Brash Games, a British gaming website operated by Paul Ryan, has recently come under fire for removing credits to writers on their reviews and articles. A multitude of writers have come forward to decry Ryan’s antics in how they’ve been dealing with their work being discredited.
The hub for #GamerGate’s ethics in journalism campaign, Kotaku in Action, has a post from user B-Volleyball-Ready that properly chronicles all the writers who have come forward to make it known that they aren’t pleased with how Brash Games have been treating staff. In fact, after the story broke the staff page was wiped clean on Brash’s website.
According to the post on Kotaku in Action, just under a dozen people have claimed that they’ve had their bylines scrubbed from Brash Games after putting in the work and submitting their articles to Brash Games.
Writer Ben McCurry managed to expose the issues happening internally at Brash Games with a review of Pac-Man 256, where he used the review to take jabs at Paul Ryan for removing author bylines. The review has been removed.
According to James Bralant from Games Radar, he estimated that 33.7% of the Brash Games content has potentially been discredited from the original authors. He detailed the findings in an article over on GameGrin.
.@BrashGames @OllyWrites @triforcemeg @gaysteelmill @GameGrin 5635 articles on @BrashGames, 1901 listed as author ‘Brash Games’ – 33.7% of content potentially de-authed – thanks to @djd4ws0n for numbers
— James ‘TGK’ Bralant (@TGK_22) April 8, 2017
Former Brash Games writer, Henry Osadzinski, claims that the byline removal was likely due to switching over to the WordPress format, writing…
“I was on the”staff” when the site first rebranded and moved to the current WordPress platform. I assume that when I left, my account was also removed by the admin team and it defaulted to the generic byline. No idea if that was intentional or a side effect of the process though. I certainly want informed before or after I left that this would happen.”
Writer Olly Smith, however, showed an example of his Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review that was published on Brash Games on March 12th, 2017, which later had his byline removed.
— Olly Smith (@OllyWrites) April 7, 2017
So unless they switched in the last two months, the explanation doesn’t explain why Smith’s name was removed.
It’s true that Smith was listed on the staff section of Brash Games – he’s just one of the many writers whose name was removed from the byline.
Former Brash Games contributor, Meg Bethany Read, sent out a tweet warning away “young writers” to work with Brash Games.
I attempted to reach out to Paul Ryan to find out what the story was behind all of the noise, and why some authors were having their names scrubbed from their work, but as of the writing of this article Ryan has not responded.
“Unfortunately ex writers who’s names were still on the site have been contacting publishers & devs for months requesting codes on behalf of Brash Games, this is a clear breach of trust and our terms & conditions and as such those accounts were removed.” […]
“Two reviewers were dismissed for plagiarism and others were let go for constantly failing to meet deadlines, failing to produce the reviews for games/ codes we had given them or for failing to produce reviews up to the required standard we expect here at Brash Games.”
While the accounts were removed, it doesn’t explain why the bylines were changed.
The writers claimed they weren’t paid, but worked for free review codes, which is what Ryan mentions in the e-mail where he claims that writers were expected to deliver between three and four reviews a month for games.
In one of the threads on Kotaku in Action, a former writer for Brash Games claims that one of the reasons he missed a deadline was because of computer issues, but when he attempted to contact Ryan about it, Ryan refused to communicate with him on the issue.
In a separate thread on Kotaku in Action Olly Smith posted a comment stating that even when reviews were submitted on time Ryan had a tendency to change the scores, writing…
“[…] it seems a lot of other writers have had it worse than me. Brash Games particularly have a problem with review scores, as some have reported that their scores were actually changed to fit the metascore.”
Ryan addresses the change in Metacritic scores within the e-mail to the other staff writers, explaining…
“With regards to changing critic’s scores, [redacted]’s first review for us was Toy Odysee which had previously been reviewed by a senior member of Brash Games who has completed 600+ reviews and who came up with our scoring system and he awarded a 7/10 so I was justified in asking the newbie [redacted] to reconsider his score of 3/10 and he came back with a 4/10 despite saying many aspect of the game were good.”
While Ryan explains why writers were let go, he doesn’t necessarily explain in the e-mail why the bylines had to be removed. He also doesn’t mention anything about the WordPress changeover that Osadzinski mentioned in his comment, so there’s no confirmation if that was the reason why some bylines for newer reviews were changed.
OpenCritic plans on making a statement about the issue this week after they were notified about the issue. This is especially relevant given how this could affect the credibility of Brash Games on OpenCritic following the revelation about scores being changed for reviews.
— OpenCritic (@Open_Critic) April 7, 2017
Some people are hoping this lands Brash Games a hefty entry on the video game journalism database site Deep Freeze. However, Ryan has yet to make a public statement to thoroughly clarify some of the claims made about the site.