This is probably one of the biggest controversies in gaming media to date, and it’s actively being ignored, or worse, swept under the carpet by some of the largest gaming (news) content providers out there. The “Five Guys, Burgers and Fries” controversy is a story that involves massive corruption in the gaming journalism scene involving an independent game developer and the gaming journalists that she has supposedly slept with and gained positive coverage from over the course of the last year.
The first thing that we want to ask ourselves is this: is this true? The answer to that is honestly: we can’t be 100% sure it’s true; however, there is massive evidence to suggest that this is worth at least looking into a bit further. The next question should then be this: is this important enough to look into further? We’d suggest that it is, as games coverage ultimately guides consumers into making decisions and the media in general have more control over the perceptions of the population than they likely give themselves credit for.
The basic premise of the controversy is this. An independent developer, named Zoe Quinn, with a failed steam greenlight game, Depression Quest, that has allegedly slept with a number of gaming journalists, and even allegedly her boss at one point, has received positive coverage of her game at around the time of this alleged infidelity was happening. To be perfectly honest, we really don’t care too much about Zoe’s personal and sexual life, she’s an adult and can make her own decisions, but what we do care about is the same media professionals giving positive coverage for a product from a developer that they may have been receiving sexual favours from.
This concept goes against what journalism should be about. It should be an unbiased form of information that informs viewers and provides facts to allow the viewer to come to their own opinion on things. But instead, we’ve got, allegedly, sites like Kotaku and Rock Paper Shotgun, receiving blowjobs for coverage. Probably. This is a huge problem because it means that we can no longer trust these websites to run unbiased pieces about products that we might want to try. The effects of this can be seen in a few forms, but most notably, the fact that Depression Quest is now Greenlit and selling on Steam is the biggest. This is a game that was previously shit-canned on Greenlight for not being a game. Note: At the time of writing the game is now free-to-play thanks to a campaign involving Robin Williams (Based Reifag) suicide.
Why was this failing game suddenly greenlit (around a year ago)? What we’ll find is that one of the guys from Kotaku she was sleeping with posted a positive piece on the game, and demonising a group of trolls that were harassing her. “Wait, this is the first that we’ve heard about trolls, just who are they?” you’re probably asking, and I’m glad you are. These trolls, apparently, come from a place called WizardChan. Not 4Chan, not 8Chan, not 2Ch. WizardChan. A site for lonely men that are wallowing in their depression to get together and wallow in despair together. As you can guess, a group of men anywhere must be dangerous and must be the ones responsible for the attack (/sarcasm). You can check out their dangerous antics, here.
The reason that this was important to point out was to show how far the media can sway the public’s perceptions of a group, without even verifying that the allegations behind the group are even potentially true. Even more, this momentum of hate directed at this passive as all heck individuals drove up awareness of Depression Quest, and with it, the increased potential of success that the “game” could achieve.
Now, you’re probably looking for proof for all of these crazy allegations that we’ve thrown out there so far. We’ve said that Zoe has been sleeping around, we’ve claimed that there has been positive coverage of her work, and we’ve claimed that all of this points to corruption in the gaming media, but we’ve yet to show significant proof. And that’s okay, we don’t have proof of our own. But what we do have is a link to her boyfriend (at the times) transcripts and blog about what was going on over there. How gaming media individuals were allegedly receiving favours and not disclosing it to their audiences, or at the very least, their bosses.
Okay, so, at the very least, there are strong allegations that the gaming media is pretty much doing a shit job at providing unbiased and untainted news coverage. How are they even responding to this? Let’s do some searches.
Kotaku: No digital response as of yet.
Rock Paper Shotgun: Searched a bunch, but this tag is the same as everything else (no coverage).
The reason we choose these two is because they’re the two that are named by her (ex)boyfriend.
Interestingly, while researching this last night, we were on N4G and we saw this particular article with like 900 [edit, actual heat shown below] degrees of heat (which means it’s popular). However, immediately after commenting on it, the article was reported and then taken down. Screenshots will be supplied once I can get back to my home PC in 7 hours or so [edit, see below]. Until then, you can refer to this Know Your Meme page which correlates my own experiences. [Edit 2: Someone has pointed out that the link was legit not working which is why it was removed. This doesn't correlate with our experience, but we do admit that the site could have been browser cached].
How absurd is it when a site publishes an article about journalistic integrity, only to be forced off of the web? Whose responsible this!?!?!? (TR bretheren, comicsnix, thank you). Why is a site that promotes gaming journalism shunning the gaming journalism? What is going on? How can the events started by one event have gotten so out of control?
Even more, why?
All that we can do from this point is ask ourselves this: can we trust our most popular sources anymore? Is the news safe? Why is an open medium being heavily moderated, going as far as taking down articles from smaller, more independent sites?
Even Mundane Matt, someone we think is cool, someone who’s videos don’t even touch on the topic of Zoe’s affairs with Kotaku staff, got his video pulled. From memory, it was just a discussion on the game, like all of his videos are.
We honestly don’t have an answer for all of these questions. We can suggest corruption, we can suggest a lack of accountability in the industry, and we can also suggest that there may have been some manipulation going on behind the scenes. But, really, all that we can leave you with is a bunch of things to think about, and consider, with the gaming media industry.
We’re leaving you with Internet Aristocrats video on this topic. He tells this tale way better than we ever could.
Boyfriends blog (READ THIS EVEN IF YOU DON’T READ ANYTHING ELSE) – http://thezoepost.wordpress.com/
Wizardchan Posts – https://imgur.com/a/4VOcx
Pastebin of the pulled article (we think) - http://pastebin.com/uyRmQFhc
Depression Quest Steam Page (comment section is lol) – http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=200770535searchtext=depression+quest
Zoe Quinn on Google – http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Zoe+Quinn
Know your meme – http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/quinnspiracy
The Zoe Post (Ex Boyfriends website) – http://thezoepost.wordpress.com/
Five Guys Burgers And Fries – http://lmgtfy.com/?q=five+guys+burgers+and+fries
Gamenosh article being pulled their response – http://minus.com/i/bq79yN471zmMB