The Games Industry vs. the Mainstream Press

i was relieved to read an interview on Gamasutra conducted by industry reporter Leigh Alexander, about the Project Overboard team and our upcoming graphic adventure game, Head of the Gorgon. Through wincing, trepidatious eyes, i read an article in which the points written about the project were accurate, in which the quotations from me were things i actually said, and in which the reporter made a concerted effort to present the material in a positive light.

Why is this remarkable? i guess i’m just used to the state of affairs over in mainstream media, where reporters with a very flimsy grasp of the industry have driven a truck through the place, smashing a hole through the public perception of our trade.

YOU … SHALL NOT … ASK!!

Last week, a reporter from the mainstream media hit up the Toronto Video Game Community Facebook group asking for connections to female gamers for a piece he was writing. Industry reporter Shaun Hatton (Electric Playground) jumped in front of the bullet immediately, citing botched reports by the “lamestream media”:

Copywriter and ladygamer Lori Dance chimed in, and soon links to our past ham-handed mainstream interviews were posted to the thread. In each interview, the reporter clearly had an agenda to push (respectively: video games tear relationships apart, and violent video games make children kill). The reporters asked leading questions of us until anything remotely resembling or supporting their theses emerged from our mouths. These inadvertent talking points were then seized upon and selectively featured in each piece.



In poor Lori’s case, lax editing made the usually intelligent woman appear a rambling goofball. In my case, my point about the need for parents to educate themselves about kid culture was sliced into the alarmist sound bite “GET INVOLVED IN YOUR KIDS’ LIVES!!”



Lori and i were both quick to write our own articles clarifying our positions, revealing how the mainstream news media did their best to put Baby in a corner. Both articles embed the interviews in question:

What You Don’t Know About Gaming Can Kill You – Lori Dance

Ryan Creighton on City News at 6 with Dr. Karl – Ryan Henson Creighton

Filthy-Faced African Ragamuffins Make Good

i was recently speaking with Andy Smith from Get Set Games, the local Toronto success story responsible for the hit iOS games Mega Jump and Mega Run – Redford’s Adventure. Andy told me how the news media crafted a rags-to-riches story of two brothers raised in Zambia who are the “creative driving force” behind the studio they founded:



What can we learn from CBC’s report?

  1. That the iPhone is a gold mine promising untold riches to whoever ventures there
  2. That the reporter doesn’t listen when her sons tell her about video games either
  3. That Rob Segal, one of the studio’s four founders, is a spectral figure who haunts the Get Set offices, whose ethereal voice and opinions cannot be captured by standard news recording equipment

Contrast all this with Leigh’s bang-on report about Project Overboard this week. While it might not seem like something to celebrate, it certainly is. Thanks, Leigh!

Fair and Balanced

Though the situation looks grim, the mainstream media does boast a handful of reporters who actually know a thing or two about the industry. A commenter in the Facebook thread i mentioned above gives credit to Marc Saltzman and Steve Tilley for knowing their stuff, and i’ve had good interviews with Jonathan Ore (A father and daughter’s excellent gaming adventure – CBC.ca) and Daniel Kaszor (Toronto‚Äôs littlest video-game designer – National Post). The big difference is that these four fellows actually play video games and understand the industry a great deal more than your typical nervous-parent-cum-news-reporter.

Show Me on the Doll Where They Misquoted You

Have you ever been interviewed by the mainstream press about video games, only to have your words twisted to their populist purposes? Tell Uncle Ryan all about it in the comments.

2 thoughts on “The Games Industry vs. the Mainstream Press

  1. Mushyrulez

    You’d expect a magazine about gaming to have journalists who understand the gaming industry, wouldn’t you? Conversely, you wouldn’t expect mainstream news media to spend as much effort on the same, either… sad world we live in, but it sorta makes sense.

    Reply

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