Adrian Forest’s original thread of tweets is clearly misguided because, as many people in this thread have said, the attitude of “I won’t play a game made in Unity” is something that exists more commonly in YouTube,Reddit etc. rather than from traditional games journalism, which rarely if ever takes that road.
However, as a journalist (outside of games) I think he brought up a lot of good points that games journalists should strive for when discussing game engines or any kind of work process the public might not understand. While the assumption that games journalists inherently don’t understand game dev is a little troublesome, it would be beneficial to readers/viewers/listeners to have journalists dig into these kinds of topics when talking with devs in order to report in a way that can help bridge the knowledge gap between devs and consumers.
Communicating complex ideas in a way that the public can understand is one of the duties of the press, and it’s important for journalists and creators to work together to inform the masses about the inner workings of the industry.
When I saw the thread this morning it brought the Dunkey v Game Critics discussion back to my head in the sense that one of the most valuable perks of working at a major traditional media outlet is access. This access provides a wonderful opportunity to speak with devs about the process of making a game and the impact an engine has on the final product or, could possibly help Forest’s notion that an engine isn’t as critical to the success of a game as many people believe.
This of course isn’t to say that this kind of work isn’t being done, but I’ve often heard people who are veterans in game journalism still express mysticism about how games work and what goes into making them.
It’s also valid and understandable that devs, who are often subject to crunch and other stressful work conditions, aren’t necessarily willing to give journos a mini crash course in game dev by breaking down their everyday tools and practices.
For example the “great frustum culling war of '17” kind of throws a wrench into this whole situation because it appears in at least some cases, devs have their own misconceptions about what people understand about how games are made and/or can be reluctant to admit things that are mundane to them can be mind blowing to journalists/consumers.
Again, the misconception Forest referred to is largely perpetuated by people not traditionally defined as “journalists” but the idea of pushing against PR speak that possibly overemphasizes certain aspects of game development and seeking more information about the process of game making is something that can be helpful for people who are actually interested and willing to learn about those things rather than making silly arbitrary purchase decisions based on nonsense peddled by people who are speaking with no real knowledge or authority.
Ultimately I think the best lesson that can be taken from this is that there should be more open discussion about these types of things and devs, journalists and consumers alike should be willing to work together to help us all understand the wild world of gaming that we live in.