Being a game journalist is hard. From thinking of sensational headlines to figuring out how to post rumors as truth, the pressure to deliver stories whether they exist or not can be crushing. Luckily there is a web forum called NeoGAF that any reputable journalist can use as a primary source without that pesky “old man journalist” idea of citing sources.
A poster on NeoGAF believed he found new information about an old Suda51 project for the PS3 that Edge magazine profiled years ago. Other forum members, being significantly more discerning than game journalists, realized this was old news, mocked the poster and then moderators locked the thread.
Instead of ending there, as a simple mistake by an excited fan on a web forum, the news was picked up by multiple outlets. Crack reporter Jim Sterling reported the news of a new Suda51 game for Destructoid without giving any source beyond a GameSpy page that hasn’t had a content update since October ’06 and a page of images that was also posted that year.
Kotaku followed suit with an article on a “first look at Goichi Suda’s new game” but promptly pulled it without explanation. Unfortunately for Kotaku, Gametab still shows the name of the story as well as some detail when you mouse over with the appropriate Firefox plug in. Old men journalists have this concept of a retraction but this isn’t the 40’s any more.
There is another plausible source for this non-story beside NeoGAF, a source that is far more reputable – the esteemed N4G. News 4 Gamers posted a link to the GameSpy Kurayami page yesterday despite the fact that no new information (beyond a GameSpy site redesign) has been added. Apparently a fan saw the page, decided to submit it as news and then other fans as uninformed recommended the story. The good news for journalists is N4G, like web forums, doesn’t count as a source and so never needs to be cited.
Game journalism is a demanding profession, frequently requiring articles upwards of 500 words to be written. We are lucky to have professionals who are dedicated to an undying pursuit of truth but remember we, the game community, must continue to insist on perfection if we expect to continue to receive it.