Editor’s note: Blake Collins, the CEO of online publishing startup PencilBlue, tackles the issue of alleged corruption in the video game media and the on-going debate sparked by #GamersGate. Critics are “so intent on protecting their cash cow that, in an attempt to squash the movement, they’ve negated any shred of journalistic integrity they might have had,” he writes at ExitEvent. Collins is a DEMOgod and Webby award winner, and writes regularly on the subjects of software startups and UI/UX development.ExitEvent is a news partner of WRAL TechWire. 

RALEIGH, N.C. – It was at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) a few years back, after a long day of swag acquisition, that I decided to walk down the street from the convention center to L.A. Live and get a bite to eat. At the restaurant, I sat next to two guys who still had their convention badges on. One was in a suit and the other looked like what one might call a “stereotypical gamer”.

“What do I have to do to get you to write a favorable review of [a new hardware product from one of the big three console developers]?” said the man whom I then identified as a representative of the console company.

“I don’t know,” said the gaming reporter, “I have serious issues with some of the features.”

“Well,” said the rep, “what if I got you an all-expenses-paid trip to [the company’s main conference], VIP passes, and an interview with [a famous game developer].”

At this point, I covertly peered over and saw the reporter swaying his head in a way that said, “You’re on the right track, but I want more”.

The company man sweetened the deal with high-end swag—limited-edition hardware and access to developer builds of games a year or more from public release. When the sum offer was satisfactory, the reporter said, “Okay”, and that was that.

I was in no way surprised by this interaction, though I was excited to be privy to it. It is a quietly spoken fact among game developers that the only sure-fire way to get a good review of your work is to bribe reporters.

And who can blame the developers? When they’ve spent millions of dollars and years of effort developing a product, who wouldn’t give away a comparably minuscule amount of “gifts” to ensure a favorable reception from industry media?

The majority of the blame for this situation lies squarely on the shoulders of the reporters who are willing to compromise their integrity for perks. Though, couldn’t the same thing be said about other, more important areas of reporting, like politics?

That’s where I fall short with the #GamerGate movement, a group of self-identified “gamers” who’ve taken to social media to decry the corruption in game reporting. They’re not wrong in their main supposition, it’s just that it’s not so significant of an issue that it should be turned into a movement. It’s kind of a silly thing to get up in arms about.

Except the response from the gaming media and associated outlets has been so overblown they’ve actually made #GamerGate important. Major players in the space are so intent on protecting their cash cow that, in an attempt to squash the movement, they’ve negated any shred of journalistic integrity they might have had.

The full post can be read at ExitEvent.