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

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Feb 18, 2012
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Folks, please don't all jump on my throat for this, but what exactly is wrong with unboxing a collector's edition so people can see what's inside and decide whether or not they want to buy it?

It's hardly investigative journalism, but it seems like a useful service to readers who want to get a visual on what's inside those things.
That's Microsoft's job. By all means, link to trailers, of which a Microsoft employee unboxing the various limited editions of Halo 4 would qualify under, but don't make aforementioned trailers as "news".
 
Jul 7, 2009
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Microsoft PR literally bought that article: if they hadn't sent that to Kotaku the unboxing would have never happened. This piece is an infomercial.

This whole ordeal has revealed that the PR/journalist symbiosis is worse than we thought--the press doesn't even realize they are being manipulated. If Microsoft came to Totilo and said "Make a video advertising Halo 4" he would have been incensed. Instead they give him freebies knowing how he's going to react.
Is there a way to forward this comment to every games journalist in the world?

It is a thing of beauty.
 
Sep 13, 2006
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Funnily enough, even though I knew of Kotaku a while back, I didn't know about Jason or that he even worked for Kotaku... until I saw

http://jasonschreier.com/2011/12/11/spike-vgas/

Because I liked this blog post and really enjoyed reading it after watching the VGAs.

Off topic I know but with the mention of his blog, this was the first thing I thought of honestly.
The little guys are mad that the big guys have better sponsors.
 
Schreier is getting pinata'd at this point, guys. Once his boss publicly announces that he doesn't believe the story is a story, further engagement on his end and our end becomes some tail-chasing stuff.

The discussion might be better served if it turns more to what Rab was getting at: instead of finding examples, and then hitting them with sticks until candy-colored excuses come pouring out of their keyboard, using those examples to paint a picture of the greater problems at hand. The primary problem seems to be large numbers of people given the opportunity to write extensively about games, gaming culture, and the games industry, don't largely come from any real journalistic background, and are learning as they go, in a pretty inefficient way. A lot of the people currently drawing paychecks at game websites have gotten their understanding of how journalistic responsibility works only by watching people get caught doing wrong. It's the equivalent to kids running through a gauntlet of stoves, intermittently slapping their hands on the hot orange coils.

Again - the best example I can think of regarding games writing comes from a guy, Tom Bissell, who did NOT come up through the sphere of "Games Journalism." The more important question to me is how do organizations pull more people along those lines into their ranks? How do you increase the numbers of potential writers who see game websites as more than simply a pit-stop on the way towards being drafted INTO PR from a game company?
 
May 25, 2012
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To be fair, making money is what anyone would want for their ad-supported site. The problem is that in general the game media behind that site is quite shady with regards to media ethics and its relationships with the PR end of entertainment corporations.

Agreed, which is why it is sad we are left with nothing but a plethora of click-hungry blogs instead of established outlets that can afford to not cater to this lowest-form of "information". As many have said, this isn't an issue isolated to the gaming industry. This is an issue that affects all of our media and information consumption. The blurring lines between PR and the media is only the tip of the iceberg.

I'm not saying it's necessarily bad that unboxing and other non-news makes it to these blogs, but at the same time, don't try to act like you are a news outlet that deserves our trust and respect.
 
Nov 6, 2006
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Schreier is getting pinata'd at this point, guys. Once his boss publicly announces that he doesn't believe the story is a story, further engagement on his end and our end becomes some tail-chasing stuff.

The discussion might be better served if it turns more to what Rab was getting at: instead of finding examples, and then hitting them with sticks until candy-colored excuses come pouring out of their keyboard, using those examples to paint a picture of the greater problems at hand. The primary problem seems to be large numbers of people given the opportunity to write extensively about games, gaming culture, and the games industry, don't largely come from any real journalistic background, and are learning as they go, in a pretty inefficient way. A lot of the people currently drawing paychecks at game websites have gotten their understanding of how journalistic responsibility works only by watching people get caught doing wrong. It's the equivalent to kids running through a gauntlet of stoves, intermittently slapping their hands on the hot orange coils.

Again - the best example I can think of regarding games writing comes from a guy, Tom Bissell, who did NOT come up through the sphere of "Games Journalism." The more important question to me is how do organizations pull more people along those lines into their ranks? How do you increase the numbers of potential writers who see game websites as more than simply a pit-stop on the way towards being drafted INTO PR from a game company?
Totilo doesn't fit your profile at all. He comes from a background in journalism at a pretty prestigious institution I believe. There is something more endemic in the gaming culture, I think, that facilitates this type of attitude/behavior.
 
Dec 6, 2008
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Hey Shurs, I got a leaked new xbox 720 for you. Just make a fancy article and video showing it off and saying how awesome it is. BTW, I don't care what happens to it afterwards. Do whatever you like.

- Love MS
Their readers are interested in that shit. It's sad, and it's a glorified commercial. I'm not denying that.

I posted on the last page that I think it's funny that the fan site proprietors and writers -- ones who post and maintain threads on GAF promoting products that they will ultimately receive for free -- seemingly get a free pass when sites where the swag matters less because they actually pay their writers are the ones who take the brunt of the criticism.
 
Jul 16, 2008
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Is there a way to forward this comment to every games journalist in the world?

It is a thing of beauty.
Only to the ones who make hollow excuses for not trying to do actual reporting on this story.

Repost, because I really think this is why this story is going to die shortly:


Thanks Gaf for maintaining this thread, and posting truths left and right. I just hope we made at least one self proclaimed gaming journalist re-think his ways and work ethics.

As for the journalists working on big gaming media, who are making excuses not to do this story- keep on being mouthpieces for PR, keep convincing yourselves that you are pure and honest and keep up the 'good work'.
 
Oct 27, 2011
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Totilo doesn't fit your profile at all. He comes from a background in journalism at a pretty prestigious institution I believe. There is something more endemic in the gaming culture, I think, that facilitates this type of attitude/behavior.
From his bio on Kotaku:

Totilo holds a masters' degree from Columbia University's graduate school of journalism.
 
Jul 7, 2009
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"Microsoft PR literally bought that article: if they hadn't sent that to Kotaku the unboxing would have never happened. This piece is an infomercial.

This whole ordeal has revealed that the PR/journalist symbiosis is worse than we thought--the press doesn't even realize they are being manipulated. If Microsoft came to Totilo and said "Make a video advertising Halo 4" he would have been incensed. Instead they give him freebies knowing how he's going to react."

The brilliant comment by Snowden's Secret to go along with that Halo 4 unboxing pic.
 
Jan 6, 2011
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Schreier is getting pinata'd at this point, guys. Once his boss publicly announces that he doesn't believe the story is a story, further engagement on his end and our end becomes some tail-chasing stuff.

The discussion might be better served if it turns more to what Rab was getting at: instead of finding examples, and then hitting them with sticks until candy-colored excuses come pouring out of their keyboard, using those examples to paint a picture of the greater problems at hand. The primary problem seems to be large numbers of people given the opportunity to write extensively about games, gaming culture, and the games industry, don't largely come from any real journalistic background, and are learning as they go, in a pretty inefficient way. A lot of the people currently drawing paychecks at game websites have gotten their understanding of how journalistic responsibility works only by watching people get caught doing wrong. It's the equivalent to kids running through a gauntlet of stoves, intermittently slapping their hands on the hot orange coils.

Again - the best example I can think of regarding games writing comes from a guy, Tom Bissell, who did NOT come up through the sphere of "Games Journalism." The more important question to me is how do organizations pull more people along those lines into their ranks? How do you increase the numbers of potential writers who see game websites as more than simply a pit-stop on the way towards being drafted INTO PR from a game company?
This is funny. You know that Tom Bissell is a writer for the next Gears of War, right? I love his work and I think he's a great guy, but we have enough conflicts of interest in game journalism as it is.

As for the "Schreier is getting pinata'd" thing - it's a shame that this discussion has gone that way, but I hope that at least some of you took the time to try to see things from my perspective, even if you don't agree.
 
Nov 6, 2006
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I posted on the last page that I think it's funny that the fan site proprietors and writers -- ones who post and maintain threads on GAF promoting products that they will ultimately receive for free -- seemingly get a free pass when sites where the swag matters less because they actually pay their writers are the ones who take the brunt of the criticism.
I'm not sure what you are talking about. Are you saying that people that make OT threads get games for free?
 
Sep 8, 2006
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Totilo doesn't fit your profile at all. He comes from a background in journalism at a pretty prestigious institution I believe. There is something more endemic in the gaming culture, I think, that facilitates this type of attitude/behavior.
Not just in gaming culture. Proper journalism isn't where the money is nowadays.

I posted on the last page that I think it's funny that the fan site proprietors and writers -- ones who post and maintain threads on GAF promoting products that they will ultimately receive for free -- seemingly get a free pass when sites where the swag matters less because they actually pay their writers are the ones who take the brunt of the criticism.
They don't garner as much attention by being small fries, but you're right to point them out too. It's a pervasive issue.
 
Aug 12, 2007
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That's Microsoft's job. By all means, link to trailers, of which a Microsoft employee unboxing the various limited editions of Halo 4 would qualify under, but don't make aforementioned trailers as "news".
Exactly. Publishers should be the ones hosting shit like launch announcements, trailers, publisher-funded developer documentaries, etc. That's all straight-up PR and has no place in legitimate games reporting. Link to it, but don't pass it off as "news."

This kind of junk is exactly what we all mean when we say that journalism and PR have gotten mixed together too much over the years. And now it just seems "normal." But it doesn't have to be this way, nor should it be.
 
Oct 27, 2011
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As for the "Schreier is getting pinata'd" thing - it's a shame that this discussion has gone that way, but I hope that at least some of you took the time to try to see things from my perspective, even if you don't agree.
I think many do see your perspective. Maybe detailing your perspective on your personal blog gives these issues a bit more weight for others (journalists) to consider?
 
Jul 29, 2010
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As for the "Schreier is getting pinata'd" thing - it's a shame that this discussion has gone that way, but I hope that at least some of you took the time to try to see things from my perspective, even if you don't agree.
-hmm that's a really interesting perspective, maybe we should be thinking about the improper relationship between pr and games sites

couple pages later

-oh i'm sorry you people are so dumb that you actually think pr has any power over games coverage, that we're corrupt, and bribed regularly. that's so ridiculous.

?
 
Aug 12, 2007
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Wow, you guys sure know how get the press do what you want. Be total fucking jackasses to them.. that'll work.

Now un-boxing videos are off limits.. good to know.
They wanted examples. We're giving them examples.

If part of the power of publisher PR is the withholding of pre-release assets and access, then gaming sites shouldn't play that game. They shouldn't have to. Why scrape and scramble for screenshots, trailers, and preview code when publishers should be the ones hosting this stuff in the first place? If the problem is that that stuff gets hits on gaming sites, then writers/editors need to seriously think hard and carefully about what their role is. Are they simply mouthpieces for publisher PR? Or would they rather present this material through their own lens?
 
Totilo doesn't fit your profile at all. He comes from a background in journalism at a pretty prestigious institution I believe. There is something more endemic in the gaming culture, I think, that facilitates this type of attitude/behavior.
That makes his paragraph even more suspect/damning.

What about being inside this specific sphere that causes people who should know better to act/react in such a manner? Why are we watching people who have been in the field for multiple years asking questions like "Wait, why is this being percieved as suspicious" with open-faced guilelessness? Even people who haven't gone through journalism school, or taken multiple journalism classes, should have had enough on-the-job experience by this point to have learned the ins and outs of these fundamental basics. I'm not saying writers NEED to have backgrounds in "legitimate" journalism, for lack of a better adjective (though it couldn't hurt) but there's something the water that makes basic introspection on these subjects way more difficult than it should be.

Again, I get the sense these discussions often become sprawling stick-fights of idealism and naivete because many of the principals simply don't have a solid handle on what the responsibilities of their job actually are, and are more inclined to find excuses to not do the work than they are to actually do that work. A sentiment very succinctly represented by Totilo's paragraph.
 
Dec 31, 2005
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Folks, please don't all jump on my throat for this, but what exactly is wrong with unboxing a collector's edition so people can see what's inside and decide whether or not they want to buy it?

It's hardly investigative journalism, but it seems like a useful service to readers who want to get a visual on what's inside those things.
An Unboxing video is basically a short-form infomercial.
 
Feb 13, 2009
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Do you think a lot of Kotaku readers are that interested in this story? I think a lot of GAF posters are, because a lot of GAF posters are fascinated by this sort of inside baseball stuff, but I think that makes up a rather small chunk of our audience, to be honest.
Jason, I believe you using the term 'inside baseball' points to the crux of the matter. This is not 'inside baseball'.

There is an implicit assumption of trust between journalists/critics/writers and readers that has built up in similar forms of media (news, music, movies, food, etc) over many years of exposes and following self-imposed codes of ethics. That implicit trust was carried over to games media on the side of the readers. This kind of behaviour that Rab highlighted brings to light the fact that maybe it has not carried over on the side of the journalists/critics/writers.

Your stating that your audience is not interested in this kind of news is frankly disingenuous. How can someone be not-interested in something they know not of?
 
Feb 16, 2012
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Wow, you guys sure know how get the press do what you want. Be total fucking jackasses to them.. that'll work.

Now un-boxing videos are off limits.. good to know.
Sorry if I don't respect media hacks who consistently dodge valid questions from people who probably don't appreciate conflicts of interests and general shadiness in -any- kind of journalism. Much less an enthusiast press who talk about 'good journalism' and unboxing a free Microsoft system practically in the same breath.
 
Jan 6, 2011
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-hmm that's a really interesting perspective, maybe we should be thinking about the improper relationship between pr and games sites

couple pages later

-oh i'm sorry you people are so dumb that you actually think pr has any power over games coverage, that we're corrupt, and bribed regularly. that's so ridiculous.

?
I don't think I said anything like that latter line. What I said was that I made a joke because the concept seemed distant and absurd to me. As I've clarified in this thread, I think it's a topic worth discussing and thinking about and re-examining constantly. I would be neglecting my job if I didn't take the time to think about this sort of thing.

Anyways, heading off for at least the next hour or two, but thanks again to everyone who took the time to chat.
 
Jul 16, 2008
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Wow, you guys sure know how get the press do what you want. Be total fucking jackasses to them.. that'll work.

Now un-boxing videos are off limits.. good to know.
You missed the point. He justifies not doing a story on this subject because it's not important, and calls doing journalism is doing an unboxing video of a product sent to them for free to make them advertise for it.
 
Sep 5, 2006
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Ledsen said:
The way the podcasts I listen to and sites I read react to this story will seriously affect my opinion of them going forward. Any type of dismissive, sitting-on-my-high-horse-above-the-conspiracy-theorist-rabble attitude will get dropped like a hot potato.
just a heads-up...

be prepared to drop giant bomb
 

NervousXtian

Thought Emoji Movie was good. Take that as you will.
Feb 7, 2010
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Ore-Gone.. not Ory-Gone.
As for the "Schreier is getting pinata'd" thing - it's a shame that this discussion has gone that way, but I hope that at least some of you took the time to try to see things from my perspective, even if you don't agree.
I think you'd see more in support if they weren't fearing retribution and being tossed petty insults (as I have in this thread) for not wanting blood like they do. They want to watch the whole thing burn down, at least some of them do. They have even reduced it to "look Kotaku posted a story about maids/unboxing/chinese grannie instead of THIS so my point is proven, Kotaku doesn't care about the issue!!!!!".
 
Nov 6, 2006
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Jason, I believe you using the term 'inside baseball' points to the crux of the matter. This is not 'inside baseball'.

There is an implicit assumption of trust between journalists/critics/writers and readers that has built up in similar forms of media (news, music, movies, food, etc) over many years of exposes and following self-imposed codes of ethics. That implicit trust was carried over to games media on the side of the readers. This kind of behaviour that Rab highlighted brings to light the fact that maybe it has not carried over on the side of the journalists/critics/writers.

Your stating that your audience is not interested in this kind of news is frankly disingenuous. How can someone be not-interested in something they know not of?
I agree with what you are saying but I think ultimately that Shawn Elliot is right. The way you address this problem is not really through trying to get game media to write about it or even to be more transparent. The way to address it rather is to be more cynical and be more skeptical and to call out stories masking PR bullshit for what it is. And to call out conflicts of interest where they seem apparent, etc.

The real advantage of a thread like this is not the witch hunt. It is the results of the way it opens up our eyes and makes us a lot more conscious about the information we are consuming and so that we can try to be more aware of its influences, not just on us personally but on the culture as whole.

In short, when I grew up, I gradually realized how the crap Gamefan was selling me was largely PR bullshit. After this thread, I'm realizing there are a lot more subtle ways that PR influence works to shape the information I consume today.

"Everyone says we are too cynical, no we are too stupid.-Bill Maher
 
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