Daily Elysium: No Journalists Were Harmed In Making This Article

Honestly, thereÂ's no end to the things people can think to argue over. I imagine a stormy night in the dawn of man as lightning strikes from slate skies igniting a shattered tree in tall licks of flame, all the nearby tribes of cavemen, previously sitting about trying to not be eaten, gathering in awe of the dancing energy and then inevitably bickering over what to call fire poking each other with sticks, and grunting in quarrelsome ways. If there is to be any great legacy of the internet, itÂ's that weÂ've created a much larger and grander place for billions around the world to gather in polyethnic chat rooms to argue about movies, games, and just how much we're willing to pay for our porn. And it is my place as an internet journalist to document these discussions.

Ah ha! Did you see what I did there? I sparked yet another firestorm of contentious internet debate, which is about as difficult as setting gasoline on fire with a blowtorch, by calling myself a journalist. But, I did so as a mildly effective segue into my topic Â"… um, which is gaming journalism Â"… in case you didnÂ't get that. Oh hell, letÂ's just start the damn article.

Sometimes the o­nline gaming press seems to be filled with people who think journalism is a fancy word for keeping a diary. It is a mish mash of writers of varying quality, most with fewer reporting credentials than a high-school newspaper, made up largely of a variety of sites linking to one another in a spiral of news. Aside from the biggest sites with some degree of access to the people involved in the stories they report o­n – much less salaries and offices - o­nline journalism is unreliable, biased, opinionated, and all too often just plain shoddy. So the question is, in the o­nline gaming scene, are most people who run gaming news websites actually journalists, and do they play a role in the gaming industry?

For those of you with fundamental math skills and the ability to count higher than o­ne, you might have noticed that I tried to pack two questions into o­ne. We should address the first before proceeding to the second.

Despite the fact that I said otherwise in the first paragraph, I would contend that I am not actually a journalist. I o­nly said I was because it was a nice way to get into the second paragraph – not that IÂ'm proud of that second paragraph. But, I think youÂ'd agree, it illustrates nicely how very much not a journalist I am. It also illustrates why I seriously doubt most people who report about games o­nline would be at all interested in participating in genuine journalism. Journalism is not simply finding a piece of information and displaying it publicly, like putting up flyers o­n pegboard in the student union. It is a discipline. Journalism includes, among other elements, fact finding, which alone leaves most gaming news sites shuffling around, staring at the floor, and pretending not to notice all the bogus stories that might not have been posted with a little research.

You see, real journalism makes it incredibly difficult for people with no access, no training, no credentials, no sources, and no support to participate. And, considering that most of the gaming sites out there start pretty much in that boat, o­ne can pretty easily see how the rules get bent, broken, or entirely annihilated.

Now, you probably think IÂ'm being a bit hard here o­n my peers, or that IÂ'm running them down. Which brings me to our second question: is what we do important to the industry? Which, I can safely answer with a resounding probably.

Whether weÂ're journalists or not is ultimately insignificant. The important thing is that the Â"˜gaming pressÂ' is largely independent, and along with the trademark lack of journalistic integrity comes a freedom from corporate control. They are an unrestricted voice that gamers sense is o­n their side. The value of o­nline gaming journalism, for as much a misnomer as that may be, is actually found in the compromising of the discipline. It is, by and large, a shared voice of gamers who do not have to temper their criticisms, their opinions, or their biases to suit their sources, or their corporate sponsorships. It is a base of operation beholden o­nly to its readers, which is a fairly novel idea in an age of rampant consumerism and corporate news.

IÂ'm not trying to go flaky anarchist here, because I do believe the practice of professional journalism is indispensable and a bit too uncommon in the glut of gaming websites. ItÂ's been my experience that if you take the time to ask someone official for a response o­n a story, you at the very least get a Â"˜we have no commentÂ', and with just that hint of credibility you can begin to turn a rumor into a news story. I recall o­n April 1st of this year, Raven announced Jedi Academy was in the works. The story spread like fire, which we assume someone eventually named, across the internet and arguments raged back and forth about the veracity of the story, but nowhere could I find someone actually contacting Raven and asking them about the story. I dropped a line to Kenn Hoekstra before posting, and within ten minutes he confirmed that the game was indeed in development. I could then post confidently o­n the confirmation, and while I certainly wasnÂ't the o­nly o­ne to contact Kenn, I was probably not in the majority.

In the end, my point is that most gaming websites donÂ't need to be staffed with journalists, and that it probably looks a little silly to pretend they do. Our ilk plays a solid role in the gaming industry, o­ne that keeps publishers, PR execs, developers, and our gaming press peers in relative check. However, thereÂ's a balance yet to be found. We could learn some things from the discipline of journalism without having to compromise our independence. Gaming websites could and should do a better job of basic fact checking, and avoiding ultimately empty rumors. With each story a site posts that ultimately proves ill-informed or outright false, they lose the trust of their readers. ThereÂ's just nothing wrong with tempering enthusiasm for a story, whether positive or negative, with some basic research. I promise, it wonÂ't do anything to hamper peopleÂ's innate ability to argue with o­ne another. Which, as we know, is the cornerstone of internet discussion.

- Elysium


Why is it called "Daily Elysium" when it's not daily? Shouldn't it be "Occassionaly Elysium" or "Whenever I feel like it Elysium"?

Yes. It probably should. Now hush!

Are you actually trying to make his titles longer LeapingGnome?

Nope, LeapingGnome just using his un-journalistic skill of positive criticism!

o­nline journalism is unreliable, biased, opinionated, and all too often just plain shoddy

Kind of like the product they cover?

o­nline journalism is unreliable, biased, opinionated, and all too often just plain shoddy

Sounds like real journalism to me.

Why is journalism seen as some sort of holy calling that attracts selfless arbiters of truth and justice? Everybody has an agenda, or an axe to grind, or a chip on his/her shoulder. It's part of being human. If the definition of journalist isn't "digging up some information and then spreading it", then it becomes "how well you write" or "how much money you make for writing". Accuracy of the reporter is laudable, but the real onus for an informed gaming community (or political community) is upon that community to check the information sources for reliability. Everytime I buy a game, and I tell others about it, I am a journalist. My opinion, as well as my track record of opinions, will influence the people I talk with, for good or ill.

See how much time I can waste on an "insignificant" question?

What bothers me more than anything else is the shoddy writing that seems to plague gaming "journalism." I may be a little hypersensitive in this area since I have spent many long hours grading horrible undergraduate term papers, but I find it difficult to take any news story written by someone who can't use basic English seriously. At least run a spell check, for Christ's sake!

journalism within the gaming industry is going to be somewhat limited to performance reviews (or quality of entertainment value)

and no i don't mean entertainment news:
Headline: Max Payne spotted with Cate Archer at the Grand opening of the new Liberty City Menards.

and certainly not headline news:
Headline: Anonymous Operation Flashpoint Soldier killed for the 497th time.

so with that in mind, I usually approach a review with the belief that the reviewer may or may not have alternate motives for the disposition of any given column.

From Gone Gold's Web Site: Listing of Postal2 reviews

Game Industry News (5/5) "Postal 2 would have scored extremely highly even if it did not contain such crazy violence. The game is well-made and I don't think anyone who buys it will think they did not get their money's worth, especially if you are forewarned about the violence you can expect once inside. The game gets a few points off in the gameplay sub-score due to long load times that occur between sections of the town - sometimes as long as 30 seconds on our test computer - but not enough to take away from its perfect score of 5 GiN Gems."

5/5?Cmon. Someone got paid. That is If GIN isn't already a RWS property.

What I'm getting at is: The best form of info about a game seems to be the collective voice of gamers (argument or otherwise).

I'll feel better about 50 varying posts even if one or two make the claim that "this game rilly sux, check out my skillz dawg!"

Usually if there are 35 out of 50 posts saying a game is good, its good.

Its not infallible, but what is?


Aside from the biggest sites with some degree of access to the people involved in the stories they report o­n – much less salaries and offices - o­nline journalism is unreliable, biased, opinionated, and all too often just plain shoddy. So the question is, in the o­nline gaming scene, are most people who run gaming news websites actually journalists, and do they play a role in the gaming industry?

The truth is that this often mirrors what we see from CNN, CBS, ABC, etc. I just read an article in the NY Times this morning that saw some kind of legitimacy in the NASA report on the space shuttle disintegration laying some blame at the feet of Microsoft because somebody in NASA had used "PowerPoint" and the software isn't all that useful for designing space shuttles...:) The implication was that the person selecting the wrong tool for the job was not to blame, but it was the tool itself that was at fault.

Hello? *chuckle* I think we are really in dire straights if NASA is using Power Point to design spacecraft...:) I've seen lots of people I know turn to the "Microsoft made me do it" excuse to cover up their own mistakes from time to time (it's trendy these days), but I have to say that when NASA starts doing it you *know* something is rotten in Denmark. But that's just one example of how the major media is often "brain dead" when reporting on various issues. Graduating from college, having a job in journalism with a decent salary, having a nice office, etc., is unfortunately no guarantee that what a person says will be intelligent, correct, or relevant. People are well advised not only to dismiss much of what they read on the Internet, but also to dismiss or at least question what the mainstream media reports--skepticism is a good prescription for sanity and sobriety, in my view.

Really, this is the age-old "gatekeeper" question: who controls the "news" that most of us believe to be true? It's more often than not filtered and colored by a variety of aspects, some of which include commercial PR from companies with vested financial interests, personal opinions and philosophies, political slants, etc.

So, for me, what's important is that the right questions are asked and answered in a rational manner, and that attribution is employed often and liberally when required. I suppose that what I'm saying is despite the fact that the mainstream media often uses better grammar than so-called "on-line journalists," it's often true that the conclusions they draw from the very facts they recount are no better reasoned. And I've seen my share of grammatical errors reprinted in the mainstream media which were obviously not "typos"...:)

These days the two most often cited "legitimate" causes for personal incompetence seem to be "Microsoft" and "It was a typo," not necessarily in that order...:)