In videogame journalism, it is totally normal to receive weapons in the mail. I am not making this up.
So I was a little surprised this morning when my friend at Hearst sent me a link to a Popular Mechanics blog entry, in which a Hearst writer is shocked—shocked!—that someone at Rockstar Games would be so stupid as to send a bat! In the mail! To the office!
Perhaps most damningly, someone in Rockstar’s PR really gored up the swag by smearing it with, that’s right, orange marmalade! Ugh! Disgusting!
I was strangely offended by the time Kotaku picked up the story. Seriously, isn’t this Rockstar at its least confrontational?
The cultures of tech writing and games writing really are very different, so I replied by email to my tech-writing friend at Hearst. “I don’t think anyone in my old [videogame journalism] office would be too impressed,” I told him. “They’re actually surrounded by weaponry.”
I then attempted to explain that, in games journalism, it is perfectly normal to receive weapons in the mail.
Lastly, I made a suggestion I ought to have kept to myself: “Maybe your next riveting expose should be about the strange and dangerous swag PR sends out to press.”
I realized it was a good idea minutes after I’d sent the email. Maybe I’d write the expose: Weapons Frequently Sent to Press by Awesome PR. I emailed Scott Sharkey and asked him to help me think of all the weapons in the Ziff Davis San Francisco offices, and more specifically, the weapons at his desk. Although he doesn’t yet know I’m quoting him, here’s what he located:
Yeah, [Rockstar] sent a bat when San Andreas came out, too, I think. I’ve also got a horsewhip from some cruddy racing game, the Condemned bloody lead pipe, the Bully cricket bat, and those spooky Stranglehold pistols that are eventually going to have me committing an accidental suicide-by-cop. Then there are mighty shitloads of swords from every continent and period in human history. Also, Gamecock sent a glass gun filled with assy tequila, but somehow I don’t think that counts.
I should point out that the “spooky Stranglehold pistols” are uncannily realistic, non-functional guns. In fact, they are not guns at all, but cigarette lighters. As for the others? Everyone I’ve spoken to agrees that the lead pipe with blood on it is by far the most dangerous of these weapons, but that the Bully cricket bat/paddle would be best for thwarting a zombie attack. Maybe the Bully slingshot, too.