So the cartoon I posted, I am interested in knowing what each point means and the facts on both sides. Pls lmk.
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) February 22, 2015
The Cartoon that Mark is referring to is this one. Later, he tried to constructively egg on the people who were pointing out that this was basically him peddling GamerGate talking points while pretending to pursue an avenue of peace – which basically means he’s asking for everyone to just shut up and accept GamerGate’s demands.
Can we actually get a response that isn’t “Grummz sucks” when I ask for evidence to debunk the cartoon? — Mark Kern (@Grummz) February 22, 2015
Sure, Mark. I’m happy to oblige.
1. The reference to Anita not being a gamer is a quote that is clearly pulled out of context – the full quote discusses how she isn’t particularly a fan of ultraviolent games. At any rate, such attacks are ad hominem attacks that have no actual bearings on the truth or falsity of her cultural criticisms (which are not perfect, but are in fact pretty good). Coverage of this is gossipy crap that has no reason to appear on a games journalism site.
Much less brought up is that both Milo Yiannopoulis and Christina Sommers had next to no exposure to video games before August – hell, Milo described GTA players in early August as ‘weirdos in yellowing underpants’ before discovering that gamers could be a new front in the culture wars for him to profit from. Both lept in the cultural fray with both feet to make grand sweeping statements about the games industry and yet the same people who complain about Anita find no fault with these two more conservative critics.
2. I actually don’t agree with Jon on either violence in games or on Israel, but his political views of Israel have pretty much nothing to do with his views on games, and game professionals and critics should be somewhat alarmed at the notion that these sorts of views should start becoming fair game, because this is, quite frankly, downright McCarthyesque. At any rate, there is no good reason for a games journalism site to cover this, although needless to say that the right wing rag Breitbart is happy to oblige.
3. The Hitler quotebot has nothing to do with games, and was not hosted by Kotaku and so there’s no good reason why Polygon or Kotaku should at all feel pressured to cover it. The cartoon was probably trying to slam Kotaku by measure of being owned by Gawker, but that’s a ridiculous standard to hold a media conglomerate to, because each media outlet typically operates independently, aiming with different standards for different audiences. By way of comparison, here’s a long list of other NBCUniversal subsidiaries that we somehow did not all lump in with NBC when Brian Williams fucked up.
4. I have no idea what Gawker needed to tell a judge about, but again, if it’s not specifically about Kotaku, then it’s not a games or games media story.
5. In the September/October timeframe, when the kerfuffle was particularly bad, opponents to #gamergate couldn’t actually use some social media services such as twitter as they were being targeted and brigaded by sometimes dozens or hundreds of #gamergate adherents who would barrage them with questions, and very frequently, often harass or insult them along the way. Some of these professionals require the use of Twitter to do their job. Morale among female game developers was astonishing low at that period of time – most female devs refused to even comment on the topic of gamergate without anonymity, as was evidenced by the Escapist profile some months back. I can’t find it now, but there is a video somewhere of Jenn Frank just watching in horror as abuse aimed at her scrolls in unabated. The very first action that IGDA took in relation to GamerGate was actually to condemn that level of harassment.
Harassment of game developers remained so much of a concern that the IGDA felt compelled to set up a resource page so that game developers could protect themselves, their privacy and their families from harassment. One of the many things they put on this page was a link to Randi Harper’s GGAutoBlocker. Randi is one of the female developers that is a constant target of abuse by GamerGate, complete with stalkings, and as such, sites such as KiA have gone to great lengths to mischaracterize what this tool is and how it works. It simply creates a list of people who have followed one of a handful of the most extreme gamergate proponents. There is a relatively simple means to request being removed from the list – a process that I went through once when I was put on it myself. If your twitter feed is not full of abusive crap, you’ll likely have no problem being removed.
Some argue that the tool creates an echo chamber effect. Others, including myself, argue that there’s little difference between using this tool and manually (and tediously) blocking waves and waves of harassers manually. Freedom of speech does not mean that anybody is actually compelled to sit still and listen to them spit vile filth into their ears.
I will agree that this story merited more coverage in the gaming press. Namely, its newsworthy that harassment of game developers is now so bad that the IGDA feels it is part of their core mission to give indie developers the tools so they can work online without feeling constantly under assault.
In short, every single aspect of this cartoon appears to be scurrilious crap, where the narrative the cartoon provides is one that is either unsupported by actual data, or where the narrative is so stupid and far from the actual arena of games and game development that one can only draw the conclusion that the idea that #gamergate is about ethics in games journalism is a laughable farce. This conclusion is one that’s been apparent to most observers for months now.