Four Ways The Mainstream Press Fails at Covering Video Games

It's been evident for a while now that the many in the mainstream (read: non-gaming) press maybe don't quite know how to cover video games. Evidence of this is in every well-meaning but ill-informed radio segment, every weird newspaper column, and especially in every terrible Fox News talking-heads segment. Gaming has been A Very Big Deal for a long time now, so why should it be so hard for the mainstream press to talk about games in a thoughtful, critical way?

Over at The Brainy Gamer, Michael Abbott has taken a look at the problem in a well put-together new post called "Tropes are for dopes." In the piece, he singles out NPR, whose programs which he says he very much likes and supports, but hopes can move beyond the tired tropes he keeps seeing.

Those tropes include:

  • "Gamers are CRAZY!" or, telling only stories of crazy and obsessive gamers rather than talking about the games themselves.
  • "I don't waste time playing games myself, but I'll happily discuss why you think they're interesting", or, the fact that many mainstream journalists simply have a lack of understanding due to never having played any games.
  • "Video games make a CRAP TON of money. Even more than movies!" which is certainly a pet peeve of mine, though it can be hard not to trot out the financial stuff when trying to convince skeptics of gaming's relevance.
  • "I don't have anything interesting to say about this game, but here's a provocative montage with lots of carnage, accompanied by blurbs with numbers in them." Which I like to call the "Fox News Method for Video Game Coverage."

It's a thoughtful, even-handed post, and worth giving a read. I, too, am happy to see that NPR has been giving gaming more and more time on their programs. Given the high quality of most of those programs, I have hope that soon they will move past tropes like the ones Abbott cites and begin doing more in-depth, critical coverage.

Tropes are for Dopes [The Brainy Gamer]


You can contact Kirk Hamilton, the author of this post, at kirk@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.