Behind Enemy Lines? The Mail's Ed Wilson on how it covers games
Media Special: Can a paper known for an anti-gaming stance change its ways?
Continuing this week's run of pieces focusing on games coverage in the mainstream media, we turn today to Ed Wilson, who works on gaming coverage at the Mail along with colleague Talal Musa. In recent months the pair has started to push a more games-friendly agenda - at a paper in which games have traditionally been heavily associated with outrage, scapegoating and the banning of sick filth.
Wilson and Musa are both keen gamers and, like so many who end up covering the industry professionally, have had to establish their writing on games by volunteering. Still in its early days and battling against some embedded stereotypes in both editorial and reader expectations, the Mail's coverage of gaming nonetheless exhibits an extremely positive trend - that of a burgeoning possibility to talk about games as culture in a non-specialist medium.
For more on the mainstream media's growing acceptance of the validity of games coverage, see our interview yesterday with Helen Lewis, or the front page each day this week for more chats with media figures.
Q: How long has there been a games team at the Mail? How many of you are there?
Ed Wilson: There has only been a 'games team' at the Mail since July 2012. It was started by Talal Musa who works as a sports sub-editor there and saw that there was no coverage at the Mail and wanted to be the one to kick start it. There are now two of us, Talal and I, though we work on a voluntary basis and in our spare time.
Q: What was your brief when you started to look at more regular coverage?
"There are now two of us, Talal and I, though we work on a voluntary basis and in our spare time"
Ed Wilson: Zero. Talal took it upon himself to show to the Mail the good in gaming and how popular it is in today's market and literally how they were missing a trick in not giving it serious coverage. Since then we've been working slowly but surely to build up the reputation of games coverage at the Mail, through Daily Mail Games and tried to show to those inside the Mail and out that some good can be done here, and there is vast potential.
Q: How long has the paper been covering games regularly?
Ed Wilson: Only since July 2012. We're still limited in how regularly we can cover news and upload articles, mainly down to logistical issues. But we do our utmost to be current, meet embargos and get the top stories covered.
Q: What coverage is offered other than reviews? Do you see that evolving at all?
Ed Wilson: We also cover the breaking news, announcements, previews, interviews and the occasional feature. Reviews will always be highly sought after and we'll always cover them. However feature pieces are what I'd personally like to do more of, they spark opinions and engagement from the community and I think can offer insight into parts of the industry that previously go unnoticed.
Q: Where do you get most limelight and column inches, in the paper or online?
Ed Wilson: Due to the fledgling status of the games coverage at the Mail we are 100% online as it stands. Paper coverage is highly competitive amongst other things and we know that the people who may want to read about games are more likely to view it online than in the paper. Our limelight and focus is completely online.
Q: Have attitudes towards mainstream games coverage changed in the last ten years, at the Mail and elsewhere?
"Games have really come to the forefront as an art form and in the amount of media attention they get, though a lot of it may be negative"
Ed Wilson: Definitely. Games have really come to the forefront as an art form and in the amount of media attention they get, though a lot of it may be negative. As technology advances so do the quality and diversity of games. Apps have changed the course of gaming forever introducing thousands if not millions more people to games on their mobiles and tablets. Generations now grow up with technology and games yet the attitudes of some older generations are still negative and outdated.
Q: Music, TV and film are clearly the main entertainment mediums covered in the mainstream press - will we ever see equivalent games coverage?
Ed Wilson: I sincerely hope and believe we will. Though it is a tough and slow process. One of the reasons why we started and a large part of our future goals is to change a lot of negative attitudes to positive and actually find out what games can offer before judging. Games have always been seen as a lesser art form, if indeed an art form at all.
As technology improves games and their mediums will earn more and more coverage. Games will become more ambitious and varied and as those who grew up with games become the elders of today I believe games will become more wholly accepted and more widely covered. Though it's down to us within the games press to help make that happen, something I think we all try to achieve.
Q: We often see outlets with game-specific coverage also buying into scandals and scapegoating whenever games are blamed for something - why do you think we get that editorial disparity?
Ed Wilson: Alas British journalism is what it is. I can't say I like games being made scapegoats for a number of real world and current issues, though it seems they are the easy way out and maybe the numbers will show that if a negative article on games relating to a real world issue will make people money - it'll be done. It's easy and lazy to assume that games are at fault for a number of issues and unfortunately there are number of people reading negative articles who will agree.
Off the back of no supplied evidence. One of the many challenges we face is to show all the good that the industry can do and how games are actually a huge positive to many people's lives. I wish I could tell the world about the gaming charities helping disabled children to enjoy games, gamers raising money for various charities, games being used an education tools to help with learning.
"One of the many challenges we face is to show all the good that the industry can do and how games are actually a huge positive to many people's lives"
Essentially games are unavoidable in everyday life even by those who claim to dislike them. What we need to do is promote positivity. Editorial disparity can be found almost everywhere if you look hard enough, though I long for the day we see more positive game related news than negative. It will happen though!
Q: How closely tied to generational attitudes is mainstream coverage? Does that come from editors or perceived audience preference?
Ed Wilson: I think I've brushed across this somewhat already but I think this is key. Papers are having more and more of an ageing reader-base who inherently have had a more negative attitude. I can't speak for editors but I can see where the perceived audience for papers will drive editors towards a certain type of article. I hope that as current and future generations have a more involved and positive attitude on gaming this will have a knock on affect in what mainstream coverage is published.
Q: How much of an influence has the availability of ad spend been in terms of editors' consideration of gaming coverage?
Ed Wilson: Due to our relatively new foray into the games coverage world it's hard for me to answer this question. I personally believe there is a lot of scope with new and specific advertising ventures in relation to our games coverage. However this has not been perceived or discussed at this time.