn't make them irrelevant, useless to the bigger picture. While knowledge in and experience with the medium is important and should be expected, no one's saying that the entire concept of the gaming press is no longer necessary.

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