All throughout late 2014, gamers complained that media outlets had an incestuous relationship with the subjects they usually covered. Even though this was a cornerstone complaint from #GamerGate back in 2014, some outlets continue to violate that standard ethical practice by using their platforms to promote their friends and acquaintances.
Bounding Into Comics is reporting that The Verge published an article on December 27th, 2018 featuring Zoe Quinn and her DC Vertigo comic book, Goddess Mode. The interview covers the plot of the comic, some of the artwork from Robbi Rodriguez, and tech culture.
However, the interview didn’t take place between two strangers. Laura Hudson, the interviewer, and Zoe Quinn, the interviewee, have a long-established history together, a friendly relationship to say the least. It dates back to at least 2014, as evident with various discussions between Quinn and Hudson from 2014 up until present day.
@laura_hudson endlessly loling at “breastaurants”
— ℤoë “Kenny Logouts” ℚuinn (@UnburntWitch) January 31, 2014
@laura_hudson oh my god I’ve always felt that way about myself too D:
— ℤoë “Kenny Logouts” ℚuinn (@UnburntWitch) February 13, 2014
Unfortunately, Hudson has been deleting her tweets and conversations with Quinn following the publication of the article from Bounding Into Comics.
Nevertheless, Bounding Into Comics still posted a series of recent tweets that indicates that the duo hang out rather often, including going to karaoke bars in Seattle, Washington, and parties at GDC in San Francisco, California. So it appears they’ve been maintaining this friendship for the last four years.
This a lovely thing to hear in response to my final piece at the Verge by someone I respect immensely.
Also it probably says something about me that my most immediate point of pride was that 😊 yes I AM a good singer https://t.co/X1Ff6SeLYF
— Laura Hudson (@laura_hudson) December 27, 2018
Yessssssssss oh god you gotta come to my Seattle karaoke spot then I set the record for flaming things consumed on the premises so they’re good to me
— ℤoë “Kenny Logouts” ℚuinn (@UnburntWitch) December 27, 2018
Let’s somehow do flagpole sitta in the same room again for like the third almost-consecutive(?) year somehow
— ℤoë “Kenny Logouts” ℚuinn (@UnburntWitch) December 27, 2018
As pointed out by Bounding Into Comics, it’s not against the law to promote friends, write about acquaintances, or interview those you have close ties with, but it is against the standard journalistic ethics codes that are in place to maintain some level of objectivity.
Journalists are usually required to disclose if they have anything more than a working relationship with the subject of the article, as outlined in the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics.
This very problem was one of the core issues that helped make #GamerGate into what it was, as Kotaku writer Nathan Grayson had failed to disclosure in his articles that he had more than a working relationship with Zoe Quinn, as archived and outlined in Nathan Grayson’s Deep Freeze profile.
Instead of apologizing and adhering to the standards and practices of common journalists, Kotaku et al decided to launch an attack on gamers and the gaming community, which resulted in the current day culture war taking place in gaming.
Hudson in particular is no stranger to the demands of #GamerGate, as she wrote about the subject matter and the quest for ethics on multiple occasions all throughout 2014 and 2015. In fact, in a piece published on Wired on October 21st, 2014, Hudson specifically mocked the consumer revolt’s quest for disclosures and objectivity, writing…
“Though many involved in “Gamergate” claim it is based in a concern about “ethics” or “objectivity” it is impossible to ignore how little of either the movement has demonstrated, either in the “controversy” that initially inspired it—an unfounded smear campaign involving the sex life of a female game developer—or the overwhelmingly abusive tactics of its supporters. The banner of GG has attracted a loose collection of misogynists, deposed kings of nerd culture and 15-year-old libertarians with more idealistic fervor than life experience or context.”
So this isn’t a case of Hudson being unaware of the community’s desire for more openness, clarity, and transparency within the industry. Nor is this a situation where Hudson is unfamiliar with the call for better ethics in media journalism.
In fact, Hudson wrote about #GamerGate on multiple occasions, mocking it while also promoting her friend Zoe Quinn and the game Depression Quest for prominent outlets like the New York Times, and also contributing to the culture war divide from platforms like Slate.
Hudson would also write about Quinn’s Crash Override Network initiative to curb harassment, perpetuating the myth that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign with an article published on January 20th, 2015, which stated…
“After suffering vicious and persistent abuse by anonymous online mobs—including death and rape threats that drove her from her home—Quinn is turning the tables on harassers with the launch of Crash Override, a task force devoted to helping targets of online harassment. […]
“[…] Almost six months after Gamergate made her a target for angry videogame fans opposed to the diversification of gaming culture, Quinn still experiences daily harassment. Moreover, the people who have made a hobby—and in some cases, a part-time job—out of harassing her show no signs of letting up.”
In actuality, there was never any evidence found indicating that #GamerGate was ever a harassment campaign. A peer reviewed study by WAM!, could not find evidence that it was harassment campaign, nor could an investigation done by law enforcement, as detailed in the FBI report.
In 2015, Laura Hudson and Leigh Alexander, the latter of whom is the original author of the article that kicked off the “Gamers Are Dead” barrage, started up the gaming website Offworld. It was supposed to be a site dedicated to women and minorities, but it barely got off the ground. Hudson eventually began pursuing writing at other sites within the same circle of outlets criticized by #GamerGate for being unethical, such as The Verge, where she continued to promote Zoe Quinn’s work.
Before the most recent interview, Hudson published a puff piece for The Verge back on June 7th, 2018 informing the audience that the comic book was coming.
I did reach out to Hudson to ask if she had any plans on updating the article on The Verge to add a disclosure about her relationship with Zoe Quinn. If she chooses to respond, the article will be updated with her response.
(Thanks for the news tip CZ and Julian Leonardo Reyes Aka SkullReapingNinja1993)