Early Access Journalism

The title for this post came from an astute observation made by a user on the /r/KotakuInAction subreddit. He/She hit the figurative nail right on the head.

People complain about Steam’s Early Access programme. Without going too much in to it, it’s fair enough for some of the complaints. The system definitely could do with an overhaul in an attempt to mitigate the deluge of shit titles that can appear on there, take money, then disappear in to the ether. It’s got issues, for sure, but I still like that it exists, as it’s furnished my game collection with some real gems over the years. If you are willing to do your homework and be aware of what Early Access actually is, you won’t easily fall foul of it’s downsides, but I agree that they exist.

This shit, on the other hand, is something I do not agree with, and it’s coming from a website that used to have my admiration and respect. They don’t any more, and not just because of this, but because of the way they have conducted themselves in this whole hot mess that is #gamergate.

We need money pls

That right there is the gaming industry ‘journalism’ equivalent of Early Access, except it’s not about getting involved with in dev titles, it’s about playing in to the bullshit rhetoric that the big sites are currently engaged in. Rock, Paper, Shotgun is asking for your money to enable you to take part in an enhanced subscription programme to their website, that will let you read opined pieces about, whatever they fucking want. That’s right, allow the floodgates to open and throw objectivity to the wind completely. They aren’t even trying to hide it any more. This is dangerous for a couple of reasons:

  1. It reinforces the idea that what the popular gaming media is doing right now is acceptable. It isn’t. You cannot continue to call yourselves journalists when you cannot even do the due diligence to remain impartial and objective.
  2. It creates a Fox News style echo chamber for uninformed and ignorant morons to push their agenda and silence dissent. Something we’ve seen a lot of the past month, particularly on the sites that were involved in the GameJournoPros email group scandal (I use the term scandal loosely, nobody has been held to task for that yet) and even on Wikipedia.
  3. It encourages the gaming media to continue treating their demographic like shit, as they have been all month. If they can not only get people to mirror their opinions in editorialised ‘Supporter’ pieces but also get revenue from them at the same time, the idea will be adopted by other corrupt media establishments.

What happened to RPS? It used to be one of the only places I could go for decent game news and light hearted discussion. Now it’s selling screen space to the masses, their masses, the masses that support the corruption. It’s a dangerous precedent to set.

We don’t need this shit, and nobody asked for it. It’s clear that RPS has lost some sponsors in the wake of #gamergate and is having to come up with new ways to raise capital. Unlike The Escapist, who saw the problem and acted on it, they remain stalwart in the face of accusations that they are corrupt, they don’t acknowledge it, they bury their heads in the sand.

It will be interesting to see if this opens up further and gets to the point where they allow these ‘Supporters’ to write their own pieces (think Fox News ‘contributors’) or how they deal with subscription holders who don’t echo the brainwashed masses in the comments sections. Then again I fully expect that anyone who has a Supporter subscription and doesn’t toe the line set by the editors will quickly see their articles or comments censored, removed, or put so far to the bottom of the pile that nobody ever sees them.

Yeah, you can’t even write that off as paranoia any more because that is exactly what is happening all over the Internet.