Ben Kuchera

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Ben Kuchera
Ben kuchera.jpg

Aliases The Kooch
Occupation Video game journalist
Affiliations Ars Technica, The Penny Arcade Report, Polygon

Ben Kuchera is a video games journalist whose career has included work at Ars Technica and The Penny Arcade Report; as of 2014 he writes for video game website Polygon.

Kuchera was a member of GameJournoPros[1] and is the center of many instances of shady journalism practices, including the Brad Wardell incident[2] and the Zoe Quinn Scandal.


Brad Wardell Controversy

On September 6, 2012, Kate Cox published an article on Kotaku about Brad Wardell, the CEO of Stardock.[3] In it, she published allegations made by Alexandra Miseta, a former employee of Wardell. Miseta claimed that Wardell had sexually harassed her by asking sexually inappropriate questions and touching her hair, among other actions, which led her to file a harassment suit against Wardell. Cox's article further details how in July 2012 Stardock attorneys filed a suit against Miseta, stating that she had "deleted, destroyed, and/or stole" files related to Elemental, a Stardock game. Miseta's attorney is quoted as stating, "It is our opinion that Mr. Wardell's lawsuit against Ms. Miseta for allegedly deleting files, etc., is baseless and was brought solely in retaliation for her sexual harassment lawsuit." Cox supported this position by arguing that certain information from the first suit, Miseta vs. Wardell, "cast doubt on Stardock's recent assertions", and also because eyewitness testimony contradicted Wardell's account of events. This was further implied with the article's name: "PC Gaming Studio Said She Ruined Their Game, But Only After She Sued The Boss For Sexual Harassment". The article was initially published without giving Wardell a chance to respond to his accuser's allegations.

A few hours after Cox's piece went public, Kuchera proceeded to reblog the article on Penny Arcade, with the subtitle originally reading, "Stardock CEO Brad Wardell sued for sexual harassment, with some damning evidence".[4] The end of the statement was eventually changed to "heavy allegations" instead of "damning evidence". According to Wardell, Kuchera's actions bolstered the popularity of the Kotaku article, leading to him receiving death threats.[5] In regards to the outrage generated by the story, Wardell said, "I received an email from someone who described my house in sufficient detail to concern me and promised to kill me, rape my wife and sodomize my son". Cox and Kuchera's actions set off a chain reaction, where other news media outlets and blogs picked up the story, citing the original Kotaku article and further spreading the allegations.

Months later, in September 2013, Wardell received an apology letter from Miseta, expressing her regret at "having brought a lawsuit against you and your company".[6] Miseta's lawsuit from 2010 had been dismissed with prejudice, with her apology being pursuant to the terms of the dismissal. Several sites which had published the story have since updated the story to account for Miseta's case being dismissed, including Cox's Kotaku article. However, as of December 20, 2014, Ben Kuchera has still not issued an apology to Wardell for claiming that there was "damning evidence" that he had been guilty of sexual harassment.

Erik Kain Incident

In January 2013, Erik Kain, a Forbes contributor and respected video games journalist, wrote an article about a "new" game, Nightmare Busters, which was actually a modern re-release of previously unreleased code. In the original form of the article, he pointed out that the original SNES ROM for the game had been leaked to the public, and had been playable through emulation for some time, making the game's then $60 price tag seem like a lesser value.[7] While piracy is not something a games journalist should be advocating, even Ian Miles Cheong remarked that the article would not have had much notice if it were not for Ben Kuchera.[8] Kuchera went on to rant on Twitter, first stating that he did not want to give Forbes the traffic for the article, then pointing out Erik Kain's twitter account.[9][10] From there, the vitriol only continued, with Kuchera stating that he hoped the incident would hurt Erik Kain's career and that Kain's twitter followers were bigots.[11][12]

Despite this, Kuchera himself had talked about emulation before, as well as bending the law to get free content. (See: General Unprofessional Behavior)

Alleged Conflicts of Interest

Zoe Quinn

On March 19, 2014, Ben Kuchera published an interview with Zoe Quinn that focused on the harassment she claims to have received from Wizardchan and overall portrayed her in a positive light.[13] It was brought to the gaming community’s attention that Ben had been giving Zoe Quinn money via Patreon since January 6, 2014,[14] which proves that he had covered Quinn while providing her regular monetary support, something that was not disclosed in the interview.

Die Gute Fabrik: Sportsfriends

Ben Kuchera backed Die Gute Fabrik's 'Sportsfriends' and reported on it in 2014, failing to disclose his support of the game.[15][16]

Supporting Anti-Consumer Moves

Response to Tomb Raider Console Exclusivity

In the wake of fan outrage over Microsoft's announcement that the sequel to Tomb Raider would be an Xbox One exclusive and not multiplatform like the previous one, Kuchera took it upon himself to defend this blatant anti-consumer move, going so far as to tell his audience, "Here's what's hard for gaming fans to do: We need to stop looking at these deals purely through the lens of someone who wants to play the game."[17] The arguments used in the article to justify this practice were highly questionable.[18]

General Unprofessional Behavior

  • Kuchera admitted to taking work from another source without providing a citation and apologized for it later.[19]
  • Kuchera admitted helping put together an Ars Technica piece about bsnes, now higan, a SNES emulator that aimed to achieve accurate emulation.[20][21]
  • On August 18 2014, Ben Kuchera posted an article advocating piracy of Star Wars, wherein you could watch an unaltered version of the classic trilogy in HD by using a fan edit compiled of multiple versions.[22]
  • In January 2015, Ben advocated a similar piracy venture for The Hobbit trilogy, in which fans cut down the films into a more concise film that also brought the story more inline with the books.[23]

GamerGate

GameJournoPros

In September 2014, Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart leaked GameJournoPros to the public, a mailing list comprised of many game journalists across every major gaming site at the time, including Kuchera.[24] In a thread about the Zoe Quinn Scandal, Kuchera and Kyle Orland of Ars Technica attempted to pressure Greg Tito, then editor-in-chief of The Escapist, to remove the ongoing discussion thread on The Escapist's forums. Greg Tito defended the users ability to discuss the issue, so long as the users themselves neither harassed nor made threats towards anyone and followed the forums rules.[25] Upon the leaking of the GameJournoPros leak, Kuchera further sent emails that seemed directly pointed at Greg Tito about the leak, calling it shameful.[26]

In November 2014, Former GameJournoPros member and leaker William Usher revealed a GameJournoPros email sent by Kuchera showing that despite claims made that Kuchera had been harassed for talking about ethics, Kuchera admitted privately, at least as of September 7th 2014, that he had "yet to receive a single message from an actual reader about any of this" and that he was "not convinced the people who play games or read our sites care."[27]

William Usher also released an article in November titled "#GamerGate: Ben Kuchera And The Life And Nepotism Of Game Journo Pros" in which he detailed some of Kuchera's ethical failings as a journalist, including his Sportsfriends conflict of interest, his role in the GameJournoPros, and the harassment of the @GameJournos twitter account.[28]

Advocating Block Bots

Since GamerGate, Ben Kuchera has advocated the use of a Block Bot, such as GGAutoBlocker and TheBlockBot. Despite this, while he is not blocked on TheBlockBot, he has been tagged with "Rape Apologist" and "Child Abuse Apologist" for his various comments on forums and social media.[29]

Threatening Others

Chris Mancil

In March of 2015, Chris Mancil, the Director of Digital Communications at EA, posted a blog post complaining that he lost 2,500 followers on Twitter for retweeting Milo Yiannopoulos and used one of Ben Kuchera's articles to demonstrate his point.[30] In response, Kuchera berated Mancil on Twitter and tagged his employer, Electronic Arts, to further pressure him.[31][32][33] As a result, Mancil complied with the demand and removed Kuchera’s articles.[34]This prompted Adrian Chmielarz, Mark Kern, Josh Olin, Ethan Petty, Thomas Geffroyd, and TotalBiscuit to criticize Ben Kuchera’s actions. In light of Ben Kuchera's actions, William Usher wrote '#LetDevsSpeak Takes Off After Game Journalists Ridicule Devs'

RedHurricane24

On January 1st 2015, RedHurricane24 responded to a tweet Kuchera had tagged with #GamerGate, calling Kuchera a propagandist.[35] After a short back and forth, Kuchera began to tag his responses with RedHurricane24's employer, Dick's Sporting Goods (@Dicks), in an effort to get RedHurricane24 reprimanded or fired.[36][37][38][39]


See Also

Polygon

GameJournoPros

References

  1. #GAMERGATE: BEN KUCHERA AND THE LIFE AND NEPOTISM OF GAME JOURNO PROS, William Usher, 20th November 2014
  2. How sloppy, biased video games reporting almost destroyed a CEO, Milo Yiannapoulos, 23rd September 2014
  3. PC Gaming Studio Said She Ruined Their Game, But Only After She Sued The Boss For Sexual Harassment
  4. Stardock CEO Brad Wardell sued for sexual harassment, with some heavy allegations
  5. How sloppy, biased games journalism almost destroyed a CEO
  6. Vindication
  7. Forbes - New Super Nintendo Game 'Nightmare Busters' Isn't Exactly New - Erik Kain - January 27 2013 (archive)
  8. Storify - Kuchera vs Kain: What is the nature of a game journalist? - Ian Miles Cheong - January 2013 (archive)
  9. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "I'm not going to give Forbes the traffic, but laughing at a price point because a game is easy to steal is pathetic." (archive)
  10. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "The writer who advocated stealing games that you find too expensive is @erikkain, by the way." (archive)
  11. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "@Mement0 At the very least it's going to hurt his career, which is a step in the right direction." (archive)
  12. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "@erikkain Also, your followers are terrible bigots. Jesus Christ." (archive)
  13. Developer Zoe Quinn offers real-world advice, support for dealing with online harassment
  14. Ben Kuchera's Patreon
  15. Archive of 8ch.net/v/ Thread - "KUCHERA IN 2014 talking about Sportsfriends"
  16. #GamerGate: Ben Kuchera And The Life And Nepotism Of Game Journo Pros
  17. Tomb Raider's Xbox exclusivity likely means more sales, higher profits
  18. NeoGAF reaction
  19. http://www.reddit.com/r/KotakuInAction/comments/2tddm0/ben_kuchera_admits_to_taking_work_from_another/
  20. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "On the subject of the Forbes article, this deep dive into SNES emulators was fun to part together" (archive)
  21. Ars Technica - Accuracy takes power: one man’s 3GHz quest to build a perfect SNES emulator - Byuu - August 9 2011
  22. Polygon - You can watch an 'unaltered' version of Star Wars in HD today, if you bend the law - Ben Kuchera - August 18 2014
  23. Polygon - The first Hobbit trilogy fan edit is here, with a long list of huge improvements - Ben Kuchera - January 20 2015
  24. Breitbart - Exposed: The Secret Mailing List Of The Gaming Journalism Elite - Milo Yiannopoulos - September 17 2014 (archive)
  25. Yiannopoulos - GameJournoPros Zoe Quinn Thread Dump - Milo Yiannopoulos - September 19 2014 (archive)
  26. Screencapture Image - Image of emails sent by ben@polygon.com (archive)
  27. Twitter - William Usher on Twitter: "Kuchera harassed for talking ethics? That's not what he told the #GameJournoPros" (archive)
  28. One Angry Gamer - #GamerGate: Ben Kuchera And The Life And Nepotism Of Game Journo Pros - William Usher - November 20 2014 (archive)
  29. Storify - TheBlockBot - 14575846 (@BenKuchera) (archive)
  30. Vested Interests - How #Gamergate Journalist Milo Cost me 2500 Followers - Chris Mancil - March 14, 2015
  31. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "I don't care what happens to that guy." (archive)
  32. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "Dear @ChrisMancil and anyone else from @EA..." (archive)
  33. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "Dear @petermooreEA and @EA:" (archive)
  34. Twitter - Chris Mancil on Twitter: "@BenKuchera I apologize Ben. I was a fan of the article and ideas in it." (archive)
  35. Twitter - AE Yika #7704 on Twitter: "Just a heads up: if you spew propaganda against GG, you're instantly a propagandist. Hence, nothing you say is interesting." (archive)
  36. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "@RedHurricane24 I'm going to call @dicks tomorrow and explain why I'm not shopping there with my family anymore. Have a good night." (archive)
  37. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "@RedHurricane24 @_thunderspank He's continuing, @Dicks. He thinks you don't value me as a customer." (archive)
  38. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "@RedHurricane24 @_thunderspank Dear @Dicks, he's continuing this." (archive)
  39. Twitter - Ben Kuchera on Twitter: "@RedHurricane24 Dear @Dicks, your employee is continuing this." (archive)