Xbro Interview—IGDA #GamerGate Blacklist Edition

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[Editor’s note: Xbro requested that the paragraph beginning with “Just to clarify” be added to the interview so as to avoid misunderstandings. We’ve updated the article appropriately.]

Despite people getting burned out and some prominent figures of #GamerGate leaving, you could say that what many label either a consumer revolt or a misogynist hate movement is still going strong.

Recently, the IGDA adopted the use of a block list. This was unacceptable and very worrying for many pro-, neutral, and even anti-#GamerGate folks.

I decided to reach out to the wonderful Xbro in the hopes that he could reassure people and clear some things up.

Niche Gamer: So this is an interview I was hoping could be focused on the repercussions for the writers and developers who are opposed to GamerGate, in relation to the blocklist. What are your thoughts on the usage of the blocklist by the IGDA?

Xbro: To be fair, if I go now around the office and ask my colleagues about IGDA, I will get various opinions about it as an entity. Some of them have been/are members of it, while others aren’t that interested in what they are and do. However, almost all of us do not like at all what it has become (especially in recent years). They say that they are “serving all individuals who create games”, while endorsing industry blacklisting. At this point a lot of people don’t want to have anything to do with them anymore, myself included (2 year member as of last year when I stopped renewing).

Make no mistake, anyone that touches that list in an official manner is screwed pretty badly. If a prospective employee applies at a job for, let’s say, Raspberry Pi, and they get turned down, it would seem that they just didn’t make the cut. However, if that person is on Raspberry Pi’s “blocklist”, while not even tweeting anything about GG, then the company is essentially screwed. That’s why I advise absolutely every person from Gamergate to check the companies they apply at. If they get rejected and there’s evidence that the company uses that blocklist, they have a strong case against it for industry blacklisting and should seek a lawyer ASAP.

NG: You previously mentioned that you had emails that were being exchanged with other developers, publishers, and so on. Could you elaborate, if at all, on their reactions to the IGDA/blocklist ordeal?

Xbro: I don’t want to reveal anything from our conversations without their approval, but suffice to say they didn’t really appreciate it (some are actually on that blocklist).

NG: Do you think the more vocal anti-Gamergate folks that are either developers or writers at major websites could have foreseeable, real actions taken against them, post-Gamergate? During Gamergate?

Xbro: They are slowly but steadily becoming the undesirables of our industry, as their names and handles echo as a constant reminder of how messed up the internet can be some times. What that means for their future? Don’t know, but they are playing a very dangerous game here. Some of them are publicly displaying absurd reasoning, undeserved hostility and harassment, all 24/7 as if their jobs were actually tweeting and posting nonsense over the internet. They will never be anything more than a joke in the industry at this point, so they are maxing out on their ‘crying harassment’ strategy to beef up those patreons and donations while they’re on the front stage of this whole circus.

NG: Were there any individuals who specifically stood out to you in terms of how vocal they were being, against Gamergate?

Xbro: We all know them, and I really don’t want to waste my time typing about them. They don’t need the attention, it’s what feeds their delusions and stupidity.

NG: What about some writers and/or industry folks being extremely careless with how they maintain their professional relationships? Consider Nathan Grayson and the entire Zoe Quinn debacle, and now, him copy+pasting a translated work and not giving the original author credit (source here).

Xbro: As mentioned in the previous interview, that publication is merely a running joke that sometimes spits out a quality piece or two. But too little, too far apart from each other, and they mostly get lost in the sea of clickbaits and nonsensical crap that has nothing to do with games.

NG: How do you feel about Double Fine recently laying off a dozen people, but only after throwing a party with quite a number of people, like Phil Fish (who they hired as a DJ)? Are they being disingenuous to their fans/staff? Do scenarios like this happen often (i.e. having the money to throw parties, but not pay staff)?

Xbro: It’s definitely poor taste. While the money they spent on the party were probably not enough to keep one of those devs hired for another year or two anyway, it really came out bad for them. Not to mention inviting Phil to “DJ”. All in all, bad publicity in my opinion.

NG: Do you think there’s a severe lack of “professional collegiality” with many of the folks in the industry? Why does it seem that difficult for games press to keep a professional distance to the developers/publishers?

Xbro: To be fair, the industry is the mistress here. The PR reps come bearing gifts, promotions and special endorsement contracts to the game “press”, so it can’t come as a shock when you find the two parties in bed together. However, it still is a serious issue that needs to be tackled from both sides (both from the game press side, as well as the game companies’ side). What they are doing is wrong, and both the press and the publishers are happy with it. This needs to stop.

NG: Are individuals within the industry actually planning lawsuits against anyone on the blocklist, from your knowledge? Is there any real movement or chatter for such things to happen?

Xbro: I know for certain that several game companies are at this very moment spending money and time to pursue legal action against over 10000 twitter accounts made up by a badly written 3rd party script that adds people to a list mostly made up of Firefly fans and feminists.

Ah, now that I actually say it out loud, it does sound a bit crazy, doesn’t it?

Just to clarify, the first paragraph was sarcasm, but I recognize it was a rather poor choice or words and didn’t make it specifically clear it was sarcasm. Yes, the industry suing people on the list is a crazy notion.

NG: There are rumors that at least 50% of developers are pro-GamerGate, possibly even higher. Naturally, I’m sure you don’t know every pro-Gamergate dev, but would you think that’s an accurate number?

Xbro: As mentioned in our older talks, and here I am sure that I’m talking in the name of the entire Xbox division or any other 1st party game studio within MS, (that seems to anger some people, but it will not stop it from being true nevertheless), we all support the concept of integrity, multiculturalism and vehemently oppose harassment and violence. It’s the company policy, deal with it.

Now the actual debate is whether every dev aligns him/herself with the GamerGate movement. From that perspective I can say that yes, most of us do understand that Gamegate is, at its core, at least a bit concerned about the above mentioned things. There is a lot of shit being flung around from both sides, and that makes some devs just want to see how it all plays out. They don’t want to be associated with the “loud voices” on either side of the debate, but all of us believe the game media needs to change (except for the PR guys, they are happy with the current status quo).

NG: Do you think it just makes sense to be pro-Gamergate, and by proxy, pro-consumer? Do game developers owe their livelihood to the consumers, the gamers?

Xbro: We are all pro-consumers here, and I re-iterate that we’re all able to come at work in the morning in this fancy office and get our salary paid every month simply because gamers exist and they demand entertainment.

I wouldn’t say that gamergate is entirely pro-consumers, however most of the issues its core following addresses are. Corruption in the game press is a serious thing that needs to be addressed and rectified, but personally I feel that there are bigger fish to fry, and here I am talking about the unethical, immoral relationship between some game industry PR reps and the press. I really like it when I see stuff like that uncovered by gamergate, and simply because of that I can’t be anything but supportive of the movement.

I wanted to thank Xbro again for working with me on this interview. Despite this interview being a wee bit shorter than our previous one, I am still looking for more game developers to reach out to me, to speak out on the main concerns of #GamerGate. I can protect your identity if need be – please consider speaking out, for your fellow gamers.

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Brandon Orselli


Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. Pronouns: Patriarch, Guido, Olive.