Opinion: The Questionable Ethics of Laura Kate Dale

This is an editorial piece. 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. 

Yesterday, Kotaku UK news editor Laura Kate Dale jumped the gun and wrote an article in which she claimed a song included with the newest Persona 5 DLC for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate used the word “retarded.” The article titled “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s Persona 5 DLC Includes a Disability Slur” was almost immediately and universally lambasted online.

The spoken part of the song lyrics seems to say “retort it”. The singer, being Japanese and not a traditional Western speaker, doesn’t speak perfect English and so the word is easily misheard. Yet, Kotaku UK, in my estimation probably wanting to capitalize on Persona and Smash Bros being an online trending topic, and wanting to capitalize on some of their clickbait-y nonsense that many gamers who visit the site are all too aware of, decided to publish the piece without first waiting to hear back from Nintendo or Atlus; the developers of Super Smash Bros. and Persona, respectively.

To give an idea of how off-base Laura was, even the users of RESETera, a notoriously toxic forum in which those who expressed wrong think outside of the general far left woke consensus often get banned, were opposed to her line of thinking.

Following the article, Laura Tweeted that she was taking some time offline, a Tweet that was worded in such a way people have assumed she is looking for a pity party. It’s also worth mentioning here that as of 3am central US time, more than half a day since the article went live, it has yet to be updated. The reason for this, as Kotaku UK has Tweeted, is because a “CMS Gremlin popped up today,” and they are unable to get the update live.

While I don’t doubt the validity of their problem, the fact is, it wouldn’t be a problem if they hadn’t published a half baked article that’s sole purpose was to stoke the flames of outrage and callout culture. As journalists they have a duty to make sure what they are publishing is truth, and to run that article without hearing back from Atlus or Nintendo is, as our side is apt to say, not a fine example of ethics in game journalism.

Made all the more apparent, because the history of Laura Kate Dale shows she is not all that ethical.

In 2013 Laura K claimed she was “completely dehumanized” on stage during a live Xbox One event in London. Claiming that comedian Fraser Millward referred to her as “he,” “this one,” “it,” and “thing,” or as Laura phrased it in a Tweet: 

Immediately the press jumped in, and websites like The Daily Dot, Pink News, Kotaku, and others made it out as if Fraser was a transphobe, who once again in the words of Laura Dale, had “dehumanized her.”

The problem? None of that happened.

Fraser Millward at one point had referred to her as “this person,” something Laura deemed as misgendering. Ignoring that “this person” is gender neutral and a phrase countless people use for a variety of reasons, Laura took it as an attack, then made up that he had also called her “it,” “he,” and “thing,” and slandered him online. She later retracted her claims in a joint statement with Fraser, the whole event was eventually swept under the rug, and Laura was able to continue her track towards becoming a game journalist.

Let me reiterate here. Laura Kate Dale blatantly lied about being called “he,” “thing,” and “it.” NOWHERE DID THAT HAPPEN AND SHE HAD TO RETRACT IT. A handful of years later and she now writes for Kotaku; let that sink in.

Making everything yet even more absurd is that the above might not even be her craziest lie. During E3 2016 she claimed to have almost been kidnapped. Something she would elaborate on during Jim Sterling’s podcast The Jimquisiton (episode 83: begins at 7:28 mark) and on Twitter.

As the ‘story’ goes: During the week of E3, she got on an Uber from a hotel, and what should have been a 10 minute ride lasted much longer than that when the driver of her car passed her hotel, and then hit a button to say he dropped her off, only to keep driving while she was trapped in the backseat of the vehicle. The driver she claims, stayed silent, ignored all her requests to stop, and he eventually drove her to another town 30 minutes south of her destination where at a set of stop lights she jumped out of the vehicle and ran away. Oddly during this time there’s no mention of her trying to phone the police, or anyone for that matter.

Naturally, you the reader must be asking, if this happened clearly she filed a police report afterwards, right? NOPE! Because, as strange as it is, she didn’t want to deal with the police. Though she claims she filed a report with Uber, she wouldn’t provide proof as she’s fed up with “backseat advice and demands for evidence.

Yeah, okay (eyeroll emoji times 999 squared).

One of her excuses for not involving the police is because shortly after E3 she got gender reassignment surgery, and knowing that’d she’d be in a hospital bed, she didn’t want to have to deal with the experience from there. A surgery that was crowdfunded on Gofundme. A factoid that isn’t all that strange as even I myself have a Gofundme, until you look into just how often she relies on crowdfunding.

Last year she raised funds for a book she’s writing called “Things I Learned from Mario’s Butt,” a project that was conveniently boosted by major websites such as IGN. To which, in an article about ethics I must bring up that one of the people contributing to the book is Zoe Quinn, a person who raised over $85,000 for her very own Kickstarter, a game that has yet to materialize and which includes Ian Hinck from Easy Allies and Jim Sterling in the credits. Naturally, journalists have yet to ask questions as to where that game is, even as Zoe Quinn takes on new projects, but hey, that’s an article for another time.

In regards to Laura, besides her crowdfunded book and surgery, she once raised thousands for an unnamed homeless man, and given what we’ve seen above in regards to how she will blatantly make stuff up, one has to question how legitimate that was. Especially as she has also asked for money to help move, and to help her sister move, all this occurring while she still had a Patreon as well.

Now, this isn’t to knock Patreon or crowdfunding; it’s a useful tool that many people make use of, but there is an ethical question to be asked about how much is too much when being a person of influence and asking for funds, even more so as everything above minus the book happened within 17 months.

Laura Kate Dale is just another identity politicking outrage culture baiting writer, who has made a career out of leveraging her status as an autistic trans woman to reap the benefits and rewards of a new age of game journalism that doesn’t put facts first, but identity and politics.

From articles that claim porn in VR is like rape, to the time she got uppity over gender swap art for Dream Daddy, her entire career is built around stoking the flames of nonsense.

The Dream Daddy instance being especially galling. The gist of the piece is that gender swap art of the daddies in the gay dad dating sim is offensive because one of the characters is a trans man. So art that depicts them being turned back into a woman is offensive, a notion that makes no sense when you consider that all the daddies were gender swapped to female in the piece of art she is criticizing. This means the artist treated the trans man as she did all the other male characters, suggesting she respects the character as the male gender they identify as, because to not gender swap them while all the other daddies were would imply that the artist originally viewed the trans man as a female. When looked at logically, it would have been offensive to NOT gender swap them.

Sadly the artist was dog-piled upon by the internet hate mob and apologized for her art.

When you look at Laura Kate Dale’s ‘journalism’ career with a critical eye, you will see someone who got advanced not by the merits of her work. She is a liar and a fraud who has no issue throwing people under the bus if it will advance her career and stoke the flames of outrage culture in a way that suits her. In her world, and sadly the world of mainstream game journalism, facts don’t come first. This article may focus on the unethical nature of Laura’s career, but it also shows just how unethical game journalism has become, because if someone who so obviously makes stuff up can advance to where she is, just think of what other trash is allowed to fly with the press at large.

Sophia Narwitz

About

Sophia Narwitz is a 29 year old writer, as well as an avid reader and gamer. She loves taking the industry to task when she's not fawning over all things Metal Gear Solid.