Press ‘B’ for Bias

Blair Arnold reading up on some Video Game scoops with players going at it in the games room on campus.

Blair Arnold reading up on some Video Game scoops with players emptying some magazines of their own in the games room on campus.

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.

 

Video Games Under Fire

There’s no shortage of debate on whether or not video games influence a child’s behaviour in one way or another, that’s always been an issue. When this becomes an issue in journalism, is when journalists source one study over the many others that disprove theirs, or when a journalist takes one misinterpreted line and blows it way out of proportion.

Taken from TIME's article, linked above.

Taken from TIME’s article, linked above.

When it comes to violence in video games, many seem to continually source the controversial Singaporean study, which focuses on similar aged, similar circumstanced, and similar gendered participants. As it often seems the case, video games are blamed for violent acts if they feature at all in a child’s life, whether they’re obsessed or played it for the first time a week before the incident. There’s yet to be an extensive enough study to really call any research valid, as the sample size of many studies is just too small.

The media is slowly starting to click, it seems, on the issues at hand, with the Guardian reporting that the spike in video game related violent occurred after the surge in media posts on the subject. Kids play video games, but that suddenly doesn’t mean all of their actions are influenced by video games. You’d be hard pressed to find a child these days that hasn’t played a video game within the last week. It’s as silly as saying “this suicided child had eggs for breakfast three days ago, that obviously led to them killing the family chicken.”

Rigging the Reviews and Tweeting for Toys

The integrity of Video Games journalists seems like a fallacy to many. Especially after the numerous incidents that actually does throw any integrity in the industry out the window. Dorito-Gate. Say that one phrase to any games mediaperson and they will know exactly who and what went wrong in the industry.

The now infamous image taken from Geoff Keighley's interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rbU0mzoMyw

The now infamous image taken from Geoff Keighley’s interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rbU0mzoMyw

This image spread like wild-fire through the games journalism world, igniting a fire in journalist for Eurogamer, Rab Florence who calls it the most tragically important image in the industry today. The opinions sway, Venturebeat pointing out that some even find video games journalists with integrity are an anomaly. Following Florence’s explosion, many other journalists flocked to get their opinion on the matter heard too; some outraged at Florence’s opinion and defending the already ruptured integrity of video games journalists. However for the most unbiased and rational coverage of the event, Kotaku is the seemingly most reliable avenue.

Alongside the fiasco of Dorito-gate, at the same time and location as Dorito-gate, was the ‘journo-ps3’ incident. The integrity of video games journalists was again tested, when during reveal conferences at the media event, developers asked their audience to tweet out their game in a hashtag for the chance to win a PS3.

If that wasn’t enough, when journalist Jeff Gerstman didn’t give a game plastered over his employer’s website a good review, he mysteriously disappeared from employment “for reasons unrelated to his review of” said game.

It’s enough gossip on the industry to have it completely shut down. But the fact that it hasn’t just proves that there must be some integrity somewhere… maybe.

So many dreams, so little time.

Dylan Crismale sharing his passion for Game of Thrones in UOW's Building 11.

Dylan Crismale sharing his passion for Game of Thrones in UOW’s Building 11.

With so many dreams and so little time, 18-year-old Science and Journalism student Dylan Crismale is questioning his decision to come to University. Outside of his studies, the number of hobbies and interests Dylan finds himself hopping between staggers him. Coming from six years at a Performing Arts High School, with drama subjects all the way through, Dylan has always had a strong admiration of acting. His own obsession with TV shows, particularly fantasy and period dramas like Game of Thrones, fuels his dreams of sometime joining the acting ranks.

Dylan’s dreams somewhat deviate, but not quite, when he mentions his love of, and struggles with, creative writing. “I’ve had a strong go at creative writing a few times, but my big imagination always gets the better of me and I just always struggle to get it all onto a page.” He relates this love of writing back to his love of acting and TV shows, revealing that he was always telling his grandma when he was younger that he wanted “to write the words the actors say.” Dylan says that he loves the bare bones of scriptwriting, and how it allows him to create a story and direction, then hand it off to other people to make the magic happen.

At the same time Dylan was writing the words the actors say, he was also blurting out to his young and baffled friends his theories of evolution, a lot for a 7 year old. This, Dylan says, stems from his intense curiosity for the supernatural and science fictitious. “All cultures have the same stories of winged beasts and vampires and werewolves, I’ve always wondered why those stories exist. They had to come from somewhere, didn’t they? That’s where my love of palaeoanthropology begins.” Dylan manages an extensive explanation on his beliefs in the stories of myth and legend, correlating back to his love of fantasy and period drama.

With all his hobbies and love of fantasy, myth, and science, Dylan can’t help but question what he’s doing with a Journalism degree. “In all honesty, I’m not too sure why I’m studying what I am and not out there pursuing what I really want to be, and know I should be, pursuing.” He sees possibilities in science journalism, but as his comical newsreader-on-the-scene impression revealed, he’s not one for the theatrics of journalism; the theatrics of theatre are more his style.

A Game of Thrones love birthed from years of drama education and a passion for scriptwriting, Dylan is a man caught in the crossfire of conflicting interests; from theatre, to writing, to the supernatural and futuristic. For now he’s going to stick to the trail he chose to walk and see where the next intersection leads him in life.

 

“A double-edged sword.”

Blair Arnold in the black box photography room on Innovation Campus.

Blair Arnold’s light and dark sides in the photography room on Innovation Campus.

18 year old Journalism and Communications student Blair Arnold describes University as a “double-edged sword.” University for him has both it’s light and dark sides, those being that “it’s fantastic, but leaves little room for me to pursue my goals of being an elite cyclist.” Where Blair’s cycling dreams meet his degree is through his ambition to become a sports Journalist, and he’s already well on the way, working an internship for Pacific Magazine’s Bike Magazine. The light side of University has Blair relaxing on the isolated grass area near the front of Campus, or on the many beanbags in Student Central, content that he’s on the right path towards his sporting dreams.

 

Television and Tech Life

The free time that comes in rare moments for a University student leaves some questions about their lives unanswered. What do they watch? What tech do they use to occupy their time? The life a student leads outside university is just as important a part of their University life than anything on campus. Though not all students relate to Game of Thrones or a love of Android, all agree that the entertainment we consume to relax and technology we rely on to submit our assignments play a huge role in our University lives.

Plan B, anyone?

Students relaxing by a class that never happened.

Students relaxing by a class that never happened.

At University of Wollongong, not everything goes according to plan. These students were caught with significant free time after discovering “we’re the kids that turned up to the cancelled class.” Now in week 7, this scene would appear drastically different should the same had happened week 1. As first year students, the panic that a moved or cancelled class could cause is a scary thought. But, halfway into their first semester, these students can laugh at their mistakes and create new friendships during their newfound free time.

At the Pond with Ellen

I took fellow Journalism student, Ellen, down to one of the campus ponds for a quick chat about her University experience by the invasive and obnoxious ducks. She had plenty to say ranging from her drastic degree changes to her on-the-side business aspirations. From this interview I learned of a University experience foreign to me; change in routine. I’ve felt no desire to change up my tertiary education, but Ellen quickly learned that her first degree just wasn’t right for her. Getting some insight from a student who has completely changed direction in Uni was both insightful and interesting, and worth giving a listen.

Uni then, Uni now.

University can present a pretty intimidating force for people, but it’s also a very exciting change in their lives. I set about discovering how Journalism students felt before they first set foot into class, their anxieties, ambitions, and incentives; then compare it to how they feel 4 weeks into semester, now that they’ve planted their feet firmly onto campus. As well as their new outlook on University, many students ran into surprising circumstances surrounding their first semester, from the sheer size of campus to the communal friendliness of UOW’s students. Despite all these student’s different experiences, all are certain that University is the best adventure yet.

Feet up, but ready to run.

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Sally Krajacic – on the lawn by UniBar.

Sally Krajacic, 18 year old student of Journalism, kicking it back during some spare moments on Campus. Sally never feared Uni, not even from the beginning. She saw Uni as a challenge; an opportunity to ‘do what she wants, with real freedom and choice she never found in high school.’ Sally loves the independence she gets going to University, and living on campus gives her even more. She often finds herself returning to her apartment between classes, but in the odd break, she lays back on the lawns of UOW and keeps up to date with her new friends.