Original Article By BoundingIntoComics.com:

SmashJT’s “Kotaku Detected” website has made a return after a coordinated takedown attempt by mainstream video game press.

The debacle unfolded over almost the entirety of May, between Jeff Tarzia (games industry recruiter turned journalist and YouTuber “Smash JT”), and Alyssa Mercante (Kotaku Senior Editor).

On May 3rd, Tarzia reported on Mercante misrepresenting Crytivo CEO Alex Koshlekov. After the Farm Folks “perfect breast jiggle physics” joke, Mercante quoted Koshlekov in a way that suggested he was against those upset over the apology.

After Koshlekov revealed their Discord messages, exposing Mercante’s refusal to amend the quote, the interview was updated with a full, unedited quote at the end.

Alyssa Mercante begrudgingly updates her interview with Alex Koshlekov on Kotaku

Tarzia covered this on his website and YouTube channel, along with accusing Mercante of being a “former sex worker.” Though denying she was a stripper, Mercante has admitted she is a “former cam girl.”

May 6th would then see Tarzia start his “End Kotaku” campaign. Explaining Kotaku was a “pivotal voice” in the gaming industry, yet fallen far from grace with journalists behaving more like activists, Tarzia launched a petition — requesting accountability from parent company G/O Media in hopes to “return to unbiased reporting or shut down entirely if they refuse.”

At this time of writing, the petition has reached over 4,400 signatures out of a goal of 5,000.

Demand the Shutdown of Kotaku for the Betterment of Video Game Journalism via Change.org

Kotaku has been the poster child for the worst trends of mainstream gaming journalism over the last decade: upholding games and developers that support Left-leaning ideals while condemning the rest, sewing division by portraying disagreement as harassment, unprofessional behavior, and cronyism.

Citing Mercante’s then-recent actions as an example of Kotaku’s issues drew her ire. On May 7th, Tarzia shared the DMs she had sent to him and his wife. The alleged DMs to Tarzia show Mercante accusing him and his “ilk” of directing harassment for “clout,” and that it may even “embolden” men who would want to kill them.

The latter stems from Tarzia sharing a post from someone who said he would kill her in VR. Even though Tarzia deleted this post when Mercante alerted him to the content, she still tried to shame him for it on X. Tarzia then promoted the petition in replies to her posts.

Tarzia had ignored Mercante’s DMs, and openly mocked her. This led to Mercante admitting she found his wife’s Facebook account, and “asked what she thinks about the father of her children harassing a woman online and laughing when she shares that someone they’re supporting has been threatening to kill them for weeks.”

The Facebook messages (from “Alyssa Marie”) told Tarzia’s wife that he had sent harassment towards women “over video games” including herself, along with articles, videos, and petitions about her (while the petition doesn’t mention her, Tarzia’s articles about the petition do). She also mentioned the aforementioned shared VR killer post.

Mercante also insinuated Tarzia would be a poor husband and father due to what he was “so invested in at his age.” Tarzia felt this was beyond the pale, and demanded Kotaku to re-evaluate its guidelines on ethical behavior.

In his video on the matter, Tarzia adds that Mercante had been emboldened due to others in the gaming industry “pushing her forward,” and gaining narcissistic pleasure from ruining careers and lives. Tarzia didn’t let up on his coverage of Mercante in the weeks that followed.

This included covering those who defended and supported her harassment of him, her being “fired” from Kotaku (when the X profile removed mention of Kotaku for a time), the poor behavior of her colleaguesMercente briefly leaving X (after backlash, harassment, and doxxing), and someone buying the domain name of her sister’s website to demand answers.

He also reported on Mercante seeking legal action against him, her continued downplaying and mockery of contacting his wife (attempting to get others to make it into a joke), and making a list of YouTubers who had covered her outlandish actions. The latter is hypocritical, given her condemnation of Sweet Baby Inc. Detected.

Tarzia then went on to create “Kotaku Detected” on the 24th, a section of his website dedicated to “create a comprehensive directory of certain individuals, detailing their roles, articles, and other relevant information as to why they have negatively contributed to video game journalism.”

This also included associates of Kotaku — former employees and those who gave support or approval to the website and their writers — and others making the gaming industry or its journalism worse. This included Nick Calandra, co-founder of the Second Wind YouTube channel for former The Escapist content creators.

In now-deleted X posts (with screenshots from others being shared), Calandra had requested his name be removed from the website and the entire Kotaku Detected page be taken down. As Tarzia only complied with the former, he encouraged his followers to report the website to its domain holder, Wix.

The website was taken down on May 27th, much to the delight of Calandra and Mercante. In his video on the website’s takedown, Tarzia explained all information he had gathered was in the public eye, and not against Wix’ terms on private information.

In the prior week, Calandra had been accused of facilitating the doxxing of Mark Kern (another gaming industry advocate) via his Discord members. Calandra denied sharing his address, only having hosted information from “the Crixa Labs filing, as it’s public record,” which he claimed to have deleted.

Almost 24 hours from being taken down, Tarzia’s website and the Kotaku Detected page were brought back. “The hosting service has affirmed that nothing on SmashJT.com is illegal, and the site is well within its rights to host and feature information about public figures… because, well.. these are PUBLIC figures,” Tarzia explained.

Tarzia also highlighted Mercante insisting he was promoting “transphobia racism, sexism, and more,” while Calandra (in now-deleted X posts) allegedly stated he would continue to seek ways to take the list down (including legal efforts), and encouraging others to “go after their funding sources.”

“Just keep throwing these lawsuit threats out there, like dude, just do your job!!” Tarzia implored. “Cover the games, focus on that, do it right, and no one is going to have any issues! The problem is, when you start diving into this drama, you are creating havoc, for yourself.”

“Focus on the games, not the agendas, and everyone else will be happy,” he concluded.