The Insincerity of Kotaku

In a recent turn of events, Kotaku’s Patrick Klepek made an inquiry about a woman on twitter regarding her commments on Alison Rapp. In the course of doing so, he felt that he should defend a woman who is not only incredibly bad at her job, he apparently felt that he should also vigorously defend the censorship that has been happening in games as of late. He also felt that it was ok to quote Jamie Walton off the record, after sending her an email trying to get a response out of her, even though she made it clear that she didn’t want to get involved and didn’t want to be in any article. Incidents like this highlight how we all know how unethical Kotaku and Patrick Klepek are. Even with her response not wanting to get involved they still used her as a source in the article

Not that we can expect much from Kotaku, but Patrick Klepek didn’t even go to the effort of quoting the entire email in the article. He cherry picked a few lines out of context and put them in the story. The following images show what he sent her through her company email.

She then released her response to Klepek.

Clearly stating she doesn’t have time or wants to get involved. Yet Klepek continues by sending her another email.

She released the entire email afterwards. Jamie Walton has been advocating for Allison Rapp to be fired, and admitted she would retract that statement if evidence suggested otherwise, but that’s another article in itself. Just looking at this shows the highly unethical atmosphere that Kotaku operates in. This is the standard of quality that Stephen Totillo seems to have for Kotaku. I am not even sure how he could let this be part of an article, let alone even be on the site.

Let’s dive into the actual content of the article.

“Gaming’s culture war hasn’t ended.”

The article starting with a sentence like that shows the lack of self awareness by Kotaku and Patrick Klepek. It was Kotaku, in concert with various gaming websites and writers, that started the current division in the gaming industry. The “culture war” wouldn’t have even been a thing were it not for them.

“It’s still roiling, with new fights, new targets, new depths of ugliness, but also many of the same tactics.”

If you’ve witnessed this kind of “Chanterculture”/GamerGate drama before, you know the playbook: discredit, harass, shame, isolate, maybe find a skeleton in a person’s closet that calls their reputation into question.

The link that’s in here tries to use guilt by association by saying that everyone who uses chan boards are the same, which is a collectivism fallacy. That article also completely misses the point. People are challenging the diversity quota that we’ve been seeing trumpeted with #OscarsSoBlack and other made up social justice issues. It is true that #GamerGate is using largely the same methods that these people frequently utilize to make their point, but he forgets it’s just a hashtag, not an insidious cabal out to destroy social justice. Also, questioning something should be what journalists do, It shouldn’t be up to the consumer to do the job of one when covering important events or issues. This is another point that completely evades Mr. Klepek here. You should be asking if he is doing the right thing with statements like: “Nintendo has been heavily associated with children”. I would also like to see where he gets his facts from when it comes to these claims, because without citations I am more inclined to dismiss them.

“I’ve been covering the ongoing cultural skirmishes over purported “censorship” of imported Japanese games for the last couple of months. They’re a natural extension of the ongoing reactionary freakout about the influence of so-called social justice warriors, those caricatured feminists supposedly out to sanitize games of sexual content. In these instances, the games in question usually have been changed—outfits modified, controversial sexual content removed, along with more run-of-the-mill changes necessary when translating a full video game—and so in the eyes of the aggrieved, the perceived agents of social justice have had a demonstrable effect.”

Just let that paragraph sink in for a moment. It is apparently “reactionary” to want the whole product to not be censored or have content removed on the whims of a screeching few. That is not the job of the localizer, no matter how much some preachy game journalists wish it to be so. The only thing that should happen with localization is to translate the game for its audience. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing that condones removing content from a game just because you get offended at how the characters look or over something they say. They’re fictional characters, are people forgetting that? It seems easily offended people are continuously projecting their insecurities onto characters that aren’t even real. This wouldn’t really even be an issue without gaming journalists seemingly supporting the censorship of art to satisfy their “gaming is for everyone” fallacies.

“Some of the hysteria is eye-rolling, but some of it involves understandably distinct perspectives about how a creative work in one culture should be presented in another. Most recently, I spoke with a group of reasonable-sounding fans trying to produce a more authentic translation of that Fire Emblem game. They were heavily critical of the work done by the “Treehouse,” the group at Nintendo who localize Japanese games for an American audience. These fans’ efforts focused on producing a more “authentic” translation.”

How can you defend the notion that something absolutely has to be presented differently for other cultures? Do you think something like Star Wars would be universally loved if it had been massively changed solely to fit other oblique cultural notions? That argument of “change” merely for the sake of people who may not even buy the game doesn’t hold water. Doesn’t it speak volumes for fans when they’re doing a better job at translating a game than Treehouse, a supposedly professional company. Shouldn’t you be promoting and praising them for doing this Patrick?

He used this image as an example of people who have been tweeting about the localization. This is supposed to be the ” ridiculous backlash” that is out on social media and oppressing people with different opinions. Klepek is completely lacking in self awareness when he is actually doing what this person is claiming in this tweet. He’s going to be buying into censored content, because he doesn’t care about these games and he couldn’t care less about the people actually buying them.

This is part one of a series examining Kotaku’s deleterious effect on the gaming industry and why we won’t miss it when it’s gone.