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Jeff Gerstmann on GameSpot, Giant Bomb, and snark

GR: The site is currently in blog form, but the behind-the-scenes videos are promising something much bigger. Is it your goal to try to compete with the larger sites like GameSpot?

JG: Not necessarily. I think our goal is to create a really great and fun video game website. You'd be surprised... that sounds really simple, but a lot of people are coming at it from these very "businessy" perspectives. "I think we can get in here and eke out a little capital," and "Blah, blah, blah." First and foremost we want to create a site that we like and that we would use, and that users will have a blast using as well.

Above: Ryan Davis, co-founder of Giant Bomb, checks out the office space

GR: It's something you've mentioned before, that gaming journalism has become more corporate since the early days. Do you think that's going to have an influence when you have to monetize the site?

JG: Yeah, I mean, when we have the full site up and running, when we're ready to cross that bridge, we are planning on accepting advertising. So that's a reality of it - this is a business, it's not a couple of guys just blogging for the fun of it. So we will kind of figure out how best to proceed when we're ready to do that.

GR: You mentioned a while ago on an X-Play interview that the internet is a "snarkfest." Do you think the internet has become too negative?

JG: I do. I think that there are pockets of it that people just use to complain, you know? Message boards have gotten out of control in a lot of cases. We have an environment where the demand for gaming information has grown so much that now you have people out there who used to just be interested in the games, and now they're getting more interested in the business behind them and they're learning all of these NPD numbers and analyst rantings and all this stuff, and they're not necessarily equipped to digest that stuff, so instead they run off to a forum and use it as fodder for, "Here's why Nintendo is really awesome!" Who benefits from that? That's just kind of crazy.

GR: So are you going to try to avoid some of that industry stuff? Or just make it clearer for the readers?

JG: Well, to some extent, I think that stuff does matter, becauseon some levels, talking about the culture and the business surrounding the games is relevant. But I think our approach is going to be less of, you know, "Here's this press release that came out and here's just the facts," and more about providing context for what some of the stuff really means, or if it's even relevant to the people out there buying and playing games or not. We'll probably just be bringing it up in more of a podcast kind of context, as opposed to, "Here's the HARD INDUSTRY NEWS," and it's completely dry.

GR: Can you still capture reader interest without the snarkiness that is so prevalent on the Internet? Everyone loves to argue.

JG: I think that there's an audience out there that just isn't being met. I think it's fine for people to argue, but there are constructive and meaningful things to argue about, and I think Giant Bomb will allow people to do exactly that, arguing about the things about games that really do matter, and less about whether you agree that someone's stock got downgraded or not.

GR: We'd love to see constructive argument on the Internet.

JG: [Laughs] It's an uphill battle, I'm not gonna lie. Because, you know, it's pretty easy for people, anonymous on a forum, to just talk shit and move on. But, you know, so far we've had a lot of really positive people commenting on the stories we've been writing on the blog, and I think we've got a pretty good group reading the site right now. I think it'll be really exciting to see what they do when they have a lot more places to contribute to the conversation.

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer