GameSpot


Play Magazine has always been a rather unique voice in the game journalism landscape, covering games with an unmatched passion and a focus on hardcore niche games. Since its launch in 2001, that unique voice has largely been driven by editor-in-chief Dave Halverson. Since Halverson’s promotion to publisher/editorial director at Fusion Publishing earlier this year, the day-to-day responsibilities surrounding Play have fallen to former senior editor Brady Fiechter (pictured), its new EIC.

Fiechter is already shaking things up, announcing in the May issue that readers “may not be seeing [review] scores any longer” starting next month. PressSpotting talked to Fiechter about that state of gaming and game journalism, the future of Play, and, of course, his controversial review score decision.

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Our columnist tackles a few smaller game journalism issues that have popped up recently.

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I wasn’t even alive when Computer Gaming World launched in 1981. However, I was around this week when the print version of the magazine, renamed Games for Windows in 2006, has been repurposed for inclusion in Ziff Davis’ 1UP gaming portal. I talked with 1UP Vice President for Content Simon Cox about GFW’s move online, the state of print gaming journalism in general, and the difficulties facing Ziff Davis.

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Game journalists could be forgiven for having a love/hate relationship with April Fools’ Day. On the one hand, the day lets them get away from straight, factual reporting and stretch their creative muscles in crafting fictional stories. On the other hand, they have to be extremely careful all day of reporting on stories that could turn out to be elaborate falsehoods created by others.

On the whole, the results of all this tomfoolery are decidedly mixed. Some writers grow to the task and create well-crafted, thought-provoking jokes that highlight industry hypocrisy. Others just play to readers’ worst demons and wishful thinking by making up obviously fake “news.” There are some of each category in this year’s Just Foolin’ Awards, which highlights the year’s most notable game-journalism-related April Fools jokes.

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Every writer knows that cliches should be avoided like the plague. But writers are busy little beavers, and given that a stitch in time saves nine, even the best writers occasionally find that slipping into familiar cliches is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. This is true in game journalism too, where bad cliches can destroy good writing like a bull in a china shop. Seeing as how the proof is in the pudding, as they say, I now present, without further ado, my personal list of dumb-as-a-doorknob cliches that tend to be especially prevalent in video game journalism.

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Most often, it takes years of work and hundreds of bylines for most game reviewers to reach the point where they even start to get noticed by the average gamer. British-born, Australia-residing author, humorist, and game designer Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw got there virtually overnight. Since launching the Web magazine The Escapist last August, his Zero Punctuation series of animated video reviews have gained a massive following for its rapid-fire deliver and razor-sharp send-ups of such games as Medal of Honor: Airborne, Halo 3, Guitar Hero III, and, most recently, Turok. He also runs his own blog, Fullyramblomatic.com
Last month, Croshaw’s celebrity was given official recognition at the 2008 Game Developers Conference. He was commissioned to do both a series of comedic shorts for the Game Developers Choice Awards and a typically motormouthed recap of BioShock for 2K Boston head Ken Levine’s keynote.

I chatted with Croshaw via e-mail about how he got start, his rise to fame, and what he thinks of the state of game journalism today.

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An introduction to my new press analysis column on GameSpot.

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Colleen McGuinness is a Harvard-educated writer from Long Island, New York. Since graduating in 1999 she’s been a writer and director for a short film titled For Mature Audiences Only, a staff writer for NBC’s short-lived comedy Miss Match, and a story editor for the Fox series North Shore. She’s currently writing a screenplay for New Line Cinema called Baby Got Backhand.

So why are we interviewing her on a gaming site?

It turns out that Ms. McGuinness made her video-game-writing debut last month with Sprung, an odd little Nintendo DS game that simulates the world of dating. Players in Sprung have to navigate a maze of conversation paths to accomplish a variety of dating-related goals with their on-screen conversation partner.

GameSpot talked to Ms. McGuinness about writing, dating and, of course, video games.

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There are few who contest the fact that the acceptance of CD-ROM and then DVD-ROM standards for video game software led to new opportunities for the interactive entertainment industry. Disc-based software made massive worlds and high-end graphics a cheap and easy-to-produce reality that would have been hard to imagine on cartridges. But now, a potential conflict over the successor to DVD storage may help shape the next battle for console and home-entertainment supremacy.

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I saw the future of video games the other day.

There I was, eating stale pizza and drinking warm soda at a Microsoft promotional event being held at my college, when I saw a nondescript computer science student walking by the rows of dazed Halo players. No one else seemed to take notice of the huge, almost impossible controller in his hands, but I recognized it immediately as the exclusive two-joystick, 27-button, three-pedal interface for Steel Battalion.

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