I’m Scared to Be a Games Journalist

By Sam Desatoff

I love games. Since childhood, video games have been a constant in a life of variables. One of my earliest gaming memories is opening up an NES on my birthday. I immediately unpacked it and spend the rest of the day playing Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros. with my dad. Years later, I would realize this kind of bonding experience is almost exclusive to games. No other medium affords the same kind of interactivity as games. You can’t “play” a movie or a book in the same way. I honestly feel that sharing that experience with my father strengthened our relationship.

Now I want to do what I can to share that experience with others.

As a journalism student, I have a long-term goal in mind: write about games. I want to play games that evoke the feelings of my childhood. I want to write about how they changed my perspective on the world. I want to experience all the highs (and even lows) of an industry that is evolving at an incredible pace. Storytelling has made massive strides over the past generation of consoles and has challenged what we view as possible in the medium. But as much fun as it is to watch from afar, I want to be there on the ground floor.

I simply love games.

But the world of games journalism has recently become mired in controversy. Debacles such as GamerGate and an extremely vocal group of hate-mongers have come to dominate YouTube and forums the Internet over. Suddenly, every bit of games journalism is falling under increased scrutiny. And while I certainly side with those seeking equality in the field, the prospect of entering such a vitriolic industry scares the absolute shit out of me.

I understand the conversation of equality in games and games journalism is one that is necessary, and I’m very glad to see it happening. In this age of social media it’s easier than ever to offer feedback to authors, designers, publishers, and other members of the video game scene. There is no denying that this a male-dominated field and the fact that this standard is now beginning to be questioned is very refreshing.

What scares me however, is that, as a prospective games journalist, I am going to be held to some kind of moral standard with no baring on my passion for games. This may not be the case, but watching the train wreck that is GamerGate dominate my Twitter and Facebook feeds has caused me to develop second thoughts about my chosen career path. Games journalism is coming under the kind of scrutiny like never before, and that is very intimidating. I fully support equality in games and I want to do my part to help ensure it, but I want to enjoy myself as well. I understand that everything I write is subject to analysis. I welcome that; how else am I supposed to improve as a writer? But I don’t want to spend every day as a journalist scouring thread after thread of hate-speech, death and rape threats, and other despicable nonsense – it just sounds depressing. I want to write about games and the people who make them.

2014 was a tough year for games journalism. But it was also a fantastic year for games. Looking back at the release calendar, this year saw an absolutely stunning number of fantastic games across all genres and platforms. 2015 looks to be stellar as well. Games like Batman: Arkham Knight, Evolve, Uncharted 4, and lots more are on the horizon, and I look forward to playing, and hopefully writing about them.

Is it possible to do that without examining the politics behind every single release? Maybe this is a new age of games journalism where discussing the ethics of the games industry goes hand-in-hand with each new release. Maybe I just need to buck up and accept that this is the new status quo. But whatever the case, I know games have changed from when I was a child sitting on the sofa with my dad as we handed the controller back and forth. I guess it’s up to me to develop a thicker skin.

My love of games requires it.

Follow Sam on Twitter.
Email him at sdesatoff@yahoo.com

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