As people who cover games, it's easy to get complacent in the roles of question-asker, judgement-maker, and opinion-haver. It's nice to have the tables turned and see how the people we talk about all the time feel about the work we're doing as gaming writers. So, when I got the chance to spend some time with Monaco's Andy Schatz, I made sure to ask him for some feedback on how he'd like to see the gaming press cover the indie scene differently. The answer surprised me.
"I think it's easy to criticize the press, but the press has actually gotten pretty good about covering indie stuff, especially the Destructoids and Joystiqs and Kotakus and Rock Paper Shotguns and the other sort of mid-level blogging sites. I'd like to see more mainstream coverage of indie games, because typically the biggest outlets always talk about the same one or two things."
Other than more coverage for indies, it seems that Schatz's biggest beef is not with how indie games are covered, but how mainstream games aren't covered with the same level of detail, scrutiny, and analysis that indies are.
"I think that press that's interested in indie games thinks about games in general in interesting ways. The change that I would like to see is in how they cover mainstream games, because I don't think that they're critical enough of mainstream games."
Schatz qualified his concerns by discussing the criteria he sees games media use for AAA titles, and finishes his analysis of the situation with a hilariously appropriate metaphor.
"I think that generally the gaming press doesn't look at games abstractly or independently. They tend to look at games relative too much to what they're comparing them to. Rather than looking really critically at Red Dead Redemption, about whether or not it really is a good game, they're discussing whether or not it's good compared to Grand Theft Auto IV. Most mainstream games are given a pass because they're only looked at in relation to one another, partly because 99% of mainstream games are exactly like another mainstream game, so it's hard not to compare.
That would be the big thing, because it pisses me off when, you know, the press is really intellectually interesting when they start covering indie games, but then they just throw all that shit out the window when they go and cover Dante's Inferno, or whatever it is. They just talk about how big this game's dick is, that's all they're interested in at that point. It's like the girl who claims she wants someone intellectual, but then ends up going home with the guy with the big dick. She seems really smart when she talks to the nerd!"