Friday, November 30, 2007

People believe what they want to believe

Since it's "late to the party" day here at Insult Swordfighting, I may as well mention the Jeff Gerstmann/Gamespot/Eidos flap. Briefly, Gerstmann was let go from Gamespot after something like a decade of service, and sources within the company are saying it's because he panned Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, a game that was heavily advertised on the site.

The problem with a controversy like this is that people already believe what they want to believe, and everyone's going to say what they're supposed to say. Unnamed sources will swear up and down that Gerstmann was sacrificed on the altar of ad revenue. And they have. Executives at C-net (Gamespot's parent company) will say that he was fired for reasons unrelated to his Kane and Lynch review. And they have. People who already thought enthusiast publications were corrupt will claim vindication. And they have. I don't know if it's worth discussing until somebody who is willing to be named steps forward with actual information. Otherwise, it's just rumors and speculation. And even if Gerstmann himself comes out and says he was fired to please Eidos, he'd hardly be an objective source.

I will say this: Gerstmann did not pan the game. He gave it a 6.0, which his own site defines as "fair." And if the issue is his tone, as some have suggested, then it's certainly not evident in the review itself. It reads as objective and fair, criticizing what doesn't work and praising what does. It's hard to imagine what else Gerstmann was supposed to do. I'm not a habitual reader of Gamespot, so I can't say anything about the rest of his body of work.

The accusations being levied at C-net are powerful ones, and that means that we have a responsibility to make sure we have proof before accepting them as fact. If they are true, it's a chilling indictment of Gamespot, particularly considering that it has a reputation for being tougher than many sites. I'm not sure how many people count on the big sites for game recommendations in the age of blogs and message boards, truthfully. Probably fewer people today than yesterday.

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