Monday, August 30, 2010

My Problem with Swearing in Gaming (Enthusiast) Journalism

I'll be the first to admit that I do swear pretty much everyday, but that my mind is cognizant of the situation I am in and is able to somehow turn the swearing switch off and on.  Where I don't swear is in anything I write about gaming.  I also try as hard as I can to not swear in forums either, including at Colony of Gamers.  When I do swear there it is usually to point out something someone else said in the thread through the use of quotes.

With that out of the way I have a major problem with the amount of swearing I see and hear in gaming (or enthusiast) journalism.  I use the word in quotes because many people feel that most video game writers sit in the enthusiast section and really aren't journalists in the broad sense of the word.  In many ways I agree with that since most sites, including CoG, fit into the enthusiast genre more than mainstream journalism.  Then there are the pulp sites like Kotaku, Destructoid and the like that may have some people with journalism backgrounds, but take a fully "throw the spaghetti at the fridge and see what sticks" mentality.

I was recently checking out one of the blogs I read regularly.  I won't name it, but they recently added another contributor to the blog.  A person I had worked in the past with on another site I used to write reviews for.  Reading this person's blog posts there are a lot of the f-word being used.  This person has at least one kid and reading through the posts I just don't see a reason for the swear word to be there.  It doesn't really add anything to the conversation at all, so I'm not sure why you'd put it in there.

I don't listen to podcasts either.  I never know when a podcast might have a swear word in it and it really takes me out of the conversation when one is used.  These are freely available sound recordings that any child could go in and download from iTunes or wherever.  Many of the people that do podcasts that I know also are in the radio industry.  Would that industry allow you to swear without using the 7-second delay?  Of course not.  So, I don't understand why the mindset changes from being on the air to doing a podcast.  Yes, you're in a more comfortable situation, but I would think a radio personality would be pretty hardwired to not swear when talking into a microphone, but maybe I'm mistaken.

I know I'm missing out on a lot of things by not listening to podcasts.  Are there any gaming ones out there where swearing is used sparingly or not at all?  I would guess some of the more major sites like Gamespot, IGN and maybe even Game Informer wouldn't allow swearing, but am I right about that?  I also realize we have print magazines out there that allow swearing and that's fine because they made that decision long ago.  However, as gaming journalists (or gaming enthusiasts) we should really be talking about gaming at the lowest denominator we can and allow children to hear stuff they might be interested in without swear words flying about.

Maybe I'm a prude in this respect, but there are many gaming journalists out there, or what I consider gaming journalists, that don't resort to swear words to spice up their reviews, opinions, interviews or whatever.  I think this is yet another example of what divides the enthusiasts from the actual professionals.  We're probably too far down the line to change anything about this, but I implore those aspiring gaming journalists out there to not resort to swearing and think about the full range of people that may be reading your site or listening to your podcast.

Fact is I'll simply stop reading or listening if I feel a swear word is used for no apparent reason at all.