Friday, June 19, 2009

Game Journalists: The Ultimate Sellouts

Crispy Gamer did a story about the guys who won a contest to cover E3 for some of the Big Sites (1Up, etc.)

The story can be found here.

But what interests me is the comment made by fellow Crispy writer David Thomas:

This year uncorked the genie--that you could go to E3 as a contest winner. The catch? You have to pretend to be a game journalist.

I think this was an ugly development, and not because I think that journalists should go to E3 and fans should stay home. Rather, this is a part of the rot that has set in with game journalism where the privilege of access given to us to get the job done is being turned into an entitlement, or a goodie, that we get that fans don't.

The reason to go to E3 is because it is an awesome spectacle of delights. The reason for a journalists to go is to get work done.

When journalism outlets give out prizes that confuse the two, they show what's really going on: Game journalism is a goodie grab, the ultimate sell out to the industry. We write about games so we get to be super fans and we get to go to the front of the line and we get to wallow in the excess of schwag and developer's tickling us with pink feathers.

And how does this serve the mission of journalism to report, uncover, analyze and create accountability?

Sorry everyone, I want fans at E3, lots of fans, as many as who want to come. But if you win a contest, go as a fan. Go with a special super fan pass that gets you to the head of the line and all those pink feathers. But don't go as a journalist just to get the goodies.

Or think of it this way: If you win concert tickets to a see a band, you get a backstage pass and front row seats and a t-shirt. But you don't have to file a review by 10pm. That's some poor rock writer's job. Job being the key word.
I think David Thomas is smart.