A joke or silly misunderstanding is all it takes to get fired these days. Disturbed people who feel inadequate and left behind by normal, healthy society coalesce into self-radicalizating echo chambers on the internet — and evolve into digital mobs itching for any opportunity to exact revenge against the world that hurt them. This is cancel culture.
And cancel culture has now got popular GOG community manager Linko fired. Yes, the Polish company and CD Projekt subsidiary best known for selling classic PC games and offending the far too easily offended in what some have speculated — wrongly, it would seem — is a clever marketing strategy.
I have already covered the fallout from Linko’s October 22nd tweet in Cyberpunk 2077 devs doxed, harassed after misuse of trans* hashtag #WontBeErased, but now I have been able to confirm with a source in the company that — as feared when the community noticed his GOG account had been deleted — he is fired.
Let’s be very clear, GOG and parent CD Projekt Red dealt with the entire hubbub in the worst possible way from the get-go.
Quick background: the #WontBeErased hashtag was conceived of by LGBTQ social media accounts after news of a Trump memo about defining gender as a biological condition determined by genitalia at birth, and it briefly trended on Twitter. Linko, a manager in charge of GOG’s Twitter account as well as its forums, saw an opportunity to promote his company by tweeting “Classic PC games #WontBeErased on our watch.”
The tweet was immediately deleted when he realized the hashtag was off-limits to mere heterosexuals, but the outrage brigade had already hit PRNT SCRN and sounded the Red Alert.
Cries of unimaginable social justice suffering inundated Twitter, and users of the ResetEra forum started posting dox and coordinating a harassment campaign against the Polish company. The blitzkrieg of bitterness soon received reinforcements from activists with fancy job titles at gaming publications.
And of course, spineless GOG capitulated and penned an apology that mentioned nothing about the harassment Linko and his family received.
The firing will probably be no surprise to the GOG community, which has felt his absence and tried in vain to get answers concerning his status with the company. Most GOG forum threads on the subject have been locked or 404’d, but a still available open letter in support of Linko received 17 pages of supportive replies before it was locked.
Firing Linko is a huge loss to the GOG community. The company has legitimized the heckler’s veto, incentivized harassment of their own employees, and gotten rid of the only member of their staff that understood their own gaming community, a community that already shows signs of struggling without his guidance.
The company gave in to a group of people who have no intention of spending money on any of their products, all to save face with game journalists who are steadily becoming more and more irrelevant due to alternative media on YouTube and Twitch. For all the company puts in advertising its games on these outlets, few people even know about the launch of Thronebreaker, the GOG-timed exclusive single-player campaign for its card game, Gwent. That says everything you need to know about the state of the games media and its ineffectiveness in driving attention towards the products it’s supposed to cover.
As it stands, the games media is only good at stoking outrage campaigns towards games and their developers rather than building hype for these products. Apart from a handful of important pieces of coverage, like Riot Games’ (League of Legends) treatment of its employees, which was diligently chronicled by Kotaku, the only time the games media is ever truly relevant is when they’re raising some controversy about Red Dead Redemption 2, Spider-Man, or PewDiePie or Ninja and the so-called “entitlement” of gamers — controversies that simply wouldn’t exist were it not for these articles.
Of course, we have to talk about these controversial subjects because they are controversial, but the fact remains that videos establishing the better qualities of certain games get a million times (this is no exaggeration) as many views as any sort of positive coverage the games media can spin, and the divide is getting wider.
Companies like CD Projekt Red/GOG are not wise to the outrage mob, and their belief that catering to their indignation is going to help them build their brand is mistaken. It is having the opposite effect on how gamers — their customers — perceive the company and their products.
As they say: get woke, go broke.