Since November 2012, I’ve been running IndieStatik.com, which is a website I started with Josh Mattingly after leaving another site, The Indie Game Magazine (IGM), earlier that year. Today, I decided to leave my position at Indie Statik. Before any conclusions are jumped to, please, let me give the reasons as to why I’ve made this decision.
You may have heard that Josh wound up on Kotaku on Monday. If you’ve no idea what I’m on about, here’s a link: http://kotaku.com/reporter-apologizes-for-crude-sexual-comments-to-female-1505393796
The short of it is: Josh sent vulgar messages over Facebook to a female game developer while trying to find out information about a game after making a bet with someone as to whether or not he’d be able to obtain said information. This happened last Saturday night. These messages were then rightfully called out on Twitter, Josh made a public apology, and then it was up on Kotaku.
I was deeply upset.
First of all, I couldn’t believe that Josh had done this to anyone, though a member of the community we’ve been engaging with and supportive of for the past year and a half. Secondly, I had to worry about how this changed the reputation of Indie Statik, myself, and the rest of the team. Thirdly, I felt like I couldn’t trust the person I was working under. I didn’t sleep that night.
To address the wider issue briefly, it’s very stressful when harassment is called out, not just for those involved, but for everyone. However, it is a necessary procedure towards clamping down on it. Our communities and the spaces they occupy need to be friendly for everyone to engage in. That’s so important. Yet, these disturbingly common cases of harassment continue to prevent that from happening. We need to continue to address these issues but with tools like reasonable debate and education, rather than stamping them down with hate, and more profanities. Which I’ve seen a lot of.
The whole situation on Monday had me feeling like a hypocrite because I’ve written about female game developers being harassed in an effort to spread awareness of the problem so that it may, hopefully, one day be tackled with widespread effectiveness. Although I wasn’t the one who had harassed someone, the person who had, represented me and the website we were a part of, and that is devastating. As a result, I couldn’t write on the website because it felt dirtied to me. Nor could I not feel weird about accepting money acquired from Indie Statik’s Kickstarter, which was given by amazing people with good faith to uphold the work the team have been doing.
But these emotions were being added to a pile of stress and frustration that had been mounting up for several months. This is a result of trying to run Indie Statik, mostly by myself (and the writing work of the team), as Josh had to attend to trying to sort out business matters behind the scenes. And as it turns out, he was tackling with a lot of personal issues, too. Communication was fleeting, organization went downhill, the website started to break, and a lot of it was coming back directly to me. Just the number of emails I wasn’t able to respond to was hurting me. People complaining about the site’s load times, freelancers asking about possible work (which we could never take on), developers submitting games, asking for interviews. Then there’s the rest of it, including the declining quality of my own work, which is really horrible to have to face.
There are plenty more personal and interpersonal issues that were weighing down on me, too. All the while, I was left thinking that all I wanted to do was write about cool games, you know? That was getting harder and harder to do. The point is, I was getting to the end of my rope trying to hold everything together, and then Monday happened. That was the last straw for me. Depressingly, this is the second time I’ve left an indie games-focused website due to the attitudes and actions of someone else.
I can forgive Josh for what he done on Saturday night, especially as his intention is to now step back and seek the help he needs, and to spread awareness of the issue that he had been the perpetrator of, while learning how to change his attitudes. On a professional level, he has lost my trust, and that is vital for that partnership to function. He’s still very unstable.
If it wasn’t for the combination of all of these pressing matters, I’d probably be trying to uphold Indie Statik still, but that’s not the case. Instead, I have left, and will continue to work my afternoon news shift at Pocket Gamer. The rest of my time will be spent revitalizing and seeing where else I can expend my efforts. I can’t stop what I love doing for long. Or maybe I’ll try something slightly different. I’m really not sure yet.
Obviously, you won’t be able contact me at my Indie Statik email address any more, so please use firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
Additionally, Indie Statik is not dead, and thank goodness. Great friend of mine and admirable writer, Chloi Rad will be nestling in my previous position as best she can, and she has the rest of the team with her for support. Plus, with Josh stepping down, David DeCarmine of Game Jolt will be hopefully picking up the pieces and making sure things run smoother. Together, they’ll continue to cover indie games as the site has always done. I encourage you to give Indie Statik all the support you can, and hope that it continues to be a valued place for indie games coverage, without any more hiccups.
Thanks to everyone who has supported myself and the others at Indie Statik for the past year and a half. It’s a shame that it has come to this.