Fan reaction to the E3 footage of Paper Mario: Color Splash hasn’t been kind. People say it looks dull and uninspired, and that the Paper Mario series is just churning out sequels at this point. We had yet to hear, though, that the game was promoting hate speech, until Zoe Quinn spoke up.
For those who don’t know, the entire Gamergate movement began with a viral testimony from a bitter ex-lover who discovered his girlfriend had been cheating on him with five separate people, gaining her the nickname “Five Guys” (after the burger chain). It really should have stopped there and been forgotten within a week, but then some wingnut put forth a grand conspiracy theory with Zoe at its center:
- The men Zoe slept with were all working in the game journalism industry (only one connection was confirmed, an ex she was no longer seeing)
- Zoe is a game designer (but barely — her one “game” was a text-based multiple-choice mechanic she released for free)
- ZOE SLEPT WITH THOSE GUYS ON PURPOSE TO GET ZILLIONS OF PROFITS OFF HER FREE GAME!!!!
It didn’t matter if it made no sense, because the snowball was gaining speed down the hill. It was the beginning of endless rumors and stories about Zoe, which the troll community took as a cue to make her their own personal chew toy (after all, it was deserved, right?) It grew out of 4Chan into the Gamergate movement, which claimed to be about “ethics in game journalism” yet never seemed to actually go after corruption in the media. They would just pick women in the industry, make up stories and harass them. The movement had been hijacked by misogynists and ultra-right-wing conspiracy nuts, and today it’s regarded as a hate group.
So back to the Paper Mario scene. Zoe claims it was a joke at her expense, and tweeted the two screenshots above while commenting “what the **** did I ever do to you, Nintendo, that y’all had to make my suffering into a ****ing joke.” There’s only one problem here…..this really, really, very obviously is not a Gamergate reference, and, well…..I feel for you, Zoe, I really do, but when you say things like this in public, it makes you look kinda dumb.
All things “gate” stem from the Watergate scandal of the early 70’s that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. If someone says “____gate” anywhere, the first assumption shouldn’t be that it’s code for “Gamergate.” Not only that, this is clearly a reference to Watergate itself. We know this because of the next two lines of dialogue, which appear seconds later:
Now, why would Zoe miss all this? There are several possibilities:
- Zoe doesn’t know what Watergate is (unlikely)
- Zoe does know what Watergate is, but immediately quit watching the video after the Toad said “Shufflegate,” took her screenshots and banged out her tweet in rage…..not good judgment.
- Zoe never watched the video — someone else, likely a troll, sent her those two screenshots to get a reaction from her. Which begs the question WHY she is still reading things trolls send her….
There’s one other possibility we need to face: that deep down Zoe knew this scene wasn’t about her, but made it about her anyway to get attention — which is exactly the kind of behavior that the trolls accuse her of. But why? By this point, shouldn’t she have developed PTSD over hearing the mere word “attention”? It makes no sense.
None of these behaviors are the type that make people stop picking on you. This tweet should not have been sent. If Zoe doesn’t desire attention from sadists and sexists, she needs to stop giving them fuel. Zoe needs help, and she’s going to get nothing but the opposite from flinging herself into the public eye again and again. In fact, pretty much everybody involved in this besides Nintendo needs professional help, but it’s unlikely they’ll get it.
Nintendo, to their credit, did respond to Zoe’s accusation, and said what I covered above.
“As many have observed, when viewed in its entirety the Nintendo Treehouse: Live segment for Paper Mario: Color Splash from E3 includes two jokes separated by commentary and gameplay that have no relation to each other. One joke has to do with Watergate, while the other is a nod to the Fungi Fun Guys from Mario Party 8. It was brought to our attention today that these two jokes have been spliced together and misconstrued as a crude reference to an online hate campaign. While we typically do not speak on localization matters, we feel the need to confirm that these jokes are not linked in the game and were never intended to be linked. Nintendo firmly rejects the harassment of individuals in any way and was surprised to learn that its gameplay was misinterpreted in this manner.”