Friday, 21 February 2014
It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small.
Game designer Ken Levine recently announced that he’s shutting down his studio, Irrational Games, the one that brought everyone the Bioshock games. I don’t really feel one way or the other about it – the first game was pretty good, the second was rubbish and I passed on the third.
Apparently, nobody saw it coming. Well, nobody except Leigh Alexander, who claims somewhat fatuously that she knew about it a year ago, but didn’t report it because (to paraphrase) she was too close to it and it was too risky.
I’m not going to delve too much into Leigh. After her attempt to establish an annual ‘Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day’, I’m given to thinking that she sometimes has a few interesting ideas but doesn’t think them through properly.
But her claims encouraged other members of the games media to discuss how difficult it is for them to separate rumour from fact, and how they don’t want to upset an industry where so many of their friends work.
Well, that’s the problem, and here’s my message to games journos who still don’t get it: those industry people you’re reporting about? They are not your friends. As journalists, your duty begins and ends with your readers, full stop. If you’re given a lead, you follow it to its logical conclusion and if you don’t have a story, then that’s the end of it. Your industry contacts already know this, so why don’t you?
It’s not uncommon for me to see a level of collusion between the games media and the industry, where journalists regularly hang out with PR and marketing for Friday drinks, weekend parties, weddings, baby showers, and even make plans together about overseas junkets. Is it a wonder that some of them have lost their objectivity?
And besides, Ken is setting up another studio anyway, so it’s not like he’s stopped making games.