This is something I didn’t expect I’d ever be writing about, certainly not in conjunction with this site at least.
After reading a lot about the furore over Eurogamer’s publication and apology over Robert Florence’s thoughts on the paradoxical nature of (supposedly) impartial games journalism, I thought about it a lot.
Having personally been fortunate to have previously worked with a different breed of journalists, by which I mean people who study journalism, ethics and everything that goes with it, and then put it into practice, in war zones no less (from which, terrifyingly, a few do not return), I see things a little differrently from my games
journalism blogging peers. No one really expects games reviews to change the world, but they can still be beautiful things, and even controversial.
But, as has been regurgitated many times now in related threads, the problem is the utter imbalance between publishers and journalists. In short, the journalists need the publishers much more than the publishers need the journalists. To some extent that’s fine, but occasionally it can lead to (at least the appearance of) compromised reviews. It’s why I stopped reading GameSpot long ago, and it’s partly the reason we don’t score our reviews.
Writing for Forbes about the issue, Erik Kain said:
The only solution to any of this – to bias, to influence from PR, to all the little factors that may sway a review this way or that – is to try to be transparent whenever possible. We may not always remember or even be aware of the things that might influence what we say and write, but it’s a worthy effort. And even that is only half a solution.
I think that’s important. Critical even, to having any sort of integrity. Mac-Gamer.net is a tiny site by most standards, writing for a small but dedicated niche. For everyone involved in running the site, it’s never more than a side project, and the little we make in revenue barely covers the upkeep. In other words (for now at least), we do this because we want to. And so we’re not in it for the money. And we like to think we’re not in it for the perks. But there are perks– notably access to games prior to release, and generally not having to buy the majority of games we review. But maybe that’s not for us to decide. Maybe you, the reader, should look at what we get out of everything that goes into every review and post on this site, and decide whether we have enough integrity to say the things we’re saying.
With that in mind, I direct you to our new “integrity” page. There you’ll find a list of everything we’ve received from publishers, as well as our revenue sources. We’ll try and keep it up to date. For the sake of protecting the good will of publishers, we won’t list anything related to an unreleased game until it’s available. Because spite can also potentially influence reviews, we’ll also include on that list things we’ve asked for but haven’t received.
It’s my hope that nothing on that list will compromise the opinions of anyone at Mac-Gamer. But more than that, it’s my hope that merely having that list will allow you, dear readers, to decide that for yourselves.