...and yes, I do love Taco Doritos.
You've probably heard (especially if you've checked your Twitter account over the last few days) about Rab Florence's last article for Eurogamer, which talked about game journalists and their close ties to the PR teams and publishers that supply them with access to information, review copies, interviews, etc. You've also probably heard about the subsequent edit of said article due to legal pressure from Lauren Wainright. To find out what happened behind the scenes you can head over to Tom Bramwell's (Editor at Eurogamer) official post on the topic, and I encourage you to. Its a great read, and very much worth your time.
A Multifaceted Industry
The first and main thing I want to touch on isn't just what happened over the last few weeks but what it means for people like me. You see, I'm pretty new to the gaming news world. I've been writing about geek & video games for the last 4 years, and I've only just started to feel comfortable being referred to as a games writer, nonetheless a reporter or a journalist. Some people see those titles as ones that can't be achieved within the medium of video games, but I disagree. Newspapers cover a myriad of topics and social issues, and within the realm of games there are many sub topics and cultures waiting to be covered as well. Balking at someone's credentials because of the medium they choose to write about doesn't make much sense. It's about the substance of what they write, not the product or issue itself. I'd read an article on the rise and fall of pogs if it were written well.
Ignorance Is Bliss
I also feel kudos are in order for Rab and Eurogamer running the story in the first place. While I don't love the finger pointing that this whole thing has escalated into, I do love the discussion that has taken place because of it. This is important, and it does need to be talked about. Our industry is still in its growing stages, and the amount of coverage it receives grows exponentially by the week, so we're going to have to grow with it. Not acknowledging the problems within won't fix them, and I don't' know about you but I want to see our industry thrive, and I want to see the outlets and people covering it thrive as well.
Something that has revealed itself in the ongoing discussion is a divide between our own. I've seen lines drawn in the sand between journalists and game journalists, game journalists and bloggers, and bloggers and fans. When did this become a pissing match? Did I miss the Game Journo Certification Exam I was supposed to take in high school? The majority of people who are doing this are here for the same reason, i.e. they love games. That same majority also started out the same way, and that's from sitting in front of their computer or typewriter (don't knock it!) and writing about something they love. It's truly mind numbing to see people holding "announcement trailer articles" as beneath them when sometimes, especially starting out, that is what you have access to. When I get review copies as early as you do, huzzah! Until then, don't hold the fact that I don't have access to certain things against me and say that I'm any less of a writer.
Your Brand Is 24/7
Lastly, there is such a thing as representing a brand, and doing it properly. It's mostly a gut call, but there are examples of what not to do, and I think entering a contest when you represent an outlet is one of those. I'll use myself as an example. Before I came on board here at GameTyrant I applied to many contests. I wrote about games, comics, cosplay, etc, but it was my site and if I wanted to apply for something on my twitter feed I occasionally would. Now, I didn't do it all the time but I did do it. Fast Forward to a week ago. There was a contest for some game (not quite sure which one) and you would get the special edition as well as some other freebies. All you had to do was share it on facebook and twitter. Immediately I thought "oh goodie, STUFF!". It turns out that I'm basically the Video Game Equivalent of Cookie Monster. After the initial pull though I got to thinking. If I send out what is truthfully a sponsored tweet about Hitman (which is only being sent so i can get something in return) then how can someone not question my motives later on? I might love the game, but my actions have put a question mark in the reader's head as to whether I actually love it or if I am getting a branded duffel bag for my kind words. Hitman was just an example mind you, but I think you get my point. It's perfectly fair for people to question our motives, and we can't get mad at them when we give them ample ammo to do so. Just something to think about for the next time you're confronted with the same decision.
This is a subject that can't be covered or solved in one article or even dozens of them as it turns out. The discussion is worth having though, and thank you for giving me the chance to share my two cents. Let us know what you think in the comments, whether you agree or disagree. I'm always eager to hear your opinions!