Sunday, 8 November 2009

Games Writing Today

Games writing and reviews are just as common as the Film and TV reviews that have been around so long. On the shelves today there is a magazine devoted to every console, handheld and PC gamer and in some cases more than one magazine. Some are obviously more biased than others due to the funding of a specific platform creating ‘The Official’ titled magazines. Reviewers today are hard pushed to make the deadlines for their demanding 19-day schedule in which they have to fill nearly 150 pages of game related material. Not only the writing has to take place in this time but they also have to play the games they are reviewing and keep their ears pinned to the ground to try and give us the readers something new to keep us wanting to buy the magazine and read more news about the games.

What makes writing for games so interesting is that its usually quite subjective having the term “New Games Journalism” coined for this style. The opinion of one person can make the difference between a game selling or ending up like the E.T game produced by Atari, where most of the copies are said to be hidden deep underground somewhere in the Nevada desert. Kieron Gillan possibly the most renowned games writer leading the way with his manifesto has seen this in motion many a time and when the scores for a game are written and developers are keen to get a sneak peek at them to try and bump the score up by a few points by flying a developer down to play the game in front of them for half a day to show them how good it is. This being said it clearly shows how influential this type of subjective reviewing has become, with developers trying to sweet talk the reviewers into swaying the opinion in their favour.

Game reviews can be sugar coated with lovely words and phrases and make you want to rush out and buy it, but I have found more often than not the writers are stuck in one mind and like one particular style of game which is a shame. You get the same excited can’t wait for it attitude even to the point where the reviewers have written (and if I remember correctly) were actually sad enough to weld a copy of ‘GTA: San Andreas’ inside their PS2 because they thought it was that good.

I get easily bored and frustrated with the same subjective attitudes towards games that get totally the wrong scores because of the corrupt nature of money grabbing games publishers, whilst other great games are just over shadowed by the 72 page long waffle of how good a game is going to be. I would much prefer to see a games reviewer demonstrate a balance where they can review a smash hit blockbusting game and rate it with a 9 and then have a smaller game get an equally good score for its originality or play again factor. I mean isn’t there only so many times they can write like this before the writers get boring and jaded?