Kane & Lynch & Enough of the Bullshit

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Russ Pitts:
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.

And that's perfectly valid.

But there's a difference between respecting someone more if they take the path of the martyr and denigrating them if they don't.

What you did clearly fell into the second category.

Interesting article. Props to Russ Pitts for writing it. That said, I don't think we're gonna get an answer on this. It's been too long with no useful revelations coming to light. When that happens, it's usually a sign that they're just trying to ride out the storm rather then deal with it. A friend of mine is convinced that neither Eidos nor Cnet are in any real danger. Simply because he believes the public has a notoriously short attention span and gamers are generally worse. I wish I didn't agree with that, but to an extent, I do.

If it's true, the goal just becomes waiting until we're distracted by the next major controversy. Issue should be forgotten in a couple months, and it's business as usual. I say couple months, because the last one (to my knowledge) was Manhunt2, so one can only assume it'll be about that until the next one.

With anything that goes to the courts in the US, there's not a question of risk. Lawyers and legal fees put even successfully defending your rights at more than a few years salary for most of us. The time spent is almost impossible to work a job around. And if there's a jury involved, well, justice isn't the issue. Juries involve 12 people selected for gullibility and forced into a few days or weeks of brainwashing from being talked at by lawyers non-stop.

It's uncomfortable for everyone involved, it's expensive for normal people... and the only ones who win are lawyers.

If he had a suit against them, then there's risk & reward. A jury might be willing to award damages to offset the costs of litigation. Of course, then he's permanently affected his ability to convince a future employer that he's a good worker and not a lawsuit waiting to happen again.

But when the fear is that he'll be sued... he'd be paying legal fees regardless, likely to bankrupcy, if he wins. If he lost, well, same result, plus humiliation, and anyone researching him after a job application would be able to see that his last employer sued his ass off.

Going with the flow and getting fucked out of one job, and not getting bankrupted by litigation... when no option exists for anything like justice. Does that sound wrong?

Kwil:

Russ Pitts:
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.

And that's perfectly valid.

But there's a difference between respecting someone more if they take the path of the martyr and denigrating them if they don't.

What you did clearly fell into the second category.

I think that's a fine line there, but I see your point.

Still, I think we're being a bit Pollyanna suggesting Gerstmann is, or would be, a martyr. I think someone who came out and said "hey I just got fired for bashing on a company that paid us a lot of advertising money" would have little trouble finding work. I'm not denigrating the man for failing to sprout wings and make my dreams come true, I'm denigrating him for taking money in return for silence, if that is indeed what took place.

Russ Pitts:
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'm not just talking about this in the abstract, I'm talking about it literally. How much do you know about his private life? Does he have kids that he needs to buy Christmas presents for? Does he have a sick mother whose medical bills he's paying? Does he have a house to make payments on?

It's entirely possible that the guy has responsibilities in his life that outweigh his responsibilities to the readers of Gamespot, a company that he doesn't even work for any more.

And sure, you can look on that as moral compromise. But that's not always the same as cowardice.

It's what I would do. Whether that makes it right is another story, but it's what I'd do.

Do you make all of your money from The Escapist? Does it pay all your bills? And if it threatened to sue you for damages because you broke a contract, would it pretty much leave you destitute?

If the answer to all of those is yes and if put in that position you would still throw away everything to tell your story then I am impressed and respect you for it, even if I think you're a little crazy.

That said, I am a firm believer in the theory that a man cannot say for sure how he would act in any given situation until he is actually in that situation. And I certainly don't believe that a man can stand there and call into question another man's bravery unless he, too, has been in that position and done the same, or at the very least knows how the event went down in more detail than we have right now.

But maybe you have been exactly where Gertsmann is, with the same high stakes and same audience of hundreds of thousands of beady eyes inspecting your every move. And maybe you did take the hard route and lose it all. Maybe.

It seems Gamespot and Jeff have been the in the spotlight for most of this topic, so I'd like the redirect things a little and have Edios get it's turn.

So, what has Edios been doing in this little crisis of conscious?

Making it worse:

http://kotaku.com/gaming/eidos/did-we-give-kane--lynch-5-stars-329539.php

http://kotaku.com/gaming/kane-%26-lynch/kane--lynch-site-fibbing-about-reviews-scores-329529.php

Oh, Edios, this is not going to help matters, and you should know that....

James, I think it's fair to say that, yes, I would react exactly how I'm suggesting he should act if our situations were reversed. If that makes me crazy, then so be it. Like I said, it's never easy to stand up for what you believe in, but being called crazy is generally the least of one's worries.

As far as my qualifications for having the above opinion (what a strange notion that one should justify one's opinions on the internet), suffice to say, yes, I have been in a similar situation.

SatansBestBuddy:

So, what has Edios been doing in this little crisis of conscious?

Making it worse:

http://kotaku.com/gaming/eidos/did-we-give-kane--lynch-5-stars-329539.php

http://kotaku.com/gaming/kane-%26-lynch/kane--lynch-site-fibbing-about-reviews-scores-329529.php

Oh, Edios, this is not going to help matters, and you should know that....

This is actually not a new practice. Companies have been padding marketing materials for YEARS. Haven't you ever gone to the game store to pick up something that JUST DROPPED, and it already magically has five stars?? You can't tell me that's ALWAYS just because the reviews haven't gone to print yet.

I think I'm just gonna come right out and say it. Two basic problems here. Reviews have always had trouble establishing themselves as credible, because of certain style differences. It's like those people who go to every movie Roger Ebert hates BECAUSE he hates it. People simply don't agree. The trick there is, he's consistent. However, what it all comes down to is back in the "good-old-days" it was allot harder to generate publicity about games, and with the rise of the internet and the decline of the traditional print magazines. (Hate what those have become. Like 4 full pages completely dedicated to one ad, followed by one page with six "reviews" crammed onto it). Well, the simple truth is there's allot of ways to generate publicity these days.

What it comes down to is the reviewers need publisher/developer cooperation more then the publishers/developers need reviewer cooperation, and it's been that way for years. Long as it stays that way, we can't trust reviews.

So when exactly are you supposed to have balls? Honestly this is not even a life and death situation, not like say starting a war, talking about starting world war III, or creating prisons in other parts of the world so that various forms of torture can be performed on people. People who bring up the whole protect family and career bs are probably the same people who would knowingly dig their own grave and then lay down in it so that their captor would have an easier time covering up their own murder. Has it ever occured to people that standing mute actually ends up fucking everyone else? Is it really a good idea to allow a situation like this one to exist which could easily turn into a case of "reviewers out of jobs due to lack of trust?" If something like that were to occur how would his [Gerstmann's] apparent silence have served him since he would have helped kill his own career opprotunities by destroying the game journalism industry?

I can assure you that Russ is not being hypocritical when he claims that he would, in fact, light a fireball were he in Gerstmann's shoes.

He has in fact done so, paid the price, got the campaign medal and service ribbon, and lived to talk about it.

And we hired him thereafter. :)

Archon:
I can assure you that Russ is not being hypocritical when he claims that he would, in fact, light a fireball were he in Gerstmann's shoes.

He has in fact done so, paid the price, got the campaign medal and service ribbon, and lived to talk about it.

And we hired him thereafter. :)

Got the balls to tell the full story?

We needs heroes right now...

Me? Balls? Heck no. I'm just a fiery eye in the darkness.

Archon:
I can assure you that Russ is not being hypocritical when he claims that he would, in fact, light a fireball were he in Gerstmann's shoes.

He has in fact done so, paid the price, got the campaign medal and service ribbon, and lived to talk about it.

And we hired him thereafter. :)

So, how about offering Gerstmann a job, eh?

Junaid Alam:
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'd probably take that bet. I'm of the opinion that Gerstmann is far more likely to land another job by keeping his mouth shut.

If (and let's try to remember that this is all an "if" still) Gamespot actually did fire him because of the low score and pressure from Eidos, they did a horrible thing and should be condemned for it. But announcing it to the world could easily amount to career-suicide. Everybody in a position to hire Gerstmann would be forced to ask themselves if he'll hang any dirty laundry out in the breeze should things go sour. They'll have to ask if they are hiring an asset or a future liability.

And, dammit... Chilango beat me to my next comment. Archon, prove me wrong.

Well written, Russ. Having no wife or kids and being an idealist as well as hopelessly naive when it comes down to integrity versus food and shelter I agree with Junaid that Gerstmann should be shouting the truth of his dismissal from the rooftops. Who cares if this transports him into instant martyrdom or not. Right is right and it's not going to be the end of his life if the gaming journalism field sees him as a whistle-blower and refuse to hire him. Nothing is stopping him from finding a different job that just might make him happier. Looking at his physique I'm thinking food critic.

Gerstmann will never be able to land another review job by "keeping his mouth shut" because to review a game with any credibility, you have to be credible to people reading your reviews.

Let me give you an example. Here are the latest key words associated with GameSpot's latest boilerplate, colorless commentary on the firing:

http://www.gamespot.com/pages/tags/index.php?sid=6183603&type=news&tag=tags;more

That's the same verbal soup that will swirl in the minds of anyone who may work with him or read him in the future. Unless and until he answers the $64k question no one will be able to look past the elephant in the room and care about any skills he may have in this field on other side of the business.

I fail to see your point. What those key words say to me is that the readership is angry about Gamespot and CNet's handling of the situation. The criticism, far as I can tell, has nothing to do with Gertsmann, per se.

If anything, this whole flap may lend Gertsmann more credibility for speaking his mind about the review and then getting axed. Whether one has to do with the other can be completely irrelevant far as the seeming majority of Gamespot commenters are concerned, so long as the true story never actually comes to light. If solid proof is unearthed that there was some conspiracy in his termination, he's further vindicated, sure. If there isn't, well, it's hard to imagine that there's any convincing a rabid group of opinionated people anyway (as you'll no doubt agree from several comments threads I've read here on other subjects).

Jeff Gertsmann's name will be associated forever as long as the internet can be bothered to remember with his controversial firing from GameSpot. He'll make a triumphant return to some gaming site or another who will do exactly as you say: make him an icon that shows so-and-so is a good, reputable business and not those dirty, evil people at GameSpot. If he blows the whistle, however, he endangers that more than he's likely to progress it.

And, frankly, he could be silent on the issue because the hype is false. In which case, he could ride this thing out, enjoy all the internet celebrity and then land on his feet. I'm not suggesting this idea to be true or that it's even my opinion on the matter, merely that it's a possibility that we can't rule out.

GameSpot is in a really bad position. They made a poor choice with the timing of this action and they will suffer for it, regardless of whether or not they've committed any actual wrong-doing. Then, they chose to try and let the thing blow over during the course of a weekend instead of commenting on it in a timely manner. Now, it is likely nobody will ever believe them if they are innocent, as the blogosphere and news sites have been pounding the message home that they are crooks and fiends. They can't come out and say what happened and Gertsmann shouldn't. I'm sure he'll be able to find people to work with who will be more than happy to give poor Jeff a job.

People keep speculating on why he's being silent. For the life of me I have difficulty understanding that. It's not hard to figure out why he's not coming forward. Self-preservation. If he did speak up, Cnet would most likely unleash wave after wave of lawyer-bots on him.

Besides, even if he did come forward; I for one, am uncertain he could be expected to tell the WHOLE TRUTH. How many times has anyone ever been fired from anything and there wasn't more then one story to tell about it, hmmm??? The truth is most likely lost somewhere between JG's version and CNet's version, and cnet's pretty unlikely to come clean at this point; they've been silent way too long. This nonsense about someone from some other mag doing an "internal investigation" is a bunch of hooey.

I assumed he's being silent because of an NDA. Those things, under the right (wrong) hands, can become a sort of post-modern version of serfdom.

I want to see all the media that is exploiting this affair put their money where their mouth is and hire the man right away. Until then, it's all just noise and throwing cheap dirt on a competitor. My perception is that Gamespot was slowly gaining trust among gamers because of their somewhat harder scoring. So, if you want to talk about journalism, get the facts and THEN write them in big bold letters. That's how it used to work.

Just my 2c.

Archon:
Me? Balls? Heck no. I'm just a fiery eye in the darkness.

It was a serious question. What's that similar story that happened to Russ?

shadow skill:
So when exactly are you supposed to have balls? Honestly this is not even a life and death situation

Have you ever lived from paycheck to paycheck? Ever had that awesome feeling of only have two digits in dollars in your bank account? Ever been the bread winner for a family? While not hanging a life in the balance like throwing someone out of an aeroplane wondering if I packed the parachute, money, and in turn this guys' career for the last 15 plus years is still a very large factor in his life and how shit it can turn. And fucking them, all for the taste of the little man doesn't work. It's nice to be idealistic, but he won't change a damn thing even if he did speak up, nor will his being silent kill or lower the already pathetic level game journalism wallows at now.

There are ways and things to go about telling your tale. When your livelihood is at stake, you HAVE to be selfish. Pandering to the masses, because of some mob thinks they deserve to know is what will get him bent over and reamed. Looking out for himself won't. This goes for any profession. At the end of the day, if you're doing something for someone else at the expense of yourself, which in the end will acheive sweet fuck all, it's not worth it.

i would just like to say "told you so"

even if i didnt publically state it, i had a familiar deja vu of kane and lynch to hitman 4.

i cant believe how over hyped this game was. im just glad i wasnt one of the many who were looking forward to this dissapointment.

The most likely reason Gerstmann hasn't responded to this internet farce is because he was fired for incompetence and all the usual mundane reasons. Wouldn't exactly make him a hero-martyr would it? Read his work, it's not exactly the "print quality" writing that the Escapist aspires for is it? Edge and GamesTM have both gave K&L a 6 before this jokestorm came up, but their arguments and are a lot more coherent and relevant than this guy's rants.

I would have thought an article on cutting through the bullshit would apply Occam's Razor and blame the sensationalist digg-fawning internet media. The point about that this could even be perceived as true, is very telling about the developing state of games journalism, but to tie the guy's firing so strongly on the K&L review requires too much a leap of faith.

Arbe, if you spend a few minutes on Google searching for "Russ Pitts" you can find all about Russ's adventures in stating truth to power. It was even in a Salon article.

Archon:
Arbe, if you spend a few minutes on Google searching for "Russ Pitts" you can find all about Russ's adventures in stating truth to power. It was even in a Salon article.

Ah, the power of Google. I spent five years hoping that story would die with the angst that spawned it. Alas.

I got blacklisted by pretty much everyone for while because of that episode. The upside is I got the chance to explore a completely different career for a while, under an assumed name, while the worst of it blew over. It was almost like a vacation.

I'll be writing about all that on my blog in the next few days or so. If you're curious, stay tuned.

Hey, anyone listen to the GameSpot podcast?

Click to listen

It's the GameSpot staff lamenting about their loss. Does it explain anything? Not really, but it shows that the GameSpot staff had nothing to do with letting him go.

Erp. Looks like my site went down. God bless the internet.

I'll drop another link when that gets sorted out.

Behold, the evil you can wreak by the powers of your linking!

Yeah, and the short-sightedness of my hosting choices. Hopefully I'll have it all sorted out sometime today.

Since the website can no longer speak for me, basically what I'm doing is finally describing my career at TechTV and detailing the events that led up to that disastrous email I sent, the one they wrote about at Salon.

The story will be in 7 - 10 parts, and as soon as my site goes back up, I'll re-post parts 1 and 2. I've resisted writing about all that for about 6 years now, but ... well, things change. Hopefully you'll get to read it soon.

Even if there is absolutely *no* concrete evidence of collusion between Eidos and Gamespot, *chortle*, there is this truism of any advertiser-subsidized journalism: don't piss off the sponsors. Say whatever you want, but if the sponsors call foul, somebody's going to need a new job. That's exactly how it is in the TV, radio, and news industry. The only thing that would eliminate this situation is if the magazines refuse any advertisements from the publishers. This is just the case with Consumer Reports. CR doesn't allow advertisements in their magazine - keeps the reviews fair, and it becomes harder for people to claim otherwise. Unfortunately, that would make each issue of Your Favorite Gaming Mag just as expensive as the games that they review.

Gilgamesh999:
Even if there is absolutely *no* concrete evidence of collusion between Eidos and Gamespot, *chortle*, there is this truism of any advertiser-subsidized journalism: don't piss off the sponsors. Say whatever you want, but if the sponsors call foul, somebody's going to need a new job. That's exactly how it is in the TV, radio, and news industry. The only thing that would eliminate this situation is if the magazines refuse any advertisements from the publishers. This is just the case with Consumer Reports. CR doesn't allow advertisements in their magazine - keeps the reviews fair, and it becomes harder for people to claim otherwise. Unfortunately, that would make each issue of Your Favorite Gaming Mag just as expensive as the games that they review.

At which point, you'd rather rent the game than buy the mag, and then finally acquire the game if you liked it.

Junaid Alam:

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.

+++

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?

What if Gerstmann *doesn't* know exactly what happened? Anyone think that maybe he's not telling the whole story because frankly, he doesn't know the whole story? I'm sure it all went down in a somewhat less dramatic fashion than a James Bond movie, where the villain explains his plans in minute detail to the hero-martyr before unleashing the sea creatures with lazer beams strapped to their heads.

Maybe Gerstmann doesn't have enough of the facts to state. Maybe if he gives his run down, his run down will be so vague that he'll only make Gamespot look more credible.

+++

I think the difference is people read a print journalist to find out facts about the world. People read sites like Gamespot to find out what to buy. And maybe the two audiences overlap. In which case, maybe the better categories to divide reporters into should be along the lines the divide the goal of their audience and not the lines of what they write about or where they work.

I would say the difference is that people primarily read something like Gamespot to find out what to buy, while people primarily read typical newspapers to learn what's going on for the facts.

Which curiously lumps The Wall Street Journal in with Gamespot, and People in with The New York Times. Hmm.

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