JonCole

"Ethics and Journalistic Integrity"

6158 posts in this topic

Edit: I'm going to periodically add links to the OP to better contextualize some of the talk on this thread.

 

Reference Links

 

Jeremy Parish of USGamer talks about Objectivity

Polygon's Ethics Statement

The Guardian's Editorial Code (for reference to media covering other topics)

Kotaku changes their policy regarding Patreon

Joystiq's Editorial Ethics Policies

 

Original Post

 

I didn't know if someone was going to make a topic, but here one is! Kindly continue the conversation from the Feminism topic here.

 

I'll throw in this particularly interesting write-up by some YouTube game personality, where he talks about some of the irrational psychology behind the kind of journalistic integrity conspiracy stuff we're seeing -

 

http://jamsponge.tumblr.com/post/95731137698/why-the-games-press-wont-talk-about-ethical-corruption

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So how are developers and game journalists being buddy-buddy going to destroy gaming as we know it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moved from the feminism thread. Still, whoops, I failed to spot how many pages of discussion took place after this post. Sorry.

 

 
@MadJackalope
Spending so much time worrying about potential nepotism and not about why the heck there is such a huge and terrifyingly aggressive reaction to the mere rumors of (pretty bland) misbehavior of a single marginally-high-profile woman gamedev, seems ... misguided, at best.
 
Indeed.
 
I spent some of this weekend with a youtuber who previously did games press work, and he was surprised at the fury about nepotism, because, like, professional publications *do* have processes and policies in place to work against it. He said he's finding the adjustment to youtube really weird, because now there's nobody actually monitoring and holding him to similar ethical standards and he has to just take responsibility for that himself (To clarify, he's not someone who's been involved in any of the ZQ stuff or Youtube payola things over the past few months, and he didn't talk about that lack of accountability as if it was a good thing).
 
It doesn't matter to the complainers in this case though: As soon as (for instance) Stephen Totlio says he's confident there's no wrongdoing on the part of his columnist, they can just expand their conspiracy to include him too. I think some of them really do believe they're attacking a conspiracy, and some others are just using it as a cover to harass and attack people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've noticed discussion about this topic seems to paint nepotism as a negative thing, but isn't it just the way our society functions?  Fraternities and sororities advertise themselves based on this, Whenever I have a job I need to be done I put out a call on facebook first, virtually every job I've ever had has been the result of some social connection.  Even the jobs I've had where I didn't have someone giving me an in, I became friendly with the interviewers prior to being hired.  It seems as though some of the reaction and discussion around this is people realizing that we don't in fact live in a meritocracy, and who you know matters.  Hell it even works the other way.  There are people I know of who I could hire or work with, but since they used racial slurs against some friends of mine I never will.  It seems like the outrage from all this could be explained to these people in a sociology 101 class.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is the way it works, and it isn't always bad, but it is a system that tends to maintain what the dominant status quo is inside of an industry (mostly white males in your industry, then mostly white males benefit).  It makes it harder for outsiders to break in even when the are equally or more qualified.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've noticed discussion about this topic seems to paint nepotism as a negative thing, but isn't it just the way our society functions?  Fraternities and sororities advertise themselves based on this, Whenever I have a job I need to be done I put out a call on facebook first, virtually every job I've ever had has been the result of some social connection.  Even the jobs I've had where I didn't have someone giving me an in, I became friendly with the interviewers prior to being hired.  It seems as though some of the reaction and discussion around this is people realizing that we don't in fact live in a meritocracy, and who you know matters.  Hell it even works the other way.  There are people I know of who I could hire or work with, but since they used racial slurs against some friends of mine I never will.  It seems like the outrage from all this could be explained to these people in a sociology 101 class.

 

Somewhat like I said in the other thread, there are definitely gradations of nepotism/cronyism, the softer of which are almost essential to the proper functioning of any field or industry. For me, nepotism/cronyism is only problematic when people without qualifications are being preferred over people with qualifications because of the former's connections to the decision-makers (to cut another discussion short, I'm including identity politics under "qualifications" because they are). However, I am finding a definite group of people who consider the preference of people with any connections to the decision-makers to fall under the definition of nepotism/cronyism and therefore is entirely undesirable.

 

Not only does it seem to me that most of the people saying as much have never been on a selection committee in their lives, but it's fairly simple to make such a hard and fast rule about hiring ethics result in less "ethical" hiring decisions. For instance, say I am a well-placed editor with a lot of experience. I know most of the top people in my field closely and personally after years of working alongside them, both as colleagues and competitors. When it comes time to hire my replacement, choosing from all of these people, my friends, could easily be called cronyism, but it wouldn't be, because they're all qualified. I know them because they are qualified.

 

Of course, like Bjorn says, the system is far from perfect. Efforts are always needed to break socioeconomic, gender, and race monopolies (and biases) on certain industries, but I think such a broad-reaching definition of nepotism/cronyism can even hurt in that respect. If your friends can't be a factor in you getting jobs, how many people who've championed women, queers, and people of color would have to have recused themselves and let the hiring machine chew through resumes until it hit upon the "most qualified" individual, who no doubt would have been a straight white male.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed, nepotism leads to a comparatively homogenous perspective for the organization. I prefer communities to have a wide breadth of sensible and inclusionary perspectives. That said, my preference does not lead me to celebrate harmful behavior such as forceful disclosure of individuals' private lives just because it reveals a previously unknown personal relationship that a mob can conjecture with in passionate disregard for the persons involved. What my preference does do is be attracted to organizations who have cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural influence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is the way it works, and it isn't always bad, but it is a system that tends to maintain what the dominant status quo is inside of an industry (mostly white males in your industry, then mostly white males benefit).  It makes it harder for outsiders to break in even when the are equally or more qualified.

 

This feels like the exact opposite of the concern being felt by the people currently complaining about nepotism in video game journalism, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 I know most of the top people in my field closely and personally after years of working alongside them, both as colleagues and competitors. When it comes time to hire my replacement, choosing from all of these people, my friends, could easily be called cronyism, but it wouldn't be, because they're all qualified. I know them because they are qualified.

 

I think this is really important and speaks to the fundamental lack of experience of the complainers.

 

If you're hiring a project lead for a 200 million dollar game, or any position of responsibility are people really expecting them to pick somebody they don't know anything about?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed, nepotism leads to a comparatively homogenous perspective for the organization. I prefer communities to have a wide breadth of sensible and inclusionary perspectives. That said, my preference does not lead me to celebrate harmful behavior such as forceful disclosure of individuals' private lives just because it reveals a previously unknown personal relationship that a mob can conjecture with in passionate disregard for the persons involved. What my preference does do is be attracted to organizations who have cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural influence.

 

Isn't this just nepotism in a different direction?  Wouldn't you be more willing to hire or work with someone who shares those views?  I certainly would, I am guilty as hell of that in the past.  It seems to be the problem with nepotism isn't that it exists, but that it can lead to the creation of a sort of landed gentry within an organization or industry with problematic worldviews.  Just based on the views expressed in threads like this I'd be more likely to work with or for someone who is active in this community.  I've even read a number of Danielle's articles, became aware of Olly Moss's work, etc all because of being a member here.  I'm not really sure I have a point here, I just feel like this whole situation in the games industry at large has been two groups of people talking at each other rather than to each other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On a practical scale, here's what developers and/or publishers giving gifts or other incentives to reviewers does:

 

Higher official review scores may lead to more sales, though word of mouth is still powerful and can influence people more strongly.


There's also the meta-critic problem. The guy who did the A Life Well Wasted podcast had an episode in which a game dev (who had his voice altered in the recording to retain anonymity) spoke about Meta-critic scores influencing project lighting by publishers. But they follow the same insane scale where 7 is maybe-territory, while there's six numbers below that to be accounted for. In that regard, there could be a danger, but I don't know how wide-reaching it would be or how frequent. It's a little tinfoil hat, but if it's happened at least once, then it did indeed happen and that one instance was shitty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's also the meta-critic problem. The guy who did the A Life Well Wasted podcast had an episode in which a game dev (who had his voice altered in the recording to retain anonymity) spoke about Meta-critic scores influencing project lighting by publishers. But they follow the same insane scale where 7 is maybe-territory, while there's six numbers below that to be accounted for. In that regard, there could be a danger, but I don't know how wide-reaching it would be or how frequent. It's a little tinfoil hat, but if it's happened at least once, then it did indeed happen and that one instance was shitty.

 

One thing I noticed regarding metacritic is the way the site itself determines what is a good (green background on score), average (yellow background on score), or bad (red background on score) score.  The scale for video games is 70+ is considered good, 69-50 is average, and everything below that below average.  However for Movies, TV, and music  60+ is considered good, 59-40 is considered average, and everything below is bad.  I've heard a number of similar stories of bonuses being tied to metacritic as well as other incentives, which seems to me like little more than an excuse for the publisher to keep more of the potential return for themselves.  What bothers me most is that I have heard of so few reimbursement schemes that seem fair, such a certain score gets a certain bonus, and more often than not the agreement is either hit this metacritic score (I've never heard of a value lower than 85 as the target) or you don't get bonuses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Isn't this just nepotism in a different direction? Wouldn't you be more willing to hire or work with someone who shares those views? I certainly would, I am guilty as hell of that in the past. It seems to be the problem with nepotism isn't that it exists, but that it can lead to the creation of a sort of landed gentry within an organization or industry with problematic worldviews.

Yeah I guess. I don't really have a problem with nepotism, I have a problem with exclusion of tolerant views and discouragement of diversity. I don't think all opinions are equal though. I have an agenda that I'm trying to promote; I'm interested in helping people make other people more capable. If someone's opinion is working against that then I'm only interested dissecting their opinion so that I can learn to explain my agenda more clearly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this irrefutable evidence says it all.

 

SrTA2nV.jpg

:tup:  :tup:  :tup:  :tup:  :tup:  :tup:  :tup:  :tup:  :tup:

 

There are a lot of weird emotes on these forums  :dopefish:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't know if someone was going to make a topic, but here one is! Kindly continue the conversation from the Feminism topic here.

 

I'll throw in this particularly interesting write-up by some YouTube game personality, where he talks about some of the irrational psychology behind the kind of journalistic integrity conspiracy stuff we're seeing -

 

http://jamsponge.tumblr.com/post/95731137698/why-the-games-press-wont-talk-about-ethical-corruption

 

Oh that's Matt Lees, he did the E3 Abridged series last year.

 

Also he basically said everything I was going to say and made a bunch of points that I probably should have thought of, so I guess we'll just use this thread to store conspiracy jay-pegs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems like this is the latest one making the rounds, this time concerning Polygon:

 

Ben Kuchera didn't disclose that he was a Patreon supporter of Zoe Quinn while he wrote an article directly about Quinn, which may or may not go against Polygon's Ethics Statement under the subsection of Conflict:

Polygon's Ethics Statement - http://www.polygon.com/pages/ethics-statement

March 19, 2014 - http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/19/5526114/developer-zoe-quinn-offers-real-world-advice-support-for-dealing-with

 

If you want to go by the letter, Polygon's Ethics Statement never states that it doesn't cover people in which their writers have an undisclosed financial investment, and you can define investment in such a way that just giving someone money doesn't qualify, but that would seem to go against the spirit of the statement. When I support a project on Kickstarter or person on Patreon, I have a vested interest in seeing them succeed.

 

I think Ben Kuchera just messed up, so now what? I would hazard nothing, and maybe that's alright. I think people will argue that its not a significant investment, and it is not the kind of investment where one will ever receive any kind of financial benefit, but I'm still kind of disappointed: I had the impression that Polygon was ironclad on these kinds of things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kuchera is a polarizing enough figure to draw his own shit storm. Being attached to the Zoe thing though it'll be amplified.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm willing to give Polygon the benefit of the doubt here but I hope that in the future, Patreon contributions are disclosed. Not that contributing to someone's Patreon is necessarily a huge conflict of interest, but it is something that reasonably should be mentioned. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, so first, disclosure is often the single biggest thing a writer or publication need do.  If you know the influences on a writer, you can make your own call on how much you trust what they are saying ("Publisher X took me on an all expense paid trip to fire a tank and look at strippers, I think their new game looks great!"  "I gave Indie Dev Y $50 through a crowdsourcing campaign and believe that the game they are making is important for our industry.").

 

Second, Kuchera is actually in the clear here in my opinion.  Even if he didn't disclose.  Because journalists buy games.  Does every games journalist provide an excel spreadsheet of every gaming related purchase they make per year?  Do they need to update reviews announcing that they bought the latest map pack for a shooter they enjoy?  I don't think so, and you can make a pretty legit argument that's what Kuchera is doing with Patreon.  Is there a difference between him buying every DoubleFine game that is released, and him paying for everything that Quinn releases for free?  She provides the ability to directly pay her for all of the work she does as a pay-what-you-want model.  If Kuchera just went and paid her $2 every time she produced something, would that need to be disclosed?  He's automated a thing that he could do manually, that if he was doing manually, no one would criticize him for. 

 

To me, he doesn't have any more of an investment in her than any other gaming journalist who is a fan of a particular dev or franchise and routinely buys those products. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.