Games Journalism! Wainwright/Florence/Tomb Raider/Eurogamer/Libel Threats/Doritos

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This is almost surreal at this point. Of all the people Rob Florence could have used as an example in his article, one of the ones he picked turns out to be an absolute gold mine. I don't more whether it is more likely that he is just that lucky or the issue is that wide spread.
It was probably the most obvious example he could find
 

Quote

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The irony of this situation is so painful. Dude is without a job for actually doing his job well, meanwhile the real issue is still employed. Cruel World.
 

HK-47

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The sad part is, im sure that if Neogaf starts randomly checking the journalist background of the press they will find many stuff like this, Lauren was the wrong person at the perfect moment.


Its a shame to know that there probably wont be a podcast as timeless and relevant as the Brodeo.
Idle Thumbs fills my need for hilarious tangents, amusing gaming stories and songs. 2But of course nothing can replace Heroes of the Web
 

StuBurns

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It´s not. No, I´m not saying that VGAS should become as big as the Oscars. That is probably out of reach. But should aim for the same integrety, the same cultural relevance and things like writing, artstyle etc. Right now, these things are just non-factors.
If you don't care about the popularity, then why do you care about the VGAs being credible when the industry has a couple of internally high profile awards which are credible?
 

Victrix

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Dude, they are on SPIKE.

The Oscars has the Academy and the VGA has a PR department.
Ah yes, the Academy:

"According to a February 2012 study conducted by the Los Angeles Times (sampling over 5,000 of its 5,765 members), the Academy is 94% white, 77% male, 14% under the age of 50, and has a median age of 62. In addition, 33% of members are previous winners or nominees of Academy Awards themselves.[7]"

Movies are more broadly appealing, the Academy is a spectacle, neither is inherently superior to what gaming (can) do.

And yes, the VGAs are a joke, but I'd be surprised (in a good way) if whatever the most widely recognized video game award ceremony is turns out to be, you know, good.
 

dr3upmushroom

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How long ago are we talking? Because I remember this shit:





And didn't that Shane guy go on to become a Sony PR shill or something?
Amazing that idiots still post Shoe's GoW review as an example of a review being paid for.

Others have already mentioned this, but I hope the big games and console coming out soon don't distract from this.
 

Dibbz

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I'm interested. How do publications decide who gets to review what? Luck of the hat? Dictated from above? What is the norm for most places?
 

Syriel

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Summary of the news/opinion pieces I could find about Eurogamer/MCV/Wainwright:


Forbes 10-25

Gamesutra 10-25

John Walker (personal site) 10-24
John Walker (personal site) 10-25 (piece 1)
John Walker (personal site) 10-25 (piece 2)

Kill Screen 10-25

Penny Arcade 10-25

WorthPlaying 10-25


I think that covers everything published so far.



Captivate is important. I was trying to say that it's perfectly understandable why press would attend, even though it initially looks a bit weird due to looking like a nice holiday. It's a big event. Hell, the Hawaii one was very important, given it had Marvel 3.
Many times the choice is "attend and get the coverage" or "don't attend and don't get the coverage."

That said, from an individual writer point of view, you're never paying for it. Whether someone is working for a publication that allows a publisher to pay for a trip or one that doesn't, in the end it's always "a company" that's covering expenses.

The individual writer is there to do a job. He or she is getting paid to be there.

Using aegies as an example (just because he's posted in this thread), he's not paying for the trips. When he travels, the expenses aren't coming out of his pocket. That would be the same even if he wasn't working for Polygon.

Those that are on the Black Ops II review event in this exact moment probably disagree.

I understand the pressure to get a review ready day 1 (page hits) but I would prefer a decent review instead of a review done under Activision's controlled environment...
Not everyone goes to every review event. There will be outlets who are reviewing Black Ops II based on retail code sent out a week before release.

What ever happened to Sessler? He was good.
He's got a special on SyFy coming up, IIRC.
 

Oersted

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Dude, they are on SPIKE.

The Oscars has the Academy and the VGA has a PR department.
Isn´t it sad that they are still as the most important award ceremony in the gaming industry? I was also talking about Videogames awards as a whole, not theirs particularly. Sorry.
 

Kurdel

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You know when the industry is messed up for doing your job correctly.
UK libel laws are most likely to blame here.

Science bloggers can have the same thing happen to them if they are not careful. Even if the defendant is right and wins the libel case, more than a year of legal battles is enough to scare people into avoiding conflict.
 

TheBaronOfNA

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In fairness, let's not pretend like the Academy is immune from a slick PR campaign.
I still somehow doubt they don't have better reputation than SPIKE

Ah yes, the Academy:

"According to a February 2012 study conducted by the Los Angeles Times (sampling over 5,000 of its 5,765 members), the Academy is 94% white, 77% male, 14% under the age of 50, and has a median age of 62. In addition, 33% of members are previous winners or nominees of Academy Awards themselves.[7]"

Movies are more broadly appealing, the Academy is a spectacle, neither is inherently superior to what gaming (can) do.
Eh... I'm not saying that...
 

GorillaJu

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I work in the games press in the UK (GameSpot) and know Lauren and many of the folks mentioned here relatively well. I was disgusted to hear what happened in relation to the Eurogamer article this morning, and disagree that it was the right course of action for all concerned to take. But I also think that this story is starting to grow legs and walk further from the truth.

I believe we have a case of gross nativity on her part, but the removal of her information from various websites is an understandable (though ill conceived) defensive reaction to what must be a pretty awful night of internet interest in her, her friends and her past.

I'm happy that today's actions have forced a lot of the games press over here to reconsider the way they act. Those of us who take the work seriously have a disdain for those who act like spoiled children while working in an industry we are privileged to be part of. But in relation to Lauren's PAST work - I don't believe she was fooling or attempting to fool anyone. Anybody trying to do so wouldn't post about it all on public forums, blogs or twitter. Her deleting of certain information tonight is the work of a worried person - not somebody leading a double life.
I don't think most people seriously believe that she has been leading a double life or that she's being secretly employed by Square Enix to advertise their games.

From where I stand the shocking thing is just how unprofessional she has been.

It's not even her specifically. It's the archetype of a foolish Internet denizen with no special traits getting work in a field thousands would jump for opportunity in, and then ignoring the masses of people she's supposed to represent, instead desperately and shamelessly clawing for entry into the inner circle of the industry. When you're in journalism you need to take your respnsibility to respect your readers seriously. You don't throw your integrity out the window for freebies and self gain, like that guy spinning around with the Skyrim disc.

It's fine of you plaster Tomb Raider posters all over your room – your private space. But the way she went about her persona as a journalist shows a pretty pathetic disregard for any sort of journalistic integrity or respect for the position.
 

pvpness

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This is awesome. I don't follow games media at all but now I'll give Rob Florence a closer look. Good show old boy.

As for Lauren, it seems to me that there's a good chance she is a big Tomb Raider fan and by itself, that's fine. When she takes payment for anything from Squeenix and then turns around and reviews/previews/hypes their games, there's an obvious conflict of interest that should leave any audience disillusioned. Ethics 101 man.

Dave Cook is just as big an asshole in all this but I'm not seeing the same level of hate for him. I assume I've missed it in this fast as light thread. The internet spares no one.
 

Margalis

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So Aegis's answer is "every single member of the gaming press is immune to social pressure and basic psychology."

Color me skeptical.

Edit:

Many times the choice is "attend and get the coverage" or "don't attend and don't get the coverage."
Sure, which is why the press should collectively push back against these events - to create a third option.
 

Syriel

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Dave Cook is just as big an asshole in all this but I'm not seeing the same level of hate for him. I assume I've missed it in this fast as light thread. The internet spares no one.
Cook's reaction went as follows:

Anger.
Engagement/Explanation.
Oh crap, I can see how that would look bad.
Apology.
Moving on.

He didn't threaten to sue anyone or cause a major blowup. And he was pretty cordial to Rab on Twitter, even if he was originally annoyed at being quoted in the piece.

The difference between how Cook and Wainwright were treated has *everything* to do with the differences in how the two reacted.
 

NihonTiger90

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So I've finally sifted through the thread and wow, a lot to digest.

I've known Lauren for a while. Haven't talked to her in a while, but I believe I've met her before at PAX and we were both very active and notable members of the Destructoid community many years ago. She eventually went on to freelance and I moved onward to one of Dtoid's sister sites, but I can tell you two things: she is indeed that obsessed with Tomb Raider (rabid is a word that does not begin to describe it) and I remember she did do work at one time for Square Enix, though I don't know if that coincided with the time she was doing reviews of Deus Ex: HR and such. Still, I can see where the issue is from Rab's point of view (which raises a question: if someone moves from PR to journalism, do we have to automatically assume they are always biased?) and from Lauren's point of view (the even remote possibility she's insinuated as a corporate shill and nothing more).

As for Rab, regardless of what he said, Eurogamer should not have folded on him like that and he has every damn right to be pissed. It almost seems like they didn't put up any sort of fight and hung Rab out to dry. Could Rab have perhaps written it differently to make it seems less libelous in the eyes of Eurogamer? Yeah, there's probably a better way it could have been written. Should they have at least given him the chance to amend his own work without taking matters into his own hands? I would say so. Is the opinion defense admissible here? Fuck yeah, it is. That was Rab's opinion (again, he could have worded it a bit better), but who knows: libel law can sometimes be more complicated than it seems. I don't think it had to end like this and they could have just asked Rab to rewrite that portion, keeping his argument intact but just using different phrasing. Why they apparently chose not to mystifies me.

Oh, and the Cook part wasn't libel in the slightest. I don't see any harm in what Rab said there.
 

Brashnir

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He was the center of the first article published on this issue based on this pic:
On the other hand, to be fair - Doritos and Mountain Dew are the kind of sponsors who specifically aren't a conflict of interests for gaming press. (except in the case that they are also sponsors for Halo, I guess - but that's way less egregious than being sponsored by Microsoft directly)
 

Jintor

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I’ve seen swag move cities, make men stave off death, and turn an evil hag's heart half-circle. This entire Fortress has been constructed from swag. Swag damned a woman, whose heart clung to the hope that another loved her when he did not. Once, it made a man seek immortality and achieve it. And it has made a posturing spirit think it is something more than a part of me.
 
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Dave Cook is just as big an asshole in all this but I'm not seeing the same level of hate for him. I assume I've missed it in this fast as light thread. The internet spares no one.
He didn't react in the same way. He went into the comments on the article and explained himself. At which point everyone was clear on his intentions and understood his situation.

He didn't go around writing Twitter comments like this

Lauren Wainwright ‏@atheistium

@GamerGuides I've got no issue with the actual idea and content just the libelous comments about me were unfair and unjust.
He also didn't have an apology inserted onto the article by Eurogamer.

He did the wrong thing in regards to the hashtag tweeting but made an effort to explain himself and give the PS3 away. He understood why people found it to be a bad idea.
 

FartOfWar

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PR wants lots of things. Very rarely do they get them.

I know that those events don't positively move my opinion, because I've been on them. When I started, the idea was neat, but the reality was pretty clear pretty quickly.

Using captivate as an example, it is in large part specifically to get their employees in one place and happy. A lot of these trips happen at specific times of year so that PR departments can use up their budget surplus in order to keep getting the same amount from the publisher the next year.

Most PR people are actually pretty professional, and generally know to keep an appropriate professional relationship. If they get too chummy, it's a no-win for them. It's more likely that enthusiast audiences will think poorly of the game if they think a member of the press has been bought by PR.

Have you been to one of these events? I'm genuinely curious. I've never attended one where there was pressure to do anything more than attend the appointment times that were made for me. This pressure that you and others have attached to them is not in keeping with the experience I and other members of the press I regularly see at them have.

I don't see these trips as gifts, particularly because I end up paying for them now that I work for Polygon. The games I review or write about aren't "my friends' game." They're games from a company with who I am not friendly, because they're not people. The developers are, but I'm not reviewing them either. You can keep talking about how these things influence people to reflect more kindly on titles, but I am hard pressed to think of a single example in the last several years of a reputable outlet that gave super positive coverage out of an event like this for a game that wasn't generally received positively anyway.

Your accusations aren't based on fact, they're based on suspicion. And if I have to choose between catering to your suspicion and sacrificing coverage or serving our audience and, say, getting a preview of Resident Evil 6, or reviewing Halo 4 in a timely manner, that's not a hard decision to make. It's not out of spite to you, and I'll do it as ethically as possible by disclosing those trips. I want to be transparent about it.

I'm sorry if you guys don't buy that, and I really am sorry if that means you can't trust me. But it's the truth.
No insult, no finger-pointing intended in the following.

Pharmaceutical company companies extensively research physicians' hobbies and personal interests, send attractive spokespeople to "inform" said physicians about their products over three-star michelin meals and golf games. Without exception, these physicians insist that they are immune to unethical influence.

Corporations like Coca Cola spend $10 billion a year or more on advertising campaigns with messages that college undergrads -- here I'm speaking from experience as a former instructor -- unfailingly insist they're uniquely insusceptible to.

Either these corporations are somehow recklessly burning revenue by the billions and somehow raking in unprecedented profit despite the sheer stupidity of their business practices or people are prone to maintain flattering though entirely unrealistic images of themselves. Unfortunately for us, replicated psychology experiments point to pervasive self-deception. Fortunately for us, while it's practically impossible for us to accurately monitor our own self-interest, we're marvelous at pointing it out in others. And this is the why the appearance of impropriety matters so much.

Tomes of research on the topic are out there and anyone remotely interested in cognition will encounter the experiments again and again. For those unfamiliar with it I recommend starting here: http://www.amazon.com/Honest-Truth-Dishonesty-Everyone---Especially-ebook/dp/B006IYFCIM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1351217599&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Honest+Truth+About+Dishonesty:+How+We+Lie+to+Everyone---Especially+Ourselves
 

TheBaronOfNA

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So I've finally sifted through the thread and wow, a lot to digest.

I've known Lauren for a while. Haven't talked to her in a while, but I believe I've met her before at PAX and we were both very active and notable members of the Destructoid community many years ago. She eventually went on to freelance and I moved onward to one of Dtoid's sister sites, but I can tell you two things: she is indeed that obsessed with Tomb Raider (rabid is a word that does not begin to describe it) and I remember she did do work at one time for Square Enix, though I don't know if that coincided with the time she was doing reviews of Deus Ex: HR and such. Still, I can see where the issue is from Rab's point of view (which raises a question: if someone moves from PR to journalism, do we have to automatically assume they are always biased?) and from Lauren's point of view (the even remote possibility she's insinuated as a corporate shill and nothing more).

As for Rab, regardless of what he said, Eurogamer should not have folded on him like that and he has every damn right to be pissed. It almost seems like they didn't put up any sort of fight and hung Rab out to dry. Could Rab have perhaps written it differently to make it seems less libelous in the eyes of Eurogamer? Yeah, there's probably a better way it could have been written. Should they have at least given him the chance to amend his own work without taking matters into his own hands? I would say so. Is the opinion defense admissible here? Fuck yeah, it is. That was Rab's opinion (again, he could have worded it a bit better), but who knows: libel law can sometimes be more complicated than it seems. I don't think it had to end like this and they could have just asked Rab to rewrite that portion, keeping his argument intact but just using different phrasing. Why they apparently chose not to mystifies me.

Oh, and the Cook part wasn't libel in the slightest. I don't see any harm in what Rab said there.
I mystified that Lauren is in not wrong according to you.
 

Oersted

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Some kind of reminder.

This fucking industry man... What a sad day this has been for everyone involved. Robert Florence for not having a job anymore. Eurogamer for not having the confidence in their writer and not having his back. Wainwright for being called out on her public shamelessness and instead of owning up to it and maybe take a look at your work ethics, she threats to sue. For all the self proclaimed game 'journalists' who either defended her or the idea that there's actually no problem with having poor work ethics. For all the people who think this is to be expected and not do or say anything about it. For all the big game blogs, sites and notable game writers that didn't report or touch the story for whatever reason. And finally, for people attacking Wainwright for being female and not dealing intelligently with the situation.

A sad day indeed for this industry.



Reading this only makes me more upset towards this whole thing.
 

FartOfWar

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But how do you know?

People claim to know a lot of things about how they think and act but whenever tests are being done by for example Harvard's psychology department people don't act as the initial report they've filled out would suggest.

The human mind is very complex and much behavior does not result from deliberate thought. It's more like the conscious brain justifying the position that it subconsciously decided on.

I think all you can do (let's take you as an example) is follow the ethics code that you guys have written and displayed on your website.
Separate people that preview games from the people that review the games they've attended preview events for.
The more I read about human psychology the less I believe humans are trusted with what they believe, therefor there need to be ethics codes that must be followed.

(This is not an attack, as I said I think the ethics code on Polygon is great.)
Yes! We're all above average drivers. We're all (if slightly) smarter, funnier, attractive than average. Really, we're all a little like the latest game release.
 

pvpness

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Cook's reaction went as follows:

Anger.
Engagement/Explanation.
Oh crap, I can see how that would look bad.
Apology.
Moving on.

He didn't threaten to sue anyone or cause a major blowup. And he was pretty cordial to Rab on Twitter, even if he was originally annoyed at being quoted in the piece.

The difference between how Cook and Wainwright were treated has *everything* to do with the differences in how the two reacted.
Ah, so I did miss it. Thanks for catch-up mate.
 

Victrix

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Sep 1, 2005
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On the other hand, to be fair - Doritos and Mountain Dew are the kind of sponsors who specifically aren't a conflict of interests for gaming press. (except in the case that they are also sponsors for Halo, I guess - but that's way less egregious than being sponsored by Microsoft directly)
I agree with this. I find the original picture completely hilarious, but not because it represents some incredible evil.

Our olympic athletes take time between breaking records to sell us hair care products. Our racing drivers have cars so covered with advertising you can't see the body (and suits).

Ad dollars from a different industry is far superior to getting ad dollars from the same damn industry you're covering.

People gotta get paid if they want to work the job, and there's nothing wrong with that. Whether it's an issue that so much of the gaming press is paid for by the gaming publishers is something else entirely.

I see a couple possibilities down the line for gaming press.

One is the vague sea of movie reviewers as the inevitable future of game reviews, because I just don't see the job as having enough inherent value (or demanding of enough skills) to command high pay, certainly not enough to support multiple megasites. Information is cheap these days.

The other is that some number of content creators who can write, or make videos or podcasts that are of high enough quality that they can run their own little businesses, supported largely by their own fanbase and audience.

And anyone with enough writing chops to actually be a genuinely good journalist can certainly have a career writing in places other than the gaming industry.

The personalities behind the content are often as important as the content itself. Witness the rise of the youtube gaming channels that are making a handful of people very wealthy off literally nothing more than posting gameplay and talking over it - there's some industry movement and consolidation going on over there too. Same with livestreaming of videos, which is also attracting a lot of industry attention.
 

Ragingbegal

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So I've finally sifted through the thread and wow, a lot to digest.

I've known Lauren for a while. Haven't talked to her in a while, but I believe I've met her before at PAX and we were both very active and notable members of the Destructoid community many years ago. She eventually went on to freelance and I moved onward to one of Dtoid's sister sites, but I can tell you two things: she is indeed that obsessed with Tomb Raider (rabid is a word that does not begin to describe it) and I remember she did do work at one time for Square Enix, though I don't know if that coincided with the time she was doing reviews of Deus Ex: HR and such. Still, I can see where the issue is from Rab's point of view (which raises a question: if someone moves from PR to journalism, do we have to automatically assume they are always biased?) and from Lauren's point of view (the even remote possibility she's insinuated as a corporate shill and nothing more).
No, but standards dictate that person should disclose that they worked for/were paid by that company any time they write about them. That's fair. She didn't do that, and has, in fact, gone through great lengths to cover up her association with Square Enix since it came to light.

Frankly, if she worked in any journalism field outside of gaming she would be un-hirable and her career would be over, not because of the initial PS3 prize issue, but because of her behavior that followed. And that would be the proper response.
 

Lancehead

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I’ve seen swag move cities, make men stave off death, and turn an evil hag's heart half-circle. This entire Fortress has been constructed from swag. Swag damned a woman, whose heart clung to the hope that another loved her when he did not. Once, it made a man seek immortality and achieve it. And it has made a posturing spirit think it is something more than a part of me.
Ravel: "Stupid lovely man, you a-have no swag."
I was going to post another image, but no, I'm not going too off topic here.

Great job by SunhiLegend, by the way.
 

grimshawish

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I've known Lauren for a while. Haven't talked to her in a while, but I believe I've met her before at PAX and we were both very active and notable members of the Destructoid community many years ago. She eventually went on to freelance and I moved onward to one of Dtoid's sister sites, but I can tell you two things: she is indeed that obsessed with Tomb Raider (rabid is a word that does not begin to describe it) and I remember she did do work at one time for Square Enix, though I don't know if that coincided with the time she was doing reviews of Deus Ex: HR and such. Still, I can see where the issue is from Rab's point of view (which raises a question: if someone moves from PR to journalism, do we have to automatically assume they are always biased?) and from Lauren's point of view (the even remote possibility she's insinuated as a corporate shill and nothing more).
Her biggest problem is her actions after the article, the revelations since and her
They all line up to the narrative that she is a corporate shill.

Now. As you say she really is obsessed with Tomb Raider so I'll go with you on that; but the fact remains she used what she was taught on libel laws (to protect her) to attack another journalist - that is the big issue here (along with at no point mentioning links to SE, its clear she at least got some special access from her friend).

It goes against journalism entirely; it truly reeks. Instead of responding to the article she attacked it and the author, to me that indicates something underlying (a shill especially would not want this).

Its a total mess. Based on the frankly disgraceful use of anti-press libel laws (theres a reason they haven't been changed - politicians like them) shes just thrown any journalistic integrity out the window. The SE/Tomb Raider shit is really secondary to all this for me at least. Using the 'libel card' is just a dreadful thing to do, Rab was opening a question to readers but she still stabbed him in the back with the dagger all the press in the UK fear most.
 

SolidSnakex

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Well its not like she is a experienced writer who cant been replaced.
True, but I still think that they'll wait a few days to see if it'll blow over. Right now this is just a really hot issue on forums. If you look around it hasn't been picked up by many major gaming sites. It's something that should be a big deal everywhere (just like Gerstmann's situation).

It's why us as readers shouldn't so easily forget these events. It's why I hate the notion that everything is being "blown out of proportion."

That notion is why nothing changes. There are no repercussions for unethical behavior. Editors of these gaming outlets for the most part view gamers as children who whine and moan, but will forget about these events by next week. There is no reason to change when in a week there will be no incentive to do so.
We don't forget about them, but we also don't have much power. That much was made clear by how Bethesda was able to skate relatively clean after screwing over PS3 consumers with one of the buggiest games ever released while journalists awarded them with the best developer award at the Spike VGA.
 

El Sloth

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There's some disappointing comments in this thread worth weighing in on. Specifically, those who have dismissed the controversy because it's just "games journalism" and not worth further consideration because it's about toys.

Film was once looked on in this way. It was juvenile. Made for the poor masses and below any serious study. Then people started seeing the impact moving images could have and movies started invoking new emotions in their audiences. Do we not see the same in breath of themes in video games? And at a faster pace than in film?

Of course, if we choose to regard video games as mere toys then we'll likely repeat the same mistakes as those who disregarded the impact of early film.

The film industry eventually got thoughtful critics like Pauline Kael who pioneered film journalism. There are already some excellent writers like Tom Bissel who are doing this. There needs to be more.

Eventually, film critics did begin winning Pulizter prizes. For writing about movies. Even sports journalists — who are possibly the closet the video game reporters in that they're typically enthusiasts — are honored with the same award won by those who covered the Gulf War and life in Haiti. Should we not too demand the same level of thoughtfulness in the industry we enjoy?

There are strong stories out there worth telling. From the often deplorable working conditions of those who make the games we love possible to how a studio's vision can be too ambitious and come crashing down — and taking taxpayers with it. We need well-trained journalists to deliver these deserving stories.

Not demanding that kind of quality has enabled the kind of thing that has gone down during the past two days. Boiled down, video games may just be toys, but they're also a growing medium that continue to become more and more important to our cultural identity. That makes them worth writing about and giving serious consideration. This buddy-buddy club that has journalists in bed with PR and publishers undermines that, and it should be rooted out. So cheers to guys and gals like Rab Florence who see the state of things and do not so easily except them — and let all us readers do the same.
Hear hear

I like this post.
 
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