NeoGAF temporarily offline following sexual assault claims, exodus of staff

Popular gaming forum NeoGAF has been inaccessible for almost two days and remains offline following the accusations of sexual assault against the owner and founder, Tyler “Evilore” Malka. Many members and staff stepped away from the forum in protest of the allegations against Malka.

The exodus stemmed from a Facebook post last week Tuesday where film director Ima Leupp posted about her history of sexual assault. The post was part of the #MeToo movement where women and men acknowledge their personal history with sexual assault. This hashtag movement was a sign of solidarity following the revelations of powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein. In the post, she recounted an incident in 2015 involving a friend who sexually assaulted her. At first she was hesitant to name this perpetrator and friend, but after some responses to the post she revealed the name in a very clear and direct message. She posted: “F*ck it. Google Evilore”.

Leupp went into detail about the alleged encounter in her original post. One evening on a trip with Malka to New Orleans, she felt ill and returned to her room and to take a shower. During this time, Malka walked up naked behind Leupp in the shower to her surprise. She noted she was in a relationship at the time and told Malka to leave immediately. She never consented to Malka joining her and after throwing him out noted that his demeanour changed towards her. “He got out and slowly started resenting me, being mean to me and ignoring me… in a city he drove me to.” She withheld this information because she feared the backlash and retaliation from her “semi-famous” friend. She believed she could not afford to defend herself and his power might hurt her career and personal life if she spoke out.

This is not Malka’s first reported case of sexual assault. The first was a self-professed incident that took place in 2012. Malka told a story on NeoGAF of how he intentionally grabbed a woman without consent. He was in Spain at the time and posted about how a girl at a party requested that he purchase her a drink. In order not to be “taken advantage of”, he grabbed her inappropriately. While Malka did acknowledge it was inappropriate, he defends the incident by noting they were drunk. He claims, “it was dumb, yes, on both sides”.

Once Leupp’s Facebook post was shared among forum users, the internal crisis commenced. It was only over the weekend that the story spread across all members before it became a prominent topic. Many of those who were angry and upset by the news requested permabans in bulk. On NeoGAF, a permaban was considered the ultimate step of protest against the website. Yet it was not only well-known and respected members who took a stand, many of the website’s moderators and staff members stepped down, setting an example for others. Watching the website before being taken down, was like watching it descend into chaos.

Captured above, was just one of the threads where members requested to be removed from the website. This one was playing on a common NeoGAF post, but very to-the-point in the message and it has been shared across the majority of the NeoGAF coverage.

Besada was one of the staff moderators to take a stand and step down from the position following the news. They joined a reported nine other mods who walked away from the website.

With NeoGAF being down for, what is, an indefinite amount of time, many of the forum’s near 200,000 members are at a loss. NeoGAF amassed quite a following since its launch in 2004 – the website was used by industry executives, developers, journalists and fans. It became another avenue for direct communication and growing internal communities. In many ways, NeoGAF grew into its own bubble at times. Members felt safer than other less moderated online forums and it housed many deep discussions. It was a prominent news source and also had members who provided incredible additions to the video game news cycle.

NeoGAF was a left-leaning video game forum. One reason it housed so many members was due to a very staunch anti-bigotry stance. Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio reported however that the website’s own political views and Malka’s were not always on the same level. One of the most prominent examples of this came from Malka’s recent criticisms of a #MeToo post levelled against a famous YouTuber. Other issues include banning those who found issue with Malka’s comments. The Kotaku article goes into further detail of how the website’s tone started being less friendly to feminism and how female posters started to leave over the years.

NeoGAF over the last decade and a half has also faced harsh criticism from many different sources. Certain members of the gaming media saw it as a destructive force that provided little to no benefit. Others believed in mob mentality, when it came to members at times, moving into attacking figures of the video game world. Just this year, we reported how the creative director of Rime was brought to tears while reading NeoGAF due to the harsh comments.

Now, many of the previous members who either walked out or were left in the lurch, have been looking for alternatives. Those who are somewhat lost without the community have moved to the NeoGAF Discord channel. As of now, it is invite-only and under heavy moderation following the influx of stranded members.

Regardless of when NeoGAF returns, the website will likely never fully recover from this incident. While the website is down, some have been able to recreate the website in the state right before it was shut down. This can at least serve as a history of the website and still act as a relevant source of information.

A moderator account called Modbot posted on Saturday that a statement was going to be released. As of now, Malka has yet to comment on the allegations or the current state of his website. No announcement has been made as to when NeoGAF will return – but the longer it lasts, the more members have already found new forums.

  • Space Chief (Iron Sharp)

    Hopefully shut down for good.

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