Jim Redner has said that since his Twitter meltdown over hostile reviews of Duke Nukem Forever, he feels the meaning of blacklisting seems to have broadened a bit and that in general, it’s almost impossible to blacklist a reviewer when they cannot be forbidden from writing a review.
Speaking in an interview with Industry Gamers, Redner first explained how the term “blacklisting” came out of the Communist paranoia of 1950s Hollywood, and that in the game industry, there really is no way to blacklist a reviewer.
“I believe that the reaction to my statement brought forth a broadening of the term blacklisting,” he said. “If I decide to send a game to one writer and not another for any reason, have I blacklisted that writer? If I pick Shell gas or Chevron, have I blacklisted Chevron? Blacklisting is a control mechanism that denies access to those who are being excluded.
“I believe that the reaction to my statement brought forth a broadening of the term blacklisting.”
“If I decide to send one writer the game because I believe that he or she will provide it with a better score and not send the game to another outlet because I believe that person incapable of being fair, that is a choice that I am making for the benefit of my client. Yes, I am excluding someone. But I am not preventing that individual writer from reviewing the game because they can purchase it, borrow it or rent it. In fact, I cannot prevent a writer from reviewing any game. I am not preventing them for working or making a living. I cannot deny them the ability to publish. So how am I blacklisting them?
“I have said this before but it is worth stating again. Publishers are under no obligation to provide writers with copies of the game. Writers are under no obligation to review a game from a publisher. Publishers can provide copies of the game to any writer they want for any reason. Writers can write a review in any matter they see fit. It’s called choice.
“I personally believe people are really misusing the term blacklisting. They are applying to situations where it does not fit or are stretching its meaning to fit this discussion. Blacklisting involves the denial of access in order to prevent someone from working. To blacklist is to deny someone work in a particular field. I am denying them access to a copy of the game, but there are many ways to get a copy of the game besides receiving it from a publisher. Since there are many other ways to get a game, I am not preventing a writer from publishing a review. Therefore, I am not preventing them from working.”
Redner said the criteria he uses to decide whether or not to send out a review copy includes the site’s “past coverage, personal preference, ease of working relationship,” or any “number of reasons.” He goes on to say that he does not blacklist, but has been known to contact a writer when he feels a review is “actually incorrect or blatantly mean.” Should a game receive a cumulative score in the 80s and one writer gives it a 40, he will not ask the reasons why should the review be fair and include facts as to why the reviewer felt the need to hand out such a small score.
“If I read [the review], and it is backed in fact and fair, then I have no complaint,” he said. “The writer just did not like the game. He or she has a job to do and an audience to communicate with. There have been games that received stellar reviews that I purchased and did not like. But, if I read a review and it is factually incorrect or blatantly mean, I will contact that writer.”
“If a writer publishes an inappropriate story about a game, why should I continue to support that writer?”
Redner explained that he receives up to 800 media requests for a review copy of a game at any given time, and hands out on average “about 400 copies.”
“If I turn down 400 plus writers who requested the game, does that mean I blacklisted them? Remember, they can buy it, rent it or borrow it from a friend in order to write a review,” he said. “Some writers get the game and some don’t. I try to take care of the writers that have provided me with coverage during the campaign. I try to pick writers that I feel will provide my game with the best coverage possible. When I know a game is going to generate less than desirable reviews, I pick editors that I feel will be fair. If I know a certain writer dislikes FPS games, why would I send them another FPS game to review? Was that person blacklisted? If a writer publishes an inappropriate story about a game, why should I continue to support that writer?”
Redner goes on to tell IG that during the whole Twitter fiasco, he was surprised at “the level of hate I received from random people,” and even “received threats against me and my family.”
“During the course of that I time I received a ton of emails and twitter messages from people,” he revealed. “Some were supportive and others were not. I was heckled. Some of it was quite clever and funny. Some of them were very mean. A few were scary.”