Video Game Publisher Apologises After Hosting AMA On 8Chan

Image: Darksiders III

Edgy marketing decisions have a way of blowing up in companies’ faces, but rarely do they so immediately and spectacularly detonate like this: THQ Nordic, publisher of games like Darksiders III, decided to host an AMA on 8chan, an image board notorious for everything from Gamergate ties to stalking and harassment to child porn. Bafflingly, THQ Nordic thought it would go just fine. Predictably, it did not.

The company announced its plan earlier today in a tweet, saying that “the opportunity was here and we took it,” and that “we got approached in a very friendly and polite manner and were assured, said person (shoutout to Mark) will take care of the nasty stuff.”

This prompted a titanic wave of backlash from THQ fans.

“Unrelated but I went out to the park today and there was free dirt all over the place so I just started stuffing it into my mouth,” one tweeted. “The opportunity was there and I took it.”

“Up next, THQ Nordic hosting an interview on Stormfront after polite invitation,” said another.

Games critic Noah Gervais pointed out that these sorts of decisions have ripple effects. “Your taking this opportunity (and legitmising the concerns of the 8chan crowd) is a stink it’ll take years to wash off, if it ever does,” he said.

Mark, whoever he is, did not take care of the nasty stuff. The ensuing AMA contained pornographic imagery, Hitler references and memes, copious questions about loli, racial slurs, and so much more. There were also more standard questions about THQ Nordic’s future plans, which PR and marketing director Philipp Brock replied to. In one case, a user said, “Please don’t censor any games nor appeal to the SocJus crowd, you guys are doing fine as is,” to which Brock replied, “Thanks! We’ll try to stay that way.”

The content of 8chan users’ questions and posts is not at all surprising, given the board’s history — something a PR person like Brock should’ve been aware of. In 2013, 8chan creator Fredrick Brennan decided that 4chan — then regarded to be one of the internet’s most lawless lands — had become too controlling and founded a “free-speech-friendly” alternative.

8chan frequently takes that stance to its utmost extreme, to the point that it was blacklisted from Google search in 2015 for containing “suspected child abuse content.” When 4chan gave Gamergate the boot, many users relocated to 8chan, which still serves as a hub for Gamergate-related discussion.

Two hours after the AMA began, THQ Nordic issued an apology on Twitter.

“I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site. I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form,” wrote Brock, adding that he is “terribly sorry for the short-sightedness of my (!) decision, and promise to be far more vigorous in my assessment of these activities in the future.”

Brock further clarified his stance in a statement sent to Kotaku: “I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form. This was not about being edgy, this blew up and I very much regret to have done it in the first place.”


Comments

    “Please don’t censor any games nor appeal to the SocJus crowd, you guys are doing fine as is,” to which Brock replied, “Thanks! We’ll try to stay that way.”

    To be honest, this would offend some people way more than the loli talk, porn or Hitler memes. If there is one thing people do not like, it's to be ignored ;-)

      I got the feeling from the article that the author was taking offense to that question/statement.

      And I'm just sitting here like, "But I agree with 8chans statement"

      this would hit grayson very hard considering that he was one of main targets of gamergate

        So you're saying he's biased and shouldn't report on something with connections to it?

    lol. Plenty of places to do PR and advertise your game.
    Going straight to the saddest depths, populated by cretins, is prob not the best approach.

      There seems to be more and more people coming out of the cretin closet every day. Maybe THQ thinks its a sizable enough market now that they can risk losing their existing customers.

    Obviously it was a mistake, but trying to connect with fans is hard, I suppose. Reddit would have been better.

      They should have known better than to choose one of the most toxic wastelands on the Internet.
      Reddit would have been a better choice, at least there are people on that platform who can string a sentence together without being idiot man-children.

      But was it a mistake? I mean, fans are fans, wherever they are found. It probably would have gone 'better' with some more effective moderation, if keeping porn and other 8chan stuff out were really a concern, but I'm all for engagement. It's a bit like the old missionaries going out to spread the word among the lost tribesmen. Just because the missionaries were killed/eaten doesn't mean the exercise was a mistake :-)

        "effective moderation" they literally left 4chan because they were too extreme for 4chan. Moderation was not on the cards. 4chan has always banned child porn, but in 8chan anything goes. It was a poor decision. Pretty sure someone is getting either fired or demoted over this and that probably should be the case.

        Just putting it out there that associating your brand with child porn is always a mistake.

        See also: Andrew Bolt this week.

          As an aside, and speaking from an unbiased jurist's point of view, there were a lot of problems with that conviction.

        I'd say missionaries exploiting less developed cultures and indoctrinating them into their particular brand of theological fiction very much was a mistake, personally. Speaking more to the analogy though, I think a gaming company hosting a Q&A on 8chan would be equivalent to McDonalds holding a tasting day at a KKK rally.

        Aside from the connotations of association or endorsement, access to dev time is valuable and who a company decides to make that available to communicates who they care most about. Reddit would have been the vastly better choice, both in terms of ease of access and in diversity of userbase.

    I'll never understand what the hell gamergate is or what it's about. Grayson seems more worried about gamergate than child porn, so it must be bad??

      its a massive long and convoluted story, but to put simply, Grayson was one of the two main targets of gamergate due to him being in a relationship with Zoe Quinn (the other main target).

        Read both sides of it and the truth is somewhere in the middle.

        Oh is that seriously it? Thanks for the heads up

          Very long story short it all began when a certain author used his position as a games journalist to promote the game made by a chick he had ploughed without making any mention of their previous relationship. This was during a time where people were getting sick of agendas in games journalism after being told by said journalists they were entitled for not liking the original ending to Mass Effect 3.

            There used to be another journalist on Kotaku who on multiple occasions wrote about her friends/the games they were working on without disclosing their friendship. Sometimes these friends were romantically involved.
            It probably would have been more palatable if they were just honest and upfront about it!

            Just gunna skim over the bit where Quinn's ex-boyfriend shopped his sob story around the internet looking for a mob to harass her?

            Very long story short it all began when a certain author used his position as a games journalist to promote the game made by a chick he had ploughed without making any mention of their previous relationship.

            Except he didn't, because the author who was in a relationship with Zoe Quinn never wrote an article about her games. He mentioned it once in a list of indie games.

      i would explain why Grayson has an invested interest in making gamergate seem worse than child porn and constantly makes it out to be the big bad of the internet.
      But i doubt the mods would allow it on the site for very long.

        Haha yeah I get the feeling there's a bit in it...

      It's some bullshit about ethics in videogame journalism with some fairly horrible attached harassment on both sides that most people stopped giving a shit about a long time ago. Every so often people drag it up as if it's still relevant despite most having forgotten about it. A total of nothing was accomplished at all.

        A ton of people got harassed for it. I'm sure that if you talk with them, they will disagree with your assessment about a lack of consequence.

          Who said 'lack of consequence'? I said nothing was accomplished - because nothing was accomplished. Concerns over collusion in games journalism were quickly forgotten and the 'death of gamers' never happened. The only relevant part was the harassment, but that was literal years ago. GamerGate died and the vast majority of people didn't even notice or care - and yet it keeps being brought up as if it never stopped. It's taken on almost a mythical, underground conspiracy vibe now, instead of what it actually is now: a bunch of trolls being dicks under no real banner at all.

            Fair enough, I misunderstood your words' intention, sorry.

            That said, I'm not 100% sure that they are disbanded trolls without a banner. Many, many of them (as in, verifiably same names) have moved into the ComicsGate thing.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VtjZHC5Qyk&t=1s is a good explainer of what gamergate actually was and what it morphed into.

        HAHAHAHAHAH Not even close. Look at the fact comments and likes dislikes turned off.
        All that video did was reframe the debate the way Kotaku would have liked it reframed.

          I like it. It doesn't even pretend that anything said about "journalistic integrity" had any merit - because nobody seriously thought it did - and it investigates the techniques developed as an alpha version of the alt-right rabbit-hole.

            Of course you would like it, you seriously believe that gamergate is the alpha version of the alt right rabbit hole. Nathan did a good number on you.

    Meant as a reply to @soldant

    Now I wouldn't say 'nothing was accomplished'...

    I mean where else do you get to see self-proclaimed professional journalists beat that long dead horse constantly in articles as if the site was their personal blog?

    Last edited 27/02/19 4:18 pm

    Jimmies were rustled.

    I believe the person behind this when they say they genuinely did not know the history behind 8chan. I did not know 8chan even existed until this incident. Soi think all this fake outrage has achieved is driving more traffic to 8chan.

      How is the outrage "fake" if 8chan is, in fact, everything that is said to be in the article? What would have been a better alternative? That nobody raised an eyebrow and more developers started having AMAs at 8chan?

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