A recent article on Eurogamer, written by Robert Florence, took a look at the perversion of gaming journalism. In the original article, Florence remarks on a number of so-called gaming journalists that lose a bit of their credibility and their impartial stance once they're seen favoring a company or franchise.
One such example was with Geoff Keighley seen situated between a large Mountain Dew display on one side and a Doritos display on another. The article continues on to mention one Lauren Wainwright, and this is where things get really interesting. In the article, Florence originally wrote the following.
"Just today, as I sat down to write this piece, I saw that there were games journalists winning PS3s on Twitter. There was a competition at those GMAs - tweet about our game and win a PS3. One of those stupid, crass things. And some games journos took part. All piling in, opening a sharing bag of Doritos, tweeting the hashtag as instructed. And today the winners were announced. Then a whole big argument happened, and other people who claim to be journalists claimed to see nothing wrong with what those so-called journalists had done. I think the winners are now giving away their PS3s, but it's too late. It's too late. Let me show you an example.
One games journalist, Lauren Wainwright, tweeted: "Urm... Trion were giving away PS3s to journalists at the GMAs. Not sure why that's a bad thing?"
Now, a few tweets earlier, she also tweeted this: "Lara header, two TR pix in the gallery and a very subtle TR background. #obsessed @tombraider pic.twitter.com/VOWDSavZ"
And instantly I am suspicious. I am suspicious of this journalist's apparent love for Tomb Raider. I am asking myself whether she's in the pocket of the Tomb Raider PR team. I'm sure she isn't, but the doubt is there. After all, she sees nothing wrong with journalists promoting a game to win a PS3, right?
Another journalist, one of the winners of the PS3 competition, tweeted this at disgusted RPS writer John Walker: "It was a hashtag, not an advert. Get off the pedestal." Now, this was Dave Cook, a guy I've met before. A good guy, as far as I could tell. But I don't believe for one second that Dave doesn't understand that in this time of social media madness a hashtag is just as powerful as an advert. Either he's on the defensive or he doesn't get what being a journalist is actually about."
Most of the above has since been removed from the Eurogamer article. Why? Well, apparently Lauren Wainwright didn't much care for her own words being quoted and used in the article. Keep in mind that these words were publicly shared on Twitter, and once publicly shared on Twitter they are fair game for criticisms much like the ones found in Florence's article.
She, under the threat of legal action against Eurogamer, forced the website to edit the article. This, in turn, resulted in Florence deciding to step down from his position at Eurogamer.
I'm sure you understand that, with it being amended, I have to step down from doing the columns. Thanks if you ever read any of them.
Yes, legal action was actually threatened by Lauren Wainwright because the original article at Eurogamer contained something she actually, publicly said. Whether or not the legal pressure came from her current employer, MCV, remains to be seen. Her Twitter has been made private in the wake of everything that has happened, and the game journalism world is decidedly split on who was actually in the right and who was not.
Another interesting thing to note here? Lauren Wainwright apparently works, or worked, as a consultant for Square Enix, the company publishing Tomb Raider. Mention of this under experience has since been removed from that site, yet a screencap from before the edit still shows the Square Enix connection.
Others in the industry are getting fired up about what happened over the past 24 hours, including John Walker.
When a journalist feels they have been misrepresented, even if this so-called misrepresentation has arisen from their having been directly quoted, the response should not be to demand it be removed. The response is to offer to write a response column, or to publish a response in any of the public outlets to which they have access. To do anything else is to be an enemy of journalism, deliberately stifling discussion, and going out of oneís way to ensure further discussion is feared.
What will happen now is all manner of places will host the original version of the article, it will be far more widely circulated and discussed, and the reputations of those who have tried to silence criticism could be far more damaged than if they had just ignored it, let alone acknowledged they could do better.
Iím disappointed that Eurogamer edited the article, as Iím quite sure there was nothing defamatory about it Ė commenting on a personís public statements is absolutely allowable, even if that comment suggests someoneís public statements put them in a bad light.
Other remarks, this time from Penny Arcade's Ben Kuchera.
In response, her bosses at MCV tried to suppress the critical story, and succeeded. It's disgusting. This is literal corruption.
When someone makes a reasonable argument about your credibility, and you threaten legal action for them to take it down... well...
This is yet another ugly mark on the already highly criticized world of "gaming journalism". John Walker said it best there when he said that the proper response is not legal action but rather to write a counter-point or an article defending what was said. Instead, Wainwright has tried to cover up all tracks of what she actually said. As noted, her experience has been edited to remove the fact she worked for Square Enix. Her Twitter page has been made private. Finally, the fact that legal action was threatened if the article wasn't edited does not paint you in a very good light.
One person has lost their job. Another now knows what the Streisand Effect is. And everybody in the gaming journalism world is made to look like a joke, yet again.