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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Shufflegate: Exposed!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The imagined headline is real. (Content Warning: Zoe Quinn swears in a picture below.)

Did you know it is indisputable that Nintendo hates women? You cannot argue with that. Or you will be blocked, by, among others, former Nintendo Treehouse employee Alison Rapp:

Shufflegate Alison Rapp block Twitter Paper Mario Color Splash Zoe Quinn Nintendo Treehouse
KoopaTV's Twitter account has been following her for years, but we couldn't take it anymore after this.
(Tweet order re-arranged so it's chronological from top to bottom.)
What are current events and “the Paper Mario screens”? Well, it's a new scandal called Shufflegate, and it exists in the mind of Depression Quest developer (and other games, I hear) Zoe Quinn:

Zoe Quinn Twitter Paper Mario Color Splash Watergate Gamergate Shufflegate
After this, she is vowing to take a major hiatus from Twitter.

Okay, okay. Let's back up.

Who is Zoe Quinn? Well, she was the impetus for many people to start the #GamerGate movement, which, if you may recall, is supposedly about promoting “ethics in videogame journalism” and therefore they are against KoopaTV. According to #GamerGate, she had intimate relations with five men (Five Guys) in exchange for positive reviews on her games. This blew up into a whole big thing going against a lot of feminists but at the same time still being about ethics in journalism. Whatever.

Zoe Quinn's fledgling career was ruined due to being the target of a lot of anger on the Internet, and she was on the receiving end of many threats. The movement was called #GamerGate. Therefore, Five Guys + career-ruining + Something that ends with the -gate suffix = Nintendo purposefully is making a joke about Zoe Quinn's suffering in the upcoming Paper Mario: Color Splash.

Let's unpack that.

First, let me say that I wanted the first article on KoopaTV about Paper Mario: Color Splash to be about how we have non-sub-zero hopes regarding the game after the AMAZING presentation on Nintendo Treehouse Live during E3 2016. Have you read that log? It's a great reaction log.

Zoe Quinn is objecting to a scene where, at the Bloo Bay Beach Oceanfest, there are Five Fun Guys (five Green Toads) and the host of their contest, called the Toad Shuffle, the Yellow Toad. Some day, KoopaTV will give every Toad names. Anyway, one of the Fun Guys is hiding a certain object. The plumber and his trusty sidekick, Huey, need to guess which Fun Guy has the object after they move around a lot. Once he has it, he can obtain a key to take a nap in the VIP area.

The problem is that the five Fun Guys look the same, and even if Mario successfully tracks which Fun Guy has the object, the Yellow Toad host claims Mario is wrong. In order to prove he's correct, Mario tries the Toad Shuffle again. This time, he whacks the Toad who has the object before they begin shuffling. This means that the correct Toad is the only one with paint. The host still claims it's not the correct Toad, and Huey says the game is rigged. He's right, of course. This makes a big scandal, to which the host hopes Mario doesn't tell the whole world and expose Toad Shuffle as a scam.

The host gives the key to Mario, in exchange for Mario not saying a word and revealing Shufflegate to the world. He's close to a silent protagonist anyway.

So, why is the scandal called Shufflegate? There is a long-standing tradition in the English-speaking parts of the world to put the suffix “-gate” to name a scandal, starting with President Nixon and the Watergate scandal. That scandal, if you recall, related to Nixon getting burglars to the Watergate hotel occupied by the Democratic National Committee, the likes of which Richard Nixon was running against. He was trying to get re-elected. (Watergate isn't a joke referring to the tears that flowed out of Zoe Quinn's eyes. It was a real event!)

How many burglars were there? Five. How many green Toads are there in Toad Shuffle? Five. Why are they called the “Five Fun Guys”? Because there are five of them, and “Fun Guy” is a pun for “fungi” which fits because, I mean, look at the Toads. Nintendo has been using that pun for YEARS.

Nintendo felt the need to take the extraordinary step to provide a statement to basically saying that Shufflegate is a reference to Watergate and a continuation of the long tradition of attaching the -gate suffix to scandals. The Five Fun Guys is apparently a reference to the team name “Fungi Fun Guys” used when tag-teaming Mario and Toad in Mario Party 8.

People ask why there is a Watergate joke in a Paper Mario game. I thought this was obvious: Because everyone knows what it is, and subtle political humour is the best kind. Yet, people said that the target audience, being kids, don't know what Watergate is. Well, I polled the Teenager Posts community on Google+ and here are the results:

Watergate scandal awareness among Millennials teenagers kids America
An overwhelming majority of teenagers don't know what Watergate even means.
I suspect that guy with the Stalin avatar knows, though.

Now, you can question my methodology if you want, but keep in mind that, at the very least, Teenager Posts is an English-speaking community and Watergate was big news across the entire world. Most of that community is from America, anyway.

Either way, it looks like most people under 18 don't know what Watergate is. We can talk about the failures of the education system later (or in the comments section), but does this mean that it's not actually a Watergate reference? Well, there are several explanations:
  1. Nintendo Treehouse thought that most people WOULD know what Watergate is. They might've just assumed that instead of field-testing, because not everyone is Hillary Clinton who poll-tests literally everything.
  2. The dialogue isn't there just to appeal to children. Paper Mario games and Mario games as a whole are rife with cultural references. For example, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has TEC-XX, a major character, be a reference to HAL 9000 from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yet, 2001: A Space Odyssey is from 1968, while Watergate happened in 1972. If length of time is any indicator, then even less people should pick up on the reference. Let's remember that the ESRB rating is “E for Everyone”, not just kids. Having sub-texts in children's movies for adults common in Disney movies, as well as Nintendo games.
Or, they could just have a bonus to kids who studied their history and know what Watergate is. Not everyone is bilingual, yet the Bilingual Bonus trope exists and used in games.

Speaking for KoopaTV, we expect that the majority of our readers will not catch onto the majority of the references we inject into our articles. We put 'em in anyway, because we enjoy doing it for our sakes. That might not be the best approach, but it makes KoopaTV unique among a sea of other videogame websites.

Paper Mario: Color Splash, in the limited amount of time we've seen it, already has awesome dialogue. It tries to make the most out of the circumstances it's been given, and we would hate it for the colourfulness to be whitewashed by white-out from the personality-draining professional victim crowd. That means we want the lines of dialogue to stay. We'll know if they change. We'll buy the game. We'll get to that part. We. Will. Know.

By the way. If you want powerful #GamerGate references in a game, you wouldn't go to Paper Mario: Color Splash. You'd go to KoopaTV's own original game, Defend Anita Sarkeesian, which you can play for free right from your browser.

Just saying.

Sometime between Monday and Thursday of next week, KoopaTV will write its big defence of Paper Mario: Color Splash. KoopaTV anticipates being the only videogame website to actually try to defend it, yet KoopaTV will take this job proudly. KoopaTV also proudly stands against both social justice, as well as #GamerGate.

This game has marvelous writing going for it. Much better than its predecessor. KoopaTV defends it against the hate campaign against it.
Another group of five Toads may be triggering people. In the same game, too!


  1. So what you're saying is this whole time Shufflegate references to a major event in history and not a sjw uproar? I would never have guessed that (if wasn't for U.S. History)!

    1. I know, right? Who would've thought?

      So they actually do teach Watergate in U.S. History? Then why the hell do people not know about it?

  2. SJWs make me ashamed to be female. I consider myself an egalitarian and not a feminist because the term "feminist" has been corrupted to the point that the original suffrage movement won't even recognize it any more. Yes I know there are those who consider themselves "feminists" that are more like the feminists of old and not SJWs but they are mostly buried by loudmouths.

    SJWs are more revenge oriented. They say Whites and Men have been horrible in the past, let's make them know how it feels. Never mind that the ones who suffered are long gone or are elderly and the elderly are probably not suddenly going to feel better seeing people who had nothing to do with them in the past suffer.

    1. Fortunately, not all females are SJWs! (And... not all SJWS are female... though maybe they once were.)

      Zoe Quinn in particular, from what I've seen, has turned her whole professional life about bitching about something and being someone's victim. Apparently that's good enough to make a living.

      If they really wanted to make it a GamerGate joke, they'd have the Toad Shuffle host be female.

      That revenge stuff scares me. And it'll be at the crux of a Hillary presidency.

  3. It couldn't be a more obvious Watergate reference unless they had the Toad say "I am not a crook."

    Now, one of the reasons I brought up Link's Awakening in our Twitter conversation is because it proves even more than the 2001: A Space Odyssey reference that Nintendo would certainly use old references most kids won't get.

    It might not be Paper Mario, but if a game released in 1993/1998 (depending on whether the line is in the original or just DX) references a movie from 1932, referencing a major 1970s political scandal in 2016 is completely reasonable for Nintendo!

    (On a side note, does your survey mean the majority of Ace Attorney players probably don't know Gatewater Hotel is a reference?)

    1. Hm, maybe they SHOULD edit the dialogue just to add that line.

      Yeah, there really is precedent for referencing old things kids won't get, whether because it amuses the localisers or because it'll amuse parents that are watching the kids play. (Or the parents are the ones playing.) I mean, doesn't Nintendo encourage parents to watch their kids play as it is? Wouldn't it make sense to have in-game stuff appeal to that message?

      It's not like this will be the ONLY JOKE in the game, too. Kids will have many other things that they'll find amusing. Maybe not necessarily referential, but amusing either way.

      (Ace Attorney players are probably smarter than the general population.)


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