Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
06 July 2007
Everyone knows it's a business but the journaltisementists
Let's face it, when the Washington Post titles an article on video game "journalism" An Inside Play To Sway Video Gamers, it's no wonder there's no All The President's Men being filmed based on the video gaming press' work. Here's a quote from that piece that I'm sure many of you have already read.

In addition to an hour-long demo and chats with the game's designers, the trip included a two-night stay in downtown's swank Helix Hotel, dinner at Logan Tavern and a private party at a nightclub in Adams Morgan. Airfare, hotel, food, drinks and shuttle bus were provided, courtesy of Bethesda Softworks. Although a few attendees paid their own way, most did not.

'What we're trying to accomplish with an event like this is to have the undivided attention of the important people in our industry, that cover the industry,' said Pete Hines, vice president of marketing at Bethesda Softworks...

It looks like Bethesda Softworks is getting that attention: Fallout 3 is scheduled to soon grace the covers of 20 gamer magazines, largely as a result of the event.

I'm not saying schmozing isn't important, nor would I fault someone for attending if offered. What I am saying is that if such schmozing produces coverage (double entendre intended), the only folk that don't realize gaming rags represent salesforces on commission are the people doing the writing. Doesn't sound like Mr. Hines is confused one bit. Nor is the Post. The "inside play" results, their word, results in coverage.

Hey, well, at least I'm not posting about WoW...
--ruffin at 20:29
Comment [ 5 ]

Comments on this post:

Kotaku posts on this and the writer, Michael Fahey, says:

"Basically people can smell bulls--t [my edit, jvm], and integrity is the most important aspect of this business. Note that I didn't say a complete lack of bias...after all part of our job is to give you our opinions. We just have to make sure those opinions are our own."

Isn't part of integrity removing the appearance of impropriety? That's probably why some outlets are paying their own way -- because they have a policy which says they must remain at arm's length from the people they're writing about.

Joystiq's post says they don't accept junkets.

So the question for Kotaku is: Why do you? Wouldn't it be worth it to remove the appearance of impropriety?

I've a little knot of anger in my stomach after reading some of this stuff (and related discussions that Ruffin and I had recently when he visited the Curmudgeon Cave). I hope this comment wasn't too irrational as a result.

By Blogger jvm, at 06 July, 2007 21:37  

This is painting an awfully bad picture of video game journalists in general. Even the EIC of EGM has said something to the effect of "here is what we're doing regarding gifts and such" in his magazine.

I'm disappointed when people post flamebait and a link like this, curmudgeonly or not, without researching it first.

By Blogger Zachary, at 06 July, 2007 22:37  

I'm disappointed when people post flamebait and a link like this, curmudgeonly or not, without researching it first.

The policies of different magazines makes absolutely no difference whatsoever (if anything, if the policy is that pay-for-cover-play is okay, things are MUCH worse than I'd ever expected) as to whether this swag-i-rifficness does unethically produce coverage in video gaming "news & reviews" rags. Look, if the Washington Post, for goodness sake, concurs with my "flamebait" ("largely as a result", the Post claims), it's generally not going to be flamebait any more.

Or has zachary once again esoterically hidden his point in wildly idiosyncratic folds of zachian logic? At least post the source of your "something to the effect of" before you make me start up the glass house/rocks metaphor and show how the "what" and "such" in the source is germane.

By Blogger rufbo, at 08 July, 2007 14:54  

The source is a print magazine, get EGM july 2007, you want the editorial titled "Full Disclosure" on page 10. Next to the "Free Style Street Basketball" advertisement. So shoe says:
"I recently had a chat with one of the editors over at gaming-journalism watchdog site Video Game Media Watch..."


"Game companies are always trying to send us free stuff. What are we allowed to keep? We do not accept any gifts--such as video iPods, World Series tickets, cash (in the form of contest prizes)...all of which were actually offered to us at one point. But we are allowed to keep cheap promotional items, so you'll see game posters or XXXXXXXL T-shirts around our offices."

Shoe goes on to describe similar policies for free games (they keep one for the office and can't trade/ebay/profit.

He also says that they do not accept flights or hotel rooms, and doesn't accept food bribes (in a balanced method); He mentions that they paid for a dinner with rockstar since rockstar paid last time.

This all (Shoe says) covers the entirety of and related uncle ziff publications.

However, the most important point Shoe makes is that they do not guarantee coverage to the publishers or developers.

I still believe that the WP article is almost-flamebait, the CG post is worse, and broad generalizations should not be made without base.

Do investigative journalism.

Examine print magazines and blogs.

Cry fowl when you see the ducks with gold watches, video iPods, appearing on the jumbo-tron at the World Series cut and pasting press releases into their ducky-reviews.

But please do not paint everyone with a broad brush as you do mr copy-and-paste curmudgeon ;)

By Blogger Zachary, at 08 July, 2007 21:58  

Well, at least you're not commenting about WoW.

By Blogger rufbo, at 09 July, 2007 11:45  

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