Slowly Waking up From the Long Nightmare of Gell-Mann Amnesia

This is a bit of a tangent, but it reminded me about game journalism.

I think the early game journalists legitimately loved games. It was a group of people without the skills to make games, which were at that point a tiny industry largely without any recognition of the concept of "game writing". Certainly there were no ways to make money off games back then than developing games, selling games, or writing about games, and so a bunch of people took the "writing about" pathway.

I vaguely remember how happy everyone was when the First Professional Gamer made it to the front stage, how everyone was like, hey, wow, look at this, you can make money in a new way in games! A lot of people said this would never take off, a lot of people said it would keep on progressing, and so forth.

I think this is what killed game journalism.

Because as that role continued - as "professional gamer" gradually grew a support staff, and commentators, and as "game coach" started to be a thing you could actually do, along with the wild explosive success of YouTube and Twitch game streamers - the whole "game journalist" thing kinda fell by the wayside. If you wanted to make money by playing games, but you didn't want to, or weren't able to, write games . . . well, why restrict yourself to a magazine? Why not just go play games and broadcast it to the world? Why not make videos? Why not try to be the best in the world, then sell that to other people?

And so at some point Game Journalist stopped being "people who love games but don't want to make games", and started being "a few people who really love game journalism, but mostly, journalists that can't be hired by a more serious publication".

I think that's what's interesting, to me, about a bunch of modern game journalism. It's not really about playing the games. It's about writing things that are tangential to games, it's about writing things game-adjacent or things that are inspired, in some way, by games . . . but in many cases (like the infamous Cuphead and Doom videos) it's clear that these people don't actually play games.

And I feel like that might be the same deal with Substack. That there's a bunch of people who are Journalists, first and foremost, and they feel - consciously or subconsciously - like they should be on the forefront of Doing Journalisty Things. But the world has passed them by; the publisher is no longer relevant, distribution is almost literally free, domain knowledge is king, and so why would you ask a journalist to moonlight as a gamer when you could instead ask a gamer to moonlight as a journalist?

Or you could read posts written by a psychologist, instead of posts written by a journalist who's trying to write about psychologists.

Journalism didn't get killed by Substack, it got killed by us all slowly waking up from the long nightmare of Gell-Mann Amnesia.

Epistemic status: uncertain rambling.