On Full Disclosure
Full disclosure: since a large part of what many voices that co-opted GamerGate are asking is full disclosure, so I’d thought I’d try doing exactly that just for practice. Although it may come off as snarky, I just want to illustrate how connections and networking in the games industry work and create a realistic context for any discussion about journalism and ethics before delving into my thoughts on Gamergate. As such, I’d like to preface this article with that I’m friends with many prominent game developers in both AAA and independent gaming, students and aspiring developers, journalists and video content creators.
I have had numerous aggressive e-mails, tweets and comments directed at me, and dealt with a number of failed log-in attempts into several online services I use. I know many of the people that have been criticized, harassed and attacked personally.
I’ve helped numerous indie projects out with business or marketing advice, and give design feedback for even more games – both independent and AAA. I’ve spoken at various universities and at events that thousands of industry professionals attend, and have had many games pitched to me. I’m a judge on various competitions in the industry, both small and large. I’ve invested small amounts of money into a number of games through Kickstarter or Patreon, and have backed several game criticism publications through those same methods.
I’ve been nominated through work or personally by companies such as Apple, but also DICE, Gamasutra, GDC, IGF, CVG and many other publications. I’ve been interviewed on several occasions in real life by almost every gaming website and many mainstream press outlets, including the New York Times. My work with presskit() has been adopted by thousands of developers around the world freely as a publicly available service. The follow-up to presskit(), distribute(), is still in progress, but will be free to use by developers, journalists and video content creators.
I also spend a significant amount of my time traveling between various indie game communities to be inspired, to learn, to inform, educate, nourish and establish development communities. I am also romantically involved with a fellow game developer and game jam organizer with whom I have been traveling together. Through these travels, I’ve become personal friends with hundreds – if not thousands of game developers, marketeers, critics and journalists – many of which I consider valuable sources of input and information in a highly collaborative industry.
During the years that I’ve been traveling, I’ve stayed at the home address of various game developers and project collaborators, and sometimes events have paid for my flight and lodging as part of the speakers agreement. Locations I’ve done this at include amongst others San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Austin, Rijeka, Johannesburg, Berlin, London, Nottingham, Helsinki, Cabo San Lucas, Moscow, Genova, Barcelona and in countries such as Estonia, Australia, India, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and other locations.
I’ve been to industry parties organized and sponsored by many companies and entities in the games industry, including amongst others EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony, BigPoint, Alamo Drafthouse, Unity, YoYo Games, Devolver Digital, the cities of Antwerp, Utrecht, Helsinki, Amsterdam and various others. In many cases, the bar or accommodation the event was at offered free drinks, although as a Muslim I do not drink alcohol.
I use Objective C, C and C++ as main programming languages and GML, HTML, PHP and CSS as main scripting languages. I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 Android phone, although I did really like BlackBerry’s new OS. I also own an Apple iPad and a MacBook Air that came as part of winning an Apple Design Award. I own a Lenovo laptop that was granted to me by Intel to judge certain games for a competition.
In my identity as half of Vlambeer, I’ve worked closely with and in some cases became friends with people at platforms such as but not limited to Valve, Humble, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, NVidia, Apple, Android, Blackberry, OUYA (yes, even OUYA) and Amazon; engines and tools such as Unreal, Unity, YoYo Games, publishers such as amongst others Activision-Blizzard, EA, Ubisoft, Devolver Digital, Midnight City; I know developers such as Gearbox, Bungie, Ubisoft, 343 Industries, InXile Entertainment, Cards Against Humanity, Double Fine, Fullbright, Dennaton Games and many, many more. I’ve got ties with events such as GDC, E3, Gamescom, PAX, Indie MEGABOOTH (which I’ve helped organize several times), DICE, BAFTA, Control Conference and many more, I’ve advised on the content of some of these conferences; I’ve worked with publications such as Polygon, Kotaku, Destructoid, RPS, Joystiq, CVG, IGN, Gamespot, GiantBomb, Gamasutra, Power Unlimited, Control Magazine, Gamekings, TouchArcade, Slide2Play, IndieGames.com and a large number of smaller game publications. I’ve also worked with amongst others the NPR, PBS, The New York Times, Slate, VICE, The Daily Dot, The Guardian and the NOS. I’ve also written articles that have been published on my own blog, but also republished on sites such as Gamasutra, Polygon, Kotaku and aggregators of those sites. I receive no financial reward for such writing. I’ve worked together and had my work featured by YouTube and Twitch, but also by personalities on both sites such as TotalBiscuit, NorthernLion, CobaltStreak, MANvsGAME, Bananasaurus Rex, Ster, BisnapLP, Sleepcycles and many more. Many if not all of the above companies and entities and a large amount of independent developers have received free codes for our games, but we have has never paid for coverage (although we do not know if publishing partners have done so, we suspect not). I hav worked with Level Up Studios and Fangamer for merchandise efforts. I’ve had lunch or dinner with various people at such companies or entities, have received or given (proprietary) hardware or free software from several of these publishers, developers or platforms. I’ve been introduced to some of these by fellow developers when such an introduction was relevant or requested, and I’ve made many introductions between people myself. Some of these companies have proceeded to give us visibility through events, articles or video coverage as a result of exclusivity deals for the game or free review copies sent.
I am a university dropout from the Utrecht School of Art & Technology’s Game Design and Development course, even though I’ve eventually graduated on my company and have been advising them and various other game design schools around the world with creating a relevant educational program.
I’m half-Dutch, half-Egyptian and was raised in the country of the Netherlands and was raised in the city of Alphen aan den Rijn, although I spent significant amount of time in Egypt. I currently live in the city of Hilversum, even though our office is housed in the Dutch Game Garden in Utrecht. The Dutch Game Garden offered Vlambeer 3 months of free rent when we first entered the building. We’ve not taken government subsidies, although I’ve used several government grants when we were just starting out to pay for event costs.
I am followed by over 25,000 Twitter users and have 1,600 Facebook users as friend, and I follow over 1,200 Twitter users of which I closely follow about a 100 in a separate list I’ve made available. We’ve experimented with paying for Facebook reach on our posts a number of times, but decided it was dumb to pay for such a thing. I livestream through Twitch.tv, use ask.fm as a platform to answer questions, have recently started a podcast which I syndicate through libsyn. I once received a free Karma device for 4G hotspot functionality because I forgot mine at home while traveling abroad. My main e-mail provider is Google Mail, I use Hangout and Skype for instant communication, although I do like text messaging at events too. I’ve paid for several services that help me backup files, although a Dropbox representative once gave me a coupon at a PAX event. I use Hipmunk and Skyscanner to book flights, commonly use Booking.com for hotel bookings and Yelp or Twitter for restaurant recommendations. Other services I use include Asana, Trello and WordPress.
My company occasionally but rarely discounts games, but has handed out gifts such as t-shirts, birthday cake, hats and discount coupons (up to 100%) at events. The identity of gamers that received such gifts is sadly unknown to us.
For further questions, feel free to contact @tha_rami on Twitter.
What is Gamergate?
As far as I see things, Gamergate is a hashtag on Twitter that originated in a harassment campaign against prominent industry members that was co-opted by people who are upset about videogame journalism ethics. It is now a confusing mess of people using the legitimacy of the hashtag to further an agenda of harassment, a lot of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and a well-intended group of people trying to raise concerns about journalistic standards. While I think continuously evaluating the way industry members interact is important, using something that started as and continues to act as a harassment campaign purely as signal booster only serves to weaken a message that would be far better and more effectively made without attaching the negative connotations of the hashtag to it.