Press Released: Lowenstein v. Kotaku – 2008

Sean Sands | 3 Oct 2008 21:00
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

Brian Crecente, whose work I respect and whose work I enjoy, seems to want to have it both ways. He's not alone. I'd suggest that most gaming blogs attempt to strike a virtually impossible balance between journalistic credentials and humorous content. But, is it really fair for anyone to paint themselves with the brush of responsible news service when they pull out the Jack Thompson piñata for frequent thrashing, often with comical pictures?

Not really, but to leave it there misses the broader point.

While I find myself agreeing with the fundamental point that Doug Lowenstein makes, being that places like Kotaku played a substantial part in prolonging Thompson's exposure, I don't think I agree with his underlying concern that gaming blogs really have the higher responsibility that he ascribes. Put simply, Crecente and his peers are doing a reasonable job of appealing to their market while offering meaningful content.

In the end, it's not Kotaku's job to make or break Thompson, or anyone else for that matter. Ultimately, that is the domain of a legal community, which ultimately shouldered the attorney with exactly the kind of disgrace he had earned. Much as we malign the processes at work in the bureaucracies of the world, they usually can be dragged kicking and screaming toward the right answers, just as we've seen with failed anti-gaming legislation and just as we now see with the ultimate exposure of Thompson.

It is certainly valid to question whether the quality of gaming journalism as a whole should be improved, but in the process we don't need to decide to deride every outlet for meeting the mandates of their audience. Kotaku does not aspire to be Gamasutra, and the fact that both exist serving different masters is a testament to the power of online gaming commentary, not a strike against it.

To be very blunt, Lowenstein is likely right that Kotaku and its peers played some part in Thompson's visibility, but with all due respect, as a former head of the ESA that was his problem, not Kotaku's. The fact that he declined to engage with Thompson is entirely appropriate to his job, and conversely that Kotaku played its part in exposing the senselessness of extremism is equally appropriate to its job. The price we pay for the value of entertainment, content and information that we get from gaming blogs is that occasionally we get a few extra weeks with someone like Jack Thompson. As long as we can rely on the mechanisms that ultimately deconstruct those extremists, it is an acceptable fee.

Sean Sands is the co-founder of gamerswithjobs.com and a freelance video games writer that never realized he could make and break careers with his words.

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