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

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crazygambit

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Even though I'm still only considered a "blogger" by many standards out there, I try to follow as closely as I can to the ethics side of things. I've noticed when I call people that I know out for taking free trips from a company here or there, I get a cold shoulder. It really feels like people don't want their meal ticket to go sour sometimes.

Personally, I don't do ads and I pay for trips everywhere I need to go. I'm going broke (seriously) doing this. I don't expect everyone else to, but at the same time, it needs to be balanced.
I don't think this is the solution either. It's been mentioned before, but why does the advertising in gaming sites need to be 100% gaming related?

You have access to the most widely sought after demographic in advertising, why waste it on advertising for games they probably already know about. If I'm reading a review about Diablo III a banner for the game on top of it isn't much use. I'm at the point where I'm actively looking for more information on the title, that banner is a wasted opportunity.

Gaming sites could still be profitable and negate the effects of PR on their editorial content if they just went with different kinds of advertisements. Tell me about movies or TV shows I might not know about. Even a Doritos & Mountain Dew ad is miles better than the game you're reviewing.

I think no gaming site or mag should advertise games. I know most tell themselves that the editorial and commercial departments are completely separate and don't interact with each other, but that quickly falls apart when the publisher in question represents a significant portion of the advertisement pie.

tl;dr: It should be completely unethical to advertise the stuff you're criticizing and that ALL gaming sites are unable to see this is troubling to say the least.
 

Fistwell

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Rogue carries an implication of being in the worng, of going outside the rules of decent behaviour. In this case it would be the industry that is rogue, not tha guy calling them out.
But in the industry's mind, they're fine and he'd be the rogue. Which is what I assume Corto implied.

Why are you asking?

In light of all this, that kind of humility and levelheadedness is really refreshing and cool to hear.
Agreed. Along the same lines, it's nice to note that the other guy mentioned in Florence's piece was left well alone after he owned up to it.

"never let people make your mind up for you."
Why not?
 

Schobeleth

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You were never told by your parents "Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear?" Following up to that, my parents would say "Question everything. You're given a brain for a reason, never let people make your mind up for you."
 

Mister Saturn

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I am becoming increasingly concerned with how people are throwing around the "I don't consider myself a game journalist, so don't judge me like one" mentality.

When you're actively arguing to sweep something under the wrong, it stops mattering what you think you are, that's not the goddamn point.
Quoting because I think this might be one of my favorite points in this enormous thread. Not only are you shockingly reasonable, but your truth is absolutely cutting.

Very fair point, though that assumes a moderate reader response that I'm not sure would be the case.
I disagree with this assumption. I feel this whole debacle has shown a moderate reader response (for the internet), even to the point of /v/ calling out and taking action against the bullshit misogynists trying to muddy the waters.
 

TommyT

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But in the industry's mind, they're fine and he'd be the rogue. Which is what I assume Corto implied.


Why are you asking?


Agreed. Along the same lines, it's nice to note that the other guy mentioned in Florence's piece was left well alone after he owned up to it.
Why are you wanting to know that I'm asking about you clarifying as to why everything should be questioned?

You were never told by your parents "Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear?" Following up to that, my parents would say "Question everything. You're given a brain for a reason, never let people make your mind up for you."
*whoosh*
 

Dead Man

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You were never told by your parents "Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear?" Following up to that, my parents would say "Question everything. You're given a brain for a reason, never let people make your mind up for you."
I believe he was quistioning the reasoning of questioning everything. As he was told.

Edit: Gah, too slow.
 

crazygambit

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Influence is not always that obvious. That is why journalists have the rules they do.
Indeed. I can't even accept gifts from clients, but these jokers don't see anything wrong with accepting gifts from PR? Because somehow they're immune to being influenced? Ridiculous.
 

TommyT

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I believe he was quistioning the reasoning of questioning everything. As he was told.

Edit: Gah, too slow.
;)

Oh I was only questioning everything. What were you doing?
I was playing a fun game literally doing what you said, and thought you were playing along, so I continued... unless my response was SO GOOD you just couldn't think of a follow up question!
 

RedNumberFive

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Indeed. I can't even accept gifts from clients, but these jokers don't see anything wrong with accepting gifts from PR? Because somehow they're immune to being influenced? Ridiculous.
Being a game journalist is a special calling, for people who can accept lavish trips and gifts without it being a conflict of interest.

Seriously though, I'd be fired if I accepted anything more than a free pen from a client. Legitimate businesses take these things seriously.
 

Osiris

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Being a game journalist is a special calling, for people who can accept lavish trips and gifts without it being a conflict of interest.

Seriously though, I'd be fired if I accepted anything more than a free pen from a client. Legitimate businesses take these things seriously.
Same here, although the industry I'm in is stricter that that, we have a saying and it the absolutely expected etiquette to follow it to the letter. "You are not [your client's] friend!", it is used repeatably because long periods of close contact between the two parties is expected (to the point of living together for a few months, literally) and the lines between service provider / client get blurred and professional compromise is the usual outcome for failing to maintain the necessary separation.

The fact that gaming press and publishers PR machines are so unhealthily entwined both fascinates and disgusts me equally.
 

Interfectum

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If I were a 'games journalist' and I saw a lot of people in my field getting jobs at Bungie, Blizzard, Microsoft, EA, 2K, etc I'd do probably do what I could to land a job at one of those places. If it ment writing some fluff pieces or throwing out some undeserved 9's then so be it.

I think that's the biggest problem. What's the incentive to NOT do what they are doing right now? Some of them get massively rewarded for it.
 

Brazil

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If I were a 'games journalist' and I saw a lot of people in my field getting jobs at Bungie, Blizzard, Microsoft, EA, 2K, etc I'd do probably do what I could to land a job at one of those places. If it ment writing some fluff pieces or throwing out some undeserved 9's then so be it.

I think that's the biggest problem. What's the incentive to NOT do what they are doing right now? Some of them get massively rewarded for it.
It's not about incentive, it's about having the moral fiber to do the job you're supposed to do instead of leaving behind all the integrity you had to land in a "better" position.

Basically, it's about not being a piece of shit.

If you want to be a PR guy, go be a PR guy. Don't fake being something entirely different in hopes of becoming a PR guy.
 

Lime

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If I were a 'games journalist' and I saw a lot of people in my field getting jobs at Bungie, Blizzard, Microsoft, EA, 2K, etc I'd do probably do what I could to land a job at one of those places. If it ment writing some fluff pieces or throwing out some undeserved 9's then so be it.

I think that's the biggest problem. What's the incentive to NOT do what they are doing right now? Some of them get massively rewarded for it.
Ethics. Integrity. Rationality. Honesty. Character.

And the fact that you are working as a journalist because you like the profession, not as a springboard to another profession.
 

Ponn

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If I were a 'games journalist' and I saw a lot of people in my field getting jobs at Bungie, Blizzard, Microsoft, EA, 2K, etc I'd do probably do what I could to land a job at one of those places. If it ment writing some fluff pieces or throwing out some undeserved 9's then so be it.

I think that's the biggest problem. What's the incentive to NOT do what they are doing right now? Some of them get massively rewarded for it.
And you know, I really can't fault them for that. As long as they come out, be upfront with it and don't pretend to be a trusted authority, a journalist or even a reporter.

Kind of like the IGN Beyond crew. I don't view them as journalists, I view them like personalities, like Ryan Seacrest's or some shit like that. It's the pseudo journalism wannabes like at Kotaku that I will hold their feet to the fire.
 

Dawg

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Being a game journalist is a special calling, for people who can accept lavish trips and gifts without it being a conflict of interest.

Seriously though, I'd be fired if I accepted anything more than a free pen from a client. Legitimate businesses take these things seriously.
Publisher =/= your client

If I viewed publishers as client, I would feel like I have to "obey/serve" them, which I don't. Also, I'm pretty sure you get money out of your job. I don't get a nickle out of this, and pr gifts are not a way to "pay me". Most of them gather dust in my room.

PR gifts is only a small portion of the entire thing btw. A lot of people think it's all fun and free games, but it's not always like that. Certainly not on the site I work. There are times I have to pay for the trip myself, only to play some demo for 30 minutes and leave again. People really have a wrong vision if they think people like me get to do lavish trips every day and bathe in glorious pr gifts et cetera

Like I said, they're only a fraction of the work. We have to write news every day, check sources (yeah, we actually check those) and more. I don't get anything out of writing news, except for our site being up-to-date.

Of course, the corrupt will always stand out more and make everyone look bad. It's always been like that. I'm not defending the current gaming press system either, it could be a lot better, but I make the best out of it.

I'm not defending people like Lauren in any way btw. It just irritates me that those people make the system even worse.
 
It's not about incentive, it's about having the moral fiber to do the job you're supposed to do instead of leaving behind all the integrity you had to land in a "better" position.

Basically, it's about not being a piece of shit.

If you want to be a PR guy, go be a PR guy. Don't fake being something entirely different in hopes of becoming a PR guy.

This is a lot of the problem. A lot of 'games journalists' think of a promotion as landing a role at a developer/publisher rather than becoming an editor or something like that.
 

Jackpot

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It's not about incentive, it's about having the moral fiber to do the job you're supposed to do instead of leaving behind all the integrity you had to land in a "better" position.

Basically, it's about not being a piece of shit.
But a huge number only get into the job of "games publicist" because they love gaming but have none of the necessary skills to help develop them. That's why we see so many people transfer from 1UP to fluff jobs like "community manager" after years of sucking up to the developer in question.
 

Fistwell

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Mmmm, looks like there's going to be some more info soon:
Yeah we heard.



Looks like we are going to get a followup article, written by Rab and hosted by the fearless Stuart Campbell.

Stuart has already taunted Wainwright to set her legal dogs on him for rehosting the unedited Eurogamer article, so at least we know this time that Rab's content will remain uncensored.

Personally I hope he names names. Lets blow this problem wide open.
@botherer is not @revstu
I appreciate that. Was only pointing out the tweets he quoted had been posted a few pages back.
Erh... one of the 2, good catch.

The guy being addressed (John Walker) responded. It'll most likely be hosted on RPS, not RevStu's blog.
Yeah I saw. Profuse apologies etc.
 

ghst

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It's not about incentive, it's about having the moral fiber to do the job you're supposed to do instead of leaving behind all the integrity you had to land in a "better" position.

Basically, it's about not being a piece of shit.

If you want to be a PR guy, go be a PR guy. Don't fake being something entirely different in hopes of becoming a PR guy.
you only have to look to poligaf to see how quickly good intentions and righteous causes can steamroll over principles and moral clarity.

everyone is a PR guy when a new poll shows their preferred candidate slipping behind.
 

AkuMifune

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It's not about incentive, it's about having the moral fiber to do the job you're supposed to do instead of leaving behind all the integrity you had to land in a "better" position.

Basically, it's about not being a piece of shit.

If you want to be a PR guy, go be a PR guy. Don't fake being something entirely different in hopes of becoming a PR guy.
To be fair, this is the way most people are in ALL areas of business. Just that game writing is so highly visible to us and all the personalities known we can watch and trace their every move.

Like living in a glass house.

But yeah, that's something you should be cognizant of getting into this industry.
 

Ledsen

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Sean Elliot's posts illustrate very clearly why the replies of some people (including journalists) have very unpleasant implications for the future of games writing. They believe that they can stoically weather the storm of influence from PR, emerging unscathed, pure and unbiased like the superhumans they are. You are influenced by everything, and the most dangerous influence is the one you're not aware of.
 

Miletius

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But a huge number only get into the job of "games publicist" because they love gaming but have none of the necessary skills to help develop them. That's why we see so many people transfer from 1UP to fluff jobs like "community manager" after years of sucking up to the developer in question.
Part of the problem unfortunately is that a games journalist salary is kind of low, so perks like free trips or a chance at a better job are really nice incentives. Not an easy problem to solve though since the whole field is pretty niche in terms of what audience they cater to, so it's not exactly easy to pay them more and even conventional journos don't make that much.
 

RedNumberFive

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Publisher =/= your client

If I viewed publishers as client, I would feel like I have to "obey/serve" them, which I don't.
It doesn't matter which way the transaction goes, in legitimate business giving these gifts is as bad as receiving them. Game publishers are just as culpable as you. Bottom line, if you consider yourself even remotely professional, you should adhere to either a formal or personal set of ethics guidelines, because whether perceived or true, a conflict of interest DOES exist. All I'm hearing is excuses for accepting gifts.
 

Clear

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Interfectum said:
I think that's the biggest problem. What's the incentive to NOT do what they are doing right now? Some of them get massively rewarded for it.
Exactly.

The real question though is why gamers are so fixated on reviews and bullshit metrics like review scores. Many blockbuster movies have critical metascores that would make C-list games publishers blush, and some popular genres (horror for example) which are generally looked down upon by mainstream critics wouldn't stand a chance in the first place!

Movies, TV, Music, books... is there any other creative medium where this sort of scrutiny is placed on reviews? All of which are just as subjectively "good" or "bad" as a game is.

The simple solution is to exercise a bit more skepticism and critical thinking when it comes to buying decisions, and stop letting these goons tell you what you're supposed to like. There are a few good games writers out there, but none of them share my -and most likely your- precise taste in games, and as to the rest... their opinions aren't neccessarily more informed or valid than your average Gaffer.

Most of all NEVER FORGET that paid game journalists aren't providing a public service out of the goodness of their hearts. Its a living to them, and they have bosses to answer to who are even more invested in the bottom-line than their employees. Its amazing to me that everyone acts surprised and disappointed that Eurogamer modified Rab's article when they are far closer to The Sun than a respectable bastion of journalistic integrity - its one of the most cynically flame-baiting gaming sites in existence.
 

Mama Robotnik

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Most of you probably don't frequent GRCade - they made me chuckle very much when I noticed they had changed their logo in light of recent events:

 

Agent Unknown

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Looks like we are going to get a followup article, written by Rab and hosted by the fearless Stuart Campbell.

Stuart has already taunted Wainwright to set her legal dogs on him for rehosting the unedited Eurogamer article, so at least we know this time that Rab's content will remain uncensored.
Too awesome.

Personally I hope he names names. Lets blow this problem wide open.
I agree, we really need to find out the names of the journos who threatened him. This could be a great opportunity to give game journalism the public beat down and housecleaning that it's been needing for a long time.
 

Osiris

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It doesn't matter which way the transaction goes, in legitimate business giving these gifts is as bad as receiving them. Game publishers are just as culpable as you. Bottom line, if you consider yourself even remotely professional, you should adhere to either a formal or personal set of ethics guidelines, because whether perceived or true, a conflict of interest DOES exist. All I'm hearing is excuses for accepting gifts.
At least the dialogue on this has progressed a little over the last few years, it wasn't that long ago that the main rebuttal to the gift/perk issue was "You're just jealous".

Not that I expect much to change if I'm honest, I'm fairly cynical and would not expect much professionalism from most of the gaming press going forward, such things are apparently "above their pay grade".
 
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At least the dialogue on this has progressed a little over the last few years, it wasn't that long ago that the main rebuttal to the gift/perk issue was "You're just jealous".

Not that I expect much to change if I'm honest, I'm fairly cynical and would not expect much professionalism from most of the gaming press going forward, such things are apparently "above their pay grade".
Yeah I can still remember the rabid defence from people in the games press about being given a 360 for attending a microsoft press conference.
 

Corto

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I didn't say I thought he's threatening him. That's what it sounds like, because of the way it's written.

I've read his other posts in this thread and he seems pretty neutral, doesn't really take sides.
Sorry to answer only now. And also sorry for the "You're out of your mind" bark. It was only an attempt to in a short reply assure you that your analysis of my post was incorrect.

Rab in his original article wrote this:

I want to make a confession. I stalk games journalists. It's something I've always done. I keep an eye on people. I have a mental list of games journos who are the very worst of the bunch. The ones who are at every PR launch event, the ones who tweet about all the freebies they get. I am fascinated by them. I won't name them here, because it's a horrible thing to do, but I'm sure some of you will know who they are. I'm fascinated by these creatures because they are living one of the most strange existences - they are playing at being a thing that they don't understand. And if they don't understand it, how can they love it? And if they don't love it, why are they playing at being it?
He didn't name the "worst of the bunch" in his original article. I didn't knew him or his work before all this ruckus, but from this article and all the feedback from people that I do follow in the industry, he seems to be an intelligent reasonable guy. He knows that naming names will affect others that work on the same outlets these "worst of the bunch" do. The mantle of suspicion and corruption will fall on everyone. He was prudent enough to understand that in his original article, and translated that to a "it's a horrible thing to do." We as anonymous agents can claim for blood and names but people that have relationships and professional connections in the business need to be understandably more prudent.

What I meant with my "going full rogue" comment was that it would surprise me if Rab that in his first article was so prudent, now would start naming names without any care for the consequences of doing so. I'm not an english-speaking native but I think that rogue can be used to mean a person that acts isolated against the practices of a common group of people. Not judging that isolated person. In this case he is the one in the righteous position even. Sorry for the length of my post I felt I needed to explain myself thoroughly I hope I achieved that. If not, please PM me and I'll try to explain myself better without bothering others.
 

Interfectum

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Ethics. Integrity. Rationality. Honesty. Character.

And the fact that you are working as a journalist because you like the profession, not as a springboard to another profession.
I would argue a lot of 'games journalists' fell into that position simply because they love games and use it as a springboard to get deeper into the game industry (PR, publishing, developing, etc). As long as that never changes we'll be having these same threads for the next 20 years.
 

NervousXtian

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The thing about gamers is that we love all the stuff the PR hype machine gives us.

Look at the movie industry and the pre-release info is so limited, compare that to gaming and it's a whole different world.

I just don't know what people want out of game journalism, there's just really not a huge need for serious game journalism outside of a few stories now and then.

Is that really, really what we want? Take away all the PR, and what are we left with? More than likely no access... or just press releases straight from the studios?

I saw that post that compared sports journalism to game journalism.. yeah.. no.. Sports Journalism is a whole different level.. sure you have ESPN fluff pieces.. but there's actually serious things to report on in sports.

Games?.. I guess there's some serious stuff.. but again.. games are toys. We play with them. I know some want them to be more.. but having played games for 30+ years.. that's really what they are.
 

kafiend

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This is a lot of the problem. A lot of 'games journalists' think of a promotion as landing a role at a developer/publisher rather than becoming an editor or something like that.
This fascinates me. If I employed someone that had assisted my company with underhanded and deceitful behavior prior to joining my company I'd be looking at them on a daily basis and thinking "fucking sellout."
While all the time wondering if they would sell me out for a higher paymaster.
 

Dawg

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It doesn't matter which way the transaction goes, in legitimate business giving these gifts is as bad as receiving them. Game publishers are just as culpable as you. Bottom line, if you consider yourself even remotely professional, you should adhere to either a formal or personal set of ethics guidelines, because whether perceived or true, a conflict of interest DOES exist. All I'm hearing is excuses for accepting gifts.
Most of those gifts go to our editor-in-chief and he gives a lot of them away to the community. I refuse to believe those things have any substantial role in our review-scores. They're toys, most of the time. Not actual bribe money.

Sure, you can keep talking about the pr gifts, but imo...they're not the biggest problem in the gaming press industry. That's why I refuse to believe they hold any value. When the time comes and I have to play a game, my brain is focused on that game. If it's awful, it's awful.

I would have quit this hobby a long time ago if I was doing it for those gifts. If my review disc comes with figurine or art book, I'm really not gonna spend time and money to send it back to the publisher. It'll change nothing.
 
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