#GamerGate: ‘Nowhere On My Site Does It Say We Are Journalists’ Says Destructoid Owner

Yanier Gonzalez

There’s an explosive situation taking place right now in the video game journalism ring. Gamers are angry about many of the practices employed by the current media empire (or should I say, fading media empire?) as well as the negative spin and culturally damaging narrative that some sites have put into place regarding the depiction of the video game community. Caught up in all of this are accusations of ethical breaches, claims of misogyny and a lot of vitriol to spread around. There’s no such thing as saying none of it is true, just the same as there’s no such thing as saying all of it is true. However, in light of recent events gamers came to learn that some of their suspicions have held more weight than they might have thought.

Former writer for Destructoid, Allistair Pinsof, came forward to discuss his side of a very complex and ethically delicate situation. Pinsof outed an IndieGoGo program for its fraudulent intent, but did so at the cost potentially putting the individual behind the program in an unsavory  light within the public view. This action cost him his job, his income and his career as a video game journalist, especially so after it was revealed that his firing was tied to the Game Journo Pro list – and actions committed by the Game Journo Pros could be construed as illegal in the state of Florida, where he was employed [You can also read up more on the Game Journo Pros via Breitbart].

Not only that, but the private e-mails revealed that Pinsof was given contradictory information from his higher ups both regarding his firing and his course of action regarding the IndieGoGo campaign.

[You can read the full story on Pinsof’s firing here]

After Pinsof’s story got out, Destructoid owner Yanier “Niero” Gonzalez stepped forward to issue his take on the situation. He wanted people to know what his site stood for and the difficulty in making the decisions that he made, saying…

“How exactly is it collusion when I very openly expressed my feelings on the web’s biggest gaming industry forum, and LATER nudged others not following that conversation?

“You also failed to notice my tone change *after* his personal attacks and insults, which were also public on twitter, reddit, and so on — which hd of course deleted but I have screenshots of.

“That was key to his firing. Just as its ok to gather a mob on twitter to retweet angry blogs Im surely entitled to tell my friends who was an asshole.

“Beyond proof, he disobeyed my wishes, who is his boss, from hour zero. You do this as vice president or retail cashier and youre fired. End of story. What followed is a mess that you can color any way you want.

“And I say “boss” laughingly. [sic]”

The situation caught fire with a lot of people and resulted in plenty of uproar from the public. Yanier claims that the event involving the Game Journo Pros wasn’t collusion, and this is echoed by a fellow member of the Game Journo Pros group, Scott Nichols a former contributor to IGN and G4TV, who took to ask.fm [backup] to directly answer questions regarding this situation, stating…

“As for the GameJournoPros group involvement, Neiro approached the group asking for advice on how to handle the situation, and the group provided advice. That is the group working as intended. In his post, Neiro was very clearly learning toward firing him anyway, and as your link corroborates, many of the responses were telling him that there’s probably a reason he has the gut feeling and should follow it. Common advice was also to consult legal counsel, which is pretty standard advice in any firing situation. This is not conspiring, this is one professional asking advice on a delicate situation from their peers.”

According to Florida state laws, it is conspiring when multiple employers come together to purposefully exclude someone from employment. As mentioned, “at will” firings don’t supersede unlawful employer collusion, also known as employment blacklisting, listed in the Florida Senate Statues

“Wrongful combinations against workers.—If two or more persons shall agree, conspire, combine or confederate together for the purpose of preventing any person from procuring work in any firm or corporation, or to cause the discharge of any person from work in such firm or corporation; or if any person shall verbally or by written or printed communication, threaten any injury to life, property or business of any person for the purpose of procuring the discharge of any worker in any firm or corporation, or to prevent any person from procuring work in such firm or corporation, such persons so combining shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”

The above law looks tangentially related to the situation when Destructoid’s editor-in-chief, Dale North, used the Game Journo Pros list to warn editors, managers and owners of other competing sites to ignore and avoid talking with Allistair Pinsof about his firing, any ethical breaches that occurred, or getting his side of the story out. Pinsof later figured out that he was being blackballed when no other gaming websites would even look over the evidence or talk to him about the situation. That’s where Pinsof’s career as a game journalist came to an end [You can read his side of the story in this pastebin file].

Scott Nichols further addresses the above scenario by stating…

“The second GameJournoPros involvement was when North posted in the group that Pinsof was trying to contact editors for work again. If that linked article had any commitment to honesty, it would have also shown that past the joke responses to North were responses that they already weren’t planning to work with him due to his prior irresponsible ethical breach, or people saying they forgot about that situation and thanking for the heads up about a freelancer of questionable ethics.

One of the other functions that the group serves is for editors to share with other editors which freelancers are good/bad to work with. This is not conspiring either. It was never the group coming together saying “nobody hire this guy” it was bunch of individual editors saying “Oh god, him again? I wasn’t going to hire that guy anyway because of how he conducted himself previously.” But to your question, no, I do not think it is a problem for the group to be used to inform editors of writers who have low ethical standards in their writing. He blacklisted himself through his actions, not because the group conspired to make him some untouchable writer.”

While Nichols may believe this is not “conspiring”, it does constitute as employment blacklisting, according to the Florida law stated above.

Nevertheless, Yanier “Niero” Gonzalez, the owner of Destructoid, felt as if it was a hard decision no matter what…

“Destructoid is my hobby. Its a blog and there are blog contributors. I dont enjoy deleting stories or ruining the lives of others in my free time. Dozens of people have left dtoid on good terms and their work is up there.

“You really have to cross me to have me delete and ban you. You also mentioned Hollie, who physically hit my employee over heresay and bragged about it, then deleyed her tweets. But I cant delete her blogs? You tell me about where the double standards end.

“I dont have to take anyone’s insults.

“Im not a newspaper or government service that swears to forever host stories. Nowhere on my site does it say we are journalists. We clown out journalists constantly.

“This is my hobby.

“I do this because I love videogames and gamers. [sic]”

For those that don’t know, Holly Green used to be an employee at Destructoid. There are some further allegations regarding her behavior, misconduct and abuse, and how Yanier “Niero” Gonzalez was forced to fire her after the team at Destructoid had exhausted all of their efforts to make it a safe and amiable working atmosphere.

However, there is more to that story and it will be discussed in a separate article.

Gonzalez goes on to state that…

“One pride point of dtoid is our open community. Its important to me because hardcore gamers like me (even in 2006) used to be labeled freaks and degenerates and we needed our own forums.

“I find it devestating that people forget that and have turned on site operators like me now that the internet is more social.

“Still, Im not a corporation. I run dtoid out of my kitchen.

“I may be small and what I said about this guy may be crude and unproofessional, but I dial it all back that he was a total asshole to me.

“I have my pride.

“I dont have to host the blogs of anyone that slanders me and throws a fit. Why should I show horrible people any compassion?

“These kids think they can act like animals with no reprecussions.

“I stand by my decision and you can call it “collusion” but anyone else will see that I went out of my way to consult a vast number of smarter people than me to make the right call. [sic]”

Technically the “collusion” only comes from Florida’s description of the law regarding employment blacklisting. Nevertheless, it wasn’t Gonzalez who made the comment in the Game Journo Pros group, even though he was part of the group. It was actually Dale North, the editor-in-chief at Destructoid.

I reached out to Dale for comment as to whether or not it was orders passed down from management or if he acted on his own accord to have cohorts from competing websites avoid talking to Allistair Pinsof, but as of the writing of this article, Dale North has not responded to my inquiries.

Aside from the situation regarding the firing of Allistair, Gonzalez points out that…

“I cant name an industry where peers dont discuss each other. We all do it daily on linkedin in private groups.

“None of this is “normal”. These are two very young and angry kids I never should have worked with in the first place.

“And its all thankless.

“Nobody pities me for giving them a break in the biz or paying for their airfare to visit conventions and hotel or paying them to write about gaming. Thats all on my broke ass.

“I get that people want to see more of those conversations, but the lack of privacy, the constant private company email republishing (far more unprofessional than anything I have said/done) is just making people like me reconsider wanting to devote my free time to gaming communities.

“We’re all going to lose more talent if this hashtag rhetoric doesnt see good (and forgivably flawed) people between the lines.

“Its a sad time to love this industry. [sic]”

It is indeed a sad time to love this industry.

Nevertheless, the consumer is always right. If gaming community wants to see reform then that’s what they’re going to fight for. Ironically enough, Destructoid was one of the few websites that did alter their policies on transparency. Gamers, however, are very concerned about the damage that’s being done to the industry by massive false claims of misogyny and harassment being levied at the gaming industry from sites that they no longer trust.

Unfortunately, this situation won’t end until everything is finally dragged out into the open and laid bare. The sooner full disclosure happens the sooner #GamerGate ends. The longer this goes on the more damage it does to everyone involved in the games journalism ring.

In fact, the future of games journalism is a choice that rests in the hands of the  journalists, as coming clean sooner rather than later will make it easier on everyone.

[Disclosure: I was a former member of the Game Journo Pros e-mail group]





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About

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

  • Thanatos2k

    In an earlier interview on GG, a AAA dev said this:

    “If you’re going to say that you aren’t a journalist, then don’t come to E3”

    • LickTheEnvelope

      I hope they stick to that.

      • Miglet32

        Amen to that.

    • Covering the news objectively with no bias = Journalist
      Offering Subjective Opinions on news = Blogger

      However if the dev said that then why do the likes of Syndicate and Ali-A get to to E3 then? They’re not journalists.

      • Black Moes

        they get paid to play their games on youtube. If i had a ice cream shop. And you were the famous kid that ate my ice cream all the time. and people saw you and asked you “hey that ice cream looks really good man where you get it” and you said from my place everytime. Hell yea i would send you free shet to promote my ice cream.

    • Jon

      I want to know who said this, so I can throw money at that person.

  • Ms_Fortune

    Jesus Christ NIero, you’re just hand waving away all the shit you’re involved in.

    I’ve always wondered what happened to all the writers that left the site and seemingly dropped off the face of the earth, you blacklisted them and brought them down, its no wonder your sites are failing, you reap what you sow you shithead.

    Also your tactics to scrub it from the site ain’t gonna work buddy.

    • You have me all wrong. Im so proud of my ex-writers, and in fact wrote about where they are now. Catch up with them here: https://www.destructoid.com/where-are-they-now-ex-destructoid-editors-in-the-biz-236554.phtml

      • FergalR

        archive.today that cancer link Niero.

      • raze2012

        If that’s really you, how do you explain the emails? If you wanted out of the drama, fine. Allstair just wanted to make sure he can land back on his feet. Why didn’t you just give him a recommendation? The actions really show the “pride” you share for your writers if you cannot at least make sure they can move on in life properly.

      • Moonbat Early Warning System

        You done goofed, son. You know what they say about when you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging, yeah?

        https://youtu.be/PGNiXGX2nLU

      • Arch Stanton

        Loved the use of this song Lollipop Chainsaw!!!

    • Jack

      Destructoid is the new Rareware. All the key people that made that place great left a long time ago and then they sold out.

  • Thanatos2k

    “You really have to cross me to have me delete and ban you.”

    Or you know, post anything about ethical concerns during the first few days of Gamergate and the great suppression. Which, you know, happened.

    Liar.

    • JoeSislack

      Or call Felicia Day a booth babe. That can get you let go real fast on Destructoid apparently.

      • I hate socialists

        You’re fucking shitting me? Insult their Queen Bee and that’s awarded a ban? GTFO Destructoid. She’s not going to fuck any of you.

      • David Gray

        And, what is wrong with being a booth babe?
        How is that offensive?
        You can be a booth babe and a nerd, and I’m sure most booth babes are pretty awesome people, considering they chose to dress up to entertain nerds and seem to show every enjoyment whilst doing it.

    • chris perez

      Has Jenn Frank done any work for them lately?

  • Red Lagoon

    lol this guys are a sad joke!

  • Brit Bong

    Pinsof was stating on twitter that gamergate didn’t seem all that interested in this.

    Additionally, he seemed to pull out of the AMA that was going to take place on Kotaku in action due to LW telling him harassment originated there towards her and her friends.

    I’m sure he’s been fed cherries, picked well form the reddit and not taking into account the fight back against such harassment that would have taken place if I’m any judge of the site.

    • raze2012

      He’s really trusting the words of the very people who outcasted him IRL? What is this?

      And “not interested”? there were hundred of comments on the reddit page, and it was front page for hours. This is EXACTLY the info we want and need in order to expose the corruption.

      • Cyberxion

        Yeah, that did me in too. Dude was actually actively defending the very people who ousted him as well. It’s like…either his story is fishy, or he’s got a severe case of stockholm syndrome.

    • Forest Phelps

      Sounds about right. Mock gamergate for not having more evidence of collusion (we have plenty). Actively work to ensure we can’t get more ammo for our cause leading back to mocking gamergate for not having enough evidence. It’s a shame these tactics work in this day and age.

  • Sand Ripper
  • Fayzen Shok

    “Nowhere on my site does it say we are journalists” – member of GameJOURNOpro

  • Derp

    You can tell that something is awry when guys like Niero get so defensive about what they’re doing behind the scenes. Instead of admitting there might have been some kind of fault, they double down. These clowns seem to be missing a crucial point of concern about the Journo List and that is: when consumers go to a gaming site, they have an a priori expectation that they are getting original insight, whether openly biased or not. When someone finds out that these writers are part of a club discussing how they should handle stories, people, or their sites, the illusion of a fresh, singular perspective shatters and a suspicion that a hive mind collusion is infecting everything. When 10 or so different gaming sites put out a horrible narrative, attacking their own readers and these same people are discussing these events behind the scenes, then no amount of denial or misdirection is going to persuade them that you aren’t totally corrupt, damaged or compromised.

    • Derp

      I just want to add that this could have been stopped easily by just apologizing for any perceived collusion and promising to compromise on a solution that gains the trust of your readers. Instead you dumb cows accuse those attacking you of being bigots, misogynists and rapists. That screams out “I’M HIDING SOMETHING, STOP LOOKING AT ME!!”

      • Sand Ripper

        I think a sincere apology and a promise to do better would have gone a long way towards regaining trust, but being defiant and insulting is easier.

      • Anita Snarklesbian

        exactly if you look at the Escapist, they are being almost completely put out of the picture. Not even in the discussion except to be an example of how this should be handled. FFS, they wrote a few paragraphs. And that’s probably b/c they didn’t have much to hide.

  • Pixelsnader

    “Nowhere on my site does it say we are journalists”.

    One: that’s a cop-out. Your site does criticism and news for games. Both are positions of power and in both cases your audience depends on honesty and fairness.

    Two: yes your site does say that;

    • raze2012

      LOL fail. can I ask where? I just like confirming these things for myself.

    • Irony, how does it work?

      • Cyberxion

        Apparently it works whenever you’re not trying to get into E3, in which case fuck it, you’re journalists for a week.

      • Pixelsnader

        Is this entire article irony, too?

        https://www.destructoid.com/what-does-a-game-journalist-do-at-e3–228130.phtml

        “What does a game journalist do at E3?”
        “I’m here to tell you what it’s like to cover the show as a journalist”
        “As a journalist, I aim for quality over quantity”

        etcetera.

      • IanPhoenix

        29 instances of the words, “journalism” and “journalist” on that page.

        And I’ll just leave this Google search here…
        https://www.google.com/search?espv=2&q=site%3Adestructoid.com+journalist&oq=site%3Adestructoid.com+journalist&gs_l=serp.3…4151.4530.0.4758.5.4.0.1.1.0.49.133.3.3.0….0.0..1c.1.56.serp..5.0.0.5B-7IPcNGVc

      • A Real Libertarian

        And look at this 5 year old article:

        https://archive.today/w2k79

        My, my, my, how times have changed.

        (Except for Leigh Alexander)

      • Pixelsnader

        To be entirely fair, that does include a lot of user-written work that then potentially gets featured on the front page, or potentially stays in the dark. Which is why I linked specifically to a non-user article.

        (and also a bit to prevent that same cop-out argument being used.)

      • pandora delphy

        Idiocy, how does it work?

      • A Real Libertarian

        Idiocy, how does it work?

        Because Destructoid has no standards?

      • pandora delphy

        True dat.

      • Miglet32

        So your a journalist when it suites you, and a blogger when it suites you.

        Which makes you a disgrace to journalistic integrity at all times.

        Seriously, hiding behind “it’s my hobby” is fucking farcical. People who play a guitar, or sports, or woodwork, etc for fun or supplemental income is having a hobby. This is your job, your career, and your livelihood… maybe even your passion. But to be quite honest, I don’t see passionate people piss all over the credibility of their own work and careers as quickly as you have in the past 48 hours.

      • Sand Ripper

        Do you know what irony is?

      • I hate socialists

        Only the Alanis Morissette version.

  • Tyrannikos

    If you want to say you’re not a journalist, then stop trying to play the part. Get out of a private group and labeling yourself a “Journo Pro”. It’s always like this. Every single time the gaming press is under scrutiny, they are just “bloggers”. Every other moment, they’re the “journalists” who influence a whole industry and heaps of cash.

    If you’ve got nothing to hide, let’s just open “GameJournosPro” to be viewable by the public. I’m sick of hearing about the filth that comes out of this list. I think it’s time we take a look inside and see just what has been going on in there. If they think they’re in the right, I think they can give us this showing of good faith to see they’re behaving behind the scenes – that they are colluding, conspiring and conning at every turn.

  • Jess

    >Freelancer of questionable ethics
    >Exposed charity fraud
    >Top kek

  • Keinart

    So he “kinda accept his fault” but then goes and call these people kids, saying that a lot of talent will be lost just because “well we just broke the law, it’s not so bad, who cares”.

    All of this is making me sick, your job is about the trust your readers have, you lose that trust, you are no one. There’s no talent if you can’t keep some ethical standards in a profession that is all about trust and objectivity in the first place. If you think that “talent” will be lost then thanks god, nobody will miss it.

  • Erthwjim

    I’m a little lost on something here. What is the issue with Allistair releasing the name of someone who was using indiegogo to scam? Even if Destructoid told him not to, I don’t see why it’s wrong that he did. Perhaps I’m missing some of the story, but if someone is using indiegogo or kickstarter to scam, I think it’s in everyone’s best interests to know who is doing the scamming.

    • Arch Stanton

      Certain people are immune to criticism no matter how terrible they are. They’re better than ordinary people. I’m going to bring up One Piece here (yes, I know, I know) if a World Noble shoots someone for laughs, you still get the death penalty for complaining about them. ‘Cause, you know, they’re World Nobles.

  • ResearchPlease

    Here what wikipedia says a Journalist is.
    A journalist is a person who works with collecting, writing and distributing news and other current information.

    That seems like your job. it’s also in your little description 2 Delivering Gaming News Without Remorse.

  • Kaboni

    As an employee that went through bullshit lies and belittled by my employer, it is fucking disgusting to see what Niero did to his former employee.

    More disguting to see that current employees didn’t speak up, just like when weak people don’t speak up to a bully tormenting an innocent soul.

    Niero, if you reading this you are the worst type of person on this world. You are a fucking snake and you don’t deserve the opportunity to run a business, much less ruin the lifes of your current and former employees.

    It is obvious you are disconnected from reality and you are a terrible business owner. These people who painstakingly worked hard for you, the ones that made and make Destructoid, deserve much better.

    Disgusting to see employers quickly forget that it is their employees that make the company. Not the “boss” like Niero tries to act.

  • Pixielated

    So you just entirely ignore Pinsoff’s ethical breach, his endangerment of a suicidal source who he also outed as transgender rather than just out the fraud she committed. Interesting you avoid mentioning this vital detail so you can paint responsible people as colluding conspirators.

    I’ll agree what Destructoid does is journalism whether Niero will admit it or not, but for someone that believes they don’t do journalism he’s following the SPJ’s “Minimize Harm” ethical guidelines really well. You don’t flip a coin on someone’s life for a story and I doubt any judge would look favorably on Pinsoff when that fact comes to light.

    • So you just entirely ignore Pinsoff’s ethical breach, his endangerment
      of a suicidal source who he also outed as transgender rather than just
      out the fraud she committed.

      Whoa, whoa, whoa. The original article and part 2 of the Destructoid finale bring this point out explicitly, including Pinsof himself. However, the breach wasn’t done on his own, and this is also pointed out in both articles.

      It doesn’t matter what we think of his decision, what matters is the unlawful actions that followed leading to his blacklisting. Doesn’t matter what your opinion of Pinsof is, you can’t excuse people breaking the law because someone handled a situation poorly.

  • This is going to make me sound like a super arsehole, but I can’t think how else to phrase it: Why are we supposed to show sympathy for a con artist, just because they try to kill themselves?

    The attempted suicide is dreadful, as is all suicide, but conning well-meaning people out of their money and using a ‘life-threatening illness’ as the leverage is fucking abhorrent. None of that goes away just because the con artist tries the ultimate form of damage control.

    Again, sorry if I sound like a callous arsehole, but I hate when society paints the villain as the victim; it’s like letting someone away with shooting up a school after you find out their cat died, that morning.

  • logat890

    You cant choose to be one or the other when it suits you! Tough luck shitheads!

  • David Gray

    what continually pisses me off is how they lock step on “gamers are dead” openly excuse “bring back bullying” and the shaming and insults to gamers as a community, but then claim to be a part of it when its convenient for them.
    You support “gamers are dead” you dont GET to call yourself a gamer any more, you can fuck off and hang around with the radfems on jezabel. I’m sure they’ll NEVER give you a hard time… just for existing.

    I do not get how these fucks can even function.
    They attack their audience, do not acknowledge any criticism and then cry when they are held accountable.
    You know how this could have been avoided?
    How they could have continued with ALL of their business practices, perks and lax attitude of their audience/watchdogs?
    By not antagonising and attacking us.
    We’ll look the other way while you take advantage of your position, but if you want up and bitchslap us while you’re doing it, don;t be surprised when you get a punch in the dick in return.

    I fucking DESPISE these people.
    Not because they are capable of making mistakes.
    Not because they treat their business (games media) as a fucking clubhouse where they can exclude who they please (oh the irony)
    Not because they might genuinely believe their own bullshit.
    I despise them because they’re hypocrites and bigots. Unapologically on both counts.

  • TheCynicalReaper

    Very nice, mate. If they want to weasel out of evidence and potential legal action by claiming to just be bloggers, then they can no longer hold the same clout they had as “journalists”

    Let’s keep this in mind and present it again when they attempt to utilize that card.

    If this takes off, we really will have a distinction between gaming journalists and gaming tabloids.

  • SMHsomuch

    So I know this is an old thread but I feel there is some information that can be shared and I can’t be bothered to do so other than this.

    I used to be am extremely active member of Destructoid for nearly 4 years, I left in a blaze of glory and a HUGE comment battle with Niero, Dale, and Jonathan Holmes over the fact that they continuously insisted they were professional journalist. It literally got to the point were I was trolling every single article and calling them out as bloggers when any member of the staff even whispered journalist. The crowning glory was right after the new site design when I had EVERY single staff member dogpile up to tell me off and ban me.

    Hearing Niero now go on about how they are just bloggers and NOT journalist, I just don’t even…

    Oh and of course I have the pics. If anyone can reply with my dtoid user name I will forward them all to the email of your choice and you can have a circus.

    • Dude, that would be golden. Destructoid would be buried pretty badly if those pics went public.

      I would love to take a look and see if the Destructoid crew has anything to say in response. If possible could you send them to Billy(at)OneAngryGamer.net ?

      • Fenrir007

        Did he ever come through?

      • Nope. =(

  • mbits

    You’re engaging in acts of journalism. You are a journalist. That you are bad at it or don’t aspire to uphold the primary valued tenets of good journalism doesn’t change that fact.

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