I suppose talking about this is rather ironic if anything, given that the two main people I refer to in this story are both in their infancy with their respective games journalist ‘careers’ – and I don’t want to put people off the thought of games journalism at all: heck, with the position I’m in it quite frankly would be career suicide for me to say the following issue will ever have any real finality, or as if it is a huge problem, as it isn’t at the moment, but I thought it still brings up an interesting topic for debate.

So anyway, the story involves (as you’ve probably guessed) myself and my good friend Mike Cook, perhaps better known to some as FinalSin. He has just managed to get something published in the latest issue of PCGamer, and via email we were just catching up on what had transpired since we last spoke (given he doesn’t really use instant messaging an awful lot, this meant there was a fair amount of catching up.) Anyway, he posed an interesting worry that he had:

Only thing is, I’m not sure how long the high-street vibe will continue in games journalism, and I don’t know if I could do the Internets.

It’s a slight worry for those trying to get in, but as I attempted to cover myself at the start of this blog post, I’m hoping the next bit is unesscerary, but to protect myself further I will say that I’ve not got much practical experience of the games journalist industry myself in a magazine sense so I don’t want anyone to take my observations as gospel, I just want to give my take on the matter. But I thought there is something that could indeed be slightly detrimental to NGJ, or at least as I understand it.

You see, Mike’s comment got me thinking about Tom Francis‘ recent Gal Civ blog (as mentioned in the previous post) and how lots of people intended to buy the game after reading about his adventures, but someone piped up (and I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name if you end up reading this) that they had a similar experience with reading one of Tom’s Eve story blogs, buying the game and then not liking it. True, there is the opinion that some people may enjoy reading about the fun of a game more than playing it, but probably most people (like Tom himself) believe it’s more fun to actually play and experience these things themselves. Personally, I mainly agree with Tom, and I’d also add that I personally think that articles of expericences within a game are a lot more visceral, and therefore more enjoyable, when written by a person whom was actually there. Now I’ve probably just stated the basics of NGJ there to the unitiated, so I hope you’ll excuse me for that. But indeed, what I think could be the main ‘threat’ as it were are Casual Gamers.

Apparently, as we have been told by several surveys, Casual Gaming is on the increase. There are a growing number of people whom are enjoying the habit of finding a game, and just dipping into it and out of it. Now it is of my personal opinion that these gamers therefore can’t really ‘connect’ to a game as well as those who probably devote more time to a game. Obviously the line between “casual” and “standard” gamer is rather blurry, moreso probably than that of “standard” and “hardcore” so again I want to stress this is all theory, but I would hazard to say that perhaps this means that the casual gamers are not really able to connect as well with NGJ articles in the same way that standard and hardcore gamers probably can. So in a way, we could quite possibly be finding ourselves in either a bit of a loop, where specalist magazines find themselves becoming even more specialist to increase the output of these sort of articles within the magazine, whereas we could be seeing less of it in the more general press, to accomodate the more casual, occasional gamer. Of course, there is also the theory that because articles like this give game reviews a fresh perspective; Rather than using terms and jargon that only gamers will understand, it’s making articles more accessible to the casual observer, and thus should be more inclined to suit the tastes of the more general publications, but then this could also mean that the specialist magazines again become less and less accessible. So pretty much the same as the previous point then.

The thing is, arguably the internet offers as much as these things as print, and when it comes down to it, other factors such as genre, type of game, age demographic etc etc come into play so often, I would have to say that overall I don’t think there really is anything to worry about. Whereas it’s true that perhaps writing for a magazine is different from writing for a website, as time goes by this is becoming less and less true. I think there will always be a place for both, and there will always be a place for NGJ. I don’t think ‘High Street vibe’ is in any danger of leaving us at all – I think it’s fairly safe to say we’re fine for now. Heck, Gamerzines have a great idea, offering a high-street magazine like service on the internet – and I can see the industry at some point moving to that in the far future. But as long as taking a magazine with you places is easier than lugging a Laptop/Tablet/Palm (which, you have to remember, probably require electricty of some sort, whether it’s from a plug or batteries) – I think that games journalism as a whole is in a pretty safe place for now.

Apologies if this stuff is just stating what everybody already knew, but I felt it was good to get it off my chest.

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2 Responses to Is Casual Gaming Hurting NGJ? Well, Not Really…

  1. FinalSin says:

    Great! Now you’ve recorded the fact I pluralise the word ‘internet’ for everyone to see!

    It’s true, though, what you say – there’s a great number of arguments for high-street journalism to continue (if that phrase is a bit vague, I mean printed games journalism). And in fact, the gulf between, say, the Digg front page and the innards of Edge or OXBM is huge. Massive, in fact. So if readers continue to want both flavours, journalism will remain on WHSmiths shelves.

    But I still feel pessimistic, because the Internet is Democracy on a sugar rush. All of the internets are.

  2. The_B says:

    Don’t feel ashamed of pluralising internets – I just completely used the wrong word in the newest post, stating indignance rather than indignity – and nobody noticed… except the Internets… ¬_¬

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