James Desborough

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James Desborough

Aliases Grim, Grimachu
Occupation Developer
Affiliations PostMortem Studios

James "Grim" Desborough is a game designer, author and blogger who has worked primarily on role-playing games, as well as card games, board games and social computer games. He's also co-author of the award-winning Munchkin’s Guide to Powergaming

Role in Gamergate

Opinions on Gamergate

On August 25, Desborough addresses the controversy regarding Depression Quest and it's coverage linked to conflicts. He praised the game and developer but also highlighted that there's a corruption problem residing in game journalism and suggested it would be a good idea to create an alternative gaming press because the current one can't be trusted.[1]

On August 28, He wrote another blog about his impression on the Gamers are Dead effort, corrupt journalism, how biased media pushing an ideological agenda benefits people from their clique and don't report information that damages it.[2]

On August 31, He describes #GamerGate as Gamers pointing out the corruption in game journalism that's being deflected by using women as a shield to create a narrative of victimization to evade responsibility for their poor job.[3]

On September 28, James wrote a blog talking about how #GamerGate's struggle against oversensitive censorship isn't unique to the video games industry since he has also seen it in the one belonging to Tabletop Games. And how one of his game suffered a big backlash from this kind of communities.[4]

Interview to The_Escapist

On October 10, The Escapist wrote an article interviewing many developers about #Gamergate.[5]

James's interview focused on how developers that made comments supporting #GamerGate or talking about controversial issues in a way that the 'social justice' sphere didn't like were being blacklisted/stonewalled. He also did mention many Tabletop Games communities and developers that lack tolerance to different opinions.[6]

Jim Sterling participated together with Zoe Quinn and Alex Lifschitz in the removal of the interviews of two developers appearing in that article: Slade Villena (RoguestarGamez) and James himself accusing them of harassment of developers and the escapist staff.[7]

The 'evidence' of the harassment were IRC logs previously explained to be taken out of context by The Escapist itself on an interview done to the IRC channel where these logs were taken from. Despite the lack of condemning proof of the claims made, the interviews were removed to avoid backlash.[8]

This was noted by James Desborough who first assumed his interview was taken down due to a conflict due to his friendship with Alexander Macris, until he saw the last update in the article saying his interview was removed under mere claims of harassment.[9]

#GamerGate The Card Game

On December 4, 2014, James released a card game with #GamerGate as the theme of it.[10] A card game touching the controversy from a tongue in cheek perspective of the fight for better Game journalism standards.

He uploaded the game to RPGnow.com where it taken down few hours later.[11] Desborough updated his initial blog entry explaining the reasons of it. One of them was the entry being 'complaint bombed'. James also alleged that other companies threatened to pull of their own products and added that at least one of them is one of those he called out in the pulled Escapist interview.

On December 6, James posted a play example of the Card Game, describing the game rules and card designs.[12]

On December 7, He writes an update entry[13] on his blog in which he confirms that two companies: Smart Play Games[14] and Evil Hat[15] did actually threaten to pull their products from DrivethruCards to impact the reputation and profitability of OneBookShelf. He noted that this activity is not only unethical, but possibly illegal under competition/antitrust law.

On December 12, James posted a statement about his card game being banned from OneBookShelf, in it he points out how many of the products hosted in OneBookShelf touch controversial topics in a satirical ways, yet his game was banned for doing the same. The statement given by OneBookShelf depicted GamerGate as a 'too related to violence', 'too emotionally fraught' and 'based on misogyny' to be on their site. OBS also confirmed publishers said they were going to pull their products if James's game stayed on the store but said this was not what pushed their decision. James respected this decision but pointed out how misinformed OBS was.[16]