I don’t much care for Leigh Alexander. Not in a “I’d spit in her face if I saw her” type way – can’t really think of anyone I’d do that to actually – but in a way that makes me actively avoid things of which she’s taken part. I find her writing to be too childish and her views to be in perpetual opposition to mine.
But this piece is not meant to be a crusade against Ms. Alexander. In fact, I respect her for becoming a successful game journalist, a job that is getting harder and harder in which to succeed. She’s just the catalyst to this conversation.
A fellow Bitmobber who shall remain anonymous asked me if I had ever met Ms. Alexander in person after hearing me say I didn't like her. When I answered in the negative, I was told basically it was unfair to judge a game journalist, as a person or a writer, based solely on their writing.
This perspective intrigued me. There was a time in game journalism where your writing was the only thing you had. Reading back through old Electronic Gaming Monthly and Game Informer issues, I remember forming opinions about specific reviewers just from their writing. I was a huge fan of Nick Suttner – the person and the writer – even before I knew what he looked like or how he acted – and after seeing him on an episode of the 1up Show, my opinion was only further solidified.
Would your opinion of Jim Sterling be different if you could only judge him by his published articles?
This mentality continued when I started writing myself. Whenever I’ve written anything, I’ve gone into it knowing this little bit of text could be the only thing representing me to a large majority of the people who read it. With that in mind, I attempt to write in a way that best captures who I am. I’ve always thought if someone didn’t like the way I wrote or the things I wrote about, they’d probably be no fan of me in person either (though I have no real evidence. Everyone who’s read something by me has either not met me in person, or already knew me before reading my work.)
In addition, technology has allowed us so much more interaction than we had ever before. In this age of tweets, podcasts, personal blogs and video, I feel like I know some people I’ve only met online better than people I know and talk to in person every single day.
A person's writing is 100% in line with who they are as people. The humor they employ is their own, the insight they provide is from them, the things they reference, quote, or even completely plagiarize say a lot about who they are. But what I think doesn't matter. It's what you think.
So I wonder: how should we judge game journalists? Is it fair to form an opinion on someone from only his or her written work – and if you can, what do you think about me from just this and my previous Bitmob articles? Are tweets and other social media enough to pass judgment? Or can you never get the full picture about a person until you’ve met them in person?