- [UPDATE - October 4th, 3.06pm: Commenter 'RotBot' kindly turns up some obvious evidence proving conclusively that E-Mpire's liveblog was indeed plagiarized - see below.]

It's not really surprising that, following my early post about VGMWatch, the site's David Gornoski would get back to me with a response - which I've agreed to print. And it's extremely interesting, to say the least.

So I'm not going to tip my hand - and I think it's important not to get too far into 'he said, she said' on this type of things. But we're going to run David's response in full, then I'm going to make a couple of final comments, and then - I think - we will be done.

Besides, honestly - Gornoski's response, as the guy ultimately behind E-Mpire and VGMWatch, is almost more interesting than my original article at this point. So here goes:

"When I first saw the headline of Simon's post "Who Watches the Watchmen?", I was ecstatic. Since VGMWatch.com's inception, I have desired some type of third party oversight over VGMWatch. There definitely needs to be accountability in the game media industry. And I believe VGMWatch.com has helped provide it. I think other publications have recognized this. EGM issue #217 states "Help keep the industry honest. Read VGM Watch." On the other hand, we are not an infallible staff team and, thus, need some sort of outside monitoring of our work as well. While I strongly encourage analysis of VGMWatch.com's work, Simon's attempt at it has proved to be erroneous and actually slanderous.

Let's take a look at his most outrageous claim. Simon blindly claims without any proof that PSInsider.com's Jim Webb plagiarized the Sony TGS press conference from Eurogamers.net due to similar accounts of the event. I am sure there are some errors to be found in E-mpire Network publications' work. But this accusation is simply false. Below is the author of the article in question Jim Webb's account of how he crafted the Sony press conference report (verified by other staff accounts):

"My wife is an Air Force Sergeant stationed at Langley AFB in Virginia. A good buddy of ours for the past 5 years, Stevens, PCS'd to Yokota AFB early this year, but we keep in contact via email and instant messenger. On the day of Sony's TGS conference I contacted him and asked if he were going to go to TGS. He said no, he had to work but his friend Takeshi was on his way to Sony's conference. I asked if it were possible if he could call Takeshi and get a "live play by play". Within a few minutes we were all set to go. It was crude but worked. Takeshi sat near the rear and kept his head low so he could talk to Stevens on the cell phone who then IM'd me the info. Takeshi being Japanese shook his head at the often flubbed translations and even caught a couple that were wrong, but they weren't pertinent info. Since this was an impromptu set up and Takeshi is a Sony fan with plans only to attend the Sony conference, he didn't attend the others. Had we planned this further in advance, we might have asked him to cover the other events. ? ?

The insinuation that I plagiarized the work of another media outlet based on similar wording is preposterous. Are you suggesting that all sites with a feed watch each other’s text so as to ensure they don't say similar things? While I appreciate your vindictiveness in ensuring ethical journalism, I assure you no foul play was at hand."

In my opinion, VGMWatch.com criticism is one thing, but slandering an honest man such as Jim Webb is simply inexcusable. He has done absolutely nothing wrong. With his wife having just returned from serving our country in the Middle East, the last thing he needs to worry about is his name being senselessly dragged through the mud. Webb deserves an apology.??

The bulk of the rest of Simon's article amounts to snarky comments on legitimate reports at VGMWatch.com. I guess he has a problem with rebuking SOE for attempting to pay journalists to preview their games in Vegas. He also completely misrepresented our story on IGN's review of Prey

for Xbox 360. He linked to my final thoughts to Doug Perry's letter on the situation and then stated there was "plenty of follow-up proselytizing”. Well, as the title of the linked article says, it was my final thoughts on the story. The original story actually focused criticism towards IGN and 2K Games for bartering game score ranges for exclusive deals. I then allowed Doug Perry's take on the situation be headlined on the site for approx. 2 weeks. In his letter, he advocated talking about game scores with reviewers before they've assessed the game and talking with PR firms about score ranges before the game is reviewed in order to snag an exclusive story. As various game sites noted, those items are simply wrong. My final thoughts stated as such.

Simon also seems to think there's some sort of conspiracy in the reader comments on Billy Kirk's Variety magazine articles. Simon, yes you guessed correct. Rudzinski and Graham are in fact with E-mpire. NintendoGal and others in objection to the Variety piece are not with E-mpire. What of this apparent phenomenon? Well, shockingly, E-mpire writers and members pass each others' work around for feedback. As members of Tom Chick’s forum Quarter to Three pointed out, Quarter to Three members inadvertently “spammed” (their words not ours) the VGMWatch story, many of them vehement defenders of Chick and with some association with the writer. Naturally, we allowed every single one of these comments approval for appearance on the main site, because we don’t take issue with fans and/or friends of Chick defending him. The same goes for readers who agree with Billy Kirk's take, whether they know him or not.??

At the end of the day, I think watching the watchdogs of the industry is very important. If there's no accountability, the dog may maul a trespasser or two. But just because you may disagree with such an institution's reports and commentary doesn't mean you try to shoot the dog. VGMWatch.com is definitely not perfect. But it's the only publication I know investigating and reporting on cases of corruption in the game media. And while one might not agree with some of our other stories such as reviewing game reviews, I see no reason to throw the puppy out with the bath water. Regardless of what heat comes our way, keeping the game media accountable is a noble task. Flawed as we humans may be, we will continue in this pursuit.

Oh, and Simon, if I debunk your post does that count for proselytizing as well? If so, I guess this means Amen."

[NOTE FROM SIMON: You know, as I said, I'm not going to get too far into this. We could try to pick more holes in Jim Webb's wife's buddy's friend Takeshi's coverage of the Kaz Hirai keynote that happened to coincide with Eurogamer's - other than noting that the Japanese attendees largely didn't get earpieces, so wouldn't be privy to translation flubs from Hirai's Japanese speech, ahem. But no. Gornoski has given his response, and hey - I've printed it. I still stand by my original statement, and I'm further convinced that Webb and a number of (but not all) other editors and commenters on Gornoski's site are either fictional or pseudonymous. The public can decide if I'm right or not.]

[UPDATE: After article writer Jim Webb turned up and slapped me around a bit in the comments, commenter 'RotBot' turned up with this piece of surely trumping evidence about the plagiarism, which I completely and hilariously missed:

"He still doesn't explain how the timestamps for e-mpire's liveblog match Eurogamer's down to the second for every single entry. The first time I looked at the two pages, I thought "well, they're similar, but I'm not sure if you can call it blatant plagarism". Then I noticed that the timestamps for every single entry on e-mpire matches Eurogamer's.

For example:
9:33:34 - Kaz walks on stage.
01:33:34 - Kazuo Hirai takes to the stage. He comes out to the middle and bows and everyone claps. He's doing his speech in Japanese, as you may have realised, so our quotes are from the official translation.

10:04:50 - DualShock 3.
02:04:50 - DualShock 3.

10:39:08 - And that will wrap things up from Tokyo.
02:39:08 - And it's all over by the look of it. Round of applause, bows etc. And everyone's breaking up, and I'm going off to get a drink. Good night, Eurogamers. Thanks for all the fish.

This happens for EVERY SINGLE ENTRY."]