Monday, August 17, 2009

Toronto Thumbs, General Games Weigh In on the HUDpocrisy

By Paul Hunter

It seems that ever since Aboot Play wrote some rather scathing comments about the new Canadian gaming news site HUDisplay.ca, it's notoriety has risen dramatically. However, I'm sure it's not in a way the creators would have liked, or intended.

You see, at the last IGDA Toronto event I overheard one of their members announce to a crowd of about 75 Toronto-based developers that they were launching Canada's "first" news source dedicated to gaming. I snickered, then raised my brow, and finally shook my head assuming I had misheard the comment. There was no way that someone would actually be claiming this, right? Well, as it turns out, I heard correct.

In a rare moment of solidarity, it seems that a number of high profile Canadian video game bloggers have bonded together to refute these outrageous claims made by the group.

Shaun Hatton, the head honcho at Toronto Thumbs posted an article yesterday where he expressed his opinion:

"[I]t’s hard not to appreciate that they consider themselves “a crackpot team of investigative journalists” when they didn’t bother to check to see if any other Canadian gaming news sites existed before stating their claim. And yes, that is the word “crackpot” up there."

He continues:

"I feel no guilt about bringing the site to the attention of my Twitter followers. In fact, it made people notice HUDisplay exists, and that’s what the site needed. Maybe they’ll be a little more careful with what they write now that they know there are people reading."

In response to this article, and the ones before it on Aboot Play and NextGen Player, the HUDisplay team posted an introspective news piece asking the question -- "R We n00bs?" In the apologetic article, Stephenson Price admits that site needs "proof-reading and a solid edit", and have since clarified their original About page.

First to react to the overtly atoning article was General Games founder Justin Amirkhani. In his response, he writes:

"Not to lambaste you more than the rest of the Canadian video game community already has, but I do think it is a great disrespect for a site run by neophyte journalists and web administrators to make such lofty claims about their importance to the gaming industry.

I don’t mean to chastise and I wish you all the best in your endeavors, but it’s important not to be so abrasive amongst the community. Take this slip-up as a lesson well learned about surviving in the blogging ecosystem."

Considering how fresh the HUDisplay site is, it's amazing how brass and self-aggrandizing the revised version of their About page still is. According to the the revised text, "The HUD will continue to be THE place where Canadians get their news and hear about the latest and greatest (or not so greatest) in gaming". Seems a little lofty to me, especially considering the great collection of Canadian-based news outlets that already exist, including Electric Playground, Gaming Excellence, GameFocus, Toronto Thumbs, General Games, Aboot Play, Sun Media, The Fan 590 -- I could go on.

I've been a little mum on the subject since it first aired this past Friday, and that's because I had the opportunity to talk at length to their News Editor, Stephenson Price. He's a really nice guy, I'll be the first to admit that. We had a great conversation that spanned two hours and ranged from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to 16-bit gaming, to the Canadian gaming scene. I gave him plenty of tips and recommendation, and I was happy to do so.

Perhaps my biggest advice for the guys at HUDisplay is to simply tone down the bigheadedness and position the site exactly what it is -- a fresh, new voice in the Canadian gaming scene. It's not a major news site, it barely looks like a portal to me, and at the end of the day it comes off to me as a flashy looking blog.

It's good to have aspirations (although single-handedly crushing IGN seems over-the-top to me), but they need to be kept in check by reality. Gaining credibility and a following takes a lot of effort; hell I've poured hundreds maybe thousands of hours into NextGen Player to make it what it is today. And I'll continue to do so until my dreams are realized.

Maybe one day HUDisplay will fulfill it's aspiration, and I hope they do. All the power to them. But please, and I mean this earnestly, if you're going to call yourself "investigative" then do your homework before you completely discredit the work of all these hard-working, talented Canadian video game writers.

[Pic] - Hypocrisy (death metal band)

6 comments:

Clinton said...

Stephenson Price & HUDisplay committed a faux pas and they've already felt the sting of the blogging community, so I'm not going to pile on any further. Despite what's happened, I do sympathize with the guy.

Several years ago I created a website to promote my DJ services. Even though I have had years of experience as a web designer, I had a lot of trouble with writing good web copy. Trust me when I say that it takes a lot of restraint to write plainly and avoid the kind of hyped up, self-aggrandizing marketing-speak that we've witnessed on HUDisplay.

Even the fellow DJs in my crew asked me to tone things down. Then, when I later tried to insert myself into a well-known music community I immediate caused a negative stir with my website's name (which bore a similarity to an already established promotion company). Needless to say, I was welcomed into a raging flame pit.

My web server eventually crashed and the hosting company disappeared into the night, so I never did get to rectify my errors in judgment. I sincerely hope the guys at HUDisplay take this experience as a lesson learned and make the most out of what they have. Like Paul, I'm wishing them the best of luck with their site.

(Also, I want to add that I love the warm & fuzzy feeling I get when I see the Canadian blogging community coming out of the woodwork to declare that their presence be known!)

Jason J. Kee said...

"Also, I want to add that I love the warm & fuzzy feeling I get when I see the Canadian blogging community coming out of the woodwork to declare that their presence be known!"

I second that! One happy side-effect of this kerfuffle is that I'm now aware of a few more Canadian gaming blogs and online news outlets than I was before...

Justin Amirkhani said...

I remember having the same dreams as Stephen when I started my site, the only difference was I kept my boastfulness down. Who knows for certain though, HUDisplay could be the great Canadian gaming portal and Price will laugh at this whole scenario one day.

Paul Hunter said...

Same here Justin, when I first started NextGen Player I had hopes it would grow to the largest gaming news blog in Canada. I made sure to keep myself in check though, since I knew when the site launched it would have a small readership that I'd have to grow over time. Now that the site has attracted a sizable following I'm okay making some stronger claims such as calling a "Premier" gaming blog. That wasn't always in our tagline, we originally launched the website as "NextGen Player - News For Canadian Gamers".

Props to Clinton for chiming in and saying how warm and fuzzy it was to see all these Canadian video game bloggers come together and voice their collective opinions. Not until this whole situation happened did I realize how interconnected we've become in such a short time. I've met some truly great bloggers over the last year and I'm proud to feature their news and quote them on NextGen Player. Funny how this seemed to bring us all together.

Andrew Shin (Drumega) said...

At the end of the day, we're all part of the community. No one is better than the other and we co-exist knowing that we all fit and serve a particular niche as gaming sites...particularly being Canadian based.

As Clinton mentioned, it's so positive to see such a rich and diverse group of Canadian based gaming outlets speak up all at once...and this just out of Toronto!

Paul Hunter said...

It seems to me that we all love our country and our gaming very much. Canadian gaming bloggers unite! =)

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