Gaming Journalism Under Fire: Allegations of Agenda Pushing and Developer Harassment


The gaming industry has long grappled with the intersection of social issues and video games. This complex topic has sparked heated debate and accusations from various corners. Recently, former Blizzard employee Mark Kern ignited a firestorm by alleging that a group of gaming journalists are engaged in “organized harassment” of developers who resist incorporating certain ideologies into their games.

Gaming Journalism Under Fire
Gaming Journalism Under Fire

The Accusations: Targeting Developers and Promoting Agendas

Kern’s accusations center around a specific group of journalists and their alleged tactics. He claims they target developers who:

  • Resist partnering with narrative consultants like Sweet Baby Inc., a company focused on integrating “diverse storytelling” into video games.
  • Do not subscribe to the “agenda” of specific bloggers promoting social justice themes in games.

Kern specifically mentions several journalists:

  • Alyssa Mercante: Editor-in-chief of Kotaku, known for her vocal support of progressive agendas in games.
  • Rebecca Valentine: IGN reporter, co-author of an article accusing the developers of Black Myth: Wukong of sexism.
  • Jason Schreier: Bloomberg reporter, frequently accused of dismissing concerns about social justice in games as unfounded.

The Evidence: A Call to Battle and a Blacklist

Kern provides some circumstantial evidence to support his claims. He highlights Mercante’s past behavior, including:

  • Publicly challenging those who disagree with her stance on social justice in games.
  • Allegedly blacklisting critics on social media platforms.

He also references an incident where Mercante seemingly underestimated the number of people opposed to her views. This raises questions about her willingness to engage in open dialogue.

Sweet Baby Inc.: Fueling the Debate

Kern further adds fuel to the fire by mentioning Kim Belair, head of Sweet Baby Inc. He refers to a conference where Belair allegedly recommended using “scare tactics” on developers who resist working with narrative consultants promoting specific agendas.

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A Call for Transparency and Open Discourse

Kern’s accusations and the surrounding controversy raise numerous questions:

  • Are journalists pushing a specific agenda in their coverage?
  • Should developers incorporate social justice themes into their games?
  • How can developers and journalists have productive conversations about these issues?

A healthy gaming industry thrives on open discourse and a diversity of voices. Game journalists play a crucial role in informing consumers and holding developers accountable. However, accusations of bias and harassment can erode trust and stifle meaningful dialogue.

Moving Forward: Finding Common Ground

Navigating the complex landscape of social issues in games requires a collaborative approach. Here are some potential steps forward:

  • Open discussions between developers and journalists: Honest and respectful conversation can help bridge divides and foster understanding.
  • Transparency in editorial practices: Clear guidelines regarding potential biases and journalistic processes can build trust with readers.
  • Focusing on quality and creativity: Ultimately, games should be judged on their artistic merit, gameplay experience, and narrative quality, regardless of the social themes they explore (or avoid).

The gaming industry needs a robust environment where developers can express their creative vision freely and journalists can provide honest critiques without resorting to alleged harassment tactics. By fostering open communication and respecting diverse perspectives, the industry can move forward and deliver compelling gaming experiences for all.


Q: What are the allegations against these gaming journalists?

A: The allegations center around a group of journalists potentially pushing a specific agenda by pressuring developers to incorporate social justice themes into their games and harassing those who disagree.

Q: Is it wrong for video games to explore social issues?

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A: Absolutely not. Video games can be powerful mediums to explore social issues in creative and thought-provoking ways. However, developers should be free to choose whether and how to incorporate these themes.

Q: How can we ensure a healthy gaming discourse?

A: Open and respectful communication between developers, journalists, and gamers is crucial. Transparency in editorial practices and a focus on the core elements of good game design can help foster a more positive and productive environment.