Here on PSLS we’ve begun to talk a lot about games media, its legitimacy and some of its flaws, but today the Daily Reaction team of Seb and Dan share their thoughts on some of their biggest gripes with the games media as a whole.
Seb: Journalism has one major problem – the publications people work for, be they print, TV or internet, want to make a profit. With games journalism, it’s even more apparent as bloggers are able to set up sites that are solely created to gain hits and earn quick money. And it’s easy. Here’s what you have to do:
Step 1 – Create a site. Don’t worry about visual design, or anything like that. Just make it readable. Ish.
Step 2 – Write an article that annoys people. Maybe try bashing the PS3 today, and then the 360 tomorrow. Don’t worry about research or reasoned argument.
Step 3 – Publish.
Step 4 – Submit to an aggregate news site like N4G. Watch as irate people fall for the same trick again, and hits roll in.
Step 5 – Laugh.
There are so many ways to create ‘flamebait’, and gain tens of thousands of hits by simply annoying people. Made up rumors, silly attacks, identical screenshot comparisons, using words that inflame people. Sadly, it is journalism, but it’s not good journalism.
Dan: I couldn’t agree more, the fact that online journalism is mostly funded through the ability of a site to bring in traffic, is a problem that can cause people to use unprofessional tactics to gain attention. While these tactics should normally push away readers, the fact of the matter is that we are curious creatures, and find it hard to walk away from something compelling. As much as I wish this wasn’t something occurring in our industry, it’s something that no one outside of the audience can control. Much like with mainstream media outlets who actually do the same thing (Fox News), it is up to all of us check our source before we even click.
My biggest issue in the world of online journalism is the amount of senseless articles that are pushed out daily. Which could be funny considering you are reading a daily written opinion feature, but when sites simply put up top 10 lists, or things like celebrity lookalikes, it just seems trashy. Putting up a list occasionally does not warrant any hate, but thoughtless information that is constantly pumped out into the web just adds to the growing garbage heap known as the internet.
Seb: Agreed, it’s a real shame. Obviously all forms of media suffer it to a certain degree – tabloids and sensationalist channels – but the internet opens the floodgates to Daily Rubbish. What really annoys me is that the idea behind a ‘top 10’ is actually pretty decent, it means that you can easily summarize your favorite games/movies/books or whatever. It’s a very logical organizational method. But because it’s so easy to come up with, it means that it’s painfully overused, and perverted to create thousands of lists on the most pointless things – Top 10 Game Characters, if They Were Tattooed Onto Boobs; Top 10 Reasons Why The PS3 is so Much Better Than The 360 Your Eyes Will Bleed; Top 10 Reasons Why The 360 is so Much Better Than The PS3 Your Eyes Will Bleed.
It’s the same problem with opinion pieces. There are many reasons why the Vita is underperforming, and writing an article on why it’s ‘failing’ is perfectly fine. But because bashing a platform guarantees hits, it’s again overdone and written quickly and sloppily. It devalues the entire system, and means we have to think twice when we title debates on poor platforms, because we don’t want to be associated with that style of writing.
But like you said, everyone needs to stop clicking on the links to those sites. They feed off of pissing you off, cashing in on the fact that people need to read the article and then moan.
Dan: Yeah, as much as I hate agreeing with you, when you are right, you are right. Although, one of the biggest issues ailing our industry, on top of all the other things we mentioned, is the lack of conviction for an opinion. Opinion pieces during a time where the general consensus seems to fall more on one side of the scale than the other, seem to try and willingly agree with the masses – unless they are going for controversy. Much like during the “growing pains” years for the PS3, everyone was so happy to bash the system, and it is almost the same thing with the Vita. While we have stated numerous times the shortcomings of the Vita and Sony, we are very firm in our stance, and believe in the things we say. Agree or disagree, I really do not care. As we bring in a point of view, with as much justification and evidence as we can, to show why we feel the way we do.
This issue falls into every inch of our industry, and is a corruption that taints the point of us having a journalistic sector. The most crucial point of our job is to convey information in an unbiased way, when not opinionated, and educated when it is opinionated. Yet, as games are reviewed we see a great deal of pressure and inability to stand behind the score you truly feel a game should be. Even when I have reviewed a game before, there is a sense that you know you will piss off people who obviously won’t agree with you. But it is our job to state what we feel, and to make sure we are honest with ourselves, and with you, the reader.
Where would you put this Reaction on a top 10 list of all our Reactions? Which Twitter account would look better as a screenshot – Seb or Dan’s? Is our email clearly more successful than the PS Vita? Discuss all this, and more, in the idiot box below.