An open letter to game journalists: #metoo, fighting with surviving abusive reporting, and the fallout of not caring

If you follow me on Twitter then you will be familiar with what I’ve been going through, and the intention of this post.
I announced that I would write an open letter to game journalists about all this, so this is that letter.

My intention with this post is to completely share EVERYTHING about how my story was treated (this is mainly in criticism of Kotaku’s handling of this since they had access to legitimate sources which they pretty much universally shat on), the consequences this has had, how this has affected me, how this (the way the sources were treated) has protected him from possible legal repercussions, and (most important) how this has caused harm to what could have brought justice to eight different women (if not more) that came forward to either serve as sources for that story or were ready to be sources.

As I said, a lot of this will be in criticism of how Kotaku handled our story, and the way that Cecilia D’Anastasio treated us as sources (the article is titled “Two Women Accuse Skyrim Composer Jeremy Soule Of Sexual Misconduct” by Cecilia D’Anastasio on Kotaku).

This is the example I’m using, but I’m sure the same could be said about a lot of articles out there. It’s not just about that one story, or one journalist’s mishandling.
This article had the most access to sources (about eight women). It had a chance to truly establish a pattern of victims, patterns of behavior, and honestly do justice to those of us that had the courage to be sources.

Our story was not given justice. Mine certainly was not. Our abuse was sensationalized, instead of really given a fair chance.
The repercussions of this should not be understated.

Before I get into this I would like to make clear that this isn’t a discussion on “ethics in game journalism”. I hate that phrase for where it came from. I feel like it’s been driven into the ground with meaningless rhetoric similar to when someone says “beyond reasonable doubt!” when targeting a rape victim.

Instead, seeing the Weinstein convictions, I have had to wonder what this might mean for the game industry. I think it’s important to point out that Weinstein was brought to justice by the work of journalists that cared to believe, listen, RESPECT their sources, and do justice to the stories of these sources. That laid the groundwork for justice. Without that journalism, he would still be where he is.
After my experience, I don’t think we (in the game industry) have a platform for really giving a voice to such stories.

Coming from my own point of view, the problem has been a lack of actually “giving a shit” beyond the effort it takes to make a clickbait article. The issue is the inability to truly care (it’s not about ethics, it’s about actually giving a shit about us).
All this especially in context of protecting, and respecting sources.

When you come forward as a source for something like this it takes an immense amount of courage, as well as risk to your own personal well being to talk to a journalist.
That sacrifice should not be taken for granted. You have an obligation to do right by your source. Misquoting, being dishonest about what was said, not making sure that there is accuracy, or even placing your source in harms way by publishing something that you ASSURED THEM you would not… is disrespectful to the sacrifice your source is making by just talking to you.

This post is an open letter to game journalists, assuming there is interest in caring about this topic.
I also apologize for any sarcastic or defeatist tone this post will have about game journalism. I’ve been drowning in the aftermath of this. I would like to acknowledge that game journalists have meant a lot to me in the past in terms of platforming my work, and this has saved me when I was in a place where I was just picking myself up after what happened.
At the same time a lot of this feels like it was undone by the treatment of myself as a source, by a journalist that I trusted for a publication that I really looked up to.
I’ve been fighting pretty hard with that sense of betrayal and what it even means to continue living after that.

If you are new to all this, here’s the following context…

My post calling out my rapist:
My post going over how my #metoo was handled by Cecilia D’Anastasio and Kotaku: (this one you should probably read before continuing further)

The summary of that second post is that Cecilia D’Anastasio interviewed me for a story where I was promised that my rapist would be held accountable. I did not want to go over the details of my sexual assault. She assured me that she would not publish those details, got me to talk about it, then published those details anyway.
I do stand by my account (in that post) where I say that I felt lied to, and tricked to talk about the details of my assault on a second phone call that she said was for Kotaku’s lawyer.
Aside from how that happened, she admitted in her Twitlong that she said she wouldn’t publish details, but these were published anyway. When it comes to rape you should not argue what is or isn’t gratuitous. I sincerely don’t see how that response didn’t actually prove my post’s point.
Her response was cruel, indifferent, compassionless, and demonstrated a lack of actually giving a shit about how you treated your source.

Things I did not share in my post about Kotaku’s handling of my story was that two other sources were treated the same. I intentionally left that out because I didn’t want more harm for them.

Again, there were about eight different women that were either sources or were ready to be sources for that article.
It could have been a lot more than sensationalizing some abuse.

The second woman in that article shared with me how Cecilia handled her story. The second woman told Cecilia that she can only use her story if she makes it clear to people that she was not flirting with him in those texts, and that Cecilia shares the entire text transcript so that people can see that they were not flirting.
Cecilia agreed to do that, took that information, and did not honor that.
I quote from the article:

“Soule and Brighton both exchanged flirty and sometimes sexually explicit messages. Soule appeared romantically interested in Brighton, and at times, Brighton appeared to reciprocate.”

That source was adamant that she was not flirting with him. She was so adamant that she wanted to share the texts so people could see that she was not flirting.
This is similar to what Cecilia did to me (with the details of my sexual assault). She tricked a source (us) into sharing by saying she won’t do something, got the information, and then did it anyway…

Either way, I feel like framing this as flirting is completely subjective.
The intentionality of making it a point to say “flirty” is cruel to a source that said otherwise.
I feel like this is also how we, as sources, were generally viewed for this piece.

Aside from including the details of my sexual assault, I was misquoted by saying that he was something of a mentor.

“He acted like he was going to help me. He was something of a mentor.”

On record, I called him a friend. He was not a mentor to me, he was a friend.
I never called him a mentor. My mom, who was also talked to as a source, said that she never heard me call him a mentor.
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m too proud to call a man a “mentor”.
I’m not meaning to be nitpicky, but this is important…
He was something of a mentor to the OTHER women who were omitted from the story, but still talked to Cecilia. If you want a “my mentor did this to me story” then you should include the women that actually called him that.
Choosing to frame what happened to me like that distorts my story.
It’s forcing a narrative after which my sexual assault was dropped in the middle of the story, where I was placed on that bed, without context or the other things that lead up to that.

If I would have been given a chance to truly recount, and she would have been honest with the intention of publishing it, it would have been a different piece. I will share all that, in agonizing detail, later in this post. Please bear with me…

Another source talked to Cecilia about how he had groomed that source before she was 18, and then he started a relationship with her. That aside, he had also started pursuing her younger sister (underage), while they were together.
Cecilia told her that her abuse story isn’t usable because she was in a relationship with her abuser, and that wasn’t what Kotaku was looking for.
At this point it’s important to note that the women who just had a victory over Weinstein were in a relationship with him.
The way this woman was treatment in particular makes my blood boil because she was willing to go over something that traumatic, risk so much, just to be invalidated because Kotaku was looking for something more “exciting” (rape).
(later, outside of Kotaku) She shared that Soul was pursuing her underage sister, and had texted inappropriate things to her sister (a minor) with the app he uses.
Talking to her, and getting a testimony that he was doing this to someone underage, would have been a big break for my case.
Unfortunately she stopped talking to us, after Cecilia’s treatment.
The way she was treated as a source, and the way she was eventually discouraged, protected him from possible legal repercussions.

The way this article was written protected him. There were about eight women. There was A LOT to write about. Instead we were sensationalized this way.
Something truly investigative didn’t happen.
He used apps to cover his tracks. He texted inappropriate things to someone underage. He would show up in person at women’s homes…

On Twitter, I’ve been discussing how game journalists aren’t really equipped to handle these stories.
The most us, survivors, have is coming forward about this ourselves, and exposing this ourselves, so our story will be accurate and truthful. We aren’t getting accurate, or truthful, here.

So here I’m going to risk my own well being to share the following. I do this to PROVE that there was a story.
It wasn’t handled, and it wasn’t really investigated.

Soule used apps that delete all correspondence, when communicating with his victims. Line and Dust came up frequently.
He often approached women as someone that’s going to “help you” (he did with me), and then built a friendship off that.
With other women he promised a career in music (hence the “mentor” thing that kept coming up). Again, he was not my mentor.
He would criticize their weight and looks in a way that comes across as helping them. One woman said that she became bulimic because of that, but really wanted to “make it” so she followed his advice. To her he commented that he wanted to sleep with her, but said he couldn’t because he “didn’t want to corrupt her innocence”.
It has come up multiple times that he used to text and call minors (sisters).
Things along the lines of not wanting to “corrupt my innocence” came up with me as well. The minor thing also came up when he was using me as a confessional between torturing me with what he was doing (I will get into that agonizing detail later, bear with me…).
Multiple women, that he was grooming or pursuing, said that he invited them to his lake house. He had tried to push me into coming to his lake house too. It often came up. From how he talked about it, it was a house in a remote location, in nature, by a lake in Seattle. Getting you to that house was one of his “things”.
Multiple women have confirmed that if they turned down his advances they suffered professional repercussions because of that.

I’m not even an investigative journalist, but I’ve found out more from trying to AVOID hearing about this, than the effort put into this by a real journalist.

When I was talking to one of the women, things came up with how these stories correlated. After what he did with me, he was immediately after someone that had just turned 18 (he was grooming her before that), then he went on to someone else… There’s overlap. It’s serial.

When I was forced to be with him (I say forced because there was a point where it stopped being a friendship, his threats became real, and he escalated…), I tried to keep my distance by having him talk about the women that he hurt. He loved talking about all the women that wronged him. It felt like I became a confessional to him.
When I, now, heard all these stories, I recognized some of them from when he dumped all this shit on me. I always suspected that these were real people, and that he actually hurt them. It turned out I was right. He also dumped a whole lot of nightmarishly horrible shit on me about minors. I don’t think it’s decent to get into that, but that’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

I would also like to point out this old Twitter bio of his from 2014:

This is LONG before I came out with what he did to me.
To me, this wording is chilling. I can’t help but wonder who it is about, and what would come up if someone actually LOOKED into this person.

So there was a lot to base an actual, investigative, fair, and accurate story off of.

We were promised that he would be held accountable. He was not. I make a bigger mention of that in my original post.

“If you can’t treat me any different than you are treating my rapist then you should not be doing metoo stories.
Are we all the same to you?
If we’re all the same to you, then what is your stance exactly?
That’s not “unbiased” that’s exploitative, because all you’re doing is inserting yourself into the situation as an uninformed third party to take advantages of someone else’s suffering for your own means.
Holding someone accountable should not involve further punishing their victims.
Who exactly was held accountable when the details of my sexual assault were so crudely published?
Because of how forcefully the details were obtained it wasn’t even an accurate account. I should have been given time to remember better. To go over it myself too.
I didn’t review it or OK it. I wasn’t given the chance to make sure it’s true. I wasn’t even given a say if I wanted this or not. My right to consent was violated again.
Who was this article even written for?”

We shared extremely traumatic things with this journalist hoping to be heard. We were not respected for the risk we took in talking to her. Our stories were used to create something sensational. Our words were twisted and a “spin” was put on them, instead of the actual truth.

Going into the “details of my sexual assault” on my own terms…

At this point I don’t expect you to read this part, so please skip over this to the dotted line at the end, if you are not up to it.

I share the following here because, after the consequences of all this fraternity level journalism, fighting with suicide is a day to day struggle. I don’t really want this to die with me, if that happens. I would have wanted justice, and for the people that could have taken this seriously to take it serious.
If I’ve gotten power out of hearing the correlations from how he treated other women, and knowing that the women that he told me about were actually real people and not just women he pathologically invented to complain about women, then there might be another victim out there that had a similar experience as me that will find power in knowing she was not the only one.

——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——–

Soul started as a friend that I artistically connected with. He was established and was an artist that was making money from his craft. He offered to help me learn the ropes here, and I was excited to have found a friend while I was working in a country and industry that I was new to.
Things eventually escalated to him pursuing me. He changed one night, like a switch flipped, when I was talking about how I really had to make this job work for me, otherwise I have nothing left. He made it very clear that I had to keep coming back otherwise I would lose this job. He and my boss were friends.
This was an opportunity that I worked hard to get. It was everything to me.
People say that I “slept with him” or did this because I was using him for the job. No. I worked, and got this job on my own. Don’t credit that to him. He got in the way of that and took it from me.
There were points where I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t really resist him enough, or say “no” hard enough.
He had an obsession with bottled water. He insisted that I only drink his bottled water. He talked about how toxic Vancouver water is, and how dirty the pipes in the buildings are, and that it’s a hazard to drink water from the taps in Vancouver.
From the way he talked about Vancouver water, I was too scared to drink it while I stayed there. Years later I learned that Vancouver tap water is some of the cleanest in the world.
I think about those bottles of water a lot. He wouldn’t let me drink anything else. I’m pretty sure he put stuff in there.
When he assaulted me, I’m sure the water had something to do with me not being able to move or remember how I got on the bed. I know Cecilia partly drug that out of me, but the honest account is that I don’t really remember how I ended up on that bed. I went over it too often after that interview with her.
There was a conversation before the rape where he was frustrated that I was just not opening up to him. He asked me if I had been raped before, and if that’s the reason I didn’t want to let him in. I told him I wanted to stay friends… Although asking for friendship at this point was a lost cause because he was already threatening me and pushing this on me. I think I was just begging for things to go back to how they where, when we were friends and I was happily working on an exciting job that I wasn’t going to lose because of fear of rejecting him.
You don’t need the details after that. It was never Cecilia’s place to share that, so out of context, without the information that was necessary to fairly build a story of what happened. You need to be honest with your sources, otherwise I don’t see how you will have an accurate story. All that aside…
I did feel like I was in danger from him. At one point he talked (indirectly) about owning a gun. He also talked about showing up at the home of other women that “hurt” him, so I was afraid of that too.
He loved guilting with how other women treated him. He talked so much shit about his ex-wife, how he caught his ex-wife cheating on him, and how it messed him up, that I believed him for a while. At the beginning, I genuinely thought he needed a friend to listen to, and that he really had bad luck with women because he was famous and they all wanted his money. He joked how the phone at his place was always ringing off the hook because all these women where calling him.
Whenever he started getting really scary I started asking him about the women that hurt him. He loved talking about that. Like I said, I became a confessional to him. He also dumped a whole ton of shit about other creepy men in the industry on me (other famous guys). I guess they all know eachother… although, at this point, the extent of abuse in the game industry is no longer news.
At the time that I was forced to be around him he said he had just gotten a divorce, explaining the wife’s things that were still in the apartment.
The apartment was in a high-rise in Vancouver near the water. It was a beautiful view. The view is the reason that I, while we where still friends and while I still trusted him, agreed to go and see the place for myself.
I’m not sure anymore if he even was divorced. I later (after my callout post) heard from another woman that he was married at the time that he did all this to me. Although I cannot completely confirm this since I’ve been trying to avoid hearing about it.
He was CONSTANTLY offering to help me get a break. I didn’t want help. I’m the type of person that wants to do things on my own, and generally view men doing that (to that extent) as an intrusion. For example, he heard that I write poetry and told me to send him some of my writing because he knows publishers.
He never followed through on any of this.
He was CONSTANTLY pushing that lake house on me. He wanted me to go stay there, or move there. I heard later of two other women that he groomed, and got to stay there with him. It’s remote enough, so I suppose it falls in the criteria of separating you from the world.
After my rape, and when I started avoiding him, I would see his car parked outside of my old apartment (the company moved me to a new place. He didn’t know my new address).
I kept seeing his car around. I knew it was his car because I checked.
He talked about wanting to visit Irvine. Whenever he was in LA (at this point he had already moved on to another girl to torture, I learned that later) he would message me and remind me that he’s in LA and still exists.
I couldn’t ever remove him from my contact lists, or end correspondence, because he was friends with both of my bosses. I had to stay friendly.

——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——–

So there you go. That’s some of the consistencies in how I was treated by him, that also came up with other women that he harmed.

I had to fight with the urge just to share screenshots of these conversations (instead of transcribing), so you can see the extent of his abuse, but I don’t want to betray the trust of the other women. That would be no different from what Kotaku did.

The repercussions of sharing the details of my sexual assault on a site like Kotaku have been crushing. This is out there forever, and it will not go away.
Like I mentioned in my original post talking about Kotaku’s handling of this, rape is a fetish to a lot of men on the internet.
I really don’t have the heart to dig this stuff up and post screenshots of this.
If you want proof, you can go look at this video and read the comments:
Guys will also pretend to be rape victims and email you to get you to talk about it more. I guess that’s a way to get off on all this.
I’m really tired of hearing about why I was on a bed with him, or about “that smell”.
I don’t see what I would be accomplishing by talking about that fallout more.

I reached out to Cecilia about removing the details of my assault, as well as asking why they had been included…
This was the entire email transcript…

I think this was cold. It’s very indifferent of the harm caused by doing something that you intentionally did despite knowing the person asked that it not be done.
I’ve been very outgoing about harassment in the past. There are interviews of me talking about it. I gave a talk about it. It’s even on my wiki page. Someone assuming that I don’t know how to deal with this, and also not being able to tell the difference of how this type of harassment is NOT the same thing… I can’t understand how someone could care so little about the harm they caused.
Talk security? Like now I have to live with this? Thanks. There is no security from this type of internet creep. This is different.

The following are screenshots of Cecilia’s Twitlong. These are in response to my original Kotaku post

I think it’s important to actually learn from your mistakes.
I find this incredibly tone-def. It’s almost hard to quantify how arrogant, indifferent, and heartless this is.
She even admits to me asking her not to share details, but doing so anyway. Again, when it comes to rape, you should not argue what is or isn’t gratuitous. It is gratuitous by default.
For what it’s worth, I stand by my account that this was on the second phone call.

In her Twitlong she said that I contacted her former boss about this. Someone put me in touch with her former boss. I know better than to reach out to men here, on my own volition.
What’s important to point out is that a concerned third party on Twitter saw the agony that I was going through, contacted me, and offered to put me in touch with Stephen (her former boss), to maybe help get that article edited.
This was something that Cecilia could have easily done herself, if she cared about the well being of a former source.
The “I’m sorry, let me see what I can do to help.” is something she could have (and should have) done when I reached out in email.
A stranger on Twitter did so instead.

I don’t really see the point of arguing with her Twitlong. She said that she shared the article with me, yes. AFTER it was posted. According to their policy, that’s already too late to make changes…

Getting Kotaku to remove the details of my assault has been soul crushing.
I did not need to be put through this back and forth. He could have just said “Ok. It’s causing you harm. We don’t want that. Let me see what we can do.” and handled the rest on his own, with whatever conclusions he wants to make (without me hearing about how I may or may not be remembering things correctly, or how I may or may not be accusing them of what they did or did not do…).

Here is the entire email transcript between myself, Stephen, and the concerned third party (I make that anonymous because I don’t want anything bad to come her way).

When he gives me the suicide hotline number was when I posted on Twitter that this was sucking the life out of me.
I had several posts throughought all this
to give you an idea.

I don’t understand the purpose of defending keeping the details of my assault in the article. I also don’t see how this is complicated to remove. I feel like I actually fought to make the article better, and more mature, than from what it was before. That paragraph, the out of context placement, wasn’t even good writing.

Arguing with someone like that, to get something like that removed, is incredibly intimidating. The power dynamic is already skewed. He holds my dignity on that website, and is defending the purpose of keeping it in there, as well as how it was obtained.
I absolutely stand by everything in my first post.

I have now shared how two other sources for this article were treated. In regards to sources, I do not think she should be trusted when it comes to #metoo stories. I can’t speak to other stories, but I don’t think she did justice to this story.

I insisted that this back and forth with Kotaku stay in email because I made the mistake of agreeing to a phone call with Cecilia, and therefore don’t have proof of our interaction. I can’t defend myself, and can’t prove on what record I shared what.
I don’t have much faith in either Stephen or Cecilia. I would need the recordings. I want them. I asked for them. He made an excuse for not giving them to me, and (I point out) blame for why I should not be given them was placed on me. “Point is moot, you said you wouldn’t believe it anyway…”

This is sad. When you have the courage to talk to a journalist, you should not have to feel like you need to protect yourself from them, after talking.
Would journalism be anything if sources couldn’t trust them? Where would journalism be if journalists didn’t CARE for their sources?
Caring didn’t happen here, and I think what I shared demonstrates that.
I also think arguing when that was shared (on or off a record) is irrelevant because she was also on the record when she told me that she wouldn’t do that. I trusted the integrity of the person I was speaking to.

Also, I was under the impression that both phone calls were on record. I know what on and off a record is.
My accusation was not that it was “publishing something off the record”. My accusation was that she tricked me to open up about my assault on a follow up phone call by saying that Kotaku’s lawyer needed me to go over that, telling me that she would not publish it, but doing so ANYWAY.
Again: assuring me that she would not share the details of my assault, but doing so anyway.
Sources should be able to trust journalists when they say that they are going to do something, or write something.

To conclude this…

The way a game journalism site like Kotaku handled this demonstrates to me that journalists here aren’t really equipped for covering these stories. There are other examples too. It’s not just a Kotaku issue.
This all exhibits a strong lack of empathy, or even giving a shit about the people that have been hurt.
Weinstein was brought down because of a relationship built over many years with sources that were brave enough to even talk. It was journalism that gave us this justice.
What happened here is not that. This is on the level of a fraternity.
We (all eight, that were sources or ready to be sources– this number does not include my mom or sister) risked a lot with our willingness to talk. Our sacrifice should have been honored, and done justice to. We deserved to be accurately quoted. We deserved something objective (instead of wildly subjective).
The way we were treated protected him.
When you cover such trauma you should be equally invested in it. If you call yourself an accountability journalist, and promise to “hold him accountable”, you should care about justice.
It should matter to you. The people hurt should matter to you. Why else even write about it? Because it’s fun to shed light on something horrible? Is it a show to you? Isn’t that also disrespectful to your readership?
Even if you don’t care, and we’re all the same to you, then at least be accurate. Misquoting, and putting a “spin” on this, is wildly unfair to those that trusted you.

I don’t know what is worst out of this situation.
What I have to deal with because Cecilia included that paragraph, and that must mean that I was really asking for it because I WAS on a bed and could have fought, because (if I didn’t really want it) what was I doing on that bed, and was there music? Was it his music? That smell? Why didn’t you fight?… (For what it’s worth, if you are going to print that, make sure you get the entire background instead of cheating that one out of context moment from someone.)
Or the fact that we all had a chance to have our story heard. To get some justice. To make what we went through count for something because at least NOW people know the whole truth. To have accountability promised us… but then just get used for a story that fixated more on poorly conveyed quotes about my relation to him, my rape, and another woman being painted as having “flirted” with him.
The truth of what we went through mattered to us.

Required reading please:

— — — — Update: April 15, 2020 — — — —

Updating this post with this recent development, because I feel like it pretty much demonstrates how hypocritical Kotaku’s treatment of this story has been…

Kotaku had recently (recently as of writing this) done a piece about FF7R difficulty levels. Gamers complained about it and it was edited *the same day*. This pretty much nullifies their “we don’t edit articles once published” argument.
In my case here, you see that it took nearly a week of back and forth, me begging, gaslighting, and just overall torture, including the suicide hotline number being sent to me because of how abusive this got.
It’s best summarized in Vinícius Machado thread (which you should read):

and Vincent Kinian wrote a really good thread about this too:

There is also this:

Extremely important to all this is that other victims of Cecilia D’Anastasio shared their treatment, and it was fucking heart wrenching. She did the same play by play to them for other stories as she did with me (and the other women of the article that I was abused for).
This included publishing information that sexual assault survivors explicitly said they are not comfortable having published, guilting victims into sharing by accusing them of “protecting” their abuser, and pushing sexual assault victims to the point of attempted suicide for what they where forced to re-live due to her journalism. She also intentionally framed incidents as “flirting” when the survivor clearly was not, or said they where not.
In these cases, she came in with an intentionality to frame a survivor’s story a certain way for the sake of sensationalism. This put people in danger. It also protected the rapist (or said abuser).
Her journalism has caused considerable harm to us. I keep saying that it nearly killed two people. That should not be taken lightly.
I wrote this warning. I hope it reaches enough people so that she cannot do the same to others. Please be careful when talking to her.