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    Monday, May 05, 2008

    We Are Three (Years And One Month Old)

    So strong is the apathy surrounding this blog that even we forgot its birthday last month until it was too late. (EDIT: And even this month we forgot to publish this when we were supposed to.) It’s kind of a shame not to mark the occasion, though.

    There’s not much point in going over the story yet again of how The RAM Raider was born, why it was born, and why nobody gives a fuck, because we’ve already done that for our first and second birthdays which are in the archive. Looking back over the years though, it strikes us just how similar the games industry is now compared to when we first started writing for the arse-end of the internet.

    What surprises us the most is just how naive the majority of gamers still seem to be. When Jeff Gerstmann was sacked from GameSpot last year, there was genuine shock and surprise amongst their readership. Gamers were mortified that that kind of stuff was going on behind closed doors. At the same time, we, along with every other games journalist, were surprised only that GameSpot had let this dirty little secret be displayed so publicly.

    Being the egomaniacal Google-masturbators that we are, we often skulk around search engines to see who’s talking about us. More recently, readers have been discussing the “official” review of GTA4 by Officially Corrupt Xbox 360 Magazine. They’re surprised. They’re surprised that the review was based on unfinished code. They’re surprised that this was admitted in the review. They’re surprised because they apparently think that every game reviewed is done so honestly, with no influence from PR shite-bags or advertisers, based on gold code.

    We’re not surprised – we’re fucking shocked. We can’t believe that, even in the open age of the internet, so many gamers are still completely unaware of how this business works.

    So – mission failed, then? Probably.

    Still, we read with interest an editorial in PC Gamer last week where editor Ross Atherton (who must thank the lord-god-Future daily for not making him the editor of nearly-dead PC Zone) denounced PR influence on future features in his mag. The piece itself was still slightly politicised in its wording (only noticed recently – is that a joke?), but the intention is noble.

    You could argue that he goes and throws away the credibility gained by presenting an advert for a book written by one of his writers as “news”, especially as Edge (of all mags) at least had the decency to criticise it in their one-page advertorial (here’s the translation: “meandering”, “indistinct in purpose” and “circuitous” = indulgent). But still, it’s progress, especially if they stick to it.

    Assuming this sudden in-public recognition of the overbearing PR machine on this once hobbyist pastime is an epiphany, no matter how small, can we take any of the credit? Of course not. Yes, they all know about us, and yes, they all read us. Hell, we even get more readers in a month than the majority of Future’s games mags. The problem is that no matter how long we bang on like stroppy autistic zealots, there are always going to be many more readers who have never heard of us, and never will, so will carry on without actually knowing “how things work”.

    Still, as much as joyful little events like the Driv3r scandal and the Gerstmann fiasco garner the real attention, we’re going to carry on banging on like grumpy fucks for as long as people keep coming back to the blog for more. And if we’ve had even the slightest, most infinitesimally minor effect on the way the gaming press works, then that’s three years well spent.

    Anyway, we’ve had enough gloom and moaning for the time being. Stay tuned for yet another one of our “lists” that people like so much over the summer as the world of gaming grinds to a halt, and here’s to another year of angriness, infuriation, the same old jokes, being called cunts, and good old-fashioned piss-taking.

    The RAM Raider salutes you, dear reader.


    1. EDGE's review of Jim's book begins with some negative observations, and then goes on to spend a PAGE praising it very highly. Not quite as you report it, eh?

      Gamer consistently covers new gaming books as news - see issues passim - and obviously weren't going to ignore Jim's, were they? It's hardly the work of evil PR - it's a writer for the magazine writing a book about the subject of the magazine.

      Good grief, it's no wonder that you've had no impact on anything in three years, is it?

    2. Anonymous2:53 pm

      This is from the issue with Prince of Persia on the cover, no? That had negative and positive commetns all the way through. The bits Rammy quotes are near the end.

    3. Samuel Roberts3:02 pm

      Happy Birthday. Keep doing what you do.

    4. Look up, everybody, way, way up high, and you’ll see the point flying several nautical miles above John’s head. Again.

      The point is Edge just about getting away with spending a page on the book by making their review surprisingly balanced and fair, including the rough with the smooth (not, as you say, some negative observations then a page of high praise).

      I wasn’t criticising PCG for mentioning the book in its news pages – I was criticising the unbalanced approach taken in doing so. You can either report on the book objectively – say what it’s about, where you can get it, etc – or you can do what Edge did and review it properly including positives and negatives. What you can’t do is describe it as “a work of towering genius and wit”.

      I know you’re just defending your buddy, John, but seriously – of course I’m going to pick you up when you’re so obviously wrong.

      And: Thanks, Samuel Roberts! (And to the emailing / Facebooking well-wishers, too)

    5. Irony frightens you, doesn't it?

    6. J0NCFC9:21 pm

      does anyone not in the job read this?

      cos ill be buggered if i know whats going on half the time

    7. HI

      It is a very nice and great post and I like it.

    8. salad dodger3:36 pm

      Thanks RAM Raider! Without you, nobody would ever have suspected that games magazines cooperate with publishers in various exciting and mutually beneficial ways. (Assuming they never read games magazines. Or the internet.)

      What scoops can we look forward to in year four? Will Future Publishing continue to be non-specifically characterised as pantomime villians, singlehandedly responsible for making games magazines alienatingly highbrow/childishly irrelevant?

      Perhaps EA will finally be unmasked as something other than the altruistic dogooders the unwitting public believes them to be?

      Or maybe we'll be thrown a curveball when Sony are daringly labelled a 'cunt'.

    9. Boo to all you!

      This is like someone turning up and someone's birthday party to tell them that they have no friends.

      Boo, you hear? Boo!

    10. @ botherer

      If saying the book is a work of towering genius and wit is ironic, does that mean you think it's dumb and witless?

    11. Keep it up RAM raider.

      John, why do you continue to read something you obviously loathe?

    12. NotBotherer-d10:36 am

      Because he's a complete tool