Good Griefing

This article is over 15 years old and may contain outdated information

In response to “An Endemic Problem” from The Escapist Forum: I’ve always thought one of the reasons more advertisers don’t take advantage of the gaming press is because they know their fundamental weakness in this area: advertisers don’t understand how to market anything other than games to gamers.

We, as gamers, actively mock any and all attempts to advertise non-game products with “gamer sensibilities.” Gillette’s gamer razor? Gamer grub? What the hell? We even get bristly over game-related ads that don’t fit with our idea of the culture. How many times have you seen one of those people-too-beautiful-to-be-gaming ads where they’ve got that I’m-painfully-excited-about-this-smile and scoffed?

Advertisers will always be afraid of marketing to gamers until they have a better grasp on what advertising works. They’re still a long way off right now.


I thought that it was best said over at the “A Life Well Wasted” podcast in the “Death of EGM” episode*.

“EGM was a print magazine trying to sell to people who no longer use the print medium.”

Consider. Most gamers in that precious 18-35 age zone are the are among the reasons newspapers are dying. We don’t read newspapers anymore, if we ever did. Likewise, what’s the incentive to pay to get an issue of EGM, when I can get similar content online for free at Gamespy, Gamespot, or yes, the Escapist? Not only is the online material free, its also updated as soon as news comes in, where-as the print magazine can’t possibly alter itself once the magazine’s been shipped.

Therefore, while I’ll agree that the advertising policies are likely contributing to the decline of traditional print gaming journalism, we have to recognize that print journalism in general is declining due to the internet, and factor in that gamers are even more likely than most to get our news there.



In response to “The Top Ten Reasons Top Ten Lists Reign” from The Escapist Forum: Great article. I think you’ve managed to get many of the reasons spot on. I mean, I visit Gamefaqs with regularity (i.e., even when I’m not consulting a FAQ), despite not being a member of the site or visiting the forums, and one of the things I like doing is seeing the top 10 lists that appear on the front page.

Many times, I’ve felt despair at a list that included things I felt plain wrong or ridiculous, such as lamenting when a ‘top 10 alternative use of weapons’ included grenade jumping in Halo, but not the original (and far more important!) rocket jump of quake. Sometimes, on the other hand, I’ll agree with a list entirely, confirming my prejudices, and sometimes I’ll stop to analyze why the author picked one thing or another.

However, even when the list doesn’t interest me, I’ll usually take a look at the number 1 in any case, a clear sign to me that that is the big draw to these lists.



In response to “Switching Sides” from The Escapist Forum: Seeing a paling from both sides of the fence can render it in much higher definition than perching on one and pointing a red pen. A good article making an excellent point.

In any medium, and indeed with any issue taking too close a look can have one focused tight on something only to miss a plot hole the next scene over. Or you lose the whole picture. I have to say I wouldn’t really enjoy being in an environment where every second superior has something else they require me to do which may well be a detriment to what I consider the art of a piece. It’s great to see so many developers pull through.



Recommended Videos

In response to “But I Read It in the Papers” from The Escapist Forum: “Similarly, researchers who have been doing their work for many years, such as Dr. Craig Anderson, have become entrenched in reporters’ Rolodexes and will get called for comment much more often, which limits the range of opinions most stories express.”

In Pennsylvania, we have a professor at Franklin & Marshall College named Terry Madonna who is the go-to guy for polling analysis every election cycle. If a primary or general election is coming up, it’s hard to avoid seeing his name in newspapers across the state on a weekly or even daily basis.

Having worked as a reporter and copy editor at a general interest newspaper for going on nine years, I can tell you that many of the people still in the industry (or at least the ones I’ve met) are older and less inclined to look at games seriously. As a former crime reporter who was assigned to write articles on ecstasy, methamphetamine and other drugs du jour, I can tell you that it is often frustrating as a writer to operate in such a reactionary environment, but that’s kind of the nature of the news cycle.

David Simon (creator of The Wire) made a great point recently about newspapers surrounding a specific issue, like, say, lead poisoning, and tackling that to the exclusion of the bigger picture. There is many times a profound lack of context in news stories, a tunnel vision that allows us to create the shorter, to-the-point articles that the focus groups tell us readers want.

I’m going to stop blathering about whatever comes into my head now. Excellent article, by the way.


Two things here.

Firstly, just how are we supposed to know who to believe when two obviously learned scientists come to polar-opposite conclusions on the same subject with similar data? And also:

But psychologist Dr. Douglas Gentile, who studies videogames as an assistant professor at Iowa State University and as Director of Research for the National Institute on Media and the Family, says newspaper reporters are too worried about presenting both sides of a debate that he says the “videogames cause violence” side has conclusively won.

“We haven’t trained reporters very well how to tell quality science from junk science,” Gentile says. “Where this matters is in the ‘get both sides of every story’ rule that reporters do seem to follow pretty darn well. … The joy of science is that at a certain point there aren’t two sides. The world isn’t both flat and round. We now know the right answer.”

…what? The “videogames cause violence” side has conclusively won? I’ve been playing video games since I was 5, and I’ve never been in so much as a fistfight. I’d say I disprove your theory, Dr. Gentile.

Second, much of the problem with society today (at least amongst the “old guard”) is that they take the word of their favorite news source as gospel. Americans who grew up with the likes of Kronkite, Rather and Morrow simply cannot believe that the “news” would ever lie to or mislead them; to them, the “fourth column” is impartial and faultless. They cannot (or will not) believe that any “reputable” news institution would ever stretch the truth or mislead their readers/viewers for their own gain.

Then, of course, there’s the OTHER problem with society, the people who only believe those news institutions who tell them what they already believe anyway, but that’s a seperate rant.

The Rogue Wolf


In response to “Yellow Game Journalism” from The Escapist Forum: I thought this was a really solid article, and my thoughts on the journalism aspect of gaming boils down to this:

There isn’t enough time. Good writing takes time and effort, and it just doesn’t happen at the speed that makes it possible to produce exceptional pieces of work. Between the internet, which has made immediacy almost a standard, and the sheer time it takes to play a videogame (I’m an average gamer at best so things like RPGs will take a full work week in hours to complete if I’m lucky) and the time it takes to produce a cohesive article, I just don’t know that it’s possible to get greatness out of the journalistic side too often.


I have to disagree with all the praise heaped on this article. It’s a long list of complaints without any worthwhile suggestions for what would make video game journalism better.

There are only a few articles you enjoy reading a year? Well, tell us a bit more about them. What makes those articles “special” as opposed to what gets printed in, say, GamePro? Point out some pieces genuinely worth our time and how writers can strive towards those goals.

Reviewers aren’t spending enough time covering the games they write about? Tell us about a different system that would allow for complete coverage that could be released in a timely fashion. Deadlines exist to keep news and reviews relevant. If they do not come out in a reasonable amount of time, then most people will go to other sources for their news. An audience of purists will gravitate towards your copy for the authoritative voice behind it, but the message becomes lost on the masses.

I’m not defending the current state of game journalism, however, simply saying “these things are bad! they need to be changed!” without considering first why some of these problems exist and what can be done to change matters just perpetuates the same insubstantial generalizing it accuses other game journalists of doing.


The Escapist is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy