A Spotter’s Guide to the Gaming Press

Chances are good that if you’re reading this, you’re a pretty hardcore gaming fan who often frequents gaming blogs, reads gaming magazines and watches gaming videos. Over the years, you will have become acquainted with the games media, sampling the many different takes on this crazy industry from a variety of equally crazy people. You may also have noticed that the games media can be easily categorized and pigeonholed, because everybody in the gaming press, including yours truly, conforms to a particular stereotype.

If you’re confused as to what I mean, fear no longer. With this handy Spotter’s Guide to the Gaming Press, you’ll be able to accurately label every single writer, presenter, reviewer and columnist that the games media has to offer. From your bog-standard blogger to your artsy-fartsy thoroughbred game journalist, all will be discovered and covered by this, the Spotter’s Guide to the Gaming Press. 

Read on and get spotting. 

Name: The Blogger
Appearance: Either incredibly thin or incredibly fat, wearing a “hilarious” game-themed T-shirt.
Quote: “Peter Molyneux says the PS3 is shit”

The Blogger is one of the most prolific and widespread members of the games media, due to the fact that the job requires no qualifications, skill, or more importantly, life. The nature of the Internet has made it so that anybody can run a Web site and be successful if they’re persistent and obnoxious enough. Nobody knows this better than The Blogger, who has steadily made it his goal to ruin videogame journalism with every ill-conceived post he makes.

While real journalists strive for clarification and context, such things are a hindrance to The Blogger. Bloggers dislike research, not only because it’s time-consuming, but because bothering to run a background check on a story might make the news less sensational and reactionary. It’s all about the reaction for a Blogger, and he’s not about to let a little something called “the truth” get in the way. 

Taking the majority of their cues from tabloid journalism, Bloggers love to focus on sound bites and quotes, removing them from their original source and turning them into something they’re not. A Blogger is at his happiest when he’s writing about some bullshit Aaron Greenberg said, and he draws an almost sexual pleasure from whipping fanboys up into a storm with his yellow journalism and overused, ridiculous sarcasm. A Blogger is accountable to nobody, and this is a power he wields without mercy or due care. 

A Blogger can most commonly be found hitting Ctrl+C over a number of press releases, discussing the latest murder case where a videogame was spuriously involved, and claiming to be better than the shitty writers of Destructoid/Kotaku/Joystiq (delete whichever site the Blogger currently works for).

Name: The Faux Journalist
Appearance: Similar to The Blogger, but usually more smug-looking.
Quote: “Pfft, Bloggers”

A Faux Journalist is an evolved form of The Blogger. While functionaly identical, the attitude of the Faux Journalist is something quite different, and easily distinguishable. The Faux Journalist has no qualifications and has access to the exact same sources and abilities as any other Blogger, with one key difference — he’s done a little bit of reading on Wikipedia, and he thinks that makes him better than everybody else. 

A Faux Journalist hates Bloggers with a passion, usually out of a desperate need to look superior. He will applaud his own ability to do “research,” as if typing the name of a videogame into Google is some Herculean feat, and will criticize blogs for simply copy/pasting press releases, even though he has no inside track of his own and gets his news from the same places as other Bloggers. Faux Journalists believe that if they admit they’re simply Bloggers, that somehow makes them a lesser human being. It’s kind of like how repressed homosexuals act like violent homophobes. It’s just easier than facing the truth about who and what they are. 

A Faux Journalist will take it too far, turning a simple and throwaway story into a crusade, just because it might prove them right and they can parade their intellectual victory in front of their three readers. Nobody else cares that they spent all afternoon learning minor details about a story that everybody had gotten bored about five hours prior. 

Name: The Games Journalist
Appearance: Smart, surrounded by people, incredibly quiet and introverted around people.
Quote: “This is why Games Journalism will never be taken seriously!”

Unlike Faux Journalists, who are just Bloggers with a haughty attitude, there are some who can lay claim to the title of being a proper Games Journalist. To these people, the term “Games Journalist” is not a silly and laughable title, but a real and important job description that must be taken seriously. Games Journalists are incredibly dry individuals who seem to have forgotten that videogames used to be about having fun. These are the people who constantly ask the question, “When will videogames have their Citizen Kane?” It is incredibly important to them that videogames be considered art, because that means they’ll finally be able to tell their parents that they’ve spent the last five years writing about Super Mario Bros. for a living. 

Games Journalists tend to clique up at press events, sectioning themselves off from the proles so they can have long-winded and pretentious discussions about high art and feel morally and intellectually superior to everybody else. Their ability to get scoops, however, cannot be underestimated and they won’t let you underestimate them. The Games Journalist has learned to adore things like Twitter, where he can make smug and teasing allusions to the exclusive and clandestine industry meeting he just had, and make himself look like some sort of God in front of his legions of adoring doe-eyed fans. 

A Games Journalist is in his element when he’s writing huge assessments on the impact of videogames in modern society, comparing videogames to the obscure films he’s watched, and getting some huge interview with Reggie Fils-Aime. Basically, a Games Journalist excels at everything except playing videogames. They forgot how to do that years ago.

Name: The Video Star
Appearance: Looks like a Frat Boy, but even dumber.
Quote: “FUCK ASS POO!”

As readers become lazier and lazier, videogame Web sites will increasingly begin to rely upon video content over the written word. A number of popular videos have popped up online in recent months, and with it comes the feeling among the Video Stars that they are better than everyone else, just because they’re in front of a camera. Those games press who predominantly work with video labor under the impression that they have become huge TV stars, and will carry themselves with a sense of celebrity that they never really earned. 

The best example of a Video Star is someone who has a weekly or daily video podcast, and pretends that his poorly produced, often chaotic video content is better than some worthless blog. The funny thing is, the video is usually less informative and more obnoxious than any blog could even hope to be, but somehow the presence of a $400 camera makes this product more professional and valid.

A Video Star prefers the company of hot women, usually because it’s the only way to get people to watch his shitty videos. 

Name: The Insider
Appearance: Impossible to tell. Usually anonymous and/or never leaves the house
Quote: “So I was just on the phone to Kaz Hirai …”

The Insider is a curious member of the games press, usually because he isn’t a member of any outlet, instead preferring a small and relatively obscure blog where his bullshit can fly under the radar without anybody considering it worth their time to refute or sue over. The Insider survives by making incredibly vague and nondescript references to shit he “knows” about the games industry, working hard to maintain the image of an all-knowledgeable, all-seeing industry seer. Very much like the Wizard of Oz, but instead of an Emerald City, he lives in a basement. 

A stopped clock tells the right time twice a day, and this is very much how The Insider operates. By generating vast quantities of unsubstantiated rumors and then focusing heavily on any that happen to come true, The Insider is able to mesmerize a small group of people and have them believe that he is a mystical soothsayer. In truth, most of the games industry has no idea who he is, and those that do tend to make a really strange, screwed-up face whenever they think about him. 

Name: The Retro
Appearance: Varies, but nearly always surrounded by Virtual Boys and NES Carts

Remember when games were simplified, short and looked like crap? The Retro doesn’t, because he lives in a rose-tinted land of sunshine and gumdrops where poorly designed, graphically sickening garbage is king. The Retro is happy in his idyllic world of memories, and for that we cannot hold anything against him. Despite his happiness, however, he is disgusted at the thought of any and all FPS games, and insists that unless a game is so difficult it makes babies cry and kittens sick, it isn’t worth his time. 

The Retro is putting Capcom’s kids through college, throwing vast quantities of his money at the publisher’s endless remakes and reimaginings, encouraging his readers to do the same. He will lose his mind about anything even vaguely 8-bit, and will write at great length about how how videogames were so much better when they had an hour’s worth of content, made to appear longer thanks to how needlessly difficult and poorly designed they were. 

Yep, the games industry was so much better when we couldn’t play the fucking things. 

Name: The One Wii Guy
Appearance: Nursing a sore elbow from too much Wii Sports
Quote: “PS3 and 360 games look so generic”

He thinks Wii Speak is “genius.” Enough said. 

Name: The Girl Gamer
Appearance: Usually appears in very doctored photos, shot from a high angle
Quote: “Xbox Live is so sexist, actually. Brb, gonna play Halo with my Sexy_Diva69 Gamertag”

The Girl Gamer believes that she is a unique and fiercely independent woman, but her hot pink blog background and desperate need to plaster pictures of herself all over the Internet tend to say otherwise. Despite having absolutely zero talent in the field of writing, the Girl Gamer is guaranteed success in an industry full of 30-year-old overweight virgins who will give a female anything she wants if there’s even the vaguest chance he might be able to smell her hair, once. 

The Girl Gamer may lack the ability to string together a coherent thought using the written form of communication, but she does have one important skill — a complete lack of self-awareness. This allows her to flaunt and utilize her gender to get ahead, while simultaneously and constantly complaining about how nobody ever takes her seriously because she’s a woman, and that she’s more than just a set of tits. A set of tits that she has made us all well aware of before now. 

A Girl Gamer is at her best when she complains about there being no strong female roles in videogames, and about how male-centric the games industry is. She fails to note that if the industry wasn’t so geared towards satisfying males, she’d never have gotten to the point where she’s paid to write. 

Name: The Indie
Appearance: Wearing a scarf and cordoroy trousers, drinking wine and stroking chin
Quote: “Braid was so awesome”

The Indie hates every retail game ever produced, apart from Half-Life and Metal Gear Solid. Constantly talking about Braid and referencing Tim Schafer any chance he gets, The Indie won’t pay attention to any game with a publisher, unless he’s giving it a 2/10 review. Quite what The Indie wants or expects from videogames is anybody’s guess, since his demands seem so unrealistic and/or abstract that it would literally be impossible for a videogame to cater to his needs without alienating 99.9% of the population. 

The Indie prefers games that are vague in their direction and need a 3,000-word essay in order to explain their meaning. If the gameplay consists of making a yellow circle rotate around a picture of the pig from Charlotte’s Web while a MIDI version of “Cry Little Sister” plays, the Indie will likely declare it game of the year, and cast a sneer in the direction of anybody who just doesn’t “get it,” as if we’re all supposed to understand a random collage of nonsensical items that only truly make sense inside the deranged head of the programmer. 

Name: The Fanboy
Appearance: Looks like every other 14-year-old
Quote: “Halo/Killzone is better than Killzone/Halo

The Fanboy is incredibly similar to The Blogger, but whereas The Blogger will pledge allegiance to nobody and attack everything if it’ll get a rise out of somebody, this particular writer has sworn undying loyalty to either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. While Fanboys mostly appear in comments all over the Internet, a few of their species have evolved the ability to type ever so slightly coherently, and have been able to find gainful employment working for a gaming Web site. Empowered by their position of perceived authority, Fanboys become conduits of propaganda for their chosen God, spouting issuing forth their message across the land. 

Fanboys tend to cluster around console-specific Web sites, so they can dedicate their coverage of the industry to their favorite console. They usually try and hide their Fanboyism behind the mask of journalism, and are known often to say “I own every console” to make themselves look unbiased. However, it’s very much like a racist saying “I have black friends” to justify the fact that he wishes Africans were all dead. 

The Fanboy is at his best when he’s complaining about another Web site, usually criticizing their decision to rate a first-party game anything below a 9/10. They are also highly skilled spin doctors, able to provide comfort to their readers who may be worried about another console being more successful. They’ll find some way to always claim that their preferred machine has the best games and is making the most money. The Fanboy is loved by games industry marketing executives, because they’re basically doing their job for them.

And that’s our Spotter’s Guide to the Games Press! Hopefully you found it informative and useful. Next time you’re on a media safari, hopefully you can recognize these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. Take this pamphlet with you to E3 and see how many YOU can find!

Jim Sterling