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Transparency and a Packet of Crisps

Posted on the 09 November 2012 by Kirkmckeand

 

Transparency and a Packet of Crisps

I feel there needs to be a counter argument for the supposed “corruption” in the gaming industry, if only to make the debate a bit more balanced. This whole fiasco started, because of a small dispute on (social networking site) Twitter.  The deputy editor of Pocket Gamer named-and-shamed a couple of other journalists, over an incident he deemed unacceptable, at the Games Media Awards.

At the GMA’s there was a competition of sorts: anyone who Tweeted #Defiance, (a Sci-Fi shooter that’s tied into a TV show) would be entered into a draw, with the prize being a PlayStation 3. So, he named and shamed them for taking part in the competition, his argument being that people buy games based on the critique of these industry figures and he saw it as an abuse of position for personal gain.

This in itself is right, and taken out of context it made the journalists in question look bad, but only those who attended the show know the circumstances that were  involved; they could have been unaware that it was in fact a competition, they could have even intended to use them as part of a giveaway (which they did afterwards, but we will never know if it was originally intended). As soon as the journalists were implicated, they were guilty and they never even had a chance of redemption.

This act then inspired the writer of the Lost Humanity Blog on Eurogamer, to run a story on corruption in the gaming press. This article opened up a hornets nest, calling into question the integrity of anybody in the industry. There was threatened legal action, the article was edited and eventually the writer of the article left the site on principle.

Transparency and a Packet of Crisps

Ah, the Eurogamer Expo: a place for the advertisement of new games. Also, extremely hard to find a picture on Google that doesn’t contain “Booth Babes”.

There  was recently a debate about games journalists having a “hive mind”, all sharing the same thoughts due to overexposure to their peers, subliminally influenced by the ever-present voices in their social circles. This has never been truer than it is now. Ever since that article has been published, there has been a mass witch-hunt for any journalists who dare to accept any souvenirs, or attend events, even having a good relationship with PR is now frowned upon by eyebrows, peering down from their lofty thrones.

I have always been a fan of Eurogamer, the writers are phenomenal and I aspire to one day get  my work up to the same, stellar quality. They hire the best freelancers, and in general, have some of the best writing talent in the UK. I have been a big fan of the site for a good few years and I still enjoy the masterworks created by the team on a daily basis.

The problem I have  is with the politics. Today, Eurogamer changed their editorial policies, saying that they will: no longer attend review events, will cover their own travel expenses, they will not accept gaming paraphernalia (unless it is work related), they will now give any items not needed to GamesAID,  they will not participate in “mock reviews” and staff/contributors are forbidden from writing about any company they have previously worked for.

These changes are admirable, but they feel suspiciously political. Would these changes have ever been considered if not for Lost Humanity 18: A Table of Doritos? Even if the changes were made for political reasons, they can’t exactly publish an article implicating others, if they are guilty of the same crime; logical really. That in itself isn’t my problem.  What is however,  is how this makes sites with different policies look to the readers.The guys at Eurogamer are seasoned veterans of the industry, a bunch of literary ninjas, they have been through the circuit themselves and I am sure they have the battle scars on their morality to show for it.

Transparency and a Packet of Crisps

Here’s that “tragic, vulgar image”.

 

Eurogamer is one of the biggest sites in the Uk, they have no need for review events, most developers are happy to speak to them just to access the huge audience the site’s writing talent draws in. Smaller sites do not have the same luxury however, in fact for some, the review event is one of the few opportunities get an interview from the development team.The events are also useful for networking, another thing Eurogamer has little need of.

Some sites also generate very little revenue, so any little bit of expenditure they save is useful for helping with the costs of maintaining the site; especially in such a cutthroat industry. Gaming paraphernalia that is received at events is mostly tat if it isn’t work related, there is no way a thumb-sized bottle of alcohol would sway somebody’s opinion on something; believing as much is madness. Most people that start out in games journalism take a pilgrimage of sorts, working for free, or at least for very little; with some sites not even paying the writer’s travel expenses.

At this point in their journey any recognition or compensation is as rare as rocking-horse-shit, and personally I will take what I can get, my opinion will still be based on the game itself come review time and my view won’t be swayed by an inanimate trinket. The picture of Geoff Keighley and the table of Doritos  is completely different, entering realms of sponsorship and you can bet there was a substantial sum of money involved.

Transparency and a Packet of Crisps

Sex sells? Eurogamer used to think so.

Getting to keep review copies of games is a great little perk for people who volunteer for gaming sites, and the job really wouldn’t be worth all the work without them; selling them though is a different matter and that is something that should not be allowed . Eurogamer has been responsible for many of the things they are now in opposition of. Do you remember this adverti… article about Shag a Gamer? No? What about this one? I don’t want to piss on anyones bonfire, but I feel that any site in opposition of this is now at a disadvantage, even though the backtracking is mostly hypocritical.

The whole thing has been bad for the general perception of the gaming industry, all of it was started by a Twitter comment and now the integrity of every journalist is under the microscope. There is always somebody, lurking in the shadows, waiting for you to make a mistake so they can rip out your throat and chew on your windpipe.  So guys, we write about games, games are fun right? We all carve a path through life the best we can, can’t you trust us all to follow our own moral compass? I’m sure the readers will root out corruption if they find it and if you want to be as incorruptible as Batman, more power to you, but please try and remember the path you carved to get there. The biggest irony in all of this is, we are now all talking about the products involved, it’s great publicity; even I’m talking about it.


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