When it comes to gaming journalism, websites like IGN and GameSpot rule the web. But Game Jerks wants to create a new site that redefines video game journalism.
The new challenger staffers say they are bringing a newer, fresher voice and attitude than the others.
Game Jerks was started by Alan Barnes and Christopher Pfeifer two years ago. As big video game fans, they read gaming sites voraciously, but they felt that many video game review sites were overly promotional. They thought they could bring a refreshing attitude to the industry with more gaming news and detailed, frank reviews.
The site tries to engage its readership by closely linking its content with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The concept is “IGN meets Facebook,” they say. Their website has an ambitious goal to compete with San Francisco-based industry leader, IGN.
Barnes’ interest in gaming comes from his father, who helped develop a few big name titles like football simulation game Madden ’94 for Electronic Arts Inc. and the action-adventure Legacy of Kain series for Crystal Dynamics.
Prior to Game Jerks, Barnes created anime entertainment sites.
Pfeifer, who is a freelance coder, handles the coding and design of the site.
Barnes knows that it’s an uphill battle for a newcomer to get attention in the crowded industry. He has faced challenges with finding talented staff and keeping content flow consistent. To keep costs down, he decided to keep the operations in his hometown of Oakland. Barnes currently operates the website from his computer at home.
“San Francisco and Mountain View are super expensive and San Francisco is overpopulated,” he said. “Oakland has space, people are here.”
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to numerous video game developers and several video game news organizations. However, very few of them reside in Oakland. Of the Bay Area’s gaming companies, only Big Fish-Self Aware Games in the Westlake neighborhood and Action Button Entertainment LLC, a mobile gaming company, are based in the city.
Barnes, who is a high school dropout, hopes that Game Jerks will eventually become successful enough to hire more employees. He wants to help high school students learn technology and journalism, so they can enter the fast growing industry.
“I want to build it up to a point where I can hire in Oakland,” he said. “I want to be able to get in there and help kids learn and give back to the community, teach kids how to review games, get them interested and get them paid.”