The media was as chaotic, experimental, absurd and creative as the industry itself. There was a fresh-faced zeal that came from being able to accuse someone like Andy Braybrook of ‘killing rock and roll’ when travelling, sans PR and marketing folk, on a tube train.
Okay, enough whimsical history – the point here is that three things have changed and have forced a change in media.
Firstly, gamers demand faster, bigger, more and they demand it immediately from both their games and their games media. Secondly, the industry is less fractured, more cohesive, more ‘on-message’, and – although there is probably more overall quality – there appears to be less overall choice (or chaos). Add to this the take-up in broadband, which enables online media outlets to operate far more efficiently than their dead-tree equivalents, and it becomes apparent why the games press in 2007 is radically different to that of 1997.
This means that we, in the media, have had to adapt as fast. Being one of the first to go online, SPOnG has gone through its own changes – moving from what was effectively an online library games’ rich history, to writing about that history as it happens. This has always been driven with a genuine love of games and gaming and more importantly by total independence of funding.
Here are two things that online can do… wrong. It would be disastrous if valuable resources were thrown piecemeal at online ‘television’ which isn’t television but attempts to replicate a medium that has never, ever (and can never due to its non-interactive nature) served the industry or its readers well.
Blogs (rumours based on other rumours – and opinion based on looking at the pre-release packaging) are equally not the answer – from either within or without the industry.
The biggest change is, however, yet to happen, and it’s a change that is going to shake up online as much as online shook-up print: publishers and platform holders will, in the very near future be able to deliver news, reviews and previews directly via their own networks, directly to their consumers.
Faced with these three challenges, online has simply got to be more accurate, more timely, more critical (in the correct sense of the word), and more capable of delivering insight to our readers. That will retain and grow readers more than any passing gimmick – and what do readers mean? Yeah… you know.