This is not an exit

This is part of what’s wrong with games journalism

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2012 at 7:30 am

To use a phrase most gamers would be familiar with, it’s shit like this.

No, I’m not bothered by the prospect of Texas-based Retro Studios developing a Zelda game. Quite the contrary (The Metroid Prime trilogy is one of my favorite sets of games). What bothers me about this article posted on The Escapist yesterday is that the second- third- fourth- fifth- sixth-hand “report” implies that Nintendo’s outsourcing of one of its most popular franchises isn’t just possible; it’s imminent.

The Escapist article is so incredibly far down this digital game of telephone that you have to click five direct links, one of which was derived from a discussion forum, in order to get to the Spanish original. As Game Reactor reports, somebody asked Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto if Retro would be asked to develop a new Zelda given the growing complexity of the games. His answer was more of a “yeah, they’re probably qualified to do it,” whereas headlines elsewhere assert the possibility with more certainty.

Nowhere in the last article in this line is there mention that the each iteration of the series is growing ever more complex, thus the Game Reactor reporter’s inclusion of this question during a breakfast interview with Miyamoto. What’s worst here is that the sound byte should not be considered “news” by any standard. It’s no secret that fans of the Zelda series would like to see the celebrated Texas studio develop a new title. Thus, it was all but inevitable for this question to be thrown Miyamoto’s way. Then, suddenly, his assertion that Retro is qualified to develop a new Zelda game is blown completely out of proportion and treated as a statement that the possibility is nearing reality, when there are other sites reporting just the opposite.

It’s a symptom of the 24-hour news network practices sites like this need to adopt in order to generate pageviews and make a profit. It’s practically required that you make mountains out of molehills in order to stay afloat. But that’s the thing about games journalism: There’s only so much straight-up news out there. The industry itself may be huge, but the amount of meaningful information that’s released every day is minute.

What draws me to  newspapers like The News-Register and The Register-Guard is that they report on issues relevant to the wide array of readers residing in their communities. Games sites don’t have that luxury. Narrow your focus to just, say, racing games or sports games, and the amount of content you can report regularly is laughable. It just isn’t feasible. And so these sites are forced to cover gaming as a general interest, which leads to posts like the one I’m writing about now.

I get that sites like The Escapist need to generate fresh content in order to keep readers engaged, but is it really worth beating a horse that’s been passed around by five sites already? This isn’t a problem exclusive to games journalism. It is, however, pervasive in the industry.

The editors at the only gaming news outlet I ever worked for preached the importance of generating original content. The reasons they cited for doing so are pretty much everything I described above.

But what do YOU think?

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