Stephen Totilo

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Stephen Totilo
Stephen Totilo.jpg
Aliases @stephentotilo
Affiliation Kotaku
Occupation Blogger/Games Journalist

Stephen Totilo is a reporter based in Brooklyn, New York. He's the editor-in-chief for video gaming site Kotaku.[1]

Pre-Gamergate Controversies

Stardock & Brad Wardell Lawsuit

Main article: Brad Wardell

Following the publication of a piece regarding Bethesda's blacklisting of Kotaku, Totilo defended Kotaku's reporting on the lawsuit filed against Brad Wardell in a Reddit post, but also admitted that Kotaku could have been fairer in trying to reach Wardell's camp for the original article.[2]

'Grand Theft Auto Taught Me to Drive'

On May 13th, 2013, Totilo published a piece called Grand Theft Auto Taught Me to Drive, which purported to tell the story of a 22 year-old black woman who learned to drive through practicing in the game.[3] The article remained up in its original state for over a year, until December of 2014, when it was revealed that the persona and story described within were entirely fabricated and sent to Kotaku as part of a prank.[4] Totilo admitted that he refused to follow through with proper due diligence when writing the article because of his interest in writing about a "positive gamer experience".[5] In an email exchange, one of the two people involved in the hoax revealed that the prank was concocted while sending out press releases for a game that he had developed. The amateur game dev went on to express his disappointment that Kotaku would rather publish an unvetted, feel-good editorial rather than give space to game developers who are trying to earn a place in gaming.[6]

GamerGate Involvement

Totilo first addressed Gamergate on August 21st, 2014, and rejected any breach of ethics by writer Nathan Grayson, saying, "our leadership team finds no compelling evidence that any of [the accusations are] true."[7]

Kotaku Policy on Patreon and Potential Conflicts of Interest

On August 26th, Totilo clarified Kotaku's stance on Patreon support by authors, stating that the site would bar authors from supporting developers to avoid "needless potential conflicts of interest." [8] Two days after publishing, the piece was updated with an addendum saying that the concerns about Patreon were "part of a larger week-long saga that has involved inexcusable harassment of developers and writers, including some Kotaku staff," and that while genuine criticism is accepted, harassment is not.[9] Totilo backtracked on this position ten days later, allowing authors to fund Patreons for the purpose of, "[accessing] a developer's work for coverage purposes. They can even expense it." [10] The original piece did not receive an update to reflect this until January of 2015.[11]

About Gamergate

On September 5th, Totilo published About Gamergate. In the piece, Totilo describes Gamergate as "drama [going] back, however directly or indirectly, to an ex-boyfriend and a series of blog posts attacking his ex-girlfriend's character", tying it to "scrutiny and harassment", and claims the "possible gaming journalism sex scandal" involved was refuted by his earlier piece from August.[12] Additionally, Totilo attributes some then-recent harassment of Anita Sarkeesian to Gamergate, claims to have addressed the concerns regarding journalistic ethics, and links to Kotaku's article from the Gamers Are Dead blitz, We Might Be Witnessing The 'Death of An Identity'.[12]

Interview discussing 'Ethics in Games Media'

TotalBiscuit interviews Stephen Totilo about Ethics in Games Media.

The last few months have raised many questions about ethical practices within games media. This is a lengthy interview with Stephen Totilo the Editor in Chief of one of the largest gaming sites Kotaku, who will answer allegations of conflicts of interest and express his opinions on games media and its role in the industry.

Audio podcast version for download [13]

Bethesda Blacklisting

Unsorted Links