EA and G4 TV's Mass Effect Ethics Issue

The announcement of the presence of Jessica Chobot in Mass Effect 3's voice cast has raised more than a few eyebrows for a variety of reasons, one of them being that she's actually working as a videogame journalist for IGN and G4. Worthplaying has penned an editorial about this, pointing out one recent Mass Effect 3 video preview from Chobot herself:
While this is no doubt great news for Chobot, as she's getting a chance to contribute to a top-tier video game from one of her favorite developers, the way the announcement was handled presents a bit of an ethical quandary for both EA and G4 TV.


Because a mere two weeks ago, G4 TV had Chobot previewing Mass Effect 3 in her capacity as a journalist.

No matter how you slice it, this looks bad.

Character modeling and voice acting is something that takes a lot longer than two weeks, and according to Chobot herself, it's been in the works for a long time. This wouldn't have been a decision that was made overnight. Typically, the voice actor records his or her lines early on, and then the character modelers work on developing the animation. The animation can be wholly original, but more often than not is based on reference video of the voice actor.

The content and timing of PR plans for top-tier games involve similar, if not longer, timelines and are typically decided months in advance. This is done to ensure maximum exposure for the game in question, with little tidbits of news hitting at regular intervals. Whether it's the announcement of the voice cast, information about a demo or simply a batch of screenshots, the news is rarely accidental. It's carefully managed.

Knowing all this and knowing that EA has an extremely polished PR team, it is surprising that it would have even allowed Chobot to preview the game as a member of the press. The team had to have known Chobot had worked on the game when she walked into the demo suite with a G4 TV camera crew. While they may have wanted to keep the news of her involvement under wraps until the designated time, allowing G4 TV to film makes it look like EA's PR team had no issue with presenting someone who worked on Mass Effect 3 as an unbiased journalist reporting on the game.

This just screams "conflict of interest."