Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Gaming Press: The Positives

Since I lashed out at the incompetence of the gaming press in my last post, I thought I should balance things out a bit with something nice to say. After all, duality is healthy.

The good news is that the situation is improving. Although hobbyist sites still tend to be the best overall, several mainstream sites like 1UP, Eurogamer, and Gamasutra are actually quite good. Not even sites like Kotaku are completely bad, they just aren't as consistently good as I think they should be. I believe some of the improvement is a result of hobbyists transitioning into professional jobs after gaining some recognition. Gamasutra's Brandon Sheffield, who started insertcredit.com and so I assume falls into my hobbyist category, conducts the best interviews in the business. I'm sure there are others like him.

The biggest problem is that some of the most visible media sources are some of the worst. IGN really is terrible. Most of the print magazines aside from Edge are primarily PR mouthpieces, as are pretty much all TV programs about video games. The gaming press as a whole is probably at about the same level as your average small town newspaper. But there are some really bright lights here and there, and that gives me hope.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008


The general incompetence of the professional gaming press is kind of a pet peeve of mine. The competitive nature of capitalism suggests that the standards for entry into such a 'dream job' would be fairly high. Unfortunately, that is clearly not the case, as this Kotaku interview with Suda51 and Shinji Mikami once again demonstrates. The interviewer, who presumably was paid for this and claims to be a huge fan of both creators, makes several big mistakes which could easily have been remedied by a little research. The interviewer's lack of research is compounded by the fact that he presents the interview in a synopsis format, filtered through his personal misconceptions, instead of the typical transcript format that you usually expect. So, for the record, I'd like clarify the major mistakes.

The very first sentence demonstrates the lack of research:
It might seem weird that Japanese independent studio Grasshopper Manufacture is partnering up with US powerhouse publisher EA; but it seems weirder to me that wacky, artsy Suda 51 is pairing off with serious, horror-loving Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame.

In fact, Mikami and Suda51 collaborated in a similar fashion on 2005's Killer7. The two have also made public appearances together in Japan since Killer7, so a new collaboration doesn't seem surprising. Furthermore, Mikami's last game was the comedic action title God Hand, hardly a serious horror game. Further-furthermore, God Hand's soundtrack was composed primarily by Masafumi Takada of Grasshopper Manufacture.

What do Suda and Mikami think about the possibility of too many horror games? Not much, really. They like horror too – and more horror can only be good. Bear in mind though, that Suda is an action man first and foremost. So whatever we see from the dream team is going to be a blend of action horror; with Suda as the action and Mikami as the horror.
Let me borrow Suda51's own words from his(and Mikami's) recent interview with 1UP, probably conducted at the same press event: "I mean, Grasshopper has experience in creating action games, but Mikami is one of the top three action game creators in the world." The last three games Mikami directed are God Hand, Resident Evil 4, and P.N. 03, all action games and only one has horror elements. Mikami is more than the creator of Resident Evil.

I understand that the game industry is too big for one person to know it all, but preinterview research should be mandatory for any professional. Far too often it seems, gaming 'journalists' don't take their jobs seriously. The fact that this interviewer is a fan of these guys makes it even worse. I'm continually surprised when I, with a full-time job in a different industry, know more about the video game industry than the professionals.

Please, avoid this interview and read 1UP's instead. In fact, if the Kotaku interviewer had read 1UP's interview before writing his synopsis, he could have avoided a lot of errors.

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