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Is there really corruption in gaming journalism?

by james wernich (GabeSA)  Posted Friday, July 05, 2013 11:48:00 AM

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I don’t know what made me look into this but something caught the corner of my eye when looking for the latest gaming news from around the world. What caught my attention were some news items stating how corruption in gaming journalism has increased so much. In fact, an article written by Erik Kain for Forbes titled “All The PrettyDoritos: How video game Journalism went Off the Rails” really peeked my interest. Supposedly having read this article made me feel as though I had been “living under a rock” for some time. Here is why:

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I have read reviews on certain gaming sites, which I won’t name for obvious reasons, where reviews of big name games had been almost too good to be true. Some smaller games had received harsher assessments which I never agreed with. If you take the time to read the comments posted by fellow gamers you realise just how many people share your point of view in regard to reviews that are done. I have read gamers calling certain gaming sites biased, unfair, criminals and so on. Even after reading all of this, I completely ignored what people were complaining about. It never once occurred to me at the time that what was transpiring had an undertone of corruption linked to it. If you actually look at the image and read the article on the Forbes website, one of the most recognised game reviewers and contributors is sitting next to an image of Halo 4 along with items from sponsors. Now this seems completely off for me. Since when did advertising become a part of a game review?

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Of course I have been a little naive in that way of thinking. I mean, there have been plenty of times that I have seen advertising in gaming. How many games have you played where a cellphone has been used and you clearly see the name “Nokia”? Or the billboard signs in games with clothing designers, fast food outlets etc. I know that I have been ignoring these things for some time, and I don’t even know why. Of course I understand why developers would use advertising in their games and it all has to do with money. Now what the implications, or rather benefits are for these to me as the gamer, are a little unclear. I can only assume that these advertisings allow developers to afford time spent on developing games, and the “contributions” received from advertising in their games affords them this opportunity. But why do we as gamers have to contend with it? Do we receive any benefit from it? Are games any cheaper? I suppose one can argue and say that had developers not received these contributions that games may in fact be more expensive, and/or have not been made in the first place. Well, to be fair if a game is very good and the developing company makes very good games then surely the following would continue and sustain that company for some time.

Anyhow, that isn’t even the real crux of the corruption mentioned. Other more pressing information is given in the article. Now, although I am addressing more from one particular article than from a large scope of others, that aren’t to say that there are not many other sites that address this corruption, merely the fact that most people relate to Forbes as a reliable source of information. I mean if corruption is referred to in gaming circles from gaming sites, then I am not going to find articles on corruption on these sites at all. Unless they are all morons and post it anyway! But I digress slightly. The real crux as I mentioned which would make you stop and say “Hey, wait a minute, did they really do that?”

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I have read how two gaming journo’s have been dismissed due to the corruption in gaming. One of them was idiotic enough to rant on Twitter in a drunken stupor and so deservedly got fired, but the other was Jeff Gerstmann from GameSpot who apparently got fired for giving a poor review on publisher Eidos Interactive’s game, Kane & Lynch. How can any gamer take a review seriously if we are subjected to false reviews? Who can you trust to give you a fair review? That is why I am such a huge supporter of individual gaming sites where the contributions of articles come from the general public of gamers. That way, I can read what a gamer, like me, is saying about a particular game.

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Another article written on cinemablend.com titled “TotalBiscuit: Games Journalism Is An Irredeemable Mess” highlights the dismissal of former Eurogamer writer Rob Florence purely for outing the corruption in gaming. You can see the 18 minute video here. Something interesting occurs as we continue to read these articles, and that is we start to question how, if we have, have missed such blatant corrupted information? So, with that in mind one must ask oneself as to whom we can trust in information that we find imperative in making informed and fair decisions in our day to day gaming life. Well the truth is that we need to take information from various sources to gather the most reliable feedback on what we are looking for. As I mentioned above, the independent sites seem to offer the most reliable form of feedback without the “fear” that I or we are being lied too.

I am not a gaming journalist; I earn nothing from my contributions to such articles, reviews or opinion pieces. I merely speak from my heart, and write about what I like or don’t like. I give the facts as they are. I would trust someone like myself when a review is written. Why? Because I must believe that a gamer such as myself would be truthful in his/her approach to their experience in the game, article or whatsoever they write about. As I always say in my articles, these are my opinions only. You may choose to trust no one, or trust in more prominent gaming sites. The choice is yours, as it should be. I can merely pose the question: “If gaming journalism is in fact corrupt, who can or do you trust to give you fair input and feedback?”

It’s a question that will now haunt me after reading some of these articles. Maybe you won’t have the same dilemma as I have. Perhaps if you can add your experiences that you have had in regard to this, or perhaps you don’t think there is any corruption at all. I would love to read what others have to contribute.

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd



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