This question seems to be popping up a lot and there’s a lot of obfuscation going on from the social justice warriors*, the gaming media (such as it is) and others. So here’s a quick primer into what’s going on (or you could start HERE):
An indie computer game developer – who happens to be a woman (irrelevant) – was exposed as having cheated on her boyfriend (irrelevant) with a bunch of guys (irrelevant) who happened to hold positions in gaming media and to have given her all sorts of booster articles and kudos (supremely fucking relevant).
Obviously, this at least looks dodgy as fuck, even if it’s all above board and just sexytimes rather than payment in kind. It calls into question journalistic integrity, which is what should divide professional gaming/journalism sites like Kotaku/Forbes/Vice etc from ‘mere’ games bloggers and Youtube personalities who are just doing what they do for the ‘lulz’ and the fun of it.
The conflict of interest should be obvious.
When this hit, however, it was ignored and/or suppressed by most of that same gaming journalism field, which again, looks dodgy as hell since it’s their ethics and transparency that are under question.
That was, however, just the spark of what has become a more generally skeptical and critical eye that has turned on other conflicts of interest (such as PR or consultancy businesses also run by games journalists) and long standing issues with corruption via threats, blacklisting, pre-order culture etc in games journalism.
It has ALSO become tangled up in a general backlash against the kind of judgemental, gamer-hating, ‘everything you like is bad and wrong’ articles which have also been common in the last few years, along with the lionisation of known fraud Anita Sarkeesian.
In short, it’s been a long time coming.
It has been complicated, of course, by trolls and by Social Justice Warriors who – along with the people under suspicion of corruption and ethical breaches – are using the fact that it all happened to start from a love septagon involving a woman to deflect into their existing narrative that it’s all to do with crying man-babies who don’t like women in their games. Unfortunately, accusations of misogyny, sexism, racism etc still carry a lot of currency and power in silencing people and the hate towards gamers is – at this point – well entrenched.
What it is really about is:
- Journalistic ethics and integrity.
- Irritation with clickbaiting.
- Annoyance at being constantly demonised and criticised by people who are supposed to love your hobbies.
- The many hateful articles and the doubling down on censorship and slandering of the fanbase sites have indulged in since this broke.
- SJW censorship backlash.
This is also part of a wider cultural problem, affecting many forms of media and play.
As background, it’s worth noting that gamers have a very well justified siege mentality towards this sort of thing and wider nerd culture even more so. You can trace it back at least to Fredric Wertham and Seduction of the Innocent, via, Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons, Tipper Gore, Jack Thompson, MMO scare stories and all the rest. In that context, little wonder people are suspicious and react badly to their concerns being brushed off as some, supposed, gamer-inherent misogyny (which has also been the basis of much slandering and hatred directed towards games and game producers themselves).
*’Social Justice Warriors’ (or SJWs) means the kind of Tumblrina, vicious, nasty online bully who likes to pretend at being progressive and liberal while being authoritarian, nasty and everything they claim to hate.