Why Do We Write (And Read) About Games?

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If you had brought up the term “video game journalist” ten or fifteen years ago, few people would have even understood what that was. If you had brought up the term “video game blogger” you may also have been met with a blank stare.

When I initially shared with a friend that I wanted to pursue video game journalism he quite literally erupted into hysterical laughter. I recall saying something profound to him like, “Seriously. I want to write about games.” I was met with a completely perplexed expression. And that was from someone who also loves games.

It’s a blank stare I’ve received from more than one face.

What brought me around to thinking about the reasons why we (the royal “we”) want to write (or read) about games, was due to a recent conversation I had. In it, a friend said to me, “Well, you love to write about games.” I replied, “I’m not sure if I love it. But I am compelled to do it.”

I am passionate about games; I enjoy writing about them. I now write nearly every day, and I post pieces to my site three days a week. I post some of those same pieces to Game Informer within the community blog section. And when I see the fluctuations in how many people are actually reading what I’m writing, I’m occasionally (on the lower days) reminded of that faux motivational poster that brings me so much amusement:

“BLOG: Never have so many said so much to so few.”

I understand it’s a joke, but it’s also the plight of the writer trying to get their work seen. The internet is bursting at the seams with content. How can we make ours original and interesting? How can we get people engaged and into discussion?

Good question.

I started asking myself why I wanted to start writing about games to begin with, and I was met with a bit of a puzzle.

If you were to ask me why I got into musical theatre, I could answer that question precisely.

However I still can’t quite pinpoint why I wanted to write about games (and gaming related experiences) so badly.

Perhaps it simply stemmed from my love of games and my love of engaging discussion. Perhaps it is partially because it is easy to glorify the editors of our favorite publications (they are all such solid people with amazing knowledge). Perhaps it is to prove our own knowledge or insight. Perhaps it is to show off or be liked. Perhaps it is because gaming turns out to be a unique experience for each of us and we can’t wait to share it. Perhaps we are just trying to connect.

Perhaps it is an amalgam of all these.

I’ve seen the claims that video game journalists are over-glorified PR agents, but I find this explanation to be too simplistic. Yes, sometimes they are relaying direct information, but more often than not, they are making sense out of it for a larger audience.

Writing is a unique medium (especially on the internet) as it allows the writer to be heard (and who does not want to be heard?), but it also opens up the content for discussion.

I’m not going to lie: it’s hard as heck to find an audience. It is quite something to write, to put yourself out there, and to see what you are met with. It’s hard to build a readership. But you know what? I’m so entirely grateful for each and every person who has ever read anything I’ve written, whether they’ve enjoyed it or not. I especially enjoy when people take the time to comment, and a discussion (however brief) ensues.

For me, that’s what it’s all about. Sharing, connecting, and discussing.

It’s also why I read about games. I love to learn, to soak all the information in that I can, and to connect with others about it. Sometimes gaming can be a solitary endeavor, and sometimes it’s very much the opposite.

I may write alone at my computer, but I’m shoving these words through my keyboard in hopes of connecting with you (yes, you!). Games have a way of doing this. And I love that.

So while I am compelled to write about games (with more and more frequency, it seems), yes, I think I love it, too.

Cheers, friends. Thank you for being here.

Why do you read or write about games? How do you feel about video game journalism? Please confess in the comments below and let’s have a grand ol’ time of it.

Categories: games

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24 replies »

  1. I am also quite passionate about games. What began as a desire to know more about a game before coughing up the money to purchase quickly became a fascination with the industry as a whole. I will frequently read a preview or review article for a game I already know I’m not interested in on a platform I don’t even own because I’m curious to see it’s effect on the rest of the industry. Will some of those new mechanics find iteration in a later game that I am interested in?

    I think you are spot on about connecting and discussion. I’m surrounded by co-workers and friends who don’t have nearly the same interest in games (or any at all). We crave those opportunities to “geek out” over our interests, the same as fans of a sports team, any given TV show or movie, anything really.

    If you’re like me, the people in your day to day life just don’t get it. Like your friend who laughed at the idea of a video game journalist, I can’t understand why people I know can watch sports news for hours on end. Are the interests really so different? You can be all excited about Peyton Manning playing for the Broncos instead of the Colts, but my interest in Amy Hennig leaving Naughty Dog to help someone else make a video game is weird?

    Writing and reading about it are one way to fill that need to connect with other like-minded people. So true though that connecting the writers and the readers can be pretty tough, but enjoying the writing, the feeling of, “I got it out there” helps.

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    • i am right there with you, especially on the sentiments in your first paragraph.

      and i (though i am most certainly a bit biased) think people only find our area of interest weird because they don’t know much about it. the lack of knowledge puts a wedge between interest and derision. yet another reason to try to help people understand what is so great about video games! :)

      Like

  2. I didn’t start reading about games until I subscribed to GI and joined the site in 2008,now I can’t get enough of it.

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  3. I hear that. I always read GI issues cover to cover, and any of the site articles that interest me. Never miss a Replay episode and even started doing my own. My big thing over the last few years is press conferences and award shows, E3, Gamescom, DICE Awards, etc.. I love em!

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    • you do your own replay episodes? neat!

      i, too, devour the magazine and the online articles. i love replay (i was never a huge dan fan, but the show hasn’t been the same without him) a ton. and i’m hugely into e3 and the various other gaming events. air five!

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      • I do! Of course I don’t call them “Replay” and it’s probably not as entertaining, especially since it’s just me and it can be difficult to carry on a conversation with yourself while also trying to play a game competently.

        E3 is just around the corner! Can’t wait for all the announcements!

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      • hey, but you’re DOING it, and that’s the important part! and i know what you mean about trying to carry on a conversation while playing. i have no idea how tim turi does it so well.

        e3! e3! e3!

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      • ahhh! you have a man-crush on turi! i mean come on, it would be hard not to, am i right? his game knowledge is vast, he is excellent at games (even terrible ones), and he is charismatic, to boot.

        have you also felt replay has been weirder since they added the cameras on the editors? it’s not that they are horrible to look at, it just seems like something is lost since they went that route. i think i liked it better the other way, though that could just be me.

        the other weird thing for me is the dynamic since dan ryckert left. i wasn’t a huge fan of his when he was there, but the replay dynamics have never been the same since he left for giant bomb.

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      • Oh, where to begin? Dan Ryckert! The best thing about Dan’s participation in Replay was everyone else’s reaction to him. While I often felt sympathetic for the others for having to put up with him, their comments and complaints about Dan were always hilarious! I do miss his impact on Replay, but I actually like and appreciate him more at Giant Bomb. Perhaps they are the best fit for each other.

        I know what you mean about the newer episodes, it just feels a bit… different. I can’t fault them for wanting to try new things but additions like in-studio cameras are pretty far removed from what makes Replay special. Maybe because it reveals too much about the process? I can’t really explain it… I did like the episode where the “Ghost of Tim Turi” appeared, that caught me off guard! Maybe it was just that, without the ability to see into how they did it, enough of it was left to the imagination…? I don’t know. I do know I actually preferred it when they didn’t swear, and bleeped what did slip out. I usually try to keep my language somewhat clean (tricky in the construction industry), and I find that when swearing is much less frequent is has more impact, especially comedically (don’t know if that’s a word). And many may disagree, but I also find the bleeping funnier than not bleeping.

        Tim is the best! I hope they never change the way he says “alien”!

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      • And may I just add, that I think “Dan and his Dad Play” or whatever they’re calling the same thing he does at Giant Bomb now is a perfect lesson in karmic balance. The frustration he gleefully brings upon those around him is returned by his own father for all to see!

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  4. I really think you answered your own question with the line “I am passionate about games.” Those of us who read and write about games are just that: passionate. It’s like an itch, an urge to talk to others about the thing that we are most passionate about. And, as Douglas mentioned, sometimes we just can’t connect with those within our immediate surroundings, so we turn to the internet. Heck, I surround myself with fellow gamers, and I still feel the urge to write.

    Also, I don’t know if any of you are like me, but I just have an easier time talking to others through writing than I do just through speaking. I’m not mute or anything, but sometimes, especially with strangers, normal conversation is just easier when its on paper/computer screen.

    As I’ve come to expect, this is a great post.

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    • i, too, have a far easier time communicating through writing than i do in reality. it’s easier to craft the response i want, as opposed to reality where i get so excited and trip all over my words (and swear too much).

      and thank you. that’s lovely of you to say. :)

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    • this would be a first, request-wise! see, you know me in reality and that i swear far too much. writing allows me to curb that, buut…just for you, i will make something with many f-bombs. i will have to stew on the foundation of that.

      F*CK!

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  5. Interesting point, you made me think about my own writings about video games. It’s not my work, in fact, it’s as totally different from my work as can be. But I do know that I can talk (and write) about gaming until I’m blue in the face. And because a lot of people around me just don’t understand why I’m so passionate about it, I decided to combine it with another hobby of mine, writing. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and though there are ups and downs in my number of visitors, I do find that it gives me a lot of positive energy. And after walking on this earth for quite some years now, I do believe that positive energy is the best road to being happy!

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    • It’s definitely a great way to connect with others that have a shared interest. I always look forward to the discussions that are possible when I come here. And I’ve found a couple more blogs to follow from the comments, I look forward to more great discussions there as well! Gamers connecting gamers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • i love the discussions, too. and i love that people are starting to really comment here and that it’s inviting further discussions.

        gamers connecting gamers, indeed! cheers!

        Like

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