Recently, someone claiming to be an Xbox One developer, that is a developer of the Xbox One itself, showed up on 4chan and said that they, along with their colleagues, were in support of the GamerGate movement. Recently, that person came in contact with TechRaptor and has agreed to an interview. We have verified that this person is indeed an Xbox One developer.
This person has chosen to remain anonymous, and we must urge that anything said here is not the official stance of Microsoft or anything related to Microsoft in any way.
Would you be willing to describe your job/relationship with Microsoft?
I don’t feel really comfortable with revealing too much (at least for the moment). I can say that I’ve been a part of Microsoft for over two years now as a software developer, and in the past I’ve worked for another console manufacturer as well as a small games studio. I’m quite new in the industry by some standards (about 5 years of total experience), but I’ve had only amazing experiences with the companies I worked for during these years.
Could you give some insight on the relationship between journalists and developers/publishers?
Unfortunately, I’m not the best dev in the world to talk to about that. Given the profile of the companies I worked for in the past, most of that relationship is between the PR/marketing teams and the journalists directly. What I can say, however, is that not all of these relationships are as moral as they should be. Controversies and scandals surface all the time around this subject. Some are founded, other are just hot air.
There are a lot scandals and allegations made regarding corruption in game journalism/industry in the past. One of them involved my current company, where Youtubers were paid extra for their videos if they endorsed the Xbox One. Another one was when a developer traded sex for positive reviews and coverage of her own games. As you can see, some publications can be corrupt on all levels.
It all initially started in the development side of the games industry. Companies and publishers began encouraging aspiring journalists passionate about gaming to write about their game and ‘spread the news’. Those small encouragements started off as copies of the games, branded merch, free passes to certain events. Eventually it reached a critical point where game companies allocate increasingly larger amounts of money for ‘marketing’ purposes. Big game publication websites sport large ads of upcoming games and releases they will inevitably have to critique, while their reporters get all-expenses-covered trips across the world to visit game studio or major events. Only a few people out there know how much of the marketing budgets of a game/console/event goes into incentivising the ‘press’ to write about the end product, but the line between corruption and simply facilitating game ‘journalists’ to do their job is very thin and constantly moving.
With GamerGate, what would you describe as the general feeling of Microsoft employees?
There is huge support for #gamergate, at least in our studio. Quite a few people (myself included) come from a games dev background, so most of us here identify ourselves as gamers. Obviously, when certain publications write that we are dead or dying, we tend to get a little upset.
That being said, we are all against harassment, abuse, and any sort of illegal and heavily immoral activity, but we also support freedom of expression and creativity. Neither I nor any of my colleagues believe in the lies told by so-called feminists or their gullible armies of clueless SJWs.
Our women colleagues have been particularly vocal and clear in regards to their stance on this issue. They do not believe misogyny is an issue in this industry anymore, as those years have long been gone. Some of them have social media accounts from which they voice their opinions on games and the industry in general. None of them have received any threats or harassment so far for just being women devs.
I can’t comment on the entire organization, because Microsoft is quite huge and its studios are literally spread across the globe.
Is GamerGate having an effect at Microsoft? Do you see any changes coming?
I don’t know for sure. I know that some PR guys upstairs have been quite active in the recent weeks, but nothing definitive. Internally, there are no changes coming, because nothing has changed for us. We continue to work on providing our fans -the gamers- with content and great experiences. That will never change, despite what some publications might say. Yes, we are upset about what is happening, but as far as work goes, there is nothing changing.
Do you have any experience, or knowledge, of the claims many GamerGate supporters make? Of journalism corruption, a lack of ethics, and other things of that nature?
I can’t say that I have any extra ‘evidence’ to back up claims made by #gamergate supporters, but we already have plenty out there. Screenshots, archives, the actions of journalists and certain indie devs speak volumes. Smart, capable people and certain media personalities have dissected the issue (and continue to do so) relentlessly. More and more devs, women and minorities are coming out in support of this movement, so I think that says it all.
On the other side, do you have any experience, or knowledge, of the claims that many anti-GamerGate people make? Of misogyny and harassment in the gaming industry?
In the game dev industry, I can say that there is little to no misogyny, harassment or racism. Those are issues from a long forgotten past. The industry is full of capable, professional women and ethnically diverse people. I can assure you that in almost all game companies and publishers, recruiters and interviewers in the hiring departments don’t care the slightest about the gender or ethnic background of an applicant.
The gaming community however is a different story. There are hundreds of millions, probably billions of people that could be identified as gamers, depending on your definition of the word. Yes, some of them have less moral fiber than others, but that is always the case with large groups of people.
Those looking from the outside need to understand that the loud, vocal minority in the gaming community seems much larger than it actually is, and that is mostly because of social media and how easy it is these days to spread your words and opinions over the internet.
Going back to the question, almost all claims made by anti-#gamergate people have been proved to be either baseless accusations, gross exaggerations, or staged self-attacks. The very small percentage that is left are either actual misogynistic and racist people, or those that have issues with containing their anger in online debates. Anonymity acts very much like alcohol. It makes it easier for people to accuse or attack each-other, but that’s absolutely nothing new on the internet.
By baseless accusations I am referring to the numerous cases where anti-#gamergate people are calling all gamers sexists and racists, without any kind of reasoning or logic behind their broad-targeted attacks.
They have resorted to faking/editing chat longs from various IRC channels to make it seem that there is a movement that are targeting them specifically (proven wrong by the dump of chat logs by the admin of such a chat).
Posting out-of-context comments on various threads and forums that are then used as ‘evidence’ by the anti-#gamergate people to show how misogynist and pathetic we gamers are. What they didn’t show was the tens of responses to each of those comments condemning them as false-flags.
Lying about calling the police and having conversations with them in regards to their recent ‘harassment’. (journalists have investigated by calling the proper authorities and proving that those ‘victims’ didn’t call the police when they said they did).
Using minorities as an excuse for their pathetic agendas (which has triggered the massive #notyourshield movement). As a rebuttal, #gamergate and #notyourshield exploded with self-pics of gamers of various ethnic background and genders holding #notyourshield signed papers next to their face or their passports.
There are many such events occurring throughout the social media and online environment, and I’m sorry that I can’t be 100% specific in my examples.
Will GamerGate end up having a lasting effect on the gaming industry?
I am absolutely sure that #gamergate will have a huge effect on the gaming industry as a whole. At this point, however, I can’t say for sure what that is. The movement is still strong, people are still fighting for justice and freedom of expression, and it doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon.
There have been quite a few positive things that happened ever since #gamergate started. Some online publications have reviewed their internal rules and ethical guidelines, while communities across the internet have banded together in what previously would have been considered to be impossible alliances, all united under a common banner.
It’s not sure at this point how the conflict will end, and how the industry will be affected as a result, but I can say that this is not going to go away soon, no matter how much #gamergate supporters are censored, attacked or smeared with dirt.
You mentioned that development for yourself and your coworkers has gone unchanged – so far – and is likely to stay that way. However, do you think GamerGate will have an effect on indie developers? Whether that be what they choose to include in a game, what it is about, or even whether or not it gains success (i.e. media publicity).
It all depends on the outcome of this “war”. I would like to think that developers will change in a way. Gamers are getting tired of Doritos and Mountain Dew being shoved into their face. They are getting tired of reading/watching reviews that make absolutely no sense, to the point where “10/10 IGN” has become a common joke. That is one thing that would need to change in my opinion.
Regarding actual development, creativity and freedom of speech should be preserved at all cost. Devs should not have to care about what everyone’s reaction will be, because their game (with only a few, extremely rare exceptions), will not appeal to the entire gaming audience anyway. They should always keep their target audience in mind and never be forced to include something in their game that they don’t want to. If there really is a demand for games that contain certain content, then someone will eventually make it and become famous. Supply and demand works amazingly well in this industry.
Of the connections you may or may not have to other big gaming companies, or indie developers, do you think they share similar sentiments that you and your coworkers have?
I don’t have quite a lot of friends or connections that are part of other companies or publishers, but those few fellow colleagues of mine from outside Microsoft have so far expressed their support for #gamergate (or at least for the ideas and demands behind gamergate) in the same way my work colleagues have. Such individuals work for companies like Sony, Ubisoft and Rockstar Games.
The interviewee had some other thoughts to share as well:
This scandal has sadly also caused a lot of damage to the pursuit of inclusion in this industry, and has set back the work of a lot of good, kind people that fight for equality or want to share their unique ideas with the rest of us. Feminism is now associated by some (if not most) of the gaming public with “the bitches that wanted to kill us”. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, organizations tying themselves to that ideology and name, fight so that women have the right to vote and be protected from constant violence.
The so-called feminists involved in the #gamergate scandal only stand to profit and gain fame from the masses of gullible people that like to call themselves SJWs. They constantly lie, cry wolf and go as far as to fake attacks on themselves to become the ultimate victim, reaching a point where it becomes a grotesque public display.
As a final word, I would like to let everyone know that despite the ongoing censorship going on on various websites (especially 4chan of all places), us gamers must not feel defeated. Setbacks like these are to be expected when we’re facing corrupt individuals that would do anything to bury their wrongdoings.
I want to thank the interviewee again for the interview.
Note: the ideas expressed here are not necessarily shared by myself or TechRaptor, but are the interviewee’s own.