A boat without an engine

Is it just me, or have half the game journalists in the business decided to quit their jobs at the big publications in favour of smaller, more self-controlled outfits?

Today I was surprised to hear the news that Edge-Online’s entire editorial team have packed their bags and left the building. Long-time online editor, Colin Campbell, broken the news on his brand new games blog, which he hopes will ‘be part of the [games industry] conversation’. Apparently, a publisher at Future UK wished to revert control of Edge-Online to the magazine’s UK offices. And it’s not just them either. N’Gai Croal, industry writer for Newsweek, and best known for his Level Up blog and appearances on GTTV’s Bonus Round, announced his departure from the profession of video game journalism (although, to pursue a career as a consultant).

Last year also saw the exodus of Dan Hsu, editor of Ziff Davies’ now retired print supplement on all things console gaming, EGM, and many other 1UP Network employees, including the Games for Windows magazine team. The launch of Giant Bomb also saw former GameSpot staff, Jeff Gerstmann, Brad Shoemaker, Ryan Davies and Vinny Caravella, struck out independently in direct competition against their former corporate media giant. There were also many other journalists, not as well known as some of these faces but just as good at what they do, who either left or moved to smaller publishers to work on new and original projects.

The strange thing is you have a dream that you might one day work at one of your dream companies, but unfortunately it seems that the reality of it is often vastly different. I think the question I have to ask myself now is: do I really want to be a new cog powering an old engine, of archaic editorial ideas and egocentric business decisions, or do I want to be part of a whole new engine?

When I seriously started thinking about becoming a game journalist I remember flicking through some of my magazines and imagining what it must be like to work on one of Future Publishing’s editorial teams for Official PlayStation 2 Magazine, Edge or GamesMaster – getting to jet all over the world for conferences, product reveals and playtests, writing lengthy and informative features, and, whenever you have a minute to spare, generally goofing around with your co-staff. A hardworking, collaborative and respectful environment.

It’s both alarming and humbling at the same time to see so many respected writers and journalists, the bread and butter for all of these publishers and media syndicates, jumping ship to escape maniacal captains and moneymen. It is pleasing to see that the proliferation of blogs has enabled many of these writers to retain some form of dialogue with their audiences. If I eventually claw my way into the doors of Future, some years from now, the state of the video games industry is sure to be vast different and as such so will the coverage. I hope I will be ready to adapt to such changes as today’s print-to-online writers are.

2 thoughts on “A boat without an engine”

  1. madtyger says:

    I’ve sort of lost faith (if I had any to begin with) in most of the video game centered sites/magazines. There is such a change over nowadays that it’s hard to keep up with it all. I’ve never really had a loyalty to any one writer or critic and I find myself even less inclined to become loyal with the state of things. Hopefully though, as more branch out on their own and become independent, we will see better quality sites as well as works. And who knows, maybe we will see the next big star journalist appear from this aftermath that has happened.

  2. DK33 says:

    Turmoil is rife in the games journalism industry, that’s for sure. With personal blogs, especially fan and community ones, it’s great that people can get access to passionate and quality writing from ordinary folks like them.

    However, with the core sites transforming into advertising cash-cows and the sheer volume of information/blog sites, things are now more complicated than ever. Building a steady and loyal readership in today’s world seems hit or miss – some will suddenly hit it really BIG, other’s don’t even make a blip.