Where is the games industry’s ‘John Peel’?
“I just want to hear something I haven’t heard before” – John Peel
Legendary radio DJ John Peel was well loved for his welcoming, honest tone and having a taste in music which was constantly one step ahead of the times. But he’s most widely acknowledged as a man who discovered new bands and artists before they hit the mainstream (and in many cases, being the catalyst for their eventual breakthrough).
If you wanted to know what was going to be cool in six months time, this was your go-to man! He cared little for the politics and dealings of the mainstream music media, he cared far too much about the art. And because he cared so passionately, he made you, and the rest of his listeners, care too.
No such heroes exist in the games media. A majority of it only seems to be able to focus on one thing at a time. i.e., the last game which made a huge profit, or the last company to go under.
Everyone run over there!
So where is our ‘John Peel’ of the games industry? And if he (or she) exists, why are they struggling to be heard under a pile of Triple A FPS sequels?
In the music industry, there are still plenty of avenues to get discovered (Glastonbury now names a stage after Peel, which is specifically for new bands, and all major music publications feature sections on indie artists). This is still seen as a ‘cool thing’, and that’s probably in no small part down to Peel’s enduring legacy.
The same is true for movies. Large scale events in the movie world, such as Cannes, also showcase emerging talent, yet are still regarded as a ‘place to be’ for mainstream actors, directors (and investors!), and remain something which the public are interested in. And the winner of the Palme d’Or is always catapulted to fame as a result.
The large scale media events and publications in the games industry, however, are still dominated by the big budget franchises on their tenth sequel, or on whatever the last million selling iPhone app was. It only ever seems to react to what’s happening, rather than trying to discover it. There’s nobody out there really spotting teams and projects, and giving them coverage, largely because the mass market don’t seem to really care.
So my question is this…
Who will be the games industry’s John Peel, and how will they make news on underground projects interesting to the mainstream? Who can make them care?
Who can make then think…
“I just want to play something I haven’t played before.”