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The Escapist Folds as the Latest Casualty in Games Journalism

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By Nelson Schneider - 11/12/23 at 02:53 PM CT

2023 is looking like the year that corporate-backed Games Journalism died. All year long we’ve been seeing stories about the Gaming divisions of large, corporate media outlets facing layoffs or being completely shuttered in the face of plunging ad revenue and lack of relevance. This past week, a staple of my weekly Games Journalism consumption, The Escapist, fired its Editor in Chief for failing to reach revenue targets. This action backfired in the corporate managers’ faces, however, as the entire writing and production team quit in solidarity with their fearless leader, promising to return in some sort of independent form in the near future.

Why is Games Journalism hitting the skids so hard? And why NOW, of all times? Analysts will point out redundancies in the marketplace. Gamers will point out a stunning lack of ethics, dating all the way back to the GamerGate debacle of 2016. Both are correct, as journalism in all topics has morphed from unbiased, fact-based coverage to activist-driven propaganda. In Games Journalism, like with so many other specialist topics, it’s no longer about the games, it’s about Woke virtue signaling for those coveted ESG and DEI points, which, much like the points in the improve comedy show, “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” DON’T MATTER.

Like the boycott debacle from earlier this year, corporate-backed Woke Games Journalism is failing because it suffers from a host of afflictions. Not only is it greedy and tone deaf as most corporate excretions are, but it comes across as extremely disingenuous to the target audience. When you have non-gamers activist-journalists rambling on about Social Justice topics in the middle of game reviews, even the dimmest of actual Gamers who are interested in finding out about the games in question can tell something is off. And when these activist media outlets will gleefully pan games that don’t bow completely to their ESG/DEI demands, the result (in the West at least) is more games bowing to said demands. When products are designed to garner activism points with the media instead of being high-quality and salable to the audience, corporate greed and corporate virtue signaling come into conflict. And in any situation where greed comes into conflict with literally anything else, greed WILL win out, and everything else will start to fall apart, as we’ve been seeing.

Oddly enough, The Escapist never struck me as particularly egregious in its pandering, with Yahtzee’s poor taste in games being my primary sticking point with the site’s coverage. But it seems that activist-journalism has undermined and weakened the entire substrate of the media so severely that even uninfested structures are susceptible to collapse.

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