[Update 6/23/2016: Nintendo released a statement, denying that the Color Splash skit references #GamerGate in any way.]
[Original article:] It looks like #GamerGate has had enough of an impact on the industry to receive parodies in the world of AAA video games. A reference to the 2014 scandal surfaced in the most unlikely of places: a Nintendo game for the Wii U, specifically Paper Mario: Color Splash.
A loyal reader tipped us off to a live-stream that was taking place during E3 featuring Nintendo’s newest game Paper Mario: Color Splash. Nintendo Everything captured the 40 stream, but the most significant segment starts at the 20 minute mark when Mario gets wrapped up in a scandal involving a shuffle contest that involves some quintuplet Toads.
Things start with a “Toad and Go Seek” event where Mario must find five Toads as part of a special event. The “five fun guys” go hide and Mario ends up finding them all by smashing the ground and other items scattered around the immediate area.
After finding all five guys Mario returns to the Toad in yellow, the Toad asks if Mario wants to be part of the main event. If Mario agrees to participate it involves a “Toad Shuffle” guessing game in order to win a key to the Blissful Beach.
Mario partakes in the event and guesses the right Toad in the “Five Fun Guys” shuffle game, but the Toad in yellow says that it’s wrong. This causes Huey the paint can to come out and say that the event was rigged because he was following along with the Toad who had been given the key in the shuffle game. However, the Toad in Yellow brushes it off because he says they have no evidence.
The Toad in yellow further states that all the Toads in the shuffle game are the same and that Mario just lost the game fair and square. However, Mario decides to play the game again but this time, with the help of Huey, he marks the Toad who the key was given to before they begin to shuffle. Mario loses the game again, but since they marked the Toad who the key was given to they have evidence to call out the competition as being rigged.
When the Toad in Yellow gets called out for being a fraud he responds saying…
“Man, is this gonna ruin my career?! I can see the headline now: “Shufflegate: Exposed!”
After bribing Mario and Huey to stay silent by giving them the Blissful Beach key, the player is awarded the mission and no one is the wiser about “Shufflegate”. In a private Facebook conversation between the two people involved in #GamerGate, it was also mentioned that the information shouldn’t be brought to light or else careers would be over with, and that it would “hurt a lot of people”, as pointed out in a tweet by Mug33k.
— Mug33k (@Mug33k) June 18, 2016
In the end, it was about ethics in shuffling.
In real life things didn’t quite go like that.
Kotaku (amongst others) were called out for unethical infractions involving journalists and developers. They opted to cover it up and use the Game Journo Pros secret e-mail list to keep the narrative going in the enthusiast and mainstream media that it was just gamers being “toxic” and “misogynistic” against female game developers. However, it was later detailed how one of Kotaku’s writers was in the credits of a game, slept with the developer, and exchanged funds upward of $800 with the developer, all while writing about this developer across several websites without disclosure.
Several other websites were also called out for Federal Trade Commission breaches, and the Game Journo Pros were exposed for attempting to monopolize the industry with blacklists, along with allegations of impropriety from the former IGF chairman Brandon Boyer, as outlined in a video series by ShortFatOtaku.
Unlike Paper Mario, the gaming media did not walk down the road of ethics silently or willingly, creating massive headlines across the entirety of both the gaming and tech industry at large by attempting to drag the community through the mud all while blaming #GamerGate for any and everything under the sun.
It’s obvious Nintendo took jabs at the “Five Guys” connection that was outlined in a blog post by Eron Gjoni, which eventually led to Kotaku being outed for unethical behavior, and Nintendo seemed cheeky enough to include the “Shufflegate” phrase as an obvious nod to #GamerGate. The bonus on top was when the Toad in yellow called for “evidence” and Mario and Huey had to level up and get smart about exposing the fraudsters, which is exactly what happened in #GamerGate when the journalists said the claims of corruption were all conspiracy theories until Breitbart broke the story about the Game Journo Pros with the headline “Exposed! The Secret Mailing List Of The Gaming Journalism Elite”.
Well played, Nintendo.