(Disclaimer before Gamasutra has to: I occassionally do youtube video on things I'm interested in, have received review code, and bought games to cover. This blog post is my own opinions and hopefully properly MLA cited with references and unfortunately a needed response for David Gallant's article "For The Sake of the Industry: No More Total Biscuit". Also the title only has to do with a few paragraphs)
by: Mike Higbee (twitter @deadlyhabit)
I walk into a Gamestop near my home. I know what I'm looking for, but employees doing their jobs ask me if I need any help. Nope. Ok let us if you need any. Common retail customer service. I find the title I'm after "Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3", the only reason being that it and its DLC have been pulled from PSN before I bought a PS3 and love fighting games. I'm primarily used to Steam or my local retro retailers such as Game Craze. The bargain bin of games I may have missed out on during the PS3 era tempts me and I grab "Skate 3". I go to the counter ready for the Radio Shack style of questions. Name, address, do you want disc protection (still don't get this being an older gamer), preorders, or renewing my membership which has the benefit of renewal of my toliet read of choice "Game Informer". Overall a common occurance which on some forums like 4chan get exhagerrated to the point of being a comedy bit (some of the funniest stuff to read, especially the spaghetti one.)
It makes me wonder why did every time I pulled out a "Game Informer" did it immediately go to on top of the toliet until I read it. Lately I've paid premiums to get old issues of "Nintendo Power" or "Electonics Gaming Monthly" from when I was a child purely for content and walkthroughs, but what changed?
After ordering many classics from childhood and pulling out PC and Amiga gaming magazines I hadn't seen in years it became clear. Half the magazines were ads! These ads kept the magazines lower in cost to publish, and to be honest were some of the coolest (probably now offensive) marketing campaigns in the 80s and 90s. The difference was once the reviewers got ahold of the titles they could give their honest opininons good or bad, and the adults and children at the time would form an opinion from ads and the reviewers they trusted. We didn't have youtubers or live gameplay footage, just ads, screenshots and the written word.
Why "Game Informer" is my typical while defecating read is that it reads like a long ad. Even "Nintendo Power" included guides, posters, cheats and codes that weren't available on the internet without access to gaming BBS at the time. It like a lot of current websites read like overall press releases, hype pieces, or second hand information. OR EVEN WORSE TO ME editorials presented as factual about the latest global issues in regard to gaming. Don't get me wrong this is an editorial piece. I can't state that enough, but when you declare gaming as an art form or a media that can transform in its relevance as a medium such as music or film, you have to take the growing pains.
Critque is always great for gaming, from the magazines, the websites, the youtubers, but sites like metacritic need to die. Aggragites being used as incentives for bonuses for developers or to rate a game are massively flawed. Being on Metacritic as a certified is semi a joke, and it cost Obsidian a decent bonus by one point on Fallout: New Vegas. What I've noticed is a lot of times is on Metacritic there is a dissonance between "professional media" and the "players". There have been times there have been 8-10s from critics, and 5-0 from users who buy the product at full price.
This puts us in a place asking why do you promote youtubers? As much as you dislike John Bain (TotalBiscuit) for his opinions on social media, his content is a service to people like me who are primarily PC gamers. Now I own a PS3, PS4 and WiiU, but PC is my primary playing machine. At times he gets long winded for me, but he covers things PC gamers are after, be it FOV sliders, and 20 minutes on an options menu, there is a reason why we pay to try to stay on the top of having the best experience gaming. As a developer I want the widest audience, but I also want to offer a premium for those with the gear... why is this wrong?
The narrative we've been given lately has been an us vs them, left vs right, or dare i say it GG vs Anti GG (whatever side you decide to ebb on). Now I'm sure since I've given my twitter (also got included in one of the block bots iirc), I follow loads of GG and industry people, I lean Libertarian, but these don't cross over into my game development or music making, or even critques on games when I rarely do them. In the end I love the development and end products as they come along. Who makes them should have no statement on the end content. For example (someone may take this wrong), but I argued a few times with the dev of one of my fave timewasters, on twitter (@tha_rami Nuclear Throne) we both were civil and guess what we may have differences in opinions, but I still love his game and envy how he develops.
Traditional media vs the new media seems to be a new argument. The same with clickbait and editorial vs reviews. I may be just ranting and offering my opinion, but I will leave you this from an old magazine...
Keep gaming, developing, being creative, coding, and making music!
PS my cat approves as he sits on my lap purring.