The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on June 14th, 2009 at 1:40 pm.

Sundays are for sitting and compiling a list of interesting gaming reading from across the week, and finding myself remembering that the chatter by games journalists about a fall in standards is just ludicrous. We’d have been lucky to get pieces as splendid and varied as the ones gathered here in a whole year in the early nineties, let alone in a single fucking week. Wouldn’t it be good if someone would admit that games writing has never, ever been better than it is right here, right now? Wouldn’t it? WOULDN’T IT? AS IF A FUCKING TYPO IN A GAMESPOT PREVIEW MATTERS AT ALL IN THE LARGER SCALE OF CUNTING THINGS AND… oh, I better not include a link to a pop song.

Failed.

.

123 Comments »

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  1. James T says:

    Neoliberalism — it works perfectly if you’re in a videogame!

  2. BigJonno says:

    The state of videogame journalism today makes me wish I’d actually seriously considered at as a career when I was still at school. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realised how much I enjoyed writing back then, despite my prodigious forum output, and now I’m left trying to break into the industry at 26 with a wife and child, no relevant qualifications and surrounded by talented writers.

  3. The_B says:

    Calm down Gillen. There must be some sort of 90’s pop group making a comeback to calm you down.

    Oh. Aqua? Oh yes. Oh yes. OH FUCKING HELL.

    “When M&M was just a snack/ when Michael Jackson’s skin was black/ when the coolest thing in store/ was a Commodore 64…”

  4. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    Solid week of reading! Thanks Kieron.

  5. LewieP says:

    Yep, I’m happy with being Burke.

  6. butler` says:

    btw where is all the chatter about a fall in standards? i think i missed that one

  7. Dominic White says:

    That Nameless Mod post-mortem is interesting. Pretty sad on the last page, though, as it seems that for all the technical problems they dodged and sidestepped over the years, they didn’t budget for Angry Internet Men.

    I guess I can echo what they say there – for every one person on forums/comment threads who said they’d try the mod, there were nine who would go into a screeching tirade about how horrible TNM was without even having touched it.

    Poor bastards.

  8. Kieron Gillen says:

    Butler: Well, it’s not just games journalists, but it’s more annoying when they do it too.

    KG

  9. Lambchops says:

    That Alice and Kev thing almost makes me want to buy the Sims.

  10. Brother None says:

    Whut?

    We’d have been lucky to get pieces as splendid and varied as the one’s gathered here in a whole year in the early nineties, let alone in a single fucking week.

    Wouldn’t that just be because you didn’t have as many pieces published in games journalism in a year in the early 90s as you do now in a week, on the infinite rows of blogs and amateur gaming websites?

    An increase of quality by offering more quantity and allowing you to pick out the seeds is not the same as an increase in quality as a principle, which is what rising or falling standards is all about.

    Honestly, if the current state is the gaming industry at its best…that’s kind of sad.

  11. FunkyLlama says:

    Cigol: ‘I have a four letter word for him; [Cigol, this is a family blog – RPS]’

    Kieron: ‘AS IF A FUCKING TYPO IN A GAMESPOT PREVIEW MATTERS AT ALL IN THE LARGER SCALE OF CUNTING THINGS’

    Ehm… nevermind.

  12. Kieron Gillen says:

    None: Yeah, so what? The amount of writing being done is one reason why it *is* a golden age. Even if a decline of standards generally is true, if there’s enough of quality to consume, the rest doesn’t matter.

    I don’t accept that. The standard quality of games journalism hasn’t budged an inch.

    EDIT: FunkyLlama: There’s a difference between someone calling someone a cunt and using the word cunt. Insults are our beef.

    Really? We don’t use it often.

    KG

  13. The_B says:

    @BrotherNone – But in the same way, the truly great ones have to be even better to be heard over the chatter. I don’t think it’s fair at all to say standards as a principle were somehow higher back then, I don’t think the initial standards have moved very far at all – and if anything, they’ve got higher because more people are talking. And as well as more people talking in exactly the same way more people are reading, and in a lot of respects the readers will sort the wheat from the chaff automatically when the truly great stuff gets highlighted at places such as this.

  14. Feet says:

    Thanks for the Downtime Town link, I’d RSS’d his Vimeo thing last time you linked it, but this is much better way to keep in touch with board gaming and I probably would never have thought to find a site too.

  15. The_B says:

    Bah, I meant to say “As well as more people talking more people are reading in the same way” rather than the way the sentence came out there – but I can’t seem to edit for some reason.

  16. Seniath says:

    I watched Aliens last night.

    At the cinema.

    It was aces.

  17. butler` says:

    I’d agree with B and say it’s about the same now as it was then proportionately.

    There’s certainly more crap thanks to the Internet (see: Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur), but that’s because there’s simply more of everything.

  18. MrBejeebus says:

    highlight for me was the homeless Sims blog

  19. SuperNashwan says:

    Richard Cobbett is awesome, the second Rightest games journalist ever after John Walker. Deadly with a pun too.

  20. Jonas says:

    Robin is a genius.

  21. Lacobus says:

    Am I being a spaz or am i missing out on the pop song link?

    Highlight of my Sunday.

  22. Brother None says:

    Yeah, so what? The amount of writing being done is one reason why it *is* a golden age. Even if a decline of standards generally is true, if there’s enough of quality to consume, the rest doesn’t matter.

    I’m not saying it matters from a selective consumer viewpoint, I’m saying that it’s weird to claim progress based simply on higher output. That’s putting the cart in front of the horse.

    It’s odd to measure quality of journalism only by the best articles, which is essentially what you’re doing in that claim. Not only is it selective bias, it’s also ignoring the fact that most gamers do not read superior articles, but instead the sludge that is common game journalism.

    And note I don’t actually think game journalism has declined. I think it’s always been pretty shabby, and it’s still pretty shabby now.

  23. FunkyLlama says:

    Kieron: I wholeheartedly object to your classification of Cliff Bleszinski as a person.

  24. Gap Gen says:

    I think that one of the biggest improvements of recent years is the quality and quantity of online writing, like the re-ascension of bedroom programming and indie games. PC Gamer went through a phase where they actually re-published a number of articles originally found online (one about girls & gaming comes to mind).

    The question is, like the rest of journalism, whether print journalism can keep up with online writing at the highest level, and whether or not online writing can sustain itself financially.

    And yes, Richard Cobbett is rather good. His review comparing a game to “french-kissing a llama” is one that sticks in my mind.

  25. Weylund says:

    Seanbaby’s article had me laughing so hard that I had to stop reading it several times because my throat started to hurt. My two-year-old was standing next to me, looking concerned, asking “Daddy? What doing?”

    I could only croak out, “Daddy’s reading, honey. Daddy’s… reading.”

  26. Jim Rossignol says:

    Brother None:

    “I’m saying that it’s weird to claim progress based simply on higher output.”

    More good stuff is more good stuff. Assuming the same ratio of good to shit, a greater quantity of stuff means there’s more quality stuff. And lo, there’s loads of good stuff to link to, every week.

    it’s also ignoring the fact that most gamers do not read superior articles, but instead the sludge that is common game journalism.

    That’s irrelevant. The selective bias here is the point: we’re selecting stuff we think is good.

    And note I don’t actually think game journalism has declined. I think it’s always been pretty shabby, and it’s still pretty shabby now.

    Agreed, there’s loads of terrible shit. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a golden age. There were vast numbers of terrible novels published in the 1960s, and yet it was a peak time for the medium’s creativity and quality because a few of them were brilliant.

  27. LewieP says:

    It’s also fairly easy to stop reading/playing/listening/watching something if it is shit.

  28. Henrik J says:

    Godhunter was pretty cool, there is nothing better than a good Beta Ray Bill comic :)

  29. Lady Bobz says:

    Another good reason why you shouldn’t censor other people.

  30. Flint says:

    Major props for linking to Enough Is Enough. Oh Chumbawamba and your discography full of great stuff, fated to be ignored forever thanks to the damn Tubthumping.

    Also to keep this vaguely games-on-topic, that Sims 3 experiment is a brilliant read. It indeed does get a bit unfairly swept under among all these other links.

  31. blah says:

    If games “journalism” has never been at a higher level of quality than now doesn’t that go to show just how mediocre and uncritical it is? Just saying.

  32. invisiblejesus says:

    @Brother None:

    “Not only is it selective bias, it’s also ignoring the fact that most gamers do not read superior articles, but instead the sludge that is common game journalism.”

    What leads you to believe this? What is your evidence? It seems to me to be a pretty questionable claim, certainly moreso than Kieron’s claims about games journalism. I can look over various sites and see some great work done, and even look at some mainstream sites and see a reasonable amount of relatively competent work done. I can’t click on a site and see how many people are exclusively reading crappy journalism.

  33. James T says:

    If games “journalism” has never been at a higher level of quality than now doesn’t that go to show just how mediocre and uncritical it is? Just saying.

    Heh, quite.

    “I’ve seen the Gush up close… and it’s not pretty…”

  34. Bhazor says:

    The Kev and Alice… thing (what is the short name for second hand emergent video game story third person commentaries?) has just convinced me to drop 35 notes on the game. Why didn’t anyone tell me you could chose insanity and inappropriateness as character traits??? Who’d a thunk Sims 3 would be such a hot bed for sex offenders and child abuse?

    That DowntimeTown show is brilliant and it’s great to see the same weird editing jokes as Consolevania. But I’m already missing Ryan.

  35. Funky Badger says:

    invisiblejesus: IGN makes more money than RPS. Well, one assumes…

  36. Jim Rossignol says:

    IGN also has loads of downloads, hints and cheats, and other stuff that drives traffic.

  37. Vanguard says:

    And who is Ripley? Leigh?

  38. The_B says:

    Alec’s cat. ¬_¬

  39. Chris Evans says:

    I personally think games journalism is doing really well right now, maybe it is just that I am starting to read a wider array of sites, but I think it is good.

  40. Justin says:

    Hey, Kieron – how do I get ahold of Phonogram? Any comic that uses ‘Stirnerian’ as a descriptive term must be interesting enough to buy.

    30 seconds of browsing phonogramcomic.com didn’t lead me to a link that appeared to give me a way to part with my cash. (you may want to change that.)

  41. Polysynchronicity says:

    In my younger days I positively loved the Myst series.

    The original wasn’t nearly as polished as any of its successors, but it had kind of an appeal all its own. The lack of polish and consistency gave it a very surreal feel. It’s also almost pure gameplay – there’s some brief video clips that provide a reason for you to complete the game, but outside of that the only other really explicit story element – the journals – seems more like an optional addition rather than part of the game itself.

    Riven is probably the best one story-wise, although I can confess I always found its puzzles too difficult. Much of what could be said about it has already been mentioned in the article.

    Myst III was always my favorite – not really for the story, which was poor, but for its puzzles and atmosphere. The three worlds (not counting the “hub” or atrocious ending worlds) each had a very distinct yet consistent atmosphere, often with a central puzzle which you could see but didn’t really interact with until you had solved the rest. The puzzles themselves were also very well-integrated into each area – they made sense in context, unlike a lot of of the puzzles in Myst (why was there an organ in that rocketship, anyway?)

    Uru was pretty cool in terms of gameplay and had some fantastic atmosphere, but the story had descended into New Age realms that I wasn’t really comfortable with.

    Myst 4, again good gameplay, decent atmosphere in some places (I loved the one world whose name I forget – the one with the floating rocks) – but the story was even worse.

    Myst 5… well. We don’t talk about Myst 5.

  42. The_B says:

    @Justin – The best way is probably to ask your local comic book store for series 2 – as it’s a comic it works on the weird comic book thing in that most places will only stock what people order in.

    However, the anthology of the first series of Phonogram in paperback is available on Amazon

  43. Paul S says:

    @Justin: Diamond (UK, at least) are showing stock of the first two issues as available as of last week. But hey, it’s Diamond, so…

  44. Justin says:

    Added to my list.

    Amazon works as well as or better than my local comics store, unfortunately.

  45. Jamie McKelvie says:

    Justin – You can buy the first trade off Amazon, or in bookstores. The individual comics, you have to get in a comic shop, same with any comic. Once the series is done it’ll be collected in another book.

  46. Neil says:

    I thought “one’s” was pretty funny, considering that one of the biggest complaints I have about games journalism is the shoddy grammar/editing.

  47. Jim Rossignol says:

    one of the biggest complaints I have about games journalism is the shoddy grammar/editing.

    Yeah, that’s really its biggest problem.

  48. Lewis says:

    I would – and have done – slightly disagree with Kieron about the quality of games writing (in short: it’s improving, but there’s work to be done), but clearly grammar and editing is nowhere close to being a huge problem. The odd error makes no difference whatsoever as long as the message is clearly communicated.

  49. Funky Badger says:

    Mainstream journalism of games (and most other specialist subjects) is so asinine to be painful. The Guardian, for example, is absolutely dreadful – no insight, and precious little – if any – love for the subject.

    Suppose the answer is for the audience to support the specialists when and where they can find them.

  50. The_B says:

    I blame edukayshun.