x.jpg Thanks to Sharkey for pointing out his new 1UP article quizzing Turbine's Jeff Steefel about 'real money trading' comments, since a recent Eurogamer interview, referenced on Joystiq as 'LotRO Producer Says Real Money for Game Items is the Future', ignited the Internet into a frenzy of ululating.

Sharkey quite correctly points out: "Weirdly, none of the quotes, when stripped out of the articles, seemed to be saying anything definitive about the future of anything, let alone in regards to The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. And shoehorning a publisher-sanctioned RMT (Real Money Transfer) setup into Lord of the Rings seemed pretty out of character against conversations I'd had with Jeff just a couple weeks before."

[For the record, the closest to a 'money' quote in the Eurogamer interview is: "We all know that something will happen in the next two to five years to business models in general, so we're paying attention to what's going on; watching what's going on with Sony Station whose servers support and manage this."]

So what, is this spin control? Steefel explains: "I think the part of the conversation that could be interpreted out of context is the acknowledgment that we are also businesspeople who have to kind of look at the direction the industry's going and understand that there's a large secondary market out there that's not helpful to our game. But it's happening. And it's a behavior that we need to understand, not a behavior that we want to provide in our game."

So who's in the 'wrong' here? The issue seems to be that bloggers and journalists alike can bring increasing focus to isolated comments, with increasingly spiraling editorializing reinforcing the point - though, Games.net, I'm slightly disturbed by your comment that: "Hmm, I find it kind of funny that he says they don't support fold farming." Now I have an image in my mind of gigantic sweaty guys in basements growing things in their body flaps!

The problem, if it exists, seems to be quotes presented in isolation, and opinions expressed alongside those quotes. Say, for example, David Jaffe randomly comments during breakfast at GDC: "You know, I really dig honey, but I'm not the biggest fan of jam" - and I overhear and post it on a blog alongside a couple of paragraphs about how he is completely right and jam is sticky and difficult to spread.

After that, the blog commenters chip in too, condemning him - and then the California Grown campaign posts a public statement asking him to rescind his slurs, which could potentially put the California Strawberry Commission out of business. Jaffe is then forced to apologize and make a commercial in which he eagerly promotes California strawberries, possibly while dressed in a strawberry suit.

(Obviously, David Jaffe has not, in this case, condemned fruit preserves, but I'm just illustrating why the public's need for drama and the websites' need for hits, alongside the power of the Internet to both anonymously allow extreme opinions and swiftly allow rumor and gossip and mounting 'opinion flow' to spread, meaning that context is swiftly removed and hysteria ensues.)