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Reader Comments (74)

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:59PM BigAndShiny said

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it is videogames, but i would rather log onto massively an see "look, swtor leak video, screw the nda" than EA publishing the secret world

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:59PM DancingCow said

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Two points need to be made.

1) While I think Jef is one of the better writers here, I do think he has over-tooted massively's 'unbiased' horn. Some writers here are incredibly biased and we have seen them move off into industry jobs.

2) There's currently no genuinely journalistic alternatives.

The best place to find gaming news is at these kinds of sites. All we as readers can do is recognize the bias and filter accordingly.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:07PM jonnyfrag said

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Very interesting timing with this Soapbox. I sent in a 'tip' about SOE and Target conspiring together to foul up PC pre-orders so that anyone that pre-ordered from Target the regular PC version won't be getting their shipment for 1 to 2 months and fully realize that it likely won't go anywhere in fear of SOE cutting Massively out of the loop. I had asked in my tip for someone with journalist access to try and get the story out of what happened with this fubar. Looks like I got my answer already with this piece...which is spot on btw.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:14PM Brianna Royce said

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@jonnyfrag We get a lot of good tips, and we get a lot of crazy conspiracy tips too. Fear of being cut off isn't really an influencing factor there. :p
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:19PM jonnyfrag said

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@Brianna Royce
Oh I understand. This one (about DCUO, which I failed to point out) is an actual one. I have yet to find one person that pre-ordered the PC version from Target that wasn't told that the game was sold out and back-ordered and it might be a couple of months (if ever) that we'd receive it. Someone with Target or SOE really dropped the ball and without some sort of light shining onto the situation, it will just go down as another SOE screws it's customers legend, of which of course there are many.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:08PM SocksForYou said

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Massively is a bit guilty of this IMO.

There are some very decent and thoughtful pieces on this site, and others that sound like reworded press releases. There's also this adoring tone that pops up in many articles about how X developer is working harder than ever to make X game the best it can be, and they're really passionate about X game and you can just see it in their eyes!

There's a difference between being upbeat and shilling for a game. I wish more sites knew the difference.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:22PM DemonXaphan said

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here, here, good article. Like you said your more of a paid blogger than journalist. Only true way of knowing more about the games you report on is when you get the interview with the devs, the PR's are just playing a shell game and just giving enough info to wet your appetite to keep you hooked.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:33PM Meagen said

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I can see how "real" journalism would work for online games. Big, shouty headlines to attract attention, most scary percentages you can find and still be technically correct, every drop in monthly logons and every rumor of server merges or staff layoffs trumpeted from the mountaintops, one "expert" quoted to say "this means game x is dying", another one quoted to say "not it doesn't"... yeah, that's something to strive for.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:40PM RyanGreene said

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I agree with Beau's suggestion that we need to recognize that we're just talking about video games here, but I would go a few steps further and suggest that video games don't merit "hard-hitting journalism" (which, as Bree pointed out, is largely a bygone notion to begin with).

I love video games and everything, but anyone who wants to afflict the comfortable should look elsewhere. Go harry rotten landlords or uncover corruption in major financial institutions. Go tell truth to power in a way that might genuinely comfort the actually afflicted.

In earning my graduate degree in journalism, I spent two weeks with Jamaicans who can't admit they're gay or that they work for a gay-rights organization out of fear for their lives. I met a college kid with machete scars on his arms because a neighbor didn't like the way the kid dressed. After that, I can't see myself getting terribly worked up about uncovering "the truth" behind release-date delays or missing features.

With that said, though, I think there's plenty of room for journalism in video games. No one says newspaper feature writers aren't journalists just because they aren't out there being Woodsteins. A fashion reporter is still a reporter, even though it's "just" fashion.

Questions of credibility and transparency have their place in any field of journalism. And in a very few situations -- for example, whether major console manufacturers knowingly use conflict materials -- someone should ask hard questions even in the video game industry. But journalism comes in many varieties, and I think expecting (or even thinking the topic deserves) an Edward R. Murrow level of dedication is a bit much.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:43PM J Brad Hicks said

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I'm curious as to which of these three deadly sins you think your average newspaper isn't guilty of, too? The Washington Press Corps is legendarily chummy with and protective of their sources, and your average city newspaper is just as chummy and protective of the major employers in town, for the same reason games journalists are: if you tick them off, they stop leaking scoops to you, or even stop granting interviews altogether. Your average non-feature, non-investigative newspaper article is just a strung-together list of cliches with a couple of proper nouns filled in and two or three (usually inaccurately) reported quotes. And as Chomsky pointed out decades ago, we have a name for non-press-release journalism, "investigative journalism," and it's so rare and makes up so little of the content in newspapers that it has a special name; the rest of the newspaper is press releases gently rewritten and stuffed in to provide a gutter around the ads.

By all means, try to raise your standards. But don't be too hard on yourself; you're no worse than any other journalism-branded info-based entertainment product out there, and better than most. Your writing standards are probably above the industry average, and unlike your average generalist journalist, your writers cover a subject they actually know something about.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 5:09PM Skyydragonn said

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well written and informative peice here.
As most of the massively staff is likely aware by now a certain MMORG has irked me to the point of desiring to persue a more "journalistic" aproach to game industry reporting. Sadly though as your article points out its not the developers that control the flow of information its the publishers who slap all of thier employees with a NDA as part of the hiring process. I'de even wager that the poor office interns delivering mail and making coffee runs do so under a NDA agreement.

My question to you is this, Why do we allow this to continue?
Why are bad games (or broken games) allowed to carry on with positive press releases, and "fluff" peices that completely avoid almost any real pertinent information about the game?

I can't off the top of my head think of any other industry that is so secluded from actual press coverage.

As isaid Iv'e seriously considered building a website to cover the truth behind the PR, the problem lies in the where do i begin? Who can i contact that has real information? etc etc. Not being a member of the industry myself and as far as the game companies themselves would consider me nothing more than a typical consumer and thus easily ignorable as accountability in the industry is next to nil.

One last thing in light of this peice I challenge the staff at massively to compare the PR information regarding NFS:W to the actual game in its current state. Compare and contrast the PR to the product and push for some accountability.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 5:14PM Skyydragonn said

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what about cases where the developer is intentionally blocking negative PR on the forum for a game? or releases a game breaking patch and then lets it sit for 6 weeks without a WORD to the userbase? Or when a "free-2-play" title begins offering statistical advatages over other players for real world cash etc etc? Events like this warrant real coverage, not just a press release touting how "awesome feature X, Y,Z" are. That in my humble opinion is the true problem with gaming journalism....that PR trumps truth and accountability.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 5:20PM Mikx said

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I don't know why you're putting game journalism on a pedestal requiring high standards and denegrating it compared to regular journalism. A lot of political journalists are not independent from their subjects, are utterly biased, and view their work as simply publishing somebody's PR release. You can't bother to check facts, provide context, or report the truth because there is a deadline to meet, and if you call something untrue, that well connected source won't talk to you anymore.

Game Journalism is sitting pretty compared to the big boys, although its simply because the stakes aren't as big. There are fewer anonymous sourcing stories, and the what "Judith Millers" the game journalism community has havent had such dire consequences.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 10:36PM Skyydragonn said

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@Mikx
exactly hell look at Glen beck, how many times has he been taken as speakign fact when later it was completely disproven?
how many times has he, as a "journalist" spoken blatant lies as though they were gospel? and claimed ignorance when the truth is later revealed?
Why are game companies and thier associated "reportes" held to different standards? its the same job.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 5:20PM jonnyfrag said

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You know, you could pull out the entire gaming angle to this story and it would still be a viable accounting of 'journalism' these days across the board. Can't ask the tough questions cause you'll be cut out of the loop. The media, all media, has lost it's way and it's mission. They are supposed to be voice of the people asking the tough questions and shining light on bad deeds, instead they are mostly spin masters and complicit in advancing the goals of the people they are covering. Chalk it up to media consolidation, laziness or outright nefarious conspiracy but the media fails us in this country (and others) big time.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 5:36PM Psychochild said

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A very insightful post. (As a note, I consider psychochild.org to be a professional blog, not a personal one. Even if I do occasionally post about my personal life as it affects or is affected by my career.)

Although I complained about your corporate masters in my linked blog post, I've always had a lot of respect for the writers at Massively. I think your three points are 100% on target. Kudos for writing the piece, and hopefully others will take up the challenge to move toward earning the "journalist" name.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 5:45PM Graill440 said

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Really great article. Conflict of interest and the "wishing well" explained. First conflict of interest and a moral code, alot of people will dismiss these important aspects of life, it is ocassionaly refreshing to see someone at least type about it, kudos to Jef for typing about the unpopular among the greedy trying to get ahead.

Just because you can do something or simply want to doesnt mean you should, case in point devs today. Many shouldnt be where they are let alone in charge of anything. Saying you have a passion for something and the skill to execute that passion properly is rare, so rare in fact i could only name 5 devs in the last 20 years and only two of those have the capability to properly choose teams, choosing common sense and skill over "passion".

People that want to do something simply because they have a passion are why we have so much waste everywhere, low standards, etc.

Knowing your limitations and setting aside your own dreams because you know you arent capable of doing something properly is also a rare trait few have, yet the masses still try and fail and in the end innaction on our part leads to garbage by them.

Still, we will always have screwheads with passion stating they can do something (and they cant) and the status quo sucking them up into the mechanism of game development and we will continue to get trash as output. Special interest rules, common sense is nowhere to be found.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 6:21PM UndeadAreGo said

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Everyone is getting out the pitchforks here, but read the article again. The point is not that the whole industry is corrupt. The point was that most "journalism" falls under blogging, entertainment, editorials, reporting, etc. They all have their places, but we shouldn't inflate them into something they are not. Would you call Roger Ebert a film journalist? Heck no. He's a critic.

Trust me. You don't want 100-percent journalism either. Do you know how boring that would be?

I work for a gaming site and from a business standpoint, real journalism is tough, and not because we're "selling out." Thorough, investigative journalism takes time and money. You could easily spend an entire day contacting people for quotes, verifying sources, and getting ideas for an article that still has to be written. Meanwhile, your competitor used the same amount of time to put up a dozen news posts, a few videos, and an article about the top ten soundtracks.

Funny thing is, that pointless top ten article will continue to draw traffic years from now, while the glorious expose that pulled back the curtain will be forgotten in a week.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 6:24PM Jayedub said

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While I think this a well written and lengthy article, I struggle to see what the point of it is. Not the point of the article itself, that I understand, but why is this even needed?

What I read was an extremely long rebuttal to all of the 'unprofessional' and 'lacking credibility' talk that was directed at the author for his opinion about his one hour playtime in Rift.

The fact is if someone works for a website and they write about games, they are probably going to be called a game journalist, like it or not.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 9:57PM Jef Reahard said

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@Jayedub

I actually kicked around the idea of having a section of this as a true rebuttal to the RIFT brouhaha, ultimately leaving it out because it was secondary to the real point I wanted to make (and the thing is already long enough). Most of this was written prior that incident.
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