PC Gamer’s editorial staff, including editors Chris Thurston, Tyler Wilde and editor-in-chief Evan Lahti, partook in a recent “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. Quite naturally, a lot of people were interested in topics centered around censorship, #GamerGate and the collusion between journalists in the infamous GameJournoPros secret e-mail group.
During the AMA on the PC Gaming sub, some users pointed out that it looked as if PC Gamer was part of a collective narrative with other websites in targeting Hotline Miami 2 as perpetuating rape culture. Users listed articles from Kotaku, Engadget, Polygon, Forbes and Rock, Paper, Shotgun — most of whom had members on the GameJournoPros secret e-mail list [Full disclosure: I was also on the list] — and said that it looked like a coordinated and concerted effort from large media outlets to push a narrative against the game.
Chris Thurston responded saying that all of the articles that come out back-to-back about certain topics is “not a conspiracy” and that a lot of people in certain fields simply agree with one another. Reddit users quickly shot back that it sometimes is a conspiracy and that groups like the GameJournoPros exist, to which Thurston responds…
“I’m aware of the GameJournoPros chat channel but I do think you’re vastly overstating what it represents. Professionals in every field maintain relationships with one another, and it’s not uncommon for people to keep in touch via Google groups, Slack channels, and so on. I used to work in web design before I became a writer. It was as true for that industry as this one.
“Journalists discussing the right way to handle sensitive material is not compromising in and of itself, nor is it a conspiracy or ‘collusion’. In fact, it’s good practice: writers in every field often refer to peers and common resources in order to guard against personal error and bias.”
PC Gamer had some of its staff on the GameJournoPros, so it would make sense why Thurston defended it. However, Thurston is being dishonest about the use of the list by some of its members. He claims that it’s not a “conspiracy” or “collusion” but they did collude to help give certain people a platform, not on merit but because – in the case of Jenn Frank – she “was a friend”. It was outlined in a piece we published back on March 18th, 2016, which contains the e-mails of the discussion.
Also, in the case of Allistair Pinsof, a former journalist who worked at Destructoid, the GameJournoPros did confer with one another about what to do with him when they felt he crossed a line in regards to reporting on a fraudulent IndieGoGo scam that included outing someone as transgender. The discussions saw various editors and managers from other outlets backing Ars Technica’s Kyle Orland in his proposal, which was to tell Destructoid owner Niero Gonzalez that “He’s gotta go.”
The Destructoid incident didn’t end there, and involved a blanketed blacklisting attempt to make sure that Pinsof no longer worked as a journalist in the gaming industry. The entire thing is outlined in the “Blacklisting” section of Deep Freeze’s profile on GamesJournoPros.
That wasn’t the only blacklisting that took place, though. Another blacklisting attempt was outlined for an indie developer who got into an argument with the IGDA over women’s treatment in gaming, along with a blacklisting attempt against industry professional Kevin Dent by former Kotaku and Giant Bomb journalist Patrick Klepek, also outlined on Deep Freeze.
Thurston sidesteps the people who brought up these issues in the AMA, but tries to reinterpret statements from users who stated that games journalists have resolved to “lies and misinformation” to push across their own social and political agendas, writing…
“I think the key issue here is revealed when you say ‘lies and misinformation’. If you truly believe that issues of gender or identity politics are groundless lies, then of course you’re going to think it’s a grand conspiracy when a whole lot of different people believe in it and write about those beliefs. Consider applying Occam’s Razor to this one: what’s more likely? That hundreds of different people from different walks of life have all coordinated a conspiracy to mislead you with a lie, or that they happen to naturally agree with one another about something that you, personally, do not agree with?”
Actually, there were threads in the GameJournoPros list where they actually went out of their way to ignore the facts to push their own sociopolitical agenda about #GamerGate during the 2014 blow-up.
What’s more is that Ben Kuchera, from Polygon, even bullied then editor-in-chief from The Escapist into closing down the #GamerGate discussion thread on the forums in order to protect his “friend” Zoe Quinn. This was outlined in leaked e-mails that was published over on Breitbart.
Also, recently the “gender politics” discussion was front and center for the indie Early Access game RimWorld when a Rock, Paper, Shotgun journalist lied about the game and created a big media backlash in the gaming community over misinforming and misrepresenting the game regarding an unfinished feature in the game.
Thurston attempting to cover up these blatant displays of misfeasance was called out by the Reddit gaming community who said that they saw through the lies.
Never once in the thread do they make any attempt to condemn the blacklistings, the defamation leveled at developers that were borne of misinformation, or dragging developers through the mud for not holding the correct political standards, which is what happened recently when the media tried harassing Palmer Luckey and his girlfriend over not supporting Hillary Clinton.