Friday, October 02, 2015

Polygon "Conspiracy" With Book is Not a Big Deal

A few days ago Polygon posted an excerpt from a new book called "WTF is Wrong With Video Games?" along with a link to Amazon and Gumroad with where to purchase it. The book was written by game critic Phil Owen, who is also a Polygon staff member. Some might see this as a conflict of interest, so Polygon listed the original article as "Polygon Staff." Something they have always done for every book related article or excerpt they have ever written. Ever.

Which apparently outraged enough people to comment and leave scathing remarks about how Polygon is supposedly covering up something. So they put down Owen's name in the credits (it's not like it wasn't already obvious in the article and on the book cover, both mentioned openly in the article) and that just seemed to enrage comments even more. "They're using this to self-promote their own books!" "They're trying to hide money for using this to promo their products!"

People. Chill out. Before you all get riled up about the situation, take a few minutes to breathe and research. Owen and Polygon have spoken to several news outlets to clarify why the Polygon Staff byline exists.

“We’ve posted excerpts from books numerous times before, and our style has always been to post them as “Polygon Staff” rather than going through the process of getting the book writer’s name in our system when they’re technically not a Polygon writer. This hasn’t caused confusion before, but it seems to have this time, so we decided to swap it to Phil’s name to make it clear.

Book excerpts are common on news sites outside of gaming and something we’ve featured on our site since launch. Obviously the controversial nature of this excerpt got a lot of people talking, but not entirely sure where the confusion/anger about the nature of an excerpt has come from.”
It's the format they have always used. And the one time it's a Polygon contributor, they changed it to appease the hate-fueled comments. They also confirmed that no money exchanged hands. Polygon asked Owen if they could feature an excerpt of his book. He said yes. It was that simple.

I think this has to do more with the content in the book and less about how Polygon published the piece. Because again, they didn't do anything unusual or out of the norm. They followed their procedures and they match up with what other newspapers and blogs do... The book looks at how video games and the industry are stagnant in artistic growth. Owen's doesn't see video games as art, and he uses movies as an example on how games need to change to reflect artistic endeavors. It's a discussion that crops up over and over again. So I'm not at all surprised that people feel a strong reaction to Owen's words. But an issue of journalistic integrity this is not. Maybe a note at the beginning on what a book excerpt is would have been helpful, since gamers apparently don't know what that is (and that's sad). Other then, there's nothing to see here. Just another book that I don't have time to read. You can go about your business.


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