By now I’m sure you are at least somewhat familiar with the events that lead to #Gamergate. Despite the current shit storm that has been raging on for months, gamers have been questioning ethics for a long time. Back when I was doing some research on a previous article I had read a blog poster from 2013 discussing the same topic. As I read through the comments on the blog post, it was becoming clear that gamers have had a great deal of discontent with game journalists especially in regards to game reviews. You can spend a lot of time reading through blogs and forums posts from well before the Five Guys incident and you will find outrage against game journalists.
Probably the biggest pre-gamergate blunder committed by video game journalism was the sacking of Jeff Gerstmann from Gamespot in 2007. Gerstmann’s dismissal had to with his review of the game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. Gerstmann had given the game a score of 6/10 with a fair dose of constructive criticism. At the time Eidos (the company that had put out the game) had been a major advertiser on Gamespot, so of course Eidos had gained a lot of influence of Gamespot’s management.
Following Jeff’s termination, several other editors left the site due to ethical concerns. I had thought Gamespot was the best source of video game news, but following Jeff’s termination there was a definite drop in quality. To this day Gamespot has yet to provide the kind of content that they did in the early 2000’s.
Things worked out for Jeff Gerstmann. Eventually he went on to create Giant Bomb, a website where he had more control over the content and wasn’t afraid to give games critical reviews. However, it is unfortunate that several of Giant Bomb’s writers have been involved with Game Journos Pros. Jeff has spoken out against Gamergate but does concede that the anti-side has taken a polarized approach. It would have been nice to see a site like Giant Bomb stand by the principle of ethics.
In 2012 the relationship between sponsors and game journalists was brought into question. Geoff Keighley, the guy best known for running the VGAs, was hosting a stream for Halo 4. Pictured in the background was a large Halo 4 Master Chief cut out along with strategically placed bags of Doritos and Mountain Dew. This then lead to an article on Eurogamer written by Rab Florence.
Robert “Rab” Florence basically exposed the idea that game journos are basically in bed with the big game companies. Florence went on discuss topics like how journos were winning PS3’s on Twitter. This led to a libel suit and Rab Florence’s resignation from Eurogamer. However it did stir the pot when it came to ethics in video game journalism.
If anything since Doritosgate, gamers have become more aware of journos and their sometimes less than ethical practices. Rab Florence has likened the current crop of game journos to gloried PR persons. However, it’s interesting to note that both Rab Florence and Geoff Keighley have spoken out against gamergate. Rab wrote this an open letter to gamergate supporters and he raises some valid points. I am under the impression that the guy wouldn’t agree with Reaxxion’s angle but he would at least respect our right to be outspoken as writers.
2015 has just began and gamergate isn’t going anywhere, most likely because the backlash has been building up for years. Now that gamers are more vigilant, we’re seeing slow but steady changes from game journalists.