Three quick GG reads

Chris Kluwe, who continues to be one of my favorite people in the universe, has a very vitriol-laced take on the situation:

Thus, when I see an article titled “Gamers are dead,” referring to the death of the popular trope of a pasty young man in a dimly lit room, it fills me with joy, because it means WE FUCKING WON. So many people are playing games now that they are popular culture. They are not going away. All sorts of cool things, that I like, are now things that a whole bunch of other people like! There’s enough space now for people to make games that are strange and disturbing and maybe highlight a different perspective of the world, because gaming is no longer a niche activity, it’s something that everybody does. There is room for art in video games. That’s awesome!

Jesse Singal wrote this utterly awesome take of being a legitimate journalist trying to engage in gamergate, which touches on many of the themes I’ve mentioned here.  A must-read.

I believe Smilomaniac. I also believe the various Reddit and 8chan posts and the folks in the Hangout; I think Gamergate is primarily about anger at progressive people who care about feminism and transgender rights and mental health and whatever else is getting involved in gaming, and by what gamergaters see as overly solicitous coverage of said individuals and their games.

And here’s the thing: That’s fine! It’s an opinion I happen to disagree with, but it’s a coherent, concrete viewpoint. Say what you will about the tenets of anti-progressivism, dude, but at least it’s an ethos.

Let me address Gamergate advocates directly for a moment: Right now, journalists trying to be fair-minded about your movement simply can’t win. Again, if I’m arguing with someone from the NRA or the NAACP or some other established group, I can point to actual quotes from the group’s leadership. With you guys, any bad thing that happens is, by definition, not the work of A True Gamergater. It’s one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book.

Tadhg Kelly thinks Gamergate is dying.  I disagree, but he does have some salient points as he tries to draw out what lessons one might learn:

The hashtag is still going, as are the fervent speculations and plans for operations on 8chan and Reddit, but the movement that is #Gamergate is exposed for what it always was: A core of angry men hidden within a softer (and far more naive) crowd that liked to think of itself as diverse. The shield dropped when someone went too far, someone threatened a school shooting. Someone else threatened another woman in games out of her home. And the response from the key gaters boiled down to an extended “I absolutely don’t condone that sort of thing even if they are asking for it“.

The Midweek #Gatesplaining of the Perpetual Outrage Machine

Someone used the term #Gatesplaining in twitter today.  This is a term that really needs to catch on.  But now, onto other links!

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On Being Doxxed and Third Party Shitheads

Yes, I was doxxed -kinda sorta (we’ll get to that). I’m safe.  Wife is rattled but fine.  It was clearly the act of a third party shithead.  Other targets by the same guy in theory included Adam Baldwin (literally, the father of the #gamergate tag) and Patton Oswalt.  Which is pretty weird company to have insomnia and wake to find yourself in, all told.

One of the other supposed targets (Mark Montag, whose portrait suggests he is pro-gamergate, illustrating the ‘third party shitheads’ emphasis I want to make here) had this to say.

The information posted about me is also quite outdated.  As in, I haven’t worked for Origin and had an email address for 15 years and, hell, it hasn’t been around as a game company for, what, 10?  So please, no one feel inclined to bother the nice woman who bought my house.

I do not blame any individual in #GamerGate for this – there is no evidence to support that claim.  I do blame the toxicity and circus-like atmosphere that surrounds #GamerGate-the-Event, though.  People will be unsurprised that this does not change my views on gamergate at all.  But despite that, people on all sides of the issue need to acknowledge that everyone is being trolled by third party shitheads.  

That being said, I will note that the founder of 8chan, one of the places where GamerGate supporters like to congregate, had this to say about whether or not he would even denounce doxing on his site, much less take action to stop it.

Needless to say, I disagree with what you say, buddy. But maybe I’m a LITTLE FUCKING CRANKY RIGHT NOW.

And if you are a GamerGate supporter, you should be depressed.  This is ranking up to be yet another day that the tag is full of discussion about harassment and he-said, she said bullshit instead of game journalism ethics, which even though it was clearly instigated by a third party shithead,  only further makes the hashtag seem toxic to outsiders.

Polygon’s Bayonetta 2 Review is Fine

So, in between the Brianna Wu media tour and the emergence of #StopGamerGate2014, #GamerGate for the first time in weeks actually attempted to bring up something that was almost something something kinda like Journalistic Ethics.  As you may know, #Gamergate declares that journalistic ethics and integrity is what this is all really about (although that’s built on a total sham, is ignorant of actual problems and allergic to actual journalistic ethics).  But hey, maybe they got it better this time!

bayonetta2

Oh dear.

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What GamerGate Can Learn From the NFL and Ray Rice

GamerGate should be in PR crisis mode.  It’s not.  It can’t be.  And it doesn’t know how.

Gamergate is, right now, a hashtag that is ABOUT harassment.  That’s not what it’s better angels want.  There’s a large contingent of people that are in there that are deeply committed to improving the games industry press, and care about that.  They think that’s what they’ve signed up for.  I don’t agree with their principles, their priorities or their view of how the industry actually works, but the better angels clearly want to clean up what they see as a fucked up enterprise.

But all of that is buried now, under a daily drumbeat of harassment, harassment, HARASSMENT.  What are the news stories for the last few days?  Let’s look at my current twitter feed and KiA, reddit’s central source for the latest Gamergate goings on.  Briana Wu being harassed.  Briana Wu going on MSNBC and getting her twitter hacked.  Briana Wu is an awful person (multiple times) USU cancelling Anita’s speaking gig because of a shooter threat. Boogie is being harassed. Zoe Quinn freaking out about being on MSNBC facing her harasser.  Just endless news on harassment of anti-gg AND gg personalities, defenses against harassment, denials against harassment, and spiteful, hateful bile thrown at people who accuse them of harassment.

Oh, and #Gamergate is finally hitting the mainstream press.  MSNBC: harassment.  CNN: harassment.  HuffPost: harassment.  Mentions of ethics are an afterthought.  The harassment infighting is so fierce that when an actual Ethics issue pops up, it doesn’t get nearly the attention as, say, a blow-by-blow detail of what happened in Zoe Quinn’s restraining order hearing.

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Why I Only Told the Womens’ Stories

Last week, I put up a very long article about the stories of harassment I could find.  I’ve made some minor corrections based on additional details I’ve gotten.  I have an open invitation for more women to send me their stories, and will correct any bad information I’ve gotten.  As I’ve mentioned before, the stories from the gamergate side are much sketchier and less detailed than the ones on the other side, largely because the other side has endeavored to document their harassment in long form.

One question I’ve gotten over and over again has been ‘what about the men?’

Surely some people, including JonTron, have gotten harassment, and in many cases, it’s gone over the line.  And I’ve been accused of sexism for leaving out their stories, and implying that women are weaker.

I’m not saying women are weaker.  I’m saying that the harassment women get is much, much more frequent and much more vile.  This is something that I will personally vouch for from working in MMOs for almost 20 years and seeing harassment logs that could curl paint.  If you don’t believe me, then read this article here: Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet.  Then read this here: There’s No Comparing Male and Female Harassment Online (which addresses this rebuttal to Hess’ article).  Or this article: Scholar thinks online harassment of women is a civil rights issue.  Particular notes:

  • Much of the harassment women (or other minorities) get is ABOUT them being different, and has specific discriminatory goals.
  • A much higher percentage of the harassment women gets involves descriptions of sexual violence.
  • 89% of domestic violence cases now include cyberharassment as a component (texts, emails, etc).
  • 70% of cyberstalk victims are female, and 80% of cyberstalking defendants are male.
  • 90% of revenge porn cases had female victims.
  • 70% of women in multiplayer games have played as male characters online to avoid abuse.

Here’s a fun scientific study:

In 2006, researchers from the University of Maryland set up a bunch of fake online accounts and then dispatched them into chat rooms. Accounts with feminine usernames incurred an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day. Masculine names received 3.7.

So in a neutral environment, women are 25 times more likely to receive harassment! The differences in levels of harassment are stark enough to see plainly.  As the following reader comment on a GiantBomb article pointed out sarcastically

This has NOTHING to do with GamerGate! It’s merely a coincidence that 3 women have fled their homes, a handful of female game journalists have left their careers, and female game devs have had to speak out but only under the cover of anonymity all while gamergate happened! A BIG COINCIDENCE!

#Gamergate DOES have a bodycount, but it’s a bodycount that has hit MANY more women than men – despite the fact that women are, as a whole, vastly underrepresented in the industry!

Online harassment is such a big issue now that the limitations as to how threatening you are allowed to be is going on the docket of the supreme court.  (As a side note, here’s a fun article about how the defense is hilariously going to have to explain hip-hop lyrics to the supreme court).  And most of the time, online harassment that rises to the level of hate speech and crime is aimed at minorities.

So if someone else wants to write an article about how certain men in the movement have been harassed, be my guest.  All harassment is bad, and is a problem that needs an addressing.  But compared to what the women have endured, it’s a fart in a hurricane.

GamerGate: 6 Weeks Later

There are three excellent must-reads related to GamerGate this last week, plus one oldie but goodie.  All of them look at gamergate skeptically, not from a position of extremism or reactionary politics, but from a sense of moderation.  I’ll recommend them, and then write my own thoughts before I take a bit of a self-imposed exile from the blog for a few days.  Seriously, read them.

God of War and Twisted Metal designer David Jaffe’s excellent Twitlonger on the subject mirrors my own thoughts closely.

I keep getting hit with people going ,’Well Jaffe, these journalists are SMEARING devs by saying bad shit about them!!!!’…ok, well welcome to the big leagues of putting something out in the world for public consumption and getting judged for it.

Katherine Cross is an academic and an author for Feministing.  I’ve linked this article once, and will gladly do so again.

Their ideology—the conviction that any and all feminism, and anything that can be deemed “SJW” is inherently corrupt—makes harassment and the targeting of outspoken figures, especially women, inevitable, and impervious to utilitarian admonitions. Why care about ‘looking bad’ when your cause is so noble?

John Walker, an editor of Rock, Paper, Scissors, wrote the following on his personal blog.

“Anti-GamerGate” does not exist. There is no such movement, there is no such collective of people. It’s a construct of GG’s, an attempt to create a scarecrow. There are, undoubtedly, stupid, dangerous idiots who are responding to those within GG in awful ways. They are not an organised affiliation, with dedicated forums, coordinated attack mobs, and specifically expressed desires to “destroy”.

David A Hill, dev and former journalist, has a month-old article that bears re-reading.

So, corruption in journalism. Can I let you in on a secret? We want to have that conversation. We all do, with maybe a couple of exceptions. This is a conversation we’ve tried to have, and wanted to have for years.

But why aren’t we just sitting down and talking it over and smiling and playing games and shutting up about the feminisms? Basically, it’s because we’re having two completely different conversations. One’s an insider conversation, informed about the industry. The other is an outsider conversation, based on half-truths, misunderstandings, and what we see as skewed priorities.

My turn, and I’ll just write briefly and plainly.

1. I think that GamerGate-the-Hashtag will always struggle with the issue of harassment to casual observers.  

#GamerGate was forged in reaction to the refusal for reporters to delve into the muck that was Zoe Quinn’s lovelife, and the associated hammering that she was taking from Mundane Matt (“5 Guys”) and 4Chan.  At the same time, Anita Sarkeesian posted the same time, and was immediately driven into hiding by a virulent hate campaign.  Gamergaters have attempted to disown the hate from this period of time in their past.  But it always seems disingenious – if you try to say that they weren’t party to it or actively cheering it on, you seem inherently dishonest. And that only hurts the cause, no matter how much #gamergate has cleaned up their act (and they’ve certainly put in an effort to do so).

Most #GamerGate diehards have no idea how big, confusing and messy the GamerGate-the-Event is to casual observers on the outside. Most don’t pay close attention to the daily goings-on – hell, *I* can barely keep up with what’s going on, simply between completing my 8-hour job and then writing for the blog.  Most only know about the biggest, most explosive things that appeared in Facebook and Twitter in the last week.  And since GamerGate is leaderless and has a nasty undercurrent to it, the biggest, most explosive things usually just reinforce the harassment narrative:  Brianna Wu got doxed.  Anita got a bomb threat at a public event – again.  Zoe had a reddit spy show up at her restraining order hearing – and that story has more than 600 upvotes.  Every piece of moderate news that comes simply cannot compete with the shittiist things done by the shittiest people who can sneak near the cause.

Some will say, ‘there’s no proof that #Gamergate was behind Anita or Briana!’  This is true. Some will say ‘our side is getting harassed too!’  This is also true. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter – most gamers and devs know that gamergate-the-event is just so toxic that having an opinion on it – one way or the other – can very likely doom you to an inevitable river of shit.  There’s a reason every female developer I know refuses to talk about gamergate - what may not be noticed is that fewer devs are opting to talk to fans AT ALL for fear of being dragged into the tarpit of the debate and being forced to choose a side and risk alienating fans.  So heads wiser than mine are just opting to stay the hell away from it altogether, rather than support or oppose it directly.

Look at it this way: There is nothing in the whole debate I care about as much as the issue of harassment.  If I sign up as a Gamergate supporter, I am instantly associating myself with a movement and a fight that was born of harassment, and always seems to find its way back in the proximity of the gutter.  I know that probably only 1% of GamerGaters are the sort of vile people who cannot resist this sort of shit, but the fact that that 1% too often dictates what the fight of the day is for GamerGate, the result is a movement that is incapable of actually moving forward.  Until Gamergate changes their culture, I expect little will change.

2. I’m all in favor of better games journalism, but I see little or no actual tangible progress or appetite for change in directions that actually matter.

Look, our press isn’t great.  It’s got a lot of problems, but still we have the widest, most diverse, less bought-and-paid press that video games have ever had.  To be sure, there have always been problems and questions of corruption.  But the corruption centers around money, mainly how publishers can buy access via the games press and streamers, and there seems to be shockingly little interest by anyone in covering that stuff.

Instead, I see a mindnumbing focus on bullshit I can’t get behind.  People are still butthurt by an editorial in Gamasutra that happened 6 weeks ago.  This — has nothing to do with ethics.  People are upset to find that Game Journalists have a mailing list – so far the list has shown… erm, some journalists disagreeing with each other and being a little catty towards some devs.  Big whoop. Most industries have a mailing list. On dev lists, we complain about reporters!   People are upset to find out that Games Journalists have FRIENDS!  Or sometimes have drinks with developers!  Ye gads.  That’s called “Connections”, otherwise known as “How you get information for your fucking news story.”

And then there’s the collusion angle.  Apparently, Ben Kuchera worked together to release 12 articles at the same time in order to…. do …. what?  Seriously, what’s the motive here?  That they’d launch a nagging mommy bomb so massive that they’d convince all gamers that they had wasted their lives, so we’d all stop playing our video games and Ben could be looking for a new job before Christmas as the games industry as we know it lay in smoldering ruins behind him?  Seriously.  There is no motive here for any sort of nefarious conspiracy here that makes sense.  The short answer is simple: journalists were fucking lazy, and stole from each other when trying to rush out stories condemning what was happening to Zoe and Anita.

Here’s the secret about the press: Collusion, I.e. having the same story as the other guys, is actually pretty bad for them.  If everyone has the same story, then there’s no reason to read them all.  People will only read the biggest and best one.  In order to compete, you have to FIND a reason, a spin, or an angle for people to choose your site over the others.  Polygon does it by asking interesting cultural questions about the games it plays.  The Escapist does it, apparently, by pandering to Gamergate.  That’s FINE.  If you don’t have a good spin, angle or beat, then there’s no reason why someone would choose your site over IGN or Gamespot.

3. As a game developer and first amendment purist, I find the drive to silence certain types of game criticism revolting.

I concede that the anti-feminist and anti-SJW angle of the debate is a relatively minor complaint for some gamergaters to have, but for many, that’s what they mean when they talk about corruption.  In my interview with Milo, he dinged the idea of GAMR as something that couldn’t handle the anti-feminist cultural issues he cares about.  This idea that SJWs are going to use DARPA and DiGRA to somehow make us stop making the kind of games that gamers today love.  It’s ridiculous.

First off, AAA studios like money.  A lot.  And their stockholders like money.  A lot.  People get fired if we don’t make games that deliver wheelbarrels full of money. And it turns out that games with lots of sex and violence still deliver money.  A metric fuckton of it.  Look at the success of Grand Theft Auto V.  The noted SJW-corrupt press gave it a 97%.  That studio is going to be pretty damned cautious about fucking up that money printing machine.  If some SJW tried to come in and mess with GTA VI, they’d probably be taken out mob style.

I’m in no way an SJW, but I have taken the time to watch Anita’s stuff, and found both good and bad stuff in there.  Why?  Because good designers seek all the input they can.  They try to look at their game in every possible light, examine every possible angle, and see if there is some new way, technique or viewpoint that can elevate their craft, and make better games and reach larger audiences.  Me and most other designers are more than capable of filtering out the bad or non-useful parts of the feedback.  My artistic freedom is fine.

People want to study my games?  That’s fine.  People want to tell me I’m doing it wrong?  Dear god, that’s a normal day of work for a game designer.  As long as no one is advocating for legal or political censorship of games – let them talk.  It’s not going to hurt your games, and I’d rather live in an industry where free speech is encouraged, rather than slam down on one viewpoint via some sort of neoMcCarthyism.

4. I’m skeptical of how big GamerGate actually is.

As I mentioned yesterday, the big gaming press outlets are utterly ignoring #GamerGate. They’ve completely written that audience off.  It’s hard to tell what, exactly, they’re seeing, but they must have some metrics, somewhere, that says that things are moving up for them, and that they should just keep on keeping on.

This probably shouldn’t be a surprise.  After all, it’s not Polygon’s readers that was mad at Polygon.  It was Reddit and 4Chan, who normally get their news from… well, whatever Reddit and 4Chan have upvoted and/or talked about.  Polygon’s daily readers probably have only the dimmest idea of what’s going on.

5. I really want GamerGate to become effective, or go away.

I have a selfish reason for suggesting a consumer organization and then attempting to refine that idea – right now, the games industry is a sucky place to be around.  Developers don’t want to engage with their fans right now, for fear of being pulled into the tarpit of #gamergate related issues.  This sucks.  It sucks for us, and it sucks for you.

Right now, #gamergate is like a dull toothache.  It’s constantly there, nagging at you, but nothing much that’s momentous actually happens.  I want to change that.  I think a consumer organization like GAMR could solve the problems above.  It could provide resources to help combat harassment.  It could focus the issues of press corruption on actual press corruption.  It could help casual #gamergate fans get a filtered understanding of what is actually important to the cause.  And it could focus its relatively small numbers into forming a more powerful, unified thrust.  One big enough, united enough, and powerful enough that the major game sites can’t ignore it anymore.

So I put the idea out there.  I still have no interest in running it, but I think it could be pretty cool, and has the potential to raise the visibility of the cause, and could address not only some press shady practices, but also some developer/publisher shady practices as well.  Which, I stress, I think is a good thing, because we’re certainly not above reproach either.

Maybe that’s not the answer.  But I can tell you that the answer isn’t just letting this dull toothache keep going the way it’s going now.  It’s just an endless game of chicken right now, between the press and a relatively tiny sliver of the games playerbase.  Until some fundamentals happen, it looks almost guarunteed that nothing substantial is going to change in the near future.

Which is a shame, because I’d really like to talk about something other than gamergate.

 

 

 

 

Listening and Believing: What Vicious Harassment Really Looks Like

Writer’s Note: if more harassed women have stories they want to share – on both sides or outside of Gamergate altogether – and can provide links that are well-sourced and thorough, add them to the comments. I will try to add the best, most thorough stories to this page. Unfortunately, most pro-GG stories I could find are just a couple of tweets, and therefore lack much in the way of context or depth. Ladies, tell your stories, in longform, for the record. It’s important.

This article is about harassment. And it’s not just about attacks on anti-gamergaters.  Some are #gamergaters who were harassed – either by antis or anarchistic assholes.  But many of these are from events that predate #gamergate, in totally different scandals and explosions.  As an aside, I’ll note that the stories coming from the pro-#Gamergate faction are much lighter and sketchier, because they aren’t capturing the experience in any sort of verifiable longform. This is probably a factor of the anti-GG side having a lot of writers on that side of the fence. Still, I encourage the harassed to tell their story in a way that can be archived in a readable format for posterity and verifiability. And I will note that #Gamergate has been saving harassment, large and small, aimed their way in this Tumblr.

But it’s pretty clear to me that most people on both sides are good people who believe harassment is wrong. It’s also pretty clear that a tiny minority of people on both sides, and probably on a third side that is ‘pro-watching-the-world-burn’, are using the outrage of these people in order to camoflauge doing some truly heinous shit, with the express intent of keeping the outrage engine going.

I’ve said from the beginning, as long as there are people harassed, and my friends and colleagues are afraid to speak freely on the topic – pro or con, then I don’t give a shit about the cause of journalistic corruption.  Worrying about what an op-ed writer said a month ago, and whether some shitty independent games award was won legit means NOTHING to me because right now, bullies (on both sides) are trying to silence dissonant voices.  Most frequently, that means women, especially women who don’t ‘pick the right side’.

I’ve been concerned about harassment of women online since even before gamergate – I believe the fact that Sony and Xbox won’t address that what you see on FatUglyOrSlutty is something any online gamer will tell you is all-too-normal — THAT is actually holding the games industry back from expanding our markets (and cynically, our sales and profits as well).  You shouldn’t need thick skin to play a video game.

So I’m so happy that people finally want to talk about harassment.
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The Games Press isn’t Attacking #Gamergate. It’s Ignoring Them

There’s been a lot of press coverage of Gamergate in the past few weeks.  Of particular note:

There’s more, but you get the idea.  So that’s actually a pretty wide mix.  Cracked and the Verge come hard from the left/anti side, whereas Breitbart comes from the right/pro- side and emphasizes the culture war aspect of the debate.  There’s also a wide range of beats: Slate, RCP and Breitbart are politics.  Forbes is financial.  Cracked is probably the best pop culture criticism on the net, masquerading as a humor magazine.  Agree with them or not, there’s a lot of coverage out there.  But there’s sure someplace where it’s missing: the Gaming Press.

I keep hearing #gamergate complained that they are being hammered by the sites on the boycott list. If #GamerGate were really a war for the soul of all gamers, one would expect for the Gaming Press to have daily updates and attacks on these poor defenseless souls!  But that’s not what I see.  What I see is the blacklisted sites pretty much blacklisting #gamergate coverage right back.  I did a quick perusal of these sites over lunch, and here’s what I found.

Polygon (yes, they have an Ethics Statement)

They have one article that mentions Gamergate: Intel apologizes for pulling advertising from Gamasutra.  Beyond that, they have a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t mention gamergate by name, and would probably still be covered even if GamerGate didn’t exist: Christina Hoff Sommers logic failure and Jonathan Mann’s musical rebuttal.  Anita’s XOXO talk (Coverage of Sarkeesian’s XOXO talk and Posted Video).  Some stories about the FBI stepping in to help Anita and the IGDA deal with issues of harassment.  1000 Game developers sign letter demanding greater tolerance.  Saint’s Row developer says ‘Anita was Right’.

Of note, there’s pretty much NOTHING other than the Intel story and anita’s talk video since the Sommers’ video, and again pretty much the Intel story alone mentions GG.

Kotaku (since this article: About Gamergate, on Sept 5th):

Even less.  I’m being charitable and including their Shadows of Mordor payola scandal coverage, solely because it came up here as something that GG should care about.  They also covered Anita Sarkeesian’s GDC Award Ceremony being a target of a bomb threat in MarchChristina Hoff Sommers’ logic catastrophe and 1000 Game developers writing a sternly worded letter in gamergate’s direction.  That’s a MINISCULE part of what’s happened in GG the last six weeks, and none of it mentioned #gamergate by name.

Gamespot

The ability to troll back through Gamespot’s history goes back only a week, so instead I tried web searches: Gamergate. Sarkeesian.  Quinn.  Ethics.  MundaneMatt.  Ideology.  Sommers.  I literally got so few hits I actually searched Destiny and Sims to see if their engine worked.  It does.

What I found was: Intel pulls ads from pressure for Gamergate but says it isn’t taking sides. FBI investigated Death Threats against Anita SarkeesianSarkeesian Bomb Threat at GDC 2014.  Three stories out of HUNDREDS that could be considered tangentially related to GG.

IGN

Seriously, I got bored at this point.  I only went back 15 days, through literally hundreds of article headlines and found literally nothing.  As in, there were TWO articles about how having Shatner show up in Star Trek 3 was probably a bad idea, but none I’d consider even tangentially gamergate related.  Searching for ‘gamergate’ on their search engine brought up a few hits, all from private consumer blogs, but absolutely zero from their own editorial staff.

Rock Paper Shotgun (since their ‘Videogames are for Everyone‘ addressing of issue)

Running out of lunch break to spend on this, I went straight to the search engine:  Gamergate (0 hits), Sarkeesian (0 recent hits), Payola (0 recent hits), Misogyny (no hits), Quinn (none recent/relevant), Ethics (1 recent hit about Steam Curators).  In short, pretty much fuck all.

 

Literally, not a single one of these articles is nearly as comprehensive or detailed as anyone one of the other articles I listed at the very top of this article, from ANY side or outlet.  In short, other than the developer letter in early September, and the Intel ad pullout last week, your average gamer who reads Gamespot, IGN, Kotaku and Polygon pretty much has no idea this thing is still going on.  It’s really quite remarkable when you think about it.  But anyone who tells you the games press is pounding on Gamergate is blatantly, BLATANTLY lying.  The games press is treating this like it’s radioactive. The only games press talking about gamergate are the sites actively trying to court those guys, like the Escapist. So why is this?

First off, I believe that they don’t know how.  They are, effectively, part of the story because of the corruption angle, and reporting on yourself in an impartial way is tricky as hell, especially when your credibility has already been cast in doubt (wrongly or no).  If they had more structures like an ombudsman to help people have faith in their credibility on the topic, they might be able to do so.  But as it is, anything they write will be instantly cast in a ‘burn the witch’ light.

The second thing is that they don’t think they need to.  Sure, they could solve the above problem, or they could just keep on keeping on.  Polygon’s editor proudly tweeted their QuantCast scores yesterday, and the buzz I got from talking to my source on the inside is that Polygon is pleased as punch with how they’re doing right now.  It turns out that Polygon’s readers aren’t the ones who are mad at them.

Let’s look at some of the sites swirling around this on Alexa (If anyone knows of better or more accurate data, or thinks I’m reading this wrong, I’m all ears.  This is not my area of expertise):

  • IGN (#328, up from ~#350 or so a year ago)
  • Gamespot (#943,up minorly from a year ago)
  • Kotaku (#1060, up from ~#1500 a year ago)
  • Polygon (#2721, up from #6000 a year ago)
  • Gamasutra (#7307, about flat for the year, having just rebounded)
  • RockPaperShotgun (#7389, also flat for the year, rebounding after a trough)

By comparison, here are some more GG friendly sites:

Other common pro- sites, like TechRaptor, GamesReviews, NicheGamer and GoodGamers.us are all still too small or new to have Alexa rankings.  The Escapist probably has gained from #Gamergate, but it’s not clear that the other sites have lost much, if anything.  It certainly hasn’t been enough for the Escapist to change positions on that list anywhere.  The classic gaming sites can still deliver HUGE audiences to publishers looking to sell games.  So the main gaming sites are still kicking ass.  Why change?

Which leads to the third reason: the websites are betting gamergate’s bite is probably not as bad as it’s bark.  7 weeks in, and there’s been one significant boycott victory, which the advertiser immediately regretted.  That’s actually not a ton of progress.

James Wagner Au has asked before how many people are actually part of #Gamergate.  Riffing on some of the things that he notes:

What does that mean?  Hell if I know.  Here’s where someone should go tell EEDAR this is important and go figure this out.  If I had to wager a guess, I’d note that this seems to be very much a stream/youtube motivated revolt.  It’s got a relatively small number of speakers.  How many people are actually listening and caring enouth to act is much harder to measure.  Still, I’d guess high 5-digits to low 6-digits at MOST would call themselves passionate Gamergate supporters.

By comparison:

All of a sudden, #Gamergate feels kind of small, doesn’t it?

An Interview with Me in the Escapist

As part of a larger series of developer interviews, I gave my two cents to the Escapist.  They claim I asked for an alias.  I don’t recall doing that – I certainly wouldn’t have left so many obvious clues to my identity if that were the case (he’s fixing it now).  No matter, I clearly don’t have a problem being identified as such.

FWIW, this interview was done the week after Destiny went live, so it already reads as a tad outdated.