Kotaku

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Kotaku
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Parent Company Gawker Media
Owner Gawker Media
Editor-in-Chief Stephen Totilo
Ethics Policy Non-Public
Boycotted? Yes

Kotaku is a website focused primarily on video games and video game culture and former bloggers on Japanese Culture, and is one of the more prominent publications involved with GamerGate. Kotaku writer Nathan Grayson and his relationship with Zoe Quinn served as the starting point for GamerGate. Editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo defended Grayson's relationship with Quinn, and since then numerous articles have been written which attack GamerGate as a sexist movement, including their own participation in the Gamers are Dead effort. In addition, Kotaku writers Alex Rubens and Laura Dale are part of the GameJournoPros mailing list.

Pre-GamerGate controversies

Before the events of Quinnspiracy and GamerGate, Kotaku has taken part in many questionable actions, including, but categorically not limited to: Bias, clickbait, journalistic inconsistencies, and frequently inaccurate investigations, alongside many other breaches of journalistic integrity, both ostensible and proven.

Clickbait article about Brad Wardell being sued for sexual harassment

Background

Stardock, Brad Wardell's company, Sued Alexandra Miseta for destroying marketing data and quitting her job without notice. These resources were vital for the the production of Elemental: War on Magic, the game Brad and his company Stardock had been working on at the time.

Despite Stardock being a company that is more focused on software development than game development, no software-centric sites reported on the topic because it wasn't relevant to the company at large. Kotaku decided to cover this story, framing it around the Sexual Harassment suit and using it to indirectly attack Brad Wardell, who was found to be not at fault by the courts. The news article continues to haunt Brad in his interactions with people online, as it is frequently brought up as a credible piece.

Controversial Issue

On September 6, 2012 Kate Cox wrote an article [1] where she claimed Brad Wardell and his company were suing Alexandra Miseta (an ex-employee) for maliciously deleting marketing data that damaged the production of one of his works but only after she had sued him for sexual harassment.

Brad wasn't given a chance to give his side of the story to Cox before the article was released. This lead to a one-sided and biased article that had to be updated to make clarifications of the real situation.[2]

Due to Cox's irresponsibility and bias which were reflected in her article, Brad and his family were harassed and threatened to the point of having to ask for police protection.

Even after proving that Kotaku's article was mistaken the damage was done. His reputation remains tarnished and the incident is still brought up to this day.[3]

David Jaffe accused of being a misogynist due to a joke

Background

On February 6, 2012, David Jaffe was interviewed by Gametrailers where he spoke about his incoming game Twisted Metal for PS3. On the closing comments of the Video Jaffe jokingly said his game was the perfect valentine gift and if you let your lady friend win she will give you a blowjob.[4]

Controversial issue

On February 7, 2012 Kate Cox releases a click-bait article saying David Jaffe recommends his new game as sexual aid.[5]

The article in question consisted of a subjective analysis of a joke made by David Jaffe. In the article, Leigh Alexander accused David Jaffe of being a misogynist because of a sexual joke he made, even though Katie Cox doesn't have the professional degree to make any kind of psychological analysis,[6] she tried to find nonexistent messages on Jaffe comments which are the following:

  • Only straight men could be interested in his game.
  • The best way for a man to get something is with underhanded trickery.
  • Women are incapable of winning a co-op match on their own.

February 8, 2012. Kate Cox released a follow up of her article,[7] where David clarified what he really meant and cleared misunderstandings.

On February 20, an interview done by Stephen Totilo with David was uploaded to Ben Kuchera's soundcloud.[8] David pointed out how below the standards Kate Cox's article was, the claims she made were her own interpretations of his words and the clear streching of the definition of misogyny to accuse him of being one subconciously.[9]

Click-bait Article about Max Temkin and his response to a fake rape accusation

Background

Max Temkin, creator of the tabletop game Cards Against Humanity[10] was accused of rape by an ex-girlfriend from college on Facebook, that same day she writes a Tumblr Blog talking about it [11] to which he wrote a response on his own blog giving his side of the story.[12]

The accusations were found sound baseless. Thus, Temkin decided not to sue for libel, nor get a restraining order. No tabletop games sites covered this incident.

Controversial Issue

On July 16, Patricia Hernandez wrote an article about this event in Kotaku, using the click-bait title, "A Different Way To Respond To A Rape Accusation".[13]

  • In the article, she didn't talk about the false accusations Temkin was subject to, but rather how his response 'focused too much into defending himself instead of discussing the importance of taking about rape culture and consent. She also mentioned how he didn't 'completely apologize'.

On July 17 she had to update her article, to say she didn't think Temkin shouldn't have defended himself but that he should have focused more on rape culture and the definitions of consent.

  • Fun fact: on Aug 26, 2014, Jason Schreier responded that personal lives of developers aren't important to the site when asked about why they didn't report about the Zoe Quinn controversy. Then Why Temkin's and Wardell's situations, one unrelated to the video game industry and other more focused on the software industry, newsworthy for Kotaku? [14]

Patricia Hernandez's Conflict of Interest

Patricia Hernandez is a writer for Kotaku whose failures to disclose personal relationships led her to be accused of unethical and corrupt behavior.[15] The evidence for these accusations are overwhelming and damning.[15] In the summer of June 2012 Hernandez wrote a blog post detailing her plans to move in with Anna Antrophy.[15][16] It is assumed she was financially beholden to Anna Antrophy for a few months at the very least.[15] During the span of a year, Hernandez wrote about her landlord and friend Anna Antrophy and her games.[17][18][19][20][21] These went undisclosed as of August 25, 2014 as evidenced by the archive links that date back to then.[19][20][21] Needless to say the then, and current editor and chief at Kotaku Stephen Totilo has always held that reporters "who are in any way close to people they might report on should recuse themselves" unless it is absolutely a necessity to report on them, in which case full disclosure is required.[22][23] The necessity of reporting on Anna Anthropy is never touched up on, nor is the relationship fully disclosed until nearly a full two years after the fact.

With Christine Love

On August 22, 2013. Patricia Hernandez wrote an article about Hate plus, a game created by Christine Love.[24] She gave positive coverage and even providing links directed to the steam store page of both the game and the prequel. Patricia Hernandez was in a romantic relationship with Christine Love.[25][26] This wasn't disclosed at all despite all the positive publicity Patricia Hernandez gave to Christian Love's game in her article.

On September 6, a disclosure about her relationship with Christine love was added to the article. Neither Patricia Hernandez nor Stephen Totilo (editor in chief of Kotaku) have talked about this discrete update while addressing the conflict of interests found at Kotaku.

Kirk Hamilton's Conflict of Interest

On 15 November 2012, Kotaku published an article by Kirk Hamilton in which he praised the game Gone Home.[27] The article did not disclose Hamilton's personal relationship with Sarah Elmaleh, the lead voice actress of Gone Home.[28] The two had been communicating through twitter since December 2010,[29] and their conversations indicate they had become quite close to each other by the time Hamilton wrote his article on the game.[30]

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 Wilson's game Joust [31] even though these two had a personal relationship dating back at least to when Wilson joined Twitter in May 2011.[32] Likewise, Kirk's article on Joust made no mention of his friendship with Elmaleh, even though she provided voice acting for the game.[33]

Kirk has also mentioned Mitu Khandaker and her Game "Redshirt" in the article "And Then The Video Game Industry Woke Up" [34] going as far as to link to Mitu's blog entry announcing "Redshirt". Despite tweets indicating a very friendly relationship[35][36], there was no disclosure in the article.

Role In GamerGate

On 8 January 2014, while still a writer for Rock Paper Shotgun, Nathan Grayson wrote an article about 50 games being greenlit on Steam.[37] Depression Quest was made the headline of the article, getting the only picture on the article and being mentioned as one of three "highlights" of the list. In March, Grayson began writing for Kotaku. The only Kotaku article Grayson wrote which mentioned Depression Quest was an article about indie game reality TV show GAME_JAM, which was published on 31 March 2014.[38] By some time in April 2014, Grayson was in a sexual relationship with Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn, leading many to question whether he had a relationship with Quinn, romantic or otherwise, at the time of writing Admission Quest, and whether that had influenced him in giving the game the attention it got.

When Grayson's relationship with Quinn got attention following thezoepost, Stephen Totilo, editor-in-chief, responded to the controversy in a post on his personal blog.[39] He said that because the only Kotaku article Grayson had wrote that mentioned either Quinn or Depression Quest only mentioned them in passing, he did not think any further actions needed to be taken. On 26 August 2014, Totilo responded to pressure which arose from Grayson's contribution to Quinn's Patreon account, announcing that they would no longer allow their editors to contribute to game developer Patreon accounts.[40] However, this has since been changed, as writers are allowed to pay into a Patreon account to access a developer's work for coverage purposes.[41]

Kotaku's response to GamerGate has been exclusively negative, characterizing the movement as rooted in misogyny and defined by harassment of women. They participated in the Gamers are Dead effort, where Luke Plunkett wrote that GamerGate represented the death of the gamer identity.[42]

GameJournoPros Members

These are the gaming journalists that are working (or previously worked) for Kotaku and are part of the GamesJournoPro's Google mailing list.

  • Yannick LeJacq - Kotaku UK, Motherboard (VICE)
  • Tina Amini - Deputy Editor
  • Nathan Grayson - Writer
  • Michael Rougeau - Writer at Kotaku, Gamespot, TechRadar, more
  • Jason Schreier - Kotaku Australia, Wired
  • Dennis Scimeca - The Daily Dot (Formerly ArsTechnica, NPR, GamesBeat, Polygon, Kotaku, The Escapist, Gamasutra
  • Alex Rubens - Kotaku, IGN, G4TV, PCWorld, Official Xbox Magazine, Polygon, @Gamer Magazine, Games Radar, Joystiq, Destructoid, Tech Hive, Game Informer
  • Laura Dale - Kotaku UK, Indiehaven.com, Telegraph, Guardian, MYM, MCM

Trivia

Kotaku has a Steam Curator group: http://store.steampowered.com/curator/6855993-Kotaku-Recommends

See Also

Gawker

Operation Rotting Meat

GameJournoPros

References

  1. PC Gaming Studio Said She Ruined Their Game, But Only After She Sued The Boss For Sexual Harassment, Kotaku- sep 06 2012
  2. The_long_lasting_effects_of_dishonest_reporting
  3. http://www.littletinyfrogs.com/article/458579/Biowares_Damion_Schubert_owes_me_an_apology
  4. Gametrailer's interview to Dave Jaffe
  5. Does David Jaffe Really Recommend His New Game as A Sexual Aid?
  6. About the critic- Your-critic.com, Kate Cox's personal blog
  7. https://archive.today/ZbwuJ
  8. https://soundcloud.com/ggbbc/jaffe
  9. David JAffe, confrontation about controversial interpretation of his joke. With Stephen Totilo
  10. Cards Against Humanity
  11. 'Magz'- truth
  12. Maxistencialism - this-is-a-blog-post-thats-incredibly-confusing
  13. A Different Way To Respond To A Rape Accusation (Update)
  14. Schreier comment response about Zoe Quinn on Totilo's editorial blog
  15. a b c d Talking Ship - Patricia Hernandez Covered Her Friend’s Games, And Didn’t Disclose It.
  16. Ash-Panic (Patricia's Blog) Update
  17. Kotaku - This Is One Way To Go About Making A Game Where You Slap Butts
  18. Kotaku - Wandering Through The 'Burning Man' Of Video Games
  19. a b Kotaku - Triad...
  20. a b Kotaku - I Played A Drinking Game Against A Computer
  21. a b Kotaku - In This Game, You Search For The 'Gay Planet.' No, Not That One. A Different Gay Planet.
  22. Stephen Totilo Tweet
  23. Stephen Totilo Tweet
  24. 'Video Game Asks Players To Bake Real Cakes For Virtual Girlfriends' - Kotaku
  25. Twitter evidence of Hernandez dating Love #1
  26. Twitter evidence of Hernandez dating Love #2
  27. This Game Doesn't Need Guns Or Explosions To Make You Care. Just A House.
  28. Gone Home IMDB page
  29. Sarah Elmaleh Twitter Status
  30. Various twitter conversations between Kirk Hamilton and Sarah Elmaleh: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
  31. https://archive.today/4WsDE
  32. https://archive.today/Q3mXb
  33. Sarah Elmaleh's website
  34. And Then The Video Game Industry Woke Up, Kirk Hamilton
  35. Tweets between Mitu and Kirk
  36. more tweets between Mitu and Kirk
  37. Rock Paper Shotgun - Admission Quest: Valve Greenlights 50 More Games
  38. Kotaku - The Indie Game Reality TV Show That Went To Hell
  39. Stephen Totilo blog post - 21 August 2014
  40. Stephen Totilo blog post - 26 August 2014
  41. Stephen Totilo, ​About GamerGate, 5 September 2014
  42. Kotaku - We Might Be Witnessing The 'Death of An Identity'