Why gaming journalism needs a kick in the ass

Up front I will admit that a good part of the reason I am writing this is because the indiegogo campaign for my site is in the final few days (it ends Thursday evening) and the more money we get the more we can accomplish right off the bat (and work has begun, which is why this blog is .wordpress again).  Even if the indiegogo campaign wasn’t happening this week or if I wasn’t trying to create a website I would still be writing about this.  The level of transparency in this industry is pretty much non-existent except in cases where the people involved aren’t smart enough to even try to cover their tracks.

Exhibit A: Andrea Rene works at The Escapist.   John Drake works at Harmonix.  They seem to be in a relationship if this tweet is taken literally.


Now they could just be friends.  I don’t know.  But they have a “relationship” which Towerfall evidently stresses.

Harmonix is working on a game called Fantasia: Music Evolved.  It was previewed at The Escapist today.  Take a look at who did the preview.



How is this OK? On what planet is this OK? The thing about this that bums me out the most is that Jim Sterling has becomes one of the strongest independent voices in gaming and works at a site where things like this are permitted.  It’s insane.  It’s not unprecedented, however.


Albert Penello “leads planning for the Xbox One” according to his twitter bio.  Arthur Gies is the reviews editor at Polygon (who got $750,000 from MS to make a documentary, though this does not prove collusion at all, business and editorial tend to stay separate).  Last fall this twitter exchange happened.


So this is a high level employee asking two media figures about “what’s going on today” because Gies and Sessler had been vague-tweeting all night about being pissed off about something. What we found out later, through Sessler’s videos, was that they were mad about having to go to a Sony event, on the other side of the country, to review certain games.  Arthur didn’t seem to think that asking Albert for his email or a DM to talk about Playstation business was any sort of conflict of interest.  Or did he?  The tweet was deleted shortly afterwards.  “GAF being GAF” though.  The drama is somehow your fault, of course.

And that leads us to Ryan McCaffrey, the “Xbox guru-in chief at IGN” according to his twitter, openly soliciting for the job of E3 host this year to Phil Spencer (@xboxP3) of Microsoft. 



Doug Bradley here seems to understand that this is… weird.  The slight amount of credit I can give to this is that Ryan works in the Xbox department at IGN which doesn’t try to present itself as objective.  But, seriously?

The latter two happened a few months ago or more.  The Andrea Rene thing *just* happened.  This problem isn’t going away.  Spread the news of this stuff.  I don’t care if you mention me or my site or whatever.  We deserve better than this.

If you do happen to want to donate to a site that is going to do things differently, take a look here.

As far as we’ve ever heard none of these people were even told that this behavior wasn’t OK. Maybe it happened behind the scenes, maybe not.

Transparency – we want it.




3 thoughts on “Why gaming journalism needs a kick in the ass

  1. Andrea Rene also got in a bit of trouble on Garnet Lee’s Weekend Confirmed podcasts while she worked for Machinima. I only hazily remember it, but I think she was called out for basically doing PR for games like Borderlands the Machinima network had entered into agreements to promote, without disclosing that fact to anyone listening.

    I think it might be worth digging into Ryan Payton’s kickstarter for Republique a bit. Here was the quintessential ‘insider boost’ where a failing kickstarter was propped up and ultimately made a success from the exposure given by friends, open free PR from journalist contacts. It’s never sat well with me, and Steve Gaynor’s recent Tone Control podcast discussing it had a few eye-opening statements by Ryan that just underlined to me the muddy waters between gaming journalists and the industry (did you know, for instance, that some journalists will openly solicit jobs from people they are interviewing at trade shows?).

  2. Great job, and I agree 100%. It seems after the whole Rab Florence debacle with Eurogamer that lessons still aren’t being learned.
    Jim Sterling did voice work for Jazzpunk, and when it was reviewed by the Escapist they put a disclaimer at the top of the review….even though it wasn’t Jim himself actually reviewing the game. That is games critique done properly when there is a potential conflict – complete transparency.

  3. what about you attempting to ruin someone’s life with your BS lies?

    How is what you did any different than anything any of those others did. You flatout claimed someone wasnt doing their job and that is why they got canned when in actuality it was for personal reasons that they had to air in a public forum because of the crap you tend to spread on the internet.

    What about your BS amazon buying xbox tweet? All of that can have an effect on a business as it is picked up by other journalistic sites thinking you are some kind of insider.

    YOU ARE THE SCUM of gaming journalism. You are the reason some people wonder about freedom of speech. Cause you can CLAIM sources but never reveal them in essence you can lie about whatever you want as long as it forwards your agenda.

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