Has Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft lost his mind?

Having run out of gaming cupcakes to pad out its content with, Kotaku turns to real life horror stories of physical and sexual abuse...tangentially related to videogames!

If you came to this site – a blog about videogames – and found a news story about a serial killer who decapitated prostitutes and bottled their blood to make a giant bleeding throne of skulls in his basement, you would probably be a little confused and not a little disturbed. Those sorts of stories belong on serious news sites like the BBC or – a completely random example – The Huffington Post. Places that can treat such a dark, weighty story with the respect it deserves. Ah, but what if I made an effort to point out one of the murdered prostitutes had logged 170 hours playing Angry Birds on her iPhone. Would that make it relevant? I like to think most people would agree the answer to that is still a big fat “no.”

Most people that is except for Brian Ashcraft of popular gaming news site Kotaku. You see Brian thought a horrible story about two American sisters subjecting a mentally challenged man to physical and sexual abuse was prime fodder for Kotaku’s Australian audience. You may rightfully wonder why such a terrible tale merits being on a site about videogame news, amongst stories about DLC and Portal cakes. Well you see the man in question had been playing videogames in his room when one of the twisted sisters lured him round to her house to “hang out,” shortly before his human rights were grotesquely abused. I repeat: he was playing videogames in his room. I have now referenced videogames twice as much as the original Huffington Post article Ashcraft cites as his source. Videogames. Now I’ve referenced them more than Ashcraft does in his reinterpretation of the story, and that’s including his headline.

It’s long been common knowledge that despite being ostensibly a site all about videogame news, Kotaku will bend that rigid definition to ridiculous extremes if it means they can squeeze some extra content out. At one point their front page was so notorious for stories about videogame-related baked goods they launched Caketaku, a spin-off from the main site entirely devoted to them. More recently they launched Kotaku Core after mounting criticism from readers who felt they weren’t getting enough “proper” videogame news. Funnily enough these complaints tended to crop up around Brian Ashcraft’s articles, often easily summarised by “Here’s yet another reason I love Japan, with something about videogames shoehorned into it!” Perhaps in light of Ashcraft’s latest piece that should be revised to “Another piece for the Japanese tourist board, with something tangentially related to videogames and possibly rape.” I wonder what name Kotaku could give THAT spin-off. Abusetaku?

Look Brian – can I call you Brian? It’s genuinely decent of you to want to bring this tragic tale of people’s inhumanity towards other people to a wider audience, particularly one that might otherwise have missed it. We both know gamers can be an insular lot at times but we’re not as divorced from what’s going on in the world as the media likes to make out. After all, our chosen pastime kind of implies we’re more than a bit net-savvy and connected. We wouldn’t go to Disneyland expecting a re-enactment of Belsen however, so we don’t go to a light-hearted gaming news site for stories about human cruelty. I’m all for challenging gamers and taking them out of their comfort-ruts Brian, I really am, but this isn’t quite the way to go about it. A black-hearted cynic might assume you were so desperate for some game-related news to meet your quota that day you trawled a bunch of “real” news sites looking for any stories with the word “videogames” in them. Not me though. I’m sure your intentions were entirely noble.

If you want to see the Kotaku article in question then click here for a Google search results page, since I refuse to give Gawker media any hits by linking to it directly. Alternatively you could just read the original Huffington Post article by David Lohr here. In the meantime I’ll be working on my little upcoming feature about Fred West’s favourite Commodore 64 games. For a man who spent so much time in his garden it’s no wonder he was a dab hand at Hover Bovver!


About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.