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

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I'm an expert

Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
Most of my Twitter feed is joking around with people. You don't have to take it so seriously!
The fact that you don't understand the context or how ridiculous you sound now is exactly the point this whole thread is about. You don't even realize what the problem is and you're sitting in the middle of the whole thing.
 
As noted above, libel/slander laws in the US are notably different than in the UK. Any US outlet that published Rab's original piece would have basically laughed in the face of anyone who made a threat to sue over it.

In fact, for some US states (including CA where much of the gaming press is based) a threat to file such a suit could result in an anti-SLAPP suit which also carries damages. Just threatening to sue someone in order to shut them up (when they're speaking the truth) is considered a big no-no in the US. You don't do that shit with impunity.
The same applies for UK libel cases. If the defendant can prove it's true, then they win. The problem is they can't afford to defend themselves, so will almost always cave in before it gets that far. It's why UK newspapers aren't sued for millions of pounds every day of the week. You'd only get the money back when you win, even then parts of it are open to interpretation by the judge. Two different judges might come to different conclusions in very similar cases.

The Guardian has an article on it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2006/aug/31/news.politicsandthemedia
 
It was business-as-usual until someone lost their job.

Then it made me sick and the cover-up just made it worse. That woman should have left it alone after the article was edited, everything beyond that was digging her grave deeper. It offended me as a practitioner and consumer of journalism. It wasn't enough to just get away with it, she wanted to do a victory lap, which, fuck you, seriously. You got someone fired (or asked to step down or what the hell ever) for something that did not demand that level of conflict.

Each time these ethical debates come up, I keep hoping this will be the time it sticks, this will be the time where journalists and PR people don't circle the wagons to keep their concept of "normal" going indefinitely. Maybe we can get a real conversation about why game criticism differs so much in terms of ethical quagmires from any other kind. Maybe we'll get people to cop to the fact that, hey, this is sort of fucked up, but this is the way it works and I doubt anyone capable of changing it is amenable to doing so. That's at least honest, you know?

It's not all game journalists that play the "I'm not touching you!" game with their hand an inch off your face and it's not all PR people that gleefully celebrate the murkiness of the waters that we all find ourselves in now, but stuff like that N'Gai Croal twitter conversation up above somehow manages to make me sick all over again. We can talk about the abstracts of journalism, and if you want to sweep those under the rug, at least no one's getting hurt. But now real people are suffering from this circus that's been set-up for pointing out how comical the whole thing is and that's when trying to just "move on and forget it" or joking about it until it's gone becomes wildly offensive.
This is a great post.

This whole thing is a bit soul-crushing for me, considering I am rapidly approaching a career crossroads. I started writing about games at 15 (!!!) for a volunteer-run site and yeah, I will admit, as much as I looooooooved video games at that point I can't pretend that "free video games!" wasn't part of the allure. It's been six years since I started, though, and my outlook has changed dramatically, especially over the last year or so. I can't say I'm consciously aware of any times where PR has influenced something that I've written, but like FartofWar pointed out, that's often the point of PR.

Then again, I write for a dinky little site that only started getting picked up by MetaCritic and whatnot a couple of years ago, if I remember right. We're still not big or influential enough to be invited to most events or given most sketchy offers, although I will say that there are a few dumb events that we've been offered, and there have been a few too many PR packages that, in retrospect, make me wince a little. Then again, a lot of this stuff shows up out of the blue, so it's not like we could say no in the first place, but still. I am incredibly thankful that, for the most part, I haven't accepted anything too blatantly sketchy. I've written some real dumbass articles and reviews that I hate. Still, there's some things I'm re-evaluating, and I've come to the conclusion that I can only improve from where I am now.

But see, that's the thing - what counts as improvement for a critic? Perhaps receiving games early, from publishers, is enough to sway my opinion. I'd like to say it isn't, since I've torn plenty of games I've been sent to shreds in reviews. Then again, maybe I subconsciously gave them an extra point because, you know, maybe it wasn't that bad. Then again, I think timely reviews are a valuable thing, because critics in this medium are essentially consumer help. I still don't get paid for my writing - we run no ads at all - but I do get free games every now and then, and there are the bonuses of being invited to events like E3 and PAX as press. Humm. I've realized that my love for a couple of game series has become a conflict of interest, and I stopped reviewing games in that series precisely because of that.

My interactions with PR have been mostly fine, they aren't snakes. Then again, I don't write for anywhere particularly important, so I'm sure lots of the skeezier offers and whatnot simply aren't going to be shown to us. I have dealt with iffy PR. I do regret accepting some things, small gifts and tangentially-related-to-gaming products. I have had a few PR folks breathe down my neck a bit, although I imagine at the level they're at they do it because someone else is breathing down theirs.

I have no interest in doing journalism. My interests lie squarely with criticism and analysis, but I really hope that there are people my age who are interested in doing proper investigative journalism into development, work conditions, and everything else that surrounds video games. I'm not sure if I want to pursue a career in writing about games anymore, though. It sounds fun, but I'm starting to realize that 1. now is a terrible time for someone becoming self-aware about writing and ethics to try and get into the industry and 2. posting about and discussing games with groups like NeoGAF is far more rewarding than pushing up articles. At least I'm young enough to be able to change now, as opposed to getting caught up in all this bullshit after it's too late.

Maybe I will take the starving artist route and just work on comics and post about video games with other people who like video games.
 
It's N'gai: Yes, yes he can be that dense.
Had a similar response to that rhetorical question.


I have no interest in doing journalism. My interests lie squarely with criticism and analysis...
I think that this is something almost everyone shares, even if just initially. But journalism -in general, and more so with gaming- seems to be basically Super Aquaman (Entourage style): you do 10 reports on stuff, you get one analysis. And nobody reads that one, so everyone will just assume that's all you've got.

I tend to think that letting go of critical ambitions is also kind of how professionals adapt to this particular industry and its many borderline practices.

Also, I wonder how the percentages of anti-depressant usage are for this type of work compared to other branches. But that's just me.
 
Is it ridiculous? Yes. I don't deny that. It looks silly, and it definitely undermines Geoff's supposed "professional demeanor". But it's also a completely different situation than the one that's going on with Lauren Wainwright, and I just wanted to put that out there.
I can see why you wpuld say that, but I am not sure. I think it says a lot about Keighley's sense of integrity that he went along with that circus. I know it isnt directly related to PR influence, but it doesn't exactly give me a lot of confidence in him.
 
I've been avoiding most of this conversation because talking about games and the people behind them is more interesting than talking about press, and the issues here are pretty clearly gross. Advertising a game on your Twitter feed for a PS3 is not OK. Consulting for a game company that you also write about (without even disclosing your relationship) is very, very, very not OK.

But there's a lot of generalization and condemnation in this thread. It might be easy to paint one clear picture in your head of everyone in video game journalism as a corrupt hypocrite, but there are hundreds of working journalists in gaming, each with his or her own standards, ethical limits, and practices.

For example, some people might see it as OK to accept a trip from a publisher - I don't. (And Kotaku has an anti-press junket policy, as do quite a few other publications/websites.)

But some people might also see it as not OK to eat lunch at a press event - I have no problem with that. Lunch is lunch. If you disagree with me, that's OK too. Personal limits are a big part of being a reporter, in any field.

Point is: it's unfair to dismiss all of game journalism as corrupt because of incidents like this, or because some people have different standards than others, or because some people believe that some compromises are OK. Just like how it'd be unfair to look at this thread and say "Wow, GAF is a bunch of generalizing assholes." See what I'm saying?
Weird, I find it quite interesting. Games journalists love to figure out what makes a game studio tick, and are quick to jump at them when something goes wrong, but when something goes down on their turf, few say much outside of smug twits or 1 word 'feels' like 'gross'.
 
I've been avoiding most of this conversation because talking about games and the people behind them is more interesting than talking about press, and the issues here are pretty clearly gross. Advertising a game on your Twitter feed for a PS3 is not OK. Consulting for a game company that you also write about (without even disclosing your relationship) is very, very, very not OK.

But there's a lot of generalization and condemnation in this thread. It might be easy to paint one clear picture in your head of everyone in video game journalism as a corrupt hypocrite, but there are hundreds of working journalists in gaming, each with his or her own standards, ethical limits, and practices.

For example, some people might see it as OK to accept a trip from a publisher - I don't. (And Kotaku has an anti-press junket policy, as do quite a few other publications/websites.)

But some people might also see it as not OK to eat lunch at a press event - I have no problem with that. Lunch is lunch. If you disagree with me, that's OK too. Personal limits are a big part of being a reporter, in any field.

Point is: it's unfair to dismiss all of game journalism as corrupt because of incidents like this, or because some people have different standards than others, or because some people believe that some compromises are OK. Just like how it'd be unfair to look at this thread and say "Wow, GAF is a bunch of generalizing assholes." See what I'm saying?
I appreciate your input and participation in this discussion, but relying on game journos to set their own ethical standards is how you guys got in this mess in the first place. You guys have been playing fast and loose for a while now, and are finally getting called out on it. It's good to see that Kotaku has a basic conflict of interest standard site-wide.

Seeing the entitled behavior of these individuals on Twitter over the last few days shows me that the last thing I should do is rely on their moral compass.
 
I can see why you wpuld say that, but I am not sure. I think it says a lot about Keighley's sense of integrity that he went along with that circus. I know it isnt directly related to PR influence, but it doesn't exactly give me a lot of confidence in him.
As other people have stated, I have less of an issue with gaming websites plastering doritos taco bell all over their pages than I do with them plastering ads for <insert game here>.

Same principle extends here. Man's gotta eat (Doritos).
 
As Jeff Green pointed out the problem at some level is that devs are unable to talk about their games in public. PR at the publisher have a tight hold on what can and can't be said. So the message is a focused, controlled, sanitised one. If there wasn't such control of what came out about a game it wouldn't be the valued commodity press are so willing to bend over to obtain.

A quick example of how this control can manifest itself in a dev environment; recently we desperately wanted to get accounts on our own forums so we could directly address our community, but we were told that any post we wanted to make would have to be sent to the publisher first to make sure PR were happy with its contents.

Marketing and PR have such control over the industry, and as someone who just wants to talk to the audience at face value it's incredibly frustrating.

I can't see it changing any time soon though.
 
Kotaku is a gaming tabloid, right?

This should be right up their alley. Its so juicy and you know it is the talk of the town right now.

Get on it, Kotaku.

Nothing the press likes to do more than talk about themselves.
 
Ugh, I never liked this guy in the first place but after all this its even worse. What a blithering fool.
Even the 'Please elaborate' irks me. It's not on him to explain the ongoing story to you, fool.

What I'm hoping here is that a lot of us have reached the point we're fed up by the antics of journalists in this industry. It's been going on forever, but enough is enough. You don't want to take the issue seriously, you want to carry on with the status quo and be snarky fools about it, fine. I hope over time we can weed out the bullshit, and them along with it. Do I want the whole industry to grow up overnight? No, but let's start taking responsibility for our jobs the way everyone else in the known world is expected to.
 
Because they'd rather avoid it and talk about video games not people writing about video games.
And what news happened in video games that was so important over the last two days? What was so crucial that it had to be covered to the exclusion of this story?

Nintendo had a Nintendo Direct announcing fuck all. A couple press releases were regurgitated. Big deal.

Considering how much publishers rely on MetaCritic scores and considering how studios are living and closing based on hype, this is a gaming story. And this story informs a lot about the games themselves as well as their makers.
 
I've been avoiding most of this conversation because talking about games and the people behind them is more interesting than talking about press, and the issues here are pretty clearly gross. Advertising a game on your Twitter feed for a PS3 is not OK. Consulting for a game company that you also write about (without even disclosing your relationship) is very, very, very not OK.

But there's a lot of generalization and condemnation in this thread. It might be easy to paint one clear picture in your head of everyone in video game journalism as a corrupt hypocrite, but there are hundreds of working journalists in gaming, each with his or her own standards, ethical limits, and practices.

For example, some people might see it as OK to accept a trip from a publisher - I don't. (And Kotaku has an anti-press junket policy, as do quite a few other publications/websites.)

But some people might also see it as not OK to eat lunch at a press event - I have no problem with that. Lunch is lunch. If you disagree with me, that's OK too. Personal limits are a big part of being a reporter, in any field.

Point is: it's unfair to dismiss all of game journalism as corrupt because of incidents like this, or because some people have different standards than others, or because some people believe that some compromises are OK. Just like how it'd be unfair to look at this thread and say "Wow, GAF is a bunch of generalizing assholes." See what I'm saying?
Because no website has published anything regarding this story or talked about their relationships with PR. NONE. ZERO. NADA. And the excuse has been the same "Oh I'm not interested in the subject", "Oh I'm not included in this subject" and my all time favorite "Oh our readers wouldn't care".

You want people not to be skeptical about your working ethics as writers, yet you do and say nothing on how your website and it's writers interact with PR. Your silence on this whole matter only says to me that you want this whole thing to die out without ever making any comment. Which tells me there is truth in the matter. Please put yourself in our shoes for a second, and try to understand why the complete silence is very telling.
 
As other people have stated, I have less of an issue with gaming websites plastering doritos taco bell all over their pages than I do with them plastering ads for <insert game here>.

Same principle extends here. Man's gotta eat (Doritos).
I can see the argument for that. Really that Keighley thing just makes me feel insulted to be part of his audience (and I do watch Bonus Round regularly). I mean that Halo+Mt. dew+Dorritos ad campaign thing is sad enough on its own. But an interview about it surrounded by a mountain of corn syrup infused crap? It just made me feel.. embarassed.

Sure advertising dollars are needed. Sponsorship even, perhaps. But that whole thing is just so blantant and tacky that it feels insulting.
 

I'm an expert

Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
And what news happened in video games that was so important over the last two days? What was so crucial that it had to be covered to the exclusion of this story?

Nintendo had a Nintendo Direct announcing fuck all. A couple press releases were regurgitated. Big deal.

Considering how much publishers rely on MetaCritic scores and considering how studios are living and closing based on hype, this is a gaming story. And this story informs a lot about the games themselves as well as their makers.
(did you miss the italicized words in that post denoting my sarcasm)
 
I appreciate your input and participation in this discussion, but relying on game journos to set their own ethical standards is how you guys got in this mess in the first place. You guys have been playing fast and loose for a while now, and are finally getting called out on it. It's good to see that Kotaku has a basic conflict of interest standard site-wide.

Seeing the entitled behavior of these individuals on Twitter over the last few days shows me that the last thing I should do is rely on their moral compass.
It would be lovely to have some sort of Unified Code of Ethics, but that's not going to happen, and it's not really my place to tell colleagues and competitors what to do.

As for Kotaku covering this, I can't speak for the site or anyone else on it, but I can say that I'm personally just more interested in spending my time writing about other things. I don't really see it as my place to serve as an ombudsman or watchdog for other members of the press, and I'm sorry if that's disappointing to you. I'm much more interested -- and I think my readers are much more interested -- in games, the people who make them, and the stories surrounding them. And also JRPGs. Lots of JRPGs.
 
Considering how much publishers rely on MetaCritic scores and considering how studios are living and closing based on hype, this is a gaming story. And this story informs a lot about the games themselves as well as their makers.
Probably the biggest tragedy in the whole mess. If that story about Obsidian missing bonuses by one point of Metacritic score is even remotely true across a broad spectrum of developers, it's a real issue.
 
I bet people are real interested in to what degree they can assume writers to be mouthpieces for PR.

Oh wait, then they might start questioning why they are bothering to read a gaming site at all.....
 
Because no website has published anything regarding this story or talked about their relationships with PR. NONE. ZERO. NADA. And the excuse has been the same "Oh I'm not interested in the subject", "Oh I'm not included in this subject" and my all time favorite "Oh our readers wouldn't care".

You want people not to be skeptical about your working ethics as writers, yet you do and say nothing on how your website and it's writers interact with PR. Your silence on this whole matter only says to me that you want this whole thing to die out without ever making any comment. Which tells me there is truth in the matter. Please put yourself in our shoes for a second, and try to understand why the complete silence is very telling.
You haven't asked! I can't speak for anyone else at Kotaku or elsewhere, but I'm happy to talk about my relationships with PR or any other questions you have for me. Secrets are lame.

I'm leaving the office now and I might not get to every post here when I get back (this site moves very fast!) but if you want to ask me something, feel free to ping me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/jasonschreier) or by e-mail (jason@kotaku.com).
 
It would be lovely to have some sort of Unified Code of Ethics, but that's not going to happen, and it's not really my place to tell colleagues and competitors what to do.

As for Kotaku covering this, I can't speak for the site or anyone else on it, but I can say that I'm personally just more interested in spending my time writing about other things. I don't really see it as my place to serve as an ombudsman or watchdog for other members of the press, and I'm sorry if that's disappointing to you. I'm much more interested -- and I think my readers are much more interested -- in games, the people who make them, and the stories surrounding them. And also JRPGs. Lots of JRPGs.
If they are interested in GAMES why is X-Play and Attack of the show being canned a BREAKING NEWS story. And some wedding kiss fiasco a hot topic?

There is a reason I don't go to Kotaku.
 
It would be lovely to have some sort of Unified Code of Ethics, but that's not going to happen, and it's not really my place to tell colleagues and competitors what to do.

As for Kotaku covering this, I can't speak for the site or anyone else on it, but I can say that I'm personally just more interested in spending my time writing about other things. I don't really see it as my place to serve as an ombudsman or watchdog for other members of the press, and I'm sorry if that's disappointing to you. I'm much more interested -- and I think my readers are much more interested -- in games, the people who make them, and the stories surrounding them. And also JRPGs. Lots of JRPGs.
Cool for you. You just lost a reader. And perhaps others. Not because you refuse to write on this, but because you seem utterly oblivious as to why this matters as much as it does.
 

Osiris

I permanently banned my 6 year old daughter from using the PS4 for mistakenly sending grief reports as it's too hard to watch or talk to her
It would be lovely to have some sort of Unified Code of Ethics, but that's not going to happen, and it's not really my place to tell colleagues and competitors what to do.

As for Kotaku covering this, I can't speak for the site or anyone else on it, but I can say that I'm personally just more interested in spending my time writing about other things. I don't really see it as my place to serve as an ombudsman or watchdog for other members of the press, and I'm sorry if that's disappointing to you. I'm much more interested -- and I think my readers are much more interested -- in games, the people who make them, and the stories surrounding them. And also JRPGs. Lots of JRPGs.
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127.0.0.1  localhost loopback
127.0.0.1  kotaku.com
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It would be lovely to have some sort of Unified Code of Ethics, but that's not going to happen, and it's not really my place to tell colleagues and competitors what to do.

As for Kotaku covering this, I can't speak for the site or anyone else on it, but I can say that I'm personally just more interested in spending my time writing about other things. I don't really see it as my place to serve as an ombudsman or watchdog for other members of the press, and I'm sorry if that's disappointing to you. I'm much more interested -- and I think my readers are much more interested -- in games, the people who make them, and the stories surrounding them. And also JRPGs. Lots of JRPGs.
Why not? Professional bodies that auto regulate their members are wide spread in many work fields.
 
It would be lovely to have some sort of Unified Code of Ethics, but that's not going to happen, and it's not really my place to tell colleagues and competitors what to do.

As for Kotaku covering this, I can't speak for the site or anyone else on it, but I can say that I'm personally just more interested in spending my time writing about other things. I don't really see it as my place to serve as an ombudsman or watchdog for other members of the press, and I'm sorry if that's disappointing to you. I'm much more interested -- and I think my readers are much more interested -- in games, the people who make them, and the stories surrounding them. And also JRPGs. Lots of JRPGs.
Thanks for reply, and to be clear, I wasn't attacking you, just the talking point.

Anyhow, if one were to claim to be a professional journalist, you should have learned your "Unified Code of Ethics" in like your first year of undergraduate studies.

http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Very simple stuff. Someone with a bachelor's degree should be able to get this.
 

I'm an expert

Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
There's a river in Egypt that relates to the topic you're discussing, but I can't quite remember the name of it now.
It's called, in their native tongue, DA NAIRU.

Thanks for reply, and to be clear, I wasn't attacking you, just the talking point.

Anyhow, if one were to claim to be a professional journalist, you should have learned your "Unified Code of Ethics" in like your first year of undergraduate studies.

http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Very simple stuff. Someone with a bachelor's degree should be able to get this.
But they don't think they're journalists. Well, only when people ask them at Xmas parties what they do. Then they're an entertainment or media journalist! To us though, they're just that nerd who likes animu games.
 
So, outside of Eurogamer (of course) and a few blogs, which sites have reported on this?

All I've seen so far is a tepid analysis by Leigh Alexander published yesterday on Gamasutra. Any others?
PAR did a synopsis of the situation, but the majority of the article is just that -- a summary of what's happened. He doesn't dedicate a whole lot of column space to providing his own views as far as the situation.
 
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