Salutations, y’all! Emily Durham here, happy to join you this week as your newest co-GYGO-er. Co-Getter of Games On? I’m a copyeditor for Sidequest and now I do GYGO too. Regardless of my title, I’m looking forward to periodically bringing you the latest weekly gaming news!
A WHOLE LOT happened this week, so let’s just get right to it, shall we?
What the Hell is Going on with Ellie?
So I haven’t personally played Overwatch and I’m not interested in doing so, but I’m still really pissed off about the whole Ellie drama that happened this week. In fact, it’s not just drama, it’s a full-blown scandal, a terrible gift that just won’t stop giving.
Buckle up, folks:
In December 2018, Overwatch Contenders team Second Wind announced that they had added a new player named Ellie to their roster.
We're happy to announce @ellie_ow will be the newest addition to our roster for this season of Contenders!
— Second Wind (@SecondWindGG) December 22, 2018
Ellie, who just used her first name as her handle, would have been the first woman to play on a Contenders North America roster. Which, you know, says a lot. Ellie preferred to keep her anonymity, and because of her female-coded handle and relatively low online activity, people on the Competitive Overwatch subreddit almost immediately started questioning her legitimacy—and her identity.
Ellie was only a member of the team for *counts on fingers* eleven days before she resigned from the team for what Second Wind deemed “some unforeseen reactions.” Read: doxxing and harassing nonstop for not even two weeks.
Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen reactions, Ellie has opted to step down from the team. We hope you continue to support her in her ventures in Overwatch as we will
— Second Wind (@SecondWindGG) January 2, 2019
Ellie herself actually tweeted out screenshots of a Discord chat log that contained a banned, formerly high-ranked Overwatch player named Haunt, who was arguing in favor of doxxing her, you know. “Just to figure shit out.”
you know an esports scene has issues when a) someone identifying as a woman feels the need to hide her identity, and b) the community proceeds to demonstrate exactly why anyone would take those precautions in the first place https://t.co/GaVB7F8HS8
— nathan grayson (@Vahn16) January 3, 2019
U G H. And it gets a whole lot worse. According to an Overwatch League spokesperson who spoke to the Washington Post, “We found that ‘Ellie’ was a fabricated identity… created by a veteran player to obfuscate their identity.”
Apparently, Ellie WASN’T who she claimed to be. Aspen, a high-level Twitch streamer of Overwatch, revealed on January 4 that Ellie isn’t real, and that Ellie was a “social experiment” by PunisherOW, another male competitive Overwatch player who was playing the game and having female companions speak on his behalf as “Ellie.” Allegedly Punisher wanted to expose sexism in gaming through this stunt, but come on. Really?
Social experiment… social experiment… y'all should be so glad I can't reach through the internet right about now. https://t.co/zPwA9fFIV7
— Tanya DePass 💖💜💙 🔜 OrcaCon (@cypheroftyr) January 5, 2019
Second Wind issued a statement on January 5, stating that they were unaware of Ellie’s true identity when they onboarded her, as they don’t pay salaries or require personal information in order for their gamers to play.
Here’s the issue. Even though Ellie turned out to be a hoax, the competitive gaming community proved once again that women are not safe in esports. Even a fake female player was subject to this kind of doxxing and harassment, so to real female and nonbinary players, it was a clear display of you’re not welcome here. This case of doxxing, which revealed Ellie’s fake identity, will almost certainly be used to justify doxxing future female-presenting players.
I am seven goddamn thousand levels of livid about this Ellie situation. People involved aside, this "stunt" will have lasting ramifications for ANY woman/nb person trying to get into Contenders. They will ALL now be subject to "lol are you real??" harassment.
— Liz Richardson (@mizliz_) January 4, 2019
So it was a rough few weeks for female-presenting competitive Overwatch players and women and nonbinary players of all video games, and an especially tough day when Ellie was revealed to, indeed, have been a hoax. But I think Liz Richardson, the Managing Editor of Overwatchscore.com, said it best:
It was a hard day to be a woman in Overwatch esports. But you know what you can do to stick your middle finger in the air, if you have the energy?
Play the game. Stay angry. Stand up for other women in the scene. We get through this together. 💪
— Liz Richardson (@mizliz_) January 5, 2019
Soldier: 76 is Gay
In FAR BETTER (and more straightforward) Overwatch news, it’s canon, folks! Blizzard released a new short story called Bastet on January 7 that reveals that Soldier: 76 is gay. The author, Michael Chu, confirmed on Twitter that Jack Morrison, aka Soldier: 76, was once in a relationship with a man named Vincent, and that both identify as gay. HOORAY!
BASTET: A fierce protector arises from the shadows . . .
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) January 7, 2019
Thanks for all the messages about “Bastet”!
Jack and Vincent were in a romantic relationship many years ago. Both identify as gay. ❤️
— Michael Chu 🎉💼 (@westofhouse) January 7, 2019
I love Soldier 76's new voice line "I AM GAY AND PLAYING AS ME MAKES YOU GAY" and how his ult sends an email to your dad that reads DAD I'M GAY
— Blood Moon Jared Rosen (@notquitefrodo) January 7, 2019
Town of Salem’s Enormous Data Hack
Another yikes moment: I personally received an email on January 3 that popular browser-based RPG Town of Salem had been the victim of a data breach, and that although BlankMediaGames doesn’t take monetary payments and thus doesn’t collect financial data like credit card or PayPal information, my password, IP address, and personal identifying information may have been compromised.
When I got this email I didn’t think much of it, to be honest, but when I mentioned it to the Sidequest slack channel, I heard from another Sidequest contributor that they’d been unable to even log in to change their password. Turns out, over 7.6 MILLION Town of Salem users’ accounts were left with compromised data, and so many users were trying to log in all at once to change their passwords that the site was unintentionally being DDOSed by its own user base. The hack was first exposed on December 28, and BMG was slow to respond, it being the holiday break and all. But I, and many others, didn’t get emailed until January 3. BMG has, understandably, been criticized for their slow response to the incident, but according to their email, they have “implemented additional security measures designed to prevent a recurrence of such an attack” and are “working closely with law enforcement to ensure the incident is properly addressed.”
Meditation Games Project Prompts Concerns
On December 31, Rami Ismail of indie game studio Vlambeer, announced a 2019 initiative in which their launcher, Meditations, will load a small game every day and provide an accompanying text as a meditation, distraction, lesson, or inspiration for that day.
One morning in 2017, I played a short game that made me wish I had a new tiny game like it for every day of the year. So for all of 2018, I've asked hundreds of devs to make a small game. This launcher will serve you a new little game every day. https://t.co/uPfA18W59h
— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) January 1, 2019
On first glance this sounds great, but almost immediately, people caught onto a strange Meditations policy: the developers for each individual game not only won’t be announced before each game is released, but they won’t be announced until the end of the year. By choosing not to credit each developer immediately after each game is released, Ismail has caused many eyebrows to collectively raise.
is rami ismail seriously only publishing the list of the people who worked on this indie microgame launcher of his after it's over, by which point he will have gained massive exposure &no one will be paying enough attention to go "oh, i always wondered who did the March 2nd game"
— dot_lvl (@dot_lvl) January 2, 2019
Here’s a Twitter thread that addresses concerns around hiding the identities of the developers until 2020:
Here's a thread about a game project I became aware of today, and what disappoints me about it. First, I want to say that it is a tremendous idea and I deeply respect everyone behind it, which makes it more disappointing.
— 2 Mello (@MelloMakes) January 2, 2019
Some More Gaming Tidbits
Twitch unbanned (and then when called the fuck out, re-banned) MrDeadMoth, a Fortnite streamer who had been banned originally after thousands of viewers heard him assault his partner in front of his children live on Twitch.
YouTuber SKELUX discovered a hidden glitch level, called a Minus World, in the NES version of The Legend of Zelda.
Speaking of Zelda, a new Breath of the Wild challenge has recently emerged where players are lugging huge bookshelves across all of Hyrule. I love this. A lot.
Fallout 76 experienced a strange bug this week: players were locked out of nuke silos, due to what’s being dubbed “its own version of the Y2K bug.”
Fallout 76 had its own version of the Y2K bug.
No, it's not an in-game event. The *actual game software* couldn't cope with the rollover from 2018 to 2019 and glitched.
This is just sad now. https://t.co/E5OcDckyWW
— Nash – Anbay ethay Azisnay (@Nash076) January 3, 2019
In Other News
- Cyberpunk sidescroller The Last Night runs into ‘massive legal and funding issues’
- Marvel revives Journey Into Mystery with Adventure Zone‘s McElroy family
- Bowsette is never going to happen, Nintendo says
- Several Nintendo Switch games are discounted at GameStop and Target
- Here’s a first look at the Mad Box console
- Pokémon Go creator Niantic raises $190 million in a funding round it doesn’t need
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC roster reportedly leaked
- Nintendo may move away from home console development, says company president
Emily Durham is a science writer by day and a Sidequest copyeditor by night. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her doodling science headline comics, sewing korok cosplays, or taking blurry pictures of her two perfect cats. She tweets sporadically at @EmilyRoseDurham.