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

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Having been away for a few days and finally caught up with all this yesterday. Apart from Jeff Green and Shawn Elliot giving exceptional insights, what resonated with me most was Jim Sterling's excellent blog and more importantly the section about the sniffy attitude towards bloggers and enthusiast press that occurs at times.

I put myself firmly in the enthusiast category and have been writing reviews for over 12 years for different sites. That seems like a long time to write without having an actual job in the industry surely? Possibly, and I've been offered positions before and never taken them. Why? Because I don't feel part of the machine and when I see videos or listen to certain podcasts I know deep down that I have nothing in common with many of the so-called "faces" in the industry.

I just feel much more comfortable being in a position where I can just be honest about what I write and not beholden to an editor or a PR company leaning on me in any way, shape or form. I can't imagine what it must be like to be Geoff Keighley surrounded by all that junk food and beholden to bosses higher up the chain to promote all that tat. I've always considered him an ok kinda guy and I would love to hear the truth on how he feels about such promotions because he can't be terribly happy about it surely?

In relation to PR and how they react to negative reviews, the best reaction I think Console Arcade ever got was from the studio behind Dead Block. The site owner hated it (and his review pulled no punches) but the developers got in touch, saying they hoped we'd like their next game, which I actually did (Skydrift on XBLA/PSN) because it was *gasp* fun and enjoyable.

I'm happy to be where I am, maybe one day a position will come along and I could be part of something that allowed me the freedom I currently have within the industry? Probably not, but I still have my passion, my enthusiasm and that's fine by me.
 
Articles/videos
Wings over Sealand articles (second article has summary) 1 2
Rab Florence (the guy who started all this) criticizing games writing since 2008
John Walker's (Rock Paper Shotgun) blog (start with Games Journalists, And The Perception Of Corruption)
TotalBiscuit
Jim Sterling
Penny-Arcade
Gamasutra
Forbes
Worthplaying
GiantBomb
Old Gamasutra article on the influence of PR

Other links
Shawn Elliot - 1 (aegies is Arthur Gies of polygon.com) 2 3 4 5 on the psychology of PR etc
and some more Arthur Gies - 1 2 3 4 5 and some replies 1 2 3
Jeff Green on the way it actually works
ShockingAlberto on his view as a former games writer
Jason Schreier (Kotaku) - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
N'Gai Croal initial reaction on Twitter
Chris Schilling (freelance) likes both people involved and so doesn't want to write about it
Danny O'Dwyer (Gamespot UK) on why his site won't cover this (audience is not interested) - 1 2 3
Examples of various press kits
The 3DS comes to GiantBomb
GillianSeed79 and firehawk12 on how journalist do criticize their peers
pastapadre on being shunned by the industry
An old episode of CGW Radio discussing Gerstmann-gate
 
Really? Because here's an entire section on your own website dedicated to writing about media issues surrounding gaming coverage, you LYING HYPOCRITE.

http://jasonschreier.com/category/media/

and a few more of your "tasteful" jokes about the current issue:





Still claim you hate writing about this issue?
Oh that's pretty damning.

The consumer preference for "AAA" games is not intrinsically different from how schlock journalism works in other fields.

E! Entertainment news would of course claim that they spend so much airtime on tabloid journalism because people are interested in it, and they want to cater to the market. I would argue that interest in Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian etc. is not some inherent property of consumers, and that the taste for this specific brand of schlock was cultivated by E! and Us Weekly and Extra! just as much as it was by consumers. As some news broadcasts show -- even supposedly reputable ones -- journalism is not simply an observer reporting the facts. They don't just report reality, but can create it if it benefits them in some way.
Exactly. Maybe if more sites had some real actual news and not just the regurgitated press releases then people would actually start to care about news like that. I think Neogaf here is a perfect example. Obviously there is interest in a news story that isn't just lol this newest Forza is teh bomb and here's why. If there wasn't then this thread would not still be going strong the way it is. It just wouldn't. There would not be this debate going on that there is and the story would not still be a story if people really didn't give a crap about real news.
 

LiquidMetal14

hide your water-based mammals
Rab's beef with games journalism back in 2008 - personally i whole heartedly agree, but at that point (2008 or before) i'd already dispensed with reading or giving a flying shit with what 99% of the gaming media, bloggers, or any other gob on a stick thought outside of a handful of people i connected with:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xQeQ39m_38A
That is right on the nail.

Here's something that David Jaffe said a few years back

He's right on the nail. Worth listening.
 
Articles/videos
Wings over Sealand articles (second article has summary) 1 2
Rab Florence (the guy who started all this) criticizing games writing since 2008
John Walker's (Rock Paper Shotgun) blog (start with Games Journalists, And The Perception Of Corruption)
TotalBiscuit
Jim Sterling
Penny-Arcade
Gamasutra
Forbes
Worthplaying
GiantBomb

Other links
Shawn Elliot - 1 (aegies is Arthur Gies of polygon.com) 2 3 4 5 on the psychology of PR etc
and some more Arthur Gies - 1 2 3 4 5 and some replies 1 2 3
Jeff Green on the way it actually works
ShockingAlberto on his view as a former games writer
Jason Schreier (Kotaku) - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
N'Gai Croal initial reaction on Twitter
Chris Schilling (freelance) likes both people involved and so doesn't want to write about it
Danny O'Dwyer (Gamespot UK) on why his site won't cover this (audience is not interested) - 1 2 3
Examples of various press kits
The 3DS comes to GiantBomb
GillianSeed79 and firehawk12 on how journalist do criticize their peers
pastapadre on being shunned by the industry
An old episode of CGW Radio discussing Gerstmann-gate
Thanks for the round up; missed Patrick's giant bomb article.
 
So I finally got around to reading this OP. Wow. It's stuff like this that has me reading GAF exclusively.

I pretty much gave up on Games Journalism the moment Gametrailers gave Modern Warfare 2 Game of the Year on ALL PLATFORMS! (sans Wii)

"To become a nominee, you CANNOT be a one trick pony. Glossy on the outside, but ugly on the inside, or relies upon the tried and true. The mold MUST be broken, the envelope must be pushed, OR at the very least, it must sparkle with polish.
The same year Uncharted 2, Arkham Asylum, Killzone 2, and Assassins Creed 2 released.

GOTY in general.
PC: The same year as the "no dedi-servers betraylton"
Xbox 360
Yep, even on PS3. I had heard this one was buggy and hacked to death.
Best First Person Shooter. Same year as Left 4 Dead and Killzone 2.
Best Multiplayer

All this was enough for me.
 
Reading the forum rules would have sufficed too.
Yup. Tony is a good guy. Also I'm sure he meant well. However he had to follow the rules like everyone else. Also if it was me in his spot I would have probably contacted Evilore or one of the mods to ask them if it was ok due to my position as a representative of a retail company that has all these PR ties. That's if I was him.
 

LiquidMetal14

hide your water-based mammals
In reality i hope this achieves the following : that enthusiast gamers stop giving a shit what the gaming press thinks. Ultimately - what they say to gamers of XX years experience means, ultimately, nothing. We've made our minds up already - and we need to accept there's a seperation between who they are targetting and what we are interested in. Getting over excited or angry to what they do is counter productive and a waste of energy - instead hunt down people you identify with and make more of those connections. The future of gaming coverage for gaming enthusiasts is going to live within the gaming enthusiast community it would seem - STOP reacting to these sites, magazines, etc - unless they ACTUALLY make thought provoking commentary. If they don't? Fuck em, and move on. Vote with your tweet/visit/etc.
This last paragraph hit it on the head. But many GAF members who make "political" gaming threads do it for just that, hits. This place is guilty of being cynical and quite often. It's not what the mods really want and I get annoyed a lot with it but unfortunately this place has that sort of vibe. It all depends on who's making the threads but I think no one here is dumb enough to see the trends and who is pushing for a certain system or anything.

It's a much deeper issue and study on how subtle things can be around here. Sort of like stealth trolling or some members who only come into Sony/MSFT/Nintendo bad news threads and throw in their one liner jokes. To me, those are the clowns you need to ignore.

And that includes them stupid threads which link to stupid articles which are only trying for hits AND the same sites that many here often lambaste BUT will quote a review if they like it or post a stupid sensationalist article.

Bad or wrong opinionated writing (journalism) doesn't need attention all the time. I'm trying to sound concise but I'm sort of shooting from the hip.
 
Wow. Rare moment of eloquence and reasonableness from Jaffe. Great stuff.

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.
If at this point you still believe this thread is only about the people involved in the "Wainwright-Florence Affair," you really are bad at your job. As I said before, Florence himself has repeatedly made clear that this has nothing to do with the specific people he mentioned. It has everything to do with the widespread and accepted practice of crossing a disturbingly permeable boundary between journalism and PR.

Thank you for bringing that up. I remember sites (including, yes, Giant Bomb and Jeff Gerstmann) going "awesome, cool, free Xboxes!!!" and giving a ton of coverage to their new free Xboxes by constantly talking about them... and then insisting that the "internet idea" that there was some kind of impropriety or dirtiness involved was just conspiracy nonsense.

It was exactly what Shawn was talking about. People getting pandered to and turned into unwitting advertising machines, then steadfastly claiming that it "doesn't work on them" like it's some kind of RPG spell that they have immunity towards.
Perfect example. Like Shawn said, it's not like this kind of behavior is a direct bribe or anything. And journalists keep thinking that that's what we're saying. And they dismiss us as "conspiracy theorists." We're not. We're talking about something subtle and nefarious. We're talking about doubt.
 
Articles/videos
Wings over Sealand articles (second article has summary) 1 2
Rab Florence (the guy who started all this) criticizing games writing since 2008
John Walker's (Rock Paper Shotgun) blog (start with Games Journalists, And The Perception Of Corruption)
TotalBiscuit
Jim Sterling
Penny-Arcade
Gamasutra
Forbes
Worthplaying
GiantBomb

Other links
Shawn Elliot - 1 (aegies is Arthur Gies of polygon.com) 2 3 4 5 on the psychology of PR etc
and some more Arthur Gies - 1 2 3 4 5 and some replies 1 2 3
Jeff Green on the way it actually works
ShockingAlberto on his view as a former games writer
Jason Schreier (Kotaku) - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
N'Gai Croal initial reaction on Twitter
Chris Schilling (freelance) likes both people involved and so doesn't want to write about it
Danny O'Dwyer (Gamespot UK) on why his site won't cover this (audience is not interested) - 1 2 3
Examples of various press kits
The 3DS comes to GiantBomb
GillianSeed79 and firehawk12 on how journalist do criticize their peers
pastapadre on being shunned by the industry
An old episode of CGW Radio discussing Gerstmann-gate
Updated
 
Some good discussion, but some really poor responses to Schreirer.



I'm not willing to believe "audience driving content" is as simple or as one-way. Just on the mainstream side of things, there are three major players - gamers, press, publisher marketing - that interact with each other on different levels that drives press content. Take for example Fallout 3. The target audience for that was quite different from the core fanbase of Fallout 1 and 2. Who drove the content in the case of that game? Did the audience drive the content or the enthusiasm of this new audience was content-driven?

Having said that, I think there's a glaring lack of press-driven content. You'd see some interesting articles, opinions pieces from time to time (one would argue even most of these are tailored for their audience), but compared to audience or publisher-driven content, that's a minority. Maybe that's the nature of the industry, but I sure wish it would change.
I think this highlights my main problem with Gies' responses. It is very noble of him to speak out in terms of his stance on taking the perks and to be transparent about Polygon's ad revenue. I don't take that lightly especially since he is one fo the few gaming writers that is willing to talk about this openly, apparently. But we all know those things are not the real driving factors behind PR and media relationships. They are the more overt indicators of a more subtle issue.

Gies seems unwilling to admit the ways the PR-media relationships drive interest and attitudes. You can talk about reviews and handling them as a walled off garden but really, I would even argue that reviews are far less influential than everything that leads up to a review because at that point the hype and interest has already been created and there is already momentum. And all of that stuff is primarily delivered through the gaming media because the audience rarely interacts directly with the producers of the content or even directly with PR and marketing until shortly before the game comes out.

Nevertheless, I also know that this problem is a two way street. Game writers can't have more honest conversations and scrutiny of these kinds of influences for the same reasons politicians can't and won't. It would be career suicide because the audience isn't forgiving enough to hear that kind of conversation without turning it into a condemnation of the person who is being honest and transparent. People reward the liar because he tells them a simpler story that is more comfortable and easier to hear.
 
The consumer preference for "AAA" games is not intrinsically different from how schlock journalism works in other fields.

E! Entertainment news would of course claim that they spend so much airtime on tabloid journalism because people are interested in it, and they want to cater to the market. I would argue that interest in Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian etc. is not some inherent property of consumers, and that the taste for this specific brand of schlock was cultivated by E! and Us Weekly and Extra! just as much as it was by consumers. As some news broadcasts show -- even supposedly reputable ones -- journalism is not simply an observer reporting the facts. They don't just report reality, but can create it if it benefits them in some way.
I agree. But they do get caught in a catch 22. If they don't cover the thing that is generated hype from the rest of the PR-Media machine then they get left out and eventually die. If they do, perhaps they gain enough popularity and influence that they can begin to shape the Zeigeist?

I'm assuming that is some of the inside thinking, anyway. It's a Faustian bargain, no doubt. It is also one of the reasons why, more and more, I am totally happy just relying on friends and community message boards to generate interest for me. That stuff can certainly still be manipulated but the manipulation at least isn't as direct as this relationship seems to be.

That was not always the case. Back in the 90's and early 2000's I was one of the guys who literally read over a half dozen gaming magazines a month cover to cover. I realize the irony of this because I recognize that the problems of corruption were even more overt back then. But I also realize how much of my personal tastes and interest were strongly shaped by those magazines. For example, 12 year old me wouldn't know to anticipate new games or hardware on the basis of "more amazing graphics" except that this was sold to me over and over again. I recognize that to this day my interest in the cult of the new in videogames is probably largely shaped by those years and years I read those magazines.

Gamefan in particular was genius at this kind of generation of interest. Halverson at times would give monthly updates about a particular game saying this like "Oh man, just wait until you see it" or... "Just a little bit longer, it will be worth the wait!" It was an mental cocktease that always was one step ahead. When Alien vs. Predator came out for the Jaguar I can guarantee you I thought that shit was awesome. To this day I'm not really sure whether it is a game I think is genuinely good or one that I simply was conditioned to like. (As an aside, I do think the way they handled the risk/reward of "lives" for the Alien was pretty genius.) Regardless, I played the hell out of it until I saw all three endings. And if I was ever disappointed, well, there was always a new consumer cycle at hand. Just wait for the next issue. It's coming soon.
 
I just want to point out how self reinforcing this is.

I would argue that the audience interest in bigger games is driven just as much by the preeminence those "bigger games" are given in the media as it is the other way around

Consumer preference can be manipulated. The interest and preference for those "AAA" games is not intrinsic for everyone. Gaming sites cultivated it, for a variety of reasons.
Ever since I read that little bit you quoted, I wanted to say this but just couldn't find the right words to use but then I see this which is exactly what I wanted to say.

Just want to say, I also very much respect this post... and what you said such as even turning down positions for the reason you stated.

Anyway, outside of the Wainright stuff, I think things might have gone differently or at least opened up MORE useful discussions if some of these Journalists that are acting smug towards those that question them (such as what Colin supposedly said or the people replying to N'Gai) actually tried communicating, either via NeoGAF (for those that have an account though with the people who have posted here like Jason and the replies to him, I guess i can understand why they wouldn't) or at least did some proper articles on this and how they feel with comments open so people can reply and there can be actual dialogue going rather than the talking on twitter about it.

I mean, seriously. Anyone who has been on twitter being smug about it, and they consider themselves journalists or even the PR people who have joked about it like it's a non-issue.

What happened to professionalism? It doesn't seem like a PR move to be like that and for 'journalists', it just makes them seem more unprofessional than before.

Anyway I'll leave this post here before I go off on a tangent.
 
Really enlightening thread, takes a while to get through though.

The main thing i am learning is that there are very few actual new websites for gaming/gaming industry news.

There are many journalist speaking out via their own blogs, twitter or here saying that they agree that there is an issue with the PR/Press relationship BUT that they don't feel it is there job to cover it. It seems that the sites are only there for opinion pieces on games and game related topics, reviews and the occasional filler story. "I'm not interested in the story" and "its not for our readers" could be used as an excuse i guess if it was being covered elsewhere, but very few of the major sites are covering at all, and when the story is partly about the appearance of corruption and trust in the media, this only makes it look worse.

Secondly, on a personal level and more disheartening, are the majority of press that seem to think this is a non-issue and when asked directly dodge the question or act dumb. Truly sad, and as someone mentioned many pages ago, this whole situation and how it is covered will be a great filter for where i get my news from now on.

I'm not expecting every site to write there own expose on the matter, but this has turned into such a large story, and one that has been brought up for years, that i feel they should at least address it officially since the longer they stay silent the more I'm thinking that they are in this neck deep.

The gaming press as a whole is being questioned regarding its integrity and most seem to be trying to just ignore it and let it blow over, hope they don't succeed.

PS. thanks to Ledsen for all the updates

PPS. the excuse of not writing a story because writing about another outlet is a minefield has no merit. this is and industry wide issue and one could just concentrate on the outlet you work form, or none for that matter. There is nothing wrong with owning up to something you have done that is wrong, people seem so deadly afraid of admitting fault.
 
I periodically trot out this piece of writing when it becomes topical. It's a long read but it tackles many of the issues important to several people posting in this thread:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1542/pr_and_the_game_media_how_pr_.php
Most of that is stuff that has been talked about in this thread but it is interesting to hear it directly from former PR workers. Some of Zuniga's quotes about working at Rockstar are particularly stunning.

I think the end of the article also gets it right:

"I think there is a very interesting potential shift about how people are going to cover and get information about games,” said Smith in an interview with Kotaku. “Right now you have four bridges between developer and reader: Developer to PR, to journalist to reader. This could get rid of those middle two bridges.” Soon enough, as the Internet breaks the readerships of older, larger publications into smaller and smaller online communities, we might see publishers completely bypass independent editors and writers.
The advantage of this shift is that at least when interacting directly with PR and developers the audience knows where it stands. And actually the line of influence I think is somewhat reduced. I mean, Nintendo isn't going to be fucking hauling a truck full of hot girls to my house to try to sell me a 3DS like they did for Giant Bomb. When publishers can't rely on a few big trend setters their ability to control the message is actually greatly diminished. This is one of the advantages of the "information overload" of the internet era. Advertisers can no longer just blitz four big networks and dominate consumer interest as easily. The content begins to speak for itself more, at least in enthusiast communities.
 
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.
I understand why people do it on both ends, but I feel like people should be more open about it.
There are people who do go to trade shows to take pictures of women in costumes and to get free t-shirts and USB keys and that's fine. They probably see their blog as a hobby more than anything else. But it just makes everyone look like assholes.

Thank you for bringing that up. I remember sites (including, yes, Giant Bomb and Jeff Gerstmann) going "awesome, cool, free Xboxes!!!" and giving a ton of coverage to their new free Xboxes by constantly talking about them... and then insisting that the "internet idea" that there was some kind of impropriety or dirtiness involved was just conspiracy nonsense.

It was exactly what Shawn was talking about. People getting pandered to and turned into unwitting advertising machines, then steadfastly claiming that it "doesn't work on them" like it's some kind of RPG spell that they have immunity towards.
Oh yeah, the slim was the big news of the day after that press conference. Perhaps deservedly so since it was "new", but who knows how the prospect of getting a free Xbox influenced their coverage of the product.

(Although, funny enough, the new PS3 was met with deafening silence even though Sony sent those out as well. lol)
 

McBradders

NeoGAF: my new HOME
It bothers me that both sides of this discussion are, for the most part, entirely absent from the discussion.

And what happens when they do? Deny there is a problem, claim that nothing can change, that the audience don't want change so why should they.

I do believe I also just read that someone thinks GAF is a hostile place to hold such discussions. What a load of absolute rubbish.

You should be grateful that a part of your audience is so willing to take your industry to task because they want better representation. Because, lets make no bones about it here, you represent your readers and they should always, always be at the forefront of your mind with every stroke of a finger to key. If anything else is making you write, go do something else.
 
I periodically trot out this piece of writing when it becomes topical. It's a long read but it tackles many of the issues important to several people posting in this thread:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1542/pr_and_the_game_media_how_pr_.php
If anything, it puts the press in a rather helpless situation. A catch 22, like was said above.

The advantage of this shift is that at least when interacting directly with PR and developers the audience knows where it stands. And actually the line of influence I think is somewhat reduced. I mean, Nintendo isn't going to be fucking hauling a truck full of hot girls to my house to try to sell me a 3DS like they did for Giant Bomb. When publishers can't rely on a few big trend setters their ability to control the message is greatly diminished. The content begins to speak for itself more.
While the influence definitely decreases, what developers can and cannot say is still strictly controlled by publisher and PR. This is one of the reasons why, and this is a bit off-topic, Kickstarter is brilliant with its creator-consumer interaction.

In any case, I doubt "cutting out the middle man" would ever be complete. There is convenience in having a single source of information consumption, just as there is in keeping all your games in Steam library.
 
To the gaming ""journalists"" reading these posts.


For you, there are two kind of people : Those, who don´t read your reviews, don´t go on your sites and don´t buy your papers. They don´t give a fuck about you.

Then there are those who care. Who read your reviews, go on your sites and buy your papers. Being silent in front of this audience won´t help you. It will only increase the numbers of the first kind of people.

Cheers folks

 
In any case, I doubt "cutting out the middle man" would ever be complete. There is convenience in having a single source of information consumption, just as there is in keeping all your games in Steam library.
Unless that "single source of information" becomes an online community rather than a professional news outlet. I think for many people that is what NeoGaf is.

That is why I think it WAS a good move and a good thing that the mods banned Amazon Tony for his attempt to turn OT threads into PR by directly giving the thread creators content from publishers. I know it would be easy to say that it was "no big deal" but I think it sets a good precedent for the way this community operates. That kind of situation essentially just reinvents the "exclusive access" problem all over again.
 

Kelas

The Beastie Boys are the first hip hop group in years to have something to say
I've been enjoying reading both sides of this discussion, and I'd just like to dip my feet in to suggest what I'd prefer to see on gaming sites. How about giving the space to marketing stuff (PR influenced interviews, photos of booths, marketing materials etc.) on a specific part of your website, for people who want it. Make it clear as day, mark it as "marketing stuff" or whatever, and keep your reviews, features etc completely separate. I realise this doesn't do much to remedy the subconscious effects of PR, which may still leak into the "real stuff", but I would trust a particular group of folks a lot more if they went to appropriate lengths to acknowledge the distinction between the two, rather than lumping honest impressions videos in with bullet-point interviews or game trailers.
 
The advantage of this shift is that at least when interacting directly with PR and developers the audience knows where it stands. And actually the line of influence I think is somewhat reduced. I mean, Nintendo isn't going to be fucking hauling a truck full of hot girls to my house to try to sell me a 3DS like they did for Giant Bomb. When publishers can't rely on a few big trend setters their ability to control the message is actually greatly diminished. This is one of the advantages of the "information overload" of the internet era. Advertisers can no longer just blitz four big networks and dominate consumer interest as easily. The content begins to speak for itself more, at least in enthusiast communities.
I don't know. I think it's rather sad actually that you have stuff like the PlayStation Blog, where interviews with PlayStation developers are being placed. Sony people interviewing Sony people about a Sony product on a Sony website... I rather have a normal media outlet do that stuff (even while there is enough wrong with those also). But then, I'm biased as I work in the gaming press.

I've been enjoying reading both sides of this discussion, and I'd just like to dip my feet in to suggest what I'd prefer to see on gaming sites. How about giving the space to marketing stuff (PR influenced interviews, photos of booths, marketing materials etc.) on a specific part of your website, for people who want it. Make it clear as day, mark it as "marketing stuff" or whatever, and keep your reviews, features etc completely separate. I realise this doesn't do much to remedy the subconscious effects of PR, which may still leak into the "real stuff", but I would trust a particular group of folks a lot more if they went to appropriate lengths to acknowledge the distinction between the two, rather than lumping honest impressions videos in with bullet-point interviews or game trailers.
I don't know how this would werk, since for example every preview is influenced by the publisher PR, even if it was just giving earlier access.
 
Morning folks! I don't really want to talk more about why I haven't written about the whole PS3 contest/Wainwright thing (I think I made that pretty clear!) but I do want to pop in and address a couple more issues that you guys have been discussing.

I can't speak for any website or any other person, nor was I around during the 80s/90s/early 2000s when apparently things were much different than they are now, but I can give you some thoughts from my personal experiences working as a journalist in this field.

- There are a lot of problems in game journalism, but as my boss pointed out recently, it'd be disingenuous to suggest that those problems are EXCLUSIVE to game journalism. Did any of you watch the Apple press conference the other day? It was painful to watch that crowd (presumably filled with journalists) hoot and holler for products like they were at the Super Bowl. Even E3's press conferences (at least the recent ones) aren't that bad.

And then there are issues like this: http://gizmodo.com/5953355/how-i-fooled-the-internet-into-thinking-this-fake-sony-nexus-was-real

And this: http://deadspin.com/5954279/the-bes...undiscovered-american-sportswriter-douche-bag

Point is, many of the issues you all have pointed out in this thread are issues that people face in all fields of journalism, not just gaming. You should hear about some of the press junkets that film journalists take!

- Advertisements! Is it a conflict of interest to advertise for video games on a video game website? I don't know. But I can tell you that in my time at Kotaku, I don't think I've ever even interacted with the folks in advertising. I know nothing about how we pick ads, who picks them, how much they pay, or what sort of things advertisers are saying to my company. It just has nothing to do with the editorial team. So it's hard for me to agree that gaming ads are a problem, because they have so little to do with how I work. We get a lot of criticism - some valid, some less valid - but I think Kotaku has done an excellent job of proving that fear of publisher/advertiser backlash has never, ever stopped us from running a story.

- Ethics in journalism, I've learned over the years, is all about levels, boundaries, and compromises. Sometimes those levels are dictated by the companies we work for; other times we have to figure them out on our own.

I see some things as okay that others might not. I have no problem taking video games from publishers, for example. The more games I get, the more I can play, and the more games I can play, the more my readers benefit from what I can write about them. I also have no problem taking a chicken kabob or water bottle at a publisher-run press event. To me, that's just a courtesy, like how I might offer a cup of coffee to guests in my office. And if I'm spending eight hours at a big press event, it's nice to be able to eat something.

But I don't take gifts from companies I cover (and when they do send me things, I usually throw them out or give them away). I won't wear t-shirts or bags or anything else with a video game or game company's brand/name. I've never let a game publisher pay for my travel, hotel, or any other expenses. If I go out to an expensive meal with friends in development or PR, I try to pay for myself. Those are my personal guidelines, and I don't want to impose them upon anyone else or tell anyone else how to live their lives, but I think it's important to be transparent about this sort of stuff.

(I've also been very fortunate to work under some smart, super-talented editors like Stephen Totilo and Chris Kohler, both of whom have very strict ethical guidelines and have taught me a great deal about all of this stuff.)

- The topic of PR-journalist relationships is quite an interesting one. I disagree with some of you in that I think it's perfectly okay for journalists and PR people to have cordial, friendly relationships. I also think there are levels: being casual acquaintances with someone is different than being good friends with someone which is different than getting married to someone. But it's futile to pretend we're at war. Journalists and PR people have totally different goals, but we have to work together, even when we all just want to strangle one another.

Like the ethical issues I mentioned above, this sort of thing is all about setting your own strict personal boundaries and guidelines. I've never felt like being friendly with PR folk has affected the way I do my job, and all the good PR people understand that journalists want to be as fair and as honest as possible when covering their companies. If I ever felt like I was writing or covering a story differently because of a friendship with someone in the industry, I might reconsider this approach, but I've never had that experience.

- Let's talk about swag. Swag is a pain in the ass. Again, I can't speak for other people in journalism, but I can tell you that the giant limited editions and press kits I get are more trouble than they're worth. I want games, and I want to play as many games as possible (so I can better serve my readers) - all the other crap is usually just going in the trash bin. Maybe this stuff has some sort of subtle influence on me that I don't even know about, but I'd never even wear a t-shirt with a video game's name on it, let alone fill my apartment with flags or posters or whatever else companies are sending. I'm just not interested in any of that stuff.

- The idea of games journalist as a stepping stone to other parts of the industry bothers me, and it's never really something that I've wanted to do. I do this because I love writing and reporting and telling interesting stories, not because I want to work in the video game industry.

But we all need to eat. And it's tough to condemn someone for taking a job under any circumstances - everyone has their own personal/financial situations, and not everyone has that many options.

OK, I'll cut this post off before it gets too much further into tl;dr territory. If you've got any questions about any of this - or about my personal stances and experiences - feel free to let me know!
 

DCharlie

Always bet on white
- There are a lot of problems in game journalism, but as my boss pointed out recently, it'd be disingenuous to suggest that those problems are EXCLUSIVE to game journalism.
right - i'm sorry - i didn't get to the rest of the post but this is NOT a talking point. This is pure and simple deflection.

Pointing at other people and going "look! they are just as bad!" means absolutely nothing and has the wiff of hand washing.

Just DROP this angle - it's an argumentative cul de sac as it sounds, basically, like a "well, we -are- doing this , but LOOK! so is everyone else so ... you know.... "

if the goal is just to be as roughly reprehensible as other industry shitehawks, then we're already getting off on the wrong foot.
 
Morning folks! I don't really want to talk more about why I haven't written about the whole PS3 contest/Wainwright thing (I think I made that pretty clear!) but I do want to pop in and address a couple more issues that you guys have been discussing.

I can't speak for any website or any other person, nor was I around during the 80s/90s/early 2000s when apparently things were much different than they are now, but I can give you some thoughts from my personal experiences working as a journalist in this field.

- There are a lot of problems in game journalism, but as my boss pointed out recently, it'd be disingenuous to suggest that those problems are EXCLUSIVE to game journalism. Did any of you watch the Apple press conference the other day? It was painful to watch that crowd (presumably filled with journalists) hoot and holler for products like they were at the Super Bowl. Even E3's press conferences (at least the recent ones) aren't that bad.

And then there are issues like this: http://gizmodo.com/5953355/how-i-fooled-the-internet-into-thinking-this-fake-sony-nexus-was-real

And this: http://deadspin.com/5954279/the-bes...undiscovered-american-sportswriter-douche-bag

Point is, many of the issues you all have pointed out in this thread are issues that people face in all fields of journalism, not just gaming. You should hear about some of the press junkets that film journalists take!

- Advertisements! Is it a conflict of interest to advertise for video games on a video game website? I don't know. But I can tell you that in my time at Kotaku, I don't think I've ever even interacted with the folks in advertising. I know nothing about how we pick ads, who picks them, how much they pay, or what sort of things advertisers are saying to my company. It just has nothing to do with the editorial team. So it's hard for me to agree that gaming ads are a problem, because they have so little to do with how I work. We get a lot of criticism - some valid, some less valid - but I think Kotaku has done an excellent job of proving that fear of publisher/advertiser backlash has never, ever stopped us from running a story.

- Ethics in journalism, I've learned over the years, is all about levels, boundaries, and compromises. Sometimes those levels are dictated by the companies we work for; other times we have to figure them out on our own.

I see some things as okay that others might not. I have no problem taking video games from publishers, for example. The more games I get, the more I can play, and the more games I can play, the more my readers benefit from what I can write about them. I also have no problem taking a chicken kabob or water bottle at a publisher-run press event. To me, that's just a courtesy, like how I might offer a cup of coffee to guests in my office. And if I'm spending eight hours at a big press event, it's nice to be able to eat something.

But I don't take gifts from companies I cover (and when they do send me things, I usually throw them out or give them away). I won't wear t-shirts or bags or anything else with a video game or game company's brand/name. I've never let a game publisher pay for my travel, hotel, or any other expenses. If I go out to an expensive meal with friends in development or PR, I try to pay for myself. Those are my personal guidelines, and I don't want to impose them upon anyone else or tell anyone else how to live their lives, but I think it's important to be transparent about this sort of stuff.

(I've also been very fortunate to work under some smart, super-talented editors like Stephen Totilo and Chris Kohler, both of whom have very strict ethical guidelines and have taught me a great deal about all of this stuff.)

- The topic of PR-journalist relationships is quite an interesting one. I disagree with some of you in that I think it's perfectly okay for journalists and PR people to have cordial, friendly relationships. I also think there are levels: being casual acquaintances with someone is different than being good friends with someone which is different than getting married to someone. But it's futile to pretend we're at war. Journalists and PR people have totally different goals, but we have to work together, even when we all just want to strangle one another.

Like the ethical issues I mentioned above, this sort of thing is all about setting your own strict personal boundaries and guidelines. I've never felt like being friendly with PR folk has affected the way I do my job, and all the good PR people understand that journalists want to be as fair and as honest as possible when covering their companies. If I ever felt like I was writing or covering a story differently because of a friendship with someone in the industry, I might reconsider this approach, but I've never had that experience.

- Let's talk about swag. Swag is a pain in the ass. Again, I can't speak for other people in journalism, but I can tell you that the giant limited editions and press kits I get are more trouble than they're worth. I want games, and I want to play as many games as possible (so I can better serve my readers) - all the other crap is usually just going in the trash bin. Maybe this stuff has some sort of subtle influence on me that I don't even know about, but I'd never even wear a t-shirt with a video game's name on it, let alone fill my apartment with flags or posters or whatever else companies are sending. I'm just not interested in any of that stuff.

- The idea of games journalist as a stepping stone to other parts of the industry bothers me, and it's never really something that I've wanted to do. I do this because I love writing and reporting and telling interesting stories, not because I want to work in the video game industry.

But we all need to eat. And it's tough to condemn someone for taking a job under any circumstances - everyone has their own personal/financial situations, and not everyone has that many options.

OK, I'll cut this post off before it gets too much further into tl;dr territory. If you've got any questions about any of this - or about my personal stances and experiences - feel free to let me know!

I appreciate you coming back in to the discussion but all you're doing is trying to deflect.

80% of the gaming press that has said something in here tries to deflect. Why? Discuss the issue. Saying well look at that apple conference... well yeah and we all know... then you try to say E3 isn't as bad...

Saying you personally never interact with advertising doesn't mean your editor doesn't. Someone above you never told you to do something before? You don't personally have to interact with those people to have them influence your content. How is that not obvious to you? And that seems to be the "gaming press" reasoning. "I never interact with that dept they don't have any sway over anything I do."

And as for writing about the whole ordeal,me personally, I wasn't hoping you would write an article about it just that your website would have anything written about it.
 
This is why I always just use my own judgment, regardless if a game is heavily marketed and being propped up on a cash train or not. While I still get pumped for and enjoy many of the usual suspect sort of titles, I still wish I had a dollar for every game I enjoyed that got lost or thrown under the bus by the gaming press. But at any rate, this stuff is no big secret and has been obvious for far too long.

Oh, and just as a side note, I sure do love me some Doritos and Mountain Dew.

 
Like the ethical issues I mentioned above, this sort of thing is all about setting your own strict personal boundaries and guidelines. I've never felt like being friendly with PR folk has affected the way I do my job, and all the good PR people understand that journalists want to be as fair and as honest as possible when covering their companies. If I ever felt like I was writing or covering a story differently because of a friendship with someone in the industry, I might reconsider this approach, but I've never had that experience.
Two points:

First of all, you are influenced by your friendships and relationships whether you realize it or not. They are paid to be nice to you for a reason, and if it failed to influence you the way that all of you writers seem to think it does then they wouldn't do it in the first place.

Second, appearances are important whether you're influenced or not. If people can look at the stuff you've written and have any kind of doubt that you're biased by your closeness with the PR pushing the product then you have failed at establishing trust. Right now the problem is that basically everyone in the industry is tainted by this kind of doubt so everyone's just thrown up their hands and either come to accept it or stopped reading games writing entirely, neither of which are good for your field.
 
- Let's talk about swag. Swag is a pain in the ass. Again, I can't speak for other people in journalism, but I can tell you that the giant limited editions and press kits I get are more trouble than they're worth. I want games, and I want to play as many games as possible (so I can better serve my readers) - all the other crap is usually just going in the trash bin. Maybe this stuff has some sort of subtle influence on me that I don't even know about, but I'd never even wear a t-shirt with a video game's name on it, let alone fill my apartment with flags or posters or whatever else companies are sending. I'm just not interested in any of that stuff.
If you knew a press kit you got sent was worth $2000 on ebay, what would you do with it?
 
I appreciate you coming back in to the discussion but all you're doing is trying to deflect.

80% of the gaming press that has said something in here tries to deflect. Why? Discuss the issue. Saying well look at that apple conference... well yeah and we all know... then you try to say E3 isn't as bad...

Saying you personally never interact with advertising doesn't mean your editor doesn't. Someone above you never told you to do something before? You don't personally have to interact with those people to have them influence your content. How is that not obvious to you? And that seems to be the "gaming press" reasoning. "I never interact with that dept they don't have any sway over anything I do."

And as for writing about the whole ordeal,me personally, I wasn't hoping you would write an article about it just that your website would have anything written about it.
No, I have never been told to do anything that has anything to do with the advertising on our site. Not sure how to make that any clearer.
 

DCharlie

Always bet on white
I appreciate you coming back in to the discussion but all you're doing is trying to deflect.

80% of the gaming press that has said something in here tries to deflect. Why? Discuss the issue. Saying well look at that apple conference... well yeah and we all know... then you try to say E3 isn't as bad...

Saying you personally never interact with advertising doesn't mean your editor doesn't. Someone above you never told you to do something before? You don't personally have to interact with those people to have them influence your content. How is that not obvious to you? And that seems to be the "gaming press" reasoning. "I never interact with that dept they don't have any sway over anything I do."

And as for writing about the whole ordeal,me personally, I wasn't hoping you would write an article about it just that your website would have anything written about it.
I seriously don't understand why even on a basic fluffly level sites haven't just put out statements akin to :

"after the recent interest in the industry and practices of reporters and websites that we will be conducting our own review to make sure we ensure that our high standards of integrity and impartiality are maintained and that no individual is compromised by external pressures. "

EVEN IF IT'S BULLSHIT FROM START TO FINISH - this is all the commentary it needed as long as it was timely.
 
Morning folks! I don't really want to talk more about why I haven't written about the whole PS3 contest/Wainwright thing (I think I made that pretty clear!) but I do want to pop in and address a couple more issues that you guys have been discussing.

I can't speak for any website or any other person, nor was I around during the 80s/90s/early 2000s when apparently things were much different than they are now, but I can give you some thoughts from my personal experiences working as a journalist in this field.

- There are a lot of problems in game journalism, but as my boss pointed out recently, it'd be disingenuous to suggest that those problems are EXCLUSIVE to game journalism. Did any of you watch the Apple press conference the other day? It was painful to watch that crowd (presumably filled with journalists) hoot and holler for products like they were at the Super Bowl. Even E3's press conferences (at least the recent ones) aren't that bad.

And then there are issues like this: http://gizmodo.com/5953355/how-i-fooled-the-internet-into-thinking-this-fake-sony-nexus-was-real

And this: http://deadspin.com/5954279/the-bes...undiscovered-american-sportswriter-douche-bag

Point is, many of the issues you all have pointed out in this thread are issues that people face in all fields of journalism, not just gaming. You should hear about some of the press junkets that film journalists take!

- Advertisements! Is it a conflict of interest to advertise for video games on a video game website? I don't know. But I can tell you that in my time at Kotaku, I don't think I've ever even interacted with the folks in advertising. I know nothing about how we pick ads, who picks them, how much they pay, or what sort of things advertisers are saying to my company. It just has nothing to do with the editorial team. So it's hard for me to agree that gaming ads are a problem, because they have so little to do with how I work. We get a lot of criticism - some valid, some less valid - but I think Kotaku has done an excellent job of proving that fear of publisher/advertiser backlash has never, ever stopped us from running a story.

- Ethics in journalism, I've learned over the years, is all about levels, boundaries, and compromises. Sometimes those levels are dictated by the companies we work for; other times we have to figure them out on our own.

I see some things as okay that others might not. I have no problem taking video games from publishers, for example. The more games I get, the more I can play, and the more games I can play, the more my readers benefit from what I can write about them. I also have no problem taking a chicken kabob or water bottle at a publisher-run press event. To me, that's just a courtesy, like how I might offer a cup of coffee to guests in my office. And if I'm spending eight hours at a big press event, it's nice to be able to eat something.

But I don't take gifts from companies I cover (and when they do send me things, I usually throw them out or give them away). I won't wear t-shirts or bags or anything else with a video game or game company's brand/name. I've never let a game publisher pay for my travel, hotel, or any other expenses. If I go out to an expensive meal with friends in development or PR, I try to pay for myself. Those are my personal guidelines, and I don't want to impose them upon anyone else or tell anyone else how to live their lives, but I think it's important to be transparent about this sort of stuff.

(I've also been very fortunate to work under some smart, super-talented editors like Stephen Totilo and Chris Kohler, both of whom have very strict ethical guidelines and have taught me a great deal about all of this stuff.)

- The topic of PR-journalist relationships is quite an interesting one. I disagree with some of you in that I think it's perfectly okay for journalists and PR people to have cordial, friendly relationships. I also think there are levels: being casual acquaintances with someone is different than being good friends with someone which is different than getting married to someone. But it's futile to pretend we're at war. Journalists and PR people have totally different goals, but we have to work together, even when we all just want to strangle one another.

Like the ethical issues I mentioned above, this sort of thing is all about setting your own strict personal boundaries and guidelines. I've never felt like being friendly with PR folk has affected the way I do my job, and all the good PR people understand that journalists want to be as fair and as honest as possible when covering their companies. If I ever felt like I was writing or covering a story differently because of a friendship with someone in the industry, I might reconsider this approach, but I've never had that experience.

- Let's talk about swag. Swag is a pain in the ass. Again, I can't speak for other people in journalism, but I can tell you that the giant limited editions and press kits I get are more trouble than they're worth. I want games, and I want to play as many games as possible (so I can better serve my readers) - all the other crap is usually just going in the trash bin. Maybe this stuff has some sort of subtle influence on me that I don't even know about, but I'd never even wear a t-shirt with a video game's name on it, let alone fill my apartment with flags or posters or whatever else companies are sending. I'm just not interested in any of that stuff.

- The idea of games journalist as a stepping stone to other parts of the industry bothers me, and it's never really something that I've wanted to do. I do this because I love writing and reporting and telling interesting stories, not because I want to work in the video game industry.

But we all need to eat. And it's tough to condemn someone for taking a job under any circumstances - everyone has their own personal/financial situations, and not everyone has that many options.

OK, I'll cut this post off before it gets too much further into tl;dr territory. If you've got any questions about any of this - or about my personal stances and experiences - feel free to let me know!
Now this seems like a good take on the situation. Why not post it on the site? Why not bring it up to your editor or boss or whoever to make it the official stance of Kutako?

You're a pretty cool guy to come to this thread and try to debate the subject with us. But it's not us that needs to be addressed at this time. It's the millions of readers you have that don't know about Neogaf and this thread. Let them have the chance to think about it, and discuss it among themselves.
 

Kelas

The Beastie Boys are the first hip hop group in years to have something to say
I don't know how this would werk, since for example every preview is influenced by the publisher PR, even if it was just giving earlier access.
I'm mostly just talking about interviews close to release and at events, and the sort of stuff that comes out of guided previews and such. Of course this isn't a solution to the larger problem, but telling their audience that this particular video falls under the PR "bullet-point", "we're not talking about that right now" kind of crap would be a step in the right direction for me. When they do get an interview that is open and honest, put that in with the proper features, giving it more presence over the PR stuff. I'm just spit-balling, but it's stuff like that I'd like to see. As Jeff Green mentioned earlier, devs are being hamstrung by PR, but that's no excuse. They're only willing to share information that aligns with their marketing plan, so it should be treated as marketing material by the website.
 
Two points:

First of all, you are influenced by your friendships and relationships whether you realize it or not. They are paid to be nice to you for a reason, and if it failed to influence you the way that all of you writers seem to think it does then they wouldn't do it in the first place.

Second, appearances are important whether you're influenced or not. If people can look at the stuff you've written and have any kind of doubt that you're biased by your closeness with the PR pushing the product then you have failed at establishing trust. Right now the problem is that basically everyone in the industry is tainted by this kind of doubt so everyone's just thrown up their hands and either come to accept it or stopped reading games writing entirely, neither of which are good for your field.
1. Have you considered that maybe people are just friendly because they're people, and professionals, and we all recognize that we're just trying to do our jobs? I believe that it's possible to maintain cordial relationships with people in this industry without letting that affect me. And consequently...

2. ...I believe my work speaks for itself! If you do think something I've written was influenced by outside factors such as some sort of relationship with PR, I do encourage you to point out specifics or bring up examples. But it's hard for me to stress out too much about what people think of the field as a whole when all I can really control is what I personally do.

I agree that avoiding the appearance of impropriety is very important, which is one of the reasons I try to be as transparent as possible about everything possible. Transparency is one of the fundamental values behind all of Gawker Media.
 
1. Have you considered that maybe people are just friendly because they're people, and professionals, and we all recognize that we're just trying to do our jobs? I believe that it's possible to maintain cordial relationships with people in this industry without letting that affect me. And consequently...

2. ...I believe my work speaks for itself! If you do think something I've written was influenced by outside factors such as some sort of relationship with PR, I do encourage you to point out specifics or bring up examples. But it's hard for me to stress out too much about what people think of the field as a whole when all I can really control is what I personally do.

I agree that avoiding the appearance of impropriety is very important, which is one of the reasons I try to be as transparent as possible about everything possible. Transparency is one of the fundamental values behind all of Gawker Media.
You are either completely naïve or entirely disingenuous and frankly I'm not going to delve into the cesspit that is Kotaku to try and figure out which, but thanks for responding.

I'm out.
 
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