Sonic Paradise Correspondents Allegedly Harassed at GAMEfest Spain 2011

Sonic Paradise Correspondents Allegedly Harassed at GAMEfest Spain 2011

by November 14, 2011

Were They Targeted for Letting Generations Loose Last Year?

By now, you in all likelihood are thoroughly enjoying Sonic Generations.  But you would have never known of its existence six months before Sega made it official without a pair of keen eyes and ears in Europe.

In October of 2010, two budding community reporters in the Spanish speaking Sonic community, Andrea Gil and Alberto Carmona, engaged in a casual conversation with a still unidentified Sega representative at the 2011 GAMEfest in Spain (and NOT Izaskun Urretabizkaia, as was originally reported.)  It was there they learned, out of the blue, about two Sonic titles in the works for 2011.  They consisted of a third entry in the Mario and Sonic series, and something dubbed Sonic Anniversary, which was then known to be a compilation of the most memorable Sonic  levels from the past, and little else.  Gil and Carmona published and discussed the news with members of Spanish Sonic forum Sonic Reikai, Sonic Paradise then picked it up, and then, so did we.

Despite SEGA Spain rebuffing those remarks afterward, and Sega of America’s Aaron Webber issuing no comment when TSSZ pressed him about it at the 2010 New York Comic Con, all the information, it turned out, was spot on.  Gil and Carmona broke the biggest Sonic story of 2010, and set the tone of community conversation well into 2011.

They both returned to GAMEfest this year acting as correspondents for Sonic Paradise, looking to learn more about Generations.  Neither were well received.

“We told her not to worry, that we wouldn’t release any video or audio they won’t [sic] us to, and then she said ‘Then why did you publish last year’s leak?’ ” said Gil in a lengthy E-Mail to TSSZ detailing that and other trouble she and Carmona faced that weekend at the show.

“I told them nobody told us that we couldn’t do it, we were identified as press [….] and didn’t even ask the guy who leaked it about it, he just spilled it,” Gil continued.  “In fact, we just asked how good had (Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games) sold, and the guy told us it sold good, but that they expect the next Mario and Sonic they are making to sell better than the older two.  Then he said, ‘and a little surprise to you fans, we’re doing Sonic Anniversary’ and yadda yadda, you remember last year’s leak.  We did not question about it, it all came from the guy.  And he never said it was a secret that we couldn’t tell.”

The rep who allegedly confronted the correspondents this year was identified by Gil as Diana Radetski.  A search on LinkedIn, a social media site for professionals, identified her as a PR manager for Sega Spain.  Gil says she, Carmona, and Radetski clashed upon an attempt to record direct audio from the Generations demo booth on display at GAMEfest–something Gil claims Radetski herself gave permission to do two days prior.

“I asked her if the Spanish dub was present in the stand, and she said yes,” Gil explained, recalling events from day one of GAMEfest.  “Then I asked if we could record it, because fans are very impatient to hear it, and she said ‘OK, but (it) is too noisy here, you aren’t going to hear anything.  You can do it, but we’re not going to help you to do so, you’ll have to try by your own way.’  We asked if there was any press only event at GAMEfest in where we could hear the dub clearly, and said there wasn’t [….] Then she gave us a CD press kit, made us give our contact info to contact us when she could tell us something, and told us she had to go.”

But on Saturday, things were different.

“In the middle of the recording, the stand speaker asked us what we were doing.  I told him we were recording audio, as I did say to his pal last day, and he asked if we had permission to do so.  I told him yes,” Gil said.  “Then he left.  A few minutes later, he came back with Diana Radetski, very angry, telling us we had no permission to do that.  (Carmona) replied that we, in fact, had permission, that we asked the first day, and she very angrily asked who granted us it.  I told her that she was.  Then she went all crazy, saying that we were lying, that we never asked permission to her, and that we couldn’t release that because it was an unfinished product and the recording would be of low quality, that it doesn’t show the real quality of the game.”

Eventually, the tension and confusion subsided, enough so where Gil and Carmona eventually asked Radetski a few questions about Generations on the record.  The inquiries were vanilla enough; Gil tells us they ranged from how well the Spanish dub of Generations was handled, to whether fans in Spanish speaking nations should expect more localized dubs in the future, to how many collector’s editions had been published.  This time around, the answers were more carefully calculated.

“(Radetski) answered kindly, but said a few times ‘I can’t tell you that’ and insisted about ‘we’re never telling something you’re not able to publish’,” Gil said.

Then, it got creepy.  Later on Saturday, Gil says she and Carmona attended an ongoing Sonic Generations speedrun tournament when they learned spotters on the show floor allegedly were given notice to keep an eye on both correspondents for any unusual activity.

“The host there, our friend, told us that he had orders from above to watch us closely, since Thursday!” Gil said.  “Also, other hosts were all day around us, watching us.”

Gil even explained to TSSZ how she and Carmona attempted to be a part of a group photo of tournament participants that same day–not as journalists, but as fans.  She noticed a spotter and the community manager on hand maintaining the event exchange some words and point to them specifically.  Concerned they were a target of something worse, both correspondents backed out of the photo-op.

“They should have calmed down,” Gil said.

Gil and Carmona witnessed other problems that day and the next, well beyond their own troubles.  They were bad enough that we were asked not to publish those additional details due to ongoing legal investigations surrounding them in Spain.

When the duo told their story about a week after to Sonic Paradise’s Jack Wallace during the podcast La Hora del Erizo (The Hedgehog Hour), it caused such a stir within the Spanish speaking Sonic community, we learned the pot even boiled over in Sega of America’s offices, which caught wind of those translated remarks.

But here’s the strangest thing of all: When we attempted to reach Radetski for comment, we learned she no longer was employed with the company effective almost immediately after GAMEfest concluded.

“(Radetski) is no longer working at Sega,” said community manager Kellie Parker when TSSZ reached out to her for contact information.  “I don’t have another contact for you in Spain at this time.”

Since then, Gil learned Radetski left her post at Sega Spain as early as the day after GAMEfest ended, on October 4th.  The vacated position has since been filled.  The circumstances of Radetski’s departure are unknown, but to be clear, it allegedly occurred before Gil and Carmona spoke up on La Hora del Erizo–and well before the domestic Sega divisions caught wind of it.

On our end, we still have been unable to get a hold of any contact information for Radetski for comment.  Should she reach out to us on her own, we will afford her the opportunity to tell her side of the story, if desired.

The bottom line is this: While you play Sonic Generations for weeks to come, remember the first time you heard murmurs about it, and how excited you were to see if it all panned out.  Remember how that excitement grew as a result of both Gil and Carmona’s work last year–work they thought was earned without restriction.  But what happens when those rules change?   Blacklisting remains rampant even in the most formal gaming journalism circuits, and companies insist you play by their rules or else–even if you don’t know what they are.  It’s difficult to tell whether Gil and Carmona’s experience at GAMEfest this year best represents Radetski’s own reactions, or if it’s just another page from the gaming PR playbook.  We do know it was an experience they and many others won’t soon forget.