One of the worries some developers have had over the past seven months is that attempting to speak out or speak up against some of the media narratives happening in the industry would lead to a form of soft blacklisting, or a lot of pressure from various social groups on the studio to either oust the employee for saying something they disagree with or attacking the studio for not toeing the line. This was recently demonstrated when a developer interview was denied publication after certain answers didn’t align with the current media narrative.
Things kicked off when the developer, Matthew Mitchum from Aesop Games, posted the entirety of an exchange he had with editor-in-chief from Gameranx, Ian Miles Cheong. The interview caught a lot of attention when it was posted on Kotaku in Action in the form of a pastebin.
So why did the developer have to leak the interview after it was canceled by Gameranx? Well, it turns out that Cheong wasn’t comfortable with Mitchum’s position on the topic of #GamerGate.
Cheong asked Mitchum 10 questions and proceeded with a few follow-up questions after Mitchum answered the initial 10 questions. The discussion kept moving beyond the 10 questions until the topic of Quinn, doxxing, SWAT’ing and the Internet Aristocrat entered the discussion. Mitchum had made it known that he was what some people consider to be “Pro-#GamerGate” and shot down a lot of the claims of harassment and troll behavior being attributed to consumers looking to reform games media.
Mitchum stated in one of the e-mail replies to Cheong, saying…
“From my perspective, it seems like the strongest supporters of GG as a forum for open discussion take the Chans (8ch/etc..) and KiA with a grain of salt. As far as I can tell GG discussion (at least these days) is taking place in smaller groups, sort of a naturally distributed grassroots efforts, like early Christianity or Women’s Suffrage. We don’t have access to each others homes’, but conversations are taking place in streams, comment sections, chat rooms, Steam Groups, and a thousand other little busy hives of discussion and activity. The most vitriolic tend to get the most attention, in part because they continue the narrative that’s captivating to a certain audience, but in fact I believe most of the people involved in the consumer revolt aspect of GG are in fact quiet, productive, friendly people who avoid the drama and focus on enacting positive change.”
“The Tag Switch theory is tainted by prior failure. #BurgersAndFries was the previous tag, that’s the one that started over someone’s sex life. #GamerGate is the discussion of a far-reaching scandal involving journalist corruption and collusion to propagate an agenda against the wishes of the Customer Base. I’ll keep using it, and I hope other people do as well.”
This managed to make Cheong fairly incensed, causing the editor-in-chief from Gameranx to shoot back with the following response…
“Adam Baldwin coined the hashtag #GamerGate with a link to Internet Aristocrat’s video about the sex scandal, which claimed that Zoe Quinn had slept with a game journalist named Nathan Grayson for a favorable review of her free game Depression Quest. Grayson never reviewed the game, and an investigation by Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo concluded that no breach of ethics had ever occurred. Given these facts, why are members of GamerGate, yourself included, insistent on regurgitating the same falsehoods about Zoe Quinn or even caring about what she does with her life?”
Technically Nathan Grayson did write about Depression Quest on two separate occasions without disclosing that he had personal ties to the developer; an offense that would usually cause a journalist to get hit with a suspension or get fired.
Mitchum, however, responded saying…
“Nobody that I’ve talked to in weeks cares about anyone’s sex life anymore. The discussion these days is all about faked harassment, false police reports, gag orders on nice guys who just wanted to talk about their lives on their blogs, and the continued attempt to paste a Diverse group of sex-positive, friendly, welcoming individuals as somehow Misogynistic.
“There has been some discussion of what appears to be a con artist named [redacted] who has been agitating on the Internet and making false claims to secure funding. I believe ‘Zoe Quinn’ is one of her aliases.”
The final response from Mitchum about Quinn and the allegations of faked information and reports led Cheong to put his foot down and halt the interview, curtly responding to Mitchum with the following statements…
“I will have to suspend the interview at this juncture as I am not comfortable introducing Zoe Quinn’s private dox and personal information into the interview.
”Thank you for your time — and I’ll keep you posted on when the interview goes up.“
This was from back on January 13th, 2015.
I recently reached out to Ian Miles Cheong to see if the original interview would be going up on Gameranx, discussing Aesop Games’ Brunelleschi: Age of Architects, the mostly female game staff and their stance on #GamerGate or if the interview was staying shelved. According to Cheong…
“Thanks for reaching out to ask. It’s staying shelved.”
Gameranx previously ran interviews with groups like Silverstring Media and indie dev David S. Gallant, along with Caelyn Sandel, all of whom denounced #GamerGate and labeled it as a harassment campaign.
I did do a follow-up interview with Matthew Mitchum about the games press, getting coverage for Brunelleschi: Age of Architects and the studio’s stance on playing ball with the media and the potential harm of being blacklisted.
You can check out the full interview with Mitchum’s thoughts about the media’s agenda right here.
(Main image courtesy of Brisbane Times)