Nepotism, Censorship and a Breach of Trust

Editor’s Note: After a lot of thinking, new information coming out and listening to discussions about this subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that it would have been better if I had not written this article. Or at least, I should have written it much differently and put more focus on some things and less on others. If I had chose not to publish this on the date it was written, it would reflect the new perspective. Please keep this in mind if you choose to continue reading. The only reason I am not deleting or heavily editing this article is because I believe in people being held accountable for what they said rather than trying to hide it. 

Right now there are allegations of an indie game developer sleeping with members of the games media who later in turn gave positive coverage of the game. I make it a point to say “allegations” because I cannot attest to what capacity they are true or untrue. There are a lot of issues within the game industry and the game journalism community raised by this. To be clear, none of them are about criticizing a woman for having sexual relations of any kind. It is about nepotism, a breach of trust between the media and the audience and censorship by the industry that is most against it.

Note: I will not be identifying any parties in the scandal in this article. It’s just not something I feel comfortable with right now. However with a little research you can find all the information you like.

There seems to be some amount of censorship of the issue, with a Reddit thread discussing TotalBiscuit’s take on the situation. Articles on other sites have been deleted and MundaneMatt’s video on it was taken down from YouTube via copyright claim by either the game’s developer or someone impersonating her. This is all very suspicious. It’s possible that the people involved in this have serious connections that can make this happen. This could be happening to cover up the truth of the situation. Another (possibly more plausible) explanation is the excess of inflammatory behavior including death threats, misogynist comments, dissemination of personal information and photos and (allegedly) attacks on the developer’s personal internet accounts.

Obviously transparency is an issue in the industry. Journalists have often either refused to cover products or have given disclaimers before covering products where conflicts of interest involving friends or former coworkers might arise. If the allegations of relations between developer and the journalists are true, the lack of either of those actions being taken in a situation like this feels like a huge violation of trust. Readers and other members of the media deserve to know if there may be a conflict of interest. Even if they did have relations and even if said relations had no bearing on the coverage, something still has to be said. They wouldn’t even have to explicitly inform readers of a sexual history. Conflict of interest disclaimers have been given for much less.

If the allegations are true, this needs to be addressed and all parties involved need to be held accountable to maintain the integrity of the industry. Unfortunately, there are problems with this. There are a lot of people, some defending the developer and condemning the developer, who are focusing on “a woman slept with five guys” instead of the issues I just discussed. The defenders in this category are saying “You’re only mad because a woman dared to have sex”, while the ones condemning her are saying “She should be punished for being a slut”. Both are wrong and miss the point entirely.

I’m sure some people are afraid that covering the situation would make either of these groups feel validated when they should not. There is also the fact that whether or not the allegations are true, this situation has hurt the image of women in the games industry, even more so if the allegations are true. It isn’t right, but a lot of people, including some with power and influence within games, will think back to this incident whenever they see a woman in the industry having any success or trying to get it.

This whole thing is still developing. I want to end this article by reminding you all that I don’t have enough information to make a judgement as to whether or not the alleged actions happened. At this point, very few people do. Keep this in mind and stay objective. I just wanted to take a minute to talk about the issues worth discussing that relate to this. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or in an article/video of your own.

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