In Defence Of Dave Cook, Robert Florence… But Not Games Journalism

NOTE: this is not a piece by me. It was done by my friend Steve Burns. I am just posting it here at his request, as he;s too lazy to set up his own blog.

EDIT: Since this piece was written, Eurogamer has amended its original story.  I won’t be getting into that right now, as the situation is changing and very complex. I still believe this piece is relevant.

Another day, another round of game journo in-fighting. This is not unusual: in an industry of opinions and instant feedback, it’s par for the course. Yesterday was different, however, because Rob Florence had written this, and Eurogamer had published it: a powerful, influential combo. The internet, predictably, exploded. John Walker wrote a wonderful response to it, which really made me think about how game journos are perceived: please read it.

So then, if John Walker has covered this ground already (and with far more style, I might add) then why am I bothering? Well, a close friend of mine was mentioned in one piece, as was Lauren Wainwright.

I can’t speak for Lauren, because I don’t know her. But I can speak in defence of Dave Cook – if not the industry as a whole. Dave Cook is not corrupt. I know this because he and I have been friends for years now. We worked at the same publishing firm for most of that time. We’ve shared far too many drink-fuelled nights putting this industry to the sword, for every reason under the sun. Dave Cook works harder and faster than most and has been rewarded for his efforts by his current role at VG247, where he works tirelessly to serve its ever-growing fanbase. I’ve never seen him take a bribe, nor a backhander. The only thing he’s ever taken that I didn’t agree with is the moniker ‘VG247’s Dave Cook’, like he’s a member of The Beatles or something. But that’s a minor irritant, and he’s a good friend.

Dave Cook is not corrupt. But then, I’m not sure Rob Florence was saying that. Wasn’t his article about how we appear, when we’re tweeting any old shite, in our minds innocently or not? I think so. That Dave’s name was mentioned stings for him (as well as Lauren Wainwright, no doubt) because it looks like he (and Lauren) are being singled out. Not a good look. I spoke to Dave this morning, and he sounded in rude health for a man who had just been (character) assassinated.

Harsh times, but the tweets were public, and Dave has admitted it was a mistake to tweet that nonsense. Why did he tweet it though? Because he wanted a PS3? Nah: he’s got one, and if he ever wanted another he could call any number of people and get one shipped over faster than it takes internet commenters to call a columnist a ‘fag’ because they disagree with him.

No. Dave Cook is a self promoter, like most (but, importantly, not all) of the most visible people in this game. Twitter, Facebook: his name is probably scrawled in graffiti all over London, Paris, Milan and of course, Edinburgh. If he wasn’t at so many events, ‘VG247’s Dave Cook’ would be so all-encompassing as to pass into legend. Does Dave Cook have major reconstructive surgery to conceal his identity, like Tyler Durden? Are there many Dave Cooks, like James Bond, and one simply replaces the last? Does he, in fact, have two hearts?  No. He’s a Scottish bloke with a questionable beard who loves games, goes to events. He’s a friendly sort, enthusiastic.  You’d like him. You’d like to have drinks with him.

Again, however, he’s a self-promoter. In an industry where your name is your calling card, he’d be silly not to be. You know why? Who actually, really, reads everything you come out with? Not a lot of people. Reputation is everything in the games industry, because this is access journalism. We’re not on the frontlines in the Middle East. Botherer, as usual, was right about the GMAs being a love in, with PR’s setting it up and voting in it. If you want to make it to the top, then you’ve got to be in the game to some degree.

Those are the rules, and they need to change. The hard part is, those involved don’t see the game. They don’t see it as corrupt, because it’s actually not. Having worked in the industry myself, I’ve flown around the world. Done the 5 star hotels. Been out on the after-event drinks. The closest I’ve seen to someone crossing the line on a trip was when a journo ordered lobster for main and lobster for desert, Sean Bateman-style. Our PR guide looked aghast. But again, that’s straight up taking the piss, rather than demanding cash for good scores.

So, I’ve been around the block a bit. Has any of this hospitality ever changed my opinion of a game? No. I recently flew out on a trip with a major publisher, to one of the greatest countries on earth. I saw the sights, basked in the sun. I had free drinks. I came home and said that its direct competitor was better.  It is.

Again, from the inside, that’s the game: you fly out, see stuff, have a laugh or two. Meet some nice people. I know that my opinion won’t be affected. But do my readers know that? They don’t. Because of this, I try to minimise the amount of dickswinging I do on social media. I don’t take pictures of promos and post them on Facebook. I rarely tweet about being on a trip, or at least I try not to. It makes you sound like a cunt, in my opinion.

And where has this gotten me? Nowhere. I’ve written for magazines for years. No-one knows who the fuck I am. That’s fine: I’m not good enough to give it the big ‘un about everything I write. I don’t play the game to its full extent, and I’m out of step. But I know it exists, and even though we’re not corrupt, it can bloody well look like it. I have friends in PR. Good friends. That’s all I see it as. Others don’t. Maybe it’s time we had a big think about that. Dave Cook isn’t corrupt, and Rob Florence isn’t wrong. But something has to give. Will it? No fucking way. As John Walker and Florence stated, look at the knee jerk responses from people. We’re not above suspicion, nor criticism, like all journalists – even if we’re not doing anything wrong. But the more we swan around the world, telling people to fuck off when they ask if going away to the world’s best hotels with your mates who look after these games might be a conflict of interest, the more we do ourselves a disservice.  We love games, we get excited about games. But we need to remember where the line is. Our readers will.

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The End

Well, this is how the world (of this blog) ends: not with a whimper, but a bang.

I have hit 1,000 entries and decided to call it quits – nearly three years of doing this is probably enough to prove that I can do it for longer than Rich. He managed about three weeks.

I won, Rich. You lost.

It continued as a writing exercise; getting me to post something new every single day and get my writing pistons pumping. But it didn’t exactly result in the most creative or interesting of posts, especially not over the last year or so. Even my opinions have tailed off as I’ve realised how very little I care about anything.

I was tempted to reign it in rather than stopping altogether, but doing a blog a week or something still feels, right now, like giving myself work I don’t want to do. So I’m not doing that. Maybe one day in the future I’ll come back to it in that sort of manner, but certainly not in the near future.

My life changed immeasurably in the time I was writing this blog. I moved from upstairs to downstairs. I went from fat to thin. I went from not having ‘senior’ on my job title to having ‘senior’ on my job title. I went from being in a relationship to not. I went from laptop to desktop. I reviewed a shower in Sweden.

It was a lark, I suppose. I’m sure I will miss it in some strange way, if only because it’s part of my routine now. But I will not be rushing back to do more – this is not a Ric Flair “retirement”, it’s a Shawn Michaels “I’ve always resented putting myself through this so SEE YA” retirement.

If you don’t already, feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ianinthefuture. I’ll continue rambling shit there. I know most of you are people I know in Real Life anyway so you probably already do that, and this assumes you actually want to read what I write but hey. Whatever.

Oh, and we helped raise some anti-cancer money too. Which is good.

I would say I’m going to pour my creative energies into something else now, but that’d probably end up being a lie. So instead I’ll say I hope to do that, then if I don’t it’s not actually a lie. This isn’t an important point, it’s just filler. I’m good at filler. Mainly thanks to this blog.

Anyway, be nice to see what’s in the future for Ian.

Smell ya later, jerkwads.

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Re-doing things good, like

Well, they’ve only gone and done it. All my fears, all my trepidation – it was all for nought. The new series of Red Dwarf has just aired – well, the first episode – and it wasn’t shit. It was, in fact, pretty good.

Not amazing. Not hilarious. Not life-definingly brilliant. But actually good. With jokes in it that made me laugh. Even the reaction on Twitter seems to be mainly positive, though I’m not sure if that’s because people actually liked it or just because I’m in an echo chamber of people who share similar opinions to my own.

Next up: the revival of Bottom. If they get that right (make ridiculous double entendres, hit each other with pans, come up with brilliant names for off-screen characters) then this year will be an interesting one. Because it might actually be one I remember as ‘pretty good’.

They’ve brought back one of my favourite shows and done it well, they’re bringing back another one, they’ve brought back my favourite game of all time and it’s [embargoed opinion you can figure out from the tone of this blog], they even brought back Coco Pops when we demanded it. Oh wait, that wasn’t this year. The point stands though.

Don’t be so foul.

Ah, Bottom humour.

I don’t think I have much else to say. I’m happy about British TV comedy for the first time in a long-ass time. I should write some.

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Pretty much

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October 3, 2012 · 8:37 pm

No otters were harmed in the murder of Terry Nutkins

I don’t have Word so I’m having to write this straight into the CMS, I’m uncomfortable in this chair, I keep making typing mistakes as I’m getting used to this new keyboard (oh GOD it makes satisfying keystroke noises) and I fed myself a ketchup sandwich as I couldn’t be bothered cooking after toiling for about four hours straight.

On the other hand, I do now have a new PC. And it’s massive. Too big, even. I’ve made a huge mistake. I shall have to have it eliminated immediately.

Or not, because it’s clearly great. And bigger is better, as one of the ‘hilarious’ voices on WWF Attitude used to say. I made my Dad on that game, which was obviously hilarious, and gave him the Shooting Star Press as a finishing move. My father is a bigger man, you see, and watching him do this in the game always amused me:

Anyway, it’s late and I haven’t done anything except faff with technology this evening. As such, I need to sleep, or eat, or have a drink, or something. I have no idea what.

Oh wait, I need to download XCOM. And Football Manager. And All The  Games. I like my new BATTLESTATION (bit of “inter” “net” for you there).

So I wanted to go on a half-worried mini-rant about how Google knows everything about me and, once I’d logged in on Chrome for the first time, literally clicked one button for it to instantly import all of my bookmarks, settings, saved passwords and so on and how that shows the company knows everything about me and I should be worried because what if they one day turn evil… but I can’t. Because it was really convenient. And right now, that’s all I want.

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How to (not) build a PC

Today the final pieces for my new PC arrived in the post – all nine or ten of them, which I then had to carry home like some kind of hobo who hoards technology.

I thought ‘today, I will build!’ and then I thought ‘also I will take photos and be hilarious on my blog about them!’ so that’s pretty much what I did.

First up: the requirement to clean the case. It had been sat in a workmate’s flat for… a while, and was rather dusty. The Pledge cleaning stuff said ‘electronics!’ on it, so I doused that mofo in sprayed on cleansing goodness. Obviously. Then I noticed the cobwebs inside. I think I should have bought a new case.

The Fear immediately set in on unpacking the motherboard, as it bends a bit and feels flimsier than it probably should. It isn’t. You could probably thwock a few rats with it before it snapped. But still, I was treating it like a baby.

Things in place, stuff where it should be, a graphics card bigger than my torso, the feeling I’m back working at CEX: all of these things. It was starting to look like a real PC, and I was daring to get confident this would all work out okay.

And, well, that was as far as I got. Because I realised I don’t have any motherboard, hard drive or optical drive screws. I can hook it all up and boot up if I wanted to, but nothing is secured in place so there’s no real point right now.

What an anti-climax.

Tomorrow: The Grand Maplin Adventure!

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The grand hangover guide

There are types of hangover we all go through, each associated in the main part with the alcoholic beverage we have consumed in the most part the night before. Or the day before. Or the entire week before. Depends on your level of commitment, really.

The wine hangover brings with it a dull, irritating headache – ever-present and not the sort of thing that lends itself to any air of flightiness or the ability to move much. At least in the morning. But it’s tinged with hope – and with the air of class that comes from getting rat arsed on something a step or two up from meths.

There’s the beer hangover, which brings with it the intense feeling you are about to die from a headache. It is a dirty, filthy, horrible hangover that seems to know exactly what to do to you to make it a bad follow up day to the drinking. Mainly: make your head hurt and, as a result of your head hurting, make you not be able to sleep.

And, in my experience, there’s the vodka hangover. This, if managed well enough the previous day – water consumption before bed and a chicken product to aid with its magical curative properties – can be the best of the hangovers. It can allow you to be sprightly and active the next day, barely even recognising the fact you drank enough to kill twelve children. But it teeters on the brink, and one drink too many plunges you into the absolute worst of the hangovers: nausea, sleeplessness, headache, loss of appetite, need to eat everything anyway, more nausea and a profound melancholy.

Well, I thought it was the worst of the hangovers. Then I tried to combine all of the above elements last night and discovered a new plane of hangovertitude. And I still feel like I’m suffering now. I couldn’t even focus on Match Of The Day because it was making me feel sick by moving too much. My reactions are so dulled I’m fucking bollocks at pinball. I should not have drank all of those things.

It’s a hangover so bad I’m considering dropping the whole drinking thing. And that’s something I’ve never considered before. Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

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