Games journalism is dead. And I say this as someone who has been writing about videogames since 1995: we used to write on paper, you know. Despite my melodramatic last rites, in terms of quantity there has probably never been more games journalism, thanks of course to what Tony Soprano once described as that “fucking internet.” As you read this, countless games “journalists” are knocking out ill-informed missives for a miniscule audience, sharing their tiresome opinions, probably for free, thus undermining the careers of decent hardworking slugabeds.
The system is broken. Consider that some 16 years after first sharing my tiresome opinion with the general public – in the form of an actual magazine – the derisory amount I was tendered to write these columns represents the lowest fee I have ever been offered, apart from zero pence of course, which is a whole other can of worms.
After weeks of intense negotiations, I have managed to improve the fee from derisory to paltry, but the reason that games writers are so poorly paid is that every fucker wants to do it. Back in what is popularly known as “the day,” kids wanted to be astronauts, firemen, train drivers, doctors. Now they want to be games journalists, and will gladly bend over and be fucked up the arse to achieve that supposed dream.
It was ever thus. In my first job in the games industry, at the end of the interview I thought I was being offered £19k. Asking the dead-eyed lizard to repeat himself, it transpired that he’d said “nine grand”, ie barely more than the dole to work five days a week, plus the odd unpaid weekend. And it involved a pay cut. And believe me, it wasn’t something to brag about either; back then, telling someone that you played ‘computer games’ for a living was akin to fessing up to kiddy-fiddling.
Now you can’t move for some berk telling you that you’ve got “the best job in the world.” The universality of this opinion was drummed home to me a few years ago during E3 when I found myself staying at the home of some pornographers in San Fernando Valley. They were genuinely amazed that we worked in games, and begged us to get them into the show so they could blag some tawdry promotional T-shirts. The obvious response of “but you get to film attractive people rutting like beasts” was met with a cursory, “That gets old real quickly.” It was a conversation that led to the Porn For Games Exchange, whereby unmarked packages would arrive at the offices of PC Zone, with a succession of RPGs and train simulators heading in the opposite direction.
Anyway, enough of the nostalgic reminiscence – I was recently at a press event where UbiSoft built a beach in west London, replete with ice cream and cocktails. My wide-eyed cameraman described it as the best thing he’d ever been to, including his wedding.
Games journalism is dead. Long live games journalism.
Having accidentally landed a job on a PC games magazine in the mid-90’s, Hill has since written for such outlets as PC Zone, CVG, Eurogamer, IGN, Gamespot, Official PlayStation Magazine, Official Xbox Magazine, Official Dreamcast Magazine, PlayNation, PC Gear, PSW, FourFourTwo, Sky Sports Magazine, Hotdog, The Independent, The Mail On Sunday, Loaded, Maxim, Front, Nuts, Jack, Goal!, The Onion Bag, The Red Card and PokerPlayer. And some others. He can occasionally be seen on www.gameshocktv.com, and tweets infrequently as @HillyTheFish.