The Escapist, Destructoid Update Their Policies, Ethics In Light Of #GamerGate

Through all the smoke and brimstone rising out of the battlefield waging across games media and social media that is #GamerGate, there are legitimately good things rising out of the ashes. For one thing, we've seen multiple websites step forward and offer public disclosure policies on how transparent they are regarding some relationships their staff have with others working within the industry, as well as overhauling the ethics policies that some of the journalists will have to abide by.

Co-founder of The Escapist Magazine, Alexander Macris, has done a lot of hard work in elevating the prestige of how The Escapist is viewed by its audience. He's personally communicated with the site's regular members to get to the heart of some striking problems. Macris also made major strides in cleaning up how fact-checking will be handled, how allegations will be handled, and how disclosure will be made apparent for readers to judge whether or not the content is something they can trust.

What's more is that Macris' approbation of ethics extends beyond The Escapist. As noted in a five page article, the new journalistic and ethical standards employed by the site will apply to all of Defy Media's subsidiaries. This means that this new policy will affect – but is not limited to – GameFront, Screen Junkies, Chickipedia, The Escapist and The Gloss.

Some of the more pertinent changes are noted on the “State of Gaming” page, where it's written...

“Any personal or professional interests that conflict with that obligation, whether in appearance or in reality, risk compromising our credibility. Staff needs to be vigilant in disclosing to both our supervisors and the public any circumstances where loyalties may be divided - extending to the interests of spouses and other family members - and when necessary, recuse themselves from related coverage. Under no circumstances, excepting with respect to "embedded" advertorial coverage, which will always be clearly disclosed, should we skew our reports for personal gain or to please advertisers or partners.”

Macris had spent the last half of the previous week coming up with an overhaul to Defy Media's ethical guidelines for the sites under the label. The policy recently went into effect at the beginning of this week on September 8th.

For anyone who values ethics in games journalism, I would implore you to check out this page. It's well worth it and offers a strong glimmer of hope for gamers hoping for more ethical reporting from gaming journalists.

Destructoid's editor-in-chief, Dale North, also updated their ethical standards policy following a barrage of Twitter outbursts from Gearbox Software writer Anthony Burch, who decried #GamerGate for not first investigating personal connections between him and the staff at Destructoid, as reported by Attack on Gaming.

North wrote a short piece called “In Light of Recent Events”, stating...

“There’s a great deal of turmoil in the videogame industry as of late. Many of you know that, and want some sort of resolution. We at Destructoid cannot speak for our colleagues or the people we cover, but wish to clarify our stance on these issues.”“Destructoid condemns hate, discrimination, or harassment of anyone ever. While we support thoughtful discourse, there is a very bold line between criticism and harassment. We do not plan to wade into those waters and hope you will not either.“We also ask for disclosures upfront as part of our employment paperwork.”

Staff writer Darren Nakamura took to the Destructiod forums to further explain to the community that all writers will be required to make it known that certain writers may have ties to certain individuals within the industry, writing...

“It has been said that Destructoid’s relationship with Anthony Burch (or to extrapolate, Nick Chester, Chad Concelmo, Alex Ryan, Jayson Napolitano, et al) should be made explicit on all editorial content relating to him (or them). While I think that is a little bit unreasonable to expect, we are including information like that in our bios now.”

With rumored allegations of racketeering surfacing, as well as collusion and cronyism supposedly being rampant in Eurasian games media – all of these things are slowly brimming to the top of the social media discussion. It's become obvious that #GamerGate and #NotYourShield won't be ending anytime soon, so long as gamers hold a strong vendetta to finally out all the corruption hiding deep beneath the surface of the gaming industry.

At least Destructoid and those under the Defy Media label have made steps toward better news media representation on behalf of their audience(s). Additionally, The Fine Young Capitalists – a pro-feminist group that has been a victim in all of this since the start – have finally been able to have their voices heard in an interview with APGNation, the first games media outlet since this whole fiasco started to finally allow the group to tell their side of the story.

(Main image courtesy of The Escapist)

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.