Games Journalism 2018: We're taking it back!


#2220

They have to - nobody who plagiarizes that overtly does so because they’re lazy - it’s an irrational, compulsive behavior that has almost certainly infected prior work and very likely all of it.


#2221

Can one of the respected writers here tell me why anyone would plagiarize something?

I know nothing about the art & craft of writing games reviews so forgive me, but is it really so difficult you have to copy someone else’s work?

I mean it seems more effort to go copy someone than write your own doesn’t it? Not just that but if you are a paid writer then didn’t you get into that line of work because you wanted to write and express yourself? Isn’t writing your own stuff the reward for having the job? Why give up on the good bit?

I just don’t get the motivation. What am I missing here?


#2222

No?

Every writing assignment isn’t going to be a labor of love, you still have to pay the bills and meet deadlines etc. None of that is justification for plagiarism, but it’s not surprise that people occasionally attempt it either.


#2223

Fair enough. I guess going to the effort of finding other peoples work, then cutting out bits , then mixing it up so it seems plausibly different,seems like more effort than writing your own opinion about a game.

In game design cloning someone else’s work is usually motivated by fear that the audience wont respond to something new.

Again if someone wants to make money then they wouldn’t be in games reviewing (or games making but that’s a different story).

You bring up a good point about deadlines though, I hadn’t considered that. I have had a writing block with a deadline before (power points usually), its an awful feeling so I respect that. But writing isn’t my chosen field, I have never had a creative block around game design and I presume that most pro game reviewers just love what they do as well so they don’t get blocked.

Again this all maybe naive on my part so I would love to be educated. I have such a high regard for the critics role in art so helping me understand it in my own art form better would be most appreciated.


#2224

There is no motive. It is sheer laziness. Copying to get by, there are just people who are plagiarists. Typically they do it all of the time. Someone upthread mentioned, if someone were to go through his old college papers, likely he wouldn’t have a degree anymore.

I have met people like this before, they slack off, and finally get some other paper and copy/paste and change it enough to seem like their own.

One interesting case is Jonah Lehrer

It is just how some people operate. With Jonah, once the first instance was caught, going back through everything he had done, it was clear he was a fraud. Nobody could trust anything he ever wrote in the past anymore.


#2225

Cheers Jon. So its just kind of a personality / laziness thing? That makes sense. Must be a pretty awful feeling though. Knowing you are a fraud in your chosen field.


#2226

Oh yeah. The book “So you’ve been publicly shamed” goes pretty deep into the Jonah Lehrer stuff, he was just making up quotes, messing with facts, re-purposing old articles he had written, copying from press releases. Basically everything you could imagine unethical, he did it while writing.

It is also interesting, because Jon Ronson (the author of that book) personally knew Jonah, and witnessed first hand the unraveling of a colleague.

I guess, it is like, you know how people have the “imposter” syndrome, where they feel like they don’t belong or deserve their accomplishments? That they are going to be “found out” any minute. Guys like Jonah and Filip are those people, but for real.


#2227

The only time I’ve ever done anything remotely like plagiarism was news aggregation as you’re just regurgitating the same crap in a summary. That’s not what these people do, however. When it comes to my editorial, I go in the extreme opposite direction. If I’m going to review or editorialize something, I avoid any sort of thoughts or reviews like the plague. Not solely because I’m afraid of plagiarism, but because it helps keep your thoughts your own without being accidentally influenced. The plagiarism thing is a nice side effect, though.


#2228

I guess, it is like, you know how people have the “imposter” syndrome, where they feel like they don’t belong or deserve their accomplishments? That they are going to be “found out” any minute. Guys like Jonah and Filip are those people, but for real.

If I’m going to review or editorialize something, I avoid any sort of thoughts or reviews like the plague. Not solely because I’m afraid of plagiarism, but because it helps keep your thoughts your own without being accidentally influenced. The plagiarism thing is a nice side effect, though.


#2229

To be clear, I have no writing experience, I’m just going by behaviors that I’ve observed elsewhere that I think are common across many fields, if not universal.

For example, the phenomena of someone putting more effort into avoiding work than the original task would require is something I’ve seen to varying degrees in plenty of workplace situations. It’s often in the mundane things, the big splashy and more scandalous examples are rare, but I see that same impulse frequently. The idea that you’re “getting away with something”—not necessarily ethically, but just that you’re beating/hacking the system—does something to short-circuit a rational assessment of what you’re doing. The notion that you’re outsmarting the system to do less work has an appeal that obscures the extra effort you’re making for yourself. Sometimes that’s just literally doing a different kind of work and solving the problem inefficiently, but thinking you’re doing something clever, and sometimes it’s actually making ethical compromises and adding the work of maintaining deceptions or covering your tracks.

I don’t think anyone goes into reviewing games for the money, but whatever gets them there, they might still have those bills to pay or deadlines to meet. It’s easy to imagine compartmentalizing this as doing what’s necessary while you pursue the projects that “matter” to you in earnest. Or maybe it’s even more cynical than that, maybe this guy just doesn’t want to be in this field anymore, but hasn’t figured out what to do instead yet, so he’s doing as little as he can get away with to keep this job in the mean time.

I may just be a very cynical dude, but all of that sounds plausible across many career paths, I wouldn’t hold art or criticism exempt.


#2230

Well played.


#2231

So, I’m vaguely aware that there are plagiarism “detectors”, things that use word choice and sentence composition to identify unusual similarities between works (tf-idf type stuff), similarly to how you can identify an individual’s writing style.

You could probably run all of Miucin’s content against, say, all the reviews in metacritic for those same games.

It would also be interesting to do that with a random other reviewer, and see how much those terms, etc. really do cluster.


#2232

It’s harder to detect now when there is so much untranscribed video content to steal from. Apparently Miucin even plagiarized his entire resume, though, so there’s probably a pretty obvious trail to find. I’ve long felt IGN had a bad record of basically hiring friends and fans who happen to get face to face with existing editors at meet and greets rather than from what is likely an enormous pool of eager applicants. They’ve had some good people, but they also continue to employ a number of people who I consider badly unqualified for their positions.


#2233

Stealing other people work seems to be bad in journalism. But is not bad in art.

Disney took many european folk tales and made them a interesting thim, they also “owned” them, by making their version have a Disney spin.

Stealing other people work is good if you make the end result better than the original, and you don’t hide the original artist.

I wanted to say this, because after the current scandal, people get firm and solid notions about stealing, that are not always right. Theres places where stealing is the right thing to do.

One thing all good artist do is visit museums and check what famous artist did. Also many artist have a catalog of images (stuff like cars and trains), so when they draw a steam engine they don’t invent all the details, they copy the details from a photo they have.


#2234

That’s not “stealing,” that’s being inspired by, iterating upon, and acknowledging it(edit: this [part is key. The artist on Scythe recently got in trouble for precisely this - taking other people’s artwork, copy pasting it, changing the shading very slightly, and claiming he invented it).

Standing on the shoulders of giants.

Stealing would me going to the museum, taking pictures, reproducing them exactly, and claiming I thought the whole thing up, and that definitely wouldn’t be approved of in art circles.

Also, plagiarism isn’t quite the same as stealing, although both involve theft and fraud.

Stealing usually implying obtaining ownership through deceit, often physical. Plagiarizing is more stealing of ideas, if that makes senses.

Every artist in the world checks out Leonardo da Vinci. Very few try and present themselves as him.


#2235

To be fair a lot of the reference artwork in that link is public domain (same with Disney movies), although there are certainly enough examples of copyright breach there to raise an eyebrow. I don’t buy the “stealing the world building from Dust Tactics” part, though. The game is not the first to have a similar theme and Jakub does bring a very different tone to his art that is indeed unique.


#2236

I don’t know enough about the art in question to make a judgement, but no smoke without fire maybe?


#2237

Yea, lets me make my words better:

Stealing in art is Ok, if it come with character assassination. You have to make your art so good, that people have no interest in the source. If they even find you stole from somewhere else, they will have not interest in the original, only on your own version.

Tracing art don’t seems a good way to do that, but maybe combined with other technique. maybe?


#2238

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-15/china-is-said-to-freeze-game-approvals-amid-agency-shakeup

China has stopped approving videogames. It has also banned Monster Hunter World after previously approving it for sale.


#2239

Design in general isn’t protectable unless you’re making too close a copy and deceiving customers. Iterating over and mixing older ideas is just the way creativity mostly works. (As far as I understand it, I’m not creative at all).

Knowing how it works, I’m wary of the reliance on automated tools that, in the end, rely mostly on statistics. A 1% chance of being wrong is still wrong in 1 out of 100 tests, a small amount of what they’re used on. As a pre-screening tool or a recurrent pattern, though, I can trust a lot more.

Copyright expired back before Disney existed, and didn’t cross expression mediums either. Now it swung too hard into often being just yet another rent-seeking behavior.
A better example would be the shots (and plot points) that Lucas copied fairly blatantly into Star Wars.