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    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    Why The Mail On Sunday Got It Right

    It’s not unusual for the non-specialist press to get it completely wrong when it comes to games, but nobody cares. Anyone who’s a proper gamer knows it’s all bollocks, and bad press almost always means better game sales. Last Sunday, the Mail On Sunday led with a front headline of “Slaughtered”, and featured pictures taken from Official PlayStation Magazine’s giddy-schoolboy account of a pathetic press event for God Of War 2. Whilst it was embarrassing enough that what’s viewed as a “leading” games publication was getting all excited at naked breasts, what had really offended the sensibilities of The Mail was the decapitated slaughtered goat from which offal was being offered to the motley collection of journalists.

    As soon as Sony found out one of its pathetic “look at me” press events had been given the front page of, as much as everyone likes to criticise it, one of the country’s best-selling newspapers, it immediately back-pedalled by issuing an apology and launching an enquiry. As soon as Future Publishing found out its magazine had made the front page, the brass acted just as steadfastly by… pulling the entire print run of their excuse for a magazine and are now busily ripping out the pages.

    It’s so easy to sit back and criticise newspapers for their games coverage, as they always get it hopelessly wrong. Whether games are being linked to knife attacks or GTA is being blamed for the world’s evils, we, as gamers, know it’s just misinformed shit which heretic non-gamers, who nobody cares about anyway, will tut at and everybody else will laugh at. In this instance though, the Mail On Sunday got it right.

    Having a decapitated slaughtered goat at a press event and splashing it over the pages of a shit kiddy magazine was totally misjudged. Sony has admitted it was misjudged by grovelling when confronted, and Future has agreed that they fucked up too by withdrawing its OPSM bog roll. The MoS isn’t entirely right – their “review” of the game by “expert” Rob Waugh, whose usual remit is rewriting press releases to make them even more superficial, is woeful (Waugh-ful! Sorry…) However, the games industry has no right to criticise the MoS for running the story.

    MCV has reported Tim Wapshott, described as a “veteran industry writer”, describing the story as “screaming”. They’ve also quoted Steve Boxer, hilariously and pathetically all at once described as a “senior games journalist”, whatever the fuck that is, slagging off the MoS with the usual “they always get it wrong” shit.

    The industry has already been shamed by being tarred with Sony and Future’s brush of stupidity and gormlessness. Sony hasn’t exactly had the best PR record since the PSP and PS3 have dirtied shop shelves. Even before then, they’ve not precisely nailed the PR machine. We remember a friend who had been into hospital and had a head x-ray about 10 years ago. A week or two later, a mailing marked “urgent” arrived, and in it were plastic reproductions of head x-rays with a letter worded as though he had a serious illness. He realised as he read further down the letter that it was some bullshit Sony “game brain” crap, but not until he’d almost had a nervous breakdown at the thought of being notified to see his doctor urgently after having a head x-ray. Complaining to Sony, they just sent back a letter saying how they were being “fresh”. No Sony – you were being fucking arseholes, just like you are now.

    Anyway, that’s what we think to Sony, and you all know what we think to Future. But MCV, who we respect, shouldn’t be wading in with comments from “senior” and “veteran” journalists, who obviously have no vested interest in sticking the knife in because it’s not like they write for competing papers like The Times, The Guardian and The Mirror, or anything, and presenting it as an industry view.

    The industry is full of journalists. Many of them are shit, many (but a lot less) of them are great. When the industry as a whole has been humiliated by the stupidity of Sony and Future’s money-grabbing attention-seeking antics, it needs to be left to the specialist journalists – the good specialist journalists – to comment, and say, “yeah, Sony and Future fucked up, we think they’re stupid”. The opportunistic rival newspaper wankers can keep their opinions to their own rags.

    Will this industry ever be free of vested interests?

    Our 2nd Birthday Q&A will be up soon.


    1. “yeah, Sony and Future fucked up, we think they’re stupid”

      How can the good journalists say that if everyone works for future publishing?

    2. Will this industry ever be free of vested interests?


      This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Big Questions.

    3. Anonymous5:00 pm

      Talking of rubbish reviews in non gaming publications, anyone remember that Outrun 2 one? Man.

    4. Anonymous6:55 am

      "The industry is full of journalists. Many of them are shit, many (but a lot less) of them are great."

      Many great journos, Rammy? Care to name some? Say, 10? 15?

    5. Yes, there's... umm, whatshisname and...erm...thingymajig, and...y'know... OK, maybe I shouldn't have used the word "many"...

    6. Anonymous9:21 pm

      The original review of Doom in Edge issue 3 (I think) was a corker. "If only you could talk to these characters..."