Games Journalism: Of libel and free PS3s

Gamingvogue: Ah, controversies, don’t people love them? A few days ago an article appeared where, Robert Florence–Scottish comedian and games writer–exposed how games journalists were behaving in inappropriate ways, in a hard-hitting piece that was quite certainly an excellent read.

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Blankman852120d ago

When IGN have both Twisted Metal and Starhawk 9's out of 10 and The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition 8.5 I stopped believing in games journalism or at least IGN's partiality.

crxss2119d ago

dear everyone: can EVERY article even if it's just barely related to Geoff Keighley use the Mountain Dew and Doritos picture as the article image?

jimbobwahey2119d ago

Have you played both Starhawk and Twisted Metal? Or are you just upset because a game that you like didn't get the score you wanted it to?

trouble_bubble2119d ago

IGN isn't just one guy.

Mitch Dyer reviewed Starhawk
Ryan Clements reviewed Twisted Metal
Keza McDonald reviewed The Witcher 2 Xbox360.
Charles Onyet reviewed The Witcher 2 PC...and gave it a 9/ there's your impartial 9.

Witcher2 XBox360 was a PORT of a year old PC game. Perhaps a smidge of the lustre had worn off like when ME2 came to PS3 a year after 360. If you read the 8.5/10 Xbox360 review, you'd see they're comparing it to the 9/10 PC version. Not everything is a conspiracy.

Hicken2119d ago

You're disappointed because two PS3 exclusives got higher scores than a 360 console exclusive.

Dunno why you're still trying to hide your bias. You'd actually earn a little respect if you were more honest.

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GribbleGrunger2120d ago (Edited 2120d ago )

That's a misleading headline. When you read the article, the journalist was promoting a contest that gave away free PS3s, but in the SAME article they mention the fact that MS gave away free 360s (we all remember that). So, shouldn't that headline be 'Games Journalism: Of libel and free 360s'? It's a really odd (telling) choice of headline considering Microsoft gave free 360s to the press and Sony just had their contest promoted. Which of these scenarios are more likely to effect journalism; presumably the point of the article?

Blankman852119d ago

(1) : a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt (2) : defamation of a person by written or representational means (3) : the publication of blasphemous, treasonable, seditious, or obscene writings or pictures (4) : the act, tort , or crime of publishing such a libel
If you'd been following the story you'd know that Lauren Wainright threatened to sue Eurogamer (hence libel in the title) for the quote Rab Florence used in his article a few days back. He quoted her saying she didn't see anything wrong with gaming journos accepting ps3's to promote a game.
So as you can see, the libel had pretty much everything to do with free ps3's and ZERO to do with Microsoft and/or xbox 360.

jimbobwahey2119d ago

I wish that Eurogamer had some balls and had let it go to court rather than firing Rab Florence. I don't really think that Lauren Wainright would have had much of an argument in court all things considered.

Tragedy really, one corrupt journalist putting one of the few honest ones out of a job. It should have been her that was fired.

JellyJelly2119d ago

@Ndivhu - You are replying to someone that acts as if he gets free PS3's for always defending Sony...

GribbleGrunger2119d ago (Edited 2119d ago )

Jelly Jelly will you please stop thinking I'm some spotty teen. I make mistakes sometimes, don't you? Ndivhu has corrected me with a common sense reply. I was wrong in my assessment and perhaps I did jump the gun a little too quickly. Bubble to Ndivhu for an intelligent reply and setting me straight.

Silly gameAr2119d ago


Didn't a woman get fired from Gamepro for writing something negative about MS giving free 360 slims at E3, and the press giving them a standing ovation for it? I'm going to have to dig that story up since it happened a couple of E3's ago.

jeeves862119d ago

"People mock gaming journalists; they call us corrupt; they call us unethical; they see the ads everywhere and call us sell-outs, and that view cannot be changed anytime soon particularly when things like these happen. People tend to scrutinize everything a lot closely when such controversies erupt and the side effects of that are irreversible."

When people disagree with you, they'll call you every name in the book. Give a game a bad review? You're a hack, obviously biased against it and an idiot. Give a game a great review? You're a sell-out. Can't win some days.

Xof2119d ago

Right, but often those knee-jerk reactions are accurate. Most reviewers have no real integrity, and that can clearly be seen with how they review games. Meaningless criticisms and praise is very common (game X is/isn't innovative, etc.) and in many cases it's clear reviewers are either not playing games long enough for form legitimate opinions (Assassin's Creed, any Musou game ever) or are being deliberately disingenuous (Mass Effect 3).

The whole of the gaming media has some serious, irreparable problems. The lack of journalistic integrity is a big one... the immaturity of the audience is a much, much smaller one.

jeeves862119d ago

Have you read most reviews? You can't say that most reviewers have no real integrity without reading most reviews on the net and knowing what the reviewer is actually thinking, what their motivations behind their review actually are. Furthermore, you're assuming that all gaming journos operate this way, which is false.

Just because you disagree with what someone's opinion of a game is doesn't make theirs any less legitimate than yours. Nor does it mean that they don't have any integrity.

karlowma2119d ago


A professional review is not an opinion piece; it's an objective evaluation.

There is so much unprofessional and underdeveloped video game "journalism" floating around on the internet that this fact is easily diluted, and yet it remains true. A professionally written review judges a game against the standards of the industry and the genre, not those of the reviewer. So to call every review fair and accurate because it's someone's opinion is part of the problem, not the solution.

Bloggers can say whatever they want, because nobody is holding them accountable but themselves. Professionals are paid to be objective and, dare I say, professional.

MattS2119d ago

@karlowma what??? By very definition critical reviews are opinion pieces. Whether it's film, literature, art, music or, yes, games, criticism is informed analysis of a game - and that is by nature subjective.

While I do think there are issues with games journalism, I also think that there are a lot of armchair experts out there criticising journalists while having no formal education in journalism, or no substantial journalism experience to note. If you went to a university and took a degree in journalism, once of the first things you would learn is that when it comes to criticism there is no such thing as an objective opinion. In most other forms of criticism the journalists (usually far more experienced and trained than games journalists) don't even try to hide the fact that they're merely expressing an expert opinion.

Do you criticise a brain surgeon without a medical degree? No. Do you tell a plumber how to do his job while he's working? No. Journalism is both a trade and a profession, and if you're going to criticise it, at least understand how each of the different kinds of journalism work.

Reporting: Fact and no personal opinion.
Editorial: Fact and personal opinion.
Criticism: Interpretation and personal opinion.

Too many people lump "journalism" under one broad category. The irony being that it's proof they have no idea what they're talking about.

(I should note that I've got 15 years of journalism experience here, both as writer and editor, and have spent most of that time in news and business press).

Xof2119d ago

@MattS: that is correct, all criticism is subjective... but it's very worth pointing out that a certain level of objectivity is necessary for a review.

Does that mean reviews should be devoid of an opinion?


As I said in another discussion, elsewhere, to review a thing objectively you must judge it solely by its own merits. This is one of the surest ways to spot inaccurate reviews.

For example, if a game adopts a specific art style and executes that art style well, it's not fair to criticize the game for choosing an art style that some gamers may not like. When judging game A, it cannot be criticized for being too similar to game B. And this kind of crap happens ALL THE TIME with mainstream gaming reviews.

It most commonly presents itself as a review written specifically for a single, hypothetical "everyman." So, for example, because this "everyman" does not like dialog or storytelling, games that involve lots of dialog/storytelling will be criticized for not appealing to that demographic. There's an assumption common to the industry that each game should be reviewed not by its respective merit, but by its appeal to this "everyman."

And, frankly, it's offensive, shameful and unprofessional.

And it's worth pointing out, MattS, for all your posturing, that gaming "journalists" are NOT real journalists (which is a big part of why they have so little integrity, professionalism, and/or skill). Virtually none of them have any background in the field, nor any education in the field. You cannot defend gaming journalists as if they were actual journalists... because, quite simply, they are not.

karlowma2119d ago


With all your years of experience, I'm surprised at your confusion between news journalism and editorial or opinion pieces. For what it's worth, I am educated as a news journalist, though I no longer practice in the field.

I'm not saying that game reviews are, or have to be, completely devoid of the writer's opinion. In fact, I welcome it, when positioned as such. But video games are a technical offering, with technical merits which can be evaluated in an objective way. This is where the waters are muddied and the division is made between games journalism and opinion stated as fact. It may seem like semantics, distinguishing a review from a critique, but each comes with its own approach.

Stepping around the whole videogames as art debate for now, games can be qualitatively evaluated against one another and deemed better or worse on technical merit. Battlefield 3 has better graphics than Modern Warfare 3, therefore it would receive a higher graphical rating. Controls are responsive, or they are not. Level design is creative and intuitive, or it is redundant and uninspired. The most subjective portion of a professional game review would be fun factor, or replay value, or whatever you prefer to call it.

A film, on the other hand, is critiqued based on the thoughts and emotions it invokes in the audience. This is extremely subjective as our reactions are personal and differ based on our background, history, and a multitude of other unique factors. This isn't to say that a film can't be objectively reviewed, but this is usually reserved for more technical aspects of the production (transfer quality of a Bluray release).

I wholly support an outright abolition of the current format of videogame reviews, and a move to the type of critiques that films and books are subject to, but as long as said reviews are judged to a scale, I expect the review to be objective. In direct comparison, it's a question of what works, not what works for me.

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mochachino2118d ago

It's not a secret journalists get free stuff for positive reviews.

Don't forget when the 360 slim was revealed at E3, every journalist in the audience got a free one and it just so happened to receive amazing reviews despite still having an overpriced proprietary harddrive and no Bluray for movie watching.