Used to be a writer on that site that shall not be named
, was fine when things started up, we wrote about things we really cared about, felt right, good vibes and felt like we were above the mess that was gaming journalism at the time, and wouldn't you know it within a year we had connections and review copies from many publishers.
The site grew as we did this, made me super happy, just to be apart of it, we were all volunteers really just having fun with our hobby, then as things grew Brett (AKA ioi, who is actually a super nice guy even though he's demonized a bit around here) started talking about pay jobs, highest positions first, then going down the line, was a neat idea... but with money and rising popularity those guys getting the steady monthly pay started to let things go to their head I feel.
Main one in charge, Naznatips, of reviews and the community at the time really started to fold at this time. No longer posting on the forums, which his dedication and popularity in got him to his head position, he stopped taking care of the community, thus the former place that drew me in for intelligent video game discussion started to die off and turned into flame wars. Lots of issues happened, I actually went to Brett with it, which is when he just made me a mod to take care of things, which actually happened, had a lot of praise from members who wanted to discuss games, but the new members that were behind a lot of the trolling, flaming, and downfall of the community complained to Naznatips, overturned the trolls bans in most cases, showed them they could get away with anything, the community has died since then... for obvious reasons but that was the start of it and I warned them along with a member here by the name of MakingMusic476. We fought hard for the community.
Getting back to journalism, just setting up a little character, I guess the biggest issues I personally had was being the PSP reviewer, I was doing the review for Chains of Olympus, originally gave it a review score of 7.5, for me a solid game but not entirely needed for the series as a whole, short for 40 dollars, and given at the time we did reviews for older games, the game had been out for a while and my audience for the review wasn't the fans who already bought it, it was the people who were on the fence but liked action titles like myself. This is where I ran into Torillian, one of the head editors and reviewers, he told me to up the review score to at least an 8.0, despite never playing the game and no matter the reasoning he kept telling me to up the score, I adjusted to 7.9 and never budged from there. Pissed him off and Naz apparently on that one, they still bitch about it on their chat they think I don't watch from time to time lol (really how immature can you get when that review was like 2009)
Second major issue I ran into was doing the Call of Duty 4 review on Wii, got the review copy, played it for like the third time, since I had it on 360 and PC before. I actually really loved World at War on Wii and how the controls handled, was in the top ten in the world for a while on it, I enjoyed it that much. Anyway Call of Duty 4 ported the full game, minus the bonus DLC maps, compared to W@W it was head and shoulders better, and I reviewed it as such, included a bit about how enjoyable it was to control, which apparently rubbed Naz the wrong way as he told me I couldn't say the Wii controls had a couple advantages to the PC controls (basically analog vs WASD) and that the pointer controls was much smoother and reflex accurate compared to dual analog control. Dunno why discussing points people would actually like is a problem but oh well, it got spread around the net, like the IGN and Gamespot boards and brought in a lot of views, it actually contributed to my first check (since anyone not higher up got paid based on views)
Picture of my W@W ranking
I guess the biggest blow to my motivation to writing and trying to push the site further was actually just a small incident. Got a review copy of Nostalgia way early, came with an embargo, which was a first for me, usually smaller sites like ours didn't get copies that early, ended up playing through it at a brisk pace, not to rush things, as that hurts your experience, but play a bit more than I normally would with a longer RPG like that one in a day. Ended up enjoying it but beating it actually happened the day before the embargo lifted, got together with the PR manager one of my good friends, started saying, wouldn't it be great to have the first review up? We agreed and wanted to do something awesome to get good rep, to go the extra mile for our readers, and the site as whole. So we worked really hard on getting things done in a day (usually took a few days at least) and in comes Torillian to copy edit, he spits on our work, specifically how my writing wasn't "up to the standards" of the site... coming from the guy who lacked standards... or rather had double standards, basically admitting he reviewed Nintendo games more harshly because he felt they got a free pass from reviewers in the forums, that was rather degrading and ticked me off.
Since that's my run in with issues that involved me, I'll go into issues I witnessed. We had a leader for our News section, who by himself some days would post all the news, the man was a work horse, very good guy, when the site started getting press passes for E3 he even made everyone shirts with their name on it, simply put the guy was an amazing person. When money started getting involved and trying to "turn the site legit" a couple of people outside the site were hired, one straight on to be in charge of original content, which sorta put him over the guy in charge of news, immediately started hounding him, the problem? The guys main language was Spanish, so his English writing wasn't as fluent, but he could and would write articles in two languages, basically making the site and news more accessible... apparently this logic didn't enter that brain, eventually the news guy was fired (without going through Brett), only to be put back on the team as a normal writer, cause it was BS how it was handled, not long after the news stream slowed to a trickle. Coupled with the fanboy news writers, flat out trolling in some articles, and the crazy standards for how many articles people had to write for so little pay... the news slowed to a trickle, the good guys left, all that was left was the terrible people (much like how the community went down, no one there to keep standards) and eventually the news site was axed for good.
Things I saw here and there. Naz threatened a long time member who called him out on his actions, or inaction rather, his ego is out the wazoo. He attacked me and MakingMusic when MakingMusic made a thread in our staff forums, trying address community issues before it ruined the site, he essentially DID the problem we were trying to address, which was there was no civil discussion where the parties would listen to one another... Once I was discussing the launch of the 3DS on our AIM chat, asking who was getting it to try to see who I could go to for a friend code after release, ended up attacked by Naz and Torillian for being a Nintendo fanboy, when Torillian said he was buying a Vita because the 3DS didn't have games and nothing that would interest him in the foreseeable future. The funny thing that happened in that chat was Naz goes to Torillians defense saying Torillian doesn't hate Nintendo, but right before he could hit send, Torillian messaged how much he hates Nintendo... I died laughing (these are the guys in charge of your reviews for Pete's sake). Torillian actually has a large number of factual errors in his reviews, one of the biggest he got called out on was saying how he got lost in Final Fantasy The Crystal Bearers, couldn't find his way around, and yet "finished" the game hours before people who actually played the game (cause I'm convinced he didn't) and that was people rushing and not getting lost... it made no logical sense. Torillian actually said Darksiders 1 did the Zelda aspects better than Zelda... like dungeon design... let that one sink in...
Otherwise you can look up gamejournos articles on the site, there's a bit of spite there, and how it handled by Brett was terrible... but for the most part what people said was true, while people might take it out on Brett, I'd say the downfall was lead by the people who volunteered for these head positions at the beginning, then didn't keep their original standards once they felt like they had an audience, and Brett should have fired them, flat out, but he was preoccupied with other responsibilities, so he sorta trusted these guys to keep things in order.
I quit the site after we got a new community manager, who fired all the mods, said he was hiring a new team and that old mods could come back if they apply and had to pass him and Torillian (LOL at me getting back on the mod team with that one) so what mods were hired back? The ones that were rarely on or moderated, a couple being the clearly biased guys, who couldn't follow a line of logic to save their life, and actually moderated people who were debating them with facts... yeah... of course I didn't come back, tried to stick around, realized without trying to clean things up I had nothing left there since discussion was all but dead, so I left completely at that point, and of course things have gotten worse... even heard about some trouble they got into with one of the sites they get linked from (can't say who or what on that one) but it was related to Torillian and his lack of standards... oh and about a little agreement with Gillette ads that were advertising Sony games, that no negative press could be posted that month... and wouldn't you know it no negative news happened and Killzone 3 got a 9!
That's my long story, I'm planning on starting up my own site and sticking to the standards and doing it with a number of old staffers that quit but really cared about the site, and some real life friends and journalist majors from school. Thinking about actually going the kickstarter route with my idea, but life has been a little busy the past few months, will draw up a real plan soon though.