Update: October 22nd – Please see this followup, where I address having taken Kotaku’s reporting too uncritically in this instance.
Update – October 16th: Brad has responded to this article, wherein he demands an apology from me. I welcome any to read his side of the story. He is particularly vehement that the actual instances of sexual harassment did not occur. My response:
- Harassment is wrong. Anyone who thinks I believe otherwise after reading my work here on any post is not reading the words on the written page correctly. No one should ever have harassed Brad’s wife or child, ever – or for that matter, Brad himself. If this has happened (and I actually don’t doubt it), the instigators are fuckwads, whether they’r men, women, SJWs, martians, or whatever.
- BioWare has nothing to do with my opinions. As is noted on every page of this blog, I speak only for myself. Period. Leave them out of it.
- I have added disclaimers to the text below linking to your page, but otherwise left them intact. I believe that people should be able to read your counter and have it make sense when reading mine.
- In my current capacity, I have nothing to do with anyone deleting forum posts on any topic except on this blog. I have no idea why this is brought up. For what it’s worth, I do not believe any posts to this thread have been deleted – I typically only delete abusive or nonsensical comments.
- I am basing the timeframe of their countersuit on this Kotaku article, which states that the countersuit was filed in August of 2012. They probably used this document to make this case. If Kotaku corrects the record, or Brad is willing to provide compelling counter-evidence, I am more that happy to publish it here and apologize for this error, and I’ll even condemn Kotaku for shitty journalism.
- I am basing the terms of dismissal on this Kotaku article, which claims clearly that the two lawsuits were settled as part of a joint settlement, which despite Brad’s claims, aren’t ‘vindication’ – in fact, the more heinous the employee’s theft of IP was, the more startling it would be that Brad wouldn’t see it to conclusion in court if the sexual harassment case was a nothingburger. If Kotaku corrects the record, or Brad is willing to provide compelling counter-evidence, I am more that happy to publish it here and apologize for this error, and I’ll even condemn Kotaku for shitty journalism.
All this being said, my central gist, which is that Milo not bringing up the countersuit’s role in this lawsuit evaporating paints an incredibly different version of what occurred. However, if new details challenge this view, I will certainly report them and, if appropriate, apologize.
And I shouldn’t have to mention this again, but harassment is wrong. If anyone reads my rebuttal and thinks I am in favor of or hope to encourage the harassment of anyone, including and especially Brad’s family or Brad himself, then please delete me from your blogroll.
I’ve had some problems with Ben Kuchera’s work in the bast. In fact, not too long ago I wrote an article titled What’s Wrong With Game Journalism, and used as exhibit A Ben’s baffling spin on SimCity delivering a much-desired and much-demanded feature (offline play) as a ‘race to the bottom’. In it, I basically argued that Ben doesn’t know much about the inner technical challenges of making major changes like this, and also slammed him for putting a negative spin on what should be a positive, fan-friendly eventuality. Hell, one of my coworkers has a tumblr that it seems like he only ever updates when he wants to rant about something Ben said.
So yeah, Ben’s not above reproach as a journalist.
That being said, Milo Yiannopoulos makes Kuchera look like fucking Woodward and Bernstein combined. You may remember Milo from my previous piece here where I debunked him and Christina Sommers. I think it probably says something that while my Twitter feed filled up with people mad at me for bashing ‘Based Mom’, no one’s stepping up to defend Milo. This may be due to the fact that he’s the sort of enlightened soul who occasionally lets something repugnant slip, such as in this fantastically hypocritical article where he defines Rockstar as having “Brazen, sociopathic, adolescent attitudes” and then veering into “Personally, I don’t understand grown men wasting their lives playing computer games. It seems a bit sad to me” before concluding “It’s not for me to legislate what weirdos in yellowing underpants get up to in their spare time.” He also makes it clear that there’s no doubt that video games were a factor in Elliott Rodger going nutballs.
Yes, this is the defender of the poor devs boxed in by political correctness, and the savior of gamers still reeling from a million ‘gamers are dead’ articles.
Milo has gotten a whiff of controversy, and is now trying to cash in by rebranding himself as a hero of these yellowing underpants weirdos. But that requires a frame: that liberal/SJW journalists are attempting to destroy video games by…. er, something. Pressuring us poor helpless devs to stop making the games the players really want and instead start building ‘Kumbaya: the MMO’, because apparently my bosses hate money. Also, collusion! And he demonstrates collusion by showing that (a) journalists actually are on mailing lists and communicate to each other (editorial note: duh) and (b) in the case of the Zoe Quinn story (which GamerGate is totally not about!), the journalists all colluded by disagreeing strongly on whether to cover her, defend her or even send her a nice note.
That word ‘colluding’ – I don’t think it means what you think it means.
So in today’s blockbuster episode, Milo posts a story about how Ben Kuchera tried to take down Brad Wardell, presumably because Ben Kuchera is a filthy communist and Brad Wardell is an outstanding small businessman being punished by the liberal elites But he leaves out or obfuscates a few details:
1) He really wants you to think that coverage of this is all Ben’s bias. But as he skips over quickly, Ben didn’t break the story. It was Kate Cox of Kotaku (who he just calls a ‘feminist activist reporter’ as an intended slam in passing). Kuchera reposted the story. But it’s hard to see how he’s the genesis of this story, and one can’t help wonder what’s up with Milo’s desperate frame to villify him for it.
2) He really wants you to ignore the fact that, when a sitting CEO is sued by an employee for sexual harassment, it’s a matter of public record as many legal issues are, and that the press has pretty good rationale for having a reason to report it.
3) He doesn’t mention the fact that the Kate Cox story did not, in fact, come in response to the woman suing Brad, but rather Stardock countersuing her. In their suit, they claimed that her deleting marketing assets and stealing a laptop was, in fact, a reason why Elemental shipped as a buggy piece of shit. Because, you know, that’s how game development works. Incidentally, this countersuit appeared merely 3 weeks after a judge rejected Stardock’s attempt to have the sexual harassment case dismissed – two years after the initial suit.
4) He doesn’t mention this because it completely destroys his narrative – that the suit was dismissed as ‘groundless’. The suit wasn’t dismissed as groundless by a judge, nor tried in court. It was settled, in conjunction, effectively dropped in exchange for them dropping their allegations against her. Things like her apology and post-case silence are almost certainly conditions of the settlement. In football, this is called ‘offsetting penalties’, not ‘nothing bad happened here’.
Not mentioning the countersuit or the well-understood terms of the dismissal of the case is kind of a big deal here, guys.
5) He really doesn’t mention the fact that this lawsuit was probably, if not a slam dunk, certainly strong enough to see its day in court and possibly earn judgment based on readily available facts (something that is betrayed by the sudden appearance of the countersuit). Milo could have easily found these facts by searching on the Internet, where he could have found not only the original legal complaint as well as several handy summaries of the facts found within. Among accusations in the complaint
- Brad emailed his employee a purity test and asked for the score (and helpfully flagged the email for followup!).
- He touched her hair in an inappropriate and creepy manner (this is the one that always creeps my female friends out).
- He asked female employees about their breast and bra sizes.
- He told her she should go on the media tour because her nipples looked best on TV.
- He visited the hotel room of her and another female employee and made her feel uncomfortable.
(Addendum: Brad rebuts these five points in this blogpost, and adds):
If there had been even the slightest validity to her claims you never would have heard of it because we would have settled long before. That’s how the real world works, Damion. When CEOs do bad things, their insurance takes care of it. We have insurance. We fought it because her claims were so outrageous and untrue that we weren’t going to let her profit from them.
We won because every named witness supported us. Current and former employees. Men and women.
She sent him a very polite note asking him to cut this shit the fuck out:
- Please never touch my hair or any of my body parts; not even jokingly.
- Please do not talk about my private life or about my boyfriend/future husband in any terms especially negative terms.
- Please be careful with your “jokes” which are at many times inappropriate, sexist, vulgar and very embarrassing not only to me, but everyone present.
- Please keep your negative personal opinions of others (including family members and/or coworkers) not present at the time of your comments, to yourself. I feel, at times, it puts me in a very uncomfortable position.
His response was pretty much the stupidest thing you could say in this context:
I don’t recall item #1 but will certainly endeavor to be extra careful.
I understand #2. I will be more conscious of this in the future.
#3, however is not acceptable to me. I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing person and I’m not inclined to change my behavior. If this is a problem, you will need to find another job.
#4, Again, I am not willing to adapt my behavior to suit others. IF you find my behavior problematic, I recommend finding another job.
I’m not some manager or coworker of yours. I own the company. It, and your job here, exist to suit my purposes, not vice versa. The company is not an end unto itself, it is a means to an end which is to further the objectives of its shareholders (in this case, me).
He followed up with this note to a friendly note to HR:
My general obnoxiousness is not subject to change and I would terminate the corporation and all jobs within if I felt my rights were being curtailed.
I’ve never met Brad, I don’t think. I actually find him mostly pleasant in my online interactions with him. But yeah, there was plenty of reason for this case to see the inside of a courtroom. Because the boss doesn’t get to decide if a work environment is hostile. As a side note, feel free to check out Brad undoubtedly driving his lawyers nuts by refusing to shut up about the case.
These aren’t just random rumors that Ben and Kate pulled off of the internet, but are actual documents from what at the time was an ongoing investigation that at that time the judge refused to dismiss. They are the very definition of public record. Brad should thank his stars that he went 2 years without them catching a reporter’s eye, and if he hadn’t countersued but instead let it run its course or quietly settled, Stardock and Brad would likely still have a sterling reputation.
Milo would know all this if he knew anything about the games industry. Because this shit was ALL OVER THE PLACE two years ago. But he wasn’t, and so what he writes is something that is sloppy, biased and malformed.
The truth of the matter is that Ben Kuchera did not destroy Brad Wardell’s reputation. Either the plaintiff of this case, Alexandria Miseta did, or more likely, Brad did it to himself.