So over the last few months there has been numerous outrages and atrocities committed in the name of having more ethics in gaming journalism. As an aspiring gaming journalist myself I want to tell you that what you may perceive as being unethical is not limited solely to gaming journalism. In fact the entire modern system of journalism is built upon having little to no ethics at all.
Accepting Free Stuff: Sometimes game reviewers get the game in advance, so that when a game comes out they can post a review on Day 1, or even Day 0 sometimes. This isn’t limited to the gaming sector of journalism. It happens in every single part of journalism! Sports reporters for newspapers or television channels often get into games for free with their pass. As a student in High School working for their journalism club or student newspaper, or even the yearbook club you can often get into events for free for the purpose of taking quality pictures. Do you review books? Authors regularly send out early copies of their books so they can write up reviews for the book. This isn’t limited to the gaming scene, and accepting free consoles isn’t unusual especially if you are reviewing the system itself. If you say you want more ethics in gaming journalism and accept the fact that sports reporters often get better seats than any 40+ year season ticket holder at a game you are being hypocritical on a scale of large magnitude. I might get a free game a few days early that only costs $60 retail, whereas any amazing seat that lets you be close to, or on for photographers, the playing area of a sporting event costs hundreds of dollars.
Ethics: Let’s get down to the nitty gritty part of ethical actions in Journalism. If you watch any big news channel, like FOX or CNN, the journalist who finds a big scoop is paid huge amounts of money to give those stations exclusive access to their material. Do you know how most reporters get access to big scoops? They bribe people to give them exclusive access to information that will sell. Those people you see on TV with their faces blurred out or distorted voices are often paid huge amounts of money to even have portions of their body shown on TV. TMZ for example is built on such tactics, they pay Paparazzi huge amounts of money to get the latest dirt on celebrity stars, and yet most people just accept it now. Yet those same people getting upset over a reviewer of a product getting a free copy of said product is beyond stupid.
YouTuber’s being paid to say good things about a product: I don’t see how this is any different from a celebrity telling you about the latest medical innovation that just hit the shelves of your local pharmacy and claiming it will help you become a better looking person. They are getting paid to say something, just like any other form of advertisement. It may annoy the hell out of you, but it’s not unethical or immoral.
TL;DR: Guess what I’m trying to say now is that #GamerGate, beyond it’s highly immoral and highly destructive actions against members of the game dev community, is a movement based on hypocrisy. If you aren’t upset at the rest of journalism for doing the exact same things as gaming journalists, you lose all right to complain about it in the gaming sector. If by some chance you are upset about the unethical actions that ALL journalists take, then it’s a hell of a lot more than just about gaming and you should distance yourself from #GamerGate.
I think that doing something ethically is swell, however there is a difference between doing something ethically and doing something immorally. I find ethically that there is nothing wrong with taking an advance review copy of a product for review, as it is often not the best quality and may have errors in small areas like grammar. I think that being paid tons of money so that a huge news conglomerate can get an exclusive video of the latest star acting rude in public is immoral. One ruins someones life, possibly forever whether they deserve it to be ruined or not, the other is just doing a job that you get compensated for.