In response to Eric Kozlowsky’s “Professionalism in the Gaming Press” article
Taking Eric Kozlowsky’s emotional, but well articulated article into receivership, I take issue with a couple of his points. At the same time, his article made me think of ‘the other side’. The creation of a video game is a well established art.
At this point, this argument in any and all games journalism circles is pretty much dead. Eric is right, reviewers and podcasters alike need to think about the [very human] people who make these games before shouting snarky barbs.
However, it is my belief that game developers who are making a ‘mean time, in between time’ game, though it may be their living, should be honest about the product they are working on. If you know it is crap, how do you expect the rest of the gaming world to address it other than as the professional turd it has become?
Podcasts are the “unedited” [but should still maintain professionalism] real-talk of how the average person feels about your game.
I remember hearing a Joystiq, a Cheap Ass Gamer and maybe even an IGN podcast completely taking to task GRIN after they announced their closing. It was not a good day for professionalism in game journalism [excuse the over dramatics]. What I found really weird is that I realized I occasionally value an honest, snap reaction of a podcast personality more so than a review score.
Reviews have their place, heck I write reviews, but they tend to be dressed in a way that may be too technical or in some cases…boring [some, not all]. Personally, I would rather hear people talk how I talk about video games. Gaming podcasts have grown popular because of this interpersonal style of delivery. There is no score. There is someone venting or gushing about an experience they had.
Podcasting is still a fairly new medium for most media outlets. Furthermore, gaming podcasts are still exceptionally fresh. Is their a need to be more professional while podcasting? I tend to agree. Do I want the Dan Hsu’s and Cheapy D’s of the world to start biting their tongues? As a listener, damn no.
Podcasting freedom of speech is something that could use a touch of class when certain circumstances arise. A circumstance in which a gaming studio closes should be handled with more grace than another Madden being released.
Does bad game design justify the snark?
In short, no. Game production and gaming quality seem to be at an all time high. More thought and effort and most importantly creativity, are expected of games. This is the view of someone who plays a new video game every two or three weeks. My 16th birthday I got Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi from my aunt.
It was the only game I got for the next eight months. I knew the game was bad, but you better believe I learned every glitchy combo, unlocked every character and played every difficulty only to realize that a good majority of my year was wasted.
Game journalists speak to a very specific crowd when they write. They speak to an even more specific crowd when they podcast. It is difficult to play a bad game, or a game of a lower quality in a culture that prides itself on this ‘art’.
I think an argument could be made that the people who have interest in buying a poorly made game, have no interest in listening to a gaming podcast and/or reading reviews. I have no proof, so it is a point I will concede.
How transparent should the wall be between designers & press be?
I am glad I live in an age where a Kojima or Ueda have some form of cult fame status. I love reading and hearing interviews about production and game design, because it is something I would not have a clue as to where to start. Where is the limit? When is enough…enough? When is it the press or the developer’s responsibility to step in and put a plug in it? Can we keep surprises anymore?
It is cool that a David Jaffe can be so transparent about his process of making God of War. But how far do we need to go to know everything? I remember Denis Dyack and his beef with NeoGAF and a long frustrating rant on a 1UP podcast. Since then, it looks like the cards will be stacked against Denis because of how passionately he felt about Too Human and the just or unjust [depending on what side of the fence you fall on] reception it garnered.
It is difficult, as a writer and enthusiast to see creative minds like those behind the game Beyond Good & Evil or a Denis Dyack who clearly feel passionately about what they do. This is my thought process when I play a Terminator Salvation or a Bionic Commando Eric. I give these games a fair shake.
I know not every game is not going to be a Shadow of the Colossus or Metal Gear Solid. However, you think some of us can not tell that your all did not go into a game like the poor ones GRIN released?
All I ask is for some tact when writing or saying these things. The way the game media presents itself perpetuates the public view that games should not be taken seriously as an art form. Trust me when I say we know when our product is not good. I’m just asking for the courtesy of professionalism.
All I ask is for some tact when developing a game you know is not the art you intended it to be. Your job is complex and there are many gears. This pays the bills for you and there should be a level of respect. Shooting our mouths off belligerently should not be expected. However, do not be surprise that we were able to aptly criticize a sub-par product you knew was not a diamond well in advance.