You want to know what your favorite gaming site is going to rate Modern Warfare 3 rather than know what meaningful story the reviewer took away from it. And you wouldn't be wrong to wonder that. I want to know if it's worth playing just like you, but it seems writers today only cover the surface of the game, pandering to an "I Want It Now" audience, and failing to relay what the game actually is. That's just not interesting enough for me.
As a life long player, enthusiast, and rehabilitated addict of videogames, I can't bring myself to debase what I consider an art form I love to mere categories and stats. A game is more than the sum of its parts. The writers who chose to only see games by the old GamePro method of Graphics, Sound, Control and Fun Factor are no better than men who only choose to see women as lips, breasts, hips and ass. A woman is more than a walking checklist-- there is a personality under that lovely exterior. Now I like a woman's assets as much as the next man, if not more, but healthy relationships aren't built on features alone -- they're defined by experience. Like I said earlier, I've known videogames all my life: How could I treat her like a random flirtation when she means more to me than that?
But when dollars are figuratively bursting out of publishers' pockets, and perfect "10"s start popping up in reviews of Grand Theft Auto 4, you gotta suspect something slutty just went down. Let's backtrack for a moment and acknowledge that it's true to a certain extent, that when a gamer sits down with his game for the first time, he's bound to notice how pretty said game is. But give that same gamer some actual time with the experience of playing, and he's going to make a connection if the game is right for him. He's going to go beneath the surface and take part in a unique experience, both on and off the game. This is what games journalism should be about -- the experience, not the surface. Of course, what do I know about games journalism? I have a hard time even swallowing the "journalism" part of that title. Perhaps it's time someone coined a new name for what it is we do here, "Game Porn," maybe.
More writers are concerned with getting review copies, an E3 pass, and posting the same news that's going to be posted on every webpage, RSS feed and social network not 5 minutes after the person who broke the story posted it. Now look, I'm just as into getting free games as anyone else. In fact, if you're a PR rep, feel free to send games at my leisure. And as for E3: Yes, please. But, the difference between an actual writer and a so-called games "journalist" is one's integrity is not for sale and the other's is.
The deeper I get into this industry, the more I start to feel like Ryan Gosling's character in The Ides of March. I won't spoil it for those who haven't yet seen it (see it), but I'm wading in a pool of corruption and, frankly, I'm not that good of a swimmer. All I see are a bunch of shirtless dudes tossing around the same beach ball, and not a woman or beer in sight. I think I'm going to get out of the water while my torso is still dry. If you need me, I'll be over by the back of the gate where the cool kids hang, smoking menthols and reminiscing about how much better Pizza Hut tasted when they had the Street Fighter II arcade in the lobby. Word.
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