Thanks for your patronage

Okay, this has Officially Become Ridiculous. Text following may contain swears. I haven’t decided yet.

Calling journalistic integrity into question because a writer donates via Patreon, or supports a Kickstarter, is stupefying. “Ebert argued critics should never review anything they played a part in creating.” I was told. Here’s exactly why this makes no sense. I didn’t. I didn’t have a part in creating it. I gave some money to support a cause, or a person, or some work. I am not a shareholder, I am not an owner, I don’t have a financial interest in the outcome of the final product. I barely have an emotional investment, beyond “the industry needs more of this”.

“Kickstarters need to be disclosed.” I was told. Here’s why this is bullshit.  (So I guess I am being sweary.) Buying a game does not effect my ability to evaluate it. Maybe it does affect yours, and if that’s true, you should probably think about not reviewing stuff any more because boy are you terrible at it. I buy games all the time. ALL THE TIME. You don’t even know. I’m buying games RIGHT NOW. I have so many games. What I don’t have, is a reason to sell them to you. I will, if I chose, write about them, and tell you what I thought and why I thought it. But the fact that I have given money, doesn’t incline me to say nice things.

The opposite, if anything. If I gave you $100 for your Kickstarter, you can bet this reward tier included a game, and probably some physical loot, and if your game is released broken, I’m not going to say “GEE THIS IS A SWELL GAME”. Consider buying a coffee at a café. Firstly, giving money to the barista doesn’t mean you “play a part in creating” it, secondly, if that coffee is good, you might say something like “This coffee is pretty nice.” If the coffee is average, you’d probably just shrug, and if someone asked you about it, you’d make a non-committal noise. The worst case scenario is the coffee is bad, in which case, you won’t ever buy coffee there again, and might tell others to avoid it. You might, if it is particularly bad, demand a refund, and if anyone asks about that coffee, you’ll slap their face for reminding you about it. What you won’t do, is lie, just because you paid for the thing, and hey, the barista seemed like a nice guy, and you know he used to work at a place where the coffees were great.

There is nothing at stake, nothing to compromise integrity for, when you support a Patreon, or a Kickstarter. Disclosure should not be required because it has no bearing on anything. All it does is giving someone something to point at and say “well this is biased.” It’s no different to buying a game at retail, or pre-ordering one, or buying one of the million Early Access games on Steam. In each case that money is used for the same thing. It pays the person/developer/publisher for what they do. Sure, the allocation of funds is different, but ultimately it boils down to the exact same process each time. Your World of Warcraft subscription pays the people who made, and support it, and allows Blizzard to keep making expansions. Your Call of Duty 17 (I presume that’s what it’s up to now) pre-order ensures there will be a Call of Duty 18. Your Patreon support says “I am paying for your good work.” Your Kickstarter pledge (hopefully) brings an original idea into the gaming world, and maybe the end product won’t be great, but maybe it will be enough to convince publishers with more money to throw around to allow developers to try new things.

If my integrity is in question because I backed a game I’d like to see made, on Kickstarter, then it’s in question because of every game I’m interested in, because of every game key or disc I’ve received from a publisher, because of every developer I’ve ever spoken to, because of every game I’ve ever purchased, played, watched a trailer for, or raised an eyebrow at.

And so is yours.

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~ by accurateobservation on August 27, 2014.

One Response to “Thanks for your patronage”

  1. I disagree

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