Before this weekend NeoGAF was one of the biggest and most influential video gaming communities on the planet. Thanks to strict moderation and a high barrier to entry, the discourse was often more civil than you’d expect from a games forum. This attracted industry insiders, which in turn caused NeoGAF to become the go-to source for scoops for game journalists.
Today, it’s a digital hellscape.
— ViewtifulJC (@GetOffMyLawn53) October 22, 2017
Over the course of last week, the site’s admin and founder Tyler ‘Evilore’ Malka was accused of sexual harassment as the #metoo movement swept through the internet, exposing one sleazebag after another. The allegations found their way to the forum, where they were quickly removed.
Some users tried to defend Malka, claiming that it was probably a disgruntled banned NeoGAF member or a Gamergater who made up these horrible accusations.
As is often the case with these stories there’s no hard evidence and only one witness, but it should be noted that Malka has a shady history. He boasted about unwantingly grabbing a girl’s butt and he falsely denied knowing one of the site’s mods after he was caught with media depicting child sexual abuse.
After the accusatory screenshots made their way to the forum, mods responded by locking threads on the subject. One of the site’s moderators informed readers that an official statement was underway, but it wasn’t until last night that the statement was finally published. Over the weekend, the site’s users revolted and flooded the message board with threads, demanding Malka step down. NeoGAF went offline and then came back up with a standard ‘planned maintenance’ message. Amidst the chaos, most of the site’s moderators stepped down, not wanting to be associated with Malka anymore.
— Xbudz™ (@Xbudz) October 22, 2017
On Tuesday the site came back up, with a statement by Malka pinned to the top. The statement starts off with Malka denying the allegations, which are still his words against hers at this point. He goes on to recount the incidents that took place over the weekend, and states that ‘discussions on heated news, political issues, and social issues’ on the non-gaming side of the forum ‘have become areas no one has wanted to moderate in the open for fear of backlash or just general exposure to the inevitable toxicity’. Malka then declares that only video game-related discussions will be allowed on NeoGAF from now on.
As a long-time member of the forum, I believe that the discussions on the off-topic side of the forum were usually civil and never the problem. Banning all politics and social issues seems like an utterly misguided way to deal with being accused of sexual harassment. Most of NeoGAF’s community seems to agree, once again flooding the board with topics demanding Malka’s removal. These threads are swiftly being deleted by Malka and Co., but Twitter accounts like NESbot give you a good indication of what is actually being posted.
It’s going to be interesting to see where NeoGAF is headed, but judging by the comments under the official statement, it will never be the place it used to be. So long GAF, you will be missed.