Game On
Video-game journalists look for a little respect.

By Michael Roberts

The person doing much of the heavy lifting in regard to the style guide — a work in progress that can be accessed at the IGJA site — is Washington, D.C.-based Kyle Orland. A recent University of Maryland graduate, Orland is currently working in the communications department at National Public Radio. But he’s become well known in the game-journalism community for the Video Game Ombudsman, a website at http://vgombud.blogspot.com dedicated to the premise that "any sufficiently developed artistic medium requires an equally developed set of critical and journalistic standards to help give it meaning."

Thus far, Orland says, most video-game writing fails to meet this test. As he puts it, "The journalism I learned in school didn’t bear a lot of resemblance to the video-game journalism I see." He estimates that only about 20 percent of current video-game reviews are of interest from a pure writing standpoint, and just 5 percent of news reports "go beyond things that you’d find in a press release to look at the heart of the matter: the culture, the things that make video games important." Investigations into the business of gaming are few and far between because, he says, manufacturers "control the information that comes out about their product. But I still think it’s possible to find out more than just what the companies spoon-feed us."

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