Geeks and Their Games
What began as a shared interest between two Ball State students is turning into an optimistic group that hopes to compete with other publications like The Daily News, NewsLink Indiana and Sports Link.
Lucas Schmidt and Joseph Knoop met at Ball State by joining The Daily News, Ball State’s newspaper publication that produces four days a week and provides online daily updates.
When they discovered their common interest in gaming, they ventured to introduce a new student publication, BYTE, into the mix. BYTE is an all-digital student organization that is focused on geek, nerd and tech culture, including content on comic books, video games and movies.
“Joe and I both want to do video game journalism and pursue that as our career path. We both met at the DN for the first time because we wanted to write those kinds of things. [The DN] focuses on general news and everything, which isn’t by any means bad, but they just don’t suit our needs, so we sought to make our own thing.”
In creating their own student organization, the group has faced some challenges along the way, says Schmidt, the assistant editor-in-chief.
“Starting our own thing, it’s kind of all up to us and so it’s very learn-as-it-happens sort of a thing. In terms of starting our own organization, it’s very grass-roots, and we have to just go out and talk to people,” Schmidt says.
For Schmidt, another challenge is recruiting new members. However, for journalism student Kaegan Stogsdill, BYTE Reviews Editor, the decision to join was easy.
“I got involved for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, I love video games and writing about them. Game journalism is an emerging field in one of the fastest growing markets. Grand Theft Auto V made $1 billion in two days. Not many other entertainment mediums can say that. Game journalism also utilizes multimedia in smart ways with video and text reviews and other media. Second, I wanted to write for an online only publication. We do have a radio show, but (it) is mostly for pod cast uses.”
Schmidt and Knoop met BYTE’s faculty advisor, Professor Rob Brookey, when they went to one of his classes to present the publication.
Brookey is a professor of telecommunications and director of the digital storytelling master’s program on campus. His background with video games is more academic, he says. Brookey has co-edited a book series on digital game studies for the Indiana University Press.
Brookey’s studies in video games have taught him a lot about video gamers in society.
“Academics are a good way of legitimizing the addiction,” he says. “Video gamers have a tendency to be very highly functioning people. I worry about the way in which we throw the term addiction around. We use it far too frequently and I think it undermines the real problems of addiction. In other words, I don’t think video game addiction can even be put on that level as a social threat.”
Brookey says he was drawn to BYTE because he was impressed by the way in which they pursue video game journalism.
“I would say that I try to kind of give them direction about the different processes that they’re going through in regards to first of all, making their status official on campus, and then just kind of give them certain direction about issues I think might beimportant. I really kind of let them take the direction in terms of all the editorial content and what they’re going to do, just occasionally kind of give them suggestions about how they might consider the issue, and then also to give them positive feedback when they’re doing stuff right,” Brookey says.
The organization hopes to keep growing by recruiting more members. They currently have about a dozen staff members.
BYTE means more to Schmidt than just being a member of a student media organization.
“My goal of becoming a video game journalist is more tangible now. We haven’t made the website yet. Right now, we have a temporary Blogspot page where we put all of our content. I feel like it’s really going to hit me once we move over to the website – once we have a table at the Super Party. Kinds of things like that are really going to make me realize how real and how big this can get,” Schmidt says.
With two students not settling for the norm and beginning their own publication, Schmidt and Knoop are paving the way for other student journalists interested in specifically geek, nerd and tech culture.
Joseph Knoop is a contributor of Ball Bearings. The two organizations are separate publications.