For A Culture At War, PAX Australia Was The Perfect Antidote

I don’t think I was the only journalist harbouring a little trepidation.

In the context, in the midst of the culture war that is #gamergate (hashtag ‘Gamergate’) I wasn’t sure what to expect. A bludgeoning? Verbal assaults? This was PAX Australia. This was to be a congregation filled with people who play video games seriously, who take video games seriously. At the very least I expected to be cornered at some point and asked that question turned statement turned meme:

“What about ethics in video game journalism?”

And at one point during the show I was asked that question.

Correction: we were asked that question – the ‘we’ being a group of Australian game journalists taking part in a panel titled “The Realities of Games Writing”. I was a late replacement in the panel. I was, perhaps ‘worried’ is the wrong word — but I did feel akin to a battered barramundi being lowered into a deep fat fryer. I wondered how the panel would be received in the current climate.

And the panelists: we all felt it. Conversation beforehand was mostly made up of the ‘baaas’ of lambs being led to slaughter. But the panel’s intention, I think, was to dispel some of the grander misconceptions surrounding what we actually do for a living on a day-to-day basis, so feelings were mixed. Some were stressed, some felt confident. I was looking forward to it in the way a boxer looks forward to a 12-round title fight.

Anyway. Eventually the question came. And it was framed exactly as written above: “what about ethics in video game journalism?”

It was asked by a stern-looking young man who had had his hand up for quite some time. The question at the time felt vague, ill-formed and very non-specific. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. ‘What about ethics in game journalism?’ What about them? How do I feel about them? Sure, they should exist. All journalists should be bound to a certain code of ethics. Do I think game journalism has issues in that area? Absolutely – we can always improve and we should always be looking to improve. But that wasn’t the question really. The question was a loaded gun aimed directly at the panel. That question was: how do you feel about #gamergate? Hashtag ‘Gamergate’.

The other panelists spoke. They said things. Not patronising things, confronting things certainly, but not patronising. Daniel Wilks of Hyper stated unequivocally that if you are going to accuse someone of behaving unethically you had better name names and you had better back up your accusations with hard evidence – absolutely correct. Tim Colwill of games.on.net was, as always, articulate about his views. He insisted he has never himself seen any breaches of ethics during his time as a games journalist.

Then something strange happened.

As I began to address the question, looking the man directly in the eye as I spoke, he calmly decided to stand up out of his chair, turn his back on me and walk out of the theatre. He actually turned his back on me and walked out on the panel as I was speaking directly to him.

I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe it.

But then another strange thing happened.

The rest of the crowd attending the panel completely and ironically applauded him as he walked out of the panel, having asked a question he clearly didn’t want an answer for.

And, lo and behold, the rest of the panel turned out to be a complete and utter joy.

In fact the rest of PAX Australia turned out to be a complete and utter joy.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of friendly faces who approached me: people who wanted to talk to me about Kotaku Australia, about my work on the site. Uniformly positive. One girl in particular stood out. She approached me after the panel to tell me me that, some months back, after a particularly bad Kotaku comments day, I had reached out to her on email, that I told her to ignore the negative comments, that games culture needed her voice. I don’t remember writing this specific email — I’ve written a handful like it — but she told me that when things got tough, as they invariably have over the past few months, she often revisited that email to remind herself that it was worth sticking around. She then asked me for a hug and I was legitimately almost in tears.

That was the moment that defined PAX Australia for me.

At PAX Australia the positivity was tangible, and I wasn’t alone in that feeling. As the whitest man I know, you might argue that of course a convention like PAX, being catered almost entirely to my specific wants, would feel positive – but my conversations with other female journalists, and my time speaking to gamers from all backgrounds at the Diversity Lounge, convinced me this feeling was widespread and near-ubiquitous. And it was beautiful.

I fully understand that Penny Arcade Expo has a problematic history. I understand it traditionally hasn’t been the most inclusive space for women and minority groups. I can only say that during the weekend that was, PAX Australia felt like a place where the overwhelming negativity of the previous few months was quashed. It made a mild squeak of protest and was henceforth vanquished by a group of people who wanted to move together as an inclusive collective.

And as someone who loathes the sweatbox that is the modern games convention, as someone who resents defining himself by his hobby, that was a real revelation. I came to PAX Australia weary and tired. I left energised and optimistic.

Most of all it was reassuring to find that, face-to-face with the people who make up gaming culture, the negative element was absolutely a small group making a nasty unruly noise. It confirmed to me what I had suspected all along: the people who want to tear it all down, the people who want to harass and prod and bully: they are in the minority.

And we can all applaud ironically as they finally leave the building.


Comments

    PAX was, again, just an overwhelmingly positive experience. A hoard of people all there to have fun and celebrate their shared culture.

    My only regret is that I went and did sociable things about the town instead of playing more board games, seeing more panels and checking out more of the amazing indy games on display there. On the other hand, I got to eat kangaroo tataki so it wasn't a complete mistake.

      I found that I actually did surprisingly little over my 3 days there. I played the odd game, spoke to some interstate friends, grabbed some free stuff. Mainly, though, I just walked around and soaked up the atmosphere of people enjoying themselves and their hobby in a completely non-judgmental environment. That's a rarity in the modern world, and I felt that alone was totally worth the trip!

        Most definitely. If I broke down how I spent my time, I could probably have crammed everything into a bit over a day. A very exhausting and amazing day.

        Things like just hanging out at the Trials truck with you, @Fatshady and @markserrels was great. Wandering around the indy area and seeing a dude almost wet himself playing a horror game on the Oculus Rift was great. Seeing people get excited over seeing their favourite character being cosplayed was great.

        This whole damned event was great.

          That guy freaking out on the Rift wasn't Sunday about lunchtime on the Infinity Amusements booth? We were switching over to showing "Affected" (Fallen Planet Studios) and I gave The Carnival a test run. First time I'd tried it on the DK2 and that first f-ing clown. I'm told my scream was kinda loud..

            I'm afraid it was someone else. Looks like there might have been a few screamers at PAX.

    PAX has a lot of love. At least at PAX Aus amongst TAY people. <3

    Plus we all love you @markserrels, even if you are whiter than white when you get a spray tan.

    Last edited 03/11/14 12:03 pm

      I've seen him and I can confirm that Mark Serrels is whiter than a winter Blizzard in Canada.

        Can you also confirm that he's really just Simon Pegg?

          ...Simon Pegg from the Star Trek movies.

          Also when Mark goes on about being so very white, it always reminds me of Billy Connolly's skit about Australia ("A Dangerous Place") from the original Comic Relief. To paraphrase, Scots are actually pale blue and it takes them a week to get white when they go on holiday... this is probably true.

    Hey Mark, is there somewhere I can watch the panel you were on? Not really interested in the guy walking out on you, just wanna hear what you and the others had to say.

      I know that PAXaus had a bunch of panels up on twitch. Not sure specifically which panels they have though

    This seem's to be the perfect representation of a large portion of the gamergate movement - a bunch of dudes who are swept up in a movement, while not actually having the emotional maturity to be able to handle the inevitable situation of someone making an argument against what they believe in. This is why instead of open discussions and rational points, a lot of the responses have just been angry and emotional people lashing out uncontrollably like children.

    Still, it's pretty damn heartening to see real life evidence of just how small the vocal minority actually is. I guess gaming culture isn't doomed after all :)

    Last edited 03/11/14 12:14 pm

      Have you actually looked through #gamergate? Or are you basing your opinions on media reports?

        Yes, it's definitely the media's fault that people have a negative view of Gamergate. It's a massive conspiracy that goes all the way up to the Guardian and Colbert.

          The media are showing one side of the debate. And dude, The Guardian is one of your examples? They were specifically instructed not to report on Gamergate until Leigh Alexander had come into the office and exlained it to them:

          http://theralphretort.com/internal-email-shows-guardian-mind-made-gamergate/

          So yeah, really bad example to choose.

            I hope you understand that balanced coverage isn't giving both sides equal time, it's displaying information based on the facts that can be verified. Balanced coverage of the history of the moon landing would not give half of their air time to a conspiracy nutter that thinks it was done on a sound stage in Kentucky.

            That leaked email is hardly damning. It explicitly has "#killallmen" in the title, so telling their writers not to stupidly say something on social media about that is hardly a huge conspiracy.

            As for getting Leigh Alexander's point of view, considering that GGers claim that her article was one of the things that sparked this wouldn't her view give some useful information to people trying to find out what's going on? She's been targeted by gamergate, specifically with the campaign to get companies to withdraw ads from Gamersutra.

            Please, take a moment to step out of the GG echo chamber. You want to claim the media is having an influence? How about taking a look at things other than the Ralph Retort and Brietbart. Maybe consider that they are just telling you what you want to hear. While the rest of the world is not conspiring against you but simply reporting the facts as they see them.

            Last edited 03/11/14 1:15 pm

              Coverage of the space race would show both the US and the Russian efforts. Thats more the analogy I see as fitting.

              I think its insane that the boss would tell a journalist not to interact with one side of a debate. You know, telling them not to investigate... which is part of their job...

              As for Leigh, I personally think she was just trying to get attention before the release of her book on this subject. I don't mind a journalist getting her input, those rambling raves speak for themselves. But any journalist would also investigate the opposing viewpoint. Unless explicitly instructed not to. By their boss.

              Never posted Brietbart. Don't actually check that site. I post ralphretort becuase the articles are short and have properly identified sources. Oh, and they were specifically targeted by SJWs and doxxed.

              Media influence is not a claim. Even the journalists themselves acknowledge it. The question is how they deal with their influence. A clear ethics policy without loopholes encouraging journalists with conflicts to recuse themselves, as is expected in every other facet of this industry and others, is not too much to ask.

                As for Leigh, I personally think she was just trying to get attention before the release of her book on this subject.
                What about Dan Golding?

                Edit: are you going to engage with the question, @mypetmonkey, or are you just going to downvote everything? For those playing at home, Golding is the journalist/academic who wrote a piece called "The End of Gamers", published on literally the same day as Alexander's piece which explored similar arguments, and picked up by many of the same publications. Any guesses why Alexander (a woman) is the subject of vitriol that for some reason doesn't find its way to Golding (a man)?

                Last edited 03/11/14 7:40 pm

                Oh no not the Social Justice Warrior Illuminati! Down with justice! Hooray for inequality.

                *Shakes head*

                Well then, I guess this analysis of the Twitter activity about the subject should show a whole lot of talk about ethics in journalism:

                http://www.newsweek.com/gamergate-about-media-ethics-or-harassing-women-harassment-data-show-279736

              So where do I send all my love for this comment...

                I'm setting up bPay facilities but in the meantime send a cheque or money order to:

                The Guy From The Internet
                123 Fake St
                Somewhere

                  Done! I forwarded my Superannuation, my weekly pay and all my sons bank account! We'll be broke forever, and my son will now never have anything ever ever ever again but it's totes worth it right?

                  Right?

                  Oh god I've made a huge mistake...

            Well considering you have no context for that email what do you think it is talking about. To me that doesn't appear to say that journalists can't comment on gamergate but referring to the #killallmen hashtag.
            The way I read that is that what is being called idiodic is #killallmen not #gamergate. And that is an idiodic campaign that doesn't deserve to be reported on, it is reactionary and stupid.

        I'm basing my opinions on the many actual responses I've read on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Twitch, and other sites by supporters of hashtag gamergate over the past couple of months, not from reading one or two articles on the topic. There's nothing wrong with wanting more transparency in games journalism, hell, I'll gladly argue for that, but there are plenty of things wrong in someone angrily abusing others, harassing them or threatening them because they disagree with them. What I'm talking about has nothing to do with the cause of gamer gate, but the way in which any opposition is generally reacted to by the movement. It's irresponsible and juvenile, and the consistency and aggressiveness of the responses I've seen on anti-gamer-gate posts has been enough to convince me that this is not the vocal minority talking. You personally may be trying to argue reasonable points and offer sources for your arguments, but a whole lot of others waving the gamer gate banner are unreasonably targeting and abusing anyone that's against them, and that shit has to be cut right the fuck out.

        And yes, to make it clear, people who are against gamer-gate have been seen sending the same kind of abuse back at gamergaters (though the concentration seems to be much lower). These people are also belligerent children who need to pull their heads in, stop being ass-holes, and attempt to treat people with respect.

    PAX broke my liver and wallet

      I think I walked the equivalent to africa and back

    This whole thing about 'ethics in journalism' has now lost its meaning. It had a meaning, it had a purpose, now people are just using it as a catchcry and a ribbing point. What about ethics in gamers? That's just as valid to say. What about ethics in us? I mean, where are the ethics in asking a question then walking out like that? That's not ethical, that's douchebaggery, nothing more.

    So if that guy's reading this by any chance, screw you mate. You're as unethical as you claim the journalists to be.

    Last edited 03/11/14 12:21 pm

      Ethics is a wonderfully vague catchcry. Nobody is against ethics. Everyone wants to be seen as ethical.

      Now here's the tricky bit: define ethics. Define unethical acts. Demonstrate these unethical acts happening.

        Exactly. I agree 100%. If they're going to proclaim something as unethical, there has to be a standard defined, an absolute standard, as the line for unethical. What this guy has done, is rude, obnoxious and merely to sate his own crowd pleasing side. Nothing was achieved by it and it interrupted a pleasant event. Dude's nothing but a wanker.

          What this guy has done, is rude, obnoxious and merely to sate his own crowd pleasing side.

          Well to be fair it was a panel titled "The Realities of Games Writing" so it's probably the most appropriate venue to bring up all that junk. It doesn't sound like he did a good job of it, asking such a vague question, but with a name like that I'd expect it to touch on issues that are meant to be a big part of #gamergate. That name alone makes it seem like the panel was intended to respond to #gamergate's legitimate front.

          I'm not really that interested in the 'ethics in games journalism' stuff, I've had zero faith in the integrity of advertisement backed news sources since I was like 10, but I actually would be interested in hearing Mark's views on some of those #gamergate subjects. Kotaku AU is ahead of the curve when it comes to content generation. It manages to dodge most of the problem areas entirely. Mark is able to act like a complete professional while others rely on a business model faces certain tough realities (wearing a sleeping bag all day may seem unprofessional, but even in that article he specified that he was given the suit for review purposes).

            Indeed, you can absolutely ask that question, however if you ask a question, you should give the other person the opportunity to answer it. You don't turn around like a petulant child and walk off not giving them the opportunity to do so.

            If the guy wanted a legitimate answer, he would've hung around, as it were, he merely wanted to create some sort of scene obviously. On those grounds alone, I stand by the fact he's a wanker and his actions are contrary to his 'cause'.

            Last edited 03/11/14 1:15 pm

              Oh yeah. There's no doubt he did a poor job of asking his question. Although I'd be interested to hear his take on it. Some people are saying he seemed shy and soft spoken, and as someone who isn't great at public speaking I could totally understand if he walked out because the spotlight was overwhelming and he was about to vomit. =P

              It sounds dumb but when I was younger if Mark was speaking directly too me in front of a crowded panel it'd freak me right out. He could be telling me the meaning of life and I'd still want to bolt. I'm not trying to defend the guy or make sympathetic assumptions, he can defend himself if he chooses to and it's sort of besides the point of the article anyway, it's just that this sort of thing happening to me is my idea of a nightmare. Struggle to speak up and ask a question, screw it up with my general weirdness/bad communication skills and then have an article written that I would interpret as 'you were the only bad thing at PAX Aus'.

              Last edited 03/11/14 1:58 pm

                I can understand what you are saying about nervousness. But the fact is he didn't really ask a question. He blurted a catch cry. I wasn't at the panel so I don't know for sure but from what I heard he wasn't booed or anything like that.
                Had he asked a proper question he could have got an answer or engaged in dialog. As you say this was the place for gamergaters to ask questions directly of the media. The only person who asked a question was this guy and it was more a "we are here, rah rah" than actually expecting a response.

                  I'll actually jump in here too, a lot of people suck at forming complex ideas into words and questions. Doing it in real time with speech and not text is even harder and a lot of people won't understand the short comings in how they communicated something, satisfied that it makes sense in their head so the person on the other end should understand too.

                  I say all this because DogMan makes good points, both his and mine are reasonable and completely possible. Also it's nice if you can try and assume that people around you have positive intents, it tends to de-escalate situations.

                  All that said, my first assumption when reading the article was that he was an idiot with no idea what he was asking... Then that he was just a troll when he left midway through. So my thoughts weren't nearly as noble off the cuff =P

                  Yeah, like I said I'm not defending him. If he wants to defend himself Mark's made it clear he's open to talking it out. I really hope something comes of that. I totally agree with the critism of the question and while I don't see much of it since I don't use Twitter/broader social media I do understand flag planting is a big part of it all.
                  It's just that @bj1 down there explained what he remembers happening in a way that makes that reaction seem more plausible (and admittedly a thousand times easier for me to relate to). Mark's perspective seems off in that there doesn't seem to be any cause for it. It's not like he walked out after some epic shutdown of his question. From where Mark was standing it was out of the blue. After listening to two other people talk what was it about Mark's response that broke the camels back? His accent isn't that bad.

                Here's the thing though...

                What exactly was the person expecting when he asked such a loaded question? As a "shy" person why in the world would you put yourself in such a HUGE spotlight and not follow through w/ a response or debate? I mean granted you are more than welcome to voice your opinions and ask. But this is not the internet where judgement is done behind the safety of a keyboard. This is a real life public forum.

                And again... it is such an obviously loaded question and so what kind of response was he expecting? Did he expect everyone in the panel to fumble and apologise and the crowd applauding suddenly at the "gotcha! moment" and end up as the "hero" of GG'ers everywhere? My only real theory is the person didn't really think of the consequences of speaking up in "Real Life" vs "Internet"

              I'm guessing that Marks reply got past 140 characters and the "wanker" had taken as much information in as he could process in one response...

                So apparently it is okay to call someone a wanker? That's not demeaning, insulting or sexist? Both sides of this ridiculous debate seem to be as guilty as each other and neither makes me proud to be a gamer.

                  That's why I put the quote marks. It's what somebody else called him so that's the title, I guess.

            The panel was actually submitted before GG was even a thing. It's just a coincidence that we were talking about some of the things that they claim to be about. I did feel a little bad for shutting the guy down so quickly, but ill defined statements and vague questions that insinuate that everyone is corrupt really get my goat.

        Which is why companies have an Ethics Policy. Which... Kotaku doesn't. Layout your rules and guidelines for everyone to see, is that so hard?

          Polygon is one of the biggest targets of Gamergate for their SJW stance and they've had an ethics policy from their inception.

            Which allowed Patreon funding, until GG erupted. At which point they changed their policy to allow it, at which point Tracey Lien, Senior Reporter posted "Slower than slow, thicker than thick". Kinda makes their entire policy a joke, right?

            http://loltaku.tumblr.com/post/95855302504/polygon-adds-ethics-disclosure-to-writer-profiles

              Do you understand how weak the arguments you are making are and how desperate the point you're making looks to anyone who didn't already come in agreeing with you?

                So you support journalists funding games and then advertising them on gaming websites?

                  There's a difference between commercial funding where the people contributing expect a return on their investment and kickstarter/patreon where people do it because they are fans of the work.

                  That being said, I think that it should be disclosed. I also think that it is an incredibly minor issue in the scheme of things. Publishers paying people for things like the Shadows of Mordor coverage is significantly more worrying to me.

                  I'm not sure on the details of Patreon funding but that is basically kickstarter right?
                  If that's the case I actually have not issue with them doing that. They are interested in an idea and support it then report on it. I want my gaming journalists to write articles about things they are passionate about.
                  To me those sites are basically just a pre-order anyway, I don't really see a difference in somebody backing a project before it is completed or somebody placing a pre-order for that latest AAA release. I wouldn't expect somebody to be barred from reporting on Dragon Age Inquisition just because the made a pre-order on it.

                  Is there something about Patreon that I am missing? Is it actually an investment in the games and they get a return on it. If so then that is a breach of ethics and I would agree with you

                  Tigs, Patreon is basically you pay people, and they write articles or create things that you get to read/play/listen to. It's basically a monthly subscription service. Saying that someone should disclose that they support someone on patreon when writing about them is like saying you should disclose that you pay for your WoW subscription when writing about that. It's nonsense.

              You have a vague sense that journalists contributing to crowdfunding of games or developers is bad. Can you articulate that in terms of actual standards of journalistic ethics?

              Actually let me do it for you. The code of ethics of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (incorporating the old Australian Journalists' Association) specifies that members must "[d]o [their] utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories."

              http://www.alliance.org.au/code-of-ethics.html

              You'll find similar principles in various other real, actual journalistic codes of ethics.

              So how do we frame this issue in terms of journalistic ethics? It's that cash for comment is bad: journalists should avoid paying for access to the subjects of their coverage, or at least disclose when they have done so.

              Why have Gamergaters attacked Polygon? Because Ben Kuchera contributed to Zoe Quinn via Patreon (because there is no 'ethical' issue that Gamergate has raised that doesn't ultimately trace back to the misogynistic attacks on Quinn), and wrote this article discussing Quinn:

              http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/19/5526114/developer-zoe-quinn-offers-real-world-advice-support-for-dealing-with

              Is this a cash for comment situation? Absolutely not. Kuchera was reporting on public comments that Quinn made at a GDC panel. The entire article is based on those public comments. Any journalist working for any publication was in a position to write exactly the same story. And even if you perceive supporting a Patreon campaign to be the equivalent of holding shares in Activision or EA, which is a fairly bizarre comparison to make, Kuchera's contribution was public.

              And people wonder why Gamergaters never get specific about ethics.

                Tha kickstarter funding issue is such a tiny straw but people grasp at it nonetheless and try to amplify its relevance.

                journalists should avoid paying for access to the subjects of their coverage, or at least disclose when they have done so.

                Shouldn't that be the other way round? A journalist should pay their own way. They shouldn't receive goods or services for free when they write an article on the subject. If you receive an early build of the game for free, you should not write an article on it. Can we agree on that?

                Now personally, I don't see an issue with a journalist using Kickstarter to get access to builds and post about them. However they shouldn't be choosing a tier that allows them to have input on the game's development.

                I do have an issue with Patreon. Its in the name, derived from patron. As in patronage. You are paying to support the person, not to get the product. It is a difference I think is significant. From Patreon's FAQ:

                For patrons
                The warm fuzzy feeling that accompanies believing in someone enough to become a patron.
                Being part of a community with your favorite creators from across the web on activity feeds including photos, videos, comments, Christopher Walken impersonations, etc.
                Timely updates from creators as they are creating the things you love. Get the goods first!
                Rewards from your favorite creators: This could be anything from pre-sell concert tickets, downloads, personal gifts, hangouts, or anything else they can offer as a way to thank you for your patronage

          I would be very, very surprised if Kotaku/Allure Media/Gawker did not have a code of ethics document that all their respective employees have signed or otherwise agreed to in their contract which covers conflict of interest, harassment, customer relations and workplace practices. Even if all the journalists/bloggers were freelance there would be contractual agreements covering ethics.

          If only because it makes it extremely hard to fire someone who's a pillock if they're not violating a workplace agreement.

          There's absolutely no precedent or reason for requiring them to publish it. none at all.

          Last edited 03/11/14 5:07 pm

      It sounds like when Mr GG had his own anonymity stripped away and had to look his target in the eye and make his accusation, he did what I'd wager most vocal GGers would do when faced with the flight or fight instinct.

        The loss of anonymity is a huge deal, it forces accountability. When you've got accountability and responsibility to contend with, shit hits the fan quick.

          Also, at a keyboard, words spout from your fingers effortlessly with a reduced gravity of their impact and tangibility. There's something about having to produce those same words with your voice box that gives everything you say so much more weight.

            Truer words have never been spoken. I once helped run the B105 (Brisbane radio station) chat room back in the late 90s, I had someone in the chatroom who used to call me every name under the sun. I was threatened, abused etc all the time. So one night, we had a get together, we used to have parties once a month (really an excuse for everyone to 'get together' if you know what I mean lol) anyhow I turn up and he's there. Suddenly all night, this guy is trying to be my best mate. It's *odd*. I'm 6'3", he was around mid 5 foot tall. Bizarre. Little bigman syndrome I'd say.

              I really would love to see an MTV reality show style production that somehow tracks down trolls and ambushes them in public with one of their victims and they see if the troll would like to repeat some of their work to their recipients in a public setting, with an audience.

              I would watch the shit outta that show!

                I would watch the shit out of that too. With zero sarcasm, you have a multi-million dollar idea there. It would be like those pedophile shows, but with net trolls. Would so love to see that done in a non ACA way.

                  Ever see Bully Beatdown? It's an MTV show where the host (a goofy pro MMA fighter) confronts bullies and offers them $10,000 to compete in a cage match with a pro MMA fighter. If the bully loses, the victim gets the $$$.

                  As you could imagine, the bully gets his butt handed to him in front of a cheering crowd and the reverse humiliation is often revelatory for the bully.

                  I think some of it is pretty fake. But the format for that show would be similar to my idea for a troll show. Go check it out. It's pretty funny.

    The fact I got to meet you and tell you that story was the absolute highlight of my PAX weekend.

    Also, didn't mean to make you cry. My bad.

      Now, here's a story we all want to hear I think O_o

      Genuine interest. No sarcasm...

        I think @rade is referring to the story that nearly made Serrels cry... Where she told Mark about how awesome he is, asked for a hug and made him cry.

    I was at the panel, and I don't think that dude waliked out because he didn't like the answer he was given. I also disagree with Mark's characterisation of him. He was a shy and soft talker; most people in the audience could barely hear him ask the question. Journalists should be held accountable to a certain standard but that dude seemed to me to be quite socially inept and introverted - not the crusading ethics warrior that people might think he was. Also people flinging insults at him should get a grip - you weren't there and you don't even know the dude's fucking name (not do I). Seems to me that judging people in an instant is half the problem with "gamergate"

      I don't think I characterised him wrong. He definitely looked angry. I know this because I remember specifically pointing him out to the guy with the mic, because I could see he was getting frustrated that he wasn't getting to ask his question.

      Asides from that I didn't characterise him at all really and that was entirely deliberate on my part.

      Oh and another thing. I totally tweeted after the conference that I'd be happy to meet up with this guy and talk to him.

      That offer totally still stands.

        Here's the thing. There DOES need to be more of a conversation about ethics in journalism, although it has very little to do with sleeping with game devs.

        I was a games reviewer in the days of print media. Some people here may need to Google what that is.

        The 'ethics' problems then were the same as they are now. Reviewers regularly produced biased reviews. Whether that bias is driven by advertising dollars - as NO publication truly bites the hand that feeds it -, by cultural influences - OMG indie retro games <3 <3 - or by personal biases, the reality is that most reviewers are in the industry for passion, not paychecks and that passion clouds their perspective.

        This is a great thing in many ways, and gives an extra level of life to games reviewing that you won't find in mainstream publications. But it leads to various levels of bias impacting on the overall culture of gaming, from community viewpoints to the direction of game development.

        It's not necessarily BAD, far from it.

        But there's certainly a truckload of wallpapering going on at the moment to try and pretend there's nothing to see, move along.

        I've lost count of the number of articles I've seen of late that have the take home message:

        SURE, WE ADMIT THERE ARE PROBLEMS IN GAME JOURNALISM

        NOW THAT WE SAID THE ABOVE SENTENCE WE CAN IMMEDIATELY START TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE AND NOT ACTUALLY DISCUSS WHAT THEY ARE, OR WHAT APPROACHES MAY BE TAKEN

        The problem with #gamergate is that there ARE valid arguments buried in the froth of both 'sides'.

        But journalistic laziness is combining with ideological chest-thumping to conflate valid arguments with misogynistic vileness and an unwillingness to address concerns.

        You can do better than this.

          I don't see people having personal bias as an issue. In critical review, being familiar with the critic is an important part of the relationship between critic and audience. Understanding where they are coming from gives the audience a better understanding of the material. People don't exist in vacuums.

          Even if that was an issue, it's not an ethical issue.

          I don't disagree with a lot of what you said here: but I don't think I was being lazy here. This wasn't an article about ethics, it was an article about PAX Australia and my experience there. You can refer to a number of other articles, Stephen Totilo has written a couple that might be of help.

          I think that's an important distinction: just because an article isn't providing exactly what you want, or what you feel like you need to hear, that doesn't make it 'lazy'.

            Lazy is not having an ethics policy...

              So what I'm reading across your comments here is that if Kotaku suddenly decided to have an ethics policy you would suddenly agree that they are ethical? It seems to me that you're setting an arbitrary goal here.

              It's more interesting to talk about what you would expect OUT of an ethics policy. What would does an ethics policy do for the site? For the journalists? For the audience? What sort of ethical issues would you like to see addressed in such a policy?

                Change their policy back to prohibit Patreon funding by journos who then post 'articles' about the project. Yeah, they quietly changed their policy. To allow it.

                  Reporters who report on consumer products paying for said consumer products instead of receiving them for free.

                  Sounds SOOOO UNETHICAL.

                  *and with that last eyeroll, his retinas detached and he was blinded for the rest of his life. When interviewed towards the end of his life, he would only state "Totes worth it"*

                  Wait... so your upset at the fact that Kotaku et al. is using an alternative source of funding to keep the site running...

                  Not because they have blatantly misrepresented someone, not because they have targeted someone based on race, creed, religion, etc. Not because Kotaku is somehow funding other unsavoury groups, Not because they have been paid by other companies to show their product w/o any disclosure what so ever. Not because they have been using slave labor or near slave labor conditions for their writers..

                  Kotaku is the epitomy of "unethical" journalism because they choose to use other revenue streams. Gotcha! Good to see you have such a grounded understanding of "ethics in media"

                  And then you wonder why people have such a very low opinion of people who "support" GamerGate?

                  Jesus goddamn Christ. Patreon is basically helping to pay for an artist to do their thing, it's not an investment that's hoping for financial return. Where exactly is the conflict of interest in that? Oh, thats right, absolutely fucking nowhere. There's no conflict of interest in paying for, and then reviewing, a product. The reviewer has no hidden financial stake in the outcome. Pull your head out of your arse.

              What ethical issues have arisen which you feel require the implementation of a policy to address those issues?

                Grayson invested in quinn through patreon, provided feedback on pre release versions, posted an article on dq and had a personal relationship with quinn.

                He should never have posted on kotaku about it. That was wrong. And since then, kotaku have done nothing to prevent the situation happening again, they actually encourage it.

                This is one example of the problem endemic to the games journalism industry. It's why you can never trust any review. It needs attention and diligence and reform from the sites and from the customers.

                Disagree if you will, debate if you wish, but don't impugn me personally or my right to express these opinions. I have afforded you all that level of respect.

                Last edited 05/11/14 12:54 pm

                  Patreon isn't an investment, and reporting on the existence of a friend's free game, where there is no direct benefit to either party is a non issue.

              Looks like we've just found the person who walked out on Mark!

              Most companies don't specifically have an ethics policy, they have a smorgasbord of policies and ethical behaviours are defined across various policies in context - Client Relationship policies, Acceptable Behaviour policies and so on. Those policies, plus management directives and the employment contract together cover ethical behaviour.

              Constantly banging on about how Kotaku "doesn't have an ethics policy" actually says nothing about what behaviours are prescribed and proscribed for employees.

            For an article about 'PAX Australia and your experiences' it certainly had an overwhelming focus on #gamergate and a very pointed, biased delivery of your views on certain aspects of it.

            This is an opinion piece more than a report. And that's fine.

            You failed to understand my point, again because you are conflating separate things. The journalistic laziness is that you are not separating out individual issues and concerns.

            Commentary on ethics does not equate to misogyny. These are two different things. Using one to excuse, enable or deflect from examination of the other is unhelpful in the extreme.

            The neckbearded fedora-wearing MRA's do this because they are ideological extremists. That's their problem and it's unlikely to ever be 'solved' as they are mentally unwell.

            As a paid professional however, you should know better than to do this.

            Separate out the issues. Examine each individually and present arguments from both sides. The weight of evidence should speak for itself, it doesn't need you to artificially subtract from 'the bad guys' in order to shore up your own point of view.

            Here's the truth. You ARE biased on this issue. It attacks both your profession, and I assume your personal stance on gender politics.

            Deal with these things cleanly and separately, if you want to do so as a journalist.

            Otherwise you're a media content producer aiming to catch clicks and generate attention.

            I'm not judging if you choose to be the latter (and I'd argue that's really what you are by the nature of the site), but as someone who spent decades as a journalist and editor, often covering things I found personally distasteful but dealt with evenly nonetheless, I find appropriation of that term concerning.

            Your ethics are being attacked by these basement dwellers.

            Just front up and address it for what it is, without bringing in anything else. Be open, transparent and forthright.

            That's how you shut them up.

            Every time you deflect the argument into a form of ad hominem ('We don't need to address the concerns of dudes who threaten women') it provides them with more justification and ammunition.

            Thing is, and this is the hardest truth to bear - you are intentionally fueling the fire with articles like this and taking advantage of your audience and this situation.

            I know why, as do you. It's your bread and butter. Been there, done that. From a business standpoint, fair enough.

            But as a gamer, and a journalist, I'd ask you to consider the wider ramifications of that.

            Last edited 03/11/14 3:13 pm

              Mark wrote about his experiences, he simply talked about how he was worried about how gamergate might affect his PAX experience. It's abundantly clear that's all this article is. He is under no obligation to address the points of gamergate, as other people have already done that and there are no specific points being made about Mark or Kotaku Australia.

              This isn't fuel for the fire and if it's being used as such there is no way that it is intentional.

              This is all fine and well and again I agree. But I feel like you are arguing and discussing the general pro/anti gamergate narrative, not the article I wrote.

              Things like this:

              Commentary on ethics does not equate to misogyny. These are two different things. Using one to excuse, enable or deflect from examination of the other is unhelpful in the extreme.

              The neckbearded fedora-wearing MRA’s do this because they are ideological extremists. That’s their problem and it’s unlikely to ever be ‘solved’ as they are mentally unwell.

              And this:

              Every time you deflect the argument into a form of ad hominem (‘We don’t need to address the concerns of dudes who threaten women’) it provides them with more justification and ammunition.

              Like these are fair criticisms of other articles! I didn't even come close to addressing these issues at all!

              Edit: Sorry just to add a little more. I deliberately tried to focus this article to this point: that we are seeing a games community trying to work past this whole thing in a positive manner. That's what PAX represented to me and that's what this article is about. If you look back you'll probably see that I never once wrote the kind of article you're describing. Those articles exist and you make some solid points, just not necessarily relevant to this article I've written IMO.

                Well no, YOU'RE seeing a community trying to 'work past this whole thing positively.'

                That's a very important distinction. That's what makes this more of a personal opinion piece than a report. As you say, that's what it represented to you.

                However, I can imagine quite a few people saw things differently, in all colours of the rainbow.

                What I am saying is that most people in today's media marketplace - both producers and consumers - are quite confused as to what separates reporting and opinion (if there is a separation) and that confusion is a significant contribution to this whole mess.

                This is a biased article. According to the #gamergate heroes, it would be 'unethical'. They will argue that articles are meant to be objective, or at least strive as hard as possible to be - unless they are clearly badged as 'opinion'.

                Pop it up without neon flashing lights saying THIS IS AN OPINION PIECE NOTHING TO DO WITH ADVERTISING OR ANYTHING ELSE JUST THIS IS ME AND HOW I FEEL ABOUT SOMETHING and you provide them with more support for their perspectives.

                The painful thing is, there is an entire hidden subtext running here that no-one, but no-one, wants to deal with.

                As a journalist, you no doubt cleave to the notion - at least on a surface level - that your profession is about objectivity or attempts thereof. If you went to uni, they drilled this into you. It's the dominant open perspective in our society about your profession.

                This is the standard #gamergate is trying to crucify you against. Allegedly, this is the lynchpin of their crusade and as long as you keep acting in ways that allow them to point fingers, they will continue to do so.

                You know what? They're pretty much right. There's bias left right and centre. Based on the historical notion of objective journalism, your sector stacks up very badly indeed.

                But the conversation that should be taking place is a frank examination of how that paradigm works in today's marketplace. It's a painful conversation and one that involves a lot of shame and anger from certain quarters as it flies in the face of many traditional views.

                But until it takes place, there's a fundamental dishonesty being employed.

                So to combat that, you may want to consider is dealing with the 'ethics in journalism' issue openly.

                You may want to front up and say 'It's not the 1950s any more. There's a significant amount of bias in our work and we won't pretend there isn't. We provide a service to consumers and it is based on meeting market expectations. That's what the market wants right now, so that's what it gets. If you don't like it, don't blame journalists - blame consumers. And while you're at it, feel free to start your own publication from your mum's basement.'

                Given your *opponents* are - to a pasty neckbearded man - fedora-wearing libertarians, you should find this neatly hoists them on their own petard.

                You're operating in the free market, in a competitive environment. They need to provide a compelling argument to explain why you WOULDN'T engage in 'unethical' behaviour - because those 'ethics' have no place in this market unless the majority of consumers demand them. And we can see by the numbers this is not the case.

                  That makes a little more sense. But I think from the tone this is clear as day an opinion piece and I'm of the *opinion* that opinion pieces should be allowed to exist without me having to stamp OPINION PIECE on it.

                  That may be your *opinion*, and I understand it, but there's a reason why most publications clearly badge these things.

                  And when you are allegedly trying to defuse a situation like this, it's a small effort to make for a considerable gain.

                  But what makes me sad is that I know that you and similar writers will continue to publish work that inflames these people. On one level, you do this as you legitimately want to see your perspective dominate theirs. As I mostly share your view, I endorse this.

                  On the other level though, you ARE doing it to make money by exploiting this situation.

                  That's your job, hardly a hanging offense.

                  But by not copping to it, and then having an open discussion of why it's OK for you to do this, then you are actually guilty of what this is supposedly all about.

                  And it's sad that these people get to use that validation to promote their misogynistic agenda.

          Here's some advice. You are right, there needs to exist discussion about ethics in journalism. But you, and everybody else would be better served pocketing that until the argument stops being used as a banner by a vocal minority whose true aim is to harass and bully women. You may not be like that. Many like you are not like that. But you would have to be in deep denial not to admit that there are people like that.

          Once that finally dies off and the negative association that such valid question has unfortunately been hampered with, maybe we all will be ready for that conversation.

            Alternatively, just have that discussion, and write articles about genuine ethical concerns. They'll stand on their own merits if they have substance.

            I always worry about "this isn't the right time to have this discussion" - it's used too often as a delaying tactic, because it's never the right time. Great example is the gun debate in the States. Whenever a school shooting occurs, if anyone talks about any measure at all to control guns, they're "insensitive". It's not the right time. This was really obvious after Sandy Hook. But when is the right time... As of 24 October there have been 87 incidents with firearms discharged in American schools since the Sandy Hook shooting, 23 of which someone other than the shooter was killed. It's ALWAYS too soon to have that discussion...

            Here's a good piece covering some things that could be of concern to people who care about ethical standards:
            http://leighalexander.net/list-of-ethical-concerns-in-video-games-partial/

            I can predict that this'll be dismissed just because of the identity of the author because of Reasons. However I think there are some genuine concerns raised.

              You are absolutely right. The problem is that you'd have to mobilise enough people willing to sit to have these discussions while constantly being derailed by the GG crap. I am not saying that the discussion /should/ not happen now. Rather I am almost positive that it simply /cannot/ happen nowadays, and that insisting in trying you only achieve to be lumped with that unfortunate group of people.

          I agree that having sponsorship and advertising affect the journalism, particularly if the link isn't disclosed (it's still not great if it is disclosed, but at least I have enough information to decide whether to trust the article then).

          But why are you linking this to cultural influences and personal opinions? Much of what you get on sites like this is subjective opinion. If reviews were entirely objective, there would never be any reason to have more than one for a particular game. The fact that these articles reflect the author's opinion is not evidence of a breach of ethics: rather that they are editorial in nature.

            'Much of what you get on sites like this is subjective opinion.'

            BINGO!

            Welcome to games 'journalism'. That's what has the #gamergaters' panties in a wad. Allegedly.

            So deal with it. Admit that yes, much if not most of games 'journalism' is subjectively weighted.

            That's the marketplace now. It's what consumers consume, and while a minority may have differing views, well, they are a minority.

            Probably the first time in their lives a bunch of white male libertarians get to be in a minority, they should enjoy the novelty.

            'Now that's been dealt with, what did you #gamergaters want to talk about?'

              I've followed your posts, and respect your opinions - and mostly agree with all you said.

              One thing sticks in my head though, and it's where you talked about, from your own experiences - about bias, be it personal bias towards a genre, creator or company - and the type of paid bias you often see from paid advertisers.

              Now - and this is sincere - what experiences did you have in other fields of entertainment journalism ie. Film and Music? Is this similar? And is this bias something mainly unavoidable in any arts focused field of journalism.

              The university drilled objectivity must surely take a back seat to a certain extent - for the sake of the journalism. In news reportage - that can cover any kind of incident- I can see how objectivity is important. "A man killed 6 people at 3pm. Sources say he was wearing a red hat but that is unconfirmed". That's what happened , that's a story, but isn't every film/music/game "story" essentially just a spin on "this album/movie/game by X was produced/is being produced, much Y was added, Z was in the artists thoughts and here we have work A."

              Essentially "Bob Dylan recorded a record. Some people like it", "Woody Allen made a film, you may like it" Hardly matches up to "Dylan has rediscovered the fire of his late 60's classics and injected a steel into his compositions not seen since Blonde on Blonde" or some such, ultimately subjective opinion.

              Look - I realise this is probably another entire topic in itself - and I don't mean to digress - but in short - from your experiences - how objective generally is specialised/industry specific journalism in other arts?

                Objectivity flies out the window when your own investment is involved, simple as that. In some sectors this can be financial - where one way or another the journo gets paid for a positive spin. In others it can be personal - so a music gig reviewer will give better reviews to venues that treat them better.

                I've worked in dozens of industries over the years. The arts are the most subjective - both because they deal with subjects that are often close to the passions of reviewers (good and bad) and because they often offer other benefits that are less obviously policed than direct financial remuneration.

                The university-drilled objectivity is the key issue though - it is a CONSTRUCT.

                People act as if it is a divine law. It's not. It's just one paradigm, dominant in academia and - until recently - the media in general. People like Rupert Murdoch have torn down that expectation and showed that you can be insanely biased and insanely powerful and wealthy as a result.

                He will tell you it's about marketplace realities. Your university professor will tell you it's about social responsibility and ethics.

                Who is correct?

                That's up to you.

              I'm not sure why you put the word journalism in quotes. This is hardly the only field where journalists will speak with their own voice for some stories.

              Journalism for games was always going to be closer to coverage of films or art than it would be to e.g. coverage of wars or politics. There are objective parts of film reviews, such as who directed it, who stars in it, where it was filmed, etc, but the more interesting part is whether the reviewer enjoyed it or not. That part is subjective, and is the reason why people would want to read it in the first place (rather than just look at the cast and crew list on IMDb).

              So I don't agree that subjectivity by itself is a problem: you've only got an ethics breach when the reader is deceived. These range from undisclosed conflicts of interest (while no CoIs is best, a disclosed CoI lets the reader make up their mind), to outright fraud/conspiracy.

          I think 'biased' reviews and ethical issues in games journalism are two overlapping circles on a venn diagram. Being paid to write positive things and not disclosing this is a big fat ethical problem. Writing reviews - which are ultimately subjective pieces - with personal views and opinions (including "retro games heart" etc) is not an ethical problem. In fact, it's the core of a reviewer's job.

          EDIT: specifically talking about games reviews as opposed to writing 'news' pieces. I see games reviews as I see movie reviews and music reviews - it's ridiculous to expect or want a reviewer not to base a review on their views.

          Last edited 03/11/14 8:17 pm

      I agree. I was also at that panel and didn't think this guy left just because he didn't get an answer he wanted. It's no real trouble to stay a few more minutes after your question, and indeed PAX is pretty busy and I saw people leaving panels early for whatever reasons beckoned him.

      While it's a popular thing for stand-up comedians to do; I find that calling attention to somebody leaving the audience is pretty mean. Everybody applauded in this instant, for the casting out of somebody who has a different opinion or interpretation of events. So much for the sense of inclusiveness and acceptance we are promoting here.

      Which is my main concern in light of this entire controversy: anyone who identifies with even remotely shares opinions with GG is automatically sorted into the box of sexist gamers in the very fashion of prejudicial assumption we're asking the community to not do to others.

      It's great to see that PAX showed such a broad sense of an accepting, tolerant community. If anything this should show that no matter the opinion, or concerns held by an individual - the vast majority of us are nice people with no interest in separating or segregating the growing games community. So please, let's no longer sweep them into convenient little camps when we get back behind the keyboard.

        Dude, I was there. I was speaking to him directly. Like looking him in the eye. He asked a question and didn't stay for the answer. That's pretty much unacceptable in my view. Hugely disrespectful. And no-one really called out or abused him as he left. More like, 'why are you leaving'? Sort of like bewilderment.

          Well I'll defer to your memory. Mine seems to have failed me, and had the impression that we had moved on to the next question by the time he left. I do remember him claiming that he had a relieved a call on his phone, and I suppose it's up to the individual as to whether they think he was lying. Of course I have no idea what kind of answer he was looking for - the ones you and the panel gave were completely fine.

          But I still disagree that the resulting applause was one of bewilderment; especially as it definitely wasn't praise for asking hard questions.

          Last edited 03/11/14 5:20 pm

            Sounds like he got set up by a (maybe soon-to-be-ex) friend...

    Really annoyed I couldn't make it this year, last years was a blast! Damn HSC and future building, who needs it? :( Glad it was a pretty civil affair and it was just this guy determined to rattle the cage. Is the panel on YouTube, Mark?

      Well it seems you've got a least five more years to make it there. With any luck by year five you'll be able to take a week off work and really enjoy it.

    This was my first ever convention and except for a couple on instances in which I was stood up by some media personalities that said one thing to me and did another I enjoyed PAX as a whole.

    My personal highlight was meeting Rae Johnston Day 1, I know there were panels and exhibitors which are the main reason to go, however I saw the first panel of PAX which was MC by the guys behind the Beta Bar called Owning your Geek, then onto Rooster Teeth in which a Slenderman stole the show and had Ray running off stage multiple times in laughter.

    I finished the night with Geek Bomb and their trivia night that was hosted by Dave Callan that hour felt like 20 minutes it was so much fun, they [Geek Bomb] should do more of these during the 3 days and get fans involved as competitors if they cant get more guests to appear.

    My day 2 consisted of catch up with Geek Bomb crew in the morning and we ended up talking about expanding the brand with some ideas as a fan would love to see on a more regular basis, and then I was on a cosplay hunt and if I saw anything mind blowing I would speak with them and grab some personal shots I would personally like to that VI (I was impressed by the detail in the outfit) and Harley Quinn (I love Harley Quinn) and believe her obsession with Mr J is holding her back.

    However personally this is where my PAX experience went pear shaped as plans made during day 2 with said media personalities didn't eventuate and then when arranging plans for day 3 prior to my 2 hour journey into PAX were ignored and never attended the final day which looking back was a huge mistake :(

    Overall I loved it, however I think I should not put my hopes up when making plans with said media personalities as someone who is trying to own his geek while fighting mental health issues these disappointments do set me back on my route to recovery.

    Caught you ever so briefly after the Religion/Spirituality panel @markserrels, was a pleasure to make your heavily Scottish acquaintance.

      Haha! I remember you because I was totally in a mad rush to make my next panel! Really nice to meet you!

    It was a great experience overall, but I actually came out the other way - energised at the beginning, exhausted at the end. Not because the convention was in any way bad - but because there was so much going on that I was constantly moving back and forth between panels and floor space to try and do everything. My highlights were the Gearbox panel, playing Dragon Age Inquisition, getting the absolute perfect hand for Cards Against Humanity and getting some perfect pins (pin collector).

    What did you say to make him leave? How could you possibly leave that detail out of your article!? It seems to be the most important part of that story

      He probably just couldn't make out a single thing due to the thick scottish accent so decided he might as well leave

    So someone actually tried to take their movement off the internet into 'real life' and catch everybody off guard to validate his cause. But instead found himself alone and unable to back himself up.

      I don't think anybody was off-guard. I was quite concerned that this topic would be endlessly brought up since it's been relatively recent happenings. Thus I thought everybody would be ready with their answers.