Warning: Some of the images and quotes contain strong language.
Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart leaked the whole thread from the Game Journalism Professionals mailing list regarding the Zoe Quinn scandal. Of course, there are likely many more discussions related to the Game Journalism Professionals list, but what they entail or who they entail is nothing but speculation. Below will be an examination of that leaked thread. Certain emails and quotes from certain emails will be discussed.
Eventually, a safe link for all to view the emails in full will be available, but right now there is some personal information included in the leak so they will not be posted here – yet.
But first, here is a list of everyone involved in this thread of emails on the Game Jounralism Professionals mailing list:
Kyle Orland, senior editor at Ars Technica; Ben Kuchera, an editor at Polygon; Jason Shreier, a writer at Kotaku; James Fudge, managing editor of GamePolitics.com; Mike Wehner, a writer for the Daily Dot; Andrew Groen, a WIRED contributor; Dan Starkey, a freelance writer; Andy Eddy, a freelance writer and editor; William O’Neal, editor-in-chief at TechRadar.com; Mike Futter, news editor at Game Informer; Susan Arendt, Managing Editor at Joystiq; Matt Hawkins, creator of fort90; Michael Rougeau, a freelance writer; Schott Nichols, a freelance writer for mostly Digital Spy; Adam Rosenberg, the gaming and movie editor at Digital Trends; Devin Connors, writer at The Escapist; Greg Tito, editor-in-chief of The Escapist; Chris Dahlen, a freelance writer; Ryan Smith, a freelance writer; Sarah LeBoeuf, writer at The Escapist; Brandon Justice, editorial director at ReadRETRO Magazine; Britton Peele, entertainment editor at The Dallas Morning News; and Philip Kollar, a reviews editor at Polygon.
Again, that is just a list of the 23 people involved in this chain of emails. In all likelihood there are more people that just didn’t comment. A quick note about them too: Nobody that appears on this list wrote about the whole “Death of Gamers” thing that happened at the end of August. The closest one could say was the fact that an article by Chris Plante showed up on Polygon. If that is a mistake, please post that information in the comments.
What more can we see in the emails that were not included in the first two batches we were privy too?
Well it all began with the post seen above from Kyle Orland, which has been released already. There is one particular point to highlight:
I do feel that there is some legitimate public interest in a game developer being attacked by “the internet.” At the same time as *that*, I don’t want to in essence reward the jerks doing this by giving their ‘issue’ any attention at all.
That quote there sets the tone for the entire discussion onward. Nearly everyone who joined in the discussion afterward made those two distinct points among the other discussions going on where there were some disagreements. Immediately, this group of journalists from Game Journalism Professionals saw the issue about harassment and refused to give people that had a legitimate concern about game journalism ethics a voice. Keep that in mind, though it will be fairly easy as it crops up time and again throughout the discussion.
The most disturbing thing in the entire chain of articles from Game Journalism Professionals comes when Greg Tito, editor-in-chief at The Escapist asked the group their opinions on whether or not he should allow a thread about the Zoe Quinn issue to continue or if he should remove it:
I’ve decided not to write about this because it’s kind of ridiculous, but there’s a thread created on The Escapist forums that is getting attention. I am unsure where to draw the line. As an editorial organization, I’ve made the call to ignore the story. But as the controller of a public forum on the internet, I’m struggling to find justification in shutting down discussion. There are voices all over the spectrum in there.
Greg follows Kyle in the sense that he doesn’t want to write about the issue, but again, that is something they all agree on in this thread. However, here he does show a legitimate worry about free speech and discussion. He probably wishes the discussion didn’t go on because he sees it as “ridiculous,” but he also knows others may not see it that way. So what kind of advice did he get?
Well this is what Greg received from Ben Kuchera in multiple emails:
This is the question: People are using your platform to harass a developer. Are you comfortable with that?
Someone signed up for an Escapist account just to post that thread, and try to spread alleged details of someone’s sexual past in order to shame them. I’m not sure what your definition of harassment is, but that fits mine.
If using the forums to post hearsay to harass and abuse people isn’t against your current TOS, change your TOS. Don’t sit by and let your community be used to making gaming worse because of a technicality.
I mean, if nothing else now we KNOW the post contains demonstrably untrue things about real people. Serious allegations. Is THAT enough to get you to consider taking it down? What does it take before the Escapist says “Maybe we shouldn’t be giving this a home.”
James Fudge was also in favor of deleting it, claiming the thread violated the Terms of Service for The Escapist Forums., as well as Andy Eddy. Mike Wehner and Britton Peele agreed with Greg that the forums should be allowed to stay up. Though Britton Peele seemed to agree because having the discussion on The Escapist forums allowed for “a somewhat controlled discussion.”
This was Greg Tito’s response:
I don’t think factual errors in a forum post on the internet, however, are a huge area of concern for me.
The conversation may be distasteful to some of us, but I don’t know if the answer is to delete the thread. The Escapist is not giving harassment a home, but allowing civil discussion on a matter that people are emotional about. As long as it stays within our rules of conduct, and yeah James I don’t think anything stated has violated the rules you posted, then pushing this down would only serve my own tastes and opinions. That’s not what a public forum is designed to be, in my opinion.
First, let’s recognize Greg Tito for making the correct decision here with the forums. While most may disagree with his choice not to voice his opinion on the issue, we must recognize that he did not participate in actively silencing the community.
Second, and most important, this is quite disturbing. The fact that Greg could come to Game Journalism Professionals and genuinely ask for advice regarding censorship is deeply disturbing. What makes it even more disturbing is the fact that some of the journalists there were arguing for censorship. Isn’t it the job of the journalist to inform people on issues? To facilitate discussion through finding facts or offering their own opinion? Everything with that discussion paints a sickly light on game journalism and makes one step back to really think about their role.
Regardless of the discussion of the existence of this mailing list (which will happen later), any discussion of censorship – and a serious one at that – should ring alarms everywhere for anyone who reads it. Those involved in the discussion at Game Journalism Professionals should seriously reconsider what their job title entails.
And what does that entail exactly? Well Dan Starkey had something to say about that. In regards to whether or not to publish a story he said to think this:
It simply requires you to attempt to consider the consequences of your actions and determine if they will bring a net positive or a net negative about.
In many ways isn’t the job of a journalist to inform? It is not to choose what to inform about is it? The idea that a journalist would choose to not publish something based on their own utilitarian evaluation of publishing it is very troubling. For one, how can they know whether it would be positive or negative? And another, isn’t that evaluation left up to readers? This line of thought from Starkey is troubling to say the least.
One more thing to add before moving on to more in the mailing list. A contribution from Chris Dahlen:
Also, I’m just reminded of the recent Polygon opinion pieces where they shut the comments off altogether. Commenting on somebody else’s website or forum is a privilege, not a right. If you’re going to be a shitbag, you don’t get to contribute.
That last line aside (he is right about removing intentionally inflammatory comments), look at the one in bold. To an extent, that is somewhat true. That website or forum does hold the final decision in banning someone from it. However, this comment from Chris seems to be about intentionally removing discussion. There is a big difference in removing trolls and silencing criticism.
More on the next page.