IGF

Independent Games Festival, the world’s biggest awards ceremony dedicated exclusively to indie games. Part of the UBM media group.

 

Chairman Bandon Boyer and GameJournoPros

IGF chairman since May 2010 [1]https://web.archive.org/web/20100527183248/http://www.igf.com/, Brandon Boyer, was a member of the now-defunct GameJournoPros list. Please see the relevant page for the list’s full membership.


 

Criticism from former judges and contestants

Anna Anthropy

A judge for the 2010 event, Anthropy commented on her blog [2]https://archive.today/6yoqY what she perceived as the judging process’ biggest flaws: a the frontend for the judges discouraged discussion; the inability of judges to weigh in on games that they hadn’t been randomly selected to; bad defitnions of the categories; lack of variety of backgrounds of the judges; and the participation of unfinished games.

On 2012 she protested at the fact that still-unreleased Fez, which had already entered the 2008 IGF and won the Excellence in Visual Arts category, was allowed to enter the contest again, in a lengthy article on Rock Paper Shotgun [3]https://archive.today/OWvmj. Added to her disapproval of unreleased games being elligible in the first place was the fact that the same game could enroll for the events of more than one year. Anthropy’s accusation specifically mention the “cliquey-ness, the scenesters that [she yells] about”. The article states that the IGF chairman, Brandon Boyer, claimed the organizers were “taking gradual steps to limit prior finalists from re-entering the same game”, but stated that 2012 was a “trasitional year” and thus Fez would be allowed to compete.

Rotting Cartridge

Indie studio Rotting Cartridge had entered an Iphone game called Kale in Dinoland for the 2012 IGF, and in February 2012 they wrote a post on their blog containing heavy accusations about the judging process [4]https://archive.today/MpeFi. Chiefly, 3 of the 8 judges to whom Kale In Dinoland had been assigned didn’t even play the game, and 4 of the remaining ones played about only 35 minutes total between them. Further, they accused the judging process to lack transparency, and credit their knowledge of judges’ playing times only because it was the first time the event was using a platform called TestFlight to judge the iPhone games: “The sad truth is, the heads of the IGF know about all of this. They made the mistake of using TestFlight and allowing us, the developers, to see backstage.”

Rotting Cartridge made a follow-up post the next day with a few clarifications, including the playing times of Kale In Dinoland’s judges [5]https://archive.today/XIYLt. Part of it was intended as a reply to Jenn Frank’s criticism, seen below.

Jenn Frank responds

A judge at the 2012 IGF event, Jenn Frank took umbrage at Rotting Cartridge’s revelations and offered a rebuttal [6]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.

Team Meat

Edmud McMillen and Tommy Refenes, who compose Team Meat, have been contestants in the 2010 IGF with the game Super Meat Boy [7]https://archive.today/EjCOi and judges in previous iterations of the event.

In an episode of the HAWPcast podcast published January 2013 [8]http://hawpcast.podbean.com/e/keepin-it-real-with-edmund-mcmillen-and-tommy-refenes/, McMillen and Refenes talk at length about their experience with IGF. They criticize the judging process, accusing the judges at large of voting for games not based on merit but on subjective criteria like “need for exposure”. This hapened agaibnst Super Meat Boy itself as they say:

It pains me to have Phil Fish directly tell me that – he straight up just told us that, “I was one of the many people that voted against Super Meat Boy because I knew you guys were going to be fine.”

This bias against game which are perceived to already be successful is reflected in the judges’ strong stance against already released titles.

8bitpixelrobot

Note: 8bitpixelrobot’s role as a game developer is still unconfirmed, as he claims he doesn’t want to use Gamergate to promote his products.

On 7 October 2014, a Twitter user claiming to have been a IGF entrant came forward with his own experience at the Game Developer’s Conference, the event during which the IGF is awarded [9]https://archive.today/qqWT5, during which a GDC staffer flat out told him games aren’t judged based on merit.

fgnfgm

Assorted comments

In the comments of a Gamasutra article about IGF 2012, the site’s own commenters complained about the awards having become incestuous and favoritism [10]https://archive.today/AodVE.

[Maurício Gomes]: Most recent years are jokes, specially when you consider how inbred the things is… Just take a real look at the judges and winners, and you will notice lots of overlap (and things like judges that judged their own game, or thinks like: The organizer and 5 judges are personal friends of Fish, this year winner… And also winner in 2008… )

And then we have things like a iOS developer that complained that only 5 judges actually played his game, and only 1 actually played it for more than a minute, and the official reply from IGF was something like:

“Judges are busy volunteers, this happen, do not complain.”

Kinda sad when you consider you had to pay 95 USD to enter the competition.

[…]

I know some ex-Judges, and once I talked a bit with the organizers, the problem is clear: There has a general change of direction since it started (causing many old judges to stop being judges because they think the new rules are broken), and also the place where all judges are coming from is the same community (mostly centered TigSource)

So if you take a look, you will see entries of all over the world, but almost all judges are from US, Canada and Scandinavia, you do not see asian judges or latin (from south europe) judges, or latino (from south america) judges, much less african judges.

And cultural perceptions affect a lot of what a person think of each work.

Not only that, the fact judges come from the same community, they tend to like the same things, thus if things remain as they are, we will be forever seeing the same sort of games winning over and over again, it will be always something along the lines of what you see in TigSource and Indiegames.com blog, mostly action games, platformers, retro graphics… I am very sure that Seumas McNally and his strange 3D tank game would never win a today IGF, not because he made a bad game (if it was a bad game he would not win the prize he has won), but because the culture of the judges do not favor that sort of game.

If you look at the early hall of judges, it had half of them being from AAA industry, and lots of clearly “random” people. Now we have mostly ‘indie’ devs and ‘indie’-scene journalists. With ‘indie’ meaning like a person told me once: What Derek Yu says it is ‘indie’ (ie: instead of meaning independent developer, it means small team that started without much money and do retroish stuff)

[…]

Extra note: Nothing against TigSource or Derek Yu (or IGF in fact), I am only explaining why IGF is biased toward a certain type of games and certain people (ie: you have some few people that won several times, instead of several winners that won once…)

[Michael Lubker]: Part of the issue is that judges are often asked to come back. Several times, people have been asked to judge, and then recuse because they enter something. There’s a fine line of conflict of interest.

[…]

Also I agree with Mauricio. The team I’ve been working with didn’t submit this year because we knew our game wasn’t “weird” or pixely enough.

[James Margaris]: Seems like people are waking up to the fact that these awards highly suspect (to put it mildly). For the most part it’s the same narrow slice of people awarding each other and scratching each other’s backs. The fact that you have the same people winning for the same games (that have never been released!) years apart is just ridiculous.

And that’s before you look at the the list of super judges and the incredible lack of diversity represented there. It’s 70% guys with scarves and ironic hats. The whole affair appears intensely cliquish, where games that conform to a narrow sensibility and whose creators are friends with the judges, blog with them, hang out with them at events and websites and such take home the awards.

I see a lot of high quality indie games but I see the same dozen or so names everywhere – handing out awards at IGF, winning awards at IGF, starring in movies and Gamespot videos, speaking at GDC, deciding who gets to speak at GDC…it really does appear that there are a small number of indie gatekeeper illuminati.

And that’s before you get into the dirt-digging stuff where judges don’t even bother playing the games of unhyped entrants.

[David Phan]: Why did this piece get taken off or de-listed from the news threads on the main page? I had to search for it to find it. I understand the IGF is part of Gamasutra’s network of properties, but it looks suspect when something not in your favor gets de-listed like this imo.

With regards to this last quote, it’s worth noting that Gamasutra belongs to the UBM Media group, of which the GDC and IGF are part as well.


 

Unprofessional behavior by judge Mattie Brice

On 4 November 2014, IGF judge Mattie Brice tweeted that she was automatically giving bad marks to games which had men in them [11]https://archive.today/mhjYp, which if true, is an obvious admission of bias and a reinforcement of critics’ claims that IGF’s judges don’t regard merit on the games they’re assigned.

Initially dismissed as a joke, including by IGF itself [12]https://archive.today/o9Ady [13]https://archive.today/Wya91 [14]https://archive.today/HQQGE, Brice has a history of seemingly bigoted comments [15]https://archive.today/5Zt6u [16]https://archive.today/jpBrS [17]https://archive.today/N7K64 [18]https://archive.today/KfP8E [19]https://archive.today/KfP8E [20]https://archive.today/05Z42 [21]https://archive.today/VP4YZ.

Regradless, IGF asked Brice to stop misrepresenting her duty as a judge even if in jest [22]https://archive.today/40Dqd, and Brice responded by quitting her position [23]https://archive.today/hHMfm. Several other IGF judges also threatened to leave the process unless IGF apologized to Brice:

  • Christine Love [24]https://archive.today/8HZjS, who donates to Brice’s Patreon [25]https://archive.today/Qtzgs and afterwards tried to hide this fact by making her Patreon profile private [26]https://archive.today/UNrYl
  • Brendan Keogh [27]https://archive.today/3NOJ7, who also donates to her Patreon [28]https://archive.today/yWmyj
  • Zoya Street [29]https://archive.today/xXDNr

Additionally, journalist Ben Kuchera, another donator to Brice’s Patreon as well as a member of the GameJournoPros list like IGF chairman Brandon Boyer, chastised IGF [30]https://archive.today/G2MBR [31]https://archive.today/I76Df.

IGF soon issued an apology to Mattie Brice [32]https://archive.today/7vm6F. While acknowledging that Brice initial tweet “raised suspicions that judgment would be made on games without due diligence”, the apology is aimed at anyone “been made to feel unsupported by or unsafe”, and keeps the door open for Brice’s return.

As of yet, Mattie Brice has not taken up on IGF’s offer.

Friendship with 2014 IGF entrant

Mattie Brice and Brendan Keogh were friends with indie developer Izzy Gramp [33]https://archive.today/7YMc4 [34]https://archive.today/iXE4n, who had a game among the STudent entrants of IGF 2014, Intergalactic Space princess [35]https://archive.today/5GAAf. Altho it’s currently unknown if Keogh was a judge in the 2014 event, Brice was confirmed to be involved in some capacity [36]https://archive.today/Fn4FX.

 


References

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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
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Davis Aurini

Blogger and e-celebrity.

 

The Sarkeesian Effect

Aurini’s main connection to videogames and Gamergate is The Sarkeesian Effect, an as-of-yet unproduced series of videos supposed to debunk the various claims made by videogames critic Anita Sarkeesian, to be made by Aurini and his collaborator Jordan Owen.

As of yet, only a handful of teasers and trailers of it exist. The series itself was intended to be financed via Patreon [1]http://www.patreon.com/thesarkeesianeffect, but the first milestone of funding — “Start Filming!” for US$ 15,000 a month — remains unreached. Critics have noted that this high monthly sums brings to mind one of the most often used attacks against Sarkeesian: that the crowdfunding of her Tropes vs Women series had garnered funding far in excess of what would be demanded by a series of self-published videos.


 

Controversial opinions

Aurini is the target of much criticism for his unorthodox opinions, on display at his Youtube profile [2]http://www.youtube.com/user/Aurini/ and his personal website [3]https://archive.today/N7qrB, including videos about “race realism” and “decadent sluts”. These opinions, coupled with the strange mannerisms and affectations that he displays throughtout his videos, led to him becoming mostly a subject of ridicule in the internet.


References

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Zoe Quinn

Indie game developer.

 

“Quinnspiracy”

The controversy that preceded Gamergate, brung about by the personal revelations by her ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni on 16 August 2014 in the form of a WordPress-hosted blog called The Zoe Post [1]https://archive.today/36BBc. The fact that the “Five Guys” Gjoni refers to are all involved in the videogame industry or it’s ancillary press gave rise in internet communitites to many accusations of cronyism and corruption, most of them spurious. This is a great factor in the accusations of harassment and misogyny leveled at this episode and the subsequent Gamergate debacle

Two of these men didn’t have their names revealed by Gjoni because he claimed they didn’t know Quinn was in a relationship at the time they got involved with her. Since then, rumor has pinned these men as indie developers Kyle Pulver and Brandon McCartin. However, there’s no evidence towards this, and Pulver claimed innocence in his personal Twitter [2]https://archive.today/coQ5f, but the rumors surrounding the two has persisted, in large part thanks to Youtube videos who used as sources information cribbed largely from anonymous imageboard 4chan [3]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5-51PfwI3M.

Of the three named men among the “Five Guys”, one was Joshua Boggs, an nidie game developer, soon before he hired her, according to Gjoni’s tell-all.

The last two men however had jobs with possible conflicts of interest with Quinn, which are discussed in their own pages: Nathan Grayson and Robin Arnott.

Gjoni went on to be portrayed by Quinn’s acquantances and sympathetic media as a “jilted ex-boyfriend”, despite the evidence he provided, in the form of many chatlogs, pointing towards him being on the receiving end of an abusive relationship.

Before The Zoe Post was published

Gjoni has stated that before publishing The Zoe Post as a blog, he tried to post them the forums at both Penny Arcade and Something Awful [4]https://archive.today/aVEOG. He chose those sites as they had a positive view of Quinn, thus minimizing chances of harassment towards her while hopefully allowing him to say. However, as he explains it:

[Penny Arcade’s] SocialEntropy++ subforum deleted the thread within 5 minutes of posting. Something Awful sent it to the comedy gas chamber within 20 minutes of posting, until a mod read it there and realized how much it was not funny and deleted like hell.

Someone on Something Awful alerted Zoe on twitter within an hour of the deletion. At which point I knew shit was about to hit the fan, and set up the wordpress so that I could control the primary source of information in case people started twisting things it was saying.

Later it surfaced that it was his friend Rachel M, who had been closely following the nascent debacle, who suggested he posted it to a site of his own. See the section below about Rachel M.

Quinn’s Facebook response

Soon after Gjoni’s “The Zoe Post” went online, Quinn posted the following message on her Facebook, according to LPer Broteam Pill [5]https://archive.today/k6cAP.

Among uncorroborated claims about Gjoni (schizoidal, death threats, spreading The Zoe Post via 4chan etc.), fabrications (the “nude photos provided by a different shitty ex” were actually pornographic pictures she was paid for. See the subsection below about Mallorie Nasrallah), exaggerations (men accused of rose things having the benefit of skepticism, despite the cases of Brad Wardell) and a few correct claims (she was indeed harassed by anonymous parties as Gjoni’s revelations spread through the internet), she repeats several pleas for no one to look into Gjoni’s accusations and asking for “radio silence” (which found echo among journalist friends, as seen in the GameJournoPros list).


Other pre-Quinnspiracy accusations

Sexual harassment

The day after Gjoni’s revelation, indie developer Wolfgang Wozniak came forward on Twitter accusing Quinn of having sexually harassed him at a mutual friends’ wedding earlier the same year. Wozniak was subsequently heavily criticized by Zoe Quinn’s friends. Quinn’s critics pointed out that this seems to constitute a clear instance of victim blaming, something which the circle of internet activists defending Quinn claims to be against.

Wozniak has since deleted the accusations and throughly apologized to Quinn.

 

Sabotage of The Fine Young Capitalists

 

As the arguments progressed, there surfaced a new claim of malfeasance surrounding Quinn. Reddit user Matthew Rappard a.k.a. SillySladar, spokesman for the feminist-guided game development event called The Fine Young Capitalists, wrote on the day following Gjoni’s revelation that Quinn intentionally sabotaged TFYC’s because it was a rival to her own project called Rebel Game Jam, stonewalled their efforts to clear matters and doxxed him [6]https://archive.today/2yj71. The original post has since been edited to point to a Soundcloud recording of the accusations [7]https://archive.today/xaNTQ. He has since clarified that it was Quinn’s friend and possible PR agent Maya Alexander Kramer [8]https://archive.today/UxSje#selection-1226.17-1375.15 who did the actual doxxing, tho that post has since then been deleted [9]https://archive.today/DxJU2. A previous post of his from 23 July 2014 mentioned Quinn sabotage without naming culprits [10]https://archive.today/TovjX.

Quinn has since misrepresented her role in sabotaging TFYC, and has claimed to have no professional relation with Maya Alexander Kramer [11]https://archive.today/RSCJx despite evidence to the contrary. There has also surfaced a rumor that Maya Alexander Kramer, like Robin Arnott, was involved with Indiecade 2013’s highlight of Depression Quest. However, she isn’t listed in any capacity for the 2013 event, only for the 2014 edition. [12]https://archive.today/7cH7a

BwzsS-IIYAAv5fX.png large

These allegations against Quinn drove considerable donations to TFYC‘s crowdfunding campaign [13]https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-fine-young-capitalists–2, with the main collective source of donations by far being 4chan’s videogame board, /v/ [14]https://archive.today/CvtgO, which is often accused by Gamergate detractors of misogyny. SlillySladar argued at length about the topic on the project’s blog, while pointing out that the gaming press had been less than forthcoming with their requests for coverage.

On 25 August, Quinn made a series of tweets where she denied all of Matthew Rappard’s accusations and claimed he privately admitted to not being doxxed by her and that she had documents to back up all of it, and included an offer for journalists to contact her to verify her claims [15]https://archive.today/jXqRC. When asked about it on TFYC‘s blog, Matthew Rappard effectively claimed she was bluffing [16]https://archive.today/sUStI. On 15 October she posted the e-mails to Imgur [17]https://archive.today/fF4uj, and the supposed admission of not being doxxed pictured below.

JXGvDYv

Mismanagement of Rebel Game Jam

Related to the TFYC debacle.

Zoe Quinn had been in the process of organizing her own gameing event called Rebel Game Jam since at least April 2014 [18]https://archive.today/nHBs9. It has been criticized for its lack of transparency, since there’s no public details about it such as planned location and date, and whose donation form leads to Quinn’s personal Paypal as opposed to a company’s or organization’s [19]https://archive.today/BZGIo.

Wizardchan abuse

As Gjoni’s accusations against Quinn were made public, members of 4chan remembered a previous controversy involving her.

In December 2013, soon after submitting Depression Quest to Steam Greenlight for a second time, Zoe Quinn alleged she was harassed by members of Wizardchan, an anonymous imageboard dedicated to adult male virgins. According to her, poster from that site were offended that a woman would make a game about a condition she could not suffer from [20]https://archive.today/vfdU9.

Members of Wizardchan contested the claims as cherry-picking two random anonymous posts and blowing them out of proportion since anyone can post these anonymously, as well as jumping to conclusions about a harassing phone call she claimed to receive. However, it’s impossible to know for sure so it becomes a matter of whose word you can trust.

The press provided massive support for Quinn [21]https://archive.today/FRHnR [22]https://archive.today/VOlCC [23]https://archive.today/L7Fr1 [24]https://archive.today/TiPbj [25]https://archive.today/5Cq3U [26]https://archive.today/wf41Y [27]https://archive.today/MPPVg [28]https://archive.today/CDoRi, and Depression Quest was accepted into Steam in the very next batch of greenlit titles [29]http://steamcommunity.com//sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=205494242.

Due to the nature of Wizardchan’s software, it is impossible for non-admin users to know where the abusive posts made against her came from, as they could be made by anyone. However, Fredrik Brennan, former owner of the site, claims that the abusive posts were made by out-of-site trolls and Zoe Quinn herself in an interview with Know Your Meme [30]https://archive.today/kiwF6:

I was friends with the subsequent admin of Wizardchan, Glaive, who was in charge during the Zoë drama. The way it was described in the media is not the way that it happened at all. Many Wizardchan users are very depressed and have trouble even ordering pizza over the telephone, muchless calling someone they don’t know and making threats. The threatening posts made on Wizardchan were made by Zoë herself for attention and by trolls from other websites, as was confirmed by IP checks. Some media outlets recanted their story, but by then the damage was already done.

He does not corroborate, however, how he can be sure what Zoe Quinn’s personal IP was.

Another past acquantaince speaks out

Early October, photographer Mallorie Nasrallah posted on her Facebook page a past diatribe with Quinn [31]https://archive.today/9sCbq after having heard of the ongoing Gamergate debate. Although this episode isn’t related to videogames, it reinforces the notion that Quinn has an abusive personality despite being defended by so many within the gaming journalism business and indie dev industry.

A close friend of Eron Gjoni speaks out

Rachel M, a friend of Gjoni who closely followed the ensuing drama of the latter days of his relationship with Quinn, provided her account of their relationship [32]https://archive.today/TlcLV, describing Quinn as fitting the profile of a manipulative personality.

 


Faking her own doxxing

On 19 August 2014, Quinn claimed to have been hackd and doxxed by 4chan’s /v/ board. However, evidence provided by Quinn pointed to her own claim being false [33]https://archive.today/vXZwQ#selection-2426.0-2426.1. The personal data present in her dox turned out to be completely unrelated to her, and inconsistencies with her claims were spotted [34]https://archive.today/aZXgq.


Censorship

Soon after the publication of The Zoe Post, several gaming sites enforced bans on talking about “Quinnspiracy” at large. Some of that censorship came at the request of Zoe Quinn herself.

Gamesnosh

On 19 August 2014, gaming website Gamesnosh was contacted by their webhost requesting for an article about Zoe Quinn to be removed [35]https://archive.today/kXsla [36]https://archive.today/MYH4p. It was taken off air, but is currently back live.

MundaneMatt’s Youtube

On the same day, a video by MundaneMatt discussing the same subject was taken down from Youtube on DMCA grounds. It has since been re-uploaded [37]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5CXOafuTXM. Later, mundameMatt confimed that the DMCA takedown request came from Zoe Quinn herself [38]https://archive.today/UqAwg.

The spurious use of DMCA claims to censor a video on Youtube struck game reviewer TotalBiscuit as unethical [39]https://archive.today/MphRL.

Depression Quest forum on Steam store

Know Your Meme contributor Aquapendulum presented a screenshot showing him being banned from the discussion section of Depression Quest’s Steam store after making a post publicizing The Fine Young Capitalists after it surfaced that Zoe Quinn had sabotaged them [40]https://archive.today/vXZwQ#selection-2764.0-2764.1. It makes sense that he would be banned for the post in question which indeed has nothing to do with Depression Quest at all, but what’s unusual is the ban reason, which simply states “abuse”, in another example of the narrative of harassment that is levelled at Quinn’s critics.

85d

Reddit

Still on 19 August, the aforementioned argument by TotalBiscuit [41]https://archive.today/MphRL, presented in a Twitlonger page, was posted to one of Reddit’s two main videogame subreddits, /r/gaming, and the topic was the target of massive post deletion by its mods [42]https://archive.today/ENcGC. This further exacerbated concerns of censorship surrounding “Quinnspiracy”, especially seeing as one of the subreddit’s moderators, el_chupacupcake, spoke to Quinn about it.

Source: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/quinnspiracy

In the ensuing mass of deleted posts, reports of bans and “shadowbans” trickled in [43]https://archive.today/Ai3NI [44]https://archive.today/TgWOK, including automated bans for users who visited 4chan at the same time as they posted on Reddit under a blanket accusation of brigading. These bans came not only from /r/gaming, but also from /r/games, which is the biggest subreddit for proper discussion of videogames, and other minor subreddits.

On roughly 23 or 24 August, the claims of systemic censorship on any topic related to “Quinnspiracy” were confirmed by an accidental leak of private chats of a /r/games moderator, XavierMendel, due to a his badly configured Puush account which made it public. It included several screenshots where he, under the the nickname of ‘Some Guy’, explained Zoe Quinn’s intervention and how the two main gaming subreddits came to enact blanket bans on the subject, and despite not stating his Reddit username he was soon identified and was demodded and banned from /r/games as well as private and publics IRC rooms related to the subreddit. [45]https://web.archive.org/web/20140907134153/http://imgur.com/a/GD4EM [46]https://archive.today/mpOTH [47]https://archive.today/ZUtwq [48]https://archive.today/cI8I6 [49]http://pastebin.com/MyrkRPE6. The leaked screenshots also include a link to a private message which Zoe Quinn had sent to the mod team of several gaming subreddits requesting a complete ban on the topic of “Quinnspiracy”.

Some important details according to these claims:

  • the mods of /r/gaming (among them, the aforementioned el_chupacupcake) catered to her request and enacted a ban
  • the mods of /r/games initially didn’t cater to her and allowed discussion so long as it didn’t involve dox, but were coerced into enacting a ban by Reddit admins (“I can share that they were being intentionally vague in what they were telling us. Never any ultimatums or orders. Just stuff like yeah we could allow this, and we may or may not consider it as you allowing doxxing to go on. The whole “nice account shame if something happened to it” routine”)
  • this also entailed ignoring requests by Eron Gjoni to simply be heard (when asked if he could share what Gjoni had said to the mod teams, XavierMendel stated: “We had to decline before he sent us anything. Sorry.”)
  • Reddit admins have full access to users’ private messages

Soon after being de-modded, XavierMendel shared his side of the story [50]https://archive.today/j6IFo [51]http://pastebin.com/MyrkRPE6. On 7 September, he also gave an informal interview [52]https://soundcloud.com/user613982511/recording-xm-2014.


From “Quinnspiracy” to Gamergate

On 28 August 2014, almost two weeks after the publication of The Zoe Post, a series of articles appeared in various gaming sites and blogs with the thematic of “gamers are dead”. These were made of invective against not just those who criticized or mocked the “Quinnspiracy” and those involved, but against gamers as a whole, thus turning the “Quinnspiracy” into Gamergate.

Please see the page on Leigh Alexander, the author of the first and more vicious article, for more information.


Litigation against Eron Gjoni

At an unprecise date, Zoe Quinn engaged in litigation against Eron Gjoni, who on 23 September 2014 requested for donations for legal services [53]https://archive.today/X55ky. Tho the donation page has since been removed, an archive remains [54]https://archive.today/9kaj1. The court hearing happened on 30 September 2014 concerning an abuse prevention order filed by Quinn against Gjoni.

nMkvN3F

On 2 October 2014, Benjamin Hitov, a friend of Eron Gjoni, claimed to have been to the hearing and posted a thread on Reddit [55]https://archive.today/Qzuuc, saying that the hearing was severely flawed, with the judge being dismissive of the arguments from Gjoni’s side, the granting of an order of physical restraint based on false claims, and the issue of freedom speech curtailed by a court. Also noteworthy is that it was made clear the Quinn’s request was filed under the Massachusetts General Laws chapter 209A [56]https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleIII/Chapter209A, which concerns the prevention of physical abuse, despite the basis of her claims were almost all related to harassment on the internet, which would fall under chapter 258E [57]https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleIV/Chapter258E instead.

On 16 October 2014, Buzzfeed published an interview with Gjoni, where among various parts of Gamergate, discussed the court proceedings [58]https://archive.today/PdVk5. He soon posted the full transcript of the interview to his blog [59]https://archive.today/Q0VjC.

On 23 October, a scanned copy of Quinn’s affidavit surfaced. As claimed in the Reddit thread in 2 October, almost all of Quinn’s claims actually concern internet harassment instead of physical, and the claims that do mention physical harm had been debunked in that thread. This brings back the distinction between chapters 209A and 258E and why Quinn’s side chose the former.

Zoe_quinn_complaint

Eron Gjoni has clarified on Twitter [60]https://archive.today/AJZ7X important legal details concerning the two laws. Namely, it concerns past instances of abuse of restraining orders as gag orders. Past abuses of such orders filed under 258E have been successfully challenged in the past; however, orders filed under 209A lack such a precedent. In other words, it was easier to restrict Gjoni’s freedom of speech by filing under chapter 209A instead of the 258E.

Third-party analysis of Zoe Quinn’s affidavit

On 23 December 2014, a Reddit poster provided an in-depth look at the affidavit provided by Zoe Quinn [61]https://archive.today/PXoJq.

Starting with the suspicious use of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 209A instead of 258E as discussed above, they go on to pick apart Quinn’s claims one by one while providing plentiful sources.

The conclusions reached is that the affidavit is so full of misleading claims or outright fabrications that Quinn might be liable for perjury, and that “Quinn’s primary, if not sole, motive in filing the complaint appears to be a very short-term strategy of imposing a gag order on Gjoni for at least several months to a year”.


Smear campaign against Brad Wardell

On 2 December 2014, Quinn went to Twitter to level accusations against Stardock CEO and developer Brad Wardell, namely that he had offered a job to an artist because he drawn a pornographic strip featuring Quinn and they shared pro-GG opinions. As the accusations turned out to be spurious (Wardell hadn’t offered a job, only told the artist that Stardock was hiring and thus he could send his resumé, and he wasn’t evevn aware of the offending strip in the first place), she brought up court charges faced by Wardell in the past years (the charges against him had been dismissed with prejudice) and tweeted to her friends about it in a seemingly clear attempt to smear him.

This is explained in great detail in the appropriate section of Brad Wardell’s page on this site.

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1. https://archive.today/36BBc
2. https://archive.today/coQ5f
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5-51PfwI3M
4. https://archive.today/aVEOG
5. https://archive.today/k6cAP
6. https://archive.today/2yj71
7. https://archive.today/xaNTQ
8. https://archive.today/UxSje#selection-1226.17-1375.15
9. https://archive.today/DxJU2
10. https://archive.today/TovjX
11. https://archive.today/RSCJx
12. https://archive.today/7cH7a
13. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-fine-young-capitalists–2
14. https://archive.today/CvtgO
15. https://archive.today/jXqRC
16. https://archive.today/sUStI
17. https://archive.today/fF4uj
18. https://archive.today/nHBs9
19. https://archive.today/BZGIo
20. https://archive.today/vfdU9
21. https://archive.today/FRHnR
22. https://archive.today/VOlCC
23. https://archive.today/L7Fr1
24. https://archive.today/TiPbj
25. https://archive.today/5Cq3U
26. https://archive.today/wf41Y
27. https://archive.today/MPPVg
28. https://archive.today/CDoRi
29. http://steamcommunity.com//sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=205494242
30. https://archive.today/kiwF6
31. https://archive.today/9sCbq
32. https://archive.today/TlcLV
33. https://archive.today/vXZwQ#selection-2426.0-2426.1
34. https://archive.today/aZXgq
35. https://archive.today/kXsla
36. https://archive.today/MYH4p
37. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5CXOafuTXM
38. https://archive.today/UqAwg
39, 41. https://archive.today/MphRL
40. https://archive.today/vXZwQ#selection-2764.0-2764.1
42. https://archive.today/ENcGC
43. https://archive.today/Ai3NI
44. https://archive.today/TgWOK
45. https://web.archive.org/web/20140907134153/http://imgur.com/a/GD4EM
46. https://archive.today/mpOTH
47. https://archive.today/ZUtwq
48. https://archive.today/cI8I6
49, 51. http://pastebin.com/MyrkRPE6
50. https://archive.today/j6IFo
52. https://soundcloud.com/user613982511/recording-xm-2014
53. https://archive.today/X55ky
54. https://archive.today/9kaj1
55. https://archive.today/Qzuuc
56. https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleIII/Chapter209A
57. https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleIV/Chapter258E
58. https://archive.today/PdVk5
59. https://archive.today/Q0VjC
60. https://archive.today/AJZ7X
61. https://archive.today/PXoJq
Posted in | Comments Off on Zoe Quinn

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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Posted in | Comments Off on Nathan Grayson