Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Video Game Journalist?

There was a panel at PAX East that I wanted to attend, but never get the chance to, about video game journalism, and why you don’t want to be a part of it. Moderated by a variety of writers from Kotaku, Destructoid, and various websites, I wanted to get multiple perspectives about the industry, where it was going, and what to expect out of gaming journalists.

But since then I have been wondering about gaming journalism. Who qualifies as a journalist? Who doesn’t? Does the act of discussing a game quantify a “journalist?”

Gaming journalists may have started out under the traditional model of news reporting. They went out, hunted down information for upcoming releases, reviewed games, and provided interviews. But with the internet, gaming journalism has completely changed. Gaming journalists are no longer a CNN or paper/magazine based affair. Everything is online. Everything needs to include reader feedback. Content needs to be instant, always updating, and ever-changing. We expect blog and forum-like formats. Gaming journalism is everything that isn’t like your local newspaper, but we still expect them to hold the same respect for ethics.

Because of this change in the dynamics, gaming journalism isn’t restrictive. It’s no longer about reviewing games and news pieces for upcoming titles, but providing opinions, top 10 lists, round tables, community submissions: in essence a fully interactive experience for both the journalist and the reader. So many of us fall into this category, whether as a daily blogger, like myself, or someone who makes the monthly submissions to Destructoid, to a staff member at Kotaku, we all qualify.

But honestly? I never saw myself as a journalist. Blogger, yes. Gamer, sure. Game reviewer, game writer, scholastic game opinionator, why not? But journalist? I don’t feel that term is rightfully ours anymore. A journalist seems antiquated for what game writers do. Journalist is a term I’d expect for CNN, MSNB, and yes, Fox News, because the definition surrounds the idea of presenting information relevant and factual to people in an unbiased manner. Well as unbiased as they can be.

This is why we don’t use the term “movie journalist.” There isn’t such a thing. It’s a movie reviewer or critic. Why? Because they provide opinions, not factual content. Gaming writers work in this way as well, but they bridge the gap between journalist and critic into an entity of its own.

Personally, I don’t know what to classify myself. I’m not really a blogger because I provide content other then personal opinions. I’m not a critic either. And I’m not a journalist. Writer seems to be the catch-all term, but my pieces are not that broad in scope. So…what am I?

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