Destructoid’s Ethics Policy Adds FTC Update, Termination Clause For COIs
Destructoid Ethics Update
(Last Updated On: March 28, 2017)

Following OpenCritic publishing their list of the most trusted video game websites of 2016, Destructoid took the opportunity to address the list, since they actually made it onto the top 15 most trusted gaming websites. Owner Niero Gonzalez thanked fans for considering them to be one of the more trusted sites out there, and opted to further update the ethics policies for the site for better transparency and clarity for site visitors.

We were tipped off to Destructoid’s newest update, which took place on March 27th, 2017 [backup]. The last major update before that took place on February 20th , 2017 to notify people about Fig, and the last major update before that took place back in 2014.

The major addition to the ethics policy includes a reorganization of the page, detailing the site’s different policies for various ethical principles. One of the more notable changes comes in the form of disclosures in relation to the FTC. Niero writes…

“As outlined by the Federal Trade Commission, Destructoid makes every effort to follow the guidelines set by the FTC, as recommended in 2013. Generally speaking, we make repeated clear and conspicuous disclosures and disclaimers in every author’s biography, and under every editorial where our readers may have any such concern. We view ourselves as a consumer-first publication and do everything in our power to live up to this standard.”

This is fairly significant given that this was one of the big pushes by #GamerGate; to get more sites to adhere to the standards and practices of the Federal Trade Commission, and be more forthcoming with disclosures when conflicts of interest arise.

Destructoid owner Niero Gonzalez had mentioned before that he thought that overall, #GamerGate was good.

In this regards, we can at least see that they’re aiming to be ethical and reform how they approach material. In fact, the ethics policy also includes a section regarding corrections, where it states…

“When a story contains a serious error, such as an error in pricing or factually incorrect statements, we will add a note with [ brackets ] within the editorial, usually at the top. If small spelling or grammatical errors are made that don’t affect the meaning of the story this may be silently corrected by our editors.”

This means that factually inaccurate material will attempt to be corrected as quickly as possible, something that many of the other major gaming websites refuse to do when it comes to ideologically slanted pieces.

Speaking of ideological slants… part of the ethical policy also notes that they won’t be “wading” into harassment territory or discrimination against anyone. So based on this update, don’t expect Destructoid to lead any witch hunts against developers.

One of the more serious additions to the ethics policy is a termination clause for serious conflicts of interest. It states…

“If it is discovered that an editor at Destructoid willfully withheld ethical conflicts of interest that may or may not have affected their output, the person will immediately be put on suspension and following an investigation may be immediately terminated. We take these matters very seriously.”

That’s a very serious clause in the ethics policy, and something that will surely keep writers on their toes.

It’s sad because had something like this been implemented at Kotaku from the start, #GamerGate never would have taken off in the way that it did back in 2014.

Nevertheless, it appears as if being considered one of the top 15 most trusted gaming sites in 2016 was enough to light a fire under Destructoid, and encourage them to get back into the good graces of the gaming community, especially following the Alistair Pinsof blacklisting situation that came to light back in 2014, as detailed by DeepFreeze.

(Main image courtesy of RedustTheRiotAct)

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • disqus_6DwfESMiOF

    Destructiod has gone up another notch in my eyes. I give Niero credit for his efforts to ensure a higher standard of integrity at Destructoid. It’s always been a smaller outlet and a little more in touch with the readers than sites like Kotaku and Polygon. If they keep up with this, they might just become one of the most trusted game press sites out there.

  • daniel_ream

    Okay. Don’t crucify me for this, but I have to ask: how much did GamerGate actually matter, really? As someone who has been a gamer across multiple media for near forty years, I’ve observed that subversion of the SJW kind can only occur if a hobby is already dying and thus susceptible to chasing after dollars supposedly represented by the loudest critics. Tabletop RPGs are lost, and the AAA video game market was breathing its last when GamerGate broke (and look, let’s be honest – nobody has ever believed that “game journalists” were either journalists or honest. Not since the days of “Official Playstation Magazine” and “Nintendo Power”).

    Board games, being a massive booming industry and hobby, have largely rebuffed the SJW infiltration because nobody has to pay attention to that crap when they’re rolling in million dollar kickstarters.

    • Mr.Towel

      “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

      You already come with the assumption that if gamergate didn’t make such a fuss about it, the SJW wouldn’t be able to take hold. I find this assumption wrong. The SJW, while they do thrive on attention, they don’t go away if you “ignore” them, they just seep it in more deeply. Their whole goal is cultural subversion, to change culture into a state in which they define as better. They won’t stop because you ignore them, they don’t depend on your attention or your annoyance to leap to action, they’re moved by a deep sense that the world is wrong and they need to rectify it with personal action which has a wide and lasting range. It’s the mind of a revolutionary subject. Not in the sense of being innovative but in the sense of “Proletariat Revolution”, societal change, cultural revolution.

      I don’t think the reason they didn’t infiltrate the boardgame industry YET is because “board players do not care”, It’s simply because it doesn’t hold get much cultural highlight, they’re not that interested in it, yet. While in the past it was indeed a very strong part of anyone’s life, now many individuals can past their whole life without playing a single match of any board game. And even still, I think that if you search hard enough, you will most likely find some of them trying to get in.

      I think the SJW issue exploded just now, but I’m sure that yourself must have seen them brewing much before, especially at the universities and mainstream media, if you have been paying attention. Their thought process started to appear, at least to me, in the 90s (the hippies, while ideologically similar, never had the same thought process as this new SJW, hell, even Social Justice academics from the past weren’t as extreme as them). And I think that from then on they started to slowly search for positions in society which have much highlight, to spread their cultural change more effectively. Video games, different than board games, started as a nerd hobby but became an actual mainstream thing, while boardgames were always, and still are, hobbist in nature. The video game community is more at an penumbra of society in which you have very niche, very hobbist segments of the industry, but taken as a whole, as very mainstream because of the spotlight they get from mainstream media and how common it is for everyone’s day to day life, there’s always one or more gamer in your circle of family and friends.

      As for comics and tabletops RPGs, I would say they’re medias in which SJW can thrive more easily because of how narrative they are, even though they don’t hold much spotlight. They are fertile ground to insert the SJW icons, lexicons, concepts and etc. That’s more easily observed when you see that it was not only nerd culture that got infiltrated by them, almost the whole of the TV Writing industry have been taken by them much before it happened at the Hollywood or video games industry (most boardgames do not even have a narrative elements to them, they are just arbitrary rules made for fun, like a physical sport. They do have cultural symbols, but they’re not that imperative to the game itself).

      • daniel_ream

        You’re off on several tangents here.

        My point was that SJWs were able to infiltrate video games and TTRPGS – and yes, comics, too – because those were all failing markets. When sales are down, producers will listen to the loudest voices. SJWs have absolutely tried to infiltrate the board game market and they have absolutely been told to take a hike. The consumers aren’t having it, and since sales are booming the producers have no incentive to cater to a loud but financially insignificant demographic.

        Oh, and if you think board games are a niche market, you haven’t been paying attention. It’s certainly not bigger than video games, but it’s on a par with comics and it dwarfs TTRPGs. Its ability to rebuff subversion attempts isn’t due to its size.

        To get back to my original point: what difference did GamerGate make, really, on either side? Let’s dispense with the “ethics in game journalism” canard. Nobody with half a brain has ever believed that “game journalists” were anything but paid shills for the big studios (when print magazines were the primary medium) or unemployable millenials writing clickbait (when it moved online). This was obvious back when OPM was giving shit Squeenix PSX games 9/10 reviews.

        So GamerGate successfully brought to our attention….something we all pretty much knew already.

        I don’t see any evidence that SJWs have any less influence on video game construction now than they did before 2014. I’m not seeing any resurgence in the AAA video game market, and that’s because it was in serious financial trouble long before 2014. SJWs aren’t destroying video games – they’re jackals feasting on a corpse they happened to come across, rotting in the African sun.

        (Your physical sports analogy is particularly inept, given the Colin Kaepernick controversy and the NFL Pink program – but then pro football is losing money right now)

        Again – I don’t see what difference GamerGate actually made to anything at all. Money talks and ideology walks; SJWs are a symptom of a dying industry, not a cause of it.

        • Well you’re conflating GamerGate with the fight against SJWs, when in reality there were various groups aiming for various goals.

          The goal of ethics was met and mostly satisfied. Updated FTC guideline regulations, more sites adding ethics policies, and more sites adding (or claiming to add) disclosures.

          At the end of the day, the average gamer just wanted a trustworthy site when it came time to getting info on a game.

          That condition was largely met.

          As for the SJWs….

          Yes, they’ve infiltrated and subverted mainstream AAA gaming. It’s dying. Sales are down; revenue is down.

          Flip that over, though… gamers are flocking to indie games. Sales are up; revenue is up.

          We just did an article about Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds making $11 million in three days on Early Access. Indie games and mid-budget games are the new AAA. ARK: Survival Evolved has moved as many copies as the average AAA title, same with Starbound, same with Kerbal Space Program, same with Space Engineers.

          There’s a new frontier of gaming and it’s leaving the AAA space behind. While Mass Effect has been subverted with SJWism and piss poor design, gamers have moved on to other games, or have begun supporting Japanese devs again. Sales for Nier: Automata are up pretty high, and if it maintains its sales pace, it’ll be well on its way to moving millions of copies.

          GamerGate completed its goal. The SJWs have taken over the AAA space. Gamers have moved to the indie space. It’s just a matter of time before the AAA publishers fold in under or attempt to adopt the indie space design methodologies.

        • Mr.Towel

          Frankly, I didn’t focus on the money aspect of the industry because it seems a pretty obvious point to me. Video games sales and revenue have been up for years, the industry itself as a whole grew extremely fast, it’s on par with movie and porn industry (and certainly much bigger than boards). Some segments have been falling, some having been growing, but as whole, in general, it has been growing. Its huge size and huge money that moves around the economy it’s what started to attract mainstream media interest to begin with. I don’t know where do you take “dying industry” from. Gamers developed distrust to AAA publishers but as a whole, the industry continues to grow.

          Inept analogy? My point was that most boardgames are not inherently narrative (only niche segments of it, mostly), and so they don’t attract as many SJW as narrative mediums do, they are more like sports, WHICH ARE NOT NARRATIVE GAMES. Yes, SJW can still make a controversy around it, because even a sport has and creates cultural symbols, and so do boardgames, but it’s not a media in which the narrative aspect are a big part of it (video games are also not inherently narrative, but as the industry stands right now, the status quo, they’re very much bound together, in fact, SJW themselves began in this industry as journalists and quickly jumped to video game writers, for example, Anthony Burch). Sports themselves are a mainstream industry, there’s no big mystery to why there are SJW there.

          Yes, everyone knew, since Nintendo Power days, that “game journalists” and developers were in bed together. I remember developers creating artificially hard and cryptic secrets in their games so it would sell more walkthrough video game magazines. In the beginning of the internet era, everyone knew publishers would pay the hell out of game sites and walkthrough sites, blatantly, they only started to care about hiding it in the whole Giant Bomb creation controversy.

          But here is the point where it gets kind of obvious of why gamergate would arise naturally, zoe quinn or not. Which is: The industry is growing beyond its hobbyist aspects. The industry is becoming “serious sutff”.

          Gamers have been, for years, trying to be taken serious from society as a whole, not just another “toy media, electronic toys” but an actual “high art media” as movies, books and music. By around 2007 you already had art critics like Roger Ebert trying to analyze games to see whether they are art or not and many gamers and academic professionals alike raising the question. And this is the obvious side effect of that: the hobbyists standards doesn’t hold anymore. For the “serious mainstream media”, the bar has been raised, and the industry as whole is searching for its own “Roger Ebert”, its journalistic critic which holds the medium to a high standard, of everything, from ethics to art. The “small tight community” standards typical to hobbiyst industries doesn’t hold anymore, it’s not acceptable anymore given the size and cataclysmic seriousness the industry holds on the economy.

          Mind you, this process it’s also what allowed SJW to take deep interested in video games, because as games are not just electronic toys anymore, just pieces of personal fun, but serious arts statements, they obviously become inherently political, because high art and politics are very close together. But here’s the thing, it wasn’t gamers themselves that consciously sought to transform the enjoyment medium to a high art medium, but a natural process that arose AFTER the video games industry started to grow to mainstream levels of money flux and appeal. It’s an inevitable process of something that grows to this size. The only industry that achieved such size and never grew to this art aspect was the porn industry, but that one has some cultural barriers given how taboo it its. And even then, some argue that in the 60s and 70s you could find porn that aspired to high art.

          Even if there wasn’t ZoeQuinn, another movement similar to Gamergate would rise up, because the bar HAS to be raised as the industry grows, it doesn’t need moral controversies to exists, ergo, why the movement is still on and still remembered much after the Zoe Quinn flame has died out.

        • I don’t know where on earth you got the idea that the video games were a “dying industry” before the SJWs took over. From what I personally saw over the last 15 years, the video games industry just continued to grow and grow and make more and more money. If anything, that’s the reason why SJWs infiltrated and took over the AAA sector.

          Also, as for your point about how “SJWs can only take over dying industries”, well you are wrong on that. The reason why SJWs are able to infiltrate and take control of these sectors is because of the sheer stigma attached to labels like “sexist”, “misogynist” and “racists”, which are all labels that SJWs/feminists/race-baiters use to gain control of a medium.

          Basically if a company/institution/medium refuses to tow their lines, they’re get labelled as “sexists” and “racists”, and the SJW mainstream games media will write hit-pieces to shame the medium that refused to accept their ideology. As PR is absolutely vital to these companies, they have to comply in order to get into the SJW media’s good books and to get good ratings for their games. Therefore no matter how successful a medium is, they have to comply to SJWs or risk being labelled “sexists” and “racists”.

          And it’s not only in video games industry. The same can be applied to other medium and sectors, such as news media, politics, academia, Tech, movies, TV, magazines, etc., you will not find one single popular mainstream medium/media that does not cuck itself out to Social Justice and feminism.

        • fenshing

          I just wanted to back up the fact that, yes SJW are trying to break into board gaming, and I think they are getting a foot hold.

          A moment that highlighted it for me was the Q&A from GenCon last year. A woman asked Tom Vasel, who is the biggest name in reviewing board games, and the head of a gaming publisher, who’s name escapes me, “Why are there not more female game designers?” Now I think Tom Vasel is a great guy and that publisher seemed good too, but they stumbled all over themselves to placate the woman’s complaint. Vasel said it wasn’t a “good thing” that there wasn’t more female designers and that board gaming “is a slow ship to turn” but that it was changing in that direction. The publisher said he had been actively wanting games from female designers and that they needed to strive harder to “make that happen.” Which was silly because I doubt game publishers are turning down games because they are made by women. It’s like asking, “Why are there not more female brick masons?” I even made a comment about it on the video on YouTube, it wasn’t hateful or anything just remarking on the validity of that question and it was deleted.

          “Inclusion” is the number one thing now. Which means pandering to the lowest common denominator. It’s coming and I bet faster than we think.

          SJW the board game! “I need to do a Privilege Check against my Race Card. Good thing I get a + 10 for being non binary!” That sounds more like an RPG but you get the idea.

          • A woman asked Tom Vasel, who is the biggest name in reviewing board games, and the head of a gaming publisher, who’s name escapes me, “Why are there not more female game designers?”

            It was a loaded question that was clearly designed to try and trip him up.

            Like all people who are asked this kind of question in public, he answered in the most white-knighting and virtue-signalling manner possible, because he had no other choice.

            Had he answered in a way where he said something like “Well that’s capitalism and the free market, we do not get many female game designers because it seems that they are not really interested”, I have absolutely no doubt that he would’ve been attacked, harassed and lynch-mobbed by the SJWs and feminists, and he would’ve ended up losing his job via resigning or getting fired.

            This constant authoritarian feminist policing over men is disgusting, and it needs to end.

    • giygas

      “ZOMG GamerGate got Trump into the White House!!!!1”

      GG may be dead, but it’ll live on forever in the delusional minds of SJWs.

  • Disqusted