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dedicatedtogamers (User)

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EXPOSED: Kotaku's manipulation

dedicatedtogamers | 1005d ago
User blog

It was just about a year ago. I felt a bit unsettled after reading a Kotaku article by Patricia Hernandez, an article that asked the question "is it wrong to say 'I raped you' in a multiplayer game?" I felt a bit unsettled because the article came across as manipulative. Why was Kotaku spending their time on such a topic? "Oh," I thought to myself, brushing off my doubts "It's written by a woman who was actually raped in her past, so I suppose they think it adds credibility".

But I haven't stopped feeling unsettled from that point on in regards to Increasingly, Kotaku has championed an agenda in their articles. Whether it's hunting for racial slurs in an innocent animal-based flash game, or making sure animated breasts aren't too big, or calling out developers for making what can vaguely be called a "gay joke", Kotaku is here to save the day!

I'm feeling unsettled because I know I'm being manipulated. I knew it couldn't be a coincidence that Kotaku was ramping up their gender-equality witch hunt. There had to be something going on. There's nothing wrong with a news site posting opinion articles that differ from my own. That's just a normal part of life. However, when I realized I was rolling my eyes in disbelief at virtually every single Kotaku article that was linked here on N4G, I stopped and wondered what the heck was going on.

So, I did a little digging. I'm here to let you know, my fellow N4G browsers, that something is indeed going on with Kotaku. Please, feel free to yell at me, disagree with me, high-five me, or say whatever you like in the comment section. This topic should be talked about.

First, let's establish that something is indeed going on. Starting about 18-24 months ago, the number of hot-button gender-related articles on has skyrocketed. Topics that are years old (like crude remarks commonly made towards women on Xbox Live; nothing new) have suddenly found new light on Kotaku's article list. Setting aside the fact that Kotaku failed to report on these issues of harassment when they first cropped up years ago (in spite of their job titles being "journalist"), Kotaku has also been hiring - and posting articles from - female-focused industry icons. Whether highlighting Anita Sarkeesian for the tenth time or picking up on the most recent anti-gay slur, Kotaku has been picking up a lot of click-through, whether from like-minded individuals or angry readers and everyone caught in between. We've gotten articles (two, actually) like how Sony is sexist because there were no women on stage at the Playstation 4 reveal (what?), how Far Cry 3 is homophobic because it has a vague gay joke (ignoring the fact that the game is based on rude, crude, politically-incorrect '80s action-movie cliches), and my personal favorite, the dedicated and malicious attack on Vanillaware president/artist/designer George Kamitani for being a 14-year-old boy (apparently) because he drew a female videogame character with massive tits for a game that was announced nearly two years ago.

Remember how I mentioned that these sort of articles have been growing exponentially for about 18-24 months? Hmmm, what happened 18-24 months ago for Kotaku. Oh. That's right. About 27 months ago, Kotaku's parent company, Gawker, decided to revamp all of their site designs, which resulted in a MASSIVE decrease in site visits (and naturally, a massive decrease in ad revenue). Gawker fumbled and struggled to bring back readership by making a "compromise" in the site's design, and it was during this time that Kotaku also began to increase their number of tabloid-like, hit-seeking articles. All of this info is publicly available on Wikipedia, by the way. I'm not claiming to be some sort of insider.

"Okay, dude," you might be thinking. "So what? Gawker (and therefore Kotaku) hit a rough patch two years ago. It doesn't mean they have an agenda." You know what? You're absolutely right. If that one coincidence was the only thing I had, then it would be a bit tinfoil-hat of me to imply that Kotaku was engaging in some sort of targeted manipulation.

But that isn't all.

Surrounding the hubbub of Patricia Hernandez's two (yes, two) articles about "no women @ PS4 announcement!", Stephen Totilo gets on his high horse and says to his readers (you know, the people who put food on his table through their click-through) "if you don't like Patricia, then I don't want you to be a part of the Kotaku community". What? I'm sorry. It is one thing to ban lewd comments or discourage immature talk on a website, but to say such a thing to readers (who were understandably miffed at Patricia's incredibly one-sided and poorly-researched articles) stinks of an agenda.

And it gets deeper.

In a document regarding Gawker's future plans (found in about 20 seconds using Google here: it is detailed that Gawker planned on hiring several new "commerce specialists" for Kotaku and sister-site Jezebel (a female-focused website where a lot of Kotaku's gender-issue articles are cross-linked for additional ad revenue). This was just a few months ago at the end of January 2013. What is a "commerce specialst"?

"The job listings describe the position as “a new type of service journalism” that includes “everything from posts about the cheapest deal on something our readers need to introducing them to new things they’ve never seen,” and notes that Gawker will be deriving revenue from those posts"

The phrases that really caught my eye were "introducing them [readers] to new things they [readers] have never seen" and "Gawker will be deriving revenue from those posts". Is Kotaku's recent explosion (or should I say exploitation) of gender-driven articles something new, something the gaming industry has not seen? Yes, yes indeed. Is the s***-storm stirred up by these articles generating ad revenue for Kotaku and their parent company, Gawker? You bet.

In another article (here: that addressed the same announcement by Gawker this past January, we see another side of the same story:

"The company [Gawker] is working on ways to show past posts that have generated high revenue through affiliate links to readers who haven't yet seen them, Mr. Denton said."

Interesting. So, Gawker (and by extension Kotaku) is trying to up ad revenue by cross linking posts. Even if you've only read a few Kotaku articles, you've probably noticed that they hyperlink the crap out of their own articles, giving you links to at least a dozen other articles they've written before you're done reading. You want to know an easy way to get ad revenue from these cross-links? Talk about the same topic over and over again. You want an even easier way to get ad revenue from these cross-links? Drum up an artificial controversy where the reader HAS to click back to other articles to get the full story. Oh. Gee. That's exactly what they've done with stories like "no wimmenz @ PS4 announcement" and "Vanillaware is run by juveniles", because those so-called stories have multiple pages on Kotaku, and of course they all link to one another, just to make sure you're getting the full story.

Does Kotaku care about gender issues? I'm not sure. Their coverage of all these "controversies" comes across as Baby's First Feminism, and now they're hunting for the devil under every rock, or rather, they're hunting for the dominating phallic symbol in every box art, the male-privilege hate-speech in every line of dialog, and an oppressed female behind every pair of oversized cartoon breasts.

But I think that's giving them too much credit. It seems to me as though this is intentional. Kotaku belongs to a company that has been down on its ad revenue for two years now. Kotaku belongs to a company that wants to aggressively expand its media holdings. Kotaku belongs to a company that paid a mole to steal footage from Fox News and got caught. Kotaku belongs to a company being sued by Dr. Phil for stealing portions of his exclusive interview and airing them before he could. Kotaku belongs to a company that violated Reddit's free speech and privacy policies (and was subsequently blocked) in order to get a "scoop" on users who were posting pornography on an adult-only sub forum. Again, these factoids aren't secrets. I found them by spending less than 10 minutes Googling Kotaku and their owners, Gawker. Kotaku already has a reputation for making sensationalist (and poorly-researched) articles about gaming for the purpose of stirring up artificial controversy and raking in the ad revenue when people come to watch the train wreck.

It would be one thing if they were doing this with videogame-related news (which is something they've always done anyway and it is annoying but ultimately harmless). However, Kotaku is using a real-life issue - gender inequality - and abusing it so that they can make Gawker a few extra bucks. The videogame industry has an opportunity to grow and mature, and gender equality is one issue where we have been growing. However, now Kotaku is stepping in, calling the shots, and pointing the "sexist" finger at everyone who disagrees with their take on the topic. They are co-opting the discussion and cramming their own agenda down everyone else's throats. No, it isn't for the purpose of championing a noble cause or crusading for the rights of the oppressed (even then, they would be doing a poor job of it if that was their intention). Kotaku's actions are for the purpose of dredging up ad revenue by any means possible, and this behavior should come as no surprise based on the actions and attitudes of their parent company, Gawker.

Gamers, these are your journalists. Are you happy about that?

LostDjinn  +   1005d ago | Well said
It's bad form to comment on an article you approve but in this case I'll make an exception.

Kotaku is owned by an advertising agency (as you've just shown). Their sole purpose is to generate revenue. Not to inform on, enrich or add meaningfully to gaming. It's just an avenue they exploit. Their method is outrageously simple yet effective. They provide drama.

Whether it's fabricating News, misrepresenting products or creating wedge issues (through the application of sensationalism, hyperbole and un/half truths) it all fair game to them. They then play this off as being the fault of an outside (anonymous) source or other fictitious party that can't be called to account. Or they make (sometimes) insane claims and then hide behind "It's an opinion" as though that absolves them of responsibility for whatever BS they've run with.

It's the way they work. When their revenue stream is threatened expect things to become more hysterical. If you don't want to reward their behavior use Ad-blocker or better yet don't click their site. The only thing they understand is money (and to them the ends justifies the means).

tldr: Don't expect them to change as long as they can trick people into clicking.

Edit: Sorry I had to edit. :S
#1 (Edited 1005d ago ) | Agree(21) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
Donnieboi  +   1005d ago
How is it bad to comment on something I approved? If it's worth approving, then it's worth commenting on. Not disagreeing with u, but I like to comment on stuff I approve. Is it an n4g policy that says it's wrong?

OT: Kotaku is lame, and is barely even a step up from "examiner" website. Seriously, over time I realized much of the stuff on kotaku isn't worthy of being posted on n4g. But hey, people are gonna keep approving it anyway.
#1.1 (Edited 1005d ago ) | Agree(12) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
zerocrossing  +   1005d ago | Well said
Very informative blog, I thought it was odd Kotaku was getting on their moral high horse when in the past it may as well have been a foreign word to them.

I still have no idea why Kotaku is aloud to have articles submitted on N4G, if there are any mods who come across this comment maybe you could please explain? it just seems strange to allow a journalist website that specialises in sensationalism, misinformation and slander to link to a website regarding gaming "news".
Nate-Dog  +   1005d ago | Interesting
I only joined the staff team a short time ago and wondered this and by chance asked about it just a few days ago when I had a look at how many negative votes compared to positive votes on the site there were from users (I won't say the actual figures, but the difference was massive, even I didn't expect it). There are some sites that the owners of the website (Hava Media) seem to have specific sites set to a 3-star rating which is next to impossible to change with user votes, and Kotaku seems to be one of them.

@Blog: Very informative blog and a great read. I stopped reading Kotaku around the same time of what Galactic Empire below me mentioned. That and the "Don't trust this website's review scores" when Famitsu gave MGS: Peace Walker a 40/40 score. It's funny because I just browse through the last 12 hours of news to catch up (I usually come on in the morning once and in the night once) and just through glancing through everything I can pretty much immediately tell what articles are from Kotaku from glancing at titles. Simple thing for everyone is to just stop clicking on their articles and giving them hits. But people usually don't seem to understand how simple a solution it is and get sucked into what is always just sensationalist flamebait.
DragonKnight  +   1005d ago | Well said
I KNEW IT! I knew that Kraptaku's 3 stars had to do with some kind of an arrangement with the owners of this site. Just like those Spam blog posts from

It must be nice for the owners of this site to go against the sites own rules and guidelines. Frickin' sad. We're told our voices are what run the site, and yet when we come together to say "we don't like this site's submissions on N4G" and vote them down, the owners of the site say "Oh well, too bad."

Seriously pathetic.
zerocrossing  +   1005d ago
Thanks for the explanation, honestly I had expected as much... with the sheer amount of users voting Kotaku down the fact they always had 3 stars seemed impossible, I guess all we can do is avoid giving them hits but I doubt enough people will have the self restraint required given their flame bait headlines.
Root  +   1004d ago
That explains alot

But I'm pretty sure cgoodno in one of DragonKnights articles said it was because they don't flamebait and it's because of us (the community) why they are still allowed on this site

So it's because of an obvious arrangement, wow, how can the Admins expect you to follow the guidelines when they just change what they want and don't follow them themselves....they do this all the time.

I knew the higher ups were corrupt.

....not you though Nate-dog....since your new-ish


They do this with comments aswell, even if people agree with you in an article and you can obviously see this like the agrees on 90 and the disagrees are 15-20 they would bubble you down for trolling, say it's the community who did it even though you can obviously tell it was them. When you send them a ticket they give you the "I'm right, your wrong argument" and thats it.

I mean as you know one of them thought I was a dup account, even though this has been disproven by Nineballs when I joined, when he unblocked my account after the mix up, he still thinks it's true and won't admit it.

Now he's apparently bad mouthed me to all the mods/admins so they won't listen to me.
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Cat  +   1004d ago
To clarify, there is no arrangement between HAVAmedia or any of its employees with Kotaku or any other site for rating. Simply, Kotaku achieved a very high star rating when the rating system debuted, and it has not yet changed as a result of member votes.

Why the rating has not changed is likely because a) it takes many votes to alter a rating b) because of the trust rank of those members casting the votes c) who is voting (if the same 5 members are clicking "yay" or "nay" the system detects it and the votes weigh less)
#2.1.4 (Edited 1004d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(6) | Report
miyamoto   1003d ago | Immature | show
GalacticEmpire  +   1005d ago
They lost my confidence the day they posted that slowed down video of GT5 load screens; such an obvious, hit seeking, troll attempt.

What really rubs salt in the wound of poor Kotaku submissions here on N4G is that they currently have a 3 star rating despite many calls to vote them down. I can't be the only one who is constantly down-voting their crap.
PopRocks359  +   1005d ago
More than likely they have a lot of fans who vote them back up or something of the like... certainly wouldn't be the first dishonest thing they've done.
SilentNegotiator  +   1005d ago
But more likely that they know how to exploit that system with a bunch of accounts that upvote every last article from their site.
DragonKnight  +   1005d ago | Well said
You're definitely not the only one. Every Kotaku article I come across, you can see pretty much the same comment from me.

"Kraptaku voted down."

And it doesn't matter what the article is. The amount of sensationalist garbage they post severely outweighs any legitimate articles they post.

It's quite ironic that Kotaku gets to remain here and HHG was booted for doing what Kotaku does all the time.
MidnytRain  +   1005d ago
"Kraptaku voted down."

That's technically spam, isn't it? Mods, what should I do?
DragonKnight  +   1005d ago
No, it's not Spam. Spam is things like trying to sell things in the comment section. And besides, I never said that I don't comment on the article before saying "Kraptaku voted down."

And finally, what would you gain in helping Kotaku here by attempting to mark my comments as Spam?
coolbeans  +   1005d ago
"Spam is things like trying to sell things in the comment section."

I've been marked for spam for posting one of whatculture's lists in the comment section, so no the term extends a bit farther then that.
DragonKnight  +   1005d ago
@coolbeans: If you mean that you went through their list and posted all of them in the comment section so as to not make others suffer through 10 pages of list items, then the only reason you were marked for Spam is because the author of said list complained about it and not because you were actually spamming. In that instance you were treated unfairly though I'm sure someone will make the claim that the author was treated unfairly.

No one likes those lists.
MidnytRain  +   1005d ago
Lol, I was joking, but that does still sound like spam... :O
Elwenil  +   1005d ago
I agree there is something fishy about Kotaku's rating here. I remember we got it down quite a bit at one time and seems like around the first of the year it suddenly jumped back to three stars. I don't want to get all tinfoil honestly have to wonder if this isn't the admins of N4G artificially changing their rating or people from Kotaku coming here and bumping it up. It's pretty much universally accepted that at least half of Kotaku's articles are crap. Some, like the sensationalist BS that has been out recently, are actually harmful to gaming. Why would gamers support this? Kotaku is nothing more than a gaming related tabloid these days. Just my .02
DragonKnight  +   1005d ago | Well said
Excellent blog. Kotaku have been terrible for years and years now. The one thing I would really hope is that we all come together and vote them down on EVERY article regardless of what it says so that we take away one avenue for them to get clicks. I really don't know how Kotaku has 3 stars here when they post such garbage.

Also, Kotaku had 3 panellists at the 2012 Spike VGAs. 3. 3 Kotaku site staff had a vote on which games would win VGA awards. That's more than any other site that was in the panellist group. These sensationalis sh*t starters (alliteration ftw) helped to decide which games won VGA awards. The corruption and general incompetence of the biggest names in gaming "journalism" has permeated nearly every area of the industry and it's sickening.

We need to be rid of Kraptaku. We the gamers have to force legitimate journalism to be re-introduced to video game media.
#4 (Edited 1005d ago ) | Agree(11) | Disagree(2) | Report | Reply
papashango  +   1003d ago
IGN has more of a negative impact on legitimate gaming journalism and here I only see you guys cherry picking...
gamejediben  +   1002d ago

IGN can post some pretty crappy articles but they could never, EVER match the volume of sensationalist crap coming from Kraptaku. Its a whole other level of inflamatory fecal matter.
papashango  +   1002d ago
lol right
NatureDecay  +   1005d ago | Well said
Great article.

For a long time, Kotaku was my go-to game news site, up until the past year or so. As time went on, there seemed to be an increasing flood of terrible, and quite frankly bizarre articles surrounding misogyny and homophobia in the video game industry, with zero to no basis in fact. All the accusations seemed to stem from perceived injustices, distorted by an obvious bias, and tinged with sensationalist nonsense.

Kotaku is everything that is wrong with journalism.
-Gespenst-  +   1005d ago | Well said
Regardless of how disingenuous they are about the points they raise, the points themselves still stand. The points aren't devalued by Kotaku's disingenuous-because-possibly- revenue-driven flagging up of them. Be careful not to get the two tangled up.

Representation is still a hugely important topic in any form of media and to try and escape it is just naive and quite frankly totally disrepectful and inconsiderate. Cultural artifacts build culture, and it's largely through the lens of culture that we see and understand reality. It's about paying attention to the ambient assumptions that these things intentionally or unintentionally promote. Not to mention that a lot of people's assumptions these days are based on colonial, imperial values.
#6 (Edited 1005d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(11) | Report | Reply
DragonKnight  +   1005d ago
You just said a lot of nothing. Kotaku should be called out for every disingenuous, sensationalist, flaming article they post. They devalue any cause they pretend to rally behind because they are disingenuous and if people dug into what Kotaku really is like the blog author here, how could anyone take what they say seriously?
-Gespenst-  +   1005d ago
"Kotaku should be called out for every disingenuous, sensationalist, flaming article they post"

I'm not saying they shouldn't, what I'm saying is that the issues that this poster complains about are still valid separate from who says them. You could harp on about them with a secret profit motive, but as ideas alone they're still important. Most people who ardently discuss these issues aren't involved in some ad-revenue pyramid scheme, and you shouldn't hereafter associate all discussions of such matters with such ulterior activities. It just so happens that Kotaku MAY be exploiting the discussion for less than wholesome ends. You needn't rely on Kotaku to be the teacher of these ideas and matters, take the ideas in your own hands and investigate them yourself. If Kotaku really are doing this, fu!k them. You shouldn't let such obvious cynicism on their part devalue what are highly important and current ideas. It's just crucial to realise how important those ideas are, and not letting this potential debacle eclipse them.

Anyway, it'd be interesting to get a response from Kotaku themselves to this blog.
coolbeans  +   1004d ago
"I'm not saying they shouldn't, what I'm saying is that the issues that this poster complains about are still valid separate from who says them."

He mentions the controversy about Starcoon up above so that's not entirely true.
dedicatedtogamers  +   1004d ago
"Regardless of how disingenuous they are about the points they raise, the points themselves still stand."
Some of Kotaku's points do stand. Others do not.

"The points aren't devalued by Kotaku's disingenuous-because-possibly- revenue-driven flagging up of them"

Wrong. The points are very much devalued by Kotaku (or anyone's) disingenuous representation of those ideologies. It's why you see so many people remark "that's not my feminism" in response to the latest outbreak of feminazi nonsense. When one crazy shouts louder than the genuine followers, it ruins it for everyone else.

"Representation is still a hugely important topic in any form of media and to try and escape it is just naive and quite frankly totally disrepectful and inconsiderate."

No one here is trying to escape it. What I'm pointing out is that Kotaku's abuse of the gender-equality topic is hurting our chances of having any real discussion. Instead of bringing real issues of representation into the public forum, Kotaku is twisting stories (or creating them out of thin air) to drive click-through on their website, and then they're yelling at anyone and pointing the "Sexist" finger at anyone who doesn't agree with their point of view. That isn't good journalism. That isn't good gender equality. That isn't good discussion. But it sure is profitable for Kotaku, isn't it?
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darkpower  +   1005d ago
You forgot something: Ms. Hernandez has no clue what Michelangelo's "David" sculpture is, apparently. She bitched that Animal Crossing: New Leaf showed it uncensored.
gamejediben  +   1002d ago
Oh yeah that one made me lol all over the place.

This is the kind of ignorant self-righteous idiot that passes for a Kotaku "journalist" these days? Either that or she actually does know about Michelangelo's "David" sculpture and willfully bitched about it just to drum up hits.

Either way, Gamers need to steer clear of this brain cell killing cesspool.
InMyOpinion  +   1005d ago
Very good blog post! One of the most interesting I've read on N4G actually.
JohnApocalypse  +   1004d ago
I still wonder why people still go to that site
Root  +   1004d ago
Patricia Hernandez.....urgh

How the hell did she even get a job there...she looks like a user who asked to write for them from her own home and they accepted.

She knows nothing about the gaming industry...
-Gespenst-  +   1004d ago
"The job listings describe the position as “a new type of service journalism” that includes “everything from posts about the CHEAPEST DEAL ON SOMETHING OUR READERS NEED to introducing them to new things they’ve never SEEN,” and notes that Gawker will be deriving revenue from those posts"

While you might be onto something, you seem to wilfully overlook "posts about the cheapest deal on something" as well as "introducing them to new things they’ve never 'SEEN'". It's commerce journalism- the advertising of products - a common practice to generate revenue. Also keep in mind that issues of representation have only recently begin to enter the world of videogames- they;ve been discussed and argued in films, literature, television and everything else for many years- since at least the years following world war II, the gender debate cropping up in the 60s-70s. I think you're building something of a straw man here. Then you go on a tirade locating their guilt in the actions of their parent company- a obvious fallacy. It's also fallacious to claim that the points they raise are somehow completely devlaued because of possible tendentiousness. Perhaps some of the arguments historically have been dodgy (The ps4 conference one). The point is that others without such motives can still appropriate the arguments themselves and investigate them. As they stand, most of them aren't just "flaming" articles- maybe they're used to generate ad revenue, but at the same time, the points they raise aren't bad and while sometimes they can be rudimentry, they're still disseminating fundamental ideas to be considered. It's up to others to carry that information and disseminate it without the motives that Kotaku may (or may not) have- ultimately resulting in Kotaku's shady plan failing and the information still making it to people- not occluded by the possible closure of Kotaku.

It just seems to me that a part of you wants to foreclose the whole debate around such things just because you disagree with it. Which needless to say is fascist in form. My problem with a lot of anti-feminist / anti-representation / anti-cultural-effect is invariably that the knowledge possessed by such people is purely soundbite based- not based on any extensive research or scholarly education. You seem to think your opinions are in someway sophisticated and yet all they express is a mob-rule, pop-understanding of the issues, and the worst part is that it's self-justifying. You refuse to realise the issues beyond your own closed system of logic.
SweetIvy  +   1004d ago
Thanks for the heads up, I've never cared much for them, but after reading this, I'll refrain from ANY click.

I am only one, and just one less click won't hurt the site, but hundreds of people that do the same, yes, can definitely hurt it.

People should better realize their power as a mass!
ShiftyLookingCow  +   1004d ago
This article and the comments are everything I wanted to say about Kotaku and more. Thanks.
stephentotilo  +   1004d ago | Interesting
Kotaku Editor-in-Chief here...

I'm not here to argue whether you should like a given Kotaku piece more than you do. I don't begrudge anyone for voicing their dislike of how we write about gender issues, how we review games, how we break news, etc. If you don't like it, you don't like it. All I can ask in that regard is that you actually read the work you're criticizing, since sometimes these criticism seem to only deal with a caricature of what we've written, not what we've actually written.

But the matter at hand is the detective work supposedly done here to "expose" Kotaku.

Nothing real has actually been exposed. There is no secret scheme to goose traffic by repeatedly writing about sexism.

Here's where the rant against Kotaku goes completely off the rails as it starts to quote comments from our publisher:

"The phrases that really caught my eye were "introducing them [readers] to new things they [readers] have never seen" and "Gawker will be deriving revenue from those posts". Is Kotaku's recent explosion (or should I say exploitation) of gender-driven articles something new, something the gaming industry has not seen? Yes, yes indeed. Is the s***-storm stirred up by these articles generating ad revenue for Kotaku and their parent company, Gawker? You bet. "

Sorry, but one has nothing to do with the other.

For all the Googling that was supposedly done to expose my site, the Google searches must have missed the actual posts written by members of our company's Commerce team that do offer people cheap deals.

Here's one:

These posts, which have been posted by our Commerce team for the past two months, all carry a disclaimer that states the following:

"Welcome to the new Moneysaver, now brought to you by the Commerce Team every weekday at 2:15pm EST. We're here to bring Kotaku readers the best gaming deals available, and to be clear, we also make money if you buy. We want your feedback."

The commerce team works independently of my editorial team. There is no overlap. The editorial team publishes stories we hope will interest readers. The commerce team posts deals posts that offer readers deals and that, yes, as disclosed, provide a cut to our company. It's simply another way of generating revenue in addition to advertising, which is run by yet another team in our company. This is not scandal. It's actually a rather transparent publishing practice.

There's no hidden gender agenda designed to drum up traffic for something we supposedly don't believe in. There's nothing of the sort. My writers believe in what they report and write, and if you don't like it, you're welcome to not the read the content, to not submit the content and so on.

As for this supposed N4G-Kotaku deal, as far as I know, it doesn't exist. I've been at Kotaku for four years; I've run the site for the last 16 months. I've never heard of such a thing. Maybe our site is rated well because, regardless of what you think about our opinion pieces, our reporting track record and the accuracy of the stories we've broken is actually very good? Or maybe it's because of our size? We have about five million monthly readers. I don't know. I don't know how it works.

One other thing: I wasn't on the grassy knoll. I swear!

Thanks for giving me a forum to reply. Anyone who ever has questions or feedback about Kotaku is welcome to e-mail me at stephentotilo at kotaku dot com
rainslacker  +   1004d ago | Well said
"My writers believe in what they report and write"

As the editor in chief, don't you feel it your responsibility to maybe hold your staff and writers up to a higher standard though, even if it is for an opinion piece? If your writers truly believe in what they are writing about, isn't it their responsibility to actually report these issues in the manner befitting a real journalist? That is actually researching the topic, understanding it, and then getting all sides of the story before presenting it.

It is a disservice to the the readers, and the actual topic being reported to form a conclusion beforehand, and then go about finding supporting evidence from whoever may grant it, all while ignoring any evidence that may suggest otherwise.
This methodology is for no purpose other than to push sensationalism and to drum up hits. If your writers truly believe what they're writing, these same topics can receive just as much heat and views by presenting a fair and balanced outlook on said subject matter, and as a bonus actually present the issue in a way that is meaningful and productive to affect change.

Hiding behind the "opinion piece" defense doesn't excuse anything, unless you have no part in actually reviewing those which case maybe we can just accept that the Kotaku seen on here most of the time is nothing more than a personal blog website.

I don't deny that Kotaku does break news that is relevant and accurate at times, but realistically, Kotaku's reputation is well deserved by those on this site because it seems your reporting standards are spotty, and at worst, nothing better than any random user who posts on any forum anywhere.
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stephentotilo  +   1004d ago | Well said
No one's "hiding behind the 'opinion piece.' Your lecture on journalism standards is unnecessary.

It doesn't seem like you actually are familiar with what we publish nor does it seem like you have any interest in recognizing Kotaku's repeated willingness to present multiple sides of a story. Thankfully, people on various sides of issues do actually talk to us and we remain happy to present diverse views on our site.

If Kotaku's reputation is based on posts like the one that tops the thread here--ones that jump to conclusions that are divorced from reality--that's on the people who believe that nonsense. I can't win arguments with people who make things up or who see things that aren't actually there.
rainslacker  +   1003d ago | Well said
I wasn't intending to lecture. My point is, why are some of your opinion pieces not held up to the same standards as some of the other writing that actually is good on your site.

For example
Patricia Hernandez started with this

It's true, there were no women present at Sony's presser. Nothing wrong with stating that. However, nothing else in the article actually attepts to answer the question posed by the title. Is that good journalism to you? Is she trying to just open up dialogue? If so, why not have some actual information to inform people so they don't just spout off random hyperbole?

I will give credit to her follow up piece.

It was researched, presented facts, and came to a conclusion based on those facts. The only fault I found is that it didn't actually have any representation from the opposing side of the issue. It's easy to say, and likely prove there is an issue, but what is the actual root cause? This piece would have been amazing if that actual question had been explored.

How is this journalism

How, as an editor in chief, could you allow one of your staff writers come out and insult an industry veteran? Where is there any kind of journalistic integrity in this? It's not even a constructive review of the game's artwork. Is it meant to open dialogue? What kind of dialogue? Why is it a problem?

Well here's his follow up

According to Jason, the reason it's a problem is "Because it's embarrassing. Because I wouldn't want to be seen playing it in public. Because I love Japanese games and Japanese RPGs and I don't want them to perpetuate the ugly "boys' club" mentality that has pervaded gaming for almost three decades now" It's a problem because the write is insecure and he somehow thinks this title will completely ruin all the strides JRPG's have made in 30 years.

Now after all this, he changes routes and basically says it's only going to make it harder for women to become part of the industry. Again...why? Where are the facts to back up this hyperbole? It's easy to list a bunch of possibly sexists things, but it means nothing if you can't show why it's harmful.

Kotaku's reputation here is based on the way you present yourselves. Obviously given the mob mentality of the internet the more controversial stories are going to be seen by the most people, I'm sure you and your parent company are well aware of this. That to me is the root issue in this blog. The rest I can't say, I feel that's a different issue.

So here it is in simple terms. You create a problem, then go on to answer it through an actual piece that is more worthwhile. In the meantime, your actual reputation is shot because you came at it in the most negative of ways to begin with.

I can tell that you stand by your quality articles, as well as your writers. It's a shame that more people can't give those articles a chance because of the sensationalism that Kotaku promotes, but burning bridges and all.
mixelon  +   1003d ago
I don't think it's worth trying to engage with people here on N4G.. (although I appreciate that you do this when people bring you/Kotaku up - that Bungie gun photo thing was a blast) It's always just a surreal, paranoid mud-slinging contest here.

N4G conspiracy theories would probably make a good article. ;)
Emilio_Estevez  +   1003d ago
Thank you for coming to make this a 2 sided ordeal, stay a while.

If people really had a problem with your site they wouldn't click.....but they do. That is more telling then any blog or comment.

Coulda swore I saw you in the kitchen with a wrench though.
Kenshin_BATT0USAI  +   1003d ago
This is a pretty basic rule, but when you present evidence in defence of yourself, you don't quote yourself. That holds no weight (referring to the article you linked)

That aside, it's kind of you and respectful that you went out of your way to communicate with N4G's community, but it's a losing battle. Like all strains of society, people believe only what they want to believe, and what they believe is Kotaku can't be trusted, simply put. Maybe a year or two down the line it'll be different? Who knows. But in the end no one will take your word seriously(at least right now) given your current background here(being from Kotaku)
ZombieNinjaPanda  +   1003d ago
Kotaku's reputation is based on crap and drivel such as this.

You have terrible writers, sensationalist writers, writers who don't do any research (how about that defense campaign of Star Wars: The Old Republic, claiming that it won't go F2p for three articles in a row, then reporting on it going F2p).

As much as I criticize N4g for having a ton of horrible absurd agregate news coming into the website, it is no comparison to the crap Kotaku posts. If you truly wish to get a better reputation, go back to being a gaming blog that does research instead of being a post-modern sensationalist social issues knock off.
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dedicatedtogamers  +   1003d ago
While I appreciate the time you've taken to come to our random site and create an account to specifically comment, you really didn't address most of what has been said in the blog and in the comment section.

The problem people have with your site is that you are mishandling the very issues you claim to be championing. On the one hand, you're taking the tiniest of "social justice" issues like "sorceress's boobs are too big!" and then not only blowing it way out of proportion, but also making personal attacks against the President/artist/designer of the company. But on the very next stroke, you post up an article in defense of the "games are art!" argument. And meanwhile, you are not asking the hard-hitting questions that journalists should be asking like "Sony, how do you expect us to believe you about PS4/Vita remote play when you have utterly failed to support remote play with the PS3/PSP and PS3/Vita like you said you would?" or "Microsoft, are you going to price gouge accessories with the NextBox?" or "Nintendo, you made grand claims that the WiiU would be a 3rd party paradise. It obviously isn't. What fell through? Please shed light on the situation". When Kotaku is seemingly willing to get riled up about vague gay jokes in Blood Dragon or digital date rape in Guild Wars and yet ignore some pretty important gaming-related questions, it murders your credibility. Perhaps you don't see it that way, but your readers (some of which you told to "get bent and there's the door" in response to their dislike of Patricia) do see it that way.

I respect that you have a website to run and a job to do. Mad props for making a career out of it. That's something I'll likely never be able to do. But don't be surprised when you take your site in a different (and incendiary) direction and gamers lash out in protest.
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-MD-   1003d ago | Immature | show
Azteckaiser  +   1003d ago
The simple fact of the matter is that Kotaku is now attempting to infuse liberal politics in gaming journalism. These attempts to populate the site with articles based on liberal talking points are falling flat with the majority of readers, who are primarily gamers looking for actual news. Kotaku is simply following the pattern of "creating" news stories instead of "reporting" news stories. The headlines mentioned in this article are a perfect example of that and the editors repeated attacks on anyone who dares criticize their new brand of gossip journalism shows not only a blatant disregard for their readers but for the gaming industry in general. You either don't realize the damage you are doing or don't care.
darkpower  +   1002d ago
Only problem here is that you're thinking that ALL liberals would agree in blindly calling something racist or sexist or homophobic. On the contrary! Credibility happens on THAT front when you call out things that are ACTUALLY derogatory and discriminatory, like the crap Bill O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, or Limbaugh put out on a daily basis. Saying that liberals in general blindly cry wolf is making a logical fallacy. Conservatives do just as much of it. It transcends political parties.

As for Stephen: you probably should take into account that the problems didn't start with Patricia. Patricia has become, in all sense and fairness, the poor man's Anita Sarkeesian. This is bad. REAL bad! We already know Anita has become very controversial because she bases everything she says around misinformation, completely false info, fallacies, and catch-22s. Patricia is seriously going to emulate Anita in the worst way possible?

But, as I said, she's just the latest in a sea of problems Kotaku has had over the years. A grudge against Sony that showed in your stories after they blacklisted you for a while as a result of you prematurely revealing Home without shame after they told you several times not to do, you being duped into the CAG stuff then blaming them for your obvious eff-up, and now this.

How many more times are we going to hear about this kind of stuff from your site before you get that something fundamental needs to change to sway people into thinking that your site is worth the web space it takes up?
Azteckaiser  +   1002d ago
@darkpower No, I'm not at all implying that ALL liberals would agree. Quite the opposite. What I'm saying is that Kotaku is taking current liberal news talking points and trying to make gaming-related articles out of them, which in turn is alienating a large portion of their readership, including liberals.

Stephen's continued attacks on anyone who disagrees with their approach is only exacerbating the problem. You have to be a gamer AND agree with their political stance in these articles or they don't want you there. They've even started moderating comments now. There are plenty of liberals who don't agree with this new sensationalist approach as comments on their own site have shown. Kotaku built itself as gaming news site, not the industry's equivalent of TMZ. It's not only angering their longtime readers, it's also doing irreparable damage to the developers and companies they criticize as well as the industry as a whole.

They really might want to consider changing their name since Kotaku was originally based off the word "otaku," which is generally used to describe fans of Japanese culture, particularly anime. I don't see how they can criticize games for having characters with large breasts and keep a straight face, considering that sort of character design is heavily influenced by decades of similar styles in anime. Of course, I probably shouldn't bring that up or they'll be shitting on anime next too.
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KrisButtar  +   1004d ago
Thanks for the great read, I haven't been a member here long and I have seen many comments about voting the site down,etc,etc the few times I went to the site I always wondered why everyone was so harsh and since them I have come to wonder about there news and such on my own. I have never voted the site down, but I did stop clicking on the link and reading what they had to say and looked to the N4G comments to get "the story"

Since reading this I will not click on there site and just avoid it but I thank the writer for clearing up why many people dislike the site.
TachePsyche  +   1004d ago
That's some real conspiracy theorist logic.
gamerjunk  +   1004d ago
Yea Kotaku has gone downhill. They really have veered off topic for a long time and do pull things out of their ass to stir up controversy. Too many cross linking posts. Ever since Brian Crecente left it has been even worse.
Mdnthrvst   1004d ago | Personal attack | show | Replies(4)
Vigor  +   1004d ago
Not the most credible of sites I admit, but a very accurate analysis on the state of the so called game " journalism".
Haules   1003d ago | Bad language | show
fightclubdoll  +   1003d ago
I HATE the casual use of "rape" in gaming. It's inappropriate. It's not witty/funny/clever/entertainin g/etc, it's just a shitty misuse of the word. It's no better than hate speech. The fact that it's a gaming cliche from so much over-use is a travesty in and of itself. It needs to finally get dropped from the gaming lexicon where it never belonged in the first place.
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ichimaru  +   1003d ago
meant to click agree, since I can go back in time, accept this written explanation
Cat  +   1003d ago
I love our blog section! You guys don't pull punches.
ichimaru  +   1003d ago
this escalated quickly. great read, thanks for the response Kotaku, alot learned today about both n4g and kotaku
SmokeyMcBear  +   1003d ago
this amuses me... carry on.
Zyrodi7  +   1002d ago
Now when I think about it... I played this game called "Analogue: A Hate Story". Basicly, it was about Korea in space with a sad story about a woman who got trapped in a cryo pod and woke up in a future where women had no rights.
I wasn't a sexist to begin with, but this game 'opened my eyes' a bit more and made me feel that horrible shit that women had to go through back in old Korea and maybe what some women even suffers through today.

However, Kotaku made it sound like the Author who made the game, had done something wrong because it was a sexist-ish game.
I mean, I'd say it was a perfect way to put someone into that situation, the plot-twists that made it all horrible and shit was the perfect way to show you how wrong it was.

Another thing:
"The story is fictional, but it's based on an actual time period; the Joseon Dynasty in Korea. This was a point in Korea's life when its society became strangely backwards thanks to internal strife and crisis—much like 9/11 set up conditions that allowed the war on terror to become a perpetual state of being in the United States."

I'm from Sweden and I was young when that happened, so 9/11 wasn't that horrible for me, but it's a very touchy subject for Americans (Believe me, It'd be a touchy subject for me too if it happened in Sweden, not saying it wasn't) but by MENTIONING 9/11 just like that in that article (and quite out of context if you ask me) is like asking for flamers and haters to gather.

I want to end this post with a statement!
As a white guy I don't have snakeblood in my veins and I don't eat gay people, I never owned someone, I live on tax-payer money and don't contribute much to society and I never plotted against women rights or enslavering 'other races'.

Please don't stone me for my opinion!
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darkpower  +   1002d ago
I want to inform you that you've been discussed on Neogaf, as well:

Apparently, though, I've been accused of being a "sexist asshole" because I'm asking for her to be held accountable, and if Kotaku were to ever fire her (which they might not do since Stephen seems willing to stand by what she posts, even though they probably should if she's going to continue to post this drivel without shame or any lick of her knowing what she's talking about) that she would just catch them in a catch-22 where "they fired me because I'm a woman", which she probably WOULD do given the hysteria kick she usually goes on.
dedicatedtogamers  +   1002d ago
NeoGaf shuns anything not leaked on NeoGaf, so I'm not surprised they threw a hissy fit.

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