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Jeff Gerstmann on GameSpot, Giant Bomb, and snark

GR: Do you think that the gaming journalism space is oversaturated right now?

JG: I don't really think so, I think there are plenty of different ways to approach something like videogames, especially as they get further and further legitimized as an actual medium - an actual art form that can stand next to books and movies, you know? There are going to be tons of different people that have a lot of different approaches, and there are definitely individuals out there writing really good blogs that are a little more meditative on games and game design, and that sort of stuff. I find a lot of that stuff interesting as well. I don't think it's for everyone, I think it is super niche at that point, but there are a lot of different ways to cover games. I don't think we've even hit onto all of them just yet.

GR: Do you think that the gaming journalism space is oversaturated right now?

JG: I don't really think so, I think there are plenty of different ways to approach something like videogames, especially as they get further and further legitimized as an actual medium - an actual art form that can stand next to books and movies, you know? There are going to be tons of different people that have a lot of different approaches, and there are definitely individuals out there writing really good blogs that are a little more meditative on games and game design, and that sort of stuff. I find a lot of that stuff interesting as well. I don't think it's for everyone, I think it is super niche at that point, but there are a lot of different ways to cover games. I don't think we've even hit onto all of them just yet.


Above:Jeff shows off the result of a Giant Bomb brainstorming session

GR: Obligatory question - what do you think about GamesRadar?

JG: I think GamesRadar is doing some interesting stuff in the features area. It definitely looks like you guys are having fun with that stuff, so I like that.

GR: We are; we're definitely heavy on the snark though.

JG: Well you know, while I can sit here and say that I think there's too much of it, at the same time, I think that it does have something of a place out there, it's just a matter of when you wheel it out and whether you're using it for good as opposed to evil. If you're using snark in order to drive page views to a story about someone's financial reports and how a bunch of people just got laid off... that's using it for evil.

GR: What do you think about blogs like Kotaku and Joystiq, it seems there's a pretty heavy reliance on snarkiness there as well.

JG: Yeah, I mean, I agree. You know, that's definitely - they're in a situation where they're reporting a lot of this industry stuff. I really like both Joystiq and Kotaku, but I have to wonder who the ideal reader of those sites is. It seems like it's someone like me who's already sort of working in and around video games, as opposed to the general... it's like, can you imagine a 15-year-old kid reading something like Joystiq and Kotaku and every single story being right up their alley? I kind of can't. I read every single story they post, and I like what they do, I just don't think that's the only way to cover video games.

GR: I'm sure you're aware of the king of snarky comments after Giant Bomb was Dugg.

JG: Uhuh, yeah.

GR: You get the traffic with Digg, but the comments can be a little ridiculous. It looks like everyone has been pretty supportive, though.

JG: Yeah, yeah, it's been surprising in some ways. You eventually build up this thick skin and get a really specific view of how the internet works and you know, all through the last several months it's definitely been an eye opener that there are people out there that aren't just out there to get in their horrible joke and leave, or whatever. It's actually kind of one of the fun things about calling the site Giant Bomb, you can kind of anticipate the obvious negative comments about that, "Oh well, you know, it's GONNA bomb! It's gonna be a GIANT BOMB, alright! Oh ho ho!" So we kind of had a bit of a contest to see how long it would take for someone to make that joke. That was kind of fun.

GR: Has anyone won?

JG: I believe it was not too long after the Digg story, I think that's what did it.

GR: So how did you come up with the name Giant Bomb?

JG: We went through a lot of different names - probably registered 60 or 70 URLs in the process, just thinking about different things that were in games, and trying to come to some kind of consensus there. I think that, you know, no offense, but we've hit the limit of the number of websites that have the word "game" in the title. I think that, if there is no law there should be - no more, everyone who was going to register their URL - they're done. When we started kind of thinking outside of having "game" in the URL, we wanted something that was catchy and that rolled off the tongue and that was easy to remember, and I feel that GiantBomb.com is exactly that.

GR: GiantBomb.com, GiantBomb.com, it's catchy. On a more casual note, what are you playing right now?

JG: Dark Sector! [Laughs] That's just... I'm working on a review of that, just started playing that. Just finished Viking: Battle for Asgard. Yeah, so I'm mostly playing through Dark Sector, and then in my spare time, I've decided to rededicate myself to the Achievement points race, so I'm in the process of finishing up CSI: Hard Evidence, which I don't recommend playing unless you just want the points.

GR: CSI: Hard Evidence... something about having to swab a condom...?

JG: Yes, yes. The worst part, you have to swab the inside and the outside of the condom for two sets of DNA. UGH! Ugh. But other than that actually, I've gone back and started playing Audiosurf again, I've been playing a lot of that at home.

GamesRadarTylerWilde
Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer