The Schism of Gaming – Zoe Quinn, Nepotism, and White Knight Journalism

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If you’re a fan of video games and you follow the news surrounding the industry, you’ve probably heard about a little fiasco involving an indie game developer named Zoe Quinn and her game Depression Quest. The TL;DR version of what has transpired is that prior to her game releasing, she had sex with a bunch of men who either worked with her, or could professionally write about her game.

Now I’m not here to talk about her actions and how she slept with men who were married, or how she cheated on her boyfriend in the process. This is what caused this information to come to the forefront, but it’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the poisonous, incestuous, nepotism-filled gaming industry, and more specifically, the games journalism industry.

In my time being a gamer prior to starting Niche Gamer, I’ve seen a trend occurring within the gaming industry and games journalism that seems to seek out social justice topics, and in many cases, enforce them. This debacle with Zoe has shown that many gaming websites, and by proxy games journalists, are completely ok with having NO separation between their jobs and their personal relationships.

They are simply downplaying the repercussions of professional, paid writers who are sleeping with game developers. This has simply opened a can of worms by giving us a literal example of the corruption within the games journalism industry. These are not writers who are also gamers looking to embrace the hobby, these are liars, deceivers, bigots and agenda pushers of the worst degree.

They are in bed with one another and in this case quite literally, however it simply spells destruction for our hobby.

If you try to look up discussions of this entire debacle, you’ll find that the majority of gaming communities are being silenced, while banning members for merely talking about the corruption. Let me spell out for you just how bad this is – not only are we seeing evidence of real, tangible corruption in the gaming industry, we’re seeing the same people silence any discussion about it.

Other websites are not covering the event, and their silence reflects their refusal to cover things that even incriminate their own staff. Oh wait, Kotaku just published a damage control article thinking they’ve done nothing wrong, and that no further actions need to be taken. Here’s the hilarious bit of hypocrisy in all of these websites refusing to cover the blatant throwing away of ethics by these individuals – the man named Josh Mattingly.

If the name isn’t familiar to you, Josh is the founder of a gaming site named Indie Statik. Earlier this year, he got into a massive public debacle with a still unnamed female developer that he made sexual remarks to via Facebook, in private. This developer screencapped the conversation and sent it to a feminist cohort of hers, and then it was promptly published for the entire public to see.

What followed was a gigantic campaign with all the major gaming websites covering the events with Josh Mattingly very closely. I wrote about it as well, but did you notice something with my report? It was objective, and I simply covered what he said, and the actions that followed thereafter. How did the other gaming websites cover it? They publicly shamed him, and called his actions and words completely inappropriate.

This is simply the tip of the iceberg of the rampant embracing of social justice activism within the gaming journalism world, where so-called writers are chasing after flamebait hits by directly and repeatedly making arguments about things that the majority of gamers simply don’t give a flying fuck about.

It’s completely ridiculous to see Tropes vs Women in Video Games producer Jonathan McIntosh write an op-ed on how being a straight, white gamer is basically an endemic problem in the gaming industry, or how this year’s E3 convention had a lot of dudes.

Regardless of gender, no true gamer gives a shit about your horrible, agenda laden opinions – and more importantly how you’re trying to hijack our hobby.

Gaming is what it is today because of the most hardcore of hardcore gamers and fans, the type of people of all races and genders who even frequent our very site. It wasn’t built up by these so called journalists that made a living off of games, it was the gamers.

The problem with Zoe Quinn’s actions are that she never set a level of professionalism – she slept with a bunch of people who could potentially further her career, and regardless of gender, that’s a bad precedent to set.

This frames a bad example for women who want to get into the industry, one that says if they want to get coverage and or good coverage, they can easily get it by getting very close to journalists and critics.

I don’t hate Zoe Quinn, and I most certainly don’t hate women. I simply hate people who try to inject their agenda into the gaming industry, while trying to mold it to a form they prefer. Alternative gaming experiences are fine and welcome, but manipulating people and exploiting gender inequality to promote your game is definitely not welcome.

I’m not saying that it’s completely inappropriate for a game developer to have a romantic relationship with a game journalist, but I’m saying there has to be some goddamn recuse here.

The fact that no one on the social justice end is batting an eyelash is sickening. It’s worse, actually, the majority of them are circle jerking each other on Twitter, generalizing the naysayers to “neckbeard MRA misogynists”, when the majority of us aren’t.

I’m sick and tired of people calling for gaming to “grow up”, or for game developers to be “socially conscious”, when most of us just simply want to play games. Period.

Let’s jump back to the rampant censorship on this issue. Not only is the moderator for r/gaming a personal friend of Zoe’s, but he has been systematically removing, deleting, and even harassing commentators himself – on her behalf.

It doesn’t stop there – forums and communities like NeoGAF have been locking threads, banning members who talk about it, and generally the majority of removal of discourse against Zoe has been very swift and effective.

They cite that merely talking about her actions and the repercussions from them are simply hatespeech, that she’s being doxxed by members of 4chan and such, when the majority of us just care about the gaming industry, and removing the poison that has crippled it.

Zoe Quinn has inadvertently been made an example of by gaming enthusiasts and Youtubers like InternetAristocrat and MundaneMatt, the latter of which saw his video DMCA’ed by Zoe herself, and taken down for copyright infringement (he used a screen cap of her game’s Steam page). We’re seeing the Streisand effect in full force here, and the incriminating evidence is not going away.

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Why is it that so many vocal, social justice charged indie developers also tend to be the ones who hold gamers with contempt? Why is it that they are so dead set on trying to completely change the industry, by injecting their agenda into it?

I feel bad for what happened to Zoe, publicly, I really do. No single person should have to go through so much public animosity, but she knew well the potential repercussions when she slept with notable game journalists, being a notable indie developer herself.

Again, I’m not trying to sit here and say that she is unable to have romantic interests with other members of the games industry, I’m simply calling for some professionalism here, and some recuse.

To be clear – I’ve developed quite a lot of contacts at various companies, developers, and publishers since launching Niche Gamer. I keep them generally at arm’s length, and our coverage is always fair, and objective – the same for our reviews.

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At what point are we going to get fed up with people like Zoe, Phil, and with other websites like Kotaku, Polygon, Rock Paper Shotgun, and so on? When are we going to draw the line in the sand and finally battle for our rights, as gamers?

No Phil, it’s not people like us who are ruining gaming, it’s people like you, Zoe, and all the journalists who are so quick to stroke one another so they can make ends meet. The pursuit of clickbait articles for the goal of pushing an agenda is just sad and pitiful at this point.

Gaming was built by the gamers, pure and simple, and we just want you to stop dictating to us. More importantly, we don’t want to be lied to, and we most certainly don’t appreciate when you decide what issues are important enough to publish, while others are curiously omitted.

Nepotism leads to a loss of public opinion in a person, employer, and or company, and that is precisely what is happening here. I’ll close this out with a plea to my friends, readers, and fans – please continue supporting the developers and outlets that truly care about the gaming industry.

Please continue loving games and help both myself and Niche Gamer fight the battle for our rights as gamers, because these morons are hoping we sit by idly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go rest my weary eyes, for they have seen lots of internet crusades for a few days.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.

Brandon Orselli

About

Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.