Crispin Boyer and Dan “Shoe” Hsu, both former editors at gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly, have started writing with Sore Thumbs, their blog on the behind-the-scenes operations of the games industry.
A couple months after leaving Ziff Davis to pursue independent freelance work for outfits such as G4, Boyer and Shoe started writing independent blog Sore Thumbs to reminisce about the golden days of games and the modern issues that journalists must address.
One of their first major editorial columns is “Behind the Scenes: Gaming Journalism,” where Shoe examines the ethical dilemmas and failings of industry reporters.
In his first post in the series, Shoe states the “two constant truths in gaming journalism”:
- No matter what you do or don’t do, you will get accused of being bought off at one or several points in your career.
- If you can be bought off, you will get plenty of opportunities.
For some nostalgia, Crispin shared a story from EGM‘s early days, when magazine founder Steve Harris emailed then-Editor-in-Chief Joe Funk about printing a cover story without his permission, calmly asking him, “WHY IN THE HELL DO YOU DO THIS?!?!”
Shoe explained in his third “Behind the Scenes” story how the Ubisoft/Assassin’s Creed review conspiracy played a part of his decision to leave 1Up.
A few days before Assassin’s Creed was due out, we started seeing online reviews appear well before the explicit embargo date…. Because our 1UP score was a 7.0, we still had to abide by the original embargo date, but we learned that if the score was high enough, Ubisoft was allowing outlets to release their reviews early. In other words, give the game a great score, and you’re rewarded with an early, higher trafficked review (all three early reviews were 10/10).
So we tried to do a fair, objective news story about this to explain to our audience why we were one of the last websites to have an Assassin’s Creed review out and why there was this selective release of reviews… and, well, this is a longer story best saved for another day. But the short of it is, this all lead to Ubisoft’s blacklisting of EGM and 1UP, and even so, our parent company Ziff Davis Media didn’t allow us to publish that story anyways because it wanted to stay on Ubisoft’s – a huge advertiser – good side (no way we would’ve been censored like that had this been some small-time, no-name game publisher).
Between the two of them, EGM and 1Up editors Crispin Boyer and Dan “Shoe” Hsu have two decades of game journalistic experience and numerous fans, not to mention a track record of vocally confronting publishers pressuring the media for positive reviews and feedback.