In our last report, we showed that the relationship between controversial developer Zoe Quinn and Kotaku journalist Nathan Grayson, went perhaps a bit deeper than they had publicly claimed. In fact, immediately after the report’s publication, Ms.Quinn let slip in a tweet that Grayson was a tester on Depression Quest.

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Grayson, for his part, then denied testing the game – somehow in the very same breath in which he admitted to testing it.

image00In his interview with The Escapist, Brad Wardell states that whenever he’d:

“send copies of a game to a journalist to get critical feedback on before it ships, they have always (as in 100% of the time) recused themselves.”

Grayson, on the other hand, says things like:

“There wasn’t enough to write about, but I offered a couple lines of feedback. They basically amounted to, ‘This is a neat idea, but when I went through this these sorts of things happened.’ I battled depression for a pretty significant chunk of my life, so I felt like that input was warranted.”

It seems the times have changed, Brad. And Nathan Grayson’s brand of journalism is leaving you behind.

Let’s dissect Grayson’s words here. Setting aside how many other people helped, did Grayson test and give feedback on the game? Did Quinn thank Grayson for his help and feedback on the game? Did Grayson use the platform he’d been granted to promote the game he was thanked for his help with?

Is this okay?

A journalist helped support a developer, gave that developer input on her game, gave that developer exposure on at least two separate occasions – one instance of which included the game he gave feedback on – and then slept with that developer. Because journalistic standards in this industry have gotten so lax, we’re told he didn’t do anything worth being fired over.

The Kotaku/Quinn/Grayson party line here is that there wasn’t any sex-for-coverage, so it’s all kosher. GamerGate was clearly, clearly, in the wrong. Well, I guess it would cool, if we wanted to be oblivious to the greater context of their involvement, and pretend that sex-for-coverage is the only possible bias. But let’s stop pretending to be fools for a minute, and look past that tired red herring. Eron Gjoni said something once on KingofPol’s show that stuck with me. It’s not about sex-for-coverage…it’s about coverage-for-sex

In a Twitlonger post after our story last week, Grayson claimed:

“People are getting bent out of shape about this because it looks like evidence that Zoe and I were close way back in 2012/2013. We were not. I’d interviewed her in 2012, and some time after that she sent me a build of Depression Quest to show me what she was working on.”

Do we have any evidence to suggest that Nathan may have been a bit less than truthful in this tweet? Evidence that maybe he had the hots for Zoe for some substantial length of time prior to covering her?

Actually, we do. And it’s from someone who used to be close to both Quinn, and Grayson.

The following tweets begin almost a month before the movement now known as GamerGate even started, from an account that was created in 2011. The first few tweets are provided merely for context (Sorry in advance, Zoe). These have been seen before on some boards. Hell, I remember seeing some of the earlier ones myself. These are legitimate.

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Now we move into GamerGate territory…

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Yes, you read that right. Apparently, the relationship between Quinn and Grayson goes back quite a ways, one sided as it may or may not have been. I’m hoping that I will be able to bring you more background and commentary from the person behind those tweets in the near future. They are understandably reluctant to come out publicly.

In the meantime, mull over the situation. 

There exists at least one journalist who’s allegedly been trying to get with a developer for years, but never recused himself from giving her exposure. There also exists at least one journalist who just days after a video showing how close he and a developer were getting, did not recuse himself from covering her game jam, and who a few days later, finally got his well earned thankyou present for the exposure he gave her. There also exists at least one journalist who gave exposure to a game he HIMSELF contributed to. 

And these are ALL THE SAME JOURNALIST. 

GamerGate wasn’t wrong. Take a close look at this situation and ask if this is the kind of journalism we want?  Look at it, and ask if this the kind of journalist we want? Look at Grayson, look at Kotaku — and demand answers.

27 comments
  1. I think they have to. They are on the hook now since they know of his problems and did nothing to correct them.

    If the Catholic Church can be run through the legal wringer with all the protections organised churches have, I hate to see what a would happen to Kotaku if someone went after them hard.

    but you know, you get what you deserve when you let your staff run a casting couch. Never mind totilo’s encouragement of the practice.

  2. There’s only one reason for Kotaku & the rest of the media not having hung Grayson out to dry. The industry has become so incestuous, corrupted, & complicit that as soon as one domino falls, the chain reaction starts and they all go down. They all have dirt on each other, so right now it’s a stand off until someone develops a conscience and finally breaks…

    Everyone breaks eventually… Keep the pressure on…

    1. so right now it’s a stand off until someone develops a conscience and finally breaks…

      They’ll never develop a conscience, but someone is going to try for mercy by backstabbing everyone else in their gang.

      That’s why we keep the pressure building.

      1. I hope this doesn’t “blow over.”

        I guess it’s good there are more optimistic people than me. 😉

        The only part I’m playing now is never going back to any mainstream site again.

        Can’t handle the twitter/social media toxicity.

        So, I’ll cheer from the stands.

    2. Its very likely that the moment one of these people’s gets let go they will start talking about everyone else and all the other dealings they don’t want us to know about.

      Clearly not every gaming journalist is involved or corrupt but I’d bet there is 1-2 on most of the sites and they are all so afraid of gamergate finding any definitive evidence that they keep up the attacks to try to discredit any info coming out of it. The problem is that has the opposite effects, it makes more people take notice and look into things and gamer gate builds credibility bit by bit.

    3. You’re probably right. Most other companies would have shown the door to employees that bring that much grief to their business as Grayson did, not defend them to their last breath. I have a feeling that Grayson has some juicy shit that can get Kotaku in big trouble (like proof of some huge “pay for good reviews” scandal), and Totillo and Read are white knighting him to save their asses.

  3. Ignore the sex aspect.

    It’s bad enough that he did not recuse himself based on their stated ethical practices.

    Granted, I think there is something to your other claims here Ralph, but there it is, clean and true.

    Totilo stated something that they do not do, and Greyson has demonstrably done it.
    This is a breach of their own guidelines of ethical standards.
    Focus on that hypocrisy and that alone.

    If you get dragged into the sexual aspect again, it’ll turn into another smokescreen that hides the real corruption.

    1. Not to mention Patricia Hernandez, who wrote articles about her girlfriend Christine Love and roommate Anna Anthropy, as well as give their games free publicity. She clearly admitted to those relationships on Twitter, but instead of firing her and taking down her articles, they slapped some disclaimers on the bottom and shrugged their shoulders.

  4. Nathan’s been on one gigantic walk of shame since this all broke.
    Now all of his closest friends and family are aware that he was actually inside professional wetnap and sausage-double Zoe Quinn. How do you recover from that? Grayson must have some loathsome acquaintances if he’d even want to spend time with her socially.

  5. This journalist had a CRUSH on the developer he covered. The evidence is that I said so! CORRUPTION!

    Lol, you idiots could not be more furiously grasping at straws rn.

    1. Well, it’s apparent that others in the industry were aware that there was some level of interest/bias long before the sexual encounters began, which is kind of the fucking point now isn’t it?

      1. Let’s say I took this idiotic point at face value.

        How would you actually use this as a standard of “ethics” in any sane way? The thing about “crushes” is that they are not confessed or acted on; that’s what makes them crushes!

        So if you really think it should be a sticking point that someone LIKES someone, not that they have asked them out or been involved with them, how would you gauge that?

        Would you have editors or journalists chiming in when someone publishes an article saying “ACTUALLY, I’ve seen the furtive glances that you give her when you think no one’s looking. And I’ve noticed you like a LOT of her Facebook statuses.” What kind of actual, real world criteria would grown up journalists use to call something like this out, let alone persuasively argue that it amounted to a conflict of interest?

        None, obviously. It’s completely asinine. But you know this; everything with Grayson at this point is ex post facto. You know there was no Depression Quest review and that your whole slimy crusade will be forever associated with a accusation of corruption for a review that didn’t exist.

        Like I said, grasping at straws. Or more like blades of grass at this point. Grains of sand. You get the idea.

        1. Grayson gave DQ favorable coverage. That, at this point, is a fact. It doesn’t matter if it came in the form of a small blurb or not. He also failed to recuse himself from reporting on the GameJam collapse and ZQ, despite his bias, and more than likely, a less than professional relationship between he and ZQ. ZQ went so far as to specifically thank Grayson, a games journalist, in the credits of her game.

          All of this amounts to breaches of ethics as outlined by both Reuters and the SPJ.

          For you to equate any of that to “grasping at straws” is to cling to sheer ignorance of actual evidence to date.

          Lastly, based upon the ethical guidelines from the organizations listed above, journos are supposed to maintain PROFESSIONAL distance and relationships with their content matter. It’s fucking absolutely clear that a portion of games journalism doesn’t give the slightest shit about this very basic ethical guideline.

          1. No no, now you’re changing the subject. If you want to talk about his status as a “tester” in the game’s early days, go ahead. I think that’s also a bad argument, but that’s not the point I was taking issue with.

            You’re also deflecting with the “it was positive coverage!” meme. Remember, I said I’m taking your point *at face value*; let’s just take it as a given that he gave her positive coverage before they were romantically involved.

            What I’m saying is that alleging someone’s coverage is biased and unethical because they *later* had a relationship, or because you’re speculating they have a “crush” on the subject is impossible to regulate and completely absurd to even suggest. You still didn’t point out any way in which this stupid idea would *actually work*, likely because you haven’t even thought about it. It’s just a dumb ex post facto rationalization for claiming that Grayson is biased after the previous accusation (that they traded “sex for favors”) has failed.

  6. That’s some seriously impressive work. I am currently picturing someone pointing at grayson and saying “BUSTED” in a Bart Simpson voice.

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