Everybody I’ve ever met wants to be a games journalist. True story. You mention you’ve had a long and relatively prosperous career writing about gaming, and the first question everybody asks is “so you get free games?”
“What do you have to do to get the free games?”
And then the conversation comes to a crashing halt as they reveal they have no interest in writing for a living, and no skills in that area anyway.
Some take this a step further. It wasn’t that long ago that I had to fire a budding journalist when it turned out he was translating Spanish articles into English, badly fixing a few grammatical errors and then submitting to be published. He wanted the free games too and some more naïve sites had regularly published his work.
Today his ‘work’ would be so much easier for him. Thanks to improvements in translation services and the rise of AI, that guy could make a fortune in free games (and probably even money) without breaking a sweat. And there’s nothing we can do about it.
While dedicated people like GamesReviews Daniel Fugate can write hundreds of entries in his “More Thoughts From Me” series, others can artificially generate work in the blink of an eye.
And that’s going to cause some real problems going forward. And it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts coverage for video games.
Because I know it’s not the most respected medium in the world, but it’s vitally important. The video game industry thrives on what is effectively free advertising. They pay for a bunch as well, but if you can get sites to copy and paste every press release you put out, that’s a big bonus too.
If you can get your streamers to get excited about something, that’s free advertising. Earned, maybe, but it’s still free advertising.
But there’s a vital counterpoint to this. If your game is terrible, journalists are there to say it. There’s a pandering nature to the industry – people who aren’t fans of games don’t become games journalists. But if you try to take advantage, you’ll get bitten. We’ve seen it time and time again with terrible DLC and microtransactions and blockchain nonsense.
This creates a voice for consumers that doesn’t just exist within the vague world of social media.
AI changes that. The social media negativity takes over, informing the AI of the overwhelming anger related to a topic. Imagine if the reaction to Mass Effect 3 had been primarily AI-led. There’d have been no measured responses at all.
Or worse, cut out the gaming sites. If AI can simply generate whatever you tell it to, why can companies not just do that themselves? We’ve seen this with the rise of social media – why publish something to smaller sites when you get a bigger reach through your own social media?This is not a warning. But it’s a brief look at some of the things editors might have to look out for over the coming years. It could change a huge amount about the way we talk about games journalism. And that, in turn, could change the way we talk about games.