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Freelancers not to be trusted?

Er, more games journalism musings to follow shortly.  Been a busy weekend, and will be a busy next-couple-of-days. Though there’s a chance I could get round to more scrawlings tomorrow.  For now, this.

Turns out, Dead Space executive producer Glen Schofield reckons the game’s narrow-missing of a Metacritic average of 90 was down to a freelance reviewer’s irresponsible reporting.  This is revealed in a feature run by Game Informer, which the ‘freelance reviewer’ in question reckons is a terrible example of irresponsible reporting.  Hmm…

The story goes: Schofield told Game Informer that the lowest score Dead Space received was a 6.5, from Official Xbox Magazine.  This score was awarded by a freelancer, Schofield says.  As such, it seems like it could well have been a case of the magazine assigning the review to any old writer, and he or she might not have been versed in the ways of the survival horror genre, Schofield says.  Game Informer seem to offer no objection (though, I must say, I’ve only seen an excerpt of it).

One person who does object, however, is ‘he or she’ who wrote the review.  Specifically, it’s Meghan Watt.  Who wasn’t a freelancer at the time of writing the review, but actually working on-site at the magazine as part of an internship.  Whose byline very clearly stated her name, leading her to think Schofield may not have actually read her review.  She also reckons that might not be the case since her argument in the piece was centred around her being a huge fan of the genre.  Double hmm.

What is of course more worrying is the insinuation that freelancers are somehow less qualified than staff writers to voice their opinions on a game.  Or the implication that magazine editors just throw about their games without any thought for the quality of their publication.  Both of which I find utterly, tremendously offensive.

Have a read of Meghan’s full report on the situation over on her blog.

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6 responses »

  1. I think the reason why so many people don’t trust Freelancers is based on a few reasons.

    For starters, most true to the sense Freelancers are not regularly commissioned by one particular publication (print, internet or otherwise) and often ‘sell’ their services to anyone willing to pay for it. Because of this, you never know if they are putting the same amount of effort as would a Salaried employee. With paid staff, you know where they are in constant communication with their Editor(s) and much more effort is placed in ensuring a quality piece is given to the public.

    I think there is certainly a difference between an established Freelance writer and a one-off person. I believe in the situation of Ms. Watt, the lack of any previous reviews by her put in her in an uncomfortable position. Had she been a regular contributor to OXM (the magazine in question) then the validity of her score would not have come into question. In my eyes, this is why so many publications tend to have more Big-Budget titles reviewed by senior members. Someone is more inclined to trust an article written by someone known rather than a new person.

    This is also why readers are more willing to trust a review from a notably site like GameSpot or IGN and not a significantly smaller, blog-type site.

    As a contributor to a Video Game site, the initial batch of reviews that I wrote would be considered ‘B’ or ‘C’ class. It was only after I was able to establish myself on the site and earn the trust of my Editor that more ‘A’ style games were put into my hands.

    Ms. Watts is clearly not at fault for this, the Editors at OXM strongly felt she was capable of writing an inciteful review and defended her score. If an editor has faith in what is being published, then the attack should not be on the writer but the editor in this regard.

    Lastly, from what I’ve gathered through Twitter and her own personal site, she has not hidden after this review and continues to write today. I think the fact that she keeps in the public also should mean that she is willing to answer questions and defend her self, something so many smaller sites are not willing to do.

    Reply
  2. Grrrr, etc! I’d love to be the one reviewer who gives a game 20% lower or higher than anyone else.

    Reply
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  4. “This is also why readers are more willing to trust a review from a notably site like GameSpot or IGN and not a significantly smaller, blog-type site.”

    IGN’s GTA IV review was Martin’s first article. I don’t think being new to a publication means you’re on unsteady footing, I just think the developer was being fucking petty about game that, quite frankly, got torn a new arsehole across the board, but he failed to notice bad scores from Edge and others simply because he had his head stuck in the MetaCritic clouds. Good day, sir.

    Reply
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  6. Marko DJ: “For starters, most true to the sense Freelancers are not regularly commissioned by one particular publication (print, internet or otherwise) and often ’sell’ their services to anyone willing to pay for it.”

    The first part of this isn’t true. The second part is.

    “Because of this, you never know if they are putting the same amount of effort as would a Salaried employee. With paid staff, you know where they are in constant communication with their Editor(s) and much more effort is placed in ensuring a quality piece is given to the public.”

    This is nonsense. Freelancers are *more* dependent on quality output than salaried staff. A salary earner has to be fired to stop him working below standard, a freelancer just has to be not hired for the next piece. There’s a big difference there.

    Reply

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