Archive for Behind the Scenes

In Which I Acknowledge and Apologize

About a month ago, I wrote a post about Milo that, by happenstance, discussed a lawsuit in Brad Wardell’s past.  At the time, it didn’t catch fire.  Simply put, no one cared.  I think it had 11 comments as of last Thursday, and I’d forgotten about it entirely.

On Friday, Brad spoke up and condemned the article.  I happened to be on top of a Mayan temple at the time (no shit), but when I got back to my laptop and saw the twitterstorm, I immediately edited the article to include links to his side of the story, as well as my quick takes on the issue.  I then reached out to him on Twitter, and we talked a couple of times that night – at length.  The talks were actually surprisingly pleasant and open.

In the course of this conversation (and some further digging on my part), Brad made a convincing case that I probably erred in trusting Kotaku’s reporting uncritically in this instance.  Part of this was him showing me documentation from the case.  Translation: he took me up on my offer.  I’m opting not to link these here at Brad’s request – at any rate, he has his own forum for doing so if he so chooses, and if anyone asks to see these, I’m just going to say I’ve seen ‘em, and direct you to ask him if you’re a reporter.

I’ve also done some external investigation, in an attempt to be sure I’m … well, at least closer to right. Three quick examples:

  1. Brad sent me documentation showing me that Kotaku gave him mere hours – at the end of a workday – to respond to the story before publishing it – a story that had clearly been in the works for weeks.  The notice had little or no mention of the fact that the story would be based on leaked court proceedings, meaning that Brad had neither the time to address it, nor the ability to rebut the specific extremely damaging claims being aimed towards him.  (As such, Brad did not comment on that article at all, which looked all the more damning).
  2. Brad sent me documentation showing that the case of Stardock vs. the Complainant for lost marketing materials was in active Arbitration as early as a full year before the judged moved the other case to trial, which actively challenges Kotaku’s narrative (which I parroted) that this lawsuit was retaliatory and designed solely to make the sexual harassment lawsuit just go away.
  3. Brad was quite compelling in pointing out that most of the list of grievances (i.e. touching hair, purity test, etc) was effectively laughed out of court, based on the testimony of many witnesses to these events, including that of one of the complainant’s best friends.  This comes from not just Brad, but commentary I’ve found here and there from those who should know the facts.  This is a point he also brought up in his Escapist Gamergate Interview, which appeared after my article did.

This isn’t all, but you get the gist.

So as per my addendum in the original post, I’ll condemn Kotaku for what I believe was probably shitty journalism.   And while I’m at it, I’ll acknowledge and apologize, particularly to Brad, for not being critical enough of that journalism.  And while I still am no fan of GamerGate, I can certainly appreciate his relatively well-founded criticism of the press in his address to it as a result.

As a gesture of good faith, I offered to interview a third-party observer of what happened so that we could get a more objective view of the events that unfolded.  Brad initially agreed, but our third party declined.  If circumstances change, I will be happy to host that here. Beyond that, I won’t be coming back to this issue.

All told, I think that this is a big, messy story, and further investigation and discussion is probably best left in the hands of pro journalists (he’d probably add ‘non-gaming’ to that) who have the experience and access to handle sensitive situations like this one.  I do think there’s still an interesting story here – one which has not yet been objectively told – and it’s one of how bad information can be frozen like amber, dredged up in google, and resurrected a million times, inescapably, in the future.  But I’m not the right one to write that story.

On Being Doxxed and Third Party Shitheads

Yes, I was doxxed -kinda sorta (we’ll get to that). I’m safe.  Wife is rattled but fine.  It was clearly the act of a third party shithead.  Other targets by the same guy in theory included Adam Baldwin (literally, the father of the #gamergate tag) and Patton Oswalt.  Which is pretty weird company to have insomnia and wake to find yourself in, all told.

One of the other supposed targets (Mark Montag, whose portrait suggests he is pro-gamergate, illustrating the ‘third party shitheads’ emphasis I want to make here) had this to say.

The information posted about me is also quite outdated.  As in, I haven’t worked for Origin and had an email address for 15 years and, hell, it hasn’t been around as a game company for, what, 10?  So please, no one feel inclined to bother the nice woman who bought my house.

I do not blame any individual in #GamerGate for this – there is no evidence to support that claim.  I do blame the toxicity and circus-like atmosphere that surrounds #GamerGate-the-Event, though.  People will be unsurprised that this does not change my views on gamergate at all.  But despite that, people on all sides of the issue need to acknowledge that everyone is being trolled by third party shitheads.  

That being said, I will note that the founder of 8chan, one of the places where GamerGate supporters like to congregate, had this to say about whether or not he would even denounce doxing on his site, much less take action to stop it.

Needless to say, I disagree with what you say, buddy. But maybe I’m a LITTLE FUCKING CRANKY RIGHT NOW.

And if you are a GamerGate supporter, you should be depressed.  This is ranking up to be yet another day that the tag is full of discussion about harassment and he-said, she said bullshit instead of game journalism ethics, which even though it was clearly instigated by a third party shithead,  only further makes the hashtag seem toxic to outsiders.

Radio Nero and other Quick Hits

Just a few random snippets.

Radio Nero

I will be appearing on Episode 3 of Radio Nero tonight.  The topic of discussion will be on the idea that #gamergate members should form a consumer advocacy group.  You can read about the original proposal here and but be sure to also read the clarifying statement here.

For what it’s worth, I’m withholding final judgment until the interview airs, but Milo was a very gracious and accommodating host in the interview, and he bent over backwards to be fair and let me air my point of view.  Given that I’ve been, let’s just say, pretty harsh, critical and perhaps a tad unfair to him in the past, I will say that he was more than fair to me in response, and has earned a great deal of respect from me in his attempt to forge some sort of outreach.  I do think that outreach is crucial to getting the industry out of this quagmire.

As with everything I write on this blog, all opinions stated in my interview with Milo are mine and my own, and should not be interpreted as speaking for Electronic Arts, BioWare, our partners at LucasArts or Disney, or any other game developers, pro- or anti-gamer gaters, other human beings, or small fuzzy animals.  I am a unique and beautiful snowflake, I don’t claim a side, and these thoughts are my own.

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How GamerGate’s Right Wing Nutjob Heroes Are Betraying a Hidden Ideological Purge

#GamerGate diehards insist that the current discussion has nothing at all to do with politics and that they are, in fact, trying to keep politics and ideology out of gaming.  Which is stupid – Bioshock, the Sims, Call of Duty and Civilization are all games that have a lot of message and ideology – but yeah, you could ignore all that and stick to that broken point of view.  And a lot of #gamergate fanatics have – in a display of hypocrisy which has now become everyday in this hashtag, #GamerGate has anointed as their champions two right-wing nutjobs desperate to insert their own ideology into the discussion in an apparent successful attempt to be instant patron saints of the Movement.  Hilariously, both have admitted to not really playing any games, something that was considered high treason when it was inferred to be true about Anita, despite the fact that her stuff appears to be mostly very well researched and, uh, for the most part, to have problems but contain some pretty good points. Apparently this isn’t a problem if you’re willing to just take #GamerGate’s side although kudos to whoever suggested that Hatoful Boyfriend should be Milo’s first game).

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Reclaiming ‘Gamer’ and Defending Our Tribe

In the movie Office Space (a film that should be required viewing for anyone who work in games), the unfortunately-named Michael Bolton is asked why he doesn’t go by ‘Mike’ if he resents sharing the name with the famous grammy-award winning singer. His response was simple and eloquent. “Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.”

This comes to mind after reading last week’s flood of people attempting to disavow themselves from the ‘gamer’ identity or declare it dead.  Screw that.  Most gamers don’t suck.  Most gamers are pretty awesome.  A tiny handful of gamers suck.  Why should we be the ones who change?

I am a gamer. I am a proud gamer. I have been for years of my life. So much so that I’ve dedicated my life to making games, writing about games, and speaking about making better games. And I love gamers. I love going to SWTOR Cantina events, to Magic Gamedays, to ArmadilloCon, BoardGameGeek.con, to E3, and to PAX, and seeing all sorts of gamers of all shapes, sizes, colors and creeds come together because we love games. And good games are social. So you see people talking, teaching and sharing with each other, because it makes the games better, and it makes the communities that play them better.

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We Now Return To Your Regular Scheduled Random Posting…

As both of you may have noticed, this here blog took a little hiatus.  I assure you that there are two or three very, very good reasons why this blog disappeared for a little while.

  1. I was pushing to release Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and I was finding it increasingly difficult to post stuff that might not be construed as a promise to our ever eager fan-base.  
  2. I was writing a column for Game Developer Magazine, and to be honest was having enough trouble finding content for THEM every other month, without also feeding the beast here.
  3. I am a lazy, lazy man.

Things have changed somewhat.  I’m now lead designer of SWTOR, which of course is best described as a dream come true.  As such, I’ll probably continue to stray from writing too much about MMO topics that might be confused with SWTOR discussions.  Such discussions should still happen on our own boards, when they do happen.  That being said, the Game Developer Magazine gig appears to have ended with the collapse of the magazine itself.

I am, however, still a very lazy man.

I have been looking at my backups of the old Zen of Design blog, and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that my backups include everything EXCEPT the old content, so all or some of that may be lost forever.  I will endeavor to see if I can dig up some of that old stuff, but at this time I make no promises.

But yeah, anyway, I’m back.