So you’ve decided to break a video game embargo. You were wined and dined by a big game publisher and just got word that the NDA you signed wasn’t signed by everyone in your field. You’ve spent hours, days even, writing in the best active voice your weary body would allow. Only, you logged in to Twitter. Perhaps you received a text, and now the plethora of articles you’ve proofread stand a good chance of being glossed over by your site’s readership.
You’re noticing the once valuable information that you swore under, I’m sure, a ridiculous oath, never to reveal -- is now spreading across the twitterverse and blogosphere like a Bangkok venereal disease. Making matters worse, you could give two well-sized pieces of feces about the game you are reporting on.
You are now ready to break that embargo, but here are 10 tips you should take heed to, prior to doing so:
- Make sure that this is a bridge worth burning. Some sources in the game industry are hard to come buy. But if you didn’t like how this company’s spokesperson bent you over and violated your most sacred of entrances [or exits], by all means, wake up early. Take their wallet. Maybe take a picture of how un-endowed they are and send said pictures to a young, plucky blogger.
- Phone a friend. Let’s be honest, a lot of us are writing all of these articles wasted out of our minds. I know I am. Right now actually. You may want to pass this buy a filter*, before you vent your frustrations with possible legal ramifications.
- Speaking of legal. Sober up for a second. Ask yourself one question: Was that NDA you signed bound by any monetary clause? Sometimes breaking embargoes means lawsuits in the thousands or millions. Meaning, you may actually have to kill someone prior to posting that article on your fancy video game website. Bringing me to my next point.
- Establish a fall-guy. Before you break this embargo you have to decide. When the chips are down, are you willing to kill for you cushy job as a games journalist? Probably not. Find some do-gooder with a Youtube page and an eagerness to break any story related to the game you’re reporting on.
- Can’t find a fall guy? Plead ignorance! Hey, it worked for hiphopgamer.
- Think about your integrity. What would mom and dad think of you publishing an article centered around frivolous death and the trivialization of tragedies in our world’s history? Or the fact that this game franchise is one of the pieces of the putrid puzzle, that has millions of 12-year-olds on the internet shouting racial slurs, that dad hasn’t muttered since the 70s. Are you ready for that Thanksgiving conversation?
- Think about the site’s integrity. You are but a small wheel in this professional games enthusiast culture. Sure you just hammered out an article about how cancer patients play games to cope with chemo treatments. And yes, only eight people read it. Okay, three people, five of them were bots. But when you write, you are representing one of the many diverse voices on your site. A site, I’m sure, had no problem with you being wined and dined by that attractive game publisher rep. Remember how they bent you over? Remember what they whispered in your ear? “It’ll be good exposure.” And, “you’ll get plenty of clicks.”
- When in doubt, wait for the competition to do it. Nobody likes to get scooped on a story. This whole games journalism thing is a big rat race, only no one knows what lies on the other end of that finish line. Seriously, who can tell the difference between integrity and a money hat, when your integrity is a money hat. You got fictional kids to feed, and who cares who posted what first? What matters is that someone else did it before you and second place still results in a fat paycheck.
- Future embargoes mean future journalistic f**k ups. You drank to forget how a certain game company tricked you and made you it’s little journalistic bondage plaything. You’re still scarred and angry. Every one of your coworkers are also victims, but you view them as weak for not lashing out. “Business as usual”, they coldly retort. You’re the smart one in this situation. Why? Because you know that there is a tomorrow. A tomorrow filled with embargoes that someone, somewhere, will screw up way worse than you have.
- Finally, it’s just a video game. Never mind the obvious fact that it’s your job and you get paid [peanuts] to do it. Or how about the moral point that any job worth doing, is worth doing right? Nah, these are video games here, and no one expects mainstream games to inspire artistic movements and change the world. And since we’re in the age where good writing in video games is just as rare as good writing about video games...go ahead. Break that embargo, it’s just video games
*I’m probably not the best filter to go to in matters such as writing for the sake of maintaining employment. You see what I just wrote here? Filled with snark and barbs aimed at both sides of the fence? There’s a good chance that if you called me prior to breaking an embargo, I’m going to tell you to do something naughty. Wait, actually, if you have valuable information that could potentially get you fired and me hired, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org