It's seemingly a practiced technique amongst some Western game journalists. Interview a well known developer, often through a translator, ask a couple of leading questions, then reap the benefits of a language and culture barrier in the form of a headline grabbing story along the lines of 'The PS3 Isn't Powerful Enough For Game X', or 'Game X Was Scaled Down For The PS3'.
When I saw the headline "Gran Turismo 5: PS3 'not enough' to handle Yamauchi's vision" I knew what to expect. A quote, taken out of context, ripped straight from another magazine's interview subsequently used to substantiate a claim tailor-made for hit grabbing.
"With Gran Turismo 5 we’ve made it as clean and beautiful as possible within the confines of the space we’re given – but of course there’s a lot more that we want to put in.”
Those selected quotes, taken out of context, with absolutely no frame of reference (or even the question asked to elicit said answer) are then used to substantiate the claim that the PS3 was 'not enough' to handle Yamauchi's vision.
It is, of course, not the case. Simply the end result of an interview with a humble developer, raised in a culture adverse to chin-wagging and show boating – hardly the cries of a workman blaming his tools. Japanese developers are renowned for never being happy with the end result of development – bragging is a sign of a lack of humility.
I seem to remember the exact same thing happening around Metal Gear Solid 4's release, during an interview with Hideo Kojima, when he lamented some aspects of MGS4 – and more recently Ted Price and Cliff Bleszinski have both had to rebuke similar headlines in the midst of selective, out-of-context quote pulling.
Honestly, there has to be some sort of line in the sand here. I understand the need to dig for fresh angles, and the need to elaborate a little for the sake of drama, but I can't help but wonder what the endgame of this kind of journalism is?
My worry is that developers will simply close up shop, and all, if any, access to interviews or studio tours will be reduced to PR driven, press release interviews that are utterly pointless for all involved. By dishonestly manipulating out of context quotes we are actually discouraging the open relationship that's required for journalists to get a truly great interview.
We need to play fair here, or risk losing opportunities in the long run. Proper, in-depth interviews or out of context headline grabbers – which would you prefer?