The Noble Cause
The problem with having mass-market appeal is well-documented: you're a sellout, you're THE MAN/THE ESTABLISHMENT, and you suddenly embody all that is evil and wrong in the world, or at least that's what the more bellicose fans will be shouting as it happens.
You'll wonder why I'm saying this, because that hit counter does not lie, and it says that I have no-market appeal! Well, I'm talking about Penny-Arcade. Now, I know a lot of people who love to hate on it for being entirely without humour, but eh, it will occasionally elicit a chuckle from me when I bother to read it (which is equally infrequent). At least it's still about gaming, unlike PvP, which has now managed to become so mainstream that it isn't about anything at all!
So, why am I talking about Penny-Arcade? Because even if they aren't funny, they've actually done something with their fame other than masturbate furiously on the world stage, and I can respect that. Every nerd worth his or her salt knows that the ideal ratio of power-to-responsibility is 1:1*. The first way in which they have done this is Child's Play, and the second is with today's comic, which is - true to form - not funny, but informative. Following that ideal ratio, they have exposed a particularly egregious example of profits trumping integrity in games journalism, and - if the effect of being linked by PA is any indication - directed the ire of their massive (and perplexing) fanbase towards the perpetrators. I love poetic justice, so I hope that a) this is actually as malicious as it sounds, and b) that, pursuant to a), said perpetrators get mightily 0wned in the great flamings to come.
I'm seeing irony everywhere I look right now: I'm on the lowest tier of internet celebrity, writing about those on the highest tier as if it mattered, internet celebrities have perpetrated acts of public service...and then there's this convoluted mess of irony:
The core problem of game reviews, in terms of commercial interests vs journalistic integrity is that popular, well-hyped, well-funded games sometimes suck. It's not a problem to give the odd indie game a very high score, because people will buy it, and the publisher can spend ad money on you in thanks. But a crappy, popular game, hell, even a mediocre game with a fanbase and oodles of money *cough*Halo*cough* presents a problem. You give it 10, and the haters flame you, you tell it like it is, and the fanboi crowd flames you, plus you loose ad revenue to boot! The irony here is that Penny-Arcade is pointing out this problem of popularity versus quality, when they are in fact, popular and mediocre themselves. Ok, perhaps that's just meta, and not ironic, but still: WTF?