Destructoid Writer Stood Down For Exposing Crowd-sourcing Scam
Until a couple of months ago the Steam indy title, Homesick, and its developer Chloe Sagal were little known names in the world of gaming, yet all this changed when she took to crowd-sourcing site, Indiegogo, in order to raise the money needed for “life-saving surgery“. One was not fully abreast of the details at the time due to possessing something of a deficiency insofar as charitable souls are concerned [consigned as it is to the Lusipurr.com spectral vaults], yet even so was somewhat aware of the issue due to the blanket coverage that this human-interest story received from the game press. The story went that a young indy developer, Chloe Sagal, had just several months to live on account of receiving “metal poisoning” from a piece of embedded shrapnel after being in a car accident. Apparently doctors failed to remove this shrapnel following the accident, and [incredibly] that same hospital refused to grant her the life saving procedure needed to cure this “metal poisoning unless she were able to raise the figure of $35,000! To make matters worse her family had refused to aid her, on account of their disowning her because she was a lesbian.
This would all make for a very compelling sob-story, were it not for the fact that “metal poisoning” does not exist. There is such a thing as heavy metal poisoning, but such a malady requires that a person consume large amounts of heavy metal substances like mercury, lead, or arsenic. Moreover, such heavy metals are visible in Xrays, and as such would almost certainly be picked up by any doctor who treated a car-crash patient. As it turns out the young lass named Chloe Sagal was no lass at all, but rather a young man who was attempting to mislead internet philanthropists into paying for his sex-change operation! Far from disowning him, his own family did not even know about this, as the only place that he presented as female was online.
This explosive turn of events led to something of a quandary for the field of game journalism. Naturally, many industry shills turned a blind eye and pretended that it never happened, yet to conscientious journalists for whom credibility still means something the situation faced them with the dilemma of whether or not to cause hassles for their employer by setting the record straight. One such journalist was a Destructoid writer named Allistair Pinsof, a man who had originally entreated Destructoid readers to head over to Indiegogo and donate to Sagal’s cause. Once rumours began to surface that Sagal was deceiving people into donating money towards his sex-change operation, Pinsof was quickly able to follow these leads and establish their veracity – but here is where his journalistic endeavours hit a snag. Pinsof was coerced into sitting upon his findings by a Destructoid management ideologically opposed to telling the truth on such matters due to their association with gender, and Sagal’s own threats to suicide [Pinsoff allegedly had to talk him down from self-harm]. This was problematic, for while Indiegogo eventually halted Sagal’s campaign [with no explanation given], Sagal continued to privately solicit other people’s money based on this bogus pretense.
Despite the industry’s best efforts to hush this incident up however, the story eventually exploded all over Reddit and Youtube – which would result in Sagal’s uncommitted efforts to self-harm being streamed live over his Twitch TV account, which in turn would subsequently see him committed to hospital. It was now that the cat was mostly out of the bag and Sagal was in hospital for doing what he had previously threatened, that Pinsof saw his opportunity to set the record straight and level with the people he had previously convinced to sponsor the cosmetic surgery of a con-artist, and so when rumours of this entered the Twittersphere Pinsoff joined the conversation, disclosing what he had learned. Unfortunately for Pinsoff this would see the LGBT community launch a campaign to ruin his career and otherwise terrorise the poor man, leading to him being stood-down from his position at Destructoid, which will probably see his eventual termination. If anyone is in any doubt as to the abysmally poor journalistic standards harboured by Destructoid, then here are the full and unabridged words of site-owner Niero Gonzales:
“(2) As far back as April 9 Allistair was advised NOT to post about his investigative findings. Allistair had become uncooperative with the EIC and me over this specific topic over the past few weeks. We were stunned to discover his behavior on Twitter despite his acknowledgement not to post any information the night prior to the incident. Other staff close to the investigation did not post. I want to be clear that he posted this on his on will, off of our site, against our wishes. Destructoid is in no way connected to his actions, nor was he instructed to do this. We asked for an immediate take down and deletion from his personal account the second we spotted it and began his employment review.
(3) Chloe’s IndieGoGo campaign (whether it was fradulent or not) is completely irrelevant to the ethics of Allistair’s decision. IndieGoGo had cancelled the campaign already and the fact that it was fradulent does not in any way justify Allistair’s decision to out her.
Allistair has since sent us a very lengthy apology to both staff and the transgender community, which we will not republish (at the risk of exposing more facts about Chloe and others involved in this case from other sites), but in short he felt he was simply doing his job as a journalist and illustrates how much time on the phone and other personal time he spent with Chloe trying to save her life while also reporting all of the facts. There was a breach of confidence here that should have not occurred. What Allistair did was clearly wrong. He will already be paying for this for years to come, and he knows anything he says to excuse himself does not make it any more acceptable. I don’t think he genuinely set out to do harm here and this is the ONLY reason he is given a due process instead of an immediate firing. Still, we are considering this matter very seriously.
Effective immediately Allistair has been dismissed for now until we decide if this is a fireable offense, his pay has been suspended up until yesterday, and his title has been stripped. All of his email and site accounts have been suspended, and he has been removed from the staff page. We are currently evaluating what role he will have upon returning, if any. He is off the payroll.
We have extremely strict policies on what is acceptable in social media and a three strikes rule before firing anyone. We are currently back-tracking through our records to make that final recommendation. We will update this thread when we have completed our investigation and heard all sides of the story.
Until then, my deepest apologies to Chloe and the transgender community.”
Allister Pinsoff is neither doctor, lawyer, nor priest – and so his only ethical journalistic duties are to obey the law of the land, protect his sources, and to tell the truth! It is a sad state of affairs that to the online game media the act of writers fulfilling their journalistic duty of exposing the truth is regarded as something akin to anathema, and then the fact that they are lectured in journalistic ethics by people who clearly possesses none only serves to add insult to dire injury.
Square Enix To Focus On… Smartphone Games?
When news broke of Yoichi Wada’s ouster it came with the accompanying message that moves were being made to right the ship, and that Square Enix were divesting themselves of their preoccupation with smartphone gaming in order to refocus their efforts on rebuilding the quality of their franchises. Perhaps something was lost in translation, because just scant weeks later Square Enix are promising to do the precise opposite of their previously stated direction, and are projecting that an increased portion of their revenue will come from smartphone gaming, while their console presence withers on the vine.
The last year has seen Square Enix post a 6 billion yen operating loss and total losses of 13.7 billion yen, most of which is thought to be derived from cancelled games. According to group manager, Michihiro Sasaki, none of these losses are Square Enix’s fault, as “intense environmental change led to games like Tomb Raider and Hitman:Absolution selling a mere pittance of three-and-a-half million copies! It is Sasaki’s view that Square Enix’s focus on console and arcade games slowed the company’s growth in the field of smartphone and browser gaming, and states that for the next fiscal year “the driver will be social games”. To this end Square Enix have pledged to approach social gaming as though it were its own discreet platform, and a major one at that. Square Enix’s flat-lining share price actually responded positively to this retrograde announcement – and thus the company continues to build their castles on a foundation of sand.
EA Announces the End of Online Passes
Anyone who is not racked by fear and anxiety at mention of the above statement is either dead or stupid. The company who could not aspire to giving less of a fuck about their own brand image have announced that they are to surrender this desirous cudgel of their own volition, and that only bodes ill for the industry – as they have espied something that they want more.
There is an eminently real possibility that this move on the part of EA can be taken as soft confirmation that both the PS4 and Nextbox will provide publishers with the tools to lock game discs to the first console they are used with, and then possibly charge a reactivation fee to play this purchased material on any subsequent system, forcing consumers to pay again to use their own property. EA of course are now jettisoning their punitive ‘online pass’ anti-consumer tool as they do not wish to be blamed for Microsoft and Sony’s decisions to build such debilitating functionality into their nextgen consoles. In effect EA are acting early in order to create a circuit-breaker before the launch of the new consoles so that they will be able to later disavow all knowledge of how this industry abortion came to pass. Microsoft and Sony would be mad to burn their users though what is blatantly unforgivable DRM, but then business decisions are not renowned for their sanity.