I don’t think that I have ever mentioned it before, but a couple of months ago I started to talk to SidAlpha (a pretty famous Gaming Youtuber) via Twitter. Well, long story short. I started to watch some of SidAlpha’s videos, and I truly enjoyed his content. So I kept in touch with SidAlpha over time, and good thing that, because just recently I found out that Sid has gone through quite a lot of defamation and privacy complaints-related problems with Alex Mauer (a game composer) and Andrew Watt (the developer of “Blood of old”). That’s also why I decided to do an interview with SidAlpha. So we talked about everything from Youtube censorship, the Alex Mauer and Andrew Watt drama, games journalism, EA’s greed with “Star Wars: Battlefront 2” to #GamerGate.
So without further ado, please enjoy our interview with SidAlpha =)
I’m going to start off this interview by letting you introduce yourself to our readers. So, could you give us a brief introduction of yourself?
Well, put plainly I am a YouTuber. My content focuses mainly on the Gaming Industry, more specifically as a critical commentary channel involving both the Triple A industry as well as the Indie scene. I do also create First Impressions critiques and reviews, although the trajectory of my channel as slowly moved much more towards the critical commentary aspects. I have been doing this since May of 2015 and during this last year, I have been involved in a number of storied events, including the debacles surrounding Dentola Studios, Digital Homicide, Fur-Fun, Silicon Echo, and Alex Mauer as the most notable among them.
You are said to be “Youtube’s most honest Gaming critic” (your own words), and due to the fact that you have been active on Youtube since 2007. Well, do you think that’s a good and truthful description of yourself? I’m asking this since “some” people (like that one certain indie game developer, you know who) claims that you are not showing the whole truth in your videos.
My account might have been active on YouTube since 2007, but my first video was not posted until 2015. It was a rather poorly done piece involving the Skyrim Paid Mods controversy. And yes, I think my track record in that tends to speak for itself. I’ve always ascribed to the notion that if you’re always honest with your viewers, then you won’t ever have to worry about anyone “finding anything out”. It follows along with my mentality that my viewers are worthy of respect and part of that respect lies in being honest and making corrections when something was related incorrectly. With a channel like mine, integrity is key. Without that, I would not have garnered the following that I have.
Just recently you got into a lot of heat with Alex Mauer due to privacy complaints, and you even said that she might sue you now? So what exactly has happened here? And why? Furthermore, what do you plan to do about it?
Leonard J. French (“Imagos files Motion to Strike the late response of Alex Mauer”)
Leonard J. French (Copyright Attorney * Geek * Youtube Channel Host) – Imagos WINS! Alex Mauer agrees ‘no more DMCAs!
UPDATE: Alex Mauer list of DMCA strikes (video by SidAlpha)
SidAlpha Vs Alex Mauer on Twitter – Part 1
SidAlpha Vs Alex Mauer on Twitter – Part2 (side note by Sid Alpha ” nothing came of that. Just Mauer spouting off”)
I don’t recall saying that she might sue, but I can understand how that might come across to people. What happened there specifically is that in some of my videos, I showed a corner of a picture of Mauer’s birth certificate that Mauer had sent both myself and Leonard French via email. Out of a concern for potential doxxing, I redacted her parent’s names as well as anyone’s direct email addresses from the image. It did, however, show Mauer’s FULL name, including middle name which Mauer stated as being her deadname.
This is something I was unaware of at the time and in retrospect, even though I personally hold no respect for Mauer as a person I can see how that would look to others of the Trans community and had I known what I know now, I most likely would have redacted the middle name at the very least. As a result of that, Mauer has gone to extreme lengths to get that content taken down including a spurious DMCA strike and now at the behest of one Andrew Watt; she has filed a privacy complaint against my channel alongside him in order to both remove the content from public view and to cause direct harm to my channel, possibly even to the point of getting it taken down.
What I plan to do involves multiple steps, and it will involve legal intervention. First, I will need to wait for YouTube to finish their internal review of the videos and after that I will be able to gauge the severity. However, there is a host of legal doctrine in my favor involving these privacy complaints that, at least in the case of Andrew Watt, YouTube seems to be ignoring.
Have you ever had problems with Alex Mauer before? Because I’ve been told that Mauer has caused a lot of drama in the past with other Youtubers and even game developers (such like in the case with “River City Ransom: Underground”, where Mauer filed a copyright claim to take down the game due to copyright problems).
SidAlpha (“Alex Mauer: The Lawsuit Settlement with Imagos”)
One Angry Gamer
DC Conatus via Steam (the developers of “River City Ransom: Underground”)
TemmieNeko via Steam (A Steam and Youtube user)
That was actually how I came to be involved at all. Some smaller Youtube channels were noting that this person was issuing DMCA strikes on their gameplay footage of Starr Mazer DSP. As a result of that, I began contacting those YouTubers effected for their stories as well as Alex Mauer in order to find out what was going on. After receiving all of the information from Mauer in which she tried to pass the buck off to Imagos Films in regards to the DMCA strikes in what seemed to be an effort to force Content Creators to become her own hammer to use against them (something that failed miserably, I might add), I reached out to Imagos and got their take on it as well.
Even then, I knew this was a severe issue and a massive abuse of the DMCA system, but no one could have imagined just how bad it would get. Through the course of a metric ton of videos I released on the debacle, I’ve been forced to deal with an attempted DMCA strike, multiple attempted privacy complaints (on the same videos), and even death threats from Mauer.
Is it true that Andrew Watt (musician) is trying to shut your Youtube channel down? And that Alex Mauer is now attacking your Youtube channel as well?
Absolutely. Watt himself stated and I quote: “You will pay, final word. I will ruin you like you ruined me, but I will ruin you a million times worse” followed with “You won’t even want to live when I’m done with you”.
Furthermore, I have received screenshots from both of them, still somehow bickering with each other and attempting to play mind games with me that show they are in direct collaboration with each other. This was also apparent when the two most-recent batches of Privacy complaints from both individuals came in within mere moments of each other in each instance.
Blood of Old – The Rise To Greatness via Steam
SidAlpha (“Dirty Devs: Blood of Old Developer threatens DMCA and Lawsuit against me”)
SidAlpha (“An Update on the Andrew Watt and Alex Mauer attacks on my channel”)
SidAlpha via Twitter
I got a follow-up question on the same subject. Have you reached out to any big Youtube names about this matter for help? Because I bet that Alpha Omega Sin would love to take a swing at this topic for sure. Furthermore, have you sought any legal help? (the Video Game Attorney might be able to help you out, @MrRyanMorrison).
I’ve always tried to be an open book, but with larger channels, I am still but one voice in a vast ocean and quite frankly, most of the time I doubt they even see that I’d sent them anything. I would welcome larger channels tackling this though as it doesn’t just represent a risk to my channel, it represents a potential new attack plane for bad actors to go after content creators in spite of the legal system as YouTube reserves the right to treat these privacy complaints as they see fit.
And I am currently reaching out to multiple attorneys both within the US, as well as the UK and Scotland And Ryan Morrison will be receiving a message from me as will at least four others that I am aware of.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to start some kind of a Youtube union/legal help organization or something like that? Because I just feel like you’re dead in the water when you get DMCA claims and so on. I mean, most Youtuber’s don’t even know where they should turn for help and legal counseling. I for one had to find all that stuff out for myself by talking to my own lawyer, people in the movie industry and other Youtuber’s with more knowledge than me.
I’m sure that would be helpful to a certain extent, except that in many of these issues and cases; each is somewhat unique. However, once the Alex Mauer case is closed (which I hear there may have been some settlement reached), I will be repurposing the domain that I purchased; suckmydmca.com and I will be generating a help site there that will give instruction on what to look out for to avoid DMCA strikes, what to do when you do get hit with a DMCA strike, the differences between DMCA and contentID, and so forth. I also had to figure this all out for myself while having my channel under fire with spurious claims. It can be extremely stressful, especially for people who haven’t gone through it before.
What’s your take on loot boxes, microtransactions, pay-2-win and similar “business practices”?
I could go on for hours in regards to how predatory these business practices have become. It’s surprising to me though to see so many people only now waking up to the fact. Loot boxes themselves are hotly debated as to whether or not they are gambling where the argument is centered around the outcome. However, that’s a flawed premise. The large factor in regards to gambling isn’t the outcome; it’s the risk. Let’s take Overwatch, as that is commonly accepted by most gamers as “acceptable” given it is cosmetic only.
Activision-Blizzard still makes astronomical sums of money, and it is because of the act, the anticipation, the “I might get something really cool!” aspect that precisely mirrors gambling in every way, they merely have skirted the law to date because of the outcome not being monetary in nature. They even went to extreme lengths and spent millions of dollars bypassing China’s requirement that they disclose drop percentages on individual items. Oh, they do disclose drop rates for tiers, but for specific items, they flat-out refuse to. That way, they are free to manipulate the drop rates of individual items in order to maximize the desire FOR those items in order to prompt people to buy more loot boxes.
Pay to win is also something that I find highly abhorrent as it is still excused as people “paying to catch-up” which now REALLY means “pay to avoid the grind” and “pay for early advantage”, which is essentially Dame Developers placing you in a position where you literally pay them money to avoid playing their game. It allows for less creative content and more predatory practices. Battlefront 2 EA is a perfect storm of greed and manipulation in that right that is tacked onto what is in actuality an incredibly mediocre game.
Funny that you brought up “Star Wars: Battlefront” 2, because just recently you made a video about a petition to remove the “Star Wars” licence from EA, and a video about SWBF2 and the Reddit AMA aftermath and the gambling aspects of it all. So what’s your thoughts on EA as a company and SWFB2 as of today?
EA response to ‘Battlefront II’ complaint (it’s now THE most downvoted comment in Reddit history)
Star Wars Battlefront 2 AMA relevant replies
Star Wars Battlefront 2 AMA track list over responses
EA, as have most other Triple A Publishers, have gone all-in on microtransactions within video games as they’ve learned they can more than double their income by their implementation that is nearly 100% pure profit. This idea of “recurring revenue” with microtransactions has spawned from the laziest possible implementation of “Games as a Service” that they could come up with. My opinions of EA and of their Star Wars titles in general are most certainly NOT complimentary, especially not with Battlefront 2 EA.
A game that, while yes is visually impressive, offers a lackluster and pointlessly dull campaign story, and also it’s multiplayer falls prey to the same trappings of the first title with the added negatives of the star cards and loot boxes being tied to progression.
I would love to hear your thoughts about Youtube’s Adpocalypse 2.0, Youtube’s demonetization madness and the PC/SJW cancer that’s been taking over Youtube more and more as of lately.
In regards to the Adpocalypse 2.0 (I’m guessing you mean about the child videos). I am frustrated that those sort of videos even exist on the platform and while I do feel that YouTube has surrendered their market power out of a position of fear, which is induced from the socio-political culture at the corporate level, I don’t disagree with those advertisers not wanting their brand shown on that sort of content. You have to understand that YouTube is not the cash-cow that it at first was and that is where some of their fear comes in. It is also that lack of profitability and that general lack of improvements to the infrastructure of the site outside of newer systems designed to pull in even more money that caused this issue to begin with. Google would need to invest some serious funds into Youtube in order to bring it up to the point that it needs to be.
If that doesn’t happen, then there is really only one of two options: 1) YouTube moves away from the smaller content creators and transitions more into a video streaming service along the lines of Netflix and Hulu or 2) a larger entity produces a video streaming site actually capable of competing with YouTube and content creators abandon YouTube, which would bury the site. As far as the SJW/PC/Far Left, and even “Alt Right”, to my mind, both are very extreme sides to the same distasteful coin. However, I have always been of a mind that everyone should be free to believe what they want to believe and live their lives how they choose. As long as you are not hurting anyone else, then you do you.
It’s only when either extreme actively attempts to impose their will or their own sense of ideals on others that it becomes a problem. Me? I try to avoid it altogether. I suppose you could call me one of those “radical centrists” that both sides tend to hate. Sometimes I will agree with one side, sometimes the other. I don’t want my channel or my content to be politicized. I just want to talk about the thing that I am passionate about, which is games. All of that political nonsense can be left to those who actually do have an interest in it.
What’s your thoughts on censorship in games and the present PC/SJW cancer that is spreading throughout the games industry? (minus Asia, especially Japan). I’m also curious to know what you think about the current state of “games journalism” (just take the case with “Cuphead”, the game has been called “racist”, “sexist” and even “elitist garbage” by a certain group of people).
Censorship is an all too common problem within the Games Industry. Whether it be Triple A Publishers, Shady Developers, or Social activists on either side of the spectrum, censorship is a common tool in order to make certain the only information getting out there is your own. This method of information control is inherently dishonest and anti-consumer and is born of a position of fear and an unwillingness to entertain new or possibly better ideas or even ideals. As a person whose channel focuses on consumer advocacy, I find censorship absolutely abhorrent and a despicable method of information control. The best pro-consumer market and the most free populace are both tied to the same thing: free and unfettered access to pertinent information.
An uninformed consumer is just as easy to dupe as an uneducated populace is easy to control by a corrupt government. Those who seek to remove knowledge and information from the public eye in order to better shield themselves are the epitome of a coward and aren’t worthy of your time or your money. As for Cuphead being racist, sexist, or elitist garbage? I just have to laugh. As those are people attempting to inject their own inferences and biases onto others, and it is completely ridiculous for about a dozen different reasons.
Well, look at that. I almost forgot to ask you about how did you come up with your name (shame on me). So how did you end up with the name “SidAlpha”? And I’m also curious to know if you’ve been a Gamer for a long time? (when, how and where did you get interested in video games?).
The name and Logo of “SidAlpha” was actually born out of a somewhat drunken decision involving one too many glasses of Irish Whiskey. Sid is my first name, so that part is obvious. However, while many ascribe the alpha part to the Twin-Wolf logo, it was actually born from the Latin form of Alpha, meaning the beginning.
So “SidAlpha” is me. It’s my new beginning. For better or worse, I’d been wanting to start-up a YouTube channel for about 5 years and finally on a whim I decided that I should just do it now, otherwise I never would. And so I did. And I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I’m 38 now, but I remember playing on my dad’s Commodore 64 and Atari 2600 when I was 4 years old. So quite literally, I’ve been a lifelong Gamer and I plan to stay that way.
This question is a must ask for me, and it concerns ethics and transparency in games journalism and in the games industry. So do you think that matters have become worse or better as of lately? (counting from 2014). A good example of this (shady ethics and business practices) would be when IGN bought Humble Bundle, as IGN’s future reviews and so on could become a conflict of interest case.
I think that the matter of ethics in journalism unfortunately have remained about static over the past several years. While yes, IGN’s future reviews could very well be compromised born out of a desire to promote titles sold through the Humble store, it is that inherent mistrust of traditional Games Media which even warrants that being a concern. We had the same thing when Gamestop bought the parent company of Game Informer, and we can all see what a colossal joke that publication had become. That one single joke of a publication gave birth to the 10 point review system that seems to start with the number 7 and work its way up.
We also see it in some (not all) articles on other sites like Kotaku where you have Games Journos injecting their own social and/or political beliefs into articles discussing a game’s release. It seems that in most circles, Journalistic ethics seem to go straight out the window and have instead been replaced with socio/political propagandizing and quests for corporate or personal gain. That’s not to say that all Journos are like that, not by any stretch of the imagination.
I’ve actually learned a great deal from some journalists and there are others that absolutely amaze me with their attention to detail and making sure that all points have been properly vetted before releasing an article. Unfortunately, 90% of what we get is copy/paste garbage with 5-20% changes made just to make oneself feel better. It is the current state of Games Journalism that has given rise to the YouTube Journalism and Punditry channels like mine. You know, channels which absolutely rely on their integrity in the eyes of their viewers? People who come at these subjects with passion in their hearts as opposed to dollar signs in their eyes.
Speaking of ethics in games journalism and in the games industry as a whole. What’s your take on #GamerGate? And do you have a history with GG? (The Internet Aristocrat, for example, does indeed have a history with GG).
I wasn’t ever involved with GG, but I can definitely see where it came from and how it got started and to see it just be associated with Nazis and white nationals in most people’s eyes is an extreme disappointment. The ideals behind ethics in Games Journalism and equality are definitely ones that I espouse.
You know, sexism in general I never really understood, but especially not in video games. Of course, I’ve always been one that has always just treated everyone as a person, no matter the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or their religion. Everyone is worth the same considerations due to anyone else and to see the social quagmire that surrounds GG and Anti-GG sentiments is simply astonishing.
What’s your plans, hopes and expectations for the rest of the year? And what’s your plans for 2018?
Well, it’s tough to say really. Right now, thanks to Andrew Watt and Alex Mauer I don’t even know if I’ll HAVE a channel in a month, let alone 2018. However, it does seem like every time one of these bad actors comes after me; I manage to find a way through, and my channel grows stronger because of it. So I had hoped to reach 100k by the end of the year, but it’s doubtful I’ll even break 70k. That said, I do have hopes of breaking 100k and still be able to take my channel full-time sometime around my birthday (June) and barring that, it’s all but a certainty that I will be able to go full-time this time next year.
I know that’s a dream for many YouTubers and to see it even being a remote possibility, let alone a potentially foregone conclusion, is still enough o put me into a daze. Still, If/when it happens, then I plan on more videos, higher production values, and maybe even visiting some conventions in 2018. Finally get out there and mix things up a bit. One thing’s for certain; I thought I could make an impact on the industry and in 2017, I’ve shown that I’m more than capable of doing just that. I’m looking to do much more of the same in 2018; that’s for sure.
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
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