I received a link to some info about former 1UP writer David Ellis selling some one-of-a-kind media swag. I got to talking to people on Skype, and before I knew it, I passed out. This morning, someone on KotakuInAction made a post about it. You snooze, you lose, as they say. But, I figured I still needed to write it up. There needs to be an official written record of this malfeasance.
Here’s what happened. Ellis received a pretty cool looking gun given to him (or 1UP) by the makers of Bayonetta. Bayonetta 2 came out a couple weeks back, so he decided to get on eBay and sell this item, familiar to players as the Scarborough Fair (only one gun is present, however). Most people can immediately see the problem with receiving a limited edition item from a company, and then selling it for $500 dollars. Even doing it years later, this represents all that is wrong with the gaming media culture. Why was this gift not disclosed at the time? And why is it OK for journos to line their pockets with money made from selling free specialty items?
But for those that can’t see the problem, here’s Redditor brody3060 to explain:
“[M]y point is that when journos don’t disclose items they receive from developers with their readers, we have a right to start thinking they might have received other items they didn’t disclose with their readers.
Ellis just finished selling another “rare toy” on his eBay account a couple of days ago, how many “gifts” do journalists have to sell on eBay before you think it starts to look suspicious?”
Speaking of other journalists, I was also shown another screen last night. It shows Kotaku’s Chris Person enjoying some free gifts himself. In the message board post, you can see Kotaku chief Stephen Totilo talking about how he doesn’t know what to do with free gifts. Person has no such problem.
As you can see, this is a widespread problem. There’s two very simple ways to solve it. The first would be to just not accept any gifts. That’s pretty straightforward. The second way to avoid all this controversy, would be to disclose any swag you received. I used to think disclosing option was enough, but now I’m starting to think that outlawing the practice altogether would be more efficient. Either way, neither one is being done at the moment. This is one of the main reasons we have a crisis of confidence.
Don’t hold your breath waiting on the media to clean up it’s act, though. They like their free shit too much. I must admit, some of the items are pretty nice. If they would just disclose them, I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with this extra benefit. But, they don’t do that, and the problem has been with us for decades now. So, we need to just abolish the entire practice. Keep up the pressure, and we just might get it done. If not, we have our own media to turn to. And it’s getting stronger by the day.