I’m sure we all know that there is a problem with gaming journalism. Just looking at N4G you can see a load of top 5 lists and cheap titles designed to gain hits. Recently I started thinking about this. I tried to identify the problems of gaming journalism and why it was this way and I managed to break it down to a few reasons that I can break down into categories.
The first and probably biggest problem with gaming journalism is sensationalism. Journalists write articles that tell us that everything is wonderful with the biggest games. This is why game reviewers seem to only review games on a scale of 7-10 and try to not mention flaws in the game for fear of being labelled as nit-pickers or fan boys or some other ridiculous insult. This gets a lot worse when you are dealing with a huge game such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3, two games that I see massive flaws in however none of my concerns were raised by any sites and the games were given amazing amounts of praise and near perfect scores. However can we blame journalists for doing this, I don’t think so. We as the readers seem to get upset every time a less than perfect review comes out for a game we enjoy. A lot of people seem to want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that everything is perfect. We look to these articles as a way of justifying our purchase and if it gets a perfect score it’s a perfect game. Sadly this is not the case and for things to improve we should give journalists a little room to believe and understand that are view on a game is not universal.
The second problem I identified was a lack of any standards. Every journalist rates their game out of a number of their choice. Is a 47 identical to a 4/10 or a 5/10? What is the difference between a game with a 47 or a 48? Which brings me onto my second issue with standards, some games are scored down for say a lack of innovation where as others are given a free pass. Can games really be judged by journalists that can’t even keep a little integrity between reviews? Do journalists need a template of some sort which allows them to break down a review into smaller topics such as innovation, art style, world design and gameplay?
This brings me onto game awards that are judged by the public. We turn everything into a publicity contest instead of judging the games themselves. The only games that are nominated for these awards seem to be high profile and the only games that win are normally the highest profile in there category. That pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say but I would love to hear what you guys think about the topic.