Leigh Alexander

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Leigh Alexander
Leighalexander.jpg

Aliases None
Occupation Video game journalist
Affiliations Gamasutra, Vice, Kotaku, BoingBoing

Leigh Alexander is a writer for BoingBoing's Offworld, and former[1] Editor At Large for Gamasutra and the site's former News Director. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Slate, Paste, Kill Screen, GamePro, Vice, Kotaku and numerous other publications. She also writes regularly about gaming and internet culture on her personal blog.

Notable Works

Alexander is arguably most famous for her article that was published on August 28, 2014 at Gamastura, titled 'Gamers' don't have to be your audience. 'Gamers' are over. The article itself is a scathing attack on what she perceives to be the "Gamer Identity", which described it as made up of "obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers" as well as a somewhat in-congruent argument to the industry to stop developing products for "Gamers".

On that same day, eight different articles either directly citing Alexander's work, or referencing similar themes appeared on eight other gaming journalism websites. Members of the gaming community have called this event the Gamers are Dead media blitz and have hypothesized that these articles were orchestrated either directly, or indirectly, through the GameJournoPros mailing list, which Alexander has been historically connected to.

In addition to being a regular contributor to several gaming websites, Alexander has also authored two e-books. These two books are Breathing Machine, which she describes as "a 66-page digital book exploring a childhood alongside primitive computers and the mysteries of the early internet" and Clipping Through, which is "a personal digital book exploring life and work in the games industry through the lens of the Game Developers’ Conference and interpersonal relationships. Self-published for pay-what-you-want, as an experiment in creating sustainable revenue for myself and others."

Overall Themes and Criticism

Much of Alexander's work focuses on critical analysis of the video game industry and gaming culture, in particular aspects related to issues such as as social good, feminism and increased diversity in tech spaces.[2] However she also has a history of defending the industry and/or specific publishers, with the most notable example being her defense of Grand Theft Auto IV from criticism by feminist blog Feministing[3] as well as her response to Forbe's Contributor Erik Kain's criticism of BioWare's Mass Effect 3,[4] in which she writes in response to Kain:

Kinda gross; first, there was this piece about how the writer’s inexperienced outsider status somehow made him more qualified to tell BioWare fans they deserved a new ending for Mass Effect than we industry-bought jaded game journo types; actually, there were multiple different blog-style stories from multiple authors that seemed pretty transparently geared to exploit the environment of fan ire toward BioWare and toward game reviewers
— Leigh Alexander

Kain responded with this criticism:

Alexander’s commentary surprised me at the time, as she seems like a journalist much more inclined to critical analysis of the industry, and one who isn’t uncomfortable writing pieces like, well, her piece in Edge

So what, precisely, should journalists do to “grow up?”

If being critical of BioWare, the gaming press, and the “artistic integrity” arguments made at the time is reason to simply dismiss Forbes altogether – Alexander wrote at the time that Forbes had likely “hired new writers that they don’t have to pay very much, and relying on the guaranteed forum and Reddit hits that come from telling superfans of “geek culture” what they want to hear” – (and this is from a journalist who is actively asking the press to be more critical) then I’m just not at all sure what the gaming press ought to do.
Erik Kain, Do Gaming Journalists Need To Grow Up?[5]

Overall, Alexander has established a reputation for repeated criticism of the "industry" in broad, general terms and of gaming culture in general, particularly the more consumerist aspects of it, while often aggressively defending specific studios or publishers from charges of misogyny, racism, or cultural insensitivity.

Alexander has also been open on her stance on biased journalist writing saying, at XOXO Fest: "Whether I'm doing interviews, criticism, anything, no pretense on being unbiased."[6] Regarding her ethics policy, she has stated that she wants to "make sure that those I love stand the longest"[7], which corresponds with the lack of disclosing her conflicts of interest.

Moreover, Alexander has encouraged people to violate IGN's and Gamespot's terms of use regarding intellectual property. On 13 March 2015, she suggested that IGN or Gamespot logos on screenshots should be cropped off, stating that "watermarkers deserve it."[8]

Other Industry Work

Alexander regularly does public appearances and gives keynote speeches at gaming related events, such as at XOXO Festival.[9] From her own blog:

She regularly presents at the Game Developers Conference, and has delivered keynotes at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Women in New Media Day, Nine Worlds Geekfest, Copenhagen’s Spilbar, GameCity in Nottingham, Different Games, Games For Change, Rensselaer Polytechnic’s Gamefest, and more things that probably have “Game” in the name.
— About, leighalexander.net

In addition to this, Ms. Alexander is one half of the gaming consultancy firm Agency for Games with business partner and friend Ste Curran.

Allegations of Abusive Speech and Harassment

Alexander has a history of making questionable or offensive comments on social media, particularly Twitter. A rather infamous series of tweets[10] shows her attacking the game Twisted Metal, as well as several other disparaging tweets attacking the sex lives of developers, sparked off a long feud between her and David Jaffe.

She has also been accused of making thinly veiled racist tweets against African-Americans[11][12] as well as conflating the identities African-Americans.[13] This is especially notable because Leigh Alexander is mixed-race herself.[citation needed]

Furthermore she has publicly threatened to end careers or blacklist aspiring developers or writers[14][15] based on their political views.

She supports 'doxing'[16] (the practice of revealing personal information to the public) and has done so herself.[17]

In June, 2013, Alexander went on a vitriolic Twitter rant[18] against prominent Penny Arcade cartoonist Mike Krahulik for allegedly "trans-phobic" behavior. Krahulik subsequently apologized[19] and donated $20,000 to the LGBT charity The Trevor Project. Despite the apology and donation, Krahulik was still widely criticized by the wider feminist blogging community and his intentions and sincerity were cast into doubt.[20]

In February, 2015, Leigh Alexander commented on both TotalBiscuit and the recent developers that have commented on #GamerGate, such as Mark Kern. During these comments, Leigh called TotalBiscuit "total chode" and then further went on to sarcastically claim "life is hard for him" despite being well aware of his ongoing battle with cancer, even going so far as to favorite the tweet of someone who called it "most easily treated form of cancer". [21][22][23] You can see an image compilation of TotalBiscuits replies here. On the developers, she stated "most of the devs who have been pompously 'neutral' or in favor of GG are over a certain age and work in outmoded design forms"[24] On Ken Levine, she stated "I wonder if Ken Levine is ever kept awake at night, haunted by how many poorly-read objectivist gamers he unwittingly created" though later stated that it "was a joke" and "not meant as an insult" towards Ken Levine.[25][26] [27]

In August 2007, Leigh Alexander published an article on Destructoid titled "Karma's a bitch: Jack Thompson has heart trouble" [28], in which she mocks Jack Thompson's heart condition. "You reap what you sow", she writes, "and now the elevated blood pressure that Jack Thompson causes all of us gamers with his ignorant mouth-frothings is giving him a big bushel of reciprocal come-uppance." She ends the article by jokingly suggesting her readers to send him "some (...) poison candy"

Conflicts of Interest

Anna Anthropy

Ms. Alexander has written numerous pieces in various publications profiling or promoting the games and creative endeavors of Anna Anthropy without disclosing their personal friendship. Most egregiously, several of these pieces are advertorial in nature and include direct purchase links to the titles that are profiled.

(see main article: Anna Anthropy - Conflicts of Interest)

Robin Arnott

Alexander has covered Robin Arnott's SoundSelf when it was an IGF finalist in February 2014[29] without disclosing any sort of a relationship to Arnott. This was done despite the fact that Alexander and Arnot had twitter conversations as far back July 2011,[30] some of which were quite friendly.[31][32][33] By October 2012 Arnott was close enough to Alexander to have recieved a piggyback ride from her.[34] Arnott and Alexander also went out for drinks with Zoe Quinn on March 16, 2014, less than one month after Alexander covered SoundSelf.[35]

Naomi Clark

In an article from May 3, 2013, Alexander wrote an article about Sissyfight, a game made by Naomi Clark, Ranjit Bhatnagar and Eric Zimmerman.[36] In another article from November 3, 2014, Alexander praised Clark and Consentacles, a card game Clark had developed.[37] Not disclosed in either of those article was the friendship between Alexander and Clark. The two have have started communicating through twitter since February 2012[38] and became Facebook friends a month afterwards.[39] Their twitter conversations appear to be quite friendly,[40] and they have also made plans to meet with each other in person on April 2012[41] and March 2014.[42]

Gone Home

Gone Home is a video game made by the Fullbright Company,[43] a small game developer consisting of Steve Gaynor, Karla Zimonja, Johnnemann Nordhagen, and Kate Craig. Johnnemann would leave Fullbright on 2014 to start his own company.[44] On August 15, 2013, Leigh Alexander wrote an article to Gamasutra praising the game.[45] On September 11, 2013, Alexander wrote another article praising Gone Home, this time in The Atlantic.[46] Neither article included disclosure of Alexnader's friendship with several people who had prominent roles in the making of the game:

  • Sarah Elmaleh - Sarah Elmaleh is a voice actress who voiced Katie, Gone Home's playable character.[47][48] Leigh Alexander and Sarah Elmaleh have been conversing through twitter since October 2010,[49] and have also became Facebook friends on that month.[50] In between that time and Alexander's coverage of Gone Home, Alexander and Elmaleh have hung out with each other several times.[51][52][53][54][55][56]
  • Steve Gaynor - Alexander and Steve Gaynor have been communicating via twitter since October 2008,[57] and have been Facebook friends since May 2009.[58] A look at some of the twitter conversations Alexander and Gaynor had prior to 2013 show them to be quite friendly.[59][60]
  • Karla Zimonja - Zimonja and Alaxander had been having twitter conversations since January 2013.[61] In a conversation from April 2013, Zimonja praised Alexander, who in return expressed hope to hang out with Zimonja in the future and explicitly called her a friend of hers.[62]
  • Kate Craig - Craig and Alexander had been having friendly twitter conversations since March 2013.[63] In a conversation from April 2013 Alexander expressed hope to hang out with Craig in the future and explicitly called her a friend of hers.[62]
  • Johnnemann Nordhagen - Nordhagen had been having friendly twitter conversations with Alexander since May 2010.[64]
  • Chris Remo - Remo has composed Gone Home's original score.[47] He has also been friends with Leigh Alexander on Facebook since August 2008.[65] Remo was Gamasutra's editor-at-large between April 2008 to August 2010,[66] while Alexander has been employed at Gamasutra as editor-at-large from August 2008 to the time of this writing (17 January 2015),[67] meaning that Remo was a former co-worker of Alexander by the time the latter wrote about Gone Home.

Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris

On January 17, 2014, Alexander wrote an article on Gamasutra about Redshirt, a game developed by Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris.[68] Not disclosed in the article was Alexander's friendship with Khandaker. The two have been communicating through twitter since 2009,[69] the same year in which they also became Facebook friends.[70] Twitter conversations from March 2013 show Alexander and Khandaker to be very close,[71] and likewise Alexander referred to Khandaker as "my friend" in a blog post from post April 14, 2014,[72] little less than three months after Alexander published her article on Redshirt.

Christine Love

On September 4, 2012, Alexander wrote a promotional profile[73] of indie developer Christine Love's games, "Digital: A Love Story" and "Analogue: A Hate Story" for a reoccurring column in Vice. Upon investigation by the fan community, several Tweets[74] were recovered that demonstrate that Love and Alexander have a personal, non-professional relationship. Alexander did not disclose this conflict of interest in her piece.

Zoe Quinn

On March 20, 2014, Zoe Quinn was quoted by Leigh Alexander in a Gamasutra article about LGBT characters in video games.[75] No disclosure was made in the article regarding any personal relationship between Alexander and Quinn, despite the fact that just five days prior to the article being published Quinn and Alexander made plans to drink with each other.[35]

Carl Icahn and Take-Two

In 2007, Leigh Alexander wrote a favourable article about Carl Icahn's investement in Take-Two, on Game Career Guide, a website that is owned by UBM.[76] Icahn began buying Take-Two shares in 2006, and is also one of the biggest holders in UBM stocks,[77] the company that owns Gamasutra. She failed to disclose Icahn's joint holdings in both her parent company and Take Two in the article.

Babycastles Nepotism and Surrounding Controversy

On September 17, 2012. Leigh Alexander wrote an article for gaming and development website Gamasutra entitled, "Why indie games make meaningful sports".[78] This article was primarily advertorial content and a promotional profile for Ramiro Corbetta and affiliated NYC art and gaming collective/venue Babycastles. Within the article Corbetta's game "Hokra" (part of the Sportsfriends collection) is promoted with direct links to a purchasing portal.

(see main article: Babycastles Nepotism)

References

  1. Leigh Alexander is leaving Gamasutra
  2. About, leighalexander.net
  3. Anti-Feministing: Debunking The Argument Against GTA IV, Leigh Alexander
  4. Do Positive Mass Effect 3 Reviews Reveal A Conflict Of Interest In Gaming Journalism?
  5. Do Gaming Journalists Need To Grow Up?, Erik Kain
  6. Leigh Alexander, Writer - XOXO Festival (2014)
  7. https://archive.today/LQcmw
  8. https://i.imgur.com/6bn9Vwc.png
  9. XOXO Festival, Leigh Alexander Speech (video)
  10. Twitter Status, Leigh Alexander
  11. Twitter Status, Leigh Alexander
  12. Twitter Status, Leigh Alexander
  13. This is not the black you are looking for, Lee williams
  14. Twitter Status, Leigh Alexander
  15. Twitter Status, Leigh Alexander
  16. Twitter Status, Leigh Alexander
  17. Twitter Status, Leigh Alexander
  18. Twitter Status, Leigh Alexander
  19. Mike Krahulik Apology
  20. Why Penny Arcade’s Foot-in-Mouth Problem Is Bigger Than Penny Arcade, Rachel Edidin
  21. Twitter - Leigh Alexander on Twitter (archive)
  22. Twitter - Leigh Alexander on Twitter (archive)
  23. Twitter - Amanda Thorntree on Twitter (archive)
  24. Twitter - Leigh Alexander on Twitter (archive)
  25. Twitter - Leigh Alexander on Twitter (archive)
  26. Twitter - Leigh Alexander on Twitter (archive)
  27. Twitter - [1] (archive)
  28. https://archive.today/77wqO
  29. Road to the IGF: Robin Arnott's SoundSelf
  30. ,Archived Twitter statuses between Leigh Alexander and Robin Arnott
  31. Robin Arnott Twitter - 9 October 2011
  32. Robin Arnott Twitter - 21 Jan 2013
  33. Robin Arnott Twitter - 14 Feb 2014
  34. Anna Antrophy Twitter - 14 Feb 2014
  35. 35.0 35.1 Robin Arnott Twitter - 16 Mar 2014
  36. Return of a revolution: Sissyfight is back
  37. Consensual tentacles: Naomi Clark's provocative card game
  38. Naomi Clark Twitter Status
  39. Leigh Alexander's Facebook account
  40. Twitter Status Leigh Alexander
  41. Twitter Status Naomi Clark
  42. Leigh Alexander Twitter Status
  43. About Gone Home
  44. https://archive.today/hP7GS About The Fullbright Company
  45. How Gone Home's design constraints lead to a powerful story
  46. How Gone Home's design constraints lead to a powerful story (archived version of pages 1 and 2 can be found here and here)
  47. 47.0 47.1 Cast and crew of Gone Home at IMDB
  48. Kaitlin Greenbriar article on the Gone Home wiki
  49. Twitter Status Sarah Elmaleh
  50. Leigh Alexander's Facebook account
  51. Twitter Status Kevin August
  52. Twitter Status Sarah Elmaleh
  53. Twitter Status Sarah Elmaleh
  54. Twitter Status Sarah Elmaleh and the picture linked in said twitter status
  55. Twitter Status Leigh Alexander and the picture linked in said twitter status
  56. Picture from Sarah Elmaleh's Facebook
  57. Twitter Status Steve Gaynor
  58. Leigh Alexander's Facebook account
  59. Twitter Status Leigh Alexander
  60. Twitter Status Steve Gaynor
  61. Twitter Status Karla Zimonja
  62. 62.0 62.1 Twitter Status Emily Carrol
  63. Twitter conversations between Kate Craig and Leigh Alexander
  64. Twitter conversations between Johnnemann Nordhagen and Leigh Alexander
  65. Leigh Alexander's Facebook account
  66. Chris Remo's LinkedIn
  67. Leigh Alexander's LinkedIn
  68. Learning about community and inclusiveness with Redshirt
  69. Twitter Status, Mitu K-K
  70. Leigh Alexander's Facebook
  71. Twitter Conversation between Leigh Alexander and Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris
  72. No More Questions
  73. Gamer's Paradise: Could "Relationship Games" Be The Next Great Frontier In Gaming? Leigh Alexander
  74. Twitter Status, Christine Love
  75. Practical advice about queer characters in games
  76. https://archive.today/iGn02
  77. http://www.holdingschannel.com/hedge-funds/holding-ubm/?page=2&type=
  78. Why indie games make meaningful sports, Leigh Alexander