Every field of Journalistic writing is a battleground for discrepancies, bribery, and bias, none more so than video games journalism. First of all, some deny it as a legitimate field of journalism at all; like psychology is to science, it’s the pseudo-journalism of journalistic fields. This isn’t without reason, however, as numerous incidents have put video games journalists under fire for bias, bribery, and downright poor integrity.
Either wilfully or unknowingly ignorant of the controversy in the field, four young men, Dean Blake (24), Mitchell Finlayson (19), Jayden Perry (19), and Blair Arnold (18) all have aspirations to join the ranks of video games journalists.
Dean Blake, fan of third-person action games and classic side-scrollers has big hopes to join the crew of Australian office IGN, one of the biggest and most notable games journalist companies. Despite the controversy in the field, Dean believes that the number of games journalists there are is a big advantage for the profession. “If someone doesn’t agree with a review, or thinks it’s biased, they can just go find another one, there’s hundreds out there.” Mitchell, like Dean, hopes to work for IGN in his career future and sees the potential bias in working with such a field but also, like Dean, sees that the number of journalists’ opinions that are out there is the advantage of the field.
Unlike Mitchell and Dean, Jayden and Blair share different opinions about the state of video games journalism. Jayden, who already works for online video games website OXCGN, is completely aware of the bias and dishonesty in the field, and believes it is damaging the reputation of serious journalists. Despite this view, he believes in the integrity of the majority of video games journalists, and that it’s enough to keep the field going strong. “As someone already in the area, I know full-well that people are biased, but definitely not all. There’s a lot of factors in bias, like personal opinion or favour, but it is definitely not an issue with all of us.” Blair, whose real dreams don’t totally rely on getting into video games journalism, is worried about the corruption in the field, and that it could change his mind about getting into video games over sports.
After sharing the incident that’s known to the gaming world as “Dorito-Gate,” where a reputable games journalist was photographed surrounded by branded material, the young men were asked if they too would ever be swayed by gifts in return for favourable reviews. Mitchell, Dean, and Jayden all put their personal ethics and integrity first, despite the news that journalists have lost their jobs after not cooperating with developers requesting favourable reviews. “Colleagues of mine have been offered entire consoles by major and indie devs just for good reviews, it’s real stuff, you just have to follow your own beliefs in the end,” Jayden says. Blair however, would turn a blind eye to his integrity if the alternative was losing his job, but the whole situation definitely has him considering his other goals in journalism.
Readers and other media often, if not always, question the integrity of video games journalists. Despite the controversy in the field, Mitchell, Dean, Jayden, and Blair are all quite excited to get into the battlefield of game journalism; Jayden already has a sturdy boot shoved in the door, and the others are not far behind.