Why Brash Games Should Apologize

[Note from Jim: Ben McCurry made headlines last week for his amazing review of Pac-Man 256, in which he detailed the shoddy business practices of his own publication knowing full well they wouldn’t check it before it went up.

Brash Games, his previous employer (read: exploiter) has become notorious for not paying staff, altering writers’ review scores, and removing credit for work if somebody quits. Since Brash doesn’t pay its writers, I decided to pay a former Brash writer to talk about his experience. Because I can. 

There will also be more on Brash this Monday. You know what that means.

I now hand you over to Ben McCurry himself!]

After I’d finished furiously typing out the now-infamous Pac-Man 256 review last week, I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was, at that point, just a disgruntled employee who wanted to stick it to my editor as I walked out the door, intending to show the world what he was up to as I buggered off, never to be heard from again. If I could contribute anything for the next generation of freelance game writers, it would have been that they never had their emails darkened by the opportunistic Paul Ryan ever again.

As such, when I quietly uploaded it to Brash Games, I shrugged and hoped for a handful of people to find it funny and useful. I then ate pizza, played San Andreas, and went to bed.

To put it shortly, I was not ready for the ensuing chaos and the unravelling of Brash Games. For those uninitiated, the Brash Games fiasco started with a whisper, or, more accurately, a tweet.

Brash Games is an English gaming hobbyist site that recently landed in an Olympic- sized swimming pool of hot water due to extremely shady practices exposed by former writers. Thanks to the work of Meg Read and Olly Smith, Brash Games’ most elementary case of malpractice came to light on Twitter when they revealed their by-lines had been removed by the editor without warning and replaced with the credit “Brash Games,” encouraging others to check if theirs had followed suit into the void.

No matter if you leave a publication on the best of terms or if you’ve just been found in bed with the editor’s wife (not my situation), nobody should ever have their credits removed for simply departing.

This was later compounded by my realization that Brash Games was listed as “Out of Business” on GameRankings, and that their pages had been removed not just from OpenCritic, but from the Wayback Machine too. Also adding cause for concern was how Brash had a penchant for breaking embargoes, most recently for Yooka-Laylee.

I wasn’t entirely sure of the extent of the damage then. I was only sure of two things: Brash Games was a dead-end, and – in the words of Owen Hart – enough was enough and it was time for a change.

I wrote an extremely polite letter to Mr Ryan giving my notice, explaining I was doing so regarding the changing of by-lines and the removal of public records. I hadn’t worked at Brash Games for even a month, but there was zero point in staying if my work was eventually going to get accredited to Brash (and by proxy, Paul Ryan) so I decided to cut my losses entirely.

I asked him plainly why he had made the portfolios of young writers useless, and that I’d be finished after publishing the Pac-Man 256 review as an act of goodwill. By that, I meant I’d write a proper review; no jokes, no tricks, I would bow out respectfully and allow Meg, Olly, and others to continue the positive work they’d been doing. After all, I was a nobody, and I didn’t really have a stake in the fight.

That was until Paul Ryan completely ignored my email. I knew he’d read it because I’d been quietly removed from the staff list, but he ignored me and that was enough – to have zero decency, and to disrespect me like this when he’d been caught red-handed? It was a slap in the face [“Hehe – Jim], and if he wasn’t listening to me, I was going to make him pay attention. Thus, I wrote the review.

For those who haven’t read it yet, I exposed the business practices of Brash Games in a series of sneaky asides as I talked about Pac-Man 256, very explicitly resigning at the end.

Paul has tried to quiet the storm by taking it down, but it’s now been archived about a thousand times. Oops.

I tried as earnestly as possible to properly review the two- year-old game, and I did – I felt I gave it some good praise within the scope of review, and I eventually gave it 9/10, but ultimately the game was a vehicle to highlight and call out Brash for what they were doing. The intent was to gain a bit of attention and put Paul Ryan on the spot, as I didn’t want him to be able to dismiss these issues easily; I did it in the most public and humiliating way possible.

If I had done my resignation as an open letter or a blog, it would have only gotten lost in the internet void; Paul could have pretended everything was fine, and this article wouldn’t be on The Jimquisition website right now. I may have been a firestarter, but at least people sat up and took notice when the smoke started to rise. Most have told me they enjoyed the review, which I greatly appreciate.

A few people have come out of the woodwork to tell me I was unprofessional. Personally, I think some people have their priorities twisted if they believe I’m a bad guy for “disgracing” a video game and – this was actually said! – the medium of reviews, when there was a much greater problem staring them in the face, but I guess facts aren’t accounted for in the “who’s the cleverest man on social media” contest.

I’m still laughing at the idea that I gave the game a 1/10. I didn’t – I awarded a 1 to protest how Mr Ryan changes scores to either appease publishers or mimic Metacritic, making a reviewer’s opinion on any given score redundant, and my real rating lies in the text clear as day. This has been an issue suffered time and time again by other Brash Games alumni.

The review contained some scathing (and completely verifiable) commentary on what Brash did where I quit in a public and humiliating way, and I make no apologies for any single comment. If I did this to any other publication, I would be blacklisted universally, and I would accept that, but the simple fact is this: I can’t be unprofessional on a website that has done nothing but act unprofessionally for years.

A quick side note about how I could do this so easily: Brash Games uses the WordPress content management system as many sites do, but the publication has absolutely zero editing or mediation process. Contributors are free to post their reviews without even so much as a glance from the editor to prevent what I did from happening; as long as reviews “look alright”, Paul never passes on much of anything in the way of commentary or feedback. So much for calling himself an editor – it felt like he was more interested in calling himself the boss rather than acting like it, and when it came to “review o’clock,” as he called it, he wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

This was one of the most frustrating things about working for him, the fact that it was a sterile and soulless experience with very little camaraderie to speak of.

The only person I ever spoke to, besides a colleague I knew from previous work, was Paul, and he only emailed me to throw the hilariously outdated list of games my way. These were filled with shovelware, some two years old; with colleague Thomas Hughes identifying a good deal of them as Humble Bundle purchases. This is not illegal, just shady – especially as Brash’s list of “clients” includes an image lifted directly from Nintendo’s website.

I can’t speak on what Paul’s relationship was like with developers; all I can comment is that using Humble Bundle as a source for games is a serious cause for concern, especially when PR and asking for review codes is not difficult. What I can say is that I never received any guidance – professional or otherwise – from the man, and working under him just left me spinning my wheels.

What I did was just the straw that broke the camel’s back; the smallest piece of the puzzle that probably had the greatest consequence – what came out next was truly unbelievable and escalated the Brash Games affair from “iffy” to “scandalous”.

Olly, Meg, and I had been scooping up as much information as we could on the website, trying to piece everything together in light of an impending OpenCritic report on Brash Games and Paul Ryan. With the release of the Pac-Man 256 review/resignation, more disenfranchised Brash alumni joined the fray.

Kay Purcell came forward and told me her struggles with Paul Ryan and the web hosts of Brash, Freeola, and that they had been ignoring and outright rejecting her pleas to get the content that she had written removed from the website.

Worse for Paul, OpenCritic confirmed that by-lines and scores had been changed – whilst Paul had excluded Brash from the Wayback Machine, he had no idea that OpenCritic had their own internal Wayback that took HTML “screenshots” of reviews as soon as they went live [“HAHAHA” – Jim]. As it stands, they have the data – and it proves that articles were written by original authors as opposed to Brash Games, as well as retaining all original scores.

Finally, Paul responded with an internal staff email hurriedly sent on the Sunday after the review dropped – two days later. Amusingly, I was still on the mailing list, even after what I had done, so I received the full text. Most of it was libellous nonsense and dark claims about me and past writers. Paul brazenly suggested that ex-writers had been “contacting publishers & devs for months requesting codes on behalf of Brash Games.”

I can’t speak on behalf of anyone else, although other ex-writers have soundly denied this. As for me, I have my own website called Ludotempus, and even in its small infant state, it has more positive cache than Brash ever will – as such, I simply have no need to use anyone else’s name to obtain review codes.

Paul also defended deleting “old” accounts from the site, saying this was not done without provocation, yet was keen to point out those with positive relationships with Brash still remained, citing a Tom Leclerc as an example. Aside from myself, many others left the site on completely positive terms, making Paul’s claims another lie, but that’s not the story here – Paul Ryan and Tom Leclerc have known each other for at least 13 years, with Leclerc being a regular contributor for Ryan’s old site Ace Gamez. The two men are friends, being listed as such on Facebook, and it’s more than likely that this is the reason Leclerc gets to keep his credits.

Ryan lambasted contributors for not producing reviews quickly enough, regularly placing the blame on freelance workers for daring to write for other outlets – excuse us for trying to make a living, Paul – but even then, working for other sites was something that was always encouraged by the editor – Paul even went to the length of trying (and failing) to poach contributors from other websites.

Finally, in direct response to changing review scores, Paul argues that he only ever did this with full consultation from writers, such as the author of the Toy Odyssey review. In actuality, all writers who have suffered this corroborate that nothing was ever ran by them – it was just done under their noses. It felt like Paul didn’t truly respect us as his staff, which is what made it easier to post my review under his nose.

Things got truly calamitous with the release of two exposé videos by Kirioth. A great deal of his findings coincide with mine, but he unearthed something very interesting that warrants renewed interest.

There are dozens of articles attributed to the writer David James, and most of them contain advertorials to gambling websites that read like they were paid for. If this is the case, Brash Games were, and still are, featuring paid advertorials on their website under the guise of articles without properly stating they were advertisements – I’m in no way a legal or advertising expert, but Paul Ryan can probably expect a letter from the Advertising Standards Agency very soon.

This perhaps gives a good indication of how exactly Brash were making money, especially considering they have surprisingly poor engagement on social media for having 115K+ Twitter followers. Bots? Paid-for followers? Crowdfire automation? I don’t have a concrete idea.

More intriguing is the emergence of David James. After the Brash Games controversy escalated over the last few days, Paul Ryan entirely removed himself as the owner of the website, attributing all contents and copyrights to David James. I tried to track down David James for comment, but all one can find is reference to the former England football team’s goalkeeper.

David James seems to only exist within the vacuum of Brash Games, which presents some odd possibilities – is David James even a real person? Is he a front for someone else? I find it hard to believe that he’s just a man that really, really loves gambling, especially considering how quickly ownership of Brash was passed to him.

While I have the microphone for 15 minutes, I’d like to tell two personal stories told to me by former Brash writers that will solidify what kind of human being Paul Ryan is; we know more than enough about how he does business, but just in case you think this is all a misunderstanding: no, this man is as terrible as has been reported.

The first is from Dylan Chaundy, a fellow former writer who told me that Paul Ryan asked him to change Wikipedia articles for the benefit of Brash Games, such as inserting review scores and links to Brash on relevant pages in order to put eyes on the website. This is, of course, an ethical nightmare and an absolutely unacceptable request for an editor and boss to make.

However, I think the story I’m about to tell now beats everything you’ve ever heard about Brash.

Another contributor who chooses to remain anonymous talks of how Paul regarded his mental illness. Only the full, unabridged quotation from Paul Ryan to the writer in question will do:

“I gave you the benefit off the doubt last time and even though you posted all that crap that started all this I still took you back after no-one else would touch you with a bargepole as I understand mental illness and the effects it has on you but I should have listened to the devs who sent you codes via TA for your own blog that never materialised.”

Paul Ryan openly told one of his employees that mental illness made him unemployable in a ploy to get that employee to return. This is disgusting. The outright lying, the removal of bylines, the libellous accusations, these were bad enough, but this? To drag mental illness into the fray, suggesting it makes a writer undesirable? Absolutely sickening.

Paul Ryan is irredeemable. Brash Games is irredeemable. Its practices are Draconian as far as games media goes and have no place in any professional environment, even if their writers are volunteers. Nothing excuses any of this. Due to how they’ve treated their staff, I’d like to tell Paul Ryan precisely what it is I want from him.

What do I want most? Apart from world peace, a jetpack, and for my girlfriend to live closer to me, I want Paul Ryan to apologise – and right now, Paul, I’m talking directly to you.

Everyone else reading this article may as well not exist; this is between you and me; and I hope wherever you are, you’re feeling yourself twitch in your desk chair. I want you to apologise to me, Meg Read, Olly Smith, Thomas Hughes, Dylan Chaundy, Llewelyn Griffiths, Luke Ladlee, Mark Brearley, and everyone else under the Brash banner that you have used and abused over the years, stealing their work for your gain.

You’ve used them to build a fat portfolio for yourself so you and David James – whoever that is, it doesn’t matter – make a cool profit on all those gambling editorials you’ve ran with zero disclosure. Save a bit of face, be professional, and protect the next batch of kids from becoming totally disillusioned with games writing.

Apologies for being so brash, but we trusted you, and you abused that trust for your own gain. It is, sadly, people like Paul Ryan and Brash Games that give games journalism the terrible name it currently has. No more.

Paul Ryan is a relic of the past, and that’s exactly where he and Brash Games should be left.

  • BlargleWargle

    So we’re two for two on shite human beings named Paul Ryan.

    • gigantor21

      Apparently, that name is cursed.

    • BadChessPlayer

      If there’s a nice Paul Ryan out there, can you introduce yourself please to show the world that the name isn’t synonymous with excessive corporate greed and bullying of those with health issues.

      • Wiggles

        I work with a guy named Ryan Paul and he could not be more lovable.

        • LatePocketwatch

          Does he look like either of the Paul Ryans? I’m thinking good twin here.

          • Wiggles

            Doesn’t look like them at all but he does wear a goatee so maybe? Realizing this is mind-boggling

    • The Outsider

      Statistically, it’s not looking good for the Donald Trump’s either

  • Ah Brash Games, I first first made aware of you from when you would follow one of my site accounts on Twitter and then promptly revise the decision after being followed back (a ploy I’ve seen from other desperate sites).

    The whole thing about the obviously paid for editorials and reviews littered throughout the site by David James – who I’m convinced is Paul Ryan’s own Tyler Durden. I’ve worked and owned a handful of sites over the years and have always been met with the same scummy offers of payment in exchange for publish such articles written in my “own site’s style of course”.

    I’m 95% certain that Mr Ryan is taking full advantage of such offers and keeping it quiet from his non-paid volunteer staff, even going as far as to claim that he makes no money off the site and funds it from his own pocket:
    “I have been running Brash Games for 6 years and the site is 100% self funded by me, out of my own pocket, I do not run any advertisements on the site so there’s can be no assumption of bias and i do not seek anonymous donations via Patreon or PayPal…”

    Lets’s hope that Paulie isn’t just keeping his earnings undisclosed from his writers, because I’d imagine that would land himself in some rather hot water indeed.

    • Yeah he did the same for me, and a few months later sent me a DM asking if I’d like to write for him with the bait of “hundreds of digital codes”. Fuck off.

      Sadly, sites asking folk to write “for the exposure” are more common than otherwise, but I like to think a lot of them are at least genuine.

  • gigantor21

    Man, Paul Ryan sounds like a total shit.

  • UntemperedLink

    Wow, I can’t even begin to imagine how shitty it would be to one day wake up and find out that all the hard work you’d done was attributed to someone else.

    I’d like to believe that this whole mess with Brash Games shines a light on the entire industry so less freelances get treated like trash.

    Also however unlikely i hope that through all this Paul Ryan will see the error of his ways and try and make things right by returning the writers names to their works. At this point it seems to be the least he could do.

  • 09philj
    • NT

      Don’t be.

    • The Jünger Ludendorf

      It’s …magnificent!

    • Calvin Bailey

      Pol Royon

  • Scaper

    If this article is 50 Shades of Shade, i cannot WAIT for the glory that will come this monday

  • Sarah

    Not sure if you were removed after that explanatory email, but in the latest one I received he said “I have decided not to read any of this crap and have not made any statements and don’t intend to” so… I wouldn’t get my hopes up on that apology heh.

    After everything’s come to light… yeah, writing for this guy doesn’t feel right. Part of me is saying that deleting the reviews I’ve written for Brash before leaving would be unprofessional but, like you said above, who gives a shit when the site is so unethical. Better they disappear and (hopefully) not reposted than have my name associated with all this stuff or re-purposed to boost his stolen library.

    • Miles Saintborough

      Oh he won’t be able to ignore the shitstorm coming his way after Jim posts his take on the situation.

      • Sarah

        I most certainly agree… but even so I doubt he’ll actually apologize. Judging by how his emails read he’s more likely to put out some excuse and defend or deny. Still, very much looking forward to see what Jim cooks up and where that leads.

  • John Hagg

    If Paul Ryan runs Brash.. quick .. someone look and see if there’s a Nigel Farage employed by G2A.

  • Rose Fox

    Wow Paul Ryan needs to fuck off and stop infecting the games industry, and world industries in general, with his gross behaviour.

  • Zefram Mann

    Is there some kind of magic spell around the name Paul Ryan that causes those so-named to become irredeemable pillocks?

    On a related note, I remember something one of my art teachers told me about twenty years ago. He told me, “Work you do for free is rarely appreciated”.

  • PeterParkour

    For a Twitter account claiming to have 115k followers the retweets and replies are very minimal. One or two retweets a post? That’s like someone with a follower count of 100 people.

  • thegreatpumpkinking

    ouch i cant wait for monday

    • Engoni

      It will be great!

      • thegreatpumpkinking

        only if we can make a word up to explain how great it will be. hmmm Fan-gre-zing fangrezing fantastic, great, amazing

  • dennett316

    The investigator/founder of Open Critic stated on NeoGaf that Ben was “unprofessional” and accused him of “digital vandalism” in a later post (he only says “vandalism” in this post I’ve linked to – Oops, sorry, forgot about links being disabled on here. Search for “brash games Neogaf” and the thread is at the top, the Open Critic guy makes his post on the first page, post #31, and makes subsequent posts afterwards).

    He later apologises, but it’s so galling to see how many are so in the thrall of the status quo regarding the games industry that their first instinct is to attack anyone who dares to dissent. Sad to see other idiots in that thread calling the writer unprofessional while completely ignoring the issues raised too. It’s a sad reality that many so thoroughly equate gaming with their sense of identity that they continue to lash out against their own self-interests in order to defend gaming from the big, bad critic.

    Great job Ben, glad to see you land on your feet after this whole debacle. Hopefully the likes of Brash become increasingly more rare.

    • Bill Ricardi

      I was mad at opencritic when they posted that on neogaf, but now with there report, I see where they were coming from and i think their hearts were in the right place.

      If you look at their report, it looks like opencritic started digging in way before Olly or Meg or any of them got on board.

      The fact that opencritic cared enough to ask the questions and dig in is awesome.

      what I’m saying is that you can’t say that opencritic was “in the thrall of the status quo” or “ignoring the issues” when they gave huge validation to what the authors were experiencing imo.

      Its okay to say both that Ben’s review was in bad taste AND that brash is awful, awful, awful, and I think that was what opencritic did.

    • ThEjOkErIsWiLd

      If u want to post a link, just do urlname(dot)com/etc

  • Wow. I thought the IGN’s and the like were bad but this? This is a new level of shitty shady…well, shit. Hopefully this won’t be just forgotten like the whole CSGO Lotto thing and this Paul Ryan gets some proper justice. I mean if the stuff he’s said is libellous, perhaps a lawsuit is in order. This one wouldn’t be frivolous if that was the case.

  • Vagineer1
  • Roger Allen
    • The Jünger Ludendorf

      That expression seems very fitting for this occasion.

  • Even Luck

    WOO boy what a stinkfest this is.

  • alverant

    I have a question. Why is it unethical/shady to buy a bunch of games from Humble Bundle to review? Shouldn’t you have a copy of the game? If you’re not given a review code, then you should buy it. What I am I missing here? Is there some sort of “company behavior vs individual behavior” set of standards here?

    This isn’t meant to be sarcasm or to be mean. This is a non-reviewer who wants to know. Shouldn’t there be a recognized list of guidelines for reviewers to follow so someone doesn’t accidentally screw up and something we can point to and say “it says here why you’re wrong”?

    • Dedlok

      It is not exactly the worse way to get access to games for review purposes, but it is really far from the best.

      First because that means that the devs are probably getting the least money possible while you get the ad revenue for the review. Granted ad revenue usually is a pittance but still.

      Second, it partially depends on HOW the person who gave out the Humble codes gave them out. Codes for games bought by bundles are generally supposed to be used by the person who bought it. If they already have the game they are supposed to generate a Gift Link and give it that way.

      Granted this is currently enforced in the style of the Honor System. There is nothing to stop someone from generating a key and copying and pasting it in a chat or email and give it to someone that way (I know I certainly have done it that way) and it seems Humble rarely does anything to stop that, but that does not mean that they eventually will decide to decide to put it completely to a stop and start enforcing stuff like that after seeing review editors doing stuff like this.

      • Helmic

        Humble Bundle officially supports you giving out individual keys and they even have an article on how to do so safely. For certain older bundles that don’t have keys but must be sent directly to a Steam account, you can specify it as a gift to someone else.

        It’s much more likely that Humble Bundle games are old and random and basing what you’ll be reviewing on what is cheap and readily available is not something a notable review site should have to do.

    • Alex Wheatley

      I think the idea was not that buying games from Humble Bundle is bad business *per se*, more that it speaks to Ryan’s lack of professionalism that this apparently well-established media outlet had to buy its games from *anywhere*, when he probably could have got review codes for most things without any real hassle.

      It’s not exactly “why did you get this from Humble Bundle” and more “why did you pay for this?”

    • Rasputyne

      It also seems from the context that they’re taking the logos of the devs of these Humble Bundle-bought games and putting them up on Brash on the page listing their “clients”. If a company didn’t send you a review copy or otherwise as you to review their game, this is blatant misrepresentation.

      If you want to buy a game off Humble Bundle and review it, that seems like it’s fine, but don’t then claim that the developer of that game is your client, when they had literally nothing to do with you having written their game a review.

    • guy smiley

      Well, one reason may be because you can pay as little as zero dollars for humble bundles at the lowest reward level. Also, Humble is a charity affiliated program, so abusing their system for your profit seems extra scummy.

    • Helmic

      I seriously doubt it has anything to do with how much the devs earned on the sale, if a developer is willing to sell their game in a Humble Bundle then they’re already OK with earning what they get, and whatever they earn is still more than what they would get out of any other media outlet where they would have just given a review copy.

      Instead, a review site deciding what to review based on what’s available in Humble Bundles is silly. The games are often a year or more old and all the relevant reviews have already been written and you don’t really decide on what it is you’ll be reviewing. They’re often great games, don’t get me wrong, but it’s something you’d do if you wanted to start reviewing stuff on your personal blog rather than a genuine attempt to be useful to your readers.

  • Dookysharpgun

    What a bastard. Seriously, that Paul Ryan chap needs to fuck clean off. Also, fuck him doubly for what he said to that person with mental illness. He’s a fucking predator and a creepy, obsessive, controlling, abusive sack of shit. I hope the rest of his life is plagued with minor inconveniences, and it burns every time he takes a piss.

    • darksteel6

      The fact that he shares a name with a certain asshole in the U.S. Congress is proof enough of that.

      • Dookysharpgun

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the name had a curse placed on it and all Paul Ryan’s turn out to be the equivalent of a prolapsed anus.

  • darksteel6

    The boss’s name happens to be Paul Ryan? Seriously? That should’ve been a red flag right there.

  • Darth Raven

    Paul Ryan can go fuck himself that lousy bastard!

    • The Outsider

      WHIIIIICH. OOOOOONE?! We gadda be specific here!

  • Austin

    I’m still going to blame Congressman Paul Ryan… fuckin prick.

  • SilentPony

    We should make David James the new Keyser Soze.

  • FireEmblemFan

    Paul Ryan is a piece of shit. And I mean that about both of them.

  • RedWolf

    I’m lost for words after reading this. You did the right thing telling that fucker to sling his hook, and I’m glad that everything is blowing up in his face. May justice be served!

  • Douglas Wilmer. An underrated Sherlock Holmes.

  • Come to think of it, are we SURE it’s not the same Paul Ryan?

    • Wolf

      Never seen them in the same place at the same time?!?! The plot thickens!

      • Wolfie

        I’d suggest we get DNA samples to test, but that’d mean one of us would have to get close to either of them.

        • LatePocketwatch

          That’s what drones are for.

  • DaTruth

    Ahaha 3-1 that ‘David James’ doesn’t exist at all. Sounds like a paper man made up to take the blame while Ryan runs away. He wouldn’t be the first person to try and make a fake paper trail.

    I get the feeling Paul Ryan will be relocating to a non extradite country very soon as he cashes out his profits from being a scum bag and if there is a God will be found dead with his organs cut out in a bath tub in or a ditch in a year or two if there is any justice in the world.

    Fingers crossed.

    On a side note I know how it feels to have your employer steal your work and claim it as your own. It’s bloody infuriating and makes you want to give up doing that work simply because ( in my case my supervisor tried to claim a chemical process I came up to get the targeted molecule Was his own entire brilliant self even though when I pressed him on it he couldn’t explain the mechanisms behind two of my six steps instead of believing me I got shown the door… W/e the plant was out of business and sold to someone else in 2 years but to this date I’m very selective of showing my work to people)

  • gibbyo

    “To put it shortly, I was not ready for the ensuing chaos and the unravelling of Brash Games. For those uninitiated, the Brash Games fiasco started with a whisper, or, more accurately, a tweet.” Oooh. Very The Exorcist!

  • Matt

    I know it’s wrong, but my headcanon is definitely that House Speaker Paul Ryan moonlights as a shady ‘game journalism’ company. It’s a fun way to look at events.

  • PhyrePhox

    Ben McCurry, good on you, sir! What you and your fellow writers had to endure at Brash games is nothing short of despicable. If there is any justice left in the world, then Paul Ryan will get blindsided by Karma at her worst (more than has already happened by the misdeeds being dragged into the light like screaming vampires).

    I wish you the absolute best in your future endeavors. Thank God for your honesty, and Thank God for Jim F*cking Sterling, son!

  • astra

    Man this paul guy is a persona 5 villain lol
    Good luck getting that apology without the metaverse

  • Molly

    Damn, that’s some shit. Way to put Brash through the wringer!

  • Pocket

    I’ve never even heard of these guys, which I guess just goes to show that a site doesn’t have to become a big deal before they go bad.

    Anyway, I wonder if we’ll ever see a similar takedown of the Escapist, another “gamez journalism” site that belongs in the garbage can. I know you said at the time that your forced resignation had nothing to do with your criticism of You Know What, but it has since come to light that Bob Chipman’s and Susan Arnendt’s definitely did, and the shady circumstances surrounding Extra Credits’ departure have been well known for some time. Meanwhile, I hear tell that your buddy Mr. Bain has been approached by them with a job offer and turned it down because they blatantly disguise paid promotions as news or something… I dunno, I’m sure he’ll gladly tell you all about it.

    The last straw for me (they randomly upgraded all us old-timers to paid accounts last year, which meant no more ad revenue from our traffic, so I didn’t feel so guilty about keeping up with the train wreck) came last week, when they pointedly did not report the irresistibly juicy story about Gearbox and G2A at all. Back in the day, they’d have been all over that shit, but I guess all the crowing about Ethcs in Game Journalism is worth less than the prospect of continuing to get paid to advertise for them.

    • Wolfie

      It wasn’t just front either; there was a lot of shit going on in the forums as well. Whenever “those people” would get in trouble, they’d complain to the people above the mods and magically they’re back right at it again! Banned for a week? Back in two days.

      While those who were critical of “those people” got the short end of the stick because we didn’t buy into the bullshit or stoop to playing dirty. Hell, one of their best mods, I hear, left after they opened up a section in the forum that was wholly and specifically unmoderated. You can imagine how well that turned out.

      I also hear “those people” are still obsessed with the same shit they were obsessed with since the beginning.

      • CaitSeith

        Yeah, there is still at least half a dozen of them in the Industry discussion. But there is always someone there to be critical, balancing the things out.

        • Wolfie

          Really? Poor bastards.

    • qorl123

      What’s this about moviebob and extra credits? I don’t want to read Encyclopedia Dramatica’s take on it….

      • A. Nobody

        Don’t know about Bob Chipman, but EC’s artist had some kind of injury impacting her ability to work back when they were still at the Escapist and EC did a crowdfunding campaign in order to help pay for her surgery.

        The campaign was hugely successful, but once it was over the Escapist claimed that they had the right to a percentage of the proceeds.

        IIRC, EC refuted the claim and promptly left the site, after which there was some additional disputes about who owned the rights to the EC episodes published while under the Escapist banner.

        • Terriosaurus Hex

          The comment is weirdly awaiting moderation and i cant comment directly, so am shamelessly piggybacking yours to say…Why is it now awaiting moderation? Has it been flagged by somebody? It obviously wasn’t originally the case if others could comment. I am suspicious much so.

          • CaptainDustTree

            A lot of stuff gets flagged automatically on this site’s Disqus. It could be the Ethics in James Gournalism that set off an automatic moderation

      • Mathew G. Smith

        Didn’t the Escapist get bought out and stripped down a while back? They post almost nothing now, and all the original content except Zero Punctuation is long gone.

      • CaitSeith

        Escapist didn’t renew MovieBob’s working contract that just happened to end when the things were heated up a couple years ago.

        Extra Credits received donations for a medical surgery for one of their members via Rockethub, and they had a dispute with the Escapist (where they were hosted way back then) about that money.

  • SilasBodnick

    I realized this was a guest post as soon as I read the title. Jim would never ask someone to apologize. Ugh! We’re in this grievance, apology culture. Just call out a bastard for fucking up – don’t ask him to apologize for it. That this is so WEAK. And when this report calls out the true whistle-blower for engaging in “digital vandalism” – don’t ask for their apologies either… Just call shit out so we all know who we’re dealing with.

    • DNutty12345

      sorry the vary notion of apologizing triggered your fragile little mind, go back to your safe space you easily offended run of the mill whiny little bitch

    • Jarin

      And apparently you stopped reading at the title, too. Good job.

  • Nathan Aldana

    Theres a certain hilarious irony in that there are apparently two men in the world named Paul Ryan with apparently identically twisted moral compasses.

    • Ffordesoon

      Haha, that’s what I was thinking. What if everyone in the world named Paul Ryan is an ethical void? That would be amazing.

      • Eon264

        I think you mean terrifying. For all we know this could mean there’s a huge sleeper cell of Paul Ryan’s who are just waiting for an opportunity to get their slime everywhere.

  • Mike Hoyer

    Well at least they didn’t do anything REALLY bad like hire a woman or give a bad score to a Zelda game.

    Seriously though, thank you for this, Ben, and for the original “review”.

    • Gabriel Cavalcanti

      They did hire women. A few are mentioned here.

      • Mike Hoyer

        Yeah but “gave a good review to a woman designer” or “hired a woman as a social media manager” kind of messed with the flow of the joke.
        I was going to give you guff for taking it too literally but I don’t have it in me given the sincerity of your other post above.

        • Gabriel Cavalcanti

          Oh, that’s like, relating to those issues we had in the past? My bad, I can miss a joke sometimes. I did get the Zelda one, but the woman part made a little confused o-o But then, I was a bit “triggered” after reading this piece, being part of the market it relates to and all. My apologies if I took it too literally xD

  • Human Bean

    After having read that review… damn, Ben really has balls of steel for doing that!

  • BewareTheForce

    Fuck Paul Ryan for making me have to re-read that insult multiple times to figure out what it said.

  • Wolf

    Good for you for exposing this inexcusably malignant behaviour. All the best, hope you get picked up by one of the big sites soon man, your writing is great. Your pacman review was first class, ‘hidden’ messages notwithstanding.

  • David Feichtner

    Man… video game journalism ethics have gone through the roof since #GamerGate harassed all those women and minorities.
    Sargon is in heaven, all is good!

    • SilentPony

      I didn’t know Phil Fish was both transgender and transracial! Jeez, now I feel bad for disagreeing with his racketeering scheme.

      Just goes to show you never judge a person by their actions, only by their gender and race.

      • David Feichtner

        Does he deserve legal ramifications? I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer.
        Does he deserve sad fuckfaces harassing him? No, because you are not a branch of the judicial system. You are a lynch-mob that’s too lazy to make some torches.
        And do you really have any leg to stand on about “identity politics” when one of the key GG allies basically starts every second sentence with “I am a gay jew who likes black dick!” ?

        • SilentPony

          Identity politics is, by definition, bullshit. Its just a concept people came up with when they couldn’t defend their position anymore, so they wanted to attack someone else.

          Go ahead and disagree with Milo because he’s gay, or Jewish or conservative, none of which is actually a crime.

          I’ll disagree with Fish ’cause he’s a criminal.

          • David Feichtner

            I disagree with Milo because he is a cowardly worm who hides behind “gay, Jewish, not racist”. And you should too.
            But Gamergate was never about “disagreeing” with people. It was about shutting them up and if it happened across a real criminal by accident (because that was never the real reason) then I don’t automatically agree with the criminal just because I disagree with you.

          • CRIMINAL?! elaborate.

      • YoDude

        The game community at large is fairly unknown to me. I remember Fish being the dude who made Fez. But what does he have to do with Gamergate?

        Honestly though, I’m not one hundred percent on Gamergate either.

        • Andrzej Sugier

          Oh, Phil Fish wasn’t really connected to GG, he’s just a good old asshole.
          George Weidman (Superbunnyhop on youtube) did a nice, concise piece on all his antics if you’re interested.

        • Pretty sure I saw a clip from a panel where Fish was on, and he talked a bit about GamerGate and gamer culture. It might have been in one of the indie movies, pretty sure both are on netflix worldwide – and they are to be found on steam as well I think.

      • qorl123

        Phil Fish may be a huge asshole but his opinion of gamergate was spot on. He might have had a decent point about gamer culture as well.

  • smek2

    We’re talking about a fat dude, who gave Call of Juarez Gunslinger a 8.5/10, so yeah, his opinion and all. Enjoy your measly patreon bucks, because god knows, you don’t make any money off on Youtube.

    • Jeddostotle7

      ….What the fuck?? What the fuck does Jim’s review of Call of Juarez: Gunslinger have to do with this article that is written neither by Jim nor about Jim?

    • Jarin

      Paul, is that you?

      • Terriosaurus Hex

        My thought precisely. 😉

    • Matthew Burt

      No shit he doesn’t make money off YouTube. Jim states pretty clearly that JQ will remain unmonetized.

      • qorl123

        Jimquisition is unmonetized, but he does get a bit of money from youtube for other vids

    • Sned

      Inb4 this comment gets pinned.

    • Gabriel Cavalcanti

      Scanning for relevance. Failed to locate. Terminating process. Blip blop.

    • Fallen Prime

      This isn’t even Jim, genius.

    • Scott Stenger

      I’m confused, is 8.5 good or bad? Cause to me that’s a damn good score for a damn good game.

      • Mike Hoyer

        Because Zelda only got a 7. They’re just leaving that part off now because people like this always assume everyone else will know what they’re talking about, because it is the most important thing.

        • Scott Stenger

          Oh sorry, I forgot the fateful day when Jim ruined games for everyone forever.

          • Fallen Prime

            Don McLean wrote about the day the MC score died.

            “Bye, bye, Mr. Breath of the Wild…”

          • Drake Warnock

            How could you forget? I think all technology just failed everywhere and we are all now living in caves hallucinating the internet.

          • This explains a lot.

          • So that’s whats happening, I think I have some VR goggles on…

        • Артём Андреев

          Zelda got a 7 and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger got a 8.5?

    • Mike Hoyer

      I just want to point out for anyone that missed it, too. The insult here is “You don’t even make money off captive advertising people just choose to pay you directly of their own free will.”

      • Nathan Aldana

        well, to people who worship capitalism, they apparently find the thought of not monetizing people in unethical ways to be the worst

    • Viggo

      “This user’s activity is private “

      • Fallen Prime

        That’s the one that gets me. I’ve said some shit in the past on Disqus that I’m not proud of – coming immediately to mind is a semantics argument about the use of the word “faggotry” – but I still have my comment history wide open because I’m not afraid of being taken to task for my past mistakes.

        If the context is appropriate, I mean. Using something I said as a smoking gun to shut me up in an argument that has nothing to do with the thing I said is not on.

        • Viggo

          There’s something to be said about people wanting to hide their behavior.

    • La Chica Incognita

      You’re just sad.

      I mean this in the very real and not at all meant to be used as an insulting kind of way. I think about what kind of person you are outside of the internet and the safety of your computer and ponder what has the world has done to mess you up this badly. How tiny is your self esteem that you have to go out and insult a random person for their opinion and insult their physical appearance (and just by the by I’m presuming you’re at least as obese if not more obese then Jim since you are an internet fanboy and it is typically safe of me presume your lack of hygiene and nutritional habits) for some minor nonexistent slight. You go on to insult his…income? His income which I also should feel safe in assuming dwarfs your own and should point out that he has A LOT of people willing to give him money JUST for being him. You? Well…just look at you. I’m sure nobody is willing to give you the time of day let alone money.

      As much as it sounds like I’m saying all this purely to be insulting, I really mean it; you are a sad, sad little man who with barely a sentence I immensely pity.

      • Steve

        Very well said.

    • Muddy Scarecrow

      This comment doesn’t even sound like it’s for this article. Did you get lost on your way to the Sexy Brutale review?

    • Ffordesoon

      This may be the single dumbest comment I have ever read on a videogame website which did not also have a slur in it. It’s, like, fractally stupid; every time I look at it, I notice another facet of idiocy. I’m almost impressed.

    • Otherhand

      Did he? Good. I consider that game my favourite FPS of all time, still. It’s an excellent game: charming, stylish, creative and concise. Whenever I show the game to friends who’ve never heard of it, I virtually have to peel them off my controller.

      That’s not a particularly unusual rating, iirc. It was very well received and still has a great user rating on Steam.

    • So are you here about the slap in the face, or the final betrayal?

    • HandsomePeasant

      As confused as I am about your comment, it’s clear that you are far more confused than I could ever be.

    • TheVorpalPen

      Bit of a lazy excuse for a troll. Low hanging fruit. But that said hey guys remember Call of Juarez? I did nothing but play that game…. good times…

  • Gabriel Cavalcanti

    It’s a real shame that that’s not by far the only shady website out there. N4G is FILLED with poorly run websites that rely solely on clickbaits. Their writing is atrocious and their “articles” always get approved. It’s because of them and people like “Paul Ryan” (at this point I’m starting to believe that’s not his real name) that, whenever someone says something just a little controversial, we get comments with “journalist” between quotes.

    What’s even worse is that that’s something the video game industry struggles with, be it in development or journalism. There’s a huge amount of unprofessionalism surrounding video games. Wannabe movie makers and musicians at least try to be competent, but when it comes to video games any dubious individual can put a game together or start a news website without an integrity.

    I don’t think we’re getting far anytime soon. The community itself attempts to halt any attempt at progress with “leave your [insert political or social argument here] out of our games.” If Ben McCurry was a woman or a gay man or woman and this post was about how Paul Ryan discrimated their gender/sexuality, we would be having a completely different discussion, half of which would include “can we stop with all this drama and play video games?”

    I digress, though. Guess my comment got too personal with my own experiences. This piece is still very important, especially for us freelancers, and it’s amazing tha Jim Fucking Sterling, Son endorses it.

  • Landy Alexander

    Can we just call the one who runs Brash ‘Paulson Ryan’? I know a Paul, and he’s a shitstain politician.

  • AntarcticOasis

    Thank you for writing this. It goes without saying that what you’ve written is brave, yes, but also important and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

  • Terriosaurus Hex

    Am glad to see there are still those not averse to whistleblowing in all its’ various forms. This kind of piece is worth more than a thousand “exclusive previews”, “top ten vidja-gam bad Bois” or “EA’s CEO said something stupid again” …There probably isn’t any number of that shit that would be.

    Whether there is any justice to be had here though, time will tell. But the more people that know, the less likely this half-assed manipulator can take advantage of others in future. Perhaps the gambling stuff will bite him in the bollocks hard enough. What is it with gambling advertisement and assholes anyway? Is it like the easiest/profitable-with least personal-risk method of assholery??

    Oh well, the information is on the wind and now it must ride and tumble where it may, affecting whomever is in its’ fray.

  • Chürz

    Never heard of them, but they go into the “shitty companies” sack.

  • Anthony Montoya

    Who is David James you ask? He’s a phantom, an apparition, second cousin to Harvey the Rabbit, Paul conjured him up out of thin air. He doesn’t exist, except on paper.

    • Eon264

      He’s Pauls Keyser Soze.

  • SaburoDaimando

    I never heard of this before.

    • Vaughan MacDonald

      Something tells me we’ll all be hearing a lot more about it in the weeks to come.

  • magemasher13

    I’ve never heard of Brash games and I’m glad of that fact. Gaming press will never reach the standards of journalism unless we gamers publicly and loudly force them to. Sites like Polygon and Kotaku are just as bad as Brash games and we need to hold them accountable as well.

    • Otherhand

      You’re against poor journalistic standards in the games media, and you pick out Kotaku: perhaps the most advanced advocates of actual journalistic standards in the games press? They’re by no means impeccable, but their policies have been ahead of the curve since long before Gamergate appeared.

      The fact that you pull them up and pair them with Polygon makes me question your real motives here. The major thing those sites share is their political leanings.

      • My thought as well. When I hear anyone talking about “ethics in games journalism” and pointing at the liberal/progressive websites, I get a headache from how hard my eyes roll.

      • Sam Hamer

        The major thing those sites share is being awful.

        • Two of my favourite sites. Funny.

        • Nathan Aldana

          awful by what metric? and what would you consider a good site?

          • Sam Hamer

            For video game related news, criticism, discussion? YouTube. The only written and publicised material in that vein which I give any real credit to can be found in N64 Magazine.

      • Articuno76

        Advocating standards and working to them are two different things.

        I’ve seen some of the worst articles from Kotaku. Articles which are less than a paragraph long and are missing the accompanying video/picture they are (I think?) referring to. Things that just left the commenters scratching their heads as to why anyone would consider them newsworthy, or outright factual inaccuracies. And that’s not even getting into their putrid fascination with sex which has led to articles that are basically on par with fart jokes.

        Polygon at least TRIES. You don’t even have to read the articles to tell that (the sheer amount of effort that goes into the presentation alone tips you off). But you get the impression Kotaku isn’t even bothering at times.

        • you sure those one-paragraph articles/posts aren’t from the userbased end of the site?

          • Articuno76

            They were on the front page. And in one instance I distinctly recall the author being a familiar regular.

            It looked like they’d submitted a draft by accident or something.

  • Patrick Olsen

    If the Video Game Industry stops being shady, Jim would be out of a job. So here’s to you, shady industry people. Keep on fucking your piles of money and keeping Jim with the materials for his shows.

  • DucksonAPlain

    David James is a reptilian.

    • gasmaskangel

      When will the senseless slander against reptilians end?

      • Bidoof

        When Jim bumps up his Yooka-Laylee score.

        • Bright Spark

          I think Jim’s score was justified.

          Personally I don’t agree with it because I am having a fantastic time with Yooka-Laylee (I have completed Tribalstack Tropics and Glitterglaze Glacier so far and had a go at the Swamp level whose name I’ve forgotten and Capital Cashino), but he made it very clear why he didn’t like the game and that he couldn’t look over some flaws, so I can see why he gave it a 2/10.

  • Andrzej Sugier

    Phew. Man, that was a LONG article.

  • Muddy Scarecrow

    I’d love to know what people reading this review for the first time were thinking. “Is….is this a joke? Is this late April Fools what the hell is this?” Not only was this the greatest “Fuck You I Quit” letter ever, but it also brought to my attention a game I’d never even heard of so…Thanks!

  • “I decided to pay a former Brash writer to talk about his experience. Because I can.”
    Oh you sweetheart, you!

  • Jack Trevor

    So is this guy on your permanent freelance list Jim?

    Because whatever you’re paying him, double it.

    • Fun fact: After he sent the piece in, I bumped up the fee we agreed upon because this article was so *fucking* choice.

      • EvolutionKills

        Stay classy Jim, you glorious bastard. 😀

      • Bright Spark

        Now THIS is how you handle freelancers!

      • Fallen Prime

        Fun fact: if you wanna put a bit of extra effort into your emphasis, you can italicize in Disqus. It’s as easy as this, without the spaces.

      • Jack Trevor


        I just got done reading that review he did since I got the time and, to modestly borrow from you, it’s so *fucking* choice.

  • Yaro

    I hope this isnt the former gamesradar paul ryan, he seemed cool as heck.

  • Ffordesoon

    Bravo to you, sir.

    Incidentally, if the quote from him in this piece is any indication, the best thing Paul Ryan ever did for your writing was leaving it the fuck alone.

  • The Bellman

    Long ago I wrote some reviews for Brashgames, but after a while I realized what a fly-by-night outfit they were and stopped.

    Dodged a bullet there.

  • EvolutionKills

    That Pac-Man 256 review was, in a word frequented by denizens of the Outworld, GLORIOUS!

  • Nice piece!

  • 44KPanda

    > A few people have come out of the woodwork to tell me I was unprofessional.
    Lol. Ofc they did. People hate controversy to much that they would rather let shady practices continue than have to deal with the public outcry.

    You did a good thing Ben, and quite cleverly so, I might add. Also, great work on this article as well!

  • Good for you, McCurry. Good for you. Well done and well written.
    Looking forward to the Jimquisition episode now, and they eventual fallout.

    *thunderous applaus*

  • Jonah Stephen Swersey

    “We trusted you, and you abused it for your own game”; “Paul Ryan is a relic of the past”. Also applies to the other Paul Ryan.

  • thecodezombie

    As soon as I read that article authorship was passing back to Brash, I knew it was WordPress.

    As you said, you were given too much publishing power (no approval process). By default a “Contributor” level (in WordPress) shouldn’t be able to publish or amend their own articles without approval. My guess is Brash were worried you’d log back in at some point and change stuff (vandalise your own articles?!), so deleted your account. And when you delete an account, all articles authored by that person need to passed to another. So passed back to the main Brash Games account.

    Could they have kept your article by-line? Yes. If you demote a user to “Subscriber” level, they essentially can’t do anything but change their profile details / password…they can’t even see anything else in the admin but the “Your Profile” page. The account basically sits as a shell to preserve the authorship of articles.

    • Well, in this instance the very least Paul Ryan could have done was making another contributor that he was in charge of. “ghost writer” or “former writer” would suffice and just add the name in the text before removing the writers acocunt.

      He could also have edited the profile, I imagine.

      • thecodezombie

        Did you read that last bit? I already said what Brash could’ve done: Demote the user to “Subscriber” level so the account is locked from editing, but means articles retain all the authorship.

        • I did, but if his excuse is fear of profiles being able to do more than he want them to… 😉

  • ConradZimmerman

    “A few people have come out of the woodwork to tell me I was unprofessional.”

    It was unprofessional. I certainly wouldn’t hold it against you, considering the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the act (and it was funny as hell, for that matter), but they’re correct in the sense that it was unprofessional behavior. There may be some consequences for that when it comes to some editors down the road, but that’s how it goes. On balance, I think you’ve done a public good.

    • BAH!

      I wanted to say something similar. However, I think the issue is not how technically correct those people are, but, rather, the fact that they seem to think the unprofessional behavior is somehow a problem in this case- possibly even the bigger of the two.

      • ConradZimmerman

        Whether or not you can make a case for it being warranted in this case doesn’t change that unprofessional reputation from sticking to a person. Once you’ve shown the capacity and willingness to turn on an employer by airing their dirty laundry (even a shit one), that knowledge is always going to exist on some level in the back of a person’s mind. It can take years to overcome.

        Granted, this is how many publications like Brash are able to continue to perpetuate a cycle of exploitation with their unpaid labor.

        • It’s why I am happy to hear any freelance pitches from Ben in future.

          I’m fine with “unprofessional.” I tend to trust it more.

          • Andrew Gray

            Really, in Games as it exists now, I question what kind of weight ‘professional’ really has. For a while (college) I wanted to work in games. Then I started running into the horror stories of developer conditions. So, I got Unity (back in the day, before the Asset-Flipper-pocalypse) and wrote some of my own. I eventually landed a much more stable job, which is continuing to this day.

            I’ll be honest. I love games. Due to the terrible conditions, lack of ethics, lack of diversity…I’m not sure I really want to write them for a living, though, except if I was running my own shop. Even then, these practices didn’t start overnight. Something about the market realities of Gaming caused the situation we have to develop. I don’t know what they are, I don’t know how to find out, and to be honest…I fear finding out. I pride myself on professionality, being a reliable programmer to work alongside. I don’t want the stigma that comes with being a ‘professional’ Game developer, or to have to apologize privately to you in shame when the company I work for pulls a dick move on its consumers (as I recall UbiSoft doing with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided).

            I’m not sure now that I would last in professional Games, not because of lack of skill, or lack of capacity to learn…but because I have a code of conduct I adhere to, and I value my reputation perhaps more than money, because if no one can trust me…chances are, no one’s going to trust me enough to give me money. Of course, and as always – I do get accused of making too much sense, sometimes.

          • Articuno76

            I think you meant Square Enix*

          • Andrew Gray

            No, definitely UbiSoft Montreal. Squeenix was the publisher, which meddled every step of the way.

          • Articuno76

            I think you are getting further confused with EIDOS Montreal (who developed it).

          • frkmgnt1

            Personally, I don’t think any employer has the right to expect loyalty or respect from employees (in this case, I don’t think the word employee applies, since there was no compensation) when the employer treats their staff so shamefully. Just my opinion, obviously. But any reputable company should realize that Paul Ryan reaped what he sowed.

        • Articuno76

          In the videogame writing business professionality is determined by integrity and ethics. Ben’s piece demonstrated both these qualities, whilst his employer publishing them without a second glance didn’t.

          If any outlet is having second thoughts about employing him because of his lack of ‘professionality’ then it says more about their integrity and ethics than it does Ben’s. And personally, I hope he never runs afoul of those ‘professional’ outlets.

          • ConradZimmerman

            Any outlet that’s having second thoughts about employing someone in Ben’s position is looking out for their own self-interest, plain and simple. In fact, I wouldn’t want to work for a publication that *didn’t* think twice about it, because those people are fools. They should be thinking about it long and hard.

            And then they should probably hire him, because he does good work and these are extraordinary circumstances. But when you have the kinds of experiences editors at publications have had with difficult employees (you would not fucking believe some of my stories), a first glance history of “this guy made a big fuss” is often enough to get you passed over for work.

          • Articuno76

            Fact checking = integrity. An editor who only looks into something as shallowly as a cursory Google search isn’t doing their due dilligence. It would be a huge ethical issue if that is the extent of their due dilligence.

          • ConradZimmerman

            They aren’t running down a story; they’re selecting from an considerably large pool of potential, qualified candidates for a job. This is one of those situations where idealism conflicts with reality. In a perfect world, everyone would have all the time and motivation in the world to dig up the full personal history of everyone who applies for a job. But in this one, when you’ve got twenty or so people to choose from that all have more or less the same skill level and experience, that’s not always practical from the perspective of the person doing the hiring.

            I’m not denying that what you want would be a wonderful thing, but it’s not real and expecting it to be real is only going to lead to heartache.

          • Articuno76

            Candidates they aren’t properly checking. Could be the reverse scenario where a Google search makes the candidate look good, but proper examination would reveal otherwise.

            From a hiring perspective taking that person on would be willfully negligent.

    • Mickey ‘Pyrian’ Callahan

      Strictly speaking, “professional” means you get paid for it and he didn’t.

    • Viking Mana

      I doubt there will be consequences. If your editor has a genuine reason to fear being called out by their staff in written work like that, then they’re probably not the kind of editor where you’d care what they think about you. On the other hand, if the editor actually cared enough to do his job, he’d have seen this coming before allowing it to ever be published. As stated in the article, this was only possible because of the lack of standards and journalistic integrity on Brash Games.

      I don’t think it’s really fair to say that it was unprofessional given the circumstances, the same way I wouldn’t say that being a whistleblower in general isn’t unprofessional if you’re shedding light on abuses, unprofessional behavior, shoddy ethics or illegal activities. If his work was entirely voluntary, there’s even an argument to be made that he didn’t have a strictly professional relationship with the site to begin with.

      All of that being said, I think we can probably all agree that he did the right thing though, regardless of where we stand on the ethics of his means.

      • ConradZimmerman

        There are ways to do it that are professional, however. You can take them to court, and get those grievances aired publicly in a venue where both sides are able to present their position. Is that worth the effort and expense? In most cases, no, and I can understand the desire to take the simpler route of simply exposing people publicly.

        I would hesitate to call this whistleblowing, as the situation wasn’t taken to any kind of authority with an expectation that Brash could be brought to heel. This was public exposure. You can do the right thing in the wrong way and get yourself in a bad position as a result. When it comes down to it, they decided to risk taking a bullet in order to expose poor practice.

        • Bear in mind Conrad is not saying Ben did the wrong thing – quite the opposite. What Ben did was needed and good. But it was not professional.

          And I’m actually very fine with that. I’m not exactly a consummate professional myself, and in this industry, I don’t care to be.

          • James LaValle

            Strictly speaking, yes, it was very unprofessional.

            But if anything, I would no doubt argue it was necessary in order to underscore just how unprofessional his relationship with Brash actually was; to the very point that his own article slamming the site was published without so much as a bat of an eyelash because the owner doesn’t actually care about videogame journalism, or even basic integrity, just that he was basically making money for free and reaping all the glory for it.

            So yes, it was unprofessional. But so is Ryan, so fuck him.

        • FiveOD

          Isn’t it a funny coincidence how “professional standards” greatly benefit those with the vast power advantage? Hmmm!

        • Articuno76

          There was no ‘professional’ recourse here. No court to contest the issue in, no authority to appeal to.

          You may call that ‘unprofessional’, but I’d say tarring someone as ‘unprofessional’ when they took the only action available to them (in response to a lack of professionality, no less) is ‘unreasonable’.

        • Viking Mana

          That’s just not true though. Especially not for Americans. It sounds so nice and simple when you put it like that.. “Just take them to court!”.. But taking someone to court over something like this is so expensive and time-consuming that a lot of regular people, especially someone like an upstart writer, isn’t going to have those resources. Taking them to court sounds nice, but for a lot of people that’s just not an option. As you said it yourself: It’s not worth the expenses. So what was he to do other than just ignore it an move on?

          Ultimately, I absolutely believe that this was the right move, and that it’s going to benefit his career much more than simply ignoring it, or ruining himself by dragging Brash to a courtroom. I don’t think any serious modern outlet is going to disown him for calling out such egregious behavior. It’s entirely justified. If your employer is this unprofessional, you have no reason to respect “professional” ethics.

          • ConradZimmerman

            One of the reasons I brought up the legal issue is that Brash is a UK site and, as I understand it, there are some stronger laws in this area.

            Yes, what most people do is move on quietly. They learn a lesson about the behavior to look out for. They might warn others in private about their interactions with certain individuals or organizations. In public, they might make it a point to condemn poor practices, using their experience without explicitly naming names.

            As Jim points out in the closing of the Jimquisition episode on Brash, if you want to hack it in games writing, you need to be acting in your own self-interest. While actions like these serve a greater interest than that and can be justified on that basis, it’s not without risk of potential cost.

    • Sam

      The question shouldn’t have been “was that unprofessional?” but “was it called for?”
      The answer to both is ‘yes’ by my estimate.

    • Brotown

      I agree with Stache-Man (Fighter of the Shaved-Man). Putting this all out there about a games website, to me, is on the level of Jim going after bullshit game “publishers” on Steam Greenlight. Tho I may have never heard of them before, I enjoy seeing them called out and being informed enough of their actions to decide if I wish to steer clear of them.

  • What’s sad (maybe not so in retrospect) is that I’ve never heard of this Brash Games website. Was this site really popular?

    • I was by briefly months ago, only recall because of their use of a space invader in the logo and research how other gaming sites use wordpress. Not impressed, never went back until this shitstorm hit the internet.

  • Jerome Swarthington

    The one part I’m not sold on is the editing of Wikipedia articles. Isn’t adding their own reviews as citations and integrating links something that most smaller companies would do? You could just sit around waiting for the regular editors to notice you and pop in a citation, but most Wikipedia content citing smaller sources is added by people who work for or voluntarily support those sources. As long as the resulting article is factually accurate and unbiased and the citations/links are relevant, I don’t see how that’s immoral. (edit – and if it’s not kosher with Wikipedia guidelines, someone’ll catch it pretty damn fast in most cases, there isn’t even much point trying to fiddle wikipedia, they don’t miss a trick for long)

    • I was thinking the same thing tbh. Hoping someone can clarify.

    • Articuno76

      Yeah, I don’t see the issue with that TBH. As long as you are contributing to the article you have a right to link to your own content.

  • Gary Smith

    Jim you glorious bastard and wonderful human being. Thank God for you. And also thank God for Ben McCurry, he did an amazing thing.

  • Excellently written, This guy is new to this? I say he has a bright future in reviews and discourse.
    As for ‘Brash Games’ let’s hope it becomes an example to other such sites as it crumbles and burns along with it’s creator(s) if they are infact actual names of actual people, at this point i would not be surprised to find out Trump was running the site with how dodgy it is.

    • Andrew Gray

      I think Jim should take him on as an assisting writer. This guy has an excellent style, and his own brushes with the dark side of the games industry mean he knows firsthand – just like Jim – what needs to happen to make the games industry a better place to work in.

      Ben McCurry, I salute you. Jim, I always salute you. And – it bears repeating always – #FucKonami.

  • Otaku World Order

    Geez… And I thought the Jeff Gerstmann/GameSpot disaster was the worst we would see of corrupt shit on review sites.

    Clearly there’s still work to be done.

  • FoxStar

    I’ve never heard of Brash before now. Not sure how outraged I should feel.

    • Evil-evilness

      I’d say fairly outraged, because these people were paid often with ‘exposure’ and then didn’t even get that if you’ve never heard of it until now. Wouldn’t that be like getting paid in stock for a company that doesn’t even have a presence in the minds of it’s consumers?

  • TheMagicLemur

    So everyone named Paul Ryan is shit, then. Got it.

    • Loona Chan

      Pretty much everyone with two first names, to be honest.

      • Allan Weallans

        I have my first name twice, does that count?

      • Artemiy

        But what about David James the goalkeeper?

    • EvolutionKills

      Well, shit…

      Maybe best 3 out of 5?

    • Brotown

      That’s what im taking from this. I still borderline think it’s the same person. Politician, website owner, whatever.

      Fuck you Paul Ryan. Either one of you. Both of you. All of you.

    • MrInsecure

      It all makes sense now! Brash Games is healthcare reform! Why didn’t we see it before?

    • Gus

      But I’m shit and my name isn’t Paul Ryan, what the fuck I want a refund.

  • Zoge of Wowbania

    I’ve never heard of this Paul Ryan, or of Brash, and now I’ve heard all I need to hear for me to never go near the site or him, or this David James sockpuppet. As for the writers mentioned, I hope to be seeing things from them in the future. Fuck people who take advantage of creators.

  • Brian Seiler

    Question: Why on Earth would you want an apology from Ryan? Seriously. He won’t mean it, you know he won’t mean it, anybody with the slightest bit of sense will know he won’t mean it, and it won’t actually do anything more than maybe embarrass him a little, if that’s a feeling he’s capable of registering. If your goal is for him to grow as a person…well, you’re a better man than me, and also a dumber one, because that’s just not going to happen. If it’s to have him make a fool of himself, though, you should set your sights higher. Demand that he stride nude onto a public balcony and loudly proclaim “MY WILLY IS FULL OF POISONOUS DEADLY HORNETS!!!” Or sexually pleasure Tom Arnold. Or publish a detailed plan to assassinate Kim Jong Un. I mean, these are also all things that he’ll never, ever do, but have a little imagination, man.

    • Charlie Koszulinski

      Have him lick his finger and stick it in his ear! On live television! Oooh, I shutter just thinking about it!

  • HisDivineOrder

    Never heard of the guy, the site, but hey… it all sounded shady and silly. Gaming journalism does have a lot of charlatans in it. You have to be careful about who you pay attention to.

    I daily thank God for Jim. This is why.

  • Tao

    The one thing I took away from this: Nintendo had an image promoting Marvelous as one of their ‘clients’.

    I remember Nintendo trying their hardest to ignore Marvelous’ titles on their system for 2 physics defying DD reasons…Guess the Wii U really was a bomb.

    • EvolutionKills

      Also, that Brash Games somehow thought nobody would find it curious that a game review site would have associations with CriWare, Havok, and Autodesk; the people who make the content creation middleware for the game developers.

    • Dáibhí wotshissurname

      You might not have seen the latest Ja-anese Direct then…tl;dr fondle boobies with HD Rumble :0

  • frkmgnt1

    This entire thing is a disgrace. First of all, if someone isn’t *paying* for the reviews, they have no right to claim ownership of them. I was going to concede that work product produced during employment would be the product of the employer, meaning that the revenue generated would belong to the site. The byline, however, is not transferable. This isn’t something like development of a medication where the company owns the formula, not the scientist. This is writing. The author of a piece is the author. This is theft. The product itself would be one thing, though if it’s not paid for, I don’t know how they can even claim sole ownership.

    Obviously, I don’t know what sort of arrangements or contracts are made between these parties, but I cannot imagine any of them including something as unethical as retroactive claims to authorship of a piece of writing. I don’t even understand how he could possibly believe that merely posting (hosting?) an article without any transfer of payment would transfer ownership of the rights to the writing. That ownership would only extend, in my opinion, to exclusive publishing rights and monetization. It wouldn’t magically erase the article from the author’s portfolio. This isn’t an internal work document; it’s a public document, published for public consumption.

    It’s nice to see someone stand up and speak out against these sorts of practices. Personally, I don’t think anyone should be ‘volunteering’ their work in such a manner. If a site doesn’t want to hire a staff (which is fine), they should offer compensation (however small) to freelancers. Otherwise, they should not have exclusive rights to publish anything, let alone any belief that they can claim ownership of articles as ‘work product.’

    That was my attempt to sound reasonable and analytical. Here’s my tl;dr: FUCK PAUL RYAN and his Site. May it rot in obscurity.

    And Thank God for Jim Fucking Sterling Son and Ben McCurry. Well done, both of you.

  • Sarah

    I think Paul Ryan may be getting a bit scared. I just logged in to delete my reviews before saying I was out (holy crap do I not want to be associated with this site anymore) and discovered that I couldn’t edit anything, let alone delete. He’s denied his writers the ability to edit their own work- or possibly just me, I have no way to confirm it’s widespread.

  • Robby

    Paul Ryan is a monster.

    Er, both of them.

  • Aleksandr Frolov

    What to say…Praise God for Ben McCurry! I really like your writing style and you have a bright future, maybe even with Jim, i dunno :3

  • I can say that David James has vanished from the page by now. T&C just mentions Brash Games, no real names is mentioned now.

    “Useful Ranger” has turned up on some articles, including some of the articles formerly “written” by David James. This is hilarious.

    All the newer content has different names assigned – I would not be surprised if it turns out that none of these people exist!

  • Daylight Amy

    Ben, I may be a lady but I hope to one day have balls at least half as big as yours.

  • Daylight Amy

    Your sass is giving me life.

  • Matt Kennedy

    I hope this Paul Ryan guy goes down. You’re doing great work mate.

  • John Marstall

    Hey, I think “cache” is meant to be “cachet” in the paragraph beginning “I can’t speak on behalf of anyone else…”

  • MrInsecure

    Ran a Twitter Audit, and apparently only 4% of their followers are bots.

    …What the hell is even going on here?

  • LegendaryFrog

    Thanks for this Jim. It’s nice to see some exposure for people that call out these game sites for their BS tactics, especially when they have first hand experience. I appreciate you (Ben) taking a stand against a site that deceives and lies to readers and continues to erode ethics and trust of the journalism community.

  • Articuno76

    Incidentally, there are a lot start-up sites out there that have the best of intentions when offering writers ‘exposure’. I’ve worked for a few myself.

    But the reality of the crowded market space, ad blockers and shifting tastes/engagement with videogames writing means these start-ups are pretty much doomed to begin with. And no amount of positive outlook is going to make their enthusiasm translate into money down the line or widespread exposure.

  • Robert Wolf

    I like this article, you should get the guy to do another article on here.

  • Michael Swan

    I’m happy to here your actually getting paid for this gig. 🙂

  • Support!

  • There are a fair few of websites like this.
    I know of a few who don’t credit their writers, drop them if they don’t promote the sites content regularly and you have to have set views.

    Shame so many talented writers fall for this common trap.

    • Racecarlock

      Can you name some? Perhaps people could get an operation going.

  • Max Whiteley

    As a full Blown#GG I say Jim has been very ethical in his reporting of games.

    He ain’t shagging no one for review scores, and he is advert free!

    I personally argued Jim gave too many 10/10s, I still hold firm on my opinion that giving too many 10s devalues the 10 status, but I was misinformed on how many Jim had given himself on this website.(It’s not a blog any more, jims a brand, as he said.)

    Mafia 3 should have gotten a lower score, in my opinion.
    Depicting a black mas struggles dosent makes a good game… In my opinion.

    And to Jim “Thank God” Sterling Tetris isn’t a masterpiece, and it’s not an anoles for life itself.

    Thank god for the discussion that helped me see art for myself! U know hu u r!

    • MechaSlinky

      “Anolis, or anoles, is a genus of iguanian (anole) lizards belonging to the family Dactyloidae. With 391 species, Anolis represents the world’s most species-rich amniote tetrapod genus.[1]”
      -excerpt from Wikipedia, article Anolis

      So, basically, I have no idea what the fuck you’re trying to say, but if you’re saying Tetris isn’t a masterpiece, you’re objectively wrong and you should feel bad about yourself. But either way, I agree with you that Tetris is not a life lizard.

      • Max Whiteley

        No.. 10 pints of lager with the Spaniards in Leicester will do that to you.
        Tetris is my favourite game. Definitely a masterpiece.

        • MechaSlinky

          YAY! Let’s fuck!

  • Sibirian Blue

    I’m curious how the writes mentioned above took up the job at Brash, if it was unpaid. Was pay promised? Were “cool connections in the games​ industry” promised? What made these people think this website was respectable in the first place?

  • Anthony Wilson

    Well; good news everyone! Brash Games is now down, the site deleted and URL up for purchase.

    The one downside to its deletion is the loss of the work the genuine writers did on the site. As put by Kirioth in the description of a mock memorial video he put up a few hours ago:

    “On a serious note, if you wrote for Brash Games and your work was
    deleted when the site was nuked, then I am truly sorry. No one deserves
    to have their hard work and effort wiped away because of someone elses
    mistakes. I hope you’re able to move forward and continue doing what you
    love. Brash Games was not the end of you. You’re better than that.
    Brash Games was just the end of Brash Games.”