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Gaming Journalism - Why Most Websites Have to Be nice to the industry

This is a discussion on Gaming Journalism - Why Most Websites Have to Be nice to the industry within the General PS3 Discussion forum, part of the Everything PlayStation; Part 1 is here, it talks about why Major reviewers fail at their stuff: Mass Effect 3, Gears of War ...

  1. #1
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    Gaming Journalism - Why Most Websites Have to Be nice to the industry

    Part 1 is here, it talks about why Major reviewers fail at their stuff:

    Mass Effect 3, Gears of War 3, and Why Reviewers Fail - Forbes

    Part two talks about Gaming news sites as a whole, it's a good read.

    Games Journalism Part 2: Why Most Websites Have to Make Nice to the Industry - Forbes

    I wrote last week about the problem of enthusiasm in gaming journalism, and I wanted to continue the discussion about just why writers in this space can sometimes feel like PR mouthpieces. Advertising dollars and a general enthusiasm play into the problem, and I’d argue that a lot of journalists, not excluding myself, need to get over the idea of being a giant fan and calm down a bit. But the basic structure of a games website might be the biggest problem that any outfit faces when it comes to objectivity.

    A game website requires a few things to survive, which we’ll group into four major categories: features, previews, reviews and opinions. The problem is that features and previews require access, interviews and friends, whereas reviews and opinions require objectivity, distance and a thick skin. When the same people are playing both sides of the coin, you run into problems.

    When any website gets screenshots, videos or details before anyone else, the resulting traffic spike is more than anything else the world of games journalism has to offer. Just like with any other journalistic outfit, it makes sense to make nice to people in and around industry to get that elusive early access – getting a few oh-so-valuable leaks is worth a whole lot more cabbage than writing thoughtful reviews.

    Problems occur when the same people that are fighting for access to screenshots, videos and interviews are writing reviews. You might set out to be unsparing, or objective, but there’s a voice in the back of your mind that sees that PR guy’s email and thinks “maybe I shouldn’t piss them off.” And so you begin to gloss and apologize. Right now, I’m trying to get an interview from Casey Hudson or a Bioware writer, and having played host to the discontent over Mass Effect 3 might hamper that project.

    The personal aspect gets people into trouble as well: when you’ve been talking to a developer for an entire year about the game he or she been spending late nights developing, you’re much more likely to be lenient when it’s time to come to a review. When you’ve been drinking late into the night at a convention with a developer, you’re more likely to see things from his point of view.

    It’s not sinister, and it doesn’t mean that journalists are just shills for developers. But it’s just a little flatter than it should be.

    The readers can make the difference. When a website can build consistent traffic off of an expectation of quality, it makes the writer think about the audience before the source. But when a website builds intermittent traffic off a few big scoops, there’s just no incentive towards quality. Forbes, for its part, helps me think this way by paying me extra for bringing in returning viewers. But if the eyeballs of the internet tell “content producers” that they want quality and objectivity more than simple velocity and info-dumps, quality will follow.

    Video games are still very young, and games journalism is even younger. It can be a bright new world out there if we don’t just apologize ourselves into mediocrity.

    Forbes Comes out of Nowhere for the past month of march and Starts talking logic. Probably because they don't need Money/exclusive coverage from Game industry companies.

    What do you guys think about forbes opinion on this? i think it's very solid.

  2. #2
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    Preaching to the choir. I've known this for years. There are no journalistic standards for gaming websites, no ethics, its the wild west. Logic never enters the minds of a lot of 'professional' reviewers from sites like IGN. I'm tired of ranting and raving about them...I'm getting a six-pack just from having to bitch about how bad they are and debating it.

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  3. #3
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    Sep 2011

    But he is talking about problems journalists have on a very large scale, including at Forbes (yes, that's right, this guy has all the same issues IGN does in his arena). Everything from CNN to this site has those base conflicts of interests.

    As I've said before, my problem is the connections make some logical sense, but the evidence doesn't really jive well with this beyond singular circumstances or singular sites.

    For example, where is his discussion about how something like how some review outlets will review not the entire game (i.e. they may only play an extended demo or only play for 8 hours)? That would make just as much if not more sense to influence scores of games (like ME3).

    Moreover the conflict of interest doesn't necessarily mean you can't be honest, I'm avoiding unbiased because nobody can be, not even you reading this post. I've pointed out before the last time something like this was posted that Gamespot ended up giving R&C a below-average score anyway, and it doesn't really work that way in most other industries...

    Auto magazines and websites, as examples, still give all kinds of rankings and reviews throughout the entire spectrum and rely on the EXACT same needs in regards to access, yet it doesn't stop companies from giving information all the same. Same goes for sites/magazines that review movies/music/etc.

    This is an article that makes a logical argument that there is a clear reason for conflicts of interest, but there isn't evidence beyond certain points of these conflicts causing issues in honesty/ethics.

    Also, it has some errors atleast in regards to industry trends, most games don't fall between 8-10, and most blockbusters don't fall above 9... Thats really only IGN.
    Last edited by Gauss; 03-27-2012 at 12:02 PM.
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    0-1: A game whose very existence is abhorrent to all things creative and intelligent.
    2-4: A just plain bad game.
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  4. #4
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    Reality, sadly......

    Will eventually give it a read, just wanna say this:

    If you donīt ride the swang and take the blast, you wonīt get free games, gaming journalists (not all) are basically hoes (nothing against them) who get payed in 50% cash and the other half in games instead of the usually 100% drugs.
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