The Alex Mauer Storm

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Alex Mauer, 34, was a highly known chiptune artist that made countless songs that people enjoyed. While they were originally a male, they chose to change genders and become a female at some point in the second half of 2016. That’s the only time in this piece I will go out of the way to specifically point that out. You know that now. If it comes up again during this story, it’s not in a way that disrupts the flow of writing.

What matters here is the person’s actions. Not what gender they are.

Now. Onto the story.

AlexMauerDiscography

They had fans. Alex Mauer had admirers. Every word in this particular paragraph is going to link to someone showing appreciation for Mauer’s songs. Please understand.

There’s this old interview with Alex that was done over on the Megabeep website back in January 2012. Here’s the gist of it, so you can get a better personal understanding of Mauer.

I do love many classic game soundtracks. I want my chip music to sound enough like a classic game that if you heard it, you wouldn’t know it was a new composition. I have no formal music training what-so-ever. I am 80% composer, 19% engineer, and 1% gamer. I was 100% gamer as a kid… and as I got older, I had the chances to use computers and synthesizers here and there. Now, I own computers and synthesizers and my devotion to gaming is at an all time low. I am very particular about what sounds I use when composing (thats the 19% engineer part) but I don’t get too caught up in programming or mastering. I have a few different approaches to composing. There’s the most straight forward, I just imagine the music in my head and then hit the computer and plug it all in.

It’s noted that Mauer would be working with Imagos Films as far as back then.

For every climbing up in the world, there’s always the chance for a fall. Alex Mauer went off the cliff. Skydived their credibility and name in the gaming industry, straight to rock bottom. What they did to Starr Mazer could have happened to anyone. There was no way of knowing beforehand Alex Mauer was a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.

It’s tragic.

StarrMazer

When it comes to understanding the Starr Mazer developers, the brand names apparently confused people.

“Imagos Softworks is a brand under Imagos Films. Imagos Films LLC is the actual company. All payments and business actions are done through Imagos Films LLC.,” a representative of the company told me.

Imagos Softworks launched their Starr Mazer Kickstarter on January 22nd 2015. Starr Mazer and Starr Mazer: DSP are two separate games both in the same sort of series. The former is a point-and-click shoot ’em up adventure that takes place in space. The latter is a rogue-lite horizontal scrolling shooter title set within Star Mazer‘s universe.

Got it? Good.

The best way to introduce the controversy is by hearing it generally summed up by someone who was close to Alex Mauer in the situation. I have contacted Maximo Lorenzo (former Art Director at Imagos Softworks) directly and have permission to use this post he made on a forum.

The timeline for Alex works kinda like this, EXTREMELY abusive childhood ( from her mothers side of the family, her Dad’s is kinda soft but tries to help ) Alex spends her whole life being repressed and just doing whatever people tell Alex to do, Alex doesn’t have 1 mean bone in her body and just takes abuse without ever standing up for herself, her wife, her job, everything is just terrible, but Alex does 1 thing well and thats make music. I was a fan for a few years, we became friends and eventually Alex got to work on a project called Starr Mazer. Alex the repressed introvert is working on the project where the boss wants all this stuff that puts tons of pressure on Alex, interviews, live concerts, daily twitch shows, selling at conventions. All this stuff Alex simply was not made to do, and Alex didn’t know how to say “no” she asked me and I was like “if you dont want to do it tell them to fuck off and dont do it”. But the boss exudes lots of pressure, that’s how he gets stuff done. And I watch in slow motion Alex completely cracks under the pressure of having no money ( he moved to a pricey apartment to be close to the job ), publicity that she cant handle and so on and so forth. The Boss now see’s Alex become completely paranoid, manic, and Alex is starting to have VISUAL DELUSIONS ( I wish I was kidding ). Talking to the boss, I work with him to get Alex into a mental health place where they can chick [sic] her out.

And basically after 2 days of effort, she gets some medication and is ok for a little while… Then Alex moves back home to where she came from massively in debt and with medical bills starting to come in. Alex NEVER liked ( himself ) or how ( he ) looked, Alex had really bad problems even looking in the mirror, so after ALL THIS Alex announces they are going to transition from Male to Female, and this makes a lot of sense knowing Alex’s personality and self hatred. Well Alex snaps a few more times and stops medication and starts lashing out at ANYONE, me and her boss included. Alex gets it into her head the boss owes him a lot more money than he actually does because reality is real fucked at this point. I argue really badly with Alex telling Alex going after his boss is NOT WORTH IT, MOVE ON, MAKE MUSIC. But years after being pushed around and bullied and told what to do Alex only wants to fight, FIGHT ANYTHING even if this hurts Alex.

I took the time to ask Maximo if Alex’s boss was to blame. According to him, it was quite the contrary. Maximo says Don did what a boss needed to do: push the potential of people to maximize their work ethic. The boss didn’t force Alex to do anything, Mauer just didn’t know how to properly say “no” to them. Maximo says that while everyone played a bit of a role in making Mauer snap, nobody can really be blamed for not knowing about the underlying mental instability of Alex until it was too late.

“[The Boss] definitely made mistakes. But I wouldn’t say you could blame him for Alex’s condition,” Maximo told me.

Alex Mauer was brought on the Starr Mazer project at the ground floor with their Kickstarter. They were seen as an influential figure that could draw in attention and backers.

“The game will feature a collaborative soundtrack by Alex Mauer (VEGAVOX, Serious Sam: Random Encounter), Manami Matsumae (Mega Man), The Protomen, Virt (Shovel Knight) and many more!,” the Kickstarter page said.

Imagos often promoted Mauer’s talent when applicable. They had Mauer do a behind the scenes sort of video so people can see how the game development magic happened, and included Alex in streams throughout the Summer of 2015 to show off their music. To be clear, Mauer had primarily worked from home in Pennsylvania. Imagos Softworks had meetings with their remote staff via Google Hangouts on a routine basis, and work was submitted through file-sharing websites. Despite the distance, Imagos managed to get Alex to come out to Seattle for PAX that year. Alongside helping promote Starr Mazer, Mauer was a hit at parties and concerts that went on day and night. It was unbeknownst to Imagos that Mauer hated being on livestreams, keeping those sorts of things to themselves.

July 8th 2015. An interview with Mauer over on Synthtopia happens. We get a better idea of what Alex’s responsibilities are behind the scenes.

“I am the Music Director and Lead Composer for Starr Mazer. We have around 30 guest musicians contributing tracks to the OST. I’m writing the core songs and establishing the style, then directing the guests to match the style. You can check out the progress on Starr Mazer on our Twitch stream Starr Mazer TV. I host a show called Starr Jamz once every 4 weeks, showing the music progress.”

At the time, Alex refers to themselves as co-founder of Imagos Softworks. We learn that Mauer is also the in-house composer at Imagos Films, and did work on commercials for Adult Swim games. Who, by the way, were the publishers originally. But the change in Starr Mazer‘s overall scope and idea direction began migrating things away from the original vision agreed to.

“The Boss” referred to earlier by Maximo was someone who was going to balance all of this at once. Let’s meet him.

In November 2015 Imagos Softworks Don Thacker would help move Mauer to Seattle.  The two had worked together (since 2011) previously on Thacker’s 2013 film Motivational Growth. The intent of this trek was to help Alex focus on their music, as they were going through divorce proceedings at the time. This change in location caused Alex’s coherence and stability to deteriorate within the span of months.

The break-up between Playism and Adult Swim happened around February 2016. Don Thacker kept things afloat for the company by raising money on his own. The new publisher, Playism, came on board by June 2016. They were strict about their monthly milestones and allocated budgets. This would definitely come at odds to Mauer’s habits with missing meetings and not responding to people for large chunks of time.

This detachment from reality led to efforts by both members of the Imagos team and Mauer’s family to try and hospitalize Alex in late Summer 2016. By this point they were accusing Don and other people on the development team of conspiring to confuse/trick Mauer, with someone somewhere outside apparently working against them through their technology (on one occasion, Alex thought there was a conspiracy to hack Mauer’s Dropbox and send secret messages). This mental health episode resulted in Alex moving back home to Pennsylvania.

Alex faced trouble after they had parted ways with Imagos. The change in Mauer’s personality came after they returned to Pennsylvania and began their efforts to change their gender. Multiple people aware of the situation tell me this was a combination of hormones being altered and Alex’s refusal to take their medication for their mental disorders. Mauer had to be detained on at least one occasion for assaulting their father. Alex became irate when they were prohibited to take his vehicle to New York to try and get a lawyer so they could sue someone in the family.

On August 13th 2016 Alex Mauer was charged with “Receiving Stolen Property” and “Disorder Conduct Hazardous/Physi Off” according to this criminal docket. Part of the requirement in the 1-year probation they received was they get a mental health evaluation and abide by recommendations. Mauer’s sanity is further cast into doubt when they mention the fact they can’t buy a gun. One of the questions on the forms involved in the purchasing process for a firearm is “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?,” under section 11f. Alex publicly threatened to stab anyone who’d break in to their house.

As seen in this Facebook post, the incident in question involved stealing packages off of doorsteps.

NorthamptonIncident

Alex Mauer explains their point of view on the story in a series of tweets (after someone tweeted them a link to the docket). Calling their situation “hilarious,” Alex says they stole a package from a doorstep and opened it to discover an exercise DVD. They were allegedly caught while attempting to return it. Mauer tells someone that they plead guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct, which is apparently called that based on these stolen goods involved. But also in the mix is the pending charges that Alex hit a cop, with Mauer claiming that is a lie.

In Autumn 2016, Alex Mauer began their arguments that Imagos Softworks owed them some sort of back pay. In October of that year, they offered a “solution” that involved a Kickstarter campaign for some sort of surgery on Alex’s larynx. Why Kickstarter? Mauer believed other crowdfunding websites didn’t feel legitimate enough, despite their desire being a strictly personal thing rather than an actual product. Don agreed to post, support, and even invest in this, so he could support his friend.

In January 2017 Starr Mazer had to begin scaling back their team because of not being able to pay them. They’ve got people ready to go, but the project needs investors in order for that to happen. Discussions courting potential investors came to a dead halt once the Alex Mauer incident came to be. While Starr Mazer: DSP is published by Playism, confidence was shaken in them agreeing to invest any further because of the controversy.

Starr Mazer: DSP‘s publisher at Playism posted an announcement on February 23rd 2017.

The game is currently unavailable due to a copyright infringement claim of assets reported towards Imagos Softworks, the copyright holder / developer of Starr Mazer: DSP.

We are confirming the situation with Imagos Softworks, then will update everyone as soon as possible.

We sincerely apologize to all the users who had trouble and was worried about the sudden closing of the store page.

PLAYISM

Alex would end up trying to take the game down on the basis of music, general sound, voiceovers, and other sound elements. One of these takedown requests was because Mauer found sounds in an archive branch of the game’s source code.

By March 1st 2017, Mauer had withdrawn completely from the public eye, taking down their website (briefly), Twitter, and Bandcamp. A week later we’d see exactly what happened when this was published on Alex’s website.

march7thalexmauer.png

“never gave me a contract for the project” is a point that can be easily disproven immediately.  I have a copy of it.

According to Alex Mauer’s contract with Imagos Softworks they started at the beginning of March 2015. They would be paid $40,000 to be their Music Director for the Starr Mazer project, paid $1500 on a bi-weekly basis for 26 payments, with a 27th payment set at $1000. First payment was exactly two weeks from their start date.

AlexMauerImagosContractFrontPage

To be clear – the information redacted with black represents what Imagos Softworks did before giving me the document at all. I have personally elected to redact additional info (although helpful for verification purposes) with a red marker in the above picture out of respect for Mauer’s privacy.

March 12th 2017. The public would get some answers as to what was going on. According to Don Thacker (Director at Imagos Softworks), Imagos and Alex had a for-hire contract agreement when it came to Starr Mazer/Starr Mazer: DSP along with other side projects. At an unknown point in 2016 Mauer had medical issues that prevented the completion of their work. Regardless, Imagos honored the agreement and paid for what work was done up to that point, and then some. Midway through 2016 Alex Mauer left Imagos Softworks because of their health issues and wanted to “refocus their life”, says Don.

At some point after Alex left, Mauer would contact Don about something to the effect of being owed additional pay of some kind. Imagos Softworks and Don made at least three attempts to come to an agreement with Alex (including shared DSP soundtrack rights, equity share in game revenue) out of human decency and respect towards Mauer’s health situation.

Alex shot these down. Agreed to one, but then decided to dissolve it.

Alex had issued a DMCA takedown request to Valve for Starr Mazer: DSP, forcing Imagos to take it down while an investigation was done. The counterclaim filed asked Alex to provide proof of a rights chain violation, and couldn’t do so successfully. Starr Mazer: DSP was allieved of suspension after providing proof of correct chain of rights and copyright to Valve.

Don notes that Alex’s claims have changed: starting out as not being paid for time put in, to not being paid for the right project, to the assertion there was a conspiracy to defraud Mauer from the get-go. At the time he wrote this statement, Thacker says Alex’s current claims were the work contract not including Starr Mazer: DSP... which would contradict another one of Alex’s earlier claims being that she was not paid in full for their contract when it came to Starr Mazer: DSP.

At one point Alex Mauer tried to release an album on Bandcamp with Starr Mazer: DSP songs within it, and attempted to rally their fans for a boycott. It was something they had threatened to both Imagos and Playism if they didn’t give Alex money. Bandcamp removed the album after they recieved proof of copyright and a DMCA claim from Imagos, along with a substantial amount of evidence that disproved the accusations Alex had made. In response to this Mauer just moved their campaign to a personal website instead.

Don Thacker didn’t want to have this fight with Alex. He offered Mauer a release of rights in return that they stop making outrageous claims. Alex refused. The company replaced Mauer’s Starr Mazer tracks in the meantime while their new music partner Arcade High works on a replacement.

It would take until the end of May 2017 for Starr Mazer: DSP to properly return to Steam.

starrmazerdspback

But Mauer was just getting started.

Shawnphase has known Alex Mauer for at least a decade, if not longer (Mauer themselves says they were friends with Shawn for 12 years). They played drums with Alex Mauer when they did live performances (“best show I ever played” Alex said to Shawn once), and made two remix albums full of Alex’s songs in the past. Shawn is a friend of Don Thacker at Imagos, and worked with him to find a way to fix the problem here. Shawn’s efforts to talk with Alex Mauer through this current dilemma ended up with a falling out.

Of course, Alex would tweet about this.

MauerSharingShawnMessage

According to Shawn, Alex Mauer had done what was expected of them when it came to soundtrack and sound effects work at Imagos. The hard part was over. Mauer was involved in both Imagos Softworks and Imagos Films. Video game development is certainly no small feat either. Many different intricate parts need to be made and come together into their final form. For Alex it was test of patience apparently. All that was left for Mauer to do was go on some podcasts to help promote the game in the weeks leading up to release. Shawn says Alex was shy when it came to that sort of media exposure, and it easily could’ve added more stress to their transitioning life at the time. When one of the people on Starr Mazer’s development team left, Mauer wasn’t even entirely sure the game was going to see release at all.

Alex Mauer had outbursts at Shawn in the past. Like this time in 2014 when they shouted at him over Facebook to take a simple photo down.

Takethatphotodown

To fully understand the extent of the damage Mauer has done to the people around them, Shawn explained to me more about how much the Imagos folks went out of their way to help Alex out. When moving to the West Coast, Don Thacker himself flew out to Mauer in Pennsylvania, picked Mauer up and got a rental car, then went on a cross-country trip with them back to Seattle and helped them move. This was in October and November of 2015. Alex sold a lot of their possessions in the meantime, and before they knew it they were in a new city and around new people. Shawn explains to me that it took a lot of convincing early on to get a (rather timid) Mauer to release their work to the public in the first place. After praising Alex’s work and motivating them, Shawn says they got enough momentum going to get into working on video games. When it came to Starr Mazer, Mauer opted for modular gear for the sound effects in order to get the kind of style results that were desired. It’s unclear if Alex or Imagos paid for that. If it was the former, it showed the lust for high quality Mauer wanted out of their product. If it was the latter, it demonstrates the extra mile Imagos was willing to go to accomodate Mauer’s request. Shawn was initially heisistant to trust Don, but he turned out to be a good friend and business partner, in Shawn’s eyes. As we know now, Alex Mauer might not agree with that description. With everything going on in this situation, Shawn says it hits Don harder than most.

When it comes to the transgender aspect of all this, Shawn had a lot to say. He says the DMCA/Imagos Softworks controversy is motivated by Alex Mauer’s desire to “get even” with the companies involved, and get enough money to get a sex change operation. This unpredictable mania is likely fueled by Mauer’s hormone intake (they “possibly doubled down” according to Shawn) which created a moody disposition from Alex as a result. He wanted to ask Alex why they were always moody, but elected against it as he felt Mauer was becoming more abrasive. Putting that another way, Shawn tells me the overall combative and instigative demeanor became more visible as this transition process continued. Before the hormones, he points out that Alex Mauer could still have their moments of upset. But generally stayed buttoned-up and taciturn instead of lashing out.

Alex was a part of a trans support group for a while. They all met up on a regular basis, and Mauer would go with a friend of theirs. During this period of time, people observed Alex’s self-destructive and outrageous behaviors but didn’t exactly engage with it. Shawn says Mauer wanted to make merchandise for trans-people, but nobody seemed to show interest in these ideas from them. But Shawn tells me that Alex’s trans friends were some of the earliest who were shocked by this Imagos Softworks dispute. It seemed out of the blue to them, and they considered themselves part of the circle of friends who would be more knowledgeable. But this came out of nowhere to them.

The DMCA frenzy on YouTubers was intended to “raise awareness” (Shawn points out to me this was Alex’s exact word choice) about the battle with Imagos Softworks.

From these lawsuits Mauer hopes it’ll rake in around $40,000. When it comes to the damages that come with the journey from point A to B, the mindset is Alex believes people will just forget about it. Shawn says he assumes Mauer thinks everything will just “go back to normal” after this sex change happens. That this angle of litigation will work not just with Imagos, but later on with potentially Turner Broadcasting down the line.

So while Alex Mauer may have always been shy about their presence online and off, they think money for a gender reassignment surgery would assuage their problems. Where would the cash come from? From the companies on the other end of these legal battles Mauer has engaged.

The DMCA war they waged was Alex Mauer’s way of forcing some sort of conclusion to this dispute.

DMCAWar

The YouTube DMCA system is meant for big companies to maintain and regulate the usage of their content within reasonable limits. It’s assumed by Google that nobody would go wild with it and abuse the system for personal vendettas.

Alex Mauer’s own interpretation of what DMCA takedowns are used for differs strongly from YouTube’s.

“The DMCA is what you use if you own copyrights. The end,” Mauer tweeted.

While that’s a decent start. But later on Alex suggests it’s like a game of tag, Mauer DMCA’ed, and if Leonard French thinks Imagos owns the music they should DMCA Alex back. They use it as a form of leverage to entice people into replying back to their emails. Alex Mauer announces their plans to DMCA because it’s a form of getting attention from the public. It was a big part of Mauer’s overall scheme here, as they kept a meticulous record of their targets throughout this period. They called these DMCA takedown attacks “waves” for that reason. People were subjected to the whim of Mauer’s feelings, as they had briefly recanted their 3rd wave of strikes because they thought it would “stop the bullying” apparently. Actually, that was definitely it, because Mauer said as such in an email to Leonard French. Sometimes they were blocked because of counter-claims, but Alex wasn’t afraid to go all the way and do repeats.

Starr Mazer‘s YouTube channel was taken down entirely for a brief time because of Alex Mauer.

HMMMMMM

A DMCA is not an attack. It’s a “stop using my music without my permission” – Alex Mauer

Things first came to light on June 23rd with SidAlpha’s first video on the topic, A wave of DMCA strikes hits YouTubers. He explains that Starr Mazer DSP (a title by Imagos Softworks) was removed from Steam in order to fix an issue that had arisen with the original music. The soundtrack composer Alex Mauer was contracted by the developer to create songs for the game, but the two parties had a falling out before Mauer’s work was fully completed. Alex refutes that their contract was for Starr Mazer and not Starr Mazer DSP, but the counterargument from Imagos is that the wording stipulates “Starr Mazer and all Starr Mazer related products.”

What’s most important about this aspect is the “WORK FOR HIRE” section of the document, which defines that Mauer’s body of work produced in the duration of this agreement was property of Imagos.

This is the catalyst for what would eventually unfold. Alex Mauer eventually started going on a DMCA takedown spree on YouTube, targeting any and all Star Mazer content they could find. It would attract the attention of people like TotalBiscuit and Jim Sterling, who had to deal with their own causes of DMCA frauds.

SidAlpha approached Mauer and attempted to reason with them in the hopes they’d back off. TemmieNeko was one of the first impacted by Mauer, leading to this conversation.

SidAlphaAlexMauerInitialResponse

Basically Alex wanted the people complaining about these DMCAs at Mauer directly to shift their focus and go after Imagos Softworks for it. SidAlpha points out Alex’s circumstances put them in a position where taking things to court wasn’t out of the question. Filing false DMCAs as Alex Mauer appeared to be doing is illegal and considered perjury in the US.

Sid concludes by directing people’s attention to an email address provided by Imagos, to serve as a point of contact for parties affected by Alex’s actions. They stated the company was willing to provide Mauer’s contract to those who wanted it (to make the DMCA counterclaim process go easier).

We’d get more information on the 24th with SidAlpha’s An update on the Alex Mauer DMCA Wave follow-up. The situation had since caught the eye of TotalBiscuit personally, who threw his top hat into the ring when it came to assisting people with sorting out this DMCA mess.

The massive audience his channel has at its disposal meant the Alex Mauer situation received a lot more attention to the public eye. At the time of writing this, the video he made, Alex Mauer’s Copyright Claim Abuse, has over 300,000 views. If you listen to TB in this one he sounds reluctant to be even doing it in the first place. From the outset he lays out his intention: abuse of the YouTube DMCA takedown system shouldn’t be normalized under any circumstances, given the difficulty involved for smaller channels to get any sort of remedy in these sorts of scenarios. Bottom line? TB signal boosted SidAlpha’s findings. The difference with his take on the situation was he pointed out Alex Mauer’s actions were intentional. TotalBiscuit made the conscious effort to separate Alex Mauer and Imagos Softworks as different parties, and reiterated the responsibility for frivolous DMCA takedowns fell on the former. Not the latter. Biscuit mentions YouTube’s implementation of the DMCA system is as a guideline, and not entirely forced with the same consequences as the actual law. To him, while it was unclear who was “right” and “wrong” in the battle between Mauer and Imagos Softworks, there was a clear display of unethical behavior when it came to how Alex Mauer issued these DMCAs. At the end of TB’s video, he offered direct assistance to the YouTube channels impacted in this erratic take-down attack.

[Let’s jump back to Sid’s video.]

Sid goes on to affirm that Mauer does not have any leg to stand on, making mention of copyright lawyer Leonard French’s analysis of the situation confirming this to be the case.

This is what Alex had to say in light of how the situation was looking at the time:

SidAlphaAlexMauerInitialResponsept2

Mauer was expanding their attack radius, now including Death Road to Canada in their DMCA maelstrom. SidAlpha was mailed a copy of the Cease & Desist letter Mauer sent to Turner Broadcasting (sent via Alex themselves), alleging the broadcasting company also engaged in copyright infringement. Alex was apparently going after “DUCK GAME Live Quacktion Trailer” videos too because they had done work for that as well. Mauer had resorted to selling their music on Bandcamp for the sum of $1000. Alex had also claimed to be forced to work as a lawyer in a statement they gave to a YouTuber named Jupiter Hadley.

SidAlpha brings up Leonard French again, revealing he’s licensed in the same state Alex Mauer resides. Given the scope of the damages Mauer was causing with their DMCA kamikazes to a number of YouTubers, Sid suggests a GoFundMe to raise funds on French’s behalf so he could pursue this was definitely possible.

SidAlpha says Alex was trying to solicit documentation from other YouTubers in order to get them tossed into the ongoing dispute between them and Imagos.

This had evolved into a battle of its own.

On the 25th SidAlpha released UPDATE: Alex Mauer list of DMCA strikes. SidAlpha reveals TemmiePlays (a victim of Mauer’s DMCA frenzy) had emailed him. According to Temmie, Alex was forwarding emails that other people were sending Mauer. For some bizarre reason.

The most recent one was the topic of interest for SidAlpha’s video.

Mauer wrote the following:

Let me know if I missed any videos. In this list the X’s are ones that are already down, and the dots are videos I reported but YouTube is giving some kind of strange delay as if it certain Youtubers are being treated better than others by YouTube’s algorithms. Any videos which do not contain my music or sound effects are safe. Like I asked on the discussion, I have no idea why the game is currently offline considering they supposedly removed all of my music and sound effects. I’ve been trying to get in touch with the devs and no one will answer the very basic question: Why is the game still offline?

Attached to this email sent, is a PDF listing all of Mauer’s DMCA victims so far. Over 70 strikes had been recorded by this point.

AlexMauerDMCAHitlist

(There’s more direct proof of Alex Mauer keeping a list of the channels they targeted, from Mauer themselves on their Twitter account. Why? “I recorded the channel URLs for reference. I will disclose once the goal is achieved,” Mauer says. I have more than one “end game,” they tweeted.)

The only words in response SidAlpha could muster were “utter madness” when describing his opinion about how things were unfolding. Sid questioned Mauer’s state of mind and mental health in light of this new development. TotalBiscuit had the means of speeding up the DMCA counterclaim process and was in the middle of doing so by this point.

After talking about this, SidAlpha had to also clarify about something going on with Lindsey of Imagos Softworks. After directing people to her email address, Lindsey recieved a steady flow of angry emails from people who got the wrong impression that she was somehow responsible for the DMCAs that were running amuck on YouTube.

The 26th is a bit of a break. Jim Sterling would give his two cents on the matter. He ended up making a reupload because there was a harassment issue that arose from a particular segment of footage he used originally.

If you wanted to catch up with everything so far, The Know put out a video that not only summarized the DMCA situation pretty well, but the earlier story that Don Thacker talked about too.

TheKnow1

By the 27th, things were getting dramatic. SidAlpha took to Twitlonger to share some disturbing news:

At 6:55 this morning Alex Mauer sent me an email merely containing a screen cap of her phone showing the suicide prevention hotline. I am extremely worried that given her increasingly erratic behavior over the last few days that the worst might happen. If anyone knows her personally, please check in on her.

But of course, the show must go on. The videos were going to continue as long as there were new developments to talk about. For the time being.

SidAlpha released a lengthier update titled Alex Mauer: more on the DMCA Front Lines. According to him, Mauer was continuing their unusual routine of forwarding emails YouTubers had sent them, onward to other YouTubers. Sid’s concerns about Alex’s mental state had deepened. Sid himself was receiving numerous emails from Mauer. One of these items was a letter from the Hyper RPG Twitch channel. The group was hit with a 24-hour ban for covering the Starr Mazer and Mauer situation back in 2016. The timing of the incident was abysmal, impacting the site’s output during the time of the E3 conferences. Not being able to cover any of that news made a huge dent in Hyper RPG’s overall income for that period of time. Sid got in contact with them directly to brief them about the ordeal, and Hyper RPG’s Zack replied they were working with Twitch and Imagos to sort that strike out.

Next, SidAlpha and TotalBiscuit both were forwarded a message from Mauer that shows Alex pleading to ex-Penny Arcade staffer Robert Khoo for assistance.

MauerKhoo

Sid points out that Mauer was trying to paint the situation as if these YouTubers were directly linked to the fight between them and Imagos, rather than a separate conflict.

When SidAlpha asked Alex for their reasoning when it came to this seemingly random email forwarding, Mauer replied by stating:

You’re supposed to realize that Imagos Softworks isn’t even a registered company, which is not legal in the State of Washington. Neither is not sending 1099 forms to contractors. The emails of people who are owed money by Imagos are there for you to verify the story. I was giving you a chance to break a story, idiot. These documents are supposed to speak for themselves, and you were not smart enough to be the first one to figure it out. I worked with Penny Arcade. Yes, that is really Robert Khoo, and if anything continues as it has been he may not help me. I am willing to lose the business contact in this document leaking war. You assume that I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to business. Go ahead and lose your opportunity. Don Thacker is a con artist, and you are helping him.

To put it another way – the “logic” by Mauer was they were hoping SidAlpha would come to some sort of epiphany and assist Alex in their supposed plight.

After that, SidAlpha received a letter written by Mauer’s lawyer. It’s unsigned because it was unfinished and never gave permission for the draft to be sent.

MauerAttorneyLetterMarch2017

(When someone asked why Alex was using a document dated back from March 2017, they said “It’s not outdated. It is applicable against Leonard French’s current argument that everyone is believing. Imagos has not changed strategy”)

Sid spends the next few minutes just speaking his thoughts about Mauer aloud. He had no idea what the game plan was for Alex anymore. If things hadn’t been considered “off the rails” already, they certainly were now. Sid expresses astonishment at how simple it was for him to google Imagos Softworks business license and prove their legitimacy, thus showing how off-kilter Mauer’s statements were.

SidAlpha confirms Leonard French was going to represent Imagos Softworks in court against Alex Mauer. On top of that, DMCA counter-claims for this situation were reportedly happening on their own without even needing YouTuber input anymore.

Lastly, SidAlpha emphasizes to the public that they shouldn’t harass anyone. He points out that Alex Mauer was openly taking advantage of this angle in an effort to make themselves look like the victim in this controversy.

This part of the video gets extended attention as Alex was having a public meltdown on the Steam forums:

I reached out to TB and that mother ♥♥♥♥er didn’t give two ♥♥♥♥♥ about me so ♥♥♥♥ you Annabella. I am getting death threats and now Leonard French is representing Imagos. I was trying to hire Leonard and he decided to politically choose a client to further his own cause. The world is a♥♥♥♥♥♥place where you can work insanely hard for your dream and someone can steal it from you. Then when you call them out on it they still win anyway. So ♥♥♥♥ you Annabella.

Later statements by Mauer sound furious and disjointed. “If there was a way to DMCA punch you in the face through my computer screen I would,” they commented. Alex believed the DMCA granted them direct control over who can use their music on an individual basis.

In another comment, Alex alludes to the Imagos Softworks effort to assist YouTubers by giving them proof of Mauer’s contract. Alex says their agitation (at the moment, anyway) was that what she referred to as a “former client” had circulated their contact info, a *redacted* SSN, and Mauer’s written signature. They speculated internet trolls were going to do that and abuse it for nefarious purposes. Flirting with the idea of buying a gun, Alex says they might as well arm themselves to respond to anyone who shows up at their house.

Then came Alex Mauer DMCA Update: Imagos gets litigious on the 27th. SidAlpha explains that a YouTuber named Musical Antihero had crossed paths with Mauer. Reaching out to Alex to get a statement about the current situation, and managed to have a civil conversation. In spite of this, Mauer would end up DMCAing Anti Hero’s video going over this discussion. SidAlpha points out that the entirety of the piece had Anti Hero sitting at a desk and filming himself just talking to the camera, there wasn’t any of Alex Mauer’s music involved whatsoever.

When it comes to the conversation between Mauer and Anti Hero, you can read it in full here.

SidAlpha managed to get an explanation from Mauer as to their reasoning for doing this:

“He used an old photograph from before my gender transition in his video. It’s an EXTREMELY sensitive issue for trans people. I asked him to take it down and he said he would. Over 12 hours later it was still up, so I decided to report it. The photo came from my camera and I technically own the copyright.”

Mauer goes on to tell Sid that it differed from the DMCA notifications that they were doleing out for videos using their music, with YouTube defining it as a “strike” because of visual copyrights (this appears to be Alex’s personal conclusion on it, may or may not be true). We come to find out by this point that Mauer has a DMCA list of over 100 videos they targeted. Mauer notes that they believed YouTube’s 3 strike rule was a myth, as they had since targeted channels with reports exceeding that number.

Totalbiscuit would respond in the comments section clarifying how YouTube’s system actually worked.

TotalbiscuitOnYouTubesStrikeSystem

Sid backs up this point in his video by showing the DMCA notification Chip Music Chronicle got after Mauer reported five videos on that channel.

The second piece of news that came to light was Don Thacker of Imagos Softworks deciding to respond to Mauer via the courts.

“We have become represented by Leonard French in this case and I intend to litigate,” he told Sid. “I am seeking absolutely no damages in this action, and am seeking only a court ordered establishment of our clearly defined rights chain and, subsequently, the place in that chain for youtubers who have been affected.”

Continued:

“This most recent action, however, while absolutely not the first aggressive act from Alex toward myself, Imagos or our properties, has integrated content creators and we cannot abide this.”

On the 28th things got dramatic for SidAlpha, as explained in his Alex Mauer issues Death Threat video. Mauer emailed SidAlpha various statements people sent them, that encouraged Alex to commit suicide. I looked into this a bit more, and was able to find some examples of these kinds of messages on Mauer’s Twitter page where they publicly shared them (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

Then Alex sent this to Sid.

MauerDeathThreat

There’s little room for interpretation here. We know this because SidAlpha explains while he wasn’t sure Alex wasn’t just forwarding what someone else said or not at first, there was a follow-up message making it clear this was a direct statement.

“You are transphobic. Seriously. You think your fucking cis gender world is al [sic] that exists. You think I don’t own a photograph of myself? Then you’re a fucking robot. I want to kill myself but I have to kill youfirst,” Alex Mauer told SidAlpha.

On Sid’s subreddit he goes over everything Mauer says as well as stating his intent to protect his family from Mauer’s instability.

SidAlphaStatement

In a follow-up later that day titled Alex Mauer: An update on the DMCA strikes and everything else, SidAlpha fleshes things out more. Pointing to a Twitlonger by Totalbiscuit, we get confirmation that YouTube gaming escalated all the DMCA counterclaims in this Mauer crisis, essentially meaning the staff themselves looked into it personally to approve.  SidAlpha went to the cops over Mauer’s threat, but dismissed the legitimacy of it based on the grounds that Alex lives thousands of miles away from Sid.

Basically things got too intense, and SidAlpha encouraged everyone to take a step back. They wanted to make sure nobody died from this situation.

That evening, Alex Mauer threatened another round of strikes. This was after they threatened to go after @adultswimgames for a Jazzpunk commercial that Alex Mauer had done music for.

AlexMauerJune28thDMCAThreat

On June 29th, a Alex Mauer gets help video would come out on SidAlpha’s channel detailing a sliver of hope to that effect. According to Sid, the clusterfuck of drama that was radiating out of this Alex Mauer dispute would be coming to an abrupt halt. Without going into specifics himself, SidAlpha using the phrase “getting the help she needs” when talking about what was going with Mauer. The damage done in Alex’s wake: over 100 people by this point with DMCAs, the C&D to Turner Broadcasting, and the diverse array of harassment and threats tossed around certainly caused a disruption in people’s routines. Alongside the legal ramifications, Sid expressed a need for consideration on personal reflection for those involved. He reports that the YouTube community was able to raise beyond the baseline asking amount from French’s GoFundMe campaign for legal expenses.

We’d get some more answers about what exactly happened to Alex Mauer in a Twitlonger posted by TotalBiscuit.

This will hopefully be the last time anyone needs to talk about this, but Leonard French informed everyone that last night, Alex Mauer has been taken into custody for her own safety and the safety of others. She had been utilizing information gathered from counterclaims to her dmcas to email, call and threaten some of the channels involved and had yesterday attempted to issue a claim through Youtubes Legal Support department declaring my video illegal, due to alleged harassment she had received as a result of it. When YouTube replied asking which law the video violated and how, she replied saying that all the proof they needed was on her twitter and that YouTube would be personally responsible for attacks on the transgender community and that she would begin issuing death threats as she chose, because the “police had told her the people threatening her were exercising their first amendment rights”.

In the paragraphs that followed, TotalBiscuit assures everyone there was no incitement or call to action, nor was the factor of Alex Mauer being transgender even mentioned. The only point that became involved was after Mauer made repeated mentions of it online as some of defense in response. TotalBiscuit said Mauer’s acts were possibly libelous (at least that’s what he thought personally), but would not pursue a litigatory recourse as it would complicate what he called a “troubled” individual even further. The wrap-up of it has TotalBiscuit expressing sadness towards how the Alex Mauer ordeal was turning out. That he hoped to be wrong when he saw these bizarre and strange posts Mauer was making and diagnosed the source of the problem as mental issues.

ThankGodForHim

Jim Sterling made a Jimquisition episode expanding on his thoughts about the Alex Mauer matter. Going for the angle that YouTube itself kept its head buried in the sand, Sterling says for all the noise and chaos that Mauer was unleashing in this DMCA barrage, the folks over at Google were mum on the subject. The “guilty until proven inncoent” system meant that YouTube channels targeted by Alex Mauer were victim to these strikes guaranteed. The power was completely in Alex’s hands, as it was clear that these claims were automatically processed and not reviewed by an actual human being at first. Sterling urged a change. YouTube needed to make a burden of proof necessary on the part of those making DMCA takedowns before following through with them.

July 3rd, 2017. SidAlpha comes back with a Alex Mauer Returns video. Sid says he was vague about what happened to Alex Mauer previously out of respect to their privacy and the privacy of Mauer’s family. But now, Sid reveals that Alex’s behavior (sending death threats to people, bizarre emails) resulted in them being placed on a 302 psychiatric hold. Committed against their will. After being evaluated, Alex Mauer was released.

They released a statement.

To all,

I just wanted to let the media know that the video by Leonard French that claims I received “the help that I need” was complete BS. My ex-wife who I have not seen in months filed a 302 against me, and the police forced me out of my house in handcuffs. I explained to them that I already reported the death threats against me to the police and was told it was freedom of speech to make death threats. The cops forced me into a hospitalization against my will.

The first thing that happened at the hospital was that they told me I wasn’t a girl, and gave me a wrist band that said I was male. Next, they took away my female clothing and forced me to wear disposable scrubs. The next day they transported me in an ambulance to a different facility where they did a full strip search of me. At this facility, they asked me many evasive questions including how many sexual partners I’ve had and at what age I was when I had my first sexual encounter.

The police and crisis workers had completely ignored my story about having been told it’s my freedom of speech to use hate speech. The doctor I saw at the 2nd facility understood the story and said “because there is no furtherance of the threat” it’s fine. I was released as immediately as possible. The entire period of time having been away from my house was 5 days. No one in my family showed me any support what so ever. This incidence has lead to me decided to no longer have any communication with anyone in my family at all, because they sided with my opposition.

Keep an eye out for the next big move. It should be coming soon.

~Alex Mauer

Mauer later forwarded an email showing how things were going on the Turner Broadcasting front.

MauerTurnerBroadcasting

Generally speaking, SidAlpha seemed unphased by this move.

July 4th. Alex Mauer threatens a 2nd wave of DMCA strikes comes out on SidAlpha’s channel. Sid reveals that Alex Mauer was moving forward with another round of DMCA attacks, as foreshadowed by them previously on social media. Back on the 29th of June, Alex made a comment saying they DMCA’ed River City Ransom. However it didn’t go as planned, as Valve gives more scrutiny when it comes to these sorts of claims.

Attached is a photo of the response Valve gave Mauer, as well as Alex’s and Sid’s replies.

MauerClashwithValve

It’s worth pointing that this also led to Mauer threatening a River City Ransom developer of Conatus, Daniel Crenna.

Daniel,

There is a hiccup in the Valve DMCA process as you can see in these emails. RCRU would already be offline if the system was working correctly. Dawn Dempsey, the Valve representative, does not believe that I am one of the composers and is preventing me from doing something that is my right. I suggest that Conatus take the game down before Dawn does. I will not stop trying to find a way to get this game taken down until it is down. You need to remove my music from the game, NOW!

~Alex Mauer

On top of that, Alex Mauer was vying to take down their music from Bandcamp.

AlexMauerBandcampLetter

SidAlpha explains that while Alex Mauer seemed to be doubling down on their attacks, the defense seemed unphased.

July 7th, SidAlpha releases Alex Mauer gets served. Mauer was continuing to forward emails about what they were doing to Sid and other YouTubers. They were trying to continue their DMCA bonanza, but YouTube was starting to take notice of this particular situation.

Alex was sent this by YouTube.

YouTubeToMauer

The videos in Mauer’s crosshairs were still up at the time of Sid’s video.

Alex was starting to go after River City Ransom Underground videos, and forwarded Sid a letter they sent to Conatus that goes into the thought process behind this.

Conatus,

I have contacted Daniel Crenna and Rich Vreeland multiple times in the past week explaining that Conatus never secured my signature on any paperwork relating to River City Ransom Underground. Conatus does not have my permission to keep using the soundtrack, and I did compose at least 1/3 of the music. What Conatus needs to do is take the game offline with Steam immediately, and behin the process of removing my contributions to the soundtrack. This will be difficult, because my work appears in nearly every song in the game.

Rich and Dino (the other composers) have all of the original files, including versions of some songs from before I contributed to them, and should be able to immediately start producing a version of the soundtrack that does not contain my music. The game must remain offline until the soundtrack is replaced. The failure to respond to my emails will result in further DMCA strikes on RCRU YouTube videos. I need an immediate response to assess what legal actions to take next.

~ Alex Mauer

I’m just going to take the time to emphasize. Alex Mauer wanted the developers to take their video game down and redo all of the musical scoring for it (basically from scratch). Alex pressured the developers by threatening to take down YouTube videos via DMCA if they didn’t immediately comply with Mauer’s demands.

Leonard French was able to serve Mauer with an initial court summons, and it came to Sid’s attention that Alex was going to be representing themselves in that regard. There was an effort to try and negotiate the matter between each other directly beforehand.

selfrepresenting

Sid notes that at least one YouTube channel was completely decimated as a result of Alex Mauer’s efforts at this point in time.

Also on the 7th, Alex Mauer The DMCA Reversal is released by SidAlpha. Sid opens up by expressing some optimism that Alex’s tirade on the YouTube website was coming to an end.

“A bunch of successful counter-claims for channels affected by the Starr Mazer DSP thing just went through all at once. For those asking whether or not this is YT intervening, I don’t have a solid answer for you on that. Due to batch nature, it is possible,” Totalbiscuit tweeted in relation to this.

We see this email that Mauer sent to Musical Anti Hero.

MauerToAnithero

Sid takes the time to note all of the infractions that Mauer has committed against human decency up to this point. including threatening his own Youtube channel because he showed an image of Mauer’s birth certificate on screen. He shows it again just to make sure we’d all be on the same page in understanding what he’s referring to.

Sid clarifies that many pieces of identifying information were redacted, and the point behind doing so in the first place was proving what Alex Mauer’s middle name (Thomas) legally was.

While revisiting the death threat Mauer made against Sid, we see that Leonard French was also threatened by Alex.

MauerLeonardFrenchDeathThreat

(it wasn’t the first time that happened.)

SidAlpha spends the second half of the video going over the situation once more. He admits to covering the story too much over the past few weeks, and explains that it hit him personally to see these smaller YouTuber channels hit with DMCA strikes and that they would have had no means of remedy or direction on hand on their own accord.

July 11th, SidAlpha comes back with Alex Mauer DMCA strikes continue. This is despite him directly saying in the last video that the DMCA problem seemed to be over. We learn that the reasoning for Alex Mauer’s reversal of DMCA strikes was only so they could be refiled in a way that they’d be counted in YouTube’s system separately.

Basically, when Mauer filed originally, they did it in batches. The way YouTube’s system works means all of the DMCAs filed on a particular channel at once, would only qualify as one strike overall.

“As far as I understand, the channels which are being targeted for takedown are in check for one more strike on each.” tweeted Alex apathetically.

Naturally this caused a heightened sense of fear in the YouTube community. As they were witnessing someone who, that very day, went after DisasterPeace’s Bandcamp account because of the “Ram Son” album which had Alex Mauer’s collaboration work within it.

DisasterpeaceBandcampRamson

Mauer wasn’t afraid of burning any bridge down.

“Some of the 3rd wave DMCAs are being blocked by previous counter-claims. The Sid Alpha DMCA is currently blocked by argument of ‘fair use’,” Mauer said in a tweet. In a follow-up after that Alex said they were making a concentrated effort to “push thru” with one for him.

Sid was concerned that Mauer was feeding off the media attention they were generating, and TotalBiscuit agreed. To the extent that they desired Sid not post another video about the subject out of concern it would exacerbate things further. But upon closer inspection, SidAlpha became convinced Mauer was doing this in a state of delusion that they were on “the right side of history,” so to speak.

SidAlpha shares a DM convo someone had with Mauer, revealing that they were planning to speak with an actual lawyer at some point in the future.

MauerDMConvo

(Mauer would later note this is the 4th lawyer they were going for in regards to this case. Elsewhere on that subject, Alex says their previous lawyers condoned the DMCA manuever, but it “fell apart” after Mauer mentioned the Turner Broadcasting stuff.)

All of this in mind, SidAlpha notes that Alex Mauer’s actions were showing the world how out of date DMCA laws were.

On the 14th, SidAlpha uploads the Alex Mauer: Restraining Order and more DMCA strikes video. After a five minute self-reflection about the past month, SidAlpha says Alex Mauer finally hired an attorney that does copyright law. There was going to be a hearing about a temporary restraining order but Mauer’s lawyer requested a continuance so he could catch up with events beforehand.

The hearing happened on the morning of the 13th, and was granted. It applies to the works of Imagos Softworks and Starr Mazer.

TemporaryRestrainingOrder

Basically Alex Mauer was legally prohibited from issuing DMCA takedowns when it came to Starr Mazer, obligated to pullback on the notices that were already issued, and forbade from making threats against either Imagos Softworks or Leonard French.

Mauer took out the rage on their lawyer, Frank. Alex claims that the lawyer kept asking them to lie. In text chats shared by Mauer, they accuse Frank of being responsible for an array of unsolicited emails that came in (somebody signed up to a bunch of websites with Mauer’s information).  They ended up firing Frank because they sent Alex a formal letter instead of texting to them electronically. Accusing Frank of misgendering them, Alex demanded their lawyer resign.

If you look at the email Alex Mauer sent to Leonard French, you can see this formal letter. Which states Mauer was also emailed in addition to the paper copy.

Taking this to a whole ‘nother level, Alex Mauer tweeted the letter they sent the Judge in which they requested their lawyer be fired. I redacted the address and personal information out of this picture. Originally, Mauer did not.

MauerFiringLawyer

River City Ransom Underground related takedowns were not in play by this. The game itself had been taken down on Steam the day before.

“We are aware that RCRU is down on Steam. We have contacted Valve’s copyright department, and will let you know when access is restored,” the developers tweeted. They invited people who were hit by this DMCA attack to reach out to the company for advice and help.

The Know would put out a follow-up video going over these events. So if your brain is fried from all the information between now and the last video The Know did, you get an easy way to catch-up.

TheKnow2

By the 15th, SidAlpha got into a heated exchange with Mauer. While normally Alex is the one sharing these sorts of things, it was Sid himself who posted it to Twitter.

It’s time to back up a bit and go over Leonard French’s side of the story here.

LeonardFrench

Leonard French announced in the afternoon of June 27th that he was going to represent Imagos Softworks in their litigation with Alex Mauer, along with a GoFundMe to help raise funds for this legal back-n-forth with the help of the community.

The full initial announcement can be read here, but as a basic excerpt:

We hope that Alex pursues the help and assistance that she needs.

Unfortunately, the copyright system in the United States has allowed her to assert rights that she does not actually own. And her assertion of those rights has caused Imagos and Don to lose credibility with many of the people and companies they do business with.

This has resulted in Imagos and Don losing developers, financial support, potential and existing film clients, and that has further caused them all a great deal of stress. They have tried to handle the matter quietly so that Alex would have the best chance of improving.

Alex has recently become very public about the matter. We have decided to pursue court action solely to adjudicate Imagos’ rights and to clear up any dispute with Alex. This is all in the hopes that the developers, including Don, can continue with their first love, development of the game.

It is and always has been my understanding that Imagos owns valid copyrights on all their works for which Alex has issued takedowns. It is also my understanding and position that Alex has no right to issue takedowns for Imagos and related content.

Imagos and Don have engaged me to pursue these legal rights as reasonably and appropriately as possible. It is our primary goal to establish Imagos’ rights and the community’s rights to publish Starr Mazer and Starr Mazer: DSP content.

The GoFundMe funds go to an Escrow account specifically created for the expenses of this case. This is to cover filing fees, a process server, transcripts for depositions, travel expenses for Don Thacker as necessary, and other miscellaneous variables. Any funds leftover in the remainder afterward get donated to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play charity. French forecasted anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 as being the overall required amount for the proceedings.

Leonard French made three videos on the subject of Alex Mauer.

  • June 25th, Alex Mauer enforces contract by DMCA extortion: This is nearly two hours in length as it appears French gave his thoughts in a livestream. More off-the-cuff first impressions rather than edited prepared statements. From the get-go Leonard offered his skills to pursue this matter because it fit within his field of lawyer expertise. It was his impression that Mauer lived within the same area as him, making it easy to take action in the court system. While introducing the situation, Leonard makes it clear that Mauer’s use of the DMCA system in order to take down Starr Mazer DSP related videos was an inappropriate use of the system. French says Mauer would have needed an explicit copyright assignment in order to have at least some grounds in that respect, but Alex appeared to not have as such. Despite that, Mauer has asserted that they have the power to take down entire YouTube videos of Starr Mazer solely because of their music part within the game. Leonard says it appears Mauer’s rationale for doing so is hoping the outrage would cause Imagos Softworks to buckle under pressure and comply with whatever Alex is demanding.  Going over the contract itself, Leonard points out that it doesn’t matter that it only says “Starr Mazer” on the first page (rather than Starr Mazer: DSP) because the SERVICES section of the contract dictates that Mauer’s work can be used however Imagos sees fit and as required. Highlighting the TERM section as important, it says that Mauer’s employment is not for any guaranteed period and Imagos had the right to discharge Alex at any time. When it comes to the payment obligation in these circumstances, Imagos is only subject to that if Mauer doesn’t breach the obligations. What’s also interesting is the agreement can be immediately suspended as a result of postponement or interference of the produciton as a result of “labor controversy,” as well.  The main point of interest is the WORK FOR HIRE section, as it makes a blanket license of copyright be the property of Imagos Softworks and not Alex Mauer. Leonard points out that even if Alex Mauer owned the copyrights to their Starr Mazer music, they’d still not have the grounds to DMCA Let’s Play videos on YouTube. When it comes to the argument that if Imagos violated the contract and that Alex Mauer “must own” the copyright as a result? No. That’s not how it works. Producing something for a media show of some kind does not grant that creator the right to interfere with the show itself. A violation of contract does not automatically void a contract. Even if the potential for voiding a contract is possible, it’d need to be taken to court and offically recognized as such. DMCAs assert an assumed copyright on Alex Mauer’s part and take down YouTube videos, which in turn could impact the livelihood of the uploader depending on the size of the channel targeted. Title 17 Chapter 5 Section 512 of the U.S. Code deals with Limitations on liability relating to material online and comes into play with these sorts of matters. Subsection F details that any person who knowingly and materially misrepresents the material being infringed (or having it removed/disabled by mistake and misidentification) is responsible for the damages and costs accumulated as a result of making the copyright owner having to deal with sorting that out. A case that set precedent for this was the September 2015 Lenz v. Universal Music Corp case that happened in the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Stephanie Lenz got a DMCA takedown from Universal Music Corporation because of a video she posted of her kids dancing to “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince. Lenz claimed fair use and took Universal to court over the DMCA because of misrepresentation, with the ruling ending up being copyright holders must consider good faith of fair use before throwing down the DMCA hammer on people. On the Supreme Court level, there was certiorari denied meaning the case was looked at and did not merit further review. It says the courts see no further reason to look into it further – basically showing things are good the way they are. Lenz’s own attorney appealed this because they felt subjective fair use right wasn’t enough, and they wanted the courts to affirm objective fair use right specifically. What it boils down to is Alex Mauer having to prove to the court they made an effort to determine their genuine belief that their copyright was being violated, and not knowingly and willfully misrepresenting that when pursuing DMCA takedowns. Responding to Totalbiscuit’s statement that YouTube’s DMCA system uses the law only as a guideline and doesn’t actually represent the law itself, French argues it’s still an argument of misrepresentation that YouTube themselves would be liable for at the end of the day.
  • June 29th, Official: Imagos v. Alex Mauer – Week 1 – The Filing: A stressed out French tells us he took on the task of representing Imagos Softworks, and his expectations about what that work entailed. Alex Mauer began sending a series of “unhinged” messages that eventually evolved into straight up threats. “I was threatened with having my windows broken, my building set on fire… there were some colorful ones in there that I’ll leave out because I don’t want to encourage it,” he said.  With that in mind, Leonard French thought it was his ethical duty to find Alex Mauer some help. He thought he had succeeded by the time of uploading this video. On a happier note, the GoFundMe campaign done to help fund French’s legal work was a smashing success. A complaint was going to be filed in the Allentown division of the Eastern district of Pennsylvania, primarily focusing on the DMCA takedowns Alex Mauer had issued and taking the steps to undo that wherever necessary. A court order was going to be pursued that’d stop Alex from doing these things any further.
  • July 9th, Official: Imagos v. Alex Mauer – Week 2 – The Complaint: French tells us that the situation has become a lawsuit. Leonard shows us the amended complaint that was filed on July 7th. It was pretty much the same as the original complaint, with corrections made to the defendents name and also adding verification of Don Thacker as the Plantiff. French goes over a basic timeline of events of how this situation came to be in the first place, similar to what I’ve done in this piece here. When it came to the actual charges against Alex Mauer, there’d be several. The first of which would be Copyright Misrepresentation in regards to the (willful and knowing) illegitimate claims made by Mauer in regards to Starr Mazer and Starr Mazer: DSP, and is ignorant of the work-for-hire agreement that they are responsible for knowing, as well as being responsible for the damages caused by this controversy. The second count is a Breach of Contract. Imagos entered a work-for-hire agreement with Alex Mauer in March 2015, and that arrangement specifically requested Mauer keep confidential information a secret. They violated that and caused damages to the Plantiff that they are liable for as a result of their breach of contract. The third count dealt with Defamation per se. Mauer made public claims of ownership as well as public allegations of misconduct against the Plantiff, causing serious damage. The fourth count is for extortion/blackmail. Establishing that Mauer has publicly stated their actions are the byproduct of the contract dispute with Imagos, it’s further said that the Plantiffs went out of their way to resolve this matter with Alex over the past year. While Imagos doesn’t believe Mauer’s claims are legitimate, they attempted to settle in a show of good faith. Mauer made false claims to the property of the Plantiff, and any consent of obtaining property or rights to property was done so by wrongful use of force or the threat of force. In addition to that, Alex has made threats of serious harm to both the Plantiffs, as well as French. The Prayer for Relief (requests made to the court) includes a Temporary Restraining Order, a Preliminary Injunction in addition to a Permanent Injunction as it applies to the copyright claims made by Alex, an overall Declaratory Judgement establishing the Plantiff as legitimate owners of the copyrights in question, Judgements for the damages done by Alex, and whatever else deemed appropriate by the court. Leonard makes it clear that his approach to this situation was offering Alex Mauer an easy out. Alex Mauer refused. French goes on to state that the GoFundMe campaign goal went from $10,000 to $15,000 because the threats aspect of the situation was unexpected at the outset. He goes on to say if Alex really thought there was an issue here, they should have filed a lawsuit against Imagos when it came to the contract.

While the previous section already went over the death threats that Leonard French recieved from Alex Mauer, it’s worth pointing out an additional caveat that unfolded. At one point, French used Mauer’s “dead name” in the court documents. This would later be fixed but not to Alex’s complete liking. It was apparently for that reason that Alex Mauer wanted to get their own lawyer and not have to represent themselves.

This is where we are at.

whereweareat

Conclusion

Alex Mauer’s fall into insanity is one of the most tragic things in recent memory. Not just because of the DMCA attacks they did on the YouTube community, but because of the amount of outrage and disgust their actions have soured themselves in the public eye.

Alex Mauer wasn’t a “bad person,” they just pushed themselves too far and lost control of their reality.

The Konami Condition

The cold hard truth about the Konami company is going to be impossible to find if we keep drifting off course like this. Our train of thought as the general public has long since left the tracks, and spiraled toward this great unknown abyss of confusion. There’s cultural differences between the East and West, but none of us seem to properly grasp what is up and what is down about Konami’s situation.

Let’s set the record straight, just so we’re all on the same page.

The point of no return happened on December 3rd, 2015. Geoff Keighley gave news to the world that would end up being the shotgun fired into Konami’s public face.

It all happened within the span of a minute.

Let’s back it up a bit. As you can see in this longer version of that segment from The Game Awards show – Kiefer Sutherland came up onto the stage to accept the award on Kojima’s behalf (presented to him by Mark Hamil and Star Citizen‘s Chris Roberts). Kiefer’s impromptu acceptance speech was brief, thanking the gaming community for their devotion and passion. Apparently to a degree that rivaled those in television.

Then Keighley dropped the news.

“Thank you very much Kiefer for accepting that award. And as you noticed Hideo Kojima is not here with us tonight and I want to tell you a little bit about that. Mr. Kojima had every intention of being with us tonight but unfortunately he was informed by a lawyer representing Konami just recently that he would not be allowed to travel to tonight’s award ceremony to accept any awards. He’s still under an employment contract. It’s disappointing and it’s inconceivable to me that an artist like Hideo would not be allowed to come here and celebrate with his peers and his fellow teammates. Such an incredible game is Metal Gear Solid V. But that’s the situation we’re in, and Hideo is in Tokyo right now watching the show. So we want you to know, Hideo, that we’re thinking of you, and we miss you. We hope to see you at The Game Awards 2016.”

Keighley and friends put together a surprise for him. Stefanie Joosten got on stage and performed Quiet’s theme from the Metal Gear Solid 5 soundtrack.

It sounded beautiful and sad. I didn’t understand the phrase “sing your heart out” until that night. Whereas Geoff Keighley hid his emotions behind a careful mask, Joosten spoke to the world on his behalf and gave us all a peek into the underlying grief Kojima was going through.

If you don’t know who Geoff Keighley is, or what The Game Awards are – it’s an annual shindig put on by Keighley in order to celebrate the products and achievements of the gaming industry for that past year. It took him a few years to nail down the proper tone and presentation style for this event, but by now Geoff had found his footing.

But what’s the point of a party if one of your closest friends can’t show up? It came as a surprise to everyone that night. Keighley didn’t plan that speech.

“Thank you very much,” Kojima tweeted that night.

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There are things in life that command your attention. Events bursting into view with complete surprise.

That night was the night that Konami lost people’s favor. Watching this over again reignites the emotional rawness I had. I was mad. The rest of the gaming community was furious.

There was no going back for Konami at this point.

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June 14th 2017. Japanese media outlet Nikkei releases “The Konami Exodus,” reigniting the public’s interest in the feud between Konami and Kojima. This twopage article reveals to the world what had unfolded between these two sides.

Kojima was sent a letter from Konami accusing him of “discrediting the company,” after he told people at the Tokyo Game Show’s Sony Interactive Entertainment event Metal Gear Survive had “nothing to do with him.” Konami wasn’t amused with Hideo’s remark and may be using the incident to stall payments they owe Kojima (calling it a breach of contract).

Elsewhere, one of the Kojima Productions executives tried to apply the company for health insurance at ITS Kenpo. The application wasn’t accepted. When the executive asked Kenpo as to why that was, they replied that the chairman screens all applications before the board reviews them. Apparently, ITS Kenpo could not show this application to the chairman. According to Nikkei this arrangement in priority to the chairman breaks away from what is the standard.

That ITS Kenpo chairman is Kimihiko Higashio. Who is also a director at Konami.

The second half of the article goes into further detail about the hurdles former Konami employees face after departing from the company. Speaking to an anonymous staffing agency employee, we learn that gaming companies are notified if someone is an “ex-Kon” because Konami files complaints to those who take former employees under their wing. In at least one case a major gaming company went as far as warning their staff against hiring an ex-Kon. In another, an ex-Kon decided to work at a construction company just for the purpose of getting Konami to lose interest in pursuing them if they ever chose to work in gaming again.

“One ex-Kon described his surprise at learning that Konami had instructed an employee at a television company not to deal with its former employees,” the Nikkei article says.

While it doesn’t specify which television company in particular it is, if we assume the same sort of arrangement was made as in the case of ITS Kenpo, we can narrow down the possibilities on the Board.

Konami Director Akira Gemma is a Limited Outside Director at TV Asahi Holdings Corporation, according to the 2017 Konami shareholder memo.

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The threatening and overbearing sphere of company influence bears down on former Konami employees. They’re put in a position where they can’t use the company name (and thus experience gained there), in order to get a job.

As the Nikkei article says,  Kojima isn’t the only high-level employee who left. Naoki Maeda (composer for Dance Dance Revolution and Bemani), Akari Uchida (producer for LovePlus), Minoboshi Taro (illustrator for LovePlus), and Shinichi Hanamoto (who helped Konami acquire the Yu-Gi-Oh license) all cut ties with Konami.

With all of this Konami controversy becoming public, it’s high time we take a serious look into exactly what went wrong here.

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Kagemasa Kozuki, Yoshinobu Nakama, and Tatsuo Miyasako together made the company name. Ain’t that neat? They currently use that shade of red in their logo to demonstrate “quality” and “class” according to a page on their website talking about it.

“Konami doesn’t care about video games anymore and they’re shifting their focus to gambling and Pachinko!!!!,” you might say.

That could be true. But we need to take a step back and understand what exactly Konami is rather than what you think it should be.

Konami currently has 4 key principal businesses.

  1. Digital Entertainment: “Production, manufacture and sale of digital content and related products including mobile games, card games and computer & video games, etc.”
  2. Health & Fitness: “Operation of health and fitness clubs, and production, manufacture, and sale of health and fitness-related goods.”
  3. Gaming & Systems: “Production, manufacture, sale and service of gaming machines and casino management systems.”
  4. Amusement: “Production, manufacture and sale of arcade games and amusement machines.” This section was referred to as Pachislot & Pachinko Machines for a span of several years.

It was worth bringing all of that up given the common misconceptions people in the West have about Konami’s business model.

Konami lays out their corporate history on their website. It may seem overwhelming but we can break this timeline down into the important stuff.

1969. The same year Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Kagemasa Kozuki started Konami. With 1 million yen in capital, they were making amusement machines for arcades by the start of the 1970s. Towards the end, they had 40 million yen and began exporting their goods to the U.S. In October/November 1982 they expanded into PC gaming and established Konami of America in the United States. At the end of 1983 they had 300 million yen in capital and added MSX gaming to their business operations. By May 1984 Konami had their United Kingdom office set up, by the end of that year they were setting up an office in Germany while starting their expansion into NES gaming. By 1988 they were on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Osaka Securities Exchange. September 1992 was when Konami expanded into pachislot & pachinko machines. Offices were popping up in Kobe, Kanagawa, and Hong Kong. By November 1996, Konami Corporation of America was set up, and Konami Australia Pty Ltd was established in the land down under. In 1997, Konami’s capital was at 11,892 million yen. They also began entry into Australian gaming machines market, in addition to being listed on Singapore’s stock exchange. By the turn of the millennium, Konami entered the card game business and got listed on London’s Stock Exchange.

2000. Konami enters the gaming machine market. February 2001, Konami acquires a health & fitness company and officially enters that neck of the market. They start to get into online services by March 2002 (e-AMUSEMENT) and by that September they got added into the New York Stock Exchange. June 2005 had Konami building a production facility in Las Vegas for their gambling machines. Finally, March 2006 was when Konami completed their company metamorphosis. Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. took care of digital entertainment, while Konami Corporation became the holding company overseeing the whole operation.

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One of the men in charge of Konami’s casino empire in North America is Steve Sutherland. In an interview with Las Vegas review journal, he says Konami’s video game roots gave their gambling games a certain kind of appeal.

“We’re looking at the library of Konami Digital Entertainment because they have certain titles – amusement concepts and games and intellectual property — we will look to bring to this market in the future and turn those into gambling devices.”

It started out back in 1997 with a small Las Vegas office. Konami’s takeover began on the West Coast and went through Canada before finally striking down the American Midwest. New Jersey. Chicago. Their current headquarters at Las Vegas Hughes Airport Center cost the company $65 million, but the investment paid off. The extra office space (500,000 square feet) lets 500 employees work in ease. Apparently their top 5 gambling games are: China Shores, Dragon’s Law, China Mystery, Lotus Land and Rapid Revolver: Northern Treasure. But they’ve started using Konami video games like Frogger for skill-based casino gaming. Dungeons & Dragons slot machines have popped up as well.

Something must be going right, seeing as Konami is getting awards and honors regularly for their work in the sector.

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A big part of Konami’s casino business is the selling and distribution of their Konami Casino Management System, which they started back in 1998. KCMS v3.20 was in place by 2012 according to Konami’s website, in place within at least 70 different casino locations. This technology is capable of tracking not just the table games and slots, but also patron activities. v3.20 even had the capability of sending messages to players or groups (when a reservation was ready, or a bus was scheduled to leave, etc).

At some point after 2012, Konami introduced SYNKROS. A leap forward from their standard KCMS, it made several advances in player marketing and tracking. According to the introduction video on their front page, SYNKROS is engineered to tailor itself specifically to individual player psychology. To keep them in the casino as long as possible. By delivering data in real-time, the system is able to react to situations as they’re happening on the floor. Their toolkit aims to help casinos maximize management efficiency and profitability.  Of course, there’s a phone app for it as well. So managers can keep watch while mobile. At a glance you can see what people are playing, and how well games are performing at particular locations.

SYNKROS seems to be successful, as it was implemented in: Rhythm City Casino (Davenport, IA), Turning Stone Resort Casino (Verona, NY), Canyon Casino (Black Hawk, Colorado), Pearl River Resort (Choctaw, Mississippi), Shoshone Rose Casino (Lander, Wyoming), Barona Resort & Casino (Lakeside, California), Yellow Brick Road Casino (Chittenango, New York), Desert Diamond Casino (West Valley, Arizona), Jerry’s Nugget Casino (Las Vegas, Nevada), Pahrump Nugget Hotel & Casino, Gold Town Casino, Lakeside Casino & RV Park (Pahrump, Nevada), Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino (Crystal Bay, Nevada), and Emerald Island Casino (Henderson, Nevada), to name a few spots where Konami’s system shows up.

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The Gaming & Systems and Amusement branches of the company both refer to Konami’s casino business and gambling-related ventures. In May 2014, Reuters reported Konami was eyeballing an investment for casinos in Japan as the country’s lawmakers considered passing legislation to pave the way for a potential $40 billion casino resort market.

That confusing similarity is entirely intentional and should be explained (people also mix up “gaming”/gambling to mean video games).  Pachislots & Pachinko were pretty much a thing because it served as a gambling workaround. You don’t win money from pachinko, rather you win tokens and prizes that can be exchange for cash elsewhere. A September 2014 article from The Economist talks about this divide. With over 12,000 pachinko parlors in Japan and over $175 billion dollars in revenue, it was serious business.

Between their 2014 and 2015 Fiscal Year, pachinko brought in enough cash to make a difference for their total revenue stream.

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In December 2016 Konami got their wish. Japan finally legalized casinos and laid down a foundation to get companies started on making their “entertainment resorts” a reality. Still ahead, another bill on how these things are going to be implemented needs to be decided on.

According to an April 2017 piece from Bloomberg, it seems as though Konami is willing to share the wisdom they learned from their dealings in Las Vegas. Executive director Satoshi Sakamoto said the gambling industry in Japan needs a good reputation if it wants to be an attraction that lasts long term. It would serve to Konami’s benefit that way, as their North American gambling licenses wouldn’t get taken away if they got involved in Japan. Nevada regulation mandates gambling company executives undergo a background check of their finances every two years. North America isn’t the only place where Konami operates, they also have licenses for: Australia, Europe (Croatia, Sweden, Germany,), South Africa, and Singapore. Even Peru has a touch of Konami going on. Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. The company is making agreements and deals everywhere.

These “entertainment resorts” would prove a financial boon for Konami in other areas of their business too, seeing as the company has a division dedicated to health and fitness clubs.

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If you don’t know what a gym is, I’ll walk you through what they’re like. I had a membership at my local rec center growing up, so I got to see one of these mysterious places up close for a few years. After paying an arm and a leg for membership and getting a laminated pass with your face on it, you get access to a bunch of rooms with various kinds of fitness equipment in it (and one room with two pretty awesome vending machines where you can sit around all day if you want). If you don’t want to risk embarrassment entering these metal contraptions in pursuit of getting fit, most gyms have a swimming pool and a running track so you can sweat yourself to death or drown. Your choice.

This sector of business took a hard hit from the US economic crisis of the late 2000s. But nonetheless, Konami persisted. The Konami shareholder notes tell about the company’s interests in targeting the elderly among Japan’s population.

Konami’s main interest in the Health & Fitness sector was the acquisition of fitness clubs. From their facilities, the company is able to furnish it with their technology and sell health products to people. They sell things like the AEROWALKER 2200 treadmill, some sort of jelly called PROTEIN PRO, and EXCERISEWATER ZERO (which is basically just water).  Members of these fitness clubs can use the e-XAX health management service to record their exercise history on Konami’s website. Want to learn how to golf? Konami Sports Clubs have the equipment and space to teach you how to do that. In the past decade the company has increased their focus on classes and service programs to their customer base, so they can guide people’s fitness and nutrition on top of providing the means to reaching those health goals.

Like the gambling gaming division of Konami, the company sought to integrate their video games into fitness related outlets wherever possible. Dance Dance Revolution got a classroom edition in January 2014 for use in the UK school system, to help students and youngsters actually get interested in exercise.

It’s worth noting that the Health sector does better than Konami’s gambling branches do, according to the latest company earnings release.

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In December 2015 a transgender business manager sued Konami Sports Club because they were forced to use the men’s facilities before having reassignment surgery. This person asked to use the changing room not for men and was denied the ability to do so by the club’s manager. In turn, they argued that kind of accommodation could only happen once this person had their gender status legally changed in the family register. Further reading about the background and progress of the case was made available in a recent June 2017 report from Buzzfeed Japan.

But on a lighter note?

In the London 2012 Olympics, Konami had some representation on the men’s gymnastics team for Japan. They had three employees of Konami Sports & Life Co., Ltd. compete, and gymnast Kohei Uchimura came out on top winning gold. In fact, one of Konami’s board members, Kaori Yamaguchi, is also an Executive Board Member for the Japanese Olympic Committee. It’s a savvy business move, and Konami years later reported a profit from their Health and Fitness segment as a result of their for participation with swimming and gymnastics in the Rio 2016 game.

Konami’s head bosses are the Board of Directors. A list of them (as of March 31, 2017) according to the latest Shareholder Report:

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This article provides a little bit of a background as to how a Japanese business board works. In the past, Japanese companies companies focused on the stakeholder elements of their company. Further developing their employee base and partners as they aimed to succeed in the particular market they were involved in. But more recently the Japanese Corporate Governance Code of June 2015 changed the game, as it set standards and rules that companies were “encouraged” to abide by. A major element of this code involves a company’s directors board. Not only were a wide-range of skill backgrounds and experience key, but also having a diverse board that properly reflects the size of a company should be taken into account.

So to review. Konami has been in the arcade game business since 1973. They naturally evolved to the computer and video game console from there. By 1997, Konami made their way into gaming (gambling) machines. The focus on health and fitness was the latest addition they added, arriving in 2001.

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Now. Where’s the video games?

You would think Konami understood the foundation of their company. The video games they produced helped them crawl out of the primordial ooze of obscurity and become a dominating business force. An immense library of titles under their belt, with the potential for the future magnifying that extensiveness to a powerful degree.

So what happened? How could they fuck up so badly? Simply put, Konami got too damn big. That’s evident in their attempts to restructure the company, as this goliath of a business they’ve become stumbles around and tries to regain balance.

But let’s look closer.

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Back in the 1980s Konami’s presence in gaming had titles such as Gyruss (’83), Track & Field (’83), Rush’n Attack (’85), and Quarth (’89). By the 1990s they were releasing things like Mission: Impossible (’90), The Simpsons Arcade Game (’91), Operation C (’91), Sunset Riders (’91), The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (’91), X-Men: The Arcade Game (’92), Lethal Enforcers (’92), Bucky O’Hare (’92), Batman Returns (’92), Rocket Knight Adventures (’93), Animaniacs (’94), Policenauts (’94), Road Fighter (’95), Silent Scope (’99), and Soul of the Samurai (’99). This is what Konami had going on top of their heavy hitter series. While it wasn’t the backbone of their video game catalog – chances are you’ve heard of at least one of these before.

But of course what we’ve come to associate Konami as a company with the most when it comes to their video game products had their beginnings during the 80s and 90s. Gradius (’85), Castlevania (’86), Metal Gear (’87), Contra (’87), Suikoden (’96), Beatmania (’97), Dance Dance Revolution (’98) and Silent Hill (’99). The top-shelf stuff that you’ve definitely heard of.

That’s all before the turn of the century. So what about the 2000s? Post 2000, the collection of titles became focusing on their key hitters. The Yu-Gi-Oh series was strong for the company. They were big into trading card games. They had some one-offs like Birds of Steel and NeverDeadZone of the Enders was going strong for a while.

But even the top-shelf stuff began to die off as Konami lost interest.

Suikoden was Konami’s big RPG. In fact, when news broke in August 2011 that the company disbanded the development team behind those games, it was said that they lost their “RPG know-how”  (the Frontier Gate title for PSP they made after that never really took off). 2012’s Beyond the Labyrinth for the 3DS seemed good but it never came state-side. Their last effort at a title was 2012’s Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki for PSP. Flop. Pachinko machine Suikoden came a few months later. Making the last proper entry into the series be Suikoden V in 2006.

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In Konami’s defense – they tried to innovate in the video game department at one point. In early April 2009, Konami announced Six Days in Fallujah. Intended to depict the war in Iraq with a realistic lens, this game was going to put gamers in the shoes of US soldiers fighting terrorist occupation. The project had the backing and consulting guidance of over 30 U.S. Marines. It was going to push the envelope, and have players making hard decisions in the heat of the moment. Is someone a civilian? Or are they an insurgent in waiting? Certainly there was nothing quite like Six Days in Fallujah at the time of its announcement.

But the title was cut short.

On April 27th 2009, Konami announced they weren’t going to move forward with the project after criticism from the public.

“After seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it,” a PR rep told Asahi Shimbun.

It looked like Contra was going to get a reboot after an E3 2011 trailer, but that project ended up getting tossed. Contra Mobile appeared in March 2016, but don’t hold your breath because it was only released in China. Even if it ever did come to the United States, you’d have to contend with a micro-transaction mess as well.

This loss of potential doesn’t just hit the long-standing franchises at Konami either, even the simple stuff like LovePlus went through something similar. Konami lost Akari Uchida (senior producer) and Mino Taro (character designer) within a month of each other back in 2015.

(translation by siliconera)

“I have nothing but the deepest feelings for the titles I’ve worked on,” tweeted Mino Taro. “In the midst of working in rough conditions as a video game creator, there was a lot I thought about, but I’ve come to my decision after thinking about the last opportunity of being able to do things I wasn’t able to with Konami.”

But there’s more to it than that.

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We don’t even need to look at Konami’s treatment of their own IPs to understand the big picture. The way the company interacted and dealt with another company by the name of Hudson Soft acts as a microcosm of what Konami is capable of.  Back in the 1980s and 90s Hudson Soft and Konami were like brother and sister. But then there was a fork in the road. Whereas one grew up, the other began to decline into poor health.

Hudson Soft’s bank Hokkaido Takushoku was dissolved in November 1997, which led the gaming company to turn to the stock market by December 2000. Konami began building up their investments in the company. By April 2005 they purchased 3 million Hudson Soft shares, making it into a Konami subsidiary and buying the company a few more years of life. In January 2011, Konami did a complete takeover of Hudson. It was widely believed that the company would try and make an effort to fully utilize Hudson’s various licenses. Nope. In April 2011 Konami liquidated Hudson Soft’s company shares. An entire treasure trove of video game IPs tossed away without a second thought. Adventure Island, Bonk, and Bloody Roar were some of Hudson’s greatest hits.  Lest we forget Mario Party 1 8 were all made by Hudson Soft. According to this blog post from a Hudson employee there were numerous plans in place to keep their work going. In January 2012 Konami decided to formally absorb Hudson altogether, making it official by March of that year. But many of their franchises were abandoned by Konami as hard as Hudson Soft’s buildings were. A survivor of the slaughter was Bomberman, who emerged from the ashes as a Nintendo Switch launch title in the form of Super Bomberman R. Momotaro Dentetsu would get a 3DS game too (Momotaro Dentetsu 2017: Tachiagare Nippon!!).

But the tensions at the time were high.

“Konami hasn’t gotten in touch with me at all. This is how they’ve tossed me aside for a while now. I’m announcing here that Momotaro Dentetsu is officially done. Ishikawa at Konami squelched everything,” said Akira Sakuma (creator of Momotaro Dentetsu) in June 2015. Konami would respond to his tweet on their site a few days later.

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A September 2015 Eurogamer article was sort-of right and sort-of wrong when they said Konami was ceasing triple-A production on all video games except Pro Evolution Soccer. It’s a bad sign when talent like technology director Julien Merceron leaves the company, and it didn’t bode well for the future of the Metal Gear franchise.

The overall impression would get so believable that it needed to be cleared up with a statement from Konami President Hayakawa:

“Konami will continue to embrace the challenge of creating entertainment content via different platforms. Not only mobile platforms, but for home consoles, arcade units, and cards, to meet the changing needs of the times.”

Despite the fact that Konami would go on to produce Metal Gear Survive, what it looked like was the company had given up hope on AAA titles (also there was Super Bomberman R if you count that as AAA).

Save for Pro Evolution Soccer. Konami has that going for them. It was great at first, face a period of decline after the company got too complacent, and they bounced back once they implemented their Fox Engine into the underlying foundation of the series. If you wanted a good soccer video game? You got a great soccer video game going on here (ignoring the mistakes made with PC ports sometimes). The only downside to the hyper-realism was contending with the occasional lawsuit for using someone’s likeness. For ages the fan-base would compare it with FIFA titles, measuring the length of each game’s johnson in order to see which had the best in particular for that year.

And PES league players? Konami takes good care of them.

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Konami has that going for them.

Then there’s the mobile market.

Back in 2008 and 2009, Konami shipped out iOS versions of their classics. Dance Dance Revolution, Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid, and even Frogger got their chance to debut on touch screens. By May 2012, Konami’s Dragon Collection and Sengoku Collection social network games helped keep the company’s profitability in pristine shape. The only business booming more than Konami was Zynga. This success was all in spite of the scrutiny from authorities that the associated companies involved (DeNA and Gree) had received for game mechanics. In September 2013, Konami released the Star Wars: Force Collection card game for iOS and Android. Players collect 230 different cards and battle against others to level up. Somewhere in the mix after this came PES Club Manager, allowing people who enjoyed Pro Evolution Soccer games to further their experience with a companion app. Konami made a strange move in September 2015 by removing a large swath of their 2008-2011 iOS games in one go, simply because they didn’t want to update them for the new OS versions.

At the end of the day, the money was rolling in.

Konami’s profits jumped 70% in a nine month period ending December 31st 2016, compared to their 2015 rate. Mobile games like JIKKYOU POWERFUL SOCCER with 5 million downloads and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links bringing 25 million certainly helped.

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I figured it would be helpful to ask someone who was in the trenches for themselves at one of Konami’s studios working on projects like this.

My source says they felt the directors were overworked in the office, and it seemed like the expectations were set too high for what could possibly be reached. “Konami saw huge potential in the western mobile gaming market but did not have an adequate strategy or understanding to engage it,” they told me.

Going free-to-play was a mandate from headquarters, as it seemed to be the most profitable. Their gameplay models had to be tailored to that. My source said it was easy to get burned out in the stressful environment and dealing with bad management. But they counted their blessings with the benefits they got in return with healthcare/vacation.

The game my source worked on was a big deal for their whole office, and they recall staying late to playtest it over and over. A lot of pressure. A lot of missed deadlines. Red tape and corporate interference caused anxiety. My source believes nobody in the company is ultimately “malicious” per say. The bosses wanted their studios to succeed. But the producers never really explained to the rest of the staff what the end goals were when it came to sales. My source had the impression they had to be on par with the top licensed franchises, clearing millions of dollars.

My source says it was strange how Konami seemed to shoot out 4 to 5 mobile games at a time with no recognizable IP, instead of leveraging this portfolio of franchises to their maximum potential.

But what their titans? What about the cornerstones that built Konami’s empire? Let us look at their fates. Watch the video game series gods of old fall into decay.

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Castlevania

Back in 1986, Konami created a MSX game called Vampire Killer. This would serve the foundation for the overall Castlevania series, with each new title adding different elements as the years went by. The Castlevania series centers around the Belmont family of vampire hunters facing off against Dracula. Getting resurrected every 100 years or so, the Belmont family is tasked with killing him off. Armed with a powerful and mystical whip called Vampire Killer, this otherworldly weapon is imbued with the necessary might needed to bring the blood-sucker down. Castlevania for the NES made complex levels, Super Castlevania IV added the badass whip, and games like Symphony of the Night added a Metroid-style layer of gameplay to push the series up a level.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night released in 1997 was highly regarded as one of the best in the series. Great soundtrack, riveting combat style, and overall gameplay and story depth helped set the game apart as one of the better ones. In January 2005 Konami decided to introduce Castlevania to the DS system. The game managed to excel beyond the company’s original expectations. On top of that, the sequel Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin raised the bar even further in 2006, getting showered in awards and good reviews.

The man at the helm was someone named Koji Igarashi. “Iga” is credited as the mastermind behind much of the charm in Symphony of the Night. Known for creating something called “Metroidvania,” throughout Koji’s development career he managed to keep things interesting for the series. Earning his skill through years of work and experience. He brought Ayami Kojima on board and got Michiru Yamane’s music in where it needed to go. The end product of Symphony was something with coherence and fun, and that was possible because Iga oversaw development. On the other hand, people’s criticism towards Iga’s work comes down to being he never really improved upon 2003’s Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. There was signs of hope in 2008’s Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia for the DS but that didn’t demonstrate growth as a developer to some folks.

But I digress.

Where it matters (in the case of the argument this piece is trying to make) is Koji’s steady hand guiding the release of Castlevania titles helped give the series a sense of individuality that made it stand out in Konami’s roster.

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But what happens when you hand a series to someone else?

On August 20th 2008, the next generation of the series was starting to emerge as a new Castlevania was announced. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was developed by Kojima Productions and MercurySteam. Overall it was intended to serve as a reboot of some kind.

It would certainly be a new chapter.

Elsewhere, by November 2008 Castlevania Judgement came around. A departure for the series by being a fighting game for the Wii. According to this interview, Iga’s interest in that was based around using the Wii’s motion controller to its full potential. The public reception to it was less-than-stellar.

In March 2009 there was an interview at videogamer.com with David Cox. It’s cleared up that Kojima’s role was essentially Cox reporting to him. In return Hideo gave story and technical advice, trying not to be too overbearing so the team at MercurySteam could freely move forward how they wanted. The purpose of it was a motivator for the team to strive for better quality.

Their reaction when Hideo comes to visit the studio:

Yeah we’re shitting ourselves! You got to make sure that the quality of what you deliver is very very high. You’re constantly saying to yourself, is that really good enough? Is that really going to be good enough? It’s funny, because sometimes you think, no, he’s not going to like that and he loves it, and then other times you think, check this out, it’s amazing, and he’ll go, hmm don’t know. It’s shit. So it’s swings and roundabouts. I think there’s a cultural thing there as well, with the Japanese company, western development, there are cultural things. He had a thing about Gabriel’s face. You know I don’t like Gabriel’s face. What’s wrong with his face? You know I can’t really put my finger on it.

The intent of the game was re-envisioning what directions the Castlevania universe could go in.

It wouldn’t be until June 2010 when we’d see more concrete details in a 3pageinterview on gamestm.co.uk. This time it gets into the nitty-gritty of what things were like from Konami’s perspective of the development process.

The three different regions of Konami (America, Japan, and Europe) were invited to propose a new Castlevania game that’d be more appealing to a wide audience. Konami intended to the series a powerhouse again. Showing it off at E3 2008 as simply Lords of Shadow, the title ended up making its way to the prototype stage and presented to the Konami board in Japan. When Kojima offered his help to the team at Mercury Steam, it was the point that Lords of Shadow became a solidified Castlevania sort of affair.

“The way it works inside Konami is that each studio is an independent entity, almost competing against each other. And getting projects greenlit at Konami is, let me tell you, really tough,” David Cox said.

Mercury Steam was able to get their foot in the door based on their stellar presentation from the outset. Coming out of a rough experience making Jericho, Mercury Steam was given the opportunity to prove themselves with this Castlevania game. At the time, Cox believed Konami was looking towards their western branches of the business to pull their weight more. He acknowledged there was a divide between the way Japan did things compared to the west, with the former focusing on particulars and polishing that while the latter one focusing on overall planning and getting things done.

There was a part 2 to the interview, this one being a whopping 5pageslong read. Cox notes that Symphony of the Night was a huge departure for the series back in the day. With Lords of Shadow they wanted to balance their Castlevania references carefully to make sure they weren’t beholden solely to that. Cox believed the previous attempts at 3D games had failed because they tried staying too close to the 2D roots of the series.  He didn’t feel this was a “make or break” moment for Castlevania, but rather a new direction. David Cox expressed the team’s commitment about making Castlevania mainstream again, and said Konami was always respectful to their franchise.

Releasing on October 5th of that year, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow managed to ship one million copies by the end of November 2010.

“Castlevania has truly reinvented itself with its move to next gen platforms and we’re extremely pleased at the positive response we’ve seen toward Castlevania: Lords of Shadow globally, mainly due to the dedicated fans who have supported the series for so long,” said Shinji Hirano, President of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. “The remarkable sales achieved in such a short time are a true testament of the work and dedication that went into this project, and we’re very grateful to have partnered with such fine talent in the rebirth of one of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.’s most successful franchises.”

So all’s well that ends well? Not quite.

David Cox marked the 25th anniversary of the series by proclaiming Castlevania would never die.

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By the beginning of June 2012 Lords of Shadow 2 would be revealed. Cox would express some regrets with how Lords of Shadow DLC worked out.

“The problem was that the game’s success caught everyone by surprise. It caught senior management by surprise and they wanted us to do DLC,” Dave Cox told Gameranx. “We never planned to do DLC, so we ended up doing DLC after the fact and in hindsight that was a mistake. It was rushed. We had to rush it to market.”

Igarashi was still at Konami but he wasn’t involved in the creation of Lords of Shadow, according to a June 2013 interview with Destructoid.

At the end of February 2014, it became clear Lords of Shadow 2 ended up being a complete garbage pile on the game creation side according to an anonymous developer’s forum post (the reviews for the title itself were mixed). Laying most of the blame on Enric Álvarez, this anonymous developer says the success of the first Lords of Shadow game caused Enric’s ego to explode. Every idea in the design department went through him and often ended up sabotaged or distorted far beyond the original concepts. This clash was especially evident between Enric and art director José Luis Vaello, to the point where he decided it was just better to leave than put up with that. Communication with staff was abymisal to the extent that the team learned about game features from the press rather than having it told to them by the studio head. The game was delayed by six months because department heads couldn’t come to an agreement on production deadlines. Overall morale was low, and the lack of encouragement from management for a job well done made other opportunities out there have more appeal. Mercury Steam’s engine wasn’t only outdated, but any requests by other programmers to update the system were rejected. This imbalance of skill turned the tables, making the studio a place where newcomer employees tended to understand things better than the company founders. Spanish website FSGamer was able to confirm much of what was said.

Enric says in a Eurogamer interview that the leakage of a 4/10 score from EDGE magazine had an impact, saying the press was blind this time around. Pointing to the first game’s Metacritic divide between critics and the community as a further example of it. It’s believed that MercurySteam was able to get the Castlevania franchise from Konami based on the limited budget the developers could work within. There was also a sense of stuff that didn’t seem to belong in the Castlevania universe was present in the game, with a few believing it was added in at Konami’s request.

“Is sad see people giving credit to the lies and insults from an enraged ex-worker. What a world we live in..,” Enric tweeted.

In the days that followed these reports, another Mercury Steam anonymous developer said a “witch hunt” resulted from the initial leaks.

On March 18th 2014, Koji Igarashi did an interview with Kotaku. The day before, he had announced he was leaving Konami, making the timing a perfect occasion.

“I was at Konami for 24 years. Twenty two of those years, I made core video games. For two of them, I made social games,” he told Brian Ashcraft.

This quote alone could imply that Koji was forced into social, but that’s not the case. He actually requested that kind of a transfer and considered it a learning opportunity. Igarashi says social gaming was profitable for Konami and the way the industry seemed to be headed in the years that followed. What caused Koji to reconsider his career choice was the messages he got from his fans. Tugging at his heart strings, he realized what he was known for was the standard style of video game content.

Iga admits the Lords of Shadow games didn’t turn out well. It was a downer to him that he wasn’t in charge of development when it came to these Castlevania projects.

Koji Igarashi would end up making Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

Dave Cox left the company in August 2014, after 17 years at Konami.

Castlevania ended up becoming a pachinko machine by August 2015.  Here’s the official website for it. In May 2017, a teaser for an upcoming Netflix series surfaced. There are reports that the series might make a comeback on Switch, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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Dance Dance Revolution

Naoki Maeda is a music composer that graduated Osaka University of Arts on a music degree. An odd and eccentric gentleman (Here’s a list of his dozens of aliases) that helped create the Dance Dance Revolution series at Konami. DDR is a rhythm game that involves a dance-pad accessory that players step on with careful timing, to essentially dance to music numbers guided by directional button prompts on a TV screen.

Maeda’s early work at Konami started in 1995 with Twin Bee Yahho! and then Salamander 2 in 1996. From 1998 onwards, he ended up spending 15 years creating music for their Bemani division. It started when Yoshihiko Ota recruited him for his Dance Dance Revolution project in 1998. Following the success of that, he became a lead sound producer for the series. Maeda’s fame skyrocketed along with the games as DDR’s popularity grew. If you want to get a sense of Naoki’s style, his Red Zone song is a prominent example often pointed to.

His band TЁЯRA was Konami’s personal J-POP/Rock group that had music made for BEMANI titles (Beatmania IIDX/Dance Dance Revolution/DrumMania/GuitarFreaks/Pop’n Music). On the side, Maeda served as a producer for another J-POP group named BeForU. Here’s their debut song alongside the release of Dance Dance Revolution 5th Mix in 2001.

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Describing what the Dance Dance Revolution is like seems like a daunting challenge. But someone by the name of Aaron Chmielowiec was able to provide that with the release of a 230-page book talking about it.  He came to Japan in Fall 1998 and was captivated by the first Dance Dance Revolution game when it came out. Ever since then, he’d become affiliated with DDR groups in the area who followed the series phenomenon as it made its way into arcades across Japan.

The community had some elitism issues as members of it who had contacts at Konami were able to set up test location events for upcoming iterations of DDR, at the same arcades they had worked at. Events like would end up causing leaks to happen, with videos and song step charts making their way onto the net.

Basically we get a sense of Konami’s product development and how involved the company and Naoki were in the process.

Unlike the Max 2 test location, the DDR Extreme test location was under strict security when it finally did appear. I happened to be in line that day from the early morning and witnessed firsthand a part – time staffer blocking the screen and jumping in front of players trying to block them from taking down notes, recording media and otherwise recording information on the game . Additionally, there were threats from the arcade staff to confiscate cameras. Of course, song lists and various media were sneaked out which of course enraged this part – time staffer, but fortunately this was the peak of this inter – group rivalry “we – control – the – information” nonsense and the environment for sharing information and media improve d from this point , with old rivals even becoming friends in the end. (Though in a sense, perhaps they always were) Of course, this same media was leaked overseas, despite the anger of some in the local DDR community that were not happy with that for whatever reason , including the possibility of a backlash from Konami to the effect of no more future public test location versions. One non – related event surprised the Konami reps (and Naoki himself) at the test location , however . One of the Konami staff sitting at the back was jotting down what songs people were playing and their letter grade result . There were a few AAAs performed on the test location machine and it seemed to shock the Konami staff, including an AAA on Love Shine ( Expert ) on the first play through of the song ever. Later on the Konami DDR Extreme test location blog , this same representative commented , “We need to be very careful not to cater our step chart s and difficulty to players like that”.

Konami was (and still is) highly protective of the legal rights to their IP. In May 2005 they took Roxor Games to court over their DDR clone game In The Groove. It uses an open source DDR simulator software called StepMania, and set out to be a harder version of the Dance Dance Revolution experience. Replacing points with percentages, using 3 to 4 arrows at the same time, and including mines that exploded if the player stepped on them were some of the unique aspects to In The Groove that helped establish the game as having a separate identity.

To play this game, people would replace DDR‘s circuit board with the one provided in these kits Roxor Games sold. RedOctane was pulled into Konami’s lawsuit by August 2005 because Roxor had arranged a full release of In The Groove as a proper video game for the PlayStation 2 (releasing one month after the initial May filing). Mad Catz ended up getting tossed in as well because they released their own clone MC Groovz Dance Craze for the Nintendo GameCube. Beyond the usual infringement of DDR as a game concept and allegations of unfair competition, Konami alleged that the replacement process Roxor Games initally used (switching circuit boards), was infringing because it wrongly piggy-backed off of DDR as a product in a direct way. Konami ended up winning the intellectual property rights to In the Groove by October 2006.

Konami would go to court again in July 2008, filing a lawsuit against the people at Harmonix who made Rock Band for patent infringement. They cited Konami’s 2002 and 2003 patents for simulated musical instruments, “musical-rhythm matching games,” and a music-game system as the grounds for their litigation.

According to this June 2009 interview, Konami was in the midst of rebooting Dance Dance Revolution as a series. It’s explained in the piece that they were reverting to the original name after titling DDR sequels things like “5th and 6th Mix,” and Naoki said this decision was made based on the fact the series had been going on for a decade at that point. It felt like a solid opportunity to hit the refresh button.

When Microsoft’s Kinect (known back in 2009 as Project Natal) started making waves, Naoki expressed his interest in using the device for dancing related video games. Naoki’s interest wasn’t as unusual as it might sound on it’s own. DDR‘s Wii version integrated support for the balance board accessory, DDR for Playstation 3 was going to use the Playstation Move, and overall Konami was actively experimenting with the available video game innovations out there at the time to see what worked.

We’d be introduced to DanceMasters for the Kinect in 2010, after Naoki introduced it on stage and demonstrated it live at Konami’s E3 2010 press conference. There’s an interview with him at E3 2011 where he talks about the future of DDR and other Bemani franchises. Since he can barely speak English we have no idea what he’s saying, but you can tell Naoki was optimistic about moving forward.

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As you can see in this demonstration video, DanceMasters takes the mechanics of Dance Dance Revolution up a notch by including a player’s entire body. Instead of stepping on a dance-pad to respond to button prompts, DanceMasters uses the Kinect to capture the player’s body movements as they imitate whatever poses the game tells them to do.

It wasn’t the only title on the block. Harmonix had their own competing Kinect dance game Dance Central release on the same day (November 4th 2010). Dance Central would have sequel titles release after their game scored positive reviews with critics, while Dance Evolution got a lukewarm response that would only get an port to arcades by March 2012.

Naoki left Konami at some point in or before June 2012 (another member of the E3 2010 Press Conference presentation, Tak Fujii, would end up leaving a few years later). Maeda made vague statements on Twitter alluding to some big change in his career, which would eventually be revealed as a transfer to CAPCOM. His project there was the CROSSxBEATS rhythm game for iOS which he announced on September 4th 2013.

The long standing rumor was that Konami decided to move all pictures of him from BEMANI games then on, but I wasn’t able to find anything to back up that claim. That isn’t to say Konami’s music branch didn’t have their share of controversies, though. They most certainly did.

A music game named Def Jam Rapstar would be part of multiple lawsuits. In March 2012, the EMI record label accused Terminal Reality and 4mm Games didn’t properly acquire the rights to songs by artists like DMX, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne. They wanted $8 million in damages. In May 2012, City National Bank would accuse Konami and Autumn Games of lying to secure a loan, saying the company told the bank sales projections would reach a “baseless and unrealistic” 2.5 million units. They wanted $9 million in damages.

The songs Dynamite Rave and End Of the Century in Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix ended up being redone in DDR X because of licensing issues, and Konami didn’t recommission the latter while having the former redone.

If you wanted to understand what caused the decline of Bemani games in the West, the answer is E-Amuse. The later releases of titles like Dance Dance Revolution and Beatmania were built with the E-Amuse network in their foundation. Without a connection to this, the game locks people out. In Japan, the E-Amuse network is what interlinks these arcade games together. It’s what makes the leaderboards and push updates, as well as setting rivals and acquire unlocks that are accessed via a card for player profiles. E-Amuse was initially only available in Southeast Asia, and it never expanded to international countries and territories for a long time. Arcades in the West were still able to import these cabinets at first when E-Amuse was in their early stages. When it got too entangled, a team known as Programmed World formed to fill in the E-Amuse gaps and support the international Bemani communities. On March 9th 2015 they got hit with a cease and desist. Programmed World was a valiant effort to try and maintain interest and community spirit for Bemani games, as the E-Amuse system had no interest by arcades in the West (which is why Konami didn’t formally expand services there).

But these games still have hope. In July 2016 Dance Dance Revolution A managed to score a North American release. This means e-Amusement network support. It’s currently available at select Dave & Busters arcades across the country (determined by what performed well during a test period). A separate arcade chain, Round1, is the only other place with Bemani titles at their various locations in the USA.

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Silent Hill

The first four Silent Hill games are really the core of the franchise and the only ones that actually mattered at all. Developed by a mysterious development team at Konami called Team Silent, they created a series of horror games that take the protagonists on a journey through the ominous fictional town of Silent Hill. Well, except for the fourth game that takes place somewhere different, but you get the point. The town served as an anchor that was capable of being a foundation for it’s own grander story, beyond the scope of the adventures of the characters throughout each entry. These games certainly earned their praise as being something that helped define the horror genre. What the delivered was atmosphere, and the video game industry at-large would see the success of that dynamic and try to build on that later on.

I talked to one of the testers for Silent Hill 2 to get a sense of what it was like back then, helping to build the game.

So, when I started I was hired on as a temp worker, but through Konami itself. That’s not how anyone I know does it now (or maybe even did it then). They always go through temp agencies. The test team was a dozen or so people. All college-aged. There were a few hard working testers, and some that would only show up half the time, or only write up one bug a month. And the test team and test room was cut off from the rest of the company. We only ever interfaced with our leads and the QA manager.

One day one of the testers saw Mark Hamill walking down the hall and pulled him into the test room. The test room is major off limits to people who don’t have access (it has all the games we’re working on in it). But I think they let it slide because it was Mark freakin’ Hamill. The dude is super nice too. Chatted with all the testers, shook our hands. It was great.

There was a breakroom at the end of the hall, but none of the testers were allowed in it (it was on the Production side). We could step outside the building, though, for a smoke, and then would be able to chat with some of the other employees who would step out of the break room. One day someone opened the door to the break room, and a couple of docs waddled out (there’s a lot of water fowl in the area). The testers should their heads and complained that the ducks got breakroom access and we didn’t.

So, I was working on the US localization of Silent Hill 2. The localizer would come into the test room and chat with us sometimes. He was friends with some of the testers. I made his day one time because one of the puzzles was in hexadecimal, and his degree was actually in physics, so he got to use it to help us with that puzzle.

Eventually, way, way later, things started to relax a little. I remember as a lead I was able to go into the production side and chat with developers. Also the Customer Service people, who were all ex-testers, too. At one point, I want to say it was after I left, they started testing PC games, and the PC testers were all in cubes over in the production side.

We were talking about SH2 one time and he mentioned that the artists had flown over, and he had shown them around Burlingame for them to get reference photos for the town of Silent Hill. The streets really do look like Burlingame, except for the fog. He had said that while he was showing them around, he stopped by his apartment to pick something up. When they made the game and we started testing it, when James goes into his apartment building, that’s the localizer’s apartment’s lobby. He shook his head when he saw it. I told him “Well, I know what I’m dressing up as for Halloween!”

Something I had heard about, that I imagine you’d be able to actually figure out, is that in Silent Hill 2, one of the characters is a little girl, and she shows up a couple times, but doesn’t have her own story. Apparently in the Japanese version she does have a story, and it ties all of the other stories in SH2 together, but they had to cut it for the US version. (I mean, if the two version are that different, it has to be known and documented by now.)

The department went on after that. They started working on the PC ports of Silent Hill 2 and others. What was it, 6-months or a year later they shut down the internal studio, fired everyone– except for QA. (and localization). Then eventually they closed that office down, and I think moved down to LA. (Then way later, as you know, Konami would eventually stop making video games.)

After that, the series went downhill. Silent Hill: Origins in 2007 was the first time people began to see things going stale. 2008’s Silent Hill: Homecoming didn’t even get a Japan release. By 2012’s Silent Hill: Downpour, the series had a hit a point of mediocrity in the public eye.

But there’s a story worth telling within this fall from grace. The tale of Guy Cihi, who played James Sunderland in Silent Hill 2.

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Guy Cihi was likely typecasted for his ability to express himself like a normal everyday sort of dude. He reportedly got the job because that’s what the directors had envisioned James Sunderland as sounding like. A perfect fit.

In October 2010, Cihi says he was contacted by Konami. They were “discussing issues related to SH2’s continuing popularity,” which Guy assumed was going to end up being for a Silent Hill 2 re-release or work for a Silent Hill 2 movie involving his James Sunderland character.

He did an interview with The Gaming Liberty a few days later.

Guy gives his background story. Born in New York and has a background in Industrial Design. This line of work caused Cihi to find himself interacting with clients in Japan. After his business partner died of cancer, he ended up cashing out and going into venture capital and incubation work. The point is, Guy ended up living in Japan. He got the role totally on accident. While Guy was setting up his business in Japan, he took his daughter to audition for a role in a Playstation game. While Cihi was waiting around in the break room, he began reading one of the nearby scripts sitting around. At one point, Jeremy Blaustein walked by the area and Guy asked if he could for James Sunderland’s part for the hell of it. His daughter’s audition didn’t end up anywhere, but that’s how Guy Cihi got the part. When recording lines for James, Guy was able to draw on the emotions of his recent divorce in order to become genuinely sad sounding on queue. Doing voiceovers acted as a catharsis. Cihi says there was 4 days of voice-acting but about 4 months of motion capture work.

Guy’s happy-go-lucky sort of approach to this disappears after The Gaming Liberty asks him about Japanese writers and developers making a story with English characters.

I don’t have a very positive opinion about the ‘suits’ at Konami. I mean, they blacked out my face in the making of video because they wanted to avoid paying residual compensation for my performance?!? What’s with that…?? They should have taken the high road. Another bothersome thing is that they didn’t credit the assistant director Jeremy Blaustein for the tremendous job he did supporting the actors on stage and re-editing the script. Don’t get me wrong, we all enjoyed working together on the stage with the creative team from Konami. The creative guys did an amazing job researching and writing an incredibly complex story full of intricate historical references. Their tragic SH2 love story has stood, and will continue to stand, the test of time. The fact remains however that the script was put into vernacular English by JB, and I think he deserves more credit for his work.

In a follow-up later on in the piece, Guy says he had no idea Konami released a “Making Of” video. The “suits” at the company never told him the game was a hit either. “Cutting people off seems like a regular thing for them. I hope that someday Konami management learns how to do right by the people who contribute so much to making their products,” Cihi stated.

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The documentary video in question blurs Cihi’s face by the 11:22 mark. Start a few seconds before that and you can see the actual blurring effect “activate” itself.

In June 2011 more of the situation unraveled on Guy’s Facebook.

When asked about reprising James for the Silent Hill HD Collection, Cihi responded by saying Konami “won’t” ask him to do it again because of alleged residuals owed for re-using mocap and voice recordings. Guy said he had a leg to stand on no matter what because even if they redid his voicework they’d still have to include his mocap movements no matter what. Cihi further clarified he only granted reproduction rights for the initial release of Silent Hill 2, and not for further reuses (think along the lines of Playstation 2’s “Greatest Hits” re-release gimmick).

In August 2011 there was a controversy over voice tracks being replaced in Silent Hill 2 HD. Troy Baker did an interview on the 23rd for The Gaming Liberty breaking down his perspective. Baker says Konami first brought up the idea of a Silent Hill HD face-lift back in 2010, but for the longest time the process seemed stuck in the discussion phase. But out of seemingly nowhere he was approached about the team’s initiative to give the game a “fresh face” and do something different. One of the problems with that was voicework was limited to the original animations and motion capture performances. Troy tells us his role was taking over for Guy Cihi as James Sunderland, which he says was an interesting feat in itself to pull off.

Specifically to Guy Cihi, you know, outside of Silent Hill 2, I honestly don’t know of anything else he’s done. I’m sure that if Silent Hill was my big game and I did it ten years ago and I saw how successful it was, I would want more money too. Actually, I don’t know if I would be that way because id just be happy that I was a part of a successful franchise. The thing that I have learned, especially with the Japanese companies, is that you never ever speak out. You never bash your employers. You never bash the people who gave you a huge leg up no matter what they’ve done or what you feel that they’ve done. But the fact that he’s talking about residuals being in videogames shows you just how out of the loop he is because residuals don’t happen.

Baker defends Konami’s side of the feud, saying the company had made no fault against Cihi. Troy says Konami wanted him back but Guy was adamant to try and negotiate new agreement terms, which led the company to ultimately turn him down.

On August 29th 2011 Guy Cihi would take to Facebook to respond to Troy’s characterization of events. Guy says neither himself nor any of the voice actors involved in Silent Hill 2 ever recieved written agreements for their work. All Cihi had was the verbal agreement they came down to during negoiations with Konami. He was under the impression he’d recieve a written contract but that never came to pass. Guy says the verbal agreement covered Silent Hill 2‘s release on Playstation 2. Nothing else was discussed beyond that. Citing laws within the state of California, the agreement (and circumstrances there-in) between Konami and Cihi gives Guy retention of all rights for reproduction and re-use of his vocal/mocap performances. Cihi expressed confidence about being in the right, citing the extrenous efforts Konami were going through to replace his voice-acting for the Silent Hill HD Collection. Guy says that nobody at Konami tried to contact him and straighten things out in the way Baker described. The only person to ever get in touch was Director of Licensing Michael Ranja.

This is what Michael said to Guy on October 6th of the previous year (’10):

“Per the voice acting done for the videogame Silent Hill 2 (your role as James Sunderland), I understand that in the past it was agreed that Konami would purchase and own all rights to the voice acting. As we don’t have paperwork for this, would it be possible for you to fill out the attachment and email or fax back to me?”

The second message from Ranja sent on the 22nd of that month assured Guy he would see what he could do in regards to arranging some sort of settlement agreement.

Guy Cihi says his qualms with Konami weren’t about money, but rather the way people were treated working on the production side. Citing the reuse of his material without a written agreeement as a reason and his contributions/face being erased from a “Making Of” video as another. After expressing gratitude for the chance to play James Sunderland in the first place, Guy Cihi relinquishes reuse rights for his vocal and motion capture work. He stated he didn’t want to be a barrier between Konami’s efforts to give the public a chance to play Silent Hill 2 in HD.

At the end of September, Guy Cihi would reveal more about what happened (in a Facebook reply) during Silent Hill 2‘s production. The original comment was by someone who applauded Jeremy Blaustein for making the negoitations between Konami and the orignal Silent Hill 2 voice actors possible. Guy didn’t take too kindly to that, calling it “false and misleading.” Cihi says Jeremy Blaustein was an opportunist and his behavior back in the days of production helped create the mess that was going on. According to Cihi – Jeremy came into the picture after he had gotten in touch with Konami. Back in the day, Blaustein had apparently attacked the quality of the original Silent Hill 2 voice actors. On set, everyone tended to ignore whatever direction Jeremy gave. On the days that Blaustein didn’t show up, everyone got more work done. Guy Cihi says Jeremy Blaustein was in charge of the casting agency who booked the Silent Hill 2 voice actors, and thus directly responsible for Konami’s neglegance in getting written agreements signed.

This would end up being only one of the potential sources of problems with Silent Hill HD Collection‘s development.

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On November 22nd 2011, Konami’s Tomm Hulett made an announcement about the voice acting for Silent Hill HD Collection on the official Facebook page. Silent Hill 2 in this collection would allow players to pick the original voiceover work (like that done by Guy Cihi), or the remastered performances (Troy Baker’s take). However “due to factors both technical and logistical,” the remastered voices were the only possible choice for Silent Hill 3 in this HD collection. But Guy Cihi was able to tell us more about what happened behind the scenes here. In a Facebook post he tells us about the sit-down that happened within that past week between himself/David Schaufele/Monica Horgan (original voice actors) and Tomm/Devin Shatsky from Konami. At the time the HD Collection was slated for January 2012 launch and all the major actors for Silent Hill 2 were willing to sign releases (there was one holdout from a minor role that Konami eventually decided to work around). The reason that Silent Hill 3 didn’t have the original voiceovers like Silent Hill 2 was because Konami couldn’t find Heather Morris in time to sign a rights release.

You can read more about Tomm Hulett’s perspective here. But the basic question is was Silent Hill HD Collection any good?

IGN gave it a 9 for the Playstation 3 version. The reactions between the old and new voices was a mixed bag. It was a mess on release. Both games had slowdowns and sync issues when it came to sounds. Framerates were atrocious. Konami would rush out a patch for the PS3 version, but overall it didn’t do much to fix any problems. The Xbox 360 version didn’t suffer from many of the same issues PS3’s did. It was debatable whether or not the HD Collection was worth it over the originals, which means the overall goal in the first place for making this wasn’t achieved. Masahiro Ito (art director for Original Silent Hill 2 and 3) was highly disappointed with the HD Collection‘s release. He believed people new to the series would see this collection and think both of the games weren’t very good at all originally.

They mucked up the fog as well in the remake, ruining the claustrophobic atmosphere that the player was intended to feel during the experience in the first place.

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In May 2012 a VG247 article explains that Tomm Hulett and the team were working with incomplete versions of the game because Konami lost the finalized orignal source code for Silent Hill 2 and 3. What this means is that there wasn’t just porting related bugs, but also glitches and issues that the original team dealt with during development and took care of previously. Things were further complicated as the devs doing the remake had to replace textures and sounds, bringing in a variety of technical hiccups of their own during that process.

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Konami had set out to release 3 Silent Hill games in March 2012, but their plan ended up a failure. Silent Hill HD Collection got delayed two weeks from Marhc 6th as to not have to face-off against the release of Mass Effect 3. But when it did come out it was a buggy mess that left gamers frustrated. Neither the Collection, or Silent Hill Downpour had much presence on PSN or Xbox Live. The negativity given towards these titles made Konami push back Book of Memories to a Spring 2012 release.

A pattern that emerged is Konami handed out their Silent Hill series IP to outside third-party developers. A habit that was previously seen in the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow section discussed previously. Vatra Games made Silent Hill: Downpour, WayForward Technologies made Silent Hill: Book of Memories for the Vita, and the Silent Hill: HD Collection was made by  Hijinx Studios. Konami had previously done this to Silent Hill back in 2008 with Double Helix Games who made Silent Hill: Homecoming.

In August 2015 Konami announced they were turning Silent Hill into a pachinko machine. Here’s the official website for it.

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Silent Hills

This game doesn’t exactly fit within the confines of the Silent Hill series. It never came to exist as it was envisioned in the first place, anyway. All the world got was a taste of it through the sweet and delicious P.T. demo.

It began back in September 2012, revealed during a Eurogamer interview. The President of Konami asked Hideo Kojima to make the next Silent Hill game.

Kojima also spoke about potentially getting involved with the Silent Hill series – a subject he expressed interest in via Twitter earlier this year.

“In the past I’ve mentioned Silent Hill in interviews, and as a result of that the president of Konami rung me up and said he’d like me to make the next Silent Hill,” Kojima revealed today.”

Honestly, I’m kind of a scaredy-cat when it comes to horror movies, so I’m not confident I can do it. At the same time, there’s a certain type of horror that only people who are scared of can create, so maybe it’s something I can do.

“That said, I think Silent Hill has a certain atmosphere. I think it has to continue, and I’d love to help it continue, and if I can help by supervising or lending the technology of the Fox Engine, then I’d love to participate in that respect.”

Back then it was mentioned seemingly in passing. Nobody thought anything would’ve come of it.

Sony revealed Kojima’s game at Gamescom 2014 as something called P.T., launching the interactive teaser on PSN. They were vague in their introduction, only saying that the game’s demo from this “new studio” (7780s Studio) was exclusively live at the time of the reveal.

P.T. as a game takes the player through an endless loop of a spooky house. The long and narrow corridors of this place seemed life-like in their appearance, making for a great and haunted atmosphere. The house had a bathroom, a foyer that allowed you to look into the upstairs section, and a basement. Entering the door of the basement took you back to the start of the house. Players would go through this loop over and over in order to see what would change. This small segment of house was filled with clues in every nook and cranny. A radio perched by the front door gave you some sense of backstory as well, delivered by the staticy voice of an announcer.

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On August 12 SoapyWarpig was able to beat P.T. (playable teaser) and unlocked the hidden trailer for Silent Hills at the end. The short clip revealed Guillermo del Toro was involved with the project, with Norman Reedus taking on the role of the protagonist.

Some people were able to figure it out before hand based on the fact that there was no Sony logo attached to the P.T. trailer, only a fake developer. Another similarity was the options menu being alike to the one found in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.

People’s spirits about the series were at a low before this. But Silent Hills brought optimism to an all-time high. At the time of the game’s initial unveiling, it looked like Silent Hills would be out by 2016.

So what happened to Silent Hills? For that, we’re going to need to see what unfolded with Metal Gear.

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Metal Gear

The golden gem of Konami’s intellectual properties.  The brainchild of Hideo Kojima, he took Metal Gear from its modest beginnings in 1987 all the way to the top over the course of nearly two decades of entries into the series.

Chronologically speaking, Metal Gear Solid 3 is the first game (in regards to timeline). Going under the name of Naked Snake, someone named Big Boss fights in the Cold War. By the time of Peace Walker, he’s running around South America to stop nuclear warheads from being transported. Ground Zeroes takes place directly after that. Big Boss gets in a helicopter accident that causes him to end up in a coma for nine years. The Phantom Pain takes place after that, with the Big Boss forming the Diamond Dogs military group to fight back against the XOF organization that caused his coma. But that Big Boss was actually a body double, with the real Big Boss going on to create Outer Haven.

The first (released) Metal Gear game switches protagonists, taking us under the role of Solid Snake. Big Boss sends him to investigate Outer Haven to find someone named Gray Fox and learn more about the Metal Gear weapon. Big Boss didn’t expect Snake to survive his mission, and reveals he was the leader of Outer Haven the whole time. Snake kills Big Boss, but it turns out to be that body double from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. In Metal Gear 2 he manages to kill the actual Big Boss. Metal Gear Solid reveals Solid Snake is really a clone of Big Boss, along with Liquid. Liquid takes control of the FOXHOUND group and they take over a nuclear weapons facility to try and get possession of the dead body of Big Boss. Solid Snake kills everyone except Revolver Ocelot. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the US President is another Big Boss clone, Solidus Snake. He’s trying to wipe out The Patriots group that’s guiding history. Solidius ends up in charge of a facility that has an Arsenal Gear fortress that’s able to filter information accessed via the internet. At the end of this game, Revolver Ocelot gets possessed by nanomachines that are controlled by Liquid Snake. Finally, in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, an old Solid Snake stops Liquid Ocelot from taking over the Patriots by destroying their A.I. systems.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was also a thing. But as you can see by this tweet, Konami gave as much thought and time to it as I did writing this sentence.

So why did people love it? People loved the story for being both complex and yet not taking itself too seriously. It was a defining foundation title for the stealth genre of video games. Overall it will remain memorable in the coming years as something that helped push video games to the next level when it comes to an artistic medium.

It brought in a lot of money for Konami. Metal Gear Solid 4 alone brought in 3 million units of sales on the first day of release alone. 4.5 million sales by February 2009. The company went as far as deciding when to launch The Phantom Pain based on how Ground Zeroes did in terms of performance.

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But controversy was inevitable. It started small at first.

Back in May 2008, Konami reps allegedly told people in the gaming press not to mention some details in their Metal Gear Solid 4 reviews. Aspects like the size of the game’s installation and how long the cutscenes are were apparently prohibited.

Kojima had a history of saying he was done making the Metal Gear series all the way since Metal Gear Solid 3. In retrospect? That sort of a fuss seems like one small drop in the tidal wave of heat Konami would find themselves in later on.

To get some context for what went down behind the scenes, I talked to someone who worked of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain:

This is completely boring as well, but, just from in insider’s perspective. When MGSV:TPP was originally sent in for testing around November/December 2014, the idea AFAIK, was that there were supposed to be 2-3 rounds of testing before the title was released.

I think this was about the same time that Konami was restructuring their company and trying to push Kojima out.

The game was supposed to go back for regression, i.e. to check if all the fixes had been made, but never did. So it basically had one round of localization testing, and a very intense one at that.

However, the game itself was completely unplayable in January 2015 and testing was rescheduled to April 2015. There ended up being basically 24 hours of testing a day, at least five days a week, for a solid month to go through everything.

Since MGSV was released in September 2015 and the release build has to be successfully submitted around 6-8 weeks beforehand, that would mean that Kojima was allegedly isolated from his dev team around last January or February 2015. Which also overlaps with the restructuring.

Geoff Keighley claims that Kojima was isolated from the rest of the devs for the last six months of development. The catch here is how you define development.

Based on having worked on the project, I do know that the mission that was cut from the game – which was made available on a Blu-Ray disc that came with the special collector’s edition – was apparently still being planned/worked on to an extent as late as January 2015 since I’ve seen text files dating from that time period where the lines from the cut mission were still included.

March 19th 2015. People began to notice that Hideo Kojima’s development team’s branding was being removed from official Konami websites (see this before n’ after) and social media. It was very confusing as some tweets from official accounts still included Kojima’s name on their marketing.

“As we have already announced, we are shifting our production structure to a headquarters-controlled system, in order to establish a steadfast operating base capable of responding to the rapid market changes that surround our digital entertainment business. Konami Digital Entertainment (including Mr. Kojima), will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products. Please look forward to future announcements,” Konami told IGN.

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It appeared that was the case, according to a news release quietly published back on the 3rd of that month. This proposed organizational re-structuring that was going into effect had caused Konami’s higher ups (content officers, senior producers, etc.) at their Digital Entertainment branch to be assigned manager roles for newly designated divisions. 3 different divisions for Production and 1 each for Production Management, Sales, Public Relations/Promotion, and Intellectual Property.

Given these sweeping changes it came as a surprise to many that Kojima was nowhere to be seen in these new plans. As you can see here back in July 2014, Hideo was an Executive Content Officer at Konami. People’s concerns were amplified as Kojima’s studio had been renamed from Kojima Productions to Konami Los Angeles.

It’s been suggested by many that Hideo left a message on that March 16th day, subtly suggesting to everyone that changes were happening behind the scenes.

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“Konami Digital Entertainment, including Mr. Kojima, will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products. Please look forward to future announcements,” the company told videogamer.com.

That same day, an anonymous source spoke to Gamespot about what was really happening behind Konami closed doors. Kojima Productions and Konami had “power struggles” which led the publisher to reduce Hideo’s team to contractor status (confirmed a few days later) instead of full-time employees. A byproduct of that was a clamping down on communications (internet, emails, phone calls) and limitations on opportunities for making appearances to help promote Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. This arrangement would last until the team’s contract was to expire by the end of December that year.

After nearly 30 years at the company, Kojima’s journey would hit a tumultuous final chapter.

The next day on March 20th, Konami would obfuscate the situation further by posting a job listing for a development team to make a new Metal Gear game. Even folks who firmly refused to believe the news from the previous day would have to see this act as a not-so-subtle hint from the company.

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A joint statement from both Kojima and Konami came later that day.

The latest title in the METAL GEAR series,“METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN” (below, “MGSV: TPP”), will be released as planned starting on Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 in North America, Latin America, and Europe, followed by Japan and Asia on Wednesday, September 2nd. Hideo Kojima will remain involved throughout.

Hideo Kojima stated, “I want to reassure fans that I am 100% involved and will continue working on METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN; I’m determined to make it the greatest game I’ve directed to date. Don’t miss it!”

In addition, KONAMI will continue to develop and distribute top-quality content in the METAL GEAR series following “MGSV: TPP.” We greatly anticipate and deeply appreciate your ongoing support for METAL GEAR.

So Konami’s route was basically saying “YES. Kojima is still working on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. But also YES, Konami is continuing the Metal Gear series after that game is released.”

People still had concerns, but the direct approach was helpful in assuaging the immediate doubts. The week after that saw Kojima Station announce they wouldn’t be broadcasting as usual due to “various circumstances.”

By the beginning of April 2015, Kojima’s name would be added back (after it was removed) to Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection on the website page. They did NOT do that for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain however. Whatever confusion happened there was never formally addressed by Konami. Similar thing happened on Konami’s page for Zone of the Enders HD Collection. Kojima’s name was removed and then it came back.

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At the end of March, Kojima’s logo was removed from the Silent Hills website. Konami gave the same “restructuring” line of reasoning as they had done before.

On April 9th we’d get some more coming out of the Twitter woodwork.

“Yes don’t throw away the Kojima teams work over the last 5 years because upper management fired a genius,” voice actress Donna Burke said. She did the voice of iDroid Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and sung “Sins of the Father” for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. When asked to specify that claim as a confirmation that Kojima was fired, “yes but it’s been out in the media for weeks..but it’s true,” Burke tweeted.

(The office pictures used in this section came from Metal Gear Informer.)

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Donna Burke would partially retract this statement on April 11th after Konami called her “categorically incorrect.” She’d make it clear that Kojima was indeed still working on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at that present time. “Konami is correct in that Kojima has not actually been fired,” she said.

But by the end of that April we’d get a four-day notice from Konami on the 25th, stating that they were removing the P.T. demo from the Playstation store on the 29th of that month. Any lingering hopes were extinguished that night when Guillermo del Toro flat-out said Silent Hills was “not gonna happen” in response to a question asked at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Alas, the project’s death was swift. On April 27th, the final word came down. “Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles, however the embryonic ‘Silent Hills’ project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued,” the company told the press.

Also on the 27th, Konami formally announced something they had done a few days prior. Delist themselves from the New York Stock Exchange.

As said in the release:

KONAMI CORPORATION (the “Company”) hereby announces that the voluntary delisting of its American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”) from the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) became effective prior to the opening of trading on April 24, 2015 (Eastern Time in the U.S.) as scheduled, following the filing, on April 13, 2015, of a Form 25 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) for delisting from the NYSE and deregistration with the SEC as announced on April 1, 2015. In addition, the Company has filed a Form 15F with the SEC on April 24, 2015 to terminate its reporting obligations under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”).

Some folks bought the given reason that it was all part of the company’s restructuring. Others thought in more particular terms, looking to the growth of Konami’s Pachinko business as an indicator of which way the wind was blowing.

May 14th 2015. The changes to Konami’s business are further explained in a 5 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) page interview on Nikkei. Konami’s Representative Director at the time Hideki Hayakawa goes more in-depth about the company’s perspective and strategy moving forward. His main job was mobile gaming.

Hideki explains that Konami had started to include online modes in some of their titles. In the process of building up your players or clubs in these games, the pricing model has ways of charging you money despite being a free-to-download upon entry. Hayakawa tells us that “mobile first” doesn’t necessarily mean “mobile only” when it comes to the company’s strategy. They interpret the company’s in-depth portfolio of IP at their disposal as something that needs to be considered based on what the consumer’s specific interests are. As it applies to innovation, Hayakawa expressed his confidence at how Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain were innovating in their respective areas and platforms. While the company has an awareness of the presence in overseas markets, Japan is their home turf. Hideki notes that cultural differences in other markets has somewhat of an impact on how they develop mobile gaming titles.

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“Creative power,” “polishing power,” and “power to deliver” are the three areas of production that Hayakawa says the company is focusing on. The point of their restructuring was intended to increase flexibility in responding to the means of consumers. By separating management and production, Konami believes they are hitting that goal.

By the end of May, we’d get another statement from Konami trying to clear up the situation that unfolded. “We are aware that the conjecture surrounding our recent changes has prompted a great deal of anxiety, for which we apologise,” they told IGN. Konami put a further emphasis on the fact that were still going to give Metal Gear and Silent Hill the attention they deserved, as they further pushed their mobile gaming business.

July 10th 2015. The Japanese voice actor for Solid Snake reveals that Kojima Productions was essentially dissolved.

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We’d see Kojima was starting to look towards the future on July 24th.

“I love working with Kojima-san. We are still in touch. We are still friends and working into doing something together, but that’s not going to be [Silent Hills],” Guillermo Del Toro told IGN in an interview.

We’d get to hear how far along Silent Hills was before Konami shut it down.

“We were in the planning stages, and it’s a shame it’s not going to happen,” del Toro said. “We were talking about really pushing the boundaries of the new consoles, and making the game really mess with your head. One of the great moments in Metal Gear [Solid] was Psycho Mantis. The idea that a game can actually interact with you, and stuff like that.”

The Japanese media outlet known as Nikkei came out with a report on August 3rd 2015 that further stoked the Konami controversy. A translated version of the article (both pages) is available here and here.

The report has a statement from an employee who cited the shift in Konami’s business model being linked to the success of the Dragon Collection smartphone game. While it only took tens of millions of yen to make, it brought in hundreds of millions of yen into the company’s profits.

When looking at the 2011 Konami shareholder notes, we can further verify the board of directors was impressed with the title’s success.

“In games for SNS, DRAGON COLLECTION, for which online distribution was launched on GREE in September 2010, saw membership top 2 million players. DRAGON COLLECTION has also remained the top-ranking GREE title for 23 straight weeks and received the Best Overall Application Award at GREE Platform Awards 2010. In these ways, this game has won strong customer support from many quarters and sales are expanding steadily.”

Later on in the notes, there’s remarks about what the Directors will do in regards to games with social networking services (SNS). They thought online experiences where players could get involved on a global scale was going to be the next big thing. Konami’s board says the plan was to increase their focus on that where it seemed possible and applicable to do so.

So yes. That Nikkei article’s Konami employee remark is entirely accurate.

The overall sentiment at the time was allegedly that Konami was going to shift more of their attention to casino games as a result. While that might be true, it’s not necessarily the entire big picture. Referring back to the 2011 shareholder notes, over on page 10 we can see the board of directors very bluntly lay their intentions out.

They were recovering from the global economic decline that had taken place in the years prior – causing Konami to adapt their company structure. From their central HQ holding company with four separate segments, the Directors thought they could better manage the different needs of every market with this approach.

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One of the article highlights is the 10 billion yen development cost for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Elsewhere this aspect is expanded upon. According to Gamerant, the composer for games 1-3 of the Metal Gear Solid series, Rika Muranaka, did an interview with The Codec Podcast. Responding to what she believed to be the reason for Kojima’s rift with Konami, she states it was a combination of Kojima’s salary along with the amount of delays that Hideo would have before finishing. A portion of the costs was dedicated to upgrading the Fox Engine so it could accomplish what Kojima had envisioned for Metal Gear here. Again this is only a rumor.

Right after that, in a throwaway sentence, it briefly states Kojima is being “incarcerated” in his own office.

This type of employee treatment isn’t out of place for Japan’s workplace standards. In a piece by the New York Times, readers come to know the saga of a Sony employee named Shusaku Tani. After being staffed at one of their plants (that made cassettes and video tapes) for 32 years, Tani refused to take an early retirement offer from his employer. Japanese labor laws enable workers more freedom in that respect.

The response from management was to exile Shusaku to the “chasing-out room” where he and 40 other employees like him spend their days. Within this small space, Tani browses the internet and reads newpapers or books. That’s it. At the conclusion of the work day he reports on his activities, and heads home. While Sony objects to criticisms by saying employees are given career advice and options, the overall dynamic is put on display fairly succinctly.

Yes. The part about Kojima being confined to his Konami office for the span of the workday is feisable.

Konami’s distancing of themselves from Kojima is further mentioned elsewhere in the article. Hideo’s department from which he developed the Metal Gear franchise from had been renamed Production Department 8. A small detail that can be backed up elsewhere. In July 2015, it came to the public’s attention that Hideo Kojima’s name was removed from Metal Gear Solid V‘s box art.

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But a significant portion of the August 2015 Nikkei article is dedicated to employee relations with management. They were in a very sordid state according to the piece. Like an Orwellian Big Brother, cameras are stationed in the office hallways to watch over employees as they move from location to location throughout the day. When it was time for lunch, breaks were closely monitored with time cards. If you came back from your lunch break late, your name would allegedly be announced for the whole company to hear. Nikkei says in one instance where an employee announced on Facebook that he was leaving his Konami job, it was monitored. Anyone in the company who liked the post had their job post reshuffled.

Nikkei alleges Konami employees aren’t allowed to have their own email addresses. This is true, and the company still uses this practice as recent as a few months ago, according to this Linkedin job posting.

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This practice had gone on for years, if the Konami employee email address shared by Guy Cihi back in 2010 was a legitimate one.

An often overlooked section of the Nikkei Konami article is a section about Momotaro Electric Railway, a video game made by Hudson Soft (and thus in Konami’s possession after their corporate takeover). Akira Sakuma public tweeted about the lack of communication from Konami in regards to revenue sharing agreements, so he assumed Railway was officially terminated. That outburst caused Konami to address the matter in a statement response, assuring the public that talks were still ongoing. Sakuma ended up making a deal with Nintendo at some point after.

I discussed that earlier, but it’s worth mentioning it again as it shows how Konami handles creative talent in their business. Stop overlooking it, folks.

It’s worth it if we take the time to summarize some of the interactions that YouTubers have had with Konami in the past. Three different cases had shown up by this point, all of them having some sort of run-in with the company.

  • Jim Sterling (2012): Blacklisted. But thank god for him, as he was one of the first to call out the Konami situation as it was. Back in March 2012 (but uploaded later in September of that year to the Escapist YouTube), Jim Sterling aired his grievances with Konami’s overall strategy as a games publisher. He starts off by pointing to Konami’s 2010 E3 conference as one of the first signs of trouble. It was chock-full of either PR people who were disconnected from the products themselves, or Japanese people who couldn’t speak English fluently. Sterling then goes over Konami’s failure to properly strategize their product releases. Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection‘s release went up against Call of Duty which is an overall hindrance to Konami when it comes to get the public’s interest in sales. On top of that, those who were actually interested in buying the collection would have trouble finding it. The availability in stores was extremely limited. On top of *all that*, Jim points out the timing of the HD Collection’s release makes a separate release of Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D for the 3DS feel redundant. Elsewhere, Sterling tells us that Konami was releasing three Silent Hill games in one month. Silent Hill Downpour, Silent Hill HD Collection, and Silent Hill Book of Memories were going to be released within a week of one another during a “Month of Madness” event. Jim says Silent Hill HD Collection seems like a very easy thing to make (just requiring modern touch-ups and upgrades), but Konami managed to screw it up regardless. Whoever developed the game for Konami to publish? Released a product full of audio and visual bugs that necessitated a day-one patch to be pushed out. The game’s art director Masahiro Ito expressed his shock at this.  Book of Memories ended up getting delayed to a “Spring” date in the future, which Konami made happen with little to no notice of the public after heavily pushing their “Month of Madness” campaign. A separate game released during this Month of Madness was Blades of Time. According to Sterling, Konami had not marketed the game at all. Going as far as giving a week’s notice as to Blades of Time‘s released date. Producer Tak Fujii couldn’t obtain a copy of his own game when he visited the United States that week. All in all, Jim Sterling poses the question of why Konami was in the video game publishing business at all? He goes on to say he had an interview set up for a certain unnamed Konami game. Telling us of his intent to help get details about it out to the public, Sterling says he did all the legwork in advance to make this interview happen. All he needed was a response from Konami PR to acknowledge it.
  • Angry Joe: At E3, Angry Joe did an interview with Konami’s Community Manager about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. As he explains in a separate vlog piece, when arriving to do the interview Angry Joe was pulled aside by PR staff and told he wasn’t permitted to ask particular questions. They stated to Joe they had no further comments on the Kojima situation.  Joe says his intentions in the first place were to get answers about microtransactions and the future of Metal Gear with regards to Kojima’s involvement in the franchise moving forward. He tried to balance that along with his responsibilities to his subscribers to get answers, but Joe ended up getting reprimanded by Konami anyway because he mentioned Kojima’s name at all.
  • SuperBunnyHop: His original video released on April 27th 2015 got taken down by Konami. It summarized the events I had previously mentioned about what was coming out about Kojima’s employment at Konami at the time. SuperBunnyHop pressed the company PR for answers but was stonewalled. The big names attached to the Silent Hills project were a dead-end as well, with their publicists being unable to give SuperBunnyHop a straight answer. Sources familiar with the situation were able to come forward anonymously and contextualize the feud between Kojima and Konami executives (see below). YouTube’s copyright claim system at the time err’ed significantly in the favor of claimants over video uploaders. His follow-up video on May 14th goes over this explaining that the DMCA takedown only lasted a few hours over the course of May 11th, before it was reversed by YouTube. According to the emails presented, this was done by YouTube themselves. “We are very concerned that your copyright notification may not be valid for some or all of the videos identified in your notification,” said YouTube’s message to Konami. What solidified this takedown as being legitimately from Konami and not from an imposter is the copyright notification being signed by a Japanese lawyer that was a higher-up at Konami. The alleged infringed content was Metal Gear Rising footage SuperBunnyHop included at a part in the video that was discussing the game’s position among the Kojima controversy going on at the company. “Almost everything in the video would likely be considered fair use from a copyright perspective,” said a lawyer interviewed by Polygon. SuperBunnyHop said Konami never reached out to him personally, nor did they deny their involvement (or address the matter) to the public. The occasion is seen as noteworthy because it’s one of the first times that YouTube’s team has intervened directly in one of these high-profile takedown situations.
  • Jim Sterling (2015): It makes more sense to separate Jim Sterling’s Konami run-ins this way, as that three year span of time between his initial video and these two follow-up ones had a lot of things happen. In this first one at the end of April 2015, he says he saw the opportunity to bring up the topic of Konami again after the initial public fallout between Konami and Kojima + Silent Hills happening in the prior weeks. After getting the viewer up to speed on Konami’s failures as a publisher he mentioned in 2012, Jim reveals the interview he had set up for back in the day was in regards to the PS Vita version of Silent Hill: Book of Memories. WayForward wanted the piece out, but Konami never gave the dev and Sterling a thumbs-up to publish it. This communication blackout is the sort of thing that spurred Jim to make his 2012 Konami video in the first place. After that video went up, Sterling was informed that Konami had blacklisted him. The piece made its way to Konami’s corporate offices in Japan and into the eyes of the higher ups. At this point a US PR rep for Konami told Sterling straight-up that his Book of Memories interview wouldn’t be permitted. Later on, Destructoid managed to book Jim an E3 appointment with Konami to get a hands-on experience with one of their games. He was herded off to the side by PR reps who told Sterling they would not be able to cover them. Jim says he had to get Book of Memories director to sneak him in later to get him a chance to play it. Sterling would end up publishing his interview anyway. This war with Konami he waged ended up getting all of Destructoid blacklisted by the company. The only way Jim was able to have these things communicated to him was: Konami told a US PR rep who would then tell Destructoid’s EIC, who would then relay things to Sterling. At the end of this first video, Sterling expresses his apathy towards Konami’s fate. He forecasted they had no future as a video game publisher, and would at the most manage to get by with selling Panchiko machines and other products. A second video would arrive in August 2015 after the Nikkei article about Konami working conditions hit the public. His prediction about Panchiko would prove true in a sense, as Silent Hill‘s series license would be used as a foundation for one. Sterling reveals he was able to acquire information going into further detail about what was going on behind the scenes at Konami, via employees who had first hand knowledge. Jim’s sources said the Nikkei report was sensationalized. The notion that Konami monitors lunchbreaks and crosses the line of employee paranoia didn’t match-up with their own experiences. Many facets of the report regarding workplace practices were not specific to Konami and apparently commonplace in the industry. But then the video takes a turn towards intrigue. According to Sterling’s sources, there are aspects of work that caused “mental, physical, and emotional damage” to employees. This is pointed at as a factor for Tak Fujii, Koji Igarashi, Akira Yamaoka, and possibly Hideo Kojima leaving. The allegations are that Konami has a company approval system that serves little to no point and complicates development more than it helps. It’s essentially mandatory to go through it in order to get approval for anything that costs money (workplace items/supplies for public events) and it can take up to 2 weeks before that request is responded to. “Structure that actively discourages communication between departments,” is mentioned. Referring to the isolation of divisions and not having them talk to each other. “Company-wide initiatives change every year,” talks about not just the shift in direction the Board of Directors decides to take things in, but the expectation of compliance from Konami’s employees to jump on that whim. “No sense of history/legacy” refers to the self-explanatory direction of the company where once-beloved franchises were being turned into Pachinko machines. “Denies impact/importance of key creative employees and their contributions,” in laymans terms means Konami doesn’t attribute successful business ventures to the development teams and key employees that made that happen. Sterling points out the similarity of what was happening to Kojima was similar to the treatment of Akira Yamaoka for Silent Hill and Koji Igarashi for Castlevania.

Sterling brings up Konami quite often in Jimquisition videos, apparently. Feel free to listen to them all for yourselves if you’d like.

The main bit of new information that SuperBunnyHop brought forward in his original piece was made available in a photo for easy reading.

SuperBunnyHopKonami

At the end of his August 2015 Konami video, Sterling tells us the story of a hypothetical Konami employee that was newly hired. At your first day on the job you might not have a computer because it wasn’t approved yet. If and when you get one, you won’t have an email address yet. This means you’re forced to create a hotmail account to send professional emails from. Even if you get access to these two things, you still need to get access to the approval system. His point is the hypothetical new employee will have wasted two weeks waiting to get the necessary access and supplies they need to get started. After all that, it still takes time to learn how to do your job. The work environment mentality is apathetic to your situation because the focus is “you better do the job you’re getting paid to do.”

Keep that in mind.

On September 1st 2015, Konami let Kojima have one final send-off video to commemorate the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

“I don’t think anyone is capable of planning a series that spans 28 years. I always felt that every chapter I made would be the last, and nothing would follow,” Kojima said.

Various figures involved with the Metal Gear project give their final thoughts to Hideo about what it was like working on the games. The emotional sentiment is amplified with the instrumental soundtrack softly playing in the background. It climaxes at the very end when Kojima goes to the home of a fan of one of his games. This fan had cancer and was going through chemotherapy, so he used video games as a means of escaping the limitations his own body placed on him.

Kojima says his source of energy is the enthusiasm from the public and his fans.

Don’t get Konami wrong here, they knew how to hype up the release of their game despite the Kojima controversy. “Basically, it is the most engrossing and stunning game of the year,” Konami marketing executive Jon Edwards told MCVUK.

He hones in on the amount of open world scope on display in this sandbox. Not just about the amount of opportunities and missions on offer, but in the various methods at a player’s disposal to accomplish them.

“It is a very key title for us and will have a huge retail presence,” Edwards explains. “We have cinema ads, blanket editorial coverage, a series of online take-overs, and outdoor ads all over the country. We have worked with Sony to produce the MGSV-themed PS4 – which is a stunning piece of kit – and we will be everywhere around launch. I do not exaggerate when I say MGSV is probably the best game of the year. Our push will remind people of that.”

People already knew.

According to the New Yorker, Kojima’s last day at Konami ended up being October 9th 2015. A source who attended the “departure ceremony” (party) said the going-away occasion took place at Kojima Productions, giving a chance for folks to say their goodbyes. Konami higher-ups Sadaaki Kaneyoshi (C.E.O.) and Hideki Hayakawa (President) did not show up but most of Kojima’s work buddies and acquaintances were able to swing by.

On October 20th 2015, a day after the New Yorker piece came out, Konami’s response was that Kojima was simply on vacation. It came via a Tokyo Sports article that Kotaku translated.

“Currently, Kojima and the development team are finished developing Metal Gear Solid V and are taking a long time off from work,” they said. When asked about the party, ““We’re not sure what kind of thing this was.”

The author of the New Yorker piece would call Konami’s bluff and tweet out a photo of the farewell party they claimed to not understand.

GoingAwayParty

On November 3rd 3D Realms co-founder George Broussard tweeted out that Konami was going to shut down the LA studio where Kojima Productions was. He cited 35 jobs being lost, but Eurogamer’s estimate was 20.

The following day, Polygon acquired an official statement from the company as to what was up.

“Konami has made the decision to close its Los Angeles Studio, effective immediately, due to the product development resources being restructured into a more centralized unit,” Konami said. “This facility contributed to the recent Metal Gear Solid games. Konami will continue its operations to support all Metal Gear Solid titles, including the recently launched Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain and Metal Gear Online. Metal Gear Online is still scheduled to release for PC Steam in January 2016.”

On December 15th 2015 Sony announced their partnership with Kojima’s new studio. News had gotten out in advance thanks to a Nikkei report, so I guess the executives thought it’d be better to just come out to the public with it sooner rather than later.

“My employment contract with Konami has been terminated as of Dec 15th, so today marks a new start for me. I’m committed to be involved in creative activities for as long as I live. Look forward to what’s coming,” Kojima tweeted.

By June 2016 Konami would end up pachinkoing Metal Gear. Here’s the official website for it.

MGSPachislot

Konami would still keep the Metal Gear series alive of course. A July 2016 report showed that the Metal Gear franchise sold 49 million copies. That’s nothing to shake a stick at. They promised to continue the series after Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and they were going to follow through on that.

Metal Gear Survive was the answer. In the interim between Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, a group of soldiers are teleported to an alternate dimension. This world is filled with crystal creatures that resemble zombies. The aim of the game is to get the soldiers back home and survive in this hostile universe.

Some people are willing to give the game a shot. Others are more skeptical, claiming it doesn’t fit with the style and theme the Metal Gear series had created.

But it also serves as the answer to the question about Konami. All the company wants to do is survive. They’re at a comfortable place financially, so all they need to do is maintain that position as a business and they think they’ll do fine.

The only way we can move the public dialogue about Konami forward is by properly understanding where the problems originated from in the first place. The Board of Directors. At the end of the day, Konami’s directors at the top of the corporate ladder bear the burden of responsibility when it comes to how the company is managed.

KonamiDirectorsview

A January 2008 essay by Ryo Kambayashi talks about Japan’s workplace dismissal regulations. While he requests nobody quotes from it without his permission, the relevancy of the information within is too important to this discussion to simply pass up.

Japanese labor laws are proficient at covering minimum standards when it comes to employment. But when it involves the changing or termination of a job, that’s much more of a grey area. The closest thing Japan has is called the Doctrine of Abusive Dismissal. The overall economic impact of this Doctrine is still left to be decided and understood.

Going over Article 627 of the Japanese Civil Code:

(1) If the parties have not specified the term of employment, either party may request to terminate at any time. In such cases, employment shall terminate on the expiration of two weeks from the day of the request to terminate.

(2) If remuneration is specified with reference to a period, the request to terminate may be made with respect to the following period of time onward; provided, however, that the request to terminate must be made in the first half of the current period.

(3) If remuneration is specified with reference to a period of six months or more, the request to terminate under the preceding paragraph must be made three months before the termination.

Basically employers only need to give a degree of time to your notice.

In a worker’s defense is Article 19 of the April 1947 Labor Standards Act which protects termination of employees during a period of illness, injury or maternity leave, and up to 30 days after the fact. Article 7 of the 1949 Labor Union Act protects workers from being discharged from their job on the basis of being involved with labor unions in any capacity.  Article 6 of the June 1972 Act on Securing, Etc. of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment protects against changes in job and employment status on the basis of sex.

The court system made The Doctrine of Abusive Dismissal as a means of providing some sort of explanation as to why workers are dismissed from from the workplace. When the worker is the one who leaves a job, it’s referred to as “Normal Dismissal.” The other category, “Economic Dismissal,” happens in cases like no-fault layoffs.

Even if an employee is the cause of their own termination, employers are still subject to “objective reasonable and socially appropriate” conditions on top of that.

  1. The employer must reasonably explain the necessity of reducing the number of workers to court: was it done with regard to the immediate needs of the business?
  2. The dismissal has to be a last resort: did you already try voluntary retirement? did you already stop recruiting new people? did you try transferring people to different positions?
  3. Proper selection of discharged persons: this means firing someone shouldn’t be done in an arbitrary fashion.
  4. Procedure of dismissal should be reasonable: can you explain the reasoning to employees/trade unions and justify why someone was laid off?

Article 18-2 was added in the 2004 revision of the Labor Standards Act, to include the Doctrine of Abusive Dismissal, stating:

A dismissal shall, where the dismissal lacks objectively reasonable grounds and is not considered to be appropriate in general societal terms, be treated as a misuse of that right and invalid.

Again. While I’m not going to quote directly from this essay at the request of the author, they’ve elaborated on these points and cite Japanese court cases to further flesh out that aspect of their legal system.

Alright. So what does it all mean?

Letting an employee go from a company is meant as a final solution, and intended to be difficult on purpose. Shuffling an employee around in the company is okay, but if it’s done to make people quit that’s not seen as legal either. Even your company’s money intake is highly diminishing (and regardless of that certain employee possibly being responsible), the Japanese court demands employees be given a chance to get training or opportunity of some kind. If not, the termination of an employee could be declared an invalid one.

Early on in writing this, I asked my Twitter followers to tell me what they thought of Konami. This was the kind of distinction that was made.

KeepThisInMind

There’s an apparent difference on some level between a company’s success, and the perception of how the company got there.

In June 2009 it came out that 36-year-old Yoko Sekiguchi was suing Konami Digital Entertainment. Her job at the company was license acquisition for video games like Winning Eleven, which often required Yoko to travel overseas. After returning from maternity leave she was reshuffled to a job that kept her in Japan solely, and Sekiguchi says she had a ¥200,000 cut to her salary as a result of that. The lawsuit sought ¥33 million in damages as well as restoration of Sekiguchi’s job at the company prior to this incident. Sekiguchi’s lawyers said Konami representatives told them it wasn’t a demotion, simply a change done out of concern for Sekiguchi’s health and for the sake of the child.

“Being forced to lessen your career to raise a child is sexual discrimination,” stated Yoko at the time.

This battle ran all the way through December 2011. According to Asahi, Yoko won as settlement of ¥950,000.

In July 2013 a former Konami employee did an interview with Asahi News about his experiences there, and the depression that resulted. Back in 2010 this employee had worked in game development, but he was shipped off to the Career Development Center, who told him that he would have to work at the pachislot factory while he looked for a new job within the company. If he wanted a job outside the company he would get a 3-month contract agreement that wouldn’t be renewed upon expiration. The employee took the pachinko factory job, in which he was tasked with breaking old machines down with an electric screwdriver. During this time period he couldn’t find another job at Konami, and it threw him into a depression for almost two years, where he stayed confined inside his home.

KonamiOfficeUK

Next, I want to point out some things mentioned in the yearly Konami shareholder memos. By analyzing the differences from year to year, we can reveal some of the mindset behind the Board of Directors.

  • 2009-2010: The compliance committee serves as a control system to keep the duties of the directors in check. But as a later section states, it also serves to make the behaviors of employees known in an effort to commitment to compliance of the overall corporate philosophy. You can tell this system was put into place by 2010 because they switch to a present tense (from “will proceed with” to “is proceeding”). It mentions a system of internal communications is in place to report ethical issues and other matters, so the Board of Corporate Auditors can hear from employees directly. They began to focus on the business segments at this point. Large-Scale acquisition section was essentially reworked during these two years.
  • 2010-2011: The first point of interest is the “Sources of corporate value” section, which the memo outlines as a means of showing what Konami is doing as a company in their different departments. They made their company into a holding company with different segments so they can quickly respond to whatever demands a consumer has. Again, the company refines what they mean in terms of Large-scale acquisitions as a game plan.
  • 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015: Lots of small rewording. In the 2012 memo there’s a special mention of consolidating dividend payout ratio to over 30%. But otherwise it’s stuff like: “Code of conduct and guidelines for behavior” becoming “conduct charter and code of business and ethics,” “Board of Corporate Auditors” becoming “Audit & Supervisory Board,” rephrasing corporate goals to include shareholders…. it’s all nit-picky.
  • 2015-2016: This was the year where the Kojima controversy happened. It reflects in the drastic revisions made to this section of the shareholder notes. It mentions the Konami Group Code of Business and Ethics, and firmly states management communicates these guidelines to all the employees and officers in Konami’s group. The Compliance Committee is in place to make sure this system is effective, and the company has an internal notification system to “prevent improper incidents from occurring.” It even mentions that Konami watches out that employees don’t get involved with “anti-social forces and organizations,” mentioning their willingness to get the authorities involved where necessary. Control regulations are in place to make sure company subsidiaries check in on a regular basis with the company. “Konami Group Risk Management Regulations” are in place to avoid damages to the company, and identify/address risks whenever they may appear. It’s intended to make sure operations go smoothly, and they try to make that happen through this internal control system. An Audit & Supervisory Board Member can demand employees be assigned an assistant who doesn’t report to the Directors at all, while only taking orders from the Audit & Supervisory Board. The memo outlines standards needing to be establishment for situations in which officers and employees need to report to the Audit & Supervisory Board anything that could affect Konami’s operation and overall performance. They say these reports are held as confidential, and that the “informer” would never be subjected to unusual treatment for snitching. Later on the memo reiterates and outlines the system. Company code and guidelines are readily available for all employees to read corporate philosophy (Konami Group Code of Business and Ethics, the Konami Group Officers and Employees Conduct Guidelines). The Company’s Compliance Committee exists to make sure everything is under control, and the internal notification system makes this happen.
  • 2016-2017: If you thought the wild ride stopped in the previous set, you’d be in for a surprise. They gutted most, if not all, of the “Basic Policy on Control of the Company” section.

If you skipped reading all that, just know that Konami has always been worried about takeovers and other company risks, to a higher degree.

That leads us to the Konami Group Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which is worth a look-over for yourselves. Chapter I is general rules that state this code applies to all officers and employees of Konami, that any questions should be directed to the compliance committee, and anyone who thinks the code is being violated should report to the Compliance Committee about it. Chapter II is all about complying with related laws in a country. Respecting the diversity of other countries, not stealing other people’s ideas, not using Konami secrets as a means of profiting, not engaging in conflicts of interest against Konami, not taking business opportunities that haven’t been offered to Konami directly, dealing with suppliers in good faith, “shutting off relationships with antisocial forces,” maintaining order in the workplace, protecting confidential information/assets/property, disclosing information to government entities where required by law, and lastly concentrating on work during business hours. Chapter III is all about employee output. It says employees need to efficiently work together, study business trends, try to be cost-effective, and keep safety in mind. Chapter IV is about employee relations with the public. It demands being prompt and accurate to the media, maintain a healthy working environment, be involved in company activities, and keep a positive relationship with the community.

This last part needs to be quoted verbatim, so there’s no miscommunication. It reiterates what was said in Chapter I.

APPENDIX: OPERATION PROCEDURES OF “KONAMI GROUP CODE OF BUSINESS CONDUCT AND ETHICS”

Chapter I—Procedure regarding This Code

1.1 Contact for Reporting Violations of This Code

Any Personnel who becomes aware of any actual, possible or suspected conducts violating this Code shall report to his or her supervisor or the internal report office as separately specified.

Chapter II—Punishment to Violations against This Code

2.1 Punishment to Violations against This Code

Violations of this Code will be punished as set forth in the employment regulations and in other internal regulations.

Suspected. As in – if an employee even has a hunch of misconduct they need to report it to their superiors.

KonamiOfficeWall

Remember what Sterling said earlier? I can back that up.

Several of my sources went in detail about the approval system of the company. There was one with regards to lower level stuff that just went to the producers/directors in the office. But higher level stuff needed to go through Japan’s office for approval, sometimes even various external offices. One of the barriers in dealing with that was language. Asking questions in English meant needing to go through a translator and having them relay the message along. This leads into the second barrier of time. If you had a limit of 5 days, you had to work with the approval system in budgeting that.

When it came to the office Intranet, this separate VPN-like connection went through Japan servers. The company has private databases for file storage and sharing, but these locations were limited in space. To get something approved: it involved connecting a laptop to Japan, signing in Lotus Notes, adding your file to a digital repository – and praying to GOD it didn’t overload the system because of the file size – and getting approval. They had to use Outlook for external emails and Lotus Notes for internal stuff. Passwords and emails were a hassle because they’d get changed every certain number of days, it was commonplace for employees to get locked out because of that.

Company policy was enforced based on the severity of infractions. They had security badges, but one of my sources says things weren’t as strict as some of the Nikkei stories have stated they were. Aspects that the public might find duanting are actually standard practice when it comes to corporate policies.

A source stated that they had heard of employees utilizing the strict codes of conduct as a means of sabotaging others. In one instance they recalled hearing about a team where artists reported a manager to HR over improperly sharing artwork externally, and they were fired.

Employees had to be very careful about what they did on company computers. Internet traffic was closely monitored and usage of any external drives was blocked. No work could leave the office. There was a hyperfocus on dealing with risks in the workplace. But sometimes it felt “cartoonish,” according to one source. They say when they got laid off Konami locked them out of their computers.

enixman

Yoichi Wada of Square Enix (president and representative director) put it best. He made this remark after Kojima’s The Game Awards incident in 2015:

Simply as someone who knows Mr Kojima, I want to say, how can they be this cruel! But, here are my thoughts from the point of view of a business manager.No matter how you look at it, this can only be negative for the business.

Perhaps withdrawing substantially from home video games is the management policy, but it makes no sense to make the world your enemy on purpose, is there, now?

Typically, this sort of thing happens when the manager is absent. Perhaps there is no leader to design and watch over the details of the enterprise as a whole. In other words the lack of aim behind this is itself the problem, that’s my impression. All the decisions get dumped on the office. The office may deal with it disinterestedly. However, if you can’t see when what you feel from your own station is out of sync with the world, then the results will be unfortunate.

Is it any surprise that employees followed Kojima’s footsteps from Konami and into the arms of his new studio? Producers, designers, artists, and even a former president of Konami all took a leap of faith and joined Kojima’s side.

“One day I hope we may earn you back and surprise you,” said a Konami rep on Reddit last year. They knew damage to the community was done.

Yet Konami ain’t hurting either. Their mobile games are doing well. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links is now either approaching or exceeded the 40 million download mark. Overall profits are solid according to them, due in large part to their restructuring.

But something is clearly wrong here with Konami.

Yes. There are cultural and political differences between the East and West. But that doesn’t give anyone anywhere the permission to cross lines and go against what is right on a human level. You would be blind if you thought the anger expressed in the audience that night at The Game Awards 2015 was unjustified. You can’t exactly turn your back on the video game community’s sentiment of animosity and overall sense of abandonment when it comes to how the feel Konami has acted toward them.

We need to look at this differently, though. The problems with Konami and Kojima weren’t an exclusive case, not by a long shot. What happened between these two parties has echoed deep across the company’s past. Maybe Konami abandoned their own history because of the path of scorched earth they laid out getting to where they are today.

But we gotta make something clear. Konami is a company full of decent people. The employees are just as human as you and I are, filled with hopeful ambitions to deliver on something spectacular. Given the resources provided to them. Given the shackles of an overtly tedious approval system of red tape that’s in place. Given the constant change in company initiative and direction.

That’s only the fault of the Board of Directors.

Sure, Hideo Kojima might’ve changed over the years. But that doesn’t matter. We know that Konami changed, and it was through their misguided parting with Kojima they created the public relations disaster they’re in.

They only have themselves to blame.

At The Game Awards 2016, Geoff Keighley made amends to the events from last year. Hideo Kojima got an award for being an industry icon.

Konami was changing their direction as a company and that future didn’t have Kojima in it. But Kojima being seen as a shining example to video game development symbolically means what everyone has been saying here.

It does look like Konami doesn’t care about video games anymore. Konami’s condition is they’re destroying their own sense of self, for the sake of their own future as a business.

Everyone Plays Video Games

This is a response to an article by Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku. Today he wrote a brief PSA sort of piece that broadcasts that women play video games. No shit, Sherlock. You can find the reasons for this article sandwiched within his verbose foreplay he carries on for a few paragraphs. A female game journo had some dev ask them if they play video games. Kirk backs that up by linking a piece from 2013 that apparently explored the “creepy side” of E3.

I could spend this piece arguing about that. But that’s already been done to death. Instead I’m just going to take a step back and focus on the big picture.

memeitup

Howdy. I’m here to state the obvious because some people still haven’t gotten the memo: Everyone plays video games.

I know it’s easy to wrap your mind around (that  you don’t need to consider your genitals as a factor of entry). Yet here in the year 2017, we still have people hyperfocused on reproductive organs that assume despite the fact that A) video games are amazing and B) video games have been a staple of popular culture since the 1980s, everyone can’t play video games. But they can. And do.

I’m aware many of you are able to think things like this through without difficulty. Good. Stay the course. But you may be surprised at how many people still think COCKS / BALLS and TITTIES / VAGINAS matter when playing video games. Ask any person you know who has played video games in their life if their sexual organs have ever gotten in the way of enjoying a video game. No? That’s what I thought.

People I know with both TESTICLES and BOOBS who work in games or play them on a regular basis have absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happen. A quick survey I just did on my Twitter account confirmed that, yes, playing video games is pretty straightforward. In fact, for people with DICKS and WATERMELONS at game conferences like E3, they often have a pretty kickass day partying it up when it comes to video games. I have to explain this you straight, nevertheless, as it’s the point of this article: Everyone plays video games.

The assumption I’m talking about is only possible if you’ve engineered your way of thinking around human genitals. Unlike most assumptions, this requires some mental gymnastics. So if you’ve ever thought that PENISES or JUGS have an effect on video game enjoyment, take this opportunity to put on a dunce cap and sit your ass in the corner.

If you’re at a party and talking to your mates about video games, and a woman comes up and joins the discussion, do everyone a favor: carry on as normal. The trick is to treat people as people in the first place.

If she says doesn’t play video games, that’s fine. You’re free to keep that conversation as is. They knew what they were walking into in the first place. If she does play video games, chances are it makes fuck all of a difference that they have BREASTS. As long as that chick has hands and eyes, we’re all set. Hell even if they don’t there is still a way for them to have fun with video games.

It’s because video games are for everybody.

 

My Response to JoySparkleBS

The first time I DM’ed JoySparkleBS was on April 24th. I didn’t realize I had made contact with a real-life drama ghoul.

What is a drama ghoul?

Brian Moyer and his girlfriend were taking his two sons to the St. Patrick’s Day parade. On the way to the festivities, Moyer got into a fender-bender with someone else. After doing the routine exchange of information with the other person, Moyer became worried that he’d go back to prison (as there were apparently warrants out for his arrest). So he jumped back into his car with everyone in tow and drove off. The escape from the scene didn’t last long, as the car ended up hitting a pole of some kind. The kids were not wearing seat belts and got ejected from the car into a nearby yard. The two boys died on the scene.

“It’s really fucking horrific,” said Joy.

The kids that died were her step-nephews. JoySparkleBS decided to make two videos going into the gory details of her family’s tragedy.  They weren’t happy about that.

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The March 18th video alone I could understand. It’s normal to react with emotions and shock in the face of a tragedy. But then she took it a step further by making a follow-up on the 19th that delved deeper into the family’s personal history. Imagine dealing with the tragic loss of two of your children, only to find out the black sheep of the family has decided to tell the internet all about your family’s problems and skeletons.

That’s exactly what Joy did. Making it into a PSA of sorts, Joy goes into detail about the family’s history of drug and alcohol problems. She calls everyone in that part of her family toxic. She made the deaths of two family members all about her – going as far as to describe that side of the family as white trash at one point. According to her own words, Joy was ostracized from the home for speaking out against what was going on. Making this big deal about being the “bigger” person she encouraged people to donate anonymously to their YouCaring page.

But couldn’t she have done that without throwing her own family under the bus? Without adding unnecessary drama to the situation? They didn’t deserve this bullshit.

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So how could anyone trust JoySparkleBS to handle another family’s problems if she can’t even deal with her own?

Back towards the end of April and through the beginning of May I wrote two articles about the DaddyOFive controversy. Originally spotlighted by Phillip DeFranco, there was a community call to action of sorts. YouTubers and other folks on social media came together to push this story forward as much as they could. ChambersofHeart was the one that gave Rose Hall a platform to tell her side of the story. Based_Mama had past experiences with the legal obstacles involved in custody trials and offered her insight. JoySparkleBS pumped out multiple YouTube videos daily, talking about as many aspects of this situations as humanly possible as this was ongoing. It was widely believed that the end of the matter when Rose Hall appeared in a video with Tim Conlon on May 1st, announcing to the world that she didn’t JUST get a lawyer to help her – but on top of that, Cody and Emma were rescued from the abusive of the DaddyOFive household. That wasn’t the end.

This is the story about what happened after that.

After my work was done with my second article on DaddyOFive – I made it clear I was ready to walk away into the sunset. But JoySparkleBS didn’t have an off switch. She made two videos on May 5th: the first one had her solemnly swear to continue to cover the story (despite being in the hands of authorities), and a second one saying that she had information she was choosing not to share.These trains of thought collided from my point of view. Given my knowledge of the DaddyOFive situation up to that point, I had the responsibility of keeping tabs on wherever it went.

There was a span of three confusing and panic filled days where Chambers and Based_Mama scrambled to understand what Joy was doing here. She claimed to be in close contact with Tim Conlon and helping out the case, and in everyone else’s eyes it raised concerns. Did someone feed Joy information to sabotage Rose’s chances of success? Given her eagerness to report on every possible lead in the DaddyOFive situation, as far as anyone knew she was a ticking time bomb. Joy could’ve been called as a tertiary witness because of the fact she contributed evidence reels that were used in court by the Plantiff. Potentially making her a party that’s privy to the gag order that was in place. A gag order that equally applied to the DaddyOFive couple and the biological mother of Cody and Emma, Rose Hall, who is fighting to win back custody.

Chambers decided it was best to distance herself from Joy. Based_Mama made her stance clear she was worried that Joy’s actions and behavior would hurt the case. I was obligated to look into that.

In response? Joy tossed everything down the drama drain. Making a rant on May 8th/9th: she bound me, Based_Mama, and ChambersOfHeart together in her narrative that we were all somehow out to get her.

But let’s learn more about Joy first.

Phillip Schlicher had been friends with Kati Smith (Joy’s actual name) for a decade, Phil was one of the closest friends in her life. All the way since her Indigo child days and those years Joy spent in France working on music with Taho. As we’d come to understand it – Joy had a tendency to burn many of the bridges she’d have with relationships.

Phillip S. made a three hour video going over these years of experience he had with Joy, and explain what really happened in the various dramas that unfolded.

You can look at his conversations with Joy here. It’s a zip file full of convo screenshots he talks about in the video.

The main idea behind the GoFundMe campaign section of the video was the fact that we see Joy sinking her hooks into Phil. He was having a spot of trouble with finding work, and Joy lent him $305 to help him get through his rough patch. Joy made extra emphasis on the fact that Phil was not obligated to pay her back until he was in a comfortable position to do so. This comes into play at the very end of the video when Joy and Phil are having their argument, as she uses it as leverage against him in order to talk poorly about Phil behind his back.

But one of the most telling incidents that’d occur in this piece was when Joy would help Phil make a resume. As it stood on its own he admitted his resume could’ve been better. Allowing Joy the chance to give it a makeover, Phil was shocked to find that her idea of a better resume was one full of lies. Only two of the positions that were on this faux document were true. Even the references were fictional, albeit apart from Joy’s name she added herself to the top of the list. Her justification to Phil for this false resume was he only needed to “nail the interview” portion of getting a job. Apparently the only important thing was getting one’s foot in the door. If a job was secured Phil would learn to do it by training on the go from this new position. Phil himself was highly uncomfortable with what he considered to be participation in fraud. He explains to the viewer that this instance was a symbolic reflection of who Joy was overall.

He talks about Joys illness in between some of this stuff. Phil points out that Joy has stalled in getting a professional diagnosis for a long time, and this strange mystery illness that Joy claims to have only comes up whenever it’s convenient. Calling it “brain fog” as a result of her fibromyalgia, Joy often has a selective memory.

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In the Onision saga we find out that Phil was the one who helped push Joy into a momentum she would take her channel in from then on. Joy would become obsessed with talking about Onision in her videos and assume that everything was revolving around her. It wasn’t. Phil tried to give her advice to approach the situation carefully and Joy seemed to be initially receptive to his suggestions. But after the fact and in the weeks that followed (this essentially went on from January through March 2017), we’d see Joy go two-faced and totally do the exact opposite of whatever Phil suggested. Which pissed him off as it was increasingly clear Joy lied to his face in their conversations on the matter. Joy even made a GoFundMe to get Onision a fax machine. It’s unknown where the money went in this particular outing.

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Phil touches on the story of Konstigo. This part is worth going into a bit more directly, so we’ll turn to Konstigo’s own video explaining the drama. What it boils down to is a YouTuber named Konstigo was going to collab with Joy on something, and things came to a head when Konstigo took it upon herself to upload the video since Joy delayed it.

Konstigo found Joy’s videos back when she was first starting out, talking about Onision. Although Konstigo disagreed with Joy, Joy claimed to care about Konstigo’s opinion. Somehow they started messaging each other and she offers to interview Konstigo. In the weeks of setting up this collab, Joy treated Konstigo “like a princess” and was nice to her. When Joy found out Konstigo was on decent terms with Onision, she was only a bit agitated. But when Joy found out Konstigo called her a liar, that ticked her off.

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She shares the DM convos Konstigo had with Joy. You can read over them for yourself.

She threatened to legally go after Konstigo.  “Does her mother know she’s doing shit like this online?,” Joy said in a YouNow stream. Konstigo says she has multiple reasons for calling Joy a liar. Referring to a YouNow broadcast where Joy claimed to be debating Onision, Konstigo messaged him and it was revealed he wasnt. Joy inflated the lie saying she got DMs confirming he was going to show. Another reason Konstigo called Joy a liar was because she said she filmed their collaboration video and kept pushing it back over the course of three months (as seen in these DM convos between the two). Konstigo ended up doing it on her own accord. Going into why Joy’s behavior was abusive, she pulls out a chart.

  • Peer Pressure: threatening to expose someone’s weaknesses or spread rumors, telling malicious lies about an individual to a peer group
  • Anger (emotional abuse): putting them down, making them feel bad about themselves, name calling, making them feel like they’re crazy, playing mind games, humiliating one another, making them feel guilty
  • Social Status: this one is self-explanatory joy leveraged 21000 subscribers and sicced her followers on Konstigo’s small channel
  • Intimidation: by making someone afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures.
  • Minimize, Deny, Blame: she blamed her actions of lying on pretending it was just a practical joke, minimizing all the bad stuff that Joy does, maximizes the stuff Konstigo did.
  • Threats: threatened Konstigo with lawsuit, threatened to talk to her family
  • Isolation and Exclusion: controlling what others do, what another person does. Limiting outside involvement using jealousy to justify actions.

Joy eventually made an attempt at an apology but even that didn’t work out so well.

But going back to the original video with Phil. Generally speaking he gives the viewer advice on Joy’s patterns. She’ll claim to have a vast swath of proof for whatever story she spins, but Joy herself is the one always dragging controversy out. An expert at crowd awe. Phil warns us to be careful of anything Joy gives you as she has a tendency to hold that over your head down the road. She thinks that the people she helps would be infinitely worse off without her intervention. But Joy justifies painting people in a bad light by claiming they deserve it.

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So this great big ball of drama rolled into the DaddyOFive controversy. If you wanted to learn more about what happened with that, I wrote about that here and there. You’ll get a pretty solid idea of the back and forth between the Martin family and Phil DeFranco from those two pieces.

As far as JoySparkleBS was concerned early on, she did her thing. Joy’s previous series was an 11-part saga talking about the United Airlines incident. Joy made a video about the DaddyOFive invisible ink prank, one about the Keemstar interview, one about Cody not being able to go to Disney World, one about the video the Martins made post-interview, a second specifically about DaddyOFive blaming Phil DeFranco for the situation, one about Keemstar’s reaction to DaddyOFive abuse footage, one about the DaddyOFive Inside Edition interview, one about the DaddyOFive prank where he pulled a gun on the kids, one about the prank where Heather pretended the house was getting robbed, one about where Cody self-harms and Mike makes fun of him for it, one about the DaddyOFive apology video, one about where they convinced Cody he was up for adoption, one about Joy’s personal feelings about the situation, one about the broken tablet prank, one about Heather Martin’s court history, one about the Fallston Group helping the Martins with their apology, and another one, and another one, another one about the tablet destruction prank, one (falsely) accusing Fallston Group of flagging Joy’s YouTube videos, one writing to Governor Larry Hogan, one about the GoFundMe, one about the time Mike convinced Alex to slap Emma, one about the police needing help locating clips, one accusing the Fallston Group of not helping the children, one about Emma being pushed around by the brothers, one about the time Mike used the term “gay” to describe one of the kids, yet another Fallston group one, one claiming DaddyOFive edited audio at a point where Emma allegedly said she wants to go home, one about the Good Morning America interview, two more about the Fallston Group, one responding to the accusation Joy was profiting off of the DaddyOFive situation, one attacking Fallston Group’s other clients, one going over the Fallston Group testimonial page, one talking about MommyOFive having a babysitting job, one about MommyOFive going to court with the Zopp’s (that ended up getting cancelled)….

I bet you skipped reading this list.

That’s fine. Actually that’s the point. At the time, nobody paid attention to what Joy was doing. All it looked like to everyone else? She was just trying to get the word out. Nobody was the wiser.

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“Baseless and simply untrue.”

But to get to the part that ticked people off.

These are all the videos Joy did on the situation within the span of a week and a half. Many of these in the list could’ve been combined into larger video topics, while others are completely redundant. The Fallston Group videos are the most egregious case of the bunch. Three of them were just about the apology video DaddyOFive made and the firm’s involvement in making that. She went on to falsely accuse Fallston Group of taking down her videos, accused them of being neglient of the children’s circumstances in the home, and several going into the company itself to excessive lengths. Plus a skit video, because why not. While Joy has the right to do all of that, it would’ve behooved her to not put out misinformation and be more concise about the content she discussed.

Why would that matter? It does when Joy tries to insert herself directly into the story.

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It was a momentous occasion on May 1st when lawyer Tim Conlon publicly announced that Rose Hall’s children were safely recovered from the DaddyOFive household. In a video titled “Daddyofive -Youtube Community Saves Emma and Cody,” Conlon went over everything that went on with this process, and had Hall with him on camera to talk about how her kids were doing.

Joy saw opportunity.

While she was as reasonably excited about Rose’s recovery of her kids as everyone else was on this day, that was not the end of her involvement in the case. In-between thanking every possible person Joy could think of, she openly admitted to being obsessed with following it.

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This was when it starts to become clear that Joy was taking a single story and chopping it up into pieces. She called it a “series” herself. Two separate videos about Rose’s lawyer came out on that first day alone. In the morning there was a video about MommyOFive being in court that day (a modification hearing for a prior divorce), and by the afternoon there was a separate video that reveals that hearing was cancelled. Heck, why not a YouNow stream on top of all that? Joy wanted to be an update factory with the DaddyOFive situation. You can see even on this day of celebration that Joy was writing off her critics as people who didn’t do research.

What’s most important to understand here is the demonstrated pattern of behavior.

On May 2nd, Joy continued the parade from yesterday. Speaking that morning as if it was her own video, she thanked everyone for half a million views on the Tim Conlon/Rose Hall video from yesterday, and again at night when that number had hit 900,000. Joy made a big deal about “EXCITING news” that involved @ChambersofHeart but kept it in vague terms publicly. As is Joy’s pattern. We’d come to later find out that Saint Joy was kind enough to point BBC in her direction. According to Joy, Joy made that happen. Someone suggested she get a job at CNN, and Joy in response claimed they dropped out of journalism school. But then again, she was dependent on the public as well. Joy requested that people get in contact with her if anyone knew of DaddyOFive’s location. The case was in the hands of the authorities at this point. But the à la carte method of uploading videos would continue on Joy’s channel. Somehow, a video asking where Daddy and MommyOFive were MUST be separate to a video asking the Fallston Group PR company that very same question. Joy made a separate video for DaddyOFive and MommyOFive’s lawyer, on top of the previous two she made for Rose’s.

But I was none the wiser. I even helped her. She made a video using my interview with Mike Martin’s stepbrother from my first DaddyOFive article. Completely unaware that Joy was making these piecemeal videos (that sometimes needed corrections) spreading out the views and ad dollars on the DaddyOFive story, while preaching for better business practices all the meanwhile.

Later on, she’d give that up.

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Even she herself would acknowledge the growth of the JoySparkleBS YouTube during this time. She was pretty consistent with replying to drama as well. In the background of events going on that day, Joy quietly stoked the flames of people’s discontent as it began seeping into the DaddyOFive story.

May 3rd is when I started to get concerned about Joy’s methods. She asked the public for tips about “Heather Martin’s sisters connection to CPS” in a tweet. But the fact of the matter was there isn’t any. Triggered by this slight misinformation I stepped in and corrected Joy. Heather’s sister in-law‘s occupation had been briefly brought up in the DaddyOFive Keemstar interview.

Joy dragged out the DaddyOFive controversy even further by refocusing the discussion to YouTube’s demonetization and removal of videos. Suggesting early on in the day that Fallston Group themselves were behind the action and lumped herself with @YourselfSuit’s YouTube problems and people’s tweets to back the narrative up. While Joy blindly slammed the PR company, I went through and actually read the website’s blog post addressing Fallston Group’s involvement with the controversy.

“We reviewed the video link you sent to Fallston Group for comment, and the YouTuber’s accusations are baseless and simply untrue,” Fallston Group would end up telling the Daily Dot later.

She needed one video talking about @YourselfSuit’s channel being deleted (another later that day for its return), one for her own channel’s Community Strike, another to allude to her problems as a conspiracy, another to connect it to the DaddyOFive drama. Don’t worry though, she had time to make another asking the same question from yesterday of if DaddyOFive and his wife were still on the run. All the meanwhile dealing with the pains of her potential channel martyrdom amidst privacy complaints. Everyone needed to hear about it, and the danger was so imminent she recommended everyone download her videos immediately for mirroring. Wait never mind it was all better that same afternoon. Mostly. Joy thought she’d better make another video about it just in case.

The kerfuffle caught the attention of YouTuber MundaneMatt.

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While it was purely coincidental, it intrigued me that I wasn’t the only one who had begun questioning Joy. In response to Matt’s worries about her clickbait thumbnails and headlines, Joy made an emotional appeal by saying her passion was because of child abuse at a young age. Many of her responses were either redirecting his concerns and not addressing them, compliment showers ( ), or claiming Matt didn’t actually watch her content or follow the story. Even though Matt’s arguments were receiving more back-up, Joy held fast to the notion nobody else knew any better. Even though Rose’s kids were out of the DaddyOFive house and the authorities were now involved, Joy asserted she’d only stop when the kids were safe. She said she was the victim here whose channel was under attack by the Fallston Group, having a harder time keeping her fan base in check. This was her version of the DaddyOFive story she was running with. Joy relished being a part of it.

For JoySparkleBS – she wants you to be focused on these moment-to-moments instead of the big picture.

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“Ever sit on info so sensitive you are shaking? Yep, thats where Im at. Video series TONIGHT, you WONT beleive what I have to tell you!,” Joy tweeted.

Their next impulse was to solicit drama YouTubers for their interest in it. These were things that would stick out the most in my head in the days to come. When her plan to get Scarce’s attention fell through, JoySparkleBS spread out the contents of what should’ve been one video into two installments. Drumming up the crowd hype for what she claimed was new information she got directly from Rose’s lawyer. Joy wants you to know he spoke to her. EXCLUSIVE.

This info that Mike Martin refused to hand over the kid’s medication during their removal from the home wasn’t actually new at all. I had beaten Joy to that way back on May 1st.

“EXCLUSIVE INFO DADDYOFIVE NOW!” her tweet linking to a YouNow stream flashed in all capital letters.

Apparently it was a slam against a YouTuber by the name of FuturisticHub, who made a comment about Joy’s uploading practices.

May 4th is when the drama more openly infected the DaddyOFive situation. Joy began wanting people to notice it. YouTuber Mr. Repzion sided with Matt over the idea that Joy needed to stop her unnecessary separation of DaddyOFive videos. In response she slammed Matt and accused him of shit talk (a complete 180 from wanting to collab with him the day before). It made her politely worded response to Mr. Repzion seem disingenuous in contrast. Overall, Joy painted Joy in a bad light and made it appear her motivations were for ad revenue. That’s what happens when you give blanket responses that (very inaccurately) assume people are just “unfamiliar with your channel”  and insult their worries while simultaneously telling them you’re donating the money you make from ad dollars.  Disrespecting the audience makes Joy’s motivations for being involved in the first place feel more empty. What’s the point of helping people if you’re jerk to others? Goes against the spirit the whole thing. Ironically, that day she uploaded a video accusing news organizations of exploiting the DaddyOFive situation.

People began openly speaking up about the matter to her. Phillip Schlicher suggested to them they look past Joy’s mask of sweet talk and dig deeper. Joy herself would dig deeper in the sense she would get other people to surf the internet and work for her to make DaddyOFive evidence reels. Piggybacking other people’s finds was her bread and butter, giving the promise of credit in return. Not only snagging @YourselfSuit’s work for her own, but this was the day that Joy recruited random followers to join her DaddyOFive research DM group. It passed most people’s attention at first because Joy didn’t say much about it except that “she did her best” at bringing these random people together.

But this group effort turned out to be a key moment of this whole JoySparkleBS controversy.

Up to this point was nothing but build-up.

May 5th. Joy released a video titled “DaddyOFive : Custody Battle Not OVER! WHY I continue to cover this!” on her channel. Talking about the criticism she’s uploaded too many videos, that she made the DaddyOFive videos for ad revenue, and that it’s a dead topic (“she already got custody, leave it alone”). Joy explains Rose only had temporary custody and she was heading back to court that day (May 5th) to have that decided further. “Until she has full custody this is important to me,” Joy says. At this point, Joy reveals she had been in touch with Rose and Tim Conlon. Joy says she released 8 to 10 videos a day because she thought the information was important to be put out on that kind of a basis. Joy made it clear she was donating the money directly back to Rose’s GoFundMe. “I’m not going to rest until I know they’re ok,” Joy says at 5:05. What you need to take away from this is – Joy makes it clear she’s going to continue her habit of putting out DaddyOFive related videos as she had so far. You hear her say that. You as the viewer get that impression.

Also on May 5th, JoySparkleBS released a video called “DaddyOFive : Court Case Update!.” The problem with it that many people had was the fact that there was nothing really noteworthy revealed whatsoever. “I will not be commenting,” Joy said in regards to the accusations being made against her at the time. She says everything she has done up to this point was for the DaddyOFive children. Joy said she was making the personal decision to not say anything until “the time is right” (which is RELATIVE based on whatever Joy BELIEVES to be right). Joy said she didn’t care about the concerns other YouTubers and people involved in helping the DaddyOFive kids. “The things I could say right now. The views I could get off it, the money, the fame. I don’t care,” Joy told everyone at 2:00. She demanded everyone to “trust” her judgement. At 3:30 again she dangles this idea of having information she’s sitting on. Remember what Joy said in that video I just mentioned in the previous paragraph. This alone would be a legitimate cause for concern to anyone.

Imagine these two trains of thought colliding.

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In the same video, she advertises a link to a separate piece where she talks about being “exposed” (i.e. personal drama) that she encourages everyone to watch. It’s a clickbait title and description that doesn’t accurately reflect what the video was about. In the actual clip from a YouNow stream, Chambers admits to putting Joy in touch with Tim Conlon. She verifies that the information that Joy had shared up to this point were things that Chambers had known about through Rose and Tim.

“Everything that she has been saying has pretty much been a repeat of what Tim has said to me, but Tim has been telling it to her,” Chambers says at 3:33. She justifies Tim going to Joy instead of the media because the MSM has a habit of making their own narrative, twisting it, and milking a situation.

“Joy is just reporting on the facts,” Chambers says at 3:48.

I took the time to clarify with Chambers if she still had that position.

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She describes the circumstances that Tim and Rose were in. Not only were media outlets threatening the both of them (ABC themselves barged into the building to get an interview), but on of that Tim Conlon himself was being followed. Joy confirms to Chambers in this call that Joy has privileged information she’s choosing not to share (as seen in the Skype logs). She calls Chambers “courteous,” “polite,” and “respectful” at this point. “As a friend I want to thank you for being a real bitch,” Joy tells Chambers at 7:40. Joy actually calls my work “awesome” as well. Joy is also kind enough to reveal to everyone that she has indeed known Chambers since her early beginnings on YouTube in January 2017.

You’ve heard and become familiar with JoySparkleBS up to this point. But now it’s time to go over the three people she’d pit herself against.

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Prior to the DaddyOFive incident, Based_Mama’s YouTube channel primarily focused on discussing the religion of Islam from the perspective of an ex-Muslim. On the side, she talked politics and social issues from the perspective of being a mother of 6.

Based had been in the initial April 18th livestream that started off as a rant about the DaddyOFive situation, that turned into a more important video when Rose Hall herself came on-air to talk about her role in two of the children’s lives for the first time. Emotionally invested from the get-go, she was certainly in touch with me when it came to helping circulate the information about the DaddyOFive case. The same went for everyone else during this DaddyOFive controversy. Based was in contact with a ton of folks. She understood the damages of emotional abuse.

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“Joy Sparkle BS, STFU YOU CRAZY B*TCH!” was published on her channel the same day Joy’s two videos came out.

In the video itself, Based makes it clear she didn’t want to make it in the first place but felt an obligation to, given the presented circumstances. “Calling out” JoySparkleBS directly, Based said “shut the fuck up bitch.” She was confident in the fact that Joy had no idea what she was talking about in regards to the DaddyOFive situation, and that people who were made three or four videos on the subject only when necessary (compared to Joy’s 70+). Based_Mama explained how bizarre the Fallston Group conspiracy Joy was espousing made her look crazy. Initially she was under the impression that Joy was just a fame whore, by the time of recording Based was convinced that Joy was actually insane. Using YouTube like a therapist, Based recommended that Joy graduate to seeking professional help. Towards the tail end of the video, Based expressed concerns herself and others had that Joy would complicate Rose Hall’s case by “running her fucking mouth.”

She had only known who Joy was for about two days (since May 3rd) at that point. Things soured by the evening when Joy’s fans had the video taken down after mass-flagging it. Talk about a bad first impression. From the get-go, Based made it clear her primary concern was Rose having to answer to the court for Joy’s videos and behaviors. According to her, the toxicity of it was “100 times worse” than DaddyOFive fans were. Making the cult of personality distinction between the groups being that DO5’s at least didn’t try and take down criticism of Mike Martin.

Highlighting a comment from Phil (which Based takes the time to properly disclose his apparent connection to Joy), he summarized Based’s concerns about the developing situation.

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Based_Mama’s observation was that Joy had used Chambers to get herself close to the lawyer (with a YouTube comment from Chambers backing that belief up), and was under the impression Chambers first Facebook statement about Joy made it look like she had 100% approval all around. Further explaining this dynamic applied to Tim and Rose, Based expressed concerns of the apparent approving Joy’s behaviors in a similar association.

Replying to one of my tweets, Based_Mama said “I hope orange is her color, because she’s going to be wearing a whole lot of it soon,” which one of Joy’s fans assumed was a threat. It was clarified by Based herself that this wasn’t the case, although readily admitting Joy dug her own grave by using the DaddyOFive situation for personal fame (citing Joy’s history of drama leading up to that point as evidence to support that claim). Based is very careful in her wording about jail when replying to this Joy fan. Saying there was potential for jail in the general situation, calling Joy’s actions as having involvement in illegal activity, and rounding it off by stating that the Frederick County Sheriff was made aware of Based’s concerns. Despite what Joy would accuse Based of later, there was no police report filed.

“Oh Joy! (And her sycophantic fans)” came out May 8th on Based_Mama’s channel. Within the description, Based_Mama put a link to Joy’s old tumblr, a blog from her Indigo period, along with links to Lolcow and Kiwifarms threads about her.

Between the last video and this one, Based tells us she’s done more research into Joy’s background. “She believes she talks to angels, and that’s she psychic, and that she’s an indigo child,” is one of the first discoveries Based shares. Affiliations like that made her uncomfortable with Joy’s involvement within Rose’s case. Based tells us she talked to Chambers and as a result disassociated with Joy completely. Based says Chambers defended Joy because they were friends, thought Joy was interested in helping the kids, and that she believed Joy’s main focus was making sure Rose was able to reunite with the children. The thing that made Chambers reconsider was the privileged information of the case that Joy obtained from an inside source within the court room and then shared with Chambers, despite a gag order being put in place. When Based found out about this, she was highly concerned that either Tim Conlon or Rose Hall had talked to Joy about this. Based said it was overall highly illegal to do something like that. She explains that Joy would potentially be held in contempt of court or do jail time if so. Based says the blowback on Rose’s end would be the case getting thrown out and having to start back from square one. Worst case being Rose getting held in contempt of court because of her perceived affiliation with Joy, essentially meaning Joy’s lust for fame and attention causing catastrophic results for the proceedings. Rose learned that Joy had an inside source when Chambers freaked out and she inquired as to how much contact her and Tim had with Joy, it turned out to be neither of them. It’s made very clear by the way Based is addressing this matter that the worst case scenario of Rose losing her kids permanently was bearing down on her. Complicating matters worse at the time was a series of hacks that were done on Rose’s email and social media accounts. “The fact that Joy has been able to illegally obtain privileged information about an ongoing case where there is a gag order in place, means that she’s breaking the law and so is her leak,” Based says. Based_Mama reviewed Joy’s YouTube channel, and it was to her understanding that the exploitative nature of the topics and subject matter covered established a pattern. Based was able to come to the conclusion that Joy is not a mentally well person according to Joy’s own words and writing. She makes the comparison to DaddyOFive’s Mike Martin, to that effect. Joy doesn’t care who she railroads on her attempt at fame, and if she did, it would’ve behooved her to immediately alert authorities to the privileged information she obtained. It was for these reasons as to why Chambers had to distance herself from Joy as much as possible.

Based takes to Twitter to explain that Joy was the reason that this drama started up. This is technically true given the fact that it wouldn’t have been a thing if Joy didn’t make the two videos she did on May 5th that caused concern. At this point many of the parties involved in this DaddyOFive Joy controversy had distanced themselves from her as much as possible. Joy’s connection to Rose was effectively severed, seemingly enraging Joy as she took to making live streams on YouNow to vent repeatedly about the situation she had created for herself and continuing the previously alluded to obsessive behavior.

“Welp. Now it’s time to pop some popcirn [sic] and watch the show! 😂😂 Joy’s “blocking all haters” stream. Mark this moment, people,” Based tweeted on May 9th.

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ChambersofHeart

The Chambers of My Heart YouTube channel is Chambers third attempt at giving video making a go. Originally she started off doing poetry stuff (her name came from that time period of her internet life), as things became more fleshed out the channel turned to Christianity discussion afterward. But then that became constricting in terms of directions her content could go as a result. As it is now, Chambers does a hodge-podge of topics: social/political commentary, dabbling in art and animation a bit, and personal vlogging.

ChambersofHeart and JoySparkleBS were friends before the DaddyOFive controversy began. Chambers was kind enough to provide me with a copy of Skype chat logs that detail the conversations had between these two in the months leading up to the current situation. In January 2017 they talked about Onision related matters during the first few days of the month. Joy told Chambers about her various ailments in the midst of their brainstorming sessions. By mid-March, Chambers and Joy talk about the fake cease and desist that Onision apparently sent to her. Week after that they were talking back and forth about some sort of “Faith Kids” topic.

From what it looks like, Joy and Chambers seemed like genuine friends.

When it came to the DaddyOFive scandal – Chambers said she saw Mr. Repzion’s and YourselfSuit’s videos first and made her own video after that. April 17th 2017.

Joy contacted Chambers first.

[4/19/2017 12:01:07 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: hey girl, if they want more coverage, pls have emma and cody mother/family contact me, happy to get the word out more. will do whatever i can ❤

They exchanged information. Joy gave Chambers her phone number and in return Joy received Rose’s email address. When it came to the DaddyOFive situation itself, Joy was able to suss out the step-mother immediately because she had two of her own step-parents growing up. Chambers and Joy talked about Heather crying in the DaddyOFive twitter video and explored the “Cody didn’t get to go to Disneyland” aspect of the story. Joy said she was proud of Chambers because of the fact she got the word out at this critical point in the story. The week after that, Chambers showed Joy my first article going over the DaddyOFive controversy. But Joy didn’t have anything to say about it.

As the person in charge of Rose Hall’s GoFundMe campaign, Chambers has had some of the closest personal trust of Rose that’s possible. She was keen on making sure to update the situation whenever necessary. That burden of responsibility was made clear in how she carried herself in the public eye. It definitely was stressful, as far as I can recall.

On May 1st when it came out that Rose Hall was reunited with her two children, Chambers knew about it in advance but kept quiet. Her and Based_Mama. That certainly didn’t stop her from eagerly bugging me the moment the news became public, however. The entire journey of how Chambers helped Rose go from the initial April 18th interview to Tim Conlon’s office was catalogued in this video by her if you want that context. Generally speaking Chambers was hands-on in sharing information, trying to help, and keeping an eye on when there was new developments.

Joy got back in touch with Chambers via Skype around the same time. May 1st.

[5/1/2017 1:17:03 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: OMFG I JUST GOT THE VIDEO ABOUT ROSE THIS IS AWESOME!
[5/1/2017 1:17:15 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: can u ask her to contact me? i want to see if she needs help w raising funds for the kids to get counseling
[5/1/2017 1:18:58 PM] Your Humble Host: hang on
[5/1/2017 1:19:17 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: editing a video now, I’ve reached out to her with no response, i want to HELP their transition if she needs help

[5/1/2017 2:48:42 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: pls let rose know I’m happy to help, she never responded to me so i don’t want to bother her if she isn’t interested..
[5/1/2017 2:48:48 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: also want to help promote that laeyer

As you can see, Rose was never in contact with Joy at any point before May 1st. Joy called the lawyer’s office and left a message on the answering machine. Her and Chambers talked about the fundraising efforts ahead in order to help Rose and the kids. Chambers filled Joy in on the fact that Based_Mama helped find Tim Conlon in the first place, and the fact that Tim Conlon was doing everything for free. Joy is persistent in offering to help Rose and Conlon.

“he said let’s wait and see how things unfold,” Chambers told Joy at that point.

On May 2nd was when the BBC got in touch with YourselfSuit and Joy, which they passed on to Chambers instead. As you might expect, Chambers made herself handy where possible by helping identify Mike Martin’s lawyer and digging into that angle. In Skype, it’s confirmed that Joy and YourselfSuit were in charge of setting Chambers up with the BBC. They were concerned that the interviewer would lead Chambers down a particular media narrative, but she thought ahead of that and recorded the raw conversation if that was proven to be the case. Joy thought Chambers came across bad at the end in regards to how the media credited the people who uncovered the story, but shrugged it off at that point. In the evening, Chambers asks Joy if I had looked into Mike Martin’s lawyer.

It needs to be said that Chambers reacts very emotionally when new problems arise, like when @YourselfSuit’s YouTube channel got a strike on May 3rd for their DaddyOFive evidence reels. Naturally, Chambers helped signal boost @YourselfSuit’s situation on the spot. It’s not a crime to be a team player and supportive. The only reason everyone digging into the DaddyOFive controversy knew each other was because of moments like this when Chambers would try and reach out to everybody to spread the word when something happened. That emotional charge was good for jump starting people’s interests.

When the same thing happened to Joy, Chambers charged in without a second thought. Every step of the way, Chambers supported Joy. Look at (a portion of) the volume of tweets she has, solely for the purpose of sharing Joy’s videos. Even the mirrors. Chambers even liked YourselfSuit’s video about #FreeJoy because that’s how much of a supportive person she is.

ChambersSupportJoy

Through thick and thin. I’m taking the time to emphasize this personally, as Joy would brush over this herself in her angry YouNow streams later on.

When MundaneMatt tweeted his concerns about Joy’s frequent uploading, Chambers jumped in the trenches to defend her friend Joy. Someone named The Geekthulhu‏ caught wind of it, and said he was relieved that he wasn’t the only one who was worried about how JoySparkleBS conducted themselves online. According to them, Joy was asking her followers to harass Fallston Group and DaddyOFive, even willing to specify an example where she allegedly encouraged people to leave bad Yelp reviews. Naturally, Chambers swung back a solid counter-argument on top of asking for evidence and citations.

It turns out Chambers was just replying with what Joy said to.

[5/3/2017 5:02:56 PM] Your Humble Host: hey people are claiming you told everyone to harass the Fallston Grou
[5/3/2017 5:03:00 PM] Your Humble Host: Group
[5/3/2017 5:03:07 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: ????
[5/3/2017 5:03:07 PM] Your Humble Host: and give them bad Yelp reviews
[5/3/2017 5:03:09 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: NOPE
[5/3/2017 5:03:11 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: NEVER DID THAT
[5/3/2017 5:03:15 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: NEVER told people to give them bad reviews
[5/3/2017 5:03:31 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: i did encourage people to tell fallston group what they think, but i NEVER said shit like that
[5/3/2017 5:03:41 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: whoever is saying that, ask them to source it, where di di say that?
[5/3/2017 5:03:43 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: watch them get silent

That evening in Skype, Chambers and Joy not only discussed the Geekthulu tweets at length. The drama vortex was slowly creeping its way in.

Let’s focus on this particular statement.

“This can be used against Rose in her custody hearing, if DO5 wanted to. What you and Mama are doing is good, but Joy is going a bit to [sic] far,” Geekthulhu‏ tweeted.

If Joy herself wanted evidence of how this dispute started in the first place, there it is. All the elements of it are right there. This wasn‘t some sort of “scheme” Based or Chambers cooked up themselves.  Leading up to the 5th – Chambers wasn’t just aware of Joy’s contact with Tim Conlon, she openly helped support it.

[5/3/2017 8:11:09 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: tim just called!
[5/3/2017 8:11:23 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: he filled me in and gave me permission to talk about some stuff
[5/3/2017 8:11:25 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: holy crap!
[5/3/2017 8:12:20 PM] Your Humble Host: GO FOR IT!
[5/3/2017 8:12:27 PM] Your Humble Host: what did he tell you?
[5/3/2017 8:12:39 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: the medication mess, inside edition bullying them, um what else…
[5/3/2017 8:12:43 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: so much shit, trying to organize it all now
[5/3/2017 8:12:50 PM] Your Humble Host: oh he told you that
[5/3/2017 8:12:55 PM] Your Humble Host: yeah
[5/3/2017 8:13:04 PM] Your Humble Host: you’ll be able to spread that a lot better than I can

On the 4th in these Skype logs – ABC showed up at Tim’s office asking for an interview. From the way it’s described, they were very belligerent and overbearing in their request. Chambers and Joy discuss the upcoming court proceedings that were happening the following day.

On the morning of May 5th, Chambers said a prayer for Rose and Tim Conlon’s journey ahead of them that day. People waited to hear word about the results of the trial but it would never come. A gag order was put in place (as confirmed by The Baltimore Sun and double-checked by Chambers), meaning the public wouldn’t know the details of what happened with Rose Hall’s custody battle for a long time.

Except Joy got that info.

[5/5/2017 9:30:02 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: long story short, they won and they los
[5/5/2017 9:30:13 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: mike cant see kids for 1 year, but kids are going to foster care tonight
[5/5/2017 9:30:15 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: thats the long short
[5/5/2017 9:30:17 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: call me when u can
[5/5/2017 9:30:20 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: don’t wanna say too much on here
[5/5/2017 9:30:41 PM] Your Humble Host: Who did you hear that from?
[5/5/2017 9:30:55 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: Sources who were there
[5/5/2017 9:30:58 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: lots of people in the court room
[5/5/2017 9:31:06 PM] Your Humble Host: Like who?
[5/5/2017 9:31:11 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: i cant say
[5/5/2017 9:31:21 PM] Your Humble Host: Why not?
[5/5/2017 9:31:36 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: you will have to call me when you can
[5/5/2017 9:31:39 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: I’m sorry i don’t want to be rude

[5/5/2017 9:36:38 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: yes, I’m going to film now, and talk to u before i put it up
[5/5/2017 9:36:56 PM] Your Humble Host: Film what though?
[5/5/2017 9:37:04 PM] Your Humble Host: The new info you got?
[5/5/2017 9:37:10 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: yes
[5/5/2017 9:37:23 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: waiting till  i talk to u tho
[5/5/2017 9:37:24 PM] Your Humble Host: Joy wait!
[5/5/2017 9:37:26 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: im waiting
[5/5/2017 9:37:30 PM] Your Humble Host: Okay
[5/5/2017 9:37:33 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: filming now, but not gonna put it up till we talk
[5/5/2017 9:37:38 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: sorry text is so stupid
[5/5/2017 9:38:15 PM] Your Humble Host: Okay
[5/5/2017 9:41:07 PM] Your Humble Host: Joy I will speak with you, but for the love of God so not put that video up!
[5/5/2017 9:41:16 PM] Your Humble Host: Please! I’m begging you!
[5/5/2017 9:41:18 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: I’m not doing anything till we talk
[5/5/2017 9:41:19 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: dont worry
[5/5/2017 9:41:32 PM] Your Humble Host: Not even after!

By the end of that night, Chambers turned her attention to JoySparkleBS and made a Facebook statement. In short? She wanted people to stop attacking her.

In long? Verbatim as it was posted on 6 May at 05:17 according to the time of the archive.

#DADDYOFIVE #MOMMYOFIVE #SAVECODY #SAVEEMMAStatement on Joy Sparkle BS:It has come to my attention of a fight brewing among the YouTube community in regards to videos being released by Joy on the DaddyOFive situation. All I’m going to say is: do not bring this drama to my front door. I will remain neutral on this matter. I have seen things for my self and as my judgment stands, I am here for Rose and her kids. I have confirmed what Joy knows in a live stream in regards to the BBC reaching out to Joy, the moving van in front of Mike and Heather’s House, Joy being in direct contact with Tim, and I will confirm it here that Joy has spoken with Rose. Rose has told me this herself that her and Joy talk. Rose has also confirmed that Tim has spoken with Joy a lot more during a conversation I was having with Rose tonight over text messages. I have had one accusation against Joy brought before me already with “evidence” provided to which I went and looked at myself only to discover the accusation wasn’t true nor did it match what was presented.To be clear: I do not have time for this bullshit! I’ve seen another piece of “evidence” brought before me as well. Clips strung together out of context is not proof of anything except perhaps good editing skills. My number one priority is to be there for Rose during this time and in whatever way I’m physically able, I will. For me, this is not about alliances or views or even what friends I can make. I don’t know why this fight has broken out and I will not be apart of it or have any of it on my front door! Period. If there is a legitimate problem with actual evidence then fine, bring it forth! I will say personally, that I take no issue with Joy. I’m not 100 percent for how she’s presented things, but each to their own. I do know that Joy has been in my corner multiple times and has stuck up for me and my chambers.I have no further information to give and have nothing new to report at this time. My stance on this is Neutral. I have made my allies and acquaintances through this struggle with Rose and for that I am grateful. I’ve gotten to know some of you more personally because of it. I will admit that as of late, I have been under a lot of stress and have been somewhat emotional. I refuse to deal with a YouTube war in regards to this. I absolutely refuse! There have been contributions to helping Rose and for that I am grateful as well. I only wish for Rose’s story to be out there and for her kids to be reunited with her allowing the whole family to heal. I’m emotionally invested in this. Rose’s pain is my pain. Her loss, is my loss. I will make room for nothing else outside of her and my own household. I’m here for people if they need me to be, but do not bring your bullshit with you please. I don’t want it. Leave me out of this fight. I’m here for Rose and do not wish to be dragged into an all out celebrity war. I stand by my confirmations and have nothing further to say on the matter. Thank you.

Chambers made it fairly clear what she thought of everything. Loyal to Joy and accepting her words at face value.

Joy tells Chambers that the door is always open if she had some sort of issue with her. She says the way she deals with difficult topics like the DaddyOFive abuse is through making jokes. The tweet where Joy asked people to dig into Heather Martin’s sister is brought up. Joy says she was only trying to find a connection between them and CPS (which I had already debunked that same day). Mentioning Based_Mama’s video and one I had been tweeted at by PandaChu, Joy tells Chambers that the only motivator for this is jealousy. They talk about me. I had kept a fairly solid line of communication with Joy up until that point, but by the 6th of May I had blocked her. Chambers tells Joy “an old friend step forward and begin to whisper in Nick’s ear” when mentioning Phillip S. Chambers shares DMs I sent her concerning Joy’s behavior. Within, I mentioned my belief that Joy was mentally disturbed. Chambers seemed to humor me and take it seriously.

“I have come from an old life where I was a toxic person. I know what that looks like,” I said.

In High School, I had the nickname of Cassandra. Here meaning I was able to forecast disaster before it happens. But, when I try to warn people about the impending doom nobody believes me until it’s too late. As I sit here now writing this, it’s clear I wasn’t wrong in that. I told Chambers to be responsible about it and at least tell Tim Conlon about these complaints.

Joy tells Chambers that she loaned money to Phillip S and that he never paid it back up to that point. But she also reveals her history of drama over the past ten years with him. Chambers tells Joy she told Based_Mama about the privileged information she got from the hearing, freaking out that it would have an impact on the case.

[5/6/2017 12:59:14 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: all of those people have NO idea how invested i am now with the evidence reel and with tim, bc i don’t broadcast it
[5/6/2017 12:59:19 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: bc theres NO point to do so right now

[5/6/2017 1:36:33 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: I’ve been in other situations like this dude, a crowd turns on me, or some, get everyone else to, but u know what I’ve learned? the truth always fucking prevails
[5/6/2017 1:36:50 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: tim has promised me one of the FIRST interviews after rose gets her kids back, and will confirm EVERYTHING thats happened with me,
[5/6/2017 1:36:51 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: and i have MORE
[5/6/2017 1:36:54 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: minot talking about yet

[5/6/2017 1:51:29 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: i don’t reveal all my cards, bc i am working to get the maximum results here

[5/6/2017 1:52:30 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: i cant wait to reveal everything dude
[5/6/2017 1:52:33 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: I’m telling u tho be careful
[5/6/2017 1:52:35 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: bc when its aLL revealed
[5/6/2017 1:52:41 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: some of these people are gonna flip their shit
[5/6/2017 1:52:43 AM] Your Humble Host: I forgot to add the media thing, but I said that in the live stream
[5/6/2017 1:52:48 AM] Your Humble Host: is that still going up tomorrow
[5/6/2017 1:52:50 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: some of the people that were helping, are gonna be PISSED they were left out,just wanting u
[5/6/2017 1:53:08 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: ill give eu all the credit and praise, and from now on, i won’t EVER mention nick, mad woman or based.ill talk about u and suit, and thats about it

Those evidence reels are located here, here, and here

Joy and Chamber talked about myself, Mad Woman Muses, and Based_Mama in more detail. There were concerns that Joy slandered Mike and Heather, but Joy seems confident that she hasn’t stepped over any legal boundaries. Chambers tells Joy that myself, Based_Mama, and her had frequently talked to each other over the past few weeks. Joy interprets it to mean that I was somehow involved in making the videos that Based_mama had uploaded, and sticks by her personal conspiracy theory about the Fallston Group.

Joy expresses her astonishment at how far this DaddyOFive story had gone in this short amount of time. “just glad i can call u a friend, not many real bitches in the world anymore u know?,” she said to Chambers.

Compared to how she addressed Matt a few days prior – on May 6th Chambers was openly hostile. If you disagree with that terminology, it can be at the very least argued they were highly out of character. Name-calling in response and aggressive. She still ran to Joy’s defense: delivering a package of sarcasm when defending Joy’s controversial DaddyOFive video moments, explaining “it’s okay because other people do it,”

“Ignore the guy. He’s just talking out of ass. Seriously, pay him no mind. He’s trying to start shit,” Chambers told someone responding to Matt.

This was the same chick who opened with a prayer at the start of the day before. But now Chambers got down and dirty as Joy’s personal ambassador while Joy herself looked clean in comparison. Bottom line is – Chambers put Joy in touch with Tim Conlon, and it was up to him whether or not he was going to continue contact with JoySparkleBS.

Chambers let loose later that day and fell for a fake Fallston group Twitter account. Later revealed to be started by one of Joy’s followers.

[5/6/2017 1:32:09 AM] Joy Sparkle BS: u know people did similar when i was gonna debate onision, call me crazy everyone doubted me , talked shit, i let them, them BAM, i came out the wood work and owned his ass. and i did it quietly. THIS is how i do shit.. all i will say is we will be patient, and wait till monday

[5/6/2017 2:14:55 PM] Joy Sparkle BS: btw not that it matters at this point what the others say/do, i think at this point its misguided information and jealousy, but just letting u be aware your name is getting thrown into their hate at me. just be cautious, thats all. but until i have proof its just talking

On the morning of May 7th, Chambers uploaded a video that she would later end up deleting.  She opens the video by stating she’s debunking the “Chambers hates DeFranco” rumor.  What Chambers was actually irritated about is how the media didn’t do their research about who actually mentioned DO5 first, and just assumed DeFranco was the one outright. Chambers says she never even followed Phil DeFranco before the DaddyOFive stuff started, rather being a fan of Mr. Repzion and YourselfSuit. While technically someone named KenjiVlogs was the first to talk about DaddyOFive’s controversial content back in February 2017, his attempt to spotlight it got silenced because of his small channel size.  She explains Mr. Repzion ends up being the first one to have talked about DO5 on April 16th, with YourselfSuit following after, then ChambersofHeart did her video. She does complain that the whole story (meaning Rose Hall’s angle, etc.) was seemingly glossed over by both the media and DeFranco’s initial pieces on it.

Five hours later the video was removed. Chambers was cutting ties with Joy. Due to the fact in this deleted video Chambers said was where her idea to make the piece came from (a discussion the two had on a livestream) in the first place. She made a Facebook post about all that too.

By the end of May 7th? Chambers had taken a complete 180 degree turn from her initial stance.

Chambers180

She and Based_Mama were still on speaking terms. As to what that entailed in these critical 48 hours is explained in Based’s section of this piece.

“Now, I overstepped at the defence of a friend. I apologize humbly,” Chambers told MundaneMatt.

And so it was. While Chambers and Joy would have things come to a head later, she was very quiet when it came to responding to Joy’s YouNow streams. There was a remark about dragging skeletons out of closet.

But as we see by the text message chat logs I had dumped between Chambers and Joy a few weeks back, we can fill in the blanks about how the break-up happened.

Early on in the day, Chambers says she tried to talk to Tim about Joy and get a statement. Joy tells Chambers she made a video trying to help clarify what she said about Phil DeFranco, and Chambers says she intended to make one of her own. Joy tries to wedge Based_Mama apart from Chambers by claiming to have evidence she was bad-mouthing her. Joy directs Chambers attention to a Twitter account she at first says is the real DaddyOFive, but it turns out to be a fake. At the same time, Joy tells Chambers to distance herself from me because I had stopped talking about the case and she worried I was going to come after Chambers next (which is completely untrue for the record). Joy tells Chambers that the Twitter account is fake and she should delete her tweets about it (after having directed Chambers attention to it in the first place).

Joy tries to convince Chambers that Based_Mama and myself were attacking Tim and that we would hurt the court case.

Joy: be VERY careful right now w everyone dude [2:55:53 PM]
Joy: if u distance yourself i won’t be upset [2:55:57 PM]
Joy: simply bc they are coming after me hard with nothing dude [2:56:04 PM]

Joy: bc when u basically proved based mama WRONG, they started attacking YOU & TIM [2:58:25 PM]
Chambers: Indeed [2:58:36 PM]
Chambers: I saw that [2:58:40 PM]
Joy: so I’m gonna be REALLY careful right now, even mores [2:59:50 PM]
Joy: more so [2:59:53 PM]
Joy: jealousy is a bitch [2:59:57 PM]

In the mid-afternoon, Chambers gets a call from Rose and tells Joy that she got worried about the videos Joy was making. On top of that, Tim Conlon was getting emails talking about some of Joy’s past dramas. Chambers tells Joy to private her vids as a precaution until things calm down, for the sake of Rose. Joy expresses confidence in her personal background and tells Chambers she’s more than happy to answer any questions anyone has. Chambers texts back a few hours later saying she has to cut herself off from contact with Joy for Rose’s sake. Joy says she understands. While Chambers eventually signs off, Joy is persistent and continues sending messages to Chambers. She denies the allegations against her having any merit, and she gets upset that Chambers apologized to MundaneMatt.

Then came May 8th. The protection order for Rose against Mike Martin became public information, that I was informed to of by a tip from someone in the first place.

Joy didn’t take the news well. More so when Chambers posted about it.

WHEREISCHAMBERSHEAD

Another piece. Put into place. Chambers and Joy were on good terms, but the overwhelming severity of the DaddyOFive situation meant Chambers had to make some hard choices.

NickMonroeBannerHeader

Nick Monroe

If you’ve made it this far, you’re most likely aware of who I am and what I do online. But if you don’t, I can give you a SparkNotes version. I’m a gaming journalist who started off at the Escapist Magazine back in October 2015, and migrated over to Gameranx in March 2016 after there were layoffs. It was during this time that I started investigating more complex stories and situations. This website here was made to act as a portfolio for my work, and I decided to use the blog section of this site as a means of continuing that.

I have a confession to make. At one point in my earlier years, I was a toxic person. There are things that were said online that I am not proud of, but fully accept and owned up to. Whenever the skeletons in my closest came up. All I can say for sure anymore is – it was probably worse than I remember, but definitely not as bad as everyone else claims it was.

I hit rock bottom. But it was at that lowest point I received the tough advice I needed to hear. If I refocused my energy into something useful, I still had the slightest chance of doing good work.

Here I am, nearly three years later. Helping get the DaddyOFive story out to the world. My two articles on the subject helped summarize everything and put it together in one spot for easy analysis and faster public understanding. I barely got any sleep when writing those up.

I was honored to have PhillyD’s support throughout all that.

PhillyD

So what the hell am I doing writing about Joy?

The answer to that is because it’s the right thing to do. I agree with the consensus that this entire JoySparkleBS situation is a drama dumpster fire that would make Jerry Springer guests seem like saints in comparison.  I’ll be hitting the publish button on this knowing full well that it isn’t the most popular topic in the world to do.

But that’s fine.

I can only guess as to the intentions of Chambers and Based_Mama. From their words on record and their actions throughout the past month. You have someone who was a close friend of Joy’s on one hand. On the other, you have someone who made their voice clear from the get-go that they were entirely against what Joy was doing. Foe. Despite this polar opposite magnetism these two had, they share the same view of wanting to the best for Rose Hall and two children. There’s no way either of them were capable of going through with what happened in this situation if their aims were selfish.

In Joy’s tirades on YouNow, she threatens to publish the DM conversations I had with her. In the interest of full transparency, here you go.

The thing that first alerted me about Joy was her spreading misinformation. You can see my efforts to try and steer her away from the conspiracy stuff in our DM convos.

My contact with JoySparkleBS started on April 24th, I shared a tweet I made showing Cody’s bruises. In general, I have a habit of sending DMs to people when it comes to situations happening online. Joy was talking about DaddyOFive, she was on Twitter, and she seemed interested in learning as much as possible about it. She actually didn’t respond to me for a few days, until the 28th. I shared a tweet about Fallston Group blocking me on Twitter, and she seemed interested in the fact I spoke to Mike’s stepbrother. Joy seemed confident that the Martins would never be charged because of the Fallston Group’s CEO having connections to the police. I told her “the biggest thing they despise is persistence,” and let her rant about it a bit. Joy was sure of the fact that the company released a blog specifically because of the videos she made on the subject. I told Joy she was doing a good thing. At the time, it appeared as if she was. I helped where I could, showing her tweets of people’s endorsements of Fallston (taken from an archive of their website), but the page in question was removed after they did an update. Over the next few days I sent Joy more tweets about my research and findings. No response. It wasn’t until May 1st Joy seemed interested in replying back to me again. The minute Rose Hall and Tim Conlon uploaded a video sharing their update to the world, I let her know. I let everyone know. Joy told me she called the lawyer’s office and left a message offering to help. Calling Chambers her friend, Joy said she and her were going to try to help the situation as much as possible. Joy thanked me for keeping her in the loop. She offered to give me shout-outs in her videos. I did not ask. She offered. I told her to link my paypal and Twitter accounts, as those help me share information with the world and pay my bills so I can continue doing that. She asked me about Mike Martin being reluctant to give the kids necessities up, I replied in vague enough terms after she pressed me for more info. I dodged her questions and specified the kids didn’t need to be shoved into the middle. I stressed to her that law enforcement was doing everything in their power to help the situation. I was the one that gave her the idea to make a video about the long road ahead, but I didn’t think she’d devote to following it after the authorities had gotten involved here. When Chambers mentioned in her update video that Mike and Heather were rumored to have skipped town, I pointed that out to her. “holy shit your upload speed is amazing,” I said to Joy. She told me they upgraded internet recently, and said ten videos in one day is too much.

It was at some point after she said that I started to look into Joy more closely.

On May 2nd Joy asked me if it was ok to do a video about the interview with Mike’s step-brother. I gave a thumbs-up. Seemed harmless. After that I spent a decent amount of the day looking into the “skipping town” rumor in more detail, and making the distinction to Joy that we didn’t know for sure if the kids were with the Martins if that was the case. Thankfully I was able to confirm the kids were safe and still attending school. A different source was able to contact the police and get in touch with the boys directly. By that point it seemed the situation had settled down. Nobody was planning on leaving the state. On May 3rd was when Joy asked people to help her “research Heather Martin’s sisters connection to CPS,” on Twitter. That was blantant misinformation (SISTER-IN-LAW is not the same as SISTER). I told her I knew the name of the person but there was no substantial connection to justify revealing that to Joy or anyone. One of the last things I said to Joy was her videos helped “amazingly” and that she was a “powerhouse,” to reassure her that I meant well.

After that I was out.  By May 5th, I had blocked JoySparkleBS because I believed she was a toxic person.

To understand what exactly went down, we’ll turn to this archive of my tweets I put together. In particular, everything from May 5th to 8th. This will essentially fill the last blanks in.

Note: While I was concerned about Joy lying on her resume, a long call to MarketingWerks ended up with me being able to verify Joy worked there at some point.

Joy goes after me, Chambers, and Based_Mama in a YouNow livestream on the evening of May 8th. Generally speaking throughout these YouNows, Joy repeats herself over and over again.

Her grievances with Chambers stemmed from the fact that she told people Joy was privating her videos. Taking that mistake and assuming it was a lie – Joy snowballed her thought process down a path of accusing Chambers of being a manipulator. While initially calling Chambers a friend, as time goes on Joy distanced herself further and further away. Until, when the paranoia peaks, where she accused Chambers of using her name to get views because Chambers was “bleeding subscribers” on her own.

At first – Joy claims nobody was talking to her. But Chambers was. She spelled things out as clearly and responsibly as one could, given the circumstances. It was made clear to Joy that her actions weren’t personal, but with the intent of doing what was believed best for the situation as it was at the time on May 7th. It makes sense that Chambers tried to work things out with Joy. She meant no harm to her in the first place. But given that opportunity, a vindictive Joy lashed back and spat at Chambers for attempting to be amicable. At the end of it Joy tried to drag Chambers into the drama fueled hell that she was trying to avoid in the first place, calling her a “snake” and not holding back remarks and ridicule that attempted to paint Chambers as a villain.

Basically, to reiterate: Chambers was the one who had gotten in touch with Joy on the 7th and said “this is what’s going on.” Joy knew people were going to distance themselves for Rose’s safety. Joy pretends that conversation never happened.

May 8th: It opens with Joy criticizing me for criticizing Joy about retweeting a fake Fallston Group account, while not grilling Chambers for doing the same. The truth to that is I was unaware of Chambers being involved in spreading that hoax, but my response to her would’ve been just the same as it was to Joy. Joy says she had to text and call Chambers to let her know the account was fake and that she should back off from that. This is the first time we see Joy say she’s not going to talk about the case until it’s the right time. She’ll continue to say this as she talks about this gag order drama in many YouNow streams to come. Joy says that myself nor the others “really cared about the children” because of whatever it was we were tweeting or retweeting at that time. Joy accuses us of wanting attention and “glory” for this situation, while in the previous breath she said she would not be talking about what happened in court Friday or today (May 8th). She said all of this on her YouNow stream, to the public. Joy addresses the claim that Based_Mama called her a liar because Joy asserted they were friends. Her reply to that was she grouped myself, Based_Mama, and Mad Woman Muses together as “YouTube Friends,” which by her own definition is different from actual friendships. She alludes to DM coversations I had with her, saying I praised her, then was silent, then blocked her. This is completely true. I had sent Tim Conlon my concerns as to why Joy may not be a trustworthy person with a toxic history, and I backed away from Joy quietly. This is standard YouTube decorum when it comes to these sorts of situations. According to Joy, Chambers and her were “legit real life friends” however. This is why Joy takes a deep offense to Chambers saying Joy made videos private, when in reality she did not. “They will owe me apologies,” Joy said. She claims at this point that myself, Chambers, and Based_Mama were attempting to “get Joy out of the picture” for attention and fame. In an attempt to justify this claim, Joy asks why did Based_Mama go against Tim’s request for everyone to keep quiet by making two videos about Joy continuing to talk about the case. This is where Joy’s justification defeats herself. At [3:31] Joy says she was quiet because “she cares about the kids” but simultaneously she’s trying to “protect herself” as she sees fit. Joy goes against her own words in doing so and making these YouNow streams slamming everyone else in the first place. Going on to answer a question about “a snake” (referring to my Twitter posts that day), Joy says I’m unnecessarily putting the biological Dad’s (of the other three DaddyOFive children) information out there when they requested it not be. The answer to that is I was unaware of that request at the time, and I was only doing my job as a journalist to inform people of the DaddyOFive situation. “why is he continuing to talk about the case right now?” Joy asks, while painting herself as unfairly victimized for being requested to not talk about the case. The answer to that is there’s a difference between a journalist talking about publicly available information, alongside a YouTuber who got privileged information from an inside source within a court room that was under a gag order. Speaking of which, Joy would go on to claim the gag order was only for Tim and Rose. While in reality, the gag order also applied to the Martins side of the proceedings as well. Overall, Joy justifies her public YouNow streams as a response to what she believed were false statements.

Joy says her followers aren’t the “cult” that her critics advertised it to be, and that the people in her chatroom had the capacity to think for themselves. Joy denies claims that she sent anyone after Heather’s job. What ticked Joy off the most from the get-go here was the “lie” that Chambers said Joy privated her videos. She denies her “when I DO speak up” rhetoric should not be interpreted as a threat. But as we’ll see later on, that’s exactly the context she presents it in. “Be prepared to defend any lies you’ve told about me,” Joy says directly into the camera.  Joy admits that this isn’t the first time she’s had to deal with YouTube drama, therefore proving that the concerns that myself and others had in the first place had a level of merit. “I was not going to say anything, this will be the last time I talk until I have advice from council,” Joy says. In doing so she essentially defines her YouNow streams as being something that “talks about the case” in the first place to some capacity.

Later on at one point, Joy encourages people to “go do some digging on the people I’ve mentioned you’ll find it,” when talking about people’s personal pasts. Shortly after that, Joy finds herself forced to clarify that she didn’t necessarily mean that, even though that’s how it appeared. All she did was urged people in her chat to look at our twitter accounts to see the oh-so-horrible things that Chambers, Based_Mama, and myself were apparently saying about her. Joy presents another contradiction at [14:09] when she says she’s legally allowed to talk to even though she’s decided against that, while simultaneously encouraging her followers to question the three of us as to what Joy was doing wrong. Joy essentially forces us into the position where if we fully explain what was going on at the time, we’d be lambasted for not caring about Rose’s kids. But by keeping quiet, Joy is able to position herself as this victim of an imaginary conspiracy to get her out of the picture. Towards the tail end of this circus show, Joy explains that the “DaddyOFive jerks off to his kid’s torture” line was “obvious sarcasm,” and that it was ok because that was her method of coping with controversial situations.

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They transitioned to YouTube so they could talk to The Geekthulhu. Someone by the name of Lizz Reptile came on to ask Joy some question.

Here’s video of that on Joy’s channel. Start at 1:03:15.

“do you have information on the case that you are not really ‘supposed to have’ and or was given to you by somebody other than the lawyer or Rose?”

Joy: “hold on im really tired I want to make sure I understand the question right. So the first part of it is – do I have information I’m not supposed to have? That answer is no. I do not have information I am not supposed to have.”

Lizz: “Did you get any information from anybody other than Rose or the lawyer or YouTube itself when it came to the court thing other than public record? Is there somebody else talking to you is what we need to know. Is there somebody else talking to you?”

Joy: “Right. And what I am going to say about that is – I’m not going to comment in the sense like I’ve said. I have not spoken to Rose or spoken to Tim about any of that. But otherwise I am not going to comment on anything else, and whatever I may or may not know I will keep to myself.

May 9th: Opens with Joy reiterating she’s still focused on the DaddyOFive kids. While going over many of the same points that she did in her previous stream, Joy addresses a member of the audience by saying she can say whatever she wants because she defines herself as Press. That being an average person with a camera and no sense of moral or ethical obligations. Again, she mischaracterizes the gag order and says it only applies to Tim and Rose. Joy attacks the commenter and says he needs to “do his research” otherwise he’s just “shit-talking,” in Joy’s eyes. “If what people are saying is right, I actually GAVE MONEY to people,” Joy shouts before breaking into hysterics and laughter. She says by taking questions from the audience directly, her intention in doing so is “showcasing stupidity” when it comes to the drama Joy found herself in. “When everything is done, the DRAGGING I’m going to do,” Joy promises. She says I completely discredit myself by bringing up the possibility she lied on a resume. The truth to that is I actually watched Phil S. three-hour long video piece he did on her, and that was one of the points of interest within. Joy paints her own past with rose-tinted glasses, saying what Phil was alluding to was when she helped him try to get a job. At no point does Joy actually talk about the fact she gave Phil a false career history and advised him to just land a good interview and get his foot in the door. Joy then goes after a YouTuber named LizzReptile who had asked her questions in the previous stream. Joy says she was doing “broadcast journalism and marketing to keep the story alive,” and bluntly paints Lizz against that act. Going back over the ChambersofHeart “lie” that she alleged Joy was privating her videos, we see Joy actually in the act of doing so for the first time with the Geekthulu livestream they had the night before. When regurgitating that, Joy assumes Chambers was totally against her and “shit-talking” and doesn’t account for the possibility of legitimate confusion or ignorance on Chambers part. Calling me a “cackling hen” that “talks shit” and goes with “whatever is trendy,” she reiterates the last DM conversation I had with her being on a positive note. On that basis alone, Joy paints my change of disposition as me being a “liar” now. Going after Based_Mama and myself, Joy says that her sources were Lolcow and Kiwi Farms. While Based_Mama did indeed put such links in her video description, there was more to that than Joy implies. I got DMs from people complaining to me about Joy. People sent me that stuff on their own, along with links to information. One of them was the 3-hour video by Phillip S. while others were about various tidbits about Joy’s past. These were what people’s concerns were. Joy goes after the commenters again, defining the criticism she received from them as “negativity” she needs to “defend herself” from. That’s also what she claimed that myself, Chambers, and Based_Mama were doing, making it clear that Joy’s impulse to publicly defend herself from something has a very low barrier for entry. At 9:56, Joy brings Based_Mama’s own children into this drama discussion. According to a commenter, Based_Mama lost her own children. Later on, she denies bringing her kid into it despite doing so earlier in the stream. Joy says for someone who has a lot to say about the DaddyOFive matter, she accuses Based_Mama of having no evidence or information to back her claims up. Turning her attention to Phil, Joy says Phil is not a stalker in the traditional definition. But to her, she finds his 3 hour video (that she’ll later admit to never having actually watched) and his Twitter account as enough to be counted as creepy. Joy makes a passing remark about her frustration that I didn’t yell at Chambers the same way I criticized her for retweeting a fake Fallston Group account. At 12:38 Joy brings Based_Mama into it again, going on to address the claim that Joy is “using the internet for therapy.” Attacking Based_Mama as a mother, Joy says the video Based made about her wasn’t appropriate being a “mother of six who didn’t have all her kids.” She stands by this attack on Based_Mama by saying she’s setting a bad example for her kids by making it. Joy sounds spiteful when mentioning her observation that Chambers liked the video, and Chambers Twitter account automatically tweeted about it and shared it. When it comes to Mundane Matt, Joy throws Chambers under the bus by saying despite publicly apologizing to him she called Matt a “fucking idiot” in private. Attacking the commenters again, she asks her critics if they have any empathy for the things Joy herself has been through. Reading a message from what Joy claims came from a friend, it says that we were blaming our personal shortcomings on Joy and making her a fall guy. The message characterizes us as malcious by saying we waited until Joy was in a position with privileged information in order to ambush her, and speak against some of her actions on Twitter. Joy takes the time to thank someone for attacking critics on her behalf. Taking a jab at me and calling me overly obessive, Joy paints herself as someone in a moral dilemma (and confesses to sharing that moral dilemma publicly to people). Joy legitimizes people’s concerns by saying she has the freedom of speech to say whatever she wants and that there was nothing stopping her from sharing privileged information with everyone as she saw fit. Joy distances herself from some of “Phillip DeFranco bashing” that was going on at the time.

All the meanwhile, Joy says countless times “I’m not talking about the case,” while in the same instance talking about the case as it applies to her personal drama.

At the 18:00 mark, Joy goes after me for allegedly digging up information about her on Kiwi Farms. But what happens next seems to go directly against the brush Joy is trying to paint me with. She has someone who claimed to be an admin on Lolcow and Kiwi Farms come on and guest with her on YouNow. Joy was baited by the claim from this random person on the internet that I had somehow got in touch with this individual (I didn’t) and that he wanted to spill the beans he had about our alleged conversation.

This is who she had on.

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“Nick gets his information from Lolcow!” “Now, let me welcome our guest. An admin from Lolcow.”

After the diversion was over, Joy accuses Based_Mama that she made the videos about Joy for views. Joy parades around the fact she gave her BBC Interview opportunity to Chambers, morally grandstanding that it was “the right to do.” Joy goes on to call herself a saint for passing on the attention potential and fame for sharing what knowledge she had at the time. Turning back to Chambers, she mentions the possibility she was used because “Based_Mama and Mad Woman were talking shit,” and she had evidence of that. While calling Chambers a friend yesterday, Joy does an about-face and says she’s “done” with her altogether. According to Joy, the rest of us had no idea what the gag order was and that we were reactionary in our responses. Regurgitating the claims that myself and others were painting Joy’s viewers as a cult, she goes on to say that the gag order was SPECIFICALLY for Rose and Tim. Going on to laugh to herself that nobody else did their research. Going over the fact she called her May 5th video “Court Case Update!,” Joy actually has a rare moment of acknowledging criticism as legitimate. She justifies her “clickbait” behavior with the reasoning that everyone else does it so it must be fine as well in her specific case. Threatens to release our private DM conversations again. She later accuses Phil of being extreme in his response to Joy’s behavior during their friendship, given the events that happened between them. “You act like a little bitch,” Joy says from her YouNow rant stream. “You’re a pussy. Nick, you’re a pussy. Have some balls Nick.” Joy claims she tried to work it out privately with people at first. She did not. Her first email to me would be on May 11th, and this stream where she verbally berated me took place on the 9th. You can see how off-putting that would be when it came to her eventual “reach-out,” as I took her public meltdown into account.  Joy peppers in an accusation that I tried putting her address out there as well. I firmly deny doing anything of the sort.

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Going against her own hints at being willing to work things out earlier, when being made aware ChambersofHeart was in the YouNow chatroom Joy addressed her directly by saying she had “nothing to say” to her. Joy claims she tried to put out an invitation for people to come talk to her privately.  Joy denies calling Mr. Repzion a “psychopath” but reaffirms her belief that what he did was “shitty,” in regards to jumping on what Joy called a bandwagon. At 41:22 we get the biggest hole in logic of all time when Joy says her YouNow streams don’t count as videos made. Over here in reality, yes they do. If there’s a device filming Joy speak or do something, no matter what that is, it’s considered a video.

ArticleIntermission

Let’s go over the rest of my tweets and get that out of the way. I had reacted to the storm of outrage Joy unleashed on the 9th, but something unexpected made the drama change course.

Thankfully there’s a bit of breathing room between May 9th and 16th.

Remember this? I said earlier on that Joy recruited random people to help make an evidence reel on May 4th.

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I spoke to one of the members of this group (wishes to remain anonymous).

I’ll let them explain how things went down.

“There has been worse cult like behaviour with the joy group. I don’t know if she really notices. It’s been mainly confined to her you now streams and frankly it’s been getting creepier. I will admit the resent bs she’s been discussing about her car issues have been a charming diversion to her over all cult like mantras of telling the people watching her how other are questioning their mental capacity. I have a feeling it’s going to be another shit storm it the next stream. And on a side not there were two other groups made after you exposed the first. It’s just been getting worse and worse. The only reason I joined this group to start was to help make the evidence reel.

It started out with joy sending out an “s.o.s” tweet asking for people to message her if they wanted to help with a “project”. So I decided to message to see what she needed help with. Next thing I know I’m added to a massive group with people clambering around wondering why we were their and where joy was. About 10 minutes of sitting there, Joy finally messages. She tells us that she can’t tell us why but she needs help editing the daddy05 videos to highlight the abuse. For anyone questioning this she simply says all will be revealed later and that everyone would get recognition for their hard work. In the original room we were all assigned daddy05 videos to go over and edit. After some of us working literally all night the video was done and a portion of us stayed behind.

After that the group yes was used to have fun and such like shae stated but it was often use for joy to spread bs. When someone would find negative things said about joy they would report to her there. honestly I’ve been uncomfortable with how things have been going. When stinky Hillary came around we at first did not know that she was also running the fake fallston group (as well as several other accounts). It was only after shae started talking to her that we found out.”

I’m sorry to the followers of Joy who genuinely believe this narrative being spun. She should not send people to do her bidding on her behalf.

The people in this DM group gave free labor to Joy, and conned them into thinking they didn’t need to be credited for it because “the internet is mean” or something.

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May 16th: By Joy’s good graces, she allowed the rest of us to have a week off from her ranting.  She tells her commenters that she’s going through a lot of drama as usual, and that she enjoyed talking to just a small group of people rather than large audiences at once. Even a week out from her last livestream, Joy is more than happy to make mention of the fact “she knows stuff that other people don’t know” when answering  a comment that asked if anything new in the DaddyOFive situation had happened. Later on, Joy admits she can understand how people could be worried about her behaviors from their outside perspective. What rustles her jimmies is the aspect that nobody reached out and sent her a private message to talk to her about this. Completely ignoring the fact that ChambersofHeart did exactly that on the 7th of May. Addressing Based_Mama’s comment on Twitter, Joy accuses her of “wishing me dead” and takes it out of context.

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“wishing (Joy) dead” isn’t what happened here.

Again saying she’s “not going to comment on the situation” Joy goes on to explore Based_Mama further. There wasn’t just ONE video, but TWO. Both of them were put up after Tim Conlon asked people to stop doing stuff like that because it was stressing Rose out. Joy is saying this now, but it’s worth pointing out there’s NINE MORE JOY YOUNOWS to go over after this. Joy claims she wishes everything could get resolved peacefully, but that it seemed impossible to actually have that happen at this point. “This was all stuff that should’ve just been privately handled between two people,” Joy says. It was though. Between Joy and Chambers on the 7th of May. Joy says she still loved and cared about people like Chambers and couldn’t fathom how they could’ve done what they did to her. Now everyone at this point thought Joy was still talking about Chambers, but at 7:32 she’s forced to clarify that at some point her words switched to being about Phil instead. The thing you need to realize in this video is that Joy is conflating whatever her dispute with Phil is, together with her drama in this DaddyOFive situation. At 9:12 she actually addresses these two situations co-existing. “I’m not mad, I’m heartbroken,” Joy claims. For someone who demanded apologies from people who spoke out against her, Joy says her aim is to look at people’s concerns objectively and walk away peacefully. Joy starts to rail against Phil’s 3-hour video again, but at 11:04 she admits she never actually sat down and watched it.

She never even watched it.

Then Joy goes on to misrepresent the contents and intention of Phil’s video in itself. She says she’s not trying to “play sides or be secretive” in her state of willful ignorance. Towards the tail end of the video, Joy admits on her dependency to other people like her roommate. This will come up again later on in subsequent livestreams in more detail. But here, when Joy is saying to a commenter that their video helped Joy get out of bed that morning, that she gets very emotional incredibly easily. Joy can turn on a dime.

May 18th (Part I): Joy attempts to delude her actions in the DaddyOFive drama by mixing it in with other controversies she found herself in. Attempting to play a recording from a video called “JoySparkleBS denies the Gag Order and calls out other YouTubers” which clearly is about the DaddyOFive case. But then she goes on to talk about a separate rumor about her owning something called Special Spaces, which has absolutely no relation to the DaddyOFive case at all except for Joy being at the center of both ordeals. Jumping back and forth between these two things, Joy addresses a comment that claims she changed her story about contacting Rose Hall’s attorney first to saying he contacted her. “When I found out about Rose’s attorney, I called their office and left a message with reception,” Joy clarifies. “If I can help in any way, let me know.” Joy says it was after uploading “Exposing Tim Conlon” was when he got in touch with her. Tim reached out to Chambers for Joy’s information, and that’s how contact was made. She later sounds depressed about the negativity being thrown her way on YouTube, and takes the time to state she’s never been on hard drugs or drunk. Joy blames fibromyalgia for her long-winded videos, and at 11:35 goes on to say that people who are finding fault in her don’t have the same understanding of a subject as she does. This is one of the traits of a narcissist. Joy finally admits outright she uses YouNow livestreams to vent. Another commenter said Joy runs around in circles over and over again to try and justify to herself that she’s right. Joy is dumbstruck at this and can’t think of any examples. She says people are free to think she’s exploiting the situation, because according to her they don’t have all the information. She completely ignores the possibility that even if they had all the information it wouldn’t exactly change their minds regardless. When addressing the assertion that she keeps in close touch with people outside of YouTube, Joy confesses she doesn’t talk to a lot of people, and the people she does keep in close contact with are adults. On the other hand, she keeps YouTube friends at a distance. It was apparently a hard lesson for her to learn. In the beginning of her channel’s establishment, her fans added her to a group chat. Joy says she rarely spoke at all in this group. Eventually when Joy started to open up more, she let too many of these people who wanted to help with her channel into her life. Finally bringing up the group chat she did in regards to the DaddyOFive situation, she says that was different. Despite being pretty much the same thing as she previously described. “There was a group chat for a reason,” Joy says without going into more detail about it. Referring to the initial leaker in particular, Joy inadvertently gives merit to pictures that were circulated. Joy acknowledges the more venting she does, the more ammunition people have to use against her. Joy says she doesn’t care about that anymore and prioritized sharing how she felt instead. Completely disregarding any potential stress Rose might have, as previously mentioned by Joy herself in an earlier YouNow stream. Joy actively chose not to give a hoot. All the meanwhile, Joy sounds disappointed at what she assumes to be happening – in her mind people are automatically not thinking clearly and just running around with “baseless rumors.” It can’t be anything other than that. Joy says when she’s angry, she comes off arrogant, and it frustrates her that she’s not aware of when she’s doing that. Joy mentions that she had the phase where she talked to Angels but never actually addresses the fact she did that for a job in Paris. Her entire focus of addressing that aspect of her past deals exclusively with her beliefs, and not her pursuit of profit in doing so. When addressing the claim that she needs a break, Joy tells everyone that YouTube is the entirety of her life. Someone who is constantly sick and apparently in pain all the time, developing a depression as a result of that. When talking about therapy, we find out that Joy has had two therapists that both said to her – her problems are allegedly only physical. When it comes to job stuff, Joy says she worked in marketing where a lot of it was done remotely. She claims at 29:30 that being ill has robbed her of her life and being on YouTube has given her a life back. In a later YouNow stream she’ll contradict this. Her routine is struggling to get out of bed and shower, and then resorting to spending most of the day browsing the internet. When it comes to illness, Joy says things are in the exploratory phase where they’re trying to nail down what exactly the problem is. The discussion goes into the differences between what other people’s ailments contend with (drug addiction, cancer, etc.) and her particular case. Therapists have told her to channel her pain to other things, and given the limitations to her house (possibly agoraphobic), there’s very little left for Joy to resort to but the internet.  She did take lyrica for a time to deal with fibromyalgia, but it apparently stopped working. On top of that, Joy needs to contend with the stress and pain that come with running a YouTube channel.

May 18th (Part II): Joy goes over the indigo nonsense once again. She says the origin of the indigo children had to do with some guy saying the aura of the children on the planet being indigo, and that the people who were born from 1985 onward were spiritually creative and intend to help the planet. Joy connected with the idea of helping other people and subscribed to the belief for a period of about two years. What eventually turned her off from it was the silly hyperfocus that these indigo folks had on the arbitrary 1985 cutoff point (revealing she was born before 1985 also). She tries to distance herself from it because it was something she did 12 years ago and people’s beliefs change over time. Going over her childhood once again, Joy says she was programmed to believe everything was her fault growing up. “I was taught to be ashamed of existing,” Joy says. She invites people to look her history up, claiming her record is squeaky clean. Admitting to the fact she’s an “odd fuck” who makes mistakes, at 8:50 she says “I’m okay with whatever people want to say even if its a lie.” This casts a shadow of confusion given the fact Joy would continue to harp on myself, Based_Mama, and Chambers in the days to come. At this point Joy is notified Chambers made an apology video of some kind, and Joy tells the audience she reached out to Chambers first to open up a line of dialogue. At 11:29 Joy says “”Im at peace with whatever people wanna do,” making it appear as if her personal DaddyOFive drama wouldn’t come back.

It did.

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May 20th: In the first 11 or so minutes of this livestream video, Joy talks about her journey to try and get her Ford Fiesta car fixed. There was a falling out between herself and the car dealership after an arrangement between herself and the manager doesn’t work out because he went on vacation without telling her. Joy has a difficult time explaining herself to the other staff at this dealership and ends up having a bit of breakdown right there on scene. But she ends up getting her recall-laden car back at the end of it, regardless. When Joy actually starts talking about the ChambersofHeart stuff, she tells everyone that no matter what kind of video Chambers releases it’s a “fake” apparently. Joy’s reasoning for that is Chambers is “bleeding subscribers after being an ass to me,” verbatim. “I have all the evidence I need to burn every one of these motherfuckers,” Joy says about the three of us. Whereas on May 8th Joy said Chambers and her were friends, here she says Chambers was never her friend and only wanted the benefits of Joy’s YouTube channel. In a conversation between the two of them, Joy alleges she was told there was a “manufactured witch hunt” with the objective of making Joy look crazy. At 12:40 Joy shoves her face forward into the camera and says she recorded the conversation with Chambers without her consent. Calling her a “snake,” Joy says she has a list of Chambers wrongdoings. “You guys have no idea the damage they did THE DAMAGE THEY DID in this situation,” Joy says while shoving her face into the camera again. Joy claims she urged Chambers to apologize and try to repair this when “the time is right,” according to her. Joy says she urged Chambers to be mature. Next day, Joy says she got a text saying the others aren’t going to apologize. Chambers told Joy she was going to do a video, allegedly against her urging. When the video came out, Joy says she was “appalled” because it didn’t touch on much. Joy sounds offended at the fact that Chambers didn’t name me and Based_Mama in particular, she paints herself as a saint once again trying to say she was nothing but nice to Chambers. Joy goes on to describe the text conversations that I previously published here. “It was nothing but blah blah blah,” Joy alleges. Joy re-emphasizes the “i did nothing wrong i’ve only been helpful to you” lines. “stand by someone who screamed they want me dead,” Joy says about Based_Mama at 16:13. Urging people to look at Based_Mama’s tweets (which actually prove Joy is lying), saying “the person wished me to die in a fire, isn’t that what cody said to people” at 16:37. At no point did Based_Mama make this connection to the DaddyOFive situation that Joy is alleging. Joy implies Chambers bothered her, and that she wanted Chambers to leave her alone. Joy says Chambers said “we all created this mess” and that Joy had a hand in it. Shouting at the camera, Joy says she said nothing but defend herself. Joy directs people to Chambers Twitter and urges them to check things out for themselves. Joy says Chambers apology video wasn’t good enough and demands more out of her in terms of reparations. Again dangling the “oh the things I could say line,” Saint Joy mentions the fact she donated $600 to Rose’s GoFundMe and attacks everyone else’s donation amounts as if it was some sort of contest. Intermittently throughout this rant, Joy rehashes the same things over and over again.

“I don’t want to draw attention away from Rose, Tim, and the kids, but OH when I do talk about what ACTUALLY HAPPENED you guys are going to shit your pants!,” Joy essentially says (I paraphrased, but feel free to listen at the 21:00 mark to check for yourself the accuracy of that).

Chambers and Joy had a big ol’ fight. Before continuing it’s recommend you read this for context.

ChambersLogo

May 23rd (Part I): Joy opens up by explaining her roommate helped with research and filling paperwork for her medicaid paperwork. Her eligibility results came back and she read the letter on livestream. Joy was rejected because her household income was too low for a premium tax credit. As her household may be below the poverty line and her state didn’t expand individual benefits. Joy proceeds to blame the Trump administration and attacks the critics online who said she couldn’t “get off her ass” to do the paperwork. Joy admits that she has a hard time dealing with her illness and that it might make her videos and reactions more angrier as a result of that. At 2:26 she “prays to go home,” which as far as I’m aware in this context is she’s wishing to die? Anyway, after that Joy jumps onto the Manchester incident. Revealing that she lived in Europe for a time, Joy says that gives her a different perspective on the incident compared to most Americans. Giving some woke thoughts on the US government’s involvement in Iran back in the 70s, Joy says she was shocked at how much things changed when she went back to France for a visit a few years ago. According to her, the old hangouts she frequented are overran by extremists. French people are moving out of the areas populated by refugees, and Joy says it’s now not safe to go out as a woman or after dark. Somehow, this conversation about politics and current events devolves into talking about Lolcow again at 5:47, because Joy has a habit of mixing all her problems together like that. Predictably this video ends up with Joy attacking commenters and people in the chat again.

May 23rd (Part II): In this livestream, Joy focuses on discussing why she made videos about the Manchester incident in the first place. According to her, the intent was to get information out there. Again we have another saga where Joy says she’s fighting back against people who apparently slander her. Much like the DaddyOFive drama, much like the Phil drama, for Joy it always has to be a battle. In this particular vague case, Joy says she knows when people “put her on blast” and makes it clear she’s deciding to show mercy by not counter-attacking them directly. Remember. This is about the Manchester incident and somehow Joy is going on about her online drama once again.  Joy shams someone named PiercedAngel96, accusing her of spamming Lolcow and pretending to be Joy while doing so. She says she was on the phone with somebody else begging Angel to stop, and says a story was “spun” that Joy made Angel post on her behalf. Firmly denying that she watched Angel’s livestream and giving some excuse about being subbed to her and getting thrown into the chat automatically, Joy claims she automatically clicked out as soon as possible. Later on, Joy laments about how there are people out there ready to demonize her at a moment’s notice. She attempts to connect it back to the Manchester tragedy by saying she was legitimately fooled by trolls in her efforts to try and help. While they may be true about Joy in this specific instance, it doesn’t exactly mean she can use that to excuse general patterns of behavior. Again she re-emphasizes the fact that she’ll make mistakes due to being still new to YouTube. At 13:42 Joy brings up the DaddyOFive situation once more.  “all the other people who bitched where were your donations,” Joy remarks while whipping out the $600 dollar donation she made. Joy clarifies that none of the things mentioned are about Chambers specifically, but still manages to barb the poor lass with some bile about shady tactics and behavior. According to Joy, people are going to spin their narratives anyway because they’re “miserable, jealous, and have a vendetta” against her. At 16:42 Joy contradicts herself from an earlier statement where she labels herself as press. Here, she says YouTube and the News are not the same thing. Repeating herself up through the end of the video, Joy says she has every right to be angry about being “screwed over” by people.

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These last two YouNow streams show Joy in two very different states of mind.

May 24th: Joy starts off telling a joke tale about her roommate being inside source in the Maryland court. She accuses “they” (myself, Based_Mama, and Chambers) of being caught, so now we’re spinning a new story, allegedly.  Accusing us of being dumber than her, Joy calls Chambers a “fucking manipulative cunt” who went on a livestream with someone who made false and debunked accusations against Joy. Going from friend, to hating her, now Joy says “I don’t know the bitch” when it comes to Rose’s GoFundMe. According to Joy, she has evidence that myself, Based_Mama, and Chambers know better than Tim. “I have two evidences of this,” Joy says. She says it was her job to keep the story alive, and somehow Rose became afraid of her because of the amount of videos she made. Joy says this whole time she’s cared about the kids, and by “our own logic” we have shown that we don’t, somehow. Apparently, Chambers “put her lot in with the wrong people, according to Joy. Regurgitating the same false claim that Based_Mama wished death on her at 4:49, again unnecessarily dragging Cody Martin into it. “Based_Mama talked shit on Tim. HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE?” Joy shouts. At 5:32, Joy claims she stood up for herself against Tim’s advice only at one point. This is an inaccurate estimate. By my count, Joy has dragged the drama into every livestream up until this point. Railing against Based_Mama some more and talking about the two videos she made, Joy throws the “you’re a mother” line at her once again. According to Joy, the three of us only wanted attention and didn’t care about Tim, Rose, and the kids. Joy says we only care about breaking the stories first, and tells the audience to think about all the attention Joy could’ve gotten if she broke the story back on May 5th. At 7:16 Joy falsely asserts that the gag order was lifted as of Monday the 22nd of May. She says that everyone is watching gaslighting happen in “real-time,” by her own definition. Joy says Chambers came crawling back to her out of guilt of what Based_Mama had allegedly done and what I had allegedly done with Lolcow. Joy recounts the request she made on Twitter that day asking her fans to photoshop a Lolcow journalism degree in order to mock me. Joy lambasts me of being a “pussy” for addressing her last night while having her blocked. Joy tells everyone that Chambers requested pictures of Joy’s roommate, and makes the comparison that it’d be the equivalent of Joy saying “hey we need to figure out who Chambers husband is, and get everybody’s family involved.” Joy takes the time to urge people not to attack our families this first time. Joy says the narrative is that we somehow think Joy’s roommate was in Maryland’s court on May 5th, and that he’s Joy’s source. This is absolutely untrue. Joy goes over the process of how much of an excursion that would be to pull off. Joy jokingly tells everyone that she’s going to put up an interview with her roommate in order to prove he’s a real person, and that she and roommate are going to reveal everything about the Maryland court room heist.

Joy then highlights “shit I said on Twitter” as part of this gas-lighting scheme. I stepped back into the DaddyOFive Joy controversy after having my attention directed to the feud going on between Joy and Chambers. She accuses me of devising a “nerd plan” with Chambers where we use what we know and turn it against Joy. She accuses us of being fraudulent, and slanderous in a pursuit to try and ruin Joy’s reputation. According to her, I spread around to everyone that Joy did something illegal back in early May. Joy claims to have talked to 3 different lawyers, and they apparently “all laughed” when Joy told the situation to them. Joy says the court case was open to the public, accusing myself and the others of apparently knowing better than Tim Conlon. According to Joy’s research, if there was a “true gag order” they’d have had the proceedings in closed chambers away from the public. Joy says the gag order was lifted on Monday May 22nd at 10 AM. Joy says her and Rose still talk, smugly saying that the three of us were going to go to Rose urging her to not talk to Joy because “she’s crazy.” Joy claims she’s not threatening anybody (despite promising the “mind-blowing” nature of whatever information she’s sitting on) and accusing the “truth of slapping my ass.” Joy says the gag order is not about what happened in court that day, but that it applies to medical records. According to Joy, the May 5th court proceedings between Rose Hall and Mike Martin were open to the public. At 14:22, Joy falsely tells a concerned member of her audience that she had her roommate following Rose. Joy tells this audience member to take that small moment of her YouNow stream and spread it around as it was fact. Joy urges people to not even trust what she’s saying about this drama, and tells people to do research for themselves. “They know they’re fucked. They know I know have the evidence I’m sitting on,” Joy asserts. Claiming that we’re spinning a new narrative now against her. Joy goes back to my tweets, and mentions the one where I said I stopped talking to Joy because she’s unstable. Joy says I knowingly lied, slandered her, said that she has a cult, and that I put out information that wasn’t good for the kids even though I had the legal right to put it out. According to Joy, by own logic I’ve done something criminal. Joy doesn’t take into account the fact that I didn’t receive this information from a source that was directly inside the courtroom in her rebuttal. Accusing me of doxxing a 16 year old, and saying she wrote me 4 times urging me to stop. Other YouTubers asking me to stop (at 16:34 it was only YourselfSuit in reality) – these things together alongside the fact that I addressed Joy while having her blocked make me a pussy. Joy says unlike myself, Chambers, and Based_Mama, she’s willing to address the things I say directly in a YouNow stream, calling us a bunch of cowards and “fame whores” for not fighting on her terms. When suggesting to invite us as guests, Joy says “hell no” because we aren’t man or woman enough to do so. She says our narrative is going to be accusing her of hiding the stream, then chopping it up and editing it to say “see? she admitted that roommates the source!” or something. She brings up some Purple Mattress controversy, although I’ve never once even talked about that in the first place. Joy says the three of us are incapable of doing anything for ourselves, and that we only make decisions as a group in private. At 18:22 Joy mentions the “bringing each other’s family into it” suggestion a second time. This time, Joy builds on the “we need to find out about Chambers husband” line by saying “we need clear photos of Chambers husband” friends and family. Again, immediately after that she tells people to not actually follow through with anything of that sort. Addressing my tweets about being dragged into a public fight with Joy, Joy denies that there was never a fight between her and the three of us. “YOU DID IT! YOU MANIPULATIVE, COWARDLY, SNIVELING LITTLE PIECE OF DOG SHIT” Joy shouts. Joy calls me a joke and a “Lolcow Journalist” from her pedestal, accusing me of taking one rumor and running with it at face value and not doing my own research. Talking about my “attacking Chambers is a shame tweet,” Joy goes over her accusations against me once again. She properly describes the fact I said she had “illegal information” about the court case, finally. She accuses me of supporting the “don’t trust Tim” narrative. Topping that off, Joy drags the 16 year old in front of her again and accuses me of doxing her. Lastly, Joy accuses me of taking screenshots from her group chat and characterizing what I saw as a cult where everyone does Joy’s bidding. Responding to my “slap fight” tweet, she accuses of trying to bully and beat her up on social media. Bringing the teenager example up again, she says I “laughed” when I said she needs to stop contacting me. Joy says I was in the chat-room with a fake screen name saying shit because “I’m a puss.” Actually I was away at the time and I had someone watching on my behalf at that time. Going over my “I deleted all my previous tweets” tweet, she says I only did that because Chambers allegedly told me Joy knows “everything” and that she’ll come after me when the time is right. Joy accuses Chambers of doing it “half-assed” and says my response to Joy was just walking away from the situation. Which I did. “When you slander me left, right, and center with no evidence you don’t get to just walk away. Sorry, that’s not how it works,” Joy says. Joy says even though I deleted them, she has them archived. So do I. She calls me an idiot for trying to take the high road. Replying to my “it’s up to you how to respond” and “I have no qualms” tweets, she rehashes the same accusations again. And again. Telling her I have the right of reply because her calling me “NickCon” was too far (actually the photoshop was too far), she says “fuck you.” Then Joy goes over my note I wrote about the information she strung along to the public without revealing for several weeks. At 23:16,  Joy inadvertently verifies the facts she told Chambers over the phone on May 5th. When I reiterated the fact we were worried about illegal activity, Joy shouts that nothing illegal was done. At 24:35 Joy responds to someone calling her vindictive. “No, I’m standing for myself against lies and slander when I’ve been quiet for way too long. No, I’m not vindictive. I’m going to shed the truth because of the damage these people have tried to do to me. I’m done. I am dooonnne,” Joy replies. Repeating herself again some more, Joy reflects on the anger she has that this spread all the way to Mr. Repzion. Saying this group of us tried to paint a picture that Joy is crazy, she says it damages her audience as much as it damages her. Responding to the audience’s objections, she tells them that they have “no idea what they are talking about” and that Joy knows better than them. Joy accuses me of not having permission to post the text conversations beforehand, while I certainly did, from Chambers. At 28:19 “Because you know he’s watching this. Come on little coward. Come on! Let your balls drop. Come face me! Come face me,” Joy says in regards to my response to her. “The more you do, the worse it’s going to be because you’re not coming clean, Nick.” At 29:20 Joy tells me to “keep spinning Nick. Come clean! You know what, don’t come clean. I’m gonna have fun with this.” Joy claims she was diplomatic and that the rest of us decided to run a gas-lighting campaign against her.

Joy says we could’ve publicly apologized her this whole time, but somehow we chose to create a “bigger narrative to discredit her” instead. Joy accuses me of going on Lolcow, taking information from there without researching, and putting it up spinning a tale about Joy. At 31:24 Joy brings up going after people’s families for a third time. “Could you imagine the shit storm they’d throw if I said ‘everybody we need to figure out who Chambers husband is and get pictures of him we need a clear picture of Chambers husband?’ Can you guys imagine the shitstorm that would come to me.” Joy again tells people to not do that. After lamenting to the commenters that we’re out trying to disprove that someone had good intentions. At 32:46 she brings up the fact Chambers apparently mentioned Joy’s roommate in a livestream again, demanding myself and Based_Mama to respond to it. “Can you believe she’s trying to bring my roommate into this? What do you have to say about that Nick? Based_Mama? Should we drag your family into it? Because you’d guys know you’d flip your shit if I put out a call to do that. But it’s okay when you guys do it, right?”

This time, Joy did not put out a disclaimer immediately after that suggestion. She falsely lumps Based_Mama and myself into Chambers’ “nerd group” that attempted to drag her roommate into this drama. Outright false.

“Now that you’re aware of what the narrative is, and what they’re trying to spin? We can sit back and laugh because now it’s entertaining,” Joy tells the audience. Responding to later tweets I made, Joy said I specifically told Chambers I was walking away. To her, that’s not the same thing as making peace, and now I’m “freaking out” because she’s going to “expose shit.” Saying my attempt to make peace by deleting the tweets Joy was offended by is “BS and I know it,” according to her. Joy demands I talk to her in private to resolve the matter. Responding to the tweet where I said I only stepped back into the fray to defend Chambers, Joy suggests I was possibly conned too. Joy finally acknowledges the fact I had permission to post about the 16 year old, then thinks she has a “Gotcha” saying that it doesn’t count. Joy accuses me of being “jealous because I’m so far out of the loop with everything,” afterward. Joy thinks my “does not equal tweet” about illegal activity was a “does equal,” misreading it entirely. I force her to clarify that I didn’t post anything on Lolcow, and that her allegation is specific to me getting information from them. Joy says she’s surprised I wasn’t trying to do more “damage control” in my responses than I already was. At 38:43 Joy falsely accuses me of trying to get information on her roommate, when again that allegation came from Chambers. It’s after this she FINALLY adds a disclaimer that people shouldn’t attack any of us in the same way Joy is accusing this group of attacking her.

Joy closes it off by saying she doesn’t control what people do on her behalf, despite telling someone in the audience to take a YouNow moment earlier and spread it around without context.

But we’d get an extra dose of Joy that day. Same day. 24th. Later on.  Andy Warski’s show.

The only thing of substance in this whole piece is that Joy was able to verify her $600 donation to Rose’s GoFundMe. Joy appears completely sane and lucid in this video because Andy Warski asked softball questions. That’s kind of how it works.

But in Warski’s defense he explained he wasn’t familiar with the situation beforehand.

But couldn’t she have done that without throwing everyone trying to help Rose Hall under the bus? Without adding unnecessary drama to the situation? They didn’t deserve this bullshit.

The real measure of someone is by how they handle the hard challenges.

May 26th: We find Joy in the middle of a breakdown about the aftermath of the Andy Warski stream. She assures us she’s not upset at either of the Warski brothers in particular. According to Joy, she felt the Warski brothers came around to understanding her perspective by the end of that livestream. Joy tearfully remarks on the fact that everyone on the stream was trying to give her advice on how to do YouTube in the future. Joy says she’s the first to raise her hand and readily accept responsibility and says she gets walked all over as a result. Joy says she grew up in abuse similar to Cody. Every morning…. Joy’s mom would wake her and her sister up for years screaming bloody murder and for a good half an hour when she got home. Joy says she can’t breathe when talking about this stuff, blowing her nose on occasion. Joy says her experiences with abuse have programmed her brain into adulthood. “I don’t want to hurt anybody. I don’t want to hurt Chambers. I actually thought she was a friend. I don’t want to hurt Based_Mama, I don’t want to hurt Nick. I don’t want to hurt my former friend. I don’t want to hurt anybody.” Joy says. “But then I don’t want to be stepped on and be naive either.” Joy claims her biggest fear is hurting somebody’s feelings or hurting somebody. Joy claims people take advantage of her being nice. In contrast, when she speaks up, those people turn around and say she’s gone crazy. Joy says she doesn’t want to end up like her mother. According to her the public is only getting bits and chunks and doesn’t understand the full extent of what’s happening exactly. When someone gives Joy advice on tuning out the toxicity, Joy’s reply is laying out her situation. She tells everyone she has no family that gives a damn about her being alive or not. Her roommate won’t be around forever, and the handful of friends who want to help Joy are scattered throughout the world. “I can’t have a life outside my home. I can’t leave my home,” Joy tells everyone. The only thing she has accessible to her is a laptop and a camera. Going over her health problems again, Joy says the government has cracked down on fibromyalgia being used for disability, so that’s not an option available for her to pursue. Joy feels hopeless because of the fact that every time she manages to tackle what she thinks is the core cause of her health problems, more issues still remain. Doing something out of character – Joy asks the chatroom to have an ounce of compassion for her circumstances. “Because I’m a human being, maybe I’m not, I don’t know. I don’t feel like one anymore,” Joy weeps. The “cherry-on-top” as Joy phrases it – was going on Andy’s show. Apparently people said Joy “hid” that she was going on and nobody could prepare and ask questions. Joy goes over the process of how her talk with Andy eventually led to him inviting her on his show.  There was a 25 minute period of prep time Joy had to get ready. In Joy’s defense, she talked to them beforehand and made sure they asked safe questions that minimized harm to Tim, Rose, and the kids. She said she was nervous about it beforehand, telling the Warski brothers she would cope with that by talking fast. The advice of the Warski brothers conflicted with the advice of Bearing. Andy and Chris advised Joy exercise more caution, but Bearing urged Joy to do whatever the heck she wanted. Joy recaps the events of that, saying the discussion came down to the public perception that Joy looked like she was capitalizing on tragedy. Bearing stayed the course with “who the fuck cares” as his response. She said Bearing urged Joy to keep her money and that she was a better person than everyone on the show because “they don’t donate shit,” to paraphrase. Later on, Joy concedes to blocking people if they act unstable. She says she has to deal with a lot of rumors and online threats every day, and has to consider her own personal safety. Joy alludes to a video she did on Steve Harvey where she didn’t defend what he had to say, but focused on Harvey’s right to protect himself from the public. Joy says people came at Andy “with lies,” and that Joy says it looked like Andy felt embarrassed for ever working with Joy or promoting her. Additionally, Joy says she didn’t know what to take away from this pep-talk livestream they did with Andy. Given the conflict between Bearing’s words with Andy’s, Joy said she didn’t know what to do. Joy saw an article about the Manchester bombing that showcased a moment of positive action during the dark and horrible tragedy, and Joy felt conflicted about whether to make a video on it or not. Joy’s dilemma was between making too many videos vs the intent of these videos in the first place. Joy tells everyone she has had 15 or 20 video ideas that day, where she faces this dilemma. Joy emphasizes with Andy and people who are nice to her, and realizes her actions have a reflection on the reputations of people who associate with her. When it came to an upcoming series on pedophiles, Joy says her mind goes over what rumors about her would result from uploading the videos. Joy says she feels like her existence alone is punishment enough for some people because of her abusive upbringing. According to her that’s why she was so deeply invested in the DaddyOFive situation. Joy foresees the damages that could happen to the children when they’re older as a result of living in such a tumultuous household. Joy goes back to the people saying she’s hurting the situation worse and “lying about it,” with her regurgitating once at 22:12 that she has evidence that proves contrary. Apparently having already shared it with a handful of people. When someone suggests Joy go outside, she replies that it’s somehow impossible for her to do those things. This somehow limits her to just sitting on the couch all day in an anxiety filled state. Being sick and in one spot (again, by her own choice) makes Joy worry that she’ll actually end up going stir-crazy. Anxiety makes her “frozen” and incapable of doing anything. Detoxing from social media means Joy is left alone with the thoughts of her lack of a future and her family hating her. Beyond that the thoughts of being in constant pain plague her. At one point, Joy shouts at a commenter for a couple of minutes that told her to toughen up. After going over the indigo children thing for the bazillionth time, Joy laments that people are watching her for any tiny minute detail they can call her out from and use as proof against her.

Joy talks about her excessive bodily functions makes her gain weight. Although Joy goes into excessive detail about this (it’s hard to listen to) for a few minutes, to explain it briefly: she’s tried several diets and finally narrowed down her food choices to safe enough options to solidify her shit, and it’s been an ordeal she’s battled for about a year and a half. Calling it a stomach virus that wouldn’t ever go away.

So why in god’s name do I mention it?

Joy transitions from talking about her weight to sharing pictures of herself from her time in France, Europe, and elsewhere.

I actually feel sorry for Joy here.

Not only because of the overbearing sentimentality of the occasion, but her passing remarks like mentioning she wears the same set of clothes all the time because that’s all she can fit into given her ailments. “These pictures are hard to look at because this is when i had a life,” Joy tells us. It’s a rarity to see Joy actually not swept up in a moment. To not be full of emotion and talking at 110% speeds. It’s here you actually have a moment to see Joy react, rather than have Joy tell you how she’s reacting.

“Can’t look at that one that one is hard,” Joy remarks to herself as she’s flipping through photos.

This one genuine moment of authenticity from Joy is enough to make me reconsider everything that has happened in recent weeks, leading up to me writing this.

BUT THEN Joy blew it with this video. All that talk about taking a more conservative approach to YouTube videos went straight down the shitter.

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There wasn’t any lying involved between Based_Mama and Warski. All that Based_Mama said to Warski was a recounting of how the drama between her and Joy first started, followed up by her personal belief and perspective of the situation was.

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Conclusion

My article is a warning to anyone who comes into contact with JoySparkleBS. You’ve come into contact with a mentally broken individual whose sole purpose is to suck the life and time out of you. By the time she’s finished using you for what you’re worth and moves on? You’ll be nothing but dazed and confused. That’s because she’s a professional manipulator. You are not the first person she’s bamboozled, but maybe getting this information out there can make us the last. There comes a point where these situations Joy finds herself in – these incidents of drama – they cease to be coincidences. At the end of the day the only common factor between all of it is Joy herself. She’s the one who makes the messes she laments about. They’ve got nobody to blame besides themselves either. The reality of it is ugly and sad. I would be compelled to emphasize with her tearful moments, but then I remember the names and faces of the people Joy has steamrolled. Joy will call you her friend even though you’ve never met her. Make you feel good, so you let your guard down. That’s when you become putty in her hands. Soft enough to believe whatever Joy wants you to believe. Stringing the public along time and time again about “receipts” and evidence that somehow vindicates whatever story she’s selling. Whatever buys Joy enough time to suck a situation dry. Until it’s a lifeless and incomprehensible mush.

These are the 9 signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

  1. Exaggerates own importance
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal romance
  3. Believes he or she is special and can only be understood by other special people or institutions
  4. Requires constant attention and admiration from others
  5. Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
  6. Takes advantage of others to reach his or her own goals
  7. Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy
  8. Is often envious of others or believes other people are envious of him or her
  9. Shows arrogant behaviors and attitudes

Joy believes she has some sort of unique and special disease that nobody can diagnose. Constantly she said over and over she cared about the kids in an attempt to earn people’s praise and admiration. Joy demands people apologize to her directly any time they speak against her favor. Took advantage of Chambers to get herself involved with Rose Hall’s situation, and didn’t give a damn about how bad she made people look when she went on her tirades. Joy believed people like myself and Based_Mama were jealous of her but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When it comes to arrogance, she confessed to that one herself. She also believes that her every problem is the result of a conspiracy against her by people who couldn’t care less about her.

Myself included.

Joy, you are a toxic individual that needs to get help. YouTube seems to make you miserable, but at the same time you seem to enjoy that.

That’s all I have to say about this.

 

The Feud Between ChambersOfHeart and JoySparkleBS

Four days ago I was made aware that JoySparkleBS made allegations against myself, Based_Mama, and ChambersOfHeart. In general the accusations allude to a sort of grand conspiracy where the three of us planned to make Joy look crazy.

I firmly deny such an outrageous claim.

I wanted nothing to do with this mess, but Joy continued to name me in this slander.

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Tim Conlon emailed Based Mama, Joy, and Chambers about the drama. Joys videos causing issue did start out as rumors then was made an actual concern by Rose. Tim, didn’t see an issue with them though it’s not clear if he actually watched all of them.

Chambers made a video on May 18th attempting to extend an olive branch to Joy.

Onto the videos themselves.

ExplanationBanner

 

An Explanation….: Chambers explains she felt guilty about the way things turned out between Joy and herself. Indeed her only intention here was to extend an olive branch and be on civil terms. She goes on to say she waited until the DaddyOFive situation had quieted down enough because it wasn’t her intention to cause an unnecessary distraction to everything that was going on in regards to that. Chambers explains that people have called her “shady,” a “backstabber,” and even the “anti-christ.” This was despite her putting out two fairly clearly worded statements on the 6th and 7th of May about the matter. She says she made the detachment from Joy as she felt it was best given the circumstances of the situation, and that it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t something Chambers wanted to do, having known the terrible feeling of losing relationships with people over the past few years.

When it came to the “Salem Witch Trial of Joy” events (as Chambers nicknamed it), she firmly states she had nothing to do with that. In general what this refers to is people on message boards and Twitter had been tweeting information to Chambers about her past, digging up old skeletons.

After making that first public statement on the 6th, people began to approach Chambers about Joy’s behavior. At work, Chambers got a phone call from Rose that she was not happy with Joy’s videos, and not happy with how loud Joy was being.

“I was advised to detach myself from Joy,” Chambers said. She makes the distinction between that terminology and the word “forced,” denying that to be the case.

This was all fairly stressful for Chambers, and that was reflected in the venting she did during a video making remarks about Phil DeFranco (which she later deleted). But the overall worry within the online community that was tuned into the DaddyOFive situation started to turn to Joy’s perceived intimate involvement with Rose Hall’s case. Thus leading to this separation. Chambers goes on to say that while she was satisfied with how she was able to help Rose, she admitted to her own personal flaws. Expressing an awareness of how connected to the situation she was and how her actions would be seen as a reflection onto Rose, Chambers was capable of respecting that. The only “negative” thing Chambers said about Joy was that she thought her videos could’ve been longer. She didn’t like the reactions and responses Joy had to this, but Chambers assured her she didn’t hold it against her.

Rounding off this video, Chambers talks about how the BBC Network interviewed her after JoySparkleBS and YourselfSuit pointed them in her direction. They both warned Chambers that the BBC was going to push a narrative that the DaddyOFive controversy was somehow YouTube’s fault, and so Chambers recorded the actual conversation between her and BBC for her own sake.

Overall it was a clear attempt at an apology.

ApologyWithMoreInfoHeader
Apology with More Info: For the first minute or so, Chambers reviews what she explained in the previous video. Her hands were tied because she needed to be cautious about her behavior for the sake of Rose. They explain they aren’t privy to everything that was going on here, so anything they said was in regards to the perspective only. Which, by the way, was under a lot of stress and anxiety over the events of the past few weeks. Chambers explains that it was possible that the high volume of videos was why Tim Conlon wanted to speak with Joy in the first place. She makes it clear that there was apparent controversy building up around the JoySparkleBS YouTube channel even before the DaddyOFive stuff even began. But when that bubbled over when the DO5 situation was happening, Chambers characterized it as an orchestrated witch-hunt. It began, according to her, because of the revelation Joy had privileged information in regards to the case. Chambers refused to name any names. She said she had no care to learn more about the skeletons that people on the lolcow.farm message board were digging up. Chambers says while Joy’s reactions were disagreeable, it seemed understandable to her given the metaphorical internet fire she was in. Chambers sided with the public’s concerns that Joy’s channel was full of clickbait-y titles. When it comes to answers about what Tim told Joy, she referred to her previous Facebook statements in regards to what she knew. Chambers explains that her Twitter and YouTube channel were connected, and that it was an automatic tweet when she “liked” a critical video of Joy.

“He wanted her number because of her videos and because of how loud she was,” Chambers said about Tim Conlon’s desire to get in touch with JoySparkleBS.

She confirms giving me an entire copy of the Skype logs between herself and JoySparkle. Yup. I had tweeted about the fact I could verify Joy told Chambers on Skype that she had inside information in regards to Rose Hall’s court case on May 5th. Chambers said Tim said that the Gag Order prohibits Mike and Heather from speaking to the Press, and it prohibits Rose and Tim from doing so either. It is not known whether Joy’s source is from one of the legal parties underneath the gag order. As a brief aside, this was what primary focus on Joy was about in the first place. Chambers quells concerns about the Protective Order’s extension to 1-year being made public by me.

She’s pretty stressed out about the whole thing, overall. Chambers said she wished it happened another way, and stressed to the public she didn’t want this ugly feud unfolding on her channel.

JoyYouNow

In response to these videos, Joy publicly attacked Chambers on Twitter and YouNow. On the evening of May 20th (jump to the 15 minute mark of this video and here) Joy said despite her committment to not talk about the case for Rose’s sake, she was done” and fed up with “snakes,” her term for describing ChambersOfHeart. She said if they saw any apology video from anyone (referring to Chambers), it was because they were “bleeding subscribers after being an ass to me.”

I’m just going to transcribe this verbatim.

“I have all the evidence I need to burn every one of these motherfuckers, and I’ve just been sitting. And let me tell you why because unlike everybody else? I give a SHIT about Tim, Rose, and the kids. I sure do, that’s why I kept quiet. But I’m going to continue to keep quiet, but real quick – let’s talk about some snakes. You’re not my friend. You never were my friend, you just wanted the benefit of me and my channel. So I had a really long conversation with somebody recently who “claimed” to be sorry, made a FAKE ASS apology video. Fake. And then – you know what, here’s the thing guys. Let me explain something. When we had our chat? I said – with all the lies, I was told there is a “witch hunt, it was manufactured by us, because WE wanted to make YOU look crazy.” And I already knew. “So we were going to do everything we could to make you look crazy and discredit you.” You guys don’t believe me? Guess who has the recording of it. Guess who recorded it. I don’t trust motherfuckers anymore. So here’s where this is at, and this is where I’m so irritated. Don’t trust a motherfucking snake. I’m going to be way. more. careful. She didn’t do anything wrong? Alright, I can’t wait to pull up my list. The list of receipts. I can’t wait. So if somebody didn’t do anything wrong, why are they gonna turn around and be rude to me? Here’s the thing. We talked about it and I said “the hit that my reputation has taken because you and that group decided to do all of that.” Oh you guys have no idea the damage they did. THE DAMAGE THAT THEY DID IN THIS SITUATION. And IM keepin’ it QUIET. IM KEEPIN IT QUIET. But let me just talk real quick for a second because this shit it’s just so infuriating. I said “you need to apologize and try to repair this when the time is right.” Person agreed. “I said you need to do it when the time is right the person agreed. You know what else I said? I said “wait until everything is over. Wait until the trial is over. Wait until everything is over because it’s not about me and you, it’s not – look, it’d be nice to have y’all clear my name with everything you did, but I don’t give a shit. It’s about Rose, Tim, and those kids. That’s been MY focus even when YOU guys went against HIS advice of legal counsel. That’s my focus. And I said “remember! let’s all be mature. This is about them.” Next day I get a text. Hey, so the others are going to apologize. They’re standing by what they said, they said they’re just gonna walk away. And I’m going to go ahead and do the video. I said “don’t! Don’t, you’re gonna bring shit up again. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. Let’s be mature! Remember, it’s about the kids. But-for-them-it’snot. It’s not. It never has been.”

That’s in the span of three minutes of Joy’s talking she did in the YouNow stream she did on May 20th.

Chambers even went as far as privating both of these videos quietly in order to try and save herself the grief.

The best way to solve this is directly seeing the texts themselves.

ChambersOfHeart gave me a copy of the chat logs between herself and JoySparkleBS. It was a direct “dump” from her phone, so remnants of the decryption process still remain. It’s to my understanding that JoySparkleBS uses a voice-to-text program. So her responses and typos within are likely a reflection of that.

May 2nd 2017 (All times are in GMT-4:00 DST)

Chambers: Hey so you have their info? [11:29:13 AM]
Joy: ??? whose this? [11:29:35 AM]
Chambers: This is Chambers [11:29:38 AM]
Joy: AH i thought so lol [11:29:56 AM]
Joy: just sent it over twitter hold on [11:29:59 AM]
Chambers: Okay [11:30:05 AM]
Joy: (email address to someone at BBC) [11:30:10 AM]
Joy: just wrote her and told her u would be contacting her [11:30:16 AM]
Joy: OMFG IM SO PROUD OF U! [11:30:20 AM]
Chambers: Okay [11:30:24 AM]
Joy: she didn’t know who u were until i told her, i said this is YOUR story [11:30:27 AM]
Joy: to tell [11:30:30 AM]
Joy: she will call u asap from %E2%80%9Cunknown%E2%80%9D [11:30:34 AM]
Joy: just fyi [11:30:37 AM]
Joy: this is HUGE and I’m SOproud of u! [11:30:42 AM]
Chambers: Okay [11:31:07 AM]
Chambers: Well how far did it blow up? [11:31:44 AM]
Joy: google daddyofive [11:32:23 AM]
Joy: EVERYONES picking it up! [11:32:24 AM]
Joy: i wouldn’t be surprised if u get contacted for more stuff [11:32:25 AM]
Joy: if aynone contacts me i will send them your way [11:32:26 AM]
Chambers: Oh okay [11:32:38 AM]
Joy:  as MUCH as i LOVe this stuff, this is my world, its not about me, its about those kids and in my opinion, i am your FRIEND, and this is YOUR story to tell, i [11:32:40 AM] (Joy contradicts herself at 16:21)
Joy: was just another mouth following it, the credit goes to YOU here. [11:32:44 AM]
Chambers: Ok [11:32:52 AM]
Chambers: Rose finally received the first round of money [11:34:14 AM]
Chambers: Huzzah [11:34:19 AM]
Joy: yay! [11:35:44 AM]
Chambers: You have their number? [11:38:26 AM]
Joy: no ma’am, they will call you [11:38:44 AM]
Joy: and it will come up as unknown [11:38:48 AM]
Joy: so just answer if u see an unknown number [11:38:56 AM]
Chambers: Okay [11:38:56 AM]

Chambers: Getting ready [2:32:59 PM]
Joy: godlike, i think they nixed my interview bc they never got back to me. let me know how it goes %3C3 u recording it right?! [2:33:30 PM]
Chambers: Of course [2:33:41 PM]
Chambers: I’m all set up [2:33:47 PM]
Chambers: They’re recording this too [2:35:31 PM]
Chambers: Wrapping up now [3:00:53 PM]
Joy: ok ! how’d it go? let me know when u can 🙂 [3:01:22 PM]
Chambers: It went fine [3:02:30 PM]
Chambers: I will upload the interview on youtube unlisted [3:02:52 PM]
Chambers: And give you the link [3:02:59 PM]
Joy: perfect [3:07:25 PM]
Joy: do u want me uploading it to my channel? happy to so do if u want and credit u [3:07:33 PM]
Joy: i won’t do anything until u tell me to [3:07:37 PM]
Chambers: Not yet. My edited interview with her will be up friday [3:08:09 PM]
Chambers: Suit thinks I should have brought up the biological father of the boys instead of my other point [4:03:44 PM]
Chambers: I can see what he’s saying [4:03:53 PM]
Chambers: I brought it up due to Roses full story is being overlooked [4:04:16 PM]
Joy: i got u [4:04:29 PM]
Joy: if she interviews me ill talk about it np [4:04:33 PM]
Joy: not sure if they are gonna talk to me still [4:05:08 PM]
Chambers: Overall, how’d I do? [4:05:39 PM]

Chambers: So I tried to word the ends as best as I could [5:15:26 PM]
Chambers: I mean we wouldn’t have the lawyer without based mama [5:15:43 PM]
Joy: no i get that,I’m just saying its the media, u know how they are [5:16:07 PM]
Joy: also i though she wanted to be kept private? [5:16:13 PM]
Chambers: Who Rose? [5:16:37 PM]
Joy: no based mama [5:16:47 PM]
Chambers: She didn’t want to be in the spotlight really due to her own problems [5:17:15 PM]
Chambers: I just feel dirty not mentioning her [5:17:27 PM]
Joy: right, thats why I’m saying i hope she’s ok w you shouting her out [5:17:34 PM]
Joy: no u did mention her [5:17:36 PM]
Chambers: It’s been her advice that he kept this thing together and hidden [5:17:50 PM]
Joy: right, I’m saying i heard u name drop her [5:18:07 PM]
Chambers: I’ve done so in my videos already [5:18:08 PM]
Joy: thats where I’m confused [5:18:10 PM]
Chambers: She doesn’t take issue with it really [5:18:19 PM]
Joy: i did hear you drop her name in the bbc interview [5:18:23 PM]
Chambers: What do you mean? [5:18:25 PM]
Chambers: Yes I did and Nicks too [5:18:37 PM]
Joy: ok, lets start from beginning [5:19:07 PM]
Chambers: Alright [5:19:16 PM]
Joy: i thought you said based mama didn’t want her out there that much [5:19:21 PM]
Joy: and in the bbc interview [5:19:27 PM]
Joy: i heard u name dropping her [5:19:29 PM]
Joy: so im confused? [5:19:31 PM]
Chambers: No you’re not [5:19:38 PM]
Chambers: She won’t do interviews I know that [5:19:49 PM]
Chambers: You still there? [5:22:58 PM]
Joy: hey,I’m here sorry, getting stuff done [5:24:33 PM]
Joy: ah ok, she doesn’t want to do interviews but she’s ok w being name [5:24:53 PM]
Joy: dropped? is this where I’m not understanding [5:24:53 PM]
Chambers: Yeah [5:25:03 PM]
Chambers: From what I understand [5:25:11 PM]
Chambers: She hasn’t really made a stink about it really [5:25:28 PM]
Joy: aaah ok [5:25:38 PM]
Chambers: Yeah, sorry I’m trying to find a proper balance here [5:34:12 PM]
Chambers: With all this [5:34:17 PM]
Joy: its ok, just giving u real constructive criticism [5:34:37 PM]
Chambers: I appreciate it [5:35:18 PM]
Chambers: I’m glad o talked to you and suit before the interview and recorded it [5:35:37 PM]
Joy: shit u ok? [5:59:07 PM]
Joy: ah sorry wrong tweet [5:59:08 PM]
Joy: I’m glad we could help [5:59:11 PM]
Joy: 🙂 [5:59:15 PM]

May 3rd 2017 (All times are in GMT-4:00 DST)

Chambers: Suit Yourself got hit for his evidence reel. He can’t upload anymore [4:43:33 AM]
Joy: WHAT?! [10:32:46 AM]
Joy: oh no! [10:32:49 AM]
Chambers: Indeed. I tagged you in a tweet. [10:33:09 AM]
Chambers: Made a video on my channel about it [10:33:36 AM]
Chambers: Hey Joy sent me a photo of the privacy claim on your videos. I already tweeted it out [3:32:29 PM]

May 6th 2017 (All times are in GMT-4:00 DST)

Joy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=2m19s&v=Z-u11zkGkKk&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop [12:20:23 AM]
Joy: this is the video they re upset with btw [12:20:26 AM]
Chambers: Okay I’ll look at it [12:20:44 AM]
Joy: this woman has made a LOT of crazy claims about me as well, just to be [12:20:50 AM]
Joy: clear. if ever u want i can talk about it, but its so assenine it [12:20:53 AM]
Joy: doesn’t matter tbh [12:20:57 AM]
Chambers: Yeah this is the video Nick sent me [12:21:36 AM]
Chambers: That’s the one I mentioned it had clipped strung together and out of context [12:22:32 AM]
Joy: hi lady, trying to get ahold of my people. then ill give u a call later. how u doing? u ok? [12:18:33 PM]
Joy: heads up, I’ve done an update video, I’ve not said a WORD about the [12:51:33 PM]
Joy: case, not even gag order, i just told everyone I’m not talking right [12:51:34 PM]
Joy: now, my focus is on rose and the kids, and thats it. just fyi. if u [12:51:38 PM]
Joy: want to see it before i release it I’m happy to wait and show u %3C3 [12:51:41 PM]
Joy: also wanted to run something by you [12:53:16 PM]
Joy: tim has told me rose has a speech impediment, and wanted me to put [12:53:57 PM]
Joy: that out there.i did a video on it a couple days ago, i never released [12:53:59 PM]
Joy: it bc i didn’t know if it would embaress/hurt roses feelings. wanted  [12:54:03 PM]
Joy: to run it by u and see what u think. not gonna do anything till we [12:54:06 PM]
Joy: talk tho, heads up. [12:54:10 PM]

Joy: when was this song made? [8:37:33 PM]
Chambers: Um there should be a date on the site [8:38:02 PM]
Joy: is this about rose???? [8:38:24 PM]
Chambers: Yes, I assume so [8:38:38 PM]
Joy: it says 1 days go? [8:38:49 PM]
Chambers: Or maybe me [8:38:53 PM]
Joy: wanted to make sure i see this right [8:38:57 PM]
Chambers: Hmmmm [8:38:58 PM]
Joy: HOW is this ROSES fault WTF? [8:39:02 PM]
Chambers: Let me look [8:39:06 PM]
Joy: HOW is this YOUR fault [8:39:30 PM]
Joy: listening to the lyrics again [8:39:33 PM]
Chambers: It could be about either me or her [8:40:05 PM]
Chambers: I can’t tell [8:40:18 PM]
Joy: also, id u get the disney tickets? i got some sent to me too. working [8:40:19 PM]
Joy: w some other people on it, but I’m a bit worried bc wanna get%C2%A0%C2%A0those [8:40:24 PM]
Joy: kids back first. ALSO, rose wrote me today, she’s having a hard time [8:40:28 PM]
Chambers: Yeah I got two of them [8:40:49 PM]
Chambers: Hey send me the tickets you have [8:41:09 PM]
Chambers: I don’t know if they’re the same as mine [8:41:19 PM]
Chambers: Or the ones I got [8:41:36 PM]
Chambers: The ones I got are for just a day [8:41:49 PM]
Joy: sure give me a min [8:43:17 PM]
Chambers: “She hurt my family multiple times” [8:43:27 PM]
Chambers: More indication that it’s about Rose [8:43:40 PM]
Joy: HOW did rose hurt HIS family multiple times? [8:51:46 PM]
Joy: are they retareded?! [8:51:50 PM]
Chambers: I have no idea [8:52:08 PM]
Chambers: Like I said, I believe he means rose [8:53:24 PM]
Chambers: But there’s a slight chance that it could be referring to me as well [8:53:44 PM]
Chambers: It’s kind of hard to tell [8:53:51 PM]
Chambers: It was my interview with Rose that made her cry and what Rose said in that interview [8:54:17 PM]
Joy: *sigh* wow [8:54:48 PM]
Joy: just nuts dude [8:54:52 PM]
Joy: i kinda don’t wanna do a video about it tho, bc he is a minor [8:54:56 PM]
Joy: not sure.. [8:55:00 PM]
Chambers: Indeed [8:55:05 PM]
Chambers: Yeah I wouldn’t [8:55:12 PM]
Chambers: I did send it to Tim [8:55:20 PM]
Joy: good to know [8:56:46 PM]
Chambers: Yeah I thought it was a good idea to let tim know [8:57:29 PM]
Chambers: How’s the info coming along? [8:57:46 PM]
Chambers: You still at Starbucks [8:57:55 PM]
Joy: nah, i didn’t end up going, we went on a walk, got some food to go and [8:59:02 PM]
Joy: now I’m back to being sick, fun times [8:59:06 PM]
Joy: so right now, info is not. *sigh* I’m so tired of being sick [8:59:10 PM]
Chambers: Yeah, I had bronchitis for 3 weeks a while back [9:00:08 PM]
Chambers: That sucked [9:00:13 PM]
Chambers: You should get some rest though [9:08:11 PM]

May 7th 2017 (All times are in GMT-4:00 DST)

Chambers: Still nothing in the media. I tried talking with Tim the other day about you. I think I might have confused him a bit, lol [8:09:44 AM]
Joy: I’m confused. [11:46:03 AM]
Joy: confused him about what? [11:48:34 AM]
Chambers: Oh I tried to get a statement of you helping [11:49:12 AM]
Chambers: Still I’m bed will hit you up when I’m up [11:49:31 AM]
Joy: he called me twice this morning [11:49:32 AM]
Joy: so im confused [11:49:35 AM]
Joy: i just woke up to it [11:49:39 AM]
Chambers: Lol [11:50:06 AM]
Chambers: I told you I would try to get a statement [11:50:24 AM]
Chambers: Talk to you when I’m fully awake [11:51:30 AM]
Joy: np [12:15:31 PM]
Joy: hey heads up, i made a video on philip defranco, people are accusing me of being upset w him. i talked a little about you in it. would u like to see the vid [12:43:53 PM]
Joy: before i upload it? [12:43:55 PM]
Joy: i basically said i don’t think your intention was to bash him, but [12:44:10 PM]
Joy: that u were more upset w how the media has handled things in not [12:44:13 PM]
Joy: getting roses story out there [12:44:16 PM]
Chambers: Okay [1:00:46 PM]
Chambers: Is the video [1:00:52 PM]
Chambers: Unlisted? [1:00:58 PM]
Joy: it will be, uploading it now, ill let u see it first, sending it when its done [1:01:25 PM]
Chambers: Ok how long? [1:01:42 PM]
Joy: about 5 mins it looks like [1:05:35 PM]
Joy: https://youtu.be/l9sAtn5S074 it will be ready in a few mins [1:06:12 PM]
Chambers: Ok [1:07:21 PM]
Joy: should be up now [1:38:16 PM]
Joy: also, someone sent me more info where based mama is badmouthing u, just fyi [1:41:00 PM]
Chambers: Okay [1:41:05 PM]
Chambers: Okay send it over skype [1:41:13 PM]
Joy: ok, I’m checking evidence now, give me a min [1:41:39 PM]
Chambers: Ok [1:42:16 PM]
Joy: mad woman is claiming she’s mad at u for associating with me [1:42:19 PM]
Joy: and mad at u for giving tims info to me, HOWEVER what they don’t know [1:42:51 PM]
Joy: is i also called tim office and left my info ONCE as it was. he said [1:42:54 PM]
Joy: he found me as a result of my video where i thanked him [1:42:57 PM]
Joy: and then he got the info from u as well [1:43:00 PM]
Joy: jesus [1:43:03 PM]
Chambers: Yeah I know [1:44:06 PM]
Chambers: I’m putting up my own vid about the defranco thing [1:44:27 PM]
Chambers: Yeah I like the video [1:44:34 PM]
Joy: ok good [1:44:54 PM]
Joy: hold on, gonna send shit over [1:44:58 PM]
Chambers: Skype it [1:45:07 PM]
Joy: it hasn’t worked the last day and a half? [1:46:26 PM]
Joy: it keeps saying its down right now wtf? [1:46:29 PM]
Joy: can i send it via twitter? [1:46:43 PM]
Chambers: What skype? [1:46:44 PM]
Chambers: Sure dm it [1:46:53 PM]
Joy: right, Skype won’t let me sign on [1:47:32 PM]
Chambers: You see my video? [2:11:55 PM]
Chambers: Tim wants to use Jakes rap in the case [2:12:14 PM]
Joy:  not yet,ill look in a sec [2:12:28 PM]
Joy: OH WOW [2:12:29 PM]
Joy: ok [2:12:33 PM]
Joy: hey can u call me later? so we can update and go over stuff [2:12:37 PM]
Joy: also [2:12:40 PM]
Joy: ill send u the info i have if u wanna help organize it [2:12:44 PM]
Joy: I’ve got more to put down [2:12:47 PM]
Joy: i got hit w illness shit again, so I’m slow right now [2:12:55 PM]
Chambers: Ok I have 2 to 8 tonight [2:12:59 PM]
Chambers: You’re fine [2:13:07 PM]
Chambers: I will help tonight [2:13:13 PM]
Chambers: Email me everything you have if you can [2:13:25 PM]
Joy: ok [2:13:31 PM]
Joy: ok will do [2:14:52 PM]
Joy: when this is ALL over [2:14:54 PM]
Joy: u and i will have a big talk and il go over it ALL. right now ill just give u what i can %3C3 [2:14:56 PM]
Chambers: Is the big talk going to be bad? [2:22:37 PM]
Joy: OMG [2:39:17 PM]
Joy: DADDYOFIVE WROTE US [2:39:18 PM]
Joy: CALL ME CALL ME [2:39:22 PM]
Joy: shit i know u are at work [2:39:25 PM]
Joy: he wrote us on twitter ! [2:39:30 PM]
Joy: HOLY SHIT U HAVE TO SEE THIS [2:39:39 PM]
Chambers: Dm [2:39:59 PM]
Chambers: Screen shot [2:40:05 PM]
Chambers: Status link [2:40:09 PM]
Joy: SHIT nm, just checked, its a fake account [2:40:53 PM]
Joy: jesus [2:40:56 PM]
Joy: I’m sorry i thought it was real, dummy account [2:40:59 PM]
Joy: ill send on twitter anyways hold on [2:41:04 PM]
Joy: https://twitter.com/MikeMartinI982 [2:41:12 PM]
Chambers: Okay [2:42:53 PM]
Chambers: Um I can’t find it [2:46:11 PM]
Joy: wow [2:49:45 PM]
Joy: nick mon is now coming after me [2:49:48 PM]
Joy: someone sent me his twitter [2:49:52 PM]
Joy: its full of crap about me [2:49:54 PM]
Joy: this is awesome [2:49:58 PM]
Chambers: I found the tweet [2:51:56 PM]
Chambers: Fucking douchebag ! [2:52:04 PM]
Joy: be VERY careful girl [2:52:20 PM]
Joy: honestly if i were u,i would publically distance myself bit [2:52:29 PM] (Yes. Joy told Chambers to distance herself from me.)
Joy: bc LOOK how hard they have turned [2:52:35 PM]
Chambers: Why? [2:52:41 PM]
Joy: nick has stopped talking about the case and now ONLY focuses on me [2:52:43 PM]
Chambers: Who you mean nick [2:52:48 PM]
Chambers: He’s an idiot [2:52:55 PM] (Chambers has since apologized for these remarks)
Joy: good question [2:53:29 PM]
Joy: yep [2:53:32 PM]
Joy: go check nicks twitter [2:53:35 PM]
Joy: have fun [2:53:39 PM]
Joy: he is [2:53:42 PM]
Joy: like, this is embarrassing for him [2:53:46 PM]
Joy: girl btw [2:53:49 PM]
Joy: remove that tweet u just made [2:53:52 PM]
Joy: its a dummy account [2:53:56 PM]
Joy: i think its a false account [2:53:59 PM]
Joy: i looked into it, looks like its fake [2:54:03 PM]
Chambers: What? [2:54:05 PM]
Chambers: Okay hang on [2:54:20 PM]
Chambers: Good [2:54:25 PM]
Joy: the daddyofive account that wrote us [2:54:56 PM]
Joy: look [2:54:59 PM]
Joy: it says daddyofiveI982 [2:55:03 PM]
Joy: that I982, its supposed to be 1982 [2:55:06 PM]
Joy: its fake [2:55:09 PM]
Joy: they swapped the 1 with an L [2:55:12 PM]
Chambers: I just deleted it [2:55:28 PM]
Chambers: Fucking hell [2:55:37 PM]
Joy: be VERY careful right now w everyone dude [2:55:53 PM]
Joy: if u distance yourself i won’t be upset [2:55:57 PM]
Joy: simply bc they are coming after me hard with nothing dude [2:56:04 PM]
Joy: but still [2:56:08 PM]
Joy: THEY could damage the court case w what they are doing bc they are starting attack TIM [2:56:15 PM]
Joy: be SO careful [2:56:42 PM]
Joy: THIS is why I’m also staying quiet, i saw all of this coming, i kept [2:56:42 PM]
Joy: seeing the low key shade from everyone [2:57:04 PM]
Chambers: Yeah I won’t distance myself from you [2:57:23 PM]
Chambers: Yeah [2:57:27 PM]
Joy: ok, but srsly, we have to be extra careful WHAT we say. even on twitter, until these kids are back. [2:58:04 PM]
Joy: i know u know this, I’m just worried about the kids bc what THEY are [2:58:14 PM]
Joy: doing will hurt them [2:58:17 PM]
Joy: bc when u basically proved based mama WRONG, they started attacking YOU & TIM [2:58:25 PM]
Chambers: Indeed [2:58:36 PM]
Chambers: I saw that [2:58:40 PM]
Joy: so I’m gonna be REALLY careful right now, even mores [2:59:50 PM]
Joy: more so [2:59:53 PM]
Joy: jealousy is a bitch [2:59:57 PM]
Chambers: Indeed [3:02:11 PM]

Chambers: Um Joy I got a call from Rose [4:33:08 PM]
Chambers: You got her worried [4:33:31 PM]
Joy: everything ok? [4:33:34 PM]
Joy: ??? what? [4:33:46 PM]
Joy: y? whats going on? [4:34:07 PM]
Chambers:  She said it’s all the videos and people are emailing Tim [4:34:38 PM]
Joy: whats going on? [4:34:56 PM]
Joy: whats all in what video? [4:35:04 PM]
Joy: ??? it was my understanding they were aware of my videos? so I’m  [4:35:27 PM]
Joy: confused? [4:35:30 PM]
Chambers: Tim is getting weird emails that you’re involved in two kids getting strangled or something due to your vids [4:35:34 PM]
Chambers: I know [4:35:40 PM]
Joy: do they need me to take anything down? i had already asked them and [4:35:52 PM]
Joy: been over it w them, so I’m confused. if they need me to do anything [4:35:54 PM]
Joy: ill do it [4:35:57 PM]
Joy: WHAT? ! [4:36:00 PM]
Joy: WTF? !? ! [4:36:04 PM]
Joy: NONE OF THAT IS TRUE WHAT THE HELL? ! [4:36:07 PM]
Chambers: Don’t look at me [4:36:20 PM]
Chambers: I’m repeating what she said [4:36:32 PM]
Joy: i literally have ZERO idea what u are talking about. and now I’m [4:36:34 PM]
Joy: worried [4:36:37 PM]
Joy: i know u are at work, can u let me know whats going on asap? bc I’m  [4:36:50 PM]
Chambers: Rose is scared that she might go to jail [4:36:51 PM]
Joy: EXCEPTIONALLY confused and now I’m freaking out ! two kids got hurt? ! [4:36:54 PM]
Joy: what? ! [4:36:57 PM]
Chambers: And knows that you know details of the hearing [4:37:08 PM]
Joy: do u know what video%28s) they are talking about? [4:37:14 PM]
Joy: im lost.. [4:37:20 PM]
Chambers: No she was not specific [4:37:26 PM]
Joy: ??????? [4:37:43 PM]
Joy: WHY would she go to jail? [4:37:46 PM]
Joy: I’ve NEVER said a bad word about her [4:37:48 PM]
Joy: so im confused? [4:37:52 PM]
Chambers: She called me about this [4:37:58 PM]
Joy: I’ve kept QUIET about the hearing so i am so confused [4:37:59 PM]
Chambers: Don’t look at me [4:38:10 PM]
Chambers: She asked if I told you anything [4:38:30 PM]
Joy: with? !? !? ! [4:38:50 PM]
Joy: sorry I’m not mad at u [4:38:51 PM]
Joy: I’m just in shock bc i don’t understand whats going on or that [4:38:55 PM]
Joy: children are getting hurt??????? [4:38:58 PM]
Joy: well, she/they can call me if they want, I’m don’t know what to do [4:39:16 PM]
Joy: here [4:39:18 PM]
Joy: told me what? ! I’m so confused [4:39:22 PM]
Joy: i don’t want to bother them, but they are more than open to call me, [4:39:39 PM]
Joy: I’m confused what video? [4:39:43 PM]
Joy: OK,I’m racking my brain, the ONLY thing i can THINK she is referring [4:40:49 PM]
Joy: to.. but it still doesn’t quite make sense [4:40:52 PM]
Joy: my STEP NEPHEWS died recently, a few weeks ago, and i spoke about it [4:41:02 PM]
Joy: in a car crash [4:41:06 PM]
Joy: they weren’t strangled. it had NOTHING to do w me, but i talked about [4:41:21 PM]
Joy: it. Otherwise i have NO idea what she is talking about [4:41:24 PM]
Joy: just fyi,I’m panicked now bc I’m worried bc i don’t understand what is [4:42:41 PM]
Joy: happening. not upset with you or rose at ALL, or any of them, i just [4:42:44 PM]
Joy: legit am scared bc i don’t know what is happening right no. [4:42:48 PM]
Chambers: Neither do i [4:44:23 PM]
Chambers: Hmmmmm [4:44:27 PM]
Chambers: Right now I would go through and private your vids [4:44:56 PM]
Joy: i don’t know if this is a result of philip trying to do things, i have [4:44:59 PM]
Joy: no idea. I’m sorry i don’t mean to stress u at work, but this is [4:45:01 PM]
Joy: really concerning if someone thinks or is slandering me like this [4:45:04 PM]
Joy: i almost want to call rose but if she is worried or uncomfortbale I’m [4:45:13 PM]
Joy: not going to bother her, ill let them come to me. I’m just so confused [4:45:17 PM]
Joy: i am HAPPY to give ANY of you my full info, u can look me up, I’ve got [4:45:41 PM]
Joy: the cleanest background in the world. jesus [4:45:43 PM]
Joy: but heres the problem [4:45:46 PM]
Joy: if i do THAT [4:45:49 PM]
Joy: it will cause more attention [4:45:53 PM]
Joy: i guess relay to them i wont do anything until i hear from them bc i [4:46:14 PM]
Joy: don’t want to make anything potentially worse [4:46:17 PM]
Joy: ok this makes WAY more sense the voicemail i got today [4:47:36 PM]
Joy: heres why i don’t wanna make them private: so many people also [4:50:00 PM]
Joy: download and mirror them, so thats an issue too. unless they request [4:50:02 PM]
Joy: it of me i don’t think its a good idea. bc if i do that, people are [4:50:03 PM]
Joy: going to start thinking something shady is going on. u see where I’m [4:50:05 PM]
Joy: at? if i think it would help I’m 1000% down to do it, but i don’t want [4:50:07 PM]
Joy: to make ANYTHING worse right now. so i feel stuck [4:50:09 PM]
Joy: not sure if i should try calling tim, i just have no idea whats going on [5:06:38 PM]
Joy: called tim, mailbox is full, leaving a text. not sure what else to do from here but wait [5:20:33 PM]

Chambers: Sigh…… [6:24:45 PM]
Chambers: I must do what I must for Rose [6:25:04 PM]
Chambers: I’m sorry my friend [6:25:12 PM]
Chambers: But until this is over, we must part [6:25:30 PM]
Chambers: My sole duty is to Rose [6:25:41 PM]
Chambers: I will not come after you [6:25:51 PM]

This is an important thing to understand when it comes to what ChambersOfHeart actually said to JoySparkleBS.

Joy: Totally understood. Can you at least tell me what’s going on the scaring people? Because now I’m freaked out. [6:26:13 PM]
Chambers: I respect you as my friend, but circumstances have changed things [6:26:27 PM]
Chambers: I’m not entirely sure myself [6:26:38 PM]
Joy: Take care of things with ROSE I have no issue there. But I’m freaked out because I don’t know what’s going on it could affect me. [6:26:38 PM]
Joy: Which I understand. And I’m totally fine with that. I’m asking you can you please let me know what people are saying. [6:26:49 PM]
Chambers: My advice: go silent [6:26:57 PM]
Joy: OK. Take care of you I will always support that. Take care of ROSE. In the meantime, can you please let me know if you find out anything about what’s going on [6:27:13 PM]
Chambers: That you are harming Roses case [6:27:15 PM]
Joy: with people saying things when it comes to me? [6:27:16 PM]
Joy: That’s what I’ve been doing. That’s what I’m going to continue to be like we talked about [6:27:20 PM]
Chambers: That you are encouraging your fans to do horrible things during live streams [6:27:50 PM]
Joy: How? Everything I’ve done I’ve gotten approval from as far as I’m aware. This is why I’m confused. Is there anything I can do at this point to help? Take all [6:28:01 PM]
Joy: the distance you need I’m totally fine with that. I support that. I just don’t understand what it was that I did. [6:28:04 PM]
Joy: I’ve never encourage anybody ! And I can prove that. Regardless of whether or not you talk to me, I can 100% prove that. I will give you every link to every live [6:28:24 PM]
Joy: stream. Just so you can have it. [6:28:27 PM]
Joy: That’s ridiculous I’ve never encourage anybody to do anything horrible ! [6:28:33 PM]
Joy: Thank you for letting me know though. [6:28:38 PM]
Chambers: These are the claims [6:28:54 PM]
Chambers: I must do this for Rose [6:29:02 PM] (This was the last thing that Chambers said to Joy when it came to this initial falling out.)
Joy: I understand that. I’m just telling you it’s 100% false. Is there evidence to back this up? No I understand about ROSE. I am not arguing with you about that. [6:29:39 PM]
Joy: Take care of what you have to for you and Rose. Remember this morning I said if you have to take space that’s fine. But as a friend, I’m asking you to let me [6:29:43 PM]
Joy: know what’s going on with what people are saying and cleaning. That’s all. [6:29:47 PM]
Joy: All I’m asking is if you can let me know what people are saying when it comes to me. Nothing else. [6:30:01 PM]
Joy: With what people are saying about me. Sorry I’m doing voice to text it fucks up [6:30:49 PM]

Joy: hey, just fyi, i saw what u wrote, although i don’t know what is being [8:05:54 PM]
Joy: confirmed as true, i 100000000% stand behind you right now in [8:05:57 PM]
Joy: distancing. I’m going to make a brief statement letting everyone know [8:06:01 PM]
Joy: i support your decision and to remind EVERYONE not to harass anyone. [8:06:04 PM]
Joy: people are asking a ton of questions. continue to do what u need to do [8:06:08 PM]
Joy: for u and rose. not at all upset w any of you, u do what you need to [8:06:12 PM]
Joy: right now. much love miss %3C3 [8:06:16 PM]
Joy: so, people let me know u apologized to matt for defending me, then i [9:36:43 PM]
Joy: read that you wrote accusations against me are true? wtf? take all the [9:36:46 PM]
Joy: distance you need, i support that, have said that from the get go, [9:36:50 PM]
Joy: but i don’t quite understand this, feels really shady to me and I’m [9:36:55 PM]
Joy: not sure what i did to deserve that. thats really not fair at all, [9:36:58 PM]
Joy: unless theres something going on i don’t know about. but then also [9:37:03 PM]
Joy: removing me from Skype? really? [9:37:07 PM]

MyTweetsOnMay8th

Above you will see my tweets referring to the outcome of the May 5th court proceedings between Mike “DaddyOFive” Martin and Rose Hall. Everything I shared with the internet that day was capable of being extrapolated from what was available publicly.

Joy, on the other hand, texted Chambers and said the following.

May 8th 2017 (All times are in GMT-4:00 DST)

Joy: CAN YOU PELASE TELL NICK TO STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS CASE??????? He is telling everyone about mike and heather and not seeing the kids for a year ! this is ONE [12:28:50 PM]
Joy: STEP CLOSER TO PEOPLE KNOWING THEY ARE IN CPS CUSTODY ! [12:28:52 PM]
Joy: Seriously fuck you and me and everyone else right now, i just don’t  [12:29:19 PM]
Joy: want people knowing these kids are with CPS ! can you PLEASE reach out [12:29:21 PM]
Joy: and ask him to shut the hell up about the case until the kids are with [12:29:24 PM]
Joy: rose? !??~ [12:29:27 PM]
Joy: here everyone is accusing me of damaging the case, when he’s releasing [12:29:56 PM]
Joy: info before he should dude. PLEASE if u still talk to them use your [12:29:57 PM]
Joy: influence, i don’t want anything bad to happen to these kids bc these  [12:30:00 PM]
Joy: jealous assholes need to get into out first [12:30:04 PM]
Joy: REALLY? ! and u retweet it? !? ! DO U EVEN GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THESE KIDS ARE U SERIOUS? ! WHERE IS YOUR HEAD? ! [12:40:34 PM]

Rose didn’t lose. In fact she’s free to see them on a routine basis. But what’s important to understand is that this situation is a long process. The publicity and complexity of the case means that the family court is going to be extraordinarily careful in how they handle everything and makes absolutely sure that they don’t screw it up.  Would you want to be a judge who screwed this up? The ongoing proceedings are being handled in the most cautious manner possible.

May 19th 2017 (All times are in GMT-4:00 DST)

Chambers: Hey just letting you know I spoke with Based Mama [6:16:16 PM]
Chambers: No dice, she still stands. U what she did and lays the matter to rest [6:16:38 PM]
Chambers: After my final video on the matter which might come out sooner I feel [6:17:07 PM]
Chambers: I will have no part of what follows [6:17:20 PM]
Chambers: I will be paying my dues and washing my hands of this matter [6:17:41 PM]
Chambers: Hopefully I can repair the damage I did at least [6:17:57 PM]
Joy: OK. Thank you for letting me know. I figured she would not budge, and that’s her choice. Just please don’t let that video come out to you soon. I don’t want to [6:53:57 PM]
Joy: do anything else that could jeopardize ROSE and her court case. We don’t want to do anything that could upset her or Tim. [6:54:01 PM]
Joy: We don’t want to make any more drama surrounding them. And the problem is, based mama and Nick will take this and go nuts with it. I will not be responding to [6:54:54 PM]
Joy: anything until after the court case is closed. I think that still the smartest move to help protect tim and ROSE [6:54:57 PM]
Chambers: Okay after the case then [6:56:07 PM]
Chambers: They both wanted to walk away [6:56:16 PM]
Joy: As much as I would love to get my name cleared, it’s not about me. Or any of the drama. It’s about them [6:56:46 PM]
Joy: Who wanted to walk away? ROSE in town? Or Nick and based? [6:56:56 PM]
Chambers: Nick and based want to walk away from this drama with you [6:57:42 PM]

Yes. Would Joy let us do that?

No.

Joy: And they are more than able to. But I will make sure and speak when the time is right. [6:58:16 PM]
Joy: They don’t get to do all of that damage to me, ROSE, Tim, and everything else, the people that help me with the evidence real, they don’t get to do that and [6:58:55 PM]
Joy: then not have anyone speak about it. They should be apologizing to several people at this point. But that’s their business. That’s their choice. [6:58:59 PM]

Chambers: Indeed [7:01:50 PM]
Chambers: I told them I won’t be budging in mine [7:02:05 PM]
Joy: OK. Thanks for letting me know. Glad we are still on the same page to make sure ROSE and Tim and the kids are protected. I just want to bring them into any more [7:08:40 PM]
Joy: unnecessary stuff. [7:08:43 PM]
Chambers: Indeed [7:10:33 PM]
Chambers: That video will have to come out sooner than expected [9:49:48 PM]
Chambers: It won’t shake anything [9:50:18 PM]
Chambers: Only tell what I observed and did [9:50:30 PM]
Chambers: That’s it [9:50:34 PM GMT-4:00 DST]

There was a second part to that YouNow that I quoted from Joy. She references her conversation with Chambers that very same evening, that you’ll have the chance to read for yourselves.

There’s like a minute of overlap between this second clip and the previous first.

“So. What the situation is – hahahaha i’m so mad. No Mikeinactor is not involved! This is just me and somebody else. I mean there are people involved, but no. Mike is a fucking sweetheart. Mike can do no fucking wrong. So what the situation is – is that I said don’t do anything – and then at midnight. BOOM! Here comes a video. I watched it, and I was appalled. I was like “really? You didn’t touch on much. You really didn’t say much.” And ya went back n’ forth. It’s like “I apologize, but I did nothing wrong. And everybody makes mi-” it was just a lot of back n’forth with almost no details. So you’re gonna stand by the people who did this to me, and they’ve done AWFUL things. You’re gonna stand by THEM and not disassociate. But with ME whose done nothing to you, and ONLY been helpful to YOU and this case, who has tried COUNTLESS TIMES to take the high road. To not talk about it because i’m-focused-on-the-kids when you guys are focused on everything else that could benefit YOU… you’re NOW going to make this video BECAUSE YOU JUST COULDN’T WAIT. It’s just like wh- PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS. YOU CAN’T WAIT?”

May 20th 2017 (All times are in GMT-4:00 DST)

Chambers: Not sure if you saw my latest vid [5:28:15 PM]
Chambers: I’m officially done with all this. That’s nothing to no one [5:28:34 PM]
Joy: I did see her last video. You did not address very much. It’s very back-and-forth. [5:29:10 PM]
Chambers: ? What do you mean? [5:29:46 PM]
Chambers: I only told my side and view of things [5:30:01 PM]
Chambers: I do not know the rest [5:30:13 PM]
Chambers: I don’t want to either [5:30:21 PM]
Chambers: I’m out [5:30:24 PM]
Joy: You left out a ton of stuff while telling your side of it [5:30:27 PM]
Chambers: Like? [5:30:37 PM]
Joy: Left out the majority of the things we talked about on the phone [5:30:37 PM]
Joy: You didn’t going to details about the witch hunt and why people did it. [5:30:51 PM]
Joy: Well you can do whatever you want. I’m just letting you know, that video barely addressed anything. I will be addressing everything when the time is right. So [5:31:13 PM]
Chambers: I was keeping from blasting anyone [5:31:14 PM]
Joy: you guys can do whatever you want. I’m out. [5:31:18 PM]
Chambers: I’m not getting involved in anything else [5:31:41 PM]
Chambers: I just wanted to state my piece and not blast anyone [5:31:57 PM]
Chambers: I’m not going to burn anyone [5:32:12 PM]
Joy: You had no problem blasting me and bring me to the bus when I did nothing, but now you want to protect those two were not really tell what happened? Yet you’re [5:32:15 PM]
Joy: trying to act like you’re being so honest. It comes across very fake and I’m done dealing with fake crap
[5:32:19 PM]
Joy: You had no problem taking there side when it came to me. But now you didn’t do anything wrong and you’re out and want nothing to do with anybody. [5:32:23 PM]
Joy: What do you want us to not get any backlash for what you did. [5:32:43 PM]
Joy: You had no problem burning me. [5:32:47 PM]
Chambers: I never claimed to be innocent [5:32:55 PM]
Chambers: I’ve apologized [5:33:07 PM]
Joy: Do whatever you want. Be out. I don’t care anymore. You’re being manipulative and my Pinyan. But I don’t care do whatever you want. You are not and have never [5:33:31 PM]
Chambers: I did say the witch hunt created to shut you up [5:33:34 PM]
Joy: been a real friend to me if you could do all of that and then do what you’re doing now. You barely addressed anything. [5:33:35 PM]
Joy: You should tell the story of what really happened. Not the watered down version because you’re scared of any backlash are going to get. But do whatever you want [5:34:28 PM]
Joy: I don’t care [5:34:30 PM]
Joy: You didn’t explain that the witchhunt was set to make me look crazy. Who started it. Who did it. Because you’re scared. You had no problem screen me over but [5:34:49 PM]
Joy: for some reason you’re scared of those other people. You scared they’re going to turn on you and do to you what they did to me? Because you know I’m not out to [5:34:53 PM]
Joy: hurt people. [5:34:57 PM] (except for the part where you threaten me and Based_Mama)
Joy: You should tell the story of how you guys almost screwed up the case for ROSE. How are you guys almost made him walk. But then accused me of that. That’s the [5:35:44 PM]
Joy: store you should tell. That video came across a manipulative to me. I’m just telling you how I feel. And believe me, I’m very well aware that you’ll be sending [5:35:46 PM]
Joy: this conversation to everyone you cannot screenshot to get to make me look like an asshole. I don’t care anymore. I’m done dealing with fake people and this [5:35:50 PM]
Joy: feels very fake to me [5:35:54 PM] (remember: Joy recorded a private phone conversation with ChambersOfHeart without her consent.)
Chambers: I’m sorry it wasn’t satisfactory [5:36:44 PM]
Joy: Until you’re ready to really explain what happened, until you’re ready to repair what happened, I don’t wish to talk. I don’t wish you ill will good luck with [5:36:45 PM]
Joy: everything. [5:36:49 PM]
Chambers: Suit yourself joy [5:37:02 PM]
Chambers: I tried I’m done [5:37:09 PM]
Joy:  It’s not about whether not it was satisfactory, it’s about it being honest. [5:37:19 PM]
Chambers: I explained my reasoning [5:37:26 PM]
Joy: Are you really gonna sit here and act like you didn’t leave out lots and lots of information? [5:37:29 PM]
Joy: Suit myself? You did all this crap to me and made a half assed apology video, and you respond with suit yourself? That’s insanely rude. Please don’t talk to me [5:37:43 PM]
Joy: again [5:37:47 PM]
Chambers: As you wish I tried [5:41:41 PM]
Joy: You are manipulating. If this point I’m blocking you from all communication for me because you were not somebody good for me to talk to or be around. You are [5:42:14 PM]
Joy: being extremely rude and the way you’re coming across. I’m tired of you screen me over and then sending me messages about how youre done. [5:42:19 PM]
Joy: You were a part of a group and you agreed to try to destroy my life after you guys almost screwed up the case. And you keep writing me messages about how you [5:44:13 PM]
Chambers: Sigh alright joy [5:44:14 PM]
Joy: were done but then you explain very little because you were scared of the backlash that those people who almost screwed up the case, could do to you. It’s [5:44:18 PM]
Joy: cowardly. You know it is. You made the situation you did this. If this point unless you are willing to be honest please don’t talk to me anymore [5:44:22 PM]
Joy: Sigh? What do you screw me over just way too much for you to handle? Do you have any idea how rude you’re coming across? Do you care? [5:44:54 PM]
Chambers: Ok I won’t [5:44:59 PM]
Chambers: I’m exhausted and worn out [5:45:20 PM]
Joy: About what? You won’t care? All right, when you can stop being rude and come at me and politeness in the respect that you should come at me after everything [5:49:41 PM]
Joy: that’s happened in after how good of a friend I’ve been to you, please don’t talk to me anymore. Like I said, the full story will come out. It’s up to you if [5:49:44 PM]
Joy: you really want to own up and take responsibility. [5:49:48 PM]
Joy: Are you really not gonna disassociate yourself from the people that almost ruined the case? [5:50:35 PM]
Joy: You’re exhausted and worn out because you created this. [5:50:42 PM]
Chambers: Joy don’t pin all this on me [5:54:40 PM]
Chambers: Because everyone had a hand in this you included [5:55:08 PM]
Joy: I’m heading on you what supposed to be on you. But you keep saying manipular statements like this to get out of actually saying the truth. You realize I’m gonna [5:55:28 PM]
Joy: tell the truth about everything when the time is right? [5:55:32 PM]
Joy: Oh really? I had a hand in this? Are you serious? Never talk to me again. I am 100% done with you and your manipulation and your snake Waze. You will never have [5:56:12 PM]
Joy: my support or the support of my channel ever again. You will not in anyway shape or form say that I did anything to any of you. [5:56:16 PM]
Joy: I hope you’re happy with your choice to throw your lot in with the guy who is known for harassing people, light and slandered me, a woman that wished death on [5:56:57 PM]
Joy: me, and says racist and bigoted statements. Good luck with that. But don’t worry, it’s my fault right? I had a hand on you guys being assholes right? [5:57:01 PM]
Joy: I hope you’re happy with almost growing up that case because you guys have no idea what you’re doing or what you were talking about. Don’t ever talk to me [5:57:14 PM]
Joy: again. [5:57:18 PM]
Chambers: Ok [6:00:20 PM]
Chambers: Do what you need to [6:01:43 PM]
Joy: Actually I take it back. I would love to hear how I had a hand in this. Please tell me what I did wrong. This is going to be fun. [6:03:31 PM]
Joy: Unless you’re too worn out from acting like a snake and being manipulative. [6:03:42 PM]
Joy: I want to see and hear the other ways you can try to screw me over and act like something is my fault. [6:03:54 PM]
Chambers: Oh no you had your fun [6:03:55 PM]
Chambers: Go away [6:03:57 PM]
Chambers: You’re not going to listen [6:04:11 PM]
Joy: No I don’t speak fluent snake. That’s why you’re gonna have to get really honest. [6:04:41 PM]
Joy: No make another video how you don’t associate with me and make up some more lies. Go ahead. Try to get more views off me. Have fun ! Don’t worry I’ll go away ! [6:05:44 PM]
Joy: LOL. Seriously that’s disgusting. [6:05:46 PM]
Joy: Go make a video on how I somehow screwed things up even though I’ve done nothing to any of you. Justify your actions and then go to church and pray about it. [6:06:12 PM]
Chambers: I’m not going to do shit [6:06:13 PM]
Joy: I’m done. But at this point what you’re doing is like an artform. It’s fascinating. [6:06:16 PM]
Chambers: I’ve taken my stance. Don’t like it tough. I’ve apologized to you already [6:06:34 PM]
Chambers: Uh huh, whatever you say [6:06:49 PM]
Joy: Oh really? Did you do enough? Did you try to destroy my life make a half assed apology video where he didn’t address anything, and then you tell me to go away [6:06:49 PM]
Joy: and that I was at fault? [6:06:52 PM]
Chambers: Bye [6:07:01 PM]
Joy: I don’t like liars. I don’t like manipulators. That’s what I don’t like. But that’s what you choose to be to me. And you don’t care. Just keep getting defensive [6:07:13 PM]
Joy: after what you’ve done. [6:07:17 PM]

Observer Observations

Normally, video games empower the player. Give them a sense of dominance and direction of where to go. What to do. A feeling of control.

Throw that notion out the window.

How about a game where it’s like being tumbled around in a washing machine? You as the character get tossed around in every possible direction with absolutely no way of keeping your view straight. At the mercy of this contraption that you’re trapped inside. Targeted by the random chaos in this small pocket universe.

I was provided a key to try out the demo for Bloober Team’s upcoming game, Observer. Revealed last year during E3, here we had our first look at the game in action.

For those of you who aren’t aware of Bloober Team’s resume, you’re missing out on a mind-bending experience. Founded in 2008 – the studio spent most of its formative years dabbling in different genres such as puzzle, action, and strategy games. It wasn’t until Layers of Fear‘s 2016 release that we saw this deep dive into the topic of psychological horror. Players took on the role of an artist, exploring his memories and reliving his descent into insanity as his family falls apart around him.

So what do we have going here? There’s an introductory narration by the main character of Observer, painting a picture of this strange cyberpunk dystopian future.

The year is 2084.

If they told me what the world would become, I would not have believed them. First, there was the nanophage. A digital plague that swept across the land, killing thousands upon thousands of augmented souls. A heavy cost for meddling with our minds and bodies. Then came the war. The big one. The Great Decimation. The West killed the East. The East killed the West. There were no winners.

Except for CHIRON.

The corporation seized power and forged the Fifth Polish Republic. A crooked empire of blood and ash. There was no one left to oppose them. But still, we endured. And so it goes. The rich get richer, as the poor rot away in their hovels, desperately looking for ways to escape reality.

I am what they fear.

Time to go play Detective. Your job is to investigate a lockdown in a nearby apartment complex.

It seems promising in the fact that there’s potential for a less linear pacing of events. In Layers of Fear the events presented to you unravel at the same rate each playthrough. The sensory experience of when someone gets captivated by a part of the story, or frightened at something on the screen.

Observer has to evolve if Bloober Team wants to hit a grand slam with this new game.

ObserverFirstHalf

When it comes to how the demo played out, my most prominent gripe has to be it was too short. Plus, I didn’t have a controller so I had to guess what was what when it came to keyboard mapping. It keeps Layers of Fear‘s signature mechanic of taking artistic liberties when the player character navigates an area. Holding down the action button to open doors also makes a return, as well as the up-close zoom when you examine an object. Rotating around and looking at an item from different sides. New to Observer is the Bio Vision and Electromagnetic Vision mechanics. These tools in our detective’s arsenal give him the ability to analyze locations from a different perspective, and come in handy in picking up blood trails or scanning electronic data that’d be normally overlooked.

You approach Apartment 102 the detective doesn’t have much luck getting anything of use from the occupant there. At most, the dweller sounds mildly surprised to hear a cop has finally come down to their part of the neighborhood. Knocking on the door of Apartment 103 greets us with a response from the middle-aged male tenant living there. Telling our detective character he was concerned about the ongoing lockdown – this tenant ends up giving us an actionable lead when it came to suspicious activity in the nearby area. Apparently the couple that lived in the neighboring Apartment 104 had some sort of commotion happen in the past few days. Then we see something new from Bloober Team. Our detective character gets dialogue options when he inquires about the couple further. You can either pick to learn about the man or woman’s backgrounds or inquire to the tenant if this was a domestic violence sort of situation.

During the tail end of your conversation, the tenant makes a passing remark that he swears someone is bringing animals into the apartment complex. Swearing he could hear growling noises during the middle of the night.

Apartment104

Swinging open the door to Apartment 104, our detective walks into a seemingly narrow foyer. At the end of it is an aged wooden desk with junk on it. A lone oscillating fan cycles back and forth on the edge. On the other half of the desk is a computer case. Side of it is open, with the inside guts and components facing the player. Looks like the process of taking it apart happened recently. In front of the detective is an employee ID card. Snagging it for a closer inspection tells us more about this female occupant that the tenant from Apartment 103 informed us on.

The place looks like a dead end. But off to the side of this room was a curtain. Our detective pulls it back revealing a more open space in this particular apartment area. We’re greeted with a bloody mess, with a male victim laying in an oozing pile up against what looks like a hot tub. Rushing down to his side to assist, the detective makes a note of the clinging-to-life condition this victim is in. As we see this man more closely the tattoos on his head and cyber augments attached to the neck comes into focus. We get the chance to ask questions about what went on with another dialogue options menu. Regardless of what you pick, it’s no good. All this helpless man can do for us is cough and try to stay conscious. The detective’s efforts end up being for naught. He can’t even call back to dispatch to try and arrange medical attention. At his wit’s end, the detective swears to the dying man that he’ll get to the bottom of whatever gruesome brutality went on here.

In a state of desperation – our protagonist proposes one last idea. He pulls out a long metallic wire from his right arm. At the end of the line is a hook.

The detective is going to mind-jack his way inside this dying man’s head.

Mindjack

From here on out, the demo takes on a more traditional Layers of Fear format. No longer having access to our detective vision powers of any kind, the player is thrust back into the narrow foyer of Apartment 104. But something is different about it. Something is off. You hear a loud CRASH through the left side window as a TV flies on in from the outside. Then, time seems to reverse itself. The shattered glass returns to its undamaged form once again.

A door (that wasn’t there before) on the right side of the foyer throws us back into the entrance of the complex. Everything is dead quiet. A quiet but firm demonic gibberish can be heard, bellowing out from the direction of Apartment 102.  Off to the side stands a portal into some sort of technological hell dimension. As you walk to the front of it the demon voices get louder and a window to an underworld of shadows is before the player. You try and open Apartment 102’s door. No good. You reach for 103’s handle to get a BANG BANG BANG greeting you from the other side. Retracing your steps back to the front door of Apartment 104 hoping to get some answers? No luck. As the door slides open, an unfamiliar corridor reveals itself within. Walking into this place you see a facet dripping a stream of water onto a chair beneath it.  It turns off on its own as you step by. A window on the far left of this new room reveals another room on the other side. Suddenly your view is distorted and you can hear strange moaning. When you come to your senses seconds later you find yourself in this room you were just looking into. It’s still in the window, of course. But now you’re also in that room. A nearby television seems to give up on trying to make any sense, and all you can see on the screen is a glitch pattern spewing out.

That familiar sense of being afraid to turn around comes back to me. Layers of Fear had that feeling, and Bloober Team managed to bring that over into their Observer demo here.

Dread

Reality bends and your character finds himself at the edge of a pitch-black hallway. A door handle emerges from the ether as you march towards this unknown. On the other side you see a kitchen come into your view. Swing open one of the cabinet doors and stacks of dirty dishes are piled in on the other side. Another, pots and pans. The fridge is empty, but everything else is a grime-laden mess. Stepping out from the far kitchen window, an ominous wooden bridge draws your curiosity… which is EXACTLY when a bird SMACKS into the pane before your eyes.

If you turn around out of reflex at this jump scare, it’d become apparent to you that you’re no longer in a kitchen. At this point you can’t keep it straight where the hell you are. A cliff-side with rows upon rows of windows to your left and right, with a door straight ahead at a section where it looks like reality itself is tearing apart. Running towards it and trying desperately to push this nightmare along, a flock of birds clouds your path.

Running and running still. Trying to no avail to grasp the handle…..

Televisions

Before you know it you’re back in what looks like one of the rooms you trekked across previously. But the rules of reality are melting. A bucket floats in mid-air, coasting on by your face. A cavalcade of television screens play old police footage in a rapid looping of images. Following the path forward you find yourself in a prison. Turn around, open the door you came in from – BAM a pile-on of floating objects hovers and surrounds you.

Tossing and turning, you stumble your way into the throes of darkness.

Remember the animal noises that guy from Apartment 103 was complaining about? You get to hear this beast for yourself. Roaring deeply, it stomp stomp STOMPS in the distance. You manage to catch a shadow of this creature. THUD. Now you’re back in the beginning area of the apartment complex. Out of the four directions available to you, it’s possible for the player to just wander here for infinity. But this is where the game has a bit of a puzzle. At the very least they’re checking in with you to make sure you’re at least paying attention to your surroundings. To escape, you have to follow the path that the TVs broadcast.

You end up in an interrogation room. Locked inside, you grab a lone spoon sitting on the table. It’s chained up.

And so are you.

Bounded

The demo ends with you struggling to break free of these chains. That monster sounds like it’s coming your way. You wrestle back and forth and manage to knock the interrogation table back. As it goes to hit the wall, reality crumbles and you’re sucked into a light vortex.

Story-wise Observer has a lot of opportunity thanks to the Cyberpunk backdrop. While there’s a clear return of the “question your senses” caliber that Layers of Fear had, there’s indicators that Bloober Team are reaching further with Observer to make sure this game isn’t simply just a walking simulator.

What I saw shows promise.

Again I need to emphasize this demo wasn’t long at all. You can go from start to finish in ten minutes easily if you know what you’re doing at the beginning. My retelling of the experience only looks wordy because of the sensory overload being thrown at the player in the second half. Acting like a simulation of dreams themselves, the way things unfold around you is both fluid and rapidly susceptible to change at a moment’s notice. All you can do is submit yourself to it and go with the flow.

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Okhlos: Omega Review

The ancient Greece of our history always had a sense of awe about it. Not just in the majestic architecture or nuances of their politics, but the religious influences and the art that came out of that time helped cement this sense of myth and magic.

That’s the world you fall into in this indie game.

The greek term ὀχλοκρατία (okhlokratía) means mob rule. This is the core of gameplay in Okhlos: Omega. Developed by Coffee Powered Machine and published by Devolver Digital. The Omega aspect of the title indicates that this is essentially the “final cut” version of Okhlos. After iterating on the game through a series of updates this final version adds some polish with: gameplay tweaks, deeper customization options/hero selection, and additional enemies to face.

PROPEROkhlosMap

Your narrator is the great poet Homer – as he tries to recall the odyssey of your riot through the world of an ancient mythical Greece. There was peace between the mortals and the gods. Until one day, when a meeting of philosophers comes to an abrupt halt when the foot of Zeus slams down from the heavens and crushes your colleagues. As a witness to this slaughter you vow to get revenge for your comrades. By making an angry mob.

You scuttle your mouse around the screen and attract bystanders to join your cause. You need to maintain your mob’s morale meter and keep it in the green, or else they’ll lose interest and wander off. Or die. Filling it up all the way unleashes Mega Chaotic Mob mode – satisfyingly giving your mob the power to decimate buildings on the map. These sections are filled with a swarm of enemies the mob needs to slay before they can proceed to the next level. In-between these levels are shops where you can exchange mob members for heroes or other units.

OkhlosPremiseImage

Citizen units have no special abilities but they still pack a punch. Equipped with a standard baseline of stats (HP/Attack/Defense/Speed/Morale) which get modified when it comes to the other contingents of your mob. The Philosopher unit is like your life-bar. If your player character dies in battle you take control of the next available one of its kind. When you run out of them it’s game over. Warriors are your main avenue of offense, while Defenders focus on defending the mob. The Slave class isn’t something to underestimate given their ability to carry items. When you come across bombs, invincibility pick-ups, hunks of meat to restore health, and ancient helmets that can summon a horde of ghosts to fight at your side? You’ll want a slave to grab it for safe-keeping. Adding flavor to your mob are the occasional Animal unit that get caught up in the fray of insanity. While they can’t attack, it nevertheless makes your angry riot group have a bit of diversity.

The Heroes of Okhlos: Omega are the main attraction of your mob. They give you the edge of success in combat. Some of them boost your various stats, others have special ranged or healing abilities, and on some occasions you can find something outlandish from the rest. To put it another way: you have your classical heroes making up most of the roster (such as Antigone/Prometheus/Electra/Oedipus), but the game isn’t afraid of taking artistic liberties either.  “Tarios” and “Ruigios” bear a striking resemblance to the Super Mario Bros. while cameo characters from other Devolver Digital games like Enter the Gungeon, Hotline Miami, and Omnibus also have appearances. I managed to come across this rare hero named Glitchos (who looks like the Missingno glitch from Pokemon Yellow), adding it to my party after winning a mini-boss fight. Little did I realize how destructive it would be. Glitchos gave my mob the ability to have their corpses explode when they die. In theory it sounded like a novel idea. Out in the battlefield? Not so much. When the heat of battle was on I swear the explosions caused splash damage to other members of my mob party. It was impossible to get anything done at that point and I had to restart.

But that frustration is part of the adventure of Okhlos: Omega.

PROPEROkhlosLocations

The hub area known as the Agora is the staging ground for the mob’s journey. You can pick which leader will helm the forces, along with an array of starting heroes to give an advantage right from the get-go. Your trek takes you through Delphi, deep into Ephesos, with a stop in Sparta, a visit to Atlantis, a tour across Athens, traversing the lava of Lemnos, and finally in the heart of Hades underworld. At the end of these stages the traveling mob has their might tested. Face-to-face against one of the Greek gods of myth your horde battles them in a duel to the death. There’s variety in these conflicts. Each of the deities has a set of moves and maneuvers that can demoralize your party and cut them down to size fairly swiftly. If you’re not careful.  The best weapon against this is carefully timing your mob’s defense stance to block the attacks from these gods.

A fight that stood out to me the most while playing Okhlos: Omega was the clash with Ares at the end of the Sparta level. The mob enters his arena to be greeted with his sons Deimos and Phobos standing in the way.  Ares himself won’t even bother coming down from his high throne until you manage to slay one of the twins. Prioritizing is key as his offspring put up a formidable challenge. The real climb in difficulty was reaching Mount Olympus and killing Zeus. This was only possible after defeating Okhlos: Omega once before, opening an additional eighth world on top of the original seven. It acted as a sort of New Game+ mode to get people back another time.

In addition to the formal boss fights there’s a series of mini-boss areas hidden within (almost) each level. You need to collect certain items early on to access them, carrying them as your mob goes along until you reach the penultimate stage before the final brawls (mini-boss is somewhere in stage X-2 or X-3 of a level, whereas the normal boss fights are always in X-4). Here’s a guide to all that. You can get a secret ending this way if you manage to kill the hidden Doctor Who characters in all of them.

Speaking of which, there’s another ending on top of the battle against Zeus. But I’ll save that from mention so you can check it out for yourself.

OpeningOkhlosStory

But at the end of it all, I did enjoy Okhlos: Omega. There were many moments of frustration as my mob was left up to chance whether or not we were going to succeed. Yet balancing that out was enough of a reward through hero unlockables and satisfying sense of progression overall. It’s a game of strategy and timing that you can’t blindly button smash and hope for the best. I realized that when it dawned on me “maybe I should let go of the shift button” and not run all the time.

You die? It’s game over. No matter how far along you might’ve come, you’re sent back to World 1. You can cheese it though. If your mob gets decimated and things aren’t looking in your favor – there’s a quit option. Using that let’s you start over at the beginning of a level and try again. Despite that, you might realize your mob composition is not salvageable as it is and have to start over anyway.

It’s about stepping outside the mindset of an individual, to think as a unified group. There were times it was best to scrunch the mob together. Other instances had the optimal response be spreading everyone apart. While that may sound simplistic on its own, Okhlos: Omega puts your fighting mind to the test. Can you make these snap sorts of decisions on the fly and on demand?

If you’re up for that challenge like I was, check it out on Steam!

If you want to know all the cheat codes, there’s a list of them here.

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The Legacy of DaddyOFive

It has been a busy few weeks. If you have no idea what the DaddyOFive controversy is, I recommend starting back here.

When Mike and Heather Martin decided to do an Invisible Ink prank on their children back on April 12th, nobody anticipated the internet-wide firestorm that would ensue in the weeks that followed. While it seemed innocent from the outset – the yelling and screaming of the parents on the DaddyOFive YouTube channel seemed to put the fear of God in the hearts of those kids: Jake, Emma, Ryan, Cody, and Alex. With 760,000 subscribers, the YouTube money was flowing in. The internet took notice of this out of place situation and began digging deeper into what was going on. This led to Philip DeFranco doing a few videos highlighting the ordeal. It put the DaddyOFive family in the spotlight of millions of people.

When something snowballs to the point where it’s on Good Morning America you know it must have gained a lot of momentum.

TweedleDeeAndTweedleDurr.png

Then it became known that there was another side to this story. Rose Hall, the biological mother of Emma and Cody Martin, spoke out in a interview with ChambersOfHeart, revealing that she was concerned about the safety of the children and was fighting to get custody back from Mike and Heather. It came out that she lost Cody in July 2014 after Rose was allegedly duped into signing away majority custody to the Martin couple. Rose seemingly had no choice but play along with whatever demands Heather and Mike made of her in order to satisfy this arrangement (under threat of perjury). This climaxed at the beginning of December 2015 when Emma was taken away from Rose’s house by police, seizing whatever little means of contact the biological mother had of her children after that. Mike Martin’s step-brother is on Rose’s side. Mike Martin’s ex-wife Amy came out on Rose’s side (talked about earlier).

It seemed uncertain what was going to happen. The judge (with a questionable track record) who originally dealt with the custody proceedings in the first place had retired.

It came as a shock to many when a new update came out with the case, pushing the story to the public’s attention once more.

Tim

On May 1st, Rose Hall did a video with her lawyer Tim Conlon and gave an update as to the status of the situation. She obtained emergency custody around the same time that Heather and Mike were doing a segment on Good Morning America this past Friday. They are currently getting back into a routine of normalcy with Rose, away with the DaddyOFive household. Frederick County Sheriff’s office assisted with the matter in removing Cody and Emma from the home (later on this is revealed to end up being their school in a literal sense, but “the home”  of the Martins in particular). Cody in particular was reluctant to leave at first based on the narrative that Mike and Heather had fed to him (that their biological mother “threw them away like garbage”), but when Rose showed Cody a memento of his that she kept all this time he began to cooperate. It calmed Cody down and helped him remember that Rose loved the kids. For the first time in a long while, both of the children were reunited with Rose’s side of the family. Mike was reportedly reluctant to cooperate with authorities, refusing to hand over the kid’s necessities such as clothing and medications.

Substantiating Ms. Hall’s side of the story are domestic violence ex parte charges against Mike Martin. While these aren’t exactly charges brought on by the state, it’s a petition that alleges domestic violence that allows Ms. Hall to get a emergency protection order against DaddyOFive for the sake of the children. When it expires this Friday is when either a more permanent order is granted or the court will extend the time to hear evidence. More information about what goes into this sort of situation can be read over here, if that’s your fancy.

MikeMartinDomesticViolence

More details about what happened were revealed by ChambersOfHeart in her update video she did the evening after Rose’s video was released.

Shortly after a Thank You video Rose did with Chambers, the person known as @based_mama told the both of them she found a lawyer. When first briefed on this story, the lawyer thought @based_mama was pranking them and hung up. This lawyer, Tim Conlon, called her back a short time later after doing some research of the case for himself. He was willing to take it.

Within a few days it became clear that Rose was going to need to come up to Maryland in order to handle this DaddyOFive situation. She was going to need money for gas. The GoFundMe funds were still frozen at that point in time, so Chambers started a quiet fundraiser via Paypal to get enough money together for Rose’s immediate travel expenses. They kept this to themselves because they didn’t want Mike or Heather to be notified of Rose’s plans ahead of time. Overall they managed to put together $110. They needed to get this cash to Rose within the day, and the mandatory two to three days necessary for these sort of transactions was too long of a wait. Chambers had the luck of, not only sharing the same bank as Rose, but having a branch of the bank chain in her own town. So when other forms of transfers didn’t work out (Moneygram/Wire), it all came down to this bank. Luckily, Chambers was able to get in touch with the manager at this bank, who told her as long as she had Rose’s bank account information and cash, a deposit was possible. At the end of the ordeal Chambers was able to transfer $120 to Rose safely in time.

When Rose got up to Maryland, it was discovered Mike and Heather had a moving truck in front of their house.

“They were getting ready to up and leave their current location,” Chambers said in her video.

When Rose went with Baltimore PD and the authorities to retrieve Emma and Cody, nobody was around at their house except Mike. As previously mentioned, Mike Martin was uncooperative from this aspect and so the authorities had to figure out where these kids went to school on their own. Once they managed to do so, the officers went and obtained Cody and Emma from school. The second round of money to Rose came into play when she had to go back to Maryland after a brief visit back to North Carolina so Emma and Cody could see that side of the family again for the first time in a long while. Chambers was able to send $120 to her for that trip.

As the person behind the GoFundMe aspect of everything, Chambers took a lot of time in the video to go over the nuances of what exactly happened there as well. When Mike and Heather made opposing GoFundMe campaigns of their own it ended up complicating Chambers in her crowdfunding endeavor. At first, there were accusations that the GoFundMe was a scam. This led staff to reach out to Chambers and request verification that her story was legitimate. She put out a big update and linked to the petition as a result. Chambers put Rose as a beneficiary to the GoFundMe and sent an email invite to her to get the ball rolling on that. A few days passed and this change didn’t go through, and Rose had not yet been verified. Rose trusted Chambers with her personal email account, allowing her to go in and check things for herself. Both of these accounts end up sending emails to GoFundMe staff directly, and they eventually report back they could not verify that Rose is the biological mother of Cody and Emma. In return, Rose and Chambers sent GoFundMe her bank account information, photos with the children, and birth certificates for both of the kids. It was an emotional and intense evening for everyone, but thankfully for them by the next morning the account was verified.

Chambers finally gets in touch with Tim Conlon directly and chat with him about their plan of action. Tim tells her that: he doesn’t plan on “touching any of that lady’s money,” use the money to take Cody to Disneyland and support the kids, and flat-out that he’s doing Rose’s case for free. Chambers emphasized the fact that Rose still needs more funds. For the deprogramming therapy that Emma and Cody are going to need as a result of the traumatic experiences they’ve been through, medicine that the kids were taking while living with Mike and Heather, and for the Hall family to get themselves set up with the children in a stable living situation.

Reunited

Jumping back to Mike and Heather, according to Chambers they disappeared with the three other boys after Cody and Emma were reunited. A criminal investigation had been launched, CPS was looking into it, and Chambers had no idea what the deal is with that. It was rumored that Heather lost custody of the 3 other kids, and her ex-husband Rickie Zopp was trying to get them back. According to Maryland judiciary case search, the reopened divorce proceedings between Heather Martin and Rickie Zopp were cancelled/vacated on May 1st.

Chambers goes on to emphasize that Rose Hall is not taking any interviews at this time. Tim Conlon does not want his client misspeaking in her overwhelmed (and camera shy) state. According to him, Mike and Heather’s lawyer are using any recorded interviews she has done as evidence in the proceedings.

There’s still a long legal process ahead. Cody and Emma both need time to recover from this ordeal. Cody especially, while Emma was able to bounce back fairly quickly.

Leading up to this point, we still had the back and forth dynamic between DaddyOFive’s channel and Phil DeFranco.

First was the apology video from Mike and Heather Martin on April 22nd. I was finishing up my earlier piece around the same time this came out, so I didn’t get a proper chance to discuss what it was at the time.They wore their Sunday best for what would be a high production value response to the ongoing controversy.

DaddyOFiveApology

Heather introduces the video by telling “Team D.O.5.” this would be a different video than they usually do. Reflecting on the “worst week of their lives,” Heather finally admits on camera they made terrible parenting decisions and a desire to amend that.

Whoever edited this together decided to use very abrupt transitions that fade sections of the video in and out from black.

  • First Fade [0:19]: Mike speaks for a majority of this section. When he does, he doesn’t make eye contact with the camera as much. Mike says the past week allowed both him and Heather to “jump out of character” and see how they came across to the public. “I understand how everyone feels. I *acknowledge* and I respect how everyone feels about this,” he says. Heather starts to open her frowning mouth to try and interject, but Mike continues. “And I do agree that we put things on the internet that should not be there. We did things that we should not do.” Heather seizes Mike’s moment of pause to take over. She says when looking at the videos from the perspective of a mother, that the actions depicted in them appeared to put the children through turmoil. That’s all we hear as the video fades to black.
  • Second Fade [1:09]: Heather says that the kids were excited that people were watching them and that their aim was to see how high of a view count they could get. Mrs. Martin says what started out as harmless turned into a routine of filming content that prioritized “shock factor,” slipping away from a perception of reality. Camera quickly cuts to black again.
  • Third Fade [1:33]: Heather says the impression the kids are getting from this controversy is that they’re to blame for some of it. She reaffirms that it wasn’t, saying Mike and herself needed to make better decisions as parents. Mike opens his mouth to speak but the camera fades before we hear what he had to say.
  • Fourth Fade [1:44]: Heather states that they were able to give them more stuff than they could before the YouTube channel, and in their minds thought that was the best they could do for them.
  • Fifth Fade [1:53]: When the camera cuts in this time, we see Mike wraps his arm around Heather. She says they’re all now in family counseling (despite saying that was already a thing in the Keemstar interview) because they “need it” to get through the media response to the situation, and help give the DaddyOFive children a better understanding of their parents’ failures.
  • Sixth Fade [2:12]: The only thing in this section is Heather expressing a desire for the kids to get back to normal lives.
  • Seventh Fade [2:21]: Mike speaks again. “I just wanted to take care of everybody, I just wanted everyone to be happy,” he says. Mid-way through that sentence, Heather interrupts. “We just wanted you guys… we wanted them to be happy. We just wanted our kids to be happy and we went about it the wrong way.”
  • Eighth Fade [2:32]: Heather says their focus is minimizing the backlash the children receive for their bad decisions – realizing now the type of ordeal they were all placed in. “We’re just really sorry to them,” is the last thing we hear from her. The ending of the video is in itself a final fade-out that cuts off Heather as she’s speaking mid-sentence.

You can see her lips moving, but you’re unable to hear any words coming out.

In contrast to any of the previous videos the Martins finally accept responsibility for DaddyOFive’s content. This is the last of the five stages of grief. Their initial “BLOCKING ALL THE HATERS!” piece responded to the public’s worries with complete dismissal and denial that anything was wrong. At that point, Mike was telling the public that what their family did was what they considered normal. Mr. Martin tells the public that he thinks it’s respectable people would respond so strongly to abuse concerns, but then states it’s not happening there and that folks are wasting time. Heather says they were already investigated by Child Protective Services because of the YouTube channel, and said they found nothing. She tends to stay in the background when possible, only sparsely contributing to the video while Mike is doing most of the talking. When Heather does talk, she tries to reframe the argument and justify the channel’s content.  The children go along with Mike’s speech and the direction Heather takes it in, and the camera is just focused on them as they talk. Their rebuttal is YouTube lets their family buy more candy, video games, and luxury stuff to have in their house. According to Mike and Heather, the kids have complete control over what goes up on the channel (while Cody and the other younger children make remarks that suggest they don’t even get to see the content on YouTube sometimes). Jake claims the first prank was his idea, while Alex says Mike got into the habit of vlogging in the first place when he picked up the kids from school. He goes on to say that the fact Mike makes the kids write sentences as punishment is something he doesn’t think is abuse.

“At least you’re not beating us like most parents,” Ryan says.

Mike instructed his Twitter followers to share the video wherever possible as a means of quashing dissent. He laments at the fact he didn’t have a clip of Cody saying people who didn’t like the YouTube channel shouldn’t watch it. Mr. Martin uses the size of his fanbase as a means of discrediting any dissent.

eatit

On April 18th there was ChambersOfHeart’s interview with Rose Hall, and the subsequent reaction video Mike Martin posted of Heather’s breakdown while listening to it there was anger. The narrative that the DaddyOFive channel was trying to maintain throughout the past year was shattered. No longer could Heather quietly imply that Cody and Emma were her biological children, for example. But still even then, the only form of addressing it that the family knew was “getting the camera” and make a video. Attempts at bargaining were made in the Keemstar interview, with Boogie’s attempt at offering a peaceful resolution, and in Mike’s own tweets. During their talk with Keem one of the main discussion points at play is a negotiation attempt for Mike to find a middle-ground with the public. Heather took over the talking role more than she had previously. Mike Martin insists that his family has a sense of privacy, despite the very open nature of the blogs. Both himself and Heather were faced with direct questions about their treatment of Cody, and the reasoning they gave for why the kid couldn’t go to Disney World was conflicting. Most importantly the Martins acknowledged some of Cody’s reactions in the channel’s videos were genuine. Keemstar wanted a mental health expert to have access to the DaddyOFive house while they were filming, so that person could make sure the children were okay. At that point Mike and Heather seemed to agree to that, while later on Boogie would reveal that Mr. Martin would decline to get that sort of help. The depression stage of grief comes into effect with “Family Destroyed Over False Aquisations [sic]” being released. The key difference here is the title of the video. Whereas the earlier one with Heather crying was named “False accusations are killing my family,” this one uses a past-tense verb to imply that the controversy was irreversible now. The reality sets in that DaddyOFive and his wife have a lot of explaining to do, leading Mike to straight-up deny that any of it was real. Despite the fact that he said something to that effect in the Keemstar interview. He says the videos were all the kids’ ideas and that they were for “entertainment purposes only,” as a disclaimer. Mike says he was afraid to say they were fake because that “kills” YouTube channels. Mike was afraid of letting anyone down. Heather says the “real” fans that stick by the DaddyOFive YouTube channel after this controversy are the ones that “get it.”

It stands as the finale in a series of reactions from the Martin couple.

FiveStagesOfGrief

Myself and others made a public effort to assist Frederick and Baltimore County authorities in locating archives of the videos. This was after the Baltimore Sun put out an article on April 24th talking about the situation, with a section dedicated to that perspective on the investigation. When it came to the Child Protective Services aspect of it, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Human Resources said they couldn’t comment on that. Generally speaking, law enforcement from the Montgomery, Baltimore, and Frederick counties were made aware if the videos. Frederick County’s sheriff’s office in particular was making sure that the videos were shot within their jurisdiction before taking any action.

Baltimore County Police were having a hard time locating a complete archive of the channel’s videos:

Baltimore County Police Officer Jennifer Peach said Baltimore County police are also reviewing the many videos that the couple uploaded to YouTube, “but we’re having a hard time because many were removed or blocked” and were filmed indoors, making it difficult to determine the location in Maryland.

Thus necessitating the public’s urge to help.

Philly D would dip his toe back into the DaddyOFive subject himself. Starting with a series of tweets directed at Baltimore Police’s twitter account directing their attention to the archive.org back-up of DaddyOFive’s channel, topping that off with a video highlighting this aspect of the investigation.

An important thing to remember about the DaddyOFive situation is that two of the videos up on the official YouTube channel were taken down for violating site rules. “INVISIBLE INK PRANK! ( EPIC FREAKOUT )” uploaded on April 12th 2017 was removed for harassment and bullying. “Alex SLAPPED Emma in the FACE” uploaded on October 17th 2016 was removed for the same thing.

When the controversy was unfolding, people saw this coming. DaddyOFive went into lockdown, putting all the videos on the YouTube channel to private.

“I’m sorry everyone but I have taken down/demonetized all videos my family’s safety is more important than fake videos,” Mike tweeted on April 19th.

This created an artificial demand for DaddyOFive videos. People’s curiosity was reaching a peak because of the drama and controversy that was unfolding – but when they’d go to look further they’d see DaddyOFive’s channel was empty. Luckily, someone by the name of @YourselfSuit was able to archive the entire video collection. He even uploaded an evidence reel highlighting moments of interest on the DaddyOFive YouTube channel.

I had first discovered YouTube was removing mirrors of DaddyOFive videos on April 24th. A separate user by the name of @Sinatra_Says had gotten hit that same afternoon.  On May 3rd @YourselfSuit had announced that YouTube took his evidence reel video down for a community guidelines strike. After a vocal Twitter campaign the video was put back up with an age restriction attached to it. It wasn’t limited to just @YourselfSuit either. JoySparkleBS would get several videos flagged as a result of alleged privacy violations.

The strikes against small YouTube channels had evolved beyond just mirroring the videos and spiraled onto commentary videos that had merely used clips at specific points.

This is seen in the case of Ragestew’s channel. While he made a video on May 3rd explaining his ordeal, I reached out directly to get his side of the story.

 I made a commentary video about DO5, similar to the few others I have  on my channel. In the video I showed clips of what I believed was child  abuse, all from videos from DO5’s channel. The clips were the same ones used by Philip Defranco in commentary videos, and many other big youtubers. I made the video to bring awareness to the situation. I was condemning the child abuse, since I went through similar things in my childhood.  Youtube took the video down after a few days and gave me a strike for having child abuse in the video. I appealed it by saying the clips were used in a transformative way, to bring awareness and make criticism, and the appeal was rejected. I’m angry because these clips were all from DO5 channel who uploaded this stuff daily for over a year, and Youtube never did anything about it. I make a COMMENTARY video talking about the videos being fucked up and showing clips, they give me a strike.

Given the timing of the initial mirrors being removed from YouTube alongside a separate piece of news in the DaddyOFive story, many would suspect these two factors had correlation.

These mysterious strikes could have come from the same folks who crafted the DaddyOFive apology video where the Martins are dressed up in their Sunday-best attire.

FallstonGroup

Helping the Martins is a PR firm known as the Fallston Group. This first became known via Tisha Lewis with FOX 5 in DC in the afternoon of April 24th. On the 25th, I had concerns that they were responsible for removing a key document from Scribd that was crucial to Rose’s part of this overall story. Unfortunately I have nothing to substantiate this beyond my own suspicion. Those aren’t unfounded given the portfolio of past clients this organization has assisted: the Chief Public Information Officer for the Maryland Transit Administration, the President of the CEO Club of Baltimore, the Public and Government Affairs Manager of AAA Mid-Atlantic, a PR Executive and Former Mayoral Press Secretary for City of Baltimore, a Former Baltimore Police Commissioner, the Chief of Staff at Maryland General Assembly, and the President/CEO of Hamilton Bank are just a few of the companies that Fallston have been involved in.

It begs the question of why help a family of YouTube “pranksters” at all? Fallston thought of that too. On the 28th they released a blog called “Why Help DaddyOFive?” on their website. Within it, they revealed the group was first contacted at the end of the previous week (around April 21st). The team went directly to the home of the Martins in order to assess the situation, speaking to the family for three hours. According to Fallston they had a choice of either walking away from this family who made problematic content on their YouTube channel, or assist them in their confusion to get them the help they needed and on a better path. At the end of the day, helping DaddyOFive lined up with Fallston Group’s mission on helping people who are in a time of crisis. Things were square as long as their clients are willing to accept responsibility for errors in judgement they make. Fallston makes it clear they don’t condone the content posted on the DaddyOFive YouTube channel, but they wanted to help share their experiences and resources to the Martin family to make sure this ordeal had some sense of management going forward.

They admit that Fallston Group helped Mike and Heather make their apology video. According to them it wasn’t scripted, with the cuts and fade-outs that happened in-between while the video was rolling were done in order to eliminate redundancy.

Fallston Group adds this paragraph.

There is no question the Martins, in light of the public concern, took another look at the content they had shared through the eyes of people who don’t know them personally, and upon reflection, recognized the error of their ways. They now fully understand that they crossed the line and they describe how what started out as family fun quickly escalated into shock value for the purpose of viewership and subscriptions. They were caught up in their own characters and popularity – they were blinded by YouTube fame and again, upon reflection, made some very poor decisions.

Fallston goes on to talk about how devastating internet backlash is, and how the safety of the kids is a high priority.

But even so – they say it doesn’t replace their accountability.

WhatDrivesMike

What Drove Mike

As we learned in the update from the earlier piece, much of Mike’s upbringing is reflected in the way he parented the DaddyOFive children. According to his step-brother James Britton, Mike Martin learned most of his harsh behaviors from the way his step-mother Audrey treated him.

Cody and Emma were singled out in this aspect, being the only ones with their names on the family punishment board. You can see it for yourself in “It’s raining inside my truck Vlog” at 4 minutes 30 seconds. Mike shows it because his fans were asking about it, saying the numbers written down represent the number of sentences that the children have to write. The subject matter of these sentences correlates to the punishment. “Lieing [sic]” means they have to write “I will not lie” 50 times. An unclean room means they have to write “I will keep my room clean” 100 times. If the kids aren’t getting ready for school at what Mike considers an acceptable pace, they have to write 100 sentences. Cody and Emma are a part of a “level system” that signify their privileges. 3 is the highest, and the tally marks represent points they have. If they lose all the points, they drop a level.  There’s proof that the other kids had to write sentences, such as Ryan’s punishment of 1000 for hiding Pepsi cans behind his bed.

While it’s not even mentioned in the video, there’s a color coded spreadsheet in the bottom-left corner of the board. This is where the kids school performance is shared with the rest of the family.

PunishmentBoard

I was shown an image of one of Cody’s bruises. This picture was allegedly taken back when he returned from a trip to Mike’s, in the time period where Rose had joint custody. Based on my own knowledge of the family’s situation there was a clear pattern of punishment within the household before the YouTube channel was even a thing. His ex-wife Amy (who I spoke with in my previous article) recently did an hour long interview that went over many of these habits Mike had. Early on in their marriage, there were signs of him being easily possessive and jealous. He was clingy, and wanted Amy to be with him at all possible times. Mike told Amy he was depressed and had bi-polar disorder, along with ADHD. But given the amount of medical experimentation that was done on him in his youth, he became reluctant in his adult years to seek any treatment for this. Amy says many of the behaviors Mike exhibited during their marriage mirrored the relationship between Audrey Martin and Charles Britton as it was described in my previous article. While on the surface, according to Amy, Mike and her 3 year old son got along fairly well and were buddies. But over time there was a progression of strict authoritarian parenting as a means of vying for control. Much like Heather would try and take position of Cody and Emma’s “real mother,” Mike demanded the same sort of position out of Amy’s son. Further mirroring the DaddyOFive behaviors, Amy noticed Mike would inspect her son’s backpack when he got home from school. Drinking was also a factor in their marriage.

If you were to pick any DaddyOFive video at random from this list, you’d likely choose one where Mike is shouting. He had a tendency to do that.

According to Amy, Mike had talents at making videos and photoshop. At night he’d record freestyle rap on the computer. It was Mike’s way of expressing his own feelings and coping with his own shortcomings. The person who Amy was on this podcast of had his own thoughts. Mike’s fear of abandonment because of his childhood echoed into his adult years very clearly in the YouTube videos. After pulling off a prank on the children, Mike would beg for their forgiveness and force them to essentially accept this apology of sorts he’d put out for his actions.

These concepts together made the DaddyOFive channel. It’s Mike’s outlet where he expresses his frustrations and shares his life with the world. A man who still holds onto some of the things that he encountered as a boy, reflecting it back on a new generation as an adult. It’s not a matter of defining what’s real or fake – no matter what, these videos happened.

TheRealRageMode

Mike Martin had a YouTube channel in the days before DaddyOFive came into existence. According to the Socialblade page this gaming related channel was created back in July 2008. An archive of a viewer comment on one of DaddyOFive’s videos says he has been a viewer since his TheRealRageMode era, and the single comment left on this channel’s discussion page matches the writing style of Mike’s twitter. According to Mike’s ex-wife Amy (who confirmed his YouTube channel’s name and that it was a thing), he had a video series called “i’m bored” that consisted of Mike going around their house “talking shit” (according to Amy) and not doing anything. The channels that TheRealRageMode subscribed to included DaddyOFive and the DaddyOFive Gaming channel.

700000

As someone who did not graduate High School and couldn’t hold a job, Mike Martin wanted fame. With DaddyOFive he got it. 100 thousand subscribers. 200,000. 300K. 500,000 by December 2016. It kept on climbing. He was hungry for the numbers. Mike had his eyes set on one million. If we travel down the road of Mike Martin’s Twitter account we can see the changes that took place over time. Specifically when it comes to the video uploads in particular, there’s a very quick uptick to a daily regimen of content on their channel. If you look at the number of uploads between September and March, DaddyOFive was consistently releasing over 30 videos a month across his channels.

RinseRepeat

Rinse and repeat. 200 times.

Mr. Mike Martin had a routine. It never seemed like such a thing would happen based on the one-off randomness of his initial presentation for “prank” videos in July 2016, but nevertheless a method to this madness had appeared.  For every new video he would upload, he’d notify everyone that it was coming. Then he’d top it off with not one, but two tweets when the video was up. An automated one posted via a notification bot, and a manual one where he presented the public the new video on his own. Day in, day out. Like clockwork. But this machine wasn’t perfect. Sometimes he’d wind up his first tweet only to be blocked by unforeseen issues with uploading and YouTube. That devastated DaddyOFive. He thought it was a big let-down if there was a mistake. Generally speaking there’s a clear pattern of behavior when it comes to Mike’s desire to not disappoint his fans. He didn’t want to make videos too short, pressured if an uploaded was too late, and took negative responses personally. DaddyOFive would even upload on the road to stick to his self-imposed schedule.

Topping it all off were audience driven polls that helped Mike decide what to do next. There’s at least five of them from what I found (They don’t show up in the archives, but they do if you click back to the original links and check for yourself).

If none of that is a sufficient indication, on December 19th 2016 Mike Martin had a giveaway contest. The basic idea of the rules was that you had to somehow standout on the DaddyOFive YouTube channel. It was a competition vying for attention. Mike got showered in it.

getmyattention

“Alex and Ryan got pranked so bad that they cried wait till you see tonight’s video it’s hilarious,” Mike once tweeted.

To Mike Martin, his kids were YouTube content. Their pain was what DaddyOFive considered preview worthy material. The shock value had to keep ramping up (like saying his wife pulled a knife on him) so people would keep getting drawn in. The recurring theme of hard-line parenting his kids was something that Mike himself bought into when it came to enticing viewers. DaddyOFive sometimes answered questions about what people saw in the videos as if they were supposed to be taken in a serious capacity. Mike Martin pushed this notion that they were bad at listening. He tried to blur the line between what was real and what was fake fairly often. When he sent Cody to Military School (as a “prank”) on January 28th he even prefaced it by saying Cody was acting bad that morning and confirmed it as such on Twitter after the video was uploaded.

Cody was used as clickbait. When I say that, there’s countless examples backing that up. Clickbait. Clickbait. Clickbait. People came to expect it. It made Mike laugh.

ClickbaitYouth

There are a variety of replies to Mike Martin’s tweets that happened way before the recent controversy first began that reveal the dynamic between the household and the YouTube audience.  When Cody had scraped his arm in school that February and Mike had decided to yell at him with a music track in the background for the audience, someone tried to warn him about the severity of the situation. His upsets were people’s entertainment. Viewers sometimes joined in on the ragging, while others bought into the gimmick as if Mike was showing an accurate depiction of their household. The fans loved a fighter. They loved seeing him ticked off. On at least one occasion his fans suggested he get a beating. People would go as far as to diagnose Cody in their replies and these comments went by without a word from Mike.

“i expect cody to be bad always,” someone wrote.

#TeamDontMilitarizeCody was a hashtag somebody actually used at some point. Other kids like Jake had their own stereotypes as the bully or bad guy. People were heartbroken to see Emma get pushed around on camera. Blind to the fact of if Alex crying in the corner for half the video was real or not.  It only took the channel until late September 2016 (a few months since their start) to get accused of having clickbait titles. But at the same time people thought Mike Martin looked genuinely angry with how he reprimanded his children. That all the yelling he did seemed unnecessary.

DaddyOFiveFanMail

DaddyOFive Fan Mail

If Mike Martin throws himself at the mercy of his audience, and his demographics tend to consist of mostly children – what direction was the channel going to go in? In absolutely no way do I condone some of the behaviors in the video, or the actions that took place within. It comes down to the dual nature of Mike. The kids related to the immaturity and the childish humor.

It all boils down to the YouTube videos themselves at the end of the day. We could go over the exterior factors for an eon, but the best way to see this is in practice.

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People have been going over the YouTube videos with a fine-tooth comb to analyze and better understand the full extent of what’s going on in the DaddyOFive videos. A YouTuber named Sylvibot has recently reviewed around 70 of them and attempted to find examples of abuse going in the Martin household. Not only was she able to find that, Sylvibot went as far as to say she found a consistent pattern of behavior when it came to Mike Martin’s actions in these videos. While this focuses on Sylvibot’s video in particular, you can find more analysis videos in this playlist.

This focus on Cody is due to his oppositional defiant disorder and the reactions he makes as a result of that. According to Sylvibot’s observations the DaddyOFive fan club thinks Jake is the coolest of the children (see “JAKE GETS A GUN!” and “JAKE GOT MORE GUNS!!) while Cody is ostracized as strange (see “Why Did My Son Do This!”) in contrast. They’re worried this mentality carries over into real life when the family meets fans in person, and that the parents attempt to justify this by giving the DaddyOFive kids gifts and other rewards for their participation in this channel. Sylvibot says the reason these kids aren’t saying anything is wrong with their home life is because that’s the only life they know and don’t want to risk anything that could disrupt that, no matter what. What concerns her is the suicidal thoughts that Emma expresses in some of the videos, and the self-harm Cody demonstrates in others. Trapping the children in this abuse is the fact that none of the kids are allowed locks on their doors even though they specifically request it. Mike doesn’t know how to respond when the children have worrisome thoughts.

Slyvibot highlights a level of inconsistency when it comes to the reprimanding Mike does between Cody and the other children. That is to say, Cody is allowed to get away with much less than any of the other boys. But moreover even when it comes down to them, Alex and Ryan express their discontent with the amount of leniency that Jake has in the household. The point where parental intervention is needed the most is when Jake or any of the other kids push Cody to a breaking point. Instead of intervening, Mike Martin just films it and laughs it off instead. He acts as if Cody was in the wrong in the first place.  An example used is the “prank” where Cody gets put up for adoption.

DaddyOFiveFanArt

“This is why everyone says I need to bust y’all’s ass,” Mike says.

In “Cody Bad at School,” Sylvibot highlights another example of these moments where Mike’s misguided parenting comes into play. DaddyOFive yells at him in the morning before the kids go to school because he didn’t clean his room. When the kids come home in the afternoon and it’s revealed Cody scraped his arm until it bled, Mike films his entire shout-down at the lad. Cody tries to explain to Mike why he couldn’t focus in school, Mr. Martin just says the world doesn’t revolve around him. Sylvibot makes a note that it drags on for way too long, as if Mike was doing it for the sake of content. This goes as far as Mike having one of the other sons hold the camera while he sits down with Cody to have a heart-to-heart chat with him. He even laments about his mother (presumably Audrey) being harsh on Mike at a young age.

Sylvibot says it’s made evidently clear that this channel is not made by the kids at all.

She goes on to talk about the whole “Cody not going to Disneyland” debacle. It’s loomed over him throughout several vlogs on the DaddyOFive channel, and all the build up is for naught when it comes to the time of the actual trip. Cody is shipped off to the Grandparent’s with the family dogs. The reason he didn’t get to go changes throughout several videos. Heather claimed “he put poop everywhere several times” initially, whereas in their interview with Keemstar Mike says the toilet overflowed, and finally in their “False Aquisations [sic]” video Mike says he was afraid the child would get lost. The inconsistent reasons given for Cody’s inability to go Disney World reflect the inconsistent punishment that is doled out to the kids.

This imbalance speaks to the core of Mike Martin.

TwoMikes

2:54 of “LAST night in the old house,” he does this as a joke.

There are two Mike Martins. In more ways than one.

The top layer is the Mike that gets seen in the videos in a battle against the Mike of reality. As far as DaddyOFive viewers were aware – the reactions of the children in the videos was just good acting. This is the layer that covered everything that lay beneath the surface of the YouTube channel. If Mike Martin treated the DaddyOFive kids like he did the viewers and fans, this mess would have never happened. Out of all the videos up there – how many of them were the audience in on? How many were they not?

“BLOCKING ALL THE HATERS!!” forced Mike to confront that.

The middle layer is the Mike that harshly disciplines the children, at odds with the one that wants to be their best friend. At [12:30] in this video he slides down the stairs on a cardboard box. The appeal of DaddyOFive was a part of him knew how to have some fun. That’s why there’s an entire channel of his dedicated to video games. It’s that creativity that brought forth his ghost adventures series. There’s a sense of reluctance the kids have, every time Mike switches back and forth between these modes. What do you think is going through Mike’s or Cody’s head when he smashes Cody’s Xbox? At what point do pranks like putting Cody up for adoption and pretending to send him to military school cause more harm than good? Further, what’s the long-lasting impact of putting up videos where the kids go “psycho” on each other? For every silly string, water gun, and stink bomb goof immortalized for eternity – there’s a serious meltdown, whooping, and moment of shame close by.

In a video titled “USING CODY FOR TARGET PRACTICE!” what lessons do you think that teaches? One of the most controversial videos on the channel was “Alex SLAPPED Emma in the FACE,” in which Mike approved Alex giving a hard SLAP to Emma’s face and making her cry.

The bottom layer is the Mike that works on his videos day in and day out for his family, sparring against the Mike that does it for the personal fame and elevation for himself. As seen in the Good Morning America interview, these two things were at odds. That is to say, Mike Martin thought the success of his DaddyOFive YouTube channel would make the children proud of him.  Mike himself admits that he’s not a doctor or a lawyer, and he says the only way to success he saw was this YouTube channel that got traction by happenstance. He thinks the closest thing to heroism is uploading videos like “ALEX BAD AT SCHOOL!”, “Alex was BAD on the BUS”, “ALEX HITS DAD IN THE NUTS!!”“CODY BAD IN SCHOOL!!”, “CODY GETS THE BELT!!”, “Emma BIT a CHUNK out of Cody!”, “JAKE BEATS UP RYAN”, “Jake BEATS UP Alex”, “Ryan MISSED the BUS”, and “Ryan gets a SPANKING!” online. In a vlog that was mainly celebrating Emma’s birthday, Mike decided to title it “LOST CHILD prank” because for a short two minute segment the family pretends to abandon Cody in the mall.

“I’m a dad, and it hurt my gut to hear you say what you just said.” T.J. Holmes of ABC said. “Do you really think your kids…. you aren’t a hero to your kids before this?”

“I didn’t feel like it.” Mike confesses. “I swear to God I didn’t feel like it.”

But Mike Martin wasn’t the only parent helming the DaddyOFive YouTube channel.

WhatDrivesHeather

What Drove Heather

Heather implied in a DaddyOFive Q&A video that she was the biological mother of Cody and Emma Martin. When responding to a question if either of them were adopted, Heather said “No, unfortunately not,” in response. She goes on to say their “Nan” had red-hair. That Heather’s mother  is a ginger. This would be a striking contrast to the statement given in “Family Destroyed Over False Aquisations [sic],” where Heather reveals that the family is a blended one.

She goes on to claim some sort of ownership as the mother of Cody and Emma.

And someone had some interview with the kids biological mother. And ya know, it broke me down because they said “we have their REAL mother”…. I’M their real mother.

As explored in my previous article on this subject, Heather was the main point of interaction between Mike Martin and Rose Hall. She initially told Rose that she understood having his biological mother in his life was important to him, and yet Heather would end up pulling the rug out from under Rose. As we’d find out in Rose’s update video with Tim Conlon – Heather apparently told Cody that Rose “threw him away like he was garbage,” but here in May 2015 we can see Heather telling Rose that Cody was distancing himself from his biological mother.

A puppet show of emotions, and Heather was in charge. But it turns out that control extended beyond the family’s social interactions.

irrationaldecisions

Mentioned this in my last article. Re-posting it here in case you forgot.

When it comes to understanding Heather Martin’s background, we have to look a little bit deeper. She’s the person in charge of the upkeep and expenses for this whole show. When it comes to purchasing merchandise for the channel? She takes care of it. Who bought the house’s security alarms? Heather did.

These things are in her name. From the YouTube channel to the house the family first lived in when they started.

The house the Martin family lived in at the start of the DaddyOFive controversy (now) is actually a rental.While in itself a rental is not a controversial thing (despite my initial assumption, they do mention the fact they’re renting very briefly in this video). People do that all the time. But following the money back it reveals an important aspect of the bigger picture.

The point boils down to the fact DaddyOFive’s channel makes a big deal about this new house. “OUR NEW HOUSE,” “The movers STOLE my TV,” “First Vlog in the NEW HOUSE,” “First NIGHT in the NEW HOUSE,” “LAST night in the old house,” and “First FanMail in the NEW house,” all showcase the process of this transition. Taking place on the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 22nd of November, along with December 1st and 2nd, respectively in the order of the title’s mention. Mike praises his security system is top-of-the-line because apparently YouTubers “need” that no matter what.  In particular you can see the amount of stuff the Martin family has obtained by the point of the First Vlog video. Big fancy windows, televisions in the kids’ bedrooms, Mike even comments on the excessive size of the house at one point when Cody is banished to the “East Wing” by DaddyOFive.

At the same time as all of this, Heather Martin was dealing with bankruptcy proceedings. Two years after the automatic stay is lifted on her home in Baltimore, happens to be the exact time that her and DaddyOFive moved into their current house. That is to say the earlier address of Mike and Heather Martin’s DaddyOFive YouTube channel was foreclosed. You can confirm it’s theirs by looking at the business registration paperwork for DaddyOFive that has only Heather’s name on it signed in August 2016, which lists the same address as the foreclosed house. By the end of September 2016 we see that the Martins had begun the process of renting their current house seen in a majority of the YouTube videos. There’d be no mention of how this was possible in the November 2016 DaddyOFive vlog where the family is introduced to the house for the first time. They’d have time to show us around the place, certainly. Mike even comments on how nice the house is. But nothing about how it was bought.

Why would the Martins want to appear rich, then?

NewHouse

For this section, I recommend reading the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 from the American Bar Association. At no point in this section am I asserting what’s legal or illegal, only shedding a better light into the background circumstances of the DaddyOFive YouTube channel as it applies to Heather Martin’s sole ownership of it. For informative purposes only. The documentation used in this section is taken from the PACER files related to t

Between the end of March 2008 to mid-July 2008, Heather Withrow-Zopp (Martin) filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy with her husband at the time, Rickie. They had a mortgage on their house and their car somewhere in the ballpark beyond $200,000, and a number of smaller bills and expenses piling up (a lot of medical, some jewelry, and over $100 to Blockbuster) alongside that. It’s pretty straightforward. The couple decided to forfeit the car and the house, went through credit counseling, and that was that.

On it’s own there’s nothing remarkable about it. That is, until you consider the complicated route Heather’s second bankruptcy had gone down. Some important things to make a note of in this are the fact that Heather was seeing Mike Martin by 2011 and they were officially married on January 18, 2014.

By December 10th 2013, Heather Withrow found herself once more in the bankruptcy hot-seat. This time she filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy alone. She owed over a grand to the IRS since 2010. Over $4000 in utility bills, thousands of dollars owed across 7 different credit cards, and over $3000 in cell phone related charges. To get the point, in the interim since her last bankruptcy, Heather let the expenses get away from herself. In these documents we come to find out she got credit consultation via the internet. Her filings stated at that time she was unmarried and Mike was not living in the household.

Heather Withrow didn’t report that Mike was part of her household income on her Chapter 13 filings, and there’s doubts if she hasn’t her reported new household income/expenses are accurate.

What’s relevant here is that Heather’s original Chapter 13 plan lays out the time period that this debt would be paid off in (60 months). But moreover, there’s a typo in the paperwork submitted that day. They would submit a new plan at the end of January 2014, after Heather officially married Mike. In this amended Chapter 13 plan, she forgot to sign it. February 3rd. Trustee objects to the plan, wants it amended with pay stubs for 60 days prior to the filing, wants the house surrendered. March 25th 2014. Numerous objections from the Trustee: failure to dedicate all disposable earnings in several places, failure to properly provide payments to entities owed to, failure to properly include all owners of the property the family was living at, and discrepancies in the attorney fees are just some of the errors observed in the objection. May 20th. Many of these discrepancies are still outstanding.

It’s not until July 1st 2014 that we see the final confirmation and approval from the judge. In any of the paperwork filed after Mike and Heather got married, but before this confirmation, he’s never mentioned once. It’s like Mike Martin doesn’t exist.

According to uscourts.gov in regards to Chapter 13:

Married individuals must gather this information for their spouse regardless of whether they are filing a joint petition, separate individual petitions, or even if only one spouse is filing. In a situation where only one spouse files, the income and expenses of the non-filing spouse is required so that the court, the trustee and creditors can evaluate the household’s financial position.

The last document in this Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is an address change. Even at this point when she has moved with Mike and the kids to their rental home, Heather Martin goes by the name of Withrow. Despite the fact that on the paperwork for the DaddyOFive YouTube channel, she signs it as Heather Martin.

I am not in a position to deem what’s legal and illegal, but given the circumstances of Heather’s bankruptcy background it leaves room to question where the DaddyOFive profits really went. Someone with demonstrably very little accountability to their money management is in charge of where funding goes for five children’s profits from a YouTube channel dedicated to pranking them. Heather Martin can’t claim ignorance because her background is in accounting (6:00 of this video establishes that).

HeatherPrank

If you wanted to know how aware of DaddyOFive’s content Heather is, we can look towards her opening speech in a December 2016 video “A SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR DAD” she made for Mike’s birthday.

“We’re a lot of fun, we’ve a lot of jokes. And we prank each other and we do all this stuff. And we love you guys, and most of you are very good to us. The kids absolutely love YouTube and love all you guys. They always wanna know what you guys are saying about their videos, and how they’re doing. But on a serious note, DaddyOFive gets so much shit for his channel and the content and things that are on it. And one thing you guys need to realize is – everything he does is for his kids. He’s probably the most amazing dad I’ve ever met in my life. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my husband. He plays with the kids, he’s always coming up with fun things for them to do. They wanted to go into this YouTube stuff and they really wanted to make this channel. He was leery at first because it could go one way or another, and he did it because his kids wanted to do it, and they are excited about it. And they make videos and they watch their own content and laugh at it. This is just the kind of family that we are. They’re so fun, and they’re so creative.”

“They fight. They argue. Tell me that you don’t argue with your siblings, and fight with your siblings. I mean everyone does. I have two younger sisters and when we were growing up, we always fought with each other. I know DaddyOFive has been getting a lot of hate lately, and getting a lot of people talking crap, and saying how bad of a dad he is. Look at the big picture of things and not just the little things that you can pick out of our content and try to flip it six ways from Sunday. Most of our fans actually understand our channel and know that having five kids is crazy.”

Heather Martin is more involved in the content then she implied in recent videos and television interviews. It was something that was carefully monitored by her in the comments sections of videos and overall aware of.

When it comes to the YouTube channel, there are times where we get to see MommyOFive take a role in the videos.

HeatherNMike

First, an example of calm. When it comes to “MY WIFE BROKE MY TOOTH!!……almost” the opening of the video has Heather lamenting at the fact her children can’t do their chores (she’d later yell at Mike about the same thing). Peppering swears throughout the early parts of the video that go on talking about this, it eventually leads to a scene upstairs where Mike calls Cody a bad kid, and Heather implies Emma is stupid. We see the Martin couple out and about in public with no kids. Heather takes Mike out to Five Guys for lunch, they go to the movies, Mike tags along while Heather browses vacuum cleaners, and they go to a steakhouse for dinner. Without the DaddyOFive children, a day in the life of the couple seems fairly mundane in comparison to their usual chaos.

What happens when when we throw the kids into the equation? We see it happen in “MOM HAS A MELTDOWN!!” when Heather yells at Mike about chores and other responsibilities, criticizing him for being lazy about his contribution. Her conniption started over a load of laundry, as seen starting in 7:22 in the meltdown video. It drags on for a good three minutes – with the wear and tear being visible on her face.

“Do you have sand in your vagina?,” was Mike’s retort.  After joking around about putting up Emma for adoption, then Mike, then Heather, her reply at [21:07] is “Nothing in this house would run without me.”

Heather Martin is very liberal with her use of kitchen knives. In “PRANK ON MOM GOES HORRIBLY WRONG ( ENDS IN FIGHT ),” a wet Heather pulls a knife on Mike when he sprays her with a super soaker gun for a prank. She was unreceptive to the humor and the exchange devolved into a more heated argument. Heather chases Mike around the house waving around a knife in her hand. In “PSYCHO WIFE PULLS KNIFE ON HUSBAND!!,” we see that Heather is in charge of many household chores and buys clothes for Mike, all the meanwhile putting up with his attempts to annoy her while she does her routine. The knife part comes in due to the fact that Heather is not only willing to tolerate and humor Mike as he films her, she escalates it. Grabbing a kitchen knife from the counter, Heather isn’t afraid to whip it around at him so DaddyOFive backs off from her.  If you go to [14:12] of the video you’ll be taken into another intense moment where Heather is shouting at Mike and waving a knife at him.

HeatherUtensilsThere was that one time Heather ran around the house chasing Jake with a spoon. In “Cody Gets Kicked Out!!” Heather says she doesn’t like Cody. In “Lost Child PRANK” she calls him a dickhead. In “Booger Prank Meltdown!!” she urges Cody to fight back against the other kids more aggressively. In the video where Cody gets put up for adoption, Heather plays along with Mike and threatens to take away all of Cody’s stuff “for real,” making it clear that it isn’t part of a prank. Heather calls the kid a demon. In “Getting Ready For Disney!!” Heather tells Mike to be angry at Cody for the fact that he wasn’t going to Disney World, whereas Mike himself was simply upset at that. She claims Cody would make everyone miserable, and says he needs to behave himself and whatever is going on with him is not normal.

“He’s crazy. Crazy ginger snap,” Heather says when describing Cody. She had previously told Rose that she tried to be good to all the children.

MommyOFive has her own YouTube channel that was done in the same spirit as DaddyOFive. In her first video “Tin Can Challenge,” uploaded in October 2016, Heather says she intended on posting once a week. She states that she didn’t know what to post since most of the stuff the family did was posted over on the DaddyOFive main channel. Heather ends up uploading on a monthly basis instead. While there are only six videos on that channel there’s enough of the same theme identifiable. They outsourced one of the giveaway winner announcements to MommyOFive’s channel. Along with another challenge video, people got to see her do a test run of Playstation VR and a vlog where she burned herself cooking.

The main point of interest to MommyOFive’s YouTube channel is a prank video called “PRANK GONE WRONG DAD PULLS A GUN!!,” released February 24th 2017. Using Jake and Ryan as actors,  Heather walks the camera she’s holding around the living room to show us the other recording devices around the house she had set-up. The group had planned to stage a break-in into the family house that evening, setting off the alarms to make it look like an intruder got inside. This intruder (Jake in a ski mask), was going to urge a panicked Mike to “hurry up and turn off” the alarm system in a deep gruntish voice. Heather is meticulous in the placement of these kids, telling Ryan when he should get the camera based on what she predicted Mike would do in response. She giggles into the camera beforehand, telling us this was her “delivering” to the audience after people hit the like button on her last video enough.

GunBreak1

At [2:55] the alarms are blasting. Mike exits from his bedroom with a gun in his hand. Heather is screaming frantically in what sounds like a legitimately horrified tone.

“WHO THE FUCK IS IN THE HOUSE,” Mike shouts from his position of cover behind a kitchen wall. One of the younger kids peers out from the basement and expresses their worry at the commotion, but Mike snaps a finger at him to get back down. Pointing a firearm at Jake and his own wife, DaddyOFive screams at this intruder to get the f*ck out.

Heather quickly tells Mike it’s Jake. Mr. Martin looks around the room to realize he’s been pranked.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU ALL,” Mike screams. Heather was laughing a bit beforehand but this had caused the room to go silent. “ARE YOU FUCKING RETARDED?!?” he says in a follow-up.

DaddyOFive is furious, turning around to slap the camera out of Ryan’s hands.

“I’VE GOT A FUCKING GUN AND SOMEBODY COULD’VE GOTTEN SHOT. YOU’RE PLAYING FUCKING GAMES,” he yells.

GunBreak2

Mike doesn’t find the humor in it as Heather and the kids are chortling. He’s still got a serious look on his face when he checks the safety on his pistol. Mike shouted at his wife that she can’t trigger the alarm like that because the cops will show up. An onlooker from across the street had peered into the window as a result of this chaos, and Heather tells Mike he needed to put his gun away. Text messages from the alarm company were coming in, and all Heather could think about was how hilarious it was that Mike was “screaming like a fool.”

GunBreak3

[5:25] Mike and Heather have a sit down. Heather has this playful look on her face, where she says she knows she was bad in a non-serious fashion. In between the cut in the video, the cops had shown up at the house according to Heather because they had set their alarms off. She’s still half-hearted while Mike yells about the consequences to her, and what could’ve gone wrong. Heather says since she paid for the alarm she was going to take the blame for the prank.

“It was funny,” Heather shrugs. “It would’ve been even funnier if one of them gingers rolled down the steps,” she said. “Squealin’.”

Heather’s closing argument was the prank is “mild” because the kids only almost got shot.

HeatherCloseUpStabEverything Mike Martin did? Heather either stood by and allowed it to happen, or she fanned the flames of the situation to up the shock value. Mrs. Martin turned the family’s drama into a business. When Heather told Rose that Cody was excelling under her care in December 2014, what do you think she’d say now in retrospect? In light of every kick to the face, every shout-down recorded for a YouTube audience, In light of pretending to abandon the boy in a mall. every time he was bullied for the sake of YouTube entertainment.

That is not an assertion of fact, that is the reality. Watch Mike Martin give a stamp of approval on it for himself.

One doesn’t need to accuse of Mike or Heather of being in the wrong at this point, they flat-out admitted it the moment they uploaded their PR-friendly apology video on April 22nd.

Someone who uses invisible ink to write messages doesn’t want their intentions to be known to prying eyes. Heather Withrow didn’t want the courts to know she was also Heather Martin, so she signed bankruptcy documents under these separate names. Seeming to conceal the fact that Mike Martin in fact existed. Putting her signature on the DaddyOFive LLC paperwork, Heather was free to quietly stand behind Mike as he brought in the money from the YouTube channel, open to spend on whatever she thought was best. That agreement worked out for Mike because his mother Audrey was like that with her husband Charles.

The words written down with an invisible ink pen quickly vanish when exposed to the passage of time. By jumping from 0 to 100 and chasing Mike around the house with a kitchen knife, it’s harder to judge when Heather is serious about something. The sentences are written down but they lack a lasting impact of any value. That’s also Mike’s job as a parent. In December 2016 when Heather made that video message assuaging the fans of any controversy concerns, it clearly didn’t last. Here we are in April/May 2017 with the DaddyOFive couple dealing with the same issue.

Invisible ink just leaves the user with the question of – what was the point of doing that in the first place?

HeatherInvisibleInk

Why?

Future

When it comes to understanding the lasting impact of the DaddyOFive controversy, we’ll be looking beyond the immediate circumstances of the family itself. The fate of the Martins is up in the air right now. The situation is too unpredictable to make that kind of a call. The YouTube channel couldn’t last a year with their cycle of controversial content. But the impact of what it shows the public about what goes on online is sure to be talked about for a long time.

Ashley Taylor first got involved when she saw the video by Phil DeFranco on the subject, initially thinking it was just another YouTube drama being blown out of proportion. When she looked into it deeper, Ashley came to realize the extent of what was happening on the DaddyOFive channel. It was “sickening” and unbelievable to her that they had success for their content. As an actor in the NYC area, she had a unique perspective on things. Beyond the immediate need to rescue the children from the father and step-mother, child performers on YouTube in general need regulations for their work much like what Hollywood is afforded. For film and television they have protections that deal with the extent of working hours, conditions, and amount of income (15%) that’s guaranteed to go to the children.

ProjectSaveCody

Taylor organized a letter writing campaign to Governor Hogan of Maryland to help raise his and the public’s awareness to this issue. You can see what that entails in a video uploaded by her on the 25th of April, along with a playlist of some of the participants who joined in alongside Ashley. Another one of these projects is something called C.O.D.Y. (Children Online Deserve Your protection).

The Down Low of DaddyOFive

(UPDATE 2: 5/5/2017) Follow-up article released. Goes over everything that’s happened since publishing this piece.

(UPDATE: 4/26/2017) Last night I had the pleasure of talking to James and Laura Britton. I was taken back at that conversational sincerity and felt a bit lost with words. Nice people. Their family was wonderful.

Mr. Britton is Mike Martin’s step-brother by the fact that Mike’s adoptive mother Audrey Martin married James’s father Charles Britton. James emphasized to me that he would not participate in any sort of witch-hunt, but given Mike Martin’s actions there needed to be consequences for that behavior. Mr. Britton believes the Martin family should’ve gotten straight to the point in their apology. What James saw was what he calls a “poor excuse” of one. He feels they revealed too much of their hand in the numerous appearances they made.

But to back it up a bit: Mike and James at one point in their lives were inseparable as step-brothers. He tells me DaddyOFive was passionate about drawing, and highly creative with the games he and James could put together.

“He was going to be in the limelight,” James told me.

While his prediction might have come true, it wasn’t exactly in the way anyone had anticipated. James Britton first became aware of the DaddyOFive situation after his kids watched Boogie2988 talk about it. He explained to me that he could identify Mike Martin by his laugh. Something that was in-grained into memory from his earlier years.

When it comes to the disciplinary styles that Mike uses on the children in the DaddyOFive videos, James told me those sorts of things came from Audrey’s influence. She was very possessive over her husband Charles, especially when it came to money-related matters. Audrey was described as an aggressive sort of person who tended to be excessive when it came to punishment (making Mike Martin write sentences over and over, etc). Mike had a tendency to blame everyone except himself when it came to his personal dilemmas. While he was an articulate child, Mike was incapable of coping with certain situations properly. If the school system wasn’t failing him, it was the teachers, or the students for something as minute as being too loud.

Audrey Martin died of a brain aneurysm in her mid-30s. Personally, Mike had a hard time coping with the loss. That was a turning point for the family: Charles had to give up the house, Mike went to live with his Grandmother, and James moved in with the person would become his wife. Mike’s younger sister Cortney went on to live with uncles. When James and Laura tried to reconnect with Mike and Cortney years later, they were against it. The Martins said they thought they were better off without them.

James wanted me to pass along a message to Mike directly, under the assumption he’d be reading this. “Good luck,” he wanted me to say to Mike. James says he’s going to need it when it comes to the hole he’s dug himself into here. He made it clear to me that they sided with Rose Hall on the custody dispute.

“I believe Cody and Emma should be with their birth-mother,” James said to me.

James Britton said his step-brother Mike Martin wanted fame, and he certainly got it. But it might’ve not been the sort of fame he was looking for.

(Below this line is the rest of the article, as initially published)


The subject of child abuse is a complicated and serious matter. In the past week the YouTube channel known as DaddyOFive has come under fire for the content of their videos. Primarily the public is concerned about the psychological abuse and damages that these videos depict.

The purpose of this article is to go over the different aspects of all that.

Imagine waking up to your father spraying silly-string in your face. Imagine him wearing a hockey mask and pile driving you awake one morning. Imagine living in a state of constant fear that whenever you got a new gaming system or tech device, it might be smashed into pieces in front of your eyes. Imagine that every time you fight with your brother or sister, there’s a high chance that it would be recorded and shared with hundreds of thousands of people.

Such was the DaddyOFive lifestyle. It might be “just a prank bruh” but the reality of it is that these actions are real.

DaddyOFiveMartinFamilyPhoto

The DaddyOFive YouTube channel features five children: Jake, Ryan, Alex, Cody, and Emma. Father of the family Mike Martin served as the head of this household, with his wife Heather standing behind every action he took.

There was a third parent that lived in this home – the camera.

Viewers on YouTube got a front-row seat to these people. The children acknowledged Camera as a fact of their clan. It watched them just as much as people online watched this family. In the heat of dramatic DaddyOFive “pranks” and vlogs, you can see on the faces of these kids that they don’t want to embarrass themselves while Camera had its eyes on them.

It’s this relationship with the public that brings us to the reason why there’s controversy with DaddyOFive in the first place. They’re not a YouTube channel about a dysfunctional family where they vlog their daily lives and pull pranks on each other.

The pranks are their lives.  The line between what’s real and what’s staged is almost non-existent, and that becomes blatantly obvious the more you look into this YouTube channel . Alongside that comes the concern about the well-being and safety of the DaddyOFive children, as they endure a daily routine of schemes and hijinks orchestrated by their father and mother.

A comment from someone in Child Protective Services put it best. “These videos are promoting domestic violence. Even if the parents do it in the best of attention, you are teaching the rest of YouTube and your own children that causing violence and distress is okay, as long as it is a joke,” they said.

The DaddyOFive situation has been acknowledged by the relevant authorities. Most notably, council member Craig Rice of Montgomery County had stated his awareness of the DaddyOFive ordeal on Twitter. He corrected a commenter by saying the family lives in Fredrick County, and not Montgomery. Craig went on to say the DaddyOFive situation had reached the offices of state authorities and agencies.

DaddyOFiveContents

As far as video titles in of themselves are concerned, many of the items on the DaddyOFive YouTube channel are focused on the children as a subject (1) and/or in some sort of escalated situation (2).

Here are the top 50 videos (with links to mirrors) that match these criteria alone: Dad DESTROYS sons PS4, Kid gets a BLACK EYE, Kids get the BELT!, Alex SLAPPED Emma in the FACE, LOST CHILD prank, Cody BEATS UP Alex, Dad SLAMS kid, Kid FIGHT ends in BLOODSHED, Kid gets ATTACKED in the shower, Dad BEATS Alex,  Kid ELBOW DROPS brother, Jake makes Cody PSYCHO, Jake BEATS UP AlexJAKE BEATS UP RYAN, JAKE CRUSHES CODY!!, Cody POOPS on the FLOOR, Kid DESTROYS brother’s room, Kid STEALS brothers XBOXKid goes crazy and beats up Big BrotherKid gets Knocked outkid DESTROYS Dads xboxKid Goes PSYCHODad goes on a RAMPAGERoom DESTRUCTIONKid RUNS AWAY from home, Dad assaults sons face with boogersDad DESTROYS Sons iPhoneKid has a MENTAL BREAKDOWNKids get kicked outKid starts a FIRE, IS JAKE GAY??, PSYCHO WIFE PULLS KNIFE ON HUSBAND!!, CODY GETS THE BELT!!, I’M SENDING CODY TO MILITARY SCHOOL!!, Cody BIT Alex, Cody gets BULLIED, Alex TERRORIZES Cody, RYAN CUT A HOLE IN THE CEILING!, RYAN GETS EGGED!!, FINDING CODY A NEW HOME, Emma BIT a CHUNK out of Cody!, EMMA BEATS UP CODY!!, DAD FORCES SON TO THROW AWAY HIS TOYS!!, Our house got ROBBED Prank, Ryan gets a SPANKING!, Dad POOPS on Cody, Dad blows up on Cody, Mom BEATS UP Dad, and USING CODY FOR TARGET PRACTICE!.

That does NOT even account for the “FAIL” category: Chucky prank FAIL, DAD BUYS A NEW HOUSE PRANK FAIL!, EXPLODING ketchup prank GONE WRONG, GHOST PRANK GONE WRONG!!!!!, Kid gets KICKED IN THE FACE (PRANK GONE WRONG), PRANK ON MOM GOES HORRIBLY WRONG (ENDS IN FIGHT)

Take a second look at some of those FAIL video titles. Which of those seem innocent? Which of those seem to be more serious?

DaddyOFive and MommyOFive both approve every video that goes up on the YouTube channel. There’s proof that Mike is the one that tends to render and post them, while his wife Heather looms from behind.  The crude nature of the titles is intentional as a means to appeal to immature and young, impressionable audiences. The kids’ beating each other up was “awesome” to Mike. He once explained his tendency to yell was because he was half-deaf. But don’t think Mr. Martin doesn’t care about his image. People digging into the DaddyOFive catalog have come across at least one instance where Mike edited audio after the fact to lessen the severity of his inappropriate behavior. There’s questions as to what he censors when it comes to the kids, as best exemplified in this one instance seems to indicate that Emma Martin wanted to leave Mike’s place to go back to her biological mother’s house.

The DaddyOFive children deeply and truly loved the family YouTube channel. Every kid wants to be a popular viral internet celebrity. They all tolerated video after video of getting yelled at or pranked on by other members of the household simply because of the viewership their suffering had garnered. One of the things that often weighed heavily on them is that the other kids at their school could see this and think the family is messed up. Mike Martin had created content where the entertainment value was propelled by the children suffering some sort of misfortune or conflict.
But there was no way out of this by then. The abusive behavior had been incentivized beyond a point of no return. Mike Martin’s long-term goal was for the channel to raise enough money to buy him his dream car. By the time any of these people in the DaddyOFive family had an inkling that this routine was unhealthy, they were already in too deep.

The YouTube channel was all about himself, according to Mike. It’s his journey, built on the backs of sharing the personal day to day lives of the children in the house, regardless of their consent.

Back on that point.

DaddyOFiveYouTubeChannel

For what’s advertised as a family YouTube channel, there sure is a lot of Mike going on.

(He made the photos you see above)

The DaddyOFive Twitter account is entirely run by Mike directly. He surfaced for the first time from the far corners of the internet in July 2016. The brand’s identity revolved around him and protected it as such. In these earliest days, DaddyOFive was a gaming channel on Twitch.

The start of the pranks on Mike’s children came on July 8th:

I may have just done a prank on one of my kids and there might be a video coming soon maybe idk lol

At the end of the month came the vlogs. By mid-August 2016 these coalesced together to become laughing at his kids distress for the lulz.

His account spoke on the channel’s behalf. For something that’s allegedly a team effort, many tweets suggest Mike wanted the limelight to himself. It was more I than We.  For example, in an image titled Team D.O.5. one would expect to see the whole family. Instead it was just Mike. But when he wanted to elevate his social status further, they were a means to an end.

@DashieXP please follow me my kids love your channel,” Mr. Martin tweeted.

Follow me, because my kids. However, at the same time Mike is more than happy to mock their emotions, for YouTube money. Emma’s crush on Dashie was used for prank content, yet Mike gave a much higher degree of respect to filming his own emotions. Cody was singled out here as well.

While the children weren’t allowed to have personalized social media accounts of their own, Mike Martin used the platform as an extension of his own desires. It was a tool to embarrass the children further, where possible. Depict them in whatever positive or negative light he saw fit. But the tendency fell to new videos depicting kid’s emotional strife, tears, discomfort, conflict, and adversity. Mike wanted the audience to normalize the anger, angst, and antics.

To the viewer, these kids are eating shit literally and figuratively. For the sake of entertainment, the spotlight was on Cody for poop one week and piss the next. DaddyOFive’s followers came for that type of content, and Mike encouraged it. He once retweeted a fan video that highlighted Cody hitting his sister. At what cost does their YouTube Play Button Award come with?

A straight-jacket.

ForEntertainmentPurposesOnly

“For Entertainment Purposes Only”

While the DaddyOFive’s channel collection of videos was made private as a response to this controversy, a mirror of everything is available at archive.org.

The presentation of the video needs to be separated from the actual way events unfold within. Compilations of DaddyOFive’s most controversial moments are popping up on the web. The people making these have a plethora of examples to choose from in this debacle. There’s playlists dedicated to this sort of thing, with one example being a 21 part series dedicated to the topic of Cody Martin getting upset. In itself that builds a strong argument that DaddyOFive’s channel singled out Cody more so than any other family member.

Here’s a list of six different videos that suggest some level of emotional, mental, or physical abuse is taking place inside the DaddyOFive household.

  • August 2nd 2016, “End of the World PRANK”: The thumbnail for the video is Cody’s face screaming with a nuclear explosion behind him. According to Mike in the introduction, the prank entailed using an emergency broadcast recording from YouTube in order to trick Alex and Cody into believing a nuclear holocaust was coming. The focus of the video ends up falling on Cody because Alex caught onto the ploy. When it comes to watching the prank unfold, the video cuts away to the kids watching the alert on TV. Mike or Heather integrated the clip into their device setup to make it seem more convincing. Someone flips the channel to a different station and a separate fake emergency broadcast is blaring. Cody looks confused, concerned, and puzzled at everything. “ARE WE GONNA BE OK?” a worried Cody asks. “No, do you see that?!” says Ryan. “ARE WE GONNA DIE?” Cody responds, heightening his concern. “Yeah!” Different warnings are shown playing on the TV, increasing in their threatening tone and severity as the video plays. Cody cries and hides under his blanket, freaking out. The other kids seem to be in on it at this point. The oldest one calls Mike, and you can see a subtle smirk on his face as Ryan turns and goes up the stairs. “Dad I’m really scared,” the eldest kid half-heartedly says. Cody frantically asks what’ll happen to the family pets. “I’m so scared,” he says repeatedly. “At least I get to record the last of us,” the kid holding the camera replies. Part of the prank is the eldest son staying on the phone with the father, telling him he sees masses of vehicles driving down the street. Using “they” to describe this ominous apocalyptic force, the eldest kid informs Cody that Mike told him “they” are invading people’s houses. The eldest son throws Cody into a panic by telling him these invaders have guns. “Dad says he went to the shelter already. He said we have to stay here until someone gets here.” Cody has a meltdown, begins balling his eyes out. “I WANT MY DADDY!!,” he shouts. The two boys go up to Cody’s room and rush him to put his survival clothes on. BANG BANG BANG is heard strongly from the front door. Cody screams in shock at the noise. The two boys demand the frightened lad hide under his bed while they answer the door. Mike (finally) shows up and hurriedly gathers up the kids to go in the car. Cody seems genuinely relieved to see him. Shoving everyone in his vehicle to continue this drawn-out gag, Mike assures the kids there’s apocalyptic alerts blaring on every media outlet possible. “THE WHOLE HOUSE IS ABOUT TO GET BOMBED,” Mike shouts. Cody asks what’ll happen to the family’s dogs, and DaddyOFive tells him they’re done for. He ends up taking the kids to a park, saying there’s a shelter there. “I want Daddy! Daddy!!!,” Cody says while rushing back to the car. “No! I can’t be having all you kids with me, I’ll make it better if I don’t have 5 kids. I’ll see ya later!!,” Mike tells him as he begins driving off. But then he comes right back. Laughing. Everyone tells Cody it was just a prank.
  • September 17th 2016, “Kid starts a FIRE”: Thumbnail shows Cody surrounded in flames. Heather Martin opens the video by explaining that Cody had experimented with fire recently, leading to Mike and her giving him a talk about the dangers of it. In the very next sentence she says it makes for a believable prank. Heather had a friend pretend to be Cody’s teacher and call her house to leave a voicemail, claiming that Cody had lit toilet paper on fire with a lighter. The first half of the video ends up being an argument where Cody is aware his parent’s shouting is a ruse, and in return Mike and Heather scream at him in denial of that. Half-way through, they finally cave and admit to it being a prank, laughing at Cody. Visibly upset, Cody grabs a kitchen chair or two and slams them on the ground. He attempts to retreat to his room to calm down but a smirking Mike and jeering Heather follow him with the camera. Cody tries hiding under his blanket for refuge, but Mikes tears them away. Still giggling at his frustration, Mike snatches Cody’s shirt as the lad has his face turning away from the camera in one last effort at some privacy and Heather belittles him that he needs to “take a joke.” Directly requesting his parents for some time to himself, they shoot the idea down and keep the camera rolling. “TAKE A JOKE! YOU’RE THE ONLY IN THE HOUSE THAT CAN’T TAKE A JOKE AND GOT TO ACT LIKE A BUTTHOLE!” Heather shrieked at the cowering child. Crying into his pillow, Cody is upset that the situation depicted him as a crazy person.

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  • September 25th 2016, TABLET DESTRUCTION prank”: REMOVED for violating community guidelines. Thumbnail showed Cody visibly upset and shouting. Earlier that week, Cody was featured in a thumbnail where he’s getting kicked in the face. Mike tells us in the introduction that Jake was going to smash Cody’s new tablet. Unbeknownst to him, Mike had purchased a second tablet that day for the purpose of this ruse cruise. But according to Mr. Martin’s Twitter, the tablet’s destruction was something that definitely happened. The tone of the video is highly serious, as it’s made clear through Mike’s and Jake’s body language that they were invested in this. In targeting Cody and making the situation appear legitimate. At [1:28] for no reason whatsoever Mike unplugs Cody’s xbox in the middle of a game he was playing. Cody is puzzled and agitated at this random act, and Jake roughs the youngster up by pushing him out of his chair. Mike refuses to leave the room after Cody requests it. “No! We came in here to get the tablet going,” Mike responded. Cody actually makes an effort to accommodate his father’s wishes. At [2:07] he tries to return to his previous activity. “BOY I’LL SMASH THAT DAMN XBOX,” Mike threatens Cody. The child becomes flustered at the illogical reasoning his father has here. After a back and forth argument, Cody tells Jake to be careful with the tablet and put it in its case. Doing the complete opposite, Jake informs Cody that he’s resetting the tablet and putting everything under his name. Mike completely ignores the fact Jake is clearly upsetting Cody, and the only outlet for Cody to express his frustration is hitting Jake with objects. [4:46] Cody tries to escape the bedroom and cool off, but Mike is blocking the exit. Instead of allowing him to leave, Mr. Martin resists and pushes Cody into a bookcase. Among the fury, Jake throws the tablet at the window. Mike mildly scolds him for that as the device lands somewhere behind the TV. Fishing it out from back there while Cody makes an attempt to intervene: Jake takes the tablet, slams it on the ground, and slaps it on the walls of the room. Cody breaks down crying as a result. It’s unclear at this point if it was because of the escalating situation that happened leading up to the tablet’s destruction, or the destruction of the tablet itself. In a tearful state of misery, Cody locks himself in the bathroom to try and get away from the crowded area he had been essentially trapped in up to this point. While Mike is screeching at Cody to open up the door, Jake is taking a hammer to the tablet to finish the prank. His father returns to the room and feigns surprise at this action. “I can understand giving a little bit of hell, but really?,” Mike shouts at Jake. Mr. Martin finally gets Cody to open up the bathroom door, and the two argue about what had just happened. [7:20] shows Cody in a peak state of frustration and upset. Pretending to still be going along with this prank, Mike deflects as Cody tries to explain his emotional state to him. Forcing the kid back to his room he acknowledges the camera for the first time. “You don’t need the camera for this,” Cody tells Mike. The father slides out of Cody’s room and into Jake’s to “yell” at him. At [10:00] we see Jake smirking victoriously. Mike turns the camera on himself and expresses a face of silent laughter at Cody’s reaction.
  • October 13th 2016, “Jake makes Cody PSYCHO”: There’s not even a prank involved in this video. As outlined by Jake in the introduction, the only thing he planned to do was go to Cody’s room and sit in it. That’s exactly what he does. Without saying a word to him, Jake sits on Cody’s bed pointing the camera at him. Silent. “What?” Cody asks. Over and over. When Jake doesn’t answer, Cody shouts for Mike to come into the room. Jake throws a pillow and slams a toy robot off of Cody’s table. Cody continues to desperately yell for Mike, eventually getting a reply to “SHUT UP” as he was trying to work. This is a 24 minute long video. At the 3 minute mark, Cody starts to tear up after being stressed out about what was happening. By the five minute mark, Jake is attempting to access a private drawer of Cody’s, and the child fends off his older brother’s attempts to open it. “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?” Mike says as he finally enters the room. Focusing entirely on Cody, he yells at the distressed child to “get up off his ass” and come to Mike if he had a problem. This back and forth between the two continues, and it becomes clear by the tone of the words exchanged that Mike was mad at Cody instead of Jake altogether. Finally shooing Jake out of the room, the eldest son does so momentarily before proceeding to barge back in. He opens Cody’s draw to provoke the child’s ire even further. Slamming it shut, Cody hugs his entire body around this drawer to serve as a barrier. Mike arrives back in the room just in time to see Cody begin shaking profusely [7:45] as a physical reaction to the amount of stress he was under. Mike laughs at the sight of his exhausted and infuriated son. He tells Cody that he can’t take him seriously when he’s “wiggling like a fish.” Jake goes on to bully Ryan while he’s playing Xbox. When he leaves the room, Jake sneaks back in with Alex. They shout obscenities at Ryan’s friends in the voice chat, disconnect the system, remove it from Ryan’s room and stash it somewhere else in the house. This entire video is essentially Jake fighting his siblings and pushing them to get angry. Mike stands by apathetically and just let’s it happen. What was the point of this video? I don’t even think Mike watched it before he uploaded. Cody has a breakdown later on starting at 18:10, and Mike sits there incapable of calming him down in any capacity. He just films it.

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  • November 2nd 2016, “LOST CHILD prank”: It’s impossible for Mike Martin’s pranks to take a holiday, as he hatches a scheme for a YouTube video on the same day as Emma’s birthday.  The first 17 minutes of this video is actually a vlog. Breaking the mold of DaddyOFive videos, this particular one doesn’t structure itself around the prank as its peak. In addition to that, this vlog takes us outside the Martin household and follows them in a public setting. The standard sort of yelling and explosive behavior doesn’t apply here. What does carry over into this new backdrop is the singling out of Cody. In the simple act of finding out what food the kids are ordering [8:26], Mike still finds a reason to be critical of Cody’s choices. The contrast is prevalent more so as the vlog continues. In one minute Mike is talking about something with the YouTube channel and some sort of bracelets they had made, but the next his attention is laser-focused on Cody’s every move at the dinner table. It casts a shadow on the rest of the meal intended on celebrating Emma’s birthday. [17:08] is when Mike and the rest of the family hide from Cody while he’s coming back from trip to the Mall restroom. What starts out as a walk turns into a frantic run from the can, as Cody looks around quizzically attempting to reunite with his parents. He calls out for his mother, and you can see the boy’s lip quiver as a sense of dread sets in. Cody begins asking strangers if they’ve seen his family, only to find Mike and the rest of the gang reappear to tell him it was just a prank. Heather chides him, rubbing the mockery of it all in. “Now he’s all salty,” Heather says when describing the look of betrayal that came across Cody’s face when he realized his parents had pretended to abandon him in a shopping mall for a cheap laugh. Clearly distraught at what had just happened, Heather bluntly explains the whole family hid on purpose just to see his reaction. As if the boy was incapable of understanding that on his own. [19:01] Cody takes a moment to explain the potential consequences and dangers of what they had done. “Really? Alls we did is hide behind the Coke machine,” Heather snapped. “So what? It’s called a prank. We pranked you. Stop being salty.” As the family leaves the mall, Heather and Mike belittle Cody for being upset about the prank. “That would’ve been hilarious,” Heather told Cody when he said he was about to wander off looking for them. At [22:35] Mike corners Cody by a mall game machine and sneers at him that he’s been “bad” the whole time the family was out that evening. “What’s your deal?,” Mike told Cody.
  • February 24th 2017, “CODY BAD IN SCHOOL!!”: A visibly tired and irritable Mike Martin greets us with the camera while prepping Cody and Emma to go somewhere that morning. It’s never really explained. Cut away to Emma and Alex ascending the stairs with the camera to see if Cody cleaned his room. A defiant Cody smacks Emma and camera kid with headphones to fend them off. An infuriated Mike attempts to quell the conflict with little success, and he howls his way up the stairs to inspect Cody’s bedroom.”They don’t need to be recording in my room, get that camera out of here,” Cody tells Mike. There’s more arguing, with Mr. Martin yelling at Alex to tell him to “BACK OFF,” from him and Cody. Mike threatens Cody was going to “lose his level” if the room wasn’t clean by the time the children went to school. Video jump-cuts to that point in the day. As the kids are getting ready to leave, Mike is irate when Cody tells him that he didn’t have time to finish cleaning. At [4:55] Mr. Martin tells the audience in the interim he wasn’t recording their day, he heard Cody rough-housing and making noise upstairs. But more importantly, this raises the question of the camera being a parenting tool in the Martin house. It lingers in the silence of us watching Cody quietly zip up his backpack and put on his jacket before departing for school. After dropping them off, Mike comes back home and takes a tour of Cody’s room. He laments to us his regrets that he might’ve shaken the boy’s confidence at school for the day. [7:20] in the video, and we’re at the end of the school day. “They all better pray to God that they all had a good day,” Mike remarked. He begins demanding school charts from each of the kids. When getting to Emma, we see the young girl’s face go petrified. “I forgot it at school but i did good today I promise,” she says with a wide-eyed assurance. When Cody returns from his room with his chart, Mike snatches it out of the boy’s hands. I shit you not, DaddyOFive added dramatic background music to this section of the video. Where he’s reading the personal notes Cody’s teacher wrote, for the whole internet to hear. We then learn Cody spent his school day scratching at his arm to make it bleed instead of focusing on his school work. “WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SCRAPING YOUR ARM TO MAKE IT BLEED? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR HEAD?,” shrieks Mike. Cody denies it, but Mike grabs him by the arm and shoves the camera lens into focus on Cody’s bandages there. We see an angry Mike berate a clearly embarrassed Cody for the next few minutes. “I DIDN’T GO TO A MEETING AND WORK THINGS OUT WITH THE SCHOOL SO YOU COULD JUST DO WHATEVER YOU WANT,” Mike exclaimed. “This basically says that you didn’t do SHIT. All day, and was BAD as HELL. THIS HAS BEEN YOUR WORST DAY OF THE WHOLE ENTIRE DAMN WEEK.” Hanging his head in shame, Mr. Martin orders Cody to get his personal items out of the upstairs room – as he had lost the “level” Mike had been referring to here. The distressed youngster tries to explain the difficulties he had in the classroom, and Mike wrote them off completely. “The world does not revolve around you,” he said to Cody.” [12:47] “You have issues? That’s your problem. That’s how the world works. “The world don’t give a damn about your issues, the world don’t give a damn that you can’t focus. You think the world gives a damn you’re crying right now? No.” The rest of the video hold this tense atmosphere, as we see Mike’s attempt at parenting the DaddyOFive children.

There’s an established pattern of behavior on the DaddyOFive YouTube videos. A YouTuber by the name of Mister Metokur has an analysis of this up on his channel, where he goes over the tone and mood of the videos themselves. He provides a series of instances of emotional abuse (many of which are different from my own) when it came to how Mike treated Cody Martin.

This is what led YouTube’s Philip DeFranco to shine a spotlight on the situation. It was based on the concerns people already had.

DeFranco began on April 17th with WOW… We Need To Talk About This…, bringing attention to the DaddyOFive YouTube channel. He tells us the vlog/prank channel that heavily involved the family’s children was receiving blowback for an invisible ink prank video. Heather Martin devised a scheme to dump this ink all over a bedroom floor and blame Cody for the mess.

The original video he’s referring to was uploaded five days earlier on the 12th according to DaddyOFive’s Twitter. YouTube removed it “for violating YouTube’s policy on harassment and bullying,” but mirrors exist for the sake of providing context.

(UPDATE: Well. They were. YouTube is taking mirrors of DaddyOFive videos down.)

While the introduction is sweet, the carrying out of this prank is nothing short of harrowing. Escalating into screeching, shouting, and excessive swearing from Mike and Heather to the child. Cody repeatedly explains to them until he’s visibly red in the face that he had no idea what they were talking about, while the other DaddyOFive children look visibly uncomfortable and stressed all the meanwhile.

“What I saw in the video […] is emotional abuse,” says a licensed therapist that responded to the situation.

A psychologist had this to say, when Inside Edition reported on the video:

Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere told Inside Edition, “It may have been well-intentioned and maybe they thought it was funny, but I saw it as something that was very difficult for the kids to go through.

After publishing this to YouTube, there was a public outcry of concern from viewers. One of these concerned parties was worried that Cody had suffered bleeding after he was shoved into a bookshelf during the TABLET DESTRUCTION video. Denying it and saying it was red ink (that just happened to be in the same place on Cody’s pillow where his nose was), Mike Martin would end up replying to people’s unease with a video. BLOCKING ALL THE HATERS! uploaded on April 16th addressed the invisible ink prank. While the video itself was made private, the Twitter thread from DaddyOFive on the subject shows people were already very concerned about what was going on here. Mike and Heather Martin treated the allegation of child abuse as if it wasn’t of any concern. Under the eye of the camera, the DaddyOFive kids say they are not traumatized. And that people are just jealous of their YouTube channel. Heather takes it further and accuses the “haters” expressing their worries as the problem to the family. Onward further still, she claims the family was already investigated by child protective services and says to the viewers that nothing was found.

Phil takes the time to explain that he’s biased when it comes to reporting child abuse stories as he was a victim of that himself, but he assures viewers he still tries to go about it as fairly even as possible.

Philly D followed up with the story, releasing “YouTube Abuse Scandal Apology And Why It Fails To Fix Anything” on the 18th. He tells us the media traction was gaining on the DaddyOFive situation, getting coverage from a multitude of outlets.

We have had a family meeting and reviewed many comments and concerns. We discussed different alternatives for our future videos and ways we can improve. We deeply apologize for your feelings of concern. We DO NO condone child abuse in any way, shape, or form. As many of our friends and family would tell you we are a loving, close knit family and all enjoy making YouTube videos and having fun together. Thank you for your love and support. Sincerely, TEAM D.O.5

Phil himself wa