David Jaffe Tries To Rescue Game Journalism

Yesterday, David Jaffe (y’know, that guy who created God of War and Twisted Metal amongst other games) pitched an interesting plan to the internet on his blog.

He lamented the state of game journalism, but this wasn’t the typical attack on the media that most would expect. Instead, he expressed dismay that an industry that so many internet-savvy gamers rely on is fighting a constant battle just to get by and produce quality content.

In his blog entry, he proposed this to the readers:

we get a bunch of names of people doing great work in game journalism and then we- as a game community- vote and whittle it to 5 names.

Then we do a yearly Kickstarter to raise 175K.

125 K goes to pay 1 of the 5 reporters (pulled randomly from a hat or voted on by the folks who contributed to the Kstart) a yearly salarty. (sic) The remaining 50K goes to pay for expenses (games, travel).

Jaffe’s feelings were inspired by an article by journalist Ben Kuchera in which he pointed out that current business models for most internet media outlets focused on games are struggling to survive. Numerous outlets are closing and that’s down simply to the fact that they no longer make enough money despite the obvious, massive consumption of the information they churn out and publish on the internet. There are various reasons for this, including the extensive use of ad blockers to deny websites money gained from advertising, as well other practices such as secondary sites referencing original stories without referring back to the source. While it’s not exactly operating on the same wavelength as software piracy, it does make it harder for gaming websites—which most gamers like—to actually continue operating and paying the various technical and content providers that keep an outlet running. In other words, gamers want this information, they just don’t want to deal with an inconveniences—even advertising—that gets in the way.

he expressed dismay that an industry that so many internet-savvy gamers rely on is fighting a constant battle just to get by and produce quality content.he expressed dismay that an industry that so many internet-savvy gamers rely on is fighting a constant battle just to get by and produce quality content.Part of this is in part the fault of the first generation of internet businesses who, understandably, were trying to entice users to try out this “crazy interweb thing,” in one of the most effective ways possible; they made stuff free. The problem is that it has established a precedent for internet habitués that if something exists only on the internet—rather than being bought through it—then it should be free. It’s the same argument that has plagued everything from the distribution of music to even the creation of fiction online. True, the economic climate could be better, so it’s natural for people to want bargains or freebies wherever they can find them. But the problem is, much of the content available on the internet—including pieces of game journalism—are not generated by machines. They are generated by people that need to eat, drink, wear clothing and have a place to sleep, all of which take money. If they’re not making that money through content that people enjoy and want, then how are they supposed to continue?

Jaffe’s proposal is a dramatic one, and it’ll be interesting to see whether people take him up on it. Gamers are a news hungry bunch, constantly patrolling the forums and aggregate sites like N4G to see if any sudden developments cropped in the hour or two they weren’t online. There’s an obvious demand for reporting on games, but is there enough of an interest to support a favourite journalist and fund him or her for a year to write without fear of corporate interference or financial support?

David Jaffe has now thrown down the gauntlet. We’ll see whether enough people agree with him and pick it up.

 

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