Reality Check: Supplement reading for historyofgamergate.com — Grayson’s relationships

Hi, it’s aquapendulum the KnowYourMeme archivist again.

I’m writing this as part of a series that examines the claims flying around that might or might not be related to GamerGate depending on your stances, and might be comfortable or uncomfortable depending on (once again) your stances. This is recommended reading for proponents, detractors and fencesitters alike.

A quick disclaimer: I am not a GamerGater, although i was swayed to their side from being an ex-fencesitter. I, therefore, grant myself the freedom to talk about certain things GamerGaters would rather not bring up. What I do should not be attributed to GamerGaters and vice versa.


Today, we don’t have any claim in particular. Rather, I’m shedding light to a particular topic that was introduced but unfortunately glossed over in Gurney Halleck’s A People’s History of GamerGate. The topic, as you can tell, is about the Nathan’s Grayson’s relationships that… raise some eyebrows, to say the least. I felt like Halleck glossed over the depth of this issue a lot (particular in Part 1: Before GamerGate was GamerGate) and took the matter into my own hands to provide some supplement to his book. And to squash your guess right now: I’m not referring to Grayson’s relationship with Zoe Quinn. Halleck has already covered that in his book. I’m covering Grayson’s other relationships that did not receive some space in the book, but still relevant regardless.

The first relationship that raised eyebrows is with Toni Rocca — president of GaymerX, with whom Nathan Grayson had a plan to go out for some karaoke singing and drinking on May 24th 2014, with Zoe Quinn tagging along. Grayson’s comment in the screencap is here, but since Rocca has hidden her tweets, you won’t be able to see the full conversation. My lead was dead in the water at that step.

Nevertheless, this suggested that Grayson and Rocca are friends to a certain degree.

On July 25th 2014, Nathan wrote up a coverage of GaymerX 2 on Kotaku which is all good, but there’s a problem: where is the disclosure? The snapshot above was taken on October 15th 2014, meaning that at the point of writing, there has been no attempt to disclose the lack of professional distance between Nathan Grayson and the subject of his coverage. One would have thought a brief disclosure is a small price to pay for crossing the professional distance. And the GaymerX coverage wouldn’t look any worse with that disclosure, cause it seems like a cool, friendly convention by itself already.


The next relationship that raised eyebrows is with Robin Arnott — Creator of Oculus-based game SoundSelf and Night Games Chair of IndieCade. The article that raise my eyebrows was this one on April 3rd 2014.

Creator Robin Arnott greeted me with a hug and a headset” — Nathan Grayson, Kotaku

This is weird to me because I was used to the way John Bain (TotalBiscuit) did convention coverage circa 2012. He’s just there for the games, personal interactions with PR people and developers are kept to a minimum degree. Not even in his (disclosed) sponsored videos did he get too friendly with anybody from the development/publishing side. I’m used to see that as the standard for a long time.

So to read a developer and a journalist giving each other a friendly hug upon greeting just… triggered my curiosity. One particular infographic suggested that Grayson and Arnott are on each other’s Facebook friendlist.

I could not verify this any further because Nathan Grayson has closed off his Facebook profile (supposedly at this link). My lead was dead because once again, people erased their tracks on the Internet. Transparency is hard to come by these days.

But I still notice the patterns with the coverage of Robin Arnott at Kotaku. In the following months after the April 3rd article, Arnott received an… abnormal amount of coverage from Grayson, both neutral and positive:

That makes 6 articles plugging some space for Robin Arnott within the span of 3 months. On average, Arnott was plugged by Grayson twice per month within that time frame. Needless to say, none of the above articles has a disclosure. Resorting to consult a developer’s viewpoint every now and then as a fall-back option seems… unusual, as if said developer could be reached out of convenience for Nathan Grayson.

I want to highlight this because many people in GamerGate tend to miss the most noticeable flags.

To see more patterns, make a search for SoundSelf on YouTube. The most watched video is one that comes from Kotaku’s channel on June 14th 2013, meaning that Arnott got the bulk of his coverage of SoundSelf from Kotaku. I’m curious about SoundSelf, I really am (admittedly it’s a game that makes everybody sounds dumb while playing), but I am not going to turn a blind eye when a journalist & his outlet covered a game favorably under the pretense of impartiality and objectivity.

Bonus pattern #1: Still got the link to Grayson’s conversation? Do you recognize a 4th name?

Bonus pattern #2: Josh Mattingly also interviewed Robin Arnott about SoundSelf. But unlike Grayson, Mattingly disclosed his relationship with Arnott right before the interview started. How much did Kotaku like Josh Mattingly? You tell me.

Bonus pattern #3: GameJournoPros members have their own things to say about Josh Mattingly as well.