Unbridled insanity

So, as usual, I’m in the middle of editing the Fancast as I write this (update, Audacity just crashed. I lost four hours of editing or so. Fuck). This week, we had tremendous recording difficulties. One of our merry band, you’ll find out whom once the show is uploaded, had his internets destroyed by a vicious snowstorm. As you might expect, this had something of an effect on his Skype connection. This resulted in some hilariously glitchy audio. You’ll hear plenty of that in our outtakes. So, fun to listen to, not so fun to edit.

The guitar quest is going apace. The fingertips on my left hand are beginning to develop the thick carapace prized by guitar players the world over. Said carapace has advantages and disadvantages. Advantage: holding down guitar strings doesn’t hurt like hell. Disadvantage: in addition to dulling pain, all sensation is deadened. I guess I’ll get over it.

Someone asked me about my opinion of the whole GameSpot / Jeff Gerstmann issue. If you’ve been living in an internet-proof shelter for the last few days, GameSpot fired its Editorial Director under some curious circumstances. Essentially, he trashed Kane & Lynch. GameSpot, as it happens, had loads and loads of Kane & Lynch ads plastered all over the site. There are other pieces to the puzzle — feel free to sift through them at the link above — but I’ve given you all you need to put together where “the story” began.

Anyway, do I think he was fired because of a negative review? I honestly don’t know. What I do know, is that it looks damned shady. CNET and GameSpot have done very little to assuage the fears of gamers and game journalists everywhere. The fact that plenty of former and current GameSpot employees have spoken about the issue says volumes as well.

I’ve seen a range of comments on the subject, one of the perks of running a site about such things. I’ve seen comments against GameSpot and I’ve also seen plenty of blasť comments from people asking why we should care. So someone got fired, who cares, right? Happens all the time. Comments like that are really missing the point. It’s not that he was fired, it’s why. Granted, we don’t have any proof, and it’s likely we never will, but if the story is true, it puts a mighty black eye on game journalism. Then again, it’s not like all critical fields aren’t fraught with problems anyway. Websites are given bribes (i.e. games, swag, etc) by the companies they write about, they’re whisked away to exotic locations to play fucking Dead or Alive Extreme 2, and so on and so forth. It’s the same in the movie industry, and probably every entertainment industry. Don’t misunderstand me, companies give stuff to X3F, but we turn around and give it to the community. We also get offers for junkets, but refuse them out of policy.

Frankly, I never visit GameSpot anyway, apart from finding the occasional news story. Most of my need for reviews is more than satisfied by Metacritc (update: I’ve learned Metacritic is also a CNET company. Small world.).

Anyway, rambling a bit. The point is that the critical field is crooked. Blogs are a little less crooked (especially the fine establishments found on the Joystiq network), but they’re susceptible to the same temptations. This GameSpot issue really just throws the whole problem into sharp relief, with the possibility of bringing it into the public eye. If GameSpot does go down because of this, don’t go thinking that any other site is any better (again, except for the integrity-ridden blogs on the Joystiq network). Finally, the fact that the industry is crooked isn’t exactly news, but someone actually getting fired because of it … that’s bad.

6 Replies to “Unbridled insanity”

  1. Look who it is…ME! :D

    On the fancast part, I’m going to guess it was Dustin, as knowing Knuckles lives in Vancouver, I haven’t heard anything on our news about them getting anything other than the usual rain.

    On the whole Gamespot business, I hear ya, but frankly, I’m not really interested in anything except the overview. I don’t care about petty rumours, I just want to see what the end result will be. I don’t visit GameSpot much, either, save for the few stories that my Google Reader picks up that I think might be interesting and aren’t featured anywhere else. Then, after that, I take that link, go to http://www.xbox360fanboy.com/tips/ and submit it as a news tip. Usually it doesn’t get featured because someone beat me to it, usually from another site, whether by another tipster, you or Dusty. (Looking at all my tips for X3F, there have only been 3 of 40+ of tips from Gamespot…they don’t usually have breaking news…)

    I know how much impact this COULD have on the gaming news industry…but frankly…I couldn’t care much.

    Nice quality post Rich!

  2. Richard- Another good post. Also, glad to hear Alex S. on the podcast. As to your post– Why are blogs not as susceptible? (I’m really not being argumentative) Is it that they just don’t get as many junket offers and what not? Also, do larger sites like 1up HAVE to preview games at the games company led by beautiful PR girls with all you can eat pizza and beer (or so I imagine)? Doesn’t it make sense for their the quality of their integrity to NOT take these trips? I’m just curious, you’ve got the “inside baseball” view.

  3. Good question. Believe me, blogs are still susceptible. I suppose my view is a little biased because it is a policy of the Joystiq network not to accept junkets. The only reason blogs are less susceptible otherwise is that they simply aren’t as big as the major review sites (IGN, 1UP, GameSpot, etc.). Yet. We get offers, and so does Joystiq, but we turn them down. As blogs get bigger, and arguably indistinguishable from “news” sites, it will become more of a problem.

    As for integrity and previewing games, no, they don’t have to take those trips. And it’s possible not all of them do. Specifically I was referring to IGN about the trip to Hawaii to play DOAX2. I’m not saying you can’t maintain your objectivity in such situations, but it’s kind of hard to trash a game when someone flew you to Hawaii to play it. And that’s exactly *why* they were flown to Hawaii. This resulted in a fairly positive preview for the game that made no pains to point out any flaws at all.

    Tiny example: here is a section describing DOAX2’s flag race mini-game taken from the Hawaii preview:
    “This race is unrelenting, requiring a perfect start, incredibly fast button mashing, and perfect timing to grab the flag. The AI is extremely skilled and will always perform a near perfect race, so you have to play this one many times to get it right. ”

    Here is a section taken from the review:
    “The beach flag race is forgettable as it’s just a sprint across the beach performed by tapping on a single button and capping it off with another to dive for the finish. The entire game lasts about as long as it takes to load.”

    Granted, the articles were written by different writers, but it’s interesting, no?

    Anyway, my “inside baseball” view isn’t all that inside anyway, so don’t take anything I say as gospel. Like, ever. Seriously. Make your own judgments, that’s what I say.

  4. Well, frankly, you’re the only blogger who consistently responds to me with well thought out responses. I usually do try to make my own judgements, but you guys definitely have at least a different viewpoint than the average gamer.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. By the way, you were able to drop a Larry Craig bathroom sex joke, and a pretty darned good Canadian impersonation into one podcast– Kudos!

  5. I tried to learn to play guitar, but the calluses on my fingers made typing almost near impossible! How are you pushing through that? Love the X3f podcast, by the way.

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