About GamerGate

About GamerGate

Wikipedia would tell you that GamerGate is something to do with ants. Wikipedia, this week, is wrong. GamerGate, the latest name for an ongoing saga in and around the gaming community, is about a bunch of other things. Let's discuss, shall we?

The current drama goes back, however directly or indirectly, to an ex-boyfriend and a series of blog posts attacking his ex-girlfriend's character, then it goes to scrutiny and harassment, takes a turn to involve a possible game journalism sex scandal (refuted), maneuvers into vitriol against feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian (horribly nasty stuff), takes another turn to be about journalism ethics (addressed), spills into some essays and round-ups about how fraught the marketing-driven "gamer" identity is and how it might be dying or dead (rounded up here on Kotaku in an article that says there are many a cool gamer, too!) and then in some way flows into a thing called GamerGate which was actually first used as a Twitter tag a day before any end-of-gamer articles were written.

Ostensibly, GamerGate has become a reclamation of the term "gamer". Ostensibly it's about good people saying, hey, playing games doesn't make us bad people or doesn't identify us all as misogynists/racists/bigots. To anyone who loves video games, this is the least controversial position to take. Does anyone disagree with this at all? Does anyone who cares about video games think that playing games makes you a bad person or indicates that you're scum?

GamerGate, however, does not appear to just be about the reclamation of the term "gamer".

It appears to be, for some, a rallying call to root out the ethical malfeasance of games reporters, a cause that I'm sympathetic with to a degree. Look, no media outlet is perfect, all benefit from reader scepticism and all recognise that part of their job is to note corrections, answer reader questions and work to improve. But some of the claims of journalistic malfeasance? They're ludicrously knotted in conspiracy theories that assume the worst about people with a track record of thoughtful work.

I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and I believe to my core that most people are good people trying to do good things. That's human nature for many, but I also believe it's part of what drove me to be a reporter: to want to listen and understand and empathise.

What I've heard is chaos.

What I've heard is people taking pride in being gamers, which is awesome, and people feeling harassed out of writing about games anymore, which is terrible. I'm hearing specific women take a disproportionate amount of abuse, which is disgraceful and perennially unfair.

All of us at Kotaku condemn the sort of harassment that's being carried out against critics, developers, journalists and other members of the gaming community. If you're someone who harasses people online, you're not a part of the community we want to foster at Kotaku and you're actively hurting people and driving important voices away from the video game scene. Enough.

I've heard people who feel persecuted by the gaming press. I really don't think you are, but ok, own your gamer-ness with pride! What may be happening here is a sense that a good number of gamers feel like they're outside the dominant conversations about games. It is a real thing for readers of the news to feel distanced from those who report. It's a real thing to feel disenfranchised from the discussion about something you love and to be frustrated that your voice isn't heard. Speaking up about what you believe is important about games is a remedy for this — as is voting with your mouse on what you click and what you avoid.

I've heard a cacophony of vague complaints that game journalism is too distracted with this social issue or that or not playing it straight enough about just focusing on games... or all sorts of other perennial complaints that these days manifest as complaints about "social justice warriors", a pejorative for game writers focusing on issues of class, gender or race. First, there are numerous outlets and writers of different types who provide just about any kind of angle on games writing and coverage that a gamer could be looking for. More to the point, I'd argue that coverage of gaming through the lenses of sex, race, class and other social issues may sometimes be a misfire but other times valuably expands the way we talk and think about games and gamers. Seeing game critics and readers work this stuff out has increased the sophistication in the discourse about games. Push and pull here is vital. It leads to smarter criticism and, so far, games and game creators have seemed more than strong enough to withstand, absorb and at times learn from the critiques and counter-critiques.

I've heard an inordinate amount of discussion about Patreon and how the sign of a writer funding a Patreon is enough to assume the worst about their career. This last bit is something that even had me regretting my phrasing of a recent statement I made about Patreon support, simply because something I'd meant as a best practice for regular Kotaku writers (don't fund developers personally on an ongoing basis for non-coverage purposes) was seen as an attack on the Patreon service and/or an excuse to cast aspersions on any reporter who does fund a developer Patreon. I think we can all judge a reporter or critic by the body of their work and use common sense to judge the spirit of their intent. And to clarify and evolve the policy I stated in light of the healthy debate that followed: I believe that Kotaku writers are indeed entitled to pay into a game developer Patreon if that's what they need to do to access a developer's work for coverage purposes. They can even expense it.

One other thing: I've also heard some hopes for de-escalation, to just chill out already without sweeping legit concerns away in the process.

My assumptions about gamers? Good people, most of them, welcoming, tolerant of differences, sceptical of corporations and the press.

My assumptions about games reporters? Good people, most of them, working to translate their love of games and/or reporting and writing into coverage that will interest readers. They at times challenge conventions in gaming not out of disdain for gaming but out of a love for the medium and a hope for its continued growth.

My assumptions about game developers? Good people, most of them, working long hours in their apartments/offices/mega-studios to make something great that can be enjoyed or that can intrigue a lot of people.

I'm the editor-in-chief of a large gaming site with millions of readers. I consider myself a reporter. How else do I define myself? I'm a gamer. I don't mind the term. If you do, that doesn't bother me. I'm confident in who I am. If you're a gamer who harasses? Who sends rape threats or stalks Twitter feeds or terrorises people from their home or gloats at others' struggles? Find a new hobby. If you're a gamer who wants better games reporting? Be specific about what you dislike. Please seek, support and celebrate those whose work you do like. And, importantly, if you're a gamer who wants to talk about the games that excite them? Me too. That's most of what we do here.

Gaming is better when it's diverse, when it lets marginalised people find their creative voice or their escapist outlet or a social circle that welcomes them. It's a marvellous mechanism for empowering those who feel pushed out of society to push forward as game makers and gamers. Gaming sites are best when they're inclusive, too, which is why I always strive to make sure that Kotaku feels inclusive for gamers of all types.

GamerGate has been a lot of things. Part of me wishes it was still just about ants. Most of me hopes that, in the future, it will be seen as an impetus for everyone to say enough is enough and treat each other better than before.


Comments

    All this drama has reach a point of beyond stupid.

    and I mean that from all angles.

      Excuse me, Good Sir! i am actually a man of valuable time that i would use staring at walls! might you perchance tell me the "TL;DR" version, My good man?!

        TLDR version.. The internet in a nutshell

        TL;DR Everybody is wrong and too prideful to admit it so they blame everybody else.

      Yeah death and rape threats are certainly between beyond stupid but something tells me that's not what you mean :(

      This news more coverage and the useless gamers who don't agree locked away from rest of the world

    The whole ant thing is actually really interesting! I have learnt a thing today!

    What, what are those things coming out of the controllers?

    I come to visit these sites to hear about games, the only personalities I want to hear about is Miyamoto, Kojima, etc. This whole gamergate thing is ridiculous and I still really don't know the fine details or care about it.

    Uh, that link about journalism ethics and how it's been addressed doesn't really look good for Kotaku at all tbh. Totilo admits that Patricia was living with one game developer (but only for 2 months!) and close friends with another one and she was reporting on both of them. I'll also point out that he continues to avoid the fact that whilst Quinn didn't get a review from Grayson, she definitely did receive positive press from him (and at least one of the other guys involved also wrote some incredibly soppy piece on her).

    Tbh I haven't read much in to Gamergate. My understanding so far has been that it's a bunch of individuals who are trying to avoid the standard misogynist rants and actions and are simply trying to take gaming journalists to task over conflicts of interest (somebody correct me if I'm wrong). These conflicts of interest actually do hold water and really should be addressed in a manner that shows that these sites are actually representing the consumer and not the product. Instead I keep seeing Totilo holding the line, being generally dismissive or taking the approach of "well I talked to them and it's all cool, just trust me".

      The problem is that the people crying about journalistic integrity seem to have no idea about how journalism, or relationships, work. People are screaming conflict of interest over things like having a cordial relationship. It's ridiculous.

      People in these situations are going to form relationships. It's both how the business works and how human society works.

        Well yes and no. Sure, there are people up in arms about journalists and developers being fairly buddy buddy but I think living with or having sexual relations might be a bit more than cordial.

          Most sexual relationship are between friends and colleagues. Most people don't have sex with strangers.

          I've yet to see any evidence that these completely typical relationships have had any impact on anything.

          Firstly journalists and developers having sex is no business of the public. If you believe so please list all your sexual relationships in reply so we may pass judgement.

          Secondly it becomes the public's business when their relationship impacts their work (which the public consumes). Once again everything I've seen pointing to this with Quinn has been circumstantial at best and offered up by a disgruntled ex. So I repeat this question I've asked about 6 times now to everyone who's decided to stick their nose in someone else's sex life.

          Where are the articles between Quinn and Grayson? If there are none what is this positive press you refer to? And finally why does it even matter the game she's made is a free to play game. So she's not making any money off it and the public isn't losing anything?

            "..powerful Twine darling Depression Quest"
            http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/01/08/admission-quest-valve-greenlights-50-more-games/#more-183169
            On Game Jam, Grayson talks about how Zoe Quinn was victimised and then quotes her extensively:
            http://tmi.kotaku.com/the-indie-game-reality-tv-show-that-went-to-hell-1555599284

            Neither of those articles are dramatically positive spin (like a review would have been) but it would definitely come under positive press.

            Here's a great blog post by Robin Arnott sucking up to Zoe Quin
            "But I speak here for the bravery I observed in Zoe Quinn because contractual obligations prevent her from speaking for herself. Which is honestly all for the better, because she’s too modest to do herself justice anyway"
            http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RobinArnott/20140331/214349/quotGAMEJAMquot_and_the_Power_of_Integrity.php

            Last edited 08/09/14 4:53 pm

        Actually most of the 'crying' was about more than cordial relationships not being disclosed when one person or another gave someone favourable coverage...

        Of all the bullshit I've seen spouted the past week or so, not once have I witnessed "Conflict of interest!" cried out in regards to someone merely knowing someone else simply because their job required it. To be fair, there's likely a lot I simply didn't read... A lot of the 'articles' jumped straight into salvos of "gamers are terrosists" or the equivalent and I closed the page instantly.

        I don't care if Zoe Quinn did or didn't do anything, or Anita Sarkessian for that matter. But man am I over seeing the instant fucking condemnation of anyone who even questions the actions of a female... People bitch and moan for equality, but will only accept it if it comes in a positive or favourable angle.

        They're happy condemning a male without any shred proof, but the moment it's a female in question nearly everyone loses their fucking minds.

        I CANT AGREE WITH YOU BUNNY, BECAUSE I HAVE INTRERACTED WITH YOU SOCIALLY & I GET ALONG WITH YOU.

        THEREFORE, I MUST GIVE EVERY COMMENT YOU MAKE 2/10.

        seriously, I don't get that logic.

          you can agree with them all you want, but if you 're bumping uglies with them, and you review their game and give it a 10/10 GOAT rating, then you should at least mention that you are biased in your review

          which coincidentally, is what the whole gamer gate thing boils down to.

            When has that happened?

            Seriously, when?

            Show the positive reviews from major outlets from people who had sex with the developers.

              What do you think this whole thing is about?

                People getting riled up after a dude posted on 4chan saying that his ex cheated on him.

                You still haven't provided evidence of any corruption. All accusations I've seen posted elsewhere are thin and link back to Quinn.

                  People getting riled up after a dude posted on 4chan saying that his ex cheated on him.

                  Exactly.

                  What is crucial, though, is that this story fits in perfectly with pre-existing biases of a certain audience. They want to believe it all, so the actual evidence or logic kind of goes out the window.

                  What we know for sure is that a girl dev dated a guy journo after he wrote an article that mentioned her. So far nobody has pointed out an actual breach of ethics anywhere, but that is not the point. The point is that a whole bunch of unsubstantiated claims exist that stretch credibility.

                  The main fear here is vaginas. Because, as everyone knows, they are magic and can make people do anything. These warriors are just standing up for justice against the evil magic vagina wielded by this girl dev. I mean, her game is boring, right? So the only reason anyone would talk about it is because this girl used her sex powers on those journos.

                  Journalists are generally expected to follow a code of ethics. If you have anything to do with journalism or simply google journalism ethics you'll quickly see something similar to:

                  * Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.

                  * Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.

                  * Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.

                  Anthony Burch (writer at Gearbox and ex-Destructoid employee) received two positive reviews of the DLC from Destructoid, the review was from someone he considers to be a friend. Burch was the one who has disclosed this friendship asking why it wasn't an issue (given current controversies). The answer is because it seems as if it's now the readers jobs to keep track of who knows whom instead of journalists actually disclosing their conflicts of interest (or other journalists helping consumers by calling each other out for nepotism and conflicts of interest). This is on top of the Kotaku issues outlined in other comments.

                  Don't tell me sites don't lose the appearance of independence when they receive exclusive reviews or are offered the ability to publish a review early if it's positive. Not to mention all the 'preview' bollocks where we see 300 pieces on a yet to be released game that are overly flattering and say things like 'game changing' and read like a PR statement rather than constantly pointing out the games that have looked exceptional in preview builds only to be a let down upon release and to never pre-order.

                  At the moment we seem to be in this really combative in between period. The gaming press by and large have seemingly ignored the rules of journalism and have operated like the wild west. Consumers have had enough (with some fanning from the 'enthusiast press' like TotalBiscuit) and rather than taking a step back, reflecting and realising that there might be some truth to that. We have instead heard drivel about how the 'gamer is dead' or trying to dress this all up in a neat bow of gamer misogyny (which is ugly and has existed, but it's not the only issue) and that this backlash is our dying throes. I personally think they are wrong and what they are sensing is gamers waking up and realising just how slack some press members have been in self-disclosing and wondering how this stuff slipped past editors. I think consumers are hopefully going to be much harder to suck in with cheap marketing tactics, fluff pieces and PR masquerading as previews and transparency and declarations of conflicts of interest are going to be demanded rather than hoped for.

                  Last edited 08/09/14 9:35 pm

                  @quom - All good points, but none of that is a breach of ethics related to this whole shemozzle. You want to investigate ethics breaches, go for your life. Be careful, though. You actually have to have evidence. This attack on Quinn appears to be a whole bunch of baseless accusations with certain elements of truth. The source is incredibly biased. There seems to be little that could be described as ethical in most of the response.

                  You are making a number of reasonable points, but is this really the crusade you want to attach these arguments to?

          What part of it don't you understand?

          If you are romantically involved with the person you are writing articles about, you are biased. No matter HOW you explain yourself, no matter WHAT you say, you are biased.

          If my partner made a game, and I reviewed it, and rated it 1/5, I am pretty sure she would never speak to me again. So yeah. Easy to understand.

            And then you'd be promptly accused of hating women solely for being honest with your review.

            I've asked this previously and I'll ask it again. Where are these articles? Taking Grayson as an example I can't find any articles by him. Also claims of her getting positive press by sleeping Grayson, can't find that either.

              I was arguing the logic behind it. 35 said he didn't understand. Wasn't talking about specific examples.

              -naivety removed-

              Last edited 02/12/14 4:43 pm

                In case my statement was mislead I was asking for the links to articles written by people Quinn slept with.

                How does linking this article support the statement "Quinn cheated on her for good reviews"?

        It IS a conflict of interest. Many media outlets have comprehensive codes of conduct requiring journalists to disclose ANY relationship, and barring them from reporting on matters linked to those relationships. Reuters, for example. Why should Kotaku and gaming journalism in general be any different?

        On the topic of the actual article, Totilo takes a lot of words to say very little.

          Well it depends. Does a games media websites consider itself an actual journalistic entity? Or a blog?

          because there is a difference, if people are officially qualified as journalists, as in, they have educational requirements and skills, then they SHOULD be considered the same as other media outlets and follow those codes of conduct.

          But if they are just a bunch of gamers writing articles about games, then we can't really hold them up to any kind of standards. It's our own fault for making these sites popular in the first place.

          Last edited 08/09/14 2:28 pm

            Totilo is a qualified journalist. As for whether Kotaku is a "news" site or a blog, frankly I don't care. It's shades of grey. Even if it's argued that the site is a blog, I'd prefer to see staff err on the side of caution when it comes to things like this.

            They all seem quite happy to jump on the "We're totally legit journos!" bandwagon when it comes time to get convention access, review copies, etc, etc... So they really can't have it both ways.

      How did Quinn receive positive press from Grayson?

        For some reason my response to your other comment is being moderated. In case it doesn't come through:

        "..powerful Twine darling Depression Quest"
        http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/01/08/admission-quest-valve-greenlights-50-more-games/#more-183169
        On Game Jam, Grayson talks about how Zoe Quinn was victimised and then quotes her extensively:
        http://tmi.kotaku.com/the-indie-game-reality-tv-show-that-went-to-hell-1555599284

        Neither of those articles are dramatically positive spin (like a review would have been) but it would definitely come under positive press.

        Here's a great blog post by Robin Arnott sucking up to Zoe Quin
        "But I speak here for the bravery I observed in Zoe Quinn because contractual obligations prevent her from speaking for herself. Which is honestly all for the better, because she’s too modest to do herself justice anyway"
        http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RobinArnott/20140331/214349/quotGAMEJAMquot_and_the_Power_of_Integrity.php

    In a move that shocks no-one, people are still assholes to females in the video game industry and kotaku holding the line of "hey relax guys I'm just your average Joe there is no conflict of interest. Take a rest".

      I agree with you, except for the part about females in the industry. One of the things that is a part of this 'GamerGate' is a female who went out of her way to basically abuse males for no justified reason.

      The problem I am seeing more often in the gaming community, is the females that are crying wolf or playing the victim. They single themselves out and then complain when they are treated differently. I don't care if you are a female/male/transgender person, we are all gamers, and we are all here to have fun, I don't WANT to know if you are a female. I am sick of seeing females saying "Oh hey everyone, look at me, I'm a girl gamer", like just STFU and play the game. I treat everyone equally, I mean truly equal, I will talk shit to a male, just the same as I would a female. BUT if I was to give shit to a person, if she is a female, I am suddenly a misogynist??? That is not fair, that is not equality.

        Odd aint it?

        The best part is that I've seen a post or two on Kotaku directed towards some of the male writers that would've had white knight rage burning down houses if they had been directed at a woman.

        But as long as it's just a guy being abused for one thing or another, the internet doesn't burst into flames. Equality at it's finest.

        Last edited 08/09/14 2:28 pm

          Maybe guys have thicker skin or dont take things to heart as readily?
          Is that sexist for me to suggest this?
          Uh-oh...

        The problem I am seeing more often in the gaming community, is the females that are crying wolf or playing the victim. They single themselves out and then complain when they are treated differently

        You know if you don't want to appear sexist you probably shouldn't be sexist.

        In case you are still confused, making broad generalisations about women in gaming is sexist.

        I am sick of seeing females saying "Oh hey everyone, look at me, I'm a girl gamer", like just STFU and play the game.

        Who the f*** cares? You don't get to set the rules as to who can and cannot say something or express who they are. You aren't the King Of Gamers.

        Perhaps you are the one who needs to deal with a problem. This issue where you think you have a right to control what other people do and express. Whiny annoying male gamers are waaaay more visible than girl gamers atm... just FYI.

          See, that is exactly what I am talking about.

          I say something about females in gaming, just SOMETHING, I wasn't abusing, degrading, or saying anything negative at all, just my personal observations about the actual behaviour of people, and I am being accused of being sexist.

          Thank you, for portraying the exact thing that is killing equality in modern society.

          I have an opinion, I have the option to express that opinion, you are not the king of anything and neither am I. what you are doing is flaming me for expressing my opinon, what right do you have to do that? If you don't agree with me, good for you, get over it and move on.

          Nothing I said was a generalization of females in gaming, and neither did I present my opinion as factual information of the state of 'women in gaming', it was a personal opinion based on what I have personally experienced.

          You say that whiny annoying male gamers are more annoying, when you just did a whole lot of whinning yourself. In fact your entire comment was a bunch of hypocritical crap.

          Last edited 08/09/14 4:11 pm

            If you don't see how accusing women of crying wolf when they're being abused is considered negative, then there isn't much helping you.

            Ignoring people who have genuine problems is what's killing equality. Telling people that the very real problems that they're experiencing are not actually problems drives them away. It makes gaming less inclusive and more of a boys club.

            Here's the thing: any time a woman dares to speak, there are people out there that accuse them of attention whoring. Of using their gender to their advantage. In some spaces, women have to state that they're female because others assume they're male. It's not for personal gain or anything other, it's just irritating that people think they're a guy when they're not. There are women who don't use voice chat in games because of the negative attention they'll get simply for being a girl.

            Just because you didn't present your opinion as fact doesn't mean that your opinion wasn't sexist.

              Accusing 'women'? That's an extremely generalized and twisted way of saying it. I made no 'accusations' I said "what I am seeing" meaning, I have witnessed it. If I had said "all women are just crying wolf", that would be a sexist accusation. And saying that is 'sexist' is fucking stretching it. If I said all men are jerks, is that me being sexist towards males? Or is it okay because I'm talking about males?

              Killing equality is people like you and Andye who accuse someone else of being sexist for basically talking about their personal experiences.

              I am not going to bother replying to either of you moving forward, because I really am not interested in talking to ignorant people who are going to unjustly accuse me of being sexist.

              Last edited 08/09/14 4:31 pm

                You can play the semantics game all you like, saying you are seeing something is the same as an accusation. Specifically making it about women is what makes it sexist. It doesn't have to be all women.

                  LOL. You just personified what I said in another comment.

                  By your logic:
                  Saying something about women, is being sexist. Doesn't matter what it is, or who it is about, it is sexist. It's as simple as that.

                  THIS is EXACTLY why the world will never have true equality.

                  @akuma07: Saying something derogatory about someone based on their gender is sexist. You did that. You accused women of crying wolf and attention whoring by simply stating their gender.

                  If you say all men are jerks, that is also sexist because it is something derogatory based on gender.

                  It isn't rocket surgery. Here, let's try an example based on race: The problem I see more often in the general community is black people stealing televisions.

                  Note how the problem stated is about a particular group doing something negative and not all instances of that negative thing? Because there are definitely men out there who attention whore and cry wolf about abuse.

                  Also, good job sticking to your word and not replying.

          In case you are still confused, making broad generalisations about women in gaming is sexist.

          "I am sick of seeing females saying "Oh hey everyone, look at me, I'm a girl gamer", like just STFU and play the game."

          This isn't a generalization. He not saying all females say ' hey look at me...' he's saying that he's sick of seeing females that say that.

          Furthermore you go one to say Who the f*** cares? You don't get to set the rules as to who can and cannot say something or express who they are. You aren't the King Of Gamers.

          You do realize he's expressing his opinion which by your very own words, he has a right to.

          haha just saw that all this has been pointed out already

          Last edited 09/09/14 6:16 am

        I agree unequivocally with everything you just said.

        I dont like Zoe, I sure as hell dont like Anita, i refuse to watch her show, they both make it very hard for me to do so, But they cop abuse from certain people just because they female, they could be paragons of virtue and be all above board and they would STILL cop abuse from a section of people.

    "I consider myself a reporter"

    Are you a journalist or are you not? Do you have the educational qualifications to call yourself a journalist? Or are you just someone who 'considers' themselves a journalist?

    I guess this is part of the problem. Gaming websites and those who work for them, are largely just people who play games, and created a website.

    I find it very interesting that most of the media ignored this, and the parts of the gaming media that did not ignore this, just jumped to the defense of themselves and other gaming websites. This whole thing is just frustrating. I am truly sick and tired of the 'misogynist' accusation that is constantly thrown around, and am sick and tired of the people who are defending those who are making the accusations. This 'GamerGate' issue has brought to light the more toxic parts of the gaming community/industry/media. Kotaku isn't a site I can honestly say I trust and am interested in being a part of moving forward.

      Where would you go? I feel the main reason I come here is because I find the community of Australian and New Zealand readers appealing. The people on this site I find relatable because they deal with the same issues that I have overpriced games, region locking, games getting delayed here and all the bullshit that Sony MS and Nintendo do.

        Yeah I know, that's the problem. No other site really has the active community that Kotaku does. Ausgamers is a pretty good site, but the community is virtually non existent now days.

        It's Kotaku's one redeeming quality ahaha.

      I'm here for the community and Serrels. Tbh I don't think we'll ever see these sorts of conflicts of interest as he seems like a decent guy.

    This is not the discussion that matters. It doesn't matter who did what and why. This is a 'thing' because no matter what any party involved did or didn't do, there was an unjustifiable shitstorm that followed from the freewheeling asshats of the internet. The focus should be on those asshats and their asshattery. Because anyone who just wants to have a discussion about journalistic/artistic/designer integrity, and isn't about to shame and/or death threat everyone involved is already on the rational side of the debate. It's not a 'gamer' thing, and tomorrow it won't be a 'geek' thing, and the scandal after that it won't be a 'insert-subculture-here' thing. It's an asshat thing, and we should be focused on them.

      AsshatGate doesn't have quite the same ring to it...

      Which side is the "rational side of the debate"?

        Both of them and neither of them at the same time.

          When it comes down to it, it's depressing that there is a point to it all, but its been completely overshadowed/sunk by the hatred and discrimination on both sides :/

        To be clearer, 'side' was a poor choice of words, but I meant asshats (personal attacks, harrassment) vs Non-asshats, without regard to Discussion viewpoint A vs Discussion viewpoint B. There are always asshats across the spectrum in these flare ups. My point in this case is we have always and will always discuss the integrity issues and that's great, but the focus in a case like this should be on the over-the-top, unacceptable response from the asshats on the sidelines which is what made it a big story in the first place. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of the game designer at the core of the story, it's unacceptable what's been sent her way and that's a more important story than whatever she did.

          Well, I disagree entirely.
          She was the start of it all, the catalyst that revealed so much more - but to dismiss everything as follows just because she was harassed is folly.

            Did she start it all by breaking up with her boyfriend, or cheating on him?

            Because the way I see it - someone wrote a targeted attack on her, and a lot of people just jumped on the bandwagon. Along the way, plenty of questionable "evidence" was brought up as some kind of justification for the internet involving themselves in someone's breakup angst, and when asked "why is it any of your business" replied with some kind of holy crusade for integrity in games journalism straw man, and it really all just splintered from there.

            But it all started because a woman cheated on a guy (who sounds like quite an a hole anyway, I mean really, a 4chan blog about your ex? Grow a pair dude, no wonder she cheated on you!) and he wrote a blog on it.

            So obviously it was her fault..... Because male insecurity.

            I just don't get what society is coming to.

              To set some things straight:
              (I could be wrong here:) After all the headaches and mindgames, he broke up with her.
              Neither of them are outstanding individuals, going by everything that has come to light since: she's a manipulative psychopath, he's a weak willed schmuck who stayed in a relationship well after all the warning signs burned everyone's eyeballs red. But fuck, nobody's perfect.
              Questionable evidence? So many things have come to light. If you want to keep it local, you have Nathan giving positive press to Zoe without disclosing their established friendship. You have Patricia Hernandez writing MULTIPLE times about her friend/lover/roommate's games without once disclosing "oh hey, btw, I know this person". You have like 10 different journalists over the course of 24 hours all publishing "GAMERS ARE DEAD" articles, painting a bizarre narrative that gamers are misogynistic white boys who are scared of girls or something, ignoring the fact that "gamer" is one of the most INCLUSIVE labels ever. Let's not forget the IGF scandal being uncovered at the moment, where winning games aren't chosen on their merits.

              Anyway: the other thing that bothers me most is "a 4chan blog".
              Really now: he wrote the blog on wordpress. In his own words, it was to "warn others about his exgirlfriend" to paraphrase. He didn't post it on 4chan, he didn't care about 4chan in any regard. But 4chan found it on their own accord, and here we are today.

                None of this I find corrupt, or scandalous.

                People sleep with each other, people are friends - at all levels, of all industries.

                Fair enough if you do, and thanks for the considered, well thought out reply.

                And, yeah, I should have been more specific re:4chan/wordpress, but either way, he made a public statement - and it was picked up and reposted elsewhere, much like the internet works. Much the same if I posted something accusing anyone of something on my personal blog like "My ex slept with the head of the IT department at company A" - regardless of where I posted it - I made it public, I've gotta own it.

                  So just for clarification's sake - and I ask this in a non-judgey tone - you personally see nothing wrong with sleeping with a boss or journalist to further your career or gain positive press?

                  Because if you don't, then maybe that's where difference of opinion comes in. Disagree to agree or something like that.

                  Personally - sleeping with your boss is a quantifiable factor. You either did or you didn't, tick box "yes" or box "no". No box "maybe".

                  Now - sleeping with your boss because of any or all of reasons -

                  A) you thought he/she were sexy
                  B) you were frustrated with an ongoing relationship difficulty
                  C) you were drunk, and it seemed like a good way to spend a few hours
                  D) A bit of the above, a bit of the below
                  E) You just felt like it at the time
                  F) through to Y) - any particular reason you could think of
                  Z) you thought it would further your career

                  Is harder to quantify, and frankly, none of my business. Sex can be many things, but negotiated transaction of goods for services - most often not, though I hear it's a taxed industry. To make presumptions that either party did it for reason A-Z (when the other party may have done it for different reasons A-Z) is juvenile at best.

                  So in short, no I don't. People can consensually sleep with whomever they choose. Surely people who have gone to the lengths of long term commitment of marriage/children, may have a fair chunk of personal responsibility to that commitment to shoulder, but ultimately - personal freedom is one if the cornerstones of modern democracy. Last I heard, you could get a costly divorce for your adultery, but we aren't doing public floggings or stonings.

                  Besides my personal thoughts on the matter - who, in the context of the question, is the "boss"? Some journalist for a games website? How the hell would that further your career? Was it Bobby Kotick , or the EIC of ign? ALL of the journalists at one website, or one at a dozen different ones? Sex isn't that influential, despite the power it seemingly has on the internet.

                  Where is this scandal? Was she married with kids? That'd be a bit of a low act, but again, an individuals choice in a free society. Where is this corruption? Was there a contract drafted of an "I will give 3 sexes for 2 200 word publicity articles" type?

                  I appreciate the way you asked, and didn't find it judgmental at all. My response was to your question, and in no way a personal disagreement, but rather expressed as an open statement, running through my logical thought processes! I don't find you, or your question judgmental at all, but I find the notion that thousands upon thousands of people are either presuming to know a strangers intentions, motivations - or digging to uncover through the conflicted discussions of a group, with the presumption that through enough discussion they could determine said intentions/motivations - and that it's all some sort of higher cause, or leading to a higher cause or maybe somehow magically arriving at a higher cause of Truth, Justice and Integrity for all - absolutely mind bogglingly deluded, and am still kind of dismayed the internet even cares.

                  But, as you said - Here We Are.

      The discussion on the asshats has dominated all debate on these issues. I'm honestly sick and tired of it and would much prefer rational debate to prevail.

    'One other thing: I’ve also heard some hopes for de-escalation, to just chill out already without sweeping legit concerns away in the process.'

    Great. So deal with the legit concerns and quit wallpapering with articles aimed at maintaining an unquestioned status quo for your business.

    If you were a 'reporter', you would know that the best way to deal with this issue is to separate EVERYTHING out and deal with each aspect individually before even thinking about linking things together.

    Instead, you have conflated issues in order to protect your own 'corner' of things. To illustrate, the sexual harassment of Zoe Quinn is a nasty, nasty thing. However, it's totally irrelevant to her activities with your staff members and also irrelevant to other claims about her alleged behaviour.

    Yes, it came about as a result of her alleged actions. No, it's not an excuse to ignore examination of her alleged actions or downplay their severity. Linking these things creates a clear bias, as your staff and industry peers are clearly involved yet the focus is on the emotive elements. Instead you should be breaking things down, for example:

    Story 1 - Misogynistic harassment is not a good thing!

    Story 2 - Journos sleeping with Devs, what does this mean for the industry?

    Story 3 - Devs allegedly sabotaging competing events, Kotaku investigates!

    By shoehorning in clearly emotive and cut and dried issues with those that have more room for questioning and should be investigated in terms of factual information you are taking a partisan perspective, and that's a pretty big indicator that you're not a 'reporter' so much as a 'participant'.

    Having been an actual 'reporter' and 'editor' in both the gaming publication sector and a range of commercial and NFP sectors, I can tell you that you need to brush up your attitude and create some distance if you want to claim any semblance of professional objectivity.

    But to be honest, I doubt you feel that need. Having worked in the sector, I know perfectly well that games journalism is on the same level as street press. It's about amateurs, with varying degrees of talent, doing something they love.

    That's fine, but don't make pretences beyond that point unless you're willing to reshuffle that culture towards a more professional paradigm which puts in place the many strictures needed to attempt a move towards an ideal of objectivity.

    Of course, objectivity is not possible to fully achieve. However, stringent conduct rules may bring you closer to that goal, while being blown by an interview subject probably won't.

    Last edited 08/09/14 2:43 pm

      You sir, are what I wish the gaming media was. I completely agree that gaming journalism is about a bunch of amateurs writing about games. That sums up the entire industry pretty well. I am really sick and tired of gaming journalism as it stands today, I can not read a single article without getting a sniff of the editors personal bias or feelings, it would be fine if many of them didn't act like morons in general. Your level of objectivity is something I miss from articles.

      Thank you for that post. Truly.

      Last edited 08/09/14 3:15 pm

        Note - I wasn't striving for objectivity when I was writing and editing IN the games industry.

        Because that's not the environment it is.

    If you undermine a persons ability to continue drawing a wage then you better expect to be called all manner of cliched hot-button names: racist, sexist, bigot etc.

    There is clearly a conflict of interest in this whole debarcle and it seems a whole bunch of journo's trying desperately to be PC and creating material to write about for 4 weeks. Pathetic really.

    A Games journalist would have examined this issue in a truly deconstuctive manner and looked at all the motivations and conflicts - then written about that aspect and how it lead to the drama.
    The drama is not the story - how the drama came into being is.

    Rule 1 of good journalism "Dont Bury the Lead".

    I think its pretty funny that people would come here, read this article, and think they have a complete, unbiased review of the whole situation. For those of you who live under a rock Kotaku has been pretty close to the center of the firing line in all this to take everything you read here with a grain of salt.

    To make things clear, try reading the following statements out loud:

    a) 'The allegations of journalistic misconduct are severe and should be investigated, but the sexual harassment of Zoe Quinn is a terrible thing and the community needs to deal with this toxic behaviour.'

    b) 'The allegations of journalistic misconduct are severe and should be investigated.

    'In addition, the sexual harassment of Zoe Quinn is a terrible thing and the community needs to deal with this toxic behaviour.'

    Separation and couching make all the difference.

    Games journalism is corrupt, who'd have thought?

      You mean like any other multi million dollar industry out there?

    At the end of the day, do we, the people of the community REALLY expect games journalism to NOT be corrupt in some sort of way? When all of the large sites are being funded mostly by advertising, most of which is for the very games they are writing about.

      And yet, that isn't the corruption people are frothing at the mouth over.

        -naivety removed-

        Last edited 02/12/14 6:19 pm

          Bullshit.

          It started with her. It involved a large campaign of continued harassment against her. If it was about integrity, it wouldn't have started with her sleeping with a guy that didn't review her game but instead when this sort of thing happened.

          Legitimate people have latched onto gamergate but there has been a good level of astroturfing to get to that point. Astroturfing that acted as a smokescreen for the misogyny and harassment that started it all.

          And yet, people have yet to show that what happened with her (a jilted ex accusing her of sleeping with a journalist) is actually a case of corruption.

            -naivety removed-

            Last edited 02/12/14 6:19 pm

              He posted about the whole thing on 4chan. Have sympathy for it all you like, it clearly reads as a dude trying to use 4chan as his personal army after things went sour.

              Also, try to find anyone who has been targeted about the whole integrity thing that cannot be linked back to Quinn through those silly graphs with the red outlines that keep popping up.

                You stated above:
                "Ignoring people who have genuine problems is what's killing equality. Telling people that the very real problems that they're experiencing are not actually problems drives them away."

                This ex of Quinn's had an anxiety disorder and yes, may have went to 4chan to rant about it, but anxiety disorders affect people in a very severe way.

                You dismissing his anxiety disorder and basically saying he is a moron for his actions, is a direct contradiction of your beliefs for what is killing equality? Dismissing people with genuine problems. I'd call an anxiety disorder and being manipulated by an ex girlfriend a pretty genuine problem.

                  Having a mental issue is not justification for throwing a live grenade into someone's personal life.

                  If he had trashed her car, people wouldn't be saying "oh, it's okay because he has anxiety issues". They'd be saying that he did thousands of dollars of property damage and was probably going to spend some time in jail.

                  I'm not dismissing his anxiety, I'm saying it is not justification for his actions and instead focusing on the repercussions of his actions.

                He DIDN'T post it on 4chan. 4chan found it through tumblr and twitter.
                The original post even said "'people from 4chan trying to get ammo against SJW go away'."

                Please, let's not muddy this convoluted situation with misinformation.

                  So I was wrong about that. It doesn't change the campaign of harassment that happened.

    Hang on, all this bleating about a lack of 'journalistic integrity' and 'corruption' is coming to the fore now? IGN and Gamespot have been consumed by clouds of dodginess for years regarding their dubious behaviour regarding large developers (almost unending favourable reviews for years) and ad space revenue, so why is it suddenly a MAJOR WORLD DEFINING ISSUE NOW?!?!?!

    ...oh right, there's a woman involved and this is a smokescreen to distract from or justify the shitty behaviour of a vocal group of bros and MRA types towards anyone who represents the changing demographic of gaming coupled with said bro/MRA inability to deal with anything without resorting to sheer bloody mindedness.

    Right, gotcha. *wink*

      -naivety removed-

      Last edited 08/09/14 3:54 pm

        No but they are branded as SJWs.

          -naivety removed-

          Last edited 02/12/14 6:20 pm

            And what do these instances of dirt digging have to do with journalistic integrity and corruption?

            You can sling dirt at pretty much anyone if you look hard enough to find it. That doesn't address the apparent core point of gamergate. Instead, it looks like people have gone out of their way to do dirt digging on Zoe Quinn and people who are associated with/have defended her.

            And yes, the first use of the hashtag was Adam Baldwin. That doesn't change the fact that the root cause of all this was the ex posting on 4chan.

              -naivety removed-

              Last edited 02/12/14 6:20 pm

                That's a lot of non sequitor in there.

                If the dirt digging doesn't address the core point that you're addressing, it is irrelevant and simply nothing more than harassment. When detectives find something irrelevant to the case they're working on, they don't go "haha! Gotcha now!" they keep working until they've found the relevant information.

                What did I say was fake or uncalled for?

                  -naivety removed-

                  Last edited 02/12/14 6:21 pm

                  @Rimmy, I don't care about her adultery. That's her own personal business. Nobody has shown how it has directly caused any breaches of journalism ethics. The articles posted by Grayson happened before the affair.

                  A woman having sex with a man that is not her boyfriend is not reason to get up in arms.

                  You can look at any industry you care to name and there will be people within it sleeping together. Some casually, some seriously. That's just how the world works. People have sex and they do it with people they know.

    I'm tired of going to game sites and reading sexism this, racism that, abuse of Phil Fish, etc, etc. I'm tired of games journalists hyping games and throwing out "awards" for games that haven't released yet, and all reviewing BioShock Infinite a 10 out of 10 when it clear isn't. I'm tired of game developers making day one DLC or this new trend of full price remakes that could have been expansions/DLC (Binding of Issac, Guacamelee, etc). I'm tired of all of the above not listening to the complaints of gamers and thinking they can just carry on as they have...

      That's a lot of tired. Do yourself a favour, turn off your alarm tonight and have a good sleep in tomorrow.

      Hold on one second, my misinformed friend.
      I agree with you on most everything, except for Binding of Isaac.
      You want to know why Rebirth is a full priced remake instead of DLC?
      The engine. TBOI pushed Flash hard, and then TBOI:WOTL pushed it to its limits. They can't open that original work file without it crashing most of the time.
      It is basically impossible for them to update it.

      Meanwhile, Rebirth is essentially a whole new game that happens to play identical to TBOI. New engine, new graphics, and allegedly a slew of new content that matches the first game/expansion in size.

      Remember they're just games.

    If you’re someone who harasses people online, you’re not a part of the community we want to foster at Kotaku and you’re actively hurting people and driving important voices away from the video game scene. Enough.These people are shunned by the gaming community as a whole as it stands. But all critics are being thrown into this mob as a tool to dismiss them. This is another reason to pay attention to the comments of @burnside above. The harassers are to be challenged for their actions alone. Dissenting with the opinions and actions of those being harassed should be challenged on their opinions and not lumped with the former group - tied together only under the gamer label - so they can be unfairly dismissed. Don't conflate them.

      But that's how it works with an angry mob. %99 of them have the best of intentions, and act accordingly - but all it takes is one idiot to spit on an old lady - and to most reasonably minded people the mob starts to look a bit on the nose. And regardless of whether they agree with the mob, they'd rather they just called it a day, went home and chilled out. That's just the way it is. Once a line is crossed - and it only takes one rock to be thrown - rational debate is over for the day. That's just how it is.

      Maybe the angry mob mentality isn't the way to approach internet debate. Maybe comment threads hundreds of comments full, where after a while - it all just becomes white noise and black noise to whoever's reading - aren't the most conducive forms of discussion. Maybe message boards won't change the world, so much as just piste a bunch of people off, leaving everyone a little bit angrier, and the world just a bit crapper.

        "But that's how it works with an angry mob. %99 of them have the best of intentions and act accordingly"

        BAHAHAHAHA

        Last edited 08/09/14 9:49 pm

    The Writer misses the point, gamers have been censored and silenced just for having a opposing opinion. The conspiracy would have no movement if it wasn't for people silencing the dissent. Also there is mounting evidence being collected to prove there is a corruption in journalism.

    It's only a matter of time, your ship is sinking.

    I don't see why any of this matters when it comes to the integrity of reviews. Last time I checked we were living in a world where reviews are one of the last ways to figure out if a game was good. I honestly don't remember the last time a review influenced my purchases.

    I'd be incredibly surprised if anyone of the outraged people were actually tricked into buying a dud game by a 'bought' review so why even scream and shout about it?

      Well, after reviews came out I avoided Ninja Gaiden 3 and Batman Origins.

        The sanctity of bad reviews will always stay intact.

    The whole "gamers losing their identity" is bs. The anonymous angry mob hasn't changed in years and is well-known to everyone. Something that NO major website will report on, is the way Zoe has maliciously manipulated things and people to obtain the "fame" she has now. How she exploited the Wizard forum, deleted comments on reddit, sunk a charity, etc. There's loads of evidence for this, it's easily available to anyone with google, and it's nowhere to be found on any major game news site.

    And why is that? I think that major sites are afraid of saying these things cause whatever they say will get twisted against them and they'll get called misogynists, and the rest. Nobody hates her for being a woman, they hate her for being dishonest and manipulative all while maintaining a moral high ground.

    The sad irony is that with all the talk about how sick games journalism is these days, there's finally an important story to report on, and nobody makes a peep.

    What does it matter whether "corruption" exists in games journalism anyway? Seriously, who cares? It's not like these people are risking their lives to expose bad things happening out there in the real world (no offense, love your work Stephen). We're talking about video games here. In the grand-scheme of things, why are people making this out to be such a big deal? OK, sure, it would be better for there to be better policies/standards/ethics upheld in enthusiast media, but I really don't see how this has warranted so much verbal arm flailing. They're just games. Go outside and get some perspective people!

      Oh. So that's what it sounds like when someone totally fails to understand the point. "They're just games." Yeah. Games that happen to be a part of an industry worth billions.

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