After news started making the rounds about a corruption scandal meme in Paper Mario: Color Splash seemingly parodying aspects of both Watergate and #GamerGate, Nintendo was called to the forefront to deny any associations of the latter.
Will Hicks from HeatST received a reply from a Nintendo of America representative who stated…
“As many have observed, when viewed in its entirety the Nintendo Treehouse: Live segment for Paper Mario: Color Splash from E3 includes two jokes separated by commentary and gameplay that have no relation to each other. One jokes has to do with Watergate, while the other is a nod to the Fungi Fun Guys from Mario Party 8. It was brought to our attention that these two jokes have been spliced together and misconstrued as a crude reference to an online hate campaign. While we typically do not speak on localization matters, we feel the need to confirm that these jokes are not linked in the game and were never intended to be linked. Nintendo firmly rejects the harassment of individuals in any way and was surprised to learn that its gameplay was misinterpreted in this manner.”
It was easy to see how anyone familiar with both events could interpret the segment to include both the Watergate and #GamerGate scandals. The entire scenario was about a scam from a Yellow Toad involving “Five Fun Guys”. When you combine the Five Fun Guys with the revelation of the Gate scandal and the Yellow Toad saying that his career would be ruined if it went public, it was easy to make the connection to #GamerGate, since the proto-version of the tag started as #FiveGuys before it was changed to #GamerGate. In private Facebook conversations the individual involved also begged to not have the information released or it could ruin careers.
You can see the original video of the segment from Paper Mario: Color Splash below. It starts around the 20 minute mark.
Some have said that it was entirely Watergate oriented, that the “Five Fun Guys” referenced the five burglars who were caught breaking into the Watergate building. However, that scenario is actually referred to as the “Watergate Seven” since it was actually five burglars and two handlers who were involved in the situation, and the seven individuals were tried for the burglary.
The “Exposed” part in the Paper Mario skit actually works both ways between Watergate and #Gamergate, since there’s a book from 2011 called Watergate: Exposed and Milo Yiannopoulos’ article about the Game Journo Pros secret e-mail list that was used to help paint #GamerGate as a harassment campaign was headlined with “Exposed”.
Given that actor Adam Baldwin coined the term #GamerGate based on Watergate, many thought it was Nintendo’s playful way of interjecting memes about both events into the localization process, something that they have been known to do for many of their games making the leap from the East to the West.
As for Nintendo’s comments about #GamerGate being a “hate campaign”, it’s obvious lip service at this point to keep journalists happy. If you take a dive into the hashtag right now you see conversations and links to articles relating to exposing corruption and ill-doings by journalists. Campaigning hate is not only not allowed on Twitter, but it’s simply something the hashtag was never involved in, according to a peer reviewed report by WAM!, a report by Newsweek, and independent studies by TechRaptor and data analyst Chris von Csefalvay.
The funny part about all of this is that at the end of the day, this is probably going to be the most coverage that Paper Mario: Color Splash gets from the media leading up to its release.