On corruption and transparency

Originally posted via twitlong, 21 Sept. 2014


I’ve read a lot of people, namely anti-GG folks, point to triple-A business and management culture, and the relationship between triple-A companies and games media outlets, as the source of the “true” corruption…and as such, were GG honest in its intentions of promoting ethics and accountability in games journalism, we’d be going after triple-A companies instead of indies.

Well, let’s set aside the obvious counterarguments:

1. That’s a fallacy of relative privation, and triple-A corruption doesn’t justify indie corruption;

2. Gamers have tried, such as was the case with Gerstmann, Florence, and Keighley, but were largely blockaded by a subservient gaming press;

3. No one is saying GG will stop once indie gaming and press has been cleaned up;


4. The indies were the ones who happened to get caught red-handed, tough shit.

and concentrate on the issue I believe is fundamental to all of this. That is, the toxic wall of opacity and unaccountability that surrounds the gaming press, and has for years. The same wall that saw payola allegations made by Rab Florence met with a gag order and quickly dismissed; the same wall that same the same un-investigated gag orders against Jeff Gerstmann; the same wall that now, for example, blames gamers for alleged sexist business and management culture issues in the gaming industry; and the same wall that meets corruption allegations with widespread censorship and article campaigns that attempt to reframe the issue as one of misogyny among gamers.

Simply put, it’s the gaming press’ job to investigate and report on these matters, and that is not occurring. In fact, not only is the gaming press negligent in this duty, it is actively shielding the gaming industry from answering to these allegations. Most important of all, due to widespread negligence and recklessness on the part of the gaming press, were they to even begin they are not trusted enough to do it in an unbiased, ethical, and honest manner. Establishing transparency, accountability, and trust in the gaming press is what must occur, first and foremost, should the “real” corruption as members of the gaming press claim, ever be tackled.

To illustrate this problem, I’d like to draw from American history…the Prohibition era, as a matter of fact. Everyone is, or should be, familiar with the story of Eliot Ness and his cabal of Prohibition agents known as “the Untouchables”. The story goes, for the uninitiated or unaware, when Prohibition began corruption among law enforcement and politicians from the local all the way to the federal became widespread and endemic; officers were bribed and some even became bootleggers, politicians were bribed to hamstring enforcement, some were intimidated, and some even became intertwined with organized crime itself (for more, read up on the Kennedy family, particularly Joe Sr.’s activities during Prohibition and afterwards).

Enter Eliot Ness and “the Untouchables”: a cabal of Prohibition agents hand-picked and deemed “untouchable” because of their reliability and resistance to the corruption that permeated society. The rest is history, and not terribly relevant to the point being made.

In this analogy, the games industry is the mob and the gaming press are law enforcement. The law isn’t being enforced, because those charged with the duty are bought and paid for, and nobody even trusts enforcement to be done honestly in the first place. Sure, the mob is “the real problem”, but unless the law is being enforced in the first place, and in good faith by uncorrupt officers, there’s no chance of “the real problem” being solved.

If anything, I suppose that would make #gamergate “the Untouchables”, if one must know.