Oh, how I love the Land Down Under! The country itself is populated almost entirely by deadly, poisonous animals and pretty blonde girls, and apparently game journalists are the equivalent of Bono or Herve Villachaize down there. Oz is like some kind of sun-drenched paradise where you’re always a moment away from catching a stinger through the heart or a handjob from a hooker with an adorable accent; it’s a total crapshoot!
Richie Young, the former editor of Australian PlayStation 2 Magazine, has gone on record to reveal the darker side of the industry, and the darker side looks utterly f***ing sweet! Here’s a quote;
1)Fact: games reviewers have been offered either sex or money to change a review score. To quote the PR person I am referring to: “I will do ANYTHING if you can change the score. Just tell me what it will take…”
2)Fact: be careful when you read an “exclusive” review. You probably already know this, but they are much-more-often-than-not tied to agreements about coverage or minimum scores.
3)Fact: PR companies identify journalists they want to impress… and go about in unashamedly. This includes campaigning them for better coverage by using elaborate gifts like dinners, overseas trips…
4)Fact: small media operators hold and use the power of balance over their editorial staff. When all is said and done, it means that advertising agreements do help sway final game review scores.
5)Fact: most game reviewers get paid little, which increases the likelihood that they will fall into the trap of temptation. This is not their fault, but a reality of the industry.
Ok, so the solution is … pay game journos more? There is simply no way to remove the temptation of hot sex from the minds of primarily male writers. With a few exceptions, everyone I’ve met in this industry is always only a few moments away from cutting off their own arms just to get close enough to smell a girl’s hair. Yeah, it’s a stereotype, but, in this case, it’s a valid stereotype.
Hit the jump for more from Richie.
For starters, most are super-protective of the inner-working of “games journalism” and pretend like it is rocket science. It is not. To a lesser extent, there is an attitude of self-importance, like they are Gaming Gods. If anyone should be a Gaming God, it is the guys who create masterpieces – like the folks behind Mario or GTA or Pro Evo or World of Warcraft. “Gaming god” status should not be bestowed on you just because you finished Tomb Raider and wrote a play guide on it. And definitely not because you gave Ape Escape “68%” when everyone else gave it, “at least 7.5”.
Colleagues of mine refer to themselves as “games journalists”. Now I just have a personal gripe about this one… even though I remain a firm believer of “each to his own”. Granted most of these guys know their games, but when the same guys do nothing but sit around and ask for free games from games publishers and do little more than re-hash reviews by fashioning them from press releases and the internet, I have a seriously hard time giving using the word “journalist” with a straight face. “Games reporters?”… yes. “Games reviewers?”… yeah I think so. But “journalist”? You cannot be serious.
Well thank god someone finally said it. It’s a footnote to the hooker story above, but it needs to be said that the people who’s stuff you read daily (you do read daily, right?), really aren’t as utterly fantastic as we think we are. We are not doctors, we are not the Pope, and if you run a little short on rent, and you call my cell asking for a loan, I’ll swear at you and ask how the hell you got my number.
I guess it’s kind of ironic to use a gaming website to decry the pompousness of gaming writers, but, and as much of a raging egotist as I am, we are merely people who have played a ton of video games and can string together three or four words. Nothing separates us from the average person besides the fact that we have rolodexes filled with industry people, and more people read our blog than do yours.