(This article is long as you can see. Read when you have more than five minutes or skip. It reflects my personal opinions on two subjects: Amateurs vs Professionals and Hybrid Models in the modern media landscape. Focus is on Gaming, but I do branch off into other regions, so be warned.)
Let us start with the old story. Unsurprisingly, the traditional medias, like printed press, television, CDs are on the decline. They have been for years and no one is exactly surprised about it anymore – except perhaps some die-hards in that market. Everyone knows this. Old coffee… Stale story.
As an example: I own a digital TV decoder, but if I’m honest, I can’t remember the last time I watched traditional TV. I can watch the news from almost any channel online and the TV formats (cheapo soaps and “real life” shows anyone?) don’t really turn me on. And aside from the world news, what news does TV really offer me?
I still buy some newspapers because its hard to carry a notebook to the bathroom. 😉 OK, lately I have been taking my EBook reader on this as on many other a voyage.
Speaking of EBooks. I read a fascinating article in DER SPIEGEL, a German weekly news magazine, the other day. It was mainly an interview with owners and lectors of publishing houses, as well as some less than well known but published writers.
You know what kind of writer I’m talking about. The prosa writers that will never make the big buck, but their work is considered “culturally important”, so the publishing houses support them. As I actually do like the works of a few of said writers, I sympathize with them fearing for their financial security.
But only to a certain level. Because I also sympathize with the new kind of self-published authors or authors using self-publish E-Book platforms like Amazon’s Kindle store or Sony’s EBook store. A recent example of a success story there would be the American author Hugh Howey.
It’s exactly the same on the music market. There is less and less need for the middleman anymore and – just as in logistics on every other market – unnecessary steps are eliminated.
One of the premier and first examples I remember was Nine Inch Nails starting to publish themselves. Considering the many conflicts they had – and still have – with their publishers, probably a wise move.
There is a valid argument that maybe people as a whole are too dumb to decide what is good for them to read or listen to. But I think even if I agree to a certain level that doesn’t mean facts can be changed much now.
The lector in the local German/French/Russian publishing house might decide to feature a German/French/Russian book just because of its cultural value. But mainstream books – with relatively few exceptions – belong to the English market at the moment and that has been the case before any Web x.x entered the world.
Another good criticism hails from the film industry. I’m not speaking big cinema here, I’m speaking of well done and well-researched documentations. Starting with wild life documentations, political documentations. Clearly those need a certain level of funding not available to everyone. And they need a lot of time to produce as well as a knowledgeable film crew.
Compared to the effort – and the often amazing end results – and the educational level, clearly most of the stuff on YouTube etc is nothing but rubbish when compared to e.g. many BBC or National Geographic documentations.
So in the end – with notable exceptions – the Internet and its many different platforms for movie, written word and music – provides us with a big pool of entertainment. It is somewhat lacking on the educational side.
But lets look at the “new” mediums themselves – and how “old” mediums try to get their foot into the new world. I feel it hard to even write about “new” mediums. They have all been around for a while and their constant metamorphosis doesn’t exactly bring many new surprises.
But interesting bed fellows. A quite recent example would be Defiance.
Defiance is a TV series by US SyFy Channel – who also produced e.g. the new Battlestar Galactica series and its offshots.
It is also a game developed by TRION. Namely an MMORPG/FPS.
But the truly interesting concept is of course the attempt to entwine both. To have events in the game affect the series and events in the series affect the game.
Now, before anyone gets too excited: After what I saw – and I did enjoy the game so far, btw – this – in my humble opinion – will be kind of a long-distance relationship, especially in Season 1. (… and who knows if there will be a Season 2…).
I imagine there will be a few more “event quests” in the game as the series progresses. And perhaps they have made some shots with alternate endings for the episodes in the TV series.
As in: “Hey, can you gamer guys in Bay Area shoot this super-giant cockroach? Or will it get all the way to our St Louis setting here?”
There was talk of integrating some player characters into the series. And, to be fair, what else could they possibly do in the end?
The amazing – even daring – thing to do was to invest a sizable amount of money into the development of both a game and a TV series in the hopes they will just hype each other!
Remember, Defiance cannot rely on a known franchise. It is not Star Trek. It is not Star Wars… And it didn’t have the budget of a Star Wars or Star Trek, either. It is literally the attempt to create a legend out of nothing. And, hey, we’ll all see if they are successful or not.
If they are, I’m sure that there will be a lot of copycats soon. Which could lead to a new relationship between TV & Gaming Industry. New in that the film industry doesn’t “push” to the gaming market. It is a pull/push<>push/pull symbiosis. Which kind of sounds like sex, so it can’t be all bad.
Lets look at other formats… Established formats. Since obviously I game too much, lets continue with games…
I remember the days when I bought gaming magazines to keep myself informed on new titles. Obviously this has been replaced by written Internet reviews – or even better YT reviewers.
The other day I listened to the TGS Podcast. And aside from Jesse Cox’s “Hobgoblin Laws” – which I agree would make for a great show, btw – there was a moment of self-reflection there, triggered by ZeitgeistReview… The following discussion was quite interesting.
Because I asked myself: When I buy games, what sources do I review before I buy them?
Well, on YouTube I usually watch TotalBiscuit’s (aka CynicalBrit) TotalHalibut channel. And I do watch Angry Joe’s channel.
I have watched them long enough to know their views on games, some of which I share, some of which I don’t.
(so e.g. when TotalBiscuit did a WTF is… first impressions of Might&Magic VI, he said, he doesn’t care about the story and just clicked it away… Knowing that for me the story is very important, I didn’t buy the game first… I waited till the price dropped.)
They are kind of my personal choice established channels. If you think that a paradoxon, you might be right. It makes sense to me. It obviously also makes sense to Google, as their ultra-secret algorithms try to find things I would watch or read – along with ads I might click – by analyzing my every web-step in a way that would make any shrink envious.
We are all very much self-centered planets in a huge information universe these days.
Total Biscuit aka John Bain was a radio moderator/DJ before, he is a well-known commentator if you watch E-sports events. Angry Joe (Joe Vargas & team) sure share those skills and some of his Angry Reviews are just hilarious to watch. (Don’t miss out on his “Aliens Colonial Marines” review.)
As you can see at Vidstatsx.com, both are ranked quite highly on YT:
They are the modern-day professionals… And they might be an endangered species, because their formats still need you to actually follow what they are saying, follow what they show…
There are quite a lot of Lets Play channels out there, sometimes focused on a single game, that have more success with far less effort. Now, how do they do that?
Some few are just amusing to listen to. But many more are multi-focused. They don’t just sell or criticise or play a game. They sell a life style and an opinion of the world based on an often very warped image of their true selves.
So while they use the usual tools of the YouTuber (Facebook, Twitter, Forum) to communicate with their audience, it is the way they use these tools and their self-representation that lets them blur into other areas of media.
Namely politics, sit coms & social clubs. Opinions and the feeling to belong somewhere.
And the demand on “belonging” to something seems to result in a blind kind of brand loyalty. Suddenly you are not just someone watching a video – you are also a (enter fancy name for watcher here).
I have done some deep level research on one instance which I’ll report about – probably here or on Bytelife. I’m not usually one to point the finger, but I found this example … dangerous. There should be some ethics even in self-marketing.
As a last example of the blur even amateurs like myself can find themselves in – and I publish everything for my own enjoyment first and my friends second. Its a hobby.
When I play games, I like to tie them in with an output for my creativity. I like to write, so obviously I use blogs. I like to film and edit movies – even though these days I don’t have the time to do it as extensively as I used to anymore.
So, yes, I do have my own YT channel, I do have my own Twitch TV and Xsplit license. I do have Twitter. And even if it disappoints you: I have a FB account which I never use. I have friends with whom I share a forum and a TS server.
So, of course I do create hybrids myself. Just look up e.g.
http://aidanbrooder.wordpress.com –> A blog dedicated to my EVE character, tying in EVE vids I made.
http://journalsofthedead.wordpress.com –> A blog dedicated to my DayZ adventures (also showing of my almost non-existent skills with Poser 9 there. Hey, I’m still learning!)
http://sexyshitkickers.wordpress.com –> Yet another blog… About my Blood Bowl team
If I’m honest, I don’t even remember all the blogs, vlogs, journals I have made in the past anymore. I don’t have to, as they are just a hobby. And a lot of people share this multimedia hobby.
Still I think there is always the temptation there when you see a single video can be bumped so easily. Know your audience and post on the right forums.
For me it is easy to resist as I know making quality videos or postings is not easy at all. And I’m quite the perfectionist – though also easily distracted. It would take quite the effort from my side to replace my relatively well paid job, too.
But an increasing number of people will look at the chance the Internet medias offer and grab that chance to try and make a living from them.
I wish all of them luck with that. Well, most of them.
As long as it still leaves room for myself to be an opinionated arse as in this blog article, or a fan fiction writer or a maker of bad reviews and sometimes amusing machinimas or just a blogger of my own thoughts.
Because in the end the true danger is there for all to see it:
YouTube and many other Internet platforms had a starting bonus. Now they must be turned into profitable enterprises, which is understandable. No ROI, no YouTube.
But they have a tendency to do that in a pretty annoying way, and I do hope, that they do not shove it into our faces more than they already did. And that they will not go the way of only supporting the “new elite”.
Lets end this – for now – with a video from 2009…