USC Annenberg Online Journalism ReviewUSC





A Survey of Game Writing Online
Video Game Journalism
Ethics in Online Game Journalism
A Survey of Game Writing Online

Perhaps a sign of maturation, online game journalism is beginning to segment; Web publishing is too easy, and there are too many communities to serve.

The largest game news and review sites are GameSpot, Gamespy, Games Domain and IGN. GameSpot is owned by CNET, the technology news network. They have the most professional content and tone, followed closely by GameSpy.  These sites cover anything but not everything related to electronic games. Games Domain is based in the United Kingdom; each of the others is based in California -- most of them have freelancers in other countries reporting on international news.

Since PC games require rigorous hardware and generally tend toward more mature audience, there are many sites devoted to tracking PC gaming news. Blue's News, FiringSquad, Shacknews (which was originally named ?Quakeholio?). There is similar coverage available for Macintosh gaming fans as well: Inside Mac Games, Mac Gamer and iDevGames covers Mac game development. Since the advent of the latest generation of consoles, with their online functionality, some of the pure-PC sites are now beginning to cover console games. These sites typically mix graphics card power-testing with game reviews and some coverage of professional tournament video gaming. 

High-stakes competitive video gaming is best followed online, to keep up with the scores, discussions, and latest video clips and demos from the best gamers worldwide: ESReality.com and CyberFight.org, based in Russia.

Some game genres have their own news sites; here are two examples: RPGPlanet covers video role-playing games, Sports Gaming Network covers electronic sports titles.

For reviews, you?ll find raw review data feeds at sites like GameRankings.com or MetaCritic. These sites compile reviews across a variety of publications and can be useful to get a sense of the general critical opinion of a game. The reviews at the bottom of the list, those with the lowest scores, tend to have the most pointed game critiques. MobyGames compiles reviews and archival information on older electronic games.

Some of the finest game criticism is coming from non-professional sites. GameCritics.com has a pesky mandatory user registration policy required to read its otherwise free articles; but once you?re in, its game reviews are among the most insightful appearing anywhere.

MagicBox does an excellent job posting rumors, innuendo, half truths, screenshots and stories about games from Japan. Recently, Tokyopia has begun to offer thoughtful essays and reviews from knowledgeable gamers and Japan media insiders.

For news from inside the games industry, Gamasutra caters to the people who make games with essays and technical critique. GamesIndustry.biz has journalists covering the business end of games. GameDaily publishes mostly press releases. The seamy side of the games business is irregularly shoveled up by Fat Babies. Think of them as rabid ombudsmen -- they bite with conviction but it?s seldom pretty. Now apparently defunct, Old Man Murray published scathing, hilarious critique. Many people now find their game culture mockery from Penny Arcade and PvPonline, two comic strips.
 
Massively multiplayer online games present worlds with populations large enough to warrant their own news organs. Specific games have official and unofficial sites that track stories and developments within their respective communities. The writers at Waterthread.org, UnknownPlayer.com and Player2Player Network track news across the growing number of these games and communities.

Many more people are using simple weblogging tools to provide opinion and news. Old school game designer and curmudgeon Greg Costikyan runs a weblog where he rouses rabble. On ludology.org Gonzalo Frasca tracks the study of games by education and academia. The first academic journal focusing on games was published first online: Game Studies has greatly increasing the number of syllables applied to electronic entertainment.
 
Somewhere between academic and hardcore gamers lie a few Websites that survey game culture broadly. Joystick 101, Got Game and Game Girl Advance, a site I post to.

Of course much of the news about games is made and distributed in the message boards and comment threads of any of the sites listed above.