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Posted: 25 April 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: General Blog

 Seeing an exclusive review of a game is a fairly common thing. Mostly, they pop up on publications with the word "Official" in it, but that isn't always the case as even a big outlet like IGN has run its fair share of exclusives in the past. But some feel its bad for business, as though the Publisher of the game is providing some sort of interference or pressure on the reviewer. And when you think about it, the Publisher really is doing the publication a solid by giving them a good lead on a highly anticipated game that will surely drive internet traffic. But are exclusive reviews ethical, and how do reviewers deal with the constant accusations of simply being "paid off"?

My whole thought process on the matter is that if there is any sort of  agreement exchanged between a publisher and a publication regarding a review, the situation is already fucked. Reviewers are supposed to approach a game with total objectivity and with as little outside interference as possible. What we like to believe is that from the publisher's perspective it's their opportunity to influence the outcome of what will be the only published review anywhere in the time frame of a week/month.

To put it simply, I'm against the whole idea. I'm not trying to insinuate that all exclusive reviews  published are based in bad ethics, as much as people like to believe actual money is exchange anytime a game gets a high score (though not denying it hasn't at some point, somewhere). An exclusive review doesn't necessarily have to be a glorifying one either, however more often than not people like to emphasise on exclusive reviews going in a positive direction. This is mostly because the video game community is largely represented by a vocal minority which is often masked as the majority. It's a blur between what is being represented and what the reality actually is.

However to that same token, we don't necessarily have to do away with exclusive reviews either. If done correctly, the process between both parties can be beneficial to either side. But this is only possible if the sales side of the publication never allows the publisher direct access to the writer writing the review. There literally has to be zero interference as possible, and even better, the reviewer should not even know that he or she is running an exclusive review, ideally.

Writing for a large audience means a large amount of criticism. A writer should be able to take that criticism objectively and be able to channel it for good. But at the same time, there really has to be a lot of pressure on a writer knowing that his or her review will have all eyes on it from the gaming community as a whole, from gamers, fellow writers, and developers. As such, you can almost see the subtle influence on the writer taking place. In this case that pressure isn't coming from outside sources, but from within. It's a dangerous path.

Video Game Journalism is already in a weird place. With so many individuals in the field refusing to refer to themselves as actual journalists, the last thing the profession needs are these shady business practices happening behind the scenes. Right now as it stands, most gamers just don't trust most critics out there. It's even been said that the developers making the games are trained to believe that the press is the enemy. Until we can mature and move away from this mind-set, video games, the people who make them, those who play them, and the people who write about them will never be respected and taken seriously by the mainstream world.



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