Alternative Vices - why media giant Vice is turning its attention to video games

Alex Calvin
Alternative Vices - why media giant Vice is turning its attention to video games

If you're not a ‘hip', ‘cool' millennial, you might not have heard of Vice.

Founded in Canada in 1994, the media brand has gone on to become an online juggernaut that operates across 36 countries. It has become famous for its iconoclastic and edgy reporting that touches everything from investigative journalism in North Korea to the effects of LSD on its interns.

But this year, Vice has turned its attention to video games. Though it has run a column called Video Games Killed the Radio Star in its print magazine for some time, as of this March it has now expanded fully into this sector.

We launched the Vice Gaming section in earnest this year, having found a huge appetite amongst our readers for this kind of content,” games editor Mike Diver tells MCV.

Video Games Killed the Radio Star was an incredibly popular facet of Vice's print presence, so many of the themes touched on there have come to inform Vice Gaming in its current incarnation. We'd been increasing the amount of gaming content on our website over a number of months, to about three or four pieces a week.”

"We're almost less interested in the games themselves –
what they do when you press A, how difficult a boss
is to kill – and more interested in the hows and
whys surrounding their places in our lives,
and people who play them."

Mike Diver, Vice

But there are already enough sites covering games. What is Vice doing differently? Well, it seems to have taken a peek at Kotaku's editorial strategy.

We're almost less interested in the games themselves – what they do when you press A, how difficult a boss is to kill – and more interested in the hows and whys surrounding their places in our lives, and people who play them,” Diver says.

A fundamental part of our approach is looking at what games bring to contemporary culture that other media doesn't; what they mean for storytelling; how they're impacting on our social interactions. We're hopeful that Vice's reputation can push gaming towards those who maybe haven't been paying attention to, or aren't aware of, the rapid growth of gaming culture across the globe.”

He continues: It's all about being personable, relatable, and speaking in terms that non-gamers can understand. We want to get people who haven't played a game in years excited to try a one; we also want veterans to find a new way of looking at one of their favourites.”

At the moment, Vice Gaming is just Diver, who is commissioning editorial from some of the biggest names the UK games media has on offer. And he is hoping to expand this in time.

We are in the process of massively scaling up our gaming editorial internationally and bringing in lots of new staff,” he says. Plus there will always be a very active roster of amazing freelancers. Some of the names I've already brought to the section are pure dream team acquisitions like Cara Ellison, Leigh Alexander, Andy Kelly, Chris Schilling, Matt Lees and Keza MacDonald - I'm really made up that they've been so excited to write about games for Vice.”

And alongside its editorial, Vice is producing video documentaries looking at the sector. In March it released a film about competitive gaming, simply entitled eSports.

There will be more video content on games,” Diver says.

eSports was fantastically received and is indicative of how we're approaching video. We have a successful formula with video journalism: telling incredible, original stories, and getting them to millions of people acrossthe world.”

He concludes: Vice Gaming will continue in that tradition. It's an approach that is missing within the industry. We're here to fill that void.”

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