Jaggy's Corner - Saturday August 11

This week IGN took down a contributors review because of plagiarism, and not the kind of that is only partial. The full piece was called into question.

The Issue and The Take Down

A writer at IGN released a review of the newly launched game Dead Cells, a Castlevania inspired action platformer. The problem is that someone else had uploaded a YouTube review at least a week before, in a disturbingly similar format.

The original reviewer, Boomstick Gaming, has been recording game reviews for quite some time and has tweets dating back to mid 2016 (Editor's Note: Yay for Early Access. Marc L. has thrown a lot of time into it and we have a PS4 review incoming by Richard). The man has created content for different games like character builds in Dark Souls III or tips and tricks of NIOH. While he is considered to be a small reviewer or content creator, his work is also posted on OpenCritic – a site which Chalgyr's Game Room are proudly posted.

A number of Reddit posters and readers of IGN discovered that Boomsticks' review had been plagiarized. Boomstick set out to find if this claim was true and released a video that compared his review to the IGN one. Here is the side-by-side comparison video.

Let's Talk about Plagiarism

In most school systems, there are rules about plagiarism, and after reading people's thoughts of their interpretations, here is an actual breakdown of its definition taken from Plagiarism.org:
"All of the following are considered plagiarism:
  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or idea from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or idea from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not" [emphasis added]

The bolded bullet points are to bring attention back to the side-by-side comparison video done by Boomstick Gaming, which illustrates how much of IGN's review plagiarized his video.
But before people beat up on IGN for hiring the video journalist...

Let's talk about Reviewing

Earlier in this article I wrote a small line that is quite common in video game reviewing. The line was, "a Castlevania inspired action platformer." That line is what we call 'buzzwords' in the gaming industry. It is meant to tell the reader what kind of game genre it fits in. Because of these phrases, there are many articles that tend to repeat the same language. In essence, writing about video games (or any medium in fact) can be a bit restrictive.

What reviews are supposed to showcase is a writers ability to synthesize a game into a concise piece that can be easily digest. That can be a huge undertaking if you consider that trying to define years of work into a piece of roughly one thousand words.

Reviewers have a short amount of time to play and hopefully complete a game before a piece releases. As such, many reviewers have several games on the go. This means that reviewers often only get a couple of hours of play time, which isn't always an accurate representation of a game.
If a person is unfortunate enough to also be a video reviewer, then the amount of time to produce content is arguably double. Video reviewers not only have to play the game but record it, slice it into compact pieces, add voice overs, find copyright free or licensed to use music, then take the time to render the video. Often this can leave a reviewer struggling for time, but that doesn't excuse plagiarism.

IGN and the Reviewer

Due to the fact that there was an outcry from the community about the plagiarized piece, IGN took down the review. They then released a statement about the investigation:
"We've reviewed the allegations against one of our writers regarding our review of Dead Cells. After taking the time to investigate, we've determined that there were substantial similarities..."

"Though we as a community often share feelings and even certain word choices to describe the games we love by using similar frames of understanding, this particular situation stepped over the line and is not a reflection of our editorial standards."
IGN continued with an apology to the readers, the game developer, and the YouTuber. To conclude the statement, IGN announced that they let go of the writer and will be releasing a new review of Dead Cells this week.

My Thoughts About Plagiarism

I have several friends who are teachers at all levels of education and as a result, I know that several of them use programs to track down plagiarized material. But that isn't the only way to spot a cheater. Another key indicator of plagiarism the type of language a student uses. What I mean is, each person has a certain dialect – a level of vocabulary - that is used in everyday communications and it acts as a fingerprint.

In a case like with the writer at IGN, not only did the review steal whole parts of someone else's work, but the review sounded forced. It seemed like the reviewer wasn't speaking naturally. And it was so blatantly obvious that the reviewer was fired.

If that wasn't enough, Kotaku published an article which mentioned that the reviewer also plagiarized NintendoLife's article on FIFA 18.

Editor's Note: Article on "appology" as of 9h15 this morning
Former IGN Reviewer Responds To Plagiarism Allegations: 'Not At All Intentional'

In my opinion, IGN made the right choice by firing the reviewer. As far as I've been able to tell, there were only two instances of plagiarism. Any other works that may have been posted on his personal website are gone because the website has been deleted. The only connection to video gaming that can be found are through the NVC podcast and his IGN articles/videos.

Make no mistake. Plagiarism is a serious issue. That is true both in school and in life. Large errors in judgment like the above will come back to haunt a person and ultimately the reviewer lost his gamble.

Consider supporting Boomstick Gaming for his review of Dead Cells. A lot of people have now taken a look at the game because of the controversy over the review. So, here is his Patreon and his Twitter.

Article by Susan N.


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