GirlfriendReviews

Girlfriendreviews: Games, Journalism and Satire

Blog
Joël Grassère
02/02/2021

Girlfriendreviews performs some journalistic functions such as informating and entertaining viewers. Viewers can experience this if they meet the necessary considerations and have the neccesary knowledge. This does not mean that the show is journalism.

Girlfriendreviews: questions and relevance

Girlfriendreviews is a popular youtube show that reviews videogames from a gamers' girlfriend's perspective. They blend humor and a sometimes serious critique of gaming journalism. It is reminiscent of Lastweektonight . Shaming publishers and developers funnily belong in their repertoire. The channel blew up quickly in 2019 resulting in 1.14 million subscribers.

The show can easily reach more than a million people. As this show is so popular it is important to understand what it is and can be used for. Thus I want to ask, can the show perform journalistic functions in the field of gaming? This is also relevant as the answer could teach us about shows with a similar format. For instance, it could show us how niched satirical shows can exist and how they can succesfully perform journalistic functions. Again this does not mean it is journalism. Even satirical news shows are often not considered journalism and called a form of fake news (Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017).

I will first analyze the show from a production point of view. "What is Girlfriendreviews?" is the main question here. This will reveal whether the show carries journalistic functions in its content. This will be followed by an analysis of the usage conditions necessary for such a journalistic function to be succesfully executed? That will focus on the show's consumption. 

Theory and data 

I will use the concept of the satirical news show to note how the program performs some journalistic functions . In essence, these shows are equal parts informing and entertaining. LastWeekTonight could be an example(Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017). Framing, a connected concept, is when we take certain aspects from a communicative act and make them more salient. This can be to define a problem or cast a humorous light among many other things(Entman, 1993). 
This will link to journalistic values. I already previously mentioned informing and entertaining. These functions of journalism because they are values thereof. They are things journalists value to do. Thus journalistic content should entertain or inform. As such any instance where the subject does this will be seen as where it is fulfilling journalistic functions (Harcup & O'Neill, 2017).
Furthermore, I will use the concepts of cognitive, pragmatic, and affective considerations. These are in order, the news value in the head of the reader, the practical considerations concerning what to click on, and the emotional aspects that encourage a reader to click or not (Kormelink & Meijer, 2018). New consumption practices such as viewing and listening will also be addressed. These are when a person is not actively engaging with content, but having it on in the background (Kormelink & Meijer, 2018). Lastly, I will mention the knowledge necessity. This means that viewers will need a certain level of knowledge to understand the video (Blommaert, 2005).

I choose a broad set of data. This is because I want to show that the aspects that I name are characteristic of Girlfriendreviews. They are found in many episodes. The specific data will showcase different, typical aspects of the show. All of Girlfriendreviews' videos are on Youtube and thus that is my main source. By using this specific data I hope to give the reader an understanding of Girlfriendreviews. 

What is Girlfriendreviews?  

Girlfriendreviews is satirses games journalism. They mention in one of their videos that they make fun of the games industry. I will explain how the show fulfills both the entertaining and informational journalistic functions of this in the next two paragraphs (Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017).However, I will first address some examples to give an image of what the show is like.

Primarily, I will look at "The Girlfriends game awards".  This video satirizes gaming award shows. It makes fun of the idea that only a few games win most of the awards every year among other conventions. It takes interesting norms within this award ceremony template and turns them up to eleven (Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017).

This is indicative of all Girlfriendreviews' videos. They take the platform of a videogame review and give it a funny twist. For instance, in their review of fallout 76 they talk about what aspects of the game they like and which not. Basically, they cover different aspects of the game such as graphics, AI, and gameplay and say whether they are good or bad. This is what one expects from a videogame review. Where the satire part comes in are the many jokes created through memes and funny delivery
 (Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017).

Girlfriendsreviews and the entertainment side of satire 

The show is meant to be humorous and entertaining. There are many typical internet jokes. Sound effects, memes, and many more. The creators "Matt and Shelby" even said that they intend on having a joke every couple of seconds. This means entertaining is an important intended function of the show. This entertainment aspect of the show is also exhibited through the general idea behind it. As I previously said the idea seems silly.

 

People expressing enjoyment due to Girlfriendreviews' videos

However, to make jokes about gaming-related behavior reviewing from the significant other's perspective makes sense. These are the people that mainly see the effect a game has on a person. Thus they can easily note any funny behaviors. For example, according to their video, Matt spoke like a cowboy while playing "Red Dead Redemption 2". This is played for jokes in the episode and is an observation most easily made by a third party observer such as a gamer's significant other. This is where the entertainment function of satire shines through (Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017). 

Girlfriendreviews and the informational aspects of satire 

Furthermore, the show also has intended information function. When the creators feel that a game is groundbreaking they will express this. They also comment on the games community quite seriously. An obvious example of this is their coverage of the game "Death Stranding". The narratives talks at length about the creative potential of the medium that is exhibited through the aforementioned videogame. It thus takes a broader perspective. This is also the case in many satirical news shows. They use humor to talk about a broader context for a serious issue (Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017). This is also visible in the aforementioned video on fallout 76. The hostess talks about shady business practices by Bethesda Games. Specifically, she addresses Tod Howard, a well-known spokesperson for Bethesda, and basically called him a liar. This is all in the context of many games being buggy and broken at launch. Girlfriendreviews thus puts the game in a larger context and critiques(Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017).

Girlfriendreviews as satirical news content

Thus we can see that this show has informational and entertainment functions in it content. It makes fun of conventions in gaming journalism, but also addresses certain things more seriously, although the main tone is meant to be funny and entertaining. This is reminiscent of satirical news shows. These shows give information and critique in an entertaining way. They also use humor to convey a more serious message. "In essence, they are equal parts of informing and entertaining" (Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017).
This format can be seen as a sort of frame. This means that any information dispersed through the show is placed in this satirical humorous but sometimes serious frame. This frame being off course the one on the creator side, not at the cultural, and individual level. To specify, this satirical news frame is the one that the content itself has embedded into its content(Entman, 1993).

Girlfriendreviews is not journalism but attempts to fulfill journalistic functions

One area where this show and satirical news shows are similar aswell is that they do not really do journalism. Satirical news shows are often lead by comedians and do not investigate like a traditional journalist. Look at lastweektonight or Zondag met Lubag for examples. The shows inform people, critisize and satirize in that process and entertain to reach a larger audience. These are all journalistic functions, but there is no journalism in a more classical sense. Some thusly call it a form of fake news (Ling, Tandoc &Wei Lim, 2017)(Harcup &O'Neill, 2017).
This is the same in Girlfriendreviews. It is not journalism but attempts to fulfill journalistic functions. As previously stated the show gives information on games by showing gameplay and noting certain elements of specific games such as graphics and AI. They also give critisize and satirize gaming journalism. Examples would be the satirical games award show and general format of a satirical game review.  Lastly they entertain by using humor (Harcup &O'Neill, 2017).

There are of course differences between the formats of Girlfriendreviews and satirical news shows. However one can observe a similar mix between entertainment and information as journalistic functions. 

Satire applied to games journalism on YouTube

Still, we must not forget these differences. Such as the primary platform for this show being YouTube. This contextual emplacement affects the content (Blommaert & Smits & Yacoubi, 2018). The aforementioned internet jokes are a logical consequence of posting this show primarily on YouTube. This might also be the reason the hosts do not show their faces regularly. That concept is normalized on youtube, while on TV this would be considered weird. The show follows some formal aspects of a youtube show.
Furthermore, they apply their journalistic functions to games instead of political news like in most satirical news shows. I already mentioned two examples of this in the games awards and fallout videos. However, another obvious instance that showcases this is found in the channel's coverage of the game Borderlands 3. Here they satirize the battle between two game providers and the drama that came forth thereof.

We can thus see that the satirical news frame's journalistic function are applied to games journalism online through Girlfriendreviews. This also shows where the frame of this show differs from other satirical news shows. It usually does not show the speaker's face, shows actual gameplay of the videogame they are talking about, uses memes that are relevant to the games community, and many "internet jokes" as I previously stated. These are all elements typically found either in gaming journalism or youtube shows.

Girlfriendreviews and satirical news shows give information, commentary  and entertainment to fulfill journalistic functions.

However, we can also not ignore the similarities to the satirical news show. Thus we must conclude that the show is a satirical news show applied to gaming online. Neithrr should be considered journalism. However, they both give information, commentary and entertainment to attempt to fulfill journalistic functions.

The consumer side of Girlfriendreviews

Now that I have covered this creator and content side aspect of the show I will continue on to a more consumer-centered approach. I will analyze what viewers need for Girlfriendreviews journalistic function to be fulfilled. 

Thorough VS. Distracted viewing 

Girlfriendreviews has a journalistic functions embedded into their content. However, not everyone picks up on this. First of all, the level of engagement with the content matters. A viewer can be actively watching these videos. Then they would likely pick up on more of the intended meaning and background behind the video.

Girlfriendreviews has journalistic functions embedded into their content. However, not everyone picks up on this.

However many viewers might watch the video in segments or might multitask while viewing or listening to the audio. They would likely not pick up on all the subtle more serious meanings. The informational journalistic function is less obvious than the entertainment aspect (Kormelink & Meijer,2015)(Boczkowski & Matassi & Mitchelstein, 2018).

Clicking

Furthermore, affective, cognitive, and pragmatic considerations affect whether a person will see Girlfriendreviews' videos. They all influence clicking. One needs to click on a Girlfriendreviews video to see it. If this does not happen its journalistic functions cannot be fulfilled. 

One needs to click on a Girlfriendreviews video to see it. If this does not happen its journalistic functions cannot be fulfilled. 

Practical aspects like the filter bubble that can show or hide the videos come to mind (Sunstein, 2017). Without being recommended a video it is hard to see it on YouTube.

Also, the affective consideration impacts whether one will click the video. A viewer might click a thumbnail that makes them joyous or angry. They would not click if it looked boring.

Lastly, cognitive considerations can influence clicking as well. If the thumbnail or title show that the video is about a game or subject a potential viewer is not interested in they will likely not click it (Kormelink & Meijer, 2018).

Information necessity

Finally, the viewer must understand the information dispersed. This means they have to be familiar with the genre, references, and language used. A genre is a way in which meaning is communicated. In this case, audiovisually through a satirical game review (Blommaert, 2008). If the viewer does not understand this they will not know what is going on and thus the journalistic functions cannot be fulfilled. This is the same for references and language. If a viewer does not know what fallout 76 is and does not understand what a bug is, they will not understand what it means that fallout 76 is a buggy game. Thus a viewer must have specific knowledge for the functions of Girlfriendreviews to be fulfilled (Blommaert, 2005).

Conclusion

In sum, Girlfriendreviews is a has journalistic  functions in its content. It allows viewers to obtain information about the gaming industry and aims to entertain them. This is similar to the satirical news show with which it shares a mix of informational and entertainment functions (Harcup &O'Neill, 2017).For the show to fulfill these functions a reader must click the video and understand it. For this, there are certain requirements and levels in which these can be met. These can include attention, cognitive, pragmatic, and affective considerations and knowledge.  

This is relevant as we now understand new types of content more comprehensively. Entertainment content related to specific topics can execute certain journalistic functions in that niche under the right circumstances. All content requires people to have access to and understand it to communicate the intended meaning. As content becomes exceedingly niched like Girlfriendreviews, this becomes more noticeable and impactful. Micro-hegemonies and filter bubbles play a role in this (Sunstein, 2017)(Diggit, 2020).

 

Girlfriendreviews: Games Journalism Satire

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