Dan “Shoe” Hsu, former editor of EGM and editorial director of Ziff-Davis Media, has an incredible reputation in the game industry. An all-around good guy and game journalist, Hsu is one of the few household names when it comes to game media. But that’s not necessarily why he’s best known. At least, not any more. While he was still at EGM, Hsu went on a rampage about ethics in journalism, pointing out the freebies, ad buys and expenses-paid events that, he felt, had corrupted gaming media and left him as the world’s last hope for ethical, moral, upstanding game journalism.
That’s hogwash. We knew it at the time, and on a certain level, certainly Hsu knew it as well. Maybe he was just trying to stir debate, call out competitors for taking “one too many freebies,” or perhaps draw attention away from his fanboy-like love for all things Halo. Either way, he had to know his claims were garbage, right? Apparently not. As recently as a few days ago, Hsu was at it again, jumping right back on the “game journalism is dying” bandwagon and stroking his own ethical ego as only Hsu can.
Dan, do us all a favor. Shut up.
I hate to be rude, but that’s all that can be said at this point. Game journalists are tiring of your tirades. Gamers are growing bored with your bashing. And heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if EGM were getting annoyed by your angst, even after you’ve left. You’ve made your point, however fallible it may be, and it’s time to move on.
And yes, Dan, your argument is flawed, no matter how many times you bring it up. Game journalists aren’t the only ones to be offered gifts; every entertainment medium is rife with them. Ever heard of press junkets for movies? Maybe you’ve read about electronics press conferences? Better yet, how about the sports booths and media rooms at every professional sporting event in America? Somehow, some way, those journalists — from USA Today all the way down to good old DailyGame — attend these events, accept these meals and still end up able to bash whatever movie or gadget or team or game is on display — if the product warrants it.
You see, Dan, having integrity doesn’t mean you can’t eat a single chalupa for fear that it’s a “bribe” to boost a game’s score. It doesn’t mean you need to fend off all hospitality for the sake of appearing righteous. It doesn’t mean denying publishers the reward of helping a lowly paid journalist have a rare nice meal (you’d feel nice about that too, if you were on their side). Instead, it means being mature enough to be tempted by those things, to occasionally accept them, and still make an honest evaluation.
How on Earth can you claim that Crispin Boyer’s trip to flight school was really essential for his review of Ace Combat? Sure, he may have used that day’s experience to determine whether the gameplay was truly accurate, but if 99.999 percent of gamers weren’t going to know the difference anyway, does it really matter? You can make that argument with fancy cars and Gran Turismo, but not flight school and an air-combat game. That was a freebie, plain and simple, and there’s no way to legitimately justify it, no matter the amount of rationalization you put forth.
Yet in spite of accepting plenty of promotional items in your own illustrious career, you still claim to be the last bastion of hope for game journalism. All that makes you is a hypocrite. A very nice hypocrite, to be sure — we’ve met you several times and found you to be a very nice family man — but a hypocrite nonetheless. Ethics are ethics, morals are morals and an honest review is an honest review, no matter what you happen to have done while evaluating the product.
The more you talk about ethics and journalism while justifying your own history, the worse you look. We’re tired of hearing it, and we hate to see your justifications run your credibility into the ground any more than they already have. So do us, and yourself, a favor: quit yapping and start playing.
— Jonas Allen