Vice Media has recruited Austin Walker, news editor at CBS Interactive’s Giant Bomb, to head up its forthcoming dedicated site on video-game news and culture.
Walker will start at Vice on July 5, working from the company’s Brooklyn headquarters. His first task: figuring out what he wants to do with the site, and what Vice is going to call it.
“I’ll be trying to determine what the voice of the site is and building a team,” Walker said in an interview. “There’s a certain style for the way Vice does things, when it comes to doing real investigation – we’re not just interested in products, we’re interested in people and culture. We’re interested in going a little bit deeper into a game or a game community.”
The yet-to-be-named gaming destination is one of six new vertical sites Vice plans to roll out this year; the other categories are health, travel, LGBTQ, finance and sustainability. Those will join the existing 11 owned-and-operated online channels, which include Vice News, Noisey (music), Motherboard (tech) and Munchies (food).
Walker, 30, in June 2015 joined Giant Bomb, an influential gaming news site CBSi acquired in 2012. Previously, he had written for sites including CBSi’s GameSpot and had an academic career as a researcher for Western University in London, Ontario, Canada.
Walker said he isn’t sure how many people he’ll be hiring at Vice but said one of the goals is to have a “diverse collection of voices.” “More than having a lot of people, we want the right people,” he said.
Vice’s existing coverage of the gaming sector lives at vice.com/gaming. The new gaming vertical when it launches later this year will have its own dedicated URL.
As an example of the stories he might explore at Vice, Walker cited a curious phenomenon in the “Elite Dangerous” massively multiplayer space game, in which a small group of players have traveled to the far end of the game’s galaxy – and all they’re doing hopping from star to star and refueling their ships. “That’s a weird and interesting story that I’d have liked to do for Vice.”
Walker announced that he would be leaving Giant Bomb on Thursday night on the site’s live-streamed show from the E3 conference in L.A.
The new Vice gaming site will encompass original video, including some live-streamed programming, Walker said. Separately, Vice this summer is launching five gaming documentaries, sponsored by Taco Bell. The first, “Pixel by Pixel,” launched this week with an eight-minute profile of Alx Preston, developer of indie game “Hyper Light Drifter.” The next in the series is “Versus,” an eSports documentary about the game “Smite,” slated to be released in August.
Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Hofstra U. and a master’s degree in aesthetics and politics from the California Institute of the Arts.