Writing About Writing About Video Games
I have been sitting on this topic for a while, turning it over in my mind trying to get a grasp on it enough to talk about it. Now is probably as close as I can get to talking about what has been weighing on me. In the wake of a string of horrible tragedies, I just couldn’t bring myself to write about video games. It wasn’t that there was a lack of things to talk about, the video game industry is a constantly evolving, fast-paced world, but in my heart video games seemed so… trivial. I asked myself: What does it matter if we have higher pixel counts or a new console on the horizon when compared to weighty events in the real world? In trying to be as honest with myself as possible, I had to admit that video game journalism seems weak and insubstantial when compared to the harshness of reality. Writing about games doesn’t initiate political change or provide essential necessities. So why does writing about video games matter?
When people think about video game journalism they think about reviews and news. On the surface, reviewing games and providing information about upcoming releases is what video game journalism is all about. These two aspects work together to provide consumers with a barometer for which games deserve their hard-earned cash. This is a valuable financial service, especially in an industry where the base price for products is $50-$60. Without digging a bit deeper, this is the sole purpose of video game journalism; to give consumers shopping guidelines and pre-release information so consumers can plan future purposes. However, I refuse to accept that writing about video games is only about money.
Writing about video games fosters a community of gamers. The evidence of this is pretty clearly seen in active video game websites and gigantic conventions held around the world dedicated to the enjoyment of video games. Many people who either identify themselves as a gamer or have the label thrust upon rely on this community to participate in a collective gaming identity. Video game websites, like Game Informer, give people a place to come and be themselves. While these digital havens provide safe spaces to discuss video games, they also act as a way of solidifying the culture of gaming.
Underneath it all, I think one of the things that make video games really and truly important is that they are deeply personal artistic stories. Think back to when you were last playing a game and conquered a boss or solved a puzzle. Did you think to yourself that it was really cool that *insert character name here* was able to do that? Or did you congratulate yourself? Because in each video game you play you are the active agent, the center on which all outcomes hinge. If you fail, the failure is yours. If you succeed, that success is a point of pride. We all interact with games a little differently and interpret situations in diverse ways. Video games are the stories we tell to ourselves. These stories are why I think video game journalism matters. It might not be the stories in the games, but the story that emerges when people begin interacting with a game. In this way, video game journalism becomes a profession of storytellers and interpretation.
For some reason this topic is very difficult for me to write about, despite having thought about it for several weeks. I hope that you all at least understood my point: Writing about video games can have a point beyond review scores and breakdowns. The written words on these web pages bring people together and initiate discussions and friendships all centered on fun and stories. And, to my mind, there is something sacred about fun and a good story.