Game Critics Aren’t Professionals, They Just Pretend To Be

While some game critics strive to be professionals on a daily basis, it’s mostly going unnoticed.

The members of VGRHQ have worked in multiple industries, covering numerous beats as journalists. Just recently, one of us (our co-founder) bumped into an old colleague, who had become the Culture Editor of a relatively large newspaper.The two got to talking about the video game industry, and how its journalists – especially its critics – are perceived by those who practice “real journalism.” As the former colleague in question often acted as a film and theater critic, he never had much respect for game critics.

We’re concealing his identity but we reserve the right to post his comments directly:

In the eyes of most real journalists and critics, a video game critic is little more than an amateur pretending to be a professional. And it’s not because of what they’re critiquing; it’s just because they’re not very good. They don’t come across as professionals. They too often come across as petulant, whiny teenagers, and that’s not doing your industry any favors.

Gamers and gaming quiz people don’t care how journalists are viewed, but maybe they should.

We sat down to talk about these statements last night, and there were some conflicting viewpoints. The first opinion involved the standard reply of most gamers: “Who cares? Who really cares what anyone else thinks?” This got plenty of support because after all, we don’t have to prove ourselves to anyone. We get up and go to work just like everyone else and yeah, we take it seriously. If we consider ourselves to be professionals, that’s all that matters.

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But then came the contrasting viewpoint, shared below:

You know, running around in circles yelling, ‘who cares what anyone thinks?’ actually isn’t helping. And it’s not really true because it does matter. Journalists and critics in this industry are woefully underpaid and most often, they go completely unrecognized. In fact, the only thing a game critic gets from the people he tries to service is hatred, and maybe some form of mainstream recognition would help.

This is not something a game journalist often sees. But is it his own fault?

Maybe, maybe not. The bigger question is, is that man right? Is it true that too many of our critics are merely “playing at being professionals”? Maybe most gamers don’t care, but those who bring you the coverage you eat up on a daily basis have to exist, or there will be no coverage. Everyone who rants and raves about review scores won’t have anything to rant and rave about. At the same time, are some journalists and critics just preying on this behavior and as such, disqualify themselves as “professionals?”

Perhaps it doesn’t matter that in the world of journalism and criticism, video game journalists are at the absolute bottom of the totem pole. And maybe some of us are guilty of being unprofessional at times. We could argue that we’re merely giving the public what they want; i.e., inflammatory material that they just love. But that’s no excuse. We need to practice professionalism, and we’d like to think that those we honor at VGRHQ work hard, and are indeed professionals.

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Perhaps that’s enough for now.