Ask the general public about media and you’ll get various responses. Some don’t trust the press, while others do. According to Hello Games Creative Director Sean Murray, this applies to both video game journalism and regular journalism. It appears as though it took his own experiences with No Man’s Sky for him to realize it.
During a Develop:Brighton discussion with EDGE Magazine Editor Nathan Brown, Murray addressed his belief that positive No Man’s Sky stories “don’t do as well” as negative stories. This occurs, Murray thinks, because there’s also a disconnect between game developers and journalists. “In our heads, we always think–and still do–when I’m talking to press I feel like, well, I’m talking to you, who completely understands how game development works.”
He explained further, noting that information concerning game development isn’t as widely shared as it ought to be.
It kind of kills me that we don’t see that much of that any more, in terms of journalism these days–in terms of games journalism, where people talk freely and educate people about game development and how it works and what’s going on behind the scenes.
There’s a disconnect there… Clearly, to us, it’s obvious that some features are working, and some aren’t, and some things we tend to do work out and some things don’t. We’ve cut out this feature and put this other cool one back in… We’re just going back and forth like that as, again, just a handful of people making our game.
During the talk, Murray compared the games press of today to what he remembers it being growing up. Then, games media was far more informative. In fact, the works of many journalists are what inspired him to pursue game development. However, seeing the media response to No Man’s Sky encouraged Hello Games to examine other ways in which to engage with its community. Consequently, Murray doesn’t communicate with the press as often.
I think the reason for not talking to the press was, a bunch of the press when I was growing up was kind of the [hub] of the community. What they wrote, I would read, and as a kid I would think those things–I would just be led by what that journalist had said, and that would play a huge part in my ability to critique games and think about how games are made.
That would lead my thought process, and tell me how to feel about development, and how to feel about games. I don’t think that happens as much now. I think that the problem with what we see on front pages being led by what we click on means that naturally you tend to read what the most people clicked… which means the press is naturally downstream from the community.
Is there any merit to Murray’s thoughts on the matter? Everyone will have to come to their own conclusion in this regard. For those in search of positive No Man’s Sky stories, they are indeed a few out there. Recently, fans of the title raised funds to thank Hello Games with a heartwarming billboard message and lunch. The excess money went to charity. In addition, the highly-anticipated Beyond update for No Man’s Sky looks as though it may soon launch.