Gate Keeper Games: The Co-opt Option of GamerGate

angry-mob

Well isn’t this horrible?

The past several weeks there has been an eruption online unlike anything before seen in the gaming media. It has been vicious, hurtful, weirdly both organised and shambolic, and has devolved into petty name-calling and accusation on all sides.  It’s the kind of shocking issue that demands a response from every free-thinking, rational observer, and I know that people have been wanting me to weigh into the debate.*  So even though I’m neither a videogame ‘journalist’, nor one of the members of the enraged contingent of ‘gamers’ calling for action, I’m going to do add my thoroughly ill-informed voice to the fray.

That’s right. I’m going to talk about it:

Sonic the Hedgehog’s new scarf.

It looks idiotic.

There. Discussion concluded.  Huzzah!  Justice has been done!  Peace has been restored!  Everyone return to their homes!

Okay, so that didn’t work. Because no matter how stupid Sonic’s new scarf looks (and it does), obviously it is not what has been at the forefront of every discussion of videogames for the past couple of months.

No. Sadly – very, very, very, very sadly – I’m referring to ‘Gamergate’, the latest, and perhaps most extreme Rorschach test of gaming social media movements.  To some, it has been a call to arms for journalistic integrity in the videogames media; to others, it’s a reactionary, at times utterly psychotic territorial squabble with ‘No GRLZ ALLOWD’ scrawled in crayon on the door.

Whatever your perspective, though, it would be hard to argue that the whole thing isn’t a complete mess. With artists and critics having been driven from the field (and their homes!) in fear, with whole swaths of the videogame audience being tarnished as misogynists or terrorists, with some people arguing for more transparency and others literally just calling for critics they don’t like to shut up, it seems like the moment you scratch the surface of this thing, it all unspools into a labyrinth of contradictory agendas, counterarguments and inconsistency, with no two people seemingly arguing the same thing.  And this is all despite the misleading appearance of bipartisanship – the us against them trap; ‘gamer’ versus ‘journalist’ – that too many people on all sides of the argument seem to be willing to fall into; one that has frequently, misleadingly been reported in the mainstream press.

Indeed, to an outsider, superficially, the whole situation probably looks a little like being stuck at a nightmarish dinner party, where some long-time couple – the videogame media and the videogame audience – have just exploded in a horrible fight.

They’re one of those couples that have clearly had a fractious relationship for some time – everyone could see that, even if they refused to acknowledge it – but now, tonight, they’ve finally snapped and started screaming hateful abuse at one another in front of everyone.  Suddenly both of them are hurling every ugly, petty, spiteful (sometimes even knowingly inaccurate) accusation they can at one another, just so that it hurts.  Just so that it sticks.  Just so that they, and everyone else at the table, know that they’ve been feeling ignored and maligned for quite a while, that they’re not going to take it anymore.

The truth, of course, is far more complicated. Because not only is there some fact mixed in amongst all the hyperbolic hatred (lies work so much better that way), but there are more than just two opposed voices in the mix – and some of them are only too happy to have shamelessly coopted the discussion, making vicious comments under their breath to spur both ‘sides’ on, turning debate into division and delighting to watch the whole thing blow itself all to hell.

But for now, while the cutlery on the table is shaking with every pounding fist, and everyone looking on, feeling sick with shame, bows their heads into their wine glasses to avoid eye contact, what’s clear is that this couple – the players and the industry – is on a precipice. This is the moment in which it’s gotten so ugly, so overt, so undeniable, that something has to change.  Because this can’t go on.  Because yes the ones shouting the loudest are hurting, but the issues go deeper than the insults, and the damage is far more toxic than just words.

And so, as ill-advised as this may well be, I want to offer a few scattered thoughts on this chaos. Not because I think they’ll ‘help’.  Not because my utterly subjective opinions are by any means conclusive or inarguable or ‘right’.  And believe me: not because I am under the delusion that anyone actually gives a crap what I think.  Mostly just because I want to remind myself that there is some nuance amongst the angry confusion, that things can’t simply be boiled down – as some have unhelpfully tried to do – into an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ conflict, where one side is self-evidently ‘right’ and the other is unquestionably ‘wrong’.

After all, it’s precisely that kind of partisan, unbending mentality – with heroes and villains and easy stereotypes – that enables people to get whipped into such furious zealotry. It allows some to excuse fraud or hideous threatening behaviour to themselves , because, hey, they’re the ‘good guys’, right?  So who cares how they won?  Destroying your opponent is just a means to an end.  And those guys were ‘bad’ anyway, so who cares?

So instead of resorting to cheap generalisations and clichés, I’m going to try to speak to specific examples of people amongst the crowd. To offer my perspective as an observer, and to voice things that I think are worth repeating as many times as possible, particularly as the conversation (if it can be called that) gets even more crazed and unkind.  Again: these are just fragments of random thoughts, in most cases pure opinion, and are meant only as personal observations applicable to those I’m addressing, not to some faceless one-size-fits all mob.

The result is long. Too long.  Seriously too damn long.

So if you want the TLDR (or: Too Long Don’t Care) spoiler: when you boil it all down, I’m mostly just going to plead. To plead with each of them; all of them; ‘Gamers’, ‘Games Journalists’, and ‘Industry insiders’ alike.

I’m going to ask them to please stop.

Because there is an important and necessary discussion to be had here – several of them, to be honest –  but no one is going to get to any real debate if everyone is wilfully misrepresenting everyone else; if hate and abuse are being waved aside; and if naked contempt is the base level from which everyone speaks.

So here goes…

space-invaders

(Although, before we move off the topic entirely: Sega, do something about the scarf.**)

***

Firstly, to anyone, anywhere (but particularly in the mainstream press) who thinks this whole backlash against an art form is ‘unprecedented’:

It’s not.

As counterintuitive as it may at first seem, the first myth to unpack when approaching a discussion of everything that has unfolded recently, is the misconception that this is all somehow totally unprecedented. A lot of ink has been spilled (a lot of it online, but some even in the mainstream media) about how ‘Gamergate’ is entirely unique; an incomparable audience backlash against an Art form.  It’s actually an observation that’s been used (in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways) to imply that the videogame community, on all sides of the argument, must be filled with some rather immature people if they could overreact to their entertainment in such an extreme, unparalleled manner.

Now, you could perhaps say that it is one of the more personally ferocious – with threats of rape and severe injury being levelled at artists; with organised campaigns of harassment and slander being directed at critics – but frankly, dishearteningly, we humans have a long sad history of freaking the hell out and rising up in fury in response to our Art.

Sure, we like to tell ourselves that we’re past all that stuff now, that those were just the dark, unenlightened days. But with every generation we keep presenting new examples of Art being trashed as unworthy or offensive, and artists being persecuted as agitators – particularly so whenever a medium is in a state of growth or transition.

In the late 16th century Caravaggio was called the ‘antichrist’ of all painting (a bit harsh), supposedly threatening to lead all artists who might follow his style and technique into damnation. In the 1950s Charlie Chaplin and the pointed political satire of his films seemed a little too ‘communist’ for Red Scare era USA, so he was subject to a campaign of slander by conservative columnists and the FBI, labelled everything from a philanderer to a white slaver, having his films threatened out of theatres by conservative lobbyists, and eventually finding himself run out of the country in political exile.  In 1960 Penguin Books was prosecuted in the United Kingdom for publishing an uncensored version of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover, an over-three-decades-old book by one of the most celebrated writers of all time.  (Indeed, check out just a taster of some of the books the USA has banned over the years for being ‘inappropriate’ in a list compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union).  In 1989, a touring exhibition of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe – which included images of BDSM acts and same sex couples embracing – led to several protests, threats to cut funding to associated galleries, and even charges of ‘pandering obscenity’ brought against museum directors.  And one need not even linger on the grotesquery of the Third Reich’s targeting of artists like Paul Klee and Max Ernst for creating ‘degenerate Art’.

Indeed, when I first heard of the ‘Gamergate’ controversy – and specifically the harassment some of its supporters had inflicted upon game developer Zoe Quinn and critic Anita Sarkeesian – my first thought was of two infamous moments in history in which audiences similarly went so irrationally, chaotically wild…

The first, on the 29th May 1913, was Stravinsky’s first performance of The Rite of Spring.  Listen to the piece now and you will be struck by just how impactful Stravinsky was upon all music that followed in the 20th century.  From it’s opening, impossibly high lilt on a bassoon, through its thunderous pageantry and discordance, it is a staggering work.  Indeed, even aside from the innumerable classical composers it clearly influenced, it’s hard to imagine the entire history of cinema without his sweeping sound design.  John Williams alone owes him such a debt that it’s almost criminal he doesn’t have a co-credit on the Jaws theme.  Seriously).

Rite of Spring Original Dancers and Costumes 1913

IMAGE: Original dancers in costume for The Rite of Spring (1913)

But if you’d attended its premiere performance, you would have heard nothing but boos. Because by all accounts – and to put it politely – that night his audience went completely f**king nuts.  Only moments after the curtains rose, a large portion of the crowd had already started hissing and jeering and swearing and stomping their feet.  As the show proceeded, they made so much noise that they drowned out the sound of a full, booming orchestra, preventing anyone else from hearing it too.  Stravinsky fled backstage in fear; someone kept switching the lights in the hall on and off (like you might do to distract children) trying and failing to calm things down; a splendidly attired woman in one of the private orchestra boxes leaned over to the next box to violently slap a man in the face.  And this was an orchestra crowd!  The genteel and upper class – out of their minds with fury.  It must have been like seeing the Monopoly guy pull a shiv.

The second example that sprang to mind was a notorious incident surrounding two performances of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in New York in 1849.  The two productions had been scheduled for the same evenings, one starring Edwin Forrest, the most renowned American actors of his age, and the other starring William Charles Macready, the most renowned English actor of his day, who was touring his production in the USA.  Fans of both actors became agitated that the other man had the temerity to try and play the same role, on the same nights, in the same city; and as the dates drew nearer, the hostility grew so heated that there were angry tirades written in the papers, propaganda spread amongst the populous, protests, vandalism and threats of violence at each man’s performances.

Then, after a few days of the shows running concurrently, on May 10th the two livid crowds met in Astor Place in a swarm of around ten thousand people, and in what was a surprise to no one at that point, the whole thing erupted in a full-blown street riot.

Literally.

There were bombardments of hurled stones. Brutal clashes with the police.  Windows smashed.  Bricks thrown.  The theatre was being physically torn apart, with people repeatedly trying to set fire to it – despite Macready and his audience still being trapped inside.  By the end of the night around thirty people were dead (many shot by police), and well over a hundred were injured.  Those who escaped the theatre alive described the performance as, ‘Still more enjoyable than watching Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’

Astor-Place-Riot-1400

IMAGE: The Astor Place Riot

It seems crazy now that such a horrendous disregard for life, property, and public safety could have emerged from a squabble over who played the better version of Shakespeare’s scheming Scottish king – but of course, that’s only a fraction of the truth. In actuality, the hostilities between the two fan bases  were enflamed by anti-British protestors, who resented the thought of an Englishman drawing acclaim away from their home-grown American talent.  By stirring up the still-lingering resentment over English rule, these politically minded antagonists coopted a disagreement about aesthetic preference and mutated it into a racially intolerant fear campaign.  Add to that the fact that Macready and Forrest had spent the previous few years mired in a contest of petty personal antagonism – chasing each other around one another’s countries, egotistically competing for attention – and the whole thing becomes very foolish and unfortunate indeed.

Which brings me, finally, back to video games – a medium itself too often dismissed by those unfamiliar with the form as just violent, childish competitions; one that, in the past several weeks, has put on the mystifying, rancorous display that has led many people to conveniently forget about Astor Park, and Stravinsky’s frenzied crowd, and the persecution of the Little Tramp, all to label this the audience backlash without equal.

So again, to anyone who thinks this is unique: not so much.

That doesn’t make it ‘right’, and it certainly doesn’t excuse anything done in its name, but it is disingenuous to imply that ‘gamers’ are the first audience to ever overreact – even with violent, discriminatory, irrational rage – at a work of Art.

Oh, how nice it would be for civilisation if that were true…

***

Secondly, to anyone who doesn’t really know how all this got started:

Hey, a few weeks ago I was right there with you.

But no doubt like you, when the name ‘Gamergate’ first swam into my consciousness, I was mightily intrigued. Despite not being a member of the games media, and being nowhere near consequential enough for my jabs at EA or Microsoft’s underhanded business practices to land with anything but a wet flump, the medium of videogames, their perception and acceptance as an Art form, remains close to my heart.

And it’s not as if anyone paying attention can be blind to the many issues bubbling away under the surface of the industry…

I’ve spoken before about the perception of bias in the videogame media.  About how poorly it reflects on the medium that paid preview junkets and lavish advertising arrangements can be so commonplace between publishers and reviewers that they often go undisclosed.  About the way in which industry writers have, at times, unhelpfully reduced ‘gamers’ into clichéd mobs, devolving more nuanced conversations about potential problems in the industry and the review process by depicting anyone who might question the status quo as enraged, entitled, ‘vocal minorities’, too stupid to comprehend Art.

I’ve also spoken (only just recently) about how corrosive exclusionist language like ‘real gamers’ and ‘hardcore audiences’ can risk being on the legitimacy of this medium.  Rather than validating the ‘true’ fans, to me it often just alienates the whole form, making both videogames and their enthusiasts look closed off and territorial –  an unbefitting image for a medium all about experimentation and shared experiences and co-operative play.

And applying the suffix ‘gate’ to a controversy? Come on.  That implies some pretty huge revelations.  Big, empire-shaking truths.  It’s Watergate – the moment when the highest office in the most powerful land was called to account for its corruption and deceit.  It’s about the reclamation of legitimacy through thorough, reasoned truth telling.  That’s a big promise.

gamergate logo

So ‘Gamergate’ sounded like a compelling rallying cry. What kind of smoking gun must have been found to warrant a title like this?  I mean, this is an industry in which it is just accepted that swag and junkets are routinely lavished on ‘journalists’ in order to help sway their preview coverage of upcoming products.  One where Microsoft have clandestinely paid YouTubers to live stream their games and talk them up without disclosing that these are therefore the literal definition of advertisements.  One where several industry insiders have been fired for even raising questions about some of these murky practices.  One where Duke Nukem Forever was a thing.  An actual thing!

Who did Activision or Sony threaten to blackball this time to get favourable publicity for their game previews?  What kind of seedy, undisclosed, cross-promotional extortion could set the bar lower than inviting games journalists to tweet free ads for their game in order to win a Playstation 3?  Who did EA have killed that could trump getting a reviewer fired because he didn’t praise their game enough?  Did someone find Crash Bandicoot’s corpse in a basement torture pit?

From a cynical perspective, it’s hard to set the bar much lower on some sections of this industry – so whatever these ‘Gamergate’ people had their hands on must have been solid gold proof of corruption unlike anything ever seen before.

Hoo nelly. I was salivating.

And what did we get?

The gossipy smear of a jilted ex-lover trying to slut-shame his former girlfriend.

…No really.

It seemed that what kicked off all of the acrimony that followed was an accusation from a guy called Eron Gjoni claiming that his ex, a game developer called Zoe Quinn, had effectively tried to sleep her way to the ‘top’. (…The ‘top’ apparently being the promotion of a free browser game designed to bring awareness to the issues of chronic depression and suicide.  That lofty Xanadu.)

Suddenly the spectre of Nixon and wiped recordings receded and I was instead recalling words like ‘Bridge-Gate‘ and ‘Rosen-gate‘ and ‘Monica-Gate‘ and ‘Shoelace-Gate‘ and ‘Rodeo-Clown-Gate‘ and ‘Nipple-Gate‘ and ‘Gates-Gate‘.  They were all ‘gates’, sure, but less the kind that needed to be torn down, and more the kind that you step over because you’re too lazy to unhook the latch.  (…And seriously can we get a new damned suffix for scandals already?)

Where was the meat of this thing? Where was the substance?!  I wanted to believe, but why were people congregating around this specific ‘outrage’ – which at best seemed to be a sorry character assassination from a disgruntled ex spewing the word ‘liar’ and ‘sex’ as though it were an involuntary tic?  And why was an actor from two of my all-time favourite shows, Firefly and Chuck, going all Chris Brown on women in the videogame industry?

Adam Baldwin Gamergate tweet

It was weird. Confusing, ugly, and weird.

There had to be more to it.

It turns out there really wasn’t. At least not with the original story.  The pertinent charges in Gjoni’s rambling, hysterical outburst – in which he accuses Quinn of sleeping with …well, everyone,  including reviewers that gave her positive mentions of her game – turned out to be untrue.  The criticism and scores her work received were not written by anyone she was said to be dating, so this invasion into her personal life was not only slanderous, but irrelevant.

So then why all the rage? Why the outcry? Why the sudden mock surprise that game makers and game reviewers should know each other personally?  It’s been common knowledge for decades now that game publishers and developers hire from within the ranks of their media (to take but one solitary example: look at a list of previous Game Informer employees and track the places they have gone on to be employed); likewise designers can be (in some cases the most aggressive) critics of their competitor’s work.

And yet for some reason it triggered something. People started rallying around the story.  Quinn was suddenly the face of corruption in the industry.  Not some CEO, like a Don Mattrick or a John Riccitiello. Not someone running a major publisher or an industry-leading, taste-making journalist.  Not whichever thug in a suit threw their weight around to get Jeff Gertsmann fired for writing an unflattering review for Kane and Lynch 2.  No.  A small, indie developer.  Who it appears wasn’t involved in the corruption she was accused of, and whose primary ‘crime’ seems to have been ‘being a crappy girlfriend’ – at least according to the testimony of an emotional ex-boyfriend with an axe to grind.

Please tell me this wasn’t all just a good ol’ fashioned witch burning…

***

To anyone who thinks Quinn ‘deserves’ to be burned as a witch:

Are you nuts?!

Sorry. I broke my own rule there.  I wasn’t going to get judgemental or petty or insulting.  …But seriously.

Put aside that the accusations of ‘sleeping with writers for positive reviews’ were proved false; put aside the cowardice and illogic of blaming one woman for an industry lousy with misdeeds; no matter what you think of her, there is no way that what has been inflicted upon Quinn can be considered a fitting response.

Quinn was publically and privately harassed – attacked and intimidated on Twitter, pestered over the phone, menaced through email,  vilified, and threatened with physical and sexual attack – all by a disturbing amount of crusaders who somehow conflated threatening one woman into silence with tackling institutional corruption.  She was accused of fraud and manipulation; and because those railing against her believed that the media wasn’t making a big enough deal about the scandal, she was even accused both of stopping an entire industry from reporting on it (somehow), and of having forum moderators on numerous sites including 4chan and Reddit delete discussion threads (despite these threads being described as too slanderous, hostile, and potentially illegal by the mods themselves).  And always, throughout it all, that slur about her being ‘sexually promiscuous’ kept surfacing, again and again, revealing far more about her accusers than it did about her.

Zoe Quinn

IMAGE: Zoe Quinn

And yet the outrage was never proportional with any other shady industry dealings…

Even in this past week it was revealed that the biggest game of the year, Destiny, the first salvo in Bungie’s new uber-franchise, has on-disc DLC.  Material, already made and paid for has been discovered in the base game, withheld  behind a second exorbitant pay-wall  for future release in a game that already feels stripped of content.  And yet relatively few (if any) people are making a fuss.  One of the biggest, most over-hyped games in the history of the medium, participating in a glaringly underhanded business practice (one inherited from publishers like CAPCOM who have strived to perfect the procedure***), and yet far more angry screeds and protests have been offered about how dangerous Quinn’s behaviour apparently was, even though it’s been proved that she never actually did what got people so worked up in the first place.

It’s bizarre.

Now, to be clear: Quinn may be a bad girlfriend – I wouldn’t know. She might be personally unpleasant; she might be an utter delight.  She may speak twenty-seven different languages, cry marmalade tears, be part centaur.  My point is: it doesn’t matter.  It’s utterly irrelevant.  The original accusations of corruption brought against her were false, the slander of her character was immaterial, and the threats she has endured are inexcusable – even if every single thing that her detractors were saying was true.  Even if she was the one who cancelled Firefly.

…Wait – is that why Adam Baldwin is so mad?

And yet her demonization continues unabated, with many still keen to fashion her into an effigy – a symbol of the videogame media’s shame. And aside from being terrifyingly misguided, the greater irony is that this ends up being a massive distraction from the real issues that need to be addressed in the industry.  At the very moment Quinn is being decried as pure evil, a developer like Bungie is being shrugged off as doing what comes natural (‘Hey, they’re a big company trying to make a profit, man.  What do you expect?’)

Ultimately all it has proved is that – whatever else you think of her; Centaur or no – Quinn must have real guts to persist in spite of it all.

***

To anyone who thinks that women in gaming is a problem:

No.

Just, no.

I can’t bring myself to believe that the people who hold this belief make up a large portion of the gaming community – especially considering half the gaming community is made up of women – but I have read commenter s express this opinion – often in quite repugnant ways.  By their reasoning, games are really by men, for men, so women, both as creators and players, don’t really belong.

So to those people, those specific people who actually believe that kind of exclusionist, sexist, backward nonsense, I want to make this as clearly and as strenuously as I can:

There is no problem with women in gaming.

There just isn’t. That would be like saying that there is a problem with women in Art, or women using libraries, or women in politics, or women using the internet.  It’s asinine.  It’s indefensible.

Now, if you want to argue that women face greater struggles than men when breaking into the gaming industry (an undeniable fact of life when most every workforce leaves women proportionally underpaid), or that they have to fight a lot harder to be heard on creative teams that are still dominated by men (I’ve heard several stories expressing exactly that), or that there are still too many instances in which female players have been the targets of inexcusable sexual harassment, then, sadly, you will find a wealth of examples to prove your point.

But you cannot – you cannot – say that they have no right to be there.

Escapist Cover for Femal Game Journalists

IMAGE: Title slide of an exceptional collection of essays compiled by The Escapist

There is a reason that humanity looks back in shame on things like ‘Whites Only’ drinking fountains and job advertisements that say ‘No Irish’ – and trying and argue that half of the human population has no right to participate or be heard in the production and consumption of one of its most prominent Art forms is just as backward and vile.  Thinking that they don’t, trying to reduce an entire industry and medium down to some juvenile boys club, is just sad.

Particularly so because it has already had such a poisonous effect. Once Quinn was accused, several other female developers and critics in the field were attacked too.  Journalist Jenn Frank and critic Mattie Brice (who was also a game designer), both passionate advocates of the medium, have been tragically harangued and threatened out of the industry after they dared voice their disappointment with the situation.

And such instances reflect very poorly on the ‘Gamergate’ movement, because whatever its goals may be, thanks to this fringe of abusers it will always remain stained with a tone of sexism and vindictiveness. That’s not to say that ‘Gamergate’ at large doesn’t make some pertinent points (I’ll get to those momentarily) but since this whole mess began with an overt tone of misogyny (let’s all judge this slutty woman who used her slutty powers to do slutty things for sluttiness), and has been used as a cudgel to terrorise more women out of the industry (because they don’t belong there anyway, apparently), it completely hijacks the whole argument.  Who cares if a portion of what they are saying has merit if the rest of it is utterly reprehensible?

(Even Quinn’s ex-boyfriend realises this. His republished original blog post now carries a disclaimer distancing himself from all of the harassment being inflicted upon Quinn and ‘her friends’.  …Although he was also screen-capped in a 4chan forum encouraging the horror being inflicted upon her and everyone she knows, even scheming with several others to try and ‘destroy’ the lives of her boyfriend and other people in the games industry.  …So he may not be the most reliable, ethical voice in all this.  To say the least.)

***

To anyone who has said anything hostile or angry about Anita Sarkeesian:

Please, for the love of Metroid, stop.

Obviously things were heated at the time. Once the knives were out for Quinn, once accusations were being flung from all sides, in all directions, maybe it seemed like provocation that Anita Sarkeesian, a critic in the midst of an extended series of video essays about the representation of woman in videogames, would release her latest instalment.  But it wasn’t.  And even if it were, there’s still no excuse.

But because the new video was (as much of the series had been) critical of the way in which women have traditionally been depicted, it was seized upon by a segment of the ‘Gamergate’ supporters as evidence of some ‘feminist’ campaign to ruin all their stuff. And once again threats of rape and violence were hurled upon a woman who had nothing to do with whatever social injustices they believed they were suffering.  It soon became so heated that the police were involved, and she has even had to cancel speaking arrangements, such as at Utah College where some appallingly death threats included mention of unleashing pipe bombs, pistols, semi-automatic rifles, and writing a ‘manifesto in her spilled blood’:

‘This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I’m giving you a chance to stop it.’

Anita Sarkeesian

IMAGE: Anita Sarkeesian

So I want to make this very clear: there is nothing wrong with a critic like Anita Sarkeesian writing whatever she likes about videogames.

Literally nothing.

That is what criticism is. You may disagree with her process, you may take issue with her conclusions, you may believe that there are flaws in her process, but she has every single right in the world – both as a human being with the luxury of free speech, and as a contributor to the breadth of critical analysis – to pursue whatever inquiry she likes.

That does not mean you have to accept her conclusions. That does not mean that she is impervious to interrogation or rebuttal.  (I personally took many issues with Roger Ebert’s perspective on the videogame medium.)  But declaring that such criticism has no right to exist, that the person who posed those questions should die or be terrorised until they shut up, is so antithetical to a healthy, evolving discourse, that it beggars belief.  And in the case of Sarkeesian, her Kickstarter was such a success that clearly there is an audience eager to hear her thoughts, so sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and yelling ‘I’m not listening!  You don’t exist!’ is extremely unhelpful.

A conversation doesn’t just end because one person has put a single point in print or made a video.  There’s no killscreen for debate.  And trying to troll people out of the argument is not a victory for anyone, it just condemns us all to stagnation.

If you take issue with Sarkeesian, then confront her theories, not the person herself. She may be right; she may be wrong.  But the only way to know is to raise those questions and cross-examine them head on.

***

To those in the community that have participated in the condemnation of Zoe Quinn, or Anita Sarkeesian, or who have tacitly perpetuated it by shrugging it off as no big deal:

Please stop.

I literally cannot believe I have to type this, but it is not okay to threaten anyone with violence if you disagree with them. Ever.  Under no circumstances is it okay to type the words ‘I hope you get raped or killed’, or publish someone’s address and contact information with the express purpose unleashing a campaign of harassment and hatred upon them.

Believe me, I know that not everyone in the ‘Gamergate’ community has done this, but some have, and they have done it in the name of the ‘Gamergate’ crusade. And allowing such behaviour, excusing it after the fact, or (as I have seen a disturbingly large contingent of people do) trying to downplay it by claiming that everyone gets threats on the internet, that Sarkeesian didn’t actually call the police, or that Zoe Quinn ‘deserved it’ because she wanted publicity or something, is just as contemptible.  A human being should not be threatened – in any way – because they have dared to express an opinion or publish a work of Art.

The thought that this could be how low public discourse has fallen for some people breaks my heart; and such behaviour should never be excused or tacitly allowed.

Gamergate threats excuse

IMAGE: Comment from Gamergate article by Jim Edwards at Business Insider

***

To any videogame journalists who have dismissed ‘Gamergate’ members as just a mob of entitled misogynists:

I know it’s tempting. Hell, I just listed a handful of disturbingly sexist, reactionary behaviour perpetrated in the name of ‘Gamergate’.  And I know that when the yelling gets loud it gets hard to tell who’s what – at a certain point the disparate voices seem so enraged that the cacophony drowns out all nuance and it becomes easy to just write the whole thing off as a petulant boy’s club tantrum.

Angry Gamer picture

IMAGE: That same damned picture that always gets used in articles like these…

But it’s wrong, and it’s not helpful.

‘Gamergate’ raised a myriad of issues. It is impossible to lock down any one agenda, and it is both a disservice and a mistake to try.  Sure, when ‘Gamergate’ started it was born out of a petty personal attack, and yes, the majority of the fallout seems to have reprehensibly fallen upon women in the industry, but that hashtag was also taken up by many people who genuinely wanted to call for more transparency in the games media.  (I’m going to put aside the anti-‘Social Justice Warrior’ crowd – I’ll speak to that momentarily.)

Because what many ‘Gamergate’ proponents wanted – after a whole seedy history of backroom dealings – was for reviewers and journalists to make it clear when they had financial or personal relationship with the subjects of their commentary. To be made aware of when they were reading critique, and when it was just an advertisement in disguise.  It’s no doubt why the whole movement gained such heat beyond just the lunatics threatening women’s lives.

And yet when some journalists responded to the protests they painted all ‘Gamergate’ members (indeed, some even went so far as to label all ‘gamers’) entitled misogynistic infants.  And that too is in no way helpful.

So games journalists: when you lump everyone who has a legitimate complaint about the industry into a reductive cliché you not only insult the entirety of your audience, you reduce all debate to the very petty name-calling you accuse your opponents of engaging in.  It blithely, and rather disingenuously excuses you from answering the more pressing questions that, amongst all the noise, lend ‘Gamegate’ substance.  And that appearance of obfuscation is precisely what those who have questions about the industry’s ethics do not need to hear.  Indeed, it merely adds fuel to the fire.

Because pretending that there is no relationship between games developers and press when any question about journalistic ethics are raised, but then blithely gloating that a developer told you something HUGE is gonna happen next week but you can’t say what, send, at best, mixed messages.  And when there is a history of shady business practices, when publishers regularly recruit from the games media, when non-disclosure agreements, publisher-paid junkets, and ‘integrated marketing’ are standard operation, it becomes utterly dishonest to ape confusion and offense that anyone could ever doubt the integrity of the industry.

Geoff Keighley Doritogate

IMAGE: ‘Dorito-gate’, because we need more words with ‘gate’ on them.

There’s a reason that the now infamous image of Geoff Keighley sitting beside a display stand of Doritos and Mountain Dew looking like his dog just died has weight. It has meaning, because it is symbolic of a road toward parroted product integration that the games industry risks sliding every day.  It doesn’t mean that you personally engage in those kinds of practices – thankfully there are many publications that make it clear when there is a conflict of interests or promotional consideration being paid – but pretending that it doesn’t and hasn’t happened at all, is knowingly hypocritical.

Similarly, there is a division between ‘gamers’ and ‘journalists’ – a not altogether healthy one.  To pretend that there isn’t – that ‘Hey, we’ve always just been gamers too, guys, we’re exactly like you’ – only exacerbates the problem.

Perhaps the clearest example of this divide (from my perspective, anyway) was in the wake of the Mass Effect 3 launch, when the industry largely rallied unquestioningly around Bioware, calling anyone who had any complaint about that game (whether it was about its buggy, unfinished state of release; it’s ethically repellent ending; its day-one DLC) merely a member of a spoiled, disgruntled ‘vocal minority’.  But it is a division that sadly recurs whenever games like SimCity or Diablo 3 or Battlefield 4 are released functionally broken, despite being lavished with great scores because the pre-release review copy worked swimmingly.  Or when an asinine fanatic like Colin Moriarty publishes some hypocritical Chicken Little diatribe attacking the mean audiences who don’t like his favourite games – because somehow (even though he gets his games for free and is paid to express his opinion) anyone else expressing their opinion in any way besides ‘voting with their wallet’ is going to totally ruin the industry forever! For real this time, you guys!!!

So please: please stop.  No more generalisations of ‘all gamers’.  No more feigned shock that anyone might not have absolute faith in the ‘journalistic’ process.

Yes, absolutely there are outrages with which to take issue, and for that you should be celebrated. Calling out the persecution of individuals, combating the spreading of misinformation, holding anyone to account who would engage in sexism, racism, or threats of violence – that is a profoundly worthy mandate.  But painting everyone who doesn’t have absolute faith in the industry with the same detrimental brush does far more damage than good.

***

To anyone who thinks there is a ‘Social Justice Warrior’ conspiracy:

You know what – who knows?

Again, I’m not part of the industry, so if there is some secret cabal where everyone gets together to eat kale chips and talk about using nouveau roman game design as a Trojan horse for social engineering, I’m not invited. But to be completely honest, I just don’t see it.  Not at all.  And I’ve really tried to understand where this perception is coming from.

It seems that when the ‘Gamergate’ hashtag started up, some saw it as an opportunity to voice their frustration at what they perceived to be a ‘liberal bias’ in the games media. The term ‘Social Justice Warrior’ was suddenly being directed at anyone (critic, designer, commentator) who, in their opinion, was trying to peddle a ‘liberal agenda’: celebrating female empowerment, exploring the LGBT experience, exhibiting racial diversity.  Somehow, these ‘warriors’ were attempting to ruin the videogame medium by turning everything into a political statement; stripping out the ‘fun’ (or, rather, whatever the person complaining believes ‘fun‘ to be at any given moment) in exchange for a judgemental lecture.

But truthfully, I just don’t see any evidence for this kind of a conspiracy theory – neither in the writings of the accused critics, nor the supposed impact upon the production of games.

Social Justice Warrior

IMAGE: Social Justice Warrior t-shirt by Olly Moss

Firstly, rather than thinking that these ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (the more I type that, the cooler it sounds, which is probably not what its critic intended) are proselytising some agenda, I think the answer is actually a lot simpler, and far more innocuous: I think they’re just excited.

To me, it’s not that shocking that reviewers – who probably spend ninety-five percent of their time stuck playing generic white male power fantasies in endless FPS and hack ‘n’ slash clones – might occasionally celebrate when a game comes along that explores an underrepresented human experience. Personally, I feel exactly the same – and I’m not the one stuck having to assign a score to Rambo: The Videogame.

When they see a game like The Stanley Parable or Dear Esther come along – something unpredictable, that shakes up their expectation or shows them something new – they get excited.  Not because the other stuff is all rubbish that should be destroyed, but because it reminds them that games can do many, many things – not just iterate upon the familiar, or perfect the ideal progression tree (neither of which am I suggesting are bad things).

Secondly, I really do not see how – even if there was some master plan behind it all – it has had any effect at all on the industry.  The most profitable and ubiquitous games being released every year continue to be things like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Street Fighter and Uncharted – games with countless sequels that can hardly be said to be plagued by moralistic handwringing, or a lack of unapologetic, bombastic fun.  With thousands of employees, multiple studios and a Smaug’s den of financing behind it, Assassin’s Creed: Unity couldn’t even be bothered to put a female character option in their co-op game because ‘reasons’.  So whatever clout these SJW’s are supposed to have, it seems pretty limited.

***

To anyone who thinks that indie games are part of a SJW agenda, and aren’t ‘real’ games anyway:

One of the weirdest results of the ‘Social Justice Warrior’ backlash in the ‘Gamergate’ movement has been people taking it upon themselves to slag off small, niche titles like Gone Home and To The Moon – passion projects keen to use the malleability of their form in unique and experimental ways – for not being real games.  Despite the fact that they in no conceivable way damage the profit of the more mainstream, popular, and ‘real’ games, they are condemned as somehow threatening what ‘real gamers’ want.

Again, I’m sorry, but try as I might to comprehend that it I just genuinely don’t even understand the reasoning.

Gone-Home-2

IMAGE: Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

There are always going to be big, explosive, fun games; someone downloading Braid is not going to stop that.  Just like there will always be thumping action films and raucous comedy films and slashy horror films filling the cinemas, no matter how many Richard Linklater experiments, Charlie Kaufmann mindbenders and Sophia Coppola character studies are released.  Michael Bay’s deplorable oeuvre is devoid of anything resembling humanity yet his films will go on earning the revenue of whole nations (gods help humanity), no matter how much praise a film like Her receives.

And I say this as someone who has grown up in a country that struggled (and still struggles) for many years to even catch up with the rest of the world in seeing games as adult entertainments: no one is going to take anyone’s videogames away.**** Big-budget shooters and fantasy games and fighters and sports franchises and action adventures are always going to be around.  Appreciating a work like Journey does not invalidate God of War.  The experiential mechanics of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons does not undo all the engagement and split-second precision to be mined from Devil May Cry.

Brothers a Tale of Two Sons

IMAGE: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Starbreeze Studios)

That would be like saying that once you’ve read The Waste Land you have to chuck every Charles Dickens book on the fire.  If you like 2001: A Space Odyssey then you must hate Star Wars and want it erased from history.  Whistling a Taylor Swift song means the Rolling Stones have to be rounded up and shot.  It’s totally illogical.  One isn’t necessarily better than the other.  One doesn’t have to belittle the other.  And even if someone does come along wanting to disparage one in favour of another, so what?  It’s opinion.  We don’t have to be so petrified of other people not liking the things that we like that everyone starts marking their territory, snarling, and savaging each another like rabid dogs.

Frankly, the idea of anyone complaining that they are being ‘persecuted’ because, somewhere, a game that they don’t have to play is being produced for people who aren’t them, is kind of ludicrous. If someone doesn’t like a game – either its mechanics or what it is saying – then they should just not play it.  Being so self involved as to actively try to prevent others from experiencing something that has nothing to do with them is a whole other level of narcissism that I cannot comprehend.

Indeed, when I think about it – if the people who believe such things had their way, games like A Dark Room, The Walking Dead (the good one), and Gone Home would not only have never been discussed, they would never have even been made. So to get selfish for a moment: How dare they try to take away experiences that I personally have found unique, enlightening and rewarding.  I am never in my life going to master a fighting game or dominate a multiplayer shooter, but I would never wish one of those games unmade.  Why would I want to deprive someone else of something they enjoy?

It’s a pretty sad hypocrisy that the only people actually actively endorsing censorship are the one’s complaining about ‘Social Justice Warriors’ trying to take away their freedoms.

***

To anyone using the ‘Gamergate’ hashtag:

Okay, so this one is going to be tricky to explain, but here goes.

‘Gamergate’ is filled with good people; great people. It simply has to be.  It’s too broad, and too far-reaching to just be some enclave of sexist, abusive crackpots, no matter how many articles get written describing them that way.

But I think you might need to stop using the name.

I’m not saying stop demanding more journalistic integrity and transparency from the games media and publishers. If that is what you signed up to ‘Gamergate’ for, then I am right with you and couldn’t agree more.  But the truth is, that’s no longer what the name ‘Gamergate’ represents – if it ever did.

‘Gamergate’ is Hydra. Multi-headed.  Multiform.  It isn’t just about dude-bros saying sexist crap; just as it isn’t only about calling for full disclosure in reviews; or rooting out ‘Social Justice Warriors’; or preventing people from calling ‘narrative experiences’ like Gone Home ‘games’ – all of which, at various points, have been attributed to the movement by its diverse supporters.

And that’s a problem.

Earlier, I called ‘Gamergate’ a Rorschach test, but given its history, really, there’s a better analogy. Because when you peel back the layers, there are too many different agendas, too many different visions for it to all cohere into a oneness.  It’s more like the turducken of enraged twitter trends: a petty personal character assassination, wrapped in a call for journalistic ethics, jammed inside a territorial gender war, and seasoned with a reactionary screed against ‘Social Justice Warriors’.  There is some good stuff in there – some great stuff – but it’s too overloaded by all the other confusion to cohere.

It’s why good, well intentioned people have gotten caught up in the mudslinging, because there is a layer of truth in what is being said.  It’s also why some games journalists have made the mistake of lumping all ‘gamers’ into one catch-all category, seemingly writing off the whole audience of videogames because a movement such as this was allowed to get any traction at all.  On the macro scale, both sides are right – partially.  But it’s also why both sides are wrong.

And I do believe that there is value in what many of the people applauding this movement are asking for. There is a genuine discussion to be had here.  Real questions to be answered.  Real expectations of full-disclosure to demand.  When a reviewer has a personal relationship with the developers, that should be divulged.  When a critic has not done due diligence in their analysis, that should be questioned.  When a developer or publisher is funnelling wads of cash into intentionally misleading promotional consideration, that should absolutely be called to account.

But I don’t think ‘Gamergate’ can forward that message. ‘Gamergate already comes pre-packaged with too much vindictiveness and fear.  In the end it has become something else entirely.

chainsawsuit 20141015-theperfectcrime

IMAGE: chainsawsuit comic

Because when you’re calling for integrity, but have to first explain away the fact that your movement started with a guy trying to slander his ex girlfriend as an unfaithful slut – that’s a problem. When multiple people are running crusades of terror, using character assassination, literal threats of assassination and jokes about rape in your name, then it is hard to argue that some critic excited about an interactive novel has ‘gone too far’.  And when you are talking about not having your personal ‘freedoms’ impinged, it loses some impact when several writers and artists have been terrorised out of their jobs (and in some cases homes) because they tried to express themselves.

Again, it’s not about saying that everyone in ‘Gamergate’ is guilty of everyone else’s crimes, it’s just a reality. ‘Gamergate’ began, and continues to be co-opted by people more interested in silencing and frightening women out of the industry, so using the name, even to forward a more virtuous argument, means having to accept or excuse some reprehensible behaviour, ultimately undermining the entire message.

Personally, I’d suggest it’s much better to regroup and retitle. To gather around a new name that need never be muddied by anyone using terror to shut down debate, or becoming distracted with weird anti-women agendas.  Apparently at one point some people did try to set up another hashtag – ‘gamersethics’ – but it was prevented  from catching on because others thought it was better to keep the original title running, even in spite of its problematic history.  That’s  a shame, because I think it might have done far more good than the mixed, and at times outright terrifying messages coming from those signing their movement ‘Gamergate’.

***

To anyone and everyone:

Games are better than this.

They are bigger and more wonderful than all of this pitiful crap. They can be Fez and Battlefield and Mario Cart and Papers Please and Civilisation and Pac-Man and Chrono Trigger and Assassin’s Criminywe’vemadealotofthesenow and Cookie Clicker and Skyrim.  They can be Barbie’s Damned Horse Adventures (note: this was my harried mistyping; the horses, as I understand it, are not actually demonic).

They can be – and I mean this in the most hyperbolically romantic way possible – everything.

They have allowed us to imagine walking on distant planets; to craft gargantuan, elaborate structures fashioned entirely from scavenged resources; to build communities in fantastical worlds; to solve mysteries; to see through the eyes of an abused, frightened child trying to literally escape a magical realist vision of their village; to bend our brains inside three dimensional, spatial physics puzzles; to give up our plumber jobs, eat mushrooms, and wear a kinky raccoon suit in public. They offer the chance to test ourselves, to grow beyond our limitations by learning new skills, by inhabiting other lands, by empathising with other characters, and adopting new ways of thinking.

Skyrim Landscape

IMAGE: Skyrim (Bethesda)

But any time someone types the words ‘Well, Depression Quest is not a real game anyway’ or ‘You don’t have the right to talk because you’re just a casual gamer’ or ‘All gamers are just violent spoiled children’ or threatens someone – anyone – for simply expressing themselves or having an opinion, it reduces the whole medium.  All of it.  It makes games smaller.  Shallower.  Less able to reflect the grand miasma of human experience that, so far, they have been inexorably reaching toward.  You may as well anchor a boat off the Galapagos Islands and shout at the finches to quit evolving.

Because, like I said, videogames are bigger than this. They have to be bigger than this.  We’re long past the days in which figures like Jack Thompson were trying to strangle the medium through legislation and censorship down into the kiddie-pool of art.  They have eclipsed most every other entertainment industry in profit and cultural saturation.  When a Grand Theft Auto game premieres it is a phenomenon.  When a new Legend of Zelda appears we get a twang of nostalgia that can only arise from an Art form that transcends generations.

We all – all of us – have to grow up. Game publishers and journalists have to stop patronising their audiences like ignorant children and treat them with respect.  Players have to accept that part of legitimacy of their medium is allowing people with differing views to express themselves artistically, and to speak their minds critically.  Whoever put that scarf on Sonic the Hedgehog needs to check themself.

Videogames are not the first to go through these kinds of growing pains. Those people in Stravinsky’s audience were afraid of change.  They reacted furiously because they feared what they personally didn’t understand.  The people who coopted the Macbeth riots didn’t care.  They welcomed the carnage, believing it could serve their biased world view and rationalised away whoever got chewed up in the fallout.  But Stravinsky’s audience are now the butt of a joke; the Macbeth rioters are viewed as dangerous bigots.  The medium of videogames has legitimacy; but that doesn’t mean that those who would leap violently to its ‘defence’ do also.

‘Gamergate’, in a completely different circumstance, could have been – should have been – a force for positive change.  Perhaps once the fire dies down, once the sexism and murder threats recede and legitimate concerns can be heard above the din, perhaps then a healthy conversation can take place – the conversation that should have occurred the first time around.

After all, the beauty of games is that if you screw up, if it all goes wrong, you can start over again. Reload and do better next time.

journey

IMAGE: Journey (thatgamecompany)

That probably means little to people like Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian and Jenn Frank and Mattie Brice (and oh look, even as I have been typing these words another developer, Brianna Wu has just been threatened with rape and death and had her home address published online by her attacker. How nice).  But those women, and all the other so-called ‘Social Justice Warriors’ got into the games industry in the first place because they believed that it was capable of more, that it was expanding and saying more each and every day.

And if games, as I believe, are natural extensions of the way that we human beings interact with our world – if play and exploration and challenging ourselves is the way that we grow as a species – then thankfully, women, cultural diversity, criticism, experimentation and adaptation aren’t going anywhere. They and their influence will just grow exponentially as we see more and more of ourselves – the better parts of ourselves – in the Art that we create.

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring outlived everyone who stomped their feet and wanted to drawn it out with their howling.  It persevered and it inspired, going on to indelibly impact the course of all music – of all Art – to this day.  That doesn’t mean that everyone has to like it, it in no way means that it is beyond criticism, but it has a right to exist, and with the acknowledgement of that simple truth, the discussion of its merits or otherwise can go on with respect.

***

To anyone who read this far:

No matter what you think of what I said: genuinely, I thank you. That was a long post (frankly too long), and it was a fairly disheartening one to write.  So you, like I, probably need a good lie down.

Thanks for seeing it to the end.

***

P.S. – To Adam Baldwin:

Come on, man. I love you.  I love your work.

Getting all panicked about women in the videogame industry? Belittling threats and acts of sexual harassment?  Pondering whether Obama secretly wants Ebola to sweep through the nation?

Adam Baldwin Ebola tweet

That’s bananas. You must know that’s bananas.

Please tell me Simon just drugged you with something. That things were just getting a little …bendy.  That for a moment you just went a little crazy and then fell asleep.

***

Sonic_Boom_Trailer_Sonic

IMAGE: A spinal injury waiting to happen

* As you can probably tell, I’m just building up to a gag, but I wanted to make it clear: I’m aware that this is completely untrue – no one cares what I think.

** No really: it does.  Because nothing says ‘breakneck speed’ like literally strangling yourself when your neckwear gets snagged on a tree branch at 90 miles an hour.  Also: he’s naked, but the neck is somehow his primary concern?  He’s leaving the house in the morning and his mental checklist is: ‘Keys?  Check.  Gloves?  Check.  Scarfy scarf scarf?  Checky check check.  Pants – so that I don’t get arrested again…?  Oh no!  Am I running late?  Better hold that thought and get going…’

*** Meanwhile, EA used the release of The Sims 4 to declare a bold new business model: slicing the base game apart to distribute later as paid content, like some deranged kidnapper sending a pinkie toe in the mail.

**** For decades Australia belligerently used a flawed ratings system to treat videogames like a toxic spore. Critics of the medium would spout the ‘conventional wisdom’ that videogames were for children, thus anything with adult themes and content was inappropriate.  Not ‘needed to be properly rated for adult audiences’, just banned and censored outright.  They ignored consumer demographics, countless petitions, and the entire rest of the world, and even after they were dragged kicking and screaming through one of the most farcical and protracted bureaucratic processes ever devised to introducing an R18 rating, we still have games like South Park: The Stick of Truth forcibly edited before release, protecting us, apparently from ourselves, and our ability to make our own decisions about the entertainment we consume.  Joy.

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16 Responses to “Gate Keeper Games: The Co-opt Option of GamerGate”

  1. Heaven Smile Says:

    Hello? does the comment system works?

  2. Heaven Smile Says:

    Having problems with some electricity blackouts recently, so i will not be able to dissect your post in detail. So i will try to at least have the decency of leaving some links to hopefully fill you with some facts.

    1)Use http://archive.today/ to save your links because they are going to be “Orwellianed” out of existence. I already saved your article here: https://archive.today/https://drayfish.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/gate-keeper-games-the-co-opt-option-of-gamergate/

    And i am not shitting you with the historical revisionism. Even Jimmy Wales is tired of it.
    https://storify.com/nathanblack/jimmy-wales-on-how-wikipedia-will-handle-gamergate
    https://www.reddit.com/r/KotakuInAction/comments/2hwlpj/here_is_a_leak_of_jimmy_wales_talking_about/

    If something i posted isn’t available (not found or taken down) look for an archive.

    2)Here is a timeline of events of ALL GamerGate related stuff:
    http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/336432/The-GamerGate-Chronicles/#vars!date=2014-08-17_03:53:50!
    http://gamergate.giz.moe/about/
    https://github.com/GamerGateOP/GamerGateOP/blob/master/FAQ.md
    (Link disabled on grounds of “promoting harassment” BS. Use Archive and spot the “misogyny”: https://archive.today/2lIsa)

    3)”To anyone who thinks there is a ‘Social Justice Warrior’ conspiracy:

    You know what – who knows?”

    This guy does: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rouq-VdgXdo&list=UU-yewGHQbNFpDrGM0diZOLA

    4)”Quinn was publically and privately harassed – attacked and intimidated on Twitter, pestered over the phone, menaced through email, vilified, and threatened with physical and sexual attack – all by a disturbing amount of crusaders who somehow conflated threatening one woman into silence with tackling institutional corruption. ”

    Was she? And when exactly? Back on the Depression Quest and WizardChan and claims of harassment coming from those people (who were NEVER fact checked. Something that The Escapist Editor In Chief regrets after his bias showed up on the forums.)?

    Did the harassment was AFTER people found out she was lying her ass off? Or harassment AFTER she doxxed The Fine Young Capitalists (a feminist group who wants to finance ideas from women, to show that women can be successful game developers) and thus showing that she doesn’t actually care about inclusiveness in games but to be the only special snowflake?
    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/the-fine-young-capitalists-game-jam
    http://apgnation.com/archives/2014/09/09/6977/truth-gaming-interview-fine-young-capitalists

    Or was the harassment coming AFTER people found out she is deliberately sending threats to herself (via friends or sock puppets accounts) or blaming GamerGate in general?
    https://twitter.com/Geikokujin/status/510809319168679937
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ByLK76jCcAE51cQ.jpg:large
    http://prntscr.com/4mg9l2

    Harassment that acts like a self fulfilling prophesy because she gets harassed for her shitty actions but can be spin by her and anyone as “misogyny”? If only Ann Coulter could have such advantage to dismiss criticism like that. Coulter would tell Zoe to check her “victim card” privileges:

    5)”And yet the outrage was never proportional with any other shady industry dealings…”

    A)Her actions were the last straw in a chain of unethical events from the industry. Dorito Pope anyone?

    http://www.brightsideofnews.com/2014/08/25/gamers-revolt-another-take-on-the-zoe-quinn-scandal/

    And certainly not the first time the game “yogurtnalists” have managed to spin something that happened to a woman as “sexism and misogyny”, while ignoring genuine harassment and death threats MALE developers have for years. See also Jennifer Hepler:

    https://archive.today/z5iSW

    B)That is an Appeal to Bigger Problems fallacy, which can also be used against you because the same could be said about EA shaddy deals. After all, EA keeps their bullshit to gaming and does not ruins lives like Verizon, PayPal, or sell information like Facebook and Google. They are not really THAT horrible and world destroying so we must ignore them, right?

    C)In actuality, if it wasn’t for this scandal of Journalism lack of ethics and Indie developers being full of shit, we would have NEVER even be able to discover connections and shaddy deals on IGF and IndieCade:
    https://archive.today/xMVR1

    This is the podcast from Team Meat about IGF, “it`s not a competition, it`s a scholarship”
    https://twitter.com/8bitpixelrobot/status/519720228293312512
    http://hawpcast.podbean.com/e/keepin-it-real-with-edmund-mcmillen-and-tommy-refenes/

    Boy, good thing we have that timeline to help with the facts and context, else ANYTHING you miss can easily be seen “just a temper tantrum from cisgendered white manchilds with nothing better to do” huh? And you thought that jumping to read the Spider Man Clone Saga was suicidal.

    6)”To those in the community that have participated in the condemnation of Zoe Quinn, or Anita Sarkeesian, or who have tacitly perpetuated it by shrugging it off as no big deal:

    Please stop.

    I literally cannot believe I have to type this, but it is not okay to threaten anyone with violence if you disagree with them. Ever. Under no circumstances is it okay to type the words ‘I hope you get raped or killed’, or publish someone’s address and contact information with the express purpose unleashing a campaign of harassment and hatred upon them.”

    When this trope can be used non stop and efficiently..
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WoundedGazelleGambit

    http://billthemanfromkentucky.tumblr.com/post/97189340808/the-girl-who-cried-wolf-and-the-press-that-sold-it-to
    http://www.staresattheworld.com/2014/09/anita-sarkeesian-fabricate-story-contacting-authorities/
    http://www.staresattheworld.com/2014/09/update-anita-sarkeesians-accusations-impropriety-sfpdfbi-gamergate/

    …and we do know it is VERY efficient for women to do so…
    http://www.ipt-forensics.com/journal/volume6/j6_2_4.htm
    http://aimhs.com.au/cms/index.php?page=against-science
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Vilar
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/03/meg-lanker-simons-hoax-university-wisconsin_n_3210326.html

    …and that they have a massive advantage by having people put women first and blame men (even if they intend it or not)…
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100525090554.htm
    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020274/1901-09-26/ed-1/seq-4/

    …can you HONESTLY say with a straight face that there is an harassment campaign, or harassment PERIOD?
    https://storify.com/LadyFuzztail/gamergate-may-be-a-victim-of-a-false-flag-operati

    Taking these “threats” like if they were real without objectively measuring if they come from the victim itself (IP Tracking and blah blah blah) is the same like a trial where the first person who points the finger to someone, anyone, and says “He did it!” (because it always is a he, isn’t it?) means that justice has been served.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KangarooCourt

    The harassment argument is the ONLY thing the Anti-GG have to sidetrack the conversation, but anyone with half a brain knows there is no way to prove the harassment is real, let alone if it comes from GG beyond speculation and denial of the lack of evidence with “LISTEN AND BELIEVE!”

    Hell, GG has a way more strong argument about THEM getting harassed than these women. Just ask the creator of #NotYourShield who was fired for supporting GG.

    I am telling you. If the people unhappy with these women never hated women in their lives then they might start NOW after seeing how much they can get away with, and will be paranoid of ANY woman who COULD destroy their lives.

    And of course, they might hate the rest of humanity for being so easily duped to the point they DESERVE to be manipulated like that.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MaddenIntoMisanthropy
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThenLetMeBeEvil

    As nice it is to say “Stop the harassment that both sides are committing” its just an empty suggesting. There is no objectivity as long one side keeps using it as an argument. It got to the point where our feminists and female members of GG had to go on TV to say it (mostly)

    Sorry i cannot add more beyond copypasting stuff i already said. Going to see you later.

  3. Heaven Smile Says:

    I think both comments may have been flagged as spam. Delete the first long one and leave the second.

  4. Heaven Smile Says:

    Oh for fuck sake!

    Some of the links transformed into playlists instead of the video proper. It seems WordPress reads them differently.

    From the top to bottom:
    1)”Dangerously Analyzed 5: Escaping The Quinngate” by
    dangerousanalysis

    2)”Why Isn’t Ann Coulter a Victim of Online Harassment?” by
    jordanowen42

    3)”Paid Reviews: Critics or Conmen? Gaming’s Ad-verse Situation” by Instig8iveJournalism

    4)”Jennifer Hepler: Fake Controversy” by Instig8iveJournalism

  5. Great blog post Dray. You know, if one were to try and wipe away all the little clagnuts clinging to the giant arse that is ‘Gamergate’, I’m pretty sure they would find themselves with a number of dissonant – equally daffy – gamer groups that hold each other in complete contempt. And that’s the problem! Rather that acknowledge that the broad church that is gaming is plenty big enough to accommodate games and gamers of every conceivable denomination, people (games ‘media’ included) would rather shout down and attack those who enjoy the type of videogames they don’t. I mean – particularly in the case of games ‘media’ – why?

    In any case, much better we leave that particular shit slinging contest to the more invested among us and get on with the business of enjoying our videogames.

    • Heaven Smile Says:

      “You know, if one were to try and wipe away all the little clagnuts clinging to the giant arse that is ‘Gamergate’, I’m pretty sure they would find themselves with a number of dissonant – equally daffy – gamer groups that hold each other in complete contempt. ”

      The hell are you talking about? GG are diverse in race, gender and opinion as fuck, and the thing that unites them all is their hate for injustice and censoring.

      You want to see the spectrum of the people who support #GamerGate? Just search for #NotYourShield.

      You want feminists in our group? here are the most prominent:

      View story at Medium.com

      You want right wing gay journalists reporting and supporting GG? here you go:
      http://www.reddit.com/r/KotakuInAction/comments/2io2hf/i_am_milo_yiannopoulos_im_a_journalist_reporting/

      You want the political compass of GamerGate? its quite broad:

      Are you arguing that we will forget the nice thing we have here as soon as it is over?

      • There’s no need to get angry. Unless I misunderstand Chris’ point, he’s saying much the same as I was: that despite it’s purported unity, there are actually a lot of fundamental conflicts amongst the members of the ‘Gamergate’ movement, some even concerning what the movement is ultimately about.

        Speaking just for myself (as I mentioned in the original post), I have seen plenty of ‘Gamergate’ supporters literally declaring that women don’t belong in the games industry; claiming that this is the ultimate message of ‘Gamergate’. I’ve seen people so enraged by feminist critics that they threaten violence (not even in private messages, but openly on twitter and in comments), also in the name of ‘Gamergate’. I’ve seen people saying that games should only ever be about ‘fun’, so deeper criticism of any kind should be stopped because ‘Gamergate’. That ‘narrative experiences’ aren’t allowed to be called ‘games’ because ‘Gamegate’ is about returning ‘real games’ to ‘real gamers’.

        Now, thankfully not everyone in ‘Gamergate’ shares those beliefs – but that’s precisely the point. Some do, and they don’t care that others supposedly on their side might find those opinions offensive.

        I mean, even if you just pick one seemingly simple issue, such as the one you mentioned – ‘their hate for injustice and censoring’ – there are multiple different and conflicting perspectives on what that even means. For some that’s just about getting journalists to disclose any conflicts of interest in their reporting and critique; for others convinced that there is some grand ‘Social Justice Warrior’ conspiracy at work, that means rooting out and destroying its perpetrators. And those are two very different views that have very contradictory endpoints.

        So describing the members of ‘Gamergate’ as one unanimous, unified whole – whether you are a games journalist dismissing them as ‘spoiled, angry white males’ or a supporter saying that everyone is only in it for the ‘ethics’ – risks oversimplifying the whole issue. And again, that is precisely what concerned me so much in the first place. Nothing about this whole unfortunate situation is that straightforward, and presuming that it is means that it only becomes more difficult to hear what anyone else is saying.

      • Ah, clearly my post was vaguer than I intended it to be in that I wasn’t just calling out those people who support whatever it is they think Gamergate represents, but also those people who seem equally invested in shutting down whatever it is they think Gamergate represents.

      • Heaven Smile Says:

        “I have seen plenty of ‘Gamergate’ supporters literally declaring that women don’t belong in the games industry; claiming that this is the ultimate message of ‘Gamergate’. I’ve seen people so enraged by feminist critics that they threaten violence (not even in private messages, but openly on twitter and in comments), also in the name of ‘Gamergate’. I’ve seen people saying that games should only ever be about ‘fun’, so deeper criticism of any kind should be stopped because ‘Gamergate’. That ‘narrative experiences’ aren’t allowed to be called ‘games’ because ‘Gamegate’ is about returning ‘real games’ to ‘real gamers’.”

        Aaaand i got the feeling you didn’t even read the first big comment i made, judging by your response here.

        I spent alot of time talking about the emptiness of the “death threats” and “harassment” that GG allegedly does, because of how easy it is to fabricate it since:

        1)Anyone and everyone can use the hashtag and there is nothing GG and you can do about it.

        (Huh. How appropriate for me to use Commissioner Gordon after your post about him and Batgirl)

        I can use it right now:
        “I Am a #GamerGate member and i eat babies for breakfast. http://i2.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/829/181/187.gif

        There, i am an “official member”. And so are these guys apparently:
        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ByLK76jCcAE51cQ.jpg:large
        https://archive.today/uGE0Q

        Isn’t it nice of her to embrace the harassment instead of reporting it like a normal rational human being? Its almost like she wants this so she can later use it as proof of something, but we all know that is not the case, right?

        ..oh wait.

        2)Of course you SEE harassment openly for everyone to see on Twitter, that is the POINT of self harassment! I didn’t put those links up there as decoration, you know?

        Real death threats are not announced. Why would you alert the victim so it can prepare for your arrival?
        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PragmaticVillainy

        Hell, you can get in trouble for obstruction of justice for not contacting the police and just flat out announce the world that you are receiving death threats.

        Its so cartoonishly obvious the kind of “threats” these women or whoever gets it are fake that there is no point even discussing about it. And when they are not fake then GamerGate finds out who these people are and that (big shock) they are not GG people but third parties just fucking around. Who knew?

        -A journo from Brazil cashing in the controversy by sending threats himself:

        -A goon from Something Awful:

        I am having tears of joy because at least ONE FUCKING CLAIM out of the hundred fakes they make is true. You know how hard it is to find truth in these AntiGG?

        You say that our vision of what GG is about is too broad? Dont you worry, at least is not about harassment since we make a better job hunting harassers down than the people who get paid to do research. Hell, GG was the one that found out about the bomb threat before it was reported by the game journos. Its on one of the links i gave you already:
        http://www.staresattheworld.com/2014/09/update-anita-sarkeesians-accusations-impropriety-sfpdfbi-gamergate/

        But i tell you why i am not worried about GG harassing people: Because we have no reason to.

        Our case has no flaws. There ARE problems and bias on the game journo side. That Greg Tito post (Editor In Chief of The Escapist) on the forums (also shown on one of the videos i already posted) is just one of many examples of these people flat out admitting they didn’t do the research and ran with a story anyway.
        http://gamergate.giz.moe/about/

        And we managed to get The Escapist to change their ethic code, and we leave it alone after that. One of many accomplishments of GamerGate.

        If we have the facts and everything in order, why would we need to harass or even doxx anyone? We dont need to. However, people without the facts and who depend on the harassment narrative and appeal to emotion are the usual suspect, as they can only scream and whine and dox their way to the top to get their narrative on track, as evidence by the fact that The Escapist WAS indeed doxxed for supporting GamerGate discussion on its forums.

        They kinda HAVE to roll with this kind of tactics because they have nothing on us. Have you ever seen them addressing the facts beyond sidetracking the conversation…
        http://honeybadgerbrigade.com/2014/10/04/how-many-falls-does-it-take-to-level-up-from-biased-media-to-journalist/
        http://www.shrink4men.com/2011/01/19/presto-change-o-darvo-deny-attack-and-reverse-victim-and-offender/
        http://mitrailleuse.net/2014/09/19/intellectual-bullying/

        …or dismissing it by claiming that it is of no importance or harmless?

        “I mean, even if you just pick one seemingly simple issue, such as the one you mentioned – ‘their hate for injustice and censoring’ – there are multiple different and conflicting perspectives on what that even means. For some that’s just about getting journalists to disclose any conflicts of interest in their reporting and critique; for others convinced that there is some grand ‘Social Justice Warrior’ conspiracy at work, that means rooting out and destroying its perpetrators. ”

        You know, its kinda funny how GamerGate is criticized and scrutinized non stop by people, like if they are the most evil motherfuckers that need to be on watch at all cost, yet Feminist do not get the same amount of criticism like if they are somehow innocent or immune to it because…i dont know….vagina?

        http://libertyviral.com/meet-the-woman-who-wants-to-reduce-the-male-population-by-90/#axzz3AX5LKco5
        http://www.womenagainstmen.com/media/feminism-is-a-hate-group.html
        http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Womens-groups-Cancel-law-charging-women-with-rape

        But dont worry, they will ensure that criticism no longer applies to them.
        http://translate.google.no/translate?sl=sv&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=no&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.friatider.se%2Fforslag-gor-det-straffbart-kritisera-feminism
        http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/V71-Straus_Thirty-Years-Denying-Evidence-PV_10.pdf

        Just saying.

        And yeah, i did paint Feminists on a bad light simply because i now understand why third parties may get involved by claiming to be GG. Sure, the journos could believe in Anarchism, Pastafarism, Feminism, Xenu, or Raptor Jesus all they want, but as soon they started to omit facts to serve whatever belief they have, regardless if they are supposed to be JOURNALISTS whose JOB is to be objective, then GamerGate would have been created either way. Having a woman and a self proclaimed Feminist (after what she did to other feminist, i highly doubt she is ANYTHING) be the catalyst after years of bullshit doesn’t change that fact one bit. But i do admit that there ARE rogue elements that have been following Feminists and their morally and academically bankrupt deeds for years, showing gamers something much worse than they imagined:

        http://aimhs.com.au/cms/index.php?page=against-science
        http://www.ipt-forensics.com/journal/volume6/j6_2_4.htm
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_Pizzey

        It is certainly disturbing to see how manipulating statistics and leads to people to destroy the lives of others because they are “oppressed” and therefore justified in tormenting others to balance the equation.

        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FeelingOppressedByTheirExistence

        I cant remember the last time i have seen a game placing us against someone who thinks its justified AND that actually HAVE a good case in their hands (no manipulation or anything).

        Lets just hope that those people notice that at least there are Feminist working for GG that are worth a damn, but given how much bullshit these people have to endure, i can understand the desperation of trying to win at least ONCE the battle of the sexes created by the Feminists.

        ” that means rooting out and destroying its perpetrators. ”
        You got to be more specific about the word “destroying”. Do you mean firing the journos that failed to do the job they signed for? Or you mean destroying the lives of people who do nothing to abuse their power to destroy OTHERS people’s lives, under the pretense of being the hero?
        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TautologicalTemplar
        http://theralphretort.com/gamergate-exposes-leigh-alexander-part-2/
        http://pastebin.com/Z2Z5gv4g

        “That ‘narrative experiences’ aren’t allowed to be called ‘games’ because ‘Gamegate’ is about returning ‘real games’ to ‘real gamers’.”

        You know by this point that such thing has nothing to do with Gamergate, and the only reason anyone would jump to such conclusion about GG trashing a game like Gone Home is because it is related to one of the cases of breach in ethics.
        https://archive.today/a96Nf
        http://imgur.com/d18RHUM

        And lets face it, if gamers would care about this kind of games it would because of what Instig8ive Journalism mentioned on the Hepler video on “Unholistic Design”, where the gameplay is meaningless and there is no consequence in skipping it. Kinda defeats the purpose of the interactive part it isn’t going to be used on a medium that is ABOUT interactions, isn’t it? Gamers would not care for the teen romance that is shitty as the billions of books of the same quality with a “progressive” spin on it.

        Hearing praises of it (even if the sources are not biased or compromised as the journos) feels like a mom who just discovered Fifty Shades of Grey and thinks its the most original and raunchy thing ever, when anyone else got their fix of this stuff with the untold number of fanfics out there and make this look tame by comparison.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Chris.

      And yes, I do think that’s been one of the most unfortunate products of this whole incident (aside, obviously, from the threats and prejudice, which go without saying). It has taken a medium that should be celebrated for its diversity and breadth of experience and compartmentalised it into a series of tedious ‘us’ versus ‘them’ skirmishes.

      Despite our differences, everyone involved in this mess is invested because they see (or hope to see) something of themselves in this art form that they enjoy. And that is a truly wonderful thing. The problems only arise when you think your thing automatically trumps everyone else’s – and sadly people on all sides of the argument are guilty of that.

      …Including me:

      Get that damned scarf off his neck, Sega!

  6. Firstly, I want to say a genuine thank you for the comments, Heaven Smile. Truly. It’s always good to get an alternate perspective. And thank you especially for the advice on archiving my pages (although I’m not sure why I would need it if the doxxings and threats are a myth, as you say they are).

    And yes, I did read your first long comment. And the next one. The reason that I didn’t reply is because I wanted to avoid descending into some kind of death spiral of duelling YouTube clips and counterclaims. Others elsewhere have pointed out any number of issues that can be taken with many of the accusations made in those links (the numerous sockpuppets employed by some people claiming to be supporters of ‘Gamergate’ particularly when the hashtag first started up (http://www.onehundredyearhorizons.com/sock-puppets-and-gamergate-depravity/); the incriminating screen grabs gathered of 4chan gatherings in which some prominent founding members talk of destroying people’s lives and livelihood (https://storify.com/strictmachine/gameovergate); the innumerable sick depraved threats and messages scattered through articles across the web that cannot all be dismissed as fake and that are ludicrously more slanted toward women than journalists or publishers (http://www.newsweek.com/gamergate-about-media-ethics-or-harassing-women-harassment-data-show-279736)) – but that was never the point of what I was saying.

    (And pointing to some videos in which female videogamers argue that they are also part of ‘Gamergate’ is precisely why I mentioned that it might be better to just go with a name change. Why should they have to ignore or excuse the slut-shaming and abuse of others done in the name of their movement?)

    Frankly, many of the links that you provided, and some of the arguments that you extrapolated from them, are examples of why I wrote this blog post in the first place. There is bad behaviour, obfuscation, and baseless accusations on all sides of this issue, but – as my original post said – what makes the entire situation an even bigger mess is assuming that one side is entirely ‘right’ (and therefore any bad behaviour on their side can be excused), while the other is totally ‘wrong’ (and therefore deserves whatever they get).

    But I will speak to a couple of things that you’ve mentioned in your two longer posts – only briefly, and only because I do respect your opinion – because I’d like to believe that you may not realise how some of those statements are coming across.

    Firstly, because it’s a point that I expressly made in the original post so I was surprised to hear you dismiss it out of hand anyway: I enjoyed Gone Home. I enjoyed it. Not because some journalist told me to think about design structures, or narrative as architecture, or found object Art, or whatever. I though it was immersive, and moving, and a genuinely new experience. So (as I already mentioned at greater length in the original post), I actually find it rather offensive that you would want to tell me that I had no right to enjoy such a game; that it wasn’t even really a game; and that if I, or anyone else, was confused into thinking I enjoyed it, it was only because I was brainwashed by some article I read from a sneaky journalist.

    Not only is the idea of that is utterly fantastical, it is, again, a complete insult both to the makers of the game and to me. Sometimes people just like something you clearly don’t. And in a medium as diverse and wonderful as videogames (or in any Art form whatsoever actually) that should be okay.

    Secondly, because I think it’s a good representation of how easily ineptitude can be conflated into a conspiracy, the video you provided that claims to ‘prove’ there is some ‘SJW’ conspiracy (by Sargod of Arkkad) is very confused about its own message. Actually, a little hysterical.

    The narrator is shocked that a group of academics all working in the same field, with similar interests, studying the same topic, would reference one another’s research? That’s not a grand scheme. It’s called a bibliography. Not citing the material that they have been reading would be the controversy. Freely divulging your sources is just ethical practice.

    He then goes on to slam the games ‘journalists’ who, having seen a post about this research come up in their daily feeds, reported it without (in his opinion) doing enough secondary research. …But that’s every news day ever in all journalism. Yes, you can argue that it is lazy. Yes, it shows a lack of investigative rigour. But it’s precisely what happens when a press release drops in any newsroom in most any country across the globe: ‘Look! Something vaguely science-sounding! Let’s publish it with little-to-no dissemination of the facts!’

    Ironically (and I say this with a great deal of sadness) this video’s inflated criticisms ultimately just make games ‘journalists’ look more like their news media brethren – a damning-with-faint-praise legitimacy that was clearly not the effect I think he was obviously going for.

    Also, his dismissal of the peer review system for the acceptance of articles into the ADA Review is intentionally disingenuous. Their own submission guidelines (which he even partially shows in his video) state that any article that gets printed there goes through a multi-stage peer review process: an academic in the field reads it first, judging its merit; only then do the FemBot Collective (which so offended him) get to comment on whether it is up to a suitable standard; and then it goes into another, this time public, review. They couldn’t be more transparent. But I guess it looks scary when you leave details out and draw red lines around stuff.

    (And as if that guy hadn’t lost enough credibility with me, one of the next videos listed in his channel was a chauvinistic blast at Emma Watson’s plea for people to think about gender equality at the UN. …Seriously? He’s going to slag off Hermione Granger because she dreams of a world in which men and women might work together for equality? Meanwhile, his primary frustration was: What right does a woman who has made some money in movie industry have to talk about gender? Yeah, because women are treated equally in film, just like everywhere else, right? How’s that Wonder Woman film coming along?)

    Which leads me to my last point: I really despise victim blaming.

    ‘Stop hitting yourself’ is a hateful, bullying response to another person’s pain. And even if just for the sake of argument one were to grant that there were a couple of instances of people falsifying abuse claims (and I have yet to see anything that proves such accusations true, just a lot of ugly speculation), I think it’s highly unjust, and extraordinarily insensitive, to therefore dismiss everyone being harassed as a liar.

    To illustrate what I mean: you clearly have no love for Zoe Quinn, but even if you want to say that she faked being threatened, does that mean Anita Sarkeesian did too?
    …and Mattie Brice?
    …and Jenn Frank?
    …and Brianna Wu?
    …and Leigh Alexander?
    …and Phil Fish (for showing support for them)?
    …and Tim Schafer (for likewise speaking up)?
    …and innumerable others that at a certain point it all just gets too depressing to mention.

    As I said, I’ve seen firsthand multiple threatening twitter messages, comments, and blog posts, on countless sites, most not even sent to these people directly – just spat hatefully into the void. There are not enough hours in the day for the victims to have been faking it all as you claim. (And if I’m wrong, I look forward to seeing both Quinn and Sarkeesian arrested for falsifying police reports.)

    So I’m sorry to say, I do find these statements from your replies personally upsetting:

    “I am telling you. If the people unhappy with these women never hated women in their lives then they might start NOW after seeing how much they can get away with, and will be paranoid of ANY woman who COULD destroy their lives.

    “And of course, they might hate the rest of humanity for being so easily duped to the point they DESERVE to be manipulated like that.”

    and:

    “You know, its kinda funny how GamerGate is criticized and scrutinized non stop by people, like if they are the most evil motherfuckers that need to be on watch at all cost, yet Feminist do not get the same amount of criticism like if they are somehow innocent or immune to it because…i dont know….vagina?”

    I probably don’t need to go into why these statements bother me. I’m sure you can imagine.

    Nor do I need (or want) to get into whose lives these women are supposedly ‘destroying’. (And no, I don’t need to read any more ‘Some women lie’ pseudo-science journal articles, so please stop linking to them.)

    Instead I will point out, again, how unhelpful I think it is to still be lumping all ‘GamerGate’ people into one basket and all ‘feminists’ into another, as if that were in any way a representative division of anything.

    Again, my original post was entirely about how damaging I believe these kinds of false dichotomies are, and how easy it is for people on all sides of this argument to start painting everyone who doesn’t agree with them as the enemy when they fall into the rhetorical trap of us-versus-them. Denying that there has not been wrong-doing on all sides is wilfully misleading; and I am surprised that if you are offended by hearing people dismiss the members of ‘GamerGate’ as ‘spoiled angry white males’, you would be okay with labelling all the victims of abuse as fakers who deserve what they get. After all, to me that seems to be a far more vile derogatory stereotype.

    So thank you for your posts, Heaven Smile.

    As I said, I do appreciate hearing alternate sides (even when there are issue with those arguments with which I strenuously disagree). But I would just like to implore you – as I was asking in my original post – to not make the mistake of believing that such a myriad of issues can be reduced to good and evil, black and white. That can lead to seeing conspiracies when none are there, reducing complex movements filled with a diversity of people into trite clichés, and enflame what should be a discussion into a furious crusade.

    • Heaven Smile Says:

      Lets take it slow then.

      “As I said, I’ve seen firsthand multiple threatening twitter messages, comments, and blog posts, on countless sites, most not even sent to these people directly – just spat hatefully into the void. ”

      Tangent. There was a Jon Tron video about Aquaman for Game Cube, and halfway through the review after telling us that the combo moves are useless because he can just button mash to win, he mentions “The Video Game Theory Reader” book and the concept of “Dominant Strategy”: “When you give the player the ultimate method of disposing the obstacles in a game then he is always going to use it. Why give this complex combo list when you can mash A to win? Do they think the player will find the tediousness fun? NO. IT IS NOT!”

      Lets apply that to the game journos and the people blaming GG for whatever they feel like without evidence. What is less tedious, more easy, and can instantly get you out of trouble by distracting the masses? To admit to the corruption of game journalism, the lack of disclosure, the IGF voting games not for their merits but connections and money (I am looking at you Phil Fish) as demonstrated by the LordKat and Team Meat, and come in terms with the fact you have ZERO ethics or standards as journalists….

      OR

      …Make people who dont agree with you and your ethics (because they caught you red handed) to be fired, accuse a consumer revolt created AS A RESULT of such questionable ethics from journalists of being misogynists (because women are oppressed despite evidence of the contrary, dont you know?), and make sure to sabotage the hashtag they use so they are seen as incoherent morons who “spat hatefully into the void”, so that people like you can come and see the “overwhelming evidence” of GG being “problematic?

      Its like i dont even need to be here to tell you which strategy in the Game of Life™ is more effective. It just works!

      I dont remember if we already talked about it before in other posts of yours, but i think i already went in detail on how Fiction spoiled us all into thinking we can always find a logical and orderly reason for why shit happens in believable and not contrived way, leaving us defenseless against the chaotic nonsense of the world that follows no rules and doesn’t have the luxury of having a writer to explain all the dumb writing moments of all the “characters”.

      “Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.”
      -Stephen Sondheim

      As much as YOU want to not have the situation not be so Black & White (because it would be unrealistic….on Fiction http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RealityIsUnrealistic), it IS realistic an within the realms of this chaos for an actual Black & White problem to exist in the Real Life™, or even a Black & Grey. How can i say that all those people are corrupt and are consuding self harassment and false flag operations? because they are not even hiding it.


      http://pastebin.com/zRZvR6tE

      Which makes nice posts like this hard to swallow, specially something like what this developer is saying about AntiGG: “I genuinely believe that many Anti-GamerGate people are mislead and misinformed”…

      …when most of them are LITERALLY using our hashtag at the behalf of the big guys commanding them to. You already saw one on this very post, and the other post of mine has that guy giving away games for saying “I Love Rape #GamerGate”.
      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChaoticStupid

      Tell you what. When someone eventually releases a book or documentary about the #GamerGate ordeal in the future, and when the “story” mentions the kind of shit i said before and more, i bet you that NOBODY is going to suspend their disbelief for that and the book is going to get shit for it. Not a single soul except the people who were involved in it.

      While we wait for that History Channel special (assuming it still exist by then) why dont you join our Feminists Christina Sommers and Jennie Bharaj on a stream about Feminism and #GamerGate?

      Oh, and i did make a mistake. We found new information about who doxxed (twice) the Feminist group know as The Fine Young Capitalists. I told you before that it was Zoe but all she did was FAVORITING AND RETWEETING the guy who made information public about TFYC and who doxxed them.
      http://blogjob.com/oneangrygamer/2014/10/gamergate-tfyc-was-doxxed-by-a-games-writer-not-zoe-quinn/

      Not actual culprit but responsible for exposing personal info.

      ….yaay?

      • Heaven Smile Says:

        I should have added after this:

        “…when most of them are LITERALLY using our hashtag at the behalf of the big guys commanding them to. You already saw one on this very post, and the other post of mine has that guy giving away games for saying “I Love Rape #GamerGate””

        Victim blaming is indeed a bad thing, but when that “victim” does nothing but milk that victimhood as much as it can, all while not proving WHO made the harassment beyond “take my word for it” over and over and over, then yeah, people are going to get suspicious and search deeper about these serious allegations.

        Harnlon’s Razor cannot take place here since the alleged victim is constantly attributing its problems to entities it has no proof it is the cause. We cannot attribute stupidity when malevolent intent is far more likely for someone who wants a mob of people unleashed on the GG people she finds guilty, yet inexplicably provides no proof of such charge….again.
        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HanlonsRazor

        A responsible adult wouldn’t say such things without proof, else it will create the risk of unleashing the hate mob fueled by false assumptions. Yet it keeps going….and going ….and going… and going.

      • Thanks for that information, Heaven Smile – I hadn’t heard that.

        So yes, let’s take it slow.

        Just to recap:

        Not only did Zoe Quinn not have sex with someone to get a favourable review for her free game (that was just slander whipped up by a jilted ex-boyfriend that is still repeated to this day by many people, even after it has been revealed untrue), she also didn’t doxx The Fine Young Capitalists – an accusation that has been repeatedly used as justification for why she deserves to be attacked anyway, even if the original claim of corruption wasn’t substantiated?

        So that’s the two main charges against her – both proved false.

        And yet somehow she still deserves to be held up as a symbol of all that is ‘wrong’ with the videogame culture?

        …So why is that exactly?

        Oh, yeah. Because she ‘faked’ countless threats of death and rape to herself? Just like she totally, absolutely, really truly doxxed the Young Capitalists, right?

        See, this is exactly the result of the fear mongering and hysteria that I was warning you about – what my whole original post was speaking to. When people are perceived as ‘enemies’ before proof has even been established – when people are happy to just think the worst and attack; resort to ‘us’ versus ‘them’ (in your words: ‘a real Black & White problem [in] the Real Life’) – then mistakes get made, horror gets unleashed, and abuses have to be backpedalled away from, or (as seems more likely lately) ignored, when they should have been avoided in the first place.

        And considering that in your previous comments you yourself declared ‘Our case has no flaws’, that is a major, major problem. And it’s not okay to just tell yourself that it will all come out in the wash.

        And frankly, hearing that, I’m even more baffled by the level of your indignation, and where it seems to be directed. There are many real issues to address in the games industry (I named several that have bothered me: a lack of disclosure over paid advertisements; the influence of games publishers upon the editorial policy of supposedly independent publications; the manipulation of the DLC distribution model, etc.), so I honestly don’t understand where this fury at women like Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkessian being allowed to express themselves artistically and speak their minds comes from. It seems to have nothing to do with real corruption.

        These women are not the publishers ruining the game industry. One makes browser games for a niche audience that you don’t have to be a part of; the other offers critiques on texts that you don’t have to listen to, or are free to argue against, should you wish. They’re not the ones with the money or the influence to corrupt anything – even if they wanted to.

        And yet no one seems to be calling the people who actually do have influence to account for their actions; nor do they even seem to be interested in talking about the right issues. After all, do you really think whoever got Jeff Gertsmann fired for giving Kane and Lynch 2 a bad review gives a crap about the depiction of gay, lesbian and transgendered characters in indie games? Do you think whoever decided to blackball critics for not writing glowing preview stories for Call of Duty gives even a second thought to forwarding positive depictions of female characters? What about the guys at CAPCOM who lock premade material away as on-disc DLC – you think they care about experimental narratives that push the boundaries of game design?

        Of course not.

        So I find this obsession with ‘fighting the good fight’ against ‘feminists’ and ‘Social Justice Warriors’ to be (at the very best) a ridiculous distraction. And attacking women, or belittling their right to express themselves, is indefensible. After all, if you have a problem with their games or their critique, then address the work itself. Reducing yourself to personal attack – calling them liars or ‘not real gamers’, spitting the word ‘feminist’ like a curse, or trying to pre-emptively invalidate their opinions with a comment like, they are ‘immune to [criticism] because… i dont know… vagina?’ solves nothing.

        Indeed, it’s sounds more representative of a form of Culture War that has been sadly percolating throughout society for quite some time, one that just seems to have resurfaced with a new ‘gamer’ coat of paint (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/10/in-defense-of-gamers/).

        And that is particularly sad when you weigh up the damage this false ‘us’ versus ‘them’ dichotomy has wrought. For all of your references to men having their lives ‘destroyed’, I’ve yet to see any fallout. Being called ‘a spoiled white male’ in some oversimplified op-ed piece is hardly the same as being terrorised in your industry, your creative field, and your home; being painted as a ‘slut’ and a ‘liar’ and a ‘criminal’; and being daily bombarded with the vitriol of thousands of anonymous strangers who can reach you with the press of a button.

        It is an imbalance that has already led to a heartbreaking amount of carnage. Again: Mattie Brice, Jenn Frank, Brianna Wu, Leigh Alexander, and oh look: since my last comment now Felicia Day has been attacked (within an hour of putting up a blog post in which she literally expressed sympathy and understanding to those in ‘GamerGate’ who felt angry, her personal information was published online and she was threatened. How lovely).

        So I think it is neither helpful, nor even faintly realistic, to dismiss all of that as a grand fake victimhood conspiracy by the ‘SJW’s’ – a (what did you call it, oh, yes) ‘wounded gazelle gambit’. That remains a vulgar kind of victim blaming that tries to argue that even if there was some ‘real’ abuse mixed in with all the ‘false’ stuff, they must have had it coming.

        And considering that, as you’ve just admitted, the worst accusations levelled against Quinn (those that up until now have been used to defend the punishment being inflicted on her) have just been proved false, that seems like a particularly flimsy excuse anyhow.

        I’ve warned multiple times now that the most unhelpful thing in any discussion is to demonise those who disagree with you as some evil ‘other’ that you have to overcome. It leads to cruelty, and an inability to think rationally. And I’m sorry to say, but it seems like you’ve already fallen into that trap. Just then, in your message, even as you admitted that she was innocent, you still tried to position Quinn as the bad guy anyway – because she dared to re-tweet someone who helped cut through the onslaught of misinformation, threats and slander that she has had to face by these past few months.

        That to me is a perfect example of just how blinding all this misplaced hatred can be. You appear to have already decided that Quinn is worthy of scorn, no matter what the ‘evidence’.

        She re-tweeted proof that she was innocent of something she had been wrongly accused of doing – something for which her life has been turned upside down – and your response is a sarcastic: Oh well, never mind, she must be guilty of something…

        Yes: of thanking someone else for naming the actual culprit.

        And I find it curious that you are suddenly squeamish about his name getting dragged into the mud when it was perfectly okay for her to suffer far worse.

        I look forward to seeing that documentary you mentioned. Although I think you’ll find that a group of women being slut-shamed and terrorised on the internet simply for speaking their minds don’t make quite the villains you imagine.

      • As for your follow-up comment, please see my above statement for a response, because I couldn’t agree more:

        ‘A responsible adult wouldn’t say such things without proof, else it will create the risk of unleashing the hate mob fueled by false assumptions. Yet it keeps going….and going ….and going… and going.’

        What you are saying is entirely accurate – I think you might just be missing the irony of who you’re directing such comments toward. Especially after you just acknowledged some pretty serious allegations that were wrongfully levelled at Quinn without proof.

        So let me ask something of you for a second. Imagine if you had such a hate mob after you, their accusations based on fraudulent evidence, and with no one willing to take your word for it. And when I say ‘you’ I don’t mean ‘GamerGate’ as a group. I mean you.

        You.

        Seriously imagine for a second that you, Heaven Smile, had to fight off false accusations from the entire world. Your personal life, your professional relationships, your ethics, your every action, dragged through the mud. Slandered by a jilted ex-girlfriend, who everyone believed without question. Months of abuse. Your address published. Your contact details leaked. Your family and personal safety threatened with literal threats of murder and rape.

        And please don’t do that ‘Well I would never have behaved like Zoe Quinn in the first place’ deflection that I have seen so many people resort to. Because it’s cheap and callous, and it wasn’t just her, was it? I’ve already given the (sadly only partial) list, but it’s worth repeating:

        Anita Sarkessian.

        Mattie Brice.

        Jenn Frank.

        Brianna Wu.

        Leigh Alexander.

        Felicia Day.

        These are not ‘angry, evil feminists’ in the abstract (and just to be clear, even if they were, still none of this would be okay). They are human beings. They have been attacked in a way that neither you nor I can comprehend. And saying that ‘internet death threats aren’t all serious’, or ‘they’re all faking’, or citing ‘Hanlon’s Razor’ (it’s ‘Hanlon’s’ by the way) to downgrade the threat and make them seem like whiners, all the time trying to marginalise their pain, is deeply, indefensibly hateful and insulting.

        You’re better than that, Heaven Smile. You’ve shown more nuance and awareness in the past than those kinds of lazy rationalisations suggest. Continuing to try and turn them into the villains, suggesting that they unleashed a ‘hate fuelled mob’ on themselves is ridiculous. Implying that they ‘deserve it’ like that is ugly bullying at its worst.

  7. […] literature, film, games, television, art, music …batman « Gate Keeper Games: The Co-opt Option of GamerGate […]

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