Twitter Quotes Are News, Despite What Devs May Say

Recent tweets from Minecraft creator and EA manager highlight top-level misunderstanding of a staggeringly powerful social network.

Last week, Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson dispatched a wave of tweets spitting venom at Electronic Arts, condemning the company as a "bunch of cynical bastards" and a firm that is "methodically destroying" the video game industry. You've probably heard this, because many news outlets reported this news, much to Notch's chagrin.

Minecraft creator Notch wasn't too pleased with his tweets making the news rounds last week.

"Twitter quotes are NOT NEWS [capitalization in original]," Notch later announced on Twitter. "You're better than that, and you make me feel dirty."

If Notch had his way, these messages would have remained private to him and his 685,319 or so followers. It's particularly surprising coming from a man who understands full well how the Internet works and how powerful a tool Twitter can be.

Twitter is an extremely public portal. It represents a direct line of communication between public figures and the individuals who follow them. (Where else can you learn what Hideo Kojima is eating for dinner tonight?!) I don't care that Notch is calling out the gaming press for doing what I believe to be its job (if you're doing your job well, someone will be angry, after all). What I take greater issue with is Notch's belief that Twitter quotes do not represent fair game for news. If every news writer followed this line of logic, gamers would be less informed. Here are some examples:

First word on THQ's major layoffs? That came from the Twitter feed of Kevin Dent. The release date for Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD? It was revealed by Tony Hawk himself on Twitter. Big-name projects Fable III, Little Big Planet 2, and Modern Warfare 2? All revealed first by a Twitter quote. And when Minecraft finally went gold, after many months of an ongoing beta, Notch did not elect to initially push the news on his blog or on the game's website. Rather, he announced the news in a tweet that simply said, "So, yes, Minecraft has gone gold."

Perhaps these stories would have come to light without the help of Twitter, but the celerity with which information can be discovered, analyzed, and written about via the advent of Twitter is incredible. And it's a good thing for gamers seeking to know as much as possible about the industry they so dearly admire.

Notch is not alone in his ironic disdain for Twitter as a news source. Also last week, Electronic Arts global product manager Kevin O'Leary took a shot at the then-just-announced Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

"Poor [Black Ops II], you look tired, you should take a year off and rest," he wrote.

Again, we wrote a story on this because we determined readers would want to know that EA was apparently returning to the mudslinging strategy it used in advance of Battlefield 3's launch. O'Leary is a high-ranking employee at EA. He is the global product manager, after all. When he talks, people listen. I am fine with an EA representative jabbing at Activision; the back and forth is intriguing. And O'Leary has every right to poke fun at his biggest competitor. Where O'Leary lost me, though, was when he acted surprised that his words on Twitter could become headlines.

"In case any other news outlets are following me, I'd like to be quoted on things like cars, snowboarding, GoPros, haikus & extreme sleeping," he wrote. This was followed by, "Who would like to know my official stance of Tickle Me Elmo? 1000 followers and I'll tell you. #superdupercereal."

"Notch is fine with utilizing Twitter as a public forum so long as the gaming press covers the tweets that shine the brightest possible light on himself and his endeavors."

It surprises me to learn that someone in such an important role at one of the world's biggest publishers does not seem to comprehend how Twitter works. Of course, O'Leary's Twitter feed is a mixture of personal updates and business entries (as is mine, as is yours), but when he talks about games, he is an expert likely in the process of advancing his employer's interests, and to pass on covering his words when appropriate would be doing a disservice to interested readers.

One of the reasons I enjoy my job as a news editor here at GameSpot so much is that every day is a new challenge. Every day is an opportunity to bring news to readers, to inform them about the medium they love. This is what inspires me. And so it pains me for Notch, O'Leary, and others to view Twitter as something less than what it is. Twitter is a powerful platform. It lets users like Notch, who have hundreds of thousands of followers, spread a message quickly and advance their objectives with great effect. But it can also feel deceptively intimate.

Notch is fine with using Twitter as a public forum so long as the gaming press covers the tweets that shine the brightest possible light on himself and his endeavors. But to pretend Twitter is all of a sudden off limits when a tweet not intended to be news becomes news? That smacks of hypocrisy. Notch has made clear that he and his studio Mojang are no longer indie, but the onetime indie darling is sounding a lot like O'Leary and EA, the company he claims is bringing the industry itself to the ground.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

108 comments
robfield
robfield

Don't tell them, Gamespot. Otherwise they might be quiet and stop giving you accidental and peripheral news.

x-TwilighT-x
x-TwilighT-x

Although I do think Notch should stick a sock in it I agree that Twitter, and other social media sites, are in fact News. A lot of news comes there, even devs post there... Cliff Bleszinski is just one example. I kept up with all of the Gears 3 stuff following his Twitter.

CodingGenius
CodingGenius moderator

Twitter = public.  Not only that, but they are also semi-permanent.

RavenXavier
RavenXavier

Twitter Quotes = News....if you're a Twit!!!       lol

oldschoolvandal
oldschoolvandal

Am I the only one tired of Notch?

 

Ok...he has developed a good game, congratulations!!

That's more than most (me included) can say but please...move on!!

 

Or does he really thinks he is the game industry savior??

Sounds just like a irritating Mr know it all to me...

Bumblebee1138
Bumblebee1138

This is what I like about Twitter. Most of the times you can find correct news before anyone else and find people's opinions that they hesitate to say publically.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

Of course he knows how it works.  His head would have just exploded with surprise at the success of Minecraft if he didn't understand how these things work.

 

I think he just got a little embarrassed at something he said and felt the need to lash out at something.  He just picked an odd target that's all, and made himself look like a bit of a prehistoric idiot at the same time.

 

I think the key to Twitter and the internet in general is, freak out *offline*.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

Notch should be careful what he says on twitter if he feels this way, but I thought that him telling off EA was a good thing and pretty much what many of us guys wanted someone working in the industry to do, so why is he so upset that it was reported on?

drknessfeeds
drknessfeeds

not a fan of twitter but just me, to each's own

drknessfeeds
drknessfeeds

And why exactly are they suprised that their mudslingin "maybe true" but still the same make headlines when they said it in a public medium

namdar
namdar

I made a twitter account only to follow charlie sheen... thats it :D

 

franzito
franzito

I barely use Twitter but I like because you can see the real news in real time. I don't know if celebs from other countries have the habit of posting "every sh**" they do on Twitter but, here in Brazil, you have the impression celebs wouldn't exist without it! As always, people get some things and twist in a way they screw for the others and themselves...

shanethewolf
shanethewolf

I signed up for Twitter to see what they hype was about. I've never found such a mind numbingly boring waste of my time!

KnightSparda
KnightSparda

Notch, why back out of what you said? You were right, and it seemed many people agreed with you...! Seriously, what happened?

Hakkology
Hakkology

I mostly use twitter to follow important people that i know or to follow some of the columnists that i read frequently. Its a good tool to shout at the world what you are doing.

Still i'm terrified to see how twitter dominates the social media in my country. To understand the success of the series people watch on TV, authorities follow twitter and get information to see if people liked it. I'm not even gonna talk about the power it gives to people, which makes them write cruel and idiotic comments on weird subjects.

Its truly terrifying.

ecurl143
ecurl143

I've stopped using Facebook because I was fed up of reading about what people were having for breakfast and asking people what colour they should paint and old wooden chair dumped in their garage for 10 years + - silly crap like that.

One day I just said "You know what? - I can't be doing with this anymore"

I fail to understand the appeal of twitter and the people who follow someone else's life - I just don't get it at all.

But in any case, this is a classic case of live by the sword - die by the sword.

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

i don't use twitter, probably never will.  but it sure is a quick way to get information out there pretty quick.

Alekxander
Alekxander

I f***ing hate Twitter and I f***ing hate Facebook. I also f***ing hate the new comment system on Gamespot. Thanks for reaffirming how much I truly hate these things, Eddie Makuch.

Lhomity
Lhomity

Twitter is the vomit bucket of the internet. It doesn't matter what people say in tweets, it almost never constitutes real newsworthy content. The fact that the mainstream media, particularly here in Australia, is obsessed with Twitter, serves only to showcase the laziness and desperation of today's media.

 

The so-called 'social media' (which is anything but social, in reality) is a blight on humanity and serves as a major contributor to the eventual and inevitable dumbing of our species.

 

Twitter is a cesspool. Its function is to distill and dispense hysteria, bottled and delivered to the masses.

Victorious_Fize
Victorious_Fize

If it's a personal account of his, yeah, that'd be pretty desperate.

 

Just imagine how stupid it would be to hype "The President opposes Starbucks" just because Obama tweeted about how he hate their drinks.

 

Otherwise, news is news, regardless of how petty the source is.

Erebus
Erebus

Notch has always stuck me as a bit of a hypocrite on the immature and self-educated side. I wish he would do us a favor and make good on one of his promises: STOP TALKING. He's full of hot air and the more he talks, the more obvious it becomes.

Coolhanded88
Coolhanded88

It'd be nice if journalists chose to actually investigate stories, do original research, and expose corruption or exciting events as they unfold.  If I cared about people's tweets...I'd follow them on twitter.  Copying and pasting a twitter sentence and then adding three sentences is not valuable - the world, and even the game industry, should have bigger issues (like how about where all our fancy tech goes when it's garbage - e.g. and the potential pollution and ruined lives being left in developing countries by our  insatiable appetites for money and entertainment)

Woodroez
Woodroez

Nicely done, Eddie. I can appreciate an editor willing to take a strong stance when facing pressure.

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

Notch does have a point, though. While it might be silly to think that no real news comes from Twitter, it's also silly to use it as your only source as a journalist. Twitter might bring something to light, but then the job of journalists is to treat it like a breadcrumb leading to the actual story. If a news article can be summed up in a tweet, leave it as a tweet.

 

Having a "news article" consist of nothing but a tweet and the "journalist's" opinion of it is not news. At that point, it's a blog.

McStrongfast
McStrongfast

While you're in the spirit of calling people out...

http://uk.gamespot.com/news/rock-band-ios-not-shutting-down-6374677

EA was planning to flat out revoke access to a game consumers had paid them for. Essentially stealing their games. I think that's significant and worth editorializing. Did any site anywhere call EA out on this?

 

Or the Tetris iOS thing? Reportedly EA pulled the game with no notice, forcing players to never lose their current Tetris download, or discover their game is gone forever. Or you could pay up for the new version of the game EA put up, with previous features now lacking and a brand new subscription model and microtransactions attached. Yay!

 

Just read they did a similar thing with some Sim City game.

 

Publishers can't be allowed to just remove, change and replace games at their own discretion like this. EA needs to get called out on this bull****. It's scummy as hell and shouldn't be legal.

StJerK
StJerK

Notch is becoming the gaming community's equivalent of a celebrity. Loud, obnoxious, always on the news, spoiled, and can't seem to understand what twitter is or what reporters do. All because he had a one-hit-wonder.

MafiaMusic
MafiaMusic

poor EA, pining up Medal of Honor: Borefighter against CoD: Black Ops 2 this year. Lol they're going to get decimated.

the_requiem
the_requiem

Lots of hipsters shouting off how they're too cool for twitter and facebook and whole social networking fad. Well, I don't do any "social networking" either but it is not coz am "too cool"... I am just not cool enough to be cool with knowing what color my friends' crap looks like.

Glaxton
Glaxton

What's the difference between finding the tweet on twitter, or through a friend, versus reading about it in an article? These guys are in the public eye or represent large companies, what do they expect to happen?

muppen
muppen

Don't care about Twitter. Used it briefly a long time ago, got bored and I haven't logged in since.

dg3215
dg3215

I don't use twitter, facebook, or any other social networking site.  Unless the occasional Gamespot comment counts..?  Some of my friends make fun of me for it, and then go on to tell why they are not happy with so and so because of what they said on twitter or facebook.  With all the other nonsense I have to deal with in life (work makes up most of that) I feel that the social networking sites will just add to the crap I have to deal with that I dont want to.

King9999
King9999

Twitter is most definitely a source for news.  I use it all the time for industry-related news.  People within the industry use Twitter to announce things.  Notch is just pissed because his words are being used against him.  I've said this before, but I'll say it again: having a successful game doesn't mean you can start running your mouth and think that it's OK or that everyone will agree with you because you're hot ****.  You could very well shoot yourself in the foot, like Jenova Chen.

RavenXavier
RavenXavier

 @oldschoolvandal

 Personally, I think he got rich and his ego went ballistic and now he thinks he was sent by the gods to save the industry, when in reality he just stumbled upon a good idea and had the skills to make it and get people to pay for it, making a lucky break (albeit a huge one) into the industry. His bank account is the only thing making him what he is in the industry right now. As soon as his next game is done and comes out and doesn't make anything near what Minecraft has made will everyone stop worshiping the ground he walks on. I think he's acting like kind of a a D-Bag, but that could just be me being mean.

franzito
franzito

@ecurl143 You're a rare case of a sane person in a modern world. Be proud!

mingolo
mingolo

 @TurambarGS Yes, GameSpot's coverage of the ME3 disaster, defending BiowEAr, was disgusting...

Bumblebee1138
Bumblebee1138

You can't 100% rely on something as Twitter but you can't totally deny it either. For journalists who want to know big peoples' opinions without interviewing them Twitter can be a gold mine. And many people are ready to tell thier opinions in Twitter rather than to the media. That is the jounalist's chance.

c0kemusheen
c0kemusheen

 @StJerK My thoughts exactly, this guys is loud and obnoxious....Is he from Sweden?

franzito
franzito

@Gelugon_baat Hating or not, Twitter's real utility is a little controversial, dont'cha think?

Coolhanded88
Coolhanded88

 @Gelugon_baat My problem isn't that journalists don't have solutions for the world's problems, it's that the crap they are highlighting is crap.  

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

 @Gelugon_baat The terms I used were "horrendously unbalanced". That is to say, all their articles and editorials took the same line. They also focussed in on one issue to the exclusion of all others (that being the 'artistic integrity' line). 'Still upset' isn't really the point here - it's more that I believe that their reporting was one-sided and going forward my perspective is framed by that belief. Perhaps 'jaded with respect to so-called game journalism' is more accurate if you want to put a label on it.

Bumblebee1138
Bumblebee1138

Actually comment sections and forums do work as a social media. The only difference is you know who you're talking to in FB and Twitter (most of the times) here people are behind usernames and avatars.

Bumblebee1138
Bumblebee1138

"Freedome is a right of all sentient beings." ;) :P