The Dos and Don’ts of Videogame Journalism

In the world of journalism there are the obvious dos and don’ts that every journalist should abide by. These dos and don’ts stem into all aspects of journalism, including game journalism, which I am particularly interested in. I took some time to find three videos of videogame journalism that highlight some of the dos and don’ts of gaming journalism. In each video there are pros and cons to the journalists style presented. This post is a quick articulation of what I think each journalist did well and where they fell short.

The Bad: Doritos and Mtn Dew XP – An Exclusive Interview with Geoff Keighley

This video was added mostly for what not to do rather than what to do. Geoff Keighley is a videogame reporter who has become well known in the business. While he is often seen covering big events like E3 and Comic Con, he demonstrates very bad journalistic qualities in this video.

His bias is apparent with the sponsors blatantly being placed around him. It’s even more apparent when he has to put a plug in about the double XP Doritos and Mountain Dew are offering for Halo 4. While this video is more of an opinion interview, it still belittles him as a journalist, and it belittles the credibility of game journalism as a whole, to show favor and promote a business practice like brand partnerships.

Don’t: Advocate for industry trends.
Don’t: Let sponsors influence what you say.

The Ugly: Sims 4 vs Sims 3 – First Impression

I chose this video because it has a good mix of good and bad journalist qualities. The YouTuber who posted this video is actually known for releasing gameplay videos, not reviewing games. Although he doesn’t have a journalism background, I think his first attempt at reviewing the Sims 4 was done pretty well.

What he does well is he compares this game to its predecessor and points out where this installment falls short. The casual tone he uses in his review makes it easy for a viewer to take in his points.

Where he falls short, though, is he doesn’t really do any reporting, he just kind of lays out his opinion. A lot of reviews are opinions, yes, but some reporting into the game’s development background always helps to make the review more credible. Also, while his casual tone is easier to take in, it may hurt his credibility with the way he presented his points. It’s an instance where he is staying true to the way he presents himself in other videos, which may make him less appealing to a broader audience, but more appealing to those who like that style.

Do: Use context when presenting points.
Do: Present your points in an easily digestible style.
Don’t: Be overly casual.
Don’t: Fall short on reporting.

The Good: The Last of Us REVIEW! Adam Sessler Reviews

I included this video because I think it does a good job of presenting a review for a game in a manner that meshes opinion  and factual evidence with support. Adam Sessler has become a figurehead in the gaming journalism realm. His reviews often provide thoughtful analyses of games, rather than just opinions and ratings. Although it has a couple flaws, I would say this method of game journalism is nearly perfect.

What I really like about Sessler’s review is that he doesn’t just simply say why he liked the game and then give it a score. His review delves into issues that are more important than just gameplay and story. He highlights topics like the social issues the game may comment on, atmospheric tone and emotional juxtaposition. Overall, I think Sessler provides reviews that sit on an intellectual level other game journalists, and reviewers in general, should strive towards.

The only downside I can find with Sessler’s review is that intellectual level he presents. If a casual browser were to come across his review, they may be thrown off by the terminology he uses and the references he makes. While I personally like the sophistication he uses, it may serve to narrow his audience.

Do: Provide an intellectual presentation of ideas.
Do: Research into issues beyond the topic.
Don’t: Over complicate the lingo.