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

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Aug 24, 2007
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More on that note-

Originally Posted by Dawg:
"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."


Not at all. It's interesting that your defense is to dismiss the notion that influence works in subtle ways that we aren't always aware of (as opposed to the popular notion of blatant bribery and "money hats") as generalization, and then use as your argument the assumption that any PR interaction at all would have to guarantee a good review if in fact the psychological research was right. That is gross generalization... or you just aren't getting the argument. I can't offer a crash course on the topic at the moment as I'm at work, so instead imagine it from the "appearance of impropriety" angle.

You're publishing a review. Pretend you're willing to include a sidebar with the subhead "Things that can have no influence at all on my perspective." In this sidebar are photos of you sharing single malt Scotch and haute cuisine with PR people. There are photos of the array of tchotchkes you received at the assorted press events for the title that you attended. There are also photos taken from your night out with your hosts. Despite your confidence in you being the rare exception to rules about human behavior, how likely is your audience to come to the same conclusion?

Apparently, judges' glucose levels affect their rulings: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/n...how-food-breaks-sway-the-decisions-of-judges/
And yet you expect your audience to regard you as a Randian ubermensch rational above your biology.
Another great post, thanks for your contributions, they have been really interesting!
 
Aug 12, 2007
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I'm starting to wonder if most of the gaming media isn't talking about this because they simply don't want to burn bridges. It's a shame you guys can't see what actually goes on at a lot of these closed-door press events.
It's a real shame that none seem willing to address this. Maybe they're waiting to give it some time to die down over the weekend. Maybe we'll see some coverage early next week (which will conveniently get buried beneath the AC3 hype machine).

Of course by then, most of the smart blog posts will already have been written, and those who actually care about this will have already made up their minds. If sites like Polygon were really interested in revolutionizing the industry and having smart, fast articles, they would have jumped on this today. Now they look like corporate shills just like everyone else.
 
Dec 23, 2007
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I don't want to say "is just video games" because I agree is a pretty reductive way of view things... But... Dude, is just video games calm down, you are starting to sound exactly as what N'gai was mocking.
Just really hungover and this mess is making it worse. I never liked N'Gai's condescending tone and reading his twitter feed is infuriating.

And it's better to take it too seriously than not seriously at all.
 
Jan 23, 2010
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I don't see how it is remotely conspiracy theorist to suggest PR may offer goods in exchange for coverage when the whole PS3 thing just happened. That was literally 'tweet our game and maybe get something". They didn't offer PS3s in a raffle because they're awesome guys, they did it because they knew it would increase the number of journalists tweeting about their game. It's not about 5K for a 10/10, that's way too obvious.
The last part of your post is the most important. It's very rarely going to be a bought review. And PR's think of these things constantly. That book that Shawn posted has some incredibly devious shit that PR does. One example was a certain type of cup with the company's name on it, which if presented at a local chain of coffee house, Doctors would be given free coffee or cappuccino. The mug became something that was sought after.

And I doubt very much that that PS3 giveaway was the first.
 
Mar 25, 2007
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I'd love for someone to maintain a list of all the great replies and arguments in this thread by people who know what they're talking about. That way they won't get lost in the shuffle. I don't want to usurp these people's posts and use them as ammo in a shit-flinging contest, but simply keep them easily accessible since they're very much worth reading for anyone involved in the discussion.

I'll start, point me towards posts and I'll add them:

Shawn Elliot 1 2 3 4
Jeff Green
 
You should be directing this toward N'Gai, not GAF.
Not 140 characters or less, hence he wouldn't give a shit. Twitter really is the death of civilized discussion. People post their stupid opinions showing how out of touch they are with the problems of the industry and hide behind them, rarely coming out to flesh out their arguments. It reeks of cowardice.
 

NervousXtian

Thought Emoji Movie was good. Take that as you will.
Feb 7, 2010
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Ore-Gone.. not Ory-Gone.
Well, I was referring to reviews and opinions on the games, not necessarily pre-release info. But you got me well, sadly I don't have an answer to your question.
Wasn't meant as a gotcha, but it is what it is with this kind of stuff.. a lot of GAF topics really are just re-posting of info traced back to PR. PR isn't no inherently evil honestly.

There's a difference between reporting on new information coming from a publisher and simply hosting their PR materials (screenshots and trailers) with some cursory text of your own added.

Publishers should be releasing and hosting their own PR materials, not doling it out to game sites like some precious commodity. It's not about asking for some "utopian" ideal. It's about distinguishing yourself as a gaming site from being simply a branch of a publisher's publicity drive.
..but honestly do most gamers want to go to each publishers site to find pre-release info.. and would you expect nobody to report or direct people to it on those sites? Seems rather silly.

I think most of the big sites do a nice job of doing both. I mean, people bitch about them.. but I just don't see the big sites as just PR machines.. guess I'm not looking deep enough.

So you honestly think the only story worth writing about is about terrible working conditions? Try going to Gamasutra, they seem to manage to fill a site without resorting to shameless puff-pieces.
Gamasutra is a good site, I agree. Yet, is that how I want all sites to be.. no.
 

SephCast

Brotherhood of Shipley's
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Are there any sites out there are that refuse to accept Video Game advertising and free perks/games from the industry?

I think that kind of site can have a lot of credibility and become a new leader in the industry. If anyone is interested in possibly starting something like this, PM me.
 
Jul 25, 2009
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I think it isnt much of a coincidence that former writers that now have jobs outside of game writing like Jeff Green and Shawn Elliot are among the few willing to talk about it candidly. At first I questioned whether or not they would do that if they were still writing for gaming press. Then I remembered that they did on GFW Radio all the time.
Yeah, they talked about that stuff all the time on there, and quite candidly too. Those cats are just about the only people I would take seriously -- that is, without a grain of salt re: this whole PR discussion -- but of course they're not around anymore. Quite easily the best gaming podcast, at least for my money.
 

I'm an expert

Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
Nov 26, 2008
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Are there any sites out there are that refuse to accept Video Game advertising and free perks/games from the industry?

I think that kind of site can have a lot of credibility and become a new leader in the industry. If anyone is interested in possibly starting something like this, PM me.
I used to think Giant Bomb was the shining beacon of this.. until..
 
May 19, 2010
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"I am furious. I am furious because yesterday the games PR and marketing men flung a few people under a bus, and today they’re probably sipping drinks"
It's funny because Ubisoft did blacklist EGM after one of their reviewers gave the first Assassin's Creed a 4.5. "Blacklisting" media outlets is funny. I guess if you're part of the "in" crowd you have nothing to worry about. Yuk it up with all of your developer friends.
 
Aug 12, 2007
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..but honestly do most gamers want to go to each publishers site to find pre-release info.. and would you expect nobody to report or direct people to it on those sites? Seems rather silly.
The internet is magical. It has things called "links," "embedded video," and a vast array of other ethereal arts.

And if publishers want to get territorial about it, they lose coverage. Game sites need to push back and grow a pair. They aren't as powerless as they think they are.
 
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.
Well for me, it's a weird personal choice not to have ads. I may eventually get over it if bills get any higher. I agree though, advertisements don't need to be what you're covering. There's many things to sell to the demographic that read gaming sites besides games.
 
Dec 6, 2005
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He's comparing game journalism to actual journalism like there is the same level of stuff to report on.

There just really isn't. Maybe I'm different, but I don't read a lot of post release stories.. some here and there and there's some good stuff out there.. but I really doubt that is what most people are looking for when visiting the gaming sites. They are looking for previews and reviews, with the occasional fluff piece here and there (top 10 list, funny story, etc).

He even compared Sports Journalism to Game Journalism.. and they are nothing alike.

So you call it a non-response, but yet you bold one part and ignore the rest.
The reason you feel sports journalism is nothing like games journalism is because sports journalism is simply so much better. If we had the same quality and professionalism in games journalism as we do in sports/film/automotive writing the types of stories we would read would be leagues better.
Those fields also have to put up with the same kind of PR bullshit games journalists do. I've been offered, or have had coworkers offered, trips across the country for film previews before, free swag, etc. the same as anyone else. The difference is that there are imbedded standards in our fields that we don't cross. That doesn't mean we can't be friendly with a PR guy or a public official, but we know where the line is and not to accept favors.

All new journalism fields have to go through this awkward growing pain. We're seeing it today in video games. Hopefully, these discussions will help some up-and-coming writers think hard about what kind of journalist they want to be.

If you, as a reader, demanded more from the people who cover this industry, then there would be better content. That's the point I'm making.
 
Jun 29, 2010
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twitter.com
I responded on my twitter in 3 posts (not to him though, he'd probably delete them and not care, I just used the same hashtag) but I basically said instead of being so smug, they could respond via podcasts/writing articles and act MORE PROFESSIONAL about it all but instead they are content with their unprofessionalism and not confronting issues they are presented with.

I do have a question for people here though: What would happen if all the major news outlets, IGN, GS, GI, Kotaku, etc all stopped 'playing ball' with press. I don't know what that would involve since they need to talk about something.

Maybe smaller games or not mention the games of the companies they normally deal with for several weeks after said company releases their own materials/press releases (on the official company site)?

The game companies (well many, not all of them) need the sites to do coverage on their games so wouldn't that make them lose their... strangle hold over the 'press'

I know it would never happen but I do wonder what the PR guys at these companies would think if suddenly every major gaming outlet turned against them.
 

NervousXtian

Thought Emoji Movie was good. Take that as you will.
Feb 7, 2010
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Ore-Gone.. not Ory-Gone.
The internet is magical. It has things called "links," "embedded video," and a vast array of other ethereal arts.

And if publishers want to get territorial about it, they lose coverage. Game sites need to push back and grow a pair. They aren't as powerless as they think they are.
So linking is okay, but not posting it isn't.

Really?
 
Aug 12, 2007
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It's funny because Ubisoft did blacklist EGM after one of their reviewers gave the first Assassin's Creed a 4.5. "Blacklisting" media outlets is funny. I guess if you're part of the "in" crowd you have nothing to worry about. Yuk it up with all of your developer friends.
Seriously. It's like they don't get what we're all worked up over. They know as well as we do that blacklisting happens. They know how much publishers spend on PR events and materials. They know all of this shit. And yet they yuk it up among one another and pretend like we're the idiots.

I hope they're aware how many readers they're all rapidly losing.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Completely missed Shawn Elliots and Jeff Greens posts.

Good to see someone "on the other side" not just trying to laugh this mess off.


And PR sure is interesting once you start thinking about it from a physiology POV.
 
Mar 25, 2007
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The way the podcasts I listen to and sites I read react to this story will seriously affect my opinion of them going forward. Any type of dismissive, sitting-on-my-high-horse-above-the-conspiracy-theorist-rabble attitude will get dropped like a hot potato.
 
Aug 24, 2007
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I'd love for someone to maintain a list of all the great replies and arguments in this thread by people who know what they're talking about. That way they won't get lost in the shuffle. I don't want to usurp these people's posts and use them as ammo in a shit-flinging contest, but simply keep them easily accessible since they're very much worth reading for anyone involved in the discussion.

I'll start, point me towards posts and I'll add them:

Shawn Elliot 1 2 3 4
Jeff Green
Wait, FartOfWar is Shawn Elliot? Now I look like a simp, lol.
 
Jul 25, 2009
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The reason you feel sports journalism is nothing like games journalism is because sports journalism is simply so much better.
I agree. These industries never stop dealing with this stuff, though. Baseball is my sport, so I'll just go with the example I know -- the use of PEDs in the late 90s/early 00s. Most journalists knew about it, but none talked about it, and those that did were actually shunned by their peers. Later, some admitted that their relationship with the players in the clubhouse and the team front offices was too close and that's what clouded their judgment. (See the very sanctimonious Bob Costas in Ken Burns' Baseball, for instance. He's way too prissy about the issue now, but at least he cops to the mistake that most reporters made back then.)

That close relationship with the players is essentially the major issue sports journalism deals with. It was a central topic of a sports journalism paper I took a few years back. You get to know the players, friendships are forged, and it gets hard to write about them. Just look at the Baseball Hall of Fame: some of the players get votes just because they're friends with the writers. A few years back one writer cast a vote for Tino Martinez because Tino was his friend. And the writer openly admitted to this! Now, I like Tino, but he's no Hall of Famer. If you're casting votes on that basis, then you're obviously not taking your journalist credentials too seriously.
 
Aug 12, 2007
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The way the podcasts I listen to and sites I read react to this story will seriously affect if I continue valuing their opinions. Any type of dismissive, sitting-on-my-high-horse-above-the-conspiracy-theorist-rabble attitude will get dropped like a hot potato.
Exactly what I'm thinking. If they ignore it, I'm done. If they belittle us as "conspiracy theorists," I'm done. Time to clean house and see who the folks with real integrity are.
 
They've written us off as whining children for so long that they have convinced themselves that whining children are all that remain.

Perhaps the saddest thing about this - this being every time the question of gaming journalism ethics comes up - is that they genuinely believe we're all angry conspiracy theorists because any attempt at walking in front of a mirror will ruin the fantasyland they currently live in.
 
Dec 28, 2006
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It's funny because Ubisoft did blacklist EGM after one of their reviewers gave the first Assassin's Creed a 4.5. "Blacklisting" media outlets is funny. I guess if you're part of the "in" crowd you have nothing to worry about. Yuk it up with all of your developer friends.
Shoot, Sony briefly tried to blacklist Kotaku for reporting on the home thing. Not that PR would ever try to manipulate the news cycle.
 

Oxx

Member
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N'gai is the enemy.

Former 'games journalist' turned consultant.

"We prefer to operate in the shadows, and our clients like it that way as well"
 
Nov 30, 2011
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All new journalism fields have to go through this awkward growing pain. We're seeing it today in video games. Hopefully, these discussions will help some up-and-coming writers think hard about what kind of journalist they want to be.
A very good point. Though I feel the problem is more skewed towards games journalists, bloggers and commentators working within new media than traditional forms. The entry is a lot less and as are the working conditions. I doubt half or maybe even 75% of people working with gaming media have had to experience the drama that is copy deadline and the constant back and forth between editors, proof readers, production and legal departments.
 
Aug 12, 2007
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N'gai is the enemy.

Former 'games journalist' turned consultant.

"We prefer to operate in the shadows, and our clients like it that way as well"
He's not just a consultant. He's a consultant whose job it is to "pretend" to think like a game reviewer. Talk about a circle jerk.
 
Mar 21, 2011
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The reason you feel sports journalism is nothing like games journalism is because sports journalism is simply so much better. If we had the same quality and professionalism in games journalism as we do in sports/film/automotive writing the types of stories we would read would be leagues better.
Those fields also have to put up with the same kind of PR bullshit games journalists do. I've been offered, or have had coworkers offered, trips across the country for film previews before, free swag, etc. the same as anyone else. The difference is that there are imbedded standards in our fields that we don't cross. That doesn't mean we can't be friendly with a PR guy or a public official, but we know where the line is and not to accept favors.

All new journalism fields have to go through this awkward growing pain. We're seeing it today in video games. Hopefully, these discussions will help some up-and-coming writers think hard about what kind of journalist they want to be.

If you, as a reader, demanded more from the people who cover this industry, then there would be better content. That's the point I'm making.
As someone who writes about games... yeah, for sure. This whole thing has made me take a good look at my own writing and I'll be re-evaluating - or at least second-guessing myself more - moving forward.
 
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