A Fish Called Quandary

By Gordon Aplin (October, 1997)
A while ago now, on the newsgroups, there was an interesting debate (read: flame-war) about certain computer game magazines and journalistic ethics. Wisely, like any small fish in a very large pond, we watched from the shoreline lest the sharks turned on us in their feeding frenzy. However, we think it only fair to our readers that we explain where we stand in relation to a couple of the issues that were raised.

It was claimed that some magazines review beta copies of games to meet deadlines or whatever and so don't report bugs and glitches. At Quandary we only review the final version of a game, the same one that appears on the shelves in your local store. We also endeavour to finish the game before writing the review. On the few occasions where this has not been possible we mention in the review that we have not completed it.

It was further claimed that some reviewers accept 'junkets', free trips offered by big name companies in order to elicit favourable treatment of that company's product. At Quandary this is not an issue as no one has, so far, offered us a junket (damn, damn!). Would we accept one if it was offered? You bet. We don't get paid for what we do, but we keep doing it anyway because we enjoy it and we feel we are providing a service that is appreciated by our readers. Would a junket influence what we wrote? No, because our first responsibility is to you, our readers, the game buyers (that's probably blown our chances of a junket now anyway) and also we wouldn't want to jeopardise our credibility.

Of course this is easy for us to say as we haven't been put to the test and nor are we likely to be. Perhaps our biggest advantage in being a small fish is that we can be truly independent.

On reviewing in general we don't see our role as making or breaking a game, we haven't got the clout even if we wanted to, which we don't. We try to be fair and judge a game on its merits, pointing out things that we like or dislike along the way. Some of you may agree with our assessment and others may disagree and that's fine by us, but what we do believe we offer is a consistency in the way we review. Regular readers get to know our hobby-horses, our pet hates, our foibles, and our prejudices and take these on board or dismiss them as the case may be. In the end a review is just an opinion and it's your opinion that counts.

Speaking of hobby-horses (or should that be sea horses?) another debate that surfaces periodically in the newsgroups is one about linear and non-linear games. As usual we find ourselves swimming against the tide on this one and no doubt the sharks will be circling, hungrily. Nevertheless, Rosemary has taken a deep breath and plunged right in with our feature article on linearity for this issue ... and just when we thought it was safe to return to the water....

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1997. All rights reserved.