While sitting in on a developer demonstration for a game sequel, it’s not uncommon for them to ask those in attendance if they’ve played the first game.
In years past, when presented with a situation where I hadn’t played the original game in question, I had multiple answers ready, all various forms of lies.
1) “Yes, but only briefly”
3) “Well, one of my roommates/friends/co-workers did and I watched”
None of them were true, obviously. Since then, I’ve come to realize such answers don’t help anyone. I tell them I haven’t played their game. No apologies. I can’t play everything, though I do my best to try everything.
There are instances where a developer will be taken aback, as was the case earlier this week when I was checking out a sequel. I joked with the developer afterwards, telling him I could have lied, and he laughed it off.
“I would have found out,” he joked.
“No, you wouldn’t have,” said the voice in my head.
The view from the 39th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel in Vegas
I’m currently sitting in a Las Vegas hotel room to see a game I can’t talk about yet. You’ll hear my thoughts when the embargo lifts later this week. It’s a bizarre trip, my least favorite kind: the publisher-paid press junket. It’s a little talked about but otherwise staple element of the enthusiast press.
No, I don’t know why we’re in Las Vegas, considering most of our time with the game will take place in otherwise standard hotel rooms. But anyway.
I do not like being a journalist on a publisher dime. It makes me uncomfortable. Typically, this kind of event involves publishers flying writers to some location, usually close to a developer or publisher, to play “X” game, conduct interviews about “X” game, participate in some crazy promotional activity loosely related to the game (i.e. fire guns), etc. Some are flown out by their own company, but sometimes, the publisher is footing the bill. That’s me this week. I’m here on behalf of a well-known publication, but the publisher covered travel expenses.
MTV had strict rules against this, with very few exceptions. Some publications alleviate their conscience by allowing writers to fly courtesy of a publisher only if they’re freelance and not in-house. I’ve never quite understood that one, but the reason is usually what you’d expect: “It’s better than nothing.” The pressure to attend because other outlets will be there is too much. It’s not much different than the BioShock 2 situation from last week, actually.
I’m confident my work out of here will be genuine, but I felt a desire to express my concerns. If nothing else, this obligates me to do better work.
Please hold me to it.
[There’s some good discussion happening in the comments section about the BioShock 2 incident last week around the blogosphere. Check it out.]
The following is a list of news outlets, including ones I write for, that ran erroneous information about BioShock 2, based on a message board post inaccurately summarizing a Game Informer feature. This prompted both Game Informer and publisher 2K Games to vaguely attempt damage control.
* Computer & Video Games
There are countless other outlets that ran the “news,” too, but every single one of the aforementioned publications had the means to verify the information they passed on, information they were forced to backpedal on only hours later.
At least with Famitsu, you can claim it’s a different language. Embarrassing.