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What Diablo III’s Gold-Duping Glitch Taught Me

This post is not about Diablo III.

Tuesday, Kotaku reported that a bug which had found its way into Diablo III's 1.0.8 patch temporarily allowed some players to duplicate gold, unnaturally inflating the MMO’s economy. In the days since, Blizzard has regularly updated a forum post explaining to players the actions that are being taken to correct any damage the bug has caused. Apart from a few still-angry forum dwellers, the community seems to have calmed down significantly.

As I mentioned before, however, this isn’t a post about Diablo III. This is a post about journalistic integrity, the lengths to which we’ll go to ensure that we are heard, and my own close call with the “Dark Side.”

I have recently been given the chance to contribute to AWESOMEoutof10. I have no prior experience in journalism; up until about six months ago, when I realized I could combine my two favorite hobbies, the vast majority of my work had consisted of fiction. I have no professional experience, though I did study English in college (and I did stay at a Holdiay Inn Express last night, so there’s that).

Just a few days ago I was given my first topic for a news article for the site regarding Patrice Désilets' dismissal from Ubisoft. Even though it’s not a particularly scintillating story, I must admit, the rush I felt when I saw my own name in a real by-line for the very first time was unlike anything I’d experienced before. It was electrifying, and I desperately wanted to replicate the experience as quickly as possible, so I searched the various gaming news outlets to find a story worth writing about. Earlier today, I settled on the Diablo III snafu.

When I got home from my full-time job this afternoon, instead of firing up a quick round of Mechwarrior Online (as I am generally wont to do) I hit the web to dig up everything I could about the Diablo glitch and the resulting “economic crisis.” After about an hour and a half of research, however, I realized there really wasn’t much of a story there to be told. Blizzard made an error, they owned up to that error, and they are now doing everything in their power to correct that error – it simply isn’t that big of a deal.

AWESOMEoutof10 only has two major rules for news articles:

1. No posts consisting of only screenshots/PR materials.

2. If you can’t write at least 500 words about a topic, it’s not really news.

When I realized I would not be able to write a piece on Diablo III that met the standards of the second criterion, an idea entered my head for the briefest of moments… what if I just played-up the situation, making it sound worse than it actually was, in order to stretch a 200 word post into a 500 word post? Thankfully, I came to my senses a moment later and realized this would be just about the dumbest thing I could do.

Lately in this country, however, it seems like more and more “journalists” are doing exactly what I considered for a fraction of a second (and for which I felt genuinely disgusted with myself) simply so that they can continue to be heard by as many people as possible. Before I continue, I want to make one thing  perfectly clear: though I refer to them in the opening picture in this article, Fox News is not the only culprit - CNN, MSNBC, and many other news organizations are guilty of the same irresponsible reporting (though, at least MSNBC has the stones to call themselves out on it). I don’t envy these reporters. They have to go on television every day and talk about something. It must be very hard to keep people interested in a 24 hour news cycle when there’s really only so much going on in the world that is worth reporting.

I’ve always known deep down that the news is a business, and just like any other it exists to make money. But this notion, that people will say anything because it’s more profitable than saying nothing, really hit me for the first time today when I considered doing it myself.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe if I want to make it in this business I should have swallowed my pride and written what I knew in my heart would have been a sh***y article. Maybe media bigwigs have every right to call me a noob.

But at least I can say I’m proud of what I wrote today.


*Originally published at AWESOMEoutof10.com *

*EDIT* - I had originally used a (badly) Photoshopped variant on the image at the head of the post. I noticed recently, however, that the image was no longer working. I'm not sure if it was intentionally removed for some reason or if an error occurred, but I replaced the altered image with the original, which, ironically, reiterates the point of the article rather nicely.