by William Usher
Two of gaming’s biggest websites have decided to alter their policies about how writers and journalists are allowed to interact with developers within the gaming industry field. The change follows from a very strong outburst from the gaming community for more transparency.
A Reddit moderator in the /r/Games section was contacted and asked if a very neutral, informative piece could be published regarding what the gaming community felt was a conflict of interests being exhibited by Kotaku and Polygon. The moderator, going by the handle of Piemonkey, acquiesced after a back and forth discussion with user F1renze. Eventually, this thread was allowed to go up, causing a lot of gamers to react very strongly to the information, as it helped add some concrete evidence to a far larger and more salacious incident taking place within the industry.
Following the Reddit post, as well as lots, and lots, and lots of feedback from gamers demanding explanations from Polygon and Kotaku, both sites decided to post public messages about how they will handle disclosure between the relationships of journalists and developers from now on.
Kotaku’s editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo posted the following blog post on Kotaku, stating…
“The last week has been, if nothing else, a good warning to all of us about the pitfalls of cliquishness in the indie dev scene and among the reporters who cover it. We’ve absorbed those lessons and assure you that, moving ahead, we’ll err on the side of consistent transparency on that front, too.”
“We’ve also agreed that funding any developers through services such as Patreon introduce needless potential conflicts of interest and are therefore nixing any such contributions by our writers.”
Patreon is a service that enables users to support creators across the creative art field, from writing to music to video games to comic books and everything else in between.
Editor-in-chief Christopher Grant also made a post on Polygon, making it clear where his writers stand on the issues of supporting developers through charities, crowd-funding or other means, noting that…
“While I disagree that contributing to a game developer without holding an actual financial stake in their success is a violation of the spirit of that principle, I also think that disclosure is the best medicine in these circumstances. So starting immediately, I’ve asked everyone on staff to disclose on their staff pages any outstanding Patreon contributions and, additionally, to disclose the same on any coverage related to those contributions under that staff member’s byline. We’ll retroactively update any stories published in the duration of that support to reflect that, and I’ll note those updates here.”
Opposite of Kotaku, Polygon will not be shutting down their writers’ ability to contribute financially to those working within the gaming industry while also writing about their projects.
Gamers, at the very least, saw this as a very small step and a very small victory, given the media blackout surrounding the larger issue at hand.
In fact, the blackout includes another charity that suffered at the hands of a far more vicious scandal, The Fine Young Capitalists.
The game jam is all about helping bring more games to the industry and games made or created by female game designers. Unfortunately, major gaming media outlets refuse to report on The Fine Young Capitalists, why their were doxxed, why 4chan had to help revive the campaign (and donated $5,000 the first day the campaign started) or how The Fine Young Capitalists and 4chan came up with Vivian James, a new female protagonist for the gaming industry to celebrate. All I can do is point you to their IndieGoGo campaign here.
Inquiring minds would be keen to follow the rabbit hole on Google by searching up The Fine Young Capitalists and the ties that bind larger gaming websites from doing a full story on the incident.