Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 Hide
128 Posts
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [6] | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Reviewer Ethics and board game reviewers rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
Spain
Seville
Andalucia
flag msg tools
EU-friendly Kickstarters rule!
badge
"The twilight there holds a serene beauty... You have seen it yourself as the sun sets on this world."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So I had this idea to make a post in the New Dawn forums regarding a recent preview by Tom Vasel, and the discussion has somehow veered into whether it constitutes a violation of Reviewer Ethics. You can see the thread here.

To put it into some context, The Dice Tower (Tom's reviews site) does paid video previews for games in Kickstarter (the fact that they are paid is disclosed at the beginning of the video), in which they do kind of a gameplay runthrough. TDT policy is to be neutral in these videos - so they amount to a gameplay video + an ad for the campaign, but the reviewer does not openly state an actual subjective opinion on the game.

In this case, after the "preview" part was done, Tom went into praising mode - he specifically mentioned "taking his previewer hat off" and essentially said that he loves the game and that he thinks people should back it. Some people have pointed out that the fact that he did that in what is otherwise a paid preview turns it into a paid review, and that, given the possible conflict of interest, that opinion is invalidated, or at least to be taken with a large grain of salt, mentioning that it's a breach of Reviewer Ethics. (That's what I glean from the argument in a nutshell, but I make no claim to have understood it completely or accurately - you are invited to see the linked thread if you want).

Now, I see the main line of reasoning, and in a vaccuum I tend to agree. I have no problem in seeing how somebody doing glowing reviews to get a financial (or material, such as free games) compensation is a serious ethical violation. What I'm more troubled about is the implication that everybody who is compensated by a publisher is, in essence, automatically uncapable of ethical judgement towards that publisher's games. In other words, while shill reviews are bad, I certainly think that there are people who are genuinely capable of doing decidedly non-shill reviews even while being paid for them.

In the case at hand, the fact that the (p)review was paid for was disclosed, the fact that the preview ended and the review started was expressly mentioned, and there was a positive opinion from Tom. Given what I know about the reviewer, I'm willing to believe that this opinion, in this case, is sincere - in other words, that it's not particularly influenced by the fact that it was given in the context of a paid preview. Also, I feel that the disclosure on both accounts was adequate. So I don't feel that there has been any ethics violation, in that I think that I have gotten the reviewer's faithful opinion. Whether I agree with it or not is another matter, but still, I don't think it's any less valid than any other in The Dice Tower.

So I am of the opinion that a well known and respected reviewer (I personally have a number of reviewers in that category, other will have theirs, or none) should be capable of forming an independent opinion even in the face of a standard compensation for their work, be it a fee, a free copy of the game, or anything of the sort - if for nothing else, because they influence the gaming purchases of many people, and it would be pretty easy for people to feel swindled (and to air the relevant concerns) if such a review ended up creating misleading expectations. Reputation is hard to build and easy to destroy, and that alone should be a powerful deterrent.

Also, I'm troubled about the fact that you can find a conflict of interest (or an inadequacy) in almost every review. Got money from the publisher? You've sold your soul and don't want to get off the gravy train. Got free copies? You've sold your soul - for peanuts this time. Bought the game yourself? You are biased towards liking it, as you wouldn't have bought it otherwise, and it's "yours" now. Did you borrow a copy? You can't form an opinion from a single play. Do you work at Spielbox? You are paid by an entity which lives off publishers' ads. There's always motive for being suspicious if you are willing to question people's motives adamantly enough.

I might just be the most gullible fish in the sea, but, bad apples notwithstanding, I prefer to think that most reviewers, either pros or amateurs, are sincere in their appreciations, and that any bias comes from legitimate particular preferences and not evil, sell-out-to-the-man machinations.

Thoughts?
33 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Brown
United States
Okemos
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andvaranaut wrote:
Thoughts?


Oh look, a dead horse.
29 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
Spain
Seville
Andalucia
flag msg tools
EU-friendly Kickstarters rule!
badge
"The twilight there holds a serene beauty... You have seen it yourself as the sun sets on this world."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
matthean wrote:
Oh look, a dead horse.


I don't doubt it, but the particular discussion ended up revolving specifically around "Reviewer Ethics", and a forum search for that term has come up blank. Feel free to point out some threads which have been particularly enlightening in that regard.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pasi Ojala
Finland
Tampere
flag msg tools
Get the Imperial Assault Campaign module for Vassal from http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Star_Wars:_Imperial_Assault
badge
The next Total Solar Eclipse holiday in 2024 in USA? See you there!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Don't go looking. You already said everything important in the OP.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


The following represent a representative sampling of the counterpoints I made in the other thread which began with my first post at: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/16424025#16424025

Since my counterpoints have been earlier paraphrased in such a way in this thread as to distort both their content and context, I've reproduced my major points below.


andvaranaut wrote:
So the video has been a loooong time coming, but at last the Dice Tower preview is online - and New Dawn gets a glowing endorsement from Tom Vasel!

TomVasel wrote:

I'm gonna take off my paid preview hat (...) I don't do many paid previews these days because I'm just very busy doing reviews, and also I wanted to do pay previews of only games I was, like, absolutely sure I'd fantastically love. And I have to say - I'm really happy with this one.

(...)

I'm telling you: I think you should back this. This isn't just a regular paid preview - I'm saying I'm pretty excited about this one."


Check out the video in its BGG page.

In my opinion, Tom Vasel would have come off more credibly if he had turned down the pay for the preview and just delivered his opinion of it as an advance review. (And he could have bannered it as such as well.)

After all, when one has been paid to preview a product but launches into outright advocacy of said product (encouraging you to buy or invest in it) during his/her preview presentation of it, that crosses the line into the realm of review -- and in such case, he/she can be inferred to have been paid for a de-facto positive review. (It matters not whether the previewer has a personal financial stake in the success or failure of the product or not.)


Wccody wrote:
To think anyone would turn down money to give their honest opinion of a game is kind of absurd.

But a preview isn't meant to be a review. And a paid preview takes on the semblance of a de-facto review if the previewer goes into reviewer mode. And unfortunately, the p/reviewer's purity of motive can be called into question since money, perks, and privileges have been known to undo many a reviewer. Indeed, taking money for a review or a preview that escalates into a de-facto review represents an ethical conflict of interest.

And boy, have there been a few notable doozies over the past 20 years.

The most notable one is that of Take Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles who was given an all-expenses-paid round trip to New York City by "Godzilla" (1998) producer Dean Devlin for its premiere there. All sense of objectivity flew out the windows of that fancy hotel room that Devlin had put Knowles up in, and worse yet, Knowles even gushed about all those posh accommodations and acknowledged with naive hubris that he was indeed on an all-expenses-paid press junk in his reporting of the lead-up to the "Godzilla" film premiere.

So, surprise, surprise! After the premiere, Harry reported he just LOVED "Godzilla" (1998) -- until his readers started attacking his journalistic integrity when they themselves reported back after seeing the movie that they found "Godzilla" (1998) incredibly less impressive than what was promised by Harry Knowles' initial gushing and glowing review of the flick.

Knowles later acknowledged all too begrudgingly that yes, his journalistic opinion might have been unduly compromised by that complimentary all-expenses-paid press junket to New York City at the "Godzilla" producers' expense. Later, Knowles reversed himself entirely and panned the film after the ensuing outcry from his own outraged readers.

As per Wikipedia, in 1999, Knowles praised a script by Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan without mentioning that McWeeny was a content contributor to his own Ain't It Cool News site. McWeeny wrote under the pseudonym "Moriarty." This and other alleged lapses by Knowles were reported in a series of articles in Film Threat magazine.

That same year, Knowles went into hype-laden hyperdrive in gushing about "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" in which, courtesy of George Lucas, Knowles had been granted a brief cameo scene as one of the pilots flying one of the Naboo starfighters. Needless to say, it was *almost* a repeat of his "Godzilla" (1998) lapse; however, Knowles went into damage-control mode earlier on and managed to somehow survive without suffering near the degree of wrath and outrage of his fans.


Wccody wrote:
If he didn't actually like it, he wouldn't say anything about how much he liked it and just discussed mechanics and theme.

False assumption. A preview is simply an overview of a produce and a previewer does not inject his/her own biased opinion into the mix. Moreover, when it's a paid preview, that makes it all the more compromising for a previewer to lapse into reviewer mode because he/she cannot credibly avoid the perception that he/she's been paid for a positive review.

Consider this: Would a company in their right mind consider paying somebody to preview a product if said previewer asserted that he/she also reserved the right to express his/her own positive or negative opinion of the product during the preview?

Also, in light of this new precedent, should we also infer that if Tom Vasel were paid to preview a game but didn't once again lapse into de-facto reviewer mode and recommend its being Kickstarter-funded that it probably was only so-so or not so good game?

Even if Vasel hadn't been paid for the preview, I'd wanna be re-assured that he had no vested interest in the success or failure of a Kickstarter game that he was in fact reviewing in advance. I'd also wanna be reassured that Vasel wasn't giving a de-facto positive review of a Kickstarter game just because it had been designed by one or more of his friends, which would also constitute a compelling conflict of interest.


AndersC wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
AndersC wrote:
Personally I find it likely that he actually likes the game, since it has a lot of mechanisms that he normally enjoys.

Well, if you really wanna put your money where your mouth is, would you be so kind as to post to this thread once you've invested in that game's Kickstarter campaign?

I didn´t say anything about my oppinion on the game. I base my decision on which games to buy on whether I think I will enjoy the gameplay. I think the game looks promising, but I haven´t made any final decisions on whether to back it.

Well, could it be that you've begun to wonder whether and to what degree money may have influenced Tom Vasel to the point that he shifted from previewer to de-facto reviewer?

After all, once money paid in exchange for a positive review enters the picture, it takes on the appearance of Payola.

As per Wikipedia, Payola, in the music industry, is the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of their recordings on music radio stations in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day's broadcast. Under U.S. law, 47 U.S.C. § 317, a radio station can play a specific song in exchange for money but this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime, and that play of the song should not be counted as a "regular airplay". Over time, Payola has come to refer to any secret payment made to cast a product in a favorable light (such as obtaining positive reviews).


AndersC wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
Do you believe any company in its right mind would risk hiring or paying a person to preview its product who asserted that he/she reserved the right to state his/her opinion, positive or negative, about the product during its video presentation?

No, i don´t. Which is why I consider this a preview (and I think everyone else should too).

But you just told me that any company in its right mind wouldn't risk hiring or paing a person to preview its product who asserted that he/she reserved the right to state his/her opinion, positive or negative, about it. And stating one's opinion, positive or negative, about a product is called a *review.*

Informing people about a product without regard for and without input of one's own opinion about it or a personal endorsement of it constitutes a *preview.*


AndersC wrote:
Negative issues are never covered properly in pre-views.

Correction: Negative issues (things that one doesn't like or has problems with) never even enters the picture in a *preview.*


AndersC wrote:
It just happens to be an unusually positive preview, which is the reason I guess we are discussing this.

A reviewer who's genuinely previewing something should attempt to objectively simply inform, NOT opine, about a product that he/she is previewing. Once one's own personal opinion enters the picture, the preview is transformed into a de-facto review.

And when money enters the picture as in for a paid preview, crossing the line from preview to de-facto review is a major conflict of interest because it inevitably raises the question as to whether the de-facto reviewer's expressed positive opinion of a product has been bought.


AndersC wrote:
You insinuate it is because he got paid.

No, I directly stated that I remain in reasonable doubt about the matter because Tom Vasel crossed the line in a paid preview from previewer to de-facto reviewer and that sends mixed signals which constitute a conflict of interest and raises reasonable doubts.


AndersC wrote:
I think he likes it.

Since I myself can't vouch for whether Vasel himself genuinely likes the game enough to buy it himself or not, I remain skeptical.


There's a game reviewer on BGG who's reflected on matters similar to this. In the following video, reviewer Enrico Viglino (calandale) reflects on Reviewer Ethics and ponders about how he himself has abided by them and whether and to what extent he will continue to abide by them.

The video link is also viewable at http://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/10391/reviewer-ethics-ques... where there's space available for BGG-user comments.







Other related fields of endeavor have pondered the ethics of review as well. The following video is from C-Span 2's Book TV and features a panel hosted by author Christopher Hitchens who discuss the ethics of book reviewing. At the outset of the panel, an entire list of questions addressing ethics in book reviewing is presented for the panelists to consider before each in turn addressing those questions. Many of the matters discussed also apply to game reviewing.







andvaranaut wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
The issue is that the preview is a de-facto paid review. As such, it's open to interpretation that the reviewer may have been paid to deliver a positive review.

It's not like taking cautions is bad or anything, it's that we're talking Tom Vasel/The Dice Tower and not $random_unknown_guy.

Review Ethics are NOT matters of Situation Ethics or Moral Relativity. The same Review Ethics apply to Tom Vasel as they do to $random_unknown_guy if not moreso.


andvaranaut wrote:
The Dice Tower previews, all of them, are a Dice Tower (note, not Tom Vasel's) paid service.

False issue. A paid preview is a paid *preview.* Once, however, a previewer has abruptly shifted into de-facto reviewer mode in a preview, it becomes a review -- *a paid review* at that.


andvaranaut wrote:
As such:

d10-1 They cost money, which is adequately disclosed at the very beginning of the video. You can't get more "caveat emptor"-ish than that.
d10-2 They are done by Dice Tower staff, which usually means "not Tom Vasel".
d10-3 Precisely because of the fact that they are paid for, they are neutral in tone and amount to gameplay runthroughs, plus and ad with the KS campaign link, and previewers refrain from making comments on their personal opinions about the game. (Sometimes they do so in the Youtube comment thread - I remember Ryan Metzler say "it's a preview so I don't say my opinion on the video, but I backed it" in a preview for a KS I can't remember right now).

In my opinion, Ryan Metzler also vacillated into the realm of review by offering that endorsement within the context of a preview. If it was indeed a paid preview, that makes it an even more egregious compromise of Reviewer Ethics.


andvaranaut wrote:
These 3 are hard facts that are well known by TDT watchers, and that can be checked just by opening 3 or 4 random previews. You don't even have to watch the things, there's the Youtube CC for that. So I would expect anybody familiar with TDT to be aware of why Tom's endorsement is an anomaly, as epilecticemu pointed out.

That's fine apologism but it still flies in the face of Review Ethics.


andvaranaut wrote:
Also, between what (little) has been revealed about ND, the rulebook and Artipia's reputation, one could certainly expect that the game is solid. But it's very, very difficult to get an idea of what gameplay is exactly like from that, because it's essentially all in the cards. (Think of trying to get somebody excited at Dominion only stating the rules, and letting out all the "you can make huge combos and pursue different strategies and every game is different" parts). Some external validation that the game plays as good as one could hope given the framework is the biggest issue here.

I remember reading the comments about one of the co-developers (not designer but company runner who assists game designers in refining their games in development) of "Dominion" whose comments were quite glowing; however, I understood in proper context, that while she was giving an overview of the game, as its co-developer, she naturally was acting as its advocate. She didn't venture to offer her personal review of it because she obviously would have had a conflict of interest in doing so.


andvaranaut wrote:
Of course, you don't have to agree with Tom Vasel, he's not exactly my go-to reviewer if I want to know whether I'd like a game either because his tastes tend to diverge a bit from mine.

Whether I generally agree or disagree with Tom Vasel is beside the point altogether. The issue is that nobody merits an exception from Reviewer Ethics.

Moreover, may I remind you also that Tom Vasel also once reviewed *his own game* which struck me as the epitome of reviewer hypocrisy since it was the ultimate conflict of interest.


andvaranaut wrote:
And it's clear that this game (IF gameplay is really any good, of course) is almost custom-made for him. But for somebody who has essentially built an emporium out of his integrity as a reviewer alone, I find it pretty hard to believe that only Artipia, of all publishers, has the full coffers and the leverage to make him do all this if he didn't feel like it.

In light of that aforementioned earlier disingenuous precedent of his in having the audacity to review his own game (the ultimate conflict of interest), I can't vouch for Vasel's reviewer integrity. I can, however, readily discern when he deviates from Reviewer Ethics, especially when he does it so unabashedly in plain daylight on video.


andvaranaut wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
Do you believe any company in its right mind would risk hiring or paying a person to preview its product who asserted that he/she reserved the right to state his/her opinion, positive or negative, about the product during its video presentation?

Rahdo and UndeadViking have stated in the past that, when they don't like the games they are previewing, they either don't do the video or give the company a chance to prevent it from going public. And TDT has a policy of being neutral in paid previews. All seem like reasonable compromises.

I'm not so sure since the word "compromises" has entered the picture. After all, that suggests that their Reviewer Ethics have been compromised.


andvaranaut wrote:
I would certainly take issue at the implications that Rahdo, UV, Joel Eddy, Tom Vasel, EndersGame... can be bought - I think people with hundreds of reviews, well known tastes, and a respected history as reviewers and BGG community members deserve a little bit of respect in that regard, unless proven otherwise. I still have to see a game well liked by any of them be universally panned by BGG members, for example.

I'd never seen a reviewer review his own product before either; however, since Vasel set a precedent in doing so, what's to prevent him from doing it yet again?

The same holds for other infractions and gross abuses of Reviewer Ethics: Once such conflicts of interest or ethics violations have been committed, if they didn't garner enough notice to merit opposition or outrage the first time, they're far more likely to be committed yet again -- and again and again and again -- with either impunity OR until somebody dares venture to say, "The Emperor has no clothes" (i.e. The reviewer has no genuine credibility because he/she didn't abide by Reviewer Ethics).

28 
 Thumb up
5.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy E
msg tools
mbmbmb
I don't particularly want to wade into whether or not I think this is an ethical breach. (Suffice it to say, I have no particular reason to doubt Tom's sincerity if he says he likes a game. Whatever small amount of money he was likely paid for a KS preview is probably not worth the future loss of trust that would occur.) But another thing to think about is how you might interpret future paid previews in which he DOESN'T switch to reviewer mode at the end. Having come out in support of this game in this review, should I assume he doesn't love a game that he doesn't explicitly say he loves, even during a preview in which there's otherwise no expectation that he'll give his opinion?
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
Spain
Seville
Andalucia
flag msg tools
EU-friendly Kickstarters rule!
badge
"The twilight there holds a serene beauty... You have seen it yourself as the sun sets on this world."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
Since my counterpoints have been earlier paraphrased in such a way in this thread as to distort both their content and context, I've reproduced my major points below.


Good to see you here. I take exception to the fact that you attribute an intention to my paraphrasing which was not there (as was explicitly stated in the OP), but whatever.

You use the term Reviewer Ethics. As as been pointed out in the other thread, that implies that there's an established doctrine in that regard. In other words, that there's an established set of guiding principles which dictate what constitutes ethical behavior in a reviewer (as opposed to a particular person's perception or opinion of what is acceptable or not).

Could you please point out to an established, agreed upon, and external reference for what exactly constitutes Reviewer Ethics? I'm hoping that can help me better understand where you are coming from, and to determine exactly which principles you feel have been violated here.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
Spain
Seville
Andalucia
flag msg tools
EU-friendly Kickstarters rule!
badge
"The twilight there holds a serene beauty... You have seen it yourself as the sun sets on this world."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andye wrote:
should I assume he doesn't love a game that he doesn't explicitly say he loves, even during a preview in which there's otherwise no expectation that he'll give his opinion?


He actually mentions in the preview that most Dice Tower previews go to Ryan Metzler nowadays, and that he only does previews for game he's absolutely sure he'll love. So, in a way (and if you believe him), he doing a preview kind of implies he is specially excited about a given game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


andye wrote:
I don't particularly want to wade into whether or not I think this is an ethical breach. (Suffice it to say, I have no particular reason to doubt Tom's sincerity if he says he likes a game. Whatever small amount of money he was likely paid for a KS preview is probably not worth the future loss of trust that would occur.)

Are you inferring that such a lapse of professional Reviewer Ethics would only be a one-time occurrence?

And by the way, what is your supposedly-reputable independent source for your citing that Vasel was likely paid only a "small amount."

Also, what range of money constitutes your definition of "Small Amount" anyway?

Here, I'll make it even easier for you: Simply fill in the blank below.

Andye says, "My definition of 'Small Amount' means no more than $______."


andye wrote:
But another thing to think about is how you might interpret future paid previews in which he DOESN'T switch to reviewer mode at the end. Having come out in support of this game in this review, should I assume he doesn't love a game that he doesn't explicitly say he loves, even during a preview in which there's otherwise no expectation that he'll give his opinion?

You seem to be echoing my own prior-stated opinion with that passage.


3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
Spain
Seville
Andalucia
flag msg tools
EU-friendly Kickstarters rule!
badge
"The twilight there holds a serene beauty... You have seen it yourself as the sun sets on this world."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Dice Tower rates are public: http://www.dicetower.com/more/kspreviews.html
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Wahl
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
andvaranaut wrote:
I might just be the most gullible fish in the sea, but, bad apples notwithstanding, I prefer to think that most reviewers, either pros or amateurs, are sincere in their appreciations, and that any bias comes from legitimate particular preferences and not evil, sell-out-to-the-man machinations.


I prefer not to allow what I would prefer to think about the world effect my perceptions of actual reality. Since I don't the time or the inclination to get to know each reviewer personally and figure out what really motivates them or their moral philosophy - I prefer the opinions I consume to lack the appearance of impropriety. Whether money is corrupting in any particular case is nothing that I have any interest in researching or speculating about.

So I'm against it - but I don't share Vasel's taste in games anyway, and he provides excellent quick overviews. That's what I'm looking for when I watch one of his videos, and I'm grateful to him for making them.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brad Miller
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
He has always been about this kind of thing. It used to be said that he never gave bad reviews. It is totally unethical in my opinion. Disclosure of his being paid/given freebies/etc. doesn't change anything.

I've never seen any of his stuff, so It may not be the same as it was. I never put much stock in his reviews, from the day he started flooding the geek with them. That's my version of full disclosure, so take everything above with that in mind...

whistle
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


andvaranaut wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
Since my counterpoints have been earlier paraphrased in such a way in this thread as to distort both their content and context, I've reproduced my major points below.

Good to see you here. I take exception to the fact that you attribute an intention to my paraphrasing which was not there (as was explicitly stated in the OP), but whatever.

And I take exception to your having failed to list a URL link back to that thread in your first post originating this thread.


andvaranaut wrote:
You use the term Reviewer Ethics. As as been pointed out in the other thread, that implies that there's an established doctrine in that regard. In other words, that there's an established set of guiding principles which dictate what constitutes ethical behavior in a reviewer (as opposed to a particular person's perception or opinion of what is acceptable or not).

Could you please point out to an established, agreed upon, and external reference for what exactly constitutes Reviewer Ethics? I'm hoping that can help me better understand where you are coming from, and to determine exactly which principles you feel have been violated here.

By way of a prologue, I relate a story that happened to me myself to underscore what I'm talking about.

In my high school band, I'd been an officer, namely, its reporter, which had prior been an otherwise meaningless title but which I took to heart and decided to report on our half-time-show performances.

After we marched in the half-time show against our rival school's band, I naturally wanted to report something and so I did, namely, how much better we marched than did the rival high school band -- only it got past the parish newspaper editor and was printed in the parish newspaper exactly as I'd naively written it, in rather self-serving glowing terms about how our band's half-time show performance was so much better that of the rival high school.

My own band director didn't learn of it until he was in that same nearby town (where the rival school was located at) attending the parish fair where he apparently encountered the rival school's band director. I was never told all the scuttlebutt that happened between those two; however, as the result of this, my high-school band director requested that I not do any more such reviews of our half-time performances.

Now again, I was not to surmise until much later that my position as band reporter didn't exactly amount to anything more than a title without any meaning behind it. No other past reporter to my knowledge had reviewed or reported on their half-time show performances. However, it was the editor of the local parish newspaper -- who'd overlooked my review and said he would not have printed it if he'd caught it -- who tried to explain to me about my conflict of interest. However, he did't express himself in user-friendly terms and his exact point eluded me.

Indeed, it ws only years later when I was doing movie reviews for my college newspaper when one day it finally dawned on me that in terms of journalistic ethics, I as a participant in my high-school band should not have ventured to write that self-servingly glowing review -- even if it was true -- because I had an overriding conflict of interest in the first place in writing a review since I myself was a member of one of the two marching bands in question. Indeed, for the same reason, I should not have written any comparative half-time-performance review -- period. (Except that I didn't know why else a marching band would have a reporter if not to report on how they did at each game's half-time show. So you can see, I took my position only too seriously.) In either case, I had finally grasped the more meaningfully underlying principle of maintaining independent objectivity in reviewing; i.e. Reviewer Ethics.


Confessions of a Video Game Reviewer



2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
Spain
Seville
Andalucia
flag msg tools
EU-friendly Kickstarters rule!
badge
"The twilight there holds a serene beauty... You have seen it yourself as the sun sets on this world."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
And I take exception to your having failed to list a URL link back to that thread in your first post originating this thread.


That's false.

andvaranaut wrote:
You can see the thread here.


Not that it couldn't have happened due to an oversight, but would you really expect a person acting in good faith to deliberately fail to provide such a link? Specially since I didn't exactly sneak around your back, as I posted the link to this thread in the thread you are quoting from.

To quote the very talented Jeph Jacques, "You ought to expect better of people. It encourages you to be a better person yourself."

andvaranaut wrote:
Could you please point out to an established, agreed upon, and external reference for what exactly constitutes Reviewer Ethics?

ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
By way of a prologue, I relate a story that happened to me myself to underscore what I'm talking about.


So the answer is "not right now".

Eagerly awaiting the next installments, which will hopefully include the established, agreed upon and external reference I'm interested in seeing.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Brown
United States
Okemos
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andvaranaut wrote:
matthean wrote:
Oh look, a dead horse.


I don't doubt it, but the particular discussion ended up revolving specifically around "Reviewer Ethics", and a forum search for that term has come up blank. Feel free to point out some threads which have been particularly enlightening in that regard.


Are reviewers too afraid to be critical or am I hypercritical?

16 pages.

FYI, reviewers tend to do reviews of games they like and this has universally been talked about by them although there are exceptions. The biggest is, surprise, Tom. Why? Because life's too short to review bad games. There is a video that Lance did recently, Scott turned around the camera, and he showed a room full of games waiting to be reviewed. Lance has admitted he doesn't even accept all paid reviews due in part because he isn't interested in them.

Honestly, if hundreds of board games started to show up at your front door needing to be reviewed in addition to the games you already wanted, how many of those reviews are going to be games you don't like? The universal response from reviewers has been "don't bite the hand that feeds you." This is not to say reviewers don't point out bad games. They do. They just aren't given full review treatment.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter O'Hanraha-Hanrahan
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Speaking purely for myself, a lot of this stuff doesn't sit right with me. I'm really wary of reviewers who run fundraisers for themselves even when they do paid reviews, or those who offer only to do new reviews ("Hey, I need to go to Essen!"), and I'm equally suspicious of those who make money piggy-backing this hobby, particularly when the money they charge or receive could be used to influence them, and therefore the people who watch their YouTube videos. I read BGG a lot, multiple times a day, so I can differentiate between the reviewers and video types I like and those I don't, but a casual gamer who has never heard of BGG may not. When I first came into this hobby, The Dice Tower were the first group of reviews I watched, and they influenced me to a certain extent. Using the same DT brand name to hawk a game seems wrong to me, but then a lot about this hobby seems wrong to me.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derry Salewski
United States
Augusta
Maine
flag msg tools
badge
I'm only happy when it rains...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Fruit Eating Bear wrote:
Speaking purely for myself, a lot of this stuff doesn't sit right with me. I'm really wary of reviewers who run fundraisers for themselves even when they do paid reviews, or those who offer only to do new reviews ("Hey, I need to go to Essen!"), and I'm equally suspicious of those who make money piggy-backing this hobby, particularly when the money they charge or receive could be used to influence them, and therefore the people who watch their YouTube videos. I read BGG a lot, multiple times a day, so I can differentiate between the reviewers and video types I like and those I don't, but a casual gamer who has never heard of BGG may not. When I first came into this hobby, The Dice Tower were the first group of reviews I watched, and they influenced me to a certain extent. Using the same DT brand name to hawk a game seems wrong to me, but then a lot about this hobby seems wrong to me.


Don't look at anything else ever in the world. You'll be equally disappointed.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


andvaranaut wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
And I take exception to your having failed to list a URL link back to that thread in your first post originating this thread.

That's false.

Rather, it's not so obvious since the URL is concealed within a single stand-alone word of the text, not as a plainly-stated URL address.


andvaranaut wrote:
Not that it couldn't have happened due to an oversight, but would you really expect a person acting in good faith to deliberately fail to provide such a link?

Since you didn't provide a link to my own post so that readers could verify both the exact content and context of of the various counterpoints I made, I consider it a questionable oversight on your part.


andvaranaut wrote:
Specially since I didn't exactly sneak around your back, as I posted the link to this thread in the thread you are quoting from.

I'm not presuming that most people would take the trouble to read through the entirety of that thread much less to get to my counterpoints.


andvaranaut wrote:
To quote the very talented Jeph Jacques, "You ought to expect better of people. It encourages you to be a better person yourself."

We look forward to your reconfirmation in of that philosophy once you've confirmed you've been edified after reading the articles about Reviewer Ethics in the links below.


andvaranaut wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
andvaranaut wrote:
Could you please point out to an established, agreed upon, and external reference for what exactly constitutes Reviewer Ethics?

By way of a prologue, I relate a story that happened to me myself to underscore what I'm talking about.

So the answer is "not right now".

Are you expecting me to pull up some monolithic tablets with Reviewer Ethics engraved into them?

What's more, my own life example was an object lesson in what NOT to do as a reviewer.

Since Reviewer Ethics are NOT restricted to any one field of artistic endeavor and are *all-inclusive*, I present the following articles for your review:

Ethics in Video Game Journalism
http://www.ojr.org/ojr/ethics/1049994303.php

Rev3′s Adam Sessler Discusses the Ethics of Review Journalism
http://www.mediabistro.com/10000words/rev3s-adam-sessler-dis...

Game Journalists Face Ethics Concerns
http://www.pressthebuttons.com/2005/10/game_journalist.html

Bouchercon Panel: Reviewer Ethics: The Reviewer’s Responsibility
http://www.edrants.com/bouchercon-panel-reviewer-ethics-the-...

Ethical Reviewing: Transparency, Consistency, and Community
http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/ethical-re...


andvaranaut wrote:
Eagerly awaiting the next installments, which will hopefully include the established, agreed upon and external reference I'm interested in seeing.

Since it's relatively easy to transpose those Reviewer-Ethics principles above from one field of artistic endeavor to another, you shouldn't have much problem in understanding them.



2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Allen
United States
Montgomery
Alabama
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't see the problem here. My solution is what I always do - get information on games from reviews/previews (paid or otherwise) and then wait for the game to hit the market. I'll then scan other reviews from users and make my determination after that. I can't believe how worked up people are getting over these types of things. You'll have a stroke if you can't relax.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
Spain
Seville
Andalucia
flag msg tools
EU-friendly Kickstarters rule!
badge
"The twilight there holds a serene beauty... You have seen it yourself as the sun sets on this world."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
Rather, it's not so obvious since the URL is concealed within a single stand-alone word of the text, not as a plainly-stated URL address.


You made an assertion. Your assertion is false. You can now own up to your mistake, or make excuses about whether linking amounts to hiding or whether linking to a thread and mentioning a particular argument here is totally different from linking to 4 or 5 scattered and pretty evident posts in its first page. It's your call.

I provided a link to the original thread and expressly told people that I made no claim as to having understood or reflected the arguments accurately. Also, I spoke in general, not mentioning you in particular. Anybody who can trace my particular statement of the discussion back specifically to you and your arguments, it's because they have read the thread.

Quote:
Are you expecting me to pull up some monolithic tablets with Reviewer Ethics engraved into them?


Actually, from the way you have been conducting yourself, yes, I do.

There are two options. If Reviewer Ethics is something which is set in stone, then there should be a "monolithic tablet" (respected, agreed upon source) with which we can measure whether a particular reviewer abides by them, and it should be possible to give a reasonably accurate and objective evaluation of that.

If, however, Reviewer Ethics is something up for debate at least in part, then there's a latitude open for interpretation, and there are conceivably issues which could represent a breach of RE for some people but be perfectly acceptable for others.

Now, I have absolutely no problem with people having diverging opinions about what constitutes an ethical behavior. Everybody is entitled to their opinions. But I think that using a blanket term, such as "Reviewer Ethics", to represent what amounts to one of a number of possible interpretations of the term is misleading.

At the very least, I would expect that there would be some things everybody would agree upon that represent an ethical breach (the "monolithic tablets"). In the articles you link, examples include bribing reviewers with HDTVs, car racing or skydiving, and editors completely changing the spirit of a review. We can agree that these are really really bad, but I don't really think that they apply to this particular instance. Frankly, board games are a cottage industry in comparison to video games. Given a boatload of money, I would much rather bribe the Spiel des Jahres judges than some random reviewer.

Also in the articles you link are a lot of questions as to what is acceptable or not and several debates to that effect, but not much in the way of actual guidelines. (From what I see, "transparency" is a recipe I can agree with, for example). This only reinforces my idea that RE is in the eye of the beholder in no small part.

I particularly find that disclosure goes a long way - as long as it's clear that there's a compensation, I have no problem with reviewers giving their opinions. The fact that said compensation is disclosed allows me to apply whatever cautions I deem necessary when taking their opinion into account (or not).

BTW, I find it a bit ironic that one of the articles you chose to link is from a game reviewer with an established reputation doing some soul-searching and concluding that the kind of free perks and privileges he gets don't sway his opinion in the least. What insight should be gathered from that? That he is not to be trusted?

Quote:
Since it's relatively easy to transpose those Reviewer-Ethics principles above from one field of artistic endeavor to another, you shouldn't have much problem in understanding them.


I understand them. It's your insistence that your particular interpretation of what they are is the only true one that I find troubling.

Cheers
17 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


sag0016 wrote:
I don't see the problem here. My solution is what I always do - get information on games from reviews/previews (paid or otherwise) and then wait for the game to hit the market. I'll then scan other reviews from users and make my determination after that. I can't believe how worked up people are getting over these types of things. You'll have a stroke if you can't relax.

In his making an endorsement of the game for Kickstarter funding, we're not talking about waiting until later. We're talking about striking now while the iron is supposedly hot in order to put up money to get the game published.

The problem is, however, we don't know whether the proverbial iron is actually hot or hyped because money is behind the preview-turned-review.


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam P
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb
Infomercials.

They get paid to push the product. That doesn't mean I'm going to go out and buy a Sham-Wow. I've got a good filter.

All my game buying decisions are based on the accumulation of individual reviewers, or if I can see something I really like in the game, then I'll consider purchasing it.

I don't think Tom's a sell out, I think he genuinely likes the game.
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


andvaranaut wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
Rather, it's not so obvious since the URL is concealed within a single stand-alone word of the text, not as a plainly-stated URL address.

You made an assertion. Your assertion is false. You can now own up to your mistake, or make excuses about whether linking amounts to hiding or whether linking to a thread and mentioning a particular argument here is totally different from linking to 4 or 5 scattered and pretty evident posts in its first page. It's your call.

Since you short-shrifted my counterpoints in both content and context in your original post, you seem to be trying to assert a fine distinction where there is no meaningful difference.


andvaranaut wrote:
I provided a link to the original thread and expressly told people that I made no claim as to having understood or reflected the arguments accurately.

You nonetheless tried to synopsize them just the same.


andvaranaut wrote:
Also, I spoke in general, not mentioning you in particular.

Only, *I myself* was NOT speaking in generalities.


andvaranaut wrote:
Anybody who can trace my particular statement of the discussion back specifically to you and your arguments, it's because they have read the thread.

While that person would likely be the rare exception, because I've since reprinted a representative sampling of my counterpoints to this thread, they wouldn't necessarily have to go back to that other thread.


andvaranaut wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
Are you expecting me to pull up some monolithic tablets with Reviewer Ethics engraved into them?

Actually, from the way you have been conducting yourself, yes, I do.

Well, kudos for me!


andvaranaut wrote:
There are two options. If Reviewer Ethics is something which is set in stone, then there should be a "monolithic tablet" (respected, agreed upon source) with which we can measure whether a particular reviewer abides by them, and it should be possible to give a reasonably accurate and objective evaluation of that.

If, however, Reviewer Ethics is something up for debate at least in part, then there's a latitude open for interpretation, and there are conceivably issues which could represent a breach of RE for some people but be perfectly acceptable for others.

On the contrary, it's represented by a consensus of opinion, not what any one reviewer or Journalistic Ethics expert asserts.


andvaranaut wrote:
Now, I have absolutely no problem with people having diverging opinions about what constitutes an ethical behavior. Everybody is entitled to their opinions. But I think that using a blanket term, such as "Reviewer Ethics", to represent what amounts to one of a number of possible interpretations of the term is misleading.

While I can readily understand your predilection to wanna play apologist for Tom Vasel, it's disingenuous of you to dismiss the principle of Reviewer Ethics as being essentially meaningless or having no consensus-arrivably qualifiable definition.


andvaranaut wrote:
At the very least, I would expect that there would be some things everybody would agree upon that represent an ethical breach (the "monolithic tablets"). In the articles you link, examples include bribing reviewers with HDTVs, car racing or skydiving, and editors completely changing the spirit of a review. We can agree that these are really really bad, but I don't really think that they apply to this particular instance. Frankly, board games are a cottage industry in comparison to video games. Given a boatload of money, I would much rather bribe the Spiel des Jahres judges than some random reviewer.

Also in the articles you link are a lot of questions as to what is acceptable or not and several debates to that effect, but not much in the way of actual guidelines. (From what I see, "transparency" is a recipe I can agree with, for example). This only reinforces my idea that RE is in the eye of the beholder in no small part.

I particularly find that disclosure goes a long way - as long as it's clear that there's a compensation, I have no problem with reviewers giving their opinions.

Uhhh, that's what reviewers do: give their opinions. The question is: Do they independently give their opinions without undue influence of money or obligation to some other entity?


andvaranaut wrote:
The fact that said compensation is disclosed allows me to apply whatever cautions I deem necessary when taking their opinion into account (or not).

In proper context, we're talking about a paid preview going awry and becoming a de-facto review instead.


andvaranaut wrote:
BTW, I find it a bit ironic that one of the articles you chose to link is from a game reviewer with an established reputation doing some soul-searching and concluding that the kind of free perks and privileges he gets don't sway his opinion in the least. What insight should be gathered from that? That he is not to be trusted?

Exactly. Or at least, one should have a healthy skepticism about their opinions.


andvaranaut wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
Since it's relatively easy to transpose those Reviewer-Ethics principles above from one field of artistic endeavor to another, you shouldn't have much problem in understanding them.

I understand them. It's your insistence that your particular interpretation of what they are is the only true one that I find troubling.

Please cite from my posts wherein you allege that I supposedly asserted that my interpretation of Reviewer Ethics was the "only true one".

I absolutely defy you to do so.


In fact, I can save you the trouble since I already provided articles by others to substantiate what I stated as being the consensus of what constitutes the Ethic of Reviewing.

Moreover, I'm not edified in the least by your "Anthing Goes" attitude about Reviewer Ethics.


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Shortt
Canada
Regina
Saskatchewan
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
It would seem the only reason for a person to do a review is to share his or her opinion about a game that they are excited about. Rarely do I see a board game review that is negative.

Being paid to do a preview than turning around to do a review is a terrible practice. The only way the dice tower gets away with it is because there is no real competition. No "so called" professional competition.

Also Tom rarely does negative reviews so there is that.

I get that it would be great to make a living off of board games, but at what cost.


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James King
United States
North Central Louisiana / No Longer A Resident of the Shreveport/Bossier City Area
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

adamredwoods wrote:
Infomercials.

They get paid to push the product. That doesn't mean I'm going to go out and buy a Sham-Wow. I've got a good filter.

Out-of-context example. Infomercials are made by the producers of the product. As such, their hosts are advocates of the product from the get-go without regard to the quality of the product being hawked.

Although they're hired as advocates for the product, however, they do have the freedom to offer personal testimonials about the product just the same. Those testimonials, however, would more likely to be positive, because it they weren't, they have two options: Either turn down the job or else remain mum about their negative opinions about the product.


adamredwoods wrote:
ll my game buying decisions are based on the accumulation of individual reviewers, or if I can see something I really like in the game, then I'll consider purchasing it.

We're not talking about down-the-road accumulated reviews. We're talking about Vasel's endorsement of a game for immediate Kickstarter funding and the ethics of his having crossed the line from paid previewer to de-facto reviewer.


adamredwoods wrote:
I don't think Tom's a sell out, I think he genuinely likes the game.

Again, I can't vouch for whether Vasel genuinely likes the game or not because the perceived quid-pro-quo monetary factor taints my perception of him as a reviewer.



 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [6] | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.