The state of games journalism, and our statement of ethics
C. Custer | On November 25, 2013 at 9:00 am
It’s hard to believe that it has only been two months since the launch of Games in Asia. So hard to believe, in fact, that I had to look it up to be sure it hadn’t been longer! But here we are, on the brink of our third month in operation, and I didn’t want to wait any longer to address something that I think is extremely important: journalistic ethics.
As many of you probably know, I worked for Tech in Asia for several years before making the switch over here, and before that, I was working for a print magazine and doing freelance work as well. I have to say that my first couple of months in games journalism have horrified me; not because of what’s happening on our team, but because of what is apparently considered acceptable practice in the greater community of games journalists.
When I came across this thread on Reddit, for example, I was pretty horrified. In the context of any other sort of journalism, the idea of flying to a resort and taking expensive gifts from a company you’re meant to be reviewing objectively would be completely absurd. In games journalism, somehow, it’s the norm.
At the risk of sounding preachy, regardless of what the industry norms are, that will not be the norm here at Games in Asia. We’ve added a statement of ethics to the site for total transparency, and you can come back and check that any time you want (there’s a link to it in the footer so you can find it easily). But I want to summarize quickly some of the important points in it that might be different from the other games sites you read:
- Our writers may not accept any gifts worth more than $20 from any games company, and may not accept any gifts whatsoever from a company whose game they are reviewing.
- Games in Asia does accept review copies of games and gaming hardware, but other than that we do not accept gifts, and unsolicited gifts that are sent to us will either be given away to readers on the site (for cheaper swag) or donated to local charities (for valuable gifts like electronics).
- Our writers may not attend review events, period. If that means we have to wait until the game comes out and buy our own copy, that’s fine. All of our reviews are conducted in our own homes or offices, on our own hardware, with no supervision or help from PR.
Of course there’s more to our ethics policy than just that, and you can check out all of the details here. But I wanted to highlight those items in particular because they’re apparently unique (although they shouldn’t be) and because from time to time, they may affect our coverage.
For example, if a company is mandating that reviewers attend a review event to get their hands on a pre-release copy of the game, that means our review is going to be later than other gaming sites, because our reviewers can’t attend those events. We think that delay will be worth it, though, because it will ensure that we’re testing these games the same way you’ll be playing them: on our own PCs using the regular online services and servers with no supervision or help, rather than on PR-provided hardware connected to a specially-constructed LAN network.
Like everything about Games in Asia, this statement of ethics is a work in progress, so if you think we’ve missed something, please don’t hesitate to suggest it. Our goal is to cover the Asian gaming scene in the best and most ethical way possible, and to do that, we’re going to need your help!