NeoGAF Goes Dark After Sexual Misconduct Allegation Against Owner [UPDATE]

NeoGAF

The influential gaming forum NeoGAF is imploding in the wake of an accusation of sexual misconduct against the long-running site's owner. Yesterday, around a dozen of NeoGAF's moderators -- more than half, according to two sources -- quit their posts there, and the website has been down for over half a day following a string of threads in which users requested bans, flooded the forums with angry posts, and declared that they were quitting.

The mass exodus was spurred by a Facebook post last Tuesday by film director Ima Leupp. The post, a part of the millions-strong #MeToo phenomenon that has women speaking out about personal instances of sexual harassment, described a trip Leupp says she took with NeoGAF owner Tyler "Evilore" Malka two years ago.

Although she originally did not name Malka, she later posted in the comments of her thread that interested parties should "google Evilore."

She said that while she and Malka, who was her friend, were drinking together in a New Orleans hotel room in April 2015, she became very sick. Then, she says, Malka came up behind her in the shower without her consent. She says she told him to get the hell out.

She wrote: "I was throwing up and decided to hop in the shower to feel better. I was surprised when he got into the shower, fully naked behind me. I had a boyfriend at the time and didn't think I had given him any reason to believe I wanted this. I didn't cheat." The post was screencapped and has been shared widely over the past few days.

NeoGAF, a large gaming forum that has been populated by game developers, media, and executives, has had significant influence in the video game industry since its founding in 2004.

Although the site has been criticised in the past for, among other things, its users' tendencies to have kneejerk reactions to gaming news, it has been a source of news and feedback for countless enthusiasts and professionals in gaming. As its sole owner and operator, Malka has a fair amount of influence over a community that is read across the entire world of video games.

In a phone conversation with Kotaku, Leupp said that even after the alleged shower incident, she'd continued her friendship and even had a brief physical relationship with Malka until they had a falling out at E3 2015.

She said that, prior to the alleged shower incident "I had no reason not to trust him. He had been introducing me to people and helping me network for my film company," she told me. "I feel gross from having ever been in contact with this person."

Before NeoGAF went down last night, posters made motions to leave the site en masse. Dozens of threads and comments cropped up asking for mods to ban users, thereby deleting their accounts -- a traditional way to say bye to NeoGAF.

Angry threads like "Fuck this place. Permaban me" and "I'm done with NeoGAF and you should be too" cropped up. A darkly humorous satire of the typical NeoGAF post, "Nintendo Direct focusing on Respecting Women announced," made the rounds.

At the same time, users noticed that moderators began vanishing from the staff page.

On Saturday, an anonymous NeoGAF account called ModBot said that a statement was forthcoming, but as of Sunday afternoon, that statement has not appeared. Malka has not yet responded to Kotaku requests for comment on Saturday and Sunday.

Leupp's post added to growing dissent among the NeoGAF community about an apparent disconnect between Malka's progressive internet presence and his statements and behaviour around issues of sexual misconduct.

The forum's politics are coloured by Malka's support of progressive topics such as the Paris Agreement and gay marriage. He has donated thousands to organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union. Malka is also vocally anti-GamerGate and has expressed support for its female victims.

In contrast to those professed views, Kotaku has spoken with long-time members who say they were recently banned for making what they saw as progressive arguments. One said they were banned for arguing that now-deceased Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner is not a feminist icon, while another said they were moderated for supporting the #BelieveWomen movement, which promotes trusting women who say they have been harassed. The bans provoked dissent among the community about whether those seemingly unilateral decisions are warranted or ok.

In one thread, a NeoGAF poster uploaded screencaps of another woman's #MeToo post, involving allegations about a film journalist.

Malka asked, "No evidence at all? No corroborating testimony? No behavioural red flags?," adding, "So far this is nothing like other recent industry scandals."

Later, after receiving pushback from posters who found his initial comment callous, Malka described posters' immediate support of the #MeToo post as "witch hunts," adding that it will take time for the allegations' veracity to be proven. Several vocal critics of Malka's approach say they were banned.

One of Malka's posts responding to a ban read, "Fuck off, dipshit. That enough toxic masculinity for you? I was moderating my platform, not going to bat for Dr. Neckbeard."

Sarah, who asked that Kotaku use a fake name, has posted on NeoGAF since 2010 because she thought it was a comfortable place for women to discuss games on the internet.

Of recent events, she said, "When all the guys started getting banned for defending women speaking up, I realised this has been a problem for a long time."

"The girls on GAF are leaving, not talking anymore. It seems like Tyler is shutting down talk of misogyny or sexism and stuff like that in a harsh way."

One incident that has recirculated in the wake of these allegations is a 2012 post in which Malka described how, at a party in Spain, he grabbed a woman's butt after buying her a drink:

"At one point in a bar a girl who didn't speak any English came up to me and started flirting heavily, then went straight into asking me to buy her a drink. . . I laughed because drinks here were all of two Euros, but consented and then grabbed her arse hard to show that I wasn't being taken advantage of, and she thought better of treating me as a mark and left without taking her drink."

In his defence, Malka later commented, "I don't endorse getting overly physical with complete strangers without any implication of consent," but added, "This was a very specific situation that went down. We're all smashed, hard, at this million person party where normalcy is thrown at the window."

As of the publication of this article, NeoGAF is down, and its future remains hazy. One long-time mod told me that the mods had considered walking out several times in the past, but "we felt like sticking it out to keep the good parts of the community together."

But, the mod said, a direct accusation of sexual misconduct gave them a "moral compunction to trust the victim's account and disassociate myself."

Frequent posters have taken to Twitter and other forums to lament the website. Gaming personality Shinobi602, a long-time NeoGAF poster, said, "NeoGAF's owner & some bad apples aside, it was part of my online life for a decade. Wouldn't have met so many wonderful people otherwise."

Halo franchise development director Frank O'Connor said that "Neogaf is a great reminder of how fragile a conversation is. I hope it's not true - but for the alleged victims not the alleged perpetrators. Lots of good people posted there and apparently a couple of bad ones." Over Discord, a few former community members are organising to create replacements.

[Update -- 10/23/2017 4:25 pm est]: Today, Vice Waypoint published an account of NeoGAF's last 48 hours that included Tyler Malka's allegation that the shower incident was "totally harmonious and consensual."

Malka went on to say that Leupp's allegations against him are "totally ridiculous and baseless" and "a perfect storm of misanthropy and opportunism." In response, Leupp described his view that the incident was consensual as "delusional."

Malka told Waypoint that NeoGAF should be up and running again later today and should move "away from the increasingly untenable off-topic discussions that made 2017 such a stressful year for everyone," adding that he'll continue to be "at the helm."

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Comments

    This shitstorm absolutely made my weekend. I think I am going to be on the can for weeks after eating all that popcorn.

      Could you clarify? I'm having a hard time figuring out what part of a sexual harassment allegation and public response is entertaining.

        The sexual harassment stuff is completely fucked.

        But watching a website implode due to drama? Hilarious in a train wreck in slow motion kind of way.

        I'm pretty sure you wouldn't understand, you still have a soul.

          Fair enough. Partly I asked because some communities where I moderate have people who are convinced it's all 'the hypocrisy of the progressive left' (ie. all of it, not just individuals) and seem to be revelling in casting it as a political blow. Personally I'm pretty over drama at this point, especially with it seemingly being non-stop this year.

            It's gonna keep going on for the rest of the year too.
            Theres millions in corporate and political special interests surrounding.

            I was over the drama by the end of the US elections, where everything was reduced to black and white and our teams were handed to us on a platter.
            I was over it when it moved on to country after country, pushed along by the same folks every time.

            And now we have an election coming and the nonsense is already starting....yay for us.

              I respect people's need to stand up and fight the wrongs of the world, I do that myself as best I can. But at the same time I'm just so weary of the perpetual outrage that seems to have dominated this year. Plenty of things this year have been perfectly reasonable to be upset over, but it doesn't make the entire thing any less wearying.

                I genuinely think the purpose was to create this exact result, where issues sit stagnant in empty and dishonest debate.

                I support anyone wanting to take a stand, but I think too many now think angry tweets on different subjects each day actually stands for something when it amounts to nothing in the grand scheme and is forgotten in as little as a day.

                The thing that really gets on my nerves though is that it's really nothing more than easy ignorance.
                A way of ignoring complex issues in favour of anger by numbers and a war against nothing and nobodies.

                  Argumentum ad nauseam has been used throughout the ages, but it still sucks. It's not whether they're right or wrong, even, it's just the incessancy of it. Back when I used to use Facebook, I had a friend I had to mute because he wouldn't stop bitching about Tony Abbott every day without fail. I didn't even disagree with him, I was just sick of hearing about it.

    And this is why a site such as this should not be solely headed and controlled by a single person. Because when that person fucks up. The whole site suffers for. The best thing the accused owner could do is relinquish all control of the site to a group of respected moderators or something.

      Agreed. This is also what The Escapist is trying to do right now, though for different reasons.

        Is this the thing where they don't have any paid contributors anymore other than Yahtzee andsome of the streamers?

          Yeah. Basically the whole site was let go except Yahtzee and one admin who only works part time. The back-end systems are all mostly inaccessible to the mods, so they've had to use gmail addresses for appeals and stuff. The mods fully intend to continue the site, hopefully the owners and admins can open up access to some systems to make it easier.

            Ah, rightio. I shrug, because I never really had much interaction with the site except to get access to Zero Punctuation a little earlier than when it landed on YouTube.

            Sad, I guess... you never like to hear of folks losing their jobs. But I can't say I care about the product.

              About the same, even back when it actually had some other names contributing.

              I watched Zero Punctuation and Extra Credits when it used to be there, but didn't frequent the place otherwise. But that said, I never had a reason to dislike the place and as a long-running name in the games media industry it's sad to see it struggling.

                its sad to see how much the escapist has suffered since gamergate. the loss of Jim Sterling and No Right answer were the big ones for me. also movie bob i kinda lost intrest in his stuff due how he started to act after Man of Steel and the first spiderman reboot and then his taken 3 review which out during GG. man that review was extremely unhinged.

                  At least the people or projects are mostly still doing well. Sterling certainly seems to be thriving on Youtube and that's also where Extra Credits ended up. I believe that's still going, though I lost track a while back and never caught back up with it.

                  I don't think I ever saw Movie Bob or No Right Answer.

    I use to be a member and constantly post on neogaf back in the day, but then it all changed and I couldn’t handle the way everyone cracked the shits if you had a different opinion on anything.

    It was pretty much, fall in line or face a wrath of anger from everyone else. I remember one time it got so bad that I was banned from the site because I said something negative about a SJW, and holy shit, was I bombarded with hate.

    I woke the next day and my account was banned. So reading all this over the weekend just made me smile. It seemed that 99% of the people were male feminists, and those same 99% would lose their absolute mind over something like this.

    So again, sad this has happened to the women involved, but glad it’s exposing the shithole that neogaf turned out to be.

      Writing off the entire neogaf community because of the admin is unfair, much like it would be unfair for me to write off the kotaku community because of one poster talking about those 'SJW' etc. So sorry your 'different opinion' getting you banned still haunts you. Maybe one day you'll get over it.

        Yeah I doubt it was the entire community, but as I said, 99% of the people there had that same mentality. If you have a different opinion, you were unliked and an outcast.

        And it seems Kotaku is quickly moving in the same direction.

          Oh it has been going that way for a while friend. People seem to confuse what the downvote button is for. They think it is to disagree with somebody where in actual fact it is there to filter out offensive and off topic comments.

            I think that's overblown. If you look at any article with a divisive issue, the comments usually hover around 50% each. If you think that any one viewpoint has an overwhelming majority (maybe with the exception that marriage equality is good and loot boxes are bad), reread the comments from the perspective of "the other side" and see if your assumption holds up.

            As for downvoting, everyone's going to have their own opinion on when to use them. Personally, I only really use it when comments aren't positively contributing to a conversation. Most importantly, Kotaku's active user base isn't large enough for me to have seen anyone's post downvoted to the point of being filtered out without actually being offensive.

            In the end it comes down to this: Do you want to be in a space where everyone agrees with you, or do you want to hear from all sides (even when some are in direct opposition to your own)?

              Do you want to be in a space where everyone agrees with you, or do you want to hear from all sides

              Guess you're new to the internet. Everyone with a different opinion is wrong, I am right, I know everything, I'm not here to discuss but preach. Oh and I'll correct your grammar when I don't have a valid comeback or input to give.

                Fair point. That being said, I think the mods here do a better job than most on cutting down overtly aggressive behaviour, as a result, this has become once of the better places on the internet to disagree with someone about game related topics.

                  Well case in point I have been downvoted and therefore I will probably be punished now with my comments requiring moderation before they show on the page because people disagree with me. Does that seem like a fair system when you are punished because you have a differing opinion?

              I try to keep downvotes only to things like personal attacks or no contribution, though I do occasionally downvote something straight up wrong and/or harmful. I don't retaliate-vote and I do my best not to downvote anyone because of differing opinions.

              I know a lot of people here use voting differently, but as long as down votes are tied in with putting people in the moderation queue I don't think it's reasonable to use it on anyone making comments that don't deserve to be moderated.

              It's definitely not reasonable for anyone to have the ability to silence someone else just for a differing opinion, and unfortunately that's exactly what happens sometimes. The person who disagrees gets put in moderation and can't talk any more, so the conversation gets controlled and dominated by whichever side wields the most voting power.

              Last edited 23/10/17 3:20 pm

                You are right, it is not reasonable however due to a certain few regulars who will downvote me the moment they see my name pop up I am always in and out of moderation. It gets to the point where when I come across an article where I would be willing to voice an informed opinion, I usually just ignore it allowing ignorance to reign supreme.

          As soon as you call someone an SJW, you reveal your hand as being a bit of a dick.

            Not really. SJW have done nothing but make a big deal out of something small. Case in point, years ago I remember a conversation with a gay friend. He and I were having lunch together. He was talking about his boyfriend being a pain to deal with during a cinema experience. I laughed and my friend called his boyfriend gay.

            The comment was a joke, we both laughed about it. Paid for our lunch and then left the place. As we walked out, a guy and his wife chased us out and began to yell at us calling us homophobic and saying we were not wanted in society.

            My friend laughed saying he was gay and clearly didn’t find the term, gay, to be offensive. He then told these people off for making a scene. The couple eventually revealed they were a straight couple and just found the term offensive.

            I consider that couple SJW. They found it offensive on behalf of people who weren’t even there. Those are the pain in society that I just can’t stand. No need to get all offensive on behalf of someone else.

            Being a SJW, makes you a bit of a dick. Disliking a SJW, makes you a normal well adjusted person.

    Malka is a piece of crap anyway, zero surprise. His comments on Spain were a tell for him being a predator. This is also the death of one of gamings only developer to customer interfaces.

      Good riddens to Neogaf. First one of their mods/admins was arrested for keeping pedophile porn, and now this...

        Yeah obviously, but it would have been preferable to just cut out the cancerous parts in order to maintain the largely great community and connection Gaf had with devs.

        Also, why downvote?

          Because Neogaf was a community hated by the internet for it's intolerance and elitism toward both it's own users and the rest of the internet in general.

          It is not - as you said ... also the death of one of gamings only developer to customer interfaces. because devs can use any forum anywhere to talk with people. Neogaf has never contributed anything meaningful to discourse.

            Sorry what? Have you read their forums? Progressive proponents far and away out number conservatives. I don't believe you have ever spent time on the boards because people get banned all the time for even slightly questionable content and you get down voted into obscurity if you don't join the group think.

            Gaf is a centralised forum for all devs though, so you will see devs from different teams commenting in the same thread. Which makes it much better for getting information about titles.

            I get the feeling you are hating on it because it makes you feel "right" to do so, rather than actually looking into it.

        The site had around 200,000 members, why would the actions of two of them condemn the entire site for you?

          If they are running or involved in the administration of the site - then yes.

            Seems like hasty generalisation. Communities as large as NeoGAF are substantially more than the handful of people who manage them. If that kind of logic were true, Turnbull/Abbott/[your least favourite PM] being leader would condemn every person in the country. Obviously we're more than that.

            (third attempt because of edit moderation)

              yeah i really dont get it, ive visited NeoGaf and reddit, even 4chan back in the day and ive never seen anything that makes it any worse than the comments here. then again i dont visit /pol or r/thedonald

              I suppose with that analogy though, people do tend to write off whole political parties because of the leader.

    Same thing has happen at honest trailers atm.

      I saw that couple weeks ago. Surprised there hasn't been an article about that too.

    This part is weird: "Leupp said that even after the alleged shower incident, she'd continued her friendship and even had a brief physical relationship with Malka until they had a falling out at E3 2015". So, despite this incident she still had sex with him later, consensually? Then they had a falling out? Sounds like she was bitter about the break-up and used this "Shower incident" as a way to get back at him.

      its not really weird. She was just friends with him at the time and didn't expect or consent to him working into the shower on her(as evidenced by her reaction), its harassment.

      It doesn't mean, after a period of time working together (particularly in an industry where these people see each other constantly), they can't get together.

      It's also true until about 3 weeks ago, these sort of behaviour wasn't something a female felt like they could raise as an issue.

    I was currently serving a ban for not agreeing with the hivemind. It was crazily leftist and pro isreal though, which often overflowed from the off topic section to the gaming news discussion. The final moments were glorious to behold.

    Maybe I'm missing something here...? According to their website:

    Member count: 195,097

    That's like, 0.001% of Internet users or something like 0.0000000000001% of gamers (Legal Disclaimer: stat's not accurate!).
    But do you get my point? Putting the claimed sexual misconduct (its abhorrent) to the side - is this really a website moving and shaking the gamer world?
    Heck I can run up a wiki, a blog, a forum with about 3 clicks (Legal Disclaimer: may take more than 3 clicks), sign up 100K "members" (Legal Disclaimer: I made that number up)

    So yeah. To be clear to anyone even bothering to keep reading, sexual misconduct/harassment is real and shouldn't be tolerated anywhere/anytime. Lock the mofo's up; Bubba in the bunk below will thank us.

    Is there actually any proof that this 'shower incident' happened?
    What happened to innocent until proven guilty?
    I think I'll wait until the jury give their verdict before making any rash judgements.

    Accusations of sexual misconduct are more than just serious, they're potentially life destroying, so it's important to make damn sure a person is guilty before dragging their name through the mud. If you can incite the internet into knee-jerk reactions like this with nothing but an accusation then a number of people will take this opportunity to sling accusations at any one they want rid of.

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