Former EGM Editor Dishes on (sorry) State of Game Journalism

Former Electronic Gaming Monthly editor Dan Hsu is profiled on Crispy Gamer. Scribe Kyle Orland serves up the questions and Shoe provides the answers. Here’s a quick sample:

[the single biggest problem in game journalism today] could be the relationship the press has with the people and companies it’s covering. Everyone likes to play so nice that they forget what they’re supposed to be doing in the first place. So some writers are afraid to ask the tough questions, or to criticize what should be criticized, because they’re afraid of backlash from the companies from a support standpoint, from an advertising standpoint or worse, from their own editors who don’t want to piss anyone off. This may not be a blatant problem, but it’s there, unspoken, hanging over everything in the industry.


Even big outlets like EGM feel that pressure. It’s been hinted to me several times that some developers and publishers don’t want to work with us because we’re too tough or critical, that they’d rather work with others where they feel more in "control" over the message that would be getting out. I guess that’s yet another reason I needed to get out and look for a change. This shit is just too frustrating, and I’m getting a little angry just thinking about all that BS in the business we had to put up with.

Shoe offers far more insights on Sore Thumbs, a highly entertaining – and informative – blog that he and another ex-EGMer, Crispin Boyer, are running.


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  1. desperad0 says:

    Thanks good job;

    Btw, I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing travesti or little and need to start saving costs. and dizi izle


    Now I don’t have to get off my ass for the important shit anymore!

    Whats next, ordering pizza from Xbox live?

    Wait… I think that sounds like a good idea.

    But I think voting should MAKE you get off your ass, and see outside or a second while you go vote. I mean, your picking the president of the United States of America for God’s Sake… least you can do is drive down there and punch out a card.

  2. oto kirlama says:

    I’m all for freedom of ttnet vitamin speech and allowing rent a car game makers to put whatever they want in games, but there’s one thing about this app that has me scratching my head.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but from araç kiralama the previous article araba kiralama on this I gathered that players can use Google maps in-game to find the other (real-life?) dealers in their area.  If this is the case, has travesti anyone considered what’s stopping someone from using this app to actually move drugs between hands for reals?

    But majority araba kiralama of their outrage araç kiralama stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you’ll find they don’t think any books kiralık araba should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about kiralık araç the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they’ll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless… yeah.

    The entire arguement is kiralık oto based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can’t figure out the controls for Halo so it’s frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it’s in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given minibüs kiralama the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on oto kiralama any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child’s life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan rent a car needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can’t be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It’s too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

  3. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    What?  Oh, I thought you said the president.  I was going to say, how did you know his family is actually friends with the Binladin family, thats a secret.

    "George W. Bush made his first million 20 years ago with an oil company partly funded by Salem Bin Laden’s chief US representative."

    "United States special agents were told to back off the bin Laden family and the Saudi royals soon after George Bush became president, although that has all changed since September 11, a BBC television program has claimed."

    "A Second Bush Oil Deal To Come With Murky Ties To Saudi Financiers And Osama Bin Laden"

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thankfully(?) the bais isn’t unique to video games. The actual news media seems to focus more on a teenage pregnacy or the dismissal of a state trooper (who taser a 10 year old BTW, I think that is grounds for a dismissal…) then the assocation of a presidental canidate with a known terrorist…

  5. Geoff ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I think one of the largest problems, especially with magazines, is that the majority if not all of their advertisement comes from the very people they are suppose to criticize.  It’s hard to keep a print magazine alive, more so today than before due to the internet and other forms of alternative media.  The last thing any mag wants to deal with is having their whole financial support structure pulled out from under their feet ’cause they gave Kane and Lynch a less-than-great review.

    As usual, the solution seems to stem from getting rid of the notion that video games are "kids toys".  If gaming magazines could get financial support from other products things might take an upward turn.  Though this might be a moot point now as most people I talk to go to websites for their news/reviews.  It may be too late to save the gaming magazines.  I personally have never bought one in years.  Everything they put up tends to be on the internet for a good week or longer prior to the mag’s release.

  6. E. Zachary Knight says:

    I feel the same way. They should avoid game advertisements. Go for other things that gamers want. Like adverts for movies/TV shows. Adverts for energy drinks, computers and their parts. Clothing, food, cars, Adverts for anything that interests the reader but never for games or game consoles.

    It is called thinking outside the box.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
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  7. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    And the PR recovery EA has been throwing out there with G4, GameSpot, and many other areas.  I was questioned on a post about that earlier, but lets be real, they are getting a kick back one way or another, more access or money.  Either way it ends up with more money for them, and the game press has gotten too close the game developers/publishers.

    If they were parted, EA would get ripped left and right, as well as GameSpot for past actions.

    GameSpot has went as far as delaying bad reviews going public, and deleting user’s game reviews that are below a certain score.  So in all honesty, GS is the dirtiest of them all from what I have seen.

    Kane & Lynch was just the tip of the iceberg that exposed a lot more things.  Now the entire game press is under question by many people, especially if they rate/review games.  Here soon gamers will make their own sites that will compete with REAL reviews.  Hell, I might start my own.

  8. ZippyDSMlee says:


    We go off topic alil but its interesting, while not direct to game reviews the problem with Video games is long time coming, graphics were the candy that won new gamers this drove cost up and publishers are forced to do more and more "dirty" things to turn a profit, and with costs still raising the industry is in for a hard fall if it dose not realize shallow pretty is only good for some short term  gain…all it takes is losing regular gamers and replacing them all with trend noobs and the industry will be headed for collapse…

    Publishers need to learn that the review process vetts them while it might persuade some but having a solid un corrupted review process makes for a better industry….


    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  9. JustChris says:

    It’s telling that in one issue of EGM a few years ago, they gave Fight Club a really bad score and the ad in the opposite page was about that Fight Club game.

    There’s a post on the Dark Zero blog where one of the points on reviews was "Forget numbers or letter scores…the bigger deal is in the details" and that’s what a lot of people avoid glossing over because they just spot the score. I don’t see a score of 60% meaning that 40% of the game is bad. It’s better to think of it as "60% of people may enjoy the game". Also, more reviews should explain WHY something is good or bad rather than saying "the graphics are awful" or "the gameplay is very immersive". Perhaps this is also why magazines don’t stand much of a chance. Each page carries its full weight in printing cost and there’s no room for full-length reviews of ever single game they play.

  10. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    That is as of lately, and because of the direction the industry is going.  Once great games that push technology, like Spore but with better gameplay, start coming out again, you will see them complain a lot less.

  11. Vake ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

     How can he say that? All the major magazines have been doing nothing but dissing on everyone and everything. Reviews have slaughtered some of the biggest blockbusters, none of the systems can please them, and they never seem to have anything nice to say, except for the Three Major Licensees. XBM, OPM, and NPM only seem to like their own.

    That’s my problem with gaming journalism. All the writers seem to hate everything about gaming. Why even bother writing?

  12. Adamas Draconis says:

    There is a reason I WILL NOT and NEVER HAVE bought XBM or OPM, and haven’t bought NPM since the early ’90s. If I want to know more about a game then "The graphics engine is awesome and will blow you away!" I go elsewhere. PSM used to be the best magazine on the market. But now it sucks just as hard. I’ll just have to stick to my old standby, borrow or rent a game for a couple days if it looks intresting. then MAYBE buy it used if it seems worth the money.


    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  13. Preacher says:

    Have any of you guys checked out Crispy Gamer? It doesn’t accept game ads, all of its writers are independent and the site has no corporate parent. It is trying to do what Shoe is railing against: Fix what is broken in the industry. It also uses a very simple review scale, one that doesn’t get caught up in Metacritic or GameRankings. The site is fairly new and we still has some work to do, but I’m encouraged by what we are trying to do and the early response has been positive.

  14. Aurien ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    A good way to tell if the gaming mag you read is on the level is the advertisements. I personally read PCGamer which keeps their advertisement department and writers seperated. They don’t know who or where ads are going in the magazine when they create it. Which is why you’ll see them trashing a game on one page and an advertisement for it on the next. They don’t always appear together, but every once in a while you’ll see it happen. People will write in asking about it.

  15. Black Dragon says:

    Well, that’s the reason I go to Penny Arcade for my reviews. If you can’t trust Jeffrey Holkins to tell you all about a game in mind-shorting detail, then you might as well give up and die.

    All in all though, this article neither surprises nor concerns me. Gaming mags are hard up as it is, and it’s only natural that game companies would go to considerable lengths to try and appeal a bad score, given that their sales are on the line. Unfortunately, some magazines submit to money rather than ingenuity and good games, but I hardly think it matters much. Giving a game a decent score when it doesn’t really deserve it is hardly a crime.

  16. Gene says:

    Agreed. That’s why I love PA: one, Jerry is never ever afraid to speak his mind and two, they only allow games to be advertised on their site if they’ve played them and like them, which I think is very sensible. On the other hand, they can play hardball with the execs. They don’t need the revenue because they make enough and their fanbase are devoted, so they can afford to piss off the publishers because they know people will still want to buy ad space on the site as PA will always have millions of visitors.

    I wonder if Yahtzee has the same influence. No matter who he pisses off (and boy does he piss off people), the Escapist will always make money from advertisments because everyone comes to see Yahtzee. There will always be an audience there. People like him and Jerry Holkins don’t need to fellate the gaming execs to get the cash in the way Gamespot does.

    – In the beginning, there was nothing. So God started making stuff.

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