galciv2_box.jpgJournalistic vested interest is s touchy subject – more so in business circles than gaming ones, mostly, but it still resonates pretty strongly. In 1996, then-CGW columnist Martin Cirulis called outed author of PC Gamer’s review of PC title Ascendency as the author of the game’s strategy guide, too, noting that he probably had a vested interest in the game selling more copies, so the guide would also fare better in stores. While most would question whether that might really be the case, it’s undoubtedly an instance where the conflict of interest should have been declared.

Now, writes Tom Chick, he’s criticised one of the co-writers of the manual for Galactic Civilizations 2 for also reviewing, in rather an uncomplimentary light, Sword of the Stars on 1up.com. But is it really the same issue? Or is it complicated, and invalidated, by the fact that Cirulis is Sword of the Stars’ developer?

Who better to answer those questions than Chick himself, who just happens to be the author of GalCiv2’s manual, and said review? “Yes, I wrote the manual for Galactic Civilizations 2,” he says. “No, it didn’t affect my opinion on Sword of the Stars, a game I honestly dislike. I freely grant that I have a conflict of interest doing any writing on the subject of Stardock’s games, but I and my editors don’t think it should prevent me from writing about strategy games, sci-fi or otherwise.”

The last word rests pretty capably in the hands of CGW editor-in-chief Jeff Green. “The notion that there is a "conflict of interest" here is ludicrous,” he notes. “And I'm surprised that someone as magazine savvy as Martin would resort to such a lame tactic just because he didn't get the review he was hoping for.” Ouch.

[edited by alistairw]