Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Milo’s Sloppy, Biased Video Games Reporting

Update: October 22nd – Please see this followup, where I address having taken Kotaku’s reporting too uncritically in this instance.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

  1. Brad emailed his employee a purity test and asked for the score (and helpfully flagged the email for followup!).
  2. He touched her hair in an inappropriate and creepy manner (this is the one that always creeps my female friends out).
  3. He asked female employees about their breast and bra sizes.
  4. He told her she should go on the media tour because her nipples looked best on TV.
  5. 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.

36 Comments

  1. I don’t love Milo and I don’t like his politics. What I like is facts. Maybe the CEO was a douche, but ending his career is not the next move.

    Now the narrative he pushes for in his stories are to take advantage of the situation, I admit that. With the level media opposition he stands to gain by being the only representative of the other side.

    Have you heard the polytron financial information debacle?
    If true it could lead to an indictment of Phil Fish and his cohorts, and I think that is when things will become a little more real for people.

    Any ways I like facts, and they are hard to come by when everyone is smearing the other side. Do you think any of the criticism of the media colluding is true?

    • Facts are hard to come by, because so few people actually know how to do reporting, which necessarily involves forming relationships that lead in getting people to talk about stuff they otherwise wouldn’t.

      If you gain a legal settlement that makes an accusation go away, you should know better than to bring it up again any more than absolutely necessary.

    • Damion Schubert

      September 24, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Ben didn’t end his career. Brad still owns his company. If Ben was right and Brad was indeed a douchenozzle, Brad would have at most lost a sexual harassment suit. Given that Brad is self-employed, ending his career is pretty hard.

      I think that the ‘media opposition’ you see is actually mostly the media trying NOT to engage, because frankly, the media is the story, and its somewhat hard to report on yourself. Most are choosing to remain as clinical as possible in the topic of GG, because if you head an inch off in either direction, you’re going to get scrutinized.

      I do not think there has been any media collusion that would amount to anything that merits this sort of response. At its worst, the level of information sharing by games press is 1/100th of what is daily business for Fox News, an organization that literally gets their talking points from the republican party and the CEO.

      • I really think we should try to examine the difference of some different medias or even “-gates” to see why #gamergate is currently happening. Let me apologize for something that might be a bit of a long rant beforehand.

        E.g.
        While Fox or some media over here might have an open agenda, one could imo note that there might be more diverse news sites, meaning the difference in bigger news outlets seems to be bigger in politics than it is in gaming.
        Also one argue that a major difference might lie in the fact that people treated games as a retread from this world and their tolerance for people trying to bring politics to them is very reduced in this retreat.
        A third point would be, if we accept that in the 80/90’s the gaming or the overall internet community was consisting of a higher number of socially indept people who found a safe zone in it, we have to ask ourself if and how one could maintain such a safe zone, while still having diversity. And to add a bit in the lingo of gender theory intersectionality and such, how much empathy can a one demand from a psychopath before being an “ableist”.

        And if we look at the whole currently ongoing “-gate”, i had the feeling that in the past people always found a sacrifical lamb. E.g. the guy who got thrown out in the Jam who seemingly wanted to provoke a bit by asking if a female dev would put on on disadvantage.
        Or they at least were wise enough to not actively trying to fight back and silence their critiques (using both silence and critiques here quite loosely).
        So they were handled, from my experience with damage control, much better than what journalists tried. They totally miscalculated how (some) gamers would react toward their whole idea of taking the term back or even dropping the term.
        I also think people react differently to the accusation of someone getting offfered something quite substanial and therefore getting ‘corrupt’, then falling for a few pence. Which from an economical view makes quite a bit of sense as you’ll get some disutility from acting against your morale, but the utility gained by money or something else might balance that more than out.

    • A lot of this about why this would see the inside of a courtroom (the reasons you list) are wrong. Almost every single allegation was thrown out long before this ever got very far, and what was leftover in the suit, I was actually a witness to.

      Just sayin’, there’s a lot of crap in here that’s completely irrelevant which makes this a hell of a hit job in itself.

      • Damion Schubert

        October 18, 2014 at 12:23 am

        Stephanie, I have updated the story with multiple links to brad’s rebuttal. If you can have brad DM or contact me at this site, I would appreciate it.

  2. Based Milo is alright in my book.

  3. Oh, oh… a lot of conspiracy, nepotism and corruption is being exposed! Whatever shall we do?

    O, yes, right, we shalt Ad Homimem the one releasing all the info!

    • It really isn’t. Literally no conspiracy and corruption has been exposed, as the post quite explicitly lines out (the bit starting “Also, collusion! And he demonstrates…”).

      Nepotism, sure. Almost every industry has nepotism. “I’ll get this guy because I know him and worked well with him before.” It’s a problem, sure, especially when it means that so many sites are just crewed by white men and women, queer or POC journos are left scrounging for freelance scraps.

      • So you’re saying because nepotism exists in any industry, its not a big deal? This is the nepotism that has literally made every major gaming publication produce completely biased and totally unwarranted slander articles against an entire reader base. There’s small time nepotism and then there’s wide spread nepotism.

        • Damion Schubert

          September 25, 2014 at 10:13 pm

          What the hell are you talking about? Seriously. Are we still talking about the ‘gamers are dead’ articles that are, quite literally, opinion pieces and actually pretty much irrelevant beyond the fact that they pissed people off?

          Are they actually keeping you from getting the games you’d play? Are they stopping GTAs and CODs from being made? Are hardcore game mags still getting millions of clicks? No. No. Yes.

          Also, having colleagues is not the same as ‘nepotism’. Having like-minded coworkers is not the same as ‘nepotism’.

          • How convenient to gloss over the fact that these articles were dropped within minutes of each other on about 14 sites.

            Are we still talking about it?

          • Conve, which means what, exactly? That opinion writers were of pretty much the same mind, that moment in time?

            Because if your argument is that they all conspired to make all gamers everywhere feel bad about themselves with the EXPRESS PURPOSE to ruin their business and create a shitstorm, think about how dumb that sounds.

            Opinion pieces are opinion pieces. They are only one part of journalism. And people were really being jackasses at that time.

        • “This is the nepotism that has literally made every major gaming publication produce completely biased and totally unwarranted slander articles against an entire reader base.”

          No, it didn’t.

          A.) they weren’t slander articles. They were pushback against what was seen as unwarranted harassment and frankly disgusting behavior on a part of a few. The articles were aimed at those few.

          B.) “Death of (X)” is a common rhetorical tool. The NY Times had an article a week or two ago about the “death of adults.” Is it a slander article aimed at adults? No.

          C.) It is very very common for journalists to write opinion pieces in response to one another. To see “oh hey there is this big controversy, I need to get in on this ASAP.” Likely, most of them were simply written in reaction to the first few. Games writers can turn things around very quickly.

          D.) Even if there WAS collusion, it wasn’t on GJP. Or else that would have been part of Milo’s leak.

          E.) The nepotism mainly means that non-male, non-white, non-heterosexual/cisgender writers aren’t hired by sites like Polygon and Kotaku. Somehow, I don’t see GG complaining about that.

  4. I remember this controversy, and who really did break out the story makes no freaking difference(really whats the difference between Kotaku and Polygon? Absolutely nothing).

    I love that when this involves a female developer, personal relationships have nothing to do with anything and shouldn’t even be mentioned even though they involve people in the industry who have a very direct conflict of interest.

    But with this guy we just HAD to know he ask her if she wanted to taste semen.
    But of course Milo Yiannopoulos is the tabloid journalist and sensationalist here.

    • Did you even read the article? Or any other info about this whole thing?

      In terms of Quinn, there is no gaming angle for the games press to report on. None at all. Her story is that she cheated on her boyfriend, he got mad and posted a bunch of stuff about it. The only link to games there is the fact she was a dev – but as her relationships had nothing to do with any of her gaming work or any other games produced then where, exactly, is the gaming story that a gaming website would report on?

      Oh, and please don’t mention the so called corruption it uncovered like some people choose to. The ex-boyfriend himself posted evidence (and he was very meticulous with his evidence) that no impropriety happened until after the two articles (that only mentioned Quinn in passing anyway) were published.

      Whereas, in the case of Wardell, the reported story was that he was suing an ex-employee for ruining production on his game and causing it to be released in a highly buggy state. That is quite clearly a story related to gaming. It then emerged that his lawsuit was based upon the fact he wanted to get his former employee to drop their own two year old case against him. I good reporter would show both sides of that case – it’s what GG has been moaning about right? Good reporting?

      The fact that the case was settled, doesn’t mean the allegations were unfounded. The fact he still has an obvious chip on his shoulder about it, still talks about it (even though I doubt he should as there are normally confidentiality clauses) and still harbours a grudge is obvious.

      He saw this as his chance to get back at the people that posted the story, so obviously sides with GG to do so. Though it is telling that his most recent blog post said that, despite what he sees as poor reporting sometimes, he feels there is no real corruption/collusion in the industry.

      TL:DR His story was related to gaming, as it allegedly impacted his game, whereas her story was purely about her and her ex. Simple.

    • “(really whats the difference between Kotaku and Polygon? Absolutely nothing).”

      Polygon’s editorial staff includes some people who used to work for Kotaku, but they have a posted ethics standard and are generally better about actual reporting, instead of muckraking through people’s Linkedin pages to figure out what projects they’re working on. I haven’t seen Polygon do that.

      Those are significant differences.

      • Err..wait, who does what now? You mean you haven’t seen Polygon do the muckraking action? Sorry, confusing sentence is confusing…at least to my sleep lusting eyes it was 😛

  5. Well, someone obviously didn’t read the court documents on Brad’s case.

    The girl in the case got reported by ex-workmates that she worked for other companies in business hours, were always complaining that she should been paid more and she needed more money and that they never seen her feeling oppressed or pissed off at Brad’s jokes. Defacto, she had a stick on her desk she showed people as the Brad Hitting Stick or something.

    Also props for linking HER court case but not HIS.

  6. Did you seriously publish blatant lies and slander about Wardell?

    You’re right, there is something wrong with game journalism when people like you are writing garbage like this.

  7. lol this guy got btfo buy wardell

    pls keep writing this crap

  8. And pieces like this are the main issue with Liberal Progressives at their core. They’re never interested in actual facts, just pushing forth an agenda while claiming those who don’t hop on board are either racist, or a misogynists, it’s really their only card since their agenda is devoid of common sense or actual reality.

    • Right. Because court cases and documents of records are totally not factual.

      Seriously, do you read before you post? At all?

    • You can disagree with Damion and agree with Brad. You can read both court cases and documents if you wish. But reference to statements in court cases and allegations of misconduct are factual in any discussion of the events themselves.

      But the fact that you declare one side *factual* and one side not based on the contents of one blog post from the aggrieved party (and an ongoing discussion between them) is just as much a demonstration of your bias as it is of any in the author.

      • Actually Brad’s side is factual for obvious reasons, including the women in question was made to apologize for her accusations, and none of the actual witnesses IN the case backed her side of the story at all. I believe that alone is quite telling don’t you?

        This is a major reason why Gamersgate exists to begin with, liberals are not interested in facts, just agenda pushing, it’s so blatantly obvious to anyone who demonstrates an ounce of critical thought.

        • All that said, I believe Wardell when he says the countersuit was filed in 2011, because that seems like a strange thing to lie about.

          However, it’s not that telling when that apology letter never repudiated the original accusations (no, apologizing for bringing the lawsuit is not the same thing, and it is not vindication), and she only did so in exchange for Stardock dropping a case against her that was, according to Wardell, very serious.

          If you’re so interested in the facts, you should make note of that one–Stardock gave something up to get that apology. They gave up their countersuit.

          That’s especially true when Wardell thunders “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.” But if what he says about the countersuit is true, she *did* profit from those claims–she got away with destruction of IP. If the harassment case was so groundless, and his insurance so good, why let her get away with anything?

          And note that this logic doesn’t apply to her–she probably didn’t have any insurance. (How many employees are insured against being sued by their employer?)

          Also note that the way he characterized the “infamous email” and his behavior prior to the email has completely changed. He now says it was out of context, “sarcastic”, and “I don’t tell dirty jokes”. That view doesn’t match the response he sent to Kotaku ( http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?70349-Stardock-Sues-Former-Employee-for-1-000-000-for-Elemental-s-commercial-failure/page7 ) or the angry posts he made about that response.

          She later emailed me telling me she was mad about the incident – to which I apologized for hurting her feeligs but also insisted that I watch what jokes I tell around the office. (To understand the context, we’re a relaxed software company, lots of Family guy jokes, Simpsons references, Robot Chicken references, etc.). To which I responded, admittedly, very very harshly to.

          He wasn’t saying anything about missed sarcasm back then.

          Hey, I wasn’t there. Maybe Wardell is completely innocent, he just realized that that email he sent out made going to trial too dangerous. But here’s the bottom line: given the context of the countersuit, that apology did not vindicate Wardell.

          • What does vindicate Wardell is none of the actual witnesses were on her side. Period. Here’s the bottom line for me, us women and female gamers, don’t need progressives to protect us or shelter us or use us as shields for their agenda pushing that would completely be ignored if they weren’t using women and minorities as human shields.

            As a women I am plenty capable of standing on my own, I don’t need a hateful group of progressives that believe I’m a special little flower that needs to be given things solely based on gender to get ahead in life.

          • If the case were so open-and-shut, why settle without getting an apology that actually says the original allegations were wrong? Why overlook the IP damage that she allegedly did and was allegedly very serious?

            To be clear, I have no idea if Wardell committed sexual harassment. I said Wardell was not vindicated, but I sure didn’t say that his accuser was vindicated!

            Also, #notyourshield is a shield. Neither men nor women should be subject to sexual harassment.

  9. Well, you used to be one of the few prominent anti-GG figures I actually still respected. After that refusal to apologise though, I realise you’re just as big a hypocrite as the rest of them.

  10. I’m with Brad Wardell. STFU you SJW preachy ass hole. And no, that’s not harassment, it’s criticism.

  11. “However, if new details challenge this view, I will certainly report them and, if appropriate, apologize.”

    That’s not how it works, Flower. If you are going to do a hit piece, then it’s on you to get the facts you need to support it, not for the person you are doing the hit on to prove that what you are saying is wrong. And this is a hit piece on Wardell. Almost as bad to read as SW:TOR.

    And speaking as a lawyer, you really might want to run your impressions of a lawsuit by one of us – think of it as a fetch quest for a clue.

  12. Wardell’s post linking to this guy is one day old. I don’t represent him, but what does that have to do with anything? Lawyers play games too.

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