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New Mario Game’s ‘Shufflegate’ Joke Has Nothing to Do with ‘Online Hate Campaign’, Says Nintendo

After confusion over what could be interpreted as a Gamergate reference in the forthcoming Wii U game, the publisher sets the record straight.

by Mike Diver
23 June 2016, 4:56pm

A screenshot from 'Paper Mario: Color Splash', coming out in October

You can totally understand why she'd be pissed. Two years of horrible shit from strangers on the internet. Two years of having salt constantly rubbed into a wound that isn't allowed to heal on account of Twitter being a welcoming home for eggy goblins gleefully tossing abuse at whoever they like from behind a veil of online anonymity. Two years of the same "jokes", the same memes, the same old stories, recycled and spun and put through the wash over and over again until they've become all but meaningless to everyone but her. To the person they were first birthed to hurt the most.

Yesterday, June the 22nd, developer Zoë Quinn took to Twitter to post outrage at what appeared to be a not-in-the-slightest-bit-subtle reference, in forthcoming Wii U game Paper Mario: Color Splash, to the harassment she's received since the summer of 2014, when an infamous internet post by an ex-boyfriend insinuated that she'd convinced five different men in the industry to provide favourable coverage for her then-new game, Depression Quest. These accusations were not all they claimed to be, but nevertheless certain sections of the gaming community, and others who just like to wind people up online for their own simple gratification, have waged a verbal war against Quinn ever since. Some have used the Gamergate hashtag when posting abusive messages.

So naturally, she was going to be upset when seeing these two images from Color Splash put next to each other, one referencing "five guys" and the other a career-damaging #gate. Completely understandable. And days before her post, which was followed by several more expressing disbelief at what she was seeing, Gamergate-supportive website OneAngryGamer.net had posted that the game was parodying what Quinn had been through, rather than anything else – Watergate, or previous Mario series games in which Fun Guys (fungis, see) have featured, writer Billy D saying:

"It looks like #GamerGate has had enough of an impact on the industry to receive parodies in the world of AAA video games. A reference to the 2014 scandal surfaced in the most unlikely of places: a Nintendo game for the Wii U, specifically Paper Mario: Color Splash."

Responding to Quinn's tweets, and a lot of curiosity from the games industry en masse over the following hours, Nintendo has now released a statement categorically quashing the OneAngryGamer take, confirming that "Shufflegate" refers to the American presidential Watergate scandal of the 1970s, not more recent social media shitshows, and the "five fun guys" to Mario Party 8.

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Eurogamer published the statement in full earlier today, which reads as follows:

"As many have observed, when viewed in its entirety the Nintendo Treehouse: Live segment for Paper Mario: Color Splash from E3 includes two jokes separated by commentary and gameplay that have no relation to each other. One joke has to do with Watergate, while the other is a nod to the Fungi Fun Guys from Mario Party 8.

"It was brought to our attention today that these two jokes have been spliced together and misconstrued as a crude reference to an online hate campaign. While we typically do not speak on localisation matters, we feel the need to confirm that these jokes are not linked in the game and were never intended to be linked.

"Nintendo firmly rejects the harassment of individuals in any way and was surprised to learn that its gameplay was misinterpreted in this manner."

You can watch the Color Splash segment of Nintendo's E3 2016 Treehouse stream on YouTube here. The "five fun guys" remarks come in at around 22:30, and "Shufflegate" at 23:32. The two screens are part of the same scene, sure, but they don't happen in quick succession. Until you put these two bubbles of text together, beside one another, the connection to said "online hate campaign" simply isn't there.

Conclusion: hateful people on the internet deliberately placed screen A with screen B to freshly distress someone who's had more than her fill of bullshit. Those people are bad people, amongst the worst people. Also: yay, a new Wii U game. One that a totally different bunch of dickheads don't want.

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