The Evolution of Games Journalism

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TizzytheTormentor:
Oh how I miss positivity in gaming journalism, now everything is terrible, like raisins...

Also, artsy games are smart and you don't get it will be a common sight.

Oh, it's not all negative.

I've seen a fair bit of positivity recently, and not just because people are making their top of the year lists.

Positivity is easy to find if ya look for it. ;D

Thunderous Cacophony:

Aeshi:
Is that Yahtzee Croshaw in the 2nd panel? The hat looks like it could be a Trilby, but the suit makes me think otherwise.

I think it was just supposed to be a generic '00 critic. But now that you mention it...

I'd like to see a return to 90's game journalism, if only because of my enduring love for tie-dye.

A fellow tie-dye lover. My new years just got better, bless you internet person...bless you.

rbstewart7263:

true sometimes but look at the little emblem on the end or rather the letter.

image

now look at kotaku as its writ on there page.

image

While I agree that we should celebrate people who take a good look at broad spectrum issues like jim,moviebob,that guy from the borderlands team. I dont think this comic is doing that because if it was I dont think kotaku would be featured here.

I don't know, Kotaku aren't that bad. Granted they put out about 1 worthwhile piece for every 100 inane editorials and regurgitated fanart, but that's the state of the industry for you. They probably just used them as a shorthand for 'modern games journalism company', like how the cynical pretentious bloke is obviously a caricature of Yahtzee. Speaking of which, if his latest column is anything to go by, that dude can't 'evolve' fast enough.

Imp Emissary:

rbstewart7263:

Imp Emissary:


We have to be able to talk about the imperfections in our games. Because no game is perfect.

Except for [insert your favorite game here]. That one is perfect.
;p

well yes but often those racism and sexism accusations dont hold merit and are justt there for page views or to be reactionary. just look at the recent news where the last of us dev did a post analysis of her game in response to the new york times calling it sexist. also the tomb raider scandal and kotaku are fine examples. its not all valiant level headed feminists vs evil misogynist trolls like some would have you think. there's more layers to it and not alot of people care to see that.

I did see the articles about The Last of Us, and I have to say that your summary of them is very inaccurate.

The first article from Chris Suellentrop was mostly a positive review, that made some good points about a few old tropes used in the game.

And the article from Alexandria Neonakis was a rebuttal to Chris's points. For one, pointing out how much Ellie grew during the game.

In short, it was a public, and polite argument. Just what the topic needs/deserves.

As you said, "It's not all valiant level headed feminists vs evil misogynist trolls...there's more layers to it..."

As for the Kotaku bit? I can't comment as I have not been to Kotaku. Hear a lot about them though.

I was almost quick with saying that you were right until I took a look at his review. first heres how the escapist characterizes the review.

.http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.818827-The-New-York-Times-Criticizes-The-Last-of-Us-for-Having-a-Male-Protagonist

"The New York Times reviewed The Last of Us today, and while reviewer Chris Suellentrop praises the game's storytelling, much of the review is a criticism of how the game has a male protagonist. While the title I gave this post is probably going to cause trouble, it's also accurate."

alright now lets see how that characterization matches to the review. first we have the header to the article.

In the Same Boat, but Not Equals
In the Video Game The Last of Us, Survival Favors the Man

alright so thats the first thing he points out. fine. lets continue on with some of the gender things he has to say.

"This being a video game, we already know it's not really about Sarah. She's not pictured on the box, for one thing. And yet, for a few fleeting minutes, I really did think I was going to play something different, a game that would transport me into the life of someone very unlike me, using what Austin Grossman in his new novel, "You," calls the medium's "physical link into the world of the fiction"

not too too bad but not terribly positive.

"the Last of Us, in its defense, is neither crude nor unsophisticated. Rather, its artfulness and its intelligence make its treatment of women all the more frustrating. In the game's resistance to allowing the player, for much of the story, to control - or, to use a more accurate word, to inhabit - Ellie, The Last of Us casts her in a secondary, subordinate role. "

thats actually some well written criticism there imo.

other than that he does actually say alot of half positive negative things. he praises ellie in the since that he wishes that joel would die so that he can play her. he also brings mention of microsoft and how of all its games couldnt bring itself to have one female protagonist in one of its thirteen games shown at e3.Im not sure if hes trying to write a review or if hes trying to do so while also bring to light for nyt readers some of the things going on in the gaming sphere which is fair. I imagine that this is his only slot to talk about things that he reads about on more game related websites.

overall I felt the review was unbalanced in its attempt to critique the gaming sphere while also critique the game. I dont really see what relevance microsofts man loving presence at e3 really has that matters in the context of this game and with its representation of females. its not quite the same as the debate over orsons amazing enders game vs his homophobic viewpoints. those two have more ties than a ps3 exclusive has with a microsoft e3 presentation.

so yeah his reviews not bad though. rough and loses sight alot but not bad. in truth though im gonna disagree and say that his review wasnt that positive. it just wasnt that negative.

though I will agree with you that I dont think his review had to do with page views and you are right about that. I think hes more just overly passioned having just watched anitas tropes series and that spilled into his review in not the most constructive of ways which is fine. hes human and all that.

also apologies for the rambling I gotta hit the road soon. ta ta.

Jumwa:

thaluikhain:

Saying a game is racist isn't automatically wrong, racism is hardly an uncommon thing.

Right. Jim Sterling has done a Jimquisition about how you can still enjoy problematic culture. Acknowledging problems with what you love doesn't mean you have to stop enjoying them.

That has always seemed like something of a contradiction to me. Maybe not contradiction... kind of like hypocrisy but not quite.

If something is or has a Racist/Sexist/[insert]ist undertone or message intentional or not is it really "OK" to support? If the offence is so minor that you still want to enjoy the game I question how truly [insert]ist it really is.

TLDR: If someone says a game is Racist or Sexist but supports it anyway the problem of Racism and Sexism is theirs not the games.

Imp Emissary:

Isn't that, and telling us things we should know/otherwise wouldn't know all that is needed to be a games journalist?

If not, then what else is needed?

Well, how about getting some education in journalism school?

The first part of the problem is that most games journalists are the very definition of midbrow. They like things that are complex enough to make them feel smart and hard enough to make them feel skilled but not complex or hard enough to make them feel stupid/inept. The second part of it is that a vast majority are neither smart nor skilled at games. Then the third part which is less important overall but still an issue is that they have no goddam integrity and are clearly paid off in many cases, or will always give a game that touches a social issue a good rating for fear of being called racist/sexist/<whatever>ist. These lead to shitty, incorrect journalism and a generally bad industry.

tl;dr reviews are shit, look for gameplay instead

Does that mean you don't believe that games journalism was intelligently designed?

Aeshi:
Is that Yahtzee Croshaw in the 2nd panel? The hat looks like it could be a Trilby, but the suit makes me think otherwise.

It's Yahtzee after his regeneration from Linkara. You can tell by the surroundings. >.>

Alarien:

I think we keep forgetting that gameplay really should come first.

The flip-side here...No, I should say flip-sides. How does it have more than one? This coin was engineered out of a TARDIS. Anyway, the manifold issues here:

Gamers who seek legitimacy and value for their hobby as an art form have pushed us into a realm where games are gooing to be pushed not just as a gameplay vector and yes, they won't always be gameplay first. In fact, even amidst the gaming industry and fandom people are well aware of this (even disregarding the games as art or legit media crowd): that's why Rockstar can make games that handle like ass and get good reviews and fan followings. Even the terrible botched PC ports get a fair amount of praise.

We value a lot of things highly in gaming and often gameplay already takes a back seat.

Finally, gameplay is often so boilerplate as to make little difference for the sake of commentary and/or criticism in itself.

Izanagi009:

Remember the last time the Nostalgia Critic reviewed a game, Bart's Nightmare? it ended up being a giant failure with a massive backlash that he had to apologize for though the resemblance is there

It really wasn't a review, it really wasn't all that bad, and the outrage was waaaay over the top, like pretty much everything the internet does.

JoshuaMadoc:
The problem with the '10s is double-edged.

The same with the 90s logic and the 00s logic, actually. Both will engender arguments that solve nothing. Oh well.

Captcha: Sonic Screw Driver.

Well yes, how else did you expect me to build a coin from a TARDIS? With a lightsaber?

rbstewart7263:

Imp Emissary:

rbstewart7263:

also apologies for the rambling I gotta hit the road soon. ta ta.

Bah! Don't worry about it. It's what the comments are for.

Also, I agree that the review got off track a few times.

Plus, you caught onto what Alexandria Neonakis brought up in the rebuttal. That Chris talked a lot about Joel, but commented little about the good things that Ellie did.

May the road be good to you, and may you have a great new year. =w= b (<- Thumbs up face)

Imp Emissary:

wAriot:

Imp Emissary:

People often complain about games journalism not being "real journalism". Well, to be "real journalism" it means that they have to "be real".

People often complain about games journalism not being "real journalism", because many "game journalists" aren't actual journalists, just some guys and girls that write more or less well and, from time to time, play video games.

Isn't that, and telling us things we should know/otherwise wouldn't know all that is needed to be a games journalist?

If not, then what else is needed?

Or if you're going off the definition;
"a person engaged in journalism; especially : a writer or editor for a news medium."
Then I still don't see what's missing.

It usually reflects in their ethics, the veracity of the research they do on a given subject and way they write. The majority of video game journalism done these days, is done by uplifted bloggers who likely before this just wrote opinion pieces and were only accountable to the audience they catered too. That kind of writer can't and won't be able to ask the questions necessary about a game or the industry because they are far too involved with their own opinions. As much as I like Jim and believe he displays a level of objectivity and fairness that is rarely seen in gaming journalism today, he still has articles/videos where he really sets that down and rants like a blogger, doing no one any good.

Blogging is entirely concerned with itself. Journalism is entirely concerned with finding truth in given subject. As much as the two bleed into each other a times, there is rigor, and level academia related with Journalism that tends to weed people out, where as blogging tends to be a situation where just about anyone with a messiah complex or polarizing personality can succeed.

So in the end. I'd like it if more games journalists, had degrees in journalism. If only for the added benefit of having had to go through some hoops to get to their position. As well as knowing the difference between an editorial and a news article which I think a lot articles here on the Escapist tend to forget.

rbstewart7263:
[quote="Kingjackl" post="6.838120.20565978"]While I agree that we should celebrate people who take a good look at broad spectrum issues like jim,moviebob,that guy from the borderlands team. I dont think this comic is doing that because if it was I dont think kotaku would be featured here.

Except people like Moviebob and Burch are terrible at doing it and stick their foots in their mouths constantly.

The '10's journalist more accurately would be:

The game you like is racist/sexist/homophobic/ableist/religiously insentitive/intellectually beyond your understanding/my opinion and since it's my opinion it's whatever I can want it to be and you can't criticize it because it's an opinion and not fact/enforcing white privilege/enforcing cis privilege/anti-feminism/not intellectually stimulating/not indie and therefore bad.

Just wanted to put out that suggestion, albeit that could take up... More than ONE comic panel.

Well, in a way it's a good thing. Games are attracting the same criticism that movies and books attract. That means they have become complex enough and interesting enough to warrant such criticism in the first place.

I'm not too worried about this sort of criticism having negative effects on the gaming industry. Film and Literature have had the same amount of scrutiny, and you still get all sorts of film. Games will be no different - critics will not be able to stop games they don't like from being made and in some cases genuinely insightful criticism will result in some improvements.

th3dark3rsh33p:

Imp Emissary:

wAriot:

People often complain about games journalism not being "real journalism", because many "game journalists" aren't actual journalists, just some guys and girls that write more or less well and, from time to time, play video games.

Isn't that, and telling us things we should know/otherwise wouldn't know all that is needed to be a games journalist?

If not, then what else is needed?

Or if you're going off the definition;
"a person engaged in journalism; especially : a writer or editor for a news medium."
Then I still don't see what's missing.

It usually reflects in their ethics, the veracity of the research they do on a given subject and way they write. The majority of video game journalism done these days, is done by uplifted bloggers who likely before this just wrote opinion pieces and were only accountable to the audience they catered too. That kind of writer can't and won't be able to ask the questions necessary about a game or the industry because they are far too involved with their own opinions. As much as I like Jim and believe he displays a level of objectivity and fairness that is rarely seen in gaming journalism today, he still has articles/videos where he really sets that down and rants like a blogger, doing no one any good.

Blogging is entirely concerned with itself. Journalism is entirely concerned with finding truth in given subject. As much as the two bleed into each other a times, there is rigor, and level academia related with Journalism that tends to weed people out, where as blogging tends to be a situation where just about anyone with a messiah complex or polarizing personality can succeed.

So in the end. I'd like it if more games journalists, had degrees in journalism. If only for the added benefit of having had to go through some hoops to get to their position. As well as knowing the difference between an editorial and a news article which I think a lot articles here on the Escapist tend to forget.

Well, I agree that a little education never hurt.

That said, while Jim famously goes on rants, he also puts out pieces that are pretty well researched.

Like the Perfect Pasta Sauce episode.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/7161-Perfect-Pasta-Sauce

Granted, he can get a bit ranty in those too.

Also, I would agree that more ethics in journalism can only be good.
With that said though, I don't think we have it all that bad at the Escapist. Though, no place is perfect, but that just means we can always be better.

RJ 17:
Funny thing is that I actually considered making a topic on this very...well...topic. Basically pretty much exactly what this comic talked about: how games (or at least reporting on games) seems to have changed from talking about graphics and how many bits a new system has and such to "That game is racist, sexist, gender-biased, homophobic, and anti-Semitic!" I was going to ask when/why this change occurred, but couldn't really settle on how I wanted my OP to be worded. Or well, at least this comic captures my sentiments. :P

It's been happening for years, and it's largely because games are becoming a more narrative-driven medium. Notice how more articles about movies talk about story/pacing/message than the actual shot-to-shot movie-buff stuff?

It's more frightening because it's beginning to convince even gamers like yourselves to forget that it's just a damn game.

Seriously, I actually saw Rock paper shotgun debates about the asylum in outlast being a misleading representation of real mental health care facilities..

What the proper fuck.

IT'S A GAME!!! Whether it is or isn't a realistic portrayal it is still a game and therefore -not reality-

Seriously. *shakes head*

Deadcyde:
It's more frightening because it's beginning to convince even gamers like yourselves to forget that it's just a damn game.

Seriously, I actually saw Rock paper shotgun debates about the asylum in outlast being a misleading representation of real mental health care facilities.

Well, discussing these kind of things isn't necessarily something bad, but I think people are getting a bit overboard with it. I don't think every game is supposed to be discussed this way; I mean, I honestly doubt that anyone is worried about the political/racial/sexual/etc consequences that the "The Expendables" movies had.

wAriot:

Deadcyde:
It's more frightening because it's beginning to convince even gamers like yourselves to forget that it's just a damn game.

Seriously, I actually saw Rock paper shotgun debates about the asylum in outlast being a misleading representation of real mental health care facilities.

Well, discussing these kind of things isn't necessarily something bad, but I think people are getting a bit overboard with it. I don't think every game is supposed to be discussed this way; I mean, I honestly doubt that anyone is worried about the political/racial/sexual/etc consequences that the "The Expendables" movies had.

the disturbing thing is there is people that care about "the political/racial/sexual/etc consequences that the "The Expendables" movies had" and that it's becoming more and more of a trend.

ImBigBob:
I love the beginning of the Kotaku logo in the last panel.

So I wasn't the only one who noticed that (EDIT: Commented before seeing the other 2 pages of comments. More people pointed it out). Is there a specific game review they put up that led to the inclusion of them in this comic?

I actually like Kotaku to be honest. It has nice articles to read and less ads all in my face. It lacks a forum though.. so for that I come here.

It's funny how nostalgia goggles make us love the first one so much, despite the fact that it was blatant commercial propaganda with no actual content. : )

wulf3n:

That has always seemed like something of a contradiction to me. Maybe not contradiction... kind of like hypocrisy but not quite.

If something is or has a Racist/Sexist/[insert]ist undertone or message intentional or not is it really "OK" to support? If the offence is so minor that you still want to enjoy the game I question how truly [insert]ist it really is.

TLDR: If someone says a game is Racist or Sexist but supports it anyway the problem of Racism and Sexism is theirs not the games.

That's a bizarrely all or nothing attitude. Either a game is perfect or something to reject entirely.

Can you not see how ridiculous a scenario you've set up? You can criticize something, find issues with it, and still enjoy the overall experience. We all do it all the time, some just pretend not to.

The middle panel guy isn't Yahtzee, nor is it anyone else. He's an amalgamation of every "angry nerd ranting on the internet" person: the hat is Yahtzee, the suit Nostagia Critic, the couch Linkara, the face Brad Jones. Well played, Grey.

I can more or less get behind this comic, to be honest. Though I felt it was very close to being 100% accurate, I felt there was a slight change needed to really nail it.

What font does he use in these comics? Blambot Casual was the closest font I have that I could find but it's still a bit off. Yes, I'm aware that I'm terrible at photoshop. That was a grand total of 5 minutes worth of work though.

The Wooster:

RJ 17:
Funny thing is that I actually considered making a topic on this very...well...topic. Basically pretty much exactly what this comic talked about: how games (or at least reporting on games) seems to have changed from talking about graphics and how many bits a new system has and such to "That game is racist, sexist, gender-biased, homophobic, and anti-Semitic!" I was going to ask when/why this change occurred, but couldn't really settle on how I wanted my OP to be worded. Or well, at least this comic captures my sentiments. :P

It's been happening for years, and it's largely because games are becoming a more narrative-driven medium. Notice how more articles about movies talk about story/pacing/message than the actual shot-to-shot movie-buff stuff?

To a degree, but even then is our games journalism really talking about that much these days? Is it not more knee jerk reactions to the slightest hint of something that might be a sensitive subject, than honest criticism of the craft? I mean it's definitely an improvement over the marketing pretending to be journalism that use to go on, but its still not a good place.

Oh god this hits the mark so well. Actually, maybe replace "racist" with "sexist" and we got a more accurate portrayal.

Still, nice job.

VanQ:
I can more or less get behind this comic, to be honest. Though I felt it was very close to being 100% accurate, I felt there was a slight change needed to really nail it.

What font does he use in these comics? Blambot Casual was the closest font I have that I could find but it's still a bit off. Yes, I'm aware that I'm terrible at photoshop. That was a grand total of 5 minutes worth of work though.

Well fuck, ninja'd.

The Wooster:

RJ 17:
Funny thing is that I actually considered making a topic on this very...well...topic. Basically pretty much exactly what this comic talked about: how games (or at least reporting on games) seems to have changed from talking about graphics and how many bits a new system has and such to "That game is racist, sexist, gender-biased, homophobic, and anti-Semitic!" I was going to ask when/why this change occurred, but couldn't really settle on how I wanted my OP to be worded. Or well, at least this comic captures my sentiments. :P

It's been happening for years, and it's largely because games are becoming a more narrative-driven medium. Notice how more articles about movies talk about story/pacing/message than the actual shot-to-shot movie-buff stuff?

That's true. More games are coming out these days that focus (or at least try to focus) on the story-bits. And when your focus is story, it's fair game to break down that story like any other story: pulling out themes of racism, homophobia, class-disparity, etc.

Still, I miss the simpler times of the Bit Wars...everyone seemed so happy back in those days. Guess that's pretty much right where you're 90's Game Journalism Guy came from. :P

Deadcyde:
It's more frightening because it's beginning to convince even gamers like yourselves to forget that it's just a damn game.

People should all have the same values.

Thedutchjelle:
[Is there a specific game review they put up that led to the inclusion of them in this comic?

If I'm remembering right, Kotaku's the home of that woman who got hate and animosity from the internet for an article comparing online video games to rape. An article, I'd add, she didn't write, but got hate for anyway. Because fact checking? What's that?

I'd never seen things about Kotaku being "social justice warriors" before that point, but afterward, they were the feminist/black/gay agenda site.

Maybe there's truth to it, but I'm skeptical because of that.

Norithics:
It's funny how nostalgia goggles make us love the first one so much, despite the fact that it was blatant commercial propaganda with no actual content. : )

Not only that, but when it happens today, "we" shit all over it.

But yeah. These were the guys who tried to sell you Dick Tracy and Battletoads types of games. Broken, frustrating, or just plain crap. And people pine for that? Reeeeeally?

On the plus side, with publishers stonewalling critics who say bad things about their games, we're nearly back to an era like that. Maybe the next Ride to Hell will get rave reviews.

VanQ:
I can more or less get behind this comic, to be honest. Though I felt it was very close to being 100% accurate, I felt there was a slight change needed to really nail it.

What font does he use in these comics? Blambot Casual was the closest font I have that I could find but it's still a bit off. Yes, I'm aware that I'm terrible at photoshop. That was a grand total of 5 minutes worth of work though.

That gave me a laugh. I also thought of it when I read it.

Well I started reading videogames reviews in Meristation, and they were like 12 pages long (now theyre 5), and they break you down most game mechanics, they had different chapters like, sound, soundtrack, graphics, controls, etc. They talked about ALL the game features and gamemodes. And the opinion of the reviewers was just a small part of the entire review...
Now most reviews feel like simple opinion articles, specially those of IGN and Polygon (Polygon is the worst site, they lack any kind of objectivity). I read 4 or 5 paragraphs and im told the reviewer likes/dislikes the game, then i see a big number that represents a score that most of the time doesnt even make sense, or doesnt seem to include aspects like Multiplayer or Cooperative.... Even when they make up for half of the game.

Take an example:
If i read the review of Lost Planet 2 in the good times of Meristation, then i would have come to the conclusion that even tough the reviewers dont like the game, it is a good game and its worth to buy... Why? because they told me what the game has besides of just spurt that it sucks, like almost all reviews did when Lost Planet 2 came out.... If reviews where truly objective and knew that theres a difference between sharing their opinion and flat out lie, then Lost Planet 2 reviews wouldnt have been full of lies from people who didnt put pause to check the game controls, or didnt read the tutorials in the start, stupid reviewers who gave the game bad reviews just because it was a hard game with a cooperative centered campaign...
The same goes for Halo 4, everyone gave it high notes despite the fact that the MP was simply broken, the broken word may be used way too much these days, but the Halo 4 MP was shipped broken in all the sense of the word, I WOULD HAVE MADE A BETTER MULTIPLAYER MYSELF, in fact the multiplayer systems team should have been fired for this... And the worst thing is that it took them 7 months just to release a partial fix... So why nobody gave the game lower scores??? BECAUSE REVIEWS ARENT REVIEWS ANYMORE, THEY ARE OPINION ARTICLES. :(

ShakerSilver:

Moth_Monk:
The 20s will be "That game you don't like is smart."

More like "That game you like is too hard so it's bad."

2030's: "That game you like isn't a movie, so it's bad."

2030's will be "still no flying cars, so here's call of duty 50: feminist riot wars"

Jumwa:

That's a bizarrely all or nothing attitude. Either a game is perfect or something to reject entirely.

Can you not see how ridiculous a scenario you've set up? You can criticize something, find issues with it, and still enjoy the overall experience. We all do it all the time, some just pretend not to.

I think you misunderstood what I was saying. It wasn't that if a game has a single bad element it should be disregarded, but rather if a game has any racist or other ist element and that is something said person passes them self off as being against, how can they, in good conscience continue playing the game.

When talking about standard criticisms such as bad voice acting, poorly mapped controls etc, you're right it's a crazy position, but those are different to instances of racism etc. The difference being bad voice acting and issues of that ilk don't hurt anything but the game where as instances bigoted mechanics or narrative elements have the potential to cause real harm.

So I can only assume it boils down to:

a) The instances of racism etc are so minor/forced that it's arguably not even there.

or

b) Said person isn't really as progressive as they make themselves out to be.

NOTE: Said person is not you. This is just a common opinion I've seen here on the Escapist that I've always found odd.

wulf3n:
The difference being bad voice acting and issues of that ilk don't hurt anything but the game where as instances bigoted mechanics or narrative elements have the potential to cause real harm.

I don't think this has ever been proven. It sounds like the "video games make people violent" argument, which everyone with more than two neurons laughs at.

wAriot:

wulf3n:
The difference being bad voice acting and issues of that ilk don't hurt anything but the game where as instances bigoted mechanics or narrative elements have the potential to cause real harm.

I don't think this has ever been proven. It sounds like the "video games make people violent" argument, which everyone with more than two neurons laughs at.

Harm is a very generic term, if someone were to get upset by said game then it would arguably have caused "harm". Which is essentially how I was using it.

wulf3n:
Harm is a very generic term, if someone were to get upset by said game then it would arguably have caused "harm". Which is essentially how I was using it.

By that definition every game ever (or, for that matter, almost every thing ever) causes harm.
There are degrees for the damage it can cause, and being upset/offended by it is in the lower tiers.

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