Friday, 2 November 2012
Is Lauren Wainwright MCV's fall guy?
If you recall the previous post on the excellent fallout from the moderately funny, natural predator of pies, Rob Florence's article about the growing concern of just how in bed games journalists and the PR people are with each other. I remarked how odd it was that a freelance writer, who did occasional PR for Square Enix and coffee thief, Lauren Wainwright could afford the legal representation to threaten Eurogamer into censoring Florence's original article, which implicated her as being corporate a meat-puppet for Square Enix. Most full time games journalists really couldn't afford the huge fees involved in libel suits, which can drawn out for months.
Well, a piece in The Verge asks if Wainwright was essentially used as a scapegoat by MCV and Square Enix to divert attention away from their dealings? Which is advertising the release of the new Hitman game? If that is the case then that means MCV, the trade magazine for UK games journalism -and organiser of the self congratulatory gangbang, the Games Media Awards- was fully behind censoring a writer and used one of it's staff as a sacrificial lamb so as to protect the filthy lucre coming in from Square Enix.
Not that MCV are saying anything about it of course, and neither are most other sites, game journalists and PR people. Apart from some snaky comments about the lack of importance this story has. Like the rather charming Ben Lawrence (PR for 2K games) did. To be fair, 2K games are so fucking tight, it would be difficult to see if there was a dodgy collusion issue with the games press. But it's a good example of the overall disdain that much of games journalism has for it's own audience and total lack of respect for it's profession. Plus (like a fair few PR people) he's a prize twat, so why not put the boot in? The mirror has cracked and we're all getting a look in at the disgusting actions on the other side.
And this stance over the story as finally prompted Rob Fahey at Gamesindustry International to write a excellent article on how the whole sorry affair has diminished trust in the eyes of the audience in general, and trying to brush it off as "not important" is only gonna kill off whatever trust your audience had in you. Which of course attracted the customary idiot commenter, most notably CMO of Kwalee (no, I've never heard of them either), Ben Evris (who always feels the need to comment on every fucking story) theorised that with the ever growing, multi-million dollar budgets of games now, it's a good investment to bribe journalists. Then the editor of X360 Magazine, Dan Howdle, got a full hard-on for defending games journalism like it took his virginity (or the very least his sense of human decency) and said fanboys, crying out over giving their favourite anything less than a 9/10 score was a bigger threat to the legitimacy of games journalism than any supposed PR shenanigans. And that it was far better for journalists to be on the inside of the PR machine, being able to report on it. That's right kids, Dan Howdle is our man on the inside. looking out for our best interests, getting sozzled, enjoying free trips and gifts. But it's ok because he's aware of it, so for our sake he'll take note of every freebie he got and make sure no one finds out about it. Because his moral fibre is totally unbreakable no amount of trips to America or free clothes will influence his judgement (who thinks The Avengers was shit) on all things video games.
And that may very well be the case. You have a will like a piece of iron that can't be swayed by neither free shit or lines of coke at the pub in London, half of the shit-kickers on the games press forum goes to. But the issue is, that if you're constantly showing off your free Assasins Creed hoodie top (which really are fucking awful) and tweeting for free consoles (part-time jobs too good for you then?) looks like there's a price on your opinion. As stated in Keith Stuart's gaming blog in the guardian. Proper standards and ethics are clearly needed in games journalism to re-establish trust with an already cynical audience. Because otherwise, you might as well follow the natural career path of a games journalist and just be a PR person from the get-go. Cut out the middle-man, just study to market video games to people. That's clearly your calling in life. Because if you sleep with dogs, you catch fleas. So just drop the pretence of doing anything remotely like journalism, shave your head, get the fucking Activision logo tattooed on your eyeball and keep obediently tell us there's nothing to worry about. And just keep saying, "Nothing important is happening -oh look, free Mountain Dew- there is nothing wrong in games journalism you fucking morons!"
...Unless Sqaure Enix wants to hook me up with a whole bunch of the Play Arts Kai figures, they make? Because I'd rip someones arm off and beat their mother to death with it for that Merryl, Raiden and those Arkam Asylum figures!
That's why so many game journalists have kept quiet or dismissive over the matter. Either they don't want to be shown up for all the free crap they've received or they don't want to rock the boat and get cut off or lose out on a prospective job working in games PR. Seriously, look how many people used to work in games journalism that are now in PR? Or both in the case of the Pwned and the explosive Alan team. That's why the Rob Fahey article asks not to crucify Wainwright over this -like the usual collection of mouth breathers have been trying to turn it into a gender issue (but that's another matter that I will help you all with at a later date) because even though she's been stupid enough to openly ponce free stuff at the expense of her journalistic credibility. She's only doing what a lot of hack journos have been doing (as far as I know) since the 90's. Going out with the heads of PR in a shameless attempt to secure exclusives is nothing new. It's something I touched on before and I'll tell you right now, I would always try to buddy up to PR people to try and score a review copy of a game. And it works, ask lots of questions about a certain games release date, gameplay etc and some of the nicer PR people will be more willing to send you a copy. That same PR person then suddenly didn't have any more spare review code after I was rather critical of one of their games.
Now that's not to say every games journalist is on the take. There are some great writers and reviewers and journalists out there. And their love for video games come through in their writing. And, for the record, Dave Jenkins (and the other Game Central writers he pretends to be) does flog his freebies on ebay,but I don't believe for a moment he's ever taken a dive on his reviews.
And not every PR person is a flatulent arsehole, with all the charm of a racist wasp. Some of them are just doing a job and do actually enjoy some of the games they represent, and they give a fair shake to independent media. Not enough to drown out the greasy scumbags who broker high review scores for early exclusives though.
It's gone on for yonks. You get a to publish a big preview and review early, so long as you give a healthy, glowing score. If you don't, then other sites/magazines will get the previews first and your audience will go to them and by the time they realise the 9/10 game they just bought is-at best- average, it's too late. The site/mag got your attention and the publisher got a sale. I believe that's why so many gamers have real trouble with review scores and got apeshit, because they think giving Skyward Sword a 8/10 means you fucking hate it. Because to them, a 8 score is a average.decent game from all the shitty, hack reviews they've read.
You may ask, why do so many hack journos go in PR? Well, firstly, their mates give them the gig and most importantly, it pays better. Because the reality is games journalism doesn't pay very well. And is it any wonder when they all lower it's value. You may also ask, does receiving free stuff mean a reviewer is in a publisher's pocket? Not quite. PR firms are constantly sending out pointless trinkets like key rings and t-shirts. You get sent them whether you wanted them or not. It's why sites/magazines give them away in competitions. It's why I always gave away the freebies I got sent. But free trips and nights out on the company tab (which hack journos always try to abuse) give a very clear impression to the audience. And the Publishers and PR twats must think it equals into favourable coverage and scores, or why else would they send all the money doing so? Because they like hanging around with the shower of phonies, liars and borderline autistics that comprise UK games journalism? Yeah right. The gamers are starting to view games media the same way publishers view it. As another means of game advertising.