A Game Journalist – Existential Angst

———

“I’ve played games for more than 10 years, I know what I’m talking about.”
Cringe.

I winced in my seat, my facial muscles looking like I just chewed on a fresh slice of lemon. What sort of fallacious logic flows through the head of this man, that prompts him to spew such preposterous words?

How dare he?

“Speaking from my massive gaming experience…?”

What a load of bull! The nerve of you to assume supremacy over the rest of us, and even those of whom are working in the industry. I’ve fallen sick more than a hundred times in my 20 years of life, according to this logic, my medical knowledge must rival a doctors’.
punkasskid
As I rained upon him hellfire judgement in the monologues of my brain, the fiery missiles of castigation suddenly ricocheted.

I’m just like him.

I’ve been playing video games for more than 10 years of my life. Now, I tout myself as a game reviewer. I claim knowledge of the video game industry, and heave idle speculation all over the internet. I carry around an air of misguided authority, vetting and surveying the video games that appear on the market without any legitimate qualifications.

I’m as much of a conceited, self-loving cynic as can be.

No one asked me to do it; my words and my thoughts are uncalled for. But even so I like to pretend they mean something; that they’d create a domino effect to ripple changes throughout the industry. I’m largely unhappy with the industry as is, sometimes due to developer choices and their traditions, but more often than not – the community.

And so I speak out.

I’d like to think that I know better than most. And that some games deserve second chances, and I try to unravel the goodness in the more obscure titles. I don’t hate AAA titles, but regardless – some call me a gamer hipster after viewing my massive 200 indie game collection. Others just call me a hater, or a cynic. Some have better things to say, but sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Why am I even here?

The work of critics, reviewers or journalists are relatively easy. They risk very little, and yet they enjoy a position over those who offer up their work – a brainchild toiled from years of sweat and sleepless nights. I am an unqualified blabbermouth, and I like to objectify my subjective likes and dislikes.

totalbiscuit

I started my journey being inspired by John Bain, aka TotalBiscuit – The Cynical Brit.

Understanding video games takes effort, time and learning. TotalBiscuit was (and still is) worth listening to because they put in work and know how to articulate his words. He could put video games in context: in relation to the previous works or works from a different developer and draw out its cultural implications, genre and development influences. He highlights the technical innovations and failures of a particular game. As far as it comes to video game journalism/commentary, he is one of the most respected and impartial individual.

My/Our role

I think criticism has a role – they can make better products more well-known to the general public, setting off a domino effect that demands for heightened quality. They break down resistance that the more obscure, unusual and underrated products sometimes face when they are released. We give independent game studios a little more hope; that they don’t have to make cash-grab games under a bigger studio for years before their ideas get pitched.

You have a huge effect on the industry. You can save brilliant ideas from the chopping board. And falcon punch away the crap of the video game industry that spew out countless cash-grabs targeting the wallets of adolescent males, riding on the tidal waves of raging hormones.

But..

Sometimes I feel kind of small.

I can’t help but deal with the insecurity that I might not be ‘right’. The further I look for truth and justification, the bleaker things look. The more I try to objectify my reviews and publish them to my readers, the more I realize these are merely subjective to an individual.

And so, most of my recent blogposts have come to an open ended question instead of an answer; because I don’t have one.

How do I deal with the possibility that I am objectively wrong?

Your thoughts, please.

Or not – I can’t tell you what to do.

 

Neither can your dad!

9 thoughts on “A Game Journalist – Existential Angst

  1. Many people play games for various reasons: some like to escape, some like to chill out, some like getting their adrenaline going. If there’s anything I’ve learned in college, it’s that everyone is a critic in some way. So this raises a question to you and me… Where do we fit in? Why is our voice and opinion important?

    I’ve asked that question, and I think it’s a very reasonable one to ask. The answer I came up with that satisfies me is that we have an ability to write and feel the need to share it. Not every perspective in the industry is unique, and it doesn’t have to be, because if a critic’s viewpoints are too unique then it separates them from their readers/subscribers. What makes people in the industry unique is their ability to share and compare experiences to each other.

    It’s also worth pointing out that ego should never get in the way. All gaming journalist, critics, reviewers, etc. are expendable to the editors, and likewise, they to their companies.

    1. Can’t say it any better than this.

      It’s kind of a downer when you know that you’re an expendable, an insignificant drop in the ocean. My voice and opinion isn’t necessary, and more often than not, people just take a brief glance at my work. We tend to overvalue ourselves sometimes, when in reality we’re just nobodies.

      But I’m going to continue doing what I do, because I’m only doing what I love.
      Thanks for your great insights; I’m kinda in a bit of a limbo right now regarding this ‘predicament’, it helps more than you think 🙂

      1. Maybe I should have clarified. We’re expendable, sure, because gaming journalism is competitive, but we’re not insignificant. Similarly, it’s rare, if ever, that any other employee isn’t expendable to employers. It’s just the job market.

        You are not less valued because we work in the entertainment/luxury industry. We are apart of one of the fastest growing and technological advancing industries, and just like how we need film and music critics, we need gaming ones as well. And you have to start somewhere right? Everyone who works with big name publishers and developers has been in our shoes at some point.

        I should really pitch this as an article to an editor so I could get paid. Lol

      2. Hahaha! Well, I really don’t mind not getting paid at this point. It would be be incredibly awesome if I do, even if I only get enough to barely feed myself at the end of the month. Thankfully, I have a well-paying day job and article-writing is something I do on a time-to-time basis as I source for debatable topics and similar ‘inspiration’.

        I probably willingly contribute to the statistics of ‘starving artists’, but I’m happily doing so while forking out time and paying for webhosting costs. Only because I’m doing what I love, and would continue to do so to my best ability.

        While there’s the alluring future job prospects within the game journalism industry that I’m working towards every other night, I think it’s good to remind myself that I’m not that important; be it future or present. Beating down my own ego, it seems.

        (I bet I sound pretty unmotivated to you, or euphemistically as some says it- excessively modest. But yeah, I’m that kind of guy, lol.)

      3. Yeah, I plan on turning this full time after getting my feet wet with some part-time work. But as of right now, I’m just a poor college student. Lol

        Anyways man, I look forward to any work you plan on doing in the future. I think if you want it, there’s a career there for you.

      4. Wow, all the best to you! I’d certainly be following your work as well. Your articles were really entertaining and refreshing, thanks for the read!

        Ha, maybe one day we’d see each other out there. 😉

  2. Well, contributing my two cents–I actually prefer a subjective opinion in most cases. When it comes to buying a product, like a video game or movie, I prefer to read what “average” people have to say, rather than objective professionals. Probably because I don’t have objective experience myself.

    This preference especially comes out in my writing. A couple of times I’ve asked my friends to give me feedback on a piece of work and they protest that they wouldn’t do a good job because they don’t know much about writing. But to me, that makes their opinions all the more valuable because they’re reading it without the same concern about plot devices and whatnot that a writer would have. I get their subjective opinions as readers and that gives me more useful information than if they were objective.

    So maybe there’s comfort in knowing that even if you’re objectively wrong, you’re subjectively right, and that your subjective opinion could mean a lot to somebody 🙂

    1. Haha yeah! Sometimes the collective opinions sway me further than certain famed critics can do, and seem to hold a lot more weight too. Great point raised there too; non-consumers of the subject media can provide a unique paradigm shift to the perspective, something that I sometimes tend to flippantly reject.

      Oh and hey – thanks for your comments, they were really helpful! (Honestly!)
      😀

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