In the wake of the Filip Miucin saga that’s unfolded over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about the broader implications of what he’s done and the effect it has on everyone in and around the games coverage industry.
In case you missed it, Miucin was an editor at IGN who published a review for Dead Cells that was found to be almost entirely plagiarized from a YouTuber named Boomstick Gaming. In response, IGN acted swiftly and fired him as well as removed his review. After posting a now removed “apology” video on his personal YouTube channel, he essentially challenged people to try and find more examples of his plagiarism, confident that there was nothing more to uncover. Much to the surprise of nobody, the internet found plenty of it.
So here we are, a few weeks after the impact of this bombshell and there’s been no shortage of opinions about the incident itself. The majority of the response to it has been in agreement that IGN did the right thing and that Miucin deserved to be fired. While I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, there is one thing that Miucin mentioned in his former “apology” video that still sits with me.
In essence, he asserted that all reviewers basically talk to each other about their opinions on the game they’re reviewing. Overwhelmingly I’ve heard reviewers say they don’t do that because it defeats the purpose of writing a review, which is to get the writer’s opinion on the product. They do their best to remove themselves from the conversations around a game so they can provide their own opinions on it, free from any external influences. A reviewer is supposed to relay their experience with the game to their audience in an effort to arm them with the information necessary to decide if a game is worth their time and money.
That kind of insight is great for consumers, but tough when you’re trying to build your own outlet that serves similar functions. I have to be conscious and make sure that what I’m writing is my opinion and not the one I heard on a podcast or in a video. Because if I’m just aping a review from someone else, then what’s the point of me doing this at all? It’s important to me to make sure that everything I write is in my own voice. Because if I want to show that I’m worth a damn as a writer, I have to be able to compartmentalize what the discourse around a game is and be honest about the experience that I’m having.
There is no excuse for plagiarism, but it’s easy for me to see how just following a reviewer or streamer can color your experience before you even have a chance to play the game. That isn’t what happened with Miucin and that isn’t an excuse to justify plagiarism. Instead, it’s a reminder to be more thoughtful about what you’re writing and being more aware of your actions.
Excellent take on the concept of inspiration and plagiarism since too many of his fans don’t know the difference.
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I was wandering through your site and came across this. I was intrigued by your conclusion though. I’ve always approached writing from the perspective of defining and refining one’s own voice. In order to try to stand out as an individual, you need to have a unique take that will attract and keep your audience. I have no idea how the large media outlets work, but I do wonder if they have a brand image to uphold that constrains any potential innovations on style that act as limiters to those writers, who have to pursue such development in their writing elsewhere.
It has much the same effect as your conclusion in the end, as language and thought are so integral to have your ideas voiced by another through reading what has already been written makes such “inspiration” difficult to qualify in your own writing.
I imagine, at least in the case of reviews, considering by and large these writers have the product early, there isn’t much in the way of outside influence dictating a tone or impression.
Big outlets also have the benefit of hearing multiple voices. I’ve heard countless instances of places like IGN, Polygon, etc. having internal discussion around the writing and publishing of almost every review and article.
These places have an image to uphold, and more often than not, it’s “we want to provide some guidance to consumers without being dicks.” Aside from the obvious stupidity and shittiness of the Miucin situation, the fact that his reviews weren’t even his seems damming enough and counter to the ethos of these companies.
There are a million discussions to have around this topic, but for now, I thank you for checking out my site and reading some of my work.