Steve Boxer: We’re all very chuffed to receive the vindication of being voted best newspaper for games coverage at the GMAs for the second year in succession: massive thanks to everybody who voted for us.
Keith Stuart: We were delighted, but without sounding too conceited, I was hopeful that we’d triumph. The mainstream press is still a little slapdash with its games coverage, and most is reviews based. The Guardian is the only one to run regular features, and it’s the only paper with a daily video game blog.
What’s been the secret to your section’s success?
Steve Boxer: There are the regular weekly reviews, written by a large, rotating team of Greg Howson, myself, Mike Anderiesz, Neil Davey and Keri Allen, in which we try to cover all the big releases in an objective manner. And we must also mention Nick Gillett’s deliciously off-beat column in The Guide on Saturday.
But perhaps more importantly, Charles Arthur, editor of the Technology section, is prepared to devote large amounts of space to features covering the big issues in the industry. Luckily, we freelancers have plenty of allies on the main paper who appreciate games, most notably Bobbie Johnson, Stuart O’Connor and Kate Bevan.
Keith Stuart: For the Technology section, the secret is taking the industry seriously – using writers who have a background in games and technology. For the blog, I think the key thing has been mixing up the coverage, writing about indie games, casual games as well as mainstream releases.
There’s a great community around the blog, too – lots of twenty and thirty-somethings who want to chat about games but don’t want to be verbally assaulted by fanboys.
What are the latest developments to the game’s section?
Keith Stuart: The Guardian has just switched its blogs over to a new technology, which should allow us to do a few more Web 2.0-ish things when we actually figure out how to use it. Other than that, I think just more of the same – trying to cover games in an analytical way, and placing them in context with other forms of media.
Steve Boxer: Recently, we have started running extended, feature-style reviews on the website, which have been flagged in the main paper and have achieved vast amounts of traffic. The Guardian’s commitment to games coverage is plain for all to see and long may that continue to be the case.
How would you like to see the games media evolve?
Keith Stuart: Publishers are finally understanding the need to embrace the mainstream, but I’m not sure if the media has made this leap successfully yet.
It still feels like a boys club at times – the big game sites seem to be purposefully designed to confuse and disorientate anyone but young males.
Generally, mainstream media games coverage is nowhere near where it needs to be. It’s still newsreaders shrugging and smirking when they talk about games, it’s still newspapers defaulting to the ‘games are evil’ standpoint. This will change – if you look at the US, it’s the video game kids who are seizing control of the media.