Monday, November 25, 2013

So, You Can Study Game Journalism in School?

Beginning this January at American University, the Journalism department is opening up their repertoire to include a series of courses about Game Design and how to write reviews for gaming products.

Lindsay Grace, a game designer, has started a similar program at Miami University and hopes that it will cultivate and develop in other schools around the country. We’re at a time where games have become more prevalent in our society and people are seeing the value of video games in everything from medicine and psychology to entertainment. The curriculum is based on an overview of how gaming can be utilized in different mediums – more of an interdisciplinary approach. And though the courses are in the Communications sector, they are available for anyone to take as they wish.

The University of Iowa is going the same by offering gaming journalism as a course of study. While the article doesn’t divulge what exactly was taught, they did partner with IGN and even had a few of the students published in their monthly gaming magazine.

“As programming skills become more normalized we need people that are better at covering this trend. Videogames are being used more often in industry. Why and where is this coming from? This was the void that I was trying to fill with my course.” Kyle Moody

It sounds like more copy/paste of current gaming reviewers. And yes I’m a little bitter that they have never offered such classes about writing reviews for books, movies, television, or theater. You had to read what other people had done and hope you are able to mimic the style well enough to get paid for it. I also feel that this type of stone-walling into a certain mindset can limit the unique content produced by reviewers. Instead we’ll get a copy/paste of what we have been seeing for years and no real movement forward in how games are reviewed. If you ask me right now who do I think is a pivotal figure in gaming review journalism, I couldn’t name a single person. Now ask me about movies and theater and I could list off quite a few. Why? Not because they are dynamic personalities, but they did something unique, special, or completely unheard of when they review movies. With video games, there seems to be an unintended cut and dry format, and my concern is that if upcoming journalists are taught to follow those rules and only those rules, then our medium will suffer from lack of creativity and openness.

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