Are Ethics In Gaming Journalism Actually All That Important?

So the Gators have not convinced me, in the slightest, that it’s about ethics in game journalism, but I was reading this article (which is seriously interesting in its own right) and I read that phrase for the umpteenth time and I realized: Is it that important? Is it even close to death-threat level important, even putting aside for a moment that a movement about ethics should maintain a reasonable set of them?

See, gaming journalism isn’t even entirely new. We have had people covering sports for well over a century, at least. It’s a little different because participation and spectation are different activities, but the core of the issues are the same: These are leisure activities, and the lack of real consequential impact from these activities (compared to other topics covered by journalists, like crime and punishment, war, poverty, etc.) is going to breed a certain coziness. Look at sports, for example. Most of the newscasters are fans, with clear favorites, and most interviews with players and coaches are pretty softball affairs.

Or look at Making. Half the process of making is acquiring the right tools and materials. Flip through any magazine or publication about making and the ads for tools and products, as well as the reviews, can tend to blend together fairly seamlessly. Hell, I’ve even seen an ad for a product in the same issue of a magazine featuring its creator in an article. Yet there isn’t the same call for “ethics in Maker journalism.” Why? Is it because the other communities don’t have the same high standards? Or is it because it’s not really that important?

ETA: Link to article.

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In other words, are ethics in a hobby press even remotely important enough to ruin lives over?


Not especially. In the grand scheme of things, we’re talking about people writing about playthings. There are some issues in how people and companies are represented, and this is not a new thing. The concept of payola has riddled the game journalism industry since its inception, but it’s not earth shattering and nowadays, with an infinite number of sources to get your news and information from, it could be argued that it is LESS of an issue, because a dodgy, bug ridden game WILL get called out much more quickly that it would have done in the days of monthly-magazines-and-that’s-it.

But honestly… It’s just vidya games. Get some perspective.

And I say that as a HUGE fan of games for more than 30 years.


They absolutely are, and it’s apparent when “game journalists” step way out of line of ethical boundaries. When journalist run hit articles based on lies to attack people who say things about games they like, when they defend content like corrective rape and the drugging of women for sex in games as being “normal”, when they target developers with personal information… well, those are clear ethical lines that shouldn’t be crossed, and actually end up effecting and ruining people’s lives when they are.

Oh… oh… wait, what was that? Those are all things the “I care about ethics” people SUPPORT?



Or rather, even if you forget about Gamergate and what they did in the name of ‘ethics’, are ethics actually something to care about when it comes to gaming journalism?

Are they though? Games may be leisure activities, but I’d say a closer parallel would be movie journalism or some other journalism that provides reviews to potential customers, thereby influencing the market. (I should add at this point that this has nothing to do with Gamergate’s claims, which don’t even seem to have had any merit in the first place). Video games make over $100b annually and that’s increasing fast, so in theory there’s a definite consequential impact to how they’re presented and which games are promoted. Where calls for ethical journalism mean “don’t criticise games for their poor handling of social issues, and continue to value some gamers over others”, I don’t think any ethical journalist can agree to that.

Personally, I think people don’t like when they feel preached to, and it’s been accepted for a long time that games occupy an ethically neutral sphere. Once that idea is challenged, people are going to react to it because they know that there are a lot of regressive elements to some major games. Much like the Civil War being about states’ rights, this is really about white men wanting continued control.


I read the article, but I have no idea what its about, apparently lamerbate is still a thing? This. Is. Sad.

The way I see it is that by continuing to use the terms as defined by the gamerhaters, we are not going to get anywhere because they never made any sense. The phrase “Ethics in gaming journalism” like the confederate flag (trending topic), were never doing anything other than standing in for the hate manbabies was spewing on the internet. Thankfully mostly on the internet.

If there are any problems with gaming articles, we’ll need somebody to spell those out independently of the haters, and the people who care will have to speak their mind.


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