#GamerGate Interview – Reviewing the Reviewers, Double Time Edition

phoenix wright dual destinies 10-14-14-1

I want to prep you for this piece a bit, if I may. This is an interview conducted for Niche Gamer with two developers of iconic pedigree under guarantee of anonymity. Due to the nature of the interview, names have been removed to protect their identities.

Please understand the reasoning behind this, and please know that both developers truly wished they could go public. For now, they simply can’t, and I hope you still enjoy the interview.

Brandon – What do you think of #GamerGate, do you think it’s toxic, misogynistic, etc.?

Dev1—I think it’s a very good movement, and it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s about time it’s happened, I would say that the large amount of the development community that I know, developers/publishers who have been around a long time in senior positions, agree with much of what is being said within #GamerGate. The cronyism, the problems with [games] journalism, the false narratives are a big problem. It is important to understand that there are some very good press out there and not every site should be labeled negatively but by and large the groups that are being focused [on] by #GamerGate don’t have a moral compass. Journalistic ethics have never been a consideration for them. The problem is deep, it’s been around for a long time, and it needs to be cleaned up. It’s a real issue. This toxicity and [the] misogynistic narratives are a sideshow created by the same outlets to draw attention away from the real issues at hand.

Brandon—Do you think even if it’s not big games media, we’re seeing kind of a chasing after of clicks and/or ad revenue? Kind of similar to tabloid journalism. Is that what we’re seeing now in the gaming media?

Dev1—I think in general it’s really difficult to call much of the gaming media “press” at all. This is because they don’t follow any standard journalistic practices. What has been exposed by #GamerGate is on a very small scale, as it is focused on the indie scene.

It actually occurs at a much larger scale with larger marketing budgets. Marketing budgets generally can tend to sway almost anyone, where they can influence people to say positive things. They can also influence people to say very negative things about competitors. Once the core group of press give something a score, it tends to influence the rest of the press, whether they are colluding or not. Unfortunately, the group identified by #GamerGate has positioned themselves as “thought leaders” and have a great deal of sway with the games industry. Now that they have been ousted, this will hopefully come to an end.

Very few press out there do not look at other reviews before they write their own review. Very few press won’t accept a coffee. Press go to these parties, they get all kinds of swag, they’re influenced in so many different ways by so many different marketing or PR tactics. It’s frustratingly difficult for developers to really get a fair shake at anything without participating in this game. You have to pay to play, and this has been going on for an extremely long time.  It is an unspoken expectation by many of the press now.

Brandon—So I wanted to mention that we covered the Areal Kickstarter and there was a lot of controversy behind it, but the difference between our coverage and other websites – we presented the supposed allegations and first, we reported on it existing, we said “hey look, this is the STALKER spiritual successor, it looks cool.” Then these reports started coming out, and we said “look we don’t know the facts, we don’t know what’s going on.” We didn’t put a spin on it, we stayed objective about it.

Dev1—The group identified by #GamerGate have been putting spins on things a very long time. A lot of developers are very afraid of getting bad press because it can affect you. This group have essentially lost any usefulness for gamers. You just can’t trust what they write anymore. They have no perception of what’s ethically right and wrong, they also have no perception of what the gamers want.  What they do is for their own benefit. People who are covering games on Youtube, and have other jobs in real life, do a better job at covering games than this ousted group does.

Some of these press groups claim they’re not journalists and have never claimed to be. I would think then if you’re not claiming to be journalists, don’t go to E3 anymore, you are not helping anyone. Like Destructoid, they are a joke. They’ve always been bad. Rock Paper Shotgun, same thing, now that the collusion is exposed it’s just so obvious. It’s just so damaging to the industry in general, it’s time that these guys go.

When I read the anonymous Microsoft interview it was absolutely right and I know for a fact from the conversations that I’ve had with people at very large companies—there’s a lot of people that feel that way. The press that have been exposed by #GamerGate are bad news. A big  ‘high five’ goes out to the people that have exposed this collusion. I hope good change comes out of this.

Brandon—So how about that Google email group that came out. Do you think that it’s just fascinating to see how not only are they playing it off like it’s no big deal but they’re still using it. They’re still posting in it as if nothing has happened. What do you think of that? Is this just more corroborating evidence towards their insane lack of ethics?

Dev1—From the reaction they had, there’s certainly no ethical compass there and they seem to think they’re untouchable.  I know there’s a movement to tell gamers to stop going to these sites. I can’t emphasize enough, speak with your dollars and clicks, go to other places, there are lots of great sites out there that don’t collude.

Brandon—Speaking of the collusion between award ceremonies and developers. Do you think the Independent Game Festival and all of the allegations behind that – do you think those are too far-fetched or do you think those seem pretty accurate from your experiences?

Dev1—They seem pretty accurate and there’s, I think it put some very gloomy skies over those game award festivals currently. It’s way too much “people knowing people”, there were some definite breaches of impartiality, and collusion. It really lowers the credibility of those festivals. They need to clean that up, a lot.

Brandon—Do you think it’s completely unacceptable for journalists, panelists, and speakers to fund the games they’re covering?

Dev1—Yes. Absolutely. These actions are reprehensible and further shows the lack of ethical compass by these people. They have no idea what’s right and wrong, the lines have been blurred for so long for them.

They will do anything they can to get ahead, being kingmakers and helping people out, patting someone on the back, getting a pat on the back in return, being on all these multiple panels and selections, guaranteeing who’s going to win … it’s not good for anybody, in the end what it does is it really holds down creativity.

As Internet Aristocrat said it well—what’s happening is that we’re getting games like Depression Quest and we’re losing games that are generally really cool. It’s continuing to happen and it’s because there’s this level of cronyism where they survive by doing it that way because it gives them power, it gives them power to negotiate for ad revenue or for free gifts, or for whatever perks they can get in the industry.

Meanwhile, most of the developers out there just want to make good games but have a hard time overcoming these issues. It’s really hard to make good games, it requires a lot of blood, sweat and tears, a lot of long hours. The other thing that is pretty clear from #GamerGate is that the person running NeoGAF is part of this group or colluding with them. Long gone are golden days of NeoGAF.

Brandon—This is true, I’ve been on GAF for  many years and the overall mentality has definitely changed. Before it used to be all about the games and the rampant fanboyism and suddenly when these things come out, you’d see blatant censorship. Someone posted a video of Anita (Sarkeesian) saying “I don’t play video games.” And then the thread is locked. It’s like, what’s up with that? There was also a supposed connection between Tyler Malka (owner of GAF) and Kotaku, where they plagiarized a post and ran ads on it, on Kotaku.

Dev2—I’ve been really, really disappointed with the way he’s been handling the #GamerGate thing. Did you see the thread he made where he basically copied peoples’ private messages in public threads and then made fun of them? That was the most immature way you could handle that situation, in my opinion. That spoke volumes about his character to me.

Dev1—Well, certainly a lot of people have contacted me in the last several weeks saying “wow can you believe all these guys are finally getting called out”.  These are people from a lot of different developers/publishers and a lot of different places.

Brandon—I’ve seen a lot of these types of people try to spin this type of discussion where they say, “Oh you know, game X has a scene where a woman is killed or something.” They think that one little cherry picked scene basically summarizes the entire experience, they make it a correlation saying that these are negative and harmful and they actually affect people. How do you feel about that? Do you think gamers are unable to separate fantasy from reality?

Dev1—I think people who are making these accusations have their own agenda. In one of your previous articles (Editor’s Note: here) that you wrote had a female developer say that she was in development for eight or nine years, and basically she said that it doesn’t exist. I could not agree with that statement more.

I’ve been in this industry for more than 25 years now, and I have never once experienced anyone try to do anything misogynistic. It’s not changed a lot and there is no story here. When I first started developing games, by and large the industry was mostly male. As the industry matured, a lot more females have come into the industry. Frankly, they were welcomed with open arms. We could never get enough female input at any company I’ve worked at.

Gamers are very sophisticated, and that’s one of the things that is really frustrating with these journalists, as they’re talking down to gamers. As game creators, we work for gamers. That’s our job. As soon as we start attacking gamers, we should quit.

Apparently some of these press think they don’t—you then have to ask who then are they serving if not the gaming public. If they really believe that gamers are dead, then they should leave the industry. Go do something else, go into oil drilling or something, go do anything else but stop polluting our industry.


Dev1—If you look at the articles that you’ve written, or if you’ve watched some of the videos from Internet Aristocrat. He’s very eloquent and he has really good points and the bottom line is: gamers are smart enough to see through what is happening and there is by no way any serious issue of misogyny in this industry.

Violence is certainly part and parcel with our industry, but when it comes to sex, it’s really tough to even implement that type of content in video games as the regulations and self-imposed barriers are much more stringent than other industries. The comics, film, books or television have much fewer barriers to deal with when it comes sex than the games industry does.

Dev2—I’d say that only one side of the story is being looked at here, too. There’s a lot of complaints about how women are being treated within games, but the same thing happens on the same scale with male characters, too. How many games out there portray men as huge hulking characters with little to no emotion? Certainly a large percentage of FPS and TPS games are guilty of that. Also, in these games I’d guess that certainly over 90% of enemies/protagonists are male too. A great example of this is the recent Tomb Raider, great game but a good example though. You have a female character who doesn’t kill a single female in the entire game, but kills hundreds and hundreds of men, because men can be bad guys.

It doesn’t matter, it is what it is, and it’s not serious, I don’t think anyone should take it seriously or analyze it too far like that. It is what it is, you take the shooter genres with all the guys who are these big, buff, crazy looking guys who slaughter everyone in sight. What does that say about men? Is that sexist against men? I think there needs to be an element of common sense about this. The arguments that I’m seeing are very extreme on both sides and the middle ground is where things should be at—a bit of common sense.

Dev1—A balanced dialogue.

Dev2—Yeah a balanced dialogue and moderation—that’s the problem. I’m not extremely one side or the other on any of these issues because people are people. That’s what it comes down to with me. It doesn’t matter if a character is female or male, so long as it’s the intent of the people who created it, and if nothing actually genuinely damaging, then I am happy.

Brandon—I think we’ve seen a real culture of people who just thrive on the extreme, and these people don’t see developers like you guys or the gamers as real people. All they see is black and white, to me it’s disgusting because I’ve had tons of female gamers who have written in, tweeted at me, saying “hey, I enjoy these games too, I don’t agree with censorship, I would like more inclusion, but I don’t want those other games to stop existing.” How do you guys feel about censorship in that regard? Are you against it?

Dev1—Censorship in any way, and certainly what’s happened with the press surrounding #GamerGate, is terrible. It shows that it’s not balanced at all, it basically shows that you’re not getting the truth, regardless of what the truth is, you can be assured when people are delete things that there’s something going on that they don’t want people to see.

It also shows a blatant lack of respect for the people that they work for, which are the gamers. Being transparent, being forthcoming are really important traits as a journalist.  It is supposed be about games. That’s not what it’s about with these guys, and that’s the unfortunate thing. It’s really sad, it’s very depressing.

Brandon—The thing with GAF that I’ve noticed is that they tend to have like a hivemind type of mentality, whenever I’ve gone against it or anybody else, you really get your ass handed to you. It’s fascinating because GAF has kind of become the reddit for videogames, I guess.

Dev1—These guys are attacking good people and taking them down and they do it on a regular basis and they’re not afraid to do it. They do it through collusion and I’m not talking about NeoGAF, I’m talking about NeoGAF being part of this #GamerGate group.

Brandon—This cabal, yeah.

Dev1—It definitely exists, it is not fabricated, and they have done a lot of damage. There are so many people in the industry that have seen this and agree with it. On the developer side, they’re just afraid to come out because the ramifications can be so negative on their employment.

Our industry has a lot of potential but it is stymied when you’ve got these cronies out there that are polluting it with this garbage that they continue to promote—it’s got to stop. It’s either they realize what they’re doing and they change their behavior, or if they can’t change their behavior, they should just get out.

Dev 2—What we want to see, is a very healthy industry where creativity can flourish, where we can entertain people without drama.

Dev1—It’s crafting of the false narratives that is so destructive. It does go pretty deep in our industry, most game developers are affected by it.  Some people get burned by it and other developers really profit from it and are willing to get in there and do whatever it takes to get those great review scores and create those false narratives.

There are people who will support false narratives against competition. So it’s pretty bad out there, and it’s really frustrating and so it’s difficult enough as a developer to try to create something new and original. If you’re actually stepping into somebody’s domain who’s got a lot of money and power, it’s not very difficult for them to influence the press to A) not cover you or to B) say negative things. It’s very simple, actually, and these certain press are more than willing to do it, which is the sad part.  Many developers have left the industry because of these practices, good people are now gone.

You get a few good sites that are great that will cover things they think are interesting, even some large sites but by and large they just get lost in the noise by the cronies. It happens often, and what it ends up doing is that it suppresses creativity, it supports basically the “same old same old”, and it makes it really difficult in an industry that is already in turmoil.

These practices also puts the press out of touch with the gamers. They cannot assess games properly that way. It stops them from doing their job as it is so polluted and biased. If anything, they should apologize, realize the negative downsides and try to reform themselves.

Brandon—Do you guys think this narrative, this kind of obsession with indies, do you think this might have been what eroded the AA market?

Dev2—It helped accelerate it. This GamerGate-identified press group would generally want some kind of payment for their positive press.


Dev1—Yes. If you didn’t pay and play into this system you’re going to get screwed.

Brandon—So do you think, I’m not sure how much you can divulge, have you experienced any journalists demanding some sort of compensation.

Dev1—It’s common with many press. The AA studios or the independents, didn’t necessarily have the wherewithal to deal with that, so coverage is simply not at as good as people who were willing to spend or play the game.

Dev2—This is where you see the major publishers pushing AAA with the huge marketing budgets. The press enabling that through the expectation of payment, paid trips and cool swag really put the AA’s in a place where it was tough or impossible to compete and without the press fairly covering these games, the sales just weren’t there as a result to be able to back up the increasing development costs. As a result many great studios were either bought up or closed down. I think now gamers are feeling the effects of that and there’s this huge void between the Indie and AAA market that isn’t being filled very well.

Brandon—I mentioned it before how there just seems to be a bias against certain developers while others get a free pass.  What are your thoughts on that?

Dev1—It’s not free.


Dev1—Yes, that pass is not free.

Dev2—The free passes, the games that get perfect scores and you’re like “What the hell?” That is not an accident. The people who get hammered on, a lot of times, it’s also not an accident. It’s a paid agenda.

It’s been going on for a long time. Again, I want to emphasize, that it’s not everyone—there are good press out there its just this bad bunch pulling the industry down. And the person you interviewed from Microsoft, what was said is that “corruption has been there for a long time”, and he’s 100% correct. It just goes a lot deeper than what many people think.

Brandon—What actions should be taken?

Dev1—I believe you get best results by doing the positive proactive things. As an example, one of the things that I would recommend is that the #GamerGate group come up with an official label.  And that label should be a web site where other gamers can go to see which press sites are “#Gamergate approved”. I would recommend three tiers of ratings to start:  Approved, neutral, and negative.

Brandon—Thats a great idea actually.

Dev1—This could be easily and efficiently implemented. Get yourself, Mundane Matt, Internet Aristocrat, a couple other leading spokesmen and get together and rate each site. You can update the ratings on an annual basis. Make a website, make a web page and say, “Here is where you should go if you want to know what we consider reasonable press, here’s where you shouldn’t go!” Watch what happens. You might even find sites like Kotaku start changing the way they do things.

Brandon—People who’re asking for #GamerGate-exposed people to be arrested or to be fired and, same thing on NeoGAF, you know people asking for pro-#GamerGate people to have legal action brought against them … Your thoughts?

Dev1—For what reason? What have the people done within #Gamergate? Expose some uncomfortable truths? I’ve not seen anything that warrants legal action. Mind you, it is the internet and there are anonymous random trolls, but that should not be necessarily labeled as #GamerGate.

Dev2—I think that the biggest issue that #GamerGate as movement is facing now as a coherent movement is direction. It is lots of disparate people all across the place with differing opinions and I think what has to happen is, “Okay, we have an issue with video games journalism in the industry right now.” What needs to happen is we need to define what do we want. What are the things we value as gamers, as consumers.


Dev2—What’re the journalist practices that make sense? What are the things we want to base a good or a bad score on … if we did label things?


Brandon—I’m liking it more.

Dev2—Let’s define that, then group together and push that as the real positive force for change within the #Gamergate movement. Some press are trying to make this all about people being misogynist and whatever else but in reality that a very small minority of anonymous trolls. Most people involved in #GamerGate are very reasonable, have a lot of common sense, are not extreme on either side—they just want to enjoy playing videogames, and they want to have those videogames to have a chance to be made if they want them, and they want to be able to find factual, useful information about them without bias. Also I’d add to that a more level headed approach to pre-release hype would go a long way.

Dev1—Yes. It is time to get a strategy to help reform the press if they are not willing to do it themselves. Lets talk about the next step after implementing a #GamerGate rating system. Create a metacritic like site that takes the aggregate of all these review scores and then weighed them on their viability versus their rating on #GamerGate rating.

Brandon—I like that. I like that a lot actually

Dev1—So, if Destructoid gave something a 10/10, and when it comes to creating the metacritic, the #GamerGate score would weight mean less because of all the antics they’ve pulled and the lack of professionalism—same say with Kotaku. So A 10/10 from, Kotaku, means significantly less than say, something like a 6/10 from Operation Rainfall. That’s power to change.

Dev2—And the thing is it’s just something that’s meaningful that … actually is good for the industry and good for gamers. That’s what it needs to be.  So you’re just applying a weighting to different outlets … yeah … you know what? That could be very powerful.

And wouldn’t it be great to have something better than Metacritic? What good is Metacritic if its full of bullshit scores anyway?

Brandon—Yeah, once they added metacritic to Amazon and a game gets rated below say a 7 or an 8, the narrative is just “Don’t buy it!” “Nope! Don’t give it a chance!” And it’s really disheartening. And that’s why our review scale is pretty fair. I consider 5 to be mediocre or average. But this narrative has established a bias where many think that a 7 or 8 is bad now.

Dev2—Well right now the scale is really stupid. Everything over an 8.5 is fantastic, and everything else is terrible. That’s basically what you have. The difference between a 9.4 and a 9.7 doesn’t matter. You know?

Dev1—The extra 5 bags of cash for that 10, right?

Dev2—And the sad thing about this is that developers bonus is often tied to that score. People financially lose out because of that score. Not sales, that SCORE. That’s scary for people involved trying to create things.

Dev1—Developers have lost their jobs over this stuff. There’s been some measured talk on #GamerGate saying things like, “We want reform and its not that we’re asking people should lose their jobs over this”.  From a developer’s perspective the collusion that has happened has made developers lose their jobs, A LOT!

Brandon—So its almost reciprocal if some of these guys would lose their jobs because they have caused a lot of pain for a lot of people for a long time. Do you think the extremist agenda from the press actually help the industry?

Dev2—It doesn’t and it is false narratives such as this that are a big problem. And whatever of those agendas are, they’re not helpful. It doesn’t move the industry along in a positive way. I can say universally, most of the devs that I know, and I know a LOT of devs, hate this false narrative garbage. They don’t want to deal with it, they don’t anything to do with it. It’s hard enough to make games, and get balanced reasonable press, but they don’t want to deal with the narratives because it is just garbage.

Dev1—In my eyes the collusion by some of the press is beyond a doubt now, and so, finding more things now is not really going to move the needle any more. Forget all the noise, and forget all the people trolling and doxxing and all that crap. That’s why I made those suggestions for the metacritic like site, and I’m sure gamers can come up with more and take it from there.

Brandon—Its a really great idea, doing the aggregate website. What do you think the focus of the #GamerGate movement should be, whether it be on twitter and things like that?

Dev1—I think the #GamerGate movement should stay positive and start directing itself toward goals now. As basically I think enough has been exposed, and just being activists now. So in the sense that getting the news out—I think the news is out there.

So now I think focus on some action, like the rating site or whether its something where you can somehow empower the movement and gamers. Look forward, stay positive, I think #GamerGate has the potential to make positive change. Already with just the exposure, #Gamergate has had a positive effect.

Dev2—Keep doing it, keep the message focused, keep it moderate, keep it in the middle, and don’t let the extremes come out in any way from either side. Don’t associate with them and just make sure that when presenting this stuff, its done in a respectful way. A respectful, intelligent way, that is looking toward solutions. I think that’s the main thing for me.

Find more stories about: | INTERVIEWS on niche gamer

Brandon Orselli


Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Niche Gamer. Italian, but I love Asian culture. I also write about music, comedy, noodles and beer.

  • Renaissance_nerd

    awesome stuff, ad-block disabled and bookmarked, this site deserves my support.

  • Topgeartony

    Right between the eyes. Well done lads. Fuck their narrative more, it’s starting to break.

    Hope they allow themselves to go public at some point.

  • JackDandy

    Great stuff!

  • Carl B.

    What burns me up is that I notice a lot of anti-GG’ers are telling me that developers aren’t afraid, that they don’t feel intimidated by Anita & company…the truth is, they do. their careers are in jeopardy and their ability to be open and free with their art is being taken away from them. They are forced to self-censor or risk getting blasted in reviews and having a low metacritic. Which, sadly, means publishers won’t touch them.

    This proves, along with the Xbox dev interview, that the fear and intimidation are real. Their ability to create the art they love is being hindered, and this is the real travesty.

  • This was great, Brandon. As I said on twitter, better to speak anonymously than to remain publicly silent. These are brave people with good thoughts and ideas, and I thank you for giving them a platform to express them.

  • Terry Ferguson

    Well said to those two developers, and great interview, Brandon!

    We as gamers do deserve better representatives in our press. We deserve a journalism industry that behaves ethically and is accountable to us. We deserve to have our legitimate concers — and boy are they legitimate — aired fairly by the media. We deserve reviewers who don’t inflate review scores, destroying their meaning for the readers. We deserve a press that doesn’t baselessly lambast us and compare us to terrorist groups and genocidal maniacs. And we are now finding that, here at Niche Gamer, for example.

    The gaming community has been the most accepting community I ever have had the pleasure of joining, and it’s already wonderfully diverse. While I’m unsure of how much more diverse it can become, if it can continue to grow
    in diversity, it will. People who have been gaming for a long time know well
    how it feels to be ostracized for simply being a gamer. We were once dismissed as “nerds.” We were mocked, derided, painted as violent psychopaths–just as a large segment of “our” press is doing to us today. Perhaps this is why the community we have created is as accepting as it is. If you love games, you’re in. That’s it. That’s the barrier to entry. I welcome female gamers into the fold, as does virtually all of #GamerGate from what I’ve seen. Some of the most skilled gamers I’ve had the pleasure to play alongside and to play against have been women.

    As for the cronyism and collusion, it needs to end. This is nothing short of embarrassing–truly high school level crap. Those who have taken part in it should be ashamed of themselves. An up-and-coming indie talent shouldn’t be penalized simply for not being part of the “cool kids” of the indie developer world. Rather the press should be a spotlight for these lesser known developers. In the same vein, an AAA developer shouldn’t have their work scored less because it is disagreeable to the ideology and sensibilities of the reviewer. How does that help me, the reader, make an informed judgment about a game? It doesn’t. Perhaps, as Totalbiscuit mentioned, it may help to do away with review scores entirely since they are prone do abuse? I’m undecided at the moment myself.

    I am sorry to hear that developers have to work in fear of the unreasonable and unchecked anger of ideologues who have co-oped games journalism and demonstrated such intolerance towards those who think and feel differently from them. If all goes well, #GamerGate will succeed in changing this. I want developers to feel free to create their games without such self-censorship–whether that means creating a Bayonetta 2 or a Gone Home. If games are art, as many of these critics say, then give developers their artistic freedom. Don’t censor them. Let their art speak for itself.

    Sorry for the rant, but I am so tired, so very tired, of watching these people ride roughshod over the standards of journalism and all those who stand up for the gaming community. I love games. I love the gaming community. I hate what has been happening to it lately.

  • Your post was amazing dude, thank you. I really do read every single comment on the site, I try to respond to as many as I can but with how busy I am with the site I normally can’t :( Seriously though, thank you!

  • Amazing!!! Thank you!! :)

  • This really is true and I wanted to point out that a LOT more was said and that incriminating things were said to specific people – but to protect their anonymity it all had to be removed. It was a massive interview anyway, so it would have to be curbed a bit to make it more palatable.

  • Terry Ferguson

    Thank you! I completely understand. And thank you for giving us a voice. I’m loving your work and the site as a whole. :-)

  • Thanatos2k

    I don’t know if the devs are still watching but can someone answer this question for me:

    We’ve all heard the stories about how dev bonuses are tied to metacritic scores and how they can get screwed by bad dishonest scores.

    My question is: Why do devs allow such a nonsensical provision in their contracts? This HAS to be coming from publishers, so why aren’t you refusing to deal with companies that enforce such idiotic stipulations? KNOWING the game reviewers are corrupt this would be the last thing I’d ever agree to as a developer.

  • Cy

    Great interview. I wish they could have revealed their identities, but that was honestly one of the most enlightening things I’ve ever read about the inside of the gaming industry. I never believed in paid reviews before. I always thought it was one of those things fanboys made up so they could shit all over EA or Microsoft or whatever company they hated for whatever reason, but it actually happens. I think you definitely need to try and get that ratings website. Seriously, it’s the best idea I’ve heard come out of #GamerGate since it started, and there have been a lot of good ideas. Even if you have to Kickstart it or whatever, I’d be more than willing to shell out money to get something like that started up, and I’m sure other people would too. I wish I could get all my thoughts out more coherently, but that’s what happens when I comment right after reading and my head is still filled with all the “fuck those guys!” righteous indignation.

    One thing I will say is that I know what it’s like to have your creativity stifled. It’s the worst feeling in the world, especially when you pour your soul into something, work your ass off on it, know it’s good, and then have people dismiss it out of hand because it’s too “this” or not enough “that” or it sounds like it’s promoting a policy or political point that someone disagrees with, when all you wanted to do was create something entertaining and cool that people could enjoy, something that might offer something slightly different to a genre or medium that might be a little bit stale. It’s absolutely infuriating that that seems to be the norm for game developers. I feel so much for each and every one of them. This industry could be so great, and in some ways it is, but until these people are gone or they’re marginalized to the point where they can’t do any harm, it’ll only start getting longer between bouts of greatness. I really hope those devs are right and GamerGate is the start of that change. And maybe, if we’re really lucky, the skepticism and awareness that GamerGaters have developed for sensing corruption and narrative driving extends beyond games, and helps stop this shit in other mediums too.

  • mikey

    I think GG has a lot of sarcastic and reactionary assholes, and that might not be conducive to getting people to hear. At the same time tho, It astounds me how many people are arrayed against it who are apparently so world damaged they have to just attack the faceless QQers because cool, pretty people say too. It’s like there are no brains present. EVERYONE agrees on the journalism change, the dev issues. all of it. THEY are all personally butthurt over being called X or Y then Z

  • Tempest

    Game Devs! Know that we continue this for all of us. We also understand that anonymity is a must for you. But letting us know you care is a HUGE moral boost. Thank you.

  • Siveon

    My best guess is: it’s their fucking job man.

    Some people just don’t have the luxury to turn down stuff like that, especially when publishers allow them to do something they want to do.

  • nonscpo

    Alright I’m going to be that guy who states what some of us are probably thinking but for whatever reason can’t seem to point out:
    “What the hell is it just me or does it feel like the third or fourth GamerGate article in a 48 hour period? Come on! I’m perfectly fine with these articles and conversation happening, but does it kill anyone to space these articles by a day or two?” (I can already predict the amount of hate this comment is going to generate).

    P.S. In all seriousness I’m glad these developers expressed there opinion, of course I’d be even happier if they didn’t have to hide there damm identity.

  • Kyle W

    I had brought up some issues over at Mr. Brad Wardell’s blog that bear repeating. The people I call The Gaming Morality Force (the Ideological and corrupt journalists and their allies in Academia) are more than simply corrupt and practicing Cronyism, they are trying to change the nature of gaming to fit that ideology, and are attempting to ‘shame’ games that don’t meet their approval. Recent reviews of games such as “Tropico 5”, “Bayonetta 2” and “Shadows of Mordor” make this painfully clear.

    Allow me to quote myself from what I wrote at Wardell’s blog, I would suggest everyone follow those links, there is a lot of important information there (oh and thanks to Nichegamer for being the games site we all need!)-

    Mr. Wardell, I appreciate very much your taking a
    principled stance on #Gamergate and putting up your interview at The
    Escapist. This is even more important now that 2 of them (both
    pro-Gamergate) have now been taken down. Since we have read numerous
    ‘hit-pieces’ online (many supported by a man named Alex Liefschitz- you
    need to look into him) decrying yours as well, it might not be too long
    before an excuse is found to take it off the site. Most of the flak of
    course, comes from the libel concerning your harassment scandal.

    However, while I agree with much of what you say, it is far more than
    a ‘tempest in a teapot’. Gamergate started out of the Quinnspiracy, as
    Gamers thought that sexual favors had gotten good reviews, and obviously
    we know that single specific issue is not correct. But it opened the
    door to a great deal more. Even more than game journalists being
    corrupt. This is an ideological war, one that has been in the making for
    a few years and the scandal with Quinn only pushed this agenda out into
    the open.

    I would ask that you spend 11 minutes of your time, watching this
    particular video by Sargon of Akkad, where he analyzes a lecture given
    by the above named Alex Liefschitz, who works with Critical Distance,
    the group that departed The Escapist immediately after Alex Macris improved the site’s ethics policy. The lecture is from April of this year-


    Not only do we have an extremely aggressive tone and obvious hatred
    of Gamers by Mr. Liefschitz, but notice that the audience of games
    journalists is cheering him on. Sargon calls this a ‘book burning’ and it may as well be for the obvious hatred displayed here.

    Now, recently I had an essay I wrote regarding Milo Yiannopolous’ RadioNERO show, his second episode https://soundcloud.com/radio_nero/series-1-episode-2-professional-failures
    published over at the RalphRetort, who has been covering many Gamergate
    issues. You are welcome to read the entire thing if you wish, it’s not
    that long-


    However, let me quote you one portion of that essay, written by a friend of Anita Sarkeesian-

    “September 8, 2014

    This is a culture war. The right side is winning, at great
    cost. At great personal costs to people like Anita Sarkeesian, Leigh
    Alexander, Zoe Quinn and even Jennifer Lawrence, and countless others
    who are on the frontlines of creating new worlds for women, for girls,
    for everyone who believes that stories matter and there
    are too many still untold. We are winning. We are winning because we
    are more resourceful, more compassionate, more culturally aware. We’re
    winning because we know what it’s like to fight through adversity,
    through shame and pain and constant reminders of our own worthlessness,
    and come up punching. We know we’re winning because the terrified rage
    of a million mouthbreathing manchild misogynists is thick as nerve gas
    in the air right now.

    Us Social Justice Warriors – this is me, stealing that word
    in order to use it against my enemies- are winning the culture war by
    tearing up the rulebook, and there’s nothing the sad, mad little boys
    who hate women and queers and people of colour can do about it. Nothing,
    at least, that doesn’t sabotage their strategy, because they can win
    their game from day to day, but they’re losing the war. They can punish
    me for writing this, and I’m sure they will, but that will only prove my point. I’m not afraid anymore.

    Every time they make an example of one of us, ten more stand up in outrage to hold her up or take her place.

    We are stronger, smarter and more numerous than anyone imagined, and we are not to be fucked with.

    Excerpt from WHY WE’RE WINNING: SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS AND THE NEW CULTURE WAR by Laurie Penny (via femfreq)”


    You may not have been aware of it, and that’s fine, not everyone
    knows everything that goes on in their industries. However, this was
    written on 9/8. Long before most people in Gamergate were aware of what
    was going on. They knew this was coming and they wanted it to. They
    didn’t want the Quinn scandal, that was an accident, but they did want
    to oust ‘Gamers’ from the industry. Look at what Brianna Wu has done
    recently. She intentionally Snubbed Milo’s show, where she was
    supposedly going to talk about her death threat and try to ‘build
    bridges’ but instead, went on MSNBC to *also* call this a ‘War’. THAT
    was no accident.

    Thank you for your time,

    Kyle W.

  • Linda M

    Game reviews started dying around the same time everything became an “action adventure”. We need to start tagging games as having deep sandboxes, quality writing, good replay value, smooth performance, excellent moddability, value for money, etc. Put the focus on the gameplay and the fun again, not whether a good indie is an 8/10 or a 9/10.

  • Xenodora

    I’m not a professional game-dev, so I don’t know the answer to that nor have I investigated this, but I can speculate on the why.

    First is that the publishers hold the big bags of money that studios need to make games. This gives them a lot of negotiating power when it comes to making deals. If all or most publishers are pushing for these Metacritic bonuses then it can be hard to get a good contract without this clause.

    Second possible factor is excessive optimism or ego on the side of a studio’s management, and they think it will be easy to get the bonus. This kind of optimism leads to the dangerous thinking of treating potential bonus income as guaranteed income.

  • Kyle W

    I just wanted to add here, slightly off-topic, but it appears that The Escapist is being attacked *again*. It is ludicrously slow if not completely non-responsive and many users are reporting the same thing elsewhere.

  • Junoh315

    I kind of wish that Dev2 talked a bit more at the beginning but overall this was a great article. I wish that I knew what developers they were so I could give them a virtual fist-bump but I understand why they’re remaining anonymous. For now I’ll hope that they don’t have their names released by people that wish them harm and maybe that they read this to know that their input is appreciated.

  • Erthwjim

    I agree with these 2. I think right now though #gamergate is in a constant mode of defending itself against accusations from the outside and the gaming press, and that’s what is preventing it from being more productive. I think it does need goals, although deciding what goals to focus on might be difficult due to different reasons people support #gamergate. I think some central site would be helpful though, there does need to be more structure or we’ll just end up like the occupy movement, which they kind of just faded away if I recall.

  • RememberGamergate

    Honestly the PR agencies need to go as well. A lot of these social justice crazies are working at these agencies and the people in the boardrooms think that by making developers listen to these agencies they will have greater sales.
    Looking at their own numbers they should wake up. These PR agencies know NOTHING about games, are taking away developers freedoms, and are helping to destroy this industry.

  • GDI

    Wow, so if I read this all correctly, not only were those sites profiting off developers’ sob stories by making clickbait articles, but they were also at least partially to blame for all the AA, A, and B studios dying off by making metacritic a pay to play game. They should really go.

    On the other hand, with low cost tools, powerful engines and procedural techniques, one doesn’t really need AA, A, or B production levels when making a pretty decent game nowadays. A lot of Japanese devs could benefit more by utilizing indie and doujin techniques.

  • Anon

    Devs are fucking terrified. I’ve seen fellow devs re-tweet one thing with the gamergate hashtag and instantly sent warnings.

    This is an industry with a lot of turnover. We get laid off when projects are over. If you even make a peep, you wont get hired up the next layoff comes around. Even if SJW’s don’t call in to get you fired in the meantime. That goes for everybody from producers to staff, all the way to studio heads. No one has a secure job. Turnover and subsequent job scrambling is basically a guarantee. And with so many people line up out the door, and production shifting overseas, you’d better remain agreeable if you wanna live.

    There’s so much scrutiny now days that goes way beyond the product. Not only must games be progressive and politically agreeable, so must the companies themselves, inside and out.

  • Anon

    “I’m glad these developers expressed there opinion, of course I’d be even happier if they didn’t have to hide there damm identity.”

    Are you FUCKING serious? Do you know how this industry works?
    What if YOU were laid off every 6 month to a year, and had to find a new job in a industry that’s just as cronyistic as the press that covers it and there’s thousands trying to get work at any given time?

    Do YOU wanna be that guy that said something?

    Here’s another thing since you’ve clearly never worked in gaming. ALL companies have social media and press policies in place that prohibit employees from voicing certain things. Most things really.

    So it’s “speak and you’re gone. or the SJW will get you fired anyway, and don’t even think about finding another job in gaming again.”

    Losing your job from anything other than layoff means it’s time to pull the kids out of school, sell the house and move to a new area with better prospects. You know, after months and months of job hunting.

  • Landale

    Goals? Ethics. In. Journalism.
    That’s it, that’s really it. The routes to that goal are varied, but for everyone to take only one is to ensure failure.

  • Crazy_O

    “#GamerGate approved” is a great idea.

    Maybe a website like Metacritic that gathers reviews by different gaming websites, analyses them based on the writer and their connections, if there was a disclosure included and if any kind of political agenda influenced that score.

    Only after being approved the score will be added to the total score of the game.

  • The issue here is that both devs just couldn’t. No need for hostilities, I don’t think he meant it like that.

    I can’t promise anything, but maybe he’ll come out later on, unrelated to this. We’ll see.

    In the meantime I’ll poll more gamedevs to speak.

  • StewfartLegofham

    Good read, glad to see at least 1 website isn’t afraid to speak to the truth.

  • benjamin hardy

    went to disable adblock, but realized it already was

    awesome site

  • DarkAngelRafael

    What an excellent interview. I hope you folks don’t mind that their identities remain concealed. I like to think we’re the self-proclaimed “Voice of the Voiceless” in regards to the #GamerGate movement. Thanks for reading!

  • British_Otaku

    Scores are far too arbitrary whether it is from someone paid off, someone not paid off or someone who is like one of us. It won’t have that much worth in the end as people are spending too long looking at numbers which range from person to person (site to site as well) and most of the people who care will be on the extremes, trying to get that game which is actually bad or has a debatable practice to drop 3 or 5 points or the exact opposite.

  • British_Otaku

    Publishers hold a lot of power, my friend.
    They often own or end up owning the IP through contracts as they will end up financing the game, marketing the game and distributing it at the very least. So you can expect them to want something back, whether it is to have some control over the IP, how much they are paying their developers, the game’s deadlines or content being approved or declined.

    Not every publisher or publishing agreement is like this which is how we get a lot of collaborations and games which clearly come from the developer’s heart just with the fortune of some funding (see any of Nintendo or SEGA’s Platinum Games titles).

  • British_Otaku

    Attacked in what way? I have an account there and used to enjoy reading threads but it seriously takes too much about of me to stick around for some of the stuff aside from an occasional Zero Punctuation or Jimquistion.

  • LurkerJK

    “As game creators, we work for gamers.”

    I think that is a mayor issue here, when Metacritic had its “raise to power” and publishers started using it as metrics or even bonus triggers it encouraged the idea that devs should work for the journalists rather than the customers since it was their review scores that ended up affecting bonuses

    Ive been wondering lately why there is not that much mention of metacritic in gamergate when they play such a big part in giving those ppl power

  • Red Lagoon

    “Brandon – What actions should be taken?” For me NigheGamer and APGNation did it. That’s all. Thanks for the good (and long) interview! Keep up the good job.

  • lucben999

    And it’s not just the GG stuff.

    I started browsing here since I found it because of GG and I love how they cover tons of more obscure awesome games I never hear about on other sites, it’s easy to find hidden gems here. I love this site.

  • Guest

    GamerGate is not a MOVEMENT. It is a SCANDAL. We are not “GamerGate” — that’s the label the ENEMY wears. They shamed themselves with their own behavior and we should NOT be adopting the name of THEIR fuck-up as our identity. We are pro-consumer, nothing more. The moment we become a movement is the moment they co-opt the movement and destroy it, just like they did with Occupy Wall Street and just like they attempted to do with atheism. Don’t fall for it.

    As for creating a new numeric rating scale with weights — I couldn’t think of a WORSE idea. Any numeric scoring system will inevitably be purchased under the table, and numeric ratings encourage unfair comparisons between vastly different genres. GoodGamers.us voted for no numeric scoring system for a good reason.

  • Kyle W

    Well the Mods said ‘it was not an attack’, but the behavior of the site was identical to the time it was confirmed to be a DDoS attack and this behavior lasted for over 4hrs.

  • nonscpo

    As Brandon pointed out I didn’t mean it the way you took it. I’m not stupid I get that the SJW’s are in control of the media and dictate the message. I also get that me wanting those devs to come out is more fantasy then reality especially after MSNBC has jumped on the anti-GG bandwagon. I am frustrated to see daily coverage on GamerGate as most of the news on all outlets (even the pro-GG) is starting to become more and more depressing in my opinion. Just in case anybody wants it ill throw the link to the MSNBC segment for those who want it:


  • Anon

    It IS depressing. And you know the MOST depressing thing about this?

    Brianna mentions that she and her friends are leaving or thinking about leaving the industry. That really takes the cake, because apparently they have that option.

    These people can choose to leave if someone said something mean to them online. They can leave whenever they want, and are free to wander into other industries.

    The irony here is that, for many of us, like artists , level designers, veterans that have no work outside of gaming, etc.

    We cant leave. Many of us don’t have that option. We can’t get jobs elsewhere because our skills are specialized inapplicable to other industries.

    It’s disgusting the she mentions leaving the industry with this air of triviality. Oh goodness, she might be forced to find a job elsewhere. Of course she has plenty of options. Like ALL devs.

  • Madbrainbox

    You mean McIntosh and co.I think it’s been proven now that Anita is just a front.
    And,yeah they have many reasons to be afraid.

  • Erthwjim

    Yeah, it’s mostly around journalism… Ethics and otherwise, I think My main issue right now is the constant mislabeling and misinformation around gamergate from sites like Polygon and Kotaku. That would fall under ethics to me, because they have a bias against gamergate and their articles reflect that bias, they aren’t giving gamergate equal representation and are constantly associating it with the most negative aspects, which are really a very very small minority.

  • pablocr7

    Oh I had ad-bloked enable my bad :D not anymore.

  • nonscpo

    Very true not everybody’s job in this world has job stability or transferability into other proffesions, the game industry is no different. I’ll include Sargon of Arkad’s reaction to the msnbc story which I found to be good commentary:


  • Thanatos2k

    I’ve heard that Bungie had one of these provisions though. Bungie is a huge developer. They DO have the luxury to turn down stuff like that. But they didn’t, and reportedly they got screwed by it too since Destiny is a flop scorewise for how much marketing money they spent and they lost their bonuses.

  • Thanatos2k

    Sure, but their power is not absolute. This, like anything, can be negotiated. If you can give up a metacritic dependent bonus in exchange for anything else, they should be demanding such. Hell, take a smaller bonus just so you don’t have to fear forces beyond your control blowing your chances.

  • British_Otaku

    Of course, negotiation can help but the Metacritic dependent bonuses appear to be tied to draconian publishers who own the IP and offering work to contract companies.

    At least in the case of New Vegas (the only Metacritic case I hear about >_>), this was how it happened and the alternative would have been them being out of work or likely working on an IP which is less likely to do well or mesh with their staff.

    I wasn’t in the offices for the discussions, but publishers have the money and after missing out on a number of deals, you may just accept it.

  • Kyle W

    VERY well said. But don’t forget, this isn’t just ‘high school crap’ or pursuit of Payola. There is an Ideology behind this that pushes these people to do extremely unbusinesslike things and make what seem to be foolish decisions-


    In that article is a quote by one of Anita Sarkeesian’s friends from September 8th (back when most people in Gamergate where still trying to figure out what the *heck* was going on) where she openly declares this to be a ‘Culture War’.

    Yet it goes even further back. In early 2013, Samantha Allen, the Self-Professed Misandrist, proclaimed that ‘Neutrality is not an Option’ in her article ‘An Open Letter to Games Media’-


    When you read that, then realize that nearly all the Gaming Sites followed that like a Battle Plan? It becomes very clear what that essay actually was.

    It was a Manifesto.

    Lastly, for all of you who are Neutral or still not sure? The vast Majority of those In Gamergate have NO issue with that. But these people in the Gaming Morality Force? They *will* consider you an enemy. One of the wonderful Ladies on the HuffPo interview yesterday made that very clear. You are either with the GMF, or you are their enemy.

  • Thanks for the reminder… mine is now disabled as well. Happy to support the Good Guys.

  • Kain Yusanagi

    Hey Brandon, just wanted to say… CodeGirt is already making MyMediaCritic.org and already had the idea percolating for awhile. ;)

  • Daniel Pang


  • Madbrainbox

    I’d say TotalBiscuit is right when it comes to scores.Disable that system.It is broken.It is useless.And it hurts the people making the games.

  • TheRandomNonsenseMerchant

    I just finished a two part video series on this article, which was also shared on the Niche Gamer twitter page.
    Part One: http://youtu.be/nctxMU2l8z4
    Part Two: http://youtu.be/bbjVQI9AzxU

  • DynastyStar

    I personally didn’t like this interview as much as the others, though its just my opinion and perhaps that its just that its different, but the parts of the interview that I enjoyed the least are where the developers are almost… having a conversation with each other. Again, maybe my problem with it is just that its a format I’m not used to. Its not the usual “Person from the website asks question; interviewer answers it; next question.”