Well, I don’t have a whole lot to add to this subject that hasn’t already been said by others, but I feel it’s noteworthy all the same, albeit I am a month behind anyone else who follows gaming “journalism” (which I don’t follow all that closely, but I catch some things on NeoGAF).
Among the better summaries I’ve read of what happened are these:
A basic run-down for the lazy: A writer by the name of Robert Florence (“Rab”) writes an article that’s posted on Eurogamer talking about the state of gaming journalism and its relation to PR, citing a picture of Geoff Keighley sitting by some Mountain Dew and Doritos and an example of some Twitter argument about game journalists using a hashtag to win PS3s. He named two people specifically, not really accusing them of anything so much as a warning of how they present themselves would give a casual observer reason to question what they are doing. Then the story exploded into something more after that.
Eurogamer received a complaint (possibly a threat of legal action though it’s hard to say) and amended the article to remove those names. Florence understands their position but notes that means he can’t do columns for them anymore.
Among those named was a Lauren Wainwright who worsened the situation for herself by doing things like tweeting that she worked for Square Enix as a consultant but never reviewed their games whereupon the Internet then digs up a Deus Ex review she did, proving that to be false. Her link to Square Enix had been included on her current resume and was later removed. She has since made her Twitter account private, but the news spread all the same.
Thus concludes my summary of the event and below is a little more of my thoughts on the matter.
Games journalism in the industry is largely regarded as a joke and largely for reasons such as what transpired here. I often see a Penny Arcade image that goes a little something like this: “This is how most gaming interviews go. ‘So how awesome is your game?’ ‘So awesome.’ They are part of a greater machine, a hype machine, and they have a status quo where accepting gifts is considered the norm. Some question it, many don’t.
Truth be told, I have a couple of gaming sites on Twitter lists but NeoGAF is where I go for news because I trust them to moderate it a bit better than the journalists. They sort of filter through a lot of the BS and tell you the meat of what you want to know (well, what I want to know anyway, which is usually just “What’s the release date?” but I have a general curiosity for sales numbers too).
If any participating in the whole gaming industry machine would genuinely want to know: I think higher standards would be better, such as not accepting gifts to name an item I’ve seen mentioned or at least an acknowledgment that some calling themselves journalists aren’t. They’re fans, writers, “enthusiast press” I think is another term I’ve seen. Would I read them more? I don’t know, but I’d roll my eyes less and have a bit more respect for those involved.