Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Deciphering the good and the bad news

You can’t trust the news. News on anything is always looking for it’s ‘angle’. I hate that. I’m an intelligent 38 year old human. I can absorb data, and facts and draw upon previous knowledge to generate my opinon. Yet the news, be it global or the games industry news, is laways trying to tell me what to think.

I don’t need the commentators ‘take’ on whats happened in georgia. I want the facts. I will decide what I think about it. And when it comes to a new game, I don’t want hyperbole from some marketing drone that tells me how awesome it is. I want to know what the games about., how it plays, and what’s different about it. Anything that paints a game in a positive light in a press release is clearly pointless.

The most obvious games industry examples of all this are sales figures. For example, check out the awesome sales figures for Castle Crashers on the xbox!!! or check out the tragically disappointing sales of crysis. what a disaster!!! What we don’t have stories on is the 99% of games that sit in the middle of this range. How many copies did Sim City Societies sell? or Pirates of The Burning Sea? or Enemy Territory: Quake wars?

We don’t see headlines about them, because journalists think that unless something is extreme, and they can get an ‘angle’ on it, it’s irrelevant. They also, sensibly realise that just reporting the facts means they are pretty much out of a skilled job. Still… it bugs me. I like to know the facts behind things. I know that which facts you select introduces massive bias, but I’d be happy just with a toning down of the current obsession with having a news ‘angle’. Just throw in a bit of perspective now and then. Don’t quote me the sales figures of a game without comparing it to 3 or 4 others of the same genre and platform over the same time period. Don’t talk about a massive rise in home repossesions, if it’s gone from 0.001% to 0.0015%. Sometimes it’s not clear who the good guys are, or its not clear what to conclude from what has happened. We are adults, we can handle that.

3 thoughts on Deciphering the good and the bad news

  1. Hooray! Finally someone has said it (I would if I had a blog, but I can’t be bothered)!
    Something else that bugs me with bias in the news is what is chosen as the “stories”. I guess that’s the beauty of the internet. Anyone can write about anything.

  2. I agree with you about the games but not about the journalists.
    It’s their job to give facts with their opinions. If you were a journalist you would feel pretty useless without giving your opinions. It’s your fault if you don’t judge it and make them your thoughts easily. What you should do is to see their opinions as discussions. Even if he’s on tv and you’re in front of it you should discuss with him in your head. Valuing their opinion because even the stupidest person can know or think something you didn’t once in a while. Journalists’ job is to be the small leaders of the society.

  3. We humans think that there are some kind of objective ‘facts’ available. I think that in reality (what ever that is), we judge every thing by it’s meta context. In other words we look at the context of information we are absorbing to validate the information. This occurs on both conscious and unconscious levels naturally.

    So, if we are Guardian web site readers (for example) and we see the familiar page design, logos and the name of a journalist we are familiar with we are happy to take the information in with a certain amount of filtering because we know some of the views held by the author, the paper and so on. We also know that certain things can and can not be said because of legal restraints, etiquette and self censorship. (The author does not want to lose his job, readers or respect of his peers, family etc.).

    So we filter the information or rather we probably transform that information in a subtle way so that it fits into our mental map. It seems that research suggests that we hold thought in our head as some kind of metaphor. Not quite an image but not in words either (probably not in digital form either in most cases).

    So while I agree that the cult of the ‘opinion piece’ or the interview that is more about the interviewer than the interviewee is usually boring, it does usually help build an image of the prejudices of the writer. When I read some thing interesting on a a web page the first thing I do is try and find out about the person who wrote it; age, country, other works, background etc. which gives me at least some context on which to judge the content.

    So there is no objective facts, just most or less transparency and the internet does at least facilitate that.

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