“At Dragon Con, where she was giving a presentation about her work making video games, she fell in with speakers who were there to talk about computer security. One of them handed her a flyer related to PhreakNIC v3.0, a cryptographic puzzle that had yet to be cracked. The way Dunin tells it, she took the puzzle home and - over a weekend stuck indoors with the flu - quickly became obsessed and then solved it. It came apart in layers, apparently. Aside from a confidence boost, PhreakNIC also provided Dunin her first mention of the Kryptos sculpture. A line in the text pointed her towards this weird artwork that the CIA had commissioned back in the late 1980s.”
This is amazing. I wish I’d written it. It’s the sort of research-led, carefully crafted work that we don’t yet have enough of in games journalism. Aside from that, it’s a fascinating thing in itself, so unusual and extraordinary.
Still, I don’t think games journalism has fully embraced research and reflection beyond the personal. While many of us are still good at writing about our own histories and experiences, a journalist’s role is to study, analyse, digest and present things that sometimes might have little or nothing to directly do with themselves. Games journalism seems far more self-reflective than other journalism, be those media or non-media focused. I frequently feel like I’m coming across things that are closer to the opinion pieces in newspapers or periodicals than anything else.
There’s a place for all sorts of writing about games, but a lot of games journalists are of the blogger generation and I wonder if this has steered the field in a particular direction. A good writer can make themselves and their stories interesting, but a good journalist can make someone else’s story compelling.
Eurogamer have commissioned some great research-led features over the years, often telling some extraordinary and very entertaining stories. Here’s to even more.