Going Gold: Talking to Ourselves

Going Gold: Talking to Ourselves

The world of games journalism is finding itself further and further marginalized from the actual games that people are playing.

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Not entirely unexpected. Here's the thing.. most gaming magazines are for the specialized gaming market so covers things that market is interested in. We don't usually call them the "specialized" gaming market because, until recently, there wasn't anything else, so pointing it out would be like saying "the specialized genital piercing market".. sort of redundant. That's changing though.

Wii Sports Resort isn't for the specialized gaming market, nor is that market terribly interested, kind of like the DS. Those are more mass market items these days. You're more likely to see coverage of Wii Sports Resort in things like Spin, People, etc.. magazines of the mass-media that cater to the mass-market.. or at least you will. Right now the Wii still hasn't had enough killer applications to really crack into mass media consciousness. The mass-market is just catching on to gaming itself, after all, it'll take the mass-media a little while to catch up.

So yeah, you're writing for a specialized niche industry. It'll be an interesting tug of war to see which way the Escapist turns -- whether it goes deeper into the specialist market, or tries to broaden its appeal into the mass market. With the various video additions, especially Movie Bob, I'm pretty confident I know which way Russ wants it to head.

See, modern "core" video games are like obscure or extreme sports. You really don't get into them as an adult and there really is a steep learning curve that even us poorly skilled members or the niche audience have long since overcome. While more accessible than, say, super-cross, gaming is still pretty intimidating to those on the outside. But while you might not hop on a bike and to a 360 super-man seat grab into a one-hand backflip, there is a chance that you'll enjoy hopping on a dirt bike and driving around in your old high school parking lot.Especially if you've got friends with you and you're all taking turns. And maybe a few of you will buy bikes and start barrelling down the dirt ramp, or reading extreme sports web sites, but not all of you. That's what Wii Sports Resort is, a few people getting together to try something fun together. Sure, they may look silly, but it's not scary, it's doable. And it probably is their first step toward "getting it".

Tinq:
That's what Wii Sports Resort is, a few people getting together to try something fun together. Sure, they may look silly, but it's not scary, it's doable. And it probably is their first step toward "getting it".

And here we get back to the root of the "hardcore/casual" divide- the "old guard", the gamers who grew up gaming and therefore think that the entire gaming scene is "theirs", and that anyone else who wishes to approach their sacred towers must undergo the same trials they themselves did.

Intelligent gaming media will not only reach out to both sides of this divide, but it will bridge it- showing the casuals that there's a lot more out there if they're interested, and showing the hardcore that some of these casual games are a lot of fun and maybe not as stupid as they think.

I think one of the reasons Wii Sports Resort got looked over was because there really wasn't anything that they could "hype" about it that would make sense to the consumer market they are looking at. That market being the casual gamer.

In most "hardcore" groups and forums (The Escapist being one of them) the Wii MotionPlus added the functionality that most of us thought it should have had in the beginning. The technicals of which pretty much bore the average casual player. They added some more mini-games and added some bells and whistles to the re-made ones, like bowling and golf. Again the additions are hard to really hype to the casual player.

So we are in a situation where the major game magazines and sites don't see anything to really jump on board and report. What are they going to say "Here's Wii Sports Resort, more of what you loved (or hated) about the first one!" It's just not a huge deal to us or them.

Now, I own just about every game system out there including the Wii. I bought Wii Sports Resort and I have fun playing it with my girlfriend. When we have people over for dinner or a party, we play games on the Wii, not my Xbox or PS. No the games aren't anything amazing to look at, they don't have incredible surround sound or deep engrossing stories, yet we spend hours playing Bowling or Golf while we drink and joke with each other and we have fun doing it. Like Yahtzee said in one of his reviews "Remember fun? What we used to have before gaming became a second job!"

I think the Wii haters need to stop for a minute and look around, cause while your comparatively small group is whining and complaining about the graphics or lack of hardcore titles, the rest of the new casual gamer community is out there having a great time and don't really care about what you think.

I couldn't bother with Wii Resort, I have Wii sports and that barely gets played either, and I have no use for the Wii motion plus since none of my games aren't compatible. I have nothing against the Wii, it just doesn't see the same attention other platforms have in my home. I honestly used it more for the gamecube games than the Wii titles.

I'm not sure why the wii motion plus is a big deal, it should have been there at launch and now it's made the wii controller the most expensive controller when assembled. Remote-40 + Nunchuck-20 + MotionPlus+ 20.

I don't care what others think or say about a system, it's the games that make a system worth it, and nothing someone says will change my stand on it. The Wii is a fine system with an often obnoxious fanbase who will pull your arms off if you mention the slightest thing wrong with it when it's every persons right to have an opinion. I really enjoyed some of the Wii's bigger titles such as Metroid Prime 3, Wario Land Shake it, Smash Bros Brawl, Wii sports etc etc, I don't consider Wii resort one of them because it seems like more of the same of Wii Sports and Play. And many people have that so I'm assuming that that might be the reason it's overlooked.

No one bothers to write reviews of casual games for the same reason nobody does in depth film analysis of direct to DVD Disney sequels. It is not that people aren't buying or enjoying them. The target audience knows what they are getting when they buy it and no amount of discussion will change their mind. Game journalists need to focus on games and gamers that ride the fence so to speak. If I am uncertain a game is worth my money a positive or negative review will tip my decision making in the appropriate direction. If the number of people sitting on the fence about purchasing a game are few to none, why bother wasting words on a review?

I notice Yahtzee had an opinion of Sports Resort. I believe it involved flowers and sunshine, and the destruction thereof. As a result, I'm quite looking forward to the game when I eventually get enough money.

As far as internet sites vs. magazines when it comes to game reviews, the only reviews I've come to trust are from reading the forums, and weighing out the pro vs. con sentiments from a range of players. Gaming media is good for previews and general commentary but I leave it at that. Fact is, I don't miss the print magazines at all.

If a game wants to maximize profits for money spent in design and development, it HAS to appeal to the casual gamer. HOPEFULLY, those games will have challenging elements (like PvP) that appeal to the hard core gamer as well, at which point it will garner my interest.

Christian, if you want to write about Wii Sports - just write about it. I completely don't see the need to complain and whiny about EGM in 2/3rds of this article - it was intriguing and then just became the usual internet forum post about the good old days and how much everyone sucks.

Fearzone:
If a game wants to maximize profits for money spent in design and development, it HAS to appeal to the casual gamer. HOPEFULLY, those games will have challenging elements (like PvP) that appeal to the hard core gamer as well, at which point it will garner my interest.

You misunderstand the casual gamer, they hate complexity, not challenge. They'll grow to whatever challenge you throw at them but they'll be scared away if you throw them a game that fails to engage them right away. They want to get right into the action and start playing (and that also means being able to control it).

Well it's very true that there are a whole heap of mainstream games that no one bothers to review. But maybe this is in part due to the fact that the people who play them don't necessarily read game reviews all that often.

Take Wii Sports Resort for example. It has "For casual gamers" written all over it, and casual gamers don't strike me as the sort of people who are particularity into game reviews. And consider how much time they spend actually playing the games they've bought. Also, how much does a game like Wii Sports Resort need reviewing?

All I'm saying is that you have to consider that your target audience may be a different group than the mainstream game consumers.

The thing I believe that most of the industry is missing is that "video games" have grown in popularity and depth to the extent that there is no longer one "industry". I would argue that the Wii market is completely different then the Xbox/Ps market.

I am what you call a "hardcore" gamer. I have been gaming for 20 of the 26 years of my life and started out on my dad's Apple IIc. I complain about the Wii and demand awesome graphics, surround sound, and a learning curve that requires a 6 month college level course (read supreme commander ;). My sister in law is what you call a "casual" gamer. She loves Wii fit and Wii sports at parties/dinner etc. How can you market a "video game product" to both of us? We have see "video games" as completely different things. I see it as an artistic medium where you can get an interactive experience different than any other outlet and she sees them as games like monopoly or clue.

The Rogue Wolf:

And here we get back to the root of the "hardcore/casual" divide- the "old guard", the gamers who grew up gaming and therefore think that the entire gaming scene is "theirs", and that anyone else who wishes to approach their sacred towers must undergo the same trials they themselves did.

Intelligent gaming media will not only reach out to both sides of this divide, but it will bridge it- showing the casuals that there's a lot more out there if they're interested, and showing the hardcore that some of these casual games are a lot of fun and maybe not as stupid as they think.

My sister in law; the "casual gamer" doesn't care in the least to read about the Wii or the piles of shovelware that are released every month. Catering to her and not me is essentially destroying any audience you have for "video game" journalism. Its the "hardcore" guys like me (YES I need to put quotes around "hardcore" and "casual" every time because although I use both terms as they are widely understood an accepted, I don't like labeling people's tastes so arbitrarily.... but I digress). It is the "hardcore" people that really see gaming as a lifestyle choice and not a way to kill a couple hours with friends on the weekends, or to help someone manage their weight.

To sum up my rant; I see the industry splitting in to two completely different industries. The games industry and the interactive entertainment industry.

As a direct response to the OP:

Does the fact that the games press writes more about the "high quality" niche games than the mass-market not indicate a maturity of the medium? After all, a considerable proportion of the writing devoted to music, art and literature does not concern itself with the "simple" and populist work but rather to the less publicised "arty" or "cult" options.

Take in particular the music press: there are pop music magazines but they tend to be devoted more to celebrity gossip and photos than a detailed review of, say, Britney Spear's newest release. By contrast you can go and read Q, Mojo, NME, Rolling Stone, etc., and get a thorough analysis of obscure artists and albums.

Some see these magazines as attempting to educate those with an interest in music by encouraging them to seek higher quality work than the popular music which gets the sales. Whether this is noble or simply elitist is a matter of preference.

Some might say it's sad that the quality of a game is often not reflected in the sales figures, but at least the obscure gems give Escapists something to start a thread on every week or two.

Everyone's hit on some good points in this thread.

Wii games... especially the simplistic ones, like Wii Sports Resort, they just don't need to be reviewed. They get a trailer on TV, they get spoken about in game stores by people like me (you know, the kind that work in game stores), there are posters... that's all you need. Mainstream isn't the sort of people to look at reviews and carefully examine whether or not the game will be to their tastes; they're sufficiently broad and nonspecific that it'll go down well either way. And if not, I run a 7-day exchange policy which I mention with every single sale. But you know? That's fine. More cash for the retailers, more cash for the devs, more cash for the industry.

The only possible problem is that people won't make sufficiently deep, interesting games for us old gamers. At which point we turn to the diehard devs, or the indie crowd, both of whom do us fantastic work. This new wave won't overcome everything; it'll just coexist. No point being upset by it. Just vote with your dollars.

The old guard will -always- get nostalgic about the glory days, and they're probably never coming back. However, if people are content to write just for said old guard, then that's okay. Just don't expect new people to get into it. I know I look at gaming on a way, way more involved and deeper level than most people I know, even my friends, and even my coworkers at the game retailer that employs me. And that's fine. If I can interest them with what I glean from websites here, and elsewhere, I'm happy. If not, I'm still happy - I learn things which interest me. I talk about them with likeminded (ex: right now). So I'm contented.

If people want to write for the mainstream and make some money, that's fine too. Just don't take away what I like. And in leiu of people writing about what I like... I'll start a blog and write something. Speak with my friends. Something. I just won't listen to you, if you don't interest me.

So far, the Escapist has interested me for four years. I'm contented by that. People who get upset with new games not being just how they like them should go and play their old games again, or play different games. That's all there is to it ^^

I'm not sure I agree with the article. The people who buy games like Wii Sports Resort aren't really the kinds of people who read game reviews, much less would pay for a magazine. There's simply no point writing much about these games.

Yes, there are going to be people that love Wii Sports Resort, and that's because it's an upgraded rehash of Wii Sports, which appeals to a very, very broad audience. As such, those that identify themselves as gamers may or may not like the game, but are going to find other titles that normally appeal to them, such as Fallout III, Gears of War, or the latest Final Fantasy game, much more appealing.

It's like comparing one small vanilla wafer to a whole cheesecake. Yes, I find the wafer satisfying, but I'd much prefer the heart attack on a dish, thank you very much.

Christian Ward, at the risk of potentially deriding your journalistic sensibilities, I think you're using a minnow to catch a mackerel in a sandbox by beating the dead horse of EGM with a stick made out of Wii Sports Resort. The reason why there are so few in-depth reviews of Wii Sports Resort is that the game is so painfully insubstantial. It's not a grand and epic concluding-narrative like Halo 3 or a viscerally imaginative diamond-in-the-rough like Madworld; it's just Wii Sports with a few games added and a few others left out. What's there to review? It's not worth jumping on a bandwagon. The Escapist doesn't need to follow the beaten path; it's not what drew me here and I don't think I'm alone when I say that. The closing of EGM was the result of spreading itself too thin and collapsing under its own weight, not because the Wii and DS have such largely unimpressive libraries so cluttered with shovelware it's a wonder the major developers haven't just abandoned them as lost causes.

The Wii is trying to preach to the unconverted, people who might do no more than glance at a review, let alone join an online community and post to the forums. The Escapist has better things to do than recruit potentially half-baked followers who may disappear without so much as a "by your leave." I've been gaming since at least six, and I don't think I'm alone in that statement either. I'm not leaving The Escapist anytime soon, and could care less if they don't review Big-Sell-Shovelware-#1138; there's plenty of other games far more worthy of their attention, and mine as well.

casual games aren't interesting to cover

what is interesting
1 games catering to enthusiast gamers
2 games for kids that will spawn the next generation of enthusiasts.

So games like Mario and Zelda are somewhat important to the hobby. Wii fit and the like are the bane.

Publishers will drop AAA development in favor of cheap to produce casual games if the casuals would outnumber the enthousiasts by too many.

The reason there probably isn't more coverage on game like Wii Sports Resort in gaming magazines and such is because anyone who frequents sites and publications dedicated to gaming have already long since known what Wii Sports Resort was going to be all about.

It of course sold so much because it is quite likely the most widely accessible game in the industries history, but as anyone who hasn't bought it (or has bought it, it doesn't really matter) will tell you they couldn't play it for hours on end. It doesn't have enough to it to be subject to articles and reviews that games typically get.

The Rogue Wolf:

Tinq:
That's what Wii Sports Resort is, a few people getting together to try something fun together. Sure, they may look silly, but it's not scary, it's doable. And it probably is their first step toward "getting it".

And here we get back to the root of the "hardcore/casual" divide- the "old guard", the gamers who grew up gaming and therefore think that the entire gaming scene is "theirs", and that anyone else who wishes to approach their sacred towers must undergo the same trials they themselves did.

Intelligent gaming media will not only reach out to both sides of this divide, but it will bridge it- showing the casuals that there's a lot more out there if they're interested, and showing the hardcore that some of these casual games are a lot of fun and maybe not as stupid as they think.

I think its more akin to movies - lets said that, for example, we lived in a world where the was no truly awful movies (i.e. most of the 'comedy' and action releases for the last 5 years). Ok, there are still bad movies, but they at least where trying to be good movies.

Because of the complexity or niche appeal of these movies, only a core market had been watching movies since their 'birth'. Now, lets image that one day, out of the blue, suddenly hundreds of thousands of people turned up to the new movie, "Shallow Hal", a movie with the depth of a spoon and the appeal of a kick to the genials to the 'niche' market, but that these new people ate up in the millions. Now, this new market are easy to work, just show them something very simple, and preferably shiny, and they'll go for it. On mass!

Now, the now minority formerly niche market look at this with shock, and fear, because lets be honest, you can virtually see the movie companies looking over new market with drool from their mouths. Increasingly, every movie is getting alittle dumber, each sequel to a former great getting denser and dumber, until no 'niche appeal' movies are made anymore, and we are left with a sea of dross.

Now, personally, I'm more hopeful, but the people who badmouth the Wii see this scenario as the end game for the Wii, and hence are trying to fight it off as much as they can, because our fun is going to disappear to appease those who shunned us and our hobby in the first place.

Personally, I think there is a reasonable chance of that happening, especially since I heard the project leader of Deus Ex 3 thought Deus Ex (1) was 'boring, without enough shooting'. To me, that was the very appeal of the game - I could avoid combat, or talk my way out of things, and so forth. But now, a series alot of gamers love gets dumbed down more and more, with Deus Ex 2 being prettier, but dumber, and from the sound of things, Deus Ex 3 just being a generic shooter. Some series have managed to resist this trend, but not all.

Hopefully, there will be a new wave of 'hardcore' players who transfer over from the casual Wii players. But at the moment, I don't see it happening.

 

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