John Walker's Electronic House

Tag: gaming

A Response To PAR’s Adblockers/Games Press Article

by on Apr.17, 2013, under Rants

Today Ben Kuchera, of the Penny Arcade Report, wrote an article in which he explained how games journalism works in relation to content and advertising. That gaming sites put up the galleries of cosplay babes because it’s necessary to fund the better, less popular content, all driven by a constant need for pageviews and unique hits. In his article, he writes as if he’s speaking for the whole industry, although excludes himself from the process. I’d like to add RPS to that exclusion list, thanks very much, because I don’t recognise a word of how he says my business works.

I’m not going to get into how RPS’s advertising works, because frankly I don’t know, and I prefer it that way. That’s all done by someone who works at Eurogamer, with whom we have an advertising partnership. We have laid down strict rules, they follow them, but how the charging works I’ve no idea.

Kuchera makes a few statements which I want to make clear don’t speak for me, or the business I co-own.

“People like to say that the games press is just chasing page views with certain stories, but let’s be honest: We’re chasing page views with every story.”

This is a very loaded statement. It’s both as banal as saying “Newspapers only include news stories because people want to read news,” and as sensationalist as saying, “They’ll do anything to make you click!” The truth is of course somewhere between. RPS, and I can only ever speak for RPS and no other gaming site, is a business. We make money from advertising, and we get advertising because we have people reading the site. So yes, we post things on RPS in order to run our business. But how that defines what you post is always the business’s choice, and Kuchera’s frequent inference in his piece that it automatically causes nefarious or unsightly content does not speak for me. If anything, at worst his article ends up being apologist propaganda for the sites that lazily rely on crude hit chasing, as if it were the only way.

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On Being Hated Disliked A Bit

by on Nov.25, 2010, under The Rest

Tonight a number of RPS readers have announced that my opinions are no longer worthwhile, and that they shall be ignoring me from now onward. This is because of two crimes in the last week. I wrote about the 1993 adventure “game”, Myst, and Telltale’s new release, Poker Night At The Inventory.

The latter caught me far more by surprise than the former. The game is, beyond a very nice gimmick (four popular game characters playing poker with you), pretty weak. It offers a horrible poker game, made briefly entertaining by some funny comments from the cast. Once they start repeating, which is early on, it becomes about struggling through an awful card game, and clicking through much repeated dialogue, to try to hear a new gag. What really threw me was not that people complained that they enjoyed the game and so I was wrong (a standard response to a negative review), but rather that people were furious – I mean absolutely livid – that I’d reviewed it as a poker game.

Even more so, to do so as someone who knows how to play poker. It’s not for people who know how to play poker, I’ve been repeatedly told. I’m not allowed to play the game because of mistakes I’ve made in the past. That stupid, ignorant mistake of having learned the rules to the game.

This was only compounding my fall, following my piece on Myst written for Eurogamer’s Sunday retrospective slot.

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The Observer: The Beguiling Nature Of Videogames

by on Mar.21, 2010, under The Rest

Today I am the news. Last week Alec and I were invited to join in a conversation about videogames for the Observer newspaper, in response to an article they are running in the magazine today about a man who spent four years playing GTA and doing lots of cocaine. We were gathered to offer an alternative voice about gaming. The subject was “Are virtual worlds more beguiling than the real world?” We were also given the opportunity to offer a short quote that goes into today’s Observer’s Comment section (not currently online), letting us elaborate on any point we might want to make. I chose to make the point that games in no way need to compete or be compared to the real world. They don’t attempt to supplant it, they are a form of entertainment within it.

Our conversation lasted over an hour, and the edited version is just five minutes, so as you might expect the result is just a few short moments, collated from throughout. So I’d like to say that I didn’t only talk about blubbing at Dreamfall, but I found it amusing that they seemed to just somehow know this was my stereotype moment and picked it out. And heck, it’s one of my most significant gaming moments: no wonder I keep bringing it up. Alec also offered a lot of interesting points, and one of them makes the cut, providing a smart angle on online gaming, and helpfully a more balanced voice that prevents the thing becoming an overly-defensive diatribe. Leo Tan PR Man certainly gets the focus, and deservingly so: that handsome face and accent – who could resist? Also he says smart things. Here’s the video:

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