#GamerGate: IGF Criticized Over Game Journo Pros Connection, Judge’s Tweets

Horizon

The Indie Game Festival used to be a revered and illustrious way to help promote and establish prominence for up-and-coming developers within the independent sector of game design. Recently, the image has become tainted and mired in an intricate web of perceived corruption and the idea that entrants are no longer being treated as fairly as they should.

Following the original IGF scandal that was outed in early September of this year by internet super-sleuth CameraLady, the festival has come under all sorts of scrutiny. Things have been steadily escalating over the past few months as people have been questioning the judging process and the potential unethical dealings happening behind the scenes. This microscopic sifting eventually resulted in one of the judges of the IGF stepping out and making the following comments on Twitter.

The comments caused a lot of people to react negatively, given that Mattie Brice is a judge on the IGF panel, even causing some to go as far as to e-mail developers and IGF sponsors, to let them know about comments like the ones above, which some have labeled as “hate speech”. However, the official IGF Twitter account was quick to get involved to make it known that Brice was just joking.

The Indie Games Festival account posted the following statements.

That’s right. Upon being reproached for making jokes about the IGF judging processing, Brice supposedly made the choice of being recused from the IGF judging process (Note: It’s also being rumored by Christina Love, via Ralph Retort, that the IGF may have had Brice removed from the judge’s panel).

The IGF received a lot of vitriol over their decision to challenge Brice on those comments, even getting GDC general manager Meggan Scavio to step in and explain why the IGF had to address Brice.

This caught the ire of certain other judges who are prominent figures within the indie circle, such as Christine Love, making the following statements.

Following Brice stepping away from the IGF judging process and a lot of complaints from people who were angered about the IGF’s actions, the scenario resulted in the organization making a public apology [backup] on their site, stating…

“...we have always and continue to firmly believe that any individual judge should be able to fully express their own opinions and beliefs on any individual game, whether about its aesthetic, mechanical, narrative, or implicit or explicit political content.

“The impact of the statement, though -- and what caused us concern -- was that it raised suspicions that judgment would be made on games without due diligence. We also take seriously the impact of our judges making public statements about the process of on-going proceedings, including which games a particular judge is assigned, impressions on unreleased games in the festival, or how any of our judges intend to vote in the festival.”

The post also notes that the door is still open for Brice to return, and that they welcome “all points of view.”

The IGF wasn’t entirely off the hook following the apology for addressing Brice about the comments that some members of the gaming community found offensive to the judging process of the IGF.

Following Breitbart’s leak of the Game Journo Pros e-mail list – the same group that has been implicated in the firing and blacklisting of journalist Allistair Pinsof as well as orchestrating an agenda-driven narrative around #GamerGate coverage – it was revealed that one of the members on the list is current IGF chairman and former news editor for Gamasutra, Brandon Boyer.

There was one e-mail that revealed that Boyer had offered members on the Game Journo Pros list access to the limited E3 Horizon event hosted by his own Venus Patrol outlet, where various games would be unveiled.

Multiple sites covered the event, including The Financial Post, The Verge, Polygon, and even Rock, Paper, Shotgun… with a post written by fellow Game Journo Pros member, Nathan Grayson.

Some of the games that were on display included Funomena, Sportsfriends, Doublefine Studios’ Broken Age and Polytron’s Fez 2.

For those who don’t remember, Fez 2’s developer, Polytron, was also recently implicated as being a part of an alleged racketeering scheme in association with various indie festivals, including the IGF. The scandal received quite a bit of attention given that Brandon Boyer was allegedly having a relationship with the press representative for Silverstring Media, with the firm possibly attempting to have the games they represented take center stage at the festival.

Given that the IGF takes place during GDC in San Francisco, California – according to California state business and profession law § 17539.1 regarding contests and regulations for entrant fairness…

Misrepresenting in any manner the odds of winning any prize is prohibited. Representing directly or impliedly that the number of participants has been limited significantly, or that any particular person has been selected to win a prize, is prohibited unless that representation is accurate. All prizes of the value and type represented must be awarded and distributed.

Rigging the IGF could be a clear violation of the Securities Exchange Commission regulations, as well as a breach of FTC guidelines.

The committee of the IGF, however, released a statement to address those allegations, but with very little sway in their words to deter skeptics. Other individuals have also been critical of the IGF, including Chris Park from Arcen Games, as well as the developers of Super Meat Boy, who spoke at length about the judging process in a podcast.

Additionally, Boyer came under fire for supporting the Patreon of Merritt Kopas, a game developer who was also a jury member for IGF 2014. Some individuals saw this as a potential conflict of interest.

The recent release of the e-mail indicating Boyer’s activity on the Game Journo Pros list has sent the gaming community in a frenzy to ask why was Boyer on the list, how did he get on the list and what was his regular contributions to the list? I recently reached out to the IGF chairman for a statement on the matter, but at the time of the publishing of this article, he has not responded.

Kyle Orland, the senior gaming editor at Ars Technica and the creator of the Game Journo Pros group, replied on Twitter about Boyer’s proposal in the group, simply stating…

When asked what the summary was of the situation, Orland declined to further comment, simply stating that it was “not even worth it.”

Members of the Game Journo Pros such as Kyle Orland, Ben Kuchera and Kevin Kelly have yet to offer statements on being involved with Allistair Pinsof’s firing and blacklisting, or certain members of the group attempting to have Greg Tito shutdown discussion of #GamerGate on The Escapist forum. Additionally, issues of Nathan Grayson’s conflict of interests involving Robin Arnott have still gone unaddressed by Kotaku, as well as any sort of thorough investigation into the journalist who failed to report on EA being hacked, which resulted in 40,000 people having their personal data stolen.

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

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

  • My Throwaway

    Please help in the link below to stop companies supporting hate speech and corrupt judges.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/KotakuInAction/comments/2ltuaq/i_propose_a_new_email_campaign_to_let_the/

  • benjamin hardy

    thanks for this, no journalist site seems to have the balls to take on these difficult subjects

  • Liam Neeson

    It keeps being said, but I have to say it again: In what other industry could bullshit like this happen and be tolerated?

    This is pure fucking insanity.

    • Sylveria Shini

      Sadly, it happens in a lot of industries. We, thankfully, have decided to stand up against it no matter how hard the media tries to smear their own consumers.

      • While it happens in a lot of industries, usually once this kind of ugly spills out we see immediate actions being taken to rectify the situation (even if it isn’t always to our liking or up to par *cough*BP oil spill*cough*).

        Here in the gaming industry… it’s like, how much do you have to expose before accountability is taken?

      • Kol Khara

        Let’s be honest here, we only want accountability and professional behavior because we hate women.

      • Sylveria Shini

        Its just a problem with the mentality, especially in the journalistic aspect of it. They feel they don’t have ethical responsibility and thus are not accountable. BP, despite being the giant they are, can’t really cover up millions of gallons of oil in the ocean as they don’t control the media. However, when the media itself is the thing under the microscope they can, and are, desperately trying to change the focus to deflect, which just reinforces how corrupt they’ve become.

    • Some dude

      I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this happens everywhere. In the past year I have seen that corruption is a systemic problem worldwide. From private industry to government. Some way somehow someone is always on the take.

  • Ms_Fortune

    I’m reminded of Senator Armstrong’s speech in MGR, except replace government with games journalism.

  • Jess

    Even the comment “We weren’t going to address it until they started emailing/tweeting all IGF entrants” makes me headdesk and wonder if the IGF has learned ANYTHING over the past 3 months.

    Really? You WEREN’T going to address these unprofessional, misandrist tirades (joking or fucking not) until it was brought to the attention of honest, paying contestants? And exchanging private GJP emails with the founder of the bad journalism award? Un-fucking-believable!

    Once the GameJournoPros are taken care of, it’s clearly time to clean up shop at the IGF as well. I implore everybody to encourage a proper investigation of their practices where the judging process and finances are concerned.

    These people are so fucking arrogant they think they parade this nonsense around on Twitter even after we have concrete reason to believe Fez dividends were used as bribes to secure victory. The IGF is clearly redundant and in desperate need of replacement.

      • Jess

        You might!

    • Frankly

      Yeah right? What kind of competition would let biased people judge the results? They act like the whole thing is some kind of for profit venture. Obviously, this should be serving a much higher purpose. These are videogames for crying out loud! Don’t people realize how important this is?

  • Topgeartony

    It doesn’t matter. It only looks good within their clique. To GG and outsiders it looks sketchy as all hell. The brand is taunted and a smart opportunist can capitalize on this and start their own unbiased one to over take them.

  • J.S.

    The more the members of GJP talk, the more I start to think they might really be Crab People.

  • DontWait

    This is what corruption in the industry looks like. This is why we need #gamergate.

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