I’m reviewing the Get Game project, which started out as a twine game (available here), and moved on to a wiki structure (available here).
The aim of Get Game is to address the current crisis of discoverability in videogame media and forward a less-accepted journalistic theory of videogame distribution.
Right now conventional views is that games are broadly represented as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, while a more nuanced view recognises that the factors that make games appealing are subjective and individualised. The phrase that summarised the project, that Angus said to me is ‘there’s a game for everyone.’
Discoverability is one of the ‘known knowns’ of videogame media right now, a thing we know there’s a problem about but don’t have a good solution yet. In the information economy there’s been something of an aspiration that this will fix/solve problems with finding games, but the model of games journalism is still tied heavily to pre-internet finance models, with advertisers financing publication, which in turn invites journalism to instead take on the air of being advertisers more than journalists.
Another element of the discoverability problem is that game marketing and advertising has been done pretty much in one model for the past twenty years, heavily focusing on a narrowing segment of market prominence. This group, known conventionally as ‘the gamer’ has been at odds with the demographics of people who actually play games, a cultural crisis that has been erupted into mainstream with the news stories around #GamerGate.
With the notion that games are for everyone, and that what makes games good is more individualised than merely high scores or some graphical fidelity benchmarks, the aim of the project was to find some way to connect people to games when they might not have the language to do so.
At first the project wanted to make sure there was an interactive flow to keep the information delivered to the consumer in a minimal, direct fashion, with a view to keeping it accessible. Rather than present the consumer with a large, expansive list, an aim was made to use the fundamentally interactive nature of the web to sort the reader to an end point that was meaningful to them.
This version worked very well, though it was natively time consuming to construct. The webpage was, for lack of a better explanation, a tour guide, which meant for every new idea it wanted to explore, it had to have a new pathway added to it. Sometimes these pathways could be forked off existing ones, but it still meant that each new stage took a lot of work.
As this introductory tool became more developed, and with an eye to expandability, Get Game moved on to a wiki structure, seeking to use a decentralised structure with multiple contributors to address future views towards expansion.
I was asked regularly for input and feedback on this topic as the project progressed and I was in the very lucky position to already have some degree of contact within the games media industry. This means that the arc of this project has been made in what looks to me like a very informed way, with a focus on ideas like core engagement and audience access, and, once those ideas were internalised, looking to focus on then moving the project to a larger scale, with room to make sure that the project can scale.
Constructive Feedback and Suggestions for Improvement
The biggest problem that exists for this project at the moment is momentum. The existing media model is working well enough and most people are clinging to it. This project, in order to be of a meaningful size and scope, would need to be curated and populated by good, well informed reviews made from people who had a serious consideration of the media they were working with and the same philosophical review outlook as the creators. That could be done by outsourcing, which could not ethically be done for free, or it could be done by the creators as a passion project alone, which would run the risk of going unseen and invisible.
Another problem is that when this idea is pitched it can come across as perhaps too close to existing ideas, such as crowdfunding review aggregators like Metacritic. It will be easily dismissed even by existing journalists unless they can be induced to consider it on its philosophical merits.
I ultimately think this project could work well as a small funded resource through a system like patreon that seeks to offer some – even small – remuneration for people who are willing to speak about games they love and why they love them, rather than just list the features that exist within the game.