The talk of the town is sexual harassment now, and that’s disappointing because it’s touching pretty closely video games too. It began with Naughty Dog, with The Last of Us developer accused couple times by different sources, and then again it’s up to NeoGAF making the matter tremendously serious – at the point that the forums were completely shut down and are still to be brought online at the time of writing this feature.
So, it’s not of my interest to go deep into the question, but it’s clear we need to state couple things before we can return to gaming and to talking about video games:
1. What the supposed victim of sexual harassment coming from NeoGAF’s owner, Tyler “Evilore” Malka, is saying is without any possible doubt – if confirmed – a clear signal of abuse and should be condemned in any possible form, by anyone capable of speaking and writing whatsoever; it’s just disgusting and should never, ever happen in 2017.
2. I’m a gamer at the core and, as such, I’d never want to see my hobby and the places I’m in, discussing with other fellow gamers, touched by these topics; so, my desire – not only: the sole possible solution I see to all that’s happened during the last few days, is a situation where Malka ceases to be the owner of NeoGAF and the forums get restored, so that the place can return online as soon as possible and he gets judged “simply” as a man who possibly had a toxic behavior and not as the owner of a massively populated online place where people have chats and discussions about digital hobbies.
That would be great not solely for NeoGAF but to the victim of such behavior, too, as she has reportedly had difficulties in sharing what happened to her because of the popularity of the man involved. Whether all this could happen sooner or later is not possible to define now, as the forums are still offline and it’s hard to predict from the outside what is going on in there; what’s clear that they don’t exist anymore as they were known, mainly because the ship was abandoned by lots of moderators (and users asking to be perma-banned) as soon as the accusation became public.
With that said, again, as a guy who just surfs the Internet in search of any possibly interesting news about video games – the news of the closure (if confirmed) of NeoGAF is a severe hit. I’m not a user of the forums itself, but I have feeds coming from the place and there is no doubt lots of people into the business of writing about video games own it at least one or two reports.
Especially before the rise of Reddit, indeed, it was and possibly still is one of the most populated and revered information sources when it comes to leaks and interesting considerations to turn into articles, features and pieces of opinions of any genre about video games.
So yes, besides any consideration you could do about the way the forums were run – which is something I’ll leave to people who are, or were, more engaged into the daily life of the forums itself – it would be an incredible loss for the entire industry if a place as big and as populated as NeoGAF would completely shut down and never get a proper replacement.
It’s something I thought back in the days for Kotaku – before it got acquired by the IGN guys, and it was in danger due to that story about Hulk Hogan – and that’s something I still think today.
No matter how much worse things you can throw to places where controversial stuff happens, if those places host interesting and polite discussions they deserve to live, in my opinion; and that’s why I hope for the absolute best for NeoGAF and all the people involved.
NeoGAF owner Tyler Malka finally broke his silence on the sexual harassment allegation. In a lengthy post on NeoGAF, Malka defended himself and then went ahead and discussed the future of NeoGAF. You guys can read the full statement of Tyler Malka below.
An allegation of sexual misconduct has been made against me by an ex. It’s not true, the individual making the accusation isn’t credible, the story doesn’t reconcile logically with the facts, and there’s plenty of evidence and witnesses to corroborate that. It’ll be a process.
All allegations of this nature are serious, of course. I first got word of it on Wednesday when a screenshot of a Facebook post was handed to Voat. I immediately talked with my mod team about the contents of the screenshot and clarified that it was baseless and explained some of the details concerning my former associations with her, and tried to ensure any concerns from the team were addressed fully and transparently to everyone’s satisfaction. On Thursday I heard that she had deleted the accusation from Facebook, and wasn’t entirely sure how to proceed from there or how this would all play out in the public space at that point. Then, Friday morning, the screenshot made its way to NeoGAF and chaos ensued.
I was in the process of writing a statement that entire day to address formally address the allegation, but the community had erupted in a flash that morning. While the moderation team was trying to restore the peace, accusations and threats concerning the screenshot started shifting to them as well by association with me, and I was asked by my team to do something to fix things and get the heat off of all of them at least. I was beyond exhausted by that point, though, stretched too thin in the time since the post had first appeared and seeing unprecedented events unfold on NeoGAF. I was slow and weak. I failed to handle it quickly enough and let the team down. Before I could finish a statement and get it out there, understandably some mods hit their emotional limit, expressed concerns about the community coming after them, and decided to leave. A few people resigned, and many more quickly followed for similar reasons, citing stress and harassment. The site started breaking under load spikes leading up to the first resignations, too, and then flatlined altogether, so issuing a statement at that time on NeoGAF itself became impossible for the time being, and my attention shifted toward the moderation team’s future.
Since that whole mess, lasting from Friday morning through Saturday, before we formally went offline for maintenance and repair and restructure, we’ve just been trying to figure out the best course of action for NeoGAF going forward. And as stories began being published by various outlets, I issued some comments to the press, since everything coming out was proving to be sensationalized, opportunist, and unprofessional.
We’ve all become increasingly stressed and weary this year in ways even I’m not accustomed to by now, and discussions on heated news, political issues, and social issues on the off-topic side of the site have become areas no one has wanted to moderate in the open for fear of backlash or just general exposure to the inevitable toxicity. I’ve gone in there myself to take the heat, since it’s very much my responsibility to do so before anyone else’s, but there’s been little headway, mostly just more anger and resentment and a lot of bans. I don’t think this necessarily reflects on our community; more so the tone of the entire internet this year with regards to heated issues.
That’s all going to inform the way forward for NeoGAF as we refocus on what the main goals are supposed to be for the site. The mod team will talk about more specifics on what that will entail below.
One last thing. The NeoGAF mod team is here for this community; all of you. You have no obligations to respect me or believe anything I say about my personal life one way or another, but if you’re going to be here and participate on NeoGAF, respect the mod team by following the rules and behaving. The team is diminished at the moment and the folks who stuck around care very much about this community and its future. Be considerate of them. That’s non-negotiable.