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Exactly! So so true.
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I can totally empathize with this, and it's a relief when you get over your embarrassment and realize it was no big deal. Particularly for younger people, it's a shame when embarrassment/insecurity stops someone from enjoying the hobbies they love. It makes me sad to think of someone with less confidence walking in to that same situation and not having the nerve to approach the counter and ask for Pokemon. High school probably would have been a lot more fun for me had I proudly proclaimed my love for Pokemon instead of hiding it. Pokemon is so much more fun the more fellow trainers you know, but it's impossible to find Pokemon friends if no one knows you play it. I never did get Blue exclusives like Vulpix and Sandshrew on my Red cart because I didn't have anyone to trade with... sadness. There just came a point where I told myself, "part of being mature is not feeling embarrassment over the hobbies I enjoy," and kind of used that as my mantra to get over insecurity. And I also tell myself that anyone who makes fun of me for liking Pokemon is probably just jealous that I have a cool interest and self-confidence. =P
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Thanks for hearing me out! The relationship between editorial and PR in the games industry is definitely a topic worthy of scrutiny, but it bums me out when I see readers (not you!!) making wild accusations of corruption that I know to be way off base, so I've been kind of touchy about it lately. Your article brings up a legitimate issue though, and it's really not fair for PR to try to pit outlets against each other for exclusive coverage (again, I stress that in my experience this example is rare). I think the best way to combat this is for editorial to band together and agree to a common code of editorial integrity. Knowing my friends across various outlets though, I don't know of any other outlet that would be desperate enough to sacrifice integrity so blatantly. It's tough sometimes though, especially when we're trying to cover a game before release, because in some respect we really are at the mercy of the game publisher/PR. It's their game, so they have control over what they show to who and when they show it. It's just an unavoidable fact that before a game comes out, our access is limited to what the publisher is willing to grant. Because of this, I can see how readers can and should be skeptical of editorial coverage sometimes, since to some degree it is governed by PR. They can't control the coverage itself, but if all they want to show the press is chapter five of a particular game, every outlet's preview is going to be about chapter five. We can't write about how crappy chapter four is, because we can't write about something we haven't seen. I think sometimes this control over access is mistaken for control over content though - they can control what we see sometimes (again, this only applies to pre-release), but they never actually control what we write about what we saw/played or the tone of the writing. I'm veering off topic here (apologies again), but this is one of the reasons why I hesitate to call gaming editorial "journalism." We rarely go after scoops, since the subject that we cover is almost always simply provided to us in some capacity. Going to GameStop and buying some old games for a story on the history of glitches and bugs isn't the same thing as real investigative journalism where the journalist really has to dig and do serious legwork to get the story. So yeah, I can see why there should be skepticism when it's our job to cover a commercial product, and I think the same is true of any editorial coverage of commercial products, whether it be music or books or whatever. Maybe the mistrust is an indication that there should be more transparency in the system. I'm merely a lowly editor, so I don't speak officially for my site, but I would love to do a series that really exposes the inner workings of games editorial, so that readers and editors can all be on the same page. It's difficult to trust your source when you're not sure about how the editorial process works for that source.
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"And how do game journalists feel about this? If I were a game jouranlist, I would feel pretty gross being part of a system that's similar to the relationship between the right wing and FOX "news."" I just wanted to make a quick comment on this, as an editor at a gaming website. Only a handful of times I heard of this happening, so while it's rare, it's not unheard of. To sum it up, a PR person will tell me, "The embargo for this game is X, but if the score is 8 or higher you can post X days earlier." Again, it's rare - this "offer" has been extended to me exactly one time in the five years I've been a full-time editor (of course, I declined). The site I work for has a *very* strict policy of not divulging the review score before the article posts, to anyone, period. It's that simple. While we would love to post the review early, we simply can't agree to that deal because it would mean divulging the score early. I have to believe that most other major gaming editorial outlets have a similar policy. Sacrificing our integrity is not worth any amount of extra clicks, and in the long run it will only hurt your publication anyway. Trust is difficult to build but easy to lose, and we're not willing to risk that. Furthermore, saying the gaming press has a similar relationship to game publishers/PR as Fox News has to the right wing isn't entirely fair IMHO. We're an enthusiast press, so of course we're going to have positive opinions about the games we like. All we can do is endeavor to be honest to ourselves and our readers to the best of our abilities and constantly be on guard against seeing games through the lens of the PR company, getting sucked into PR hype, etc. Ack, I was going to make this short, sorry. Constantly seeing stories about my livelihood being a sham is getting me down lately. =/ I know in my heart that I and my co-workers hold our work to a high standard, and I guess I have to be happy with that.
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Apr 20, 2011