THQ Nordic is not having a very good couple of days. The video game publishing label is facing a massive public backlash after participating in an “Ask Me Anything” on one of the most infamously predatory message boards around, 8chan. The backlash was so severe that they’ve had to backtrack, apologise and distance themselves from heinous acts such as racism and the creation and distribution of child pornography.
“I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site. I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form. (…)
— THQNordic (@THQNordic) February 26, 2019
8chan is a message board that allows users to post pretty much anything completely ungoverned. It started as a “free-speech” alternative to 4chan, a message board that already had its own reputation issues. 8chan was also involved with harassment campaigns against women during the GamerGate fiasco and was temporarily blacklisted by Google back in 2015 for its involvement in the sharing of child pornography. And this is the place THQ Nordic decided to host their “Ask Me Anything”.
Despite a lot of concerns being raised, the interview went ahead, and it went just about as smoothly as you’d expect. Comments ranged from some genuine questions about their games to question and comments involving incredibly uncomfortable topics such as “lolis”, a term used to describe prepubescent girls.
THQ naturally apologised for their involvement with 8chan, and if their Tweet (above) is to be believed, it was a mistake caused by an individual who didn’t understand or do any research on the message board they were posting to. However that doesn’t explain THQ’s decision to engage in and respond to some very sketchy comments. Many screenshots and Tweets have been made about some of the interactions between 8chan and THQ and they are damning. As seen below, THQ responded positively to comments about lolis, and also told one user that an image containing a homophobic slur “could be from one of our upcoming games”.
there’s this response too, very good pic.twitter.com/eebZnpqEeg
— tincan (@tincansamurai27) February 26, 2019
Another user wrote in saying “Please don’t censor any games nor appeal to the SocJus [social justice] crowd, you guys are doing fine as is” to which THQ’s representative and Marketing Manager Phillip Brock responded with “thanks! we’ll try to stay that way.”
The whole thing is a huge fiasco that appears to be sitting on the shoulders of Phillip Brock. After the interview concluded and the backlash begun, THQ deleted the original Tweet promoting the Ask Me Anything and has put out a statement that can be seen in full below.
“I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site,” Brock said. “I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form. I am terribly sorry for the shortsightedness of my decision, and promise to be far more vigorous in my assessment of these activities in the future. This was not about being edgy, this blew up and I very much regret to have done it in the first place.”