#GamerGate: Kotaku, Nerd-Shaming And Ben Kuchera

White Knight Chronicles

Just over a year ago the Game Journo Pro group had a very interesting conversation about “nerd shaming”. Using someone’s hobby to publicly humiliate them. This hot-button topic casually bubbled up into the conversation after Patricia Hernandez wrote an article on Kotaku about “This Is What A Brony Party Looks Like”, which was basically a video of people dancing at a My Little Pony Party. Ben Kuchera, of Penny Arcade fame and a current editor at Polygon, took great offense to Hernandez’ article.

The exchange happened last July, in 2013. It seemed like a throwaway event. Hernandez wrote a culture piece about guys who like the cartoon My Little Pony and decided to have a dance party by dressing up like the characters from the show. The original article, before Kotaku had Hernandez update the piece, is right here. That’s what caused all the ruckus.

Kuchera fired back a few days later with a very, very interesting piece over on The Penny Arcade Report (back when he wrote there). On July 16th, following the July 12th publication of the Kotaku piece, Kuchera wrote “Kotaku’s nerd-shaming article about Bronies is both nasty and unnecessary.” [the article has been deleted, as of September 9th, 2014 according to the last entry on the Wayback Machine] As outlined in the GJP thread.

What’s interesting here is that Ben’s stance is completely against an individual, a group, or an institution using a platform to “nerd-shame”.

He states…

“Listen, we get about 80 years on this planet, at best. Much of that time is painful. The night is dark, and full of terrors. If you find something that makes you happy, and it doesn’t hurt you or others, that is a great thing.”

“Life is too damned short for the concept of “guilty” pleasures to have any meaning.”

I find it fascinating that his stance is so adversely positioned to that of the #GamerGate movement. A movement, I might add, that feels as if it’s come under attack from outside academics who don’t understand or even play video games, but want to inculcate a change away from the current culture of “fun” and one toward intellectia. Using social media platforms, websites and news radio to shame, belittle and dogmatically force gamers to “listen and believe” seems to stand in opposition to Ben’s own beliefs. Or at least, the beliefs he once held at Penny Arcade.

Those participating in the discussion within the GJP actually agreed with Kuchera.

The last e-mail goes on to say that the tone of the original Kotaku article came across as mean-spirited and diminutive towards that part of the community, in which case, Stephen Totilo was contacted about addressing the author of the article to make changes.

What’s interesting here is that Kuchera rallies to the defense of helpless “Bronies” but took the opposite stance in #GamerGate; gamers get no defense.

Kuchera’s reasons? Well, they were outlined in the Breitbart article containing the leaked e-mails. Ben felt it necessary to be a knight in shining armor against the threats, harassment and abuse levied at a certain individual. Except, no one actively supporting #GamerGate has condoned harassment, abuse or attacking anyone. Here’s one of the images that circulated early on to get the message out, but all the major gaming news outlets opted not to cover anything positive about #GamerGate.

And yet, following the incident involving the infamous Tumblr post relating to the Depression Quest creator, Kuchera completely switches gears; he decides to throw any sense of objective observation to the wind and completely blow off the audience he was supposed to represent.

Ben goading Escapist editor-in-chief Greg Tito to shutdown the forum discussion on The Escapist that surrounded the events of the situation – and at the time, one of the only places on the net that wasn’t being heavily censored – as gamers were being attacked as a community from all sides of the media over things they had no control over, seemed like someone turning their back on championing people who found a hobby that made them happy. Just so you know, Ben was very persistent in wanting that thread gone.

Funny Ben’s last comment goes both ways. I mean, why was it okay to print “demonstrably untrue things” such as the IRC chat logs that were used to form a narrative around content that proved to be factually incorrect but not okay for a personal blog to do the same? Or is “demonstrably untrue” one of those subjectivist notions that should only apply to fit a predetermined outlook on how news and information-perception is fed to the general public?

I can’t imagine what would have happened to the movement if The Escapist had closed the thread, seemingly since it was the only open place allowing discussion at the time, apart from 4chan (which, in itself, has now outlawed #GamerGate talk).

The turnaround from last year – where these journalists felt Kotaku was wrongly demonizing a group of My Little Pony advocates – to this year, with many big names from these larger outlets having morphed into the attackers against a community they were supposed to represent, is a strange and startling thing.

The sweeping torrent of “Gamers Are Dead” articles rife with inaccuracies and falsities against the gaming community were supported, spread and championed by the people who are the gatekeepers of  information within the gaming industry.

What happened?

Why was it not okay for Kotaku to take a pot-shot at a fringe audience, but it’s now okay to chuck the entirety of game culture into the fire? Why was it okay for media to propagate “misogynerd”? Or why was it okay when Devin Faraci attempted to fat-shame Boogie2988? Why was it okay to “nerd-shame” in the face of #GamerGate?

Why did Ben go from supporting “guilty pleasures” to siding with people who would rather see them go away? Even worse yet, he did so with as little to go on other than Tumblr posts and hearsay, a problem that also plagued both Brad Wardell [via Breitbart] and Max Temkin [via Archive.Today].

I suppose the last part speaks volumes about the current climate of gaming news media; jumping to conclusions, not asking questions, and ratcheting up the need for controversy with little of anything to go on other than loose strings and random Twitter noise, as evidenced by the media’s flimsy attachment of #GamerGate to Sarkeesian’s 10-post Twitter abuser.

I’m most curious how someone like Ben Kuchera could repair a relationship with an audience he alienated through brash and blind emotion? And in light of #GamerGate calling for better ethics, will this mean Kuchera will take better care in surveying all sides of a situation before jumping the gun? This was a problem Greg Tito also had to rectify regarding Wizardchan.

Some of the current ilk of gaming journalists don’t believe in objectivity (or even standing by the truth, judging by some of the articles published), and their carelessness has led to this fallout. A lack of fact-checking, a lack of proper information sourcing and the ill-use of employing their platforms to bully their own audience, has resulted in irreparable damage to the image of gaming journalism moving forward.

As it was mentioned in the previous article pointing out gaming media’s current flaws, it would probably be best if the gaming journalists who helped promote, spread and instigate the misinformation during this debacle offer official apologies to the gaming community and consider resigning from their current publications.

(Featured image courtesy of District Geek)


Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Contact.

  • tetrisdork

    I remember when Kuchera actually attacked EA when the company used their relationship with the LGBT community as a shield when they were winning Consumerist’s Worst Company In America award for the second straight year. Boy, times have changed.

    • Well look at that… he decided to chew through EA’s BS and actually cite sources, quote both EA and The Consumerist, and link to factual evidence to back up his claims.

      For a minute, you might think he’s an actual journalist doing an editorial based on objective facts.

      • C G Saturation

        Kuchera is obviously a very selective person.
        He chooses when he wants to act like a real journalist or not.

        Which is a pretty good reason why he ought to be gone.

      • Topgeartony

        Any moron can call EA out on their shit. I mean they literally take your money then beat you with it.

        Thrashing EA isn’t him being objective it’s him playing to the crowd. Playing the tune they love. The tune of false justice.

        Remember. Every cunt with a blog, site, Youtube account and a notepad went after EA.

      • Churb

        Except EAs pockets are so deep he actually does have to do his research before doing a hit piece or they’ll beat him to death with all that cash.

    • C G Saturation

      Blatant hypocrisy is currently the big “in” thing.

  • T0Y

    Not be fat shaming myself but the sight of Devin Faraci calling someone else fat is hilarious.

  • Jack

    Ben Kuchera tweeted back on May 22 “Hyrule Warriors: Because why not alienate every player above the age of 12?” in response to Cia’s large breasts. So people replied that the Legend of Zelda series has a history of featuring women with large breasts and they didn’t feel it was a big deal.

    When Kuchera responds with “Zelda titles shove cartoonishly large breasts at the player?”, people sent him images of well-endowed female Zelda characters to prove their point.

    Rather than concede he may have been mistaken, Kuchera makes several tweets calling these people (directly or indirectly) “creepy dudes”, “weird immature men”, “talking fedoras”, and “the sexism defense squad”.

    • Jack

      My point is these people are just tired of game journalists pushing gender politics into every video game. Hyrule Warriors was always going to be niche title and a pair of breasts being covered up wasn’t going to change that. It would be rather boring if every game had to be inclusive. Just as there are people that can’t get into Dark Souls II because they feel it’s too challenging, there are people who can’t get into Gone Home because they feel there is no challenge. Should these games be more inclusive? No. It’s not fair to ruin it for one group for the sake of another.

      Rather then respond maturely, Ben Kuchera decided to paint these people as perverts. I’m not sure why he was so offended at someone else bullying, when he does it on his own personal Twitter account.

    • Jake Martinez

      Since when is breast size an inherent qualifier for sexism? Is Ben Kuchara going to go around with a tape measure and check all the ladies to make sure their boobs are not too big? Are women like my wife who has large breasts just walking billboards for sexism and misogyny through no fault of their own? Or maybe… Sexism is in Ben Kuchara’s head because he’s a fucking pervert that can’t help getting aroused by large boobs. I wonder which one of these things are true.

      • C G Saturation

        Yeah, I doubt Kuchera and his cronies can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a naturally well-endowed woman. People would be constantly telling you that your boobs are “misogynistic”. It’s beyond ridiculous.

        It probably highlights that the people complaining about large breasts are either just ignorant or jealous.

      • Banzboy

        I don’t understand it at all. People have different sizes of breasts. Why is Kuchera shaming women with huge breasts? There are people who have large breasts. Having breasts come all in a single universal size in games or any other medium accomplishes nothing.

  • JoeSislack

    Maybe because a lot of these glorified gaming bloggers just hate video games.

    Wasn’t it Kuchera that tweeted that if he had a choice, he’d be freelance and never write about video games again?

    • Doland K Punchovinsky

      Hah! Fucker thinks he’s qualified. Then again, judging by the shitty standards of media at large these days, maybe he is.

      • C G Saturation

        Who needs qualifications when you can simply point fingers for big bucks!
        Broken system is broken.

    • C G Saturation

      They realized they get paid more for spouting bullshit than reporting facts.
      It’s like how criminals realize they can get paid more by cheating the system.

      I recently found out about this one guy on YouTube who made a video telling religious people to wake up. His regular videos received around 10k hits or so, but this one video received over several million. And he GETS PAID for each view.

      So, apparently, if you want to get rich… just offend somebody.

  • Jess

    I’m beyond apologies. I would like them all the GTFO at this point.

    • Pedantic Nerd

      Abso-fucking-lutely, Jess! I feel the same way. The way these people have behaved is beyond forgiveness. They’ve bullied and shamed us, and for what, to help a friend and hide their own lack of morals and ethics at the same time? Fuck that. They need to go. This doesn’t end with them keeping their jobs.

      • Jess

        Every day seems to unearth a new layer of hypocrisy. I’m a misogynist purely because I am a gamer and ergo I identify with #GamerGate .

        However they’re free to tell me I don’t really exist and I’m just part of a nefarious plot by 4chan. When I prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I AM female and I AM mixed white and black Caribbean and I DO own a variety of games consoles I’m just a stupid, “weaponised” ho. But I’M the misogynist because I play Triple Triad like there’s no tomorrow. Makes perfect fucking sense.

        Keep ignoring The Fine Young Capitalists though. That does wonders for your “we want more women in the video game industry” bullshit you’re spouting.

  • cen

    While i hate to even entertain the idea, since i like the brownieculture (athough i am not one myself) could it be kuchera is a brownie?

    • … … …my mind is blown.

  • Topgeartony

    Ben’s a sad joke, we all know that. The only reason he’s with Polygon is because it’s the only site with standards low enough to take him.

    He can’t take what he dishes out and he is a coward.

    • C G Saturation

      I expect that he made a lot of friends during his tenure at Penny Arcade, and seeing as how they’re always so protective of their buddies, they reached out to save him when he fell. They don’t care if he’s a terrible person or not, because he’s their “friend”.

      • Topgeartony

        It understand it’s hard to turn on friends. No matter what (guilty as much or innocent) you really want to see them in the best light.

        But in saying that, I think when someone’s been called out with fucking damming a all hell evidence a friend should go “Hey man what the hell?” If he’s still being a mong then abandon ship before he drags you down too.

      • Ralph Chilton

        I’d be fascinated to get to the facts regarding the end of Penny Arcade Report – and for Tycho & Gabe to break their GG silence, they must be gnawing at the restraints…

  • Akko

    This article has recurring error. It’s not Kuchera, but Doughera…

  • C G Saturation

    You’d assume a normal person would have consistent morals, but I get the impression Kuchera just does whatever he feels like at any given moment, and then focuses on trying to explain and justify it.

    I think it’s similar to general SJW mindset. They go with how they feel, don’t really think about whether it makes sense or conflicts with their own standards, and then they desperately try to justify their actions. That way, they never have to admit they’re wrong, and thus never feel bad. It’s always easier to attack others than to attack yourself.

  • Topgeartony

    Each time I read those comments of his it pisses me off. Ben should not be telling competing sites how to run their shit. Escapist is making them look like fools and all they are doing is crying about being bulled (called out on their shit).

    The only thing Escapist is doing wrong now is the fact that it’s boss hasn’t fired Movie Bob…. or at least slapped him for being such and elitist, beat male pussy.

  • dirtysteve

    That ’80 years at best’ seem a bit bleak to anyone else?

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