Games Journalism and the ‘No Cheering in the Press Box’ Rule

A lot of journalists that cover video games do not enjoy being called the "enthusiast press." Some are even embarrassed when their colleagues cheer at press events or have a "f**k yeah!!" moment caught on film during a new game announcement. AJ Glasser from GamePro is one of those journalists that takes what she does seriously.

In an editorial about QuakeCon and journalism (where, she says, developers at the "Building Blockbusters" panel seemed to take issue with quiet games journalists), Glasser talks about the popular sports journalism rule "no cheering in the press box." The good news is that some games journalists are following the rule.

Recalling a sports journalism course she took at Stanford University and a book with the same name, she lays out the fundamentals of it:

The "no cheering in the press box" rule was introduced to me in a sports journalism course taught at Stanford University. The rule is also the title of a book of essays from famous sports journalists who wrote during the golden age of sports between World War I and World War II. The writers in that book were obviously sports fans and very passionate about the games and athletes they chronicled — read Grantland Rice’s New York Sun article "Game Called" if you don’t believe me — but eulogies and poems aside, sports writers in the early 20th Century followed the same no cheering in the press box rule as the professional sports writers of today. Having read that book and taken that course, I believe games journalists should, too.

She goes on to say that cheering and clapping at press events and product reveals is commonplace in games journalism, but this allows "developers and publicists to treat us as fans and not as professionals." As an illustration of this in action, Glasser reminds us of the horrible Project Natal event during E3 and the subsequent Microsoft E3 Media Briefing:

Take Microsoft’s Project Natal reveal event at E3 this year, for example. Everyone — every reporter, every analyst, and every industry professional in attendance — had to wear those weird white space ponchos and actively participate in the spectacle. There was no sitting back, no observing. Not even any real reporting at the event because attendees were banned from liveblogging or Twittering (although plenty broke the rule).

I didn’t feel like a professional journalist at that event — I felt like a partygoer at Carnival, sans the booze. I wanted to be there for the information, I would’ve liked to sit back and watch the crowd’s reaction to the games, but I was too busy trying not to trip over Cirque du Soleil performers while jockeying for a better view of the stage where we thought there’d be games. Turned out USA Today already had a press release with each of the games listed and they wound up with more information than any of the reporters that actually attended the event. Oh, and the event was televised — so technically, we journalists weren’t even partygoers, we were stage props.

After the Natal reveal, I worked myself in a state of righteous journalism indignation that lasted for about 12 hours. Then, I attended Microsoft’s E3 press conference the following day and saw exactly what Microsoft was thinking when it threw that Natal event. Hundreds of people filled every available seat at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, and nearly every single one clapped like a madman whenever a producer came on stage to introduce their product. Even the products that didn’t seem very interesting got resounding applause — and when they announced at the end of the event that each attendee would be getting a free New Xbox 360 unit, that clapping erupted into a standing ovation.

You should read the whole article on GamePro – especially if you are a game journalist that tends to get caught up in the moment.


Source: Troy Goodfellow

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  1. 0
    Lagwolf says:

     The advocate reviewers are giving game reviewers a bad name. Especially after the debacle that was Modern Warfare II and their glowing reviews for it. When you actually bought it for the PC you discovered it was an extremely short solo play and instantly hackable multi-player. The average user review is far lower than the reviewer scores. I wonder what they were bribed with to produce such out of wack scores. 

  2. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    I don’t cheer but that’s mostly because I’m a stick in the mud.  I don’t mind applause and cheering if it’s something you’re genuinely excited about.  Most of us are big gaming fans after all.  But I do dislike when it gets obnoxious or when the cheers are undeserved.


    Andrew Eisen

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