The Pretend Race Cars website is known in the sim-racing community as being unrelenting, unforgiving and remorseless when it comes to critiquing, criticizing, and comminuting past and present racing sims. Well, imagine the surprise when it was revealed that one of Pretend Race Cars’ biggest targets decided to bring on their biggest critic as a consultant.
Austin Ogonoski was one of Project CARS’ biggest detractors, taking developers Slightly Mad Studios to task for the things they got wrong, the things they promised but didn’t deliver, and the issues that came up within the community that many other websites didn’t bother reporting on. Well, Austin and the rest of the crew at Pretend Race Cars have been sponsored by Slightly Mad Studios, and they were also offered consulting work to help provide feedback on Project CARS 2 for home consoles and PC.
Over on the Pretend Race Cars website, they write…
“After we interviewed Ian [Bell] in July of last year, he began seeing PRC in a bit of a different light – genuinely appreciating some of the lengthy critical posts about Project CARS written by myself or anonymous Reader Submissions – and we began conversing in a somewhat productive manner. Wanting to progress my own amateur racing career beyond econobox racing, and with Ian needing a creative way to promote his upcoming game – which you now know as Project CARS 2 – a sponsorship deal made a surprising amount of sense.”
Austin and the crew at PRC will be using the sponsorship to further their dreams of real life race car driving. The Chevrolet SS that they’ll be driving has received sponsorship from Slightly Mad Studios as a way to pay for their advancement in the racing field.
But that’s not all…
Slightly Mad Studios also decided to bring on Austin as a consultant for Project CARS 2.
[Update: I was informed that the consultancy gig was negotiated back in November of 2016]
So how does it work that a website known for being critical of a developer and their game is now working for the developer in helping them make the game? Well, it’s explained that full disclosures will be in place and they’ll be providing regular updates to the community… updates that don’t breach the NDA, of course…
“In the interest of maintaining transparency with our readers, I am indeed paid by Slightly Mad Studios for my internal feedback, and they have provided me with a complimentary PC to experience the pre-release versions with as little performance hiccups as possible. However, I have it in writing that the abrasive style that fuels entries on PRC will not be hindered by our new partnership with Slightly Mad Studios, and there are no quotas enforced in regards to publishing X amount of viral marketing pieces.”
The really big news, however, is that Austin and the rest of PRC have not shied away from making it known that they support ethics in journalism. They support #GamerGate.
They’ve tipped us off to some ethical breaches by other outlets in the past, and they did an entire post about #GamerGate and their role in wanting better ethics in journalism regarding the sim racing community.
In a separate post, recently published on December 30th, 2016, Austin explains that the reason he supported #GamerGate was because he was tired of all the shills in gaming media and how dishonest and disruptive the medium of media journalism has become when it’s time for consumers to search up reputable reviews of games they plan to spend $60 through $80 on…
“Let me start off by saying that I’m a supporter of the #Gamergate movement. No, I don’t align myself with the few rogue man-children who made shitty fake Twitter accounts and emailed bogus bomb threats that perpetual victims such as Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian took seriously for reasons only God understands (it’s the internet, very few death threats are even the least bit genuine), but there’s no point in ignoring the elephant in the room: actual video game journalism has turned into third party marketing, and it really sucks.
“[…] many people on this planet, $80 is a lot of money to part with, and they rely on both mainstream and independent outlets to guide them in the right direction. I feel it’s wrong to fuck with those people, and blatantly lie about the product they’ll receive after busting open their respective wallets. And as a gamer, I enjoy reading about video games while taking a dump or chilling in bed – not sitting through extended length commercials thinly disguised as video game reviews.”
Those few “man-children” he mentions were put in the cross-hairs of the FBI, but the closest thing they found was that they were trolls with ties to the SomethingAwful forums. The FBI ended up wrapping up their case when it was discovered that there was no actionable evidence proving that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign.
Meanwhile, the hashtag has been used continually to inform and enlighten people about ethical breaches by various online media outlets. This has resulted in some outlets either culling the unethical members of their staff or improving their ethics policies, which just recently happened when Destructoid updated their policy to adhere to the FTC standards and include a termination clause for staff who commit an explicit conflict of interest.
PRC never shied away from telling it like it is, and Slightly Mad Studios found that to be an integral part of why they wanted to bring them on as consultants and to sponsor them in their real life racing endeavors.
Some people see it as selling out – as evident in the explosive comment section below the original post on PRC – others see it as the PRC crew growing up and moving forward with their dream. No matter where you stand, the one thing that stands head and shoulders above it all is that while #GamerGate has been blamed for nearly every ill that has happened socially, civilly and politically in the past three years, the one thing that you can absolutely blame on #GamerGate is that someone who supported it and was critical of a development studio, has joined that studio as a consultant because they took ethics in media journalism seriously. Now take that to the pit and torque it.
(Main image courtesy of PretendRaceCars.net)