GTA 5 delay, and the role of skepticism in games journalism
The job of a journalist is to ask the right questions.
Those questions represent the audience the journalist is reporting to and aim to achieve one goal: to find the clearest form of the truth. Part of that responsibility includes being skeptical.
Skepticism is vital tool against lies or people hiding the truth. With games, it helps see through “marketing speak” or company messaging that attempts to hide or misconstrue the facts in order to sell a product or maintain the product’s appearance to potential buyers.
But skepticism is a tool. Skepticism is not news.
If skepticism were news The Last Guardian would be cancelled, EA would be doomed, and Apple would be releasing a game console by the end of the year. If skepticism were news, The Last of Us: Remastered should have been delayed because Naughty Dog didn’t do any previews until about a week before it launched.
Skepticism is not news. It’s a tool that requires responsibility. A journalist must use it carefully so as not to bend a story into the one in his or her head, and to avoid ever using it like in today’s case, as a story about a highly-anticipated game getting delayed.
The skepticism about Grand Theft Auto 5’s PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One versions has caused unnecessary worry among the audience. Unnecessary not because it’s not healthy to be skeptical, but because it’s being reported on by a media outlet, who the audience expects to report on things it believes to have some amount of truth in them. The reports do not have any facts that say the game is delayed, and that’s the problem.
All of this is not to say the skepticism isn’t valid. It is. It’s odd that one of the biggest games is not being shown through trailers or press previews before it comes out, which is expected to be by the end of the year. But that doesn’t mean we can assume that it must have some kind of coverage before it comes out. Like The Last of Us: Remastered, not everything functions the way we assume it does and that means that there’s lots of potential for the assumption to be wrong. And that’s not news.