Video Game Journalism: A Reformation in the Making
For the past three weeks, video game journalism has been a source of controversy, censorship, investigation, and change. What exactly is the cause of all of this publicity? It’s not the latest nude celebrity photos leak or the newest hit video on YouTube. This article is about a scandal that has unearthed a great deal of corruption in the industry of video game journalism. The scandal which has been called the Quinnspiracy and now, more recently, called GamerGate is unfolding right before our eyes.
The latest unfolding of events has garnered a great deal of support from gamers, YouTube personalities, and even actor Adam Baldwin. Baldwin is responsible for coining the hashtag #GamerGate, which has now become the rallying cry for all manner of tweets concerning the latest developments on this corruption.
Party lines have been drawn and sides have been chosen with people being labeled as either pro-GamerGate or anti-GamerGate. The pro-crowd is asking for transparency from journalists and have been investigating into the claims of corruption. The anti-crowd has been in support of the journalists and have been defending them through smear campaigns of the pro-GamerGate crowd. Phil Fish, creator of the game Fez, is a part of the anti-GamerGate crowd and has posted several tweets that essentially attack his consumers. One of his most recent tweets from September 1st had this to say to those who play his game Fez, “well apparently my ‘fans’ consist of mostly sexist and misogynistic freaks #GameGate.”
The majority of tweets and comments from the anti-GamerGate crowd follow along the same lines as Phil Fish’s tweet. Tweets have been posted calling all Gamers, misogynistic, losers, idiots, and more recently “worse than ISIS.” ISIS for those not up to date with current global affairs are the terrorist group that is currently sweeping through Iraq and executing innocent people through beheading and other means to create their own Islamic state in Sunni areas of Syria and Iraq. Most of the members of the anti-GamerGate crowd are the same journalists that are in question, a few are indie developers such as Phil Fish, and social justice warriors like Anita Sarkeesian. Tweets from all of these people have been aimed at gamers and all manner of insult have been thrown at the gaming community. The pro-GamerGate crowd has mostly replied with far more tame and wittier replies, but there are some on this side who have also insulted and even sent death threats to the anti-GamerGate crowd, primarily to Anita Sarkeesian concerning her recent video that many believe was released early because of GamerGate.
The question many of you may be asking is what triggered this series of events? Well, the simple answer to that question is the Quinnspiracy. The Quinnspiracy is what set off this controversy and the investigation into the corruption of video game journalists and their practices. What sparked the event was a blog post from Eron Gjoni, ex-boyfriend of indie developer Zoe Quinn, the maker of the game Depression Quest. The blog’s name is thezoepost and the posts talk about Zoe Quinn and her alleged sexual relations with five other men while she and Eron Gjoni were dating. Usually, this kind of post would be ignored or written off as an ex-boyfriend being mad about a break up and trying to get revenge on his ex-girlfriend. But, the alleged identities of the five men that Zoe Quinn cheated with all appeared to have one thing in common. A quid pro quo relationship where Zoe Quinn may have used sex to garner support and good reviews for her indie game Depression Quest.
The identity of at least two of the men have been confirmed and solidified through the last few weeks. The men are Joshua Boggs, Zoe Quinn’s boss, and Nathan Grayson. Joshua Boggs is part of Loveshack and part of the development team behind the upcoming game called Framed. Nathan Grayson is a writer for Kotaku.com who has been alleged to have given positive gaming reviews and hype for Depression Quest thanks to his relationship with Zoe Quinn. The identity of the other three men was thought to have been confirmed, but new evidence threw their involvement into question. Information from Eron still points out that there are three other unidentified men and they all may have as much influence in video game journalism as Nathan Grayson.
These allegations concerned many gamers and YouTube personalities about what thezoepost had meant to video game journalism. To them, this looked like corruption in the ranks of journalists and they wanted to talk about this to determine if the allegations were true and how far the rabbit hole went. These people were silenced through a mass deletion of posts that had any references to Zoe Quinn and the Quinnspiracy on websites like 4Chan, Reddit, and the Steam page for reviews of Depression Quest. Several posts in the first days of the Quinnspiracy were deleted and some users were banned from the threads. Some of the bans were towards people who simply up voted or left comments on a thread about the video made by InternetAristorcat called Quinnspiracy Theory: The Five Guys Saga which talks about thezoepost and the implications of corruption in video game journalism. Another video that was also censored because it was talking about the Quinnspiracy was a video by MundaneMatt. His video named Hell hath no fury like a lover’s scorn was originally banned on YouTube for using a picture from the Steam page of Depression Quest. The link above is the re-upload of the video with MundaneMatt’s own personal image for the video to avoid a second ban.
The many acts of censorship and the bans on videos on threads that attempt to discuss thezoepost have led to a corruption of video game journalism. Many people were outraged at being banned and having their posts deleted. Having their voices essentially taken away from them, many started to fight back against this censorship and some started to dig deeper into the subject discovering more evidence of corruption. Articles are also being published from sites who are now being implicated in the corruption, about how the Quinnspiracy was a non-issue and that everyone should forget about the matter. The evidence being dug up is showing conflicts of interest and biases from journalists who are supposed to be trustworthy and free from bias in their articles. This is where pro-GamerGate’s main goal of demanding transparency in video game journalism comes to a head.
GamerGate has been going for three weeks. By the time this article is posted, new information and events will have occurred thanks to the people who won’t let this discussion die. Based off the energy we have been seeing from the community, GamerGate won’t stop any time soon.