Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interviews: Then and Now

In the first three to five years of The Armchair Empire's glorious existence, one of my favourite aspects was snagging interviews. And it was so, so simple. I'd send an email to someone -- Jeff Green, Bruce Campbell, Al Lowe, Tim Schafer -- via their official site or some readily available email address, we'd connect, I'd send some questions, they'd answer them, etc.

If you've been paying attention, Interviews have really trickled off on the site -- we haven't posted a new one since December 2010! -- and there are two reasons.

Al Lowe
Time or lack thereof, plays into it, but mostly it's lack of response from the other side. Most developers have a layer of "protection" from people like me, people that want to know things that maybe are only tangentially related video games or the current project. We line things up as best we can and fire a salvo of questions only to have them drop out of the sky for unexplained reasons or just completely vanish with absolutely no echo. A couple of follow-up emails or phone calls later and still no response... my time is more precious to me than that. I'm not willing to hound people.

There's also the fact many developers and publishers have cultivated their own outlets -- blogs, Facebook, Twitter, official sites -- that eliminate the need for any "middle man" source. They pose the questions and they answer the questions. Control is important in this case -- there's very little room for a game journalist to plan for a "Gotcha!" moment that fools some game developer into explaining what's really on his or her mind.

For those moments we have to wait until someone comes unhinged or says something on Twitter they shouldn't have or spouts off at a live panel discussion, where the layer of PR/Marketing messaging is thinnest, mostly, I think, because the PR/Marketing handlers are stopped from rushing the platform.

Anyway, I kind of lament the stagnation of our Interviews section. It's probably time to be more aggressive getting interviews, likely from the indie games crowd who have no layer of PR.

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