MMO Fallout On Ethical Gaming Press

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We need to have another one of those serious chats, for which I apologize and promise we’ll be getting back to the gaming talk ASAP.

As I type this, at 7:40pm on February 25th, the hashtag #letmarkspeak is number two trending on Twitter. If you haven’t been paying attention to the going-ons in the gaming press, you’re probably not aware on what this means or why it is so important.

Mark Kern, ex-CEO of Red 5 Entertainment and industry veteran, posted a petition on Change.org asking for websites like VG247 and Kotaku to decrease the amount of yellow journalism that goes on. The gaming press, as he believes, is at least partially responsible for the Law & Order SVU Gamergate episode, and Kern wants the press to become active in healing the relationship between themselves and gamers.

Find the common ground, drive productive dialogue, and find solutions instead of simply pointing fingers. Stop celebrating the hate and start serious coverage of the issues of ethics, women in gaming and video games as a positive medium for change.

The response from VG247 has been described as a hit-piece by Kern and others. It drags other developers into the fray and, most notably, ends with a subtle threat towards other developers. Don’t get involved, otherwise you’re going to regret it later on:

As was made blatantly obvious by Gamergate, the last thing the gaming community needs at the moment is more ill-informed bigots getting angry on the internet. Think before you sign. It may be very difficult to erase the ink.

Kern’s attempts to get VG247 to engage in conversation following the piece have been met with a flat out “no,” leading to today’s trending hashtag.

And herein lies the problem. When accused of yellow journalism, VG247 runs a hit piece. When gamers ask for better ethics in gaming press, the yellow journalists attacked gamers. Now that developers are joining in asking for more ethical behavior, those same people are attacking developers. Furthermore, they’re attacking journalists, the many outlets that have either solidified their ethics policies or transformed to allow for more disclosure.

This is how it’s going to happen, folks. This is how it always happens.

Because if you believe your motives to be pure, you will defend your actions against accusations. The guilty, upon being outed, will resort to attacking their accuser. They will defame, they will slander, they will attempt to invalidate the entire argument. Whatever happens, their true self is inevitably revealed.

This isn’t a fight between gamers and press, or devs and press, it’s a fight of everyone against yellow journalism, an industry that recently found its back up against the wall and like a cornered animal is lashing out. But to heal the rift, as Kern puts it, we need to start by figuring out who is here to work together and who is here to divide the community and make money off inciting hatred and shutting down conversation.

Gaming should be a place where everyone, no matter who you are, should be able to get together and enjoy our mutual hobby, and where creators don’t have to worry about being blacklisted because they asked for more ethical practice.

Can we go back to talking about video games now? I’d like to do that.

(Source: Change.org)

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  • Ocho

    Simply put, I find anybody who sides with Gamergate to have a severe lack of self-awareness and a complete lack in judgement. As far as I’m concerned, the supporters made their bed and they can lie in it. Mad about how gamers are represented in the media at large? If anything, it’s gamers own behavior that have set their image back, not the reporting on it. The truth tends to hurt.

    • Connor

      Sorry, you’re wrong.

      Gamers aren’t the borg, they aren’t a club that gets together on the weekends to discuss common interests. They’re a collective of people of whose interests may intersect about ten percent of the time, like trying to link together someone in New York City and someone in North Carolina as neighbors because they share an interstate highway.

      Here’s the thing about the press, most notably tabloid press and the American media, you might not know: They thrive on the boogeyman. All it takes is one person acting badly and they will target that one individual and paint whatever group he happens to be a part of based on his actions. It happened with Rock & Roll, Dungeons & Dragons, rap, and now video games. Gamers own behavior doesn’t factor into it, because if the media wants to paint the narrative, well they have no problem outright lying in order to scare people.

      Think of every Halloween when the news scares you about razor blades in apples. Know how many times someone has found a razor blade in an apple in this country’s history? Never. It was 100% fabricated by the press to scare people.

      The gaming press, while on the cusp of journalistic practice, has mostly been enthusiast writing, and as such has in the past come to our defense when the “outsiders” start their offensive.

      I have no stake in Gamergate because I refuse to follow the us vs them narrative and don’t feel the need to constantly remind people that I’m against harassment since I don’t vocally announce whenever I pass by a car crash that “boy car crashes are bad and I hope they don’t happen” lest the person riding shotgun assume my silence implies support.

      But for pushing certain members of the press to act in a more dignified fashion, to take their jobs seriously, to stop insulting their readers and then playing the victim when people write back, and to stop sticking drama and politics where it doesn’t exist for the sake of views and brownie points? Yea, I can get behind that.

      The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics is to seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently to avoid conflicts of interest, and always be accountable and transparent, and it places an importance on exposing unethical journalism, and expecting others to abide by the same code.

      That is all I want.

  • If you had asked me what was wrong with video game journalism at any point over the last 25 years, I would have said that it was way too deferential and forgiving and dependent on the good will of the studios and publishers. And I would give that same answer today.

    Mark Kern, who has benefited from that deferential treatment for a long time when Red5 had nothing to show, has decided that video game journalism is not deferential enough. This is suddenly a rogue industry that needs to be brought to heel.

    Basically, he is interested in “ethics in journalism” that benefits him, not the consumer. Watch him on Twitter. He is all about devs circling the wagons to defend against gaming sites. He wants the humble and deferential games journalism he has come to accept as his due. I think we’ve already got that, and have had nothing but that for a long, long time.

    • Connor

      I actually believe the press is getting better, but many have hit the stage where they are willing to be tough but only on easy targets like ignoring Ubisoft while calling Peter Molyneux a “pathological liar” to his face. If Kern wants a press that is more deferential, his call for better ethical practice is going to blow up right in his face. It’s like a tax evader calling for better law enforcement then down the line wondering why he got caught.

      The press isn’t here to be buddies with the subjects they cover, but to be fair and honest. If Kern thinks otherwise, he’s in for a big surprise.

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