Since there´s been a lot of stuff going on in the games industry as of lately (Wow, the Treehouse scandals, the developer blacklists and so on). I decided to sit down and talk about these matters with Mark Kern. And good thing that, since the outcome of it all was very rewarding. And due to the fact that I haven´t done an interview with Kern since December last year, I really tried to get a status update on LFG and Kern´s new game. So I hope that you will enjoy my interview with Kern.

Robin TGG
Not so long ago you tweeted out that Polygon, Kotaku and Rock, Paper, Shotgun had added you to their developer blacklist:

“For all those new in my feed, this is a red-pill moment. @Kotaku, @Polygon and @rockpapershot have a developer blacklist, and I’m on it.” – Mark Kern (http://archive.is/y2Fh6)

So what´s your take on that matter today? And has anyone from Polygon, Kotaku or Rock, Paper, Shotgunreached out to you about this?

Mark Kern
Ever since I heavily critiqued these gaming news sites for attacking their customers (gamers are dead, geeks are bad, etc. ) and failing to support positivity in gaming, they started to do things like deny my right of reply when they wrote an article about me (VG247), etc. it only got worse when I spoke out openly about the corruption I saw (and enabled as a publisher) in-game media coverage.

When these particular sites wrote about the petition, they would fail to mention my involvement as the former team lead of WoW and my upcoming meeting with Blizzard’s CEO over the legacy issue. I know for a fact that VG247 and Kotaku blacklists myself and my projects, but these other sites seem to be going out of their way to never mention my involvement in the legend servers movement.

mark kern world of warcraft

Mark Kern´s open letter video to Blizzard, became a huge success on Youtube.

Robin TGG
I think it´s safe to say that your “Open Letter to Blizzard Entertainment from Mark Kern” video made a big impact on Youtube (thanks KungenTV!), as the video has over 300K views at the moment. Even so, though, I´m curious to know your thoughts on the video. How did it even come about? How has the response been so far? (positive Vs negative feedback), and are you satisfied with the outcome?

Mark Kern
I wanted to get the petition to be spread far and wide and capture Blizzards attention. Video is the best way to do this and we got crazy views, 500k over two channels. Mike Morhaime, Blizzards CEO, told me he watched the video himself and that’s when we were able to get him to commit with taking a meeting. So yes, it worked and we got great results.

blizzards j allen brack

Mr. Allen Brack himself in person.

Robin TGG
What´s your take on J. Allen Brack´s Wow post on the Battle.net´s forum? (http://archive.is/v9VL6). And how are things going between you and Mike Morhaime? I would also like to know your thoughts on the legacy server petition, since the petition has over 250K supports to this day.

Mark Kern
I’ve been pretty clear in my opinion that pristine servers are not what people want as the final result. A good step maybe, but people want the old content and bosses and zones which pristine would provide. I also believe he is wrong about the licensing issue, as I used to work extensively on these agreements with the legal dept when I was at Blizzard.

But the biggest problem I had with his statement that it would be too hard to get legacy games working on the new bnet platform is the fact that they already do this for three legacy games, including Diablo 2, a game I produced, which had an extensive back-end of hosted servers like WoW. If they can do it for those three games, which are not significant revenue streams for Blizzard, why can’t they do it for WoW which still makes them tons of money?

Robin TGG
As you might know, there has been a lot of fuss in the case with Social Autopsy, Kickstarter, Zoé Quinn and Randi Harper as of lately. So what´s your take on that matter?

Mark Kern
That’s just a huge mess of finger-pointing. I believe Candice and social autopsy are very good at playing the media game. I don’t think they add much value and I really prefer not to comment on it.

mark kerns league for gamers

LFG hopes to bring some light into the video games industry.

Robin TGG
How has the reaction on our LFG interview with you been from Japanese and South Korean Gamers, game developers and Publishers so far? And has anyone reached out to you about the interview?

Mark Kern
We got a lot of social media coverage in Japan. Some devs also responded positively in public to our efforts to get Japanese games to stop censoring their games for the west. But we need to do much more. I want to get in contact directly with some of these Japanese developers.

Robin TGG
On a personal level, I have a lot of respect for game studios such as Huniepot, Degica Games and XSEED Games. As they don´t change their games to avoid offending anyone. Do you think more game developers should follow their lead? And is there something that League for Gamers can do in-order to give game developers (and publishers) more courage to stick to their original game creations? (especially when it comes to Western localizations of Japanese games).

Mark Kern
Yes! It’s great that they are sticking by their guns. LFG can help out by establishing more connections with Japanese press and developers to help educate them on the US market and the politics which, while crying loudly for censoring games, turn out to have little impact on actual sales.

did treehouse butcher fire emblem fates with their sjw nonsense

I think it´s safe to say that Treehouse has caused quite a few scandals in a very short perioid of time.

Robin TGG
What´s your thoughts on the past Treehouse scandals and their bad localization of “Fire Emblem: Fates”? And have you ever heard or experienced anything quite like this in the games industry before?

Mark Kern
I am very disappointed in Nintendo’s Treehouse for butchering and continuing to butcher the localization and content of these games to appease the perpetually offended. I believe Nintendo already has a marketshare problem and Treehouse is going to continue to do damage to their reputation and sales. You’re going to see more boycotts and more going overseas to buy non-censored versions. Treehouse also treats their customers complaints with arrogance and mocking. This is not appropriate for a major video game company. Nintendo should scrap the whole house and restaff it and train then in better customer relations and how to better honor designers creative vision.

Robin TGG
I have a slight memory of you mentioning something about working on a new game, if so. Is that something which you could elaborate a bit more about today?

Mark Kern
I am working on a tabletop, space opera role-playing game at www.crixa.io It is a passion project that echoes classic space opera games like Traveller but with a unique space battle system that can be played on its own as a miniatures game. The miniatures themselves can be made yourself with a 3D printer. We provide the files. The game is in early stages of design, a process I am making public on the website so everyone can follow along.

tarah aggressive navel

I guess that this is what a “aggressive navel” looks like.

Robin TGG
As you might already know, PAX has once again banned “aggressive display of cleavage and navel” from their events, but there is still an ongoing confusion over what that exactly means? And there seems to be a very thin line between “aggressive” and “non aggressive” cleavage and navel as well. So I´m curious to know what you think about all of this?

Mark Kern
It’s hilariously and vaguely worded. This is a bad piece of rule drafting because it can allow a lot of wiggle room for the perpetually offended to get people they don’t like thrown out of conventions. It’s also antiquated by today’s cosplay standards and should just be stricken at this point.

milo yiannopoulos

Milo Yiannopoulos, the most fabulous and dangerous fagget there is.

Robin TGG
Not so long ago I was informed that Milo Yiannopoulos college speeches are now the same thing as “hate speech”. And to make matters even worse, USC (University of Southern California) canceled the “legends of games industry” event (Riot Games CEO and Blizzard´s lead designer were supposed to speak at the event) because the panel didn´t have any women in it. What´s your take on this? And what can be done in-order to avoid nonsense such as this in the future?

Source:
http://archive.is/W9WWk
http://archive.is/bFWqz

Mark Kern
We have to stop branding polite political discourse of the views held by 50% of the population as hate speech. This is just a pure propaganda to attempt to silence the legitimate, polite and intelligent discussion of some of the biggest issues of our time. Students have to become comfortable debating these ideas instead of just trying to shut it down, pull fire alarms to cancel events, or heckle speakers during events. Universities need to start teaching manners, proper exchange of differing ideas and basic civil discourse instead of coddling the childish antics of these students who have been pumped full of hate by some of their professors misguided teachings.

Robin TGG
By the end of last month (April) I found out that Randi Harper is working on a blocklist of people who´s following Brietbart (http://archive.is/wBKec):

“Script is running to generate a blocklist for people following breitbart related accounts. Should take a while. Updates later today.” – Randi Harper (http://archive.is/ALSib)

So, what´s your thoughts on that?

Mark Kern
I don’t like block lists. I think they create echo chambers and divide rather than unite us. They prevent discussion and communication and just entrench people into social media bunkers. It’s awful.

Robin TGG
Is it just me, or do video game events feel like they´re less about games, and more about pushing agendas nowadays? (“We are developers not gamers”). Speaking of which, I actually remember one of your old tweets on the matter:

“Why is GDC so bent on using games as a brain washing tool to teach one particular ideology? What happened to fun?” – Mark Kern

Mark Kern
Games are still games, but there is a growing hubris about elevating all games art and in social importance. Unfortunately many of these events cater to this ivory tower concepts and we have a lot of poor quality talks being promoted that don’t really have any practical impact on making or

Playing great games. They have become ego stroking academic circle-jerks for an ensconced few to pat each other on the back every year and give each other awards.

scott kurtz vs gamergate

I don´t agree with Kurtz at all, but if that´s his oppinion. Then so be it.

Robin TGG
Earlier today (2016-04-29) Scott Kurtz (An American web comic artist, the creator of the online comic-strip “PvP”) stated the following: 

“I disagree. Gamergate is a hate group. And they’re on the wrong side of not only history, but decency. Good luck to you.” – Scott Kurtz (https://archive.is/AjCMD)

Don´t you think it´s a “little” bit strange that Kurtz didn´t add some evidence to back up his claim? I have also noticed that quite a few people are using GG as a boogeyman of sorts to get free pr and win some political correctness points.

Mark Kern
My stance in min Gamergate is pretty clear. After three months of my own research, I know Gamergate is not a hate group. Many believe this because the media told them so. But the media deliberately painted GG as such because GG was attacking their corruption and costing them millions in ad revenue. Unfortunately, instead of covering be issue fairly, to protect their monetary interests they lied. I can’t believe it, but I saw it with my own eyes. I guess the media is more about money these days than the truth. If you doubt this, show me a single article where a Gamergate smear article ever reached out to Gamergate for a response or statement. Real journalism always requests statements from both sides. It’s telling that none of hear article ever do.

anita sarkeesian twitter safety council

Well, to be fair. Twitter has been dying for quite sometime now.

Robin TGG
I´m probably not the only person out there that´s concerned over the fact that Anita Sarkeesian is a part of the “Twitter Trust & Safety Council”, and that Saudi Arabia is the second biggest shareholder of Twitter. Because it really feels like the digital (and real) world is becoming more and more like George Orwell´s “1984” book. In my opinion, this is a battle against free speech and the truth. So what do you think about all of this?

Mark Kern
Twitter actively filters users they disagree with. We’ve done tests with my followers and we can actually see this for ourselves. I think it’s dangerous to filter content and users for normal tweets just because they don’t like you opinion. Twitters trust and safety council is using these tools on guidelines they are making up as they go along and never disclosed to their customers. It’s no wonder Twitters stock is tanking. Twitter engagement requires an open network. Censoring it kills their user engagement and we have been seeing real financial and user metric impacts from this horrific strategy.

the witcher 3 sexist game design

“Sexist” game design Vs “Feminst” game design.

Robin TGG
Do you think we now have reached a point in the games industry where it´s almost impossible for game developers to create what they want, without being labeled as “sexist”, “racist” or “homo/transphobic” due to loud minority voices? (on one level or another).

“Everything is sexist, everything is racist, everything is homophobic and you have to point it all out” – Anita Sarkeesian

Mark Kern
Yes. No matter what you make, today’s entitled victim culture will try to make it about their agenda and berate you for it. But who cares? I have not seen any tangible negative effect on sales. In fact, if a developer stands by their work, they are seen as heroes by gamers and it has actually propelled sales.

world of warcraft

Wow isn´t quite the same game as it was back in 2004.

Robin TGG
Do you think that Blizzard has lost touch with their fans? (especially in the case with “Diablo 3” and Wow”). And what do you think is the biggest difference between the 2016 edition of Blizzard, and the Blizzard that you worked for in the late 90s and early 2000s?

Mark Kern
I don’t know. I haven’t worked there since after vanilla WoW. But I do see that they are a huge company now, and that always poses challenges for connecting with your customers and keeping the innovative fire going.

pax prime aggressive navels

By PAX “aggressive navel” standards, Jessica Nigri has to be the queen of aggressive navel.

Robin TGG
What´s your plans for 2016? How´s LFG going? And will you visit any Gaming events this year?

Mark Kern
I don’t like to travel, but I will be starting to again to promote both LFG and my tabletop game. Expect to see me a PAX prime this year with my aggressive navel. 🙂

ddd

tgg author avatar robin ek
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

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