Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


Oh, Kotaku

Posted on August 3, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Just Accept Your Mistakes (And Stop Grasping for Excuses)

So Kotaku is writing out an editorial about what's wrong with the videogame industry.

Let me address something quickly here while I have five minutes of my day to spare to deal with this.

This is a great article.

No, it is. Now many are going out and calling it "damage control" in relation to Kotaku (already looked down on even as just enthusiast press) and their poorly informed and reported rumored (yes, reporting a rumor, it's like announcing an announcement) cancellation of Final Fantasy Versus XIII.  That's probably true, I doubt they even considered writing this until one of their big articles that was spread through the internet like a virus was proven to be false.

Even though this is obvious damage control, and even though they're trying to say how awful video game consumers are treated as sort of a justification for their shitty journalism, on one point they are right.

Videogame companies don't have a good relationship with its consumers or with its culture. Truth be told, there's a major, major separation between the video game developers, distributors and publishers and the people who actually buy that product.  They're secretive. They use the press as just a PR mouthpiece (because that's about all it can be to them). They're dismissive. Japanese developers and publishers certainly the worst. To these companies, these games are investments and they don't want to tell too much but don't ever want to tell to little. It has to do with hype, it has to do with competition…there's a lot of reasons that eventually lead up to their overall lack of connection to the people buying the product.

So yes, game companies and their constant barrage of vague quotes and tight lips are a bad thing about the industry.

But is that an excuse to report whatever you think might be true, not check facts or be certain what you're doing is even ethical in the first place. Gaming's biggest problem isn't the companies, it's the gaming press. To which I've gone into detail plenty in the past on.

Can we blame the video game companies for being dismissive? I mean, look at the gaming culture in general that tries to write about video games. It's still full of immature, unprofessional people who probably never actually took a journalism course and have a great sense of self-importance. Why the hell would a multi-billion dollar/yen company want to "connect" with them? Put yourself in their shoes: some guy from some website calls you looking for information. If I was answering the phone, I'd tell him no comment too because guess what: a PR person doesn't answer those questions. That's not their job. If you want to work on getting an interview with someone that can answer that question, than do it, otherwise don't report something you aren't sure is true then hide behind "well..they wouldn't give us answer."

But you're just a gamer...and gamers, I'm sorry, are self-righeteous, unprofessional people oblivious to the way an actual business works and who love to build the secrets, start the rumors and build the hype as a result of their own ignorance of the world they desperately try to write about as though they're actually something more than just a guy at a computer. They lash out at anyone that calls them out on it. Hiding behind an editorial "explaining" why "journalism" is hard doesn't change the fact you still aren't a journalist and have no idea what you're really doing in the first place.

Yet, we're missing the point entirely: if they aren't talking to you, reporting things you know aren't true isn't going to help matters. Come on, Ashcraft, you're a writer, you know this shit. Do you think putting up a report about the cancellation of a game with no sources or no legitimate facts going to have a company say "wow, guess we should have talked?" No. They have nothing to say to you, so why are you reporting something you can't even confirm? And then Schreler, in a good piece though misguided in its conclusions, saying "They won't talk, so we have to report rumors" is bullshit. That's not journalism. That's not professional…and you wonder why they won't talk to you in the first place? And you wonder why people still look at gaming culture as just a bunch of man-children or games as nothing more than toys?

And let's not forget that Kotaku and other similar sites have that type of reputation already. Why would a company want to talk to you? Who are you?

This may come as a surprise, but the film industry is the same way. Do you see actual journalists falsely reporting stuff? No. Bloggers and message board users all the time, that's what they do, and gaming press is about the equivalent of just that. Speculation. Rumors. Wish-fulfillment. That's about all it has ever been minus a few exceptions. In fairness, studios and production companies, agents and managers, will at least be open (on their terms or their client's terms) to set up an interview and talk about an upcoming film or television show. But do you know what most publications won't do when, say, Liam Neeson says "no, I don't want to talk about that" or Kevin Feige says "Sorry, not interested in discussing?" They don't then run a rumored, speculative article.

Do you know who does? The friggin National Inquirer or Star Magazine. And that, I'm sorry, is about what you're putting yourself on the same level with. Word of advice: don't. Grow up. Accept your mistakes and become better from it as a result.

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