By Travis Loose
The best Gaming Culture, +Plus news organizations don’t subsist solely on reviews and previews to maintain their business model.
Skimming the surface of a topic doesn’t do the thing being reported any more justice than it does the reader who is building an opinion about the thing for which he is reading. A news organization’s content must reflect its own immersion into the furthest depths of reporting on any topic.
Andrew Reiner’s article, “Fall Of The Empire: How Inner Turmoil Brought Down LucasArts,” which was published in GameInformer in February, perfectly illustrates how much goes into the creation of some video games, and who the people are that make and, in some cases, break how successful they will be.
Reiner’s opening sentence — “Like a farm boy looking contemplatively upon two suns, in 2004 LucasArts was searching for answers and ways to right a video game business in disarray” — works dually; while speaking to the fans who would recognize the farm-boy-two-suns reference, the statement also introduces an article that will ultimately dig deep into the inner workings of the video game industry, and expose the chaos and frustration that sometimes coincides with the making of a game for a multimillion dollar company.
Reiner explains that LucasArts, an extension of Lucasfilm that’s sole purpose was to create video games under the Star Wars license, was being influenced by George Lucas himself who was unhappy with the mediocre reception the games had been receiving recently.
By appointing a new president to LucasArts, a man who had been “Lucasfilm’s senior vice president of marketing, global distributions, and online for seven years,” the quality and profitability of Star Wars games was expected to rise in tandem.
Reiner discusses the games that succeeded on the market, as well as the ones that failed miserably; but, all the while, he maintains the article’s direction. He tells a tale not often told about the inner workings of a monstrously huge company. He describes job cuts, difficult personas in leadership positions and strenuous working conditions that often had the development teams scrambling to alter significant details in their product within very short periods of time.
Reiner even makes a few references to Star Wars culture. Seamlessly tying together sentences such as, “But then a phantom menace struck,” or, “From this unexpected partnership with Disney, a new hope was restored to LucasArts,” give the reader an opportunity to appreciate Reiner’s wit, so long as she’s privy enough to understand the references.
The result of Reiner’s efforts is a well thought out story that offers valuable insight into the gaming industry for anyone looking to apply, and is also a glimpse into the working mechanisms that push the big business machine along.
This is gaming news, but it far exceeds the cut and paste methodology that sometimes appears to go into the review and preview process. This story is immersive and informative; it says things that Lucasfilm probably doesn’t want the world to know about how they do business; and it stretches the expectation of video game news.
That’s why this is so good.