oprainfall’s Top Gaming Moments of 2014

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

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By


LAST CUTS

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 03

AHHHHHHHHHHH!!

  • Majora’s Mask 3D Announced

As Eric Chetkauskas said in his Most Anticipated article, the 3DS remake of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was one of the worst kept secrets in the industry. The original game ran on the same engine as Ocarina of Time, which had its own remake three years ago. The mask appeared in A Link Between Worlds. And furthermore, the OOT3D developer Grezzo had that job posting earlier this year to work on a “legend”.

So, is it something that’s worth the time to remake? Well, it is a unique game. Although, that argument can go out the window since Zelda does have a number of unique games that are either not good or not liked as much as the majority of the series (See Zelda II, Zelda CDi, and Skyward Sword).

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 01

But this is more than a new control scheme, a different gameplay style, or a non-Nintendo console. This was Nintendo taking Zelda into a genre it would usually only touch in a dungeon or two every game: horror. And it excited many a Zelda fan. A number of them have called it the Silent Hill of Zelda games. Videos have been created dedicated to legends from the game, such as The Game Theorists videos on whether it was even possible and if Link was even alive. It’s all quite fascinating.

So, after years of asking, fans of and newcomers to Majora’s Mask can enjoy this interesting little title in a whole new way.

  • The Year’s Biggest Controversy

You knew this was coming. It doesn’t matter if you’re neutral on this, this is the big one. It’s got many names: The Quinnspiracy Scandal, GamerGate, Not Your Shield, the Game Journalism Ethics Crisis… heck, you could call this thing Steve and people will understand you.

Whatever you call it, whatever your opinion on it, there is one thing that is certain: This will be the only time you read about it in an article on our website. So pay close attention.

Like many controversies, this one starts with sex… and a bitter ex.

Zoe Quinn

It began with a developer named Zoe Quinn. She had an ex who was apparently so bitter about certain things in their relationship that he decided to air her dirty laundry. Normally, this type of thing should be overlooked… except that it was revealed that, along with a couple of developers, she had — and presumably still has — a relationship with Nathan Grayson, a writer for Kotaku.

Right there is a conflict of interest for Grayson as he would have a romantic relationship with someone he’s supposed to be covering as a neutral member of the press. However, according to his boss, Stephen Totilo, Grayson hadn’t written a single article about Quinn or her games since his only article about her on March 31st of this year. While the overall timing seems a bit questionable (article was published on March 31st, the relationship according to Totilo started in early April), it wouldn’t be completely unreasonably to think that this was the case.

So, problem solved, doesn’t hurt to ask about stuff, we can all move on…

If only it were that simple.

You see, while Totilo was talking with Grayson about the Quinn situation, internet sleuths — and even some actual journalists — dug around and found that the relationship between Grayson and Quinn was far from the worst offense. What was found was an incestuous relationship between journalists, developers, and their money that would make royal families, cult leaders, and Jaime and Cersei Lannister blush.

Full disclosure: we allow all our contributors from low level rookie to manager to donate towards projects, like those found on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. However, once they get past a certain point, such as being rewarded with early testing, then they have to recuse themselves from writing articles on the game. Failure to do so, as well as not reporting donations for high-end reward tiers to management, is a cut-able offense. Same goes for if one of our contributors was in a relationship with a developer and failed to notify us.

However, as long as I’ve been here, we have not accepted any money from developers for anything, whether it was a donation from the heart or one for game promotion. And as long as I’m here, I will make sure that it stays that way.

But, of course, that wasn’t the biggest catch they could get. They found something that may have been the center of what content has been pushed by major gaming media for the last few years. That would be the mailing list known as GameJournoPros.

Breitbart GameJournoPros Article

From the Breitbart article that exposed GameJournoPros.

What is GameJournoPros? GameJournoPros, or GJP for short, is a mailing list of over 150 known games journalists that allows them to converse in private. The names that have been revealed show collusion among the most recognizable names in the industry. And this group has been involved in blackballing a number of writers as well as attacks on critics, such as John Bain, known better as his YouTube moniker TotalBiscuit.

Now it could be argued that GJP, which has since shut down (supposedly), could be considered a union or a guild for writers. Basically, it’s a way to discuss certain aspects of the industry behind closed doors. While that last statement has led to the previously mentioned black-eyes on said group — and if it didn’t, why would it supposedly shut down — let’s look at the union/guild comparisons.

Unions/Guilds are generally open and upfront about things. As a matter of fact, you can generally find out nearly everything you need to know about said union/guild. For example, if you go to the United Auto Workers (UAW) website, you will find out their history (which, as something that was taught to me as a resident of the Detroit area, is rather fascinating), the names of the executive board, the rights of members, their stance on health and safety in the workplace as well as human rights, news regarding the union, the various regional factions of the UAW, and more. Another example, for the American Guild of Organists (AGO), I can read their mission statement, learn about membership, check out local chapters of the AGO, shop for organ music, check where and when the National Convention is being held, and more.

I can’t get any of that with GJP.

So, after all that, it seems like an open and shut case. Gamers are in the right and should win this battle with the journalists, right? They should be able to make journalists pay for all the negative attacks against gamers and even saying that “the gamer is dead,” right?

Again, if only it were that simple.

It only takes a few bad apples to rotten the bunch, and there were quite a few bad apples involved in GamerGate. A small but loud group decided to make things personal and threaten Zoe Quinn and her supporters, which included Phil Fish — controversial creator of Fez — Anita Sarkeesian — a critic who, while she may or may not be gamer, has been confirmed to have taken Let’s Play footage from other players without citation and claimed them as her own for her own YouTube channel — and Dina Abou Karam — the controversial Comcept Community Manager whose perceived abuse of power has led to many Mighty No. 9 backers looking for refunds. These four, as well as a number of others, were sent death threats by cyber-bullies, leading a few to evacuate their homes in fear and running to places like CNN to fan the flames.

But while the Quinn supporters were fanning the flames and journalists were blaming gamers for their problems with mysoginistic lingo, something interesting began to rise. Groups of female and minority gamers — and even female minority gamers — began to show support for the gaming community, uniting under the hashtag #NotYourShield. Essentially, these gamers were fighting back against the major gaming media that was trying to fight for them, or so they would spin it.

The Fine Young Capitalists

And there was also the interesting collaboration between the controversial /v/ board on 4chan and the feminist group The Fine Young Capitalists. FYC was crowdfunding on Indiegogo to help female creators make a game, even if they had no experience — which is something that Quinn was supposedly doing with some Game Jam before double crossing the Jam facilitator and creating her own… supposedly. Several members of /v/ were so upset with the events going on that they united to support FYC in their project.

UPDATE: According to “Angry” Joe Vargas, the Game Jam was a disaster thanks to incompetent direction from someone who wanted to make it more modern reality TV with contrived issues (such as trying to develop a game while the power is out) rather than the competition they initially billed it as. Joe was a judge for the competition and even said he felt uncomfortable with some of the directions he was given. So not necessarily Quinn’s fault since it seemed like nobody wanted to return and finish this.

So, what we had was a group of gamers that cried foul against major game journalism, said journalists attacking gamers for their illegal action, and the people that said journalists claimed to be defending fighting the journalists. Throw in some sex, some hidden collusion, some idiots slinging crap all over, and one of the most controversial sites on the web teaming up with a group trying to raise up female developers, and… you still wouldn’t come close to the full story of what was going on. There’s just so much that went on that you should be given a doctorate for digging up all the information, connecting everything, and somehow putting it all together in an encyclopedia of wrong.

What went wrong for the GamerGate people? Well, I turn to a comment that was made by the creator of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, in response to an email he received from a donor about the subject. “The contingent of people who are interested in putting pressure on institutions within game journalism to expose corruption need an actual organization – with a mission statement, with a board of directors, with elected people who represent the movement.” This is what ultimately undid any potential for a movement. The major gaming journalists were too well organized for an unorganized group of gamers, resulting in their ability to point their finger at anyone that harasses them and claim that it was a GamerGate action. With no central organization to represent the group, GamerGate was quickly labeled as something toxic, no matter the ideals some involved may have had.

Ultimately, this is why we avoided talking about it on the website.

Is there anything to be learned from this? Well, aside from the obvious being that we as members of the press shouldn’t take our readers for granted and be open and honest with them, there is one thing that should be thoroughly looked into. That would be the creation of a new journalism guild that is dedicated to gamers.

Sounds suspicious? Could be susceptible to corruption? Well, that’s what most of the other managers thought as well when I casually brought it up during our many conversations about the subject. So, until I’m done talking about this subject, consider what I say as my own opinion and not that of Operation Rainfall.

I guarantee that GJP still exists, despite what some people say. It probably has a new name. It more than likely has fewer members. But when the next big gaming event comes around, it’ll be ready to strike again. If those with the ethical ideals that supported GamerGate want their arguments to be taken seriously, a new organization needs to be formed. One that has a clear mission that can be read by the masses. One that has a roster of members you can view at any time and hold accountable. One that can not only condemn actions taken by the major gaming media but those extremists that could derail it.

As someone who strives for a high ethical standard at this site (full disclosure: pretty much everyone here falls in that category as well), I would be thrilled to be at the forefront of that.

Okay, enough downers. Let’s get to the Top 5.

About Jeff Neuenschwander

Jeff has been a supporter of the website and campaign since the beginning. Joining in for E3 2012, he worked his way up the ranks quickly, making it to the Editing Manager post at the beginning of 2013. Jeff has a wide variety of tastes when it comes to gaming and pretty much likes anything that is quirky, although his favorite genres are Action, Platforming, and RPG. Outside of gaming, Jeff is a musician, being trained as a trombonist for Jazz and Classical music, and holds a degree in Sound Recording.


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  • Lord Ackercocke

    I won’t spoil it for anyone but #1 was well chosen.

  • Klagmar

    That was an excellent article! You covered a wide variety of events from the last year (including several I was unfamiliar with or didn’t realize the significance of) and covered them well. Even the summary of GamerGate was tasteful and quite informative. A great representation of 2014!

  • Axle_Magnum

    I honestly was kind of wondering why GamerGate hasn’t been mentioned here at all, though it does make sense.

    While it may seem like things kind of fizzled out, I do believe that it still is doing good for gaming journalism ethics, as the consumer revolt made sites like IGN and The Escapist redo their ethical standpoint (not really sure the actual name), as well as showing advertisers the terrible things that some of the other gaming “journalism” sites have been doing.
    But that’s just my opinion.

  • Jahu

    Remember when Gamergate quickly dissolved into dudebros complaining about girls wanting to join what they thought was their super secret boy club of gaming?
    Ahh, good times.