Are you a true games journalist?

6 11 2012

Hey you! Are you a games journalist? Ha! You might think you are, but I’ll be the judge of that. The following quiz will test whether you have the stones to call yourself a true games journo like the great Geoff Keighley (pictured above, of course), and has been approved as “extremely scientific” by an extensive board of PR bigwigs.

Simply answer the questions truthfully, marking down a, b or c, then check out your results at the bottom to discover whether you can keep your head held high, or whether you should be looking for another job.

1. There’s an embargo of 5pm this afternoon for the review of a huge AAA game. Do you…

a) post your review at 5pm on the dot
b) post your review at 4.52pm, to get ahead of the Google traffic
c) post your review at 4.30pm, but hide it lower down on your site for half an hour before shifting it up to the top, thus securing your ‘first’ status on Google while not getting in trouble

2. Sony announces that a trailer for GTA V will appear on YouTube tomorrow. Do you…

a) set a reminder for yourself so that when the trailer drops tomorrow, you’ll be prepared for it
b) tweet from your website’s Twitter account that a trailer for GTA V is dropping tomorrow
c) make an entire news post about the fact that a trailer for GTA V is dropping tomorrow

3. You’re getting married this weekend. Your favourite PR person is…

a) invited to the party afterwards
b) Your best man/bridesmaid
c) Your husband/wife

4. A new mobile social game is selling by the bucketload. Do you…

a) download the game and try it out, and then armed with your opinion and experience with the game, contact the studio and work up a detailed interview about its success
b) post about the game, whether you’ve tried it out or not, and give a little context to the title’s success
c) post a couple of lines about the game, with the main sales figures in the headline, and then wrap it up with some sort of derogatory comment about how all social games are shit

5. A game has arrived for you to review, and it’s ‘the next big thing’ that everyone has been waiting for. It’s also not out to the public for another few weeks. Do you…

a) take pride in the fact that your job allows you to enjoy moments like this, and keep it to yourself
b) post on Twitter that a game has arrived, but tease that you’re not allowed to talk about it yet
c) take a picture of the game box, and then post it to Twitter with the caption “Guess what I’m going to be doing this weekend.” Then take pictures of any of the promo stuff that came with it and post them up too

6. A big story hits, and you need to get it written up asap. Do you…

a) work quickly and efficiently, making sure to give all the facts to your readers, and getting someone else to check it over for you before you post it up, since you may well have produced an error or two in your haste
b) post the news up as quickly as you can, not checking for errors or grammatical mistakes until it’s live, because getting up on Google asap is the name of the game
c) write a quick line or two summarizing the news, and get it up within a minute. You can then go and add the actual details of the news later, or maybe just not bother and copy/paste the press release below instead

7. Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, the creator of Minecraft, has tweeted about something. Do you…

a) notice that he has tweeted something, and move on to something else
b) consider whether you can turn what he has said into news, and look elsewhere for information to pad the single tweet out with
c) post the tweet in full immediately to your website, because let’s face it, just mentioning Minecraft brings in mega-hits, so who cares if it’s actually news or not

8. A French games website that you’ve never heard of before is reporting that the PlayStation 4 will support 4D visuals, and feature microwaving facilities. Do you…

a) be extremely cautious of the report, do some quick research, and most likely find without much work at all that it’s a load of bollocks
b) carefully pick apart the report and post what you think might be true to your readers, making sure to put “Report:” in your headline, and telling your readers to take it all with a pinch of salt
c) immediately post about it, taking a good portion of it as fact and presenting it to your readers as such, even calling the French website “a trusted, valuable source”

9. A single screenshot for BioShock Infinite has appeared online. Do you…

a) Look at it, think “that’s pretty”, then close the tab
b) Tweet a link to the image from your website’s official Twitter account
c) Post it immediately to your website with a brief line of text, after you’ve stuck your website’s watermark on it of course. Then post it to N4G with the title “New BioShock Infinite image is the best thing you’ll see today”

10. A journo friend of yours has just this second posted a link to their opinion on a topic on Twitter. Do you…

a) Click through to read their opinion and, if you deem what they say to be worth sharing, retweet the link
b) Immediately retweet the link before reading it, then check it out to make sure it isn’t baloney
c) Immediately retweet it, followed up by a complimentary tweet about how everyone should be following them because they know exactly what they’re talking about


Mostly a: Don’t bother
Are you sure you’re in the right job? You clearly have no idea what you’re doing at all. Don’t you know that games journalism is all about the hits and getting there first? Why are you bothering to do some proper legwork and deliver top quality writing to your loyal readers? Stop being such a snobby prick, and get your act together. Haven’t you heard? Everything new is news, whether it’s an announcement of an announcement, or a random variable in the millions that has absolutely no context with anything else whatsoever. Do a better job, or you might as well get the fuck out.

Mostly b: You’re nearly there
You understand the fundamentals of games journalism, but you’ve still not fully locked it down. You know that press release it took you five minutes to write up? You need to get that down to two minutes. Just cut out the paragraphs that give the news any context, and don’t bother spell-checking it – your readers don’t care about the odd typo anyway, and anyone who does is just a grammar nazi. Of course, you’re going to need to grow a thicker skin to combat all those twats on Twitter who say your work isn’t “real journalism.” What the hell do they know? Your site is getting quick and easy hits, and that’s the name of the game. How else are you going to pull in the advertising?

Mostly c: You are a games journalism god
Congratulations! You are wise in the ways of games journalism. You know that nothing matters except bringing in the hits, and really, does it matter how you do it? Of course other journalists will grumble when your review goes up ahead of time because you told the developer you were going to give it a 9, and sure, they’ll get irate when you write up a headline that is blantantly trolling and does not at all match what the body of the article says. But here’s the scoop – you’re winning. Morals are for the weak. Sub-editors? What are those? What’s great too, is that if this all goes tits-up, you can always fall back easily into PR! Anyway, run off and enjoy your spoils. Have a bag of Doritos on me.


Game Journalism Taboos

11 04 2011

Today marks what I hope will be a new-found relationship between myself and this blog. The plan is to update it daily with some new gaming topic I’ve been pondering, or at least multiple times a week. Nothing too heavy, mind – just short points of discussion.

I want to start off with a bang, so let’s discuss a taboo subject – the standard practice of game reviewing, or rather, the bits we’re not allowed to talk about. Actually, it’s not that we’re not allowed to, but rather that no-one dares to.

Certain questions cannot be asked, mainly because no-one else is asking them, and no-one wants to be the first one in. I was discussing this with a couple of my fellow game reviewers last week (behind closed doors, of course), and it’s interesting to see the flood gates open once one person has asked one of these taboo questions.

Questions like ‘how much should you get paid for a review?’, ‘who pays the most?’, ‘do you need to play the entire game all the way through before you can review it properly?’, and other such hush-hushes. I’m not going to answer these questions for the very same reason that others won’t – you don’t want to tick any current (or potential) employers off.

Of course, the other reason why people might not want to discuss money is because no-one wants to find out that they’re earning pennies compared to others.

But when someone does finally ask one of these questions in a public place – such as the Games Press forums, for example – there’s this odd balancing act between jumping in to discuss a topic that is rarely brought up, and keeping your answers safe.

Of course, this situation is found in most jobs. When I worked in a shop, there were plenty of questions that you wanted to ask, but just couldn’t. Yet I still feel like games journalism is one area where reviewers need to start being more open with each other. That way, employers would be forced to start providing better rates and a more healthy career.