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

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Feature

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I bet hip hop gamer isn't a sell out like that! He keeps it real at all time bro. He's the last true reviewer.
 

Fistwell

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We haven't even told you the story of how IGN's Colin Campbell, mentioned above and a winner of the GMA's "Games Industry Legend" award, is directly implicated in the practice of covertly selling review scores for advertising – something this writer can verify from first-hand personal knowledge.
Uh. Is this kind of practice really this widespread and common knowledge? I thought moneyhats were a joke.
 

cRIPticon

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Maybe there's no way she could've got into the industry without 'getting dirty' like everyone else, still though. You can't have it both ways. You can't do the dirt and expect that you'll look clean forever.
Especially not as terribly as she hid her tracks
Can't stand these broad assumptions. Not everyone that gets into the industry does so by "getting dirty". I know plenty of credible folks who place their integrity above all else. Oh, and they happen to be friends with people across the board and are still able to be objective and honest in their assessments.
 

McBradders

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The more that is unearthed, the more Wainwright's corruption becomes a microcosm of the industry as a whole. This was linked to over at Rllmuk:



-Showered with gifts.
-Taken for superexpensive meal by developer.
-Drinking with them.
-PREVIEW COMING SOON
-Thinking about working for them.
Come the fuck on man, I am far, far from being on that girls side but you are grossly putting words into her mouth when you say "Thinking about working for them". In that same passage she mentions both IGN and MTV, both of which cover(ed) games and is far more likely what she was insinuating... and then following up on when she had something posted on IGN.

No need to actually get hysterical over this.
 

Gomu Gomu

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Man, you guys have been fantastic. This whole thread has been fantastic. So many awesome and thoughtful posts and points being made all around.

Its not a development exactly, more something indicative of cowardly supposed journalists unwilling to get involved:

Chris Schilling is the self-described gaming critic (Twitter account here) and he has done work for The Guardian, Eurogamer, PC Gamer and many others.

His Twitter feed interaction with Rab over the last day involves heartlessly telling him to "move on" despite the fact that Rab lost his Eurogamer position less than twenty four hours ago. When veteran UK game dev Ste Pickford encourages Chris to actually write about the events - Chris declines. Rab responds with a seemingly exacerbated "Oh Chris".



You can really see how uncomfortable this entire furor makes some supposed journalists. Their utter inability to raise discussion or significant commentary over such a significant story, strongly suggests collective cowardice and/or editorial doctrine.
The more that is unearthed, the more Wainwright's corruption becomes a microcosm of the industry as a whole. This was linked to over at Rllmuk:



-Showered with gifts.
-Taken for superexpensive meal by developer.
-Drinking with them.
-PREVIEW COMING SOON
-Thinking about working for them.
These two posts highlight exactly what Florence's article was all about. The one above is a case where being close with PR people is actually affecting your duties of reporting on issues and doing your job. The latter post needs absolutely no explanations.


Just gotta say, I feel pretty damn sorry for what Wainright is going through. She's merely the randomly chosen person who could have been any number of other people caught up in this. I would much rather this story not be about her, because it truly isn't. It's about the 'professional' culture she inherited as a game journalist in this day and age.
I would feel sorry for her ONLY when she admits that what she was doing this entire time is shady and borderline unethical and unprofessional. If she doesn't do that, with all the info surfaced, and her being stubborn throughout, no. I won't feel sorry for her.

I do, however, hope readers don't focus on her exclusivly and forget that she is but the tip of the ice berg in this mess. I said it before, and I'll say it again: This thing is much bigger than a single 25 year old freelancer.
 
Come the fuck on man, I am far, far from being on that girls side but you are grossly putting words into her mouth when you say "Thinking about working for them". In that same passage she mentions both IGN and MTV, both of which cover(ed) games and is far more likely what she was insinuating... and then following up on when she had something posted on IGN.

No need to actually get hysterical over this.
This sounds like "Thinking about working for (Insert Game Company)" to me:

I’ve found business cards from people at MTV, IGN and Remedy as well. So whole trip was a real experience for me and had got me thinking about a few things career wise as well. Need more confidence in myself!
 

I'm an expert

Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
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Feel sorry for her about what? She seems to be one of the most corrupt. Call her out and get her out of the industry.
 

lednerg

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Feb 27, 2006
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Why would you feel sorry for her? The original comment about her was not particularly inflammatory. Her reaction to the article is what got it all truly started. Of course, she doesn't deserve personal insults but she does deserve all the scrutiny. Hopefully, this keeps going beyond her and some change comes of it.
I don't see why her name even needed to come out to begin with. It was rather unnecessary.

Her big crime that landed her the staring role in the controversy was that she was being naive, defending the contest in a Tweet saying she was 'not sure why' it was wrong. Well, maybe she wasn't sure, who knows?. Rob said that a few Tweets earlier she had talked about looking forward to Tomb Raider. He tells us how that could plant seeds of doubt in the reader about her intentions.

Sure, interesting point, but just as she should have considered her audience's feelings, Rob probably should have done the same with his. Of course she and her colleagues and friends were going to find out about the article get all riled up. The Streisand effect that followed was unfortunate and most likely a due to a combination of humiliation, rage, and naivete. If she asked 'WTF did I do to deserve being singled-out like this?' - I'd seriously have no good answer to that question. No, it wasn't libel, at least not as I understand it. It did, however, seem quite mean and out of the blue.

Gamers are champions of Google and jumping to conclusions. But mostly of Googling to justify their conclusions. She was a corporate shill from the get-go because... something... whatever let's all go connect the dots. Oh look, she listed Squeenix on her resume. Lets now go on Steam and Twitter to harass the everloving shit out of her. That's fair. I mean, we obviously have all the facts since Google stopped producing results. It's important we fix game journalism, one naive twenty-something at a time, because that's going to solve... something.

In the end, this whole thing about Wainright has ultimately become a distraction from the real story. Why did the contest not seem like a big deal to her (or the dozens of other journalists participating in it)? Because of the overall culture of game journalism and its close relationship with PR. That's the whole damn point. Whatever this girl's story is or isn't doesn't amount to a hill of beans in the end. It's not going to solve anything to 'out' this one girl or make an example out of her.
 
Apr 13, 2006
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It might seem you are talking about gamer journalist on that one. And for a person that cant really add to the conversation you really have chimed in since yesterday:

Chris Chilling ‏@schillingc
Remember when we used to write about the games? That was fun, wasn't it?

Chris Chilling ‏@schillingc
@RichStanton I don't think it's so much the quotes as the implications of corruption. But yeah, slippery slope.

Chris Chilling ‏@schillingc
@stillgray The writer wasn't fired - he opted to leave his position as columnist.

Chris Chilling ‏@schillingc
@GasheadAu I just think this has ended up doing more harm than good, regardless of the intentions of the original piece.

Chris Chilling ‏@schillingc
@stepickford @GasheadAu There were good points in Rob's piece, but it fell apart because of a lack of facts. It's based on assumptions.
Addressing a handful of comments on Twitter isn't properly weighing in on the matter. All this is ancillary to the main issue, anyway. I'm not sure why you're pursuing me when I've already said I've little to add to the conversation.
 

Foxtastical

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Did these images make it over to this thread yet?

Internet detectives throw more light on the Square Enix / Wainwright connection.


This bothers me a lot. When I finished my BA in Journalism 5 or 6 years ago and wanted to get into the industry without contacts, it was impossible. The nepotism of the industry is intensely strong. Absolutely irritating.
 

Jackpot

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It's partly that, but also because I don't think I can really add anything to the conversation, not least because I don't have many dealings with PRs in comparison with other writers. I'm not asking Rab personally to move on, it was more out of exasperation at seeing the same things over and over again in my Twitter feed. Also note that I'm saying lessons *should* and *will* be learned from all this.

It's nothing to do with being a pussy, or whatever. I don't call myself a journalist, I'm a games critic. My job is to write about games, which I believe is my strength. The politics of all this is complicated, and something I'm not familiar enough with to write about in any meaningful way. I'll write about the subject if and when I can bring something worthwhile to the table. But I think other people are in a better position to do that. Indeed, some already have.
Chris Shilling?





You dun goofed, son.

And christ is it hard to read twitter.

Chris said:
Games journalists who have kids: how do you have time to do stuff that isn't writing about games or sorting your kids out? Stumped.
Q12. Where do YOU want to see the industry in five years time?

CS – I’m a little disappointed that we don’t see the kind of esoteric fare that enlivened the PS2 era these days, though we’re starting to see more original titles appear in the downloadable arena. I do have some concerns about digital distribution in that if retail releases end up invading the download space, those games currently making their name there could be squeezed out. I’d like to see Japan rise again as a genuine force in modern gaming. I’d also like to see some changes in games journalism. I’d like to see an increased focus on quality rather than quantity or speed. You get sites constantly trying to be first rather than best. You get people posting deliberately controversial or contrarian opinions because they know they’ll get a spike in their daily hits. It’s getting harder for good journalists to make a decent living as sites and mags cut costs, and invariably the best writers move on. There are too many people setting up sites simply to get free games; they don’t actually care about the quality they’re providing for their readers.
And your excuses are thin at best.

"I don't know enough about the complex world of games journalism to write about this despite writing articles about games for god knows how many years. I'm a real outsider. Who could possibly make sense of it all... not the dozens of GAF posters who have already sussed it."

"It'd be socially awkward to write about this because I know the people involved. Never mind that I previously commented about wanting games journalism to improve, never mind that it exemplifies the some of the problems of the UK gaming press, I couldn't possibly do something when it actually mattered, it'd be too awkward! my integrity only counts for something when there's nothing on the line, when it gets real I'm just going to sit in the corner and stare at my shoes."
 

Corto

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In the end, it's mostly the fault of the journalist, not the PR/publisher(s).

I'm a
VIDYA GAME JOURNALIST
for an European gaming website (which I shall not name for obvious reasons). I've had my fair share of PR events, previews and such. During one of the previews, we dined at an expensive restaurant with the PR guy from a publisher I will not name (again, for obvious reasons).

It's fun and all, but at the end of the day, I just care about the game and I write my opinion about that game. Sure, dining at a fancy restaurant is fun and all, but it shouldn't cloud your judgement. If they want to give me free food, that's their decision. It's not hard to still write an unbiased (although every review is subjective because of OPINIONS) article after getting all sorts of things from them.

TL;DR: accepting PF gifts etc doesn't make you corrupt, it just depends on the integrity of the 'journalist'
Read these posts from fartofwar.

Post #1
Post #2
Post #3

You are just rationalizing to internally justify that your opinion is incorruptible. It is not. Even at an unconscious level.
 

Schrödinger's cat

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There's nothing wrong with being friendly to each other and having a nice talk. The thing is: it shouldn't have any influence on your review and that's where some people start to fail.
There's far too much of one at the expense of the other. And then when that gets called out, a wall of silence is erected for the sake of friendships.

There is a very clear buyer<>seller relationship in all this. Whether the consumer is a buyer of the product a publisher is selling, or a publisher is a buyer of advertising space a publication is selling. There are countless other examples at many different levels.

It is folly to overlook that clear business relationship in order to argue friendships and sacrifice professionalism.
 

SolidSnakex

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Because it used to be thrown around every five minutes any time anyone would take exception to any score given to any game ever, more or less.
Yeah, it's certainly overused. But it's also real. It's one reason why people are often very cautious of exclusive reviews. UBI caught heat once because they told a magazine that they'd only send them a review copy of Assassin's Creed 2 if they guaranteed that it would receive a high score. So, it's not always about money hatting.
 

Feature

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The comment section on future wainwright articles will be interesting to see. I hope she can't write a single article without the comments being filled with blame on her.
 
Apr 13, 2006
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These two posts highlight exactly what Florence's article was all about. The one above is a case where being close with PR people is actually affecting your duties of reporting on issues and doing your job.
Okay, I need to address this. I'm not close with any PR people. I'm based well outside London where most events are held. I'm a freelancer who rarely attends any events of this nature (I wasn't at the GMAs, for example) and any code that comes my way is usually from an editor of a site rather than the PR. In some cases, I'll need to contact the PR to ask them to send the code direct to me, but beyond that I don't speak with PRs much at all.

Quite apart from that, it's not my job to report on this. I'm a freelance writer who writes about games. I'll talk about the industry, but I rarely get into the politics of this stuff because it's something I have little experience with. There are people better-equipped to talk about these things. Not every film reviewer discusses the issues at the heart of Hollywood. Not every music critic will talk about how piracy affects the industry. That's not their role, and they know they're not the right person for the job in those instances. Same goes for me in this one.
 

grimshawish

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Come the fuck on man, I am far, far from being on that girls side but you are grossly putting words into her mouth when you say "Thinking about working for them". In that same passage she mentions both IGN and MTV, both of which cover(ed) games and is far more likely what she was insinuating... and then following up on when she had something posted on IGN.

No need to actually get hysterical over this.
And she did get to work for IGN it should be pointed out; likely she got the Tomb Raider article cause they knew she liked the game after meeting her (a few sources have backed up that she really is raving for the game.

The issue for Wainwright is not the culture in the industry, its the actions over the libel case which make her in no way a journalist, her actions were entirely against the very ideas of journalism or freedom of information. She lost any integrity with that and should be more or less ignored until she appears to have learnt and grown up a bit. Atm shes a spoilt brat, taught the tricks of journalism but is using them against a journalists freedom. I can't believe she did what she did and my lack of ability to express myself makes it difficult to explain how I feel about it - disgusted isn't the word, but its the closest I can get.

Her friendship with a PR person is no different from the rest of the industry. Fact is theres no journalistic integrity in the gaming circle. Whatsoever, its cut throat against anyone who speaks out; silencing people who want to change things; whilst also ignoring the ideas of journalism and integrity.

In the end games journalism is just a big 'gossip site' its the reporters who squeeze up the industry to get the gossip first. Their not journalists, their bloggers. All of them. Until gaming sites begin to show some level of integrity and control over their employees and relationship with the game producers; their nothing but PR spokes pieces.


I don't have a problem with dinners etc.; its the cosey relationship of repaying awards/favours to one another.
Rab's point in his original piece isn't to tear apart the people connections, but make some distance between the jobs that PR people do and the jobs the press do. Thats not there evidently.

Also a level of 'profit before integrity' is strongly in place. Don't have the Skyrim PS3 copy? Fuck it! Review the 360 version and slap PS3 on it! Just for some hits to the reviews, pointing out that there is no PS3 review and people should 'wait' until both versions are reviewed would be just as effective and give the journalists involved a lot of power to demand copies, as oppose to being gifted them (which is wrong).
 

Dawg

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Read these posts from fartofwar.

Post #1
Post #2
Post #3

You are just rationalizing to internally justify that your opinion is incorruptible. It is not. Even at an unconscious level.
No, that's just overgeneralization. By your logic, it is impossible to write a negative review/article if the PR gifts/food/whatever was excellent? Because, we've had plenty negatieve reviews about bad games, even if the PR was good. I remember getting a very cool Brink PR package, but that game was awful. Thus it received an awful review. PR gift was cool, but that's it.
 

QaaQer

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Jun 13, 2012
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In the end, it's mostly the fault of the journalist, not the PR/publisher(s).
I saw this at RPS and thought of it when I read your comment:

robf said:
But y'know, it's really hard to talk about fixing things when everyone's decided that they're going on an internet crusade for blood and vengeance. Aside from it being destructive and nasty, it's helping to keep the status quo by deflecting over any real issues whilst folks go hunting for that ol' smoking gun again. Which I guess is what some people really want? Because having to face the truth that some people are just a bit naive and inept isn't anywhere near as much fun?
namdrol said:
Any discipline that requires public trust requires safeguards (transparency and oversight) to make sure that the system doesn't get corrupted from the outside. The problem isn't Wainwright (sp?), she is merely a symptom.

People are looking on the wrong side of the equation. There are pHds in media manipulation, top teir PR people make 7 figure incomes, and companies & nations devote a lot of resources to it.

It is much easier to target a daffy twat that has been used by the PR machine & doesn't know how to play the game properly then look at the system as whole. Systems are boring, individual personalities are not.


Moreover, much of the anger originates from the paranoia and cynicism that PR and marketing corruption has create through their manipulation of the media, and not just in gaming. http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=380#war [the big one in their PR profile, imo, was the fake "Iraqis Kill Kuwaiti Babies by Throwing Them Out of Incubators" story fabricated by the PR corporation and given in fake testimony to congress by a 15 year old girl in order to gain public support for Gulf War I.]

So when a 'journo' is caught being PR's bitch, even in something as inconsequential as gaming, there is going to be a bit of shitstorm. And, imo, the more light that can be brought to bear on this type of mass manipulation in any context is good. Chalking it up to naivety and youth belies the pernicious, hidden, and omnipresent nature of modern PR.
 

Dead Man

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Aug 24, 2007
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What

I thought it was more along the lines of super injunctions being granted while the case was still being considered, not that you're 'guilty' until proven 'innocent' [legal phrasing]

Glad we broke our legal system away from the UK all those forevers ago
Not forgetting that the truth is not a defense against libel at the moment there.

Just gotta say, I feel pretty damn sorry for what Wainright is going through. She's merely the randomly chosen person who could have been any number of other people caught up in this. I would much rather this story not be about her, because it truly isn't. It's about the 'professional' culture she inherited as a game journalist in this day and age.
I don't, I just wish it was happening to all the shills. She also would have been better off if she had not thrown around threats of legal action for a damn quote and supposition.
 
May 2, 2006
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Okay, I need to address this. I'm not close with any PR people. I'm based well outside London where most events are held. I'm a freelancer who rarely attends any events of this nature (I wasn't at the GMAs, for example) and any code that comes my way is usually from an editor of a site rather than the PR. In some cases, I'll need to contact the PR to ask them to send the code direct to me, but beyond that I don't speak with PRs much at all.

Quite apart from that, it's not my job to report on this. I'm a freelance writer who writes about games. I'll talk about the industry, but I rarely get into the politics of this stuff because it's something I have little experience with. There are people better-equipped to talk about these things. Not every film reviewer discusses the issues at the heart of Hollywood. Not every music critic will talk about how piracy affects the industry. That's not their role, and they know they're not the right person for the job in those instances. Same goes for me in this one.
Thats fine. But you were telling people to stop talking about it.
 

j0hnny_385

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Feb 3, 2012
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I don't think if this is appropriate here but couple of things have been running through my mind ever since the Press Reset | Polygon Documentary came out and everything that went with it.

I posed myself two questions:

1. why is games journalism viewed in such a different light than movie/theater/tvshow/<insertart> journalism/criticism?

2. why are game journalists in general subjected to huge mockery here on GAF and elsewhere on the Net?

Let me explain that second question right away: I'm not saying they're a protected species and shouldn't be touched and we all known some of them made a fool of themselves on various occasions BUT this forum is over-flooded with huuuuge generalizations of the press with stuff like: "gaming journalist" (a pure mockey) , "lol, they're not journalists" ,etc.

Other than games I frequently read movie/tv reviews as well as in-depth technical reviews (think Anandtech...) and I look at those people writing those stories as professionals/journalists/critics, whatever.

I also want to see that same kind of intrinsic value in games journalism because I don't think that's impossible I think we just need to applaud and value good journalists and expose those bad. The overall goal should be to get out of the mockey and start appreciating those good people who do their job good and open.

I hope what I wrote made sense and you see what I'm getting at. An overall upgrade in standards, disclosure, quality of writing, proof checking, linking, etc.
 
Mar 10, 2005
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In the end, it's mostly the fault of the journalist, not the PR/publisher(s).

I'm a
VIDYA GAME JOURNALIST
for an European gaming website (which I shall not name for obvious reasons). I've had my fair share of PR events, previews and such. During one of the previews, we dined at an expensive restaurant with the PR guy from a publisher I will not name (again, for obvious reasons).

It's fun and all, but at the end of the day, I just care about the game and I write my opinion about that game. Sure, dining at a fancy restaurant is fun and all, but it shouldn't cloud your judgement. If they want to give me free food, that's their decision. It's not hard to still write an unbiased (although every review is subjective because of OPINIONS) article after getting all sorts of things from them.

TL;DR: accepting PF gifts etc doesn't make you corrupt, it just depends on the integrity of the 'journalist'
You know why journalism has strict ethical rules on "Nothing more expensive than a cup of coffee?" Do you know why those of us with degrees are required to take journalistic ethics classes?

Because leaving it up to the individual person to decide when their integrity is being compromised doesn't work.
 

cameron

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Jun 11, 2010
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The comment section on future wainwright articles will be interesting to see. I hope she can't write a single article without the comments being filled with blame on her.
She'll be fine. By Monday, most people will forget her name and this 'incident.' And the masses that read the publications she writes for are a non-issue.
 

Risible

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I keep seeing the "I don't call myself a journalist" excuse. Who gives a shit. That's not the point AT ALL.

If you are writing about a product and you are in any way beholden to the people who make that product then you are being dishonest and unethical. Full stop. Anything less than full transparency makes you extremely suspect.
 

Fistwell

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Feb 22, 2012
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Yeah, it's certainly overused. But it's also real. It's one reason why people are often very cautious of exclusive reviews. UBI caught heat once because they told a magazine that they'd only send them a review copy of Assassin's Creed 2 if they guaranteed that it would receive a high score. So, it's not always about money hatting.
Understood. What's flooring me however is that this whole thread came from Florence suggesting Wainwright's behavior could be misinterpreted as suspicious (and from her reaction to it).

Now that other guy is presenting someone as selling scores for ad money. That's a hell of a stronger statement. I'm surprised the incriminated person hasn't already gone ballistic over it. Sounds like a much bigger deal to me. Makes this Wainwright business look trivial. Where's the outrage? Or is it that Colin Campbell already is a known quantity? (I don't keep up with IGN much)
 

grimshawish

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Dec 30, 2011
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No, that's just overgeneralization. By your logic, it is impossible to write a negative review/article if the PR gifts/food/whatever was excellent? Because, we've had plenty negatieve reviews about bad games, even if the PR was good. I remember getting a very cool Brink PR package, but that game was awful. Thus it received an awful review. PR gift was cool, but that's it.
If its PR stuff based around the product (info stuff; promotional cards; boxes - that sort of thing); but 'gifts' beyond this, do you not thing they might have other reasons for sending it?

In which case - is your definition of integrity stronger than the well paid PR staff who with their large but important budgets are choosing to send you free stuff?
 
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