Danny O’Dwyer on the Problems with Games Journalism

Danny O’Dwyer left GameSpot in September 2016 in order to create a documentary series. The first episode on Rocket League is currently available. However, he also released a video essay explaining his issues with games journalism and the type of video game coverage that is the most popular.

In the video, O’Dwyer explains his background in Ireland. In the ’90s and early ’00s, games coverage consisted of print magazines and videos, usually created by television channels such as ZDTV/TechTV/G4. O’Dwyer explains that he perceived the print media to appeal to a more mature, intellectual audience while video was aimed at children. He also noticed that the popular on-screen personalities were not literate in the world of video games. He says that something needed to happen “to turn the tide to the greater public perception of what games was.”

Online outlets started placing video games writers in front of cameras. O’Dwyer describes this as an opposite, but equal, problem because writers are not necessarily as charismatic or practiced at vocalizing their thoughts. Writing allows for more time spent on contemplation and consideration while videos required the speaker to think on their feet.

This, in O’Dwyer’s eyes, further lowered the bar for games criticism. Quality started to plummet and the corporate interests behind these publications started to care less and less about quality and more about the fastest, easiest way to get clicks. This led to “clickbait” and articles that weren’t related to video games. As O’Dwyer explains, they don’t really represent games, “It’s sort of under the guise, or the auspices of ‘This is geek culture’, or whatever. But really, it’s being done for financial reasons”.

At 9m25s, O’Dwyer says, “And my problem with the way that games coverage is going […] is based on the limiting business factors, not on […] creative innovation.” He adds that they are “chasing trends” and says that “Advertising should not be the fuel that powers these engines.”

O’Dwyer’s goal with NoClip was to create a patron-fueled business model that did not rely on “clickbait”, advertising, or sponsorships. “I want […] the only thing to matter about games coverage to be the quality of the videos, the quality of the work.”

Click here to view the video in its entirety.

Click here to check out the NoClip channel on YouTube.

 

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