“The Book of Psalms,” translated by Robert Alter.

I have now read all of Robert Alter’s translations of the Old Testament.  The last book of his translations I was yet to read is “The Book of Psalms.”

book of psalms by robert alter

The Music of the Psalms

But it makes me very sad I will never hear the psalms. Because they are songs, and we have lost the sheet music.

Even basic questions, such as which words are intended to be song and which are directions, are lost to us.

Consider Psalm 118:1-4

Acclaim the LORD, for He is good forever in His kindness
Let Israel now say: forever is His kindness
Let the House of Aaron now say: forever is His kindness
Let those who fear the LORD now say: forever is His kindness

Israel presumably (possibly?) refers to natural born Jews, “the House of Aaron” to the Priests, and “those who fear the LORD” to gentile converts, so is this call-and-response? Is “let… now say” a stage direction that was silent? We don’t know.

We have some idea of the instruments used, but a naive read would be wrong. For instance, it seems sensible to think that lyres would be used along with some Psalms. But couches and axes are presumably not (Psalms 149:5-7)

Let the faithful delight in glory
sing gladly on their couches
Exultations of God in their throat
and a double-edged sword in their hand

We are left with imagination, separated by millennia from the First Temple, Exile, and Second Temple periods in which these psalms were composed.

king david plays the zither

Psalms and Hip Hop

In the ambiguous instrumentation and focus on the word, Psalms appear to be the ur-genre of hip hop music, which wiki defines as “music genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted.” The basic components of a psalm are (a) description of one’s mistakes in the past, (b) enthusiastic descriptions of one’s dedication to the Lord, (c) enthusiastic defense of one’s homeland, (d) and praise to God. “Deliverance,” by Bubba Sparx, has all these elements

Can you recall a time people loved you unconditionally?
Toast in the New South: “This one is for history!”
Then I slipped fell and caused the number’s injury
Called the same people and it’s, “Yo, you just missed them, B.”

That hip hop piece has the the same format (a recollection of the indomitable past, a lamentation of the intolerable present) as Psalms 44:8-11

For You rescued us from our foes,
and our enemies You put to shame.
God we praise all day long,
and Your name we acclaim for all time, selah
Yet You neglected and disgraced us
and did not sally forth in our ranks
You turned us back from the foe,
and our enemies took their plunder


Sometimes even the analogies are the same, such as the traveling road in Bubba Sparx’s “Comin’ Round

To see you coming ’round the bend
I just can’t think of anything
That could make me smile like you can
When you’re coming ’round the bend

I’ve been in love a time or two before
And all of that experience allows me to be sure
That you’re the one
Sure as darkness brings the rising sun

And traveling on the road in Psalm 123:1-3

A song of ascents.
To You I left up my eyes
O dweller in the heavens.
Look, like the eyes of slaves to their masters,
like the eyes of a slavegirl to her mistress,
so are our eyes to the LORD our God
until He grants us grace

The Translator

Robert Alter, the translator, brings to this translation is the same many strengths and the same few weaknesses as in other translations. His notes contain withering scorn for the idea that Psalms are simply translations of Canaanite songs (one might as well say Paradise Loss is a “translation” of the Odyssey!), or over literal interpretations (such as the claim that any Psalm with a prison reference was meant exclusively for prisoners.).


But Alter is allergic to christological (what in The Five Books of Moses he referred to as pre-monotheistic) interpretations, which sometime mean that important cultural context is lost. Parts of the Hebrew Bible as quite “new” — the Book of Daniel is probably as close to the Nativity in time as is the Book of Revelations — and certainly both friends and enemies of the early Christians considered them to be a collection of “The House of Israel” and “Those who fear the LORD.” So what to make of Psalms like Psalms 69:18-19

And hide not Your face from Your servant
for I am in straits. Hurry, answer me.
Come near me, redeem me.
Because of my enemies, ransom me.

Or Psalms 130:

I hoped for the LORD, my being hoped, and for His word I waited
My being for the Master — more than the dawn-watchers watch for the dawn
Wait, or Israel, for the LORD,
and with the LORD is steadfast kindness,
and great redemption is with Him,
and He will redeem Israel
from all its wrongs.

Might Dr. Alter chose this moment to describe the forming of Hebrew messianic traditions or… no, no he won’t.

Final Thoughts

Unlike most of the Old Testament there is no plot, no heroes, no villains, no prose. Psalms is a collection of poems and songs. It feels like it serves as a bridge between the Temple from the latter parts of Kings to the wisdom literature in Job and Ecclesiastes. The Book of Job ends with God declaring the sea monsters, ancient foes of the Canaanite deities, to be His pet.

And that, at its heart, was Job’s mistake. Job was good as sarcastically quoting Psalms and Proverbs. But the monsters of the world are God’s pet too. They praise him too. The sun and the moon, the snow and the smoke, the sea monsters and the mountians all things praise the LORD

Praise the LORD from the heavens
praise Him on the heights
Praise Him, all His messengers
praise Him, all His armies.
Praise Him, sun and moon,
praise Him, all you stars of light.

Praise the LORD from the earth,
sea monsters and all you deeps.
Fire and hail, snow and smoke,
stormwind that performs His commands
Palms 148:1-3,7-8

killer whale in alaska

I read The Book of Psalms in the kindle edition.

Review of “The Art of Biblical Narrative,” by Robert Alter

I finished The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter.


Genre Conventions

Alter argues understanding of the Hebrew Bible is impossible without understanding the literary conventions that its human authors and audience were used to. Alter gives a funny analogy, of a future world in which only ten surviving Westerns remained. Nine featured a gunslinger who could also draw before this enemy. A tenth featured a gunslinger with a broken right arm, who uses a rifle with his left. In that future world, “scholars” of Westerns would conclude, either

1. in the Old West, a hereditary caste of gunslingers (With a genetic predisposition for quick drawing) were given political office, or
2. Westerns are actually garbled retellings of an ancient Aztek legend of creature that shot fire from its arms

and that all scholars would agree the tenth Western (the sheriff with the lame right arm) came from a different tradition and was inadvertently included as a “Western”


Of course, all those interpretations would be nonsense. A fast-draw gunslinger is a genre convention of a Western. It provides important information about the identity of the hero the audience is supposed to follow. It demonstrates the protective masculinity of the hero. And in the tenth story the genre convention is there by its absence: the hero overcomes adversity to protect the town in spite of his lameness.

Types of Conventions

Alter breaks down Biblical conventions into a few categorizes, including

1. lead words — repeated words of word-routes that provide information about a character at a particular time, like heavy use of “stone” after Jacob flees Esau
2. first words – the first direct quote of a character provides special insight into their concerns or personality
3. themes — a pattern repeated situations with one or more characters, like the firstborn’s loss of inheritance in Genesis
4. type scenes — specific complicated scenes that repeat with different characters, like the meeting of future spouses (the “betrothal type-scene”) or the promise of a son by God

Type scenes are the most interesting, because by seeing small (or large!) variations we get more insight into characters. Abraham’s betrothal type-scene with Sarah is diplomatic, long-winded, formal, and intentional, befitting his character. In Isaac’s type-scene with Rebecca, Isaac is passive while Rebecca is running the throw, like in their marriage. And in Saul’s type-scene with the young women — the scene is broken off, while Saul runs after Samuel… a tragic comment on a tragic king.


The tragedy of Saul is compounded by his first words — searching for his flock, he is overcome with concern for his family, and asks his servant if they should simply go back. A good, but weak, man, Saul will be overcome and is completely unfit for kingship.

A Minor Complaint

Alter elsewhere stated that the Book of Samuel (1 Samuel 1 thru 1 Kings 1) is the best story in the Hebrew Bible. Having read his translations, I agree. But in Samuel he sees two contradictions/inexplicable duplications that to me are not only consistent, but are vital to understanding Saul.


In chronological order, these are

A1. As a test of his future Kingship, Samuel observes that Saul strips off his clothes and writes on the ground. Thus the old saying, “Is Saul, too, among the prophets?”
B1. Saul meets David for the first time, as a lute player who soothes Saul’s madness
B2. Saul asks who David is, after David slays Goliath
A2. As the war between Saul and David rages, Saul goes to Samuel. But during the meeting he stripes off his clothes and writhes on the ground. Thus the old saying, “Is Saul, too, among the prophets?”

  1. Samuel uses the “test of prophecy” to confirm Saul is a fit king.
  2. The reader sees the first hint of madness, that Saul is emotionally unstable
  3. The reader sees an even greater sign of madness, that Saul’s memory is impacted
  4. The reader realizes the “test of prophecy” was misinterpreted: Saul was mad from the beginning and Samuel is a terrible judge of kingship

Alter repeatedly uses analogy to film or Western literature, but completely misses the near perfect analogy to Roman Polanski’s Repulsion. Repulsion is shocking because the main character (a sympathetic young women) is mad for the entire duration of the whole time. But (unlike The Sixth Sense) this does not depend on a character forgetting the past and (unlike Turn of the Screw) the narrator is reliable. The “first hints” of madness are not this or that quirk at the middle of the film: the first hints of madness are the very activities that seemed to confirm the main character was worth rooting for.

The same seems to be true of Saul.

The Narrator

Alter concludes the book not with a dry summary, but an arresting observation: the Narrator of the Hebrew Bible is omniscient (and even knows God’s internal dialog with Himself!) but repeatedly excludes critical information from us. Why don’t we have access to David’s thoughts until the death of his son? Why don’t we know if David promised the kingship to Solomon (all we know is that Bathsheba and Nathan told him he had)? Why don’t we know if David massacred Israelite villages for the Moab king?



Because if we did — suggests Alter — we would know which characters are good and which are evil, like God. We would be able to see with the heart. We would know the truth.

Instead, we see with our eyes. Like young Saul we are forced with multiple conflicting priorities — the flock we are responsible for, our loved ones at home, the young women at the well, the prophet somewhere in the distance — and we must choose where to walk, knowing that God has a plan He has not shared with us.
I read Robert Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative in the Kindle edition.

The Book of Kings


The Old Testament is, among other things, a collection of the greatest ancient literature that survives.

  • The Book of Genesis is the story a family across four generations — Abraham thru Joseph – and what it means to be be a continuous family as the old die and babies are born.
  • The Books of Exodus and Numbers is “Breaking Bad,” with Moses (Walter White) going from a wimp, to a leader, to a monster, to a redeemed but dying man.
  • The Book of Joshua is a war story, that could be passed off as “The Rise of ISIS” with only minor changes to terms and descriptions.
  • The Book of Judges is a collections of westerns, of minister-sheriffs who ride in to save the day, but are continually needed because of the lack of a government, army, courts, or stability.
  • The Book of Samuel is a cross between the Godfather, House of Cards, and Game of Thrones, a brilliant example of psychological realism, in which everything goes wrong, but for all the right reasons

But The Book of Kings…. Kings is Battlestar Galactica.


Battlestar Galactica, an example of post-9/11 film making, was a show of a disaster followed by a rebirth — followed by the tireless destruction of war. BSG didn’t have a naive anti-war message — at least at first, when the sides are clear, there is a clear “right” side — but in BSG, reality got a veto on the kind of war that was fought. Throughout the series things got worse.
And even the enemies become warn down, and betray each other, and by the end you’re no longer sure who you are supporting, or if your heroes were heroic at all.


The Book of Kings begins with the death of David, the rally of Solomon, and then several centuries of a nation being worn down to almost nothing.

And like BSG, the ending of the Book of Kings is odd, ambiguous. The House of David is in captivity, in exile, but exalted above other captive monarchs. The branch of Jesse lives. Perhaps, one day, a King will return…

I read The Book of Kings in Robert Alter’s translation of The Former Prophets.

This is the Best Games Media Ever. But the Worst Games Journalism

This is the Best Games Media Ever. But the Worst Games Journalism

I must be doing something right, because I now know two Zens! ZenPundit is a terrific historian and author. ZenOfDesign, a game designer, is also the most polished of the voices defending GawkerMedia and Vox in the gamergate scandal.

ZenOfDesign has a terrific post, This is the worst games media ever (Except for all the ones before) that covers much of the territory I’ve been blogging about, including

    1. The collapse of paperbound games journalism
    2. The rise of social media (with its consumer-side economies of scale)
    3. The financial pressures that the new old media of online games journalism faces

We use different terms for these trends, but I think we see the objective sitaution very similarly.

Where we differ is in understanding the difference between entertainment, commentary, and journalism.

ZenOfDesign’s otherwise terrific post is an anarchy of conceptual confusion.

        1. ZenOfDesign and I agree that sites like Gawker and Vox at least aspire to be journalists.
        2. ZenOfDesign confuses commentary with journalism. For instance he explicitly compares Gawker with Daily Kos, apparently without realizing that Daily Kos is a site dedicated to commentary and political agitation.
        3. ZenOfDesign confuses entertainment with journalism. For instance, he appears to be honestly disturbed that celebrity “streamers” engage in product placement (he’s not alone in this — a famous celebrity streamer well known for his gentle personality was also very worried).

Very few care about celebrity product placement for the same reason very few care about Daily Kos’ liberal bias: neither celebrities nor political agitators are journalists.

Many times I’ve mentioned that the #gamergate scandal was fueled by a naive population that believed game journalists were had the prestige or access of, say, Washington Post reporters. ZenOfDesign is striking for me in that he is a supporter of Vox and Gawker, but equally naive. His passion against celebrity product placement is heartfelt, and his demand to know how product placement is made is earnest.

Look, if I were a #gamergater and cared about actual journalistic integrity in games as much as they purport to, I’d at least demand some answers. I’d be aiming the angry mob at demanding confirmation of these requirements. I’d be trying to find out what OTHER games this particular marketing company shilled for and looking at those. I’d be taking a hard look at early YouTube videos and seeing who made videos that matched these requirements, and try to figure out which YouTube video personalities are basically purely on the take. I’d be pushing personalities to establish disclosure rules for financial rewards and editorial content restrictions such as this.

To anyone who understands that entertainment is not journalism, however, it’s also bizarre

Indie Authors, Gamers, and Monopoly Censorship

Book publishing and game news journalism are both being disrupted by “user generated” platforms that have consumer-side economies of scale.

For book publishing, two of these platforms are Kobo and Amazon Kindle. The users/producers of these services are called “indie authors.”

For game news publishing, two of these platforms are Twitter and Reddit. The users/producers of these services are called “gamers.”

While these services are united in their hostility to other types of publishing, each still faces competition from other “user generated” platforms with consumer-side economies of scale.

For instance, in book publishig, Kobo’s President Michael Tamblyn is warning “indie authors” that Amazon Kindle’s interest is not theirs, and Amazon Kindle could use market power to take away their profits and silence them.

Meanwhile, in game news publishing, this form of censorship has been observed. Early on in the #gamergate scandal, reddit began censoring discussion of collusion between Vox Media, Gawker Media, and game developers. This lead to the discussion to shift to twitter, a rival platform.

The power that monopolies have to extract all profits and control the agenda is called wholesale transfer pricing power.

If Amazon achieves a monopoly in “indie author” book publishing, they would have wholesale transfer pricing power, be able to strip all economic profits from indie authors, and censor indie authors at will.

If Reddit would achieve a monopoly in “gamer” news publishing, they would have wholesale transfer pricing power, be able to strip all economic profits from indie authors, and censor gamers will.

The only difference is that this shift from command-and-control to user-generated publishing is more advanced in game news than it is in books.

The today of gamers is the tomorrow of indie authors.

That’s why the gamergate scandal is the biggest news in publishing.

Types of Publishing Platforms

There are three (maybe four) kinds of publishing platforms

Consumer-side economies of scale are currently disrupting the publishing industry. That is why the rise of consumer-side economies-of-scale platforms is currently the biggest news in publishing. The increasing power of platforms such as Twitch (widely used by gamers) is removing the prestige associated with journalism. Likewise, the loss of audience from “traditional media” (employee-produced, with no consumer-side economies of scale) means that traditional media needs to further cut wages, and cut quality.

There are three (and maybe four) important kinds of publishing platforms

  • Consumer-produced, consumer-side no economies of scale
    Most published content is produced by users of the service. Each additional consumer/producer does not increase the utility of the service for other users (in ways not related to producer economies of scale)
    Examples: WordPress
  • Consumer-produced, consumer-side economies-of-scale
    Most published content is produced by users of the service. Each additional consumer/producer increases the utility of the service for other users (in ways not related to producer economies of scale)
    Examples: infiniteChan, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitch, YouTube
  • Employee-produced, no consumer-side economies of scale
    Most published content is produced by paid employees or contractors. Each additional consumer/producer does not increase the utility of the service for other users (in ways not related to producer economies of scale)
    Example: The Washington Post
  • Employee-produced, consumer-side economies of scale
    Most published content is produced by paid employees or contractors. Each additional consumer/producer does not increase the utility of the service for other users (in ways not related to producer economies of scale)
    Example: This may not exist in a pure form. But a pretty close example is Amazon Kindle, where the bulk of the material is created by paid authors, while reviews and annotations are shared between consumers.

Interestingly, Amazon.com is involved in three of these platforms. Amazon owns Twitch, Kindle, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.

Just as interesting is the predictable way besieged “traditional media” (employee produced, and without economies of scale) attacks “new” media with consumer-side economies-of-scale. For example, the Washington Post employs Caitlin Dewey, whose only responsibility appears to be targetting media that has consumer-side economies-of-scale. Recent targets include

If you didn’t know the kinds of publishing platforms, you might think the Washington Post was just publishing objectively interesting news, or that Amazon was just a book seller.

The Gamergate Pattern of Future Scandals

The Gamergate scandal is interesitng, not just because of the media firestorm, but because it predicts future firestorms.

The Gamergate pattern occured first in games journalism, given the high technical skill of many readers. But it will to other forms of publishing.

The basic pattern is as follows

1. Self-publishing platforms decrease profit of traditional publishing outlets
2. Traditional publishing outlets respond by decreases wages (and thus skill) of editors and reporters
3. Decreased attractiveness of traditional oulets because of low skill (#2) increase the draw of self-publishing platforms, giving them consumer-side economies of scale
4. At some time, traditional outlets consider an “outrage” (some behavior interpretted as both incompetent and hostlie) because of the low skill of their editors and writers (#2)
5. A significant fraction of the most engaged consumers mobile on self-publishing platforms (#3) because of the outrage (#4)

This is the pattern of the gamergate scandal.

We’ve also seen a pattern in how journalists have circled the wagons, but that is a post for another time

Gamergate is a Publishing Scandal: The High Cost of Low Wages

Gamergate is a scandal, not a movement. The gamergate scandal is a sign of a publishing industry in crisis. The scattered demands of those who talk about gamergate are irrelevent, because it’s not a political or even social campaign. The gamergate scandal goes away either when game journalism once again becomes a skilled profession, or when the digg-like exodus from dying old game outlets concludes.

Gamergate is a scandal which outrages a community because it combines collusion between journalists (like the secret GameJounroPros” mailing list) with collusion between journalists and the industry they cover (including sex-for-favors, and even commissioning works to review).

But I’m more cynical than I was when I started this blog. If gamergate was just a scandal of corrupt journalists fucking their subjects and working together to cover that up, I probably would be bored.

But it’s not just corruption, which is normal, but actual incompetence, which is rare. When caught, a normally intelligent corrupt figure will apologize, pretend to make amends, and wait for things to die down before being corrupt again.

An incompetent tells their audience they are “over.”


When you see an multiple employees causing havoc, poor pay is to blame. Smart editors would apologize, change policies, and at least wait for the buzz to die down before going on with life. Incompetent editors brag about coordinating a public relation campaign on the behalf of the industry they cover, against the interest of their readers, in an official column, writes that he suggested that gaming journalists organize a “public letter of support” for a favored game developer.

The gamergate scandal is what happens when publishers cannot pay high enough wages to attract competent editors. Gamergate happens when a new self-publishing media with consumer economies of scale cannibalizes revenue from old publishing media. This kind of scandal happens when editors lose access and need to find something else to talk about, without any training in deciding what to talk about.

Gamergate ends when the habit of gamers to care about what “game journalists” say ends. This could end by kotatku, gamastura, and other websites changing their mind and deciding they don’t want gamers to be “over.” But more likely: the gamergate scandal ends when gamers realize that their voice is as important as a theatre-major in Brooklyn, or a hipster in San Francisco. The gamergate scandal ends when black gamers, white gamers, asian gamers, gay gamers, straight gamers realize the one thing they share — love of being gamers — is the one thing that game journalists despise.

Gamergate ends when Twitch replaces Kotatku, Youtube replaces Gamasutra, and twitter replaces Polygon. Gamergate ends when the cost of self-publishing is so low that gamers on youtube get equal access to upcoming games as game “journalists.”

The gamergate scandal shows how when a publishing industry keeps lowering wages beyond what is required to attract competent editors, the outcome is the mamarginalizationf a publishing industry and a mass defection to new media.

Hachette, Penguin, Simon & Schuster — are you listening? This is the biggest news in publishing. I hope you’re ready..

The Gamergate Scandal is the Biggest News in Publishing

The fight between Amazon and Hachette has got a lot of publishers paying attention. But it’s not a scandal. It’s exactly what you would expect when a big five technology company and a big five book group try to dividie profits between themselves.

There is a scandal in publishing though, and it takes place in a part of publishing where self-publishing platforms have economies of scale and publishers are no longer attractive to their traditional partners: game journalism publishing.

The gamergate controversy began after it became clear than a celebrity indie developer (whose game I positively reviewed) slept with at least one journalist after positive coverage of her television show and game. Given the insular nature of game journalism, no action was taken against either the journalist or the developer by the publications in question. A series of public relations disasters — collectively called the gamergate scandal — later brought the disclosure of a secret email group designed to coordinate coverage, harassment of critics of game journalists, and then the weirdest news in publication history…. coordinated editorials of magazines condemning their own readership.


The scandal (journalists like some of their subjects, and fuck them) is not new to anyone familiar with human nature. But the public attacks and mockery of a magazine’s own readership may be unprecedented.

If  that wasn’t inexplicable enough, it then followed that game journalists were actually paying for games they were covering to be created. Kotatku, publicly supporting the concept of journalists financially supporting their subjects:

However, Kotaku still allows its writers to directly purchase a game for reviewing, or to back projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, two other, more established platforms for people to crowdsource revenue, despite the fact that both of these transactions also involve the writer financially supporting the developer. Where Kickstarter and over-the-counter purchasing differ from Patreon, according to various writers and figureheads at Kotaku, is that through them you support the product, whereas through Patreon you support the person.

Imagine if Sports Illustrated said that athletes — or football fans — where “over.” Imagine if there were football teams operating because of donations by ESPN columnists.

Imagine if ESPN said they had no obligation to look out for the interests of football fans

no obligation

The gamergate scandal is the biggest news in publishing, because it shows how publishers operates after the industry can no longer pay grown-ups. Game journalists actually thought it was a good idea — in any sense — to publicly attack and mock their own readers. Game journalists actually have been creating stories — funding favorite designers — in order to give themselves something to write about.

Major book publishers like Hachette, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins can afford to pay professional salaries to editors, because self-publishing platforms don’t have economies of scale yet. When that day passes, when you see editors at Penguin declare that “readers are over” and the New York Review of Books publishing reviews by books commissioned by the reviewers, book publishing will be as wasted as game journalism is now.

Journalism, Access, and Gamergate

Journalism and Access

The business of journalism is built on access. And the prestige of journalism is related to the ease of access.

Areas that are the easiest to access allow journalists to be most prestigious. For instance, covering the Unitd States government is a prestigious assignment of a journalists. It’s always an “easy” on: there are so many agenda and centers of powers in the United States government that it is relatively easy to aquire access. Occasionally, this allows journalists to present themselves as hollywood heroes. An example of this is All the President’s Men, a book (and later movie!) which is about two journalists special access to an FBI bureaucrat.


Areas that are moderately difficult to access allow journalists to be moderately prestigious. For instance, the organizational behavior of large companies shares with the United States multiple centers of power and many agendas. Unlike the ggovernment almost all employees at a company share some material interest in the well-being of a company. This, journalism about organizational behavior in large companies can be most prestigious either during a scandal, or during a succession transfer. An example of this is Inside the Plex, a book that was written during current Google CEO Larry Page’s successful campaign against former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

steven levy

Areas that are the hardest to access allow journalists to be least prestigious. This is because of the monopoly power of any source that chooses to talk: they can extract concessions from the attractiveness of the reporter to a very real fear that access can be revoked if the tone of coverage becomes un-flattering. Journalists in these situations may find themselves almost indistinguishable from corporate shills

Access and Gamergate

The gamergate consumer revolt against the low-prestige game journalists is in its second month. One reason  for this revolt is the disgust that journalists feel about gamers: as Vox Media’s T.C. Sottek says, that game journalists feel no obligations to look out for the interest of gamers

no obligation

But even before gamergate, the feeling was mutual: gamers do not like game journalists. The most successful game outlets, whether in terms of consumer recommendations or twitter followers, are “celebrity” gamers on youtube and twitch, and not journalists who declare their core demographic dead.

So if you are a publisher of games: who would you provide access to? Low-prestige journalists that do not like gamers, do not like games, and are unpopular with gamers? Or celebrity enthusiasts who are popular with the community and care about it?

Journalism and GamerGate

This is the context for Kotatku announcing they were deprioritizing access

The future of games coverage is in the present. For too long gaming coverage has focused on the vague future, the preview mindset of possibilities and maybes. And when it’s involved the present it has been drenched in the dreary falseness of empty interviews, bland producer-speak and executive-hype. It’s neither been real enough nor true enough to what is actually happening now. For too long games reporting has involved staring at what is opaque, maybe glimpsing something through it and reporting about that possibility, all the while ignoring so much of what is clearly visible and exciting around us. P

I believe there is a better way to cover games, one that puts future-based coverage and executive interviews in proper diminished proportion. We must focus on the games that are being played now and the human beings—the gamers, mostly—who are doing interesting things with them.

Game journalists have made their living as low-prestige journalists for decades. That’s not ending because they have a chance of being higher prestige journliasts. It’s that they’ve given up on being journalists.

This shift was made by the rise of consumer-side economies of scale which allowed self-published youtube and twitch channels to be more popular and trusted than gaming journalists.



I ignored #gamergate for the first month because I recognized game journalism as a low-prestige, low steaks profession.  Only this inexplicably stupid editorial from a once-respected magazine got my attention.

But my attention is mostly on the collapse of an industry I loved growing up — game journalism — its painful death throws, and seeing what comes next.

The tDAxp eXPerience