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July 24, 2006

Of Niche-Filling & Market-Targeting

My esteemed colleagues at GameDAILY have been all over the videogame journalism beat these days, witness Chris Buffa's recent 2-part series; 1) Why Videogame Journalism Sucks, and 2) How to Fix Videogame Journalism.

But this post is about the recent "What Game Developers Hate About Videogame Reviewers" from the mysterious Mr. Media Coverage at GameDAILY Biz.

The reason I mention all of this is because of the following excerpt from "What Game Developers Hate About Videogame Reviewers". Specifically, this is one of the main reasons I started GameFam:

Developers hate game reviewers because they don't understand games that are targeted for a specific audience

"Game reviewers want every game to be Zelda."

That's what one developer told me. He said that the reality of game development is that most developers make games for a very specific target audience and the developers do their best to find and meet the needs of those specific gamers.

It's a frustration then, when game reviewers complain that the game is too "kiddie" or too "redneck" or too targeted to one group. That, after all, was the entire purpose of the game.

Developers of kid-friendly games pull out their hair over these kinds of reviews. Making games that are easy enough for kids to play without frustration is incredibly difficult. When a 30-year-old reviewer, honed with one-quarter Contra-level skills, calls the game too-easy and too-short, game developers go crazy.

In defense of the game reviewers, developers must understand that reviewers are writing for a target audience as well. They have to target their content accordingly and that occasionally means making fun of kids' games. Their core readers don't care anyway.

Still, good reviewers will always keep a game's target audience in mind when writing the review. This target audience will be one ultimately playing the game, and if a review shortchanges its interests unfairly, this audience will lose a degree respect for that publication.

That there, ladies and gents, is the industry crying out for the creation of a niche, and along with the gamermoms and gamerdads of the world, a few of us are trying our darndest to fill it.


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