Friday, 14 January 2011

The Review Hue

So back in the GA frame of mind; we're all stressed and shaky (god knows I will be when we see the next 3D brief; Eek!)...I myself had an awesome Christmas involving a HD camera (which will make textures look amazing...) I hope you all did too :) I've been stumped with writer's block for the past few days, so for this blog i'm gonna try and kill the banter and get on with it for here goes: Game reviews.

Most of the game reviews I've seen are of the magazine type. These flashy reviews focus on the main games out at the moment etc. Flicking through a copy of 360 magazine I can see the main feature is Gears of War 3, as well as Dead space 2 and the new Medal of honour. All big games. All games with companies that can pay for the reviews.

This links to my main point - so what issues face games reviewers? I think the temptation to write flatly for a magazine is very great. I mean who wants to write about the growing Fifa franchise again and again and again......oh yeah and again... but if it pays? Well people will. Looking at the links it seems to be a choice similar to music; as a singer myself I write my own music and would love to perform it... but if singing ABBA and mowtown on the gig pays me...well that's what I gotta sing. This makes it quite tough for a game reviewer to choose - do you write passionately about a subject that pays little, or do you 'sell out'?

The next obstacle is how to write the reviews. Do you bump it up with facts and figures handed by the company, or do you use a little imagination and write what you know from playing. What you enjoy about the gameplay, the characters etc. Do you, this time, dare I say... GET PERSONAL!? Or would it be more in your own interest to stick to the mechanics of the basic review...plot, style, specs, mark, end.

So who actually pays for Game reviews? Researching the internet I found that the salary in dollars for a Games tester or Reviewer (magazine) is $32,000. I even found a job opportunity looking for a games reviewer on a self employed basis. When I worked at Game over Christmas the manager also offered me the opportunity of writing reviews that would be paid for if chosen. This again shows the two extremes. The salary is obviously a job writing corporate articles in a magazine whereas if you want to write alone it almost always seems to be self employed. 

New Games journalism

The rebellion that is new games journalism is way more personal than the amateur or magazine style writings. It's not reviews in the traditional sense and represents a stark contrast to the more normal review or article - the term itself was coined in 2004 by journalist Kieron Gillen. 
When reading the examples of NGJ i found it really confusing as to the metaphors etc. I liked however how links were made to the personal experiences of the gamer themselves rather than just a bog standard review. The main difference between the magazine reviews and NGJ is this - NGJ tends to respond to the subjective experiences presented in the game world, interactions, and personal flavour which creates a unique story - kinda similar to most of our blogs!

In conclusion i think NGJ, although hard to understand at first, is better than the corporate magazine reviews, just giving cold statistical reviews. I think with the way I myself write I will be able to write (if not already) in the NGJ style - I already develop little personal tweaks on subjects and in these blogs that give my writing those highlights. I also hope I'm passionate enough not to get sucked into the world of monotony that is the higher paid magazine style review.

So until my next blog; the long awaited review! (and yeah it'll be a kick ass retro game) I say stick it to the man and write how you want :D