RPS’s Position On The Eurogamer/Florence Debacle

By John Walker on October 30th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

Finally we get to post this pic.

Last week, as some may have noticed, Robert Florence wrote a piece for Eurogamer, criticising the appearance of corruption amongst some in the gaming press. Stressing that he believes the vast majority of writers are good and honest, he pointed out – inspired by an image of Spike’s Geoff Keighley sat surrounded by Doritos and Mountain Dew – that writers could do a lot more to put themselves above suspicion.

In doing so, he mentioned by name other games journalists who that morning had been on Twitter defending a dubious competition held for journalists attending the Games Media Awards. In particular he pointed out how Dave Cook had told me – as it happens – to get off my pedestal in criticising the competition. And Lauren Wainwright (employee of Intent Media, organisers of the GMAs) who had most vociferously been defending the competition, while, he observed, tweeting from a Twitter homepage so decorated in Tomb Raider images that it could be mistaken for a Tomb Raider advert. Wainwright, a self-confessed Tomb Raider fan, strongly objected to this, and issued a legal threat to Eurogamer to have the article changed. And then all hell broke loose.

We’re posting about this story now not because any new developments have occurred, but because it seems not posting about it was causing us more accusations than we can stand to listen to. We had previously considered the story to be one of internal wrangling amongst games journalism, and RPS is primarily about games. While we certainly do cover stories about the media, these tend to be about the representation or misrepresentation of games or gamers. So personally considering it a matter not directly within our remit, I chose to write about it on my personal blog (here, here and here). (I link it here because it’s relevant – I can assure you that with no adverts on the site, I get no benefit whatsoever from directing traffic there. Also, the opinions stated there are entirely my own, and not necessarily shared by RPS.)

This has been perceived as RPS’s trying to “stay silent” on the matter. Something that was never our intent, and something we’re confused to know why anyone would think would be in our interests. Many RPS writers have expressed their feelings on their Twitter accounts, and as I’ve said, I wrote extensively about it, and weirdly ended up being a source for almost every story written about the subject around the world. It didn’t feel to us like we were staying silent, and we have no notion of why we would want to.

And before I go on, to be completely clear, RPS has partnered with Eurogamer to provide our advertising. This means that Eurogamer employees acquire and organise the advertising you see on this site, and we split the profits. It’s a fairly normal practice, but one RPS ensured would and could never have any impact on our editorial freedom. We are completely editorially independent, and at the same time have almost no involvement in what advertising appears on the site. The degree to which we are involved is to have laid down strict rules about what types of adverts we’re willing to have (as in, none that play sound, none that obscure the site content), and to complain when an advert is inappropriate (for instance, depicts naked people).

(It’s also worth noting that Rab’s article discusses me in a very positive light. I find this very kind, and somewhat embarrassing. I want to stress that it has no bearing on my approval of the rest of the article, and would have felt just as strongly about how important a piece it was had he not mentioned my name. Which would have made life a bit easier now, I guess.)

Quickly, here are the details. At the Games Media Awards this year, there was a competition organised by Trion Worlds and GMA organisers Intent Media (owners of MCV, who happen to be Wainwright’s employer), where journalists were invited to tweet a hashtag mentioning Defiance in order to be eligible to win a PS3. 66 journalists at the event took part, an act condemned by many as compromising their position and inappropriate. This led to a Twitter argument amongst a number of the UK’s press, me included, that Robert Florence noticed and included in his article about journalistic ethics. You can read the original version of the article here.

This led to Wainwright’s issuing legal threats against Eurogamer. Eurogamer’s operations director, Tom “Tom Bramwell” Bramwell, told the Penny Arcade Report,

“Lauren told us that she intended to pursue the matter with her lawyers and made it clear she would not drop it until it was resolved to her satisfaction.”

Eurogamer sought legal advice, and decided to remove the lines mentioning her and Cook, and publicly apologised on Twitter. Before making the change they consulted Florence, who understood their position, but also felt that he could no longer continue writing for the site if his article was to be changed. He stepped down. This led to an enormous amount of anger, directed partially toward Eurogamer, but mostly toward Wainwright, whose entire journalist history has been dug over for faults, mistakes and failures of integrity. As has been universally reported, in attempting to silence Florence, Wainwright invoked the full, cruel power of the Streisand Effect. In response to all this, Florence wrote another article discussing all that had happened, which was also published on my personal blog. In this he stated,

“I want to clarify here that at no point in my column did I suggest that either Dave Cook or Lauren Wainwright were corrupt. Their public tweets were purely evidence that games writers rarely question what their relationship with PR should be. In Lauren’s case I made the point that her suggestion that it’s fine for a games writer to tweet a promotional hashtag for personal gain could make everything she tweets and writes suspect. I was saying – “Folks, be careful what you say. You might make yourself look bad.” There was nothing libellous in that column.”

RPS’s position on this matter is as follows: We fully support Robert Florence (who is also a freelancer for us), and think his article raises important issues. We understand Eurogamer’s position that when legal threats are made, with the UK’s despicable libel laws, the burden of time and finances to fight any such threats is gruesome. However, we’re also disappointed that Eurogamer didn’t stand up to these threats and call Wainwright’s bluff. It is our opinion that the correct response from Wainwright would have been to request a response column on Eurogamer to make her argument, or at least post a response on any of the public outlets to which she has access. Silencing journalists is a terrible practice.

Of course this is an ongoing subject, and has raised many questions about journalistic ethics amongst the games industry. Those debates have raged since the 1980s, and they will continue forever and ever. As well they should. Scrutiny is a good and vital thing, and the perception of poor practice should always be questioned. (However, it should be questioned reasonably, and we will not tolerate any abusive comments below. We also suggest not libelling people, because we’re in the UK, and we can’t afford to go to court.)

PS. As I was just finishing writing this, weirdly, Eurogamer also have posted an article about this. You can read theirs here.

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317 Comments »

  1. aircool says:

    My faith in RPS is unshakeable. It is the place to go for honest and entertaining comment.

    • f1x says:

      Indeed, I’m not sure I understand whats going on, but RPS <3

    • Lobotomist says:

      I often do not agree with RPS reviews. But they are unbiased : for example writing very negative review of “game of Dwarves” in same time having huge commercial campaign on their site for the same game.

      • DrGonzo says:

        Of course it’s biased! It’s the writers opinion, it’s meant to be biased. It’s the entire point of a review.

        • Continuity says:

          Don’t be pedantic, you know full well he means impartial, and “unbiased” is frequently used as a synonym for impartial.

      • Dreamhacker says:

        I don’t think RPS has a direct say in what banners are shown on the website, just the general theme of them (i.e. video games related ads).

        Besides, to avoid panning a game because you have their ads on your website/magazine/tv-show would be a horrible loss of journalistic integrity.

    • caddyB says:

      I like the writing, I like that they are unbiased. I don’t agree with WOT THEY THINK about %50 of the time, but they raise good points, and we probably don’t have the same taste in some things and that’s OK.

      But I’ll never forgive RPS for that New Vegas Wot I Think.

      • alh_p says:

        +1

        I still don’t understand the FO:NV WIT (acronym karate) and have come to consider WIT’s more as commentary on games than actually a real sense of whether something will be fun to play or not. Then again, -ve WITs can be quite unswerving in their damnation.

        • frymaster says:

          I like that they’re called WIT. It’s a sign that they aren’t unbiased – the article will be the reviewers honest subjective opinion, seen through the lens of their own biases / preferences / taste / whatever. But that’s all personal/unconscious bias. I never have, and I’m confident I never will, felt RPS to be influenced by the need for ad revenue.

      • Reefpirate says:

        Ha! Don’t be fooled. That’s just a ploy to buy some temporary credibility!

    • McDan says:

      It is a bit of a mess isn’t it? Still it’s hard to beleive that RPS not saying anything on the matter led to accusations, like how would you even come to that conclusion? It would be like accusing Switzerland of being involved in some massacre in WW2 (they were neutral folks, just in case someone didn’t know).

      Never change RPS, or do, I’m not your boss but I’m sure you’ll still be excellent.

      Also if you can’t tell I’m not exactly fully sure of what happened.

      • yonatan27 says:

        Well , historically speaking maybe Switzerland wasn’t involved in massacres , but they WERE involved in accepting Jewish gold from the German Nazi regime , as well as declining help for refugees…
        neutrality can be immoral sometimes. just like in Planescape torment :D

        • Baines says:

          Or look at The Witcher. The novels in particular had people repeatedly hammering Geralt’s position of neutrality, and the bad things that he allowed to happen due to it. (Mind, it wasn’t that the novels were actively anti-neutrality. When Geralt did decide to toss his neutrality to the curb, he managed to make a mess of it, with things going more pear-shaped than they would have if he’d stayed out of matters.)

          • Bhazor says:

            The first game was the same. Whichever faction you sided with ended with mass terrorism and thousands dead. The “best” ending was the one where Geralt remains neutral and everything basically stays the same with the same uneasy peace and sporadic violence.

      • mondomau says:

        Argh! Don’t Godwin this thread, that’s the last thing we need.

        • Rusty says:

          You know who didn’t like his threads Goodwined? Hitler.

          • Eukatheude says:

            There are worse things than that, like being a nazi.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            What do you call a virtual golfing venue in 1940′s germany?
            Holo-course

            I am going to hell. Sorry.

          • Sidion says:

            For that Super, the internet owes you a cookie.

        • Poliphilo says:

          I’m really beginning to dislike the framing of this meme. It was funny for about a year or so, but now any time anyone wants to talk history there’s someone who just CAN NOT fight the urge to mention Godwin’s law. Really, congratulations that you feel the need to display your awareness of a 1990s internet meme, but seriously, please kindly piss off to reddit.

          These posts are a good example. Someone mentions Switzerland’s “neutrality” during WW2 and then some idiot randomly injects a completely unwarranted “See! Godwin’s law! SEE?!1″. Exact same thing happened the other day when I was discussing the role of the Christian churches leading up to and during WW2, and it killed the thread, which was the intent of the poster (a Christian who didn’t want to hear about it).

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Except Godwin’s Law isn’t a meme.

            And doesn’t apply in contexts in which mentioning the Nazi’s might be relevant (e.g. a discussion on WW2).

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            What do you call a Nazi raincoat?

            A sou-westika

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            What was the name of the rodent pet Hitler liked to keep?

            Goe-bbils

          • sinister agent says:

            What did Rommel say to his men before they got in their tanks?

            “Get in your tanks, men.”

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            What do you call a Nazi soldier who goes soggy in the rain?

            A storm drooper

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            What did the British tank driver say when the German tank driver claimed it wasn’t a direct hit?

            “Liar liar panzer on fire”

      • frymaster says:

        People were commenting on, for instance, the Sunday Papers article about how there were no links or coverage of this incident. Especially in retrospect I suspect it would have been a good idea to link to Walker’s blog then.

      • Deston says:

        The vast majority of the accusations flying around were just plain silly. They were largely either from people new to the community, or those who should have known better but were perhaps just reacting emotionally to the genuine disappointment of not being able to read the Hivemind’s take on such a blisteringly hot topic last Sunday.

        I like to believe that the wide majority here who’ve loitered long enough to have any meaningful take on how RPS rolls couldn’t possibly lend those ridiculous accusations any weight whatsoever. How could we? The proof to the contrary is posted every other bloody day! It’s why most of us are here, isn’t it?

        Although I feel bad that they apparently felt pressured into writing this article purely because of such absurdities, I’m pleased that it was posted. I do think it was both warranted and beneficial to us as readers, I just wish they’d been able to comment on their own terms and not because they felt they had something defend here.

        They absolutely don’t.

    • kitzkar says:

      I couldn’t help reading this in Jeff Daniels’ voice from The Newsroom series.

      This can only be good for RPS’ credibility.

    • Sugoi says:

      RPS has always appeared to uphold the highest of journalistic integrity. This is, in fact, one of the primary things that drew me here in the first place.

  2. sub-program 32 says:

    I know this is a not-serious comment in a serious article, but shouldn’t there be a Staring Eyes tag?

    EDIT: GODDAMMIT PICTURE CHANGE. Doh.

  3. Ansob says:

    It’s a shame that RPS not posting publicly about this led to accusations, of all things.

    It is also a good thing that RPS has posted publicly about this – you’re leaders in your field, and a post like this, clearly setting out what has happened, makes things better for everyone. Glad to see you post it!

    • Premium User Badge LTK says:

      Yes. I understood the reasons for RPS not wanting to do an article on this, but it’s still something that I (and many others) appreciate reading about. It does us readers good to think about journalistic integrity as well, I believe.

    • Premium User Badge Saul says:

      Agreed. I queried RPS not mentioning this, not as an accusation, but more out of confusion. As Ansob says, a lot of people look up to you guys as authorities in this area, and it just felt wrong to have no comment here on RPS. I wanted to hear what you had to say on the matter, and I think a lot of others were in the same boat. Thanks John!

      • Unaco says:

        This.

        • Prime says:

          It’s just a shame, Unaco, that you couldn’t have expressed the above level of concern without making veiled accusations about RPS’ ties to Eurogamer:

          Despite repeated assurances from the Hivemind that EuroGamer “Just do the ads.” Is there more to EGs involvement in RPS?

          I hope you realise you were part of what John was referring to up there when he wrote:

          “…but because it seems not posting about it was causing us more accusations than we can stand to listen to”.

          • Unaco says:

            Prime… that’s a question. Not an accusation. Much the same as Rab’s statements about Lauren Wainwright in the original article. I never accused RPS of anything… just talked about how it looked, and asked for clarification. That’s OK, isn’t it? We are allowed to question journalists and writers, yes?

            And if I was part of what John was talking about, and got RPS to make a public statement about this, to inform their readers and to state their own position clearly… well, I’m f*cking flattered, and I’ll give myself a wee pat on the back.

            Edit: Just look at the number of commenters stating they’re glad to see RPS post about this.

          • Prime says:

            It’s an accusation phrased as a question. They’re not mutually exclusive. A question that was, by your own words, needless: “Despite repeated assurances from the Hivemind…”. So repeated assurances – answers given in many instances already to the same question you were asking – weren’t good enough for you? No, the only reason to ask that question – again – was if you distrusted the answer given, and/or the people who gave you the answer.

            You give yourself a wee pat all you like. Frankly I think you should be ashamed of yourself for being part of something fairly unpleasant and rude that pressured good people into commenting on something they clearly didn’t want to comment on within the bounds of RPS. It’s not a victory for anything other than base sensationalism.

            [Edit] Yes, lots of people are pleased to have them comment. That doesn’t mean it is right they did so, particularly if it was partly, as suggested, to stop people flinging accusations of corruption and/or conspiracy at them. Mob rule is no way to run a website.

          • Ansob says:

            So was Rab’s comment that Wainwright could be misconstrued as in SquEnix’s pocket also an accusation phrased as a “it all looks a bit bothersome, doesn’t it?”

            It’s more than a little ironic that you’re accusing someone of making veiled accusations in this case, of all cases.

          • Lemming says:

            What Prime says.

          • Unaco says:

            Prime… if you think my question was an accusation of impropriety on RPSs part, that’s your problem, I’m afraid. I meant no accusation, I meant no finger pointing, or anything untoward. It was a simple question.

            As Ansob asks, do you view Rab’s statements in the article of an accusation of impropriety on Wainwright’s part, or as he has justified it, as saying “I’m sure it isn’t, but this could look a little fishy”? Should Rab be ashamed for writing what he wrote?

          • DrGonzo says:

            I liked the article, I like Rab. But of course he was accusing Lauren in his article. It’s just worded in such a way that it’s open to interpretation. It was almost exactly like Unaco.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Prime… if you think my question was an accusation of impropriety on RPSs part, that’s your problem, I’m afraid. I meant no accusation, I meant no finger pointing, or anything untoward. It was a simple question.

            It’s a simple question like “Have you stopped beating your wife” is a simple question.

            If you genuinely didn’t intend it to sound accusational, then why didn’t you phrase it a less accusational tone?

          • Unaco says:

            Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was possible to put tone across in a post on the internet.

            If you don’t get it, that should be read in a sarcastic tone.

          • jrodman says:

            Redirection implies sincerity!

          • sweetjer says:

            I’m one of the people who registered feedback directly with John via email re: the botherer articles and the exclusion of this topic on RPS. As wtih unaco, my letter was purely driven by curiosity/confusion not accusation, but I did find it rather difficult to write on this subject (feeling passionately, and also due to its complicated nature) without it appearing sort of accusatory. Ultimately, I just wanted a better answer than “this is a site about games not games journalists” when its clear that the issue here is the faith of the reader in the games writing they read. Because of the direct connections between RPS and the publication/author in question (eurogamer/rab) I thought that this was necessary to address on RPS, because though RPS is not about games journalism it is definitely a source of games writing for consumers. Anyway, despite my feelings, I still felt the need to send a response to John apologizing when he understood my original message to be accusatory. It wasn’t. It was concerned and confused. And as unaco said: it’s our right as conscious individuals in capitalism to be concerned, confused, and to question for clarity from our information sources.

      • sebmojo says:

        Unaco has never denied that he’s a car thief. I wonder why that might be? Obviously I’d never suggest he stole cars, that would be appalling, especially as there’s no evidence that I’m aware of. And no crime of vehicular conversion has ever been proven in a court of law against him – who knows why? Perhaps the police thought their witnesses were unreliable, or they couldn’t find any? Who knows. I’m just asking questions, here!

        • Unaco says:

          Unaco has never denied that he’s a car thief. I wonder why that might be?

          Because no one ever asked. If they did ask, I’d deny it. Just like I asked the Hivemind for clarification of their position with EG, and if there was anything that may possibly explain their reticence to post an article about the situation, and they answered to my satisfaction.

          That was your point, I take it? If not, I’m struggling to see what your point could be.

    • Ironclad says:

      Are you new to the internet/western media culture?

      I’m sorry, that came of as overly harsh, but quite frankly this is a microcosm of the oversaturated media landscape. Wherever there is even a small controversy, if one party stays silent that will (for a reason that I don’t understand) be considered a sign of weakness and be designated the “loser”.

      It’s like kindergarden all over again.

    • Meat Circus says:

      My faith in RPS’s integrity remains unshaken, and would have remained so.

      Yet given that there has been so much wilful silence from some quarters, in the vague hope that it would all just go away, I am glad this piece exists as it reminds us all there are sites that take ethical matters very seriously and will continue to do so.

      Thank you, John.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I’ve somehow missed this furore on RPS – where did it occur? (or was it coming in from other sites?)

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I like how we’re now commenting on an article commenting on people commenting about someone not commenting about an article commenting on comments on twitters.

  4. wodin says:

    good call I feel. I never thought anything was wrong about you not doing an article about it, however I also thought it would put you in good stead if you did and show public support for Rob on this site in an article here.

    Also it’s an interesting subject.

    • Toberoth says:

      My sentiments exactly.

    • SiHy_ says:

      I totally agree. As was stated RPS is a site that focuses on games not the inner workings of games journalism but it was nice to have an official comment from RPS on this whole sorry mess.
      Though there was absolutely no doubt in my mind as to RPS’s opinion on all this anyway. Any accusations you guys got must have been voiced by ignorant fools. Ignorant fools, I say!

    • Stochastic says:

      Agreed. Also, while I completely understand and respect RPS’ decision to only report on games, personally I feel that anything that relates to games one way or another would be appropriate for the site. Games journalism has an impact on games’ perception and the games industry as a whole, so bringing up an issue like this I think should be under RPS’ remit. But I understand why John wouldn’t want to bring up topics like this on a regular basis.

  5. KikiJiki says:

    The thing that nobody noticed about the hashtag competition was that if it’s seen as an advertisment, then what the journalists did was actually a breach of advertising standards in the UK. The Nike hashtag debacle with Wayne Rooney and others shows how the courts view this sort of thing.

    • Lacero says:

      And so far all the ASA do about advert tweets is shut down the campaign, which isn’t going to work well especially in this case. It’s better than nothing though.

      Did anyone complain to the ASA about this yet? Perhaps someone on neogaf will do it, they seem keen.

      • KikiJiki says:

        It does rather illustrate the point though, complaint to the ASA or not, that what the journalists did was not above board.

  6. frightlever says:

    Somebody could have had five minutes of minor infamy in a fairly big crowd but instead decided she’d rather… I mean he or she’d rather go for the big money prize of actual infamy. Hindsight is great isn’t it?

    I don’t really care about journalistic integrity, because well ya know there isn’t any, but pulling a douche move and threatening to lawyer up earns my scorn.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      “I don’t really care about journalistic integrity, because well ya know there isn’t any…”

      Gosh that’s a wonderful thing to post in reply to this article. It must be great to be so erudite.

      • frightlever says:

        I don’t think you understand what erudite means. But yeah.

        You have to be naive in the extreme to think anyone involved in journalism of any stripe doesn’t have their own agenda, their own lines which won’t be crossed because it affects their self-interests. You understand that just because someone repeatedly tells you how independent, just and wise they are, it may not actually be the case, right?

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        I understand what it means, thanks. Tarring every journalist with the same brush is crass and it’s not only an insult to the staff who write for this website, but to their readers, including me. Hence sarcasm.

      • battles_atlas says:

        What Lenny says. Glenn Greenwald wrote a nice piece somewhere critiquing the pathetic notion that adopting a world-weary blanket cynicism towards everything is in some way sophisticated. Whilst being patently false, it serves those who are corrupt very well, given that it tars all with the same brush.

        • Zeewolf says:

          That’s a very, very good point. I need to find that article you’re mentioning now.

          • battles_atlas says:

            Its here:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/29/correspondence-collusion-new-york-times-cia

            “The more important objection is that the fact that a certain behavior is common does not negate its being corrupt. Indeed, as is true for government abuses generally, those in power rely on the willingness of citizens to be trained to view corrupt acts as so common that they become inured, numb, to its wrongfulness. Once a corrupt practice is sufficiently perceived as commonplace, then it is transformed in people’s minds from something objectionable into something acceptable. Indeed, many people believe it demonstrates their worldly sophistication to express indifference toward bad behavior by powerful actors on the ground that it is so prevalent. This cynicism – oh, don’t be naive: this is done all the time – is precisely what enables such destructive behavior to thrive unchallenged.”

        • FriendlyFire says:

          I’ve always thought that the only way for cynics to be right is if everyone acts like a cynic. That point of view is a self-fulfilling prophecy which also happens to be self-destructive. Cynics never achieve anything.

          • HothMonster says:

            I’ve always had the idea that cynics are just shitty people who imagine everyone else is as shitty as they are. People who think that, “I would do (bad thing) in condition X therefore everyone in condition X is doing (bad thing).” It’s just a refusal to admit you might be kind of a shitty person so you project your shittiness onto everyone else. Or is that just cynical of me?

          • benkc says:

            Hoth: Not all of them, but certainly some of them seem that way — completely unable to understand that some people might just want to do the right thing.

      • Laurentius says:

        Thing is the game journalists integrity has no meaning and serves no purpose whatsoever, writing and talking about it, is just self-indulgence, yes pleasurable for many people involved but complelty vapid.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Not sure what you mean. Can you explain?

        • Chris D says:

          This is obviously nonsense. If I’m considering buying a game beacuse someone tells me it’s really good then it matters to me whether they genuinely believe that or whether they’re only saying it because they’ve been paid off.

          • Laurentius says:

            Integrity of mass media consumption journalism is utter nonsense. What if all RPS WIT has been directly from PR pockets of publishing companies, would you thorw Dishonored or Deus Ex becuse they are suddenly bad games because dishonest source convince you to buy them ? No you would be buying vidoe games anyway.

          • Chris D says:

            I’m not entirely sure what your argument is. I would not continue to read a site I found I could not trust, nor would I base any purchasing decision on a reviewer who had proven to be untrustworthy. Publishers aren’t short of ways to advertise their game, they care about reviews precisely because they are perceived to be unbiased.

            Therefore the question of integrity, or lack thereof, is of central importance to me as a consumer, any reviewer who wants people to read them and any publisher who doesn’t want all reviews dismissed as another form of paid advertising.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            @ Laurentius: Well that certainly clears things up. You’re a moron.

            Edit: Sorry, I don’t usually insult people on the internet, and I feel a bit bad, but your post is utterly reprehensible to me. I mean, completely barking mad. I mean, Jesus. Sorry I’m getting upset again…

          • FriendlyFire says:

            If all the WIT were bought, then none of them would be negative and many of them would therefore be misleading. After reading one or two grossly false WIT, I’d have stopped reading this site. No amount of publisher money can save a site with no audience.

            The entire reasoning smacks of shallow thinking.

          • Laurentius says:

            Like people already question RPS integrity because they give negative or positive WITs, it doesn’t matter in the end like in all mass media consumption. Yes in a way integrity does matter to writers (on personal,individual and moral level) but not to the audience and to broad context of things. Thinking that you can base your decision about media you are consuming on suppose integrity of some journalist on the interent (or anywhere else for th ematter) is just an illusion.

          • jrodman says:

            Laurentius: In case it isn’t clear, your argument is nonsensical and blatantly misdirecting. You are deliberately conflating the valuation of journalistic writings with the value of the games about which are being written. If you cannot distinguish these things, then clearly gaming journalism, which is not required for games to exist at all, cannot have any value in your mind at all. Which is fine if totally bizarre, but in that case why come to this site at all?

            Since none of this makes sense I have to assume that either you don’t like losing an argument so will make up nonsense when challenged, or you are a deliberate troll. Sorry, that’s how communication works: show your colors — imply your nature.

          • Laurentius says:

            The value of game journalism should be in writing not in suppose integrity, hence whole Florence article is typical writers’ self indulgence and he is resposnsible for following mess. This obsession with integrity of game journalism has to stop , it’s pointless and it’s dragging it down.

          • HothMonster says:

            The impression I get from reading this thread is that you don’t know what integrity means.

            If RPS gave good reviews to shitty games because they profited personally from giving good reviews you do not feel this would matter? You don’t think people would care if they were lied to and you think people would continue coming here for opinions knowing those opinions were bought?

            I come here because I trust the authors. I don’t always agree with them and sometimes I think they spend too much time on some points and not enough on others but they often do influence the games I look into buying and the games I buy.

            So is your point I am a fool for valuing their opinion or that I am such a fool that I would accept their opinion even if it was paid for? Or the even more absurd, a bought opinion is just as worthwhile as a naturally reached opinion?

          • Laurentius says:

            No, it wouldn’t matter but it would matter if they started writing shitty reviews and articles. This obsession with integrity is nonsensical and people should realize it. The sooner the better.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            My god, you’re actually saying the style matters more than substance in games journalism. Games journalism.

            I literally don’t beleive what you’re saying – you’re a troll.

          • HothMonster says:

            Ok so you believe opinions that have been payed for are just as worthwhile as opinions reached naturally. I can now safely say that it is my opinion that you are a complete moron, and just so you know no one paid me to think that, not that it would matter apparently.

            How can you really think it doesn’t matter whether a reviewer wrote a good review about a game because he liked it or because he was paid to do so. Why do you even bother to come to this site if the reviews carry no more weight than the PR fluff the developers release themselves? Really there is no difference between a shill and a reviewer? Don’t answer these questions trying to think like you makes my brain mushy so I won’t be looking for your reply.

          • Laurentius says:

            Because net result wouldn’t change, at all.
            I see that people can’t let go this pointless idea. Still it it would be better if thay just make a stance about and hold onto it (i.e all game journalists are corrupt or all are honest or it is impossible to tell) and stop making fuss about it. It would at least partailly stop these vapid self-idulgance articles like Florence’s and this whole stupid mess that follows them.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            Most of us are taking a stance on it. Our stance is that it matters to us whether we can trust the coverage we receive to be impartial, and that whilst it’s impossible to know with absolute certainty which journalists are trustworthy, we’re intelligent and sensitive enough to make an informed judgment.

            Rab’s article was not “self-indulgent”, as you repeatedly, monotonously claim (to the point where I doubt you really care what the term means), rather it reflects the position of the majority, which is that ethical integrity is important in every area of journalism. Your continuing denial of this puts you in a minority that I find hateful, as, I’m sure, do many others. Perhaps ironically you have provided us with a neat definition of “self-indulgent”.

    • battles_atlas says:

      On the subject of the accuser though, I note she manages at a young age to have squeezed in both News International and Playboy amongst her employers. Not that I’m suggesting she will seemingly work for anyone that will pay her or anything.

  7. Hazzard65 says:

    My God! If you can’t trust games journalism what can you trust?

    My very reality must now be questioned – so many sleepless nights ahead of me I can assure you.

    • Cinnamon says:

      If games are worth your time then treat them and the people who write about them with a minimum of respect I guess. If we can’t respect games writers in general then how are we supposed to respect them when they bring up the more serious issues they occasionally want to discuss. Like Ubisoft consumer rights, games as art nonsense and the like.

      • frightlever says:

        Your respect has a very low barrier of entry it would appear.

        • Cinnamon says:

          Well, you haven’t crossed that line yet. The idea that games writers in general can’t expect any respect because they write about games is not one that I go along with.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            Concur. The “all journalists are scum” position is ridiculous.

    • Stochastic says:

      I don’t care if you’re reporting on politics or wedding dresses, if someone is willing to read your writing then you owe it to your readers to adhere to basic standards of integrity. If any good can come from this debacle, it’s that it highlights that at least some games journalists such as John and Rab value this a great deal. Contrary to popular opinion, most games journalists are honest writers.

      • Treebard says:

        100% agree. It’s worth speaking up simply to reinforce this, and I am incredibly of both John and (especially) Rab for their parts in this.

  8. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    When I go public about the Rock Paper Shotgun “Optimus Thumbs for Biscuits” scandal, expect the entire Internet to blaze for a week.

  9. Stevostin says:

    Getting someone removed from his position as a writer for this certainly seems wrong.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Worth noting that “getting someone removed” is not entirely what happened but more that an individual felt no longer able to continue working (in an already freelance capacity as I understand?) on the publication. To the very best of an outsider’s knowledge Rob was not fired or asked to stand down but felt he had to.

      Now you may well consider this some flavour of constructive dismissal but I feel it’s worth being careful with language in this instance, the story has already suffered continual bathing in flames.

      • cyrenic says:

        What do you think “she would not drop it until it was resolved to her satisfaction” really meant?

        • Cross says:

          You see, it probably meant, she wanted th article censored, as became the case. If Rab got fired over this, we’d probably have heard of it.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Rab resigned of his own free will in protest, if this is what you’re referring to.

      • Unaco says:

        After she threatened Legal Action and forced the editing of his piece.

      • Meat Circus says:

        Rab was left with no option. Not to stand down would be seen as implicitly supporting the kind of behaviour he was trying to criticise.

        • sonson says:

          Indeed, for all the plaudits it recived there was no way something so unwieldy as Kurosawa’s oriental homage to King Lear could ever hope to defend itself against such charges

          • Stochastic says:

            Did I miss something?

          • greenbananas says:

            @Stochastic

            Indeed, Meat Circus misspelled “Rab” as “Ran” but his kagemusha fixed it for him. “Ran” being Kurosawa’s samurai adaptation of King Lear for the movie camera. So, good movie reference! Yay! Fight typos with typos! Boo!

        • Gap Gen says:

          I think it was a principled move, but not a necessary one in order to maintain the moral high ground. As Tom Bramwell pointed out, the article still made the same points about as effectively without the name-dropping. It’s possible that the article is even stronger without the name-dropping, because that sort of thing can appear to the person named to be a personal attack, even phrased as gently and carefully as it was in the article.

          Note that I’m not condoning the threat of legal action, which was a mistake and backfired horribly for the people in question, just arguing that Rab’s resigning from his column wasn’t a necessary consequence of the legal action.

        • Deston says:

          Exactly, Meat Circus. Well said.

          I’ve had this argument too many times this week. I’m not sure why so many people seem to struggle in understanding the position this put Rab in – why he had to step down.

          He wrote an article discussing journalistic integrity, and attacking the lack of it in the games industry. It was a piece entirely against sacrificing the collective standards of professional ethics for personal gain. Ultimately, his article on the topic ended up heavily censored.

          What possible weight could his words carry – in that specific article or any other he submitted afterwards – if he had simply said “Oh, alright then, never mind”, shut up about it and continued taking money for his work there? What would that have said about the conviction behind his words?

          Rab did the only thing he could do, and he stepped down. It’s a damn fucking shame for the man, for Eurogamer and for its readers, but it was the only real choice left to him. To stay would have rendered his words hollow and hypocritical…. That’s obviously not a viable option for a writer of substance, and I applaud him for it.

          • Gap Gen says:

            It wasn’t heavily censored, a paragraph and a bit was removed while leaving the substance of the article untouched. While stepping down was a principled move, it wasn’t utterly necessary to maintain his journalistic integrity.

          • Deston says:

            I’m aware of how much of the article was removed, but the qualifier “heavily” wasn’t used to emphasise quantity. The proportion of words redacted from the article are irrelevant compared with the significance in the editorial act of removing citation and examples, especially under these particular circumstances.

            Questioning necessity is also odd after acknowledging Rab’s departure was a decision of principle – of course the ethics that dictated Rab’s decision are not utterly necessary.

            That’s awfully close to hitting on the crucial point here…

  10. The Reviewist says:

    I don’t want to incite a flamewar here, but I do have to point out that asid from the legitimately pointed out connections: Florence being an RPS freelancer, the Eurogamer connection and the rest. One aspect which has been glossed over, both in Walker’s blog pieces and in this article is the problem that John Walker was actually mentioned in the article.

    As someone named in Florence’s article, indeed as the only journalist mentioned in a non-critical light in the entire piece, surely that compromises him in writing this piece? He has a vested interest by association in retaining that positive inference.

    Just a thought.

    • beekay says:

      Yeah but I’m sure you’re aware that’s a pretty weak point. Just because he was mentioned positively (and rightly so, I’d think) doesn’t mean he’s instantly become a craven perception-whore. I have a vested interest in obtaining dollars, but I’m not going to beat any old ladies to death for their cash.

      Whoops, many*.

      What I’m saying is, if the article makes valid points, it makes valid points – independent of other considerations.

      • The Reviewist says:

        Absolutely, it’s not a deal breaker at all but it’s a point that has been summarily ignored.

        Furthermore I don’t agree that criticising one or more aspects of this piece or Florences piece is the same as saying it has no valid points. This is one of the most important discussions on the games journalism industry recently. But we should explore it thoroughly.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      So because Rab namedropped him, he shouldn’t have an opinion on the topic?

      • frightlever says:

        And, specifically, John wasn’t PART of the story. You don’t become part of the story by not doing what the “wrong-doers” were doing.

      • The Reviewist says:

        So because Rab namedropped him, he shouldn’t have an opinion on the topic?

        No, John’s more than entitled to write his blog pieces, which I thought were reasoned, intelligent and incisive, my point is that for him to then go on and write the RPS piece seems poorly thought out.

        John was one of only four Journalists mentioned by name in that article. The other three were all pulled up as commiting to actions which Rab said, could be regarded as possible evidence of suspect activity.

        Considering the content and topic on hand, it’s a little short sighted, or even blinkered to side-step that particular factor. I think it’s something that seems to have been overlooked in general. While we’re on the topic of vested interests, connections to companies and associations & involvemets, to have a party who was included in the originating article write the official piece on it is poor practice.

        • HothMonster says:

          Unless the article was edited between you reading it and now, he mentions it multiple times. Shy of going back in time and having Rab take him out of the original piece there isn’t really much he can do besides acknowledge the fact and he does.

          edit: and after a little more scrolling I see it was edited

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Yeah, I agree that you can infer bias on John’s part if you want, but the post speaks for itself. And besides, Mr Procter’s quite right.

    • Premium User Badge Saul says:

      Also, as John has pointed out numerous times (in this article and elsewhere), he’s only writing it in the first place because people have been harassing him to do so. He’s also fully disclosed his involvement in the affair. Therefore your criticism is – how shall I put it – a bit silly.

    • melnificent says:

      You can see it now.

      Please remove reference to me having standards and ethics. It is ruining my credibility as an upstanding journalist.

    • John Walker says:

      Dammit – I had meant to bring that up in the piece. Thank you for the reminder. I’ve edited a remark about it into the piece.

      As it happens, last week I began tweeting the article and shouting about how everyone should read it before I’d reached that bit, and then felt rather awkward. I guess the same principle applies.

      • The Reviewist says:

        That’s great. It just seemed like something that needed to be at least mentioned.

        I still don’t entirely agree with the RPS position on the whole situation but that’s ll part of the fun.

        • snv says:

          I don’t think that needed addressing, the causality was obvious:
          I never got the impression Walker could be writing about the article because he was mentioned.
          It always seemed to me he was both mentioned in the article and writing about it and the topic, because he is interested into the topic.

      • slight says:

        Yeah while the article is pretty straight forward about your position, your relationship to the story (now that you added that in) and so forth, and I’ve no feeling that anything about this article is inappropriate, it might have been better to have someone less involved write it.

        Oh well, bit of a storm in a teacup, but good that these things are discussed. Shame it had to get so heated.

  11. MiniMatt says:

    We had previously considered the story to be one of internal wrangling amongst games journalism, and RPS is primarily about games.

    For what (little) it’s worth, I think this is a commendable practice and something worth continuing in future although the need to bypass this practice in this instance is understandable.

    Personal blog posts and Twitter covered comment and opinion which I may or may not agree with. RPS covers news – albeit news flavoured with that RPS vibe through which a degree of comment and opinion permeates, but news nevertheless.

    • po says:

      Unfortunately though, in a round about way, it is related to games.

      If publishers find they can increase sales through PR, advertising, and petty ‘corruption’ of the press, then that in turn affects the quality of the games, because money being spent on promotion is money not being spent on development.

      If you want to see good quality games, then you need quality journalism too, otherwise the sucesss of a game developer will come down to hype and promotion, not their standards of production and iteration.

      I’m sure we all want the succesful developers to have become successful, through making quality games.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      Yes, I still think the assertion it’s outside the RPS remit is rather tenuous. It was the biggest story in gaming last week whichever way you choose to look at it – you can argue semantics all you like, but it’s no surprise to me that so many thought it odd for there to be no RPS article.

      Plus, I’m assuming the RPS team agree that it’s something that should have been reported in hindsight – otherwise they’d have the conviction to stick to their (shot)guns and leave the matter to rest completely, instead of releasing today’s article.

  12. Matt7895 says:

    I also stand behind Robert Florence, but even if I didn’t, I would still call out the despicable behaviour of Ms. Wainwright. Her use of UK libel laws (which we so desperately need to change), and her subsequent bragging about it on Twitter, all to silence a man who wasn’t being abusive but was merely questioning her journalism, was intolerable in a free and open society. It is actions such as the ones she has taken that have tainted games journalism in my view.

    • formivore says:

      Random yank here, and one who has been following with some interest the calamity at the BBC. As soon as I started reading this article the thought that came to mind was “wow, these two disasters really seem to have the same cause.”

      Why your country puts up with libel laws that seem so actively destructive is beyond me. I mean forget principles or free speech or whatever, just take a cold hard look at costs and benefits.

  13. Hirmetrium says:

    I like Dave Cook. He has done a lot for VG247 recently, and the site would be a shell without his hard work and input. I do not believe he deserved to be called out, even if he had entered the competition. It’s his twitter account. He can do whatever the fuck he likes with it. It does not represent VG247, just as your personal blog doesn’t represent RPS. If he wants to enter a competition, let him.

    Dave was in no way in a position as incriminating as Lauren was however – Dave’s twitter isn’t covered in Tomb Raider pictures, nor does he work for them on a freelance basis. He just seemed like a convenient target for the shout out.

    I believe that Rab acted unprofessionally by putting out a professional piece with names in it. That is not a matter of games journalism or anything like that – it is my personal opinion on reading an article. RPS doesn’t go about screaming the names of people its writers might have a problem with? Rab should of straight up said he was sorry, in public, just like the article is in public. I haven’t seen that anywhere.

    Lauren’s actions were what I would of expected – you don’t piss into somebody’s garden and expect they won’t come out swinging a bat at you (so to speak).

    None of what I have said is related to journalism. I take the idea of corruption very seriously. The recent spat with that RE6 article on that PS3 website, and the writer getting drunk and calling out Future on twitter made me seriously consider cutting my PC gamer subscription (something I am still wrestling with). Again, what the guy did was unprofessional.

    This will only open a can of worms again however – what must be like the 10th in as many months. Games journalism has its integrity under a spotlight at the moment.

    Finally, People like John are the reason that I still read games journalism and follow it. I applaud him for wading into a thick, messy pool and trying to sort it out – even if he is named.

    And finally, I think you genuinely upset Dave. He’s donated his PS3 to sick children now, rather than give it out in a reader contest. And RPS’s own guest writer Dan Grillopolis (damn spelling), another writer I admire has admitted to entering; where is he mentioned? Wouldn’t hurt for everyone to shake hands and come clean.

    EDIT: God damnit, f*** comments. I always come across as an arsehole.

    I wish the best of luck to Rabs. He is a genuinely great writer. I wish he had kept his job, or that he is rehired. Hopefully he will have learned from this experience.

    • PodX140 says:

      I personally very much appreciated the use of names and not shying away from pointing out offenders. This isn’t you going into someone’s garden and pissing on it as you said. This is someone going into their own garden, pissing on it, then you taking a photo and posting it so that others may see how you behave.

      These are not private accounts, or private emails or whatever. That would be different. These are public affairs, that have gone on in public, and there should be absolutely NO way that such information could be suppressed due to its very nature.

    • Prime says:

      “I like Dave Cook. He has done a lot for VG247 recently, and the site would be a shell without his hard work and input.”

      Ok, fine. The man works hard. Excellent.

      I do not believe he deserved to be called out, even if he had entered the competition.

      No-one is above questioning.

      It’s his twitter account. He can do whatever the fuck he likes with it.

      Mostly accurate. But owning an account does not excuse his responsibility for his words, or mean that he cannot be called out for them. Imagine if he had promoted racist material. Would you criticise someone who called him out on that?

      It does not represent VG247, just as your personal blog doesn’t represent RPS. If he wants to enter a competition, let him.”

      You’re missing the point here. He works as a games journalist but was seen, as were all the others, entering a competition run by games publishers to win prizes. What, you think they asked everyone to post on twitter because they just like twitter? No, they were basically asking for PUBLIC endorsement of their products. To claim otherwise is to completely misunderstand social media. Unless his account was locked down and private then he was an individual in a position of some authority being asked to promote a product on a public space. THAT’s what this whole thing is about, the blurred line between PR and Journo and where do their responsibilities lie, where should the boundaries be.

      Lauren’s actions were what I would of expected – you don’t piss into somebody’s garden and expect they won’t come out swinging a bat at you (so to speak

      Simply being quoted in an article is NOT “pissing in somebody’s garden”. It’s called “backing up an assertion with proof.” Lauren’s response, to attempt have a fellow Journalist silenced, was using a nuke to crack a walnut, and deeply disrespectful of her chosen profession.

      • Hirmetrium says:

        God dammit Prime – I hate responding to broken up posts. I’ll try my best.

        Firstly, I was giving some context of who Dave is, for those who don’t know. I was also pointing out my own bias – that I like Dave Cook’s work. Do you really have to be a prick about that?

        If nobody is above questioning, why call two out of HOW MANY journalists? It’s petty and looks like you have a personal vendetta. It looks vindictive. It looks like you are trying to sabotage somebody’s career.

        I don’t see the comparison between a competition hashtag tweet and somebody putting out a racist remark. Ones a COMPETITION ENTRY (which may as well be ignored) and the other is a personal opinion about a matter that is socially unacceptable. My friends do it all the time – does it matter to me? no.

        I am merely stating what I believe the boundries are. I don’t see how a competition entry bares relation to journalism. That is what I am getting at. How can simply tweeting a hashtag make people insult you so badly? to question your integrity at such a level? There was no conflict of interest for Dave, OR Dan Gril, or ANYBODY else who entered it. Do people think less of you if you enter a competition for a bit of fun? Where do you draw the line Prime? The whole twitter culture is ridiculous and I honestly can’t form a proper opinion on it because I find the whole thing insane. Paid to tweet on VG247′s official twitter? That is the boundary crossed.

        And its called an analogy. If you make a claim, ESPECIALLY against somebody’s integrity, do you expect that they will take it lying down? Come on Prime, are you that naive? And it was hardly a nuke, just as it was hardly pissing in somebody’s garden. But the point stands – expecting it to be brushed off after planting the seeds of the idea that this person is corrupt, and could ruin their professional career, but your not sure, and your only suggesting it, and expecting that person won’t respond? What would you do in that situation? People won’t hire either Rab or Lauren now. This will likely hang over them for a while. Yes, she responded destructively – but that’s equally her own demise. It’s all over the news now, and she won’t be able to escape it.

        • PodX140 says:

          Because it was a competition LIMITED to journalists. By entering, they said that this is me as a journalist endorsing this product because they may give me free whatever.

          • Guvornator says:

            Hey, journo’s, you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to WIN YOUR OWN BRIBE!

          • Hirmetrium says:

            At an event limited to journalists. I don’t see what your trying to prove here. I couldn’t of gotten tickets to the GMA’s even if I wanted because I’m not part of the industry. By extension so is the competition.

            I don’t see what you guys are getting at. You are blowing a harmless competition entry out of proportion. None of this was ever for personal gain – for some, it was for them to hand out in other competitions on their own sites to the benefit of their readers. It was their personal twitters. Not VG247′s, or MCV’s. You know, that people follow because they chose to. It’s hardly like they were promoted tweets from corporations.

            How would you all be reacting if it was an RPS staff member that had been called out? (I’m actually shooting myself in the foot here, I’ve already named one and I shouldn’t of). It’s double standards. I actually hate myself for being involved in such an argument now. I’ve ended up as the very thing I was arguing against in the first place. I believed Rabs actions, naming names, unprofessional (as were my own, earlier on). That’s all I have to say on that front.

            There’s a rule on most forums – don’t name cheaters. This isn’t the 16th century and we’re not hunting witches. What could naming people ever, possibly achieved in the context or the original article?

          • MentatYP says:

            @Hirmetrium

            The problem with your position is you are trying to separate the person from his position. There is a very, very blurry line there. Do these journalists have completely separate Twitter accounts that they use–one for work and one for personal stuff? How can you separate the journalist-ness from the person? It’s a sticky subject and not nearly as clean a break as you try to make it out. The principle is to be above even the appearance of impropriety. Journalists tweeting out as many hashtags of an upcoming game as they can in the name of competition, albeit with “personal” Twitter accounts, smells very much like a conflict of interest. I’m not saying there was any malicious intent, but the action itself is suspicious and the fact that journos are rushing to defend the practice proves a serious lack of self-awareness among them. Either they truly don’t realise how fishy it all smells or they’re covering up something. Either way, it’s not good.

        • battles_atlas says:

          @ Hirmetrium

          I’m pretty staggered you choose to call Prime “naive” in the same post you claim that there is no conflict of interest in a games journalist using a public platform to publicise a game in return for a chance of material reward from its promoters. I struggle to think of a more textbook example of ‘conflict of interest’.

          Absolutely Florence should have named them. They were using their personal status as a games industry ‘personality’ to promote this game in return for a chance of reward. They made it personal, not Florence.

        • Prime says:

          Hirmetrium, I apologise for the first line. It wasn’t actually meant to be sarcastic or me being a prick but on the internet it’s hard to distinguish that. I’ll do better next time. I was actually simply agreeing with you about Dave Cook’s work ethic.It’s your opinion of the man and I respect that. Sorry.

          You call out two journalists because those two illustrate the point you are making very neatly, without padding the article unnecessarily with hundreds of names in the interests of fairness. Lauren’s was good quote, and Dave got singled out for his indefensible response to John Walker. That there is exactly why they were listed, and no-one else.

          The example of the Racism was to illustrate that there is a code of responsibility for using any service. They aren’t directly comparable, no, but then I wasn’t claiming they were. You stated that ownership of an account meant he had carte blanche to do what he liked without criticism. I gave you an example of why that was false. It wasn’t meant to be like-for-like.

          Protecting your integrity is one thing, but subverting the rules and spirit of Journalism to do it is, as I said by use of colourful metaphor, vastly disproportionate. Threatening Libel against a simple direct quote? That’s absurd, right there. She could have found a hundred better ways to respond to this. She chose the nuclear option.

          For the record I do think Dan Grillopilous made a mistake in participating in the competition. I even question whether Keiron Gillen was right to accept an ‘Industry Legend’ award that same night from such an entity as GMA. (I don’t know what the answer is to that second one, but it is entirely right that it is questioned).

          • Hirmetrium says:

            Ok, thanks for your response Prime. I can see your angle, and I accept it. I was merely expressing my own opinion on where I feel personal/professional lines are drawn.

            I suppose journalism is a very different industry to the one I am familiar with. I feel how you act off duty, in your own time, and with your own social media accounts is your own business. I don’t see how entering a competition could of cast one’s journalist standards into light, no matter the entry requirements.

            I still feel the libel threat is something that hasn’t been directly addressed. MCV said one thing, Eurogamer said another (either could of attempted to play the victim). As you said yourself, trust nobody. But, the damage is done – it appears to have reflected more poorly on her than anybody else. I still maintain that her response is one that should of been anticipated, and even if it was an over-reaction, I do not believe it was “nuclear”. Making inflammatory statements about people is sure to lead down dark paths.

            I daresay that Kieron accepted it out of politeness than anything else. If this event teaches us anything, “going nuclear” is not a good response.

            Finally, I too shall apologize. These comments bring out the worst in me.

          • Guvornator says:

            Dan Grillopilous also thinks he was wrong and apologised on John’s blog.

    • Mattressi says:

      I think part of the issue was that it was a competition specifically for journalists. While I still think it is compromising for a journalist to enter such a competition, but which is meant for the general public (not just journos), it is clearly designed to be advertising if the competition is aimed at journalists.

      So, I could understand the reasoning behind tweeting a hashtag if the twitter account was solely a personal one (not at all work related) and if the competition was open to the public. I still think that journalists of whatever field should stay away from promoting products in that field for any form of payment (even if it’s just an entry into a prize draw). I know that I don’t want to read anything from someone who’s done something like that – who’s to say they haven’t been further compromised by bribes/offers/gifts?

    • AmateurScience says:

      Well yes, I follow Dave Cook on twitter because I like his work.

      I am also more likely to buy a game if writers whose opinion I value tell me it is worth getting (Hotline Miami being a recent example).

      Now if through, for example, the chance to win a PS3, a PR type gets one of these writers whose view on games I value, to tweet something that draws my attention to a game I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. Does that not, from a certain point of view *appear* that that individual has been paid* to advertise* that game?

      Rab’s point was that it’s not the kind of thing that an independent member of the gaming press should be doing. And it isn’t.

      * or alternatively: tricked into promoting

    • jalf says:

      I do not believe he deserved to be called out, even if he had entered the competition.

      Why not?

      It’s his twitter account. He can do whatever the fuck he likes with it. It does not represent VG247, just as your personal blog doesn’t represent RPS. If he wants to enter a competition, let him.

      It doesn’t work like that. When he writes a review of a game, then it is *his* review, with *his* words. And so it matters what *he* does, and which gifts *he* accepts from game companies.

      As a journalist (or whatever we should call it), he has a lot of reach, a lot of influence. Using that influence for personal gain is wrong, even if, *especially if* you do it in your own name.

      Dave was in no way in a position as incriminating as Lauren was however – Dave’s twitter isn’t covered in Tomb Raider pictures, nor does he work for them on a freelance basis. He just seemed like a convenient target for the shout out.

      So? No one claimed that he was in a position as incriminating as Lauren. Rab certainly didn’t. But he did something stupid (and posted some quite sensible comments on the article, backing out and stating that he could see why it would be a problem)

      I believe that Rab acted unprofessionally by putting out a professional piece with names in it.

      Honestly, this attitude bugs me. if you do something wrong in public, why shouldn’t the public be told that what you did was wrong?

      RPS doesn’t go about screaming the names of people its writers might have a problem with

      they pretty much do with this article, don’t they?
      And Rab didn’t “scream the names of people he have a problem with”. He pointed out that these specific individuals have a problem with how people, their readers, perceive them.

      That certainly doesn’t warrant an apology.

    • Guvornator says:

      “I believe that Rab acted unprofessionally by putting out a professional piece with names in it.”

      It may be just my cynical old grumpy brain at work here, but this rather reads “I believe [a journalist ] acted unprofessionally by [doing journalism]“.

      I’d point to this bit of media theory:
      “Personnel in the news organization (in this case the games industry) become gatekeepers, letting some stories pass through the system but keeping others out, thus limiting, controlling, and shaping the public’s knowledge of the totality of actual event occurring in reality.”
      Whether Dave is a good bloke or not, he should not have entered the competition. Due to him being a games journalist anything he says on games will be taken more seriously than, say anything I say., because I’m Joe Public. It’s pretty compromising to tweet stuff promoting a game in order to win something donated by that game’s publishers when you’re a games journalist.

      This is the thin end of the wedge. I know many travel blogs whose content is totally dominated by holidays donated by companies for publicity purposes. If that’s how you like your games journalism, go right ahead ignoring conflicts of interest like this…

    • HothMonster says:

      “Lauren’s actions were what I would of expected”

      Respond to critics don’t censor them. Especially if you haven’t even requested and been denied a chance to respond in the same forum. And you are already someone who speaks/writes to the public.

      I would expect her to write a response and request it be added to the article or featured as a seperate article on EG. I do not abide threatening people if they refuse to censor their opinions as a first response.

      It’s also an especially stupid tactic in the internet age, “streisand effect” wouldn’t be a phrase if such threats didn’t blow up in the face of the person doing the threatening on such a regular basis.

      Of course my opinion is not > than yours.

  14. Yachmenev says:

    People were in their rights to have opinions about RPS not doing an article about it, absolutely. I understood RPS reasons and respected them, but I also respect that some hade legitimate concerns about it.

    But many accusations posted here and on NeoGAF were absolutely ridiculous, and I hope some of those people will calmn down now and realize how silly they made themselves look. In some cases, discussions about this subject has resulted in rants that are more fitting for a mob from a Monty Python bit.

  15. Matt-R says:

    Sucks that RPS got dragged ito this but.. this whole thing seems to me much ado about nothing couldn’t really care less if someone hashtags something to try and win something on their personal account.

    • PodX140 says:

      I dunno, I honestly find this despicable. You’re using your own personal authority and trust with others for personal gain, ignoring how this might affect other people. How would you feel if you saw journalists supporting a game that was complete shit just because they got some personal wealth out of it? It’s not much different here, except it’s just on a smaller degree (less shit, less sacrifice, but same concept).

      • Matt-R says:

        I just seperate professional from personal I guess. I don’t see this as journalists promoting a game paid / bribed / tricked by PR, it was just people personally entering a competition. I’d do the same and not really think about people calling me out for it because it seems like a non-issue and I’m not exactly going to hold people up to a higher standard than my own.

        If it were on a website that was used professionally to write about games however then sure I’d see this as a bit naff, but it’s not (Unless I missed that part).

        • PodX140 says:

          If this was a competition that was available to the public I wouldn’t have a problem. Sadly, it was journalists only, thereby making their tweets journalistic in nature.

    • mondomau says:

      I hope this doesn’t sound patronising, but I think you and a lot of people in this thread and the community at large, are missing the point entirely. All Rob’s piece did was question, respectfully and without accusation, whether it was a good idea for a games journalist to be partaking in a journalist only competition to win free stuff as part of a game company PR drive. He then observed that such an action, or (in the case of Ms Wainright,) the loud and vehement defence of same, could be construed as a bit iffy – particularly in the latter case where Wainright , who lists Square Enix as one of her ‘employers’ was enthusiastically heaping praise on the unreleased Tomb Raider on her (then public) Twitter.

      That’s it, it stopped there. No accusations, no slander or libel, it was genuine and legitimate question and it should have been met with a polite rebuttal. What actually happened is that Ms Wainright threw a shitfit and, with the help of persons/legal teams unknown, bullied Eurogamer into editing the piece. In bold, for effect – she maliciously and without just cause, silenced another journalist for posing a simple question. This is, in my view, about the worst thing one journalist can do to another, regardless of how ‘serious’ your particular field is. Wainright should be fucking ashamed of herself, she is a disgrace to her profession.

      Unfortunately, what happened afterwards only made the situation worse – a huge portion of the ‘games journalism’ community closed ranks and turned on Rob, most likely as John has said, because this issue struck a little too close to home. The reaction of the internet has been a tiresomely predictable assault on Wainright’s gender and has only served to obfuscate the issue to the point where people are able to casually dismiss the whole issue as ‘drama’, rather than facing up to the fact that a massive breach of ethics by Wainright / MCV / Square Enix has resulted in an honest writer being forced out of his job and the PR teams have yet again shown everyone who’s boss.

      TL;DR - It’s nothing to do with the twitter competition, it’s the fact a journalist and/or PR firm used shadey libel laws to forcibly silence a writer that asked an awkward but entirely legitimate question.

  16. frightlever says:

    This is from the EG response article:

    “Apart from anything else, it is no exaggeration to say that in the last few days people from outside Eurogamer have screamed at me about publishing Rab’s column. It was very unpopular with a lot of people who I have grown to know and like over the last 13 years.”

    He likes the wrong sort of people if they’re screaming at him for allowing an editorial criticism of their skeevy practises, even in a censored form.

    If games journalists have to swim in the same pools as PR people, they’re going to get out of the water feeling greasy.

    • mondomau says:

      I think that may be why John is worked up enough over this to bring it here as well his own blog – this has become bigger than just Wainwright / Florence, it’s shown the whole rotten core of ‘games journalism’ and how laughable it is to strive to promote it as a legitimate field when this kind of shit is deemed acceptable.

  17. zebedee says:

    It all seems a bit fudge-y (for sensible, depressing reasons no doubt) as to whether Eurogamer were responding to an *actual* letter from a lawyer, or merely the suggestion that a letter from a lawyer would be forthcoming.

    While reacting to the former by cutting Rab’s piece is a bit depressing it does at least make some sense as a judgement call given our libel laws.

    If it’s the latter (ie no letter was actually sent) then that’s a bit, well, *puffs cheeks and lets the air out slowly* really.

  18. PodX140 says:

    Well done RPS for mentioning this, I find the idea of suppression of public actions extremely reprehensible, and Wainwright is despicable in my eyes for wanting to SUE for her own public actions. To me, this is nothing more than a child screaming in a store then going to the police for people mentioning his outbursts.

    On the topic of Florence’s article, I fully agree that journalists should very much watch what they say and do and attempt to be more professional. If I saw several posts on RPS or even their twitter accounts advertising games purely for personal gain I would be greatly disappointed. I’m not sure why gaming is one of those industries where public bribes aren’t completely outcried, but in fact celebrated by many as “supporting the industry.”

  19. Persus-9 says:

    My faith in RPS is shakable (as is my faith in all things) but this hasn’t shaken it in the least. I think they’ve handled the whole thing in a very classy manner. Given that Rab is an RPS writer and he got into trouble for reporting an argument in which, John, an RPS editor was arguing against some minor corruption RPS could easily have spun this as them being the bastions of white light and integrity against a dark backdrop of corruption. That they choose to not make political capital out of this and instead annoyed some of their readers with silence was the better course of action in my opinion.

  20. Bhazor says:

    From the Eurogamer article
    “Rab’s original point, as I interpreted it as his editor and on the basis of which I thought his column was worth publishing, was that games journalists are all a little bit compromised. Not hugely so. But a little. And we need to think about it more than we do. We talk about ethics a lot behind the scenes at Eurogamer, but do we talk about it enough? Probably not. We have all developed relationships with people who work in games in order to get our jobs done. We all get sent free stuff. We accept these things because they are a means by which we can report on games, but how can we know they don’t influence us?”

    Huh. I don’t think he gets it. The issue isn’t about receiving free games for review its about this.
    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2010/11/call-of-duty-black-ops-review-event-press-gifts-detailed/

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I imagine he’s referring primarily to free review copies. Obviously these aren’t essential to games journalism, but they’re necessary to remain competitive and…. hm, perhaps you have a point.

      Edit: your edit puts us at crossed porpoises.

    • PodX140 says:

      Agreed. It’s like the author of that article has become either completely desensitized to the idea of personal vs public gain, or just thinks that this is somehow OK.

      It’s one thing for a company to send you the game and nothing else, that allows you to do your job. But what purpose does getting you a special edition have? Why does some mug or swag increase your ability to judge the game? It doesn’t. And it shouldn’t be accepted, hard as it may be to refuse.

    • Surlywombat says:

      The “things” he is talking about is having to have relationships with the PR and marketing people. Not the actual trinkets.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Good points. Thanks for that link too.

    • Shuck says:

      Speaking as someone working in the game industry (but not in PR), who gets to see how journalists are treated from this side, let me be clear: we’re trying to bribe, to buy, to compromise reporters. Look, for example, at the lavish industry parties you may have heard of. Those aren’t for the benefit of developers – we don’t get invited to those; they’re for the reporters. Even start-ups spend huge sums of money on these – millions of dollars in some cases that I know of. The gifts, the special events, the parties – these are all the sorts of things that in any other industry (or other type of journalism) would so ethically compromise the target that they’d be fired, but they’re standard practice in the games industry.
      The recent laughing off of the whole issue by industry PR people over Twitter was particularly repulsive in light of the reality. Everyone involved has seemingly been in the water so long, they’ve become unaware of the medium in which they’re swimming.

      • PodX140 says:

        This is very well put. I do think they’ve managed to forget that this behavior should be treated as despicable.

  21. Grape says:

    It’s good that you complain about advertisements with nudity in it. Because that would be horrible.

    Seriously, RPS, I thought at least you of all people would be better than this.

    • beekay says:

      I suspect they might object for practical and social reasons, i.e. that they have quite a few young readers whose parents would pitch a fit, and that they’re not interested in the sort of community that tends to develop around Evony ads.

      I mean really, this is the internet. Even if we assume the RPS writers used to be puritanical, how long could that attitude reasonably withstand this environment?

    • JayTee says:

      I appreciate naked bodies as next as the next person (I own a naked body of my own and everything) but there’s a time and a place for naked bodies, and reading semi-coherent speakings about games is not one of them. While games have reached mainsteam levels of acceptability within the Great Unwashed, filling what is normally a good source of games journalism with naked bodies doesn’t do much to maintain the image of games as a legitimate and non-sexual-titilation media.

      I’d still visit RPS if it carried adverts involving naked bodies, but it would somewhat cheapen the experience. Kinda like going to a magic show with Jonathan Creek.

    • Prime says:

      Censorship happens for many valid reasons, Grape. It’s too simplistic to imply that nudity should be permissible in every context.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Adverts with nudity would get the site blocked by the filters that many companies use – meaning people couldn’t read RPS at work. This would be a bad thing.

      • LionsPhil says:

        And even without that, reading a news site during breaks is fine, but having nudity on the screen isn’t.

        RPS “taking a stand” against that wouldn’t change workplace policy; it’d just mean fewer people read it.

    • Durkonkell says:

      No, RPS is right on this. We’re not talking about censorship of nudity because it’s worse than hyper violence or to protect our delicate sensibilities. This is censorship of nudity as a marketing tool. I am a big fan of the female form – in fact, it’s probably my favourite type of form – but I resent being treated like a caveman. As if I’m going to think “this game looks awful but wait! Boobs! I shall buy this at once!”

      Edit: JayTee, “I own a naked body of my own and everything” made me laugh. Thanks, JayTee. ThayTee.

    • Stochastic says:

      To be fair, how many times have game ads used nudity in a tasteful way?

    • MajorManiac says:

      I assume this is not done to make the website family-friendly, but rather work-safe.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I’m surprised you think that RPS would be fine with the worst of the sexist advertising about games.

      No, we don’t want that money.

  22. Deano2099 says:

    A response column would have been nice, but did EG offer Wainwright the same as Rab’s fee to write one? Or should she just be working for them for free?

    • Toberoth says:

      Hahaha, what?

      Are you seriously suggesting they should commission her for giving her the opportunity to defend herself? Because if you are, that’s hilarious.

    • mondomau says:

      Not to mention the fact that ‘defend herself’ implies Rob was attacking her, which is bullshit. He asked a question of the community at large and happened to mention her as an example.

      • Bhazor says:

        The best part is that there’s now a big flag next to the article giving her name, stating her original placement and implying that she took legal action.

  23. ocelotwildly says:

    In the course of this whole furore, I found occasion to go back and read Rab’s previous columns on Eurogamer. I think above and beyond the ethical debate that this piece raised (which is important and I’m glad to see RPS are still fighting the good fight) it highlighted what a loss to game writing it will be if Rab is so disheartened by events that he puts down his games pen for good.

    I often skip over cardboard children, not because I dislike the content or the writing, but because I love board games but lack the time and sufficiently enthused friends to be able to play them with any kind of regularity. Reading his column regularly would only add to the growing list of boardgames I want to play but have no opportunity. As such, I do hope that out of all this, if Rab does want to turn his hand back to games writing, that this site would afford him the space to do that, because I really think that his perspective and writing was too good to be chased away by cowards hiding behind lawyers.

  24. jalf says:

    I think the problem is basically that games journalism isn’t a thing. It doesn’t exist.

    Most people who call themselves games journalists aren’t. They’re basically freelance PR people. What most games “journalism” seems to consists of is basically contacting a game studio’s PR department to ask if they have any message they’d like you to help them spread. That’s not journalism, and so it’s no surprise that these people don’t act like journalists.

    Sure, there are people who write about games or the games industry, and who actually do so in a way that can be considered journalism. For example, the RPS team does a good job of writing a lot of interesting things about games, and most importantly, you actually write your own content and bring up your own issues and ask questions other than those PR people told you to ask.

    But for the most part, the term “games journalism” is so meaningless as to be, well, meaningless. Maybe one day games journalism will be a thing, but we’re not there yet. And I suspect that even using the term until then might be harmful, because it might lead some of these people to *believe* that they’re journalists, to forget that journalism is supposed to be more than “helping other companies spread their press releases”.

    When people aspire to this kind of job, they *think* they want to be “games journalists”, when what they really want to be is “freelance PR assistant”, or something like that. They want to be sent free games, to be able to go to E3 and get free swag, to have industry contacts and to know who to call when it’s been a while since Blizzard or Sega or Valve last sent out new screenshots of their upcoming games. And they believe that this is journalism.

    • ocelotwildly says:

      Your position is slightly flawed by the fact that you are commenting on a site that actually does do games journalism right. I think the allegation of all games journalists simply being puffed up PR people only highlights the issue people are trying to address, rather than prove that the fight cannot be won.

      Obviously, writing about computer games is not being an embedded reporter in the Afghan conflict, nor is it likely to have its own Woodward and Bernstein, but journalism is a broad church and there is room for it to cover writing about games and the surrounding ephemera for an interested audience. Yes, a lot of the information will come from PR departments, that’s the nature of the beast, but it is the journalists job to interpret this and present it to the audience with as many provisos and caveats as neccessary.

      So whilst RPS probably do post a lot of information that comes in from PR departments, they appear to scrupulously write their own copy, are fully honest about the amount of actual gameplay they’ve been exposed too, and present everything as being up for debate until they’ve actually got the finished product in front of them. At that stage, of course, they do what they do best and discuss games critically which, whilst not strictly journalism, comes out of the field of popular criticism of other forms of media, which is commonly described as journalism as a continent short hand (see: music journalist, tech journalist etc etc) An interesting counterpoint would be ‘film critic’ with the emphasis very much on ‘critic’ – Movies clearly think they’re better than the rest of the rabble!

      • Lacero says:

        One thing I love about this site is that they always tell you when they’re posting the pr blurb, and actually quote it so it’s distinct from their own words.

      • jalf says:

        Your position is slightly flawed by the fact that you are commenting on a site that actually does do games journalism right. I think the allegation of all games journalists simply being puffed up PR people only highlights the issue people are trying to address, rather than prove that the fight cannot be won.

        I tried to make it clear that I didn’t include the RPS team in my (very broad) generalization. Perhaps I failed.

        What I tried to get across is that on the whole, when people say “games journalism”, they’re not talking about journalism at all, but about a kind of PR work.

        The RPS team does a great job, and if it wasn’t because the term “games journalism” was so polluted already, so meaningless, then I would gladly call them games journalists.

        Yes, a lot of the information will come from PR departments, that’s the nature of the beast, but it is the journalists job to interpret this and present it to the audience with as many provisos and caveats as neccessary.

        I disagree. It’s the nature of the current, sick and toxic beast. It is not the nature of the actual beast called “Journalism”, in games or otherwise. It is a journalist’s job to report on *more* than just what the PR people said. Not just interpreting and translating the PR people’s words, because even the best interpreter is still at the PR people’s mercy.

        • ocelotwildly says:

          I meant its the nature of the beast only in that PR departments are where information about games, by and large, comes from. It’s like political journalists reporting what politicians say at press conferences and policy launches – obviously the information they have to say is relevant and needs to be reported on, the job of the journalist is to relay it to the lay audience with as much of the spin and the biases removed and explain it in context. It is this part of the job that the churning games news blogs seems to completely ignore.

          • jalf says:

            And that is exactly what I disagree with, and what I think is terribly sad, and says a lot about the state of so-called “games journalism”.

            To use your example, the job of a political journalist is not to simply rewrite, filter and “interpret” press releases from a politician. Their job is also to confront polticians with awkward questions, to write about issues that the poltican has an effect on, but which their press department is mysteriously silent about, to *investigate*.

            They certainly shouldn’t ignore official press statements. But their job is a whole lot more than taking such statements and sanitizing them. And yet, when it comes to games “journalism”, you say that that is what their job is. No, their job, if they want to call themselves journalists, is a whole lot more than that.

          • ocelotwildly says:

            I do see where you’re coming from, but ultimately I don’t think that investigative journalism is an area that is going to get much traction in the games media (but as I pointed out above, this is by no means the only form journalism must take). There have been some good recent examples (like John recently taking Ubisoft to the cleaners over DRM), but the vast majority of writing about games will be best achieved by talking to the games developers and publishers head on. Are you hoping to see more games journalists to go through the bins outside Activision to gather that crucial piece of evidence that says, yes, they will be making a new CoD game?

            Politicians are investigated, grilled and put through the wringer of the press because they make important decisions that effect all of us, and it is our prerogative to know that they are making these decisions on our behalf and not on behalf of vested interests. Games, if we are being perfectly honest, are not as important as that. That’s not to say that games journalists shouldn’t have ethics, as we’ve seen in the last week or so it’s something that needs to be tightened up. But more often than not, the relationship between games publishers and games journalists will be symbiotic, and not in a way that necessarily compromises either side: Games journalists want games to write about, publishers want people to write about the games. As long as no back handers are going round to influence the discussion or people being lent on to present games in certain ways, its OK for both parties to have a relationship with each other. I just think it’s a little unfair to say that people aren’t journalists just because they don’t investigate things, that’s why we have investigative journalists, as distinct from the others that aren’t.

          • jalf says:

            the vast majority of writing about games will be best achieved by talking to the games developers and publishers head on.

            Certainly. But my beef is with *how* this is done. And, quite honestly, I don’t think “talking to developers and publisher head on” is quite the same thing as “parroting their official press releases”, or getting free travel and swag.
            You don’t need to go rummaging through garbage bins or grill game developers about why they were seen with some scantily clad woman two weeks ago just to write about a game.

            But it is healthy, and important, to keep in mind that you are writing about a game, and not about the story that the game’s PR people want to tell you.

            I believe Leigh Alexander had some fairly sharp comments not too long ago about realizing that developers/publisher/PR people are, in a sense, “the enemy”. They’re trying to keep you from writing the simple facts about their game, and instead report a specific fairytale-story.

            But more often than not, the relationship between games publishers and games journalists will be symbiotic

            But let’s think about this for a moment. The game’s publishers get free publicity, so there’s certainly something in it for them. What exactly does the other side get out of the bargain? Sure, they get to spread publicity about the game *too*, but that’s not symbiotic, that’s just doing the PR team’s job. It’s no more symbiotic than when your PR department employs two people, and they work together on the same game’s PR. There’s no symbiosis between them. It’d be symbiotic if the journalist got something *else* out of it, some actual journalism, something that is more than PR. If the PR guy gets the journalist to produce publicity, and the journalist gets to… uh, spread the PR guy’s publicity, then that’s not a symbiotic relationship. Then it’s parasitic.

            So perhaps games journalists (and readers) need to think a bit more about what the people who are *not* PR get out of this “bargain”.

            If all they get is “we get paid to write PR material”, then they might as well just get a PR job. So what *else* do they get? What do they get that makes the deal worthwhile for them *as journalists*?

            I just think it’s a little unfair to say that people aren’t journalists just because they don’t investigate things, that’s why we have investigative journalists, as distinct from the others that aren’t.

            Do you think there is there such a sharp distinction? From a journalist, I’d expect most stories to have *some* element of research or investigation. Obviously, not as much when you’re writing about how the local village church held a wonderful event last weekend, as when you’re covering, say, poltiical corruption or how corporation X sells products made from human flesh, but still, *some* research, *some* digging, some going beyond what the press release said.

          • ocelotwildly says:

            I find myself agreeing with most of what you say, I guess I just got a bit riled up by your initial assertion that

            I think the problem is basically that games journalism isn’t a thing.It doesn’t exist.

            which seemed a little unfair to me. I agree that there is an awful lot of bad journalism out there, but there is little that I would say is so completely indistinguishable from pure PR puff that it doesn’t even deserve the name (although maybe I just don’t go to the right sites!)

    • The Reviewist says:

      Actually the problem is not that most games journalists are “Freelance Pr”
      It’s that a lot of games journalists are staff writers whose job is to re-word the latest press releases to go on websites that post constant streams of “Game news”

      As a result the majority of those sites are just churn filled rubbish. Games journalist comes from the columns, interviews and featured articles that sadly are expensive to commission (good writers cost money) and mostly ignored by the gaming readership of salivating fanboys and fangirls.

      • jalf says:

        Actually the problem is not that most games journalists are “Freelance Pr”
        It’s that a lot of games journalists are staff writers whose job is to re-word the latest press releases to go on websites that post constant streams of “Game news”

        You read my post too literally. :)
        I meant exactly what you’re saying.
        When I said “freelance PR”, I didn’t mean “people who sometimes take an actual job for a PR team” (as Wainwright apparently, supposedly, allegedly did for Squeenix).

        I meant that when what you’re doing is basically re-wording press releases (and, when you don’t have any, contacting a PR team to *get* some), then you *are* effectively freelance PR, rather than a journalist. You’re doing the PR team’s work.

        So I think we agree perfectly. :)

    • Gorf says:

      Pretty much agree with you here.
      You have to seperate the reviewers from the games journalists.
      If anything, then at least the shitmunchers know they are being watched more closely.

  25. Taidan says:

    Hmmm. While I think that naming names was possibly distasteful, it was all above board and factually accurate, thus fair game for a journalistic piece of that nature.

    The behaviour of one of those named names though, and the various edits and untruths that have made to various profiles and blogs after the fact, is truly disgraceful. While I’m assuming it’s more a case of naivety and ambition trumping ethics and common sense rather than anything truly nasty, that particular writer surely cannot be anything other than a liability to any organization they are connected to going forward.

  26. Lacero says:

    I appreciate the post, it would’ve been a shame if the Flare Path article stood as the only RPS comment on the matter.

  27. Earl-Grey says:

    I certainly hope it was a very vocal minority of …people (I have nothing nice to say about them, so I shall merely refer to them as people. See my comment on the latest Sunday Papers for a rather more unkind designation) that for some asinine reason chose to attack RPS for “staying silent”.
    At least that’s what it seemed like to me.

    Self righteous, entitled, paranoid shitwits are the reason why we can’t have nice things.

    The contributors to this site have more than proven themselves paragons in their field, show some bloody respect.

    I feel I must quote myself:
    “These are good people and proper journalists you offend…begone foul troll!”

    • Stochastic says:

      My own interpretation was more that people just wanted RPS to make some kind of comment on the issue given that they were so close to the epicenter of all this. But that’s just my take and I’m biased in my own ways, and there were definitely some comments in the Sunday Papers that had an accusatory tone.

      • Earl-Grey says:

        Yes, I think I agree with you.
        After going over the comments on the Sunday Paper most people just want some comment from their, perhaps, most trusted source.
        But there were some commenters who I felt started attacking RPS and boy oh boyo did they make me angry.
        Maybe I’m taking it rather too personal and becoming too defensive. But RPS is by far my most favorite site on the internet and their writers are some of the only writers I trust whole heartedly.
        Perhaps I’ve been too harsh in my comments but this place is special to a lot of people and when someone tries to drag it through the mud, I get angry.

        -and you wouldn’t like me when I’m…. sorry.

    • The Visible Man says:

      I agree. The comment thread on the Sunday Papers was akin to a mob wielding pitchforks screaming “HEY! WHERE THE FUCK IS YOUR PITCHFORK?!”

  28. TillEulenspiegel says:

    We had previously considered the story to be one of internal wrangling amongst games journalism, and RPS is primarily about games.

    I think you’re slightly misjudging the audience. While I certainly don’t want to be inundated with linkbaity manufactured drama (as some sites produce), this shit is important. It’s context for understanding everything else that goes on in the industry.

    • jalf says:

      I don’t think it’s about the audience, but about their own intent with the site. There’s little doubt that most of us would read that kind of content, but RPS tries to stick to a profile of being about games.

    • Prime says:

      That’s not a judgment about any perceived audience as much as it is a mission statement. It’s them making a deliberate choice to make RockPapershotgun focus squarely on the games. If people want to read more widely around the topic then RPS isn’t the place for them, as John, Jim and Keiron stated many times by directing people to their personal blogs, twitter feeds and other news outlets.

      [Ninja’d by Jalf. I wondered where that shuriken in my left temple had come from…}

  29. Cryptoshrimp says:

    I’m not a writer (yet…) but I think the biggest point everyone’s forgetting about is that ms. Wainwright (which is a fantastic surname, by the way) has set a precedent. If legal threats are so easily reached for, there’s little hope for (games) journalism.

  30. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    The Bramwell article linked at the bottom is actually really great

  31. Erinduck says:

    My big reason for coming to RPS is because it’s one of the few sites left where I can share or disagree with the opinion of an editor instead of sharing or disagreeing with the relative position of an editor relative to a publisher/developer. In fact, I think it may be the only professionally run site that does this for me anymore.

  32. MOKKA says:

    It’s somehow a shame that this site got caught up in this whole drama just after you released a whole bunch of really great articles.

  33. D3xter says:

    I want to point out this Editorial on the entire mess, as it represents a view of a large part of the gaming public and especially “journos” should read it, if not for anything else than how things appear: http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=8579

    Now if I didn’t believe that RPS wasn’t within reason to write what they want I wouldn’t return here, since it is one of the only larger sites left (amongst some others like Forbes) that appear that way, but sometimes things like these can be grating: http://i.imgur.com/Fig3E.jpg

  34. lizzardborn says:

    Thanks for posting. Since RPS seems to be the only online gaming media I follow on regular basis, I would have missed the whole thing.

    Keep up the good work and honest reviews. They are refreshing.

  35. Neurotic says:

    From my point of view, as a UK gamer of some 40 years who has followed games, gaming, the games industry and games journalism for the vast majority of that time, I have never fucking heard of Geoff Keighley, and am only passingly familiar with Spike TV. On the other hand, I am extremely familiar with Kieron Gilen. Perhaps most importantly, friends who have no or minimal interest in gaming have also heard of KG, thanks to his Marvel work and so on.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      “On the other hand, I am extremely familiar with Kieron Gilen.”

      Sexy!

    • Bluerps says:

      Thank god, I thought I was the only one. Before this, I had never heard of Geoff Keighley.

    • Brun says:

      am only passingly familiar with Spike TV

      Basically, if Call of Duty were a television network, it would be Spike TV.

  36. RaveTurned says:

    I’m glad RPS has chosen to write about this in an official capacity. It was strange to me (though not suspiciously so) that a publication that usually shows such a high level of integrity would not have something to say about Rab’s article and the various responses to it – even if it was just an entry in the Sunday Papers.

    The remit you describe in the article is “the representation or misrepresentation of games or gamers”. Perhaps I’m in a minority on this, but I tend to see RPS as a representative for gamers to the rest of the industry while a lot of publications seem to be just the opposite – whether intentionally or not . I am glad to see RPS acknowledging that issues of journalistic integrity are important in any field, even lowly old videogames.

    After all, if journalists can’t handle reporting on the fun stuff ethically just imagine what a mess they’d make in the mainstream media! ;)

  37. Kadayi says:

    If Eurogamers legal advisors said they should remove the reference because it was libelous in their own view (having received the complaint) then I’m frankly puzzled why this was ever newsworthy. ‘Man chooses to give up part-time writing gig because he apparently refuses to acknowledge defamation of character’ seems to be a more of an apt title. Considering his close relationship with Frankie Boyle, (who’d recently pursued a successful libel case against the Daily Mirror) you’d think he’d have a bit more understanding about these things tbh, and maybe think naming people (whose actions might be misinterpreted by those keen to see a conspiracy everywhere..because that never happens) might not of been quite the right thing to do in the first place, and not throw the artistic integrity rattle from the pram when he gets called on it himself. Still it’s all days old spilt milk now and rather beginning to stink the place up tbh.

    • mrmalodor says:

      Ignorance is bliss, huh?

    • RaveTurned says:

      I don’t think the implication is that EG’s lawyers thought the article was necessarily libellous – merely that an accusation of libel could be made that might not immediately be thrown out by a UK court. At that point EG would start accumulating legals fees to clear their name, fees that could easily escalate beyond the point where the site could afford to pay them. Rather than face that, the editor made the call to remove the offending passages from the article.

      Like you say, if the editor has believed that article was indeed libellous, it likely would not have been published in that form in the first place.

      • Kadayi says:

        @RaveTurned

        If they thought there were grounds for a case then in truth the article shouldn’t of been naming names in the first place. The fact that Bramwell let it go to ‘print’ the first time including the names is the real failure in the situation. A lead editor should have some understanding of these things. He’s the real villain in the piece.

        • mondomau says:

          What utter poppycock. Have you even read the redacted passages? The ‘villain of the piece’ is either the infamously insane UK Libel laws and/or the PR goons that enforced Wainwright’s ridiculous response.
          Bramwell is perhaps guilty of being a bit incautious at first and/or a coward later on (not in my book), but he really shouldn’t have to be so paranoid about one of his writers asking a fucking question.

          • Kadayi says:

            The law is not a villain, it a law. You might not like how it’s been raised in this particular situation (because boo hiss it doesn’t suit your agenda this time) but it’s there to serve everyone. I mean do you think the law was the villain when it allowed Frankie Boyle to sue the daily mirror for falsely accusing him of being a racist? Or would you say that asking the question ‘Is Frankie Boyle maybe a racist?’ perfectly acceptable?

          • Josh04 says:

            ‘the law is the law’ is a shitty tautology. uk libel laws are an international laughing stock, and no amount of circular definition can make that okay.

          • mondomau says:

            Please note the inverted commas round the phrase ‘villain of the piece’ , the whole concept is ridiculous but I was responding to your attempts to pin the blame (ignorantly and unfairly) on Bramwell because he may or may not have unwittingly run afoul of laws that even UK lawyers consider to be labyrinthine and bizarre. But I don’t know why I’m bothering.EDIT: Removed irritated areshole-y bit.

    • katinkabot says:

      I hope you never have to pay for any litigation ever. It’s terribly expensive. Especially defense of any sort of civil suit. Eurogamer – though I’m sure profitable – is not a juggernaut of business where they can throw money at their legal team to defend their brand. Their name would have been dragged through the mud and then if they would have lost, they could have shilled out an exorbitant amount of money to Ms. Wainwright. With libel laws being what they are – where courts award seemingly for literally EVERYTHING it’s not worth the risk. As someone who directs and controls attorneys as part of my job in the financial industry, I fully understand why someone would do this. I’m sure those attorneys reviewed every bit of reasonable case law they could get their hands on and weighed the case in front of a potential judges and it may not have looked like a total slamdunk. It’s a really hard to decision to make but I understand why it was. In the end, that’s not an admittance. It was a business decision about money.

      • Kadayi says:

        I doubt Wainwrights made of money either, so whats your point? Any assessment has to me made on whether there’s a potential case to answer for. Same goes for her legal advisors.

    • The Visible Man says:

      The thing is, there’s no evidence that EG’s own lawyers did see it as libellous – only that taking it down was “the right course of action”. Which could just as easily mean they said “British libel laws are outdated and insane, tend to drag on forever, and are fucking expensive, and we can’t afford it.”

      • Kadayi says:

        If they thought it was the right course of action, then it’s because they’d have assessed it as potentially a lawsuit.

        • mondomau says:

          I’m getting a bit tired of this nitpicking. You don’t know that it was ultimately the legal threat – It could have been pressure from one of the big PR firms, publishers or even Eurogamer’s higher management / stakeholders. Note that when they removed the ‘offending’ sections, they did not issue a retraction or apology, so they obviously weren’t that frightened on the legal front, they were under pressure to avoid the aggravation. You can’t necessarily blame Bramwell for that. EDIT: Ok, Bramwell’s just published piece over on EG now says that it is libel that they were trying to avoid, so fair enough – though that’s not to say that there was actually a case or that they got good advice. It’s also still doesn’t mean they should have pulled the section of the piece, or that they would have lost the case, nor does it say ultimately who’s decision it was to not risk it.

        • Dark Nexus says:

          Very likely.

          But they also could have assessed it as a potential lawsuit that they could have won.

          The could have weighed the risks for both courses of action, and decided that preserving a single example of the issue the article was discussing wasn’t worth the risk (even a minor risk, or just the hassle) of legal proceedings.

          That’s hardly an admission of guilt.

        • MrPyro says:

          As DarkNexus correctly says above me, the fact that there is enough in the article to open a lawsuit does not mean there is enough to actually win it; theoretically one can sue somebody over anything; it’s just that if you have nothing at all then it tends to die in court very quickly.

          The issue with libel suits is that they can be very expensive even if you win them. Look into, for example, Mattias Rath vs The Guardian; A Guardian columnist (Ben Goldacre) wrote a number of things about Mr Rath’s activities – Rath sued for libel – the courts awarded the win to the Guardian, leaving them, even after damages/fees awarded about £140,000 out of pocket.

          Eurogamer’s lawyers looked at this, assessed the risk, and decided it was easier to roll over than stick to it. It’s a sensible decision, but it doesn’t say anything about whether Eurogamer’s lawyers though that there was a real case; just that there was enough of one to potentially be very expensive.

        • HothMonster says:

          Saying “this could potentially be a very long and costly lawsuit” is not even close to saying “we are guilty of this” or even “we will lose this lawsuit.” They could, as many other have pointed out, just said “there is no way to get out of this without spending at least 100K(or whatever), is it worth it that keep the article up?”

  38. mrmalodor says:

    Wainwright and her ilk aren’t journalists and anyone who has a clue knew that already. Game journalists have predominantly been in the business of PR for years now and reviews are only rarely worth paying attention to. I have no doubt that Wainwright is corrupt, contrary to what Florence claimed, and so are her buddies — and they will use every trick in the book to silence anyone who talks about it.

  39. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Glad to see this getting the RPS attention I honestly felt it deserved. Thank you John.

  40. Bremenacht says:

    “However, we’re also disappointed that Eurogamer didn’t stand up to these threats and call Wainwright’s bluff.”

    Be fair. Are you quite sure you’d have behaved differently, having had a surprise legal threat made and having to consider the future of your website and your job?

    Besides, the way this story has blown up has been far more effective at shining a light on this particular dirty corner of the games business than EG would have been if they’d not editted those lines out.

    As for Wainwright, I actually feel a bit sorry for her. Consider her future: hounded and trolled for every on-line piece she writes for years to come.

    • mondomau says:

      While I don’t approve at all of the objectively despicable and pathetic persecution she has already suffered at the hands of the usual internet neanderthals and misanthropes, I don’t feel a moment’s pity for her either.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      “Consider her future: hounded and trolled for every on-line piece she writes for years to come.”

      People like this often end up with well paid jobs working for unscrupulous businesses. After all, they have already shown that they’ll gladly take part in such practices.

  41. derbefrier says:

    I just think bias comes naturally as a result of being human. I think in one of these articles something like that was mentioned. Personally I believe its impossible to remain neutral and its something we all want, but impossible to actually accomplish. I think RPS does thier best in that regard and while I may personally disagree with them(espicially when politics get involved) from time to time. I know they are being honest with thier opinions and can respect that and is the reason I keep comming back. Honesty, even is it doesn’t coincide with your world view honesty as seen on this site is a rare thing in media these days and I applaud this sites continued efforts to remain that way. I was glad to see your opinion on this, not because I suspected any wrong doing but because I think this website you all have created is in a unique position being completely independent unlike other big sites such as pc gamer or ign. It’s a unique perspective I think a lot of us were curious on seeing.

  42. Premium User Badge tumbleworld says:

    Thanks, John. For this piece, for your relentless and furious integrity, and for RPS in general. It’s much needed.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      “Relentless and furious integrity!”

      There’s a box quote for you, John.

  43. Prolepsis says:

    As someone who used to be a games journalist, and witnessed my fair share of “inside problems,” I fully support Robert’s stance on things; and, I’m glad he had the integrity to talk about things that too many are willing to ignore because “they’re just games” or because “that’s just how it works.” It would have been nice if RPS could have stayed silent as they originally pleased; but, they definitely made the right choice in posting this article. Hat’s off to ya, fellas.

  44. kibble-n-bullets says:

    If someone wants foolish people to spend their money it’s not pretty but well, that’s just how the gears of capitalism turn. I don’t get worked up over pseudo journalism from around the web anymore. They’re just hucksters.

    I can always get honesty and wit at RPS. It’s got that perfect balance between giving and not giving a shit.

  45. Laurentius says:

    I wasn’t particularly interested in this affair but after reading more about I was so happy that RPS deliberately omitted mentioning it so far. It is the worst example of writers’ self-indulgence and Robert Florence is absolutely responsible for this mess. There was no noble goal or anything like this in his article. Self-indulgence dragging more people into his self-indulgence pleasure, completely vapid of meaning in the end as are all self indulgence acts.

    • wodin says:

      erm…not sure what to say…though I can tell the type of person you are by your reply..obnoxious, self righteous and a few other terms come to mind. Your comment is the only vapid thing I’ve read here. Rob’s article was more relevant than 90% of the stuff written about games or the games industry..I expect your Wainrights bitch or something. Rob was highlighting what really is bribery with Journalistic circles and journos lapping it up.

      • Laurentius says:

        Not really, I am not saying what follows was pretty ot justified ,no it was not. Florence’s article though was terrible, i could call it self rightous but that’s not point, point is it was act of self indulgence with no meaning, whole game journalism integrity is vapid talk and again serves as a self -indulgence with no impact on anything.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          You don’t substantiate a point by simply repeating it.

  46. MajorManiac says:

    Looking at the comments I don’t think I’ve seen anyone mention this yet, so I just wanted to say; Thanks Rob. It takes courage to stand up for your principles and leave a job.

    I assume making the change to the article was also a heart-breaking decision for Eurogamer. Based on the security of it’s employees jobs.

    The part that I find distasteful is how ‘the law’ has been used to prevent people talking about other people potentially breaking it.

  47. Brun says:

    Thanks to the RPS guys for trying to keep your heads above this.

  48. Justin Keverne says:

    When I first read the original, unedited Eurogamer article I was surprised at the way in which Rob had chosen to name people. Particularly because he followed the naming and quoting of two people with a reference to the other people he knew that he wasn’t going to name but who were a lot more dodgy. Nothing he said was directly suggesting either Lauren Wainwright or Dave Cook were corrupt but the way the article was worded made me uncomfortable. It read a little too much like: “I’m not saying these two people are corrupt but they were defending this dodgy thing and I do know some really dodgy people.” That feeling wasn’t alleviated when after the edit the piece actually felt more focused, I started to wonder why the paragraphs naming people were included at all.

    I’m a big fan of Rob’s Cardboard Children column on RPS (Even if he does end up costing me far too much money), and I don’t think for a moment he should have been put in the position where he will no longer be writing for Eurogamer. I think Lauren overreacted and has ultimately caused herself and her reputation more harm that the original piece could ever have inflicted. Yet when I read the piece now I can’t help but feel that the edited form is the version that should have been posted in the first place.

    • jalf says:

      More focused? Or easier to ignore?

      Do you think Wainwright would have given the issue more thought if she hadn’t been named?
      Would any of the people participating in the raffle? Or would they just have ignored the piece, “moved on”, and everything would’ve been back to normal within a day?

      I think the names were necessary, because just saying to the thin air “I think some people on this planet ought to behave better” isn’t going to get anyone’s attention, and it isn’t going to change anything, and it *certainly* won’t affect the people you’re talking about.

      And it irks me if we’re not allowed to publicly criticize people if they behave badly in public.

      I really think people who read the article can be split into two camps, based simply on how they read the article. Some took it as an attack on Wainwright and whatshisname; as an accusation, a charge that they had to defend themselves against. A warning to *readers* that “these journalists cannot be trusted”

      And others read it as a warning not to the readers, but to the journalist. A kind of “look at yourselves. Look at how you appear to your readers. You seem unprofessional, get your act together”. Wainwright’s twitter profile was used as an example, not because she’s a dirty corrupt scumbag, but because she should fix it, because as innocent as it was no doubt intended, and as pure of heart as she may be, it made her *look* suspect.

      I read it with the latter interpretation, and I think it hit the mark very well. If I’d read it as the former, I might have felt differently

      Apart from that, I have to call bullshit on all this “I agree with Rab’s points, but not with the way he said it”.
      He said it. You didn’t. I didn’t. He started a discussion that desperately needed to be started. He did more than you or me. We are not in a position to criticize him for *how* he did it. Maybe things would have been better if he hadn’t mentioned any names. Maybe they’d have been worse. We don’t know. What we do know is that he did something that needed to be done, and which you and I didn’t do. Saying that he “did it wrong” is just sad. Trying to detract from it, or change the subject to some kind of stylistic competition where we get to rate him, not on whether he’s right but on how elegantly he presented his story, is just bullshit. If you agree with the point he made, then have the decency to shut up about *how* he made it, and instead help him keep the problem in the spotlight.

    • wodin says:

      name and shame thats what I say..have some guts and speak out,…keeping your mouth shut can in some cases cause terrible harm because people are to scared to speak out…see the Jimmy Saville thing for starters.. I bet a few in the BBC where to scared to say anything. If there where more people like Rob in the world it would be a better place.

  49. WantOn says:

    Thanks for replying on this. Its an important issue and it feels right that RPS has an ‘official’ stance on it. It has made me realise that I should probably subscribe here, as I suspect I took/take slightly for granted some of the marvelous writing and journalism you gentlemen create and conduct on a daily basis.

  50. flang says:

    I have some questions about RPS that I cannot find answers to anywhere on the site:
    - What is RPS’ policy on accepting gifts (or “swag”) from game publishers and their PR reps?
    - Does RPS consider games that are provide to them free of charge for the purpose of reviewing them on the site as gifts? Do they return the games to the publishers after they are finished with the reviews?