The gaming bogeyman

Do video games incite violence? Where have all the gaming writers gone?

The gaming bogeyman
Image by Rene from Pixabay

With summer in full swing and gaming news in short supply, we take a look at some detailed reporting and news from around the world.

It’s not the game

The Guardian via YouTube screenshot

France is facing a period of civil unrest. Protests and riots occurred over the police killing of a teenager during a routine traffic stop in June. In response to the $1.1 billion in damages, French President Emmanuel Macron blamed a typical scapegoat, video games.

"It sometimes feels like some of them are experiencing, on the streets, the video games that have intoxicated them," said Macron.

Blaming video games for violence is nothing new. The National Coalition Against Censorship has a timeline of video game controversies starting in 1976. And despite what politicians like Macron say, there is no link between video games and violent behavior.

NPR has an in depth look at Macron’s comments and the research that proves them wrong that is worth a read.  The takeaway: video games do not cause violence.

The curious disappearance of gaming journalists

Image by Ivana Divišová from Pixabay

Video games are a multibillion-dollar industry. They continue to grow in scope and popularity as an entertainment medium. Yet, in 2023, the number of journalists covering gaming has fallen drastically. News organizations cut or removed coverage completely, while dedicated sites folded or reduced reporters. What is the cause? did a deep dive into the gaming journalism layoffs, and one of the biggest culprits: Elden Ring. Record response to the popular game for many sites helped create unrealistic goals for gaming viewership. The article quotes Carli Velocci, a former editor of a number of publications, including Windows Central:

We had gigantic traffic when Elden Ring came out, it was massive and that had gone down a bit when there weren't as many big titles like that…That, [combined] with the pandemic, games coverage was in an interesting place because it's the big games [that] get the most traffic unless there's a breakout [or] crossover hit.

While setting unrealistic goals is part of the problem, large media companies not understanding the industry is another. Washington Post’s Launcher was a portion of the site dedicated to video games. It was shut down in March, despite bringing younger readers to the site. From the article:

Launcher was shut down despite the section's strong performance, attracting "over tens of millions of users, the majority first-time readers of the Post", according to former Launcher editor Mike Hume on Twitter. This distinction is crucial because, according to several former Launcher staff we spoke to, The Washington Post's long-term vision was to attract younger audiences – something Launcher excelled at.
One former Launcher journalist tells us: "[We were told] that Launcher had the youngest audience at the Post... and the editor was like, 'Yeah we're looking to Launcher when it comes to our other sections, because you guys are nailing that part of the Washington Post mission statement,' and from what I understand we met our traffic goals year every year."

The loss of Launcher, Vice’s Waypoint and other gaming sites or sections comes as the medium grows and expands into film and television. HBO’s The Last of Us is the network’s biggest show since Game of Thrones, the Mario movie was huge and more movies and shows are being planned. Despite these layoffs, there is a growing thirst for gaming news, reviews and analysis. Will media companies figure this out before it’s too late?

*Editor’s note: the writer and creator of this newsletter is a laid off gaming journalist, and is available for hire or consultation.

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BattleBit Remastered

💔 An Indian man and Pakistani woman found love in the game PUBG. However, thanks to a lawyer, they both ended up in jail.

🎮 Will Sony launch a $400 PS5 Slim console this year? Microsoft thinks so.

👟 Sonic The Hedgehog Co-Creator Yuji Naka was found guilty of insider trading, and received a suspended sentence.

🕹 Meanwhile, Sega is cutting back its plan for using blockchain in games, saying, “the action in play-to-earn games is boring.”

🎲 The popular TV show Adventure Time is getting its own tabletop roleplaying game. It’s D&D 5E compatible and Dicebraker has more on the inspiration behind the game.

🎖️ A mashup of Minecraft and Call of Duty called BattleBit Remastered has sold nearly 2 million copies in two weeks on Steam

🏀 NBA 2K24 will have crossplay for the first time. However, the PC version won’t have some of the shiny new features the console versions do.

💵While the price of Game Pass recently increased, Microsoft did bring back their $1 for the first month introductory offer.

🍎 Will the Apple vs. Epic case revolving around Fortnite on the iPhone go to the Supreme Court? Apple is making its case.

🇮🇶 Apart from enemies and plenty of rooftops to jump off, Assassin’s Creed Mirage offers a virtual historical tour of Baghdad.

😢 Emile Morel, the creative director on Beyond Good and Evil 2 died unexpectedly. He was 40.

⌨️ In esports, Gaimin Gladiators defeat Team Liquid to win the ‘Dota 2’ Bali Major.

New Releases this week:

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals

Check out our story on 10 New Games to Play in July.

7/12: Oxenfree II: Lost Signals (PlayStation, Switch and PC)
7/13: Gravity Circuit (PlayStation, Switch and PC)
7/13: Testament: The Order of High Human (PC)
7/14: Exoprimal (PlayStation, Xbox and PC)
7/14: Jagged Alliance 3 (PC)

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