NeoGAF currently has 5 forum administrators and 38 moderators. How does one become a moderator? According to them: the team nominates NeoGAF posters, they debate about the candidates among themselves, and then Evilore picks the finalists from whoever is left. However, in the old days, the NeoGAF IRC channel was the place where Evilore made those kinds of decisions. Malka calls them the “best and the brightest” of NeoGAF and sees them as the most exceptional posters.
The moderators keep the website running in an orderly fashion. They’re the ones that tell you when words like “hugbox” are offensive, retroactively edit thread titles if they disagree with the contents of a post, and get rid of folks who say they are tired of Leigh Alexander. On NeoGAF people aren’t banned because they’re libertarians, it just happens to be that people with those political beliefs tend to be against site rules.
The lack of ban transparency is on purpose. According to EviLore it’s a distraction from the flow of discussion on the website.
Someone outlined the general problems with NeoGAF’s moderation back in October 2014. SirPainsalot was banned for it on the site, but his thoughts are worth a renewed consideration today.
SirPainsalot tells us he was a lurker on NeoGAF since 2008, getting his own account by 2013. With years of understanding and experience under his belt, he tell us that fanboy behavior has gotten out of control. Titles like The Order: 1886 were overtly hyped up by NeoGAF, and legitimate concerns and critiques were shot down or shoved off to the side. This new ritual of “hype” threads on NeoGAF is a cause for the site’s stagnation. Overall the quality of posting had diminished. Instead of discussion, NeoGAF is filled with passive-aggressive comments and one-line “zingers” now. SirPainsalot cites the mods are aware of this but have done little to properly address it. He pins the blame of poor moderation on Tyler Malka’s behavior as the owner. He has a reputation of inappropriate remarks and doesn’t act to keep the balance he says is important for the site to maintain. Allegations of sexual assault and sexism, along with giving a user’s post to Kotaku without their permission, are things that don’t exemplify role model behavior. When it comes to the moderators themselves, they’ve got an elitist attitude of trying to “one up” NeoGAF’s members. They present their opinions in a fashion that creates an air of unwarranted superiority, bringing into focus their agendas and biases. Sirpainsalot says that’s a human thing to have, but the moderators cross a line when they act on it to silence disagreements. The uneven application of bans in these instances has taken down accounts unnecessarily. These things were further pushed to Sirpainsalot’s attention with the way the moderators handled GamerGate. In the containment thread they set up, he says there’s a correlation between banned users and their opinions on the topic. Disagreement is being used as an excuse to ban people from NeoGAF, and it made the GamerGate thread one-sided in their discussion. Sirpainsalot got a PM from somebody, warning them that they were going to get banned for their dissenting opinion. On top of all that, The Fine Young Capitalists had their account rejected before they even had a chance to post.
SirPainsalot had absolutely zero faith in NeoGAF’s moderators, and in this section, we’re going to explore some of the reasons why.
It is indeed possible for a NeoGAF mod to be taken out of service if something so egregious and embarrassing takes place that even Tyler Malka can’t look the other way. Someone like “White Man” could be made a mod as early as 2006, only to have his mod abilities revoked eight years later for posting a disturbing murder fantasy post.
Below are three tales of high-profile ex-Moderators on NeoGAF.
When asked what it’s like to be a NeoGAF mod, Amir0x replied “it’s like being a rockstar, except without the drugs, sex and…rock and roll. And no groupies, but I guess that can go with the “no sex” part.” By his mates, Amir0x is infamous for a post he made declaring the “age of Sony is done,” which would turn out to not be accurate in retrospect.
One of his earliest acts as a mod was giving advice on how to do drugs to NeoGAF members. “Reccomend [sic] to try at least once,” he said in reference to LSD. Growing up in a broken home, Amir0x had to deal with: a violent brother that was in and out of jail, helping take care of his mother (his dad worked many jobs – both of them were religious), and coming to terms with his girlfriend’s suicide. In March 2007, Amir0x announced to NeoGAF “there was a good chance” he was headed to jail for the next 3 months (he planned to break some sort of unofficial restraining order). According to Amir, he allegedly got in trouble with the authorities after he restrained his mother from beating him with a purse. The common belief by most is that he beat her. None of us were there, so it can never be said for sure what happened that night between Amir0x and his mother. In the longer version of the story, he tells how the authorities picked him up for hitchhiking on the interstate at 3 in the morning, and how he insulted the police after his mother panicked and called the cops.
During high school, Amir0x admitted to getting into a brawl with someone because they insulted his mother. They were playing Quake via LAN, and someone on the enemy team mouthed off.
By early August 2007, Amir would fall back into his drug habit. As the months went by he began to embrace his role as an “expert” in this field and quashed anyone’s concerns that a NeoGAF moderator was openly giving drug advice to people. On the top of his list of favorites was Ecstasy. Over the years, Amir0x would praise it as much as Edmund from the Chronicles of Narnia loved Turkish Delight. But he dabbled in DMT, Shrooms, DXM, Meth, Coke, Heroin, and Xanax as well. He would later admit to getting the drugs from some of his friends.
“drugs are awesome,” he said.
To Amir0x, drugs won the internal debate he had when it came to addiction and self-control. NeoGAF let him share those sorts of experiences (like a detailed analysis of how to properly snort cocaine) and he spoke from the moderator pulpit about it. On top that he had “fond” memories of cheating with married women and robbing houses.
A biography he gave NeoGAF in 2009:
My name is Chris G.
My hobbies are games, movies, drugs and mother beating.
I’m 24 years old.
I work as a Supervisor of Equipment Handling at Tobyhanna Army Depot.
I like long walks on the beach, the Mother franchise and tripping balls.
Amir0x had a twisted set of morals. In January 2010 he’d admit to banning someone that admitted to drunk driving (ironically Amir0x would have driving related troubles himself according to public documents). Amir was bothered by the fact a guy did it all the time and didn’t understand the consequences of his actions. This was the same moderator that openly advocated for drugs to the forum on a regular basis. In April 2011, someone confronted Amir0x on this double standard.
“If I got caught with drugs I’d face the consequences of using them,” he wrote.
Amir was aware of the law but actively chose to break it based on the fact he liked the way drugs felt. According to him, there a difference between the individual right for someone to put substances in their own body, and infringing the rights of others in the pursuit of liberty. One time he even joked about giving them to children. Tyler Malka never acted in response to any of this drug related behavior. He was perfectly fine with allowing Amir0x to speak to the community on official mod business when necessary.
But Amir would get banned in August 2011. The thing that he got banned for was a simple Nintendo 3DS thread. What seems like an innocent “what could possibly go wrong” sort of set-up had Amir0x ending up in the hot seat. Amir got into an argument about the 3DS 3D effect hurting people’s eyes, and it somehow escalated to a point where he said: “I’d never accuse anyone of lying, except for right now.” This led Amir0x to get called out by a user named Kato, who was able to prove that he abused his moderator privileges to retroactively edit posts of other users. Amir erased accusations of people calling him a liar in thread discussions to try and quietly improve his reputation. Apt on the print screen trigger finger, Kato was able to collect several instances of Amir0x doing this. The evidence presented was sufficient enough from Tyler Malka’s perspective. Amir0x’s days as a mod were over.
Doing drugs and openly advocating for it? Fine. But editing posts? That crosses the line for NeoGAF. Amir’s personal rationale for the drug talks was that they’re legal in some countries, and given the global nature of NeoGAF, it would be fine to discuss them.
On April 20th, 2012 Amir0x turned to NeoGAF to raise funds for his mother. She was diagnosed with Vasculitis and it caused kidney failure. Amir and his family were having a difficult time keeping up with the medical bills, so he hoped the kindness of GAF would be able to balance out the expenses. It worked for a few months. But people began to get concerned about where the money was going after Amir0x talked about buying drugs at the end of October. Soon he found himself defending his purchase to people on NeoGAF, saying that there was “nothing sinister” about him using the money he earned from his paycheck to buy some drugs. Amir tried to explain it away. But peer pressure worked as a force of good that day. He was moved by how worried people were about what was going on. Amir0x used it as a sign that he needed to get help for his drug addiction.
After that? He got better. “In the end, I conceded a key point – I did have a problem. Since drugs were the way I had my recreational fun, it was difficult to understand how it looked to everyone else. So I entered myself into rehab. I finished the bulk of it, but I retain therapy and still go to NA meetings every week,” Amir0x wrote in February 2013.
He still gave advice to others on drugs from time to time (other people were still going to do them anyway and he didn’t want them to hurt themselves). But he stood firm with his disavowment of recreational usage. Amir0x (momentarily) won the battle against his personal demons because he was able to understand them.
If you wanted to avoid getting on Amir0x’s ban side: don’t be a misogynist, don’t have a history of negativity, don’t be an insensitive douchebag, don’t mention any game that’s not Uncharted 2 in the Uncharted 2 thread, don’t say polls are worthless, don’t fling insults, don’t make personal attacks, don’t make troll accusations, hide your spoilers properly, and don’t make “retarded” posts.
While Amir0x was addicted to opiates, the story of the moderator named “Opiate” takes a different turn. Believed to be around 35 years old, from St. Louis and New York (he says he moved back and forth), and he came to NeoGAF because of his passionate interest in economics. Well-mannered when it came to behavior. Prim and proper, tried to not be rude if he could help it. Real name is unknown, despite the fact Opiate says he shared it before.
First, the good. He’s the only person I’ve ever heard people say they’ve missed as a moderator. Opiate ran NeoGAF’s bingo threads over the years. It started out as something that was done alongside holiday giveaways and for occasions such as New Years. They gave away things like console and indie games and tickets to PAX. It was very much a community fueled effort. The only really strange thing about that was he’d get the name and address of all the winners. But that’s normal, right? So he could ship prizes to them.
Opiate was a real go-getter, swooping in to help stop a suicide attempt once. He was also able to trigger the ire of NeoGAF users in a distinct fashion. But Opiate was really into strange debate threads and he walked a fine line when it came to hypotheticals.
One of his more notable quotes casts doubt on whether or not Opiate even liked video games. “When I hear people referring to men as “manchildren,” that’s typically what they’re referring to, in my experience: men sitting around playing MGS or God of War or Pokémon beyond age 25,” he once wrote.
Speaking of children. Opiate was best known his defense of pedophilia.
As far back as September 2011. “I do want to say that I have significant sympathy for pedophiles. At least, some of them,” Opiate said. He goes on to emphasize at length with their mindset. When it came to the idea sexual desires in general, he thought less about morality, in favor of efficiency instead. He characterized pedophilia as a natural urge on at least one occasion. It was a topic of interest to him for many years on NeoGAF. In an October 2013 post, Opiate stated that people were already free to express their sexuality, but those “primitive urges” got in the way of social consequence.
To be clear, he’s speaking about pedophilia in that sense. Opiate did so in empathetic terms depicting them as if they were victims of society. He casts pedophiles in the same light as heterosexuals and homosexuals when it comes to describing it from a psychological aspect. The moderator told users on the forums to take a walk in a pedophile’s shoes to understand their perspective.
It makes things Opiate says in a non-serious light seem more disturbing.
Our primary recommendation to get your children acclimated to NeoGAF is to print out a copy of the GAF ToS, grind it up, and supplement their baby formula with those grinds as soon as possible. In addition, we recommend whispering “believe” to them as they fall asleep every night.
Take a look at his defense of cartoon porn from June 2014. Opiate said that pedophiles needed an avenue of expression or else they’d repress their desires. “If someone can come up with a better outlet for pedophilic urges, I’m all ears, though,” he said.
In October 2014 there was a now deleted thread asking the question if pedophiles deserved sympathy. It was started by Opiate himself. His original post linked to an article suggesting that pedophilia was caused by something in the brain. The responses Opiate made were even worse, going into detail about how terrible it was that pedophiles couldn’t masturbate. He equated the crime of molestation to robbing a house (I don’t think Amir0x would’ve agreed). Later on in the thread, Opiate shared an anonymous message he got from a NeoGAF member who admitted to being attracted to children. Someone expressed their discomfort that Opiate made the thread in the first place, only to be chastised by another mod for speaking up.
By 2015 he’d get more entrenched on his defense of the topic and attacked the “hostile atmosphere” it had. Opiate would get angry when it came up, speaking about the tragedy of pedophiles in more emotional vernacular than usual. He was the first to present the notion that people who defend pedophiles are pedophiles themselves, in response to a user who was uncomfortable with the discussion. Overall, Opiate got really defensive whenever people brought it up.
Things came to a head in September 2015. On the 21st Salon posted an article by Todd Nickerson. The author is a self-proclaimed pedophile, and he wrote it in an effort to make the public emphasize with their ordeal. The next day NeoGAF user “Maninthemirror” posted it to the site, criticizing Salon for giving Nickerson a platform. The thread was first met with mockery from the mods, who changed it to criticize Maninthemirror for giving Salon a platform. Opiate came into that thread and poked at the embers of discussion trying to flame it up. Once more, he encouraged the lurkers to imagine being attracted to children. He got more vocal than he usually would about his pedophile empathy defense.
A user by the name of Fiction came in and said pedophiles clearly had something broken in their brains. “Pedophiles destroy people,” they wrote. ArchedThunder took offense to that. Fiction fired back by saying they understood what they were talking about better than most people about the damages a pedophile can bring on someone. Thunder turned up the heat and made the comparison that Fiction’s hatred for pedophiles was somehow the same as racism.
That led to Opiate’s infamous post where he told Fiction (a rape victim), that their contributions to the discussion were irrational. Followed up by threatening to ban them, but declining to do so because Opiate liked Fiction.
One would think this would’ve been the end of the thread. It was not. Rather than close the thread and save everyone the distress, Opiate continued to defend pedophiles in that thread throughout the 23rd and 24th of September. He smugly proclaimed himself to be a compassionate person for liking pedophiles. Opiate defined compassion worldviews as being either good and appropriate or expected. The NeoGAF moderator touched upon the societal pressures of pedophiles too. Of course, the differences between a pedophile and child molester were discussed as well. He went as far as to make the example of “what if your child grew up to be a pedophile” in that thread. Opiate even talked down another user for getting upset that this discussion was happening.
Malka himself had to step in and shut it down.
NeoGAF is a forum full of real people, not an imaginary world where dispassionate academic debate can take place and anything can be said without affecting others. We shouldn’t be having threads like this inappropriate and pointless debate about pedophilia in the first place, and we will not from here on out, but while we can’t control how someone reacts to the content of the site and whether they decide to leave, and we shouldn’t coddle anyone for the sake of it, this thread has gone far, far beyond anything that can be described that way. We can at least be a little respectful to our fellow members when it comes to serious matters like personal experience with being the victim of child molestation/rape. Clearly a basic level of human decency hasn’t been maintained and that will be addressed immediately.
Apologies to Fiction for everything that was said in this thread and how things played out overall.
In response to this, Opiate was demodded.
Spurred on by the events unfolding in the Salon thread, outside groups used this as an opportunity to push forward any information they had about Opiate. This archived dump ended up being widely circulated, connecting the alias Bodhesatva back to the moderator. The findings also revealed that Opiate had worked at a Toys R’ Us for a time. I found at least one post on his NeoGAF account that could potentially back that up. Whoever wrote this up took the digging a few steps further, and found some of Opiate’s posts on sex forums. He states on Loveshack that the younger someone is the sexier they are. This Bodhesatva name shows up on other erotic websites.
With that context in mind, it makes the main point of that info dump on Opiate more disturbing. This Bodhesatva person has a Flickr account (VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED) with a variety of subjects. Some of them are of nature, some of them of men and women. Dressed. Undressed.
Some of them were of children.
If you wanted to avoid getting on Opiate’s ban side (besides the obvious): no port begging, don’t make fun of Evilore with an elaborate amount of effort, don’t point out if a good poker player is lesbian, don’t be obnoxious, no open advertisement of adblock, don’t call NeoGAF a hivemind, don’t have a history of bad behavior, don’t make borderline jerk posts, don’t get angry, don’t be ignorant, and don’t antagonize people.
Real name is Tim Lewinson. He’s of Jamaican and Scottish descent, religiously brought up as a Pentecostal. Only one of two black families in the part of BC where he grew up, the first time he heard the N-word was in 2nd grade. His parents kicked the shit out of him if he stepped out of line. By Bishop’s own admission he worked on the EA NHL series for 3 years and did a stint at relic entertainment.
In his early days, he was pretty carefree. Tim dabbled in the occasional bit of serious talk about multiculturalism, but it was half-hearted. The other half was more laid back. At the end of April 2005, Bishop’s idea to form a Black discussion thread first came up. By October he was already swinging the banhammer at racist posts, capable of showing remorse in some cases. But these instances set the tone early on with what was a racially acceptable discussion on NeoGAF. Bishop took it as a personal responsibility of his to make sure everything was good. It became harder for him to separate serious and jokes when it came to the topic of race.
End of 2006 marked his changing of heart coming to pass:
I’d like to see a real dialogue on race in America. One where everyone gets a chance to express their prejudices without being immediately jumped on. It’s hard – most folks don’t want to be painted as racists, and as a result keep their mouth shut or don’t express honest feelings because of it. I’ll admit, I’ve jumped down the throats of a few folks myself after hearing something totally out of line.
I saw an episode of Dr Phil (yeah yeah I know, shut up) where he stuck a bunch of people in a house, each of whom had their own specific prejudices. A Neo-Nazi guy, a older black women who loathed white people, a skinny mini who hated fatties, and a super fat guy who hated pretty well everybody. Dumb-ass happy ending aside, the most fascinating part of the program for me was at the beginning, where people were just letting loose with the most vitriolic rants about the other folks in the house they hated. Not for entertainment value, but because their reactions were honest and from the gut.
From then on Bishop treated discussions involving blacks with a bit of reverence. Outside instigators pushed him in that direction with racist posts, forcing Bishop to shoo it away with a ban. The cumulative effect wore down on him and by the Summer of 2009 he was much more cynical. Another attempt to make racial threads formed in October 2010 – and that was when the first official Black Culture Threads were established. By September 2011, games journalism was starting to target political topics in video games. Bishop initially laughed at the idea of Deus Ex: Human Revolution being considered racist, as suggested in a piece by GamesRadar.
Timothy Lewinson was an Executive Producer at Beefy Media. The President of that company? Adam Boyes, who’d later go on to be Sony’s Vice President of Third Party Relations. Connections like these are what cast the appearance of bias when it came to Bishop as a NeoGAF moderator. Beefy Media’s clientele included Capcom, Endemol, MGM, and the Weinstein Company. Who’s to say that BishopTL didn’t give these studios a higher priority when it came to visibility on the NeoGAF forums?
Bishop best became known for being the NeoGAF moderator that controlled the flow of insider information. CBOAT was one of the earliest leakers to use this system, talking about clearing things with Bishop as far back as 2005. If you didn’t submit yourself to Bish for verification, you’d likely end up banned. What he’d check for (as seen by this Playstation 4 rumor story), is that the leaker was someone in a qualified industry position to receive the sort of information they were sharing. These insiders in some cases even got an official “Bishop checked” tag on their profile.
But that system wasn’t flawless.
Early on June 5th, 2013, a thread was made about Xbox One rumors concerning a GPU downgrade. It started from a Bishop-backed insider named Thuway. He heard that GPU clocks were going to be downgraded in order to improve yields. This rumor got quickly backed up by someone else. Then another. Thuway said his information was as recent as the Playstation Meeting when the PS4 was revealed, claiming it made Microsoft’s engineering teams scramble in response. Some guy named StevieP said Microsoft was having ESRAM issues. Another Bishop-backed insider, CBOAT, chimed in with confirmation that some of that was allegedly true.
NeoGAF moderators themselves started to throw their weight in on it. Passersby saw the spectacle, and lurkers assured them that the leakers were properly vetted by folks like Bishop. Ex-mod Amir0x said something to that effect, calling the sources trusted. He was more than eager to encourage the Microsoft pile-on. But in walks SenjutsuSage with counter-argument after counter-argument. He said he heard differently from his own sources and that there was a reason to doubt the downclocking rumors. Thuway fired back at SenjutsuSage, and it basically became a war between insiders. SenjutsuSage ended up being right about the downclocking rumors being false. The mods backed the wrong side of the argument and were left cleaning up the mess in the aftermath to try and save the credibility of their inside sources.
“No more troll threads from, on, or about CliffyB until he gets a job,” Bishop said at the time in an effort to flex his moderator muscle.
Things started to get bad after June 2013, when the r/games subreddit had to deal with a controversy surrounding Microsoft and “astroturfing” threads. The practice of astroturfing is defined as using a forum such as Reddit or NeoGAF and trying to steer the public conversation in a favorable direction. In this particular case, someone who claimed to work at a digital marketing firm said they overheard conversations Microsoft employees had about posting content for their employer to the pics and gaming subreddits. The r/gaming moderators said the initial claims turned out to be false after looking into it, but that didn’t stop places like NeoGAF from questioning the possibility of the practice taking place on their own site. It certainly sparked an anti-Microsoft sentiment and increased skepticism. Mods joined in accusing Microsoft as well (although they acknowledged Sony was equally guilty). Many of the forum members turned to Bishop as an answer to stopping astroturfing. Opiate said directly that being on NeoGAF to “shill for your corporate overlords” was a bannable offense.
Bishop had taken up looking into the matter personally at the end of that May. In response to a flux of new accounts that had popped up, he said:
Hey, would anybody be interested in a thread where I detail some of the social agency email addresses that have come up during my offsite research into some of our more recently vocal members?
It’s this accident of timing (Bishop cracking down on PR shills + Microsoft’s astroturfing accusation) that caused people to start seeing Bishop as anti-Microsoft.
July 2013 continued the same sort of vicious cycle of rumor mills and banning of dissent. When it came to the PS4’s RAM, Thuway threw out some numbers, other insiders back it up, and a NeoGAF moderator/admin would give a thumbs up (don’t question them). Bishop would be the leaker gatekeeper. Media would report on it as fact, and people had confidence in this system. By August 2013, the anti-Microsoft reputation of NeoGAF was beginning to spread. People were getting banned for daring to speak neutrally about the topic. Tyler Malka himself shared a photo of when he met Bishop in July 2014. People would later speculate about the Sony hat he was wearing at the time.
That August, a PR guy showed up and made an elaborate post to start a Microsoft thread. The dude made a passionate argument in favor of the system. BishopTL waltzed on into this public display and posted details from what Bishop believed was the PR firm the OP came from. Banning him quickly, BishopTL made a few shitposts rubbing in the fact he caught a PR guy red-handed. However, then it was revealed the company Bishop referenced wasn’t a PR firm, but a software company selling databases. But our hothead moderator ended up being right. Someone dug through the OP’s post history and came across a confession from the user, admitting to being a PR guy for his job.
The situation ended up being a teaching lesson. “We have many PR people on the forum who were kind enough to let us know what they do for a living – even if they didn’t use a work email address to register,” Bishop told the thread.
December 2014 had Bishop flexing his moderator powers at a Forza Horizon 2 thread. The OP originally used the phrase “best racing game this year” in the title, which triggered a derail that focused on that aspect in particular. BishopTL changed the title and demoted the OP to NeoGAF junior status. He’d go on to vehemently defend this and explain the thought process of it step-by-step.
That Black Culture Thread (referred to as BCT) stuff took off. Ten official threads spanning across four years of time. It was a regular thing in the off-topic section of NeoGAF. But an incident almost cut that tradition short.
It actually started in a separate off-topic thread about transgender people. A moderator by the name of Mumei got into an argument with EviLore about the definition of bigotry. Mumei said being grossed out by a transgender person is bigotry (assuming you found that person attractive if they were cis), and EviLore responded by claiming Mumei was calling almost everyone in society a bigot. Mumei didn’t deny that exactly. In response, Malka decided the thread wasn’t worth the trouble to begin with and ended the discussion thread. Mumei was demodded from NeoGAF as a result of this.
Word traveled to the BCT thread. They began to talk about the moderators and what had happened with Mumei. Four pages in the February 2015 BCT thread and Evilore abruptly closes it.
“Create another thread in three months when it’s not a running commentary on moderation of the site,” Malka wrote.
Within the hour, BishopTL was able to get the thread back up and running. He was inclined to remind everyone that NeoGAF’s rules prohibit complaints about the moderation, however.
Remember that rule about astroturfing? It turns out such things didn’t apply to NeoGAF moderators. At the end of May 2015, Bishop’s Savage Empire Kickstarter campaign first surfaced. As it was advertised, Savage Empire was a concept for a graphic novel where dinosaurs arrived on Earth after a massive earthquake triggers a series of reality-bending events. It had the potential for being a video game later on. Bishop worked on the 2008 Turok video game, so he had the potential connections to make that happen. Bishop was more than happy to inform a few NeoGAF threads the day his Kickstarter went live in early June. He was open to the idea of incentivizing NeoGAF members with a profile tag (something only mods and admins can add to users) if they backed Savage Empire. It was certainly marketed towards NeoGAF given how much BishopTL kept them in the loop. This level of plugging was something that would’ve gotten anyone else banned from the website.
In December 2015 controversy arose with Uncharted 4 and NeoGAF. As described in this Kotaku article, a debate came after it was revealed white voice actress Laura Bailey was going to be voicing Uncharted 4‘s black character, Nadine Ross. Game director Neil Druckmann stood by the decision and mentioned NeoGAF when responding to it. At least one of the thread’s responses accused the games industry of having a racist status quo, and the moderator presence was heavy. When the incident started to come up in other threads, Bishop was swift on the banhammer to folks who mentioned it. A user named QuickSilverD got banned for simply characterizing the thread as being argumentative against Neil Druckmann’s statement.
We know for sure that Bishop was a big advocate for media representation. In January 2016 he yelled at a user for having a lack of empathy when it was revealed Rey wasn’t a Star Wars Monopoly piece, and the lurker couldn’t find a reason to care about that.
In August 2016 Bishop was around for the #AugLivesMatter Deus Ex controversy. A user by the name of Maniac said “It’s one fucking artist. Take it easy. It’s more like *fuck people that’re [sic] offended so easily*. Stop being Captain PC,” in response to people’s outrage. He was banned for that. But Maniac begged Bishop for mercy on Twitter because he supported Bishop’s Savage Empire Kickstarter campaign. Later on in the thread, you can see Maniac’s permanent ban somehow got reversed shortly after.
But his reign of ban terror was cut short.
On December 6th, 2016, it was discovered that Bishop was no longer a NeoGAF administrator. People were sad about his departure. Some took it too far and thought evil would take over NeoGAF because he was gone. According to them, Bishop was the only one stopping racism. Another lurker said Bishop would voluntarily step down if Trump won the presidency. But we’ll never know the official reason.
“Bish is no longer performing admin duties at this time,” is all Malka said on the matter.
If you want to avoid getting on Bishop’s ban side: Don’t insult President Obama, don’t make hotel/sheets/$200 a night references, don’t make false claims that are proven wrong on a game’s release, no low effort console wars posts, don’t try and dogwhistle, and don’t be racist. Someone accidentally says the n-word on a stream? Shut it down. DON’T BE RACIST.
If tales from some of the ex-moderators of NeoGAF weren’t enough for you, we could take a look at some of the current moderation that’s ongoing.
Note: The length in which the current moderators have served is much shorter than those in the ex-moderator’s section of this piece. I thought it’d be good to go over a few of them anyway.
Mod since January 2014
Born and raised in Texas, Besada grew up around the Hispanic culture. At 47 years old, he is very old school when it comes to gaming. His friends work in the comics industry, in addition to gaming as an indie or working at a AAA studio. When it comes to what Besada does for a job himself, he says he works as a “programmer/support guru” for a software place in Texas. Before that, he was an IT Security Manager and did a stint as a Paralegal. When he’s got spare time, he likes to make music and write.
Besada has seen a lot in his lifetime. He knew where to recommend for a massage parlor for someone who wanted a “happy ending” to their services. But everything wasn’t sunshine and rainbows for Besada. He dealt with the loss of his father to cancer, his friend was shot to death in front of him, and people close to him committed suicide. This NeoGAF moderator has overcome a lot of personal obstacles and admits to having bipolar disorder. It made him a big advocate for mental health, not shying away from giving such advice to NeoGAF members when he saw it necessary.
“Hey, how’s it going? You have a good day? Do anything interesting? My name’s besada. I like woodworking, The Mountain Goats, video games, and science fiction, among other things. I live in Texas. Welcome to GAF. Don’t be a stranger,” he once said.
But when it came to being a moderator, people would see Besada as someone on a power trip. In April 2014 he unloaded on a NeoGAF user he was having a political debate with, explaining why they were going to be permanently banned just for talking with him. By August, complaints were showing up on IGN forums from people who got banhammered by Besada. For having a discussion about what constitutes a video game, Conkerkid11 was banned by him because he didn’t like what the poster said. Besada decided to do some extra-curricular modding in October of that year by deciding to go after someone on Twitter about their NeoGAF ban. Someone by the name of Frank was complaining that their month-long ban got a large extension, and Besada replied with a threat to make it a permanent one. Frank felt uncomfortable about being approached on social media by a NeoGAF mod and wanted to bring his concerns to Besada’s superior’s attention. Besada fired back by saying Frank had a history of harassment, and that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell Frank’s complaint was going to do him any good.
In March 2015, a NeoGAF user by the name of Jado shared private message conversations they had with Besada (the thread itself was quickly erased). They felt it was important to put a spotlight on the bias that takes place within the moderation of the site.
As many of you know, I’ve stood up for a lot of good on this site, but finding out the above threw me for a loop and I was appalled at how blatant it was. Furthermore, I found out how quickly I could have people here turn on me if I deviated and didn’t agree with every single “approved” stance. Toeing the line to an unnecessary extreme and at the cost of expressing my perfectly normal thoughts has been really shitty and brought me to question how it got to be this way. Dealing with this quietly in PMs would resolve nothing.
What exactly did Besada say? The mod expressed his disdain for a user named Schattenjäger. He told Jado that temporary user bans are tracked cumulatively before they get permanently removed, but the average is dependent on whether not the mods like someone or not. In Schatt’s case, Besada decided to dig through his post history and look for something to give him a permanent warning on. According to him, that means the next time he slips up, a moderator will see that and finish Schatt off. “Time will give us the ammo we need,” Besada wrote when looking for a reason to ban someone and not being able to find a rule violation.
In another conversation, Besada gave advice to Jado on how to address dealing with another user named backslashbunny. He made it clear in his phrasing that moderators play favorites when it comes to particular users. In the second part of that particular exchange, Besada confesses to making his ban decisions based on racial demographics. People who aren’t young white males get “extra room” when it comes to how much they can get away with before being banned.
Tyler “EviLore” Malka swooped in to shut down Jado’s thread where the screenshots were shared. He didn’t deny the legitimacy of them. Instead, Tyler acknowledged the points raised within the contents of the messages. While he considered what Jado did “account suicide,” Malka said he had a discussion with the moderation about preferential treatment.
It brings into question how Besada treated the topic of Anita Sarkeesian on the site. Before GamerGate ever began he encouraged posters to separate talking about Anita Sarkeesian as a person away from whatever specific item related to her work was in discussion. If they failed to do so, he’d just lock the thread. When GamerGate started to happen, Besada fumbled with addressing people’s concerns about how moderators were going to be handling the topic on NeoGAF. Besada openly admits that he doesn’t trust the userbase to have a calm conversation about women in gaming. He states that whenever that happens it gets ugly and that it does damage every time. Besada says the reason for that is a large portion of gamers are misogynist. It’s around this time that he starts lashing out at users for their “obsession” about how Anita Sarkeesian should make videos. People were afraid to speak their minds on the topic over worries about getting banned. Besada openly told people GamerGate didn’t care about journalistic integrity and skewered the definition of it to mean everything but that. For a moderator, he made it clear he took a side on the matter rather than being impartial. It made him nit-picky if anything.
If you want to avoid getting on Besada’s ban side: don’t be a drama queen, don’t be sexist/racist/transphobic, don’t call other NeoGAF members jerks, don’t make low content shit posts, don’t whine, don’t post your opinion and refuse to acknowledge other people’s responses, don’t derail threads, and don’t post entire articles.
Mod since June 11th 2010
Estimated age is around 28 years old. Y2Kev shouted to the world his real name was Kevin Cioh on his old Twitter account. Grew up in New Jersey and suffered through Catholic School during his high school years. Apparently, he was in the Fencing club. Spent four years at Columbia University, and has worked at Citigroup as a financial analyst for the past seven years. Kevin dabbled in games journalism in college, writing an article about Sonic the Hedgehog for the Columbia Spectator. His mom was tough on him sometimes, and Y2Kev once asked NeoGAF to help her out with something involving her job. Kevin isn’t too fond of his dad, but after his parents got divorced he became mega rich.
When it comes to his moderation style, there’s nothing too abnormal about it in terms of what’s considered “usual” for NeoGAF. Y2Kev did his share of verifying when it came to rumors, as it was seen in the case of the Final Fantasy VII remake. He was pretty solid at maintaining control over threads before they had a chance to derail. When people got uppity about Angry Joe discussions, Kevin laid down his mod fist and made sure things didn’t get out of hand.
Y2Kev was pretty open about his anti-Microsoft stance, telling people to wait until December to buy PS4s one year so they could be counted in NPD statistics. When it came to Sony and Nintendo stuff, he was well aware of who’s who. One time, the production manager for Capcom jokingly nominated him for Director of Resident Evil 7. Y2Kev was often very harsh in his stances, like that time he called the Vita “terminally fucked.” One of his most infamous running gags was calling Sony’s The Last Guardian dead in the years leading up to its 2015 re-reveal. When the E3 re-reveal evening came and the game was announced, he knew he was beaten and braced for the internet banter that was coming. It did. GAF members on Twitter got in their two cents.
He boils down his political views and makes it straightforward to everyone.
I agree with that. If you support trump you are either a racist or are okay with a racist as president. At some point that is not a meaningful distinction to me.
Y2Kev makes it clear that he sided for Hillary in the 2016 elections. In fact, all you need to do is type in “campaign” and look for posts attached to Y2Kev’s account in order to see how obsessed he was with the elections over on NeoGAF. Watch out for joke posts, though. Some folks believe Y2Kev worked for the Clinton campaign directly, but there’s nothing solid to suggest that is true.
“In Jesus name I pray Hillary wins Kentucky tonight and a deluge of supers wash away this campaign,” he said.
That’s where he spent a lot of his waking hours for the past year and a half: he admits to crying after reading Hillary Clinton’s book, seemed in awe at how much money Jeb Bush threw at his run, thought Christie was trash, thought of Hillary as a queen, underestimated Trump, and overestimated Cruz. It’s a wonder that Y2Kev was able to get any modding done when he was busy being absorbed in every last inch of the elections. He helped exacerbate the divide between Sanders and Clinton supporters. Y2Kev honed in on that when things came down to the wire, used his position as a mod to influence NeoGAF’s opinion. During the general Clinton vs. Trump elections, Y2Kev was knee-deep in labeling Trump as a “serial rapist sexual assaulter” and whatever other smears he could muster.
If you don’t believe something like this could influence a moderator’s bias, you’re a fool. Clinton campaigners were on NeoGAF during the election season. Don’t fall under the illusion that you are allowed open discourse, you aren’t. It’s because of folks like Y2Kev that we have an explanation as to how the election fallout on the site played out after Trump won.
If you want to avoid getting on Y2Kev’s ban side: remember to hide your spoilers, don’t complain about the NeoGAF hivemind, don’t shout other people down, no conspiracy bullshit, don’t post images of disfigured individuals, don’t post pictures of “disgusting Japanese pedo” games, and don’t post anime porn.
The guy who made NeoGAF. Admin and owner of it.
When it comes to his upbringing – Tyler says his father claimed to lose his virginity at the age of 13, due to his height and adult-like appearance. His father’s views toward women were distorted at best, from Evilore’s perspective. Malka missed a lot of High School, didn’t officially graduate (had to get a G.E.D.), and dropped out of college to run NeoGAF. If you want to read his political beliefs he runs the gamut of general issues here. Hell, Malka gives a complete medical history of himself as well. He’s got depression, anxiety, torn menisci in his knees, he’s flatfooted, myopia and astigmatism, chronic migraines and digestive problems, morbid obesity, and insomnia.
We’ve mentioned many of Malka’s exploits previously in this series of essays because at the end of the day he is NeoGAF. But on a personal level, there’s still more to say when it came to EviLore. He tried to be a love doctor when it came to helping out NeoGAF people. Tyler’s advice for men was it’s important to play the dating game and default to being direct with women. In short? Grow some balls… except when you’re dating someone with kids. EviLore recommends bailing in that case. He believed women thought all men were interested in them at least for casual sex. Moralizing sexuality is for “archaic prudes and religious delusions” according to Malka. When it came to video game sexism mumbo jumbo, instances of sexualization in themselves aren’t bad. Tyler thinks the culture as a whole is to blame. He tended to go against the grain when it came to what feminists like Rebecca Watson thought. When it came to media crusades, like when Gies went after Notch for an IDGA party, Malka sided against the press.
EviLore tried to justify decisions when it came to the site, giving a several paragraph long essay over the addition of social media buttons. He even makes the effort to watch NeoGAF’s ads like a hawk, deploying feedback options for bad ones so the site could address it. In contrast to that, he makes a lot of dirty jokes.
To Tyler, NeoGAF wasn’t a money making machine. It’s a strategic asset. While he seems to be a pretty charitable guy himself, including when he gave $1000 to Amir0x’s mother for medical expenses and/or drugs. Malka has a strange way of asking others to do the same (like threatening people with a permanent ban if they don’t).
That begs the question if NeoGAF is profitable for EvilLore in general? He took the time to answer that last year:
Everyone’s always really curious about this, and as always the specifics are private information that I’m not going to share. The site’s a business, sure, but also a passion. I’ve stuck with a minimal aesthetic and a focus on user experience and have kept the ad quality as high and unobtrusive as is humanly possible, whether the site was even profitable at any given time or not, because what mattered first was keeping the thing good, after all the bullshit that came before with the struggles of keeping the community intact and on functional hardware prior to my explicit ownership and reimagining/relaunch of the community independently in 2004 (thanks to ~$2000 in seed money generously donated without any strings attached by the tiny contingent of kind former members of the previous iteration that self-destructed at the time). With a little digging through interviews that touch upon the financial side you’ll understand to what extent I’m a stubborn asshole about this thing and how little I ultimately care about personal financial security on my end, through the ups and the downs alike. I grew up in poverty, and the site does well now, and I have my fun as a result for the time being, but I’m okay with whatever at the end of the day. If times change or I screw up and it goes poof, it’s just an exciting flip of the page to a new chapter, so I don’t care much for the buyout offers, as long as I stay vaguely sane in this gig. It’s probably a foregone conclusion, though, that sanity has long since passed by, but here I am.
An old PCWorld article gives us a succinct history of how the site came to be. NeoGAF started out when Gaming Age launched in 1996. Sam Kennedy of the 1Up Network launched it with his friends, and he used it as a platform to help his writer buddies get a foot in the games industry. Brady Fiechter, Greg Stewart, and Patrick Klepek were some of these folks. Tyler Malka was nothing more than a lurker of these forums back in 1999. The site grew so much in popularity that the servers had a hard time handling the load, and in the early 2000s they jumped around from IGN to EZBoards, and eventually GameSquad. In 2001, Malka gained moderator powers after an old moderator decided to retire and named Tyler as his successor. In May 2004, a game thread became large enough to corrupt the whole forum database. In a last-ditch effort, Malka used the incident to unite the userbase and crowdfund donations to make a new site. It paid off and the new site was up and running within weeks. Gaming Age Forums (GAF) became NeoGAF in 2006 to help distance the two entities, as publishers were asking questions to Gaming Age about it.
An event not mentioned in that article was what Evilore allegedly did in February 2006. Somehow, Malka got ahold of nude photos of someone’s girlfriend (there are claims the girl was in on it as a joke). This person was a member of a rival forum called Opa-Ages, who back then was often at war with NeoGAF. Evilore in his retaliatory wisdom decided to upload photos of these nudes adding his own “spunk” all over them, sharing his work to Opa-Ages. The photos themselves are no longer available, but the post Malka made is still there in that archive. Here’s a copy of the first page’s comments as well, seeing as the archive is a bit borked. NeoGAF talked about the event but the thread has been wiped from the site.
“Sexual objectification is great. Harassment is not,” Tyler once said.
A story from July 2012 would bring that into question, as Malka’s travels around the world ended up with him in hot water over at NeoGAF. The thread in question would be deleted by Malka after the fact, but there’s enough archival evidence to piece together how it unfolded.
The OP itself was concerned about a particular section for Spain that Malka had written about, quoting from him directly:
At one point in a bar a girl who didn’t speak any English came up to me and started flirting heavily, then went straight into asking me to buy her a drink, as Itxaka translated when I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I laughed, because drinks here were all of two Euros, but consented and then grabbed her ass hard to show that I wasn’t being taken advantage of, and she thought better of treating me as a mark and left without taking her drink.
In short? A girl flirted with the owner of NeoGAF, asked for a drink, and then in the interim until the drink arrived, Malka grabbed her rear. Evilore showed up to the thread promptly, and in one of his first responses, he tries to justify this behavior. While claiming to love the country of Spain and being enveloped in the moment at a party there, Malka claimed the girl got physically aggressive towards him first.
In Evilore’s second response, he seems to be pretty irate about his story being turned into a controversy. Tyler excuses his behavior by saying everyone was drunk. Malka changes his story to say the girl had a boyfriend and got physical toward him first. After making the demand for a drink, Tyler says he grabbed her ass to show dominance that he wasn’t a “free drink generator” and admitted to escalating contact. He was angry at the thread for saying this was sexual assault and said some of the folks in the thread itself probably never went outside in their lives. Malka asserted that in the “real world” people don’t ask permission first before physically interacting with one another and that the lurkers in the thread shouldn’t live in a protective bubble.
In his final response, Tyler changes his story again to claim that the girl in question started the grabbing first. He yelled at the thread for their “feminist posturing” and denied being some sort of sexual predator. Anyone that dared to say they were offended by Malka’s behavior would be responded to with a nuking of their NeoGAF account. He went on to lament that he felt sad this happened because he was “honest” about his travel adventures, and cursed the idea of being politically correct and censoring himself in order to avoid outrage.
Tyler Malka tried his best to fit in with the NeoGAF user base, despite those setbacks. In an October 2012 thread about a Brazillian woman selling her virginity, he joked that the lady would fall in love with her and that he already better date experiences in that week alone. When someone showed a picture of Malka that was less becoming than one he offered, Tyler called it a personal attack. To top it all off, Evilore departed from the thread with a dash of racism.
In May 2013, a user by the name of Anti-Monitor went on The Bore website and gave more details about what went down with Malka’s Spain trip and the thread. Anti-Monitor lived in the area and recommended some places for Malka to go during his vacation. The only time he asked her out was when she had a scheduling conflict, which happened to be the same night of his butt grab incident. The thread mentioned earlier left a bad taste in Anti-Monitor’s mouth, and they chose to leave the Real-GAF IRC channel because of that. A few weeks go by, and the channel invited her back. EviLore wasn’t there, giving Anti-Monitor the chance to explain to everyone else what happened (essentially unloading on Malka being arrogant and unable to take criticism). EviLore caught wind of this and sent a PM telling her that he saw the IRC logs and he was offended. Apparently, Malka held that grudge for a really long time, as it resulted in Anti-Monitor being banned from NeoGAF in May 2013 for something inconspicuous and completely unrelated.
Later on, a user by the name of CrankyJay would be banned for warning people about a scam that Malka fell privy to during his trip to Istanbul. Evilore told Jay that he was “spreading misinformation” about what happened, which caused Cranky to respond with the full story. Since Tyler has the ability to delete any post he wants, CrankyJay’s account only has this edited post left over from his exchange.
Malka had visited the Halga Sofia and Blue Mosque, and he was making his way back to Taksim Square via tram when he met a fellow foreigner. This Swedish/Arab guy hit it off with Tyler and they decided to go to Galata bridge for dinner. Plans escalated into meeting up with some girls, and Swedish guy texted a friend of his to get a club suggestion. This friend led Malka and the Foreigner to a seedy area of the city. They ended up in a Gentleman’s club adorned with spiffy clothed men and a bunch of young ladies. Two of which sat down next to Malka and the Foreigner. Apparently, the women there get paid to make small talk with the gentlemen. The one with Malka invited him to dance, and they apparently hit it off. So much so, that apparently the girl broke some of the rules that evening. She warned Tyler that the manager was going to overcharge him because he was a foreigner, then she was dragged away by a bouncer. The manager came over and asserted the drinks for $100 each, and somehow Tyler and his foreign friend owed $5000. He was dragged out to a back alley with a lone ATM and had his credit card drained as much as humanly possible.
It’s doubtful if Tyler Malka took the GamerGate controversy seriously, as in August 2014 he publicly shared the private messages he received from concerned users who sent firstname.lastname@example.org an email. He was highly sarcastic about the severity of the GamerGate situation and showed the names of the people that contacted him. EviLore was against Japan’s marketing strategies for anime, manga, and video games, which put him at odds with those aspects of GamerGate discussions when they happened.
For those curious, if Malka’s NeoGAF is a bastion of free speech? It is. For his friends. People that EviLore liked had ban immunity. In the case of Count Dookkake (Josh Emanuel) he was free to post whatever he wanted on the site because he’s Malka’s best friend. Emanuel first showed up on NeoGAF in 2007 a few times to rally the site in helping get his playboy sister enough votes to win a contest. Tyler and Josh hit it off in 2011 after Malka had moved to the area. Around that time, Fantastic Fest was going to be happening. Josh was able to use that opportunity to get to know EviLore better. A few months later he was more than happy to tell everyone how much he and Tyler were buddies. They’ve apparently attended quite a few conventions together. To Josh the number of times he was banned is trivial, and he even fondly remembers being banned while sitting on Evilore’s couch. Malka would end up doing set photography for Josh’s M is for Mario film project, and in return, Josh was free to openly advertise it (normally against ToS) on NeoGAF.
When asked about what Evilore has in store for his future, he had this to say.
Continue running my lovely website for the sake of it, keep a killer pad, drive a fast car, travel the world and cross off a new bucket list of adventures every year, hang with interesting friends and date extraordinarily crazy women, train in combat sports and firearms, engage in various academic pursuits, write, work on photography, collaborate with creatives, invest, contribute philanthropically, help the people I care about…and party hard, boys and girls.
So that’s it. A drug addict, a pedophile defender, a Samuel L. Jackson wannabe, a segregationist, and a devout Hillary Clinton acolyte work as NeoGAF moderators. Under the guidance and wisdom of an immature elf-man who never fully grew up from his lurking days, slowly driving his empire into the ground.
But there was more to SirPainsalot’s words than what I said at the beginning of this section. He had the vision to make a better NeoGAF.