What Would Make Someone Plagiarise A Game Review?

Just what would make someone plagiarise a video game review? This week on Kotaku Splitscreen, let's discuss.

Kotaku editor Maddy Myers joins me and Kirk to talk about the wild story of IGN editor Filip Miucin, who was fired this week after a YouTuber accused him of plagiarising a Dead Cells review.

Former IGN Reviewer Responds To Plagiarism Allegations: 'Not At All Intentional' [Updated]

Former IGN editor Filip Miucin, who was fired this week after an investigation into allegations that he had plagiarised a video game review, responded yesterday on his YouTube channel, telling viewers that there were "a lot of circumstances" surrounding the review and that he did not intend to plagiarise from another channel.

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Later, Kotaku discovered that Miucin had also previously plagiarised a NintendoLife review, before he started working at IGN.

We also talk about Dead Cells, what makes a good Metroidvania, the appeal of deleting your old tweets, EVO's best storylines and why you should watch Better Call Saul.

Get the MP3 here, or read an excerpt:

Jason: ...So as we know, plagiarism is one of the worst sins one can commit in journalism, so it's pretty wild. I think this is the first time I can remember this happening in the world of video game writing and reporting and critiquing.

Maddy, I'm curious to hear your thoughts, what you make of this whole situation. Do you think this guy's career is over?

Maddy: I think so. It's hard for me to even imagine plagiarising. It's really tough for me. Just in my personal life, a friend had to fire someone at his job for plagiarising something...

When that happened, I was like, 'Wow I've met her — she doesn't seem like the type of person who would do that. What is the psychology behind even doing it?' And I was really fascinated by it and then this happened, so I've really just been thinking about it and I know I'd never do it, but some people do and why. It's kind like the questions we ask about why do people troll other people? What makes people... do things?

Jason: I think with plagiarism, it's more of an addiction, or a mental illness.

Maddy: Yeah! It's sad, in my friend's case, his co-worker was saying she just felt so overworked and she didn't have enough time to really write the things she was supposed to be writing and that was her excuse and she had completely justified it to herself. That was wild to me.

Jason: Yeah, I think you just convince yourself that there's nothing wrong with what you're doing, that it's OK. I saw some people theorising that it was because he was in over his head at work, or felt overwhelmed.

Maddy: That is not what I would do if I was overwhelmed!

Jason: Not only that built the examples of him doing it before IGN also paint the picture of a pattern. Kirk what do you make of this?

Kirk: It's a really interesting story on a number of levels. I have a few different thoughts. First of all I really feel for the editors at IGN — we know Tina [Amini] over there, who used to work with us and just because this could very easily happen to us, it could happen to everybody.

Our freelancers are great, but we could totally have someone who we had no idea lifted text from a YouTube video that none of us would ever have seen and there's no way to know or catch that, especially for a video, which isn't written down anywhere. But also you trust your writers, you don't check everything they write against the internet.

I don't really understand the mentality either and hesitate to guess too much about why this particular guy did it, but I've had similar thoughts to you Maddy in the past... [CNN's] Fareed Zakaria, I remember being shocked by that, only because that guy is really successful. Clearly a good writer and a really smart person.

He's bounced back, I think if you're that established, I guess you can fuck up like that and stick around. But it still boggled the mind that you could be that well-known and still somehow think you could get away with this or think you'd even need to.

If you're feeling overworked and you're as famous, or even honestly in this case if you're feeling overworked and you're an editor at IGN, you're doing fine, you can say, 'I can't write as much as I needed to,' or something. I dunno. There's something else going on there that I don't totally understand.

One wrinkle of this and the fact that this was happening in video games is that a lot of the initial part of both reviews, there was all this cliched games jargon— "smooth gameplay".

Jason: Fluid!

Kirk: Right, the kinds of things people say all the time. And I strive to avoid cliches, but I still do it, everyone does it, especially if you write thousands of articles. You repeat things, you use the same sort of language...

Maddy: I think that might be part of someone might self-justify that it's OK, if you have a personality type where you're able to do that sort of self-justification, you might be like, 'Well people come up with similar ideas all the time, people are always using the same kinds of phrases in game reviews, no one would ever fault me for this.'


Comments

    I've actually had a similar thing happen to me, not just once but twice. I've written top 10 lists for GameFAQs and on two separate occasions, two different youtubers decided it would be a good idea to use my written top 10 list basically as a script and made a video version of it. No asking for permission, not even a credit or a link back to my original written list. On both occasions, I got the videos removed, but it prompted me to actually start doing my own videos after that on my own channel.

      It was 2 different written lists that were used (not the same list used twice), just in case I didn't make that clear.

    It's happened to me too. Eleven years ago, I've said this on here before, I used to interview celebrities for a short period. I was only paid a small amount as I did it for fun. I worked for a few sites and enjoyed it. I started seeing interviews popping up, little bites, such as my Uwe Boll interview, my Doug Jones Hellboy 2 interview and my Eli Roth interview on certain sites proclaiming to be their works. Now, the questions were slightly reworded but the answers were *word for word* the answers they gave me. One could argue they answered these questions so often they had a stock answer they gave, but I always tried to add a little 'flavour' to the interviews to break up the monotony. One example was with Doug, he started talking about his mime career, I told him to 'mime his own business' (terrible joke), but we'd been friends for a few years at that point (interviewed him before a few years back) and this actually made it into their 'original interview text'.

    I contacted them about it, the interview suddenly disappeared and whattayaknow, a different set of text popped up. Funny part is, I spoke to Doug shortly after that, he never recalled actually *ever* speaking to those guys. These days I'm well aware of my copyright rights in a local and international sense and you better believe I protect my old stuff rabidly.

    I'm guessing he did it because he couldn't be f*cked writing his own review.

    The overblown indignation is ridiculous. "Oh its a mental illness....or an addiction....it's sad"

    Holy shit! The guy nicked bits of a game review. He's just lazy.

      And he took it from a relatively small channel, probably thinking that nobody would notice or care.

      Yeah, but it's also a crime that would result in instant loss of a really desired job. Lots of people (myself included) would LOVE to review games for a living. It's a sweet gig.

      So from that angle, considering how hard people work to become a full time gaming journalist, it doesn't make sense. The risk was just too great. But he did it anyway.

      I guess we all carry inside us the tools of our own destruction.

        The counter point is would be that reviewing games is a fairly inane job that involves rushing through often difficult and extreamly time consuming games that you often wouldn't want to be playing of your own volition.

        I respect that lots of people like this kind of game, but to me it looks like a punishingly difficult indie game that would take time away from the dozens of better games I already don't have time to play.
        If I was asked by my employer to review it for 40+ hours, I might cut corners too.

          It's actually super fun. I can't stop playing it and i'm not a fan of bloodborne type games.

            Ok, but some gamers hate those types of games. I'm kinda one of them, I'd hate to have to review something like that.

            As someone who also hates side scrollers (I'm been bitching about Hollow Knight which is also objectively good but too annoying for me) I think I'd hate this even more.

          It was his job. He was being paid to write a review. Not cut corners. Everyone at some point or another needs to do something as part of their job that they don't necessarily want to do. That's the nature of work.

          Who knows, there may have been other factors in play such as unrealistic deadlines that contributed to his decision, we don't actually know exactly what prompted him to plagiarise...but the end it's unprofessional and dishonest to his employer for him to cut corners, regardless of the reason.

            For sure. I'm not saying it was the right thing to do, I'm just saying it's not the end of the world.

            People saying he must be mentally ill, who can't work out why he did it or who are getting personally offended are being hysterical. People steal other people's work all the time, it's not some insane act to want to cut corners reviewing a game.

              Uhhh, no, they don't do it "all the time", and to say they do it silly. It's not just a question of ethics with this, what he did was actually illegal; an infringement of copyright. There are serious repercussions for it. Yes, in the general scheme of things, some random guy on the internet copying some other random guy on the internet's review of a random game is inconsequential and minor in the grand scheme of things, but you can't pass it off as something people do "all the time" - *especially* when you are supposed to be a professional in the industry. Plagiarism should never, ever happen in professional journalism regardless of the subject matter.

              IGN, his employer, was paying him to review the game. Because he effectively didn't, and decided to use someone else's review instead, he's being dishonest and basically stealing from his employer at that point, which is why I think IGN came down so hard on him and insta-sacked him. I'm not going to go as far to say he's mentally ill - I think that conclusion is a little ridiculous, but after seeing his "apology" video it does seem pretty clear that he doesn't really understand why what he did was wrong.

        In 2002, the vice-chancellor of Monash Uni stood down after claims of multiple cases of plagiarism became public, and that job is a buttload more desirable, better paying, and more prestigious (and also likely a lot less fun) than video game reviewer. So yeh, it doesn't make a lot of sense but a lot of things humans don't make sense in one way or another.

    It's very unethical.
    Shockingly bad video games journalism.

    I initially wrote a long rant but TL;DR: 1. I agree with @foggy, the guy probably just couldn't be arsed doing the work, and 2. The vast majority of people criticising the guy for being unethical have probably done something unethical in their own jobs. Plagiarism is just a technical word for presenting the work of others as your own. Happens daily in most workplaces to some degree.

    Last edited 14/08/18 8:55 am

    For the same reason anything else is plagiarised: unoriginality, lack of imagination, artistic jealousy, and inability - or some combination of the four. The internet is a superb place for observing just how unoriginal most people are - a truly unique imagination and the ability to execute it in whichever artistic medium is a very rare quality. Someone uploads something genuinely clever or imaginative, within days there are a billion copycat versions, whether it's a meme, video, game, song. I mean, people still think doing remixes of the Mario theme is clever or worthy of attention.

    Throughout his 'apology' I got the impression that he'd had a rough time in the lead up to that review, felt somehow justified in stealing someone elses because of that but knew that wasn't any sort of decent excuse and didn't say as much. He still thought he was morally in the clear in some sense, but knew everyone would call him out for it if he tried to justify his actions.

    What I find so baffling about all of this is just how obvious it is that he thinks he's right - to the point that he didn't even apologise to the YouTuber whose video he stole while simultaneously trying to claim some authentic talent because he started the way Boomstick did. I wouldn't actually be surprised to learn others look at the reviews already published before writing their own to make sure they don't miss anything, but it's unbelievable that he'd imply that's the same as taking almost the entire structure and all of the points of a review to reword and then publish, or that he'd imply it was common practice to do so. If he just owned his mistake, apologised and ended the video he'd still come off looking like a jackass, but at least as one that understood what he did.

    As it stands I have no sympathy for the guy and if he never works in games journalism again he only has himself to blame (not that he won't try to blame someone else, perhaps Kotaku or even Boomstick for "trying to make a name for himself" as he so pathetically implied).

      He doesn't even own up to it or apologise for what he did. The only apology he gives is a weird "OH I SIGNED OFF ON IT SO I GUESS I'LL TAKE RESPONSIBILITY"

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