Mock Reviews and This week's Bombcast

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UlquioKani

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#1  Edited By UlquioKani

So on this week's bombcast, there was a discussion about Mock reviews and they made it seem like it was not a good practice. I think this may be my stupidity but I didn't understand what was wrong with it. They made it seem like someone who had written a mock review couldn't be trusted but I don't get why? Can I get an explanation?

This may be me not understanding things properly but some clarification would be lovely.

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Oscar__Explosion

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#2  Edited By Oscar__Explosion

I think the problem is that once you have been payed by a publisher to give a review for a game then you could potentially be biased for whatever future games that company brings out which could ruin a person's credibility. Maybe I'm off base here, but that is what I gather during the whole fiasco.

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theodacourt

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#3  Edited By theodacourt

They get paid better than regular reviewers and will often take the same skills into the regular media. It's highly likely that they're going to have fond memories of a company giving them lots of money. Plus I think the majority of people in games journalism aren't really thinking about moral compromisation so it's hard to be sure you can trust them. All the PR/Marketing stuff that gets done for journalists is effective, which is why it still goes on. I guess they were more thinking it's better to be safe than sorry in regards to your freelancers.

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ztiworoh

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#4  Edited By ztiworoh

@UlquioKani: Generally, if you're a member of the media, it is considered at best an ethical grey area to review or comment on a product from a company with whom you've had a previous financial relationship. Between the plain fact that they have paid you money and the chance that you've built up personal relationships with the people behind the product, there's just too many chances for your opinions to seem compromised. A journalist/reviewer/media personality who is trying to maintain credibility will usually shy away from putting themselves in that situation.

Likewise, there are people who move between the different sides of the industry - like, for instance, Alex Navarro has said that he won't review music games because of his previous position with Harmonix. It's better for him and Giantbomb if they let someone else take care of them.

As someone who works as a (non-game-related) PR consultant, I deal with this sort of thing all of the time. I have friends who are reporters, who write about my clients and it's an ongoing concern to make sure that you walk that line so that they retain the ability to do their job correctly and maintain journalistic integrity.

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Akyho

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#5  Edited By Akyho

Alot of people just write. They just want some money to put food on the table. That is the freelancers and its all upto personal morals to uphold. However when your starving and only have one other option. It can be a blemish on their records to the public. To other writers it not a problem. However the public which is readers can be fickle.

However a number of people are part of a company with a regular wage. That is when a Mock review within a job would be outright discouraged by fellow writers and readers.

However something that has come to light to me with the Rab Florence and Eurogamer stuff. There is a number of Games writers that simply more writers than Games writers, it just so happens their current job is for a games website. .

Make you think on Jeff and the crew then realize they actually care about games. Considering tweets and messages I have been reading of people who just simply write or jump between PR and writing. To a number of folks its just a job not a dream job.

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UlquioKani

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#6  Edited By UlquioKani

@Akyho: @ztiworoh: @theodacourt: @Oscar__Explosion: Thanks, That was really helpful

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psylah

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#7  Edited By psylah

I'd think you'd jump on the chance to hire a mach reviewer since they can get the reviews done so fast.

I'm sorry.

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CatsAkimbo

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#8  Edited By CatsAkimbo

It's probably unlikely that a writer would actually become friendly toward a company because of a mock review -- I like to believe game writers are more credible than that. However, accepting money from a company for anything does give the appearance of something shady going on, and that's enough to become untrustworthy to an audience.

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rachelepithet

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#9  Edited By rachelepithet

Its a fucking dream job. Youre basically playing Bob & Bob from Office Space for Ea/Activision

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Laurentech

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#10  Edited By Laurentech

@psylah said:

I'd think you'd jump on the chance to hire a mach reviewer since they can get the reviews done so fast.

I'm sorry.

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PerryVandell

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#11  Edited By PerryVandell

I think the aspect of the job is super interesting in that you aren't being paid to give your opinion of a game, but rather what you think others will think about a game. That's probably one of the reasons why the pay is so much higher. Normally you'd play a game, write up your opinions on it and give it a corresponding score. Here, your opinion is merely a piece of the puzzle. In that situation, I imagine you have to sit down and question whether something that clicked with you is universal. You have to ask, "I think this thing is good/bad, but how sure am I others will see it that way?"

It sounds pretty similar to what Michael Pachter does, only confidential. And while the money is certainly a plus, I'd rather review games for a publication. While increasing the risk of readers and potential employers questioning my journalistic integrity is certainly a downside, the main reason is the job just sounds stressful. Everyone--even analysts--get things wrong. This might not be as big an issue once you've acquired some professional clout, but it sounds like your job hangs by a thread in the early days. It just seems painfully stressful, and that's not something I'd want to do for very long.

And to answer your original question, it sounds like the issue isn't journalistic integrity necessarily, but the amount of time it would take an editor to verify your integrity. I'm sure there are trustworthy writers out there who have done mock reviews. But if there's someone with around the same experience as the mock reviewer sans financial relationship with a game company, then it's easier for the editor to just pick the latter guy or girl.

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Binman88

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#12  Edited By Binman88

@Akyho said:

Alot of people just write. They just want some money to put food on the table. That is the freelancers and its all upto personal morals to uphold. However when your starving and only have one other option. It can be a blemish on their records to the public. To other writers it not a problem. However the public which is readers can be fickle.

However a number of people are part of a company with a regular wage. That is when a Mock review within a job would be outright discouraged by fellow writers and readers.

However something that has come to light to me with the Rab Florence and Eurogamer stuff. There is a number of Games writers that simply more writers than Games writers, it just so happens their current job is for a games website. .

Make you think on Jeff and the crew then realize they actually care about games. Considering tweets and messages I have been reading of people who just simply write or jump between PR and writing. To a number of folks its just a job not a dream job.

I agree with everything you said, but I'm not sure if "fickle" is the right word to describe the readers. Fickle has a pretty negative connotation and implies the readers loyalties would change for minor reasons. A financial relationship in the present or past with a publisher is a big issue when it comes to the trust you place in journalists.

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alternate

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#13  Edited By alternate

Nick Suttner must have cried himself to sleep listening to this podcast.

Personally I don't see such a big deal. If you are writing a product evaluation for pay I am not sure it matters who is doing the paying - publisher or publication. You could argue that mock reviewers might bias their opinion to what the publisher wants to hear but then you could say ppl who review say Zelda games are influenced by the fanboys likely reaction. In any event, if the mock reviewer is out of step with the real reviews then he isn't going to keep that job.

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DJJoeJoe

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#14  Edited By DJJoeJoe

I think the shady part comes from them paying you and because of that, if you go off to review one of their games publicly if you don't give a decent score you could maybe not get their money next time. Also if you give a bad score to their game in the mock internal review people lose their jobs often... which is probably the largest issue with the thing.

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Laurentech

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#15  Edited By Laurentech

Pretty much what @ztiworoh said. Given the somewhat lax standards of the enthusiast and games press (in general), anyone wishing to maintain public credibility is likely going to try to stay away from this sort of thing.

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jdw519

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#16  Edited By jdw519

Yea, it comes down to future credibility, but that would be a weird thing to get hung up on. I would still trust Jeff even if he'd done that mock review

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EXTomar

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#17  Edited By EXTomar

There is a general "conflict of interest" when someone is paid by the artist to review what they produced even if they review it harshly or negatively. Although reviewers who get paid for mock reviews could probably do a regular review, most editors should and would stay away from that just to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

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#18  Edited By Little_Socrates

@PerryVandell said:

I think the aspect of the job is super interesting in that you aren't being paid to give your opinion of a game, but rather what you think others will think about a game. That's probably one of the reasons why the pay is so much higher. Normally you'd play a game, write up your opinions on it and give it a corresponding score. Here, your opinion is merely a piece of the puzzle. In that situation, I imagine you have to sit down and question whether something that clicked with you is universal. You have to ask, "I think this thing is good/bad, but how sure am I others will see it that way?"

It sounds pretty similar to what Michael Pachter does, only confidential. And while the money is certainly a plus, I'd rather review games for a publication. While increasing the risk of readers and potential employers questioning my journalistic integrity is certainly a downside, the main reason is the job just sounds stressful. Everyone--even analysts--get things wrong. This might not be as big an issue once you've acquired some professional clout, but it sounds like your job hangs by a thread in the early days. It just seems painfully stressful, and that's not something I'd want to do for very long.

And to answer your original question, it sounds like the issue isn't journalistic integrity necessarily, but the amount of time it would take an editor to verify your integrity. I'm sure there are trustworthy writers out there who have done mock reviews. But if there's someone with around the same experience as the mock reviewer sans financial relationship with a game company, then it's easier for the editor to just pick the latter guy or girl.

This is probably the post most accurate to my take on the whole practice.

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swordmagic

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#19  Edited By swordmagic

Can someone tell me what a mock review is? I'm not familiar with the concept.

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Manhattan_Project

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@WolfHazard said:

Can someone tell me what a mock review is? I'm not familiar with the concept.

A developer or publisher pay you to review a game in an attempt to gauge the response from the media and public.