'Why do I want to work in this industry, again?'
I've asked myself that question more and more as of late. Ever since 2006, I've had a hand in many upstarting gaming websites, with various levels of success. I've always had a passion for this industry, and it's all-encompassing. I'm not just a 'gamer' (as my close friends will tell you, while I own many games, I rarely play them for extended lengths), I'm actually privy to the information circling the industry: the metagame, if you will (har har!). I'm that loser at the lunch table who has a fundamental knowledge of oldschool Ziff Davis editors, I can relay the ad campaigns of each console generation's 'call to arms', and I have enough gaming podcasts archived on my harddrive that if I played them all in rotation, I'd have close to a year of nonstop audio. This brings me to the article at hand, in which I literally have to call out a site in which I really admire: Kotaku.
I don't say this in jest, actually. I think Kotaku, and other gaming blog aggregates (Joystiq, RockPaperShotgun, etc) are more than just a trend for our industry: I think it's the 'evolution' gamers need in order to get news. Discussions with editors/authors should be encouraged, especially in a hobby that has breaking news at the drop of a hat. Do I disagree with what Gamewise Babaganoosh had to say about Titty Twister IX: Revenge of The Pooper Scooper? By all means, I should email that jackass and tell him! Seeing as how magazines are becoming more and more niche, we need a new way to read about our hobby. Kotaku and its ilk fill this gap.
What I don't enjoy, though, is when pots start calling kettles black. We're all deeply aware of how menacing the relationships between the gaming press and marketing firms can be, and the constant nagging of 'positive monetary reinforcement' is something that the gaming industry (hell, ANY industry) has to deal with. How do you juggle getting a 'World First Review', while still looking straight-faced in your review score? Someone had to give you permission to get the World First exclusive, right? Would this happen to be the same someone who gave you a 'We'll only give you the scoop if you give us an X out of 10 score' ultimatum? Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but something to think about. Marketing, and the money/publicity that comes with it, makes the world go round.
On that note, we'll (finally!) get to the point at hand: Kotaku's latest post regarded Famitsu magazine, and its perfect review score of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for PSP. Now, while I'll wholeheartidly agree that using your publication's ex-Editor in Chief (now Company President) as the spokesperson for the game in question is pretty fishy and in questionable taste, defiling the credibilty of said publication based on this single fact is completely over-reacting, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
You know, something interesting I was reading the other day was Kotaku's review of Dante's Inferno, which has a few delightful little quotes to choose from. Let's take a look, shall we?
"Dante's Inferno the video game is a metaphysical journey though and an animated illumination of medieval hell. It deals with morality and existentialism as aptly as it delivers an engrossing experience."
Ooh, that sounds exciting! See, I was worried I wouldn't like the game, seeing as how I'm not a big God of War fan. I'm glad that Kotaku, with it's completely non-endemic, non-biased look at this title will show me what I've been missing! Wait, what's this here...
Hhm. Well, I mean, Dante's Inferno was a big title, right? Of course EA's marketing dollar is going to touch on everything! Kotaku can't help but have sponsored segments interrupting the flow of their website in order to spread the excitement!
See, this is wonderful for the industry, as it promotes products that need to be in people's hands, but does it in a very hands-off way. I'm not required to read the Top 5 Most Blazin' Bullshits Of The Forever segment, so it's not infringing on something that I'm used to!
I...uh. Okay? I'm all for getting creative leads in on gaming podcasts, as I believe gamers need to appreciate what goes into development (man hours worked, the whole process of diminishing returns and opportunity costs, etc) of our favorite hobby. It's a tad bizarre to be all-in with the developer while you're basing marketing campaigns around the product.
Even still, though, this is just me nitpicking. Advertisements are just part of the game, as marketing and PR have much to do with gaming's 'perception' in mass media. I mean, it's not like Kotaku is celebrating the fact that they're being indulgent, right?
OKAY SERIOUSLY, IT'S IN THE FUCKING SOURCE CODE NOW?
PROMOTING A GODDAMN GIVEAWAY
I'm taking my ball and playing in this other sandbox, Kotaku. Let me know when you can stop belittling other publications for exactly the same actions you've pulled in the past. And here I thought Gamespot were hypocrites.