A profile of Leigh Alexander.

Oct 23, 2015 · 11 min read

Leigh Alexander

is a writer for Boing Boing’s Offworld, and Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Slate, Paste, Kill Screen, GamePro, Vice, Kotaku and numerous other publications. She also writes regularly about gaming and internet culture on .

Notable Works

Alexander is arguably most famous for her article that was published on 28 August 2014 at Gamasutra, titled . The article itself is a scathing attack on what she perceives to be the “gamer identity”, which described it as made up of “obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers” as well as a somewhat in-congruent argument to the industry to stop developing products for “gamers”.

On that same day, eight different articles either directly citing Alexander’s work, or referencing similar themes appeared on Members of the gaming community have called this event the “Gamers are Dead media blitz’’ and have hypothesized that these articles were orchestrated either directly, or indirectly, through the GameJournoPros mailing list, which Alexander has been to.

In addition to being a regular contributor to several gaming websites, Alexander has also authored two e-books. These two books are , which she describes as “a 66-page digital book exploring a childhood alongside primitive computers and the mysteries of the early internet” and , which is “a personal digital book exploring life and work in the games industry through the lens of the Game Developers’ Conference and interpersonal relationships. Self-published for pay-what-you-want, as an experiment in creating sustainable revenue for myself and others.” At the , she admitted to deliberately leaking her book Breathing Machine online ahead of its publishing date. Despite accepting their money, she did so to sabotage the book’s publisher, Thought Catalog, after disagreeing with some of the content that they published online.

Overall Themes and Criticism

Much of Alexander’s work focuses on , in particular aspects related to issues such as social good, feminism and increased diversity in tech spaces. However she also has a history of defending the industry and/or specific publishers, with the most notable example being as well as her response to Forbes Contributor Erik Kain’s , in which she writes in response to Kain:

Kinda gross; first, there was this piece about how the writer’s inexperienced outsider status somehow made him more qualified to tell BioWare fans they deserved a new ending for Mass Effect than we industry-bought jaded game journo types; actually, there were multiple different blog-style stories from multiple authors that seemed pretty transparently geared to exploit the environment of fan ire toward BioWare and toward game reviewers —

Kain responded with the following criticism in the article titled Do Gaming Journalists Need To Grow Up?:

Alexander’s commentary surprised me at the time, as she seems like a journalist much more inclined to critical analysis of the industry, and one who isn’t uncomfortable writing pieces like, well, her piece in Edge

So what, precisely, should journalists do to “grow up?”

If being critical of BioWare, the gaming press, and the “artistic integrity” arguments made at the time is reason to simply dismiss Forbes altogether — Alexander wrote at the time that Forbes had likely “hired new writers that they don’t have to pay very much, and relying on the guaranteed forum and Reddit hits that come from telling superfans of “geek culture” what they want to hear” — (and this is from a journalist who is actively asking the press to be more critical) then I’m just not at all sure what the gaming press ought to do. —

Alexander has also been open on her stance on biased journalist writing, saying, at XOXO Fest: “.” Regarding her ethics policy, she has stated that she wants to “”, which corresponds with the lack of disclosing her conflicts of interest.

Moreover, Alexander has encouraged people to violate IGN’s and Gamespot’s terms of use regarding intellectual property. On 13 March 2015, she suggested that IGN or Gamespot logos on screenshots should be cropped off, stating that “’’.

Allegations of Abusive Speech and Harassment

Alexander has a history of making questionable or offensive comments on social media, particularly Twitter. A rather shows her attacking the game Twisted Metal, as well as several other disparaging tweets attacking the sex lives of developers, which sparked off a long feud between her and David Jaffe.

She has been accused of making thinly veiled against African-Americans, (the practice of revealing personal information to the public), , and has publicly threatened to and aspiring developers or writers based on their political views.

In August 2007, Leigh Alexander published an article on Destructoid titled “”, in which she mocks Jack Thompson’s heart condition. “You reap what you sow”, she writes, “and now the elevated blood pressure that Jack Thompson causes all of us gamers with his ignorant mouth-frothings is giving him a big bushel of reciprocal come-uppance.” She ends the article by jokingly suggesting her readers to send him “some (…) poison candy”.

In June, 2013, Alexander went on a against prominent Penny Arcade cartoonist Mike Krahulik for allegedly “transphobic” behaviour. Krahulik subsequently and donated $20,000 to the LGBT charity The Trevor Project. Despite the apology and donation, Krahulik was still by the wider feminist blogging community and his intentions and sincerity were cast into doubt.

In February 2015, Leigh Alexander commented on both TotalBiscuit and the developers that commented on #GamerGate during that period of time, such as Mark Kern. Leigh called TotalBiscuit “” and then further went on to sarcastically claim “” despite being well aware of his ongoing battle with cancer, even going so far as to favourite the tweet of someone who called it the “. You can see an image compilation of TotalBiscuits replies . On the developers, she stated “” On Ken Levine, she stated “” though later stated that it “” and “” towards Ken Levine.

In June 2015, Alexander threatened to her Twitter followers on writer Anne Rice, after Rice called out a left by a friend of Alexander.

On November 16 2015, Offworld published a on its Twitter account about an that Leigh Alexander had written about the game Trumpiñata, a game in which you could beat up a Piñata version of Donald Trump. One Twitter user noted that if Alexander approved of this game, " ?’’, to which she replied by saying “’’.

Conflicts of Interest

1. Andy Schatz - Alexander wrote an article for Vice about Andy Schatz’s game Monaco, which was published on . Although she admitted to being friends with Schatz in , she failed to provide disclosure of this friendship in the article, .

2. Anna Antrophy - Leigh Alexander has written a total of 7 articles about Anna Antrophy in which she failed to disclose their personal relationship, . The articles were published on , on , on , on , on , on and on .

Alexander has herself commented on her relationship with Anna Anthropy in her book . In the book, written in 2014, Alexander mentions two occasions in which she spent leisure time with Anthropy. The first occasion was when Anna was at Alexander’s apartment and read a story Leigh had written as a child. The second occasion was when Alexander and Anthropy went to drink at a bar in New York. According to Alexander, this happened “about two years ago,” probably around 2012 since Alexander’s book was written in 2014.

3. Babycastles - Alexander first wrote about Babycastles, a gaming collective/venue in New York City, for the LA Times on . Although referring to them as friends on her personal blog in , she fails to disclose her personal relationship with two of the founders of Babycastles, and in the article.

She wrote another article about Babycastles for Gamasutra on , which was primarily a promotional profile. Within the article, Corbetta’s game Hokra (part of the Sportsfriends collection) is promoted with direct links to a purchasing portal. Alexander has been Facebook friends with Corbetta since as early as . During the same month, the two started to and socialise with each other . On 5 August 2010, from Alexander’s Google+ account shows her in the presence of various indie gaming figures such as Phil Fish, Corbetta and Indiefund member Simon Ferrari, joking about to “drunk-dialing” the former Gamasutra Editor, and former Independent Games Festival Chairman Brandon Boyer from Babycastles. On , Leigh Alexander curated an admission-only event entitled Bad Bitches at Babycastles. On , a tweet demonstrates that Alexander and Ramiro were again being social with a group of indie developers at Babycastles, while Corbetta also published about the articles that Alexander wrote about Babycastles. No disclosure about this friendship could be found in the article.

4. Christine Love — On 4 September 2012, Alexander of indie developer Christine Love’s games, Digital: A Love Story and Analogue: A Hate Story, for a reoccurring column in Vice. Upon closer investigation, that demonstrate that Love and Alexander have a personal, non-professional relationship. Alexander did not disclose this conflict of interest in her piece.

5. Gone Home/Fullbright - Gone Home is a video game made by the , a small game developing company Steve Gaynor, Karla Zimonja, Johnnemann Nordhagen, and Kate Craig. Johnnemann would leave Fullbright on 2014 to start his own company. Leigh wrote two favourable articles about the game on for Gamasutra and on for The Atlantic. Neither article included disclosure of Alexander's friendship with several of the people who had prominent roles in the making of the game:

  • Chris Remo - Remo composed Gone Home’s . He has been friends with Leigh Alexander on Facebook since , while also being Gamasutra’s Editor at Large between , a period in which he and Alexander were .
  • Johnnemann Nordhagen - Nordhagen had been having friendly Twitter conversations with Alexander since .
  • Karla Zimonja - Zimonja and Alaxander had been having Twitter conversations since . In a conversation from , Zimonja praised Alexander, who in return expressed hope to hang out with Zimonja in the future and explicitly called her a friend of hers.
  • Kate Craig - Craig and Alexander had been having friendly Twitter conversations since . In a conversation from Alexander expressed hope to hang out with Craig in the future and explicitly called her a friend of hers.
  • Sarah Elmaleh - Sarah Elmaleh is a who voiced , Gone Home’s playable character. Leigh Alexander and Sarah Elmaleh have been conversing through twitter since , and also became Facebook friends . In between that time and Alexander’s coverage of Gone Home, Alexander and Elmaleh .
  • Steve Gaynor - Alexander and Gaynor have been communicating via Twitter since and have been Facebook friends since . Some of the Twitter conversations Alexander and Gaynor had prior to the her articles about Gone Home show them to be . According to Alexander, as she wrote in her book (p. 18, p. 50), Gaynor had told her that her writing about her father may have unconsciously influenced the character of the father in Gone Home. The possible connection between Alexander’s father and the Gone Home character has been referred to in a Gaynor had with Alexander.

6. Ian Bogost - Between , Leigh Alexander wrote 6 articles for Gamasutra about Ian Bogost and his games. In these articles, she failed to disclose that she and Bogost had a professional relationship, as they wrote for the same media outlet. show the two to have a personal relationship, and Alexander would later write an article for Kotaku on , in which she admitted to being friends with him since 2007. She would later go on to write for Gamasutra, Vice and Boing Boing about Bogost. She failed to disclose their personal and professional relationship in all 17 articles.

7. Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris - On , Alexander wrote an article on Gamasutra about Redshirt, a game developed by Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris. Not disclosed in the article was Alexander’s friendship with Khandaker. The two have been communicating through twitter , the same year in which they also became . Twitter conversations from show Alexander and Khandaker to be very close, and likewise Alexander referred to Khandaker as “my friend” in a blog post from post .

8. Naomi Clark - On , Alexander wrote a Gamasutra article about Sissyfight, a game made by Naomi Clark, Ranjit Bhatnagar and Eric Zimmerman. In another Gamasutra article from , Alexander praised Clark and Consentacles, a card game Clark had developed. A third article about Clark was published on Offworld on , in which she writes favourably about a series of essays that Naomi Clark had launched on her website, to which Alexander links in the article.

Not disclosed in either of these three articles was the friendship between Alexander and Clark. The two have started communicating through twitter since and became Facebook friends . Their twitter conversations appear to be quite friendly, and they have also made plans to meet with each other in person in , and . Gaming journalist William Usher, who has identified Clark as part of the same inner circle Alexander belongs to, has asked Alexander for comment regarding her coverage of Clark. Usher found Alexander’s response as having “lots of evasion”, as she stated the following:

I’d suggest leaving this one alone unless you know exactly what’s going on and people are coming to you with facts. —

9. Robert Yang - Alexander wrote three articles about Robert Yang’s games on Offworld: one about Stick Shift on , and two about Rinse and Repeat on and , in which she also links to Yang’s website. Alexander failed to disclose a personal relationship between the two, as she and Yang . Shortly before hanging out, they also with Mattie Brice and Haitham Ennasr at the Different Games conference.

10. Robin Arnott - Alexander has covered Robin Arnott’s SoundSelf when it was an IGF finalist on on Gamasutra, without disclosing any sort of a relationship with Arnott, despite the numerous Twitter conversations that Alexander and Arnott had on Twitter as far back as , . Arnott and Alexander also went out for drinks with Zoe Quinn on , less than one month after Alexander covered SoundSelf.

11. Zoe Quinn - On 20 March 2014, Zoe Quinn was quoted by Leigh Alexander in a about LGBT characters in video games. No disclosure was made in the article regarding any personal relationship between Alexander and Quinn, despite the fact that just five days prior to the article being published .