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

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Apr 24, 2007
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I'm not sure that I buy the general idea here that a big company like MS or Sony wouldn't care to apply advertising pressure just because it's a different division. But my problem was never really with ad revenue in the first place.

My problem is mainly with the crazy hype PR machine circus that attempts to make you guys feel like you are VIP with a backstage pass to hot new AAA releases. The whole cult of the new game thing is just so different from the way I approach gaming these days in general. But I just constantly hear about this interest in the next big thing from the gaming press even when they are just talking about what they are playing or interested in in their spare time.
We don't have to guess at what people are interested in. We can see what they're searching for, and how they get to the site. It's driven by bigger games. That might suck, but it is what it is.
 

firehawk12

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Sep 10, 2007
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Well, to be honest they kind of tossed the 1st shit.. but yeah. Kind of let them get to me a bit.

I still don't think most game writers are really all that swayed by the PR shit.
Maybe, maybe not, depending on how you want to interpret Shawn Elliot's posts, but given that people are even talking about it as an issue, it's probably something that one might want to address.
 
Nov 6, 2006
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We don't have to guess at what people are interested in. We can see what they're searching for, and how they get to the site. It's driven by bigger games. That might suck, but it is what it is.
Audience interest drives content. I get it. It reminds me of the larger (and obviously much more serious problem) in mainstream news media as Koppel challenged O'Reilly on recently. O' Reily's main argument was that they must be doing something right because they are so popular. That audience interest drives their content to be successful.

It may be mostly true that interest drives content which then perpetuates the cycle, but it also sounds like the "Cooke Jar" line of defense. I would at least like to see more of an attempt to step outside it and more transparent discussion of it.
 
Apr 23, 2008
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I think the entire world ignored Judith Miller because that would have broken the unwritten rules about journalists writing about other journalists!

Oh wait, the exact opposite happened and she got called out for being fed information from the White House.

Look, I understand video games aren't the Iraq War or outing CIA agents or whatever, but having some standards isn't a bad thing.
Journalism polices itself frequently. If there are lapses in integrity by others in your profession then your own work can be viewed as compromised simply by extension. Journalists rely on the ethics governing the profession as a whole to attain trust from the readership and be of service to them.

And even if you don't want to describe yourself as a games "journalist," but rather a writer/enthusiast/whatever, following some of the basic ethical tenets of journalism is still something you should want to do (case in point: Rab Florence, who explicitly wrote in his final Eurogamer article that he is not a games journalist, yet still wants there to be some self-governance in the games media).

If you want people to trust that your opinions and the general things you have to say are legitimate and free from corrupt influence, then you should make an effort to keep yourself as distanced as practically feasible from being a cog in the public relations wheel.

But some seem perfectly content to say "well, I'm not a journalist!" as if that somehow renders everything moot and excuses them.
 
Jan 8, 2009
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I don't question my morals, or my ethics. I act in a way that is consistent with my personal ethics. I do have editors that go to bat for me. And as a section editor, I also go to bat for the people that write for me. I don't know what transparency people want from us that they're not getting. I've disclosed literally every event I've ever gone to, at least on Twitter, and often in the articles themselves for review events.

If it makes you feel any better, the absolutely crazy shit that happened back in the day doesn't happen much anymore. This year especially, events have been considerably more subdued. But nothing is even close to the insanity of the 80s and 90s, or even the first half of the 00s.
Well, that's a relief. Again, I feel your pain man. I'm a journalist (not a games journalist), so I know what it's like to have death threats and to be callled a worthless piece of shit everyday. It's not fun :(.

This is a positive thing though. I know a lot of GAF is generally hostile to the gaming press, but just interacting does a lot to dispell misgivings. You work for Polygon right? I'll be honest. The MS sponsored documentary doesn't make a good first impression.

But when you come on GAF and interact it does a lot to dispell rumors. Yes, I realize half the posters will do drive-by one offs like myself ironically, but if you just interact we can understand. I realize you are a human being. You are cool in my book.
 
Nov 6, 2006
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I should also note the idea that audience drives that kind of content doesn't really do much to make me feel better about much of anything.

One of my most profound fear is that there really are millions of gamers out there all pumped to go get Mountain Dew and Dorritos for extra Halo XP; I fear that this is mainstream gaming audience and its interests.

Which probably explains why my favorite game related content these days is done by people outside of game media like Gamers with Jobs and Idle Thumbs because they don't have to cater to the Mountain Dew Doritos crowd.
 
Aug 24, 2007
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here's an idea.. let them run their site the way they chose, you're still not understanding that there's nothing to investigate here.



be sorrier for thinking those standards matter enough to rub it in the site owners face.
Going back a few pages here, but holy shit this is one obnoxious post. Not only should people consume without asking any questions, but posting on a message board is now rubbing peoples faces in. Just fucking astounding.
 

firehawk12

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Journalism polices itself frequently. If there are lapses in integrity by others in your profession then your own work can be viewed as compromised simply by extension. Journalists rely on the ethics governing the profession as a whole to attain trust from the readership and be of service to them.

And even if you don't want to describe yourself as a games "journalist," but rather a writer/enthusiast/whatever, following some of the basic ethical tenets of journalism is still something you should want to do (case in point: Rab Florence, who explicitly wrote in his final Eurogamer article that he is not a games journalist, yet still wants there to be some self-governance in the games media).

If you want people to trust that your opinions and the general things you have to say are legitimate and free from corrupt influence, then you should make an effort to keep yourself as distanced as practically feasible from being a cog in the public relations wheel.

But some seem perfectly content to say "well, I'm not a journalist!" as if that somehow renders everything moot and excuses them.
I still remember the cheers that erupted when MS gave away free Xboxes at the end of their E3 thing when they introduced the slim. I think that's where the very low bar that the profession set and I figure it would behoove them to try to raise that bar.

But then again, not only are some willing to say they're not journalists, some revel in the fact that they are enthusiasts. I think that's fair, but I wish there were more people who sat on the other end of that spectrum.
 
Aug 7, 2008
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aegies said:
With regards to Press Reset, it's advertiser-sponsored content. Microsoft, via Internet Explorer and Windows, has sponsored hundreds if not thousands of television programs over the last 20 years with similar agreements, though in this case, they pitched us on the kind of thing we could make with the sponsorship deal.
Why would MS give you money specifically to make a documentary promoting your own site?

The obvious answer is they expect some sort of quid pro quo. Whether or not that expectation is valid is a question, but that that expectation exists is really the most logical explanation.

As far as the GAF hive mind being hostile to the press - personally, to be blunt, I am hostile towards you because of specific actions you've taken in the past that have earned hostility.

In particular it's kind of hard not to be hostile towards someone who takes a large amount of money donated to them specifically for the purpose of running and improving a podcast they are on, then 6 months later hear them joking on air about how they don't have enough microphones for everyone and hey where did all that money go?

Should I not be hostile towards someone who cynically uses the genuine goodwill people feel about others losing their jobs as a way to profit?

At any point you could have disclosed what the money was going to, but you steadfastly chose not to, presumably because the money was simply pocketed. That's the natural conclusion one would draw anyway.

You might notice that although you claim that GAF is hostile to the press in general they are a lot more hostile to you personally than to someone like Jeff Green or Shawn Elliot. That could be some sort of random unexplainable mystery, or it could be because Jeff Green isn't a scammer.

Whether or not your whole Rebel FM thing was a cynical scam you can argue, but if you had been up front about it from the start your reputation would be completely different here on Neogaf - a reputation you earned. Maybe in your heart of hearts you know you are a swell guy and that money totally went to legit things but that fact that week after week I would read questions asking where that money was going and week after week you all refused to answer makes it hard draw positive conclusions.
 
Sep 8, 2006
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I still remember the cheers that erupted when MS gave away free Xboxes at the end of their E3 thing when they introduced the slim. I think that's where the very low bar that the profession set and I figure it would behoove them to try to raise that bar.
I wouldn't put too much weight into audience reactions at major trade shows and other events because the organizers are smart enough to fill them with people that will cheer on cue, be they employees or people they pulled off the street. Company officials on stage look better when their bullet points aren't punctuated by crickets.
Not saying there aren't press who do cheer, but it's nigh impossible to tell who they are, whether it's just courtesy clapping, etc. The PS3 promo thing on Twitter is a much better example because you can actually identify the participants clearly.
 
Aug 12, 2007
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But you have to understand something else, and maybe GAF loses sight of this. The press I deal with 99 percent of the time is not the press caught up in this particular row, for good or ill. I don't know anyone from eurogamer, for example. Games media tends to be geographically insular. So when people talk about press defending the shadier shit that's happened in this situation over the last week, I personally haven't seen any of that. And I follow most of the high profile people on twitter. So I can't speak to defensiveness, outside of MCVUK et al's behavior, which seems gross to me, looking from the outside and with little factual information outside of hearsay.

If we reported on game rumors with as little substantiated information as this situation, we'd be accused of trolling for clicks. Or of falling for a reddit trap, or something.
I'm sorry, but this is total BS. Anyone who's spent any time working in the gaming media (in the US or anywhere else) sees the kind of crap that Florence was talking about happening regularly. Contests at events, PR folks playing buddy, open bars, extravagant preview/launch events, paying for trips to shooting ranges and race tracks, etc., etc. He wasn't talking about some dude walking up to you all with a locked briefcase full of cash. He was talking about the everyday sort of stuff that PR does all the time.

You're either in denial or you're not very good at your job. Don't give in to assuming this is about some "fringe" element in journalism. It's everywhere. At least own up to that fact. No one's asking you all to say you've accepted bribes or anything so obvious. Just to own up to the fact that PR is nasty and goes overboard and that many journalists (not necessarily you) take up those PR offers regularly. It's a part of the industry, and it deserves scrutiny. And I'm sure you'd rather that you and your fellow journalists could tell that story rather than a bunch of blowhards on some internet forum. Right?
 

Antiwhippy

the holder of the trombone
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I'm sorry, but this is total BS. Anyone who's spent any time working in the gaming media (in the US or anywhere else) sees the kind of crap that Florence was talking about happening regularly. Contests at events, PR folks playing buddy, open bars, extravagant preview/launch events, paying for trips to shooting ranges and race tracks, etc., etc. He wasn't talking about some dude walking up to you all with a locked briefcase full of cash. He was talking about the everyday sort of stuff that PR does all the time. If you don't see this stuff happening, then you're either not paying attention or you're blind as a bat. And if either of those things is true, then you're a terrible journalist.

You're either in denial or you're not very good at your job. Don't give in to assuming this is about some "fringe" element in journalism. It's everywhere. At least own up to that fact. No one's asking you all to say you've accepted bribes or anything so obvious. Just to own up to the fact that PR is nasty and goes overboard and that many journalists (not necessarily you) take up those PR offers regularly.
I'm probably not as informed on this as you are, but if you want to make claims like these you probably should post specific examples, and if you can show examples of coverage being influenced by it.
 
Aug 7, 2008
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I'm sorry, but this is total BS. Anyone who's spent any time working in the gaming media (in the US or anywhere else) sees the kind of crap that Florence was talking about happening regularly
To be fair to aegies (much as it pains me) the Eurogamer piece was calling out something specific. Yes, events happen a lot, yes people are chummy with PR a lot, but people acting as paid advertisers on their twitter feeds is something that doesn't happen a lot and is IMO clearly much worse than simply being chummy with someone.

It's important to keep the conversation grounded in specifics.
 
Aug 12, 2007
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To be fair to aegies (much as it pains me) the Eurogamer piece was calling out something specific. Yes, events happen a lot, yes people are chummy with PR a lot, but people acting as paid advertisers on their twitter feeds is something that doesn't happen a lot and is IMO clearly much worse than simply being chummy with someone.

It's important to keep the conversation grounded in specifics.
I disagree. The Eurogamer piece was not about specific people or incidents. It was using those as illustrations of a much larger problem. Florence has made this clear in subsequent blog posts.
 
Apr 24, 2007
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Why would MS give you money specifically to make a documentary promoting your own site?

The obvious answer is they expect some sort of quid pro quo. Whether or not that expectation is valid is a question, but that that expectation exists is really the most logical explanation.

As far as the GAF hive mind being hostile to the press - personally, to be blunt, I am hostile towards you because of specific actions you've taken in the past that have earned hostility.

In particular it's kind of hard not to be hostile towards someone who takes a large amount of money donated to them specifically for the purpose of running and improving a podcast they are on, then 6 months later hear them joking on air about how they don't have enough microphones for everyone and hey where did all that money go?

Should I not be hostile towards someone who cynically uses the genuine goodwill people feel about others losing their jobs as a way to profit?

At any point you could have disclosed what the money was going to, but you steadfastly chose not to, presumably because the money was simply pocketed. That's the natural conclusion one would draw anyway.

You might notice that although you claim that GAF is hostile to the press in general they are a lot more hostile to you personally than to someone like Jeff Green or Shawn Elliot. That could be some sort of random unexplainable mystery, or it could be because Jeff Green isn't a scammer.

Whether or not your whole Rebel FM thing was a cynical scam you can argue, but if you had been up front about it from the start your reputation would be completely different here on Neogaf - a reputation you earned. Maybe in your heart of hearts you know you are a swell guy and that money totally went to legit things but that fact that week after week I would read questions asking where that money was going and week after week you all refused to answer makes it hard draw positive conclusions.
I've repeatedly disclosed exactly where the money for Rebel FM went, and here, to boot. If you never saw that information, it's not my problem. You've drawn the conclusions you wanted to draw. We've also been podcasting for more than three years now, and have long since outperformed any expectations the show ever had. I've devoted thousands of hours of my life to something that doesn't pay a dime. I don't owe you a single additional explanation. Period.

The content is sponsored because they want their product advertised in front of something they believe will be good content that people will want to watch.

I disagree. The Eurogamer piece was not about specific people or incidents. It was using those as illustrations of a much larger problem. Florence has made this clear in subsequent blog posts.
No. I was very specifically referring to this. This being the topic of this whole thread. The events in question. I don't know any of those people. I'm pretty decent at my job, thanks.
 
Aug 24, 2007
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I'm probably not as informed on this as you are, but if you want to make claims like these you probably should post specific examples, and if you can show examples of coverage being influenced by it.
You can't ever show definitively that coverage was influenced by something, that's what makes this shit so insidious.
 
Aug 12, 2007
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Woah there, now. You're entitled to your opinion and all, but jeez, lol.
But really. I'm just flabbergasted that anyone would claim that he/she "hasn't seen" any of the stuff that Florence is talking about. It's there. We're not talking about conspiracy level stuff. Just that everyday sort of nudge-nudge PR behavior that journalists all roll their eyes at. But to say that you "don't see it" is either flat out denial or utter obliviousness.

But don't make me feel like the main character in "The Yellow Wallpaper" here. I'm not the crazy one. ;)
 
May 19, 2010
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I'm probably not as informed on this as you are, but if you want to make claims like these you probably should post specific examples, and if you can show examples of coverage being influenced by it.
It existing is enough. No link needs to be made to prove that it influenced their editorial, because the purpose of press kits and public relations events are to shape the minds of "opinion leaders." Much of promotion is about getting into the minds of consumers in ways that don't come off as manipulative. The one thing I hope people can take away from this is that promotions people are doing there job, they are not your friend. Company's don't pay for your room, dinner and airfare, because they want a fair critique of their game. They do it because they feel they can use your legitimacy is an independent critic to sway the opinions of people who rely on your opinions as surrogate indicators of quality. They do so to earn bonus thresholds that come from their game getting high metacritic scores.

It is your job as a writer to look at those motives and determine if playing along with these events is not influencing the majority of writers in your field.
 

Antiwhippy

the holder of the trombone
Mar 28, 2010
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You can't ever show definitively that coverage was influenced by something, that's what makes this shit so insidious.
I know, that's why I have an "if you can" because there are very clear cases sometimes, like this one. It's just that if you want to make accusations like that you need to back it up with concrete cases, even if you can't show concrete end results. You can still show some influence even if everything isn't clear.
 
Sep 8, 2006
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Whether or not your whole Rebel FM thing was a cynical scam you can argue, but if you had been up front about it from the start your reputation would be completely different here on Neogaf - a reputation you earned. Maybe in your heart of hearts you know you are a swell guy and that money totally went to legit things but that fact that week after week I would read questions asking where that money was going and week after week you all refused to answer makes it hard draw positive conclusions.
He did, on several occasions, answer those questions. And, maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but they did disclose how that money was being spent on the podcast itself, too. (If someone else is patient enough to dig up the posts or maybe even find the specific episode, that would be great.)

Did they handle this perfectly? No. Did they scam people? Also no. They were simply ill equipped to deal with such a large sum of money being donated to them, that much is apparent.
Take the microphone situation for instance: If they had bought ten, for the eventuality that ten people would be on the podcast at once, which then does happen, but only one single time, would some people claim they'd wasted their donations, too? From the amount of shit they continue to get, I would assume so. They bought the amount of mics they thought they would reasonable need 99% of the time, which has borne out to be the right call.

It's easy to be cynical about this thing, even about the fact that they're still doing it. But I'd take a step back and look at 156 episodes (not counting Game Clubs?) of Rebel FM. They're still going, long after Nick and Phil had found new employment. They could have just as well called it quits then, donated the money to charity and moved on with their lives. I'm sure the ego-stroking outweighs the shit they get, or they would have long since stopped, but I think they deserve some credit simply for keeping it going this long at the very least.
 
aegies said:
Covering this story for most outlets is writing about the competition, which is a really difficult thing to navigate. Are you being too negative? Is it because it's to your competitive advantage to make another site look bad? Can you be a trustworthy source on another site? What if your report is wrong? Like, completely, 100 percent wrong? What are we actually exposing? This isn't dateline. We're not taking down a major corporation that's dumping chemicals into the river.

I wanted to come back to this single paragraph, as its the one people have been responding to the most over the past 3 pages.

Why is writing about "the competition" such a troubling aspect, especially when, as in this case, the competition (such as it is - traditional notions of media competition are rather faded and stretched in 2012) IS a legitimate news story? As has been brought up in the thread multiple times, news organizations constantly check each other when impropriety is unearthed, as the fourth estate NEEDS to cultivate a sense of trust in order to do its job correctly.

But it's the bolded that I think causes me the most worry - The fact you're asking that, and then drawing a comparison to Dateline as if it's a silly comparison is troubling. Again - Polygon has a multi-part documentary paid for by Microsoft in which every key component of the site is professing the intent to be something different, something better, something beyond what a normal gaming website is, what a normal gaming website does, with coverage normal gaming websites don't offer. Why would you then negatively compare yourselves to Dateline, and wonder aloud at the newsworthiness of this particular story?

As was brought up before - just because your chosen focus is a field of entertainment doesn't mean a compelling story can't come out of that field. Pulitzers have been awarded for film criticism. If you're willing to completely write off such a story as non-newsworthy simply because it happened in gaming media, what does that say?

Basically - why would you blithely devalue the worth of your own work as a reason for not pursuing legitimate news in an industry you've dedicated yourself to covering?
 
Aug 12, 2007
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I know, that's why I have an "if you can" because there are very clear cases sometimes, like this one. It's just that if you want to leverage accusations like that you need to back it up with concrete cases, even if you can't show concrete end results.
All I will say is that if you've worked in the games media, you've seen this stuff. A lot. That doesn't necessarily mean that you or your journalist friends partake, but you definitely know it's there. Hell, show up to any preview event and you're likely to find an open bar. Is it possible to show a direct link between a favorable preview and the three whiskey sours someone had on a publisher's tab? No. But as one poster said earlier (was it Jeff Green?), put a picture of those free drinks alongside the preview, and then tell me what you think a reader will conclude.
 

Mago

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Jun 26, 2011
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The content is sponsored because they want their product advertised in front of something they believe will be good content that people will want to watch.
Microsoft's marketing department thinks people want to watch a nine part documentary about starting up a video game website? I'd love to see the numbers you guys got on Episode Three - 'Tighten Up the Graphics'.
 

speedpop

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They were simply ill equipped to deal with such a large sum of money being donated to them, that much is apparent.
I don't even know who these people are, but this is the weakest excuse I've ever heard in my lifetime. It was too much trouble for them to have found a financial adviser of some sort?

If we're going to blame the sum of money donated to their resources, then we're going to throw them in the same pile that is relegated to lotto winners who go bankrupt within a year or two of winning millions. Society collectively likes to call them stupid.
 
Dec 29, 2008
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aegies

It's cute you're trying to say money from MS, because it's a different division than xbox, has no influence on your site or the content but you said:

they pitched us on the kind of thing we could make with the sponsorship deal
Which means they told you what you could do with that money.

And lo and behold Major Nelson starts tweeting about polygon and your great Halo 4 content... Pretty sure his twitter is a MS PR mouthpiece.

And you can't understand why people would be suspicious?
 

Htown

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Which is a damn shame since it was actually a lot of fun to play. Wouldn't mind seeing similar lightgun-esque spin off titles.
As long as you're ready for none of them to sell.

I mean, seriously, you make a (1)lightgun (2)spinoff (3)prequel to a new IP that has appeared on every platform except the one you're releasing the prequel on.

Who the hell did they expect to buy it?
 
Sep 8, 2006
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I don't even know who these people are, but this is the weakest excuse I've ever heard in my lifetime. It was too much trouble for them to have found a financial adviser of some sort?

If we're going to blame the sum of money donated to their resources, then we're going to throw them in the same pile that is relegated to lotto winners who go bankrupt within a year or two of winning millions. Society collectively likes to call them stupid.
It's not an excuse, it's perspective. I forget what sum it was, but they weren't "financial adviser" type digits. What I had in mind was a simple finance section on the site, showing how much money went where, what's left, etc. That would have probably sufficed.

It's only vaguely comparable, since a) they didn't piss the money away and b) there's still some of it left, last I heard.

We're talking about the Rebel FM podcast, btw. Not that there's any confusion with them and Polygon...
 
May 19, 2010
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I don't even know who these people are, but this is the weakest excuse I've ever heard in my lifetime. It was too much trouble for them to have found a financial adviser of some sort?

If we're going to blame the sum of money donated to their resources, then we're going to throw them in the same pile that is relegated to lotto winners who go bankrupt within a year or two of winning millions. Society collectively likes to call them stupid.
People also donated to RebelFM when a Nick, Anthony and Phil, the main players in 1UP FM, we're taking donations for the successor to the show. Gies was just tagging along and seemed to use that connection to get a job at IGN. Nick and Phil left the show really early after the donations came in. Gies admitted to using the money on a gaming laptop for someone on the crew. People were offended by this because not only is it something that can be used outside of the podcast but it was also bought by someone for someone who was not on 1UP FM.

I think people have a point to be annoyed at that.
 
Aug 7, 2008
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He did, on several occasions, answer those questions. And, maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but they did disclose how that money was being spent on the podcast itself, too.
I listened to the podcast for many months, while people on Neogaf were asking where the money was going and getting repeatedly blown off on both the podcast and on Neogaf.

And while I've heard many people say an explanation exists I've still never seen it, even though this topic has come up many times.

And again, in the end whether or nor he is a scummy scammer is not really the issue. The issue is he had all the appearance of a scummy scammer, and hence moaning about his poor reputation entirely of his own creation is a little silly.
 
Apr 27, 2009
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aegies

It's cute you're trying to say money from MS, because it's a different division than xbox, has no influence on your site or the content but you said:



Which means they told you what you could do with that money.

And lo and behold Major Nelson starts tweeting about polygon and your great Halo 4 content... Pretty sure his twitter is a MS PR mouthpiece.

And you can't understand why people would be suspicious?
 
Sep 20, 2009
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the polygon thing is an illustration of the importance of appearance that is at the core of what florence wrote.

now gies could be right here, big corporations are pretty bad at working across departments so it wasn't intended as a pr strategy and all the polygon staff could just see it as a silly internet explorer specific advert not a gift and think nothing of it. i think he is almost certainly correct, i don't distrust the polygon guys like that to be honest. but you have that niggling doubt when it's unusual like this - i do reject any notion that offering you a documentary series that otherwise would never exist and which is so personal and gives you guys a nice ego boost and extra exposure is the same as an internet explorer ad at the top of the page. nor if it was found that you thought up and made the doc yourselves then found a sponsor, which is fine. but the current arrangement gives me pause in the same way that the free ps3's do to rab, and i think in the back of my head are you saying that about halo 4 because you love it that much, or is that enthusiasm a little bit encouraged by being predisposed to like the product and platform because of how thankful you are for the documentary that msft enabled.
 
D

Deleted member 30609

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Did you ever actually reply to ShockingAlberto back in the Polygon/IE thread, Arthur, or are you only interested in posting here when you think you have the opportunity to show-off in front of the big-boys reading this thread?
 
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I should also note the idea that audience drives that kind of content doesn't really do much to make me feel better about much of anything.

One of my most profound fear is that there really are millions of gamers out there all pumped to go get Mountain Dew and Dorritos for extra Halo XP; I fear that this is mainstream gaming audience and its interests.

Which probably explains why my favorite game related content these days is done by people outside of game media like Gamers with Jobs and Idle Thumbs because they don't have to cater to the Mountain Dew Doritos crowd.
Sort of where I'm coming from as well.

I totally understand and appreciate the stance of reacting to what the search hits tell you people want to read, but I don't agree with the idea that that should drive content. If that's the case, why not just make your site into a running Call of Duty fansite (sponsored by Dorito's, in association with Mountain Dew) and have done with it?

I was under the impression from Polygon's pre-launch spiel that they existed to mix things up a bit and, hopefully, rise above the noise in that regard. I'm actually a previous fan of a few of the writers employed by Polygon from previous sites, so it would be dissapointing if the "content driven by search results" angle results in another standard and frankly boring news regurtitation site.

Perhaps the problem is me, as thanks largely to some of the issues already raised in this thread I've almost entirely stopped visiting gaming websites. But, like I say, I very much bought into the idea that Polygon would be something more interesting and dynamic than that. aegis' comments aren't encoruaging me to invest much time into the website.
 
Jun 29, 2011
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It's cute you're trying to say money from MS, because it's a different division than xbox, has no influence on your site or the content but you said:



Which means they told you what you could do with that money.

And lo and behold Major Nelson starts tweeting about polygon and your great Halo 4 content... Pretty sure his twitter is a MS PR mouthpiece.

And you can't understand why people would be suspicious?
Seriously...
 
Feb 6, 2012
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the polygon thing is an illustration of the importance of appearance that is at the core of what florence wrote.

now gies could be right here, big corporations are pretty bad at working across departments so it wasn't intended as a pr strategy and all the polygon staff could just see it as a silly internet explorer specific advert not a gift and think nothing of it. i think he is almost certainly correct, i don't distrust the polygon guys like that to be honest. but you have that niggling doubt when it's unusual like this - i do reject any notion that offering you a documentary series that otherwise would never exist and which is so personal and gives you guys a nice ego boost and extra exposure is the same as an internet explorer ad at the top of the page. it gives me pause in the same way that the free ps3's do to rab, and i think in the back of my head are you saying that about halo 4 because you love it that much, or is that enthusiasm a little bit encouraged by being predisposed to like the product and platform because of how thankful you are for the documentary that msft enabled.
It's the heart of what I've been saying. More often, "what it looks like" is more important than what it actually is. The fact that these question marks appear when you think about a site like Polygon show that it's not enough just to avoid conflicts of interest. Codes of ethics also need to account for the perception of conflicts of interest, like most press and government departments.

You can say you aren't affected by the PR parties and exclusive trips until your face is blue. But if you had any sense of ethics, you wouldn't have put yourself in such a position for people to question your integrity in the first place.
 
Aug 12, 2007
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the polygon thing is an illustration of the importance of appearance that is at the core of what florence wrote.

now gies could be right here, big corporations are pretty bad at working across departments so it wasn't intended as a pr strategy and all the polygon staff could just see it as a silly internet explorer specific advert not a gift and think nothing of it. i think he is almost certainly correct, i don't distrust the polygon guys like that to be honest. but you have that niggling doubt when it's unusual like this - i do reject any notion that offering you a documentary series that otherwise would never exist and which is so personal and gives you guys a nice ego boost and extra exposure is the same as an internet explorer ad at the top of the page. nor if it was found that you thought up and made the doc yourselves then found a sponsor, which is fine. but the current arrangement gives me pause in the same way that the free ps3's do to rab, and i think in the back of my head are you saying that about halo 4 because you love it that much, or is that enthusiasm a little bit encouraged by being predisposed to like the product and platform because of how thankful you are for the documentary that msft enabled.
What's funny is that before yesterday, I thought absolutely nothing of the whole Internet Explorer-Polygon thing that seemed to bother so many people here on GAF. It was just an ad like any other. But now I'm left with doubt that I didn't really have before. In light of what's happened, and in light of the deafening silence from all quarters, it just looks bad.

Even if there's really nothing to it, now I have a reasonable and rational reason to doubt their trustworthiness. Where before it was just something for tinfoil hatters and rumor mongers.
 
Jan 23, 2010
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People also donated to RebelFM when a Nick, Anthony and Phil, the main players in 1UP FM, we're taking donations for the successor to the show. Gies was just tagging along and seemed to use that connection to get a job at IGN. Nick and Phil left the show really early after the donations came in. Gies admitted to using the money on a gaming laptop for someone on the crew. People were offended by this because not only is it something that can be used outside of the podcast but it was also bought by someone for someone who was not on 1UP FM.

I think people have a point to be annoyed at that.
Completely disagree. The money was to help the podcast. At no point did any one cast member state they would continue to do the podcast. Or that people on the cast were only going to be from 1up FM. They got more money than they had to spend on the equipment.

Cut to a year or more (maybe less) they use some of the money to buy Tyler a gaming PC. And that added a lot of discussion to the podcast. He played a lot of games on it, and not just console ports or the big PC releases, he played quite a bit of obscure games as well.

So they used the money to improve the podcast. So I can't imagine anyone still bitching about this even listens to the podcast anymore.
 
Nov 30, 2011
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I still remember the cheers that erupted when MS gave away free Xboxes at the end of their E3 thing when they introduced the slim. I think that's where the very low bar that the profession set and I figure it would behoove them to try to raise that bar.
To be fair I don't know why people would even be surprised about journos motivations to attend E3 when some are quite open about the reason they have got into the industry in the first place is to attend the even. Just look at how shamelessly Destructoid mention it http://www.modernmethod.com/destructoid-press.htm.

I've been to various trade shows for various forms of employment as either an exhibitor or an attendee and they have always served as a platform to reach out to a wider audience through various means and if that means buttering up people with free gifts no matter how it's perceived it's still marketing the cause how ever it's reported.
 
Mar 26, 2012
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I think a reasonable person could conclude that Microsoft's support might provide incentive or at least subconscious bias to treat their products more favorably, particularly since the documentary/money helped jump start the site to a certain degree. Now, to be fair, under the same section in the ethics statement, Polygon retains editorial discretion and adheres to a number of other good rules that help ensure editorial integrity. It's just the amount of money alleged and the timing of the thing makes it easy to suspect impropriety.
Surely a reasonable person would then look at Polygon's coverage of Microsoft games to see if this bears out. Seeing the 1/10 and 6/10 of Steel Battalion and Forza Horizon might convince them--since they are reasonable people--that Polygon clearly isn't suffering from any sort of bias, conscious or otherwise. One could also look at Vox Media's side of things--Windows 8 didn't get the greatest marks, and neither did the Surface.
 
Feb 27, 2006
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Well, we were kinda on a roll there for a while with the longer posts about the matter at hand with those involved in the industry. Then OutForBlood-gaf had to make their presence known. Pro-Tip: They already know what our concerns are. Repeating them louder and ruder isn't going to help expedite the process of having an adult discussion. It's only going to make them the recipients of insulting comments no one would ever bother responding to.

Just sayin'
 
Aug 7, 2008
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Completely disagree. The money was to help the podcast. At no point did any one cast member state they would continue to do the podcast. Or that people on the cast were only going to be from 1up FM. They got more money than they had to spend on the equipment.
The issue is transparency.

When people donate literally thousands of dollars it's not asking too much to know where that money is going.

In the end the issue is not so much what they did or did not do with it, the issue is that Arthur and pals have the reputation they have because of actions they took, not because of some completely random hate-on.
 
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