When did Video Game Journalism Become About Free Games?‏

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press 2I love writing about the video game industry; reviews, news, blogs, heck, I even do a weekly podcast. Honestly, sometimes I think I enjoy talking , writing and reading about video games more than I do actually playing them. Luckily for me, I have an outlet like Bonus Stage with which to spew out my views and opinions. Just being able to see my work up there, on what I believe to be a relatively professional site is something that, even after 6 years, I still find, for lack of a better term, ‘kinda cool’.

I get free games too. Well, free in so much that I get review copies for which I am expected to deliver a well written, unbiased and balanced review. What a bonus. Well, that’s what I see it as anyway. Obviously, not everyone feels the same way.

Based upon my time here at Bonus Stage, I’ve been amazed by the number of people who are clearly in it just for those ‘free games’. Sure, they will put together a solid review, but what about afterwards? I appreciate that this, like the majority of video game sites out there, doesn’t pay, but honestly, aren’t you here because you enjoy writing about the industry? Aren’t you doing it for fun, or perhaps with the aim of making a career out of it? Obviously not, because as far as I can tell, the vast majority of writers are here for the review copies and, well, that’s about it.

To be signed up to a site like Bonus Stage, to have that virtual stage with which to express and share your opinions on arguably the most interesting, and certainly the fastest moving entertainment industry out there and then only be in it for the review code is, well, for lack of a better term, shocking. Sure, I’m not going to lie, I love getting a new video game to play, and no new video game is better than a free one, but come on, writing reviews is only a small part of what it means to be a video game journalist. Receiving review code is a very pleasant bonus for making the commitment to becoming an amateur video game journalist, but if that’s all that you’re interested in, then what’s the point? You’re certainly unlikely to get anywhere professionally or artistically with that attitude.

Now, I’m not being naïve here; I accept that some will invariably take that approach to video game writing, or anything else in life for that matter – ‘I’ll do something if I get something in return’. That’s fine, that capitalism. I’m simply shocked by the sheer consistency for which the above has been true…..in my experience anyway. Aren’t there people out there who want to write about video games simply because, you know, they love writing about video games? Aren’t there people looking to improve their craft, to become better writers?

I don’t know, perhaps I am being naïve, perhaps the big draw is the promise of review code and that the simple act of just having your work up on a dedicated website no longer has the draw that it once (still) holds for me. This started as a rant, and now, well, now it’s in danger of becoming an advertisement. That was never the aim, but heck, that’s the way it seems to be going.

If you’re reading this and find yourself agreeing with anything that I have said, if you’re looking for somewhere to display your work and to share in your love (of increasing disdain) for the industry, please do get in touch as, God knows, we are always looking for good, eager journalist to join the Bonus Stage team. We might not be able to pay, but you will have a largely unedited home with which to share your views and opinions with the gaming community……..oh, and you’ll also get free games.

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