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Corruption refers to the deliberate intent of journalists, media outlets, and others to collude together to purposefully push a point of view, idea, or ideology. There is a growing pool of evidence suggesting that several video game journalists have conflicts of interest with certain developers, with several journalists exchanging gifts, financially supporting each other, and even participating in romantic flings with developers. This is done without any form of public disclosure on their part, resulting in favorable coverage being given to certain developers at the expense of others who do not engage in these unethical behaviors and practices. One of the most blatant cases is Leigh Alexander's proclamation of making no pretense of being unbiased.[1]

Video game judging scandals

Judges at Independent Games Festival (IGF) and IndieCade were shown to have personal and financial conflicts-of-interest with several indie game developers:

  • Zoe Quinn's game Depression Quest was awarded the Night Games Selection at IndieCade. Robin Arnott, chair of the Night Games committee, is a friend and lover of hers.[2]
  • Phil Fish's game Fez was awarded the Grand Prize at IGF when "there [were] 8+ people with a financial investment in Fez that were directly involved with the judging process of the IGF awards."[3] Fez also won the Disciplinary Excellence in Story/World Design and the General Excellence by Grand Jury (grand prize) at IndieCade in 2011 - the same year that Fez investor Kellee Santiago became the chair of the IndieCade Awards jury.[4][5]
  • Mobile gaming site iMore awarded Brianna Wu's mobile game Revolution 60 the Action Game of the Year award, which is an "Editors' Choice Award". Wu is friends with at least four editors from the publication.[6]

Gaming writers covering friends without disclosure or transparency

For more information on the actions of specific individuals, please see their respective pages.

Kotaku writer Nathan Grayson is known to have reported on friends Robin Arnott[7] and Zoe Quinn[8][9] without disclosing their relationship.

Kotaku writer Patricia Hernandez is known to have given favorable and disproportionate coverage to her roommate, Anna Anthropy[10] and her friend, Christine Love[11] without disclosing their relationship. Lauren WainWright wrote a number of articles[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19] involving Square Enix products despite not only working for Square Enix (consulting)[20] but also being good friends with Korina Abbott[21] who at the time was a former Ubisoft PR exec but Square Enix employee.[22] Once this came to light a small scandal emerged when Eurogamer amended an article to remove any mention of Lauren Wainwright[23][24][25][26]

Polygon writer Danielle Riendeau gave a perfect 10/10 score, one of only a few in the publication's history, to Gone Home, a game made by her friends and associates Chris Remo and Steve Gaynor.[27] Her relationship to the creators of the game is not disclosed.

Destructoid writers Joseph Leray and Chris Carter reviewed DLC[28][29] for Borderlands 2 without disclosing their relationship to ex-staffer Anthony Burch's game. This came to light when Anthony Burch himself brought up the conflict of interest.[30][31]

Numerous tweets between May and November 2013 show a close personal relationship between Philippa Warr and Terry Cavanagh, including details of meet-ups and going to restaurants together.[32] Two favourable articles were written by Warr about Cavanagh and his games; one on Wired on 27 January 2014[33] on 5 January 2015[34], and another on Rock, Paper, Shotgun on 27 February 2015.[35] Warr failed to disclose a this conflict or interest in all three articles. Kotaku and Gamasutra Editor at Large, Leigh Alexander wrote an exclusive profile of her personal friend Ramiro Corbetta featuring advertorial content for both Corbetta's game as well as the establishment Babycastles that Ms. Alexander has curated events for. (see: Babycastles Nepotism) Leigh Alexander wrote an exclusive Gamasutra article titled "Learning about community and inclusiveness with Redshirt"[36] the article links to the main page for "Redshirt" while talking about the development,history and mechanics. The Creator of "Redshirt", Mitu Khandaker appears to be on good terms with Leigh Alexander[37][38][39][40][41][42][43] along with a number of other Gaming Journalists.[44]

Cara Ellison of Rock, Paper, Shotgun mentioned Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris’s game, Redshirt, in an article titled S.EXE: VA-11 HALL-A[45] as well as create an article dedicated to Redshirts[46] while Khandaker-Kokoris donates to Ellison via Patreon[47] with no disclaimer. It should be noted that Mitu Khandaker would make a public blog post, detailing her past interactions and involvements with Cara Ellison.[48] In the article S.EXE: VA-11 HALL-A, Ellison also referenced multiple of Christine Love's games, stating: "(which I really should write about, though RPS cover her work enthusiastically)" while Love also donates to her Patreon[49] (again with no disclaimer).

On 15 November 2012, Kotaku published an article by Kirk Hamilton in which he praised the game Gone Home.[50] The article did not disclose Hamilton's relationship with Sarah Elmaleh, the lead actress of Gone Home.[51] The two had been communicating through twitter since December 2010,[52] and their convesations indicate they have become quite close to each other by the time Hamilton wrote his article on the game.[53] This wasn't Kirk's only non-disclosed relationship though on the 24th of May 2012 Kirk wrote an article that gave favorable coverage to Douglas Wilsons game Joust [54] even though these two had a relationship dating back at least to when Wilson joined twitter in May 2011.[55] Likewise, Kirk's article on Joust made no mention of his friendship with Elmaleh, even though she provided voice acting for the game.[56] Kirk has also mentioned Mitu Khandaker and her Game "Redshirt" in the article "And Then The Video Game Industry Woke Up" [57] going as far as to link to Mitu's blog entry announcing "Redshirt". Despite tweets indicating a very friendly relationship[44][58][59] there was no disclosure in the article. No disclosure was made in the article regarding Kirk's friendship with Elmaleh, even though she provided voice acting for this game as well.[56]

On the 10th of May, 2013 Tyler Wilde wrote an article titled "Watch Dogs preview — No GTA 5 on PC? No problem."[60] which talks about multiple details involving the game "Watch Dogs", following this Tyler wrote numerous other articles involving Ubisoft products.[61][62][63][64][65][66][67] However, Tyler Wilde had been in a relationship with Ubisoft employee Anne Marie Lewis [68] (working as a Communications Associate), since 2011[69][70] and are currently living together.[71][72] This fact has not been disclosed in any of the articles written by Tyler Wilde.

Chris Priestman published a total of 6 articles about the game Antichamber on 31 January 2013, all on the same day.[73][74][75][76][77][78] He failed to disclose a personal relationship with the developer of the game, Robin Arnott, in all six articles.[79] Another article was published about the game Soundself on 8 March 2013, in which Priestman also failed to disclose this conflict of interest.[80] Priestman also published a series of articles about Terry Cavanagh and his games.[81] He failed to disclose in all four articles that Terry Cavanagh supported him on Patreon when the articles were published.[82]

Media collusion

During the Zoe Quinn Scandal, the gaming media ignored the evidence which detailed Quinn's involvement and instead defended her as a victim of misogynistic sentiment within the gaming community. Suspicions that this was a coordinated narrative by the media intensified when the infamous Gamers are Dead articles appeared with similar "gamers are misogynists" talking points within a 24-hour period. This collusion was later confirmed when Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopoulos revealed the existence of GameJournoPros - a secret mailing list whose members consisted of various prominent games journalists from various different sites that was being used to discuss how the media should react to the Quinn scandal.[83]

GameJournoPros was also where the industry black-listing of former Destructoid writer Allistar Pinsof was coordinated.[84]

- Archived Version of Gamejournopros: Joking about paid reviews and mocking Phil Fish

Favorable reviews after publisher lobbying

NG: How often do gaming publications (big and small) collude with developers for review scores, or exclusives? Is this more common than the public could ever foresee?
Allen: I have personally sat in negotiations where a publisher negotiated a higher review score for a game in exchange for an exclusive cover or assets for a separate upcoming game. It is common, especially with previews. This is why you often see glowing previews of bad games, or pre-release reviews that have to be revised post-launch.
— Niche Gamer interview with Christian Allen, composer/developer for several Rainbow Six games[85]

See Also

Gamergate Dossier

A Review Of Game Journalism


- Archived Version of Corruption and ethical issues shown throughout #GamerGate

- Archived Version of Criticism ≠ Harassment

- Archive Version of #GAMERGATE: ‘This has the appearance of a conflict of interest’ says game informer editor

- Archived Version of Huge list (to be sorted)

- Archived Version of Experience Points: Ethics Are Dead In Games Journalism

- Archived Version of The 3 Most Vile Practices Of The Gaming Industry


  1. [1]
  2. [1] (Mirror:
  3. [2] (Mirror:
  4. [3](Mirror:
  5. [4]
  6. FIX UP: How Did Brianna Wu’s Subpar Revolution 60 Win Action Game of the Year?. The Ralph Retort. January 25, 2015. Archived from the original on January 25, 2015. Accessed January 25, 2015.
  7. [5]
  8. [6]
  9. [7]
  10. [8]
  11. [9]
  12. Gaming's killer double-act
  13. Let sleeping dogs lie
  15. Lab rat revolution...
  16. Interview: Tactics Ogre director Hiroshi Minagawa
  17. Cloud nine – Mitsunori Takahashi on Dissidia 012
  18. 3rd Birthday boss: “I don’t believe survival horror is dying”
  19. Interview: Lord of Arcana producer, Takamasa Shiba
  20. [2]
  21. The players and the game
  22. [3]
  23. Eurogamer Confirms Journalist Lauren Wainwright Threatened Legal Action
  24. [4]
  25. [5]
  26. [6]
  27. [10]
  28. Chris Carter. Delightful Dungeons and Dragons DLC
  29. Joseph Leray. Dat loot
  30. [7]
  31. [11]
  32. (archived version)
  36. Learning about community and inclusiveness with Redshirt, Leigh Alexander
  37. [8]
  38. [9]
  39. [10]
  40. [11]
  41. [12]
  42. [13]
  43. [14]
  44. a b a tweet to a number of Gaming Journalists
  45. S.EXE: VA-11 HALL-A
  46. Redshirt preview: a sci-fi "disempowerement fantasy" about social networking on a starship
  47. Patreon of Mitu Khandaker
  48. Actually, It’s About…
  49. Patreon of Christine Love
  50. This Game Doesn't Need Guns Or Explosions To Make You Care. Just A House.
  51. Gone Home IMDB page
  52. Sarah Elmaleh Twitter Status
  53. Various twitter conversations between Kirk Hamilton and Sarah Elmaleh: [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]
  56. a b Sarah Elmaleh's website
  57. And Then The Video Game Industry Woke Up, Kirk Hamilton
  58. Tweets between Mitu and Kirk
  59. more tweets between Mitu and Kirk
  60. Watch Dogs preview — No GTA 5 on PC? No problem., Tyler Wilde
  61. Child of Light first look: tactical, turn-based combat in a beautiful fairytale world, Tyler Wilde
  62. Watch Dogs preview: hacking Big Brother in connected, crime-ridden Chicago, Tyler Wilde
  63. Watch Dogs' hero is a lovable loser, and I'm a low-rent super villain, Tyler Wilde
  64. Assassin's Creed: Unity trailer and live single-player gameplay shown at Ubisoft conference, Tyler Wilde
  65. Ubisoft announces Toy Soldiers: War Chest, teddy bears to shoot death rainbows, Tyler Wilde
  66. Far Cry 4 E3 gameplay footage shows co-op, a very angry elephant, Tyler Wilde
  67. Assassin's Creed: Unity E3 gameplay video shows four-player co-op, Tyler Wilde
  68. Lewis saying she is starting work at Ubisoft next week
  69. Lewis: Comments about relationship with Wilde.
  70. Lewis: I yelled I love you, he responded by sobbing
  71. [20]
  72. [21]
  73. Infinity
  74. Untitled
  75. Red or Blue?
  76. Open Your Mind
  77. Life Is Full Of Ups And Downs
  78. Antichamber: The Game You Have To Play Before You Live
  79. Robin Arnott Facebook friend list
  80. Chant Into SoundSelf; Experience Intense Euphoric Visual Feedback
  83. [12]
  84. [13] (Mirror:
  85. #GamerGate Interview – Christian Allen Edition. Orselli, Brandon. December 4, 2014. Niche Gamer. Archived from the original on December 10, 2014. Accessed December 10, 2014.