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Quick Comment on the Jeff Gerstmann Fiasco

December 1, 2007 Leave a comment

For those who don’t know, Jeff Gerstmann was the editor in chief of reviews at Gamespot, a very large and influential video game website.  He had been working there for over 10 years and was fired a few days ago.  The rumor is that he was fired for the tone of his video review of Kane and Lynch, which has been pulled, and/or his text review of the title, in which he gave the game a 6.0.  Joystiq has been posting frequently about the latest breaking news about the situation, and I encourage you to read the coverage.

First off, it’s difficult to write about something when so little information about the incident is known by anyone outside the Gamespot management inner circle and Jeff Gerstmann. I’d imagine most of the information floating around on blogs and message boards right now are completely without factual merit.

Having said that, the tone in some of the current and former Gamespot writers’ blogs is pretty damning.  Aaron Thomas, Bethany. Carrie, Ryan, Stanley L., Lark Anderson, Alex Nevarro, and many others have posted blog entries that are pretty touching.  Unfortunately, they cannot say anything outright about the situation since that could lead to their job termination, but it seems that many of them are unsure about Gamespot’s future.

They shouldn’t be unsure about Gamespot’s future.  They should be unsure of the future of all of gaming “journalism,” for lack of a better word.  If the rumors are true about the reasons for Mr. Gerstmann’s firing, how can readers trust what gaming writers say in any capacity?  Was that 9.0 a legitimate score based on the reviewer’s experience with the game, or was the score inflated under duress?  How did that magazine get the world exclusive review/preview of that new game?

This is a sad day for the industry, and I feel sorry for those working in it right now.  Hopefully, this situation will inspire not fear and pressure from advertisers and developers in the minds of the writers of Gamespot and others, but instead a call to action to expand video game journalism into something bigger and greater than what it is currently.

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