The Philip Rational
"If the Hsu throws fits..."

-By Philip Wesley-
-..throw it out.-
-Posted 02/24/2006-

A lot of people think that there is no difference between an editor, the "new media" journalist, and a reporter. These days, that line is blurred more and more in the media of today and we just blindly accept it. To clarify, a reporter does JUST that: Reports facts. An editor cleans up the facts to something palatable by their respective audience, and a "new media" journalist finds someone to blame for the facts being the way they are. To better illustrate this concept, I will use a general -and maybe made up- scenario.

Let us pretend
that some sort of huge explosion happened inside a mine shaft, trapping and killing all the miners inside of the mine. Here is how it would be viewed by the various press entities.

A case of dynamite exploded inside of an Onixco mine shaft three miles underground and fifteen miles from Wangville, NC. The explosion caused the mine shaft to collapse on top of the thirteen miners inside the mine shaft. The debris from the collapse crushed their bodies, resulting in numerous broken bones including their chest cavities, and skulls. The broken bones led to internal and external bleeding. Recordings from the mine shaft show that the miners screamed repeatedly for help as they died. Many naming relatives, friends, and various deities. The relatives, friends, and various other people mourned from 3:15am, when the announcement was made, to an indefinite amount of time afterwards.

An explosion in an Onixco mine shaft killed thirteen miners outside of Wangville, NC today.

"New Media" Journalist:
The terrible explosion is all the work of Karl Rove and I will get to the bottom of this hideous crime by repeatedly yelling at President George Bush during an unrelated interview later today. Also, he hates Black people. Even if none of the miners were black. They COULD have been!

It would appear that today's "New Media" Journalist is a reactionary
who hopes to uncover his or her own Watergate scandals at the price of having common sense. A person who runs around throwing inflammatory statements as an attempt to paint his opinion as a fact. In a way, I am doing the exact same thing in this article by presenting a long, detailed opinion on why I think Hsu is just trying to ramp up a controversy where a controversy -most likely- does not exist as an effort to up readership of EGM. Yet, I have to digress that opinion until later.

I think Hsu fits into the definite "new media" journalist category,
as he has demonstrated with many of his latest columns and interviews in Electronic Gaming Monthly. Keep in mind, that I do read EGM regularly; but I have only bought one issue of the magazine in its entire life span. This would be because I bought it as part of a small pile of evidence I was going to present in a plagiarism lawsuit that I decided was not worth the money to push through. I do read EGM in the stores though; because I feel it really is not worth picking up when normal toilet paper is so much cheaper and softer. Yes, I do not buy other magazines as well; because I feel even less about most them than I do EGM. That said, EGM is -in my opinion- the USA Today of the printed video game press. Now that I have filled the mudslinging portion of this article, I will go into why I think that Dan Hsu is just being ridiculous.

Dan Hsu's opinions made the rounds
of blogs a while back when he wrote up an "editor's notes" column accusing "un-named magazines and web sites" as having cover stories, and column space for sale according to "un-named sources and word of mouth." I laughed quietly when I read the column in issue #199 of Electronic Gaming Monthly while sipping coffee and sitting back in one of the chairs at my local Hastings Entertainment Superstore. The basis of the article is that Hsu was upset because his "industry contact" stated that his company could get any of their games on the cover of a magazine provided they met with the publisher, bought a lot of advertising space, and negotiated further. Hsu purposefully leaves out the details on "further negotiations" because he wants to make it look like the magazine cover has been "bought" by the un-named company.

A game on the cover of a video game magazine is almost always accompanied by -shock of shocks- an interview, an exclusive, or some sort of blow-out coverage on the making of a game. The further negotiations, would be where that originates. In order to meet with a publisher, a Public Relations company must state they have something of value for the publisher as well as the company they work for. Buying advertising space, most likely for games that are not related to the cover game, is something public relations companies do to promote their clients. Here would be a good example of how this works. Pretend that Konami's Public Relations company went to -say- Play Magazine and said: "We will give you a really juicy exclusive on Metal Gear Solid 4 with interviews and certain exclusive information, if you will put it on your cover this month. We can have Koijima commission some new artwork for you to use as well. We would also like to buy some advertisement space for our current Yu Gi Oh game, a current Shaman King game, our latest PS2 title, and Lost In Blue."

Somehow, that kind of exchange means -to Hsu at least-
that Play Magazine is a corporate whore giving coverjobs to any Tom's Dick and Harry who plunks down cash to promote his clients products. The next thing you know, Hsu will be up in arms that movie companies actually let critics pre-screen movies for a review, or that video game PR companies send out final copies of their clients video games to websites and magazines to review. OH, NOES! Next thing you know, the P.R. companies and their clients will start sending out Non-Disclosure Agreements to protect trade secrets or some other "under handed" thing like that.

The second part of his column
stated that he was upset with the circumstances of what could be -if true- a very interesting scenario. Here is the direct quote from Hsu's web blog and the article itself.

"Recently, some publicists for another game company were lamenting the fact that they couldn't get any coverage on a certain, very high profile website out there, because they weren't advertising with that site. To get stories written up on their games, they'd have to start spending the bucks. More editorial coverage for sale. Wonderful."

This is Hsu stating an unknown publicist again
for another unknown video game company that is upset because their clients product could not get coverage on a high profile website. Now, this is slightly different. If the company is sending out white paper (press releases), reviewable product, exclusive offers, and is being unfairly shafted for not buying advertisement space on the website.. then this is something that should definitely be looked into. Especially if it is provable and NOT just chit-chat conjecture. If this is a tiny company upset that their game "Andy Purvis presents Tiddlywinks 7: The Squidging" is not getting any coverage when "Halo 3" is getting more coverage; than Hsu has nothing to do but stop drinking the beer they are buying him. Before running out a statement like that, examine a few things first. First off: What is the company promoting? How are they promoting it? When did they send said promotions? Where are they sending the promotions to? Who is sending the promotions? Why is their product not being promoted? Think back to Journalism 101 and remember the five W's and the H. Those would be: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. He should use those to decide if the complaint is substantial or not. I will assume that Hsu has checked this out before printing it. Because if he has not, then he is blindly tossing accusations out to rally up support from the gullible internet and subscriber fan base for the magazine he works for.

If he (Hsu) is just doing this
to make EGM readers feel better about picking up EGM by bashing other magazines, then he should look at the last U.S. presidential election. Mudslinging wildly is a great way to lose user base, and build up your opposition. Everyone loves the under-dog, after all.

Hsu made the blog rounds again
with an "attack" interview on Peter Moore, the Corporate Vice President of the Interactive Entertainment Business, Entertainment and Devices Division of Microsoft Ltd. This was on the website and I will look at various bits of it. I think that the Moore's Law that Hsu followed here would be a reference to Micheal Moore and not Peter Moore in the least. Micheal Moore is famous for using "attack" questions. An "attack" question is a question that insinuates something beyond what is being asked; or a question that deliberately focuses on something the interviewee would not know anything about in an effort to make them seem stupid. This first bit here seemed to be a bit sketchy.

"EGM: So we know you have a beef with our Kameo reviews. You've even mentioned you wanted to see a rereview, which ain't happening, by the way....

PM: I just felt that a launch title of that magnitude that's come from [developer] Rare deserves a bit more in-depth of a review. When you have a page divided by three people, a large paragraph each, it just didn't seem up to the quality of the reviews that I've begun to expect and enjoy from the magazine over the years that I've been reading it. And I've looked at some of the two- and three-page spreads for titles that I think are less worthy of the [space].

But, you know, I jokingly asked for a rereview. That's like asking for the referee to overturn a goal in soccer—most of the time it ain't going to happen. But I also felt that the focus [of the reviews] wasn't on the game, but on how long the game [took to get to] market. I just don't see the relevance of that."

I am not a fan of Peter "Zod" Moore,
J. "Lex" Allard, or the rest of the old Super-Man villains that Microsoft has assembled onto their Xbox team. This question is just loaded and presents exactly what is wrong with EGM and not what is wrong with Microsoft or Peter Moore. Whenever I review a title -if I have direct access to the developers, or the PR company for the company that made it- I send an explanation for my review, the score I gave their product, and I do so politely. Here is an excerpt from a private e-mail received back from one of those PR companies. Due to privacy concerns, I will refer to the author as "D."

"Thanks for
not only posting the review but sending me such a thoughtful letter explaining the scoring.  I appreciate it. So often we are left wondering what happened or why a title got a score we don't agree with." - D.

Peter Moore must be in that same boat,
wondering why the time it took to get Kameo (originally supposed to be a LAUNCH Game Cube title) out to market should have any effect on the reviews of the game. His joke about asking for a re-review is not a request to change the score the game was given. He is just saying that he would like a better explanation of WHY the game was given the score it was given. Many companies use reviews to gauge how to IMPROVE their products and several in-depth paragraphs on what works and does not work in a game is just good for consumers and good for the companies. Hsu does not offer this, because Hsu seems to be much more interested in painting Moore as being a whiner, while propping up the idea that EGM is "completely fair and balanced." So, is Hsu Hannity or Colmes?

The second page of the interview
is where Hsu completely throws integrity to the wind in favor of making the internet trolls happy. Throwing out mention of a lawsuit that -even if it were really going to court- Moore could not talk about anyways, as talking about it would be BREAKING THE LAW. Then Hsu begins throwing out screenshots of first generation launch games -with no word on if they are using the best possible resolutions- as an example of "failure to deliver" on Moore's part with the Xbox 360. I personally do not own an Xbox 360; but I can tell you that there is a notable difference between some games on the Xbox 360 and some games on the Xbox, Game Cube, and PS2. It is not the fault of the system if one developer is not as intense on exploiting the new machine as other developers are. The question on backwards compatibility is something that the systems designers and engineers would know, not something upper management would know. This is tantamount to criticizing Steve Jobs because he may not know what code is written on data line #3,4021 of the Tiger OS. Or saying that Miyamoto is a terrible game designer because he has to rely on other people to code the graphics in "Pikmin." The bit on over-heating, noisy fans,  and et al feels like Hsu has nabbed random forum posts to make Moore look bad. These problems are something that happens when different companies design different parts. So, is it Ken Kusanagi's fault if a few batches of PSP screens from Sharp have dead pixels on them? Hsu would have you believe that this is something Moore is personally responsible for. Of course, the support Hsu is getting from self congratulatory comic strip artists, and web bloggers would have you believe that these questions were perfectly warranted.

That is just absurd to consider.
Moore does not sit on a factory line somewhere going through painful labor for six hours to give birth to each individual Xbox 360 unit. The average consumer is NOT going to going to be upset that his new Xbox 360 unit makes as much noise as a computer or a laptop. Moore should have just ended the interview at this point; but then Hsu would have dishonestly used that disapproval to make Moore look worse. The last page is pretty devoid of any attack questions and is more in line with what interviews are really supposed to be about: Getting someone's opinion and some information off of them. The question about Miyamoto was rather funny and shows a bit of personal information about Peter Moore. This is the kind of information that makes an interview much more fun for both the interviewer and the interviewee. Hsu should consider an old Aesop's fable about the Sun and the North Wind. Because I have all the space in the world, I will regale you with it.

The Sun and the North Wind
were talking one day and the North Wind began to boast. "I am the greatest! I can move the oceans, blow down houses, up root trees, and reshape the earth! I am much greater and more powerful than you will ever be, my friend!" Said the North Wind. The Sun, amused by the boast, proposed a test. They both spied a simple traveler walking along the way with a cloak on his shoulders. "Say, North Wind, I propose we settle which one of us is stronger by seeing who can get that traveler to take off his cloak!" The North Wind accepted the challenge and went first. The North Wind blew and blew as hard as he could against the traveler; but the harder the North Wind blew - the tighter the traveler wrapped the cloak around his body. After several minutes of intense wind, the North Wind got frustrated. "Well, let me see YOU do it!" He shouted to the Sun. The Sun calmly looked down at the traveler and then began to gently cast his warm, soothing light upon the traveler. As the sun beamed friendly rays of warmth on the traveler, the traveler slowly began to unbound his cloak and then eventually took off the cloak, wrapped it up, and placed it under his arm as he continued his journey. "You may have the ability to blow harshly; but sometimes the gentle approach is the best one." Said the Sun as the North Wind just scowled slightly at the loss of ability to boast.

The purpose of an interview is to get information,
rushing out in full attack mode is not going to get you anywhere in an interview. Hsu should know this and adjust his tactics to get the real scoop the NEXT time he does an interview. I believe that Hsu is completely in the wrong in his approach to journalism as of late. I also do not believe that he should be encouraged to continue in this path. Even if this shoddy journalism on Hsu's part is all part of a plot by Karl Rove to increase Haliburton stock..

-And thus, nothing was changed.-
-Philip Wesley is property of Sarah Tomase and is used here with her express permission-
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