I can't stop lying. It's such a thrill. Here's another story from GDC 2008. On Friday, there was a panel of game journalists -- Stephen Totilo, Garnett Lee, Brian Crecente, some other dudes -- and someone asked a question about the "cult of the amateur"; about whether the proliferation of amateur bloggers and journalists was devaluing the profession. Crecente jumped in immediately with "well, I'm not an amateur" and cited the many years he spent on the police beat.
I thought it should be self-evident that if you get paid to do it, then you're not an amateur. Instead, Crecente was apparently compelled to defend his journalistic credibility. 'Amateur' doesn't mean 'amateur' anymore, it means 'hack'.
Ben Fritz, the guy who blogs video games for Variety, wrote a post about Civilization IV: Colonization and how the concept was intrinsically offensive and racist. He made the mistake of admitting he'd never heard of the original Colonization before, which of course everyone seized upon as the chink in Fritz's armour; the thermal exhaust port on his Death Star.
Did I, in the year 2008, just use the word 'chink'? Someone write an outraged blog post about me please.
I'm not smart enough to directly contest Fritz's position, although judging by the response so far, that shouldn't stop me from taking to the comments and calling him a tard. What I find interesting, though, are comments -- which appear both on the Variety blog and on Quarter to Three -- like this: "This is why bloggers are not journalists and should not pretend to be."
That's a weird statement, Fritz notwithstanding. Basically, the internet cannot be an avenue for legitimate journalism, amateur or otherwise. Okay, that's patently ridiculous, whatever. What's puzzling to me is how Fritz writing an opinion piece somehow disabuses him of his journalist credentials. You're not a journalist if you're ill-informed? You're not a journalist if you're wrong? You're not a journalist if you say something which many people vehemently disagree with?
'Journalist' doesn't mean 'journalist' anymore. It doesn't refer to a profession. It's an endorsement; a statement of preference. Like "yeah, Kieron Gillen, man, that guy's a real journalist." Or "yeah, that Geoff Keighley feature on Half-Life 2, man, that was real journalism." Or "yeah, Jeff Gerstmann, man, giving Zelda an 8.8, that's not real journalism." How many times have you gone to a message board or a blog and seen the phrase "video game journalist" in mocking quotes? Well, at least once.
Journalists are art now. Unlike 'journalism', 'art' has always been a subjective proposition, but I see it used a lot to indicate merely that something is at a very high level of quality. There's no discussion about aesthetics or influence or genre or whatever, 'art' just means A+. Metal Gear Solid 4 is art. Why is it art? Because it's really really good!
But I think that the people praising Metal Gear's artistic merit aren't taking their vacations at the Louvre, and the people telling Ben Fritz he's not a journalist aren't taking inspiration from the opinion pieces of journalists they do like. The words don't have a lot of meaning beyond serving as cards to play in reviews and internet arguments. How do I feel about that? I don't have even a little bit of an idea.
This isn't a blog where I link things, but I am linking this. I don't know if it's journalism but I know what I like.