- This is actually from last week (hey, holidays!), but it's well worth checking out - a Washington Post article called 'An Inside Play To Sway Video Gamers', which looks again at the issues of who pays their way to video game editor days, and so on.

Some key passages: "In his career as a game reviewer, [PC Jeux reviewer] Ghislain Masson has been to Russia twice, and once to Chernobyl for a promotion of a computer game set in that area's nuclear meltdown zone. His other junkets include trips to India paid for by Microsoft and a five-day extravaganza in Las Vegas funded by Midway." The recent Bethesda press day for Fallout 3 was also referenced, with writer Mike Musgrove noting: "Although a few attendees paid their own way, most did not." So... what does this mean?

I've been pretty defensive about this in the past, and I think I still am - the actuality of people's writing is not affected by this, but perhaps the fact that journos actually turn up means that the content is featured a little more prominently? There was at least one example of this after the Fallout 3 preview, I felt. Yet I didn't feel any of the coverage itself was biased - just the fact that it occurred. Is that crossing the line?

But a favorite recent GSW-posted comment on the freebies issue that I wholeheartedly agree with came from Jim Rossignol, who comments: "I don't know about press trips, but I'd argue that most games journalists don't get enough free games. As Gillen routinely points out (being both a music and games journalist) if you're a music reviewer every label worth its turntable is going to be sending you their promo materials. Ludicrously, it's often a struggle to get anything at all out of games PRs. I recently worked full time on PC Gamer UK and tried to get hold of a bunch of games from different publishers for a wide-ranging test feature, and less than half of the PRs I contacted bothered to send out the games they represented. I routinely buy games because it's less hassle then trying to get PRs to send them to me."