Dan "Shoe" Hsu has been writing some excellent pieces on the Sore Thumbs blog about the "behind the scenes" life of a video game journalist. (Mentally quote the word journalist if you want to make yourself feel better! -Ed.) The former Electronic Gaming Monthly editor in chief has recently been very blunt about the touchier subjects in games writing — accusations of bribery, the ethics of junkets, etc. — but now, it's the PR side's turn.
An anonymous guest blogger from an unnamed "Big Publisher" explains the dirty details of games PR, from the "banning" of editors and media outlets, to the financial arrangements publishers make with magazines and web sites to exchange coverage for good reviews, exclusives for the best reviews.
"Any good PR people working for a game publisher understand what a developer goes through, and should fight hard to get the game looked at by journalists fairly", Anonymous Guy writes. "This is not to say a bad game should get a free pass, but every game should be given a fair appraisal, with considerations made for target market and price".
Anonymous also writes that "there aren't that many good game journalists" and that developers — just like publishers — hold many writers in high contempt. Present gaming blog excluded, I'm quite sure.
What I'm not so quite sure about, is whether I agree with the assessment that those working in the game media "are living off the blood sweat and tears of creative people who love games and regularly work 100 hours weeks". I've known more than a few folks on the press side who pour their heart and soul and time into their jobs for inequivalent compensation.
It's a fascinating, potentially eye-rolling read, should you care that much about the integrity of the industry and game writing in general. Fortunately, I feel like most of the accusations and uncomfortable situations are alien to me, as our particular circumstances aren't exactly like those of bigger print publications and web sites that employ dozens of writers, editors, designers and layers of management.
The lazy part, though. I can relate to that.
From the perspective of a game publisher [Sore Thumbs]