I remember when I was a kid maybe around twelve or thirteen years old, I would only hear about “good” games through word of mouth from my social circle, and besides that the only way I would see if there were any new games I liked was by renting them from Blockbuster. I soon discovered the magazine world, which then followed by having access to the internet. Although I must say with this mass multimedia library of reviewing content, it’s confusing for anyone to decide whether the game that has a 5 star rating is actually something they would personally like, it also addresses the questions of bias because at the end of the day, websites and magazines are there to make money.
However, let’s look at it from a journalists perspective, they are always deemed flawed, corrupt and stupid. Do they have time to review each game under a magnifying glass to produce perfect and precise results for your need to know what games are like? I wouldn’t count on it. Clearly there are thousands of games on so many platforms coming through the market each year from next gen consoles, handhelds, pc, mobile, online games, and these even branch off into genre, prequels/sequels, and film/series/cartoon based; it’s difficult to evaluate all this content with immense precision for demographics’ that could also be categorised and divided. Not the mention the whole time you are looking at reviews it is through someone else’s eye, so you will never get a firsthand experience simply from reading a review or looking at ratings.
However because of this, we should not cancel out the advantage or insight these websites and magazines provide us, seeing someone’s analysis can paint a very informative image of any content and screenshots or footage on websites also are a huge bonus, especially if the game is not yet released. Negative reviews on any content is very off putting for consumers and I think I also fit into that category, if I were reading a magazine or a website review and negative assumptions or opinions were apparent in terms of words or ratings, it would strongly put me off the content. There is a significant chance this is the same for others concluding that the power of reviews can be very effective on its audience. Should it be this way? One could argue that the ‘money men’ are feeding us chosen content that they think will sell, and not putting forward content that they think won’t sell, much like watching TV. This isn’t the case as much in this topic though because if reviewers are not close to honest then the audience can quickly pick up on it.
One thing the ‘money men’ are greatly worried about however, is selling the magazines in the first place, after all, why would you buy a magazine for £6 (UK) if you could easily find a review of what you’re looking for on the internet sitting at home. Also if you looking for something specific which gamers tend to do then why hope it’s been covered in the console magazines when it will be on something like gamespot.com or ign.com. Now, magazines are not all bad, they do show superiority in some areas. For one, it is a collection of new information across many platforms so instead of searching for everything one by one, the magazine provides it all in one place. Another bonus is the credibility; if you are looking into various websites then certain reviews could be by some fan boy who is opinionated and subjective towards the content. However a publication can provide objective writing from people with the intent to inform as much as possible.
Personally I believe New Game Journalism in its self is a very powerful method that can enlighten those who wish to understand the content at a greater detail before consideration of a purchase. But I think I first person experience is a lot more influential as words can manipulate and confuse but in game experience is far more truthful. I think YouTube and your everyday gamers play a great role here because when I want to purchase a game the first thing I do is go onto YouTube and watch people play and sometimes commentary is given, it’s as simple as that. Now this is far more effective because instead of cut scenes from trailers or small screen shots you’re watching a real person with no marketing agenda experience the content. The only flaw here I guess is release dates; if what you want to buy a game that is not on the market yet then websites or magazines could your best bet, but even then videos of beta’s or pre orders that arrived early are around.