Kane & Lynch & Enough of the Bullshit

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Kane & Lynch & Enough of the Bullshit

The burning questions are: 1) Did Gamespot's deal with Eidos include an expectation of editorial coverage, or of a certain kind of editorial coverage, and 2) Was Gerstmann fired specifically for his negative review. If the answer to either of these questions is "yes," we're all screwed. We kind of already are screwed merely because even if the deal didn't go down this way, it's so plausible that it did.

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The reason why Jeff may be also giving no comment, could simply stem from his contractual obligation. It'd be silly to not have a clause in it somewhere that simply stats "if you discuss our business matters, you'll be violating our privacy and we will sue you".

Advertising dollars have always swayed review scores. While not usually in a drastic way but an advertiser brining in big money can mean the difference between an 8.2 and an 8.5 kind of thing. This is the way the world works. And it doesn't just apply to video games, it goes for movies, books, computers, whatever.

If this story just now made one aware of such things, they are horribly naive. When you visit a site that depends on ad revenue to exist this is what you should expect. I'm not saying you should expect a reviewer to get fired but you should expect padded scores and the dollar's influence.

The problem with your argument is that you assume he was fired for giving a negative review to a sponsoring company. It's true he did this, but it isn't necessarily the reason he was fired. So then the reason he was fired could be something entirely unrelated, which brings light to why neither party has divulged any information. What if he were fired for something embarrassing like downloading porn on the company computer? He wouldn't likely be speaking up about it, and for that matter Gamespot would be doing him a favor to not divulge that information. The game may be sub-par, but don't lynch Eidos and Gamespot before you KNOW this is the reason he was fired.

But if Gerstmann had any balls he'd be on every website and podcast he could find, telling his story, and if this industry had any self-respect, he'd be offered every job available as a result. Unfortunately for all of us, neither seems to be the case.

It's a bit harsh to come down on Gertsmann like that; for all we know, he has a contract that would result in him being sued for divulging confidential information so close to the firing, or his severance package hangs in the balance.

And yes, it would take balls to say fuck it and spread the truth* irrespective of contracts and legal issues, but it would also take absolute dunderheaded stupidity too, if it meant screwing himself (and his wife/kids, if he has any) out of rent and food for the next few months. Idealism is fine and dandy, but it doesn't fill you up.

The system is definitely corrupt and crippled, and has been for years - in the mid/late 90s, Amiga Power were refused review copies by Team 17 because they'd given them a few bad reviews, for example - and this is true not just of computer game magazines but music and film mags too, although the problems may not be as endemic there as they are in the games industry.

Nevertheless, it's not fair to single out Gertsmann for declining to comment. He is but one man and every deck is stacked against him right now.

It's depressing to see that these websites are just as in thrall to the PR agencies and software companies as many magazines, and fail to recognise that their duty is not to the advertising bods, but to the readers. But hey! What do you expect? The bigger a games site becomes, the more its expenditure increases, the more it relies on advertising money and exclusives from the PR companies, who know that they can pass on these treasures to other news sources is the site gets out of hand. Nobody is going to break the vicious circle, because too much money is at stake. And people like Gertsmann get caught in the crossfire, because no one man can change the system, especially when the system owns his livelihood.

Still, the outcry against CNET has been heartening, and I hope that this results in changes across the board - although it's probably about as likely as Hawaii enjoying a white Christmas this year. The best chance for the future is smaller, independent sites like The Escapist, and I hope that such sites continue to provide an alternative viewpoint to the PR machine - although if they become the mainstream, it's hard not to imagine them ending up in very much the same position as Gamespot...

* Assuming indeed that he was fired for the K&L review which... well, he probably was. But still.

immortal88:
What if he were fired for something embarrassing like downloading porn on the company computer? He wouldn't likely be speaking up about it, and for that matter Gamespot would be doing him a favor to not divulge that information.

If that were the case, he would have been hung out to dry days ago. No company would suffer this kind of grief and bad publicity if it had a reasonable scapegoat to kill.

immortal88:
The problem with your argument is that you assume he was fired for giving a negative review to a sponsoring company.

I actually didn't interpret the article as assuming that. I read it as "Even if not true, that we can so easily jump to such a conclusion, indicates that there is something wrong with the industry." And honestly, while it's possible he was fired for misconduct, it's equally possible that he is not saying anything due to contractual obligations, or because he's currently engaged in legal proceedings with the company, and wants to keep everything amicable (thusly maximizing his settlement out of court/minimizing his damages).

One of my interests in all this coverage is the reaction of competitors (literally) down the street, jumping to Gerstmann's "aid" and decrying C|NET's actions (which are really TBD in the matter). Are they really there to support Gerstmann, or to potentially join the chorus of "At least its not like that in OUR company *winkwinknudgenudge*", or even to kick a competitor while they're down? I've seen a whole lot of outcry, and very little in the way of hard facts.

@Russ: You mentioned in the other thread that you had a Kane&Lynch review forthcoming. Does this count as such, or was this more of a tangent that was simply of a higher priority than the game review itself?

Saltiness:
The reason why Jeff may be also giving no comment, could simply stem from his contractual obligation. It'd be silly to not have a clause in it somewhere that simply stats "if you discuss our business matters, you'll be violating our privacy and we will sue you".

I'm not sure what hold an NDA should have if one has been fired for doing one's job. Granted, it's a legal document, but at some point you have to say "fuck it" and go with your heart. If that leads to legal trouble, well, that's why I suggested it would take balls. Not everyone has them, or the will to put up a fight. More's the pity, because in a situation like this one, we could use people like that.

Now, if we're talking about a severance package or 401k hanging in the balance, then we're suggesting someone is accepting money for their silence. If that's the case, then what's the difference between that and taking money to plug a bad game? Is money really all that matters anymore? If so, then we really are sunk.

Geoffrey42:
@Russ: You mentioned in the other thread that you had a Kane&Lynch review forthcoming. Does this count as such, or was this more of a tangent that was simply of a higher priority than the game review itself?

This is all the review the game will be receiving from me, and more than it deserves.

Russ Pitts:
Now, if we're talking about a severance package or 401k hanging in the balance, then we're suggesting someone is accepting money for their silence.

Peter Parker-sense sez: Bingo.

As for Kane & Lynch, "to get the full experience you need to play the multiplayer." Sitting in the steamy bowels of a friend's hygiene-unfriendly server farm screaming at your friend as if you had both been plugged into this disgusting world of no hope felt excellent for a time. However, when they asked me to go back in and do the hard difficulty, I remember the headaches of the cover system and the endless string of deaths and decided I would probably never touch it again.

Frankly no mater what they do they can no remove the fact they pad scores....

Saltiness:
The reason why Jeff may be also giving no comment, could simply stem from his contractual obligation. It'd be silly to not have a clause in it somewhere that simply stats "if you discuss our business matters, you'll be violating our privacy and we will sue you".

Precisely the first explanation I thought of when the "no comments" came. Like, one side does not want to comment, the other... can't.
Therefore, I don't think having balls or not is the problem.
He may have the balls, but not the money.

It would be a hell of a gamble if you brought this to the courts. But the resulting ruckuss would probably create what we call a "precedent", as far as video game journalism is concerned.
Gerstmann's life would probably be screwed quite some time, though.

immortal88:
The problem with your argument is that you assume he was fired for giving a negative review to a sponsoring company. It's true he did this, but it isn't necessarily the reason he was fired. So then the reason he was fired could be something entirely unrelated, which brings light to why neither party has divulged any information. What if he were fired for something embarrassing like downloading porn on the company computer? He wouldn't likely be speaking up about it, and for that matter Gamespot would be doing him a favor to not divulge that information. The game may be sub-par, but don't lynch Eidos and Gamespot before you KNOW this is the reason he was fired.

In such cases, both parties, if they kind of agree on some version, at least try to save the face a little and say that, in that case, the firing had nothing to do with the bad review, and it's only the fruit of bad timing.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/jump/9.51757.356068

Above all, you don't refrain yourself from any comment, in such troubled moments, when the reasons behind the firing have nothing to do with the review. No comment only pours more fuel on the fire.

In the end, it would be absolutely stupid from CNET to fire a guy at such a moment, when you also remove his reviews from public, about a game that's heavily advertised on your website.
That would give the marketing and human ressource department at CNET the combined brain power of one shrimp - and that's insulting to the shrimp.

JamesW:
It's depressing to see that these websites are just as in thrall to the PR agencies and software companies as many magazines, and fail to recognise that their duty is not to the advertising bods, but to the readers.

That's why such a negative review, against such an amount of money, could only be tolerated in a membership section of the site, where readers pay.

Which is where the video got placed, anyway, if I get the things right.

Geoffrey42:

One of my interests in all this coverage is the reaction of competitors (literally) down the street, jumping to Gerstmann's "aid" and decrying C|NET's actions (which are really TBD in the matter). Are they really there to support Gerstmann, or to potentially join the chorus of "At least its not like that in OUR company *winkwinknudgenudge*", or even to kick a competitor while they're down? I've seen a whole lot of outcry, and very little in the way of hard facts.

@Russ: You mentioned in the other thread that you had a Kane&Lynch review forthcoming. Does this count as such, or was this more of a tangent that was simply of a higher priority than the game review itself?

It's a business of sharks at all levels. So it ends being powers using genuine public outroar to their own ends.
Maybe one can read "at 1up, wedon't do that" as "come read us instead".
Thing is, the staff at 1up is probably held by the balls just as much as those at Gamespot. Just keep an eye on the next massive ad flood and check related reviews.

Many reviewers getting in the wagon, giving their own tough cookie review, will be doing nothing more than looking like they're mimicing Gerstmann to look like heroes or martyrs, even if the goal is to hurt Eidos as a revenge, or simply to give Kane & Lynch the review it deserves.

I wonder if the best thing a reviewer could do, at the moment, is refrain from giving the game a review at all.

This article was spot on.

Frankly Gerstmann has no excuse not to state the facts. By giving a run-down of what happened, he would instantly catapult himself to the status of hero-martyr.

As for finances, I would bet money that some top publications in the industry would love to have him on board. It would be a slap in the face to a competitor whose image is already tarnished and it would place the company that hired him in a very flattering light.

As someone who's written game reviews and commentaries, and is also a "real journalist" at a newspaper 50-60 hours any given week and has worked at both dailies and weeklies, I find derision directed at gaming journalists per se to be utterly baseless.

Obviously, you're not Halberstam covering Vietnam when you're sitting on the couch making mental notes reviewing Call of Duty 4. But once you put extreme, red-herring examples aside, what separates a gaming journalist from a print journalist at a typical newspaper?

A gaming journalist relies heavily on his sources, meaning the game developers and publishers. This just in: crime reporters rely heavily on the DA's office and police. Political reporters rely heavily on politicos and councilmen and board of selectmen. Feature journalists rely exclusively on the good will -and self-interest - of the people being featured for whatever product, business, or plight is involved.

Take even the most serious national issue. When is the last time you saw Noam Chomsky or a similar figure being interviewed about war strategy anywhere in the media, sitting next to the assembly line of retired generals the networks crank out any time a crisis is supposedly on hand? The networks rely exclusively on the generals, who may differ in shades and tactics but agree on the general principle that the war should continue, or be waged, and so on.

How is this any different from interviewing the publishers and developers of the game you are reviewing or previewing?

As for the relationship between advertising and content, only an naif would believe there is a great wall separating the two completely at even the most venerated print or non-video game publications. It's certainly not a problem exclusive to video hardware and software at all. Watch the Studs Terkel documentary on the subject to get a sense of that one.

Russ Pitts:
Granted, it's a legal document, but at some point you have to say "fuck it" and go with your heart. If that leads to legal trouble, well, that's why I suggested it would take balls. Not everyone has them, or the will to put up a fight. More's the pity, because in a situation like this one, we could use people like that.

Now, if we're talking about a severance package or 401k hanging in the balance, then we're suggesting someone is accepting money for their silence. If that's the case, then what's the difference between that and taking money to plug a bad game? Is money really all that matters anymore? If so, then we really are sunk.

It's easy to say things like this when you're outside looking in. I have friends and former co-workers who have been fired unjustly or sexually harassed in the workplace... then silenced because the future of their home, food and families depended on that serverance or retirement package.

Just as much as it takes balls to speak about what happened to you, it also takes balls to keep what is important to you safe.

Heroism is a great idea, but we cannot assume that we know that everything is going to be alright in the end... because in this unfair world it often cannot be.

I agree with everyone else. He's not talking to either avoid getting sued or for money. We will only hear the truth when the companies involved spill the beans, which might be a while. This is bad news for Gamespot and CNET though. I think Russ hit it dead on. This merely serves to confirm what we all cynically believe deep down anyway, that the whole game review process is corrupt and shambolic. Ad content already vastly outnumbers the actual "journalism" on Gamespot, if they took out the reviews entirely would you even notice the change?

If he did sign an NDA when he was hired, he probably signed an additional one when he was fired. He was also probably given a very decent severance package that he wouldn't be entitled to if he talked. Seriously, editorial director, add to that the scandal, he was probably offered 6 months to a year of what he was currently being paid; not chicken feed.

So, I went to GameTrailers, booted up a review, and what did I see?

An ad by AT&T wireless.

After an upset like this, I suddenly have a little more trust for the sites that get their advertising dollars from companies that have little to nothing to do with games.

But then I remember the banner ad for Draglade by Atlus they have on their home page, and I wonder if that game getting a good score means it's actually good, or it's just keeping the staff fed.

Frankly Gerstmann has no excuse not to state the facts. By giving a run-down of what happened, he would instantly catapult himself to the status of hero-martyr.

As for finances, I would bet money that some top publications in the industry would love to have him on board. It would be a slap in the face to a competitor whose image is already tarnished and it would place the company that hired him in a very flattering light.

I disagree.

Martyrdom is called so for a reason. It generally ends badly for the martyr. Now it's all nice and good for people to become martyr's for the right reasons. Video game journo's? Hah, not one of them. Video games in themselves aren't worth it, as anything with a political or what-have-you message tends to be more of a circle jerk then an actual game. At the end of the day, they're just entertainment and an art form (although the latter can be debatable on a subject per subject basis...)

Nor would him going to another company make him some kind of awesome hero of the moment, nor the company that picked him up. I'd go as far to supposition that Eidos would be putting the pressure on other major labels if they considered picking him up also, if at the very least sending them a message of "don't let him near our stuff, etc".

"Hi there, I'd like to apply for a position at your fine game review publication"
"No worries, wait, did you jeopardise a large advertising deal between Gamespot and Eidos?"
"sure, I stick to my guns and said a bad product was bad!"
"Don't call us, we'll call you"

Why on earth would you hire into your businss someone with an rumour that because of their non-conformity to company policy put a large sum of the company's profit in danger?

Regardless, his contractual NDA wouldn't be something uncommon (I have one, and all I do is drive a forklift). Even if it is for the money, and as "noble" as it is to fight the man, that doesn't feed you, put kids through school or pay a mortgage.

the perfect solution to this.... YAHTZEE MUST REVIEW KANE & LYNCH!!!

JamesW:

immortal88:
What if he were fired for something embarrassing like downloading porn on the company computer? He wouldn't likely be speaking up about it, and for that matter Gamespot would be doing him a favor to not divulge that information.

If that were the case, he would have been hung out to dry days ago. No company would suffer this kind of grief and bad publicity if it had a reasonable scapegoat to kill.

Only if the company ignored their legal team. Not only is there potential privacy legislation depending on the state, or the possibility that the severence package includes a very simple "You don't talk bad about us, we don't talk bad about you" type of clause, no company wants to risk a suit for damages based on potential future earnings if they badmouth a person in the media for that person's chosen profession.

Incidentally, Gamespot has changed their announcement about Jeff's leaving. Find the new copy at: http://www.gamespot.com/news/6183603.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=multimodule&tag=multimodule;picks;story;1 (I hope that's a permalink)

Key change? They now explicitly deny that it had anything to do with advertising, something their first release didn't. "The accusations in the media that it has done so are unsubstantiated and untrue. Jeff's departure stemmed from internal reasons unrelated to any buyer of advertising on GameSpot."

As for the lacking balls bit, sorry, that's just overboard, Russ. Considering your employers already have a track-record of standing up to that kind of thing, you're not exactly coming at this from a sympathetic position.

Eh? Gamespot in damage control mode. Call me a cynic, but after reading two paragraphs it's just PR rubbish. The fact that it simply posted "By Staff" doesn't instill me with any kind of believability. If it was by other editors, throw their names on the article.

I'll confess to not knowing what kind of position "editorial director" is, but I get the feeling the whole fuss about the K&L review - regardless of whether it was grounds for firing or not - could have been prevented with having an editor above Gerstmann. It seems a little shortsighted on the aprt of Gamespot to have a firebrand character in charge of editing his own work. I'm no fan of censorship, but if they were unhappy about having the review available, they should have never let it get out in the first place.

It's worth noting that the K&L written review is still present on Gamespot, and still gives it a poor rating. Many of GS' recent reviews have also been in the 5-7 range, so the K&L wasn't without precedent.

Well it isn't only gamereviews working like that, but many areas where people receive money for advertisement or donations it works like that. Hell, even politics works like that. I mean, a senator is not going to bite a company that funded him, even if the compagny did something wrong. If it works like that on that level, I'm not even remotely surprised that it works like that on this level.

I Read The Escapist, Gamepolitics, and occasionally Kotaku or Joysiq for my games news.
I watch Yahtzee for the entertainment.
Apart from my own personal experiences, there are only two people who I trust to give me an OPINION (that's all it is) on games.
Gamespot, etc are too flashy for my liking, and flash usually tastes like shine.

i agree somewhat that yahtzee should review kane and lynch only b/c it would be funny for us, and because the game is so bad it would have a good rant going.

its kind of interesting to see this all unfold so quickly, i have been a member of the gamespot sister site for nearly 7 years and Gamespot itself for roughly 2-3years and have been quasi dependent on them for game reviews, even when they gave games a poor score, you could always read why they did and decide for yourself.

since i found out all this i have since stopped going there and will only a few more times to get my old reviews off the site and onto my the new site i decided to spend time on GameTrailers.com, this is mostly due to the fact that now that there was this scare, there is a good chance the rest of the reviews will not be so honest. besides i like the way the video is set up for GameTrailers.com better, plus the community forums are much more accessible and lively.

Kwil:
Only if the company ignored their legal team. Not only is there potential privacy legislation depending on the state, or the possibility that the severence package includes a very simple "You don't talk bad about us, we don't talk bad about you" type of clause, no company wants to risk a suit for damages based on potential future earnings if they badmouth a person in the media for that person's chosen profession.

That's actually an excellent point, and one that hadn't occurred to me.

I guess we also have to remember that the internet allows for the dissemination of news, the development of such stories and the airing of reactions to that news faster than any other medium in the history of mankind. It's been less than a week since Gertsmann was fired, and that includes a weekend, which may have slowed down both parties in any subsequent discussion.

To expect either of them to come out with some public remark in reaction to the news without undergoing some kind of consultation is pushing it, yet they've had hardly any time to try such consultation before receiving demands to spill the story.

Key change? They now explicitly deny that it had anything to do with advertising, something their first release didn't. "The accusations in the media that it has done so are unsubstantiated and untrue. Jeff's departure stemmed from internal reasons unrelated to any buyer of advertising on GameSpot."

Yup. Although Russ's ultimate point - that the very fact that Gertsmann being fired for pissing off the advertisers is so plausible suggests that the industry is screwed - still stands.

Russ Pitts:
I'm not sure what hold an NDA should have if one has been fired for doing one's job.

As far as the contract goes, it likely has a clause saying that if Gertsmann causes sizeable damage to CNET at any point, he's liable to be fired. I've had such clauses in contracts (albeit freelance contracts rather than editorial team ones). The reason for the firing didn't come into it, and morality has nothing to do with legality.

Granted, it's a legal document, but at some point you have to say "fuck it" and go with your heart. If that leads to legal trouble, well, that's why I suggested it would take balls. Not everyone has them, or the will to put up a fight. More's the pity, because in a situation like this one, we could use people like that.

Now, if we're talking about a severance package or 401k hanging in the balance, then we're suggesting someone is accepting money for their silence. If that's the case, then what's the difference between that and taking money to plug a bad game? Is money really all that matters anymore? If so, then we really are sunk.

I think this is a slightly unfair view of the event. Unless Jeff has enough money that he can go indefinitely without getting paid, then speaking out and incurring a damages claim and/or losing his severance package is going to pretty much ruin his life in the short-term. And if he has kids or a dependent wife then it moves from noble stupidity to out-and-out irresponsibility. Especially since the long-term effects could well mean him becoming unhireable in the industry that he is passionate about (rememeber that in the case of places like Gamespot, the boys with the money have a say in who gets hired, not just the editorial board).

Jeff would be commended if he came out anyway, and rightly so, but I don't think that not speaking out should be seen as a negative act or one of cowardice. He certainly shouldn't be accused of lacking balls, when it was his balls that supposedly got him into this situation in the first place.

As for the difference between taking money to lie about Kane and Lynch and taking money (or refusing to lose money) to not expose Gamespot, the difference is that as an editor and reviewer he had a responsibility to the reader to tell the truth about the game as he saw it. But that's as far as that it went, and once fired from the company his responsibility to Gamespot's audience ended completely. It would be a fine thing to expose alleged corruption decisively, but he had no obligation to do so whatsoever.

And it's very easy to complain that the guy doesn't have "balls" when you're not in his situation and don't have a full idea of what happened.

Of course, if Gamespot's announcement is to be believed then it's all academic anyway. But the point still stands.

Russ Pitts:
...and who's going to be gaming's Lester Bangs, as if anyone at home really gives a shit...

I thought you hired him?

Saltiness:

Frankly Gerstmann has no excuse not to state the facts. By giving a run-down of what happened, he would instantly catapult himself to the status of hero-martyr.

As for finances, I would bet money that some top publications in the industry would love to have him on board. It would be a slap in the face to a competitor whose image is already tarnished and it would place the company that hired him in a very flattering light.

I disagree.

Martyrdom is called so for a reason. It generally ends badly for the martyr. Now it's all nice and good for people to become martyr's for the right reasons. Video game journo's? Hah, not one of them. Video games in themselves aren't worth it, as anything with a political or what-have-you message tends to be more of a circle jerk then an actual game. At the end of the day, they're just entertainment and an art form (although the latter can be debatable on a subject per subject basis...)

Nor would him going to another company make him some kind of awesome hero of the moment, nor the company that picked him up. I'd go as far to supposition that Eidos would be putting the pressure on other major labels if they considered picking him up also, if at the very least sending them a message of "don't let him near our stuff, etc".

"Hi there, I'd like to apply for a position at your fine game review publication"
"No worries, wait, did you jeopardise a large advertising deal between Gamespot and Eidos?"
"sure, I stick to my guns and said a bad product was bad!"
"Don't call us, we'll call you"

Why on earth would you hire into your businss someone with an rumour that because of their non-conformity to company policy put a large sum of the company's profit in danger?

Regardless, his contractual NDA wouldn't be something uncommon (I have one, and all I do is drive a forklift). Even if it is for the money, and as "noble" as it is to fight the man, that doesn't feed you, put kids through school or pay a mortgage.

Only thos with brass balls should walk that path,the rest of us need to be kind to our masters 0-o

Saltiness:

Why on earth would you hire into your businss someone with an rumour that because of their non-conformity to company policy put a large sum of the company's profit in danger?

Company policy... there wouldn't be such a problem if the policy clearly said "ads don't get in the way of journalism".

Arbre:

Saltiness:

Why on earth would you hire into your businss someone with an rumour that because of their non-conformity to company policy put a large sum of the company's profit in danger?

Company policy... there wouldn't be such a problem if the policy clearly said "ads don't get in the way of journalism".

Which is exactly why the finger should be pointed at CNET, not Jeff.

JamesW:

Arbre:

Saltiness:

Why on earth would you hire into your businss someone with an rumour that because of their non-conformity to company policy put a large sum of the company's profit in danger?

Company policy... there wouldn't be such a problem if the policy clearly said "ads don't get in the way of journalism".

Which is exactly why the finger should be pointed at CNET, not Jeff.

I totally agree. He's been straight in his shoes enough to speak his mind and give an honest review of the game, and yet, it was not that terrible, seriously. That's his job. That's why he was hired - well, I hope.

It just got blew out of proportions because of the insane load of ads in the balance.
Gamespot's latest PR release won't change a nut about their actions.

We may never know the truth, but I consider we have enough evidence on ours hands to make reliable guesses about what said truth looks like.

Now... sheesh. I see how this stuff entertained us. Would have been a boring week otherwise!
^-^

About two years from now (which is forever in Internet time), someone will let slip the last few pieces of info...then we'll know that we knew it from our gut.

JamesW:
And it's very easy to complain that the guy doesn't have "balls" when you're not in his situation and don't have a full idea of what happened.

Man, I've been hearing this argument my whole life (and it's already appeared three times in this very thread). Saying "that's easy for you" is equivalent to saying "it's hard for me," and both are bullshit. It's no accident I work for people who's ethics agree with mine, and because I do, and because I've always held myself to a higher standard, and because I've reaped the rewards of that (and the punishments) doesn't disqualify me from being able to recommend that path. If anything, I'd say it gives my opinion on the subject a plus ten to relevance. Believe me, my life would have been much easier if I'd bowed to certain individuals and compromised certain personal moralities at certain times, but I've always believed one has a responsibility to stand up for oneself. I know it's not "easy" but what of any value is?

I can understand that there may be legal proceedings underway in this case, and, if so, then we certainly can't expect anyone to tell all. Not until there's a ruling and a book deal. And it's also possible Gerstmann's firing had nothing to do with Eidos or advertising, and CNET is covering their legal asses by keeping mum, and Gerstmann is trying to keep his iron hot by being mysteriously controversial.

It's also possible Gerstmann may be quite comfortable going out on a limb when reviewing a game, but suddenly feels as if all of this has become too real, the stakes too high and he's overwhelmed and running scared. Anything is possible. But I'd still respect the man far more if he'd come clean about what happened. It's what I would do. Whether that makes it right is another story, but it's what I'd do.

It's a long long long journalism tradition that editorial content and ads are completely separate. PA, I know, does not follow this, in the sense that they will only approve ads for games they *do* like, which is fine, really, if I disagree with the principle, because the separation wall is critical. Even if it wasn't broken with this gamespot fracas, it have the appearance of being broken, so Gamespot is worse off already, which is also fine in my book. Sometimes the mere appearance of impropriety should be punished to encourage people to play things on the honest side. And if the allegations are *true* then they really deserve everything they have going to them.

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