Game Journalism Is Dead

This is long-form criticism with a clickbait headline.

I’m writing this all again… Painfully aware of every bridge I have now burned as a result of standing up for myself, all the people who have been blocked by self-proclaimed game journalists with the word “leftist” in their Twitter bio, and the never ending cycle that this is going to continue to be.
I have a pit in my stomach from knowing that so many people that supported me, publicly, have now been blocked by journalists here. I feel sick thinking that this is the way they decided to deal with the situation, the actual action that they agreed on, instead of helping.
A game of mine was just accepted into the permanent collection of one of the world’s biggest modern art museums, and all I feel is sick.

When the journalist that wrote This Thread, drew a correlation between my situation and the “I invented email” guy, the subtext is that the sexual assault survivor (who was exploited by a significant video game publication) tweeting daily at the abusive publication, is nothing more but a “shtick”. That is all this means anymore.

The new reality I’m in, as it is, is somewhere between being the person that started a “new gamergate”, or the person empowering gamergate by giving The Gamers an excuse to harass journalists here who “don’t have the institutional power to do anything, so stop bothering them *block*
It’s amazing to think that The Gamers (people associated with machismo, and attacking women online) would even care about standing up for a sexual assault survivor who, if you actually read what the real gamergaters have to say about this, is lying and framing an innocent man. For example…

So it’s hard not to conclude that game journalists don’t want to be bothered with this. There’s an increasingly apparent victim complex that starts to show, when they get confronted on their mistakes.
They will screenshot and retweet very mild criticism, and call that harassment.
I’ve watched this happen a few times now.

More recently…

Polygon wrote an erroneous article about Apex Legends. It’s fine. People make mistakes. Journalists don’t always play the games they write about. You could discuss if that’s actually a bad thing, or an OK thing, but what surprised me about watching this situation is how they managed to react and immediately invoke gamergate.

The social media account behind Apex Legends tweeted a cheeky tweet in response…

I thought what the social media account for the game said was funny. If you are going to go with the other narrative that journalists here keep pushing, about how workers work so hard and get exploited by the studios just to make these games, maybe a little bit of respect to all that hard work could go a long way (like fact checking, or just apologetically joking back and fixing the mistakes, no big deal).

Gamergate was largely invoked and pointed to as supposedly harassing them. I think comments like “please don’t do this, it will cause harassment” is ironic coming from people that would never do that for other vulnerable people here. Seeing the entire thing unfold was like seeing a bunch of people argue why they should be treated better (not get criticized), when those same people have largely failed the most vulnerable here.
If you go read much of what they are calling harassment, or the comments that people are being blocked over, it’s pretty mild criticism at an obvious mistake. Worth mentioning too is that I was targeted often by gamergate, over the years of being here. I don’t especially appreciate people using that as an excuse to avoid responsibility.
Either way, if you kept up with the drama by reading all the comments
I would almost argue that the way the outlet that made the mistake reacted in such an entitled way (don’t dare criticize journalists!) is what made the situation worst.
I read many of the comments. Most of them made legitimate points about how a video game outlet should follow up with the studio, and fact check (these were also blocked). It would be a good conversation to have after how game journalism has treated sexual assault survivors here… Just any goodwill to show that they care about doing better (about anything) would make a world of difference.
This is why I found the situation upsetting. It just never seems to happen.

From my point of view (and I highlight that this is my point of view, hoping that you understand where I’m coming from), the majority of game journalists jumped in defense of an already closed ranks and status-quo driven space by arguing in defense of the outlet’s mishandling of the story. For example, one of the biggest points game journalists here made was that the social media manager should have emailed the editor instead of “putting them on blast”.
This is the part of all the discourse around this that particularly upset me.
Emailing editors doesn’t exactly do anything. If you email the editor, and are a more vulnerable person that doesn’t own a very large social media account, you will receive gaslighting and the narrative will be controlled by them.
Worth pointing out too, if you read the emails that I shared and look at the time on them (at the bottom of the post here), I felt like I was getting ignored (I waited for a couple days, whether or not that’s too much or too little shouldn’t be up for debate because of how the entire situation was treated), and then I took it to social media.
Even so, I have a right to take it to social media because my story was misrepresented and the truth matters to someone like me. If you are robbed of your truth, you will fight to get it back. That’s anyone’s right.
I think it’s also fair to point out that, even after all that, they still managed to control the narrative with their really shitty editor’s note. You can read a breakdown of why that was bad in this post, written by a former journalist.

I think, in all this, it is fair to point out that these articles are public. When a journalist makes these mistakes publicly, they’re putting that bad information “on blast”. So handling this publicly, even if editors have the best intentions in mind and are not creeps (which I don’t think exists in this space), it’s still fair for someone harmed by that bad information to say something.
That’s an opinion tho. The glowing issue, in all this, is that “the little people” here don’t exactly have any way of fighting this when they get singled out by journalists.

I feel like this culture has largely agreed on letting whatever will happen to me as a result of their abuse happen.
I feel like game journalists get to be judge, jury, and (in my case) executioner.
I feel like…

I also think it’s worth saying that the victim complex coming from journalists in all these situation is just tremendous. It resonates with “how dare you challenge us? we came down from our high mountain just to grace you with attention and you do this??”
It’s one sided. There is no empathy for the people who may have been hurt by misleading reporting. There isn’t even space for a discussion about this. Journalists control the narrative and get to twist words, take things out of context, not care about the truth, not even care if a source wants to be involved to begin with.

But who am I to speak on this? I’m the crazy one that’s been relegated to the side-lines because I dared stand up for myself. How dare I speak out against a twitter thread that denigrates my situation? A very important journalist took the time to write it, words that they could have been paid for, to grant the plebes a pearl of wisdom… but no! The plebes were angered. Now I’m most certainly to be forever affiliated with gamergate.

Making an example from something that is near and dear to my heart…
I will not name names or be specific here because I think the concept of this entire situation matters more. It’s something that happens a lot, but nobody points out because they are “too small” and don’t want to piss off the journalists.

A dear friend of mine was a lead designer on this amazing game. The game did tremendously well on launch day. The entire studio is comprised of very sweet people who have been working on this game for almost eight years.
When the game came out, a player posted a review saying that the game was fun (they liked it!) but refunded it.
It happens. Players like a game, but they beat it within the timeframe that Steam allows a refund, and then get the refund anyway (despite it having been good).
My friend took a screenshot of it, and shared it on Twitter. It caused discourse for a day on video game social media.
The player started getting “harassed” for it (and I put harassed in air-quotes because at this point what does that mean anymore). People found who they are, and started giving them shit.
The player reacted like a true champion. They updated their review, apologized, and said they paid for it. Highlight that there was no victim complex here. They just genuinely apologized. A gamer was able to do that.
The team said nice things back. Generally things calmed down. The thing had a happy ending.

Things start to escalate with the following…

My friend had been talking about making a game that would parody the Steam refund system. He had been talking about this for a very long time. Long before all the above happened. It would be a very simple thing that consumes your time, and prompts action before the refund deadline expires. The idea is that the thing is more interesting as a statement or conversation object than it is actually a game. It’s smart. It’s very alt-game, and typical of statement pieces in this space.

After the above happened he announced this project on Twitter. It seemed like a good time to bring that up.
Journalists jumped on it and started writing about his announcement, rather than the game that had just been released. So it essentially started to distract from the game. In itself, none of that is bad. It’s a talking point.
My issue is with articles like the following…
Steam Is Under Fire After An ‘Amazing’ Short Game Was Refunded, on Kotaku AU

These types of articles made plenty of blatant assumptions that could have been avoided if they actually engaged with the dev, or even researched the situation. The game isn’t a solo-dev project (“a developer who created a short narrative adventure”). It’s a team project.
He wasn’t making the refund piece as a reaction to the player’s refund (“followed up this review by submitting a ‘joke’ game to Steam”). He had been talking about it for a long time. He never submitted it to Steam. He put it on the back-burner because it all spun out of control.
He is my friend and is upset at Kotaku’s treatment of me. Kotaku didn’t even ask before writing about all this, or citing his tweet. Journalists never ask before dragging you out into the public, on their very large platform, bad information and all.
That last bit is the problem in all this.

I went over some of how Kotaku had treated other survivors in the past, in a similar way, by bullying them into talking and bickering about how what you publicly post is “public record”. The survivor didn’t want to be involved, didn’t want any of their story published, but the journalist didn’t respect that. The journalist dug into their social media past and used what they found anyway, irrespective of the survivor’s wishes.
I wrote about that situation because I feel like I’m fighting for my life, and I think it’s tremendously fucked up that someone that did that to vulnerable people gets to collect awards for it.
I could also say the same about my situation where they later amended the article to argue that they got the “he was like a mentor to me” quote from my blog. If you look at the archived one, the article misleads you into thinking I said that on the record during the interview. I didn’t say mentor in the interview. That was not the information we gave them. Even so, the updated quote is still misleading for how it takes that line out of context.
That’s not even everything that was done when they abused my story. It’s worth reminding everyone that I was never OK with having the details of my assault publicized. The journalist assured me that they need those details for legal reasons, and I shared that based on that lie. They published it anyway. I had to fight for almost a week to get the article amended, after which they called me a liar… but I don’t want to go over that again. You can read the last thing I wrote for all of that.

We (and I include myself in that) are small people. We can’t afford to be drug out and put on display. In terms of myself, with what was done to me, the consequences have been beyond destructive.
For indie devs, it can have the same effect when they are drug out like this. The comments to these articles, that don’t even bother to get the information right, aren’t exactly kind.
I’m sure it’s no different for AAA studios when they get caught up in the same net.
There just isn’t any sense of responsibility here, and I’m basically an idiot for writing all this because most of game journalism has blocked me anyway.
They don’t like it when people ask them to do better. They feel attacked just because you dared stand up to them.

Based on the many conversations I’ve had with friends here, some that are relatively influential or have worked in this space for a long time, game journalism is a self-perpetuating self-consuming area entirely fueled by reactionary principles, that also doesn’t exactly pay enough for a living wage.
Since money isn’t something most people get out of it, then the payback is followers and clout. If following is the reason to do it, then I can see how things easily become narcissistic. If you criticize someone that does any of this for the sake of attention, kind words, being The Expert voice in an area, then you are taking away the reason that they do it. Therefore any level of criticism whatsoever gets brushed off as gamergate, no matter how reasonable that criticism might be.
Game journalism’s foundation is reactionary. It reacts to press releases, it reacts to social media drama, it reacts to whatever is popular. If you have the misfortune of being The Talking Point, then chances are it will react to you in ways that can cause fairly personal and long-term harm. I don’t think they will ever stop to wonder if it’s right to drag you out publicly, because it’s their job. They have a right to. You are public record after all.
So, if you look at the toxic reactionary way that social media can single people out, then game journalism just fuels that even more (as well as being fueled by it).
I think it’s a tremendously unhealthy cycle that’s hurting people here, including journalists.
I don’t want to be more sympathetic to journalists than I need to be because I don’t think any of these people are deserving of that.
I do think that the ones that are doing legitimately good work are ones that start their own tiny publications, or end up being burned out. This space doesn’t keep the good people.

I’ve thought a lot about all of this. Too much than I care to think about a particular field that I never had any interest in. I blog. I do public speaking. That’s as far as I care to have my own words heard. I care about my work getting attention, not so much myself.
I think we’re reaching a point where we all (including The Gamers) have outgrown game journalism. It hasn’t kept up with the significant cultural changes that are happening in other parts of games.
I’ll illustrate with the following…

A long time ago I wrote a post depicting my experiences of showing my art-game at Day of the Devs. It was important for me to share that because I felt like the way players reacted to it signified how normalized the knee jerk reaction to art games is (making jokes about them being drugs), and pretending to play them the same way the popular streamers usually play them (to make jokes about them being like drugs).
My hope for the post was that other event organizers might read it and understand that these types of games should be treated with a different care, to maybe discourage people from automatically viewing them in that lens… To start educating people that these games have value beyond ridiculing them, or even that they don’t exist just to be ridiculed.
It was the type of commentary that I, in retrospect, think should have been kept in the little bubble it was intended for. Not everything should be made into a big deal. Within that little bubble, it was heard. I think enough event organizers got the message and thought about it.
I was contacted by Venturebeat, asking if they could cross-publish the article. I thought it was a great idea because I was dead set on spreading awareness that these games don’t just exist as a joke. That they matter, and that real devs invest time in them.
I agreed to it, gave the editor permission to do as they please with it, and then he bounced headlines off me.
The headline chosen was something like “Youtube culture is turning kids against art games”.
I agreed to that headline because I thought it captured what happened. I didn’t give it much thought. It seemed accurate. I was also mad.
When the article went up it caused a massive amount of backlash from streamers. Twitter, Kotaku in Action, and 4chan jumped on it for a very long time.
I don’t especially regret cross posting it, but I do regret what now seems like a clickbait headline that obviously instigated further anger (instead of bridge building, or spreading awareness). Also, I OK’d that headline. That’s on me.
I got so tired of angry youtubers, gamers, or 4chan kids, getting in my mentions that I just by default muted them or the post. I didn’t really care to engage with them, or really investigate why that headline may have hurt their feelings (they didn’t read the article).
I don’t think anyone here is at fault. I do think that certain conversations should be kept within their small relevant bubble.
Based on that experience I do however understand why journalists are so reactionary toward any criticism leveled at them (despite how mild it may be).
Just that type of dynamic, if on loop, can create a mentality of “us against them”. Those lowly gamers, those poorly informed game devs, those abusive studios that don’t like our articles… That combined with not being paid beyond just “exposure” is tremendously unhealthy. It’s not sustainable. I think we’re reaching that point now, where other aspects of this industry are outgrowing the culture, but that dynamic (outrage, clickbait) is just getting worst in journalism.
It is its own machine that fuels itself. It’s almost like it isn’t even part of the games space anymore. Game Journalism is in its own world, unable to step outside of itself.

Sometimes when you listen to game journalists talk about games you almost assume that they hate games. So why are you here?
I think the above bubble I described is a big part of the issue.

That said, I also cannot sympathize with it. Small indie devs here go through a lot too. Minorities are constantly singled out and harassed (for real). You can read some of my story, and see that I’ve had it hard too. Having it hard is never an excuse for abusive behavior. This is kinda what journalism is doing tho.
“We have it hard. Give us a break.” really isn’t the empathy invoking defense you think it is.

So, in many ways, I think that us vulnerable people hurt by game journalism are the canary in the coal mine. You should listen to our experiences… not that writing any of this matters because I’m the evil sexual assault survivor using my platform and trauma to (very manipulatively) turn people against game journalists and essentially create a new gamergate movement. I get it. I’ve been listening.

There’s a much more long-term destructive aspect to all this, that has an effect on everyone in this industry (indie, AAA, The Gamers). It’s the bridge burning that keeps happening. The outrage cycle that is normalized, and pits people against each other. It’s constant. It’s a big reason why, when someone does end up with the misfortune of being the topic of current discourse, they’re often treated with a victim blaming level of anger for inconveniencing everyone with “their drama”. Ugh! Not this again. We already talked about Steam’s Refund Policy and The Evil Gamers last year.

For example, a lot of the criticism toward Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t exactly fair. It was everyone’s favorite thing to hate on for a very long time because of how that cycle was fueled. The articles hating on it just made the clicks, so I suppose more articles hating on it just had to be written.
I think it’s fair to say that it was very popular to shit on that game. It was part of the discourse cycle for so long that everyone hated hearing about it. I listened to some conversations between people that work at that studio (I don’t remember where, I think Twitter) and all that hate took away a lot of pride they had in the game. They were embarrassed to be associated with it as a result of the endless anger levied against it. Yes, it has issues with crunch and worker abuse. No, you as a journalist that abuses your sources to get that information and place them in danger don’t exactly have a right to lord that over anyone.
I think, the issues that it did have, were put on blast for so long that there was no way that any positive change could come out of any awareness anymore.
The articles about worker exploitation only really served the journalist popularizing that story.
When these articles get written they don’t exactly try to find solutions, point to people or organizations doing it right, people working in advocacy that are part of the change… they just take anything bad out of context and put it on blast. It makes change impossible then for the enemies created, the walls that go up, the bridges that are burned.
This has reached a point beyond “putting pressure” on people responsible, because exploiting that unhealthy dynamic is so normalized from all sides (journalists benefit from these abuse stories, abusive bosses benefit from the abuse).

When a game journalist used to kick and scream saying that gamergate was attacking them I used to believe them. I’d take a stance in support of them without question. Now, when that happens, I look at the comments and most of the time it’s nothing. It’s blame being reassigned to avoid responsibility for a basic mistake. So I have to wonder, if all this was handled better, maybe The Gamers would not be such a problem either? Maybe there could be room for positive change if this wasn’t all about making enemies and creating boogeymen?
There is no concept for bridge building. The way any of these scandals, abuse stories, even attempts at awareness are handled is fundamentally exploitative.

Gamers feel like they have to protect the studio from what they view as an outlet attacking a studio with clickbait, so the wrath of gamers is incurred. Journalists get defensive because The Gamers got involved, so they fight back with bad twitter takes. Indie devs pick the side of journalists because someone said “gamergate”.
I think blaming The Gamers, just isn’t going to work forever. I’ve experienced gamergate, many of my friends have, and a lot of what is being called that isn’t that.

I’m sorry, but you are appropriating the term of a hate movement that targeted marginalized people here, just so you don’t have to be accountable for the harm you caused (or the supposed support you walked back on).
I think it’s important to remind anyone that what was done to myself and others, almost killed the vulnerable people that journalists professed so much support for. Behind the scenes tho, you block anyone standing up for that vulnerable person.
I keep saying this but if the mild criticism any journalist here has gotten because they took a shit on my situation is “gamergate”, then what do you call what I am getting?
When I came forward, the hate Zoë Quinn and myself got, THAT was gamergate. The memes about us being liars, the photoshop jobs, the conspiracy theories, the videos trying to trick me into listening to someone getting raped, the hate mail, getting fetishized… THAT is what gamergate is.
Not the fact that you are being mildly criticized for being a hypocrite about the media’s treatment of sexual assault survivors.

I think it’s important to understand that there are genuine cases when people get hurt. When you do make a mistake you have to listen.
There are plenty of cases when game journalism is exploitative toward vulnerable people here and I’ve heard plenty of stories by now from people harmed by some famous journalist that misrepresented their story. That has long-term consequences for the person harmed. That’s much more real than a bruised ego.

I debated writing a post detailing the actual harassment I am getting, because I’m hoping that maybe… If I write the right post, tweet at the right people, make the right type of noise, kick up the right type of awareness, maybe pick a fight with the right journalist, maybe pick ALL the fights… maybe THEN game journalists will stop blocking me and people that support me and… actually help. I don’t think that will happen. I just don’t know how to believe in them anymore.

I find it ironic that the people most known for touting support, putting “leftist” in their twitter bios, acting like allies with their woke rhetoric… are the least likely to help a sexual assault survivor fix the harm their colleagues are responsible for. Instead, I’ve been treated to every type of excuse you could make about this situation.
I’m here now, with another post, making it easy for me to be brushed off as another gamergater. Another person that keeps track of what game journalism is doing and obsesses over its flaws. Tracks the mistakes… Someone that you can call yourself a victim of.

I don’t want to share more of the stuff I have been getting because it just empowers it further. At this point, nothing I can share will ever be enough. In the event that I die because of this (oh yeah, crack the joke about me being melodramatic and manipulative), game journalism will still manage to find excuses. Downplay the harm. Make themselves out to be the actual victim.
Keeping up with the excuses journalists in this space have made is like playing wack-a-mole. They just keep coming. It just keeps getting more and more nuanced to a point where “did harm REALLY actually happen?”

I think it’s worth pointing out that I’m put in a position where I have to keep up with the excuses journalists make for what they did to me, how this situation continues to be handled… as well as keep up with what the rape apologists are sending my way. I’m tired.
If you call what you are getting because of me “gamergate” then what do you call what I am getting? You appropriated that term to describe some very mild backlash, so please give me another one.
What do you call what you have empowered dangerous people on the internet to do to survivors in this space because of your exploitative reporting?
What do you call not respecting the “no” of a sexual assault survivor so they can be publicly re-traumatized when you drag them onto your very large platform and put them on display before your readership?
I think you all appropriated the term “gamergate” so you can lump any criticism you get under that label. It downplays the severity of actual real harassment people get from hate movements, but I said all this already.

The issue here is that nobody wants to help because helping might mean admitting that game journalism is flawed actually.

As it is, I’m looking at a situation where most of the journalists that tout themselves as people that care about social justice (at least that is what their brand is built on) have blocked me or anyone that stood up for me.
I realize how powerless I am in this situation, but I also realize that not everyone is an abusive coward looking to easily build a platform so they can be The Voice.
I think what was done to me, and how the situation continues to evolve, is an open wound that is growing. It is infected, and it is hurting. Very obvious, very public, and very drug out pain that keeps getting added to.
People see what you are doing, and they are getting pissed. I think that should show that people are genuinely horrified by what is being done here.

Most journalists that did support me have gone quiet. They don’t engage with this anymore so I’m assuming that enough of their influential peers have decided that I should just… die or succumb or whatever they think should happen… and there is that growing hole of silence about this, from that space. They want this to go away, I’m not being quiet, therefore they are all victims of me.
This is an open wound that will continue to grow. If nothing will get done then the outcome will be bleak. When that happens I think this will never truly go away. I think the fact that you are victimizing yourselves this way, and are willing to throw me under the bus this way, is short term thinking.
If this continues to go untreated, whatever will come, I think you will have earned that.
I think you were all willing to watch someone die slowly and you did nothing more but block the people standing up for them.

Game journalism is dead.