Leigh Alexander

Gaming journalist.

 

“Gamers are dead”

The accusations of corruption surrounding Quinn and her affairs grew to encapsulate other problems with the videogame press, often accused of lack of professionalism. The term Gamergate was coined by actor and videogame vocie actor Adam Baldwin [1]https://archive.today/OyJrl on 27 August 2014, who had taken an interest in the “Quinnspiracy” in the weeks prior. In the same day, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian left her home due to anonymous threats [2]https://archive.today/kbGbQ, as she had become a target of criticism as part of the gaming press and this inevitably attracted undue harassment.

The following day, there was a rash of articles in gaming websites and blogs, some of which were posted within minutes of each other, decrying the growing debacle which they characterized as purely a misogynistic harassment campaign while largely ignoring any accusations of malfeasance by certain journalists and developers, a narrative which was pushed by these same sites since then and has been used against Gamergate proper ever since. This narrative is the main excuse used by various sites in order to ban all discussion surrounding Gamergate, whether they involved Quinn or not.

The following list is sourced from a public pastebin [3]http://pastebin.com/dWzF8Eqd:

The number and similar tone of so many of these articles raised even more suspicions of collusion, fanning the flames of debate and kicking Gamergate off in earnest.


Bullying and gatekeeping

Before kicking off Gamergate proper, Alexander was known for openly bullying people out of gaming journalism and bragging about it. In a common theme within anti-gamers, these actions were supposedly excused by being made against “bad people” as it was termed by those actually doing the bullying.

“I am a megaphone and I won’t mind making an example out of you”

In a Twitter diatribe involving developer Russ Roegner [4]https://archive.today/ftaqd, who stated that there’s “no issue with gender equality in the game industry” and argued that opportunity are open to everyone. In between more sane voices arguing against him, Alexander made threats [5]http://archive.is/OQduY.

Bw0drqSCQAAB4us

“Sorry. This is not gonna be a career for her.”

The context for this has been lost, and Alexander has since deleted the tweet [6]http://archive.is/2tKxj.

EVIDENCE4

“Leigh Alexander just killed another career, it’s a mild day”

The context for this has been lost, and Alexander has since deleted the tweet [7]https://archive.today/sUQE7.

leigh2

“As if I cannot instantly kill all their dreams”

Source [8]http://archive.is/O0zqR#selection-5603.0-5637.125. The original has been deleted.

archive today O0zqR

“I am game journalism”

Source [9]https://archive.today/X2n9P.

B4bqUCHIYAEG3mJ


Promoting harassment

Despite the anti-gamer narrative dominating the media that casts various female gaming journalists and critics as victims of harassment, Leigh Alexander is one of many who not only engaged in it herself as the sections on Lack of professionalism and Assorted attest, but made public calls for it [10]https://archive.today/1VAJh [11]https://archive.today/yTLUy [12]https://archive.today/DWIl9 [13]https://archive.today/IrUwI.


 

Undisclosed conflicts of interest

Christine Love

On September 2012, leigh Alexander promoted games by Christine Love in an article in Vice Media’s blog The Creators Project [14]http://archive.is/gYTqa. There is no disclaimer regarding their previous friendship [15]https://archive.today/1KkGs (the tweets from Alexander’s account from those dates are missing).

Source: Kotaku in Action

Source: Kotaku in Action

Babycastles

Leigh Alexander was a supporter and occasional contributor to Babycastles, a New york arcade and gaming space dating back to at least 5 August 2010 [16]Deleted tweets from Leigh Alexander dating from 2010. They had since been saved by Alexander herself to a public PDF, which she has since deleted as well. The PDF is avalable here: http://www.4shared.com/office/SESn-BdYce/Buzz-0014.html. Its autheticity is offhandedly confirmed by her here: https://archive.today/14b2y.

On 15 August 2010, she promotes Babycastles in an article for the LA Times without any disclosure [17]https://archive.today/zuxM5.

On 15 July 2011 she hosts an event in the arcade [18]https://archive.today/YIMlp, which continues to enjoys her patronage [19]https://archive.today/pG9hX.

On 17 September 2012, she publicizes Babycastles in an article about indie games as spectator sports at Gamasutra, without disclosure [20]https://archive.today/bKMdY. What is intriguing by this is that months prior, on 24 February, she had written a piece wholly about Babycastles at the same site but had actually written a disclosure [21]https://archive.today/CN76M.

Ramiro Corbetta

On 17 September 2012, Leigh Alexande rpublished an article in Gamasutra showcasing the work of developer Ramiro Corbetta [22]https://archive.today/bKMdY. There is no disclosure in the article, despite the two of them having been friends for years [23]Deleted tweets from Leigh Alexander dating from 2010. They had since been saved by Alexander herself to a public PDF, which she has since deleted as well. The PDF is avalable here: http://www.4shared.com/office/SESn-BdYce/Buzz-0014.html. Its autheticity is offhandedly confirmed by her here: https://archive.today/14b2y [24]https://archive.today/PQSZp [25]https://archive.today/pG9hX.

Naomi Clark

The information on this section comes mainly from the Gamergate.me wiki.

Alexander’s friendship to indie game designer Naomi Clark extends as far back as early 2012 [26]https://archive.today/JW7UM [27]https://archive.today/ckpSz [28]https://archive.today/TLWk9 [29]https://archive.today/CbaWZ. Despite this, Alexander has written two articles praising her games. Once on 3 May 2013 for Sissyfight 2000 [30]https://archive.today/L85q5 and on 3 November 2014 for Consentacle [31]https://archive.today/LvWET.


GameJournoPros membership

Leigh Alexander was a member of the GameJournoPros mailing list[32]https://archive.today/i6gNp. The group connected to collusion and blacklisting in gaming journalism, although she hasn’t participated in those known cases. She is on record as stating she wasn’t a member [33]https://archive.today/utUDS, altho she quit a few months before the “gamers are adead” controversy [34]https://archive.today/eGYk5.

B1pPFWjCIAALCXO


Casual racism

Under a common excuse of not being racist because she lives in the ghetto, Leigh Alexander used racist euphemisms to attack black people [35]https://archive.today/vRIvY [36]https://archive.today/hXsWw. Both tweets have since been deleted. Later she claimed to be decrying harassment, ignoring what a “violent cultural backlash” against black people entails [37]http://archive.is/ti01k.

In a separate instance, Alexander mistook pro-Gamergate blogger Lee Williams (@demisaysstuff) for a different black man, @electrolemon, whose name Demi was part of Williams’ handle [38]https://archive.today/1BWP5. Williams reacted to it with a satirical poem of sorts [39]https://archive.today/LSmaa and mentioned she blocked him on Twitter.


Lack of professionalism

Contempt for her audience

Her articles have long included petty attacks on her own readerships and gamers [40]https://archive.today/a6WuE#selection-225.0-273.78 [41]https://archive.today/n5LES [42]https://archive.today/z9Csm [43]https://archive.today/xwfeh even before Gamergate broke out, despite self-describing as a “games & tech culture writer” [44]https://archive.today/aMcgT#selection-941.0-941.27.

Hypocrisy

Despite her aforementioned jabs at gamers using stereotypes, she claims she and her peers tried to “dispell stereotypes about people who like games” [45]https://archive.today/yPiar.

leighhypocrite

“I have no pretense of being unbiased, sorry I have an agenda”

At the XOXO Festival 2014 in Portland, Oregon, Alexander states the bias and agenda-driven nature of her reporting [46]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEOUSoRBsvQ&t=10m.

“Let’s send Jack Thompson poison candy”

Jack Thompson is the natural comparison to be made with the current anti-gamers, yet despite Alexander’s support for the latter, she was staunchly against the former. To the point where she celebrated the fact that Thomson had heart issues and jonkingly told people to send him poison candy [47]https://archive.today/77wqO.

Excusing cronyism

Sources [48]https://archive.today/ZeLT7 [49]https://archive.today/dtOPZ#selection-4862.2-5544.11

 


Assorted


Further reading

Gaming Journalists Are Incompetent Fuckwits wrote of Leigh Alexander’s lack of professionalism in 1 july 2010 [50]https://archive.today/ydCAJ.

   [ + ]

1. https://archive.today/OyJrl
2. https://archive.today/kbGbQ
3. http://pastebin.com/dWzF8Eqd
4. https://archive.today/ftaqd
5. http://archive.is/OQduY
6. http://archive.is/2tKxj
7. https://archive.today/sUQE7
8. http://archive.is/O0zqR#selection-5603.0-5637.125
9. https://archive.today/X2n9P
10. https://archive.today/1VAJh
11. https://archive.today/yTLUy
12. https://archive.today/DWIl9
13. https://archive.today/IrUwI
14. http://archive.is/gYTqa
15. https://archive.today/1KkGs (the tweets from Alexander’s account from those dates are missing
16, 23. Deleted tweets from Leigh Alexander dating from 2010. They had since been saved by Alexander herself to a public PDF, which she has since deleted as well. The PDF is avalable here: http://www.4shared.com/office/SESn-BdYce/Buzz-0014.html. Its autheticity is offhandedly confirmed by her here: https://archive.today/14b2y
17. https://archive.today/zuxM5
18. https://archive.today/YIMlp
19, 25. https://archive.today/pG9hX
20, 22. https://archive.today/bKMdY
21. https://archive.today/CN76M
24. https://archive.today/PQSZp
26. https://archive.today/JW7UM
27. https://archive.today/ckpSz
28. https://archive.today/TLWk9
29. https://archive.today/CbaWZ
30. https://archive.today/L85q5
31. https://archive.today/LvWET
32. https://archive.today/i6gNp
33. https://archive.today/utUDS
34. https://archive.today/eGYk5
35. https://archive.today/vRIvY
36. https://archive.today/hXsWw
37. http://archive.is/ti01k
38. https://archive.today/1BWP5
39. https://archive.today/LSmaa
40. https://archive.today/a6WuE#selection-225.0-273.78
41. https://archive.today/n5LES
42. https://archive.today/z9Csm
43. https://archive.today/xwfeh
44. https://archive.today/aMcgT#selection-941.0-941.27
45. https://archive.today/yPiar
46. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEOUSoRBsvQ&t=10m
47. https://archive.today/77wqO
48. https://archive.today/ZeLT7
49. https://archive.today/dtOPZ#selection-4862.2-5544.11
50. https://archive.today/ydCAJ
Posted in | Comments Off on Leigh Alexander

Jenn Frank

Journalist for The Guardian.

 

Response to IGF criticism

This is explained in more detail in IGF’s page on this site.

Indie studio Rotting Cartridge, an entrant on IGF 2012, fiercely criticized the judging process of the event [1]https://archive.today/MpeFi, claiming many of the judges assigned to their game, Kale in Dinoland, barely even played it. This lack of proper judgment runs counter to the supposedly meritocratic order of the awards.

A judge at the 2012 IGF event, Jenn Frank took umbrage at Rotting Cartridge’s revelations and offered a rebuttal [2]https://archive.today/7C9zj, altho she seemingly wasn’t one of the judges to whom Kale In Dinoland was assigned.

Altho she raises valid points (namely, the failure of some devs to provide documentation for their entries or simply of offering buggy builds), her post is littered with assumptions, flaws in logic, personal diatribes and petty insults. Many of the comments on the post condemn it.


 

Undisclosed conflict of interest

Most of the information in this section comes from a thread on Reddit. [3]https://archive.today/5Ut7m.

On 1 September 2014, Jenn Frank published an article on The Guardian [4]https://archive.today/rV5iZ. Although it doesn’t mention Gamergate, it revolves arround the narrative of harassment against women in videogames, chiefly Zoe Quinn, that has surrounded it since. The initial version of the article failed to disclose her ties to Zoe Quinn in the form of support to her Patreon. On the same day, the article was edited as a tiny disclosure was added at the very end of the article [5]https://archive.today/nLuJR. On 5 September the edit was changed to clarify that the disclosure (which also included Frank having briefly met Anita Sarkeesian, also feature din the article) was included by Frank in the copy she sent to the newspaper, but the editor thought it wasn’t a significant connection, thus assuming the fault for omitting the disclosure that was being unfairly blamed on Jenn Frank [6]https://archive.today/1OcX5.

However, there are four other factors that aren’t mentioned anywhere that indicate conflict of interest.

The first is the fact that Maya Felix Kramer, a friend and possible PR agent of Zoe Quinn, pays into Jenn Frank’s own Patreon [7]https://archive.today/UkRWS. However, the possible PR tie between Kramer and Quinn is circumstantial. The page on Zoe Quinn expounds on their relationship.

The second one is that Frank, by her own admission, Frank booked and paid approximately US$1,000.00 for the hotel room where Zoe Quinn and her then-boyfriend Eron Gjoni during Game Developer’s Conference 2014 [8]https://archive.today/yDePm [9]https://archive.today/yE0is [10]https://archive.today/24qTi, which is corroborated by Gjoni in his blog [11]https://archive.today/hTjM6. GDC 2014 took place in San Francisco during 17 to 21 March, with Frank paying for a week’s worth of the hotel room and Gjoni paying for further two nights.

The third factor is that in the same series of tweets where she admits to paying US$1,000.00 for Quinn’s and Gjoni’s hotel room, she lashes out at Gjoni. Besides the common and misapplied epithet of “jilted ex” [12]https://archive.today/yDePm, she calls him “this idiot horrible asshole” [13]https://archive.today/pQJRP and flings even more colorful profanities [14]https://archive.today/L3maK, while wishing that he would pay her back [15]https://archive.today/yDePm [16]https://archive.today/pQJRP [17]https://archive.today/1hPWg. Beyond the vituperation, these tweets perfectly indicate her bias in the issue she covered even without considering the financial matter of the hotel room payments.

The fourth one is simply how close she is to Zoe Quinn at all, regardless of hotel fees. Being close to the would-be subject of your journalistic articles is a conflict of interest in itself. Tho Frank saw fit to disclose having briefly met Anita Sarkeesian, she far closer relationship to Zoe Quinn went unremarked upon.

These tweets predate the publication of the article on The Guardian, but to this day, it makes no mention of this financial tie, let alone her personal friendship and bias towards Quinn’s side of the story.

“Quitting” for 17 days

On 3 September 2014, Frank made a public display of quitting freelance writing, because her editor having not published her initial disclosure caused her to come under unwarranted scrutiny [18]https://archive.today/7j7X8. No mentions are made of the hotel fee, her relationship with Quinn or her bias towards Quinn’s side of the story.

17fdf60e630d84d88927e9e08307acaf

On 20 September she was back to penning articles for The Guardian [19]https://archive.today/ZgMZH.

Explaining her side

On September 11 2014, Frank made a post on her blog expounds on her short-lived decision to quit freelance writing. Between personal details irrelevant to the topic at hand, she reiterates that it was the newspaper’s choice to not initially include her disclosure, and clarifies that her payments to Zoe Quinn’s Patreon amount to three monthly payments to $5, thus an insignificant amount (“I am being taken to task for $15, far less than any journalist’s bar tab”) [20]https://archive.today/E4yzA.

Again, no mentions are made of the hotel fee, friendship with Quinn or bias towards her.


Assorted

N64 controllers too complex for girls

Source [21]https://archive.today/bOP8Y#selection-1255.0-1255.373

By 1996, most of my female classmates had stopped playing video games. I think some of this had to do with societal pressures but the rest of it had to do with the Nintendo 64. Even now its controller is nonsense; in 1996 it was outright galling. Where had all these buttons come from? Why was it shaped like that? Why was there an analogue stick stuck in the middle of it?

   [ + ]

Posted in | Comments Off on Jenn Frank

Adam Sessler

Former gaming journalist.

 

False accusations of drug abuse

During Rev3Games’ coverage of E3 2013 which ran from 11 to 13 June, in several videos Sessler is seen behaving very erratically, presenting nervous tics, slurred speech and other symptoms often associated with drug abuse [1]https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWnpHOQXsPDvkhaVsuEydVguE37dVzYnN [2]https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWnpHOQXsPDvK2UFvRCUll5ja7Z81Af3k [3]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6P2synObts.

Soon the internet had plenty of rumors regarding the use of cocaine [4]https://archive.today/Q3Z5F [5]https://archive.today/4Vki2 [6]https://archive.today/vBjI5 [7]https://archive.today/XjX9P. Although they were for the most part in mockery, nevertheless mean-spirited assumptions took some hold. There is no evidence whatsoever about drug abuse beyond conjecture based on the videos in question, which has been attributed to stress and overwork during E3 [8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo8QPyf24FA.


Justifies doxxing

During the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention 2013, which lasted from 11 to 13 July, Adam Sessler and Jim Sterling shared a panel to talk about the state of online gaming communities.

On the topic of hate speech and the trolls that use it, Sessler makes a perfectly valid point that just as its their right to free speech to behave in such a manner, he has the freedom of speech to call them out and offend them too. However, he follows this up by immediately justifying doxxing, namely by finding their address and publicizing it, to cheers from the audience and enthusiastic agreement from Sterling [9]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOxRxyv6TFs#t=26m.

Accusing 4chan of “live hacking attempts”

On 21 August 2014, two days after Zoe Quinn faked her own doxxing, Sessler tweeted about being in a bar with her and “watching these hack attempts going down live”, with screenshot showing Zoe Quinn and her boyfriend Alex Lifschitz browsing what seems like a 4chan board (at the time, 4chan hadn’t banned Gamergate discussion), and soon afterwards he advertises her Patreon [10]https://archive.today/nFMLG [11]https://archive.today/H5N7z [12]https://archive.today/vg8UT [13]https://archive.today/E1nQh.

Suspicions of favoritism arose from the event, considering the facts that:

  • journalists associating too much with devs and publishers being one of Gamergate’s contentions (although Sessler has left gaming journalism since April 2014, he remains a personality in the gaming press)
  • he flat-out encouraged people to donate money to one such dev
  • Quinn unsuccessfully attempt to fake her own doxxing only two days prior
  • she indeed hasn’t been hacked then, or at all

4chan’s /v/ board mocked Sessler’s accusations, which they saw as just another smear attack on Gamergate [14]http://4archive.org/v/thread/259122764 [15]http://4archive.org/v/thread/259128004.

However, hours after Sessler’s tweets, the site of Phil Fish’s Polytron site was hacked and with it his doxxes were leaked. The perpetrator is unknown as the message left on Polytron’s defaced site is purposefully sarcastic and obfuscating, which led pro-GG people to argue it was a “false flag” like Quinn herself had attemtped two days previously. However, Polytron’s hacking proved to be genuine. More details in Phil Fish’s page in this site.


Excusing conflict of interest

In a video uploaded to Youtube by Rev3Games in February 2013, Sessler essentially calls gamers “paranoid” for being distrusting of one of their reviews of an EA-published game which featured ads for EA itself [16]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-22uspc2VrQ.


 

Assorted

Anti-gamer

CnBiemW

Source [17]https://archive.today/t3BeL

Supports real-life harassment of pro-GG people

BzzRgrYCQAEvkXW

Source [18]https://archive.today/dVERp

   [ + ]

Posted in | Comments Off on Adam Sessler

Ben Kuchera

Gaming journalist, current senior editor of Polygon.

kuchera02

 

Participation in Brad Wardell’s slandering

When Kotaku published its one-sided article accusing Stardock’s Brad Wardell of sexual harassment [1]https://archive.today/JTUza, Kuchera, then at Penny Arcade Report, “signal-boosted” Kotaku’s article [2]https://web.archive.org/web/20130827020524/http://penny-arcade.com/report/article/brad-wardell-of-stardock-sued-for-sexual-harassment-with-some-pretty-damnin. As the URL shows, the original name of Kuchera’s link was called “Stardock CEO Brad Wardell sued for sexual harassment, with some pretty damning evidence”. The latter part was soon edited to “some heavy allegations” as it became clear that Kotaku’s article was heavily flawed, drawing all its accusations from one side of the litigation, namely that of Wardell accuser, and had never sought Wardell to hear his side of the story. Eventually, the case against Wardell was dismissed with prejudice by the courts.


Participation in GameJournoPros

All of the information in this section comes from a single article by William Usher, the leaker of GameJournoPros [3]https://archive.today/aIteI.

Started on 31 August 2010 by Kyle Orland, senior gaming editor at Ars Technica, and was ostensibly modelled after JournoList, the controversial Google Group which had been closed down a few months prior due to evidence of collusion between its members, American liberal reporters, to push specific narratives.

uP6HvaD

A little less than a month after the list’s creation, Ben Kuchera, then senior editor at Penny Arcade Report, joined it. Orland spcifically mentioned that Kuchera’s recommendationis what caused him to land his job at Ars Technica, which goes a long way towards explaining the influence Kuchera had on GameJournoPros.

KfrxeKT

According to Usher, kuchera utilized this influence unduly on several occasions in the list’s discussions:

You see, this explains why Kuchera had such pull in the Game Journo Pros, why fellow member Ryan Smith was nearly kicked out of the group for snidely putting Kuchera in check on one occasion, and why Kuchera was allowed to bully Greg Tito in an attempt to close down the The Escapist’s #GamerGate discussion thread – a thread, I might add, that only stayed open thanks to a lot of intervention from The Escapist co-founder Alexander Macris, the same man who completely reorganized all of Defy Media’s ethics policies following the early days of #GamerGate.

The attempt to get Greg Tito to censor discussion of Gamergate on The Escapist is mentioned in more detail below.


“Quinnspiracy” narrative collusion

Yiannopoulos’ articles revealing the exitence of GameJournoPros claimed that several members of the list used it to practice collusion, by planning concerted narrative efforts between supposed rival publications. The focus of Yiannopoulos exposé was a thread about the “Quinnspiracy” controversy, where some of the journalists, most notably Ben Kuchera, argued about penning “signal boosting” articles on Zoe Quinn’s support or if they should just ignore the issue. Kuchera himself had financial ties to Quinn in the form of Patreon support dating to early January 2014 [4]https://archive.today/48pVJ. In that thread there was an attempt to pressure Greg Tito, editor-in-chief of The Escapist, into closing down discussion of Gamergate on its forums [5]https://archive.today/u397Q. It should be noted that The Escapist was one of the very few of the big gaming sites that did not ban discussion of the topic.

Other members voiced their worry at the ethics of this and chose to stay away.


Cronyism within GameJournoPros

In addition to being responsible for Orland’s job at Ars Technica and his undisclosed financial tie to Quinn, mentioned in the sections above, Kuchera was also friends with his future employer [6]https://archive.today/XwEK1 thanks to GameJournoPros. Chris Grant, editor-in-chief at Polygon, offered Kuchera a job less than a month after he had left Penny Arcade Report [7]https://archive.today/aIteI.

qw90lLM


Undisclosed conflict of interest

As mentioned above, Kuchera has a financial tie to Zoe Quinn in the form of Patreon support since early January 2014 [8]https://archive.today/48pVJ. In 19 March 2014 he penned an article about Quinn without any disclaimers [9]https://archive.today/iuDHi.


Minor disclosure of Patreon support

Between 25 and 27 August 2014, as a consequence of the discussion within Gamergate, Polygon ammended their ethics statement in regards to Kickstarter and Patreon contributions by its journalists [10]https://archive.today/uZe1b [11]https://web.archive.org/web/20140827204741/http://www.polygon.com/pages/ethics-statement. The additions were:

Polygon staff are permitted to back video game Kickstarter campaigns at the minimum level necessary to acquire the game or hardware. No disclosure is needed.

[…]

Polygon staff are permitted to contribute to Patreon campaigns for members of the video game industry, but need to disclose the details of those contributions on their staff page as well as on any related coverage they publish on the site.

Consequently, Kuchera updated his Polygon user profile to disclose whose Patreon accounts he contributed to [12]https://archive.today/UCzqx [13]https://web.archive.org/web/20140829054155/http://www.polygon.com/users/Ben%20Kuchera. However, his previous article about Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest remains unaltered.


Unprofessional behavior

Accusations against Erik Kain

In 27 January 2013, Erik kain, a gaming blogger for Forbes, posted news about the imminent release of an old 16-bit game [14]https://archive.today/iAta9. Altho only then receiving a physical release in the form of Super NES cartridge, the game Nightmare Busters had already circulated among the emulation scene for a while before this, and to demonstrate that the game itself wasn’t new, Kain linked to a browser-playable version of this ROM. However, due to the less-than-clear legal status of emulated games, his post drew criticism [15]https://archive.today/aj7W2, and he has since edited it to remove the link, apologized and clarified that he mistakenly thought that emulation of a previously unreleased game wasn’t considered piracy.

Ben Kuchera took the opportunity to accuse Kain of advocating piracy [16]https://web.archive.org/web/20140919211214/http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/general-discussion-30/ben-kuchera-starts-twitter-smear-campagin-against–576873/ [note: the thread went for longer than the 9 pages, but there isn’t a better archived version available]. In the ensuing spat, he started responding to criticisms simply with “Deal with it.” and changing his Twitter avatar to the same message [17]https://archive.today/Q2OAu [18]https://archive.today/qMgzk [19]https://archive.today/2bBaF [20]https://archive.today/QpAYG [21]https://archive.today/g5AoJ [22]https://archive.today/HLzOM [23]https://archive.today/VCT19, to much mockery from the internet [24]https://archive.today/5wXdD [25]https://archive.today/6CtZa.

 

Kuchera gets caught advocating piracy twice

On August 2014, Kuchera wrote an article for Polygon arguing unequivocally for the piracy of Star Wars movies [26]https://archive.today/KpeYt. When called out on the hypocrisy, he again chose to react in an unprofessional manner [27]https://archive.today/aW1KO.

On January 2015, he again advocated piracy, this time in regards to the movie The Hobbit [28]https://archive.today/qfpju.

Attacking Forbes’ ethics policy

On 30 March 2013, there surfaced a rumor that another Forbes blogger, Jason Evangelho, was making a profit by selling review copies of games [29]https://archive.today/yuGAV. Likely because of his previous spat with Kain, Kuchera used the opportunity to passive-aggressively criticize Forbes’ supposed lack of ethical oversight or even an ethics policy, despite he himself admitting that he never had one for the Penny Arcade Report [30]https://archive.today/OkX20.

 

 

Using other press sources without citation

On 15 January 2015, Kuchera wrote on Polygon about a developer of Hotline Miami 2 giving his blessing for Australians to pirate the game after it was banned [31]https://archive.today/STgri, without giving credit to the article he cribbed, from Australian site OXGCN [32]https://archive.today/aHw7J. OXGCN had gotten the information itself from Reddit. Four days later, Kuchera’s article was edited to add Reddit as a source, while still ignoring OXGCN [33]https://archive.today/O0TJr. On 22 January, he confessed and apologized on Twitter [34]https://archive.today/onG35 [35]https://archive.today/2jyyN [36]https://archive.today/Rhui9 [37]https://archive.today/BL2Wn and the Polygon article was further ammended [38]https://archive.today/MkMHS. This is a rare instance of Kuchera admitting to a past mistake.

Penning articles without any fact-checking

On 9 February 2015, Ben Kuchera wrote an opinion piece questioning the profitability of Xbox One title Destiny [39]https://archive.today/g5U64. NeoGAF users spotted how flawed the premise of the article, as the question posed could be solved with simple Google searching [40]https://archive.today/AGNkN, making the whole article moot. The opinion piece has since been edited [41]https://archive.today/mm8op. This complete lack of fact-checking also demonstrates hypocrisy, considering Kuchera’s past diatribe against Erik Kain.

“Tetris is Soviet propaganda”

In a glaring display of ignorance of the subject matter of his job, Kuchera defended the opinion that Tetris as Soviet propaganda [42]https://archive.today/EJsiu [43]https://twitter.com/Rock_DS/status/549024559928983552, defending his point by stating the music and themes as extremely political [44]https://archive.today/APLQY, the government owning the rights to the game [45]https://archive.today/cY2oE and that its unending gameplay transmits the message that [46]http://archive.is/pIA0Q, all while insulting naysayers and bragging about having read about the game’s history. When faced with evidence contrary to his statements (Tetris at its start didn’t have graphics or music, and what little it did come to have weren’t Soviet in nature but Russian; the aforementioned music and graphics pre-dated the Soviet union by decades or centuries; the original version and several of its port and remakes do have an ending; the Soviet government owned the rights to virtually everything within its borders etc.), he chooses to react with more derision.

Assorted


Defends firing people on their opinions

On 31 January 2014, Kuchera had a minor spat with a Gamergate supporter on Twitter [47]https://archive.today/l2aHJ [48]https://archive.today/I5rhw, and followed it up by trying to get him fired over it [49]http://archive.is/TRe1C [50]https://archive.today/eZ9Gh.

1420768822814

 


Hypocrisy

A common theme in Ben Kuchera’s career in gaming journalism is the contradiction between his opinions and actions, or between opinions themselves.

On social justice

In his old posts at the Ars Technica forums, he often defended opinions that directly stand against his current stances with regards to social justice. While it’s perfectly understandable that a person can change opinions as time goes on, there’s a distinct lack of cognizance of this particular reversal. This dovetails with Kuchera’s habit of almost never apologizing or even acknowledging his mistakes [51]https://archive.today/Vmowh#selection-3232.4-3232.8 [52]https://archive.today/js8dA#selection-1348.3-1348.4 [53]https://archive.today/5IwkK#selection-2956.33-2956.34 [54]https://archive.today/fHVzH#selection-1190.11-1190.12 [55]https://archive.today/FMsQ2#selection-866.3-866.4 [56]https://archive.today/MckAf#selection-3740.0-3740.1 [57]https://archive.today/kEg1U#selection-671.0-671.117 [58]https://archive.today/rEa2p#selection-448.7-448.8 [59]https://archive.today/zmfv9#selection-1057.1-1065.10 [60]https://archive.today/GdFI1#selection-2799.0-2837.32.

 

On cronyism

During the “Doritogate” controversy, journalist Lauren Wainwright threatened legal action against Eurogamer for publishing an article by Rab Florence where he named people involved in malfeasance in gaming journalism. Ben Kuchera added his voice to the chorus that criticized this form of censorship, while also making clear that he thought that close relationships between publishers and journalists was a problem [61]https://archive.today/bLphH. The last paragraph is particularly pertinent:

We need to be more willing to report on the mingling of marketing and reporting in the video game industry, not less. There needs to be more instances of disclosure, not fewer. The common industry practice of sticking our heads in the sand and dismissing these stories as “drama” won’t work anymore. Lauren Wainwright is finding that out, to her detriment.

As Gamergate demonstrated, he owes part of his career thanks to cronyism within the GameJournoPros mailing list. He also used it to further collusion regarding a proposed media silence surrounding Zoe Quinn after the publication of The Zoe Post. This is documented in the previous parts of this article.

On piracy

As discussed elsewhere in this page, Kuchera once used a possibly spurious charge of advocating piracy as an opportunity to attack Forbes’ gaming blogger, Erik Kain. After that fracas, Kuchera fomented piracy twice.

 

   [ + ]

1. https://archive.today/JTUza
2. https://web.archive.org/web/20130827020524/http://penny-arcade.com/report/article/brad-wardell-of-stardock-sued-for-sexual-harassment-with-some-pretty-damnin
3, 7. https://archive.today/aIteI
4, 8. https://archive.today/48pVJ
5. https://archive.today/u397Q
6. https://archive.today/XwEK1
9. https://archive.today/iuDHi
10. https://archive.today/uZe1b
11. https://web.archive.org/web/20140827204741/http://www.polygon.com/pages/ethics-statement
12. https://archive.today/UCzqx
13. https://web.archive.org/web/20140829054155/http://www.polygon.com/users/Ben%20Kuchera
14. https://archive.today/iAta9
15. https://archive.today/aj7W2
16. https://web.archive.org/web/20140919211214/http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/general-discussion-30/ben-kuchera-starts-twitter-smear-campagin-against–576873/ [note: the thread went for longer than the 9 pages, but there isn’t a better archived version available]
17. https://archive.today/Q2OAu
18. https://archive.today/qMgzk
19. https://archive.today/2bBaF
20. https://archive.today/QpAYG
21. https://archive.today/g5AoJ
22. https://archive.today/HLzOM
23. https://archive.today/VCT19
24. https://archive.today/5wXdD
25. https://archive.today/6CtZa
26. https://archive.today/KpeYt
27. https://archive.today/aW1KO
28. https://archive.today/qfpju
29. https://archive.today/yuGAV
30. https://archive.today/OkX20
31. https://archive.today/STgri
32. https://archive.today/aHw7J
33. https://archive.today/O0TJr
34. https://archive.today/onG35
35. https://archive.today/2jyyN
36. https://archive.today/Rhui9
37. https://archive.today/BL2Wn
38. https://archive.today/MkMHS
39. https://archive.today/g5U64
40. https://archive.today/AGNkN
41. https://archive.today/mm8op
42. https://archive.today/EJsiu
43. https://twitter.com/Rock_DS/status/549024559928983552
44. https://archive.today/APLQY
45. https://archive.today/cY2oE
46. http://archive.is/pIA0Q
47. https://archive.today/l2aHJ
48. https://archive.today/I5rhw
49. http://archive.is/TRe1C
50. https://archive.today/eZ9Gh
51. https://archive.today/Vmowh#selection-3232.4-3232.8
52. https://archive.today/js8dA#selection-1348.3-1348.4
53. https://archive.today/5IwkK#selection-2956.33-2956.34
54. https://archive.today/fHVzH#selection-1190.11-1190.12
55. https://archive.today/FMsQ2#selection-866.3-866.4
56. https://archive.today/MckAf#selection-3740.0-3740.1
57. https://archive.today/kEg1U#selection-671.0-671.117
58. https://archive.today/rEa2p#selection-448.7-448.8
59. https://archive.today/zmfv9#selection-1057.1-1065.10
60. https://archive.today/GdFI1#selection-2799.0-2837.32
61. https://archive.today/bLphH
Posted in | Comments Off on Ben Kuchera

Polygon

Major gaming website. Part of Vox Media.

 

Belated launch and Microsoft financing

Vox Media announced on January 2012 [1]https://archive.today/XFYBG that it would launch a website geared at videogames journalism, under the placeholder name of Vox Games, which launched in February of the same year [2]https://archive.today/9rYNF. Its name was changed to Polygon in April [3]https://archive.today/K2Lll, but the official launch happened only in 24 October [4]https://archive.today/BlSj0.

Meanwhile, in August 2012, thus before the official launch, Polygon start publishing a documentary called “Press Reset” about the history of Polygon itself [5]https://archive.today/033mr. Besides the oddity of a documentary of the story of a website that hadn’t even officially launched yet, there was the question of the source of its budget: Microsoft paid US$750,000 for its production [6]https://archive.today/Yfmti, ostensibly as sponsorship from its browser Internet Explorer which can be seen at the end of the videos. However, since Microsoft is also a console manufacturer and a major games publisher, this financing of a documentary goes beyond the usual publisher ads that are the major revenues of most major gaming sites, thus raising the question of conflict of interest even before the site itself launched. Added to this is the fact that Polygon already had US$40,000,000 raised in venture capital [7]https://archive.today/tqlZO.

untitledqndc0

 

Halo 4 advertorial

On 30 October 2012, less than a week after its official launch, Polygon (among other sites) ran a loosely reworded press release of a Halo 4 ad campaign [8]https://archive.today/Tqi8X, a major game published by Microsoft. The first few user comments on the article were critical of this and were censored for a little while before being restored [9]https://archive.today/ZVzqf according to NeoGAF users. The following pictures are sourced from that thread.

It’s worth mentioning that this happened amidst the “Doritosgate” controversy, also surrounding the marketing blitz of Halo 4’s release.

Accusations of reviews biased against Sony and Nintendo

The aforementioned connections to Microsoft led some gamers to speculate on whether Polygon’s reviews unfairly favored titles for Microsoft’s consoles in detriment to those for Sony’s and Nintendo’s consoles [10]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIRNAQseuec [11]https://archive.today/heut6. However the evidence is circumstantial at best, seeing as several Xbox One releases received bad scores too. On June 2013, a user blog post on N4G showed that Polygon’s scores for Microsoft console titles tended to actually be lower than those for Sony console titles [12]https://archive.today/LEYMl.

Accusation of misappropriation of funds

A Reddit user [13]https://archive.today/heut6, along with accusing Polygon of possible pro-Microsoft bias by Polygon, also realized that the IMDB page for the “Press Reset” Documentary listed its budget as only US$75,000. The IMDB page has since been edited to show US$750,000 [14]http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2533830/business. The high possibility of a typo makes this evidence of bias seem circumstantial.

 


 

SimCity review

In its advance review, published 4 March 2013, of the remake of EA’s SimCity for PC, Polygon’s Russ Pitts gave the game a a 9.5/10 [15]https://archive.today/ab5ra.

Polygon_SimCity_Image

As the game was released the very next day, it was plagued by server outages [16]https://archive.today/1mJfh. Seeing as the game’s DRM included an always-on component, it was rendered unplayable to many people for large stretches of time [17]https://archive.today/ix3ey. In order to attempt to fix this, EA had to take servers offline as well in more than one occasion, further compound the problem [18]https://archive.today/cAOeK.

Adding to this were several bugs afflicting the people who did manage to get the game to start [19]http://imgur.com/f4PcBjb,3qnxoIs,o9F4MfM,cXirt8b,YeKbtxr,8uw8Mmc,54nSR0l. Besides common graphical glitches, the main issue seemed to be with bad pathfinding [20]http://games.on.net/2013/03/maxis-to-address-simcity-pathfinding-complaints-as-more-bugs-are-found/, a severe problem given the game’s design.

As the multitude of problems with SimCity cropped up, Polygon’s review drew criticism. Although they could be excused for not experiencing server outages as it was an advance review, they still failed to warn their readers as to the numerous issues with both design and execution. So on the same day of the game’s launch they updated their review, lowering the score to 8/10. However, this seemed to some as disingenuous [21]https://archive.today/RmYst and the score still seemed high considering the updated review itself admitted the reviewer couldn’t quite even play the game.

Perhaps more importantly, score aggregator Metacritic always keeps a publication’s first score as final, so the previous 9.5/10 remains on the site [22]https://archive.today/i3Rp7. As Metacritic’s aggregate score is the closest the videogame industry has to a standardized score, with several stores like Amazon and Steam featuring them on their games’ pages, the hastily-given initial score of 9.5/10 was effectively the only one that mattered. The days after release saw the bug reports and server outages mounting, and on 7 March Polygon again changed the score of the game to 4/10, before finally settling on 6.5/10 on 3 April.

Polygon’s glowing first review of the game and complete failure to warn their readers of the many flaws in the game that weren’t related to server overload, coupled with their strange first update to the score (mocked as “Literally unplayable. 8/10”), harmed the site’s credibility and fueled long-standing allegation of favorable reviews demanded by publishers.


Bayonetta 2 review

On 13 October 2014, Polygon’s Arthur Gies reviewed the WiiU title Bayonetta 2, giving it a 7.5/10 [23]http://archive.is/NhE84. Discussion about the sexualization of the title character takes up virtually half of the text.

A Reddit user [24]https://archive.today/A8FwK noticed that Gies had also reviewed the first Bayonetta game as well, altho for a different website [25]http://archive.is/kwlHD, giving it 8/10. For that first title, the discussion about sexualization is a brief mention, whereas for the sequel it’s a major factor in the review, and the game arguably lost score points for it.

Happening as it did amidst Gamergate, this raised the question of casuistry and the role of ideology in reviewing games [26]https://archive.today/LI9fP. On the other hand, overzealous Bayonetta fans have been accused of retaliating against an unfavorable score, which does amount to a stiflement of criticism [27]https://archive.today/gl3jo.

Suicide Girls mockery

Reddit users accused Gies of hypocrisy over his Bayonetta 2 review’s criticism of oversexualization membership in porno site Suicide Girls [28]https://archive.today/nEFHj.


Gone Home review

On 15 August 2013, Polygon’s Danielle Riendeau reviewed Gone Home and gave it 10/10 [29]https://archive.today/VpZTg (comments not available on the archived page).

It later surfaced that Riendeau was friends with at least two people involved in the game’s development: Steve Gaynor, co-founder of Gone Home’s devhouse The Fullbright Company, and Chris Remo, composer of the game’s score [30]https://archive.today/6bOmd [31]https://archive.today/pgrC3 [32]https://archive.today/ew6rL [33]https://archive.today/R1K4u. These relationships are not disclosed at all in Polygon’s review.

Riendeau had been a guest at Remo’s podcast, Idle Thumbs, a week before Polygon’s review was published [34]https://archive.today/HbDpZ. At about the 0:02:30 mark, they talk about being friends for a long while before. Additionally, Gaynor was a member of Idle Thumbs, once having been co-host of the main podcast, and in October 2013 returned to host his own show in the site, Tone Control [35]http://idlethumbs.wikia.com/wiki/Steve_Gaynor. Among the comments on Polygon’s review, a reader comments on these potential conflicts of interest, but is told by the site’s deputy review editor, Phillip Kollar, that a podcast guest appearance bears no problem. Riendeau’s friendship with Remo and gaynor which predates the podcast itself wasn’t brought up.

On May 2014, Riendeau became an occasional host on the same podcast [36]http://idlethumbs.wikia.com/wiki/Danielle_Riendeau [37]https://web.archive.org/web/20140702044028/https://www.idlethumbs.net/about [38]https://archive.today/tOLBC.

All the information regarding Gone Home’s review other than Riendeau eventually joining Idle Thumbs was sourced from an anonymous picture found below.

8atPtzN

Source: 8chan


Assorted

“Kissing vs Killing”

On 1 October 2014, Polygon published an opinion piece by developer Zach Gage about the game Shadow of Mordor [39]https://archive.today/XpO7f. He complained about the way the game introduced a stealth mechanic in a tutorial, as the player was taught to sneak to kiss his wife in the same manner as sneaking to kill an enemy. From that, Gage proceeded to pen a convoluted moral diatribe, including bringing up an issue of misogyny.

The article was mocked as inane, pointless and a cheap attempt to create a moral panic [40]https://archive.today/BzrQL [41]https://archive.today/72hb5 [42]https://archive.today/mcktO [43]https://archive.today/DVzFB. By contrast, Penny Arcade’s Gabe praised the tutorial in question, seeing it as a clever twist on the usually boring tutorial mechanics and it resonated on his experience as a family man [44]https://archive.today/N3sIb.


 

References

   [ + ]

1. https://archive.today/XFYBG
2. https://archive.today/9rYNF
3. https://archive.today/K2Lll
4. https://archive.today/BlSj0
5. https://archive.today/033mr
6. https://archive.today/Yfmti
7. https://archive.today/tqlZO
8. https://archive.today/Tqi8X
9. https://archive.today/ZVzqf
10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIRNAQseuec
11, 13. https://archive.today/heut6
12. https://archive.today/LEYMl
14. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2533830/business
15. https://archive.today/ab5ra
16. https://archive.today/1mJfh
17. https://archive.today/ix3ey
18. https://archive.today/cAOeK
19. http://imgur.com/f4PcBjb,3qnxoIs,o9F4MfM,cXirt8b,YeKbtxr,8uw8Mmc,54nSR0l
20. http://games.on.net/2013/03/maxis-to-address-simcity-pathfinding-complaints-as-more-bugs-are-found/
21. https://archive.today/RmYst
22. https://archive.today/i3Rp7
23. http://archive.is/NhE84
24. https://archive.today/A8FwK
25. http://archive.is/kwlHD
26. https://archive.today/LI9fP
27. https://archive.today/gl3jo
28. https://archive.today/nEFHj
29. https://archive.today/VpZTg (comments not available on the archived page
30. https://archive.today/6bOmd
31. https://archive.today/pgrC3
32. https://archive.today/ew6rL
33. https://archive.today/R1K4u
34. https://archive.today/HbDpZ
35. http://idlethumbs.wikia.com/wiki/Steve_Gaynor
36. http://idlethumbs.wikia.com/wiki/Danielle_Riendeau
37. https://web.archive.org/web/20140702044028/https://www.idlethumbs.net/about
38. https://archive.today/tOLBC
39. https://archive.today/XpO7f
40. https://archive.today/BzrQL
41. https://archive.today/72hb5
42. https://archive.today/mcktO
43. https://archive.today/DVzFB
44. https://archive.today/N3sIb
Posted in | Comments Off on Polygon

GameJournoPros

A mailing list for several gaming journalism professionals. It’s membership and some conversations were leaked by member William Usher.

 

Reveal

On 17 September, Milo Yiannopoulos published an article about a mailing list of several gaming journalists called Game Journalist Professionals a.k.a GameJournoPros [1]https://archive.today/5iLCl, followed by another one the next day [2]https://archive.today/ypaNu and a dump of the e-mails corcerning Zoe Quinn [3]https://archive.today/u397Q

Yiannopoulos published two more articles in the following weeks [4]https://archive.today/TuCns [5]https://archive.today/EV7kl.

Accidental reveal of leaker

On 20 September, Yiannopoulos posted screenshots showing the membership list of GameJournoPros [6]https://archive.today/vXylK, accidentally revealing his source in the process [7]https://archive.today/4gDOM. He deleted the tweet about an hour later. On 22 September, the leaker, William Usher, claimed there was no harm done [8]https://archive.today/gTvlJ.

Former members

On 6 November, Usher revealed in his Twitter the names of four former users of GameJournoPros [9]https://archive.today/i6gNp. Among them were Leigh Alexander, who is on record as stating she wasn’t a member [10]https://archive.today/utUDS, altho she quit a few months before the “gamers are adead” controversy [11]https://archive.today/eGYk5.


Creation

All of the information in this section comes from a single article by William Usher, the leaker of GameJournoPros [12]https://archive.today/aIteI.

Started on 31 August 2010 by Kyle Orland, senior gaming editor at Ars Technica, and was ostensibly modelled after JournoList, the controversial Google Group which had been closed down a few months prior due to evidence of collusion between its members, American liberal reporters, to push specific narratives.

uP6HvaD

A little less than a month after the list’s creation, Ben Kuchera, then senior editor at Penny Arcade Report, joined it. Orland spcifically mentioned that Kuchera’s recommendationis what caused him to land his job at Ars Technica, which goes a long way towards explaining the influence Kuchera had on GameJournoPros.

KfrxeKT

According to Usher, Kuchera utilized this influence unduly on several occasions in the list’s discussions:

You see, this explains why Kuchera had such pull in the Game Journo Pros, why fellow member Ryan Smith was nearly kicked out of the group for snidely putting Kuchera in check on one occasion, and why Kuchera was allowed to bully Greg Tito in an attempt to close down the The Escapist’s #GamerGate discussion thread – a thread, I might add, that only stayed open thanks to a lot of intervention from The Escapist co-founder Alexander Macris, the same man who completely reorganized all of Defy Media’s ethics policies following the early days of #GamerGate.

The attempt to get Greg Tito to censor discussion of Gamergate on The Escapist is mentioned in more detail below.


 

“Quinnspiracy” narrative collusion

Yiannopoulos’ articles claimed that several members of the list used it to practice collusion, by planning concerted narrative efforts between supposed rival publications. The focus of Yiannopoulos exposé was a thread about the “Quinnspiracy” controversy, where some of the journalists, most notably Ben Kuchera, argued about penning “signal boosting” articles on Zoe Quinn’s support or if they should just ignore the issue. Kuchera himself had financial ties to Quinn in the form of Patreon support [13]https://archive.today/48pVJ. In that thread there was an attempt to pressure Greg Tito, editor-in-chief of The Escapist, into closing down discussion of Gamergate on its forums [14]https://archive.today/u397Q. It should be noted that The Escapist was one of the very few of the big gaming sites that did not ban discussion of the topic.

Other members voiced their worry at the ethics of this and chose to stay away.

Members of GameJournoPros defended the list as simple networking between colleagues [15]https://archive.today/LhhIT which might have been true for most of the list’s discussions.

The charges of collusion were further reinforced with another scandal, this one surrounding Allistar Pinsof.


Involvement in Allistair Pinsof’s dismissal

Please see the appropriate section in the Allistair Pinsof page.


 

References

   [ + ]

Posted in | Comments Off on GameJournoPros

Patricia Hernandez

Videogame journalist for Kotaku, Gawker Media’s videogame site.

 

Clickbait

Hernandez is known in videogame communities mostly for sensationalist articles, badly-argued opinion pieces, inane comments on other sites’ content and relatively little to do with actual videogames. Altho this trend towards clickbait is common throughout the internet, Hernandez came to symbolize its presence in the videogames press due to the sheer amount of such articles she publishes.

A not-at-all comprehensive list of such articles:


 

Lack of disclosure

Patricia Hernandez has written several articles giving good publicity to games made by personal acquaintances without any disclosure. The following image explains the case and brings up Stephen Totilo’s attitude towards the accusations [1]https://archive.today/HNUdR, and all claims are sourced in the sections below.

hernandez

Source: 8chan

Anna Anthropy

Indie developer Anna Anthropy (a.k.a. Auntie Pixelante [2]https://archive.today/Xfc1t) is a close friend of Hernandez [3]https://archive.today/bJKQE, to the point once being housemates [4]https://archive.today/XUb6n [5]https://archive.today/gRauY.

Several articles were penned by Hernandez for Kotaku praising Anthropy’s works [6]https://archive.today/Sxfo9 [7]https://archive.today/7reDd [8]https://archive.today/kfTPT [9]https://archive.today/5lUBP, some including direct links to buy them. None of these pieces had any disclaimer about this personal tie during their time of publication, but after the start of Gamergate they have since been updated to include a small disclosure mid-way into the text [10]https://archive.today/ii7zm [11]https://archive.today/Vu27J [12]https://archive.today/gXJuj [13]https://archive.today/yA0GC. Two more such articles don’t have any archived version of the text without disclosure [14]https://archive.today/FpU5l [15]https://archive.today/eCccI.

Christine Love

Christine Love is an indie developer [16]https://archive.today/BoIj3 who was once romantically involved with Hernandez [17]https://archive.today/oOli9.

Hernandez wrote two articles promoting Love’s videogame without disclosing this [18]https://archive.today/bnnWC [19]https://archive.today/8qPKg. After the start of Gamergate, both articles were updated to include small disclaimers that mentioned their friendship [20]https://archive.today/29AFh [21]https://archive.today/luhZM.

Zoe Quinn

Hernandez penned an article on Kotaku featuring Quinn’s body mody-mod [22]https://archive.today/ccUBI, without disclosing their friendship. The piece has since been updated to include such a disclaimer [23]https://archive.today/g8IEp.


 

References

   [ + ]

Posted in | Comments Off on Patricia Hernandez

Allistair Pinsof

Gaming journalist.

 

Coverage of false crowdfunding

On April 2013, indie developer Chloe Sagal used Indiegogo to launch a crowdfunding effort to pay for medical treatment [1]https://web.archive.org/web/20130405061748/http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/i-am-going-to-survive. The alleged condition was metal poisoning caused by metallic detritus left in her body from an old car crash, and the surgery was claimed to be life-saving.

Amidst the support she received from the gaming community, she became friends with Allistair Pinsof, then a writer for Destructoid. His article about it [2]https://archive.today/ULMqB was one of many positive messages her campaign got. The crowdfunding was successful, but Indiegogo cancelled it soon afterwards [3]https://archive.today/0584d, on the basis that the stated goal of life-saving surgery counted as charity, which was forbidden by the site’s terms of service.

Amidst their correspondence after the cancellation, Sagal confided on Pinsof that the life-saving surgery story is false, and instead it’s aimed at paying for her sex reassignment surgery. Under threat of suicide if he were to reveal this, he acquiesced and talked with her about seeking support.

On 12 May 2013, Sagal attempted to commit suicide after posting a short note on an online forum and mentioning she would do it live on a stream [4]https://archive.today/Mk0vL. Authorities were notified on time and she survived.

The next day, Pinsof decided that, since she had already decided to attempt suicide, he should reveal the truth [5]https://archive.today/3dM9H. He came under heavy criticism for this, seeing as she kept her status as a transperson as a close secret, and revealing that right as she was recovering in hospital was considered a great mistake. Sagal and Pinsof soon reconciliated over it,a fact which was later publicized in a roundtable [6]https://archive.today/EH4aO in order to try to achieve some closure.

As far as the public knew, the whole debacle ended there.


 

GameJournoPros collusion in Pinsof’s dismissal

On October 2014, Pinsof came forward to reveal what he thought was his mistreatment by his bosses at Destructoid following the controversy around Sagal, according to the story broke by William Usher [7]https://archive.today/Mo0fe [8]https://archive.today/hq580, based on a post that Pinsof had written up and intended to post to Reddit, but instead shared publicly on Pastebin [9]https://archive.today/YDDer.

Pinsof claims that after his ill-fated reveal on 13 May 2013, he had been been suspended by Destructoid’s owner, Yanier “Niero” Gonzalez, and the exact date he was supposed to be terminated was nebulous, with Gonzalez himself providing conflicting information. Pinsof now alleges that this ill-defined status was fostered on purpose, so that believing himself no longer attached to Destructoid, Pinsof would supposedly make a public show of his termination which could be then used by Gonzalez as a post facto justification of public bad behavior. Attempts at mediation failed.

As Destructoid is headquartered in Florida, an at-will employment state, Pinsof supposedly had no recourse. However, throughout these days when Pinsof’s employment status wasn’t defined, Gonzalez consulted with the GameJournoPros list, among other professionals, which might mean Pinsof’s termination by Gonzalez as illegal. To quote Usher:

However, there’s also a law in the state of Florida regarding wrongful combinations against workers. In other words, blacklisting. The Florida Senate Statues states under title 31, chapter 448, section 045…

Wrongful combinations against workers.—If two or more persons shall agree, conspire, combine or confederate together for the purpose of preventing any person from procuring work in any firm or corporation, or to cause the discharge of any person from work in such firm or corporation; or if any person shall verbally or by written or printed communication, threaten any injury to life, property or business of any person for the purpose of procuring the discharge of any worker in any firm or corporation, or to prevent any person from procuring work in such firm or corporation, such persons so combining shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

As Pinsof reached out to people, it turned out that Dale North, a Destructoid editor-in-chief and also a member of the GameJournoPros list, in a supposed effort to blacklist Pinsof. Days after Usher’s article went online, North resigned from Destructoid [10]https://archive.today/G1oPf. Usher tried contacting North seeking clarifications, such as whether he had acted by himself or on orders from higher up when attempting to blacklist Pinsof on gameJournoPros, but receive no answer [11]https://archive.today/JOsgq.

Pinsof’s experience with gaming journalists

Several parts of Pinsof’s unpublished Reddit post corroborate Gamergate’s accusations of corruption and cliqueism within the videogame journalism industry:

I do not aim to take down Destructoid. I could have sued months ago but I never wanted to give up months of productivity for that (which would lead to little, as they are on the verge of bankruptcy, not just figuratively). I only want the full truth to be out there so people can make informed decisions on who you support in game journalism and how you support them.
I feel game journalists have failed me, but as someone who now neither writes the news nor reads the news (except Giant Bomb!), that doesn’t mean much. What’s important is that game journalists are failing you.
What happened to me isn’t an isolated phenomenon but rather indicative of the corruption within game journalism that comes from financial factors leading ethics (ex. article on game that objectifies women while having headline close-ups of breasts on other articles) and game journalists being too close to each other.
Sometimes that’s good, as when journalists protested Jeff Gerstmann when he was fired for giving a negative review to a game the site promoted. But in my case, that camaraderie made way for a culture where it’s okay to turn an eye to corruption because there is no easy way to make it right and no immediate financial benefit in doing so. And by ignoring another’s corruption, you can feel safe knowing they’ll ignore YOUR corruption in the future.

Reddit AMA

On 24 October, Pinsof made a ank-me-anything thread on Reddit [12]https://archive.today/GHiG8. Claiming to be critical to both Gamergate and games journalists, he wrote of his opinion and experience about the industry, including how gaming journalism outlets are extremely averse to criticize each other, which contributes to an atmosphere of collusion. To this, he specifically cited Polygon’s review of Bayonetta 2 and how some other journalists felt like criticizing it, but the publications themselves were against that. Related to this is his claim that gaming journalists have become an elitist group, of which the GameJournoPros list is the most clear example and how many of them have intentions of getting into game development itself:

Dug through my email last night and found one where a writer linked Russ Pits saying 9/10 people on GameJournoPros said they want industry jobs. Sterling said that’s one of many reasons he’d never join. I laughed.

In regards to his dismissal, he stated that he was aware of the GameJournoPros blacklisting a year ago and looked into pursuing legal action, but decided against it as it would be long and costly.


 

References

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Nathan Grayson

Gaming journalist. Formerly for Rock Paper Shotgun, currently working for Kotaku.

 

Lack of disclosure regarding Depression Quest

One of the five men implicated in Eron Gjoni’s initial deouncement of Zoe Quinn [1]https://archive.today/36BBc. Tho it’s often said in his defense that he didn’t write a positive review for Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest, there’s still two instances undisclosed conflict interest at play.

The first instance involves Grayson’s coverage of the ill-fated GAME_JAM event [2]https://archive.today/ykZbo posted on 31 March 2014, in which Quinn is a central figure. The article was written a few days before they started a romantic relationship, by the recognition of Stephen Totilo, Kotaku’s editor-in-chief [3]https://archive.today/C4W4J, who dismisses this short time gap as evidence that their involvement at the time the article was written was purely professional.

The second instance was an article at Rock Paper Shotgun posted on 8 January 2014 [4]https://archive.today/iS4Ru mentioning 50 games approved in a batch by Steam’s Greenlight initiative. Tho Depression Quest was only one title of many, it was highlit and its screenshot headlined the article.

The day after the aforementioned article, Grayson tweeted he could “burn down the game industry” in defense of Quinn [5]https://archive.today/Ci5Y7, again showing their personal relationship extends before Totilo’s claim.

Both instances are brought into a new light by a post at blog The Ralph Report [6]https://archive.today/p9pur. In the credits of Depression Quest, Grayson’s name is listed among several others receiving a special thanks. As The Ralph Report notes, this either means that Grayson made a financial donation to the game’s Kickstarter or that he was close to Quinn at the time the game was still being developed. Regardless of whether the nature of their relation was personal or financial, it wasn’t disclosed at all in either of the two articles.

Further, as William Usher notes [7]https://archive.today/EiMwW#selection-653.2-661.57, Grayson and Quinn have been familiar on Twitter since at least June 2012, and on January 2014 even kidded about burning down the game indsutry if Quinn left it [8]http://archive.is/MDt0u.


Justifying censorship of games

On 15 December 2014, following Valve’s removal from Steam Greenlight of the controversial game Hatred, Grayson penned an article on the subject for Kotaku [9]https://archive.today/4M752. As is common in gaming journalism, especially under pretenses of being simply blogging sites as opposed to serious publications, the article makes use of heavy-handed proselytizing under the guise of reporting.

Despite pointing out the flaw in Valve’s rationale when removing Hatred from its Greenlight service since there’s several other, similarly offensive games already being sold on Steam, Grayson also engages is thinly veiled apologia for censorship. Using a variation of the canard that it’s not proper censorship since it’s being made by a private organization and the game would still be available elsewhere, he goes on to judge the game and effectively deem its removal as no great loss.

It concludes with tepid admonishings against both Greenlight’s unclear guidelines and against the Hatred’s developers themselves for stirring a controversy, regardless of being censored.

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Gawker Media

Online media network focused on blogging, founded and owned by Nick Denton. Kotaku is its blog dedicated to video games.

 

Tax avoidance

Gawker Media was originally incorporated in Hungary, through which a large part of its international revenues were directed. In 2010 Gawker was “moved” to the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax haven. The New Yorker went as far as state “Gawker is organized like an international money-laundering operation.” [1]https://archive.today/94tUW

In a Gawker post attacking American CEOs for tax evasion, Gawker Media’s James Del, executive director of their internal ad department, posted a comment where he both confesses his company uses such schemes too and tries to spin it in a positive light [2]https://archive.today/Fs2Ah#selection-4867.0-4881.15 [3]https://archive.today/uwTxp. The notion regarding patriotism call back to Gawker’s previous stance on calling tax dodging unpatriotic [4]https://archive.today/xMn1M.


Sam Biddle

Sam Biddle, former editor for Gawker Media’s Valleywag blog and currently senior editor of the main blog Gawker, has several controversies to his name. Please see his page on this site for more information.


Partner list

Following the loss of Mercedes Benz as a partner, Gawker Media has removed the list of partnes from their site [5]https://archive.today/mVDqf.


Labor disputes

Gawker Media has been involved since June 2013 on a legal dispute with former interns, who claim they were classified as such solely for their employers to avoid paying them wages, which is a violation of federal law [6]https://archive.today/DUxQB. Since then, judges have ruled that a class action lawsuit is applicable [7]https://archive.today/ZuEuR, and that the plaintiffs can send notices about it to currently employed unapid interns [8]https://archive.today/N9RaR.


Kotaku

Please see Kotaku’s page in this site.


Yellow journalism

One of the most frequent accusations aimed at Gawker Media’s sites is the lack of quality of its supposed journalists, including reliance on clicbait, unethical behavior, sensationalism and in some cases illegal practices. Below is a list of egregious examples:

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Gamespot

Major videogame website.

 

Dismissal over game review

On November 28 2007, Gamespot fired its editorial director, Jeff Gerstmann [1]https://archive.today/1m7rf. Rumors initially began to circulate that it was due to his middling review of the game Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, a high-profile title from Eidos Interactive which was at the time advertised heavily on the site. Both Gamespot and its parent company CNET denied this conflict of interest was the cause of dismissal [2]https://archive.today/DTHw, but Gerstmann himself later contradicted this [3]https://archive.today/qJnV3.

Gerstmann’s dismissal prompted Gamespot editors Brad Shoemaker, Alex Navarro, Vinny Caravella and Ryan Davis to resign soon afterwards [4]https://archive.today/BEm7P, and the latter went on to start the site Giant Bomb with Gerstmann.


 

Acquisition of Giant Bomb

On March 2012, CNET’s own parent company, CBS Interactive, acquired Giant Bomb itself, nullifying Gerstamnn’s ‘non-disparagement agreement’ with CNET, allowing him to confirm that his Kane and Lynch: Dead Men was indeed the biggest cause of his termination.


 

References

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