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Indies question whether journalists should be our game curators
Indies question whether journalists should be our game curators
March 25, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

March 25, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
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    10 comments
More: Indie, Design, GDC



"Ultimately, journalists are interested in an interesting story more than an interesting work."
- Independent developer Terry Cavanagh explains why he organized four fellow devs together to form Free Indie Games a year ago, a blog that, very simply, spotlights games that its editors find interesting.

"We need curators," he said at a GDC talk on Monday. And those curators, he says, need to be fellow game developers.

His words came as an introduction to a discussion about several games that he and fellow Free Indie Games editor Porpentine shared with an audience at the Independent Game Summit.

He raises an interesting point: As the barriers to entry diminish and as games become something that almost anybody can make, are general interest journalists the best filters for curating and sharing diverse content that might have a limited audience appeal?

"I'd say that it isn't that women and queers and people of color aren't making games," said Porpentine. "It is that they are not being covered sufficiently."

For Gamasutra's full GDC 2013 event coverage this week, check out the official GDC 2013 event page.


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Comments


Jorge Garcia Celorio
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I started to walk the indie game development path 5 months ago. Even though I became exposed to the media stories about Braid, Minecraft, Super Crate Box, and Journey, the amount of indie game outlets truly surprised me! There are several blogs and websites dedicated to independent games but IMHO not enough in accordance to the amount of media exposure and general interest the indie community has attracted.

Please, everyone, we need more commenters, thoughtful reviewers, and outlets to reach the people who will be inspired by our games!

Craig Bamford
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This is one of the reasons why "game journalist" is kind of a bad term. Journalists aren't supposed to curate. CRITICS are supposed to curate. Both roles are important, and they aren't the same thing.

James Yee
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Well as a Kickstarter Conversationalist I tend to cover Indie games that show up in the crowdfunding platforms often enough. I try to point out what's interesting and what I find troubling but basically I like letting the devs speak for themselves. So part of the issue is that indies need their own kind of PR. I've found LOTS of creative folks just don't do well with self-promotion and/or talking to folks in ways that are effective.

Just like anyone can make games now a days, anyone can write about them. We have so many outlets and choices that it's crazy!

Kujel Selsuru
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My issue with "game journallist" is they're english majors and not computer science majors, they don't tend to understand what really goes into developing a game and put too much emphasis on story or how pretty a game is and not how fun it is.

Gavin Koh
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Well, I walk both sides of the fence - both reviewing and developing games - I am a software programmer by trait (and passion), but also love the thrill of writing and sharing...

I recently had my hand in reviewing Bollywood Wannabe by Chrysaor Studio (after learning about it from an article Catherine Levesque wrote here). And you know what? I don't regret writing the review article and pointing out what I felt was good or bad about the game. In fact, it feels great being able to share it on my website for fellow gamers to read.

And with more than 350 review/preview articles under my belt, I can acknowledge that it does make me feel kind of like a curator of sorts: "Folks, there are some great exhibits, and there are some uhm, stuff that should belong deep inside a warehouse under lock and key (ask that dashing adventurer with the whip and Fedora hat, he knows what I mean)."

I try to identify myself as a journalist, but I don't feel like I am one. Otherwise I would be cruising my reporter beat looking for that next article to write about.

Curator sounds like a great buzz word to use!

Lex Allen
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I think that the gaming press has done a really terrible job at getting the word out about new games, especially when considering indie titles. They often make posts about the same games over and over again for years. Sometimes, I find really interesting games randomly, and I think, "Why am I just seeing this now?!"

It's even annoying to see any indie game awards because you find yourself asking... "Wait, didn't they win last year? Oh, they released on a new platform, so they're back up for nomination?"

I think that the press could be the curators, but they're doing such a terrible job of it right now, so it seems like they shouldn't.

Joel Smith
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As I've just recently discovered, the problem with using press as a curator is if you can't get anyone to even try your game let alone write an article or review you're essentially dead in the water. Improving visibility and discoverability on the market places should continue to be a priority first.

Niero Gonzalez
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Imagine if game developers demanded to be recognized as Game Artists instead? Its as silly and pretentious as Games Journalist. I've been trying to rename the craft to "Game Critic" for years. It just bubbles up unnecessary feelings in people. I think it was borne from old beards wanting to distance themselves from bloggers, but now 70% of the Internet runs on a Wordpress clone. Everyone's a blogger, everyone's a critic. If your parents paid for your degree use that dirty word when you call home.

That said, I don't agree that game critics are ultimately concerned with great stories or great work. A good writer is ultimately concerned with providing an entertaining and honest service to their readers, period. A curator simply wouldn't be as trustworthy. Otherwise, we'd just buy whatever's on the Xbox Dashboard with 4 stars and above and have no need for publications. I'm generalizing, but this isn't 1996. Readers are savvy and don't want curation; they want trusted unbiased critiques and peer filtering.

Interesting work that isn't good or fun needn't be peddled outside of a trade journal.

Andrzej Marczewski
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I have reviewed games for years, and rather than looking for interesting stories, I jut like reviewing interesting games. Most reviewers are the same. If an indie game is interesting and worth playing, I am happy to review it. The problem is, indie developers very rarely get in contact with me to tell me about their latest games - larger publishers do - hence that is what gets reviewed most often.

I think it is more important for indie developers to be given a good understanding of how to get their game looked at by reviewers is more important at this stage!

Michael O'Hair
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["I'd say that it isn't that women and queers and people of color aren't making games," said Porpentine. "It is that they are not being covered sufficiently."]
Wow. Just... wow.

Any curator of sound mind and not surrounded by Doritos and Mountain Dew should be adequate. So, yes, that would rule out many journalists in games enthusiast media.

Oh, and here's this thing:
http://www.homeoftheunderdogs.net/scratch.php
It appears to be a Manifesto of some sort, from the turn of the century. Required reading, I hope, for all independent game developers. Almost prophetic.

Each creator should be their own curator. To trust another to do so is to invite objects to selectively fall through the cracks and disappear into time.


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