Game journalism is a disgrace

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by Brother None, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    As a site that regularly posts review roundups on Fallout and other titles, we occasionally cover just how bad the journalism in this industry is, for example with this article and link round-up from 5 years ago. Things have not gotten better in those five years.

    A couple of days ago Eurogamer published this critical editorial from Robert "Rab" Florence on the problems game journalists have with keeping a professional distance from PR people and dealing with freebies and other attempts to influence their impartiality.<blockquote>Just today, as I sat down to write this piece, I saw that there were games journalists winning PS3s on Twitter. There was a competition at those GMAs - tweet about our game and win a PS3. One of those stupid, crass things. And some games journos took part. All piling in, opening a sharing bag of Doritos, tweeting the hashtag as instructed. And today the winners were announced. Then a whole big argument happened, and other people who claim to be journalists claimed to see nothing wrong with what those so-called journalists had done. I think the winners are now giving away their PS3s, but it's too late. It's too late.

    I want to make a confession. I stalk games journalists. It's something I've always done. I keep an eye on people. I have a mental list of games journos who are the very worst of the bunch. The ones who are at every PR launch event, the ones who tweet about all the freebies they get. I am fascinated by them. I won't name them here, because it's a horrible thing to do, but I'm sure some of you will know who they are. I'm fascinated by these creatures because they are living one of the most strange existences - they are playing at being a thing that they don't understand. And if they don't understand it, how can they love it? And if they don't love it, why are they playing at being it?</blockquote>It's a good piece, but should be nothing new. John Walker wrote on the same issue more expansively, also worth a read. Of course, revealing the openly corrupt nature of videogame journalism is not appreciated, and both Walker and Florence were lambasted for it by their colleagues, who do not comprehend the issue with game journalists winning free PS3s at an even set up by videogame PR people.

    Even better, Eurogamer received a complaint or possibly legal threat (differing claims exist on this) to redact their article. They did so, and Robert Florence quit the website, as any good journalist would.

    John Walker covered this, as did WorthPlaying and no doubt others. Both point out the journalist Robert mentioned pre-redaction, Lauren Wainwright, publicly listed Square Enix as her employer (now edited to hide this fact) and quite clearly shills for the company and Tomb Raider on her twitter page. She works as a journalist and for a video game publisher. This is common and ignored, and for his efforts in pointing out this is a huge problem, Florence lost part of his regular income.

    Now, there are several issues at here which are somewhat separate. First is the structural problem of the game industry Walker and Florence described, a culture of pressure, shilling and being buddy-buddy with people who should not by rights be your friends. Second is UK libel laws, which put the burden of evidence on the accused, made Eurogamer nervous enough to pull the plug (and I can't blame em, nor does Florence). Third is the fact that Lauren Wainwright should be fired from her game journalism job and never be allowed to sniff any form of journalism again until she takes expansive ethics classes. But she is only a symptom of a wider problem, which should not be forgotten.

    Geoff Keighley and his bag of doritos should stand for the lowest point game journalism has ever gotten to. Not that I'm particularly hopeful but you never know, they might take the opportunity to finally shape up.

    Lost Humanity 18: A Table of Doritos mirrored on NMA, with the redacted segment put back in.

    On topic, in my five years now as a freelance, paid "game journalist" I've had the good fortune to work for a site in GameBanshee that uses press review copies where available, but cares about review integrity a lot more than about losing said access, and has been blacklisted by some publishers simply for being too honest about their mediocre or bad games.

    Bethesda is not such a publisher, and has remained courteous and professional despite GB's critical attitude towards many of their games. Not that they're inviting any of us to big press events, but we're pretty small fry and don't really do press events. Bethesda does happen to be the source of the only free gaming goodie I ever got, a Fallout 3 T-Shirt I picked up when previewing the game for NMA, but if that was meant to color my perspective, then I don't think it worked. Bethesda is very effective at PR but they do not - from my own experience - resort to pressuring journalists in any way. Which - on the scale of awful that is the PR/game journalism - makes them relatively good guys. I thought that worth noting.
  2. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    Apropos to Wainwright, people have of course taken to her blog to give them a piece of their mind, inevitably with a lot of misogynist assholes, but she decided in her wisdom to just censor everyone.

    She just keeps digging a deeper hole for herself and seems to have no concept of how journalism works.
  3. Jebus

    Jebus Background Radiant

    Jan 29, 2004
    Hurray for the Streisand effect!
    Good of you to put this up, Kharn. Spread the word!
  4. Ilosar

    Ilosar Vault Fossil

    Apr 20, 2010
    I'm really surprised how games journalism seems to atttract some total tools. I mean, how did these people get their jobs? I don't see any other option than nepotism. She's only the latest one in a string of ''journalists'' who seem completely unable to handle any sort of controversy or touchy issue. Where do they find these incompetents?
  5. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    Haha, so she worked as a consultant for Square Enix, then claims it's ok coz she doesn't review Square Enix titles, only that is a lie. She even reviewed Guardian of Light and now *that* article has been pulled. Haha.

    Keep digging that hole Lauren!

    Though again, it should not distract from the wider point, which is that the whole PR/journalism system is just broken. Claims of journalists being on the take tend to be untrue, as WP points out, but that's an easy deflection by game journalists. Bribes aren't true exactly because they're unnecessary, because journalists are already effectively manipulated and relatively powerless, or disinterested in actually doing their job. That's a much bigger problem than an occasional bribe would be.

    It's a truism that critics don't handle criticism well. For critics in any field. She just went about it in a really incompetent manner.

    I don't see how MCV could justify keeping her employed. She should go work for Square Enix, honestly.
  6. sea

    sea Vault Senior Citizen

    Oct 5, 2009
    This entire incident is an embarrassment for the games industry as a whole. It's both hilarious and sad in the best possible way, and it reveals just how much of a "good old boys" club has formed around kissing publisher ass. Don't expect to ever get hired by one of the big sites if you don't drink their Kool-Aid, and if you have a change of heart, expect to be excommunicated by the "journalism community."

    Of course, it also throws just about all games coverage into question, including people who do legitimately report on games in methods bordering on critical/fair/investigative. In a respect, it raises standards for everyone by putting everybody under scrutiny - not a bad thing in my mind.

    Assuming it's not forgotten in a week - and it almost certainly will be - it will hopefully mean at least a few changes. More full disclosure as to the relationship between games sites and publishers, more disclosure about review scores, the role marketing has to play, whether the site considers it primarily an entertainment site, a marketing site, or a truly journalistic site, etc. Probably much too much to wish for, though.

    If we're really, really lucky, this will reach critical mass and lead to mass exodus of employees who are on the fence about their roles as journalists/marketers. I'd just love to see all the content on these sites get cut down to a crawl for a while because all the honest people left.

    Because she's just a girl/young woman who can write articles about videogames and get paid money for it first, and a journalist in a distant second. I'm sure ideas like integrity have never even entered into her thinking and are probably completely foreign to her method of conducting business. She realizes that her source of income basically hinges on being a hack and a liar, and what else can a hack and a liar do but hack and lie?
  7. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    An example of Bethesda's fairly good relationship with GB was their rubber-stamping every question we sent in for an expansive post-mortem interview with MCA despite the fact that it's their PR policy not to do post-mortems. I'm not saying Bethesda is perfect or their relation to GB is perfect, but they are relatively good guys compared to the shit some of the others pull.

    She knows what her job is about! Stuff like this and this!

    She does have a "Games Studies & Journalism degree at London Metropolitan University". Not exactly a good uni (third-worst in the UK, in fact), but you think they'd have taught her the basics.
  8. Briosafreak

    Briosafreak Lived Through the Heat Death

    Dec 18, 2003
    In the meantime Rob lost his job because of this, as every gaming journo in the past that pointed fingers to what's wrong. Every single one of them.
  9. PlanHex

    PlanHex Legislative Senator oTO Moderator Orderite

    Nov 4, 2007
    Didn't he quit voluntarily tho'?
  10. sea

    sea Vault Senior Citizen

    Oct 5, 2009
    Yeah, he quit after he found out they censored his story. Good on him, maybe he'll move on to a site with more integrity - now that people know his name from this incident I'm sure someone will want to pick him up.
  11. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    Hah, like Giant Bomb being founded on Gamespot's problems, and then basically being no better really.



    This Wainwright is something else. I mean yeah, Walker points out this shouldn't be a witchhunt because that distracts from the issues, and that's true, but trying to dismiss this as someone "doing silly things" seems naive. She chose to prioritize getting free games and getting in good with publishers over actually doing her job as a journalist. That's not unique to game journalism, and it's the core of the problem. She's an excellent example of what the problem is.
  12. sea

    sea Vault Senior Citizen

    Oct 5, 2009
    Giant Bomb are owned by GameSpot currently, which sucks, however, the people there are far more outspoken than the vast majority of mainstream sites and rarely censor their opinions on the games themselves. They also pretty frequently give out 2/5 and 3/5 scores, something most other sites would never do. But then, I don't know if anyone takes their reviews very seriously, I always thought the big draw was the quick looks etc.

    There is a difference between liking current-gen shit games genuinely, and being paid to change your opinion - if they are really being bought then it's a hell of an act, considering how extensively they talk about games (i.e. podcasts, quick looks, live shows, etc.). There is also something to be said for judging games relative to what is currently on the market, which is what they (and most) sites will do.
  13. SuAside

    SuAside Testament to the ghoul lifespan

    May 27, 2004
    But you accepted it and wore it! You sold out!

    If you had any integrity, you'd have shot the Bethesda Vault 101 T-shirt 13 times (for FO1) and 13 times (for FO2) with a Colt 10mm Auto (granted a Colt Delta Elite in this case).

    PS: Before anyone complains about my shooting skills, yes I was going for some double horizontal spread to cover the shirt. ;)
    PPS: Yes, 10mm Auto makes quite unimpressive holes in shirts.
  14. Jabu

    Jabu It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Mar 5, 2008
    Oh my god no. How low can this go?

    (I think these sorts of editorial bits slightly outside the site's usual subject matter are fine).
  15. Briosafreak

    Briosafreak Lived Through the Heat Death

    Dec 18, 2003
  16. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    Chobot is as big an unabashed fraud as game journalism has. What was her response?
  17. Arr0nax

    Arr0nax A Smooth-Skin

    Oct 30, 2009
    I agree most game journalism today is bullshit and I don't even bother to read it.
    Yet to make a parallel with another domain, it is common for hardware reviewers to depend on all the stuff the constructors send them, and some of this stuff could be considered gifts too. Yet the fact a reviewer accept these is not a bad thing per se. So where would you draw the line exactly ? Is there not a way to accept gifts and still do your work as an impartial reviewer ? I don't have an answer, maybe it's impossible, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.
  18. Ohaimerk

    Ohaimerk modoc, den, grave Orderite

    Mar 30, 2009
    That's not a parallel. Getting to keep the item you're reviewing and getting a grab bag of exclusive goodies with a note that says "Hope you enjoy, wink wink" is about as unparalleled as you can get
  19. ohminagee

    ohminagee First time out of the vault

    Oct 27, 2012
    New and thank you for letting me join! I just thought I would add, I kinda fear for this girl. If there is any truth behind the reports I've heard how Japanese companies work, they tend to ruin more than careers for people. This is why I quit buying JRPG's and titles long ago. They have a funny way of doing business.
  20. WorstUsernameEver

    WorstUsernameEver But best title ever!

    May 28, 2010
    I thought we were talking about gaming journalism?

    EDIT: Also, I'm sorry for not having a more insightful comment, but I can't help but feel this will all end up forgotten and not end up having any wide effect.