With the battle for gaming’s soul still raging on in the trenches of the #GamerGate, I got a mysterious tip off from some fans that a developer from Microsoft was looking for a trustworthy outlet to give him the soapbox to voice his concerns over the fiasco.
The above image of his developer controller was also shown to me alongside his developer unit, which also had some other things shown to confirm his authenticity at the company. I wish I could say more, but I can’t in order to protect his identity.
We promptly exchanged emails and finally came to an interview of sorts, the results of which you can find below.
Niche Gamer: So I’d like to start off with you explaining just how concerning the implications of #GamerGate are within your company. Do you as a company fear censorship, fear mongering, and so on?
Xbox Developer: First of all, I can only speak from a personal perspective, as well as the ones of my colleagues in my studio. Microsoft is a huge company with numerous studios and tens of thousands of employees, so I can’t claim to know what everyone is thinking.
However, in our studio, there are no massive repercussions affecting our usual work following the reveals in #GamerGate. Also, because of how big Microsoft is as an entity, we, as individuals are somewhat protected from censorship and harassment. I mean, let’s be logical here, you can’t censor or harass Microsoft as a whole, that would be an absurd thing.
That being said, my colleagues and I are quite revolted at what some game ‘journalists’ have stated about gamers. Many of us here come from game dev backgrounds (myself included), and as such, are passionate gamers to begin with.
Do you think a serious lack of ethics is rampant in the gaming media? Have you experienced any of it firsthand, i.e. sleazy interactions with journalists, blackmailing, etc?
Yes, the gaming media is plagued by corruption, colluding, and blatant lack of ethics. That is becoming increasingly obvious as the people behind #GamerGate uncover more and more dirt on publications, journalists and even some devs.
Again, due to the fact that I am a small part of a tremendous entity, I have not been subjected to such interactions with journalists, but have seen such cases over the medias.
How do you feel about the calling for Game X to not exist because it doesn’t coincide with what Journalist X or Youtube Critic X doesn’t like, personally or professionally? It seems like a blatant “all or nothing” mentality is rampant in their calling for more inclusion in games. Coming from this, has your company taken any steps to have more inclusion within games?
I believe that inclusion within games (and, in my case, game consoles) is a normal step in the evolution of gaming. They are becoming more open, complex and customizable products with each passing year. For example, our company has tailored the Xbox One for a broader audience, and despite lower sale numbers than the competition, we have successfully brought our device into the homes of people that normally wouldn’t have bought a game console.
However, that is not an excuse to completely ignore, censor or otherwise blacklist a particular game or product simply because it doesn’t go well with your beliefs. A good journalist or reviewer needs to be objective. He needs to have the correct mindset of a person that can embrace true lack of bias and he has to know how to properly separate facts from personal opinion when writing about a game. If he simply dismisses it because he thinks it doesn’t meet a certain inclusive standard, then he can’t even call himself a reviewer, let alone a journalist.
Do you think gamers by nature, with their actions in fighting for #GamerGate, are misogynists? How do you personally feel about the movement in general?
I don’t believe that #GamerGate stands for misogyny, nor is it tainted by people that support such a concept (or racism for that matter). #GamerGate was never about excluding women from the industry, and proof of that is the sub-movement #NotYourShield, which shows thousands upon thousands of minorities standing up against being used as cheap ammo in the hand of the anti-#GamerGate SJWs and corrupt journalists.
Because of #GamerGate, a feminist group’s video game project was funded, awareness of women in this industry has spiked, and people banded together in the most unusual of alliances, and has even caused some journalist publications to review their ethics and internal rules.
I personally believe that #GamerGate has been an issue brewing for some years now. Gamers have finally had enough of the shadiness in the industry and decided to stand up against it. I applaud them for that, and feel honored to be part of it alongside friends and colleagues.
As for the attacks happening over Twitter and other medias, you have to consider the fact that there are people out there that identify themselves as gamers, and at the same time like to violently spread hatred and threats. These are just a vocal minority, and statistically speaking, a very common thing amongst large groups of people.
Has there been talk within your company regarding GamerGate? Just how widely is it spoken about?
It started off as e-mails being sent out in several mailing lists, then we began talking about it at lunch or at the bar after work. Now it has reached a point where we even had informal gatherings at the office to discuss it.
Some of my colleagues however are not as involved as others, and that is perfectly understandable. They have busier lives, families to take care of and other things on their mind. Don’t imagine the employers at Xbox department X as a bunch of people getting their pitchforks and torches out every morning as one guy (or girl) sitting at the center of the room reads the latest news about #GamerGate out loud. We still have a job, and lives outside that job that doesn’t revolve all the time around the internet or the industry we are part of.
We are all affected and involved in different levels, but we are aware of the issue, and almost all of us are supporting it.
If enough corroborating evidence is brought forward, do you think it would be appropriate to ask for the resignation of major players involved in this scandal?
I think enough evidence has already been brought forward, although I seriously doubt the people involved will have the honor or decency to resign. For some, I would say that legal actions should be taken, or at least official investigations should be opened.
It’s still early into the conflict to know for sure how it will even end (although I am pretty sure that #GamerGate will prevail in the end). After all the dust has settled, we’ll be able to tell for sure who did what, and make sure the gaming public is well aware of their names.
With your experience in the industry, have you ever experienced an outlet demanding some sort of compensation for proper coverage, if not coverage at all?
This is a little bit more complicated. I am relatively young in the industry (4-5 years of experience), so I can’t say that I’ve experienced that personally. However, we are all aware of scandals regarding big companies/publishers and game press. The DoritosGate, the Xbox One Youtube vids ‘incentive’, etc. Some sites have shown such blatant discrepancy between their reviewing guidelines that they’ve become common jokes (i.e. “10/10 IGN” slapped on franchises that offer no new experiences for gamers).
Do you think GamerGate can have real implications on the gaming industry? Do you feel that game developers and publishers will ever take a stance against the gamers, in favor of the gaming press?
Yes, I am sure #GamerGate will have implications on the industry as a whole. We have reached a tipping point where things need to be brought to light, re-evaluated, and ultimately changed. Ethics and standards need to be revised and imposed, big companies themselves need to be told that it’s not okay to have fat ad contracts and huge banners of their future games/products on a publication website that will inevitably have to review said game. They need to stop using the corruption in the game ‘journalism’ industry to sell a few more copies.
That, however, is at the top level. For the rest of us grunts, as well as the indie devs, we are already supporting #GamerGate (with a few exceptions I won’t even mention; people that use non-issues in the industry such as misogyny and racism to push their own unscrupulous agendas). We want equality amongst ourselves, we want the little guys to be noticed when they come up with great games; we want the big AAA publishers to acknowledge that some of their products might not be up to standard. We want all of that to happen in a nice, uncensored environment, where accredited journalists present their articles and separate facts from personal opinion, without being involved directly with the dev or have any conflict of interest.
That might sound like a naïve dream, but I am willing to continue fighting for it.
Lastly, what do you think the Gamer Gate movement should do, to keep momentum and reach new milestones in the pursuit of truth, ethics, and justice.
Keep going. That’s all I can tell the people behind #GamerGate. In the past week I’ve done as much as I could to try and raise awareness without endangering my career. I really hope that knowing the devs are behind them will motivate them enough to keep on fighting for the truth.
That being said, I re-iterate the fact that we are against harassment, hate speech and violence. These SJWs and the puppet masters behind them need to be fought with facts, proof, and professionalism, despite the fact that they are doing the exact opposite.
Also, despite the major censorship currently affecting several websites, we have to keep in mind that such things are to be expected from the corrupt few that we are trying to expose. They cannot silence us forever, and eventually they will have to answer for their wrongdoings.
I wanted to thank our Xbox dev for speaking to me, and everyone for being so patient and so amazingly supportive of our website in the past few weeks. I seriously cannot thank you guys enough for making all the hard work on this site finally be worth it.
We have a home, now, here for these kinds of games and we’re fighting for the right to enjoy them – free of their ridiculous mantra and censorship. If you hang on for the ride, I promise things will only get better, and we’ll keep fighting for you guys – because we’re gamers too!