Convergence in Gaming Journalism: A look at Bitmob

I don’t know about you guys, but I take this blogging thing very seriously.

When I check the daily statistics for this site, I bask in the warm glow that comes from knowing that my words are reaching literally tens of people a day.  Even if they are the exact same tens of people each day.  And half of them are just me coming here while forgetting to be logged in. Which would make it closer to fives of people. But that just sounds silly.

But I digress!  Blogging is at its best when you are reaching an audience of some kind.  Deuze (2007) wrote that “people are increasingly engaged in the collaborative production of ‘we media,’ such as Wikipedia, Janan or Ohmynews, seemingly for no other motives than peer recognition and reputation” (p. 247).  It’s a statement that I think perfectly illustrates the success behind the gaming blog site Bitmob.

The way Bitmob operates is pretty simple.  The site has a full editorial staff, headed by co-founders Dan Hsu and Demian Linn, both of whom worked for gaming news site 1up.com and EGM magazine.  Users can sign up for a free account.  They are then allowed to write up…  well, anything they like.  They can post game reviews, gaming news, pieces on gaming culture, videos and pictures related to gaming, and so on.  Any and all new postings will go to the “Mini-Mobfeed” that is located on one of the sidebars on the main page, and will show their title as a link to the actual posting.  Postings that are especially interesting or well done will be touched-up by the editorial staff and then linked on the main page with an editorial comment to help draw further views.

Earlier this year, Bitmob provided even more opportunities for their users to build a portfolio in gaming journalism by partnering with the magazine GamePro.  Every month, one exceptional article gets chosen from the Bitmob site to be published in GamePro magazine, giving extra incentive to those looking to build a portfolio in gaming journalism.  Or even just for those who think it’d be pretty rad to be published.

The whole Bitmob concept is pretty interesting, and I think it does a lot of things well in terms of providing quality content from the convergent culture.  Users are encouraged to write thoughtful, entertaining, and creative pieces in the hopes that they will be picked up on the main page or even published in GamePro.  However, since every page can’t be featured, the presence of the “Mini-Mobfeed” ensures that, at least for a little while, everyone will have some time on the front page to generate views.

I’ve posted two articles on Bitmob, and one of them was selected by the editorial site for the front page (which totally scored me some extra-credit on that particular assignment, because Dr. Cleary is awesome).  I checked back a few days later just to see if anyone went to look, and I was actually surprised that it had generated a good 500 views.  I don’t have any idea how many users are on Bitmob, but for a first time posting on the site, I thought that was pretty impressive.  I can see how the ability to have that “built-in” audience encourages people to write on the site.  Particularly if you consider how Deuze (2007) stated that “executives in computer game companies also consider their consumers as co-developers” (p. 249). In a time when the tools to state your ideas are numerous, but the ability to have them be seen is difficult, Bitmob offers an interesting approach to convergent media.

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4 Responses to Convergence in Gaming Journalism: A look at Bitmob

  1. On the Bitmob About page: “We’re here to do something a little different… to offer an alternative. Instead of covering games the way we’re supposed to, we’ll cover them the way we want to. That means finding new angles on traditional stories, having conversations surrounding a game well after it’s released, looking more behind the scenes, and exploring gaming culture in interesting new ways.”

    I think it would have been interesting if you had explored that idea a little, because the computer game press is a really crowded field. So why do we need another site with reviews and news about computer games? Do contributions from the user community do something special here (that they don’t do everywhere else)?

    You don’t have much of anything about Deuze’s views in here. Also, I’d have to say you haven’t made Bitmob sound much different from the many sites that have user contributions and some kind of karma rating to boost up the best posts.

    • aflaten says:

      You’re right in that the computer game press is a very crowded field. I guess I feel like the reason Bitmob is different is in that it has this interesting collaborative feel between the “professional” editors and the “amateur” contributors. I can’t speak for all the users, but I know that when I contributed, I was quite anxious to see whether my material was picked up, vetted, and displayed on the front page. If you’re a solid and entertaining writer, there’s a good chance that any and all of your submissions can do that. I don’t feel that is the case with most sites with user contributions, especially in the world of game news and reviews.

      The biggest standout point from Deuze that immediately struck me for the example of Bitmob was the motivation behind user’s submitting their work being ego. I wrote a bit about that, but perhaps I should have elaborated? I’d say I spent too long talking about Bitmob, but apparently I didn’t do a good job there either!

  2. Yes, I think maybe you spent too many words on describing the non-unique aspects of Bitmob, and comparatively few on what makes it stand out.

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