Hayden Dingman RE: Deepfreeze
- Sure, I'll respond. Part of the problem with DeepFreeze and the "crawl Twitter" initiative is you have no real idea what my life is actually like, vis-a-vis context. Thus @BoogiepopRobin has written "Gaming journalist Hayden Dingman has been a friend of PR person Stephanie Palermo since at least as early as July 2013 yet did not disclose the relationship in articles in which it would have been relevant," and gone on to infer some amount of impropriety has occurred in relation to reviews for The Banner Saga and Outlast.
- In reality, I'd peg the start of any friendship with Stephanie at March/April of 2014. In late January of that year I went through a shit break-up with my girlfriend of five years. It was ill-planned and I ended up feeling pretty lonesome (hadn't made many friends in San Francisco) and I lived on Treasure Island for a while (which, if you've been to San Francisco, you know is a radioactive shithole).
- I started going out to industry events, making friends, talking to acquaintances more, and Stephanie Palermo was one of those people because she ran a board gaming event for industry folks to network. She and I became friends for a brief period of time, and it's almost funny for this DeepFreeze investigation to occur because I literally had a discussion with Stephanie sitting on the pier outside the Ferry Building sometime in March/April (BRIEF EDIT: Of 2014) where I said "I can't write about whatever you're repping these days. It's not whether there's actually any impropriety. It's about the illusion of impropriety."
- Irony, I know, because now that illusion has led to a whole thing here.
- Anyways, I didn't talk about anything Stephanie repped after Banner Saga through to the end of her time at TriplePoint because I recognized there was a clear CoI.
- But, as friendships do, Stephanie and I were good friends for a period of months and then it slowly just...I don't know. Faded. To the point where this is, again, almost funny (were it not so serious) to see on a February morning in 2016 because Stephanie and I haven't talked for all of five minutes in the last year or more.
- Which brings us to Capcom. I made a judgment call, perhaps wrongly, that a) Stephanie was one part of a Capcom PR machine that encompasses many, many people. I don't know what games Stephanie works on, nor do I want to know. And, in fact, I have no contact with Stephanie as part of Capcom, as all of their PR is handled through an external agency (fortyseven). b) It was a transient sort of friendship that was fast losing its spark even by the summer of 2014.
- Given those two factors I, as I said, made a judgment call that it probably wasn't a big deal. These are allegations I take very seriously. I disclose on every article I write about CCP because my roommate works for an external PR agency that handles their communications. I stopped writing about Humble Bundle because my best friend in this world, Spencer Hayes, works in their biz dev department. I stopped writing about or reviewing any Telltale games because my college roommate and other best friend Matt Ritter wrote there for a period in 2014—mostly on Tales from the Borderlands, which spooled out throughout 2015. Now that he's moved on to other jobs I will most likely (finally) go back to writing about Telltale, but I say these things to demonstrate that I am generally very cautious about Conflicts of Interest.
- However—HOWEVER—do not think I am dismissing your concerns. Remember what I said to Stephanie, two years ago now: The ILLUSION of impropriety is far more damning than any actual impropriety. If the gaming community thinks this is a problem then it's a problem.
- For my own part, I'd say the grey-area articles are those written in Fall of 2014, as my friendship with Stephanie was dwindling and she'd moved over to Capcom (albeit in a behind the scenes role). Do I personally think those articles are problematic? No. But I'm willing to post-hoc add disclosure, and with my sincere apologies to readers I've let down. Disclosure is not a hassle. Disclosure is easy. It's making the judgment call that's hard, and here I apparently erred.
- But to categorize this as an ongoing Conflict of Interest is fallacy, in my opinion. If you think otherwise—if you think there should be disclosure along the lines of "This person I haven't spoken to in over a year works at this company"—I would be interested in hearing your reasoning.
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