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GAMURS Group job ad ignites backlash in gaming/tech media

Are journalists scared that robots are going to take our jobs? At sites owned by GAMURS Group, it’s a real possibility.

This image is showing the gamurs group job description for a content writer position at gamurs group. Full text: ggamurs porttollo parks · in general, the articles produced will not 21:07 & g & · require a high level of in-depth gaming or x & https://gamurs. Breezy. Hr/p/3a < : locat · entertainment knowledge and are more basic · rewrite content where appropriate in structure and expertise. However, an interest in gaming and entertainment is a strong plus · write headlines, add links, add images, and other wordpress production processes · assist with other editing needs across the dot esports network v · ensure content opportunities have not expected output of 200 to 250 articles per previously been published on gamurs group week while working alongside our al content websites and seo strategist · assist the al content and seo strategist with k daily al tasks f in · work closely with editorial and seo teams to ensure smooth workflow across departments o < · identify new opportunities for al-produced content and strategy across gamurs group's the mary sue acoly portfolio

Honestly, I really didn’t know how to start this article. I stared at my screen for the longest time, deep in thought. But, words wouldn’t come out.

I’m a generally extroverted, chatty person. But no words came to mind. None, at least, that I could put into a coherent thought.

Should it just be a short, newsy post? I could mention the news about GAMURS Group and AI Editors, then move on, right?

Should I write about my personal experiences with shitty corporations? Or should I go into deep detail about AI and the underlying fear that robots will ultimately supplant jobs across all industries?

When I read about the GAMURS group looking to hire an AI Editor after dumping 50 staff members not a full three months ago, my brain shut off.

I’ve been a journalist, off and on, for well over a decade and a half, and I couldn’t fathom a need to replace real humans doing any creative work. But here we are.

The image depicts a job listing for a full-time seo team iii position at the gamurs company website in the united states, with a salary range of $40k - $55k. Full text: gamurs company website in al editor united states - remote ok full-time seo team iii $40k - $55k job openings > al editor

What is the GAMURS Group?

For a little background on the situation, the GAMURS Group is a corporation that buys up blogs and websites.

On their own website, they explain what they do:

GAMURS Group owns and operates a network of publications and social media communities. Our content focuses on both breaking news and timeless content. We pride ourselves on the trustworthy and reliable information we publish and the communities that it helps thrive. We help connect brands to these hard-to-reach audiences
– GAMURS Group

If you’ve enjoyed video game content from sites like Prima Games, Destructoid, or Dot Esports, you’ve been to a GAMURS Group site. They even own non-gaming sites like The Mary Sue, and We Got This Covered.

There’s a lot more than just those, though.

Back in March, The GAMURS Group laid off a large portion of its staff. There were at least 50 members of staff that had lost their jobs due to, what GAMURS Group claimed, was the Silicon Valley Bank collapse.

I won’t bore you with all of the details here, as they aren’t important, but Silicon Valley Bank is a lender for a lot of companies.

Only two and a half months later, on June 13th, a listing appeared on the GAMURS Group website for an “AI Editor.”

Now hiring?

Now, what exactly does an ‘AI Editor’ do? Essentially, they handle an extensive range of tasks for a relatively small compensation. Given that AI has not yet attained even a dog’s level of intelligence, this job would demand a great deal for minimal pay.

According to the listing, they “work in tandem” with an “AI Content and SEO Strategist” for AI-created content. They also are expected to put out an outrageous “200 to 250 articles per week.”

For those not good at math, that’s a fully completed article every 12 minutes on the low end and less than 10 minutes on the upper end.

Not only did it have a ridiculous amount of output in the listing and offend every creative out there, but it also paid insultingly low. They called it an “entry level position,” and pay was between $40,000 and $55,000, “depending on experience.”

Why have a staff of writers and editors when you can get away with paying a single person to use ChatGPT to handle the work of twenty?

Once they saw how negative the reception was, they deleted the entire post. As of right now, the position is “closed” on the original link to the listing.

Don’t worry; we have all of the receipts. However, the original link that could be accessed on the Wayback Machine on June 15th has been scrubbed in the time it took to publish this article.

Yes, you can have instances or information removed from the Internet Archive, and it seems they may have done just that.

EDITOR’S NOTE: 7/22/2023: Sometime after our article went live, the Wayback Machine’s “snapshots” changed again. The original “AI Editor” position now has two snapshots crawled on June 13th and a “Position Closed” version of the listing on June 15th. This is entirely different than the version we originally used as a source. We will continue to monitor the situation and have reached out to the Internet Archive / Wayback Machine for information

Let’s see what the people on the ground have to say about GAMURS Group

But that’s enough background. After considering how to write this piece, I realized that there’s one thing that AI can’t replace: human emotion. I’m really here to give a voice to those directly affected or who work in game journalism as a whole.

I reached out to several people I know within the industry. One of those people is the wonderful Morgan Shaver. They used to be the Editor in Chief at Prima Games.

When GAMURS Group acquired Prima Games, Shaver was on the front line. They soon left afterward to greener pastures but had some compelling things to say about GAMURS Group.

https://twitter.com/Author_MShaver/status/1668746469333954560

“I’ll say it doesn’t surprise me,” says Shaver, “given GAMURS stance of getting as many page views as possible, at any cost.”

They went on to explain that people working under GAMURS Group has some experience in treating their staff badly.

When working at Prima Games during their acquisition by the GAMURS Group, Shaver dealt with situations of misgendering, misogyny, and general rudeness. So, GAMURS has precedence for mistreating workers.

Pay rates are not generally high either. Shaver explained that the freelance rates that GAMURS “have set across all its sites are are as low as $10 per whole article.”

“100% this role will lead to more layoffs,” Shaver went further. “GAMURS does not value people, it values profit.”

More game journalists speak up

I spoke with another prominent game industry writer that wished to remain anonymous.

“I was never in contact with GAMURS when I worked in the network they now control,” the former editor-in-chief and content creator at sites now under GAMURS ownership said. “So, I’ve kind of remained vague in my knowledge of who they are and what they do besides buy up outlets.”

“However,” they continued, “the idea of laying off writers to consolidate content down to an AI with just a few handlers and editors sounds like the epitome of shovelware journalism pushed by shortsighted executives who don’t care about quality or their reputation, or at least not enough to put integrity over profits.”

I had conversations with several writers currently employed by GAMURS Group websites, who preferred to stay anonymous. We have personally verified their identities, but we aim to shield them from potential backlash.

“If you give this company an inch they will take a mile,” the first anonymous GAMURS writer said. “AI will snowball and no matter how hard the company tries to say ‘trust us’, after the layoffs why would we ever trust them on anything. AI will never and should never replace writers. Even if it means doing the grunt work no one ‘supposedly’ wants to do.”

A more comprehensive look into the digital writer’s room at GAMURS

The second anonymous GAMURS Group writer had a lot more to say about the matter. They explained that their time with the company has been positive thus far:

“Haven’t been working for them for long, but I’ve highly enjoyed my time working with other amazing and talented writers, to the point where finding out this news was heart breaking.”

They went on to explain the concern that spread across the entire company when the post happened:

“Experienced the layoffs as well, but this news somehow was worse. None of the writers knew about this decision, we found out through a tweet sent to our main discussion chat with everyone under the company. You don’t want to know the outrage that even happened, it was quite stressing but also I commend every writer who stuck up for themselves and each other in that chat.”

Right now, people under the GAMURS Group banner are all stressed.

“We’re all just worried at the idea of 200+ articles being posted weekly/monthly by someone who isn’t an actual writer,” the anonymous writer continued. “We know this has already hurt our reputation, we’ve seen the chatter on Twitter and that makes us even more scared that this decision which didn’t include our feedback could deal irreparable damage to the company. For now, it seems that the project is on hold, and we hope that it doesn’t go through.”

They had some advice for those looking at the websites under a more magnified glance this week:

“The only other thing I’d say is to anyone who feels that blacklisting our sites is a good way of protest, it’s not. It’ll only actually hurt us, the writers who make a living writing these articles that we do because we love it. A good form of protest is speaking up about it, not ignoring our sites. I’m surrounded by such amazing and talented writers that it’d be a shame to not have their work recognized because of a decision we didn’t make.”

Independent editors have a lot to say as well

I talked to the Editor-in-Chief over at Hey Poor Player, Francis DiPersio. As an independently owned website, Hey Poor Player may not have the same household grip that major sites do. But, they give a focus to a lot of games that might get swept under the rug by larger releases.

They always look out for the little guy. DiPersio explains why AI-generated content will never have the same soul as something written by a real human.

“At the end of the day,” DiPersio explains, “every games journalist wants nothing more than to share their enthusiasm and passion for this industry with their readers – two qualities walls of computer-generated word vomit could never hope to convey.”

“AI,” he continued, “cannot describe the exhilaration of taking down an especially towering boss because it knows nothing of excitement. A computer can’t describe the way a game’s story touched it on a personal level because it has no identity to speak of. Strip away the human element, and you’re all but ripping the still-beating heart out of the industry and doing a disservice to your readers.”

Aside from the video game and tech journalism, I spoke with Brett, the Blogger-in-Chief at Graphic Policy. Their primary focus is on comic books. But, if video game journalism is in trouble, other forms of multimedia journalism are likely as well.

“Can you call yourself media when you just publish AI articles?” Brett asks. “Isn’t that about one step away from just rewriting Wikipedia articles? Let’s ignore the fact these systems can’t function without the hard work from others they copy. The factual mistakes… just the ethics overall. This is about as low as you can get as a site. Might as well just swipe other people’s memes, pass them as your own, and not credit others. Less work and probably more clicks doing that.”

Even with all the tech in the world, KnowTechie prefers the human touch

With all of that in mind, I also hit up our own editor-in-chief, Kevin Raposo. With KnowTechie being a tech-focused site, I wanted to hear his take on AI Editors and the situation at GAMURS Group.

“After seeing that job listing,” he began, “my worst fears have been confirmed. I have so many thoughts, I don’t know where to begin. First, someone who gets paid $4.20 an article to essentially copy and paste isn’t an AI editor – that’s data entry. Secondly, given the infancy of generative AI, 250 articles in a week isn’t only irresponsible, it’s borderline criminal. Who over sees the editor?” At some point,” Raposo explained, “the well is going to run dry, and eventually, someone is going to be plagiarizing someone with better lawyers.

I have some thoughts about AI taking over for creatives

I think the real elephant in the room here is the AI itself.

When we talk about artificial intelligence taking over writing jobs, we’re likely talking about ChatGPT or one of its offshoots. There’s a lot of angles to discuss here, but I think it’d be smart here to boil it down to the important parts.

ChatGPT (and all the other AI out there), for what it’s worth, is a fascinating piece of technology. I definitely believe that it’s a stepping stone, though not anywhere close to an end product.

These programs really can do a lot, like generating recipes or doing people’s homework. However, as much as the fans of AI want to say otherwise, there’s a hard limit on what it can achieve.

I think Francis DePersio said it best in this regard: “It knows nothing of excitement”. AI, by definition, aren’t people. They aren’t creatives. They just read the internet and process some semblance of a combination of thoughts that seem coherent.

Even our own editor, Kevin Raposo, generated a single article using AI just to see how it would work a couple of years back. What he found was that it writes the article fairly well, but feels scattered and has plenty of grammatical errors to boot.

While AI could mimic what it thought was the way humans talk, it wasn’t perfect. It did explain a specific subject itself pretty well. But maybe they should stick to doing things like helping make websites or something.

Honestly, in a perfect world, AI would be the one to handle menial tasks, like press release regurgitation as news.

While still incredibly faulty, that seems to be what they’re best at. Then, the game journalist creatives would have all the freedom to do what they do best, like op-eds, evergreen features, and reviews.

But our world doesn’t work that way, at least not currently. Humans need to have their eyes and fingertips on the news to breathe life into a dull story.

They have to do the things that a robot can’t: humanize the world. So many people have written about this topic already, to varying degrees of pessimism.

You’re just a number to them

The problem we’re facing isn’t necessarily the AI programs. Those were always going to happen and exist.

The problem comes down to big companies looking at people as disposable. They look at their bottom lines and see people as just another paycheck, another problem.

Do you know who isn’t at fault here? The writers at GAMURS Group. They’re the victims in this situation. While the uproar may have got GAMURS Group to back down, for now, it’s only a matter of time before they or another company pops up with the same idea.

With so many layoffs going on across the industry, such as the recent Comic Book Resources layoff of three-quarters of their on-staff editors, people are scared for their jobs, their careers, and their livelihoods.

As someone that’s done this, off and on, for well over a decade and a half, I hope that companies that own game publications heed my advice here.

A robot doesn’t feel feelings, and no matter how much time you give it to learn, it never will. You’ll just have soulless entries on vacant websites.

You’re never going to reach your maximum potential without the creative people that bring your success. And everyone one of those people are looking at you right now, very closely. I suggest that you make your next move wisely, GAMURS Group.

KnowTechie contacted GAMURS Group for comment but didn’t receive a response at the time of this article’s publication.


Editor’s Note 6/17/2023 6:52 PM EST: A previous version of this article included a quote from the editor that made an unsubstantiated claim about the subject matter. We strive for accurate and fair reporting, and as such, the quote has been removed.

Have any thoughts on this? Drop us a line below in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

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After over a decade and a half of writing and journalism in games and multimedia, Arthur loves to talk tech, geek, and gaming, anytime, anywhere. He's the entire package: a gamer, a collector, and he knows how to build a computer. When he isn't writing, he also owns a local game shop, dealing in all various geeky antiquities.

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