Tuesday, August 18, 2009
It is time to state clearly the point we have been trying to make here at Somnambulant Gamer by simply existing. We are not terribly fond of game reviews and the current games journalism scene. There is a battle going on today between Traditional Games Journalism and New Games Journalism. We represent the latter.

The largest problem with Traditional Games Journalism (IGN, Gamespot, Gametrailers after the Spike TV buyout, Metacritic, etc) today is the huge conflict of interest with major gaming news outlets and their advertisers. There is often a direct financial tie between the news outlet and the advertising revenue received from the publishers. As a result of this relationship the majority of the "news" is a cut and paste from press releases or a hastily slapped together review based on only an hour of game play. More often than not there are a large amount of favorable reviews given to the outlets primary advertisers. All of this is further motivated by a need to be the 'first' reporting in order to attract (and keep) readership.

This is a difficult hurdle to over come. Sites need funding and it is hard to break into the Gaming Journalism scene without it, and if you can't adhere to the unspoken agreement that rules the industry to day, you are doomed. It is all too easy in this line of work to fall into the established pattern set by the major outlets but to do so robs the reader of valuable insight and quality material that is given to most other areas of specialized journalism.

It is important we not forget a big part of journalism is to keep people honest. And when attention is given to a game based on publisher PR and funding instead of the game's merits, how can we hope in return to receive games that we want and enjoy?

This is where the New Gaming Journalism comes in (Joytiq, MTV Multiplayer, Games Politics, Penny Arcade, occasionally Destructoid) it is a cousin of travel journalism based in subjective experiences with games. Instead of reviews we try to offer unique perspectives on games, how we play them, and the culture that has emerged from our love of them. Games offer many unique experiences, it makes more sense to report based on personal accounts rather than and extension of the publishers advertising.

Games and readers deserve more than the cookie cutter reports done these days. There is a lack of creative reporting in an industry that depends on it, and it's sad to see it given such poor respect and attention. An important cycle of communication is broken and we desperately need to fix it. It will take a lot of hard work but it needs to be done, the easy road has been taken for far too long.