In the aftermath of Comcast’s shuttering of their short-lived attempt to revive G4, while her former co-host has taken to throwing bizarre and childish tantrums on social media, Indiana “Frosk” Black has chosen to offer insight into the event that heralded its eventual downfall – her now-infamous “sexism in gaming” rant.
The recently retired video game personality opened up about the circumstances which prompted her impassioned explosion in an exclusive interview held with independent journalist Peter Pischke for his newly-launched interview podcast Culturescape.
[Disclosure: Pischke has a working relationship with Bounding Into Comics and is considered a friend by this article’s author.]
Following a discussion of G4’s strategic failings, Pischke turned their conversation to the topic of her rant, directly asking his guest, “What was happening to Frosk that you were in that position where you felt like this needed to be said?”
In turn, Frosk revealed that the first embers of her rant were sparked by her experiences “trying to pay attention to everything that was happening online around G4” during a period “fairly early on into its announcement.”
“Over the months leading up to it, everywhere I looked, if it was on YouTube or Reddit or Twitch, every platform, people were just talking about how much they used to masturbate to Morgan Webb,” she explained. “I was like, ‘This is so strange, that on social media people are just making all these crude, not even just jokes, but just really crude statements. What is happening where we’ve missed the barrier to the decision making to think [something] type it out, to hit enter, and send?’
Shifting her attentions to the Xplay segment in which her anger eventually boiled over, Frosk detailed how “it was supposed to be like a ‘New Year’s gripes thing.”
“So we’d be like, ‘This thing really annoyed me. In the New Year, let’s start fresh, and do a New Year’s rant,” she told Pischke. “Originally I was supposed to [talk about] Red Dead Redemption 2‘s online I was gonna blast Rockstar, and this was even before they decided to just leave [the game’s] online to die.”
However, after doing rehearsals – where the onscreen team “wanna keep our rants ‘secretive’, so we don’t record them or do them” – everyone went took a lunch break, whereat Frosk’s rant truly began to take form.
“And I go to lunch, and I’m sitting with [network producer Emily Rose, director Gabrielle Thomas, and co-executive producer Megan Lutz], and I don’t remember why it was brought up but the discussion at the table really just kind of turned into our different experiences as women in the industry, and also in that specific studio, of having really sexist and gross experiences,” she recalled.”I was like ‘Why is that so prevalent in this industry?'”
“Like it’s so bizarre,” Frosk opined on the matter. “I’ve worked in four different Riot offices – and Riot obviously went through the massive lawsuit about gender discrimination – but just like the s–t that I’ve seen…working ten years in esports, I thought that going into mainstream broadcasting would make it better.”
But while she “thought esports was like this ‘Wild West, where you don’t have a lot of people with white collar business experience, and that it was going to get better going into G4,” these issues reportedly only “got so much worse going into G4.”
“Specifically in that studio,” she added. “I cannot believe more stuff hasn’t come out.”
Frosk next explained how after that lunch she returned to the studio and decided to change the topic of her rant, shifting it from Rockstar’s multiplayer failings to her aggrieved frustrations with her and her co-workers’ personally sexist experiences.
Retracing the chain of events, she stated, “So I hash out the rant, I give it to [Xplay showrunner] Michael Leffler and Megan, and they approve it, and they’re like ‘Yeah, this is great, we’re gonna put it in the teleprompter,’ and then I read it and that’s what went out.”
“It was approved by all of the higher-ups,” Frosk bluntly affirmed.
In a quick aside, the former Xplay host noted, “Hilariously, [Xplay co-host Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil] was actually going to do a very similar rant, his was going to be about the general hatred or negativity – I don’t want to put words in his mouth – but kind of like the negativity around the gaming sphere and the audience outputting that.”
“Mine was negativity through the lens of sexism and gaming,” she distinguished between their two talks. “And then when Jirard heard mine, he was like, ‘Well you know, you basically talked about a very similar vein of what I was gonna talk about,’ so he doesn’t do his.”
Returning to the rant itself, Frosk turned to address the decision by G4’s social media team “to clip it and it separately.”
“They didn’t like ask me or anything, they just went,” she asserted, revealing that she initially thought little of her ranting because “What, 2000 people watched that stream? I was like, ‘It’s whatever. That was basically for this audience.'”
However, while in true corporate fashion G4 proceeded to “ride the high of – internally, everyone’s like ‘good job, we really stand behind you!'”, Frosk revealed to an intently-listening Pischke that in even more true corporate fashion, “As soon as the backlash comes and it gets caught up in the YouTube algorithim, all of the harassment comes and G4 just hard bailed.”
“They were like, ‘We’re really supporting you, but waaaaay over here,'” she recalled. “I asked them multiple times “What are your guidelines? How do you wanna handle any of this? There’s no guidelines in terms of social media. I asked them repeatedly for assistance or what they wanted me to say.”
“[In the standards of the public relations world], if that happens, what you do is you actually flood the market with more interviews,” said Frosk. “So if Comcast wanted to do that correctly, if they have this algorithm machine focusing on negativity, what you do is actually schedule a s–t ton of interviews and you just 50/50 it.”
“But they just decided to, I don’t know, completely back away,” she sighed.
According to Frosk, not only did G4 completely hang her out to dry, but they did so in the face of real-world harassment from some of G4’s more unhinged critics.
“It got really bad when, I don’t know if it was multiple people – I’m assuming it was probably one person that was using multiple sock puppet account – but there was a stalker scenario,” she said of the problems with which she was left to deal with on her own. “I called my local police department to make sure that I didn’t get swatted. the address attached to my LLC – this is how they tried to get it – was actually my agent’s address and his phone number, so my agent was getting all of these threatening phone calls and having drive-bys of his house. I had to completely change my LLC to some random PO box.”
“I had this individual who was, I’m assuming reverse image searching the pictures I put on my social media, and kept messaging me trying to get my location,” she continued. “Weird shit like that.”
“I decided to delete my entire Twitter to make sure that there weren’t images that could be used – I just cleared the entire thing out,” Frosk stated. “I felt like anything that I did, then the YouTubers were reporting on it. I was like, ‘Dudes, I don’t even know how to explain to you the levels of deep weirdness this is!'”
“So that sucked, and it was definitely like a lowpoint, but outside of that it was business as usual,” she concluded. “I stopped really using a lot of social media, didn’t go on YouTube at all – I couldn’t go on YouTube anywhere – and I tried to focus on work.”
Taking advantage of the opportunity to vent against her former employer, Frosk then surprised Pischke with the brief story of how a producer on the network’s Attack of the Show “said at the office in front of other people, ‘the reason that Xplay is failing is because they don’t have any hot people like Morgan Webb on their show’.”
“He literally said that,” she affirmed.
Ultimately, Frosk admitted, “If they had asked me, I would’ve said ‘Do not clip that.'”
“Did I care?” she reflected. “It’s hard. Did I mean everything that I said? Yeah, but that’s in a context of like, I know only 2,000 people are watching and I can look directly at the Twitch chat. It was in the context of the rest of the show.”
“You have a minute and a half to get this segment in on a 2,000 viewer stream,” Frosk ultimately shrugged her shoulders on the topic. “Different content would’ve been repurposed for different things.”