"Vocalizing Niche Interests and the Amateur Documentarian"

Zachary Marano
February 9, 2014

In a lecture on 21st literacies, Dr. Cathy N. Davidson emphasizes that the Internet's greatest utility is the ease in which its users may visibly communicate. YouTube is at the forefront of sites which allow users to communicate by uploading any kind of video. Many users would be hard pressed to name an alternative website. The universal appeal of YouTube's function has attracted a large user base. Popular uploaders seem interested in offering their own "slice of life," with content composed of v-logs or other recordings of or about their recent experiences: "let's plays," movie reviews, unboxings. Occasionally acted-out sketches propelled primarily by their own personalities are uploaded.

There is an opposite end of the spectrum. Some YouTube channels do not invite the viewer to look in on the personal life of the uploader, but instead feature the creator attempting to engage, educate, and/or entertain the audience. Channel Instig8iveJournalism fits into the latter category. This channel intends to be "journalistic" about is video games. It is true that YouTube is a medium for a variety of topics. Video games are not generally seen as a neglected, especially given that one of the most subscribed channel on YouTube, PewDiePie, focuses almost exclusively on a Swede playing them. But whereas the standard PewDiePie upload is about one man offering self-contained (and generally irrelevant) commentary on an unedited string of events within a single video game, Instig8iveJournalism informs his audience primarily through full-length documentaries about video games and the video game industry — with the occasional satirical short that is generally more valuable as entertainment. It may be said that there are few other channels that fill Instig8ive Journalism's niche quite as well.

For anyone that were to seriously analyze video games, it seems they must answer first: of what merit are video games? For many, the answer usually rests on comparing video games to similar things which just about everyone has already agreed are of merit to study: literature, theater, or film. Given how frequently he must have to reaffirm this, it is not surprising that Instig8ive would offer a lengthy, twenty-three minute documentary discussing films' influence on video games.

In Cinematic Games, the following is established. Foremost, the audience becomes conscious of cinematic elements in video games. They are also shown a brief history of cinematic elements in video games, which helps the author introduce to us the similarities and differences in what he calls "Cinematic Games," "Movie Games," and "Scripted Shooters." Lastly, he singles out effective forms of direction in use and suggests new ones.

Thus, Cinematic Games offers several services. First, it presumes that video games are art, worthy of analysis comparable to other media, and the subsequent evidence along the way strongly supports this conclusion. This encourages viewers to apply the same skills learned from studying film to studying video games. Second, it identifies direction styles better known in film which are useful to understand while studying the latter. Third, it singles out quality video games for those interested.