Think for a moment…
Why do you go to your favorite gaming website?
Most of you probably said review scores, video content, or wiki guides.
Now, for those of you that said “reviews,” does the site you usually visit score “appropriately,” to you?
You probably answered “yes.”
Confirmation Bias: the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.
We psychologically drift towards those who share similar beliefs; even in things as trivial as games. Translation, you don’t actually read the review to see if it is good or not, you read the review to make sure it matches up with your already pre-supposed idea about the game.
So, let me pose to you one final question…
Why do reviews (or really any written, critical content) at all?
The sad truth of the matter is that most people don’t read reviews for the actual text anymore. They generally just look for the score and see if it matches with their idea on the game. It’s why Metacritic has gotten to be such a large part of the industry now. It has become a matter of validating one’s purchasing or pre-order decision.
It’s also why many of the major industry websites have restructured to focus more and more on video content. The fact is, videos engage and entice users far more than most written content nowadays. It is no longer just about the “clicks,” but also about viewing time, and social media footprints. It’s about creating communities around the sites and building them out as small social media networks in their own right.
It’s about doing something new.
It’s about changing the game.
I’ll admit, I’m a dinosaur and I will always believe in the power of a well written article. Yet, I also grew up in a world with EGM, Nintendo Power, OPM, and GFW Magazine. The world is not the same as it once was, and the media cycle is drastically different; even a decade later.
People consume their media in new and different ways and thus the providers have to change or die. That’s why those magazines are no longer with us. In their places rose the IGNs, and Gamespots. Yet, even now things are changing and Youtubers and Streamers are beginning to become the place where many get their daily dose of gaming info.
So the cycle begins anew…
So what’s the point of all this…..
Well, for as much as the industry is changing, the journalistic side of it is too. The term “games journalist,” has become so muddied these days sometimes it’s hard to see who actually has the right credentials, and who you should be listening to.
For every writer at IGN, there’s a Pewdie Pie. For every Polygon feature, there’s a Twitch user playing an unreleased game for his/her viewers. What makes one better than the other? How would one know which is the one to trust? Who is the actual critic? Does the average viewer actually know the difference? Does any of it actually matter?
This generation of consoles, this point in time, is going to be interesting. Things are changing on both sides of the coin; both for the dev and the critic, and the gamer is caught in the middle with the best seat in the house. I can promise you “gaming” and all it entails will look far different by the end of this cycle…
…and I couldn’t be more excited.
I just hope there’s a place for all of us in this bright, new future.