Chastened Gaming Rep Paul Christoforo Responds To Internet Infamy

"I want to clear my name. I want to get these people to stop bothering me."

That was the main message from Ocean Marketing's Paul Christoforo, a former representative forN-Control's Avenger controller attachment.He gained immediate infamy among the Internet gaming community after a hostile customer service email exchangewent viralafter landing on popular gaming webcomic Penny Arcade.

In a matter of hours, Christoforo went from being just another customer service agent to a focus of ire for thousands of gamers. Christoforo was featured in mocking images and videos, and the Avenger product he was representing was hit with widespread derision and negative Amazon reviews, forcing the company to publicly drop Christoforo as its marketing representative.

A chastened Christoforo is now looking for forgiveness from the Internet community he unwittingly antagonized, saying in an interview with MSNBC.com's In-Game he was "caught on a bad day" and that he hopes they will "let sleeping dogs lie."

"They've pretty much ruined me in the past 24 hours," Christoforo said. "It was humbling a little bit, but life goes on. I'm not going to die."

That doesn't mean Christoforo isn't still feeling the effects from becoming a household name in certain corners of the Internet - effects he says he was actively dealing with for17 hours straight yesterday. While Christoforo said blocking his Google Voice number stopped an early flood of harassing phone calls, he's received over 7,000 e-mails in the past 24 hours, some containing threats against him and his wife and two-month-old son.

"It's caused me more annoyance than anything else, but there are some threats and a lot of disrespect," he said. "My son's two months old ... that's uncalled for, you don't bring him into this situation."

Christoforo said his wife's Facebook page has been hammered by friend requests from people trying to get at him, and the shared stress of the entire ordeal has led to at least one major argument between the couple.

Yet despite all the drama, Christoforo said he hasn't lost any of his other accounts, aside from Avenger. "It hasn't affected my business yet," he said. "Clients have brought it up, but they've mainly laughed about it. I haven't lost any clients."

"If I had known, I wouldhave treated the situation a little better." Referring to the email thread that started the whole mess, Christoforo said that he didn't know who he was talking to in his initial, flippant response to Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik.

"I didn't know who that guy at Penny Arcade was," he admitted. "If I had known, I wouldhave treated the situation a little better. PAX is a great show. What he does is what I've been idlolizing since I was a kid. It's admirable he's put that together. He has a lot of connections, ones I want too."

Yet while admitting he handled things badly, Christoforo said he also felt the situation could have been different if Krahulik approached the situation differently.

"He called me a bully, but he was being a bully ...especially when he emailed me out of the blue, saying 'That's f***ing s***ty, you're banned from PAX,' I was like 'Who the f*** are you? That's how you introduce yourself? ... I dont want to call him out, but he could have gone about that a totally different way, he could have said, 'Hey, I run the show, that email was a little unprofessional, if you don't do something to apologise I don't want you at my show.' But he just came at me and said, indirectly, 'Hey, f*** you, you're banned from PAX.' Is that what you'd call professional? I wouldn't."

Christoforo also said his response was driven in part by what he saw as the disrespectful tone of the messages that came before it. "Not that I don't have respect for anybody, but if someone's badmouthing me or being a little punk or being a jerk, they don't deserve respect," he said. "You can't expect to go up and say 'Hey you piece of s***,' and expect respect. Send an email, introduce yourself. ... I trust everybody until they give me a reason not to respect them.I'm not a tough guy, not a bully, but at same time not going to take s*** if it's uncalled for.

Regarding the litany of names Christoforo's e-mail called up as potential supporters - a list that included everyone from Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski to the mayor of Boston - he said the tactic was meant to "impress, not to threaten" and didn't come through correctly because "you can't see tone of voice in email."

"I don't know the mayor of Boston," he admitted. "That was taken totally out of context, I was just joking around. I am from Boston, though, and I know a lot of people people who own clubs. I know some influential people, like the guy who runs the door at the convention centre.

"Maybe it was because it was email, maybe on the phone it would have been different story ... it would have nipped everything in the bud."

Looking back, Christoforo is still a little shocked that what he thought would remain a private email conversation got blown into an Internet event the way it did.

"If this didn't get escalated to Penny Arcade, it would have never gone viral like it did," he said. "Ultimately, if I was able to control the customer, it never would have happened. I've dealt with thousands and thousands of customers with similar complaints, they were all asking the same question. When is it big enough that it hits the news? When it hits Penny Arcade, when it hits a guy who has the biggest affiliations in the industry."

Moving on. Despite the harassment, Christoforo says he still respects the gaming community he says he's been a part of for decades.

"I still love the gaming community, and this is not going to change my mind," he said. "I do think these people were a little bit excessive with the spam, digging up personal information, calling me. Not to put anyone down, but I don't know what kind of lives these people have. ...Ultimately it doesn't affect the way I think about anybody. I don't have any hate or bad will for them, but it's a little bit sad that they didn't have anything better to do than attack me."

Christoforo said he's also been able to laugh at some of the funnier parodies and jokes at his expense out there, particularly a well-made videofeaturing an over-the-top actor playing an exaggerated version of him.

"I'm not depressed at people making fun of me," he said. "It's like a parody of Barack Obama. It's making me more popular. I'm not doing anything to stop it, and it is kind of funny. ... It's not the end of the world, and it'll be old news soon, but it's hot news now, and I do see the lighter side of it."

While Christoforo didn't completely rule out legal action against Penny Arcade and the sources of some of the more vicious Internet slander and threats, he said he probably will not actually call an attorney. That's partly because he's not sure there's a legal case to be made, but also because he doesn't want his name dragged down any further, he said.

"[Legal action] is something I'm not interested in doing because the community would be more pissed at me," he said. "Regardless of money [possibly won in a settlement], it would really ruin my name. Am I saying I care more about my reputation than money? Yes."

But Christoforo also sees some potential positives in all the negative attention he's been getting. His Twitter account, which has now changed names twice because he was "sick of the tweets and stuff coming in," has been getting a lot of new followers from the controversy, he noted, a situation that may be beneficial down the line.

"If these people stick with me and follow me, a couple months down the road anything I say is news," he said. "If it gets me somewhere else that I wouldn't have been where this happened ... it's negative now, but controversy and bad news is news and that's just the way it is. Look at all the bad press from people in entertainment industry that turned into something good. Whether I do charity work or something good, I don't know."

In the nearer term, Christoforo has entertained the idea of doing some Internet videos himself, and even considered going to PAX East, held in Boston this April, with a shirt tauntingly saying 'I'm Paul Christoforo' on it. "I'm not sure I'd actually do that, since I don't want to get in any fights," he clarified.

So what lessons has Christoforo taken from his brush with Internet infamy?"I'll definitely stay away from customer service emails," he said. "I could have nipped this all in the bud by being a little nicer. You never know who knows who, and lesson learned. We all have bad days and they caught me on one."

"At the end of the day, I'm a human being, and it feels like the entire world was bullying me," he said. "Iwant people to like me, I don't want people to think I'm a bad person. ... I made a mistake.... I hope I can make something positive out of it."

Kyle Orland has written hundreds of thousands of words about gaming since he got his start with a Mario fan site at the age of 14. You can follow him onTwitteror at his personal web site,KyleOrland.com. Republished with permission.


Comments

    So, he starts his emails with no respect for people... then expects respect back? No matter what he says, we know he's done the same thing before. We know exactly what he's like. No apology will help this runt.

      Your spelling is as bad as Christoroforo. You misspelled C#@t.

        My mistake, well spotted.

        I humbly apologize for these proceedings. If I could do anything differently, I would. Because now my reputation is ruined. I did nothing wrong, though.

        Pffft who the f*** are you? He's been spelling c*** since you were a sperm in your daddy's balls, don't you go telling him how to spell c*** etc etc.

          Ahhh... so much lollage made my day

        "No apology will help this runt."

        This Jerk's not trying to give an apology, he's trying to GET an apology.
        Absolutely amazing. Too bad he's married, I know just the girl for him. She's Indian, rides MetroNorth from Westport to NYC and is named Hermon. Remember her famous line in the video of her? "Do you know how educated I am??!!!!"

        I love the internet. It's outing all the jerks who think they can say and be whatever they want to and stay anonymous. An unintended consequence for societal good.

        Paul Christoforo, hmmm. . . I won't forget.

    He has other clients??? Shenanigans!

      Lol, that's why he hasn't lost anyone else!

      I might be biased but this seems to be just a politer version of the last half of the email conversation following the same pattern.

      "It's not my problem, this was your fault! I'm so good you can't hurt me! please stop hurting me!"

      I do thinks it's wrong to attack him through his wife and/or kid and I don't think he deserves all the flack he's likely getting but he has said/done nothing to make me feel sorry for him either.

        he still says that its not his fault through the entire apology. he seriously doesnt know what he has done wrong. his whole apology is just him saying where everyone else fucked up. SORRY BRO WE HAVE ALL READ PENNY ARCADE, WE KNOW WHAT WAS SAID.

        You're right, his family don't deserve this. He does, though.

        We have proof that this is not a one time thing. He disrespects his customers at every turn and then cries when he gets politely told he's being a dick.

        He is a bully and deserves to be treated with all the ire he is getting. If he could shrink away and apologize for his actions, learn from the mistake he made of treating people like rubbish, then we would cool down. As it stands, he can burn.

    Paul, I made a video of you announcing your presidency. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time and my friends weren't around to help me so that I could do it press conference style. I think I really captured your essence though. Hope you like it. http://youtu.be/M_i-X4PSrEY

    If this were a one off, which it wasn't, or if the apology didn't feel like "I regret treating someone well known in the gaming community badly", I might have more sympathy for the guy. If the the guy managed one of my products, I'd drop him like a ton of bricks.

    Notice he didn't try and defend his crappy grammar in all those emails.. He just pled like a convicted man for understanding.

    While I'm all for burning the guy, I think bringing his wife and son into the firing line isn't acceptable. They had nothing to do with it.

      That I agree with, but he shouldn't have brought his wife and son into it in the emails to Mike either.

    It doesn't sound like he's learned much, he's still only sorry about the backlash,

    He has done his dash as a businessman and I sure hope he doesn't get sympathy or any form of respect back.

    He lies as it being an 'off day' is just cover up story to save his ass, all lies. So he deserves what he gets.

    As for his family and the product. None of this should have involved them, only him.

    “Not that I don’t have respect for anybody, but if someone’s badmouthing me or being a little punk or being a jerk, they don’t deserve respect,”

    I think that quote sums it all up pretty well.

      This guy is a piece of work, he sees himself as blameless and is only sorry he got caught. He's not sorry for being the douchebag he is though.

      His spelling is funny though.

        not sure if "other clients" exist

        or more of Paul's imaginary friends

    Let's face it based on the number of responses coming out indicating that they received shit emails as well, I don't think this was an isolated incident, the I'm not a bully thing won't fly, though he is being bullied and harassed, some of it likely going to far (just the way this stuff works).

    To be honest reading his responses, still don't think he gets it. This just reads like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Sucks to be you Paul, sucks to be you.

    1) I hope no-one leaves him alone until he loses all his clients
    2) He criticise Gabe for being unprofessional? Hypocrite
    3) He's an idiot who deserves it (except attacks against his wife and son whom are innocent in this)

    So only the big important people warrant being polite to. Yeah.

    It's a bit too late to ask for respect when he shows none to his customers. Stating that if he'd known who Mike Krahulik was he would've behaved differently just shows where the problem is - he should be treating all of his customers decently, not just those who can do something for him.

    No his family shouldn't have been involved. But he doesn't deserve to stay in business, he has no idea that he's done anything wrong.

    He still sounds like a total shit stain.

      Totally agree. All customers deserve the same treatment. Too bad businesses don't always do it that way. Corporate client.. here let me get that for you... Small business client... Here my assistant will try to help you when he is available... General public... Here call this number and talk to the call centre people....
      Sad but true.

    This is fun. I am having fun. Thankyou.

    There we go folks, a lesson in how to apologise and still be a douchebag at the same time. He clearly hasn't learned his lesson and the only thing he's sorry about is being exposed. Nice how he makes veiled comments about people on the internet having no life. I hope you enjoy the unemployment line, Pal.

      and another point I would like to raise. I read every email that Mike sent when he got involved. He handled the situation just as any head of a major event should, You cut out the damaging influences, it would ruin the atmosphere.

        This just in, look what this douche wrote on his twitter - "OceanStratagy Paul
        Just becuz you babies never get off your computers doesn't mean anyone worth a damn cares about this"
        46 minutes ago

          Delusional too:

          OceanStratagy: You remind me of the fat pig losers that hate on Kim k and Paris for their fame and success #jealousmuch?

    Hey, Paul, stop talking. Seriously, you're not helping. Reading this, I dislike you more.

      Doesn't actually sound like he's remorseful at all. He just kept saying how he didn't appreciate how influential Penny Arcade is, as if that matters. Bullsh*t.

      “OceanStratagy Paul
      Just becuz you babies never get off your computers doesn’t mean anyone worth a damn cares about this”

      The Search Engine Gods have a different opinion. Ask them about "Paul Christoforo OceanStrategy"

    “Not that I don’t have respect for anybody, but if someone’s badmouthing me or being a little punk or being a jerk, they don’t deserve respect,” he said.

    Goes both ways boy

    Even if you looked at him purely from what's in this article, his attitude and language is so crude and aggressive that I have to wander who's stupid enough to actually hire this guy for absolutely ANYTHING to do with the PR of your company.

    This person is not someone who I would want working for me in any manner. If he doesn't lose his other clients, then they are clearly businesses with no respect for their customers. They should also be boycotted, until he no longer works in the industry he claims to love so much. Any chance that is the next step on the warpath?

    " I know some influential people, like the guy who runs the door at the convention centre."

    Brilliant.

    He's full of shit. This isn't the first time he's been an asshole to a customer who hasn't received their goods, and Mike never told him to fuck off. Mike emailed Dave to say that Ocean wouldn't be at PAX!

    In fact, Mike is the most civil out of all 3 of them in that email trail.

    Maybe it's personal bias, but his apology sounds incredibly douchey. The old 'If I'd known who I was talking to...' line is a big fail. If you can only manage to be even remotely civil to people with 'connections' you want to exploit, that's pretty tragic.

    I keep reading his words with the voice of the perennial 80's guy from Futurama. And now I'm safety dancing. Do you see! Do you see what you have done!

    We can dance, Do do DEE dad do do DEE.

    Still sounds like he's only sorry that he got caught out and exposed, not that he acted like a dick.

    Also, why back of his wife? She's enabled his a-hole personality by marrying him AND she's passed on his genetic material to another generation by letting herself get seduced by his mayor of boston, 125 staff PR team line.

    Wait a minute 'Christoforo'...

    'Antichristoforo'...

    2012...

    OH MY GOD!

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