This week marks my debut as a member of the team over at Koobismo, a group dedicated to creating comics — specifically, “Marauder Shields,” an alternative ending to the Mass Effect trilogy.
I joined up with the Koobismo team a few months ago after being approached by a couple of its members. My job (which is unpaid, of course — the whole thing is volunteer) is primarily as a member of the interview team. From time to time, the Koobismo team interviews various members of the Mass Effect and video gaming professional community, and that’s an area with which I can help.
My first interview was with Chris Avellone of Obsidian Entertainment last week (here). It’s an entirely different atmosphere in many ways, because, given that Koobismo is a fan project, there necessarily (somewhat) adversarial relationship between journalist and interview subject is gone. We sent our questions along to Chris before doing the interview; he got final approval of the audio before it was published. There’s a degree to which, especially in games journalism, the interview is waiting for the person with whom they’re speaking to screw up, divulge some secret, or say something stupid. Those things make for breaking stories. We weren’t up to that (it’s not something I condone professionally, either), and that led to a much more relaxed and, I think, interesting interview.
But then again, the Avellone interview is very personality focused, and that’s what interests me anyway — creating those kinds of stories was the purpose for the creation of the Game Front 1-on-1 series.
Speaking of the differences between professional and fan work, conflict of interest was something that worried me about joining the team in the first place; I haven’t really brought it up publicly until now, partially because I didn’t want to deal with it until I was actually helping out the Koobismo team.
When I was approached about the possibility — which might lead to my having a hand in some kind of creative development in the future, which is the thing that really interests me — I immediately ran it past my editors at Game Front for their opinions. After all, I met the top members of Koobismo after approaching the comic’s creator for an interview, and as a working games journalist, I’m a little too close to any potential stories to be involved in covering them. When it was cleared with the brass that they were cool with me working with Koobismo, the next step was separating myself from the coverage of it.
You’ll notice that whenever Game Front covers anything Koobismo-related — which we still do, as fans of the comic series and in believing that the work they do is important and interesting to our readership — I’m not involved. The notable exception was the Avellone interview, which I posted on Game Front because, having been a part of it, I figured I would share it as I would have had the work been done for Game Front. But primarily, I’m doing my best to keep as clear as possible from mixing those two worlds.
Potential conflicts of interest are not something I’ve often had to deal with, and so far, I’ve done little with the Koobismo team to begin with, so there’s not really much to keep separate. Still, it’s something I’ve had to keep in mind, and I have a feeling if more comes from my role on their team, it’ll be something about which I’ll need to be even more conscious.
Meantime, I got a chance to do a line for the latest audio book of the “Marauder Shields” comic, mostly because it was 10:30 at night and I was the only one available. Check me out in the role of Lt. Attlee.