Walk up to any magazine stand or do a Google search for “game news,” and you’ll stumble upon dozens of journalistic resources for gamers. Yet, there’s a difference between content merely aimed at gamers and content that gamers actually care about. It can be a fine line, especially in as subjective of a discipline as gaming. For readers who love reviews of first-person shooters, an article about Nintendo’s latest adorable platformer might not strike a chord. However, there are a few genre-spanning ideas to keep in mind that make it easier to create compelling content for gamers.
What are those ideas? Like some kind of gaming journalism trifoce, there are three key notions: avoid churnalism, think evergreen, and remember your audience.
“Churnalism,” according to The Guardian, is a term coined to describe journalism that is little more than a press release masquerading as an article. In an industry as saturated with upcoming titles as the games industry, the problem of churnalism pervades most media outlets. A quick search for “[game title] release date” will yield scores of nearly identical “articles” that offer nothing more than PR-esque statements. The blogs posting this type of article aren’t just unknown, ad-soaked blogs desperate for clicks; churnalism permeates even well-known outlets with millions of followers.
While it might seem like a formula to pull in readers, churnalism itself isn’t compelling content. Why? Games are a subjective, opinionated experience. While the facts are useful to an extent, a so-called “copypasta” PR article offers no insight into what players might feel about the upcoming title. The core of gaming journalism is just that: to connect to the subjective, opinionated nature of the gaming experience.
Rather than just rehashing an announcement circulating through dozens of other media outlets, try adding some flavor. What does the announcement mean for fans of an established genre or series? What are people saying on social media? Research the personal connection that the audience has with the particular product. Explore the criticisms and accolades surrounding the product’s development. Breathe life into the bare facts, and gamers will actually care to engage.
Growing Evergreen Content
“Evergreen content” is relevant, sustainable content (as opposed to time-sensitive content that becomes obsolete). The idea of evergreen content is familiar to most journalism genres, but poses a challenge for gaming journalism in which announcing new releases often takes center stage. Certainly, a new release headline will generate a few clicks while it’s relevant, but what happens after the game is released? No longer is that article relevant, resulting in content that gamers don’t care about anymore. Building a subscriber model on quick-to-outdate content does little more than generate traffic spikes—and that’s only if you can fight to the top of the search results amidst all of the other new release articles.
For gamers, evergreen content could be anything from a walkthrough or strategy guide to a ranking of technologies in a series of consoles. The key is to create lifetime value. An article that delves into the crossover of cosplay and gaming, for example, has more lifetime value than a release announcement. Similarly, charting the history of a game series is more sustainable than solely speculating about the next release in that series. The idea is to provide information that anyone at any point in time could find useful.
An All-Inclusive Audience
Another staple of the pillars of journalism, “remember your audience” is an especially important idea when it comes to creating content gamers care about. This issue is particularly relevant in an age saturated with the false idea that all gamers are “basement-dwelling, 30-something, geeky white men.” An article like “All Gamers Are Male” might succeed in baiting clicks, but, in addition to offending a large population of the reader base, isn’t going to provide an optimal, informative content experience for the audience at large.
The most crucial element of understanding the gamer audience is keeping in mind that members span all backgrounds, ages, and genders. For content creators who seek to engage the whole of the gamer audience, avoiding exclusionary writing is key. If you want to specialize—say, content for 20-something female gamers, or content for kids aged 3 to 7—do so where appropriate and in a manner that doesn’t suggest these facets of the gamer community are the entire gamer community.
Remember, too, that not all gamers are of equal technological savvy. From casual mobile players to console developers, content for a general gamer audience should be accessible, striking a tone somewhere comfortably between “explain it like I’m five” and “Masters in Computer Science.”
Press “Start” on Cared-About Content
Nixing churnalism, promoting evergreen content, and making content accessible to the audience are key ideas that take gaming journalism from run-of-the-mill to compelling and shareable. Save the PR-style release date announcements for Twitter, avoid alienating your audience, and you’ll be on the right track to creating content gamers actually care about.
Amanda C has over a decade of experience creating captivating and compelling content.