I have spent the last day or so watching a god damn war erupt on the internet over the alleged infidelity of a rather notable indie dev. Now I’m not going to relate the details here, it’s a rather private matter for those involved and not our business, but one of the supposed partners was a Games Journalist who has been promoting her game, and that’s an obvious conflict of interest. Now I was originally going to write a long and in-depth article discussing this situation from both sides because no one else was, but honestly at this point it’s all just spiraled out of control. There are explosively rash statements being made by anyone and everyone, acts of undue harassment to all involved on either side, and rampant censorship that is both warranted and not. There is no accurately unraveling this whole mess now, it’s all too mired in the controversy itself, discerning what is and isn’t a lie here on either end is impossible and that doubt only fuels the fire more; it’s become an Ouroboros, a controversy continually eating its own tail.
This being the case, I’m going to quickly discuss the two relevant points here in as neutral terms as I can and then put up a picture of my cats; consider them a visual representation of me washing my hands of this whole disheartening mess.
The biggest issue here is that of bias and a lack of transparency. As I said, one of her alleged partners was a Games Journalist, a fairly illustrious one at that who has written for some major sites, and has given her game a fair amount of positive press. I can’t and won’t speculate on the nature of their relationship, because that doesn’t matter; what matters is the fact that a member of the press was getting that intimate with a subject and that neither party felt the need to be transparent about it. That creates a bias, and not making your audience aware of that bias is a condemnable breach of ethics. Your readership needs to be able to rely on your objectivity because they make decisions based on your opinions; having such a bias and not letting people know about it would be tantamount to outright lying as far as I’m concerned. I will note that the person in question did not actually ever officially review the game, but press coverage is far more than just review scores and there are plenty of positive comments he has made-both inside and outside of a professional context-towards the game and its developer (enough that he’s listed in the credits under “Special Thanks”) that are now tainted.
The other point here worth discussing is the censorship issue. The developer in question has been quite thorough in trying to keep the public outburst in check and has been generally supported in this by the major gaming press outlets. I’m of two minds on this issue. On the one hand there is a very palpable and real threat of harassment and bigotry flooding comment sections and message boards. Stemming that tide by just deleting those threads outright is a drastic but effective way of dealing with that problem, it’s for that very reason comments have been disabled on this article. But, that censorship has been extended beyond pure hate speech, there’s been a lot of attempts at actual discourse out there mixed in with all the bile and those are also getting ripped down with absolutely no response back as to why. Things such as discussion regarding Total Biscuit’s very well written response to the situation and Steam reviews of the game that genuinely talked about the quality of the game itself and not the surrounding controversy have been taken down alongside posts featuring slurs and threats of violence. That’s not alright, discussion needs to happen and preventing it will only make all those involved look worse. Creating what is essentially a media blackout does not make the situation go away, in this age of innumerable levels of discussion and communication, it only highlights the issue’s absence in people’s news feeds as a looming elephant in the room.
Those are my points and that’s really all I have to say on the matter. Before I close this out though I’d like to remind you all not to go bug or harass any of the people involved because that’s not cool, absolutely no one deserves the kind of shit being slung around right now. Aside from the issues regarding journalistic integrity, this should be an entirely private matter and the fact that it’s being aired out so publicly is very sad and as such we should be respectful. What’s important here is recognizing the ethical flaws of these events and taking home the lesson that we all need to hold the journalists and public voices we listen to as accountable for what they say. Anyways, this is all making me feel horribly dour and tired so here’s my cats, enjoy.