The Flare Path: Blows The Whistle

By Tim Stone on October 26th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Enough.

The lying, the self-justification, the sleepless nights… it all stops here.

What follows is the story of a games journalist who touched pitch and was defiled. The confessions of a fool who, having strayed far from the path of probity, is now desperately trying to find a way back. Judge him if you must. Forgive him if you can.

People have been paying me to write about games for well over a decade now, and at no point during that time can I remember any of my paymasters ever taking me to one side and saying “Tim. Ethics-wise, this is what we expect from you.”. It’s always been up to me to draw my own lines in the sand.

And draw them I have. Plenty of them. But you know how it is with lines in sand – one high tide, one particularly heavy shower or especially champagne-drenched preview event in a Frankfurt fetish bar, and suddenly they’re bloody hard to make out.

When I walk around my home today, I see accusatory fingers pointing at me from almost every shelf and nook. For the sake of my sanity, it’s vital I begin (there are far too many to cover in a single article) cataloguing those fingers.

 

The Wages of Sin (part 1 of 8)

A day after I fired this fizzing warning shot across Shogun II’s WIP bow, representatives of SEGA were round at my house enquiring as to what it would take to secure a flattering Stone review. I didn’t mince my words. I told them that if they wanted unbridled positivity, they’d need to supply not two, not three, not four, but one satsuma-ware coloured 20cm-tall samurai figure with detachable sword.

Always wondered why I seldom mention Austin Meyer’s increasingly impressive GA flight sim X-Plane in my writing for RPS and PC Gamer? Here’s the reason. A Microsoft Flight Simulator ‘A Century of Flight’ shirt ‘given’ to me in 2003. Sadly, the garment is so exquisite, rare, XXL and 65% polyester, I’ve never actually been able to bring myself to wear it. That could all change in the coming month though; I’m thinking about repainting the spare room.

Every time I find myself in jail and needing to create a hubbub, I thank my lucky stars I’ve got a genuine Silent Hunter 2 mug to clatter back-and-forth across the bars. To secure this priceless prison plectrum all I needed to do was assure the pun-phobic UbiSoft I wouldn’t describe SH2 as “substandard”, “unfathomable”, “deeply disappointing”, or “rendered largely pointless by its reliance on a scripted linear campaign”.

The conscience cost of game-plunder doesn’t get much higher than this. Well aware of my passion for sim-themed ceramics, Oleg Maddox only gifted me this Forgotten Battles mug after I’d promised not to tell the World that IL-2 was actually a Putin-funded propaganda project designed to lionise the efforts of Russian aircraft designers and rubbish the achievements of their German equivalents.

Clever, clever Novalogic. Realising that there’s no better way of advertising a fairly good voxel-based military shooter, than having an obscure Englishman occasionally stroll around an obscure English village in a jungle hat discretely emblazoned with the game’s logo, they couriered this item to me by RAH-66 Comanche in late 2005. Sales of Delta Force among Hampshire’s farming, poaching, and leaning-on-gates communities are said to have TRIPLED as a result.

I know of only three other games writers that own a fabled NAMCO blanket. One leapt to his death from Tower Bridge during a recent Dishonored promo event. One ripped his own tongue out with a pair of mole-grips before stepping in front of a speeding Mobile Library. The other left the business and is now working as a games reviewer for News International. I’ve attempted to dump mine in various skips, dustbins and isolated lay-bys over the years, but every time, on returning home, there it is, draped mockingly over the chaise-longue.

What would you do in return for a week’s free third class off-peak rail travel? I foolishly agreed to “Spend the next twenty years publicly questioning the commonly held belief that RailWorks is a game for the terminally nostalgic and tragically thrill-averse.”

When it comes to Faustian Pact forging, few outfits are more devious or persistent than Excalibur Publishing. During the last twelve months, in a concerted and depressingly successful attempt to persuade me to piddle away what’s left of my professional reputation, these Euro-sim peddling Jezebels have sent me a can of novelty snow (Ski Region Simulator 2012), a solar-powered locust (Farming Simulator) a pair of outsized comedy specs (Circus World) and a 5-in-1 Emergency Camping Whistle (Camping Manager 2012). Beguiled by these breathtaking baubles, I caved-in time and time again.

But enough is enough. This Golden Cat trollop is hanging up her thong. Excalibur, if you’re reading this, don’t think that a 3-pack of Yorkie bars (raisin & biscuit, preferably) is going to secure you coverage of the just-released Euro Truck Simulator 2. Don’t imagine that just because I’ve spent the last couple of days happily driving up and down a condensed version of Britain’s motorway network (Another 300 XP and I’ll have the skill points I need to upgrade my Long Distance ability thus opening up contracting opportunities on the Continent) I’m going to be admitting that fact to the 28 regular readers of Flare Path.

Mr P. R. Puppetmaster, don’t assume that an unsolicited jiffybag crammed to bursting with cheap-yet-delicious confectionery, means I’m going to be waxing lyrical about the compelling run-your-own-haulage-company economic sandbox that nestles at the heart of ETS2, or staying stumm about the surprisingly empty roads and disappointingly generic cities. The old Tim would have obediently regaled his audience with tales of mesmerising night drives over the Pennines, and fiendishly tricky reversing manoeuvres in Welsh sawmills. The new squeaky-clean one, however, respects himself, his profession, and his readers far too much to engage in shady shenanigans of that nature.

 

The Flare Path Foxer

Expert Austrian bomb-aimer inkreis single-handedly demolished the lion’s share of last week’s lossword (only the red answers remained unsolved). Will he grab all the glory this week too?

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78 Comments »

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  1. Flappybat says:

    I heard that Stone secretly accepted the remains of Stalin for a review of Europe at War.

    I can’t trust his ethics until he brings that skeleton out of the closet.

    • Premium User Badge

      slerbal says:

      Pun…hurts…brain…

      Actually though – that made me spurt my tea over my keyboard and gave me an attack of the giggles :)

  2. DickSocrates says:

    Never forgive! NEVER!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Fede says:

    The drifting train music video is awesome.

  4. wodin says:

    I mentioned on my FB page it was a quite time for us wargamers and new releases..

  5. RakeShark says:

    Am I forgetting about any dangerous wildlife in the UK that requires an orange safety whistle for personal defense?

  6. HisMastersVoice says:

    I’m looking at the crumbs of that Yorkie bar and I know eating it must be a truly agonising experience. If there’s one thing worse than being eaten alive by angry ants, it’s fake chocolate.

    Therefore, from now on, I absolve you of any and all crimes against your self imposed moral code inflicted with the use of said Yorkie bars. Not even a hardcore masochist would do things like that for pleasure.

  7. Smion says:

    5 is seamine. Possibly…

    • protorp says:

      3 down – crocodile
      6 down – crab
      5 across – fascine

      • cafeine says:

        6 down xould also be “Utah”, if there’s a D Day theme.

      • protorp says:

        1 down is minefield

        • protorp says:

          7 down is pillbox

        • protorp says:

          12 across is bangalore, making 9 down engineer, I think.

          • Tim Stone says:

            The ingenious pro(Bangalore)torp makes short work of eight of the Lossword obstructions. Nice going.

          • protorp says:

            I thought 13 down was Dozer for a while, but I’m now going with Rhino.

            15 across then becomes, I think, “Czech Hedgehog Blades”, which should definitely be used as the name of a Darkwave revival band…

            Very obscure garden path there Mr. Stone!

          • Tim Stone says:

            You’re one answer away from a clean sweep. Stow those Czech hedgehog blades and find a more suitable implement.

          • protorp says:

            Cutter?

          • Tim Stone says:

            ‘cutter’ is correct, but to earn your place in history as the first de-foxer to singlehandedly solve a lossword, ‘Czech’ and ‘hog’ must also be switched for something a little more prototypical.

          • protorp says:

            In cold light of day with some reading rather than just skimming… Culin Hedgerow Cutter?!

          • Tim Stone says:

            Having braved barbed wire entanglements, minefields, pillboxes, trenches, and bocage, protorp finally sights the welcoming campfires of a friendly tank laager. Very well done!

  8. Maxheadroom says:

    Back in the early 90’s i was responsible for software purchasing in a local computer shop and quite often had my stocking decisions made by the tat they offered me in in exchange for stocking their game.

    20 years on and my kitchen cupboard is still home to faded ‘Psynogsis’, ‘Bubsy the Bobcat’ & ‘Marvin’s Marvelous Adventure’ mugs. And in the back of a wardrobe somewhere there’s an “I’ve been laid by Alfred Chicken” T-Shirt

  9. AbyssUK says:

    So your argument is the stuff you are attempted to be bribed with isn’t good enough to force your moral compass in the wrong direction?
    Guess what accepting anything, anything at all even a stupid red whistle is more than you should be doing. Yes it isn’t going to change your mind about anything… BUT it places doubt! You are not a buyer for some cheap ass furniture company you are a journalist, you accept nothing PR/company related that is part of being a journalist [in my eyes anyway]. It isn’t enough to be 100% independent and unbiased you have to be able to back it up. Wrapping yourself up in a Namco blanket is not a good way to do that. is it! Dump the freebies.

    I am a scientist [I really am] and I test materials, if I accepted items of any sort from researchers or material suppliers and had said items about my lab… would you be not even a tiny bit suspicious about my results ?? of course you would it’s only human nature.

    Also I’d just like to add, because the PR company did send you these insignificant items they now have free advertising on a popular gaming website… so they win.. well done…

    • hello_mr.Trout says:

      hello overly serious person! quick question: who funds your scientific testing of materials/research into materials? is it possible for anything to be free from ‘bias’ really?

      • tetracycloide says:

        Nirvana fallacy. Just because completely free of bias is impossible doesn’t mean theirs no merit to eliminating bias or even the appearance of bias when easily possible. You don’t just throw your hands up in the air and give up caring about it entirely just because perfection isn’t a viable option.

      • AbyssUK says:

        @hello_mr_trout – I am a scientist overly serious is actually what my degree is in :)

        I know the article was in an attempt in jest (a pretty good one really), but my point however still stands, even if the items received are rubbish they are still received. Sorry for attempting to start a discussion.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          It is rather insulting to insinuate that just because a journalist is given a crappy gift, his integrity is affected. I’m sure your scientific integrity isn’t affected by the branded mug that came with one of your machines is it?

          • Premium User Badge

            Lambchops says:

            I feel my integrity has been completely shot to pieces by the cute cuddly toy draped over our [REDACTED] HPLC machine.

            I’d honestly hate to do the salesperson job. Must be rubbish offering students (who don’t generally decide what gets bought) free pens a cup of tea, a catalogue that’ll remain unread because we’d use the internet if we had to buy it and the chance to win an iPad.

          • wotsit says:

            His integrity isn’t. His credibility absolutely is.

            Tim’s point seems to be that these are all tawdry, worthless goodies that he’s being plied with by PR people. Fine. So stick a stamp on them and mail them back, put them in the bin, or send a polite email to them asking that you just receive the game in future and nothing more. Don’t accept this silly junk. Clearly a rubbish samurai toy is most likely not going to affect your critical faculties, but why would you open yourself up to the possibility? Why wouldn’t you want to maintain as ironclad a journalistic detachment as possible from an industry that is trying, however tackily or incompetently, to influence you?

            This bizarre, sorry mess has proven that gaming journalism needs members of the informed community to stand up and be watchdogs against misbehaviour and misconduct, without being affected by their personal relationships with their peers. It really doesn’t need on-the-defensive comedy articles that play down the impact of the whole business and treat it as a bit of a joke, refusing to comment seriously upon the issue while implying eye-rollingly that the whole thing’s been overblown.

          • Premium User Badge

            AmateurScience says:

            Does this mean I’m going to have to give back the Fisher Scientific rubber-ducky-inna-lab-coat that watches over our thermocycler?

            But he’s so cute :(

            Also I’m pretty sure my PCRs are working better since he arrived too.

          • Archonsod says:

            Games writing. Serious business.

          • Skabooga says:

            @AmateurScience: My officemate uses a toy llama and a Dr. Who weeping angel figurine to scare off the PCR gremlins, and those seem to work as well if your population develops resistance to ducks. You gotta pyramid for robust resistance.

          • SavageTech says:

            @MrMud If there is reliable evidence, why was your only link on the topic written by someone who completely misunderstood the study they were reporting on? The real thing is here, perhaps you should read it: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=773513

            The study compared the attitudes of students at Penn State and the University of Miami towards a particular medication (Lipitor) before and after the introduction of promotional materials. The methodology they used was the Implicit Association Test, an approach that’s questionable because an individual’s score can vary even in the absence of any factors meant to alter it: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/science/18tier.html

            Even if you take the IAT results as truth, there’s still no way you can contest that promotional materials inevitably cause positive bias. Why? Because while the fourth-year students at UMiami had an increased opinion of Lipitor after the introduction of promotional materials, the fourth-year students at Penn State had a vastly decreased opinion of the medication after the same procedure. To explain this, the researchers posit that if a person is resistance to such promotion then its introduction causes increased rejection of and/or scrutiny towards the marketed product. The negative reaction of the Penn State students was far more significant (0.52 down to 0.22) than the positive reaction of the UMiami students (0.47 to 0.66).

            It’s also worth noting that third-year students at both schools showed a decreased preference after the introduction of promotional materials. Students of both schools and year groups also showed a preference for Lipitor before any experiment was conducted, so the reaction of the 4th year UMiami students was simply an enhancement of opinions they already held. In no way did they show that promotional materials could turn a negative bias to a positive one. Furthermore, the only thing measured was the opinion of medical students; the subjects had very limited practical experience in dealing with these medications and are thus arguably the group most susceptible to the effects of promotional materials.

            FINALLY: EXPLICIT PREFERENCES AT BOTH SCHOOLS WERE UNAFFECTED BY THE EXPERIMENT. What are game reviews? Explicit statements of preference. What was unaffected by promotional material? Explicit preferences. Hmm…

            Seriously man, if you’re going to wave around “science” as a weapon at least read the goddamn study. It actually undermines your point as much as supports it. Until you can provide more than a link to someone who has misinterpreted a study, I’ll assume you’re a dullard who can’t even be bothered to look into your “evidence” if you think it supports your specious argument.

          • AbyssUK says:

            Just like to point out (even now this whole conversation will probs never be looked at again). I test materials not material test machines.. if I have a mug from the machine manufacturer when I was being courted to buy it then no problem that cannot influence my results now can it. I test materials if i had/or was sent a mug from John metals research labs with a bunch of stuff I needed to test/review I wouldn’t take anything extra from then and defo wouldn’t display it in the lab.

            Tim as for your negative influences, of course these count, if you get shit from a company you are going to behave differently to them. You are only human (arn’t you??), however as a professional you have to rise above it as much as possible.
            Now going to PR events… sadly I never get to leave the labs much :) so wouldn’t quite know how to handle myself.. to be fair I’d possibly just not go.. but I understand you will not have such an option.
            I believe the journalistic term is “no cheering in the commentary box” if you must attend a PR event just ensure you are not being used for PR and report on the facts not what snacks are available and/or which cardboard display you’d rather take home with you..

            Is it not the norm for journalists to get some basic PR training ?? I’ve had some and I just press buttons on machines in a poorly lit lab.. I hardly ever have to use it…

        • Tim Stone says:

          Wotsit, this ironclad journalistic detachment you talk of sounds great. How exactly does it work?

          Say I go to a preview event – am I allowed to eat the complimentary vol-au-vents? Can I let the publishers pay my train fare? If a dev whose work I’ve championed for years contacts me out of the blue and offers me early access to preview code, should I turn them down just in case the arrangement is misinterpreted by a reader?

          My ‘on-the-defensive comedy article’ was actually an attempt to make some pretty serious points about degrees of culpability, the minimal guidance journalists receive from employers, and the constantly parroted idea that the opinions of most games critics can be bought for the price of a three-course meal. I’m very much with Rindan on this issue (see below). Judge us by our deeds, not by our cupboards full of branded tat.

          All of which doesn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed by the behaviour of the hashtagging journos at the GMAs and gutted to see Rab saying goodbye to EG (I’ve gone through something similar so have an idea of how conflicted the people involved would have felt)

          • MrMud says:

            Well, sience is not on your side.
            Because of that there are three things that should happen.

            #1 Be aware that anything you recieve as a gift is likely to influence you, even if you don’t think it will. You might think you can stand above it, but science says that you (or I for that matter) probably can’t.

            #2 Due to #1, try to minimize any gifts. Yes its understandable that you will probably not be able to eliminate them all. What you can do is to try and avoid it at any possible opportunity.

            #3 If you do take something, make sure the readers are informed about it so that they can make that jugement.

            I am really not trying to lay particular blame at anyone here or anywhere else but I keep hearing this “oh I am taking some gifts but it doesn’t affect me” when that is so clearly not supported by science.

          • wotsit says:

            Well, I tried to cover my own backside there by saying ‘as ironclad as possible’. Clearly there are certain dependencies that may be unavoidable when you’re supposed to be both a detached games critic and someone who gets invited to spend time with the subjects of your criticism at preview events (which is itself kind of problematic). But at the very least I hope you’ll agree that there’s a tangible difference between accepting review copies and train fares, functional expenses that allow you to do your job as a journalist, and accepting bits of silly branded tat which you simply don’t need and which serve no professional purpose; no purpose at all, in fact, other than as tokens of an ongoing and unhealthy courtship by the industry of the press.

            The reputation of the gaming journalist is, on the whole, remarkably low right now. As you say, a lot of people are ‘parroting’ the notion that critics are in cahoots with industry folk. But this didn’t come from nowhere. There are Game Informer and Kotaku journalists on Twitter right now, joking with their friends who are industry consultants and PR Managers at Ubisoft and Harmonix who also used to be Destructoid editors, laughing together at this ridiculous overblown story about how journalists and publicists have become too close for their own good, totally oblivious to how that comes across to anyone outside their own circles.

            I think MrMud has exactly the right idea. Saying, ‘judge me by my deeds, not by the free merchandise I’ve accepted’ is an unhelpful distraction, since the free merchandise shouldn’t be there in the first place to have any opportunity of contaminating the issue, influencing you unconsciously (and it does, it always does, every single one of us on this planet), giving the wrong impression to your readers, or encouraging PR folk to continue sending swag out to reviewers, some of whom may not be as scrupulously reflective as you are. There’s no good reason in the world to risk being misunderstood or making a biased critical judgement for the sake of a bad hat you’ll never wear.

          • Tim Stone says:

            MrMud, Wotsit. I’m not sure I disagree with anything you’ve said there. While I’m convinced most of the journos I know (including myself) are far too proud/pigheaded to be bought, if there was an industry-wide ban on gifts tomorrow, it could only be a good thing.

            Once positive gift-engineered bias has been purged from games journalism, perhaps we can start addressing the other elephant in the room: negative bias. If science says I’m being subconsciously influenced by all these free t-shirts and pens, I suppose it also claims I’m being subconsciously influenced by all those Publishers/PRs that fail to answer my emails, fail to pay promised expenses (1C, I’m looking at you), or send out review code discs without checking that they work.

          • wotsit says:

            You’re being silly to make a point, but again, I think that point is a bit facile and steers the debate into unhelpful territory. Your ‘gift-based positive bias’ is the result of a conscious, orchestrated campaign conducted by other people working towards influencing your opinion with petty bribery. Your ‘negative bias’ is just part of the random accidental chaos and disregard of any working day that can’t be helped from occurring and potentially having an effect on your work any more than getting up on the wrong side of bed one morning. There can be no reasonable comparability between the two issues, and to suggest that one should be done away with doesn’t lead to the puritanical misconception that all bias can be done away with.

          • Tim Stone says:

            And you’re being selective.

            If a PR person choosing to send me a gift is inevitably ‘petty bribery’ and could lead to positive bias, why on earth can’t a PR person choosing to ignore my interview, review code or expense request (because I’m relatively insignificant or I’ve rubbished one of their games in the past) theoretically generate negative bias? To assume that every snub and undelivered promise is down to ‘random accidental chaos’ is naive.

            I’m not sure you can have it one way and not the other. If we journalists are the sort of gormless stooges/cynical materialists that can be manipulated with free gifts into inflating a review score, then surely there’s a fair chance we’re also the sort of unwitting grudge-bearers/vindictive swines that can be tempted by perceived snubs/injustices into deflating a review score.

          • SavageTech says:

            @Tim: “If a PR person choosing to send me a gift is inevitably ‘petty bribery’ and could lead to positive bias, why on earth can’t a PR person choosing to ignore my interview, review code or expense request (because I’m relatively insignificant or I’ve rubbished one of their games in the past) theoretically generate negative bias?”

            Actually, it turns out that even sending you a petty bribe is just as likely to generate a negative bias as it is to generate a positive one; I’m sure them snubbing you wouldn’t help either. Look a little further up in the thread where I dismantled MrMud’s “scientific evidence” by actually reading the study instead of some idiot’s interpretation of it. Students at two schools got promotional materials; at one school their opinion (measured by Implicit Association Test) went from 0.47 to 0.66 while at the other school it went from 0.52 to 0.22. I’m no math whiz but I’m pretty sure that +0.19 is a smaller change than -0.30.

    • alh_p says:

      ALSO, “cheap ass furniture”? What is this? Budget butt plugs?

    • Novotny says:

      Mr Stone is making a funny about this week’s events in gaming meeja.

    • Premium User Badge

      Henke says:

      You’re not wrong that it might affect people’s perception of a journalist’s integrity if he accepts gifts. But in the end it’s up to you to make your mind up about him.

      Personally I think Mr. Stone is very knowledgable about sims, a good writer, and funny as hell. This far outweighs any concerns I might have about his integrity due to accepting gifts from PR folks.

    • Rindan says:

      I don’t give two shits what plush toys they get sent. I judge their integrity by the matching of what they say, and what I think after having played the same game. I also judge the appearance of integrity based upon how reviews are written. If I wanted a dull neutral review of a game, I would go to Gamespot or something. I come to RPS for a militant pro PC gaming perspective. I’ll know that they have lost the integrity that matters to me when they fail to kick a game a few times in the guts for having a poorly ported console control scheme, or when they miss the next indie block buster because they were busy wanking off to video game trailers without gameplay.

      Militant rules to prevent conflicts of interest are a great thing for large corporations or when the consumer is a dolt. I am okay with there being extreme rules to prevent conflicts of interest with my doctor because my doctor can lie to me and I will never know. RPS isn’t dealing with the ignorant masses. It is a safe bet that most people that reads RPS are also an “experts” who, if gifted with an ability to write and time, could write articles for RPS. If my doctor prescribes the wrong drug, I’ll never know. If RPS sings the praises of a particular game because they got a stuffed bear, and it is actually shit, I’ll know.

      So, for the appearance of integrity, RPS should keep doing what it is doing. It should run reviews and articles that cater to PC gamers. If their world view matches mine, they have the only kind of integrity that I care about. Gamespot might have harder rules on accepting junk mail, but in my eyes they have no integrity because their reviews are bad. I’ll take REAL integrity over policy making integrity any day.

    • MrMud says:

      There is plenty of scientific research that show that any gifts are extremely likely to positiviely influence people. Games journalists (among many other people) never want to believe this but that does not make it any less true.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lacero says:

        We’ll have to send them the report in a press pack with a free statistician action figure and mug.

      • Whosi says:

        There are also people who like to throw around words and insist those words are fact when they are merely conjecture.

      • SavageTech says:

        @MrMud If there is plenty of good evidence, why was your only link on the topic written by someone who completely misunderstood the study they were reporting on? The real thing is here, perhaps you should read it: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=773513

        The study compared the attitudes of students at Penn State and the University of Miami towards a particular medication (Lipitor) before and after the introduction of promotional materials. The methodology they used was the Implicit Association Test, an approach that’s questionable because an individual’s score can vary even in the absence of any factors meant to alter it: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/science/18tier.html

        Even if you take the IAT results as truth, there’s still no way you can contest that promotional materials inevitably cause positive bias. Why? Because while the fourth-year students at UMiami had an increased opinion of Lipitor after the introduction of promotional materials, the fourth-year students at Penn State had a vastly decreased opinion of the medication after the same procedure. To explain this, the researchers posit that if a person is resistance to such promotion then its introduction causes increased rejection of and/or scrutiny towards the marketed product. The negative reaction of the Penn State students was far more significant (0.52 down to 0.22) than the positive reaction of the UMiami students (0.47 to 0.66).

        It’s also worth noting that third-year students at both schools showed a decreased preference after the introduction of promotional materials. Students of both schools and year groups also showed a preference for Lipitor before any experiment was conducted, so the reaction of the 4th year UMiami students was simply an enhancement of opinions they already held. In no way did they show that promotional materials could turn a negative bias to a positive one. Furthermore, the only thing measured was the opinion of medical students; the subjects had very limited practical experience in dealing with these medications and are thus arguably the group most susceptible to the effects of promotional materials.

        FINALLY: EXPLICIT PREFERENCES AT BOTH SCHOOLS WERE UNAFFECTED BY THE EXPERIMENT. What are game reviews? Explicit statements of preference. What was unaffected by promotional material? Explicit preferences. Hmm…

        Seriously man, if you’re going to wave around “science” as a weapon at least read the goddamn study. It actually undermines your point as much as supports it. Until you can provide more than a link to someone who has misinterpreted a study, I’ll assume you’re a dullard who can’t even be bothered to look into your “evidence” if you think it supports your specious argument.

    • popej says:

      Nah, there comes a point when ‘reason’ has to be employed when giving and receiving corporate gifts. I think we can probably mostly agree that the most sensitive industry to bribes and backhanders is the financial services industry. That’s my area, I did Chemistry at Uni (well) but hey, insurance is where I ended up.

      Now the FSA have a set of guidelines governing the receipt of gifts and items that could potentially be considered as bribes/backhanders/under the table offers etc (here if interested: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/information/pdf/ethical_procurement_policy.pdf). There is no blanket ban (which is what you’re proposing in respect of games journalism) on acceptance of items under a certain value, as long as everything is properly logged and reported whenever the FSA/company audit person comes knocking, it is generally OK.

      I believe the FSA’s guidelines could be applied to pretty much any industry that involves large sums of money.

      Now I do understand that the financial industry is not wholly comparable to journalism. However, the single over-riding factor governing any bribe/back hander is always the same, undue influence commercially and/or financially in your industries sector. For this reason I feel the comparison is valid.

  10. Unaco says:

    Careful Tim… You might have some competition in the Euro Truck Simulator 2 review arena.

  11. ShDynasty says:

    Oh, your Shogun 2 vote was definitely bought! That game didn’t deserve more than an 8/10!
    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-03-11-total-war-shogun-2-review

  12. Hydrogene says:

    This lossword is really too hard! Was there any logic to last week edition? I sure didn’t get it (was there a link between the bombs, planes and locations?)

    Also, the train drifting video is quite over the top. Well done!

    • protorp says:

      It’s battlefield obstructions, the devices used to clear / remove them and the things (mostly vehicles) that carry said devices…

  13. tetracycloide says:

    I’m telling John Walker on you!

  14. The Truth says:

    Exactly what I expected from RPS: a ‘quaint’ article which plays into the hands of marketeers, PR men, lawyers and corporate parents partners.

    *slow clap*

  15. FFabian says:

    Hmm *strokes chin* could there be a connection to the fate of a guy named Florence … ?

  16. Phantoon says:

    I don’t get it.

  17. sinelnic says:

    Only 28 people read this? And I’m doing it for free?!!

    • LionsPhil says:

      He’ll be lucky to have half that after this appalling scandal.

      • MiniMatt says:

        A regular supply of Flare Path branded fridge magnets will be required to secure my continued patronage.

  18. lijenstina says:

    Satire bordering Appeal to Ridicule. A gift that keeps on giving.

  19. sgt. grumbles says:

    I see your Train Drifting video and raise you some Farming Simulator Mad Skills.