Personally, like all my experiences with the media, and critique especially, so far, playing a pre-release copy of Killzone 2 for review was a daunting challenge. There was limited time and the build the PRs sent us (Platform) was also 90 per cent complete – despite my requests that they send a finished review copy. These issues meant that I had to take a lot of things into account as I played the game for review. For example, the loading hitches that occur as the PS3 streams new data from the Blu-ray disc were rather poignant. But, due to the copy I was playing not being 100 per cent complete, I felt unsure whether to mention this fact or not. In the end I decided that there were other, more pressing, issues with the game that I could give an accurate judgment on, even from this pre-production build.
Entering the judgmental world of reviewers, critics and editors is an unsettling test sometimes. I’ve browsed a few closed forums to find countless, low-grade ‘video game critics’ debating what scores they’ve rated games on their fansites or what “hot press pack” they just got through the post that morning. Elsewhere, other users are complaining that their website visitor rate has declined so such and such company doesn’t wish to flog them the odd promo copy any more. It’s pretty sickening.
Having the privilege to be the gaming editor for my university magazine has been one of the greatest blessings I could ask for just during my time here at university. Since this section of the magazine is also one of the least established, I’ve made it my duty to build as many bridges with various game companies, and form a trustworthy team of contributors, providing honest, intelligent video game coverage, to entertain and advise NTU’s student readership, and anybody else who shows an interest.
It’s about wanting to do the job simply for the love of it – volunteering to ‘write about games’ not volunteering just to ‘play’ them. And it’s certainly not about getting all the freebies, promo discs or tatty baseball caps with the game logo cheaply printed on like flaky rubber tack. Unfortunately, this is something a select handful of students seemed to have in mind during the preliminary stages of my contributor search. While it’s not fair for me to mention any names, let’s just say that they were very good at hiding their interest in getting ‘free games’, rather than the drive to write about them. Thankfully, the team of students I have found have crafted some amazing pieces of writing that certainly make me all the more grateful to be the one who gets to read all of their writing. Honestly, editing can be the hardest part at times, especially when I’m forced to half their exquisite 800-word reviews to fit our meagre magazine word count.
Though, I doubt I’ve been able to bring this ill-formed collection of feelings and values to a grand summation, I’ll just leave you with a few thoughts to wonder. As I stated in a previous editorial post, my main concern is that my writing, and my teams’, is as honest and truthful as possible. Having read game magazines for over a decade and imagined what it must be like to work in a close-knit editorial team, it is disappointing that the reality isn’t always as such. My role an editor involves doing a lot of tedious admin work – sending emails, phoning people and the like. My role as a critic (*shudder*) is often spent carefully editing and re-reading my reviews in order to give readers the best possible verdict I can. My role as a journalist (in training) is where I get the most satisfaction from this voluntary job. Being out in the rain, while rushing across town to interview someone, notepad and camera in hand, may not be everyone’s cup of coco, but for me the whole thing is an incredible adventure! So, as I travel deeper and deeper into this elaborate rabbit hole of professional stereotypes, jaded columnists and enthusiast young freelancers, I hope I don’t lose sight of why I started this journey in the first place.
Image: Flickr-CC/Monique Prater