Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Our Growing Fuckwad Culture Problem

I am not a perfect ally of the progressive/feminist forces inside the game community.  I started to list out examples at the start of this post, and then realized I had a wall of text that would undoubtedly derail the conversation that needs to happen (on the bright side, I apparently have quite a backlog of good blog material).  However, there are some clear examples.

First, I think that Penny Arcade and PAX have generally gotten a raw deal.  Second, I think that costumes and armor in comic books and video games are not meant to protect the character or be functional or realistic, but to create a strong, unique, marketable character and aspirational fantasy, and I love Bayonetta equally as much as the new Batgirl.  Third, I think that describing our video game culture as a ‘rape culture’ is incendiary, inaccurate, and ultimately counterproductive.  There is scant evidence that our mass media and video games cause more real life sexual violence towards women – in fact, sexual assault rates have decreased steadily since 1993 (you know, the year Doom came out) and are currently at 20 year lows.

Now that we’ve established that I’m not your typical social justice warrior, I feel nevertheless compelled to point out that our Fuckwad Culture is currently off the rails.


There is currently no issue that is as pressing to those of us who believe that online gaming and communities are the future we should aspire for, than the fact that a bunch of knuckledragging mouthbreathers can, usually cloaked in the warm blanket of anonymity, use the internet as a means to randomly slander, bully and terrorize those who don’t agree with them.

The Internet should be a safe place for everyone.  Games should be fun places for players to congregate. Right now, for many people, neither is true.

Now then, my Facebook feed this morning has a handful of well-meaning people who are posting things along the lines of “If you support MRA assholes or want to bash Zoe Quinn then unfriend me.”  Fuck that.  The last thing these idiots need is to fall further into the echo chamber that is their own asses.  These people need to be told, frequently and loudly, that they are not only wrong, that they are utter freaking assholes.  And other people need to see it happen.  Ironically, public shame is the only way that polite society will ever return.  So keep them on your friends list – because someone needs to tell them they’re wrong.

1) If you think this is an isolated problem, limited only to a handful of ‘celebrity women’, you’re wrong.  For a small sampling of the abuse that women can take, look no further than Fat, Ugly or Slutty, a website that consists nearly solely of screenshots that women take of men who have sent them disgusting or terrifying text messages in game, usually in the context of just having their asses kicked by them.  If you’ve ever sent a message that could conceivably show up on that web site, please take a moment and ask yourself why the fuck you are such a colossal waste of genetic material.

2) It doesn’t take many assholes to poison the well.  Here’s a secret – the ‘not all men’ camp is technically correct, and even moreso, they’d be accurate in saying ‘most men’, as in ‘most men are not colossal manchildren incapable of holding a coherent conversation with a woman’ and ‘most men are not, actually, potential rapists who spout out vile obscenities the moment a player with a female voice whips their ass’.  Here’s the other secret – that doesn’t matter.  At fucking all.

I worked at Origin, back in the early days when UO had a huge Player Killing problem.  We would have polls asking how many players they thought were die-hard player killers (had red names and passed a couple other criteria).  The response was usually in the realm of 10%.  In reality, the number was less than 1% – player perception was off by somewhere between 1 and 2 orders of magnitude.  It’s just that this tiny, tiny percentage of people has a massive, massive effect on the perceptions of civility and security of that online community.

The next time that you feel like saying ‘not all men…’, keep in mind – it takes ONE asshole to make a comment that is so foul and disgusting it makes a woman want to leave a community or a gay developer fear for his life.  So stop feeling defensive about it, understand that the person talking has probably encountered some very real shit and isn’t talking about you, and instead devote that righteous anger to putting up an aura of nontolerance for assholish behavior.  Apologize if you fuck up and go too far.  And have the courage to call out douchebag behavior when you see it for what it is.

3) Having thick skin should not be a requirement to be a game developer or academic – but right now it is.  Look, I disagree with Anita Sarkeesian on a lot of topics – it turns out that its possible to think someone has an important voice and not be in lockstep with everything they have to say.

That being said, Sarkeesian is for the most part merely holding a mirror up to what she sees in modern games, and asking developers to put an iota of thought into things before they relegate all women roles in their games to being strippers, prostitutes and princesses to be rescued.  She is asking for absolutely zero censorship of games, and the odds that your favorite game franchise will stop including gratuitous sex and violence is roughly on par with the odds that all of your favorite characters will survive the last book of The Game of Thrones.  Apparently though, there are those who believe that her videos will somehow going to result in all boobies disappearing from the internet, because her most recent video has resulted in Anita and her family going into hiding after getting violent threats.  Because she has an opinion about what makes good games that is different than yours or mine.

This is not unique to Anita.  Numerous articles have reported the problems of gamer on game dev harassment that is now extremely concerning, and is chasing some good people out of the industry.  Close to the home front, I remember the abuse that BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler got when she mentioned she wished she could skip the combat in her games.  The abuse of Jade Raymonde is also legendary.  While I know of some women who have left the industry because of the treatment they’ve faced from their bosses and coworkers, it seems like I hear a lot more stories about people who quit because of what they see on the forums or what they encountered at a trade show.  Not from ‘all men’, mind you, just a couple.  It doesn’t take many to make you live in fear.

4) If your response to a failed relationship is to post your dirty laundry, including literally pages of private correspondence, to a private blog, as well as one of the largest websites in the world, resulting in your ex getting all manners of terror and abuse aimed in her direction, you are a Grade-A Major League Asshole.  If you actually try to claim that you never meant for this to happen but fail to actually, you know, apologize or take down the web site, your assholishness is off the charts.  Sorry, that needed to be said.  I don’t even need to hear her side of the story.

5) If you don’t think that being a white, straight male grants you undeniable and unassailable privilege in modern Western society, then you need to get your head out of your MRA ass.

6) Manufacturing a scandal to be able to keep calling a woman a slut is pretty much the definition of shitbag behavior.  You know how many people would care if a male developer slept with a female journalist?  Roughly zero.  It happens all the time.  Hell, sometimes we even marry them.  It’s not just game journalism – Washington DC is full of journalists who have had relationships with the people that they’ve covered.  And yet, somehow, the Washington Post manages to maintain their integrity and reputation.

Attempting to say that this merits discussion because somehow the integrity of games journalism is at stake is a ridiculously transparent attempt at finding a way to wrap a river of neverending slut shaming in the clothing of ‘legitimate debate’.  As if the developer in question is some kind of Beyonce-like media juggernaut.  I assure you, the corrosive impact of one indy developer having any sort of affections with a journalist pales in comparison to the fact that, for example, most of the revenues for gaming magazines comes from the ad revenue for the very same publishers that they are reviewing.  Stop it.


Look, I love making games.  I can’t imagine doing anything else.  And I love interacting with fans – the good ones, anyway.  Doing the SWTOR cantina tour and meeting the players who loved what we’re doing here, and having constructive discussions about what we could do better – having that kind of live feedback loop is part of what I love about making online games.

But there is a contingent of gamers who seriously need to drink a cup of Shut the Fuck Up.  It’s not all gamers.  I suspect that, if you’re reading this, you’re not one of them.  It is, in fact, a minority of gamers, and probably a tiny minority at that.   But the amount of noise that they make, and the amount of damage that they do, is vastly out of scale with their small population.

So I’m issuing a call to arms – a call to arms not just to developers (who in the last two weeks have risen heroically in defense of our comrades under assault), but also to the large contingent of ‘good guy fans’ that I know are out there, and I put it on them to work with us to address this issue.  Call out the assholes as you see them doing assholish stuff.  Welcome and foster healthy, mature, respectful debate on the forums. Kick players from your groups and your private servers who can’t treat other players with a modicum of genuine respect.  Do what you can to create a welcoming environment for ALL new players, no matter their demographics.  And do what you can to end Fuckwad Culture.

It’s important.


Edited to add: this probably goes without saying, but comments are being fully moderated, and I’m keeping out a lot of stuff.  


  1. “Here’s a secret – the ‘not all men’ camp is technically correct, and even moreso, they’d be accurate in saying ‘most men’, as in ‘most men are not colossal manchildren incapable of holding a coherent conversation with a woman’ and ‘most men are not, actually, potential rapists who spout out vile obscenities the moment a player with a female voice whips their ass’. Here’s the other secret – that doesn’t matter. At fucking all.”


    If some feminist would ever actually call me the kinds of things anti-feminists *Think* they call “all men” as a “matter of principle” or whatever, I would just go ‘LOL whatever’. I have never felt the urge to say “Not me though I am nice why is your tone so mean?” because… I know it’s not complaining about me specifically.

  2. Awesome, AWESOME read. Refreshingly balanced and to the point on what truly matters. We need more of this in our industry – more people taking it upon themselves to be a better example and improve the environment immediately around them. just spreads more and more from them.

    I hope you get a veritable shit ton of page views on this

  3. “If your response to a failed relationship is to post your dirty laundry to a toxic and inflammatory web forum and egg them on to harassing your ex, you are a Grade-A Major League Asshole, and you’ve justified her decision to leave you and seek affection elsewhere.”

    Have you read the entire thing? Engaging in DARVO (which is what her behaviour is a textbook example of) is not something that indicates a person is interested in equality and the furthering of feminism.

    • Damion Schubert

      August 29, 2014 at 1:41 am

      A lot of people do a lot of stupid things during the wreckage of a failed relationship. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to butt the fuck out of people’s relationships, and don’t throw stones at bad life decisions unless you’ve never made one yourself.

      Of course, for most people, ‘stupid things’ means sleeping around, drunk dialing, or trashing the TV set. If you are the sort of Grade-A Major League Asshole whose stupid response to a failed relationship results in rape and death threats from every misogynistic hobgoblin on the internet, I have no qualms about calling that out as heinously evil behavior.

      • Maiyannah Lysander

        August 29, 2014 at 2:34 am

        If there is no consequence for having done those stupid things, there is no learning process. The calls for people to say nothing ever about these allegations are misguided and it serves only to coddle someone.

        What this really is about, in this context, is a disproportionate response – what’s happened here is akin to someone maybe brushing past you roughly in a supermarket checkout, so you and everyone around them pulls a gun and shoots them until they are an unrecognizable smear on the fake tile linoleum floor.

        Keep in mind though, harassment we can prove via things like the forums, 4chan, etc – but things like the claims of phone calls, death threats, dox attempts, and the like, those are not proven, nor could they substantively be proven outside of documents that only a court of law could issue a warrant for. You know the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing? Yeah, that.

        Be skeptical. Of all sides and perspectives given. The truth of any matter usually lies someones between all of them.

        • Damion Schubert

          August 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm

          Those of us who have worked in the industry all know multiple people who have gotten death threats, home phone calls, and the most violent and angry shit posted about us or dropped in our mailbox. I have had to talk female employees out of quitting the industry in the past. I’ve had fans drive halfway across the country with a gun to protest a nerf before.

          Is it possible this is bullshit? Sure. Likely? No.

          • Maiyannah Lysander

            September 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm

            You are speaking to a woman in the industry. Please do not pretend to speak for me, as if all of our experiences are yours.

          • Damion Schubert

            September 8, 2014 at 12:33 am

            You are the one who appears to be pretending that something you haven’t experienced doesn’t exist.

          • @Maiyannah Lysander & Damion Schubert

            We need to discern between personal experiences and the overall state of affairs and between individual claims and the overall existence of such threats.

            I completly trust Damion that he experienced such situations and i also think that the history of persons of public interests shows that they get quite some threats.

            Even though we need to be critical of individual claims and we need to be cautious when making claims regarding the state of affairs.
            We also need to recognize that not every horrible thing said and done to a woman is fueled by misoginy.

        • It’s funny how “Be skeptical!” always seems to apply to the women being victimized and not the monsters doing the victimization.

          • 1. No one needs to be sceptical about someone who already proven beyond any doubt that he’s guilty.
            2. To proof guilt, one has to keep a critical mind about everything told. Which even means being to some degree sceptical of the stories precieved victims tell you.
            3. There are no monsters out there. There are only people. Don’t paint criminals, even the biggest ones in history, as something else than human-beings. As you neither want to give them more power over us, by painting them as something bigger, than they actually are. Nor do you really want to forget that we as society need to be aware that danger isn’t coming from some completly alien place, but that normal human beings can do horrible things.

    • Whenever someone posts, “Did you read the entire thing?” my reaction is, “Why did you?” Why do you know anything about this game developer’s private life? How on earth did you come to possess knowledge of another person’s alleged sexual activities? How are people producing videos – VIDEOS! – about the number of people this game developer is alleged to have slept with? Doesn’t it strike you as odd that you can even comment on her private life?

  4. I agree with almost all of your points, but being a white straight male, I’m a little confounded at your singling out of my racial, sex, and sexual orientation groups. Everyone is different and has the same possibilities of encountering problems or priviledges in their lives. Your article centers around douchbaggery, yet you make a point to stop and point a finger at a group of people who are each unique and stereotype them.
    You’d like us to point out when someone is saying something inappropriate, so, there you go. Be respectful to everyone who, through THEIR OWN ACTIONS, proves themselves worthy of respect.

    • The author singled our your (and my, and maybe even his!) race, sex, and sexual orientation because folks who fit within those confines do benefit from unearned privileges in our society. To go further, we tend to accept the benefits without challenging the systems that accord us those benefits, or even acknowledging that those systems exist. Thea author wants to challenge that notion. While blunt, his point addresses an issue that undergirds the entire discussion.

      That said, I highly recommend you read “White Privilege and Male Privilege,” which is the seminal paper on this issue. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED335262.pdf

      The author certainly could have been more artful with his language, but his substantive point stands strong.

      • Maiyannah Lysander

        August 29, 2014 at 2:35 am

        An accurate stereotype remains a stereotype nonetheless, and calling for understanding while showing a lack of empathy for one social group is, quite frankly, hypocritical.

        • I hear what you are saying, but your statement strays from the point at hand. The author does not identify a stereotype about straight white males. Rather, the author addresses a privilege that straight white males (e.g., the author and I) enjoy. To be sure, such privilege is a product of folks in our society putting those stereotypes into motion.

          To explain, I’ll use an example from another group.

          Consider a young Asian male. Many people assume young Asian males are good at math. For this young Asian male, we are not sure; until we see his report card, we will never know. What we can say is that, because of this stereotype, his math teacher may privilege him over other students. To be sure, the teacher often does so implicitly. The teacher does not proclaim that, because of his profile, he or she will prefer him over other students. But the teacher, as any of us are, will act, informed by his or her assumptions about this particular young Asian male. Thus, when that young Asian male struggles with a concept in math, his teacher might be more forgiving and encouraging. His instructor may rely on an assumption that, in the end, he will be good at math. As a result, the teacher will be happy to provide the extra support he needs.

          As a corollary, consider a young white female. Many people assume females are bad at math. Again, for this female, we do not know. But we can say that, because of this stereotype, her math teacher may disadvantage her. Again, the teacher will not do so explicitly. But that stereotype informs the teacher about how to treat this young white female. Thus, when that young white female struggles with a concept in math, her teacher might be more skeptical of her eventual success. Her instructor may rely on an assumption that, in the end, she will not be good at math. As a result, the teacher may tell her to give up, or that she should try to succeed in other subjects.

          To be sure, I’m not just making this up; people can attest to this sort of treatment (See “Silent Tech Privilege,” http://pgbovine.net/tech-privilege.htm). Many people have doors shut on them in insidious manners, while society teaches us—straight white males—to ignore that those doors even exist. That is a problem. Unless and until we acknowledge that systems exist that grand us privilege while disadvantaging others, our progress to dismantle those systems and achieve true equality will stagnate.

        • A lack of hand-holding is not the same as a lack of empathy. Good grief, this isn’t that complicated.

    • “Everyone…has the same possibilities of encountering problems or privileges in their lives.”


      No they do not.

      The reason you think this is because you are a white straight male. That is literally how it works.

  5. Victor Hartmann

    August 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Weird how on number 5 you just throw out a completely illogical strawman yet can’t muster up a single sentence to support the theory.

    • There’s plenty of evidence if you’d bother to look, even in countries that usually have a track record for being pretty decent on diversity you’ll every so often still get reports of people of colour, especially Muslims, being refused jobs purely on the basis of their colour or even their name, in some instances even being blatantly lied to that they’re not hiring only for the owners of the business to turn around and hire someone white.

      Or how gay teachers get told to not even make a peep about their orientation on school grounds if they wish to get and keep their job.

      Or how women still on average get paid less for the same work compared to men.

      If you honestly think that being a straight white man of a well accepted (most likely Christian) religious isn’t a huge leg up in most of Western society you honestly have not been paying attention to what’s going on all around you.

      • Maiyannah Lysander

        August 29, 2014 at 2:36 am

        Surely if this is that prevalent it could be easily asserted with facts, no?

        • It doesn’t need elaboration because the evidence is so prevalent that I could find 5 instances if I go to my local shopping mall, get your head out of your ass.

        • All I said was in the Belgian news in the past year, so all based on fact. I’m sure if you scoured news archives of wherever you live you’d find similar. Well, providing whites are the ruling social caste wherever you live.

        • It is, if you could actually be bothered to look for it. Search for “Discrimination” on Wikipedia, for example – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

          We really shouldn’t have to backup everything with statistics in these discussions. In academic research, yes. On Wikipedia, yes. In a blog post, I think we can assume the reader has the intelligence to check for themselves. Sadly, you’ve proved us wrong.

      • The gender pay gap is nearly non-existant (meaning ~8%) if you take the adjusted one, meaning taking job experience and co into account. And most economists who really reasearch that, are often attributing this to men and women behaving differently when negotiating.

        Now, you surely can claim that this is the result of bad pareting or a social role or anything like that, but you’ve to be precise about what’s actually going on.

        That said there are still people lagging behind in being open minded about races, cultures and genders.

        • Damion Schubert

          August 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm


          If you think the gender gap is non-existent, you’re eating a lot of right-wing talking points without exploring them critically.

          Also, if you think that 8% is insignificant, I’m sure you won’t mind if I just take that part of your salary and add it to my own.

          • I’m an economist, i’ve done such statistics myself personally and therefore i actually didn’t read up on left or right winged media on this thing.

            Go ahead and give the following thing a read (skip to the summary if you want to):

            I’ve read similar reports for my country, and know that it’s looking more or less the same in every western country.
            Now take for example a look on overtime. Men and women behave different and different behaviour is leading to a different wage.

            So we need to drop the story how people doing the same work are recieving different wages (at least for sexes), when it’s actually not true. And get to the story how women make choices that lead them to earning less.

            And again, recognize i’m not saying we shouldn’t discuss equality. But we need to stay away from muddling the waters and start the discuss with the right points.
            And employees being assholes towards women might not be the right starting point. And even a society forcing women into worse jobs for them might be a problem. Because we’ve yet to get really good informations on why women choose and behave differently than men. And if women are actually more happy working as maid and getting less than working as janitor and earning more.

        • First, 8% is not insignificant, if you’re the one actually being paid.

          Second, do you think there’s any chance that “taking job experience into account” may just allow discrimination to reinforce discrimination.

          • This 8% is the upper limit. Meaning it might come down to even less if you take more things into account, things that aren’t easily measured by numbers.

            Discrimination can be as self reinforcing as can false measures against discrimination or even a false narration reinforce discrimination.
            You aren’t helping females by forcing employees paying them exactly the same, when they don’t have the same qualifications. Because people will rightly recognize that as being sexist.

            One really need to understand that it’s highly unlikely that in history males came together and said “Fuck women, we’ll now oppress them”. Most of history society followed what their individuals thought would be the society form with most merits for the whole society.
            So to reach a society with overall equality we need to find ways to cater to the feeling that it’s going to be a merit for all. So one need to keep the narration of what need to change and who’s keeping us away from it clean. Also one need to accept that society needs time to change and that some forcefull measures to fasten the process might actually hurt the process in the end.

        • I read the consad report and was not impressed. As a statistician I find their methodology seriously flawed.

          They mixed part time workers into the same dataset as full time workers, even though part time workers earn considerably less than full time workers. Furthermore, as their presentation of data indicates, there were three times more women that were part-timers than men. This is not an apples to apples comparison. Not surprising that how often you worked, motherhood and life decisions factored so heavily, since among the people studied, women are far more likely to work part time.

          A more accurate study would have compared men and women with roughly equal work profiles. i.e. roughly similar number of hours, similar industries etc.

          • So you’d sarcrifice external validity for more accuracy. Fine, go ahead and do so in your work. But don’t act irritated if people call you out on that.

    • You’re unbelievable. Actually unbelievable.

    • You’re so right! I be he wrote that and then thought about it for, like, an hour and said “shit, I got NOTHING to back up my statement that white males have had an advantage in society. I’ll just move on and hope no one notices.”

    • This strikes me as the biggest red flag.

      Privilege as a concept seems to be as faith based as original sin, and I think there is danger in letting a hobby you love have faith-based entrance tests.

      That being said no one deserves to be harassed or made to feel unsafe.

      • Maiyannah Lysander

        August 29, 2014 at 3:02 am

        I think the author of the post here has made some good points, but let those points be mired in his own personal biases. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but acknowledging them more bluntly probably would not have been a bad idea.

        As I said in another post, it’s not so much the idea of being a white male, but rather that you are in a member of the social group in power in the relevant setting. This, not surprisingly, changes from venue to venue.

        As a games critic and journalist with ties to certain segments of the indie and AAA scenes both, there are certain circles where my voice carries a lot of weight, and I might be white, but I am certainly not male.

        In other social situations, I am literally nobody to these people. If I stuck my head into neogaf, even, a forum I don’t frequent, I would be a nobody to those people. If I walk out of my apartment door I walk into the part of town I live in, which is very much a mixed black/muslim community, where being white means nothing, and frankly, neither does being female.

        One social situation in one venue, does not speak for all venues, and there’s been a false dichotomy created by these discussions of privilege.

      • That avatar implies this is sarcasm, no?

    • Damion Schubert

      August 29, 2014 at 1:24 am

      In the off-chance that you could actually be convinced of something: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/

    • Straight white guys.

      Yes, on some basic and purely logical level calling us out and identifying us by our sexual orientation, gender and race is equivalent to identifying anyone else by those characteristics.

      Know where there’s some equivalence between the two? On that platonic level of reality where libertarianism and communism start to make sense. Thirteen bong hits into a Saturday night in the dorm in your sophomore year.

      Stop claiming it’s racism and sexism to single you out. That’s bullshit, I know it, you know it, if you can’t understand it, then claim special privileges for your limited IQ and inability to understand the way the world works. Period. .

      (Straight white guy, guns, beard, punching bag, love of football, manager by trade, centrist politics, I have my straight white guy benefits card, don’t bullshit me.)

      Re: Rape culture, when your child, or one you care about begins to turn from cute little girl into someone else’s sexual object, let’s just say there’s a shocking revelation coming for you. The less you act like a jerk now, the less stupid you will feel on that day.

      • “Re: Rape culture, when your child, or one you care about begins to turn from cute little girl into someone else’s sexual object”

        It’s absolutely hilarious how non of this shit happens IRL.

  6. Needed to be said by someone with credibility. Thank you.

  7. Pretty much spot on – upvoted on HN FWIW. One gripe:

    “The next time that you feel like saying ‘not all men…’, keep in mind – it takes ONE asshole to make a comment that is so foul and disgusting … And have the courage to call out douchebag behavior when you see it for what it is.”

    So the thing is: claiming that [all | most] men are [potential] rapists is every bit as much douchebag behaviour as all the mysoginistic shit you’re (rightly) criticising, and is in no small part based upon the same flawed philosophy as the people threatening female game developers with rape.

    That said, there are constructive and destructive ways to point it out. “You know, by saying that, you’re behaving in the same way as [fuckwad in question].”

    But, and this is worth bearing in mind: in the same way that douchebag men are actually (as you point out) pretty rare, so are douchebag women.

    • Damion Schubert

      August 29, 2014 at 1:46 am

      Don’t know what HW is =)

      Nowhere do I claim that all or most men are assholes or potential rapists. In fact, the piece explains clearly that the number of fuckwads is probably actually pretty low.

      • Yah – I realise you’re not claiming that, I was just trying to make the point that keeping quiet when other people *do* isn’t right.

        • Who ever said “[all|most] men are [potential] rapists”? You’re griping about something that didn’t actually happen.

          #notallmen came in response to #yesallwomen. That is to say: yes, all women have experienced harassment and objectification. This says exactly nothing about all men. It does say that all the women you know have been harassed and objectified by some member of the very small percentage of fuckwad men. Ask them.

          • If it did happen, you’re right: it would be hypocritical to treat misandrist bullshit any different than misogynist bullshit.

            But I’ll tell you I see a lot more “shut up feminazi” than I see “all men are rapists”. (Specifically, ‘some’ and ‘none’ respectively)

          • Damion Schubert

            August 29, 2014 at 10:43 pm

            You have it reversed. #yesallwomen came in response to #notallmen, specifically for the reason you mentioned.

          • @Damion: thanks for the correction

  8. You are using “fuckwad” “shitbag” etc as a euphemism for “men”. We have a *male culture* problem. I’m a man and the idea that we have a male culture problem is just intuitive. It is non-threatening. What is threatening is the idea of saying this to other men. You need to honestly listen to feminists (a diverse group of women with diverse insights and positions) and tell other men to do this. “Calling out” other men is no substitute for self-improvement and education.

    • Damion Schubert

      August 29, 2014 at 1:54 am

      No. I am using ‘fuckwad’ and ‘shitbag’ as a euphemism for ‘fuckwads who do shitbag things like terrorize women who have done nothing other than try to contribute to a community’.

      Self-reflection is good and all, but most men do a good job of being decent men in most situations. My point is that it behooves any community to bitchslap their wayward members. Just as PETA needs to distance itself from animal rights activists who take violent measures, and the NRA should distance themselves from idiots trying to open carry in a Target, gamer males who are ‘good gamers’ need to stop being satisfied that they are one of the good ones, and work on fixing the culture in which they reside.

  9. I don’t see this type of behavior everywhere.

    The women who leave STEM roles were untalented, had responsibility problems, talked trash about others, and when they made mistakes and failures blamed it (manblaming) on the men. I have been gossiped about for being more talented and a better IT worker by some women.

    It is not just men who do these things. As a girl grows up other girls abd women will tell them that STEM is not feminine and bully and harass them to quit learning and that has to stop as well.

  10. Allow me a short defence of #5 then.

    The group consisting of white, straight, males have the following in common: they are neither gay, female nor coloured. As these three groups are the ones that historically have seen the largest scale systematical discrimination in the west (and elsewhere), not belonging to either group means that you are far less likely to have encountered this sort of discrimination. Of cause that does NOT mean that just because you are a white straight male you have no problems, or that noone would ever discriminate against you (you could easily belong to another minority group). It DOES however mean that statistically you are far less likely to have experienced such discrimination, which is certainly a privilege.
    I also believe that there are a vast amount of other privileges to belonging to said “majority” group, but the above in it self is plenty to support #5.

    The language used in the paragraph could maybe be less confrontational but the point is true none-the-less. If you dont believe being white, straight and male puts you in a privileged position in western society, you are fooling yourself.

    Ps: Very nice post

    • What it does mean is that I can dress up nice, slide into the old boys club with my millionaire boss, have a martini and appear to fit in, non straight white males can’t do that.
      It does mean that I can get in that locker room or factory managers office, when it’s just the guys, and listen to how they(we) talk, the horrible sexist racist things they say as they go about the business of running the place.
      Face it folks the collective “we” are to blame for much of the problem, and when as a “good guy” you tolerate that behavior, even in that “locker room” space you’re part of the problem. And yes I do it to which is how I know the rest of you straight white guys are doing it.
      (Mostly just the tolerating it part, but I have my moments of being a fucktard I’m sure.)

  11. I really appreciated this and strongly agree with the sentiment. Everyone has a responsibility to enforce positive, inclusive social norms. Sadly online communication and interaction is such that it often lacks the immediate accountability or coherence of face-to-face interactions that help to make them more civil. I hope that the light that has been put on the abuse you’ve highlighted will inspire more people to make an effort towards humanizing online discourse.

  12. Most companies in the games industry have what seems to be a rule, whether it’s implicit or explicit, amongst their PR people.

    Ignore the assholes, and just shut down anyone who tries to argue with them.

    Regardless of the topic of conversation, most public forums, the community standing up and saying “Hey asshole, shut the fuck up already.” tends to get bans and thread closures handed out to the community members.

    So, while I agree with the sentiment, it’s pretty uncommon to actually be allowed to provide the public censure you’re calling for.

  13. This is an old human problem that existed in the context of neighborhoods long before the internet. And it’s pretty simple, really. When fuckwads move in, either kill* them, or move elsewhere. But for godssakes, don’t waste your life agonizing over the fact that fuckwads reproduce and find their way into nooks and crannies that you wish they either didn’t, or couldn’t.

    *In this context, “kill” is more along the lines of what Josiah said, which was essentially “Don’t feed the trolls.”

  14. Great article, but I feel like maybe you have misunderstood what the term “rape culture” means, and how it applies to video game culture.

    You said “I think that describing our video game culture as a ‘rape culture’ is incendiary, inaccurate, and ultimately counterproductive.” but I can’t think of a single feminist who would lay the blame entirely at the door of the video gaming community like that. When we say “rape culture” we’re referring to ALL of Western culture. Anything “rapey” that happens in game culture (from smack-talk that crosses the line to offhandedly remarking that you were “raped” in the last match to games that encouragte and reward rape of NPCs) happens within, and is permitted by the larger context of Western culture as a whole.

    Rape culture is when the first words out of someone’s mouth when they hear someone has been raped are “What was she wearing?” “She should know not to be alone at that hour/in that part of town.” and the ever popular “Was she drinking?” It’s when politicians can shoot off the phrase “legitimate rape” without any worry that it might come back to bite them. It’s when CNN correspondent Poppy Harlow responds to the Steubenville rape verdict with the following gem “These two young men who had such promising futures — star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.” And it’s when bros can brag in the locker room about conquests who were so drunk they had to be carried to bed and woke up the morning with no recollection of what happened the night before without fear, because they honestly think they’ve done nothing wrong.

    Rape culture is when the responsibility to avoid being raped, and the blame should he or she fail to prevent the assault falls upon the victim. And honestly, it’s not about the sexual assault rates, it’s not about that fraction of the population who has endured rape, it’s about the “All women” (and gay men, and trans men, and imprisoned men) who have had to modify their daily behavior, who are expected in every situation to think “how can I ensure I won’t get raped here?”. It’s the fact that we have that background process running, taking up resources, and we don’t even really think about it any more because it’s just there.

    It’s not about the gaming community. The gaming community just happens to exist within a society that has a bigger problem.

  15. This article is terribly misinformed. I left her, she didn’t leave me. I didn’t post to a vitriolic forum, I posted to a friendly one, from which the post was deleted — and the vitriolic forum picked it up. I have done nothing but try to prevent her harassment since day one.

    • If you truly wanted to prevent her harassment, you should have kept it a private matter.

      • Surviving Despite

        August 29, 2014 at 11:09 pm

        Abuse victims should be allowed to call out their abusers and speak to their experience. Making victims responsible for the fallout and actions of others is a silencing tactic.

    • If you really had “done nothing but try to prevent her harassment since day one”, then thezoepost.wordpress.com would read “This has gotten totally out of control. I am sorry the words I posted here have spiraled out of control, that was not my intent. I have deleted this page out of respect for the people who were harmed by my actions”. And that’s it. No more allowing the aforementioned fuckwads that you apparently don’t approve of to use the words that you wrote as ammunition in their crusade. Do you have the right to air your dirty laundry publicly? Sure. Do you then also need to take responsibility for having posted that publicly? Yep.

    • Damion Schubert

      September 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      I’ve updated the article based on my best understanding of the facts. Hint: you don’t look any better. The fact that your blog is still up and googling ‘Eron Gjoni apology’ returns nothing of note makes your last comment insincere at best.

  16. I’ve often equated the internet, especially chat rooms and/or comment sections, as basically the Wild West of the U.S.A. People, as a whole, view leaving negative comments online, about anything and everything, as something that is safe because there are no immediate real world negative repercussions. If you post something on a forum that the mods don’t like they ban you for a day or a week, or if it was bad enough, forever. Well, forever until you make a new account and do it all over again. Ultimately, in at least some cases, forums are an extension of some sort of business. They WANT you to play their game or click their links, so perma-banning is counterproductive to the overall business, and bad behavior is therefore, to a point, permitted.

    Regardless of the type or target of the bad behavior, until there are fast and real world negative repercussions, the behavior isn’t likely to change. I’m not saying that writing/reading blog posts about the latest occurrence is worthless, but by itself, even though it does raise (temporary) awareness, it’s not going to promote change.

  17. I’ll just put these two links here :-
    ‘Sexual harassment in the world of video gaming.’

    ‘Guns, Girls and Games.’

    This is an issue that transcends the gaming culture, although with the ease of anonymity online gaming and comments gives it is obvious that the worse diatribes can be found in our realm.

    However, addressing the problem won’t be resolved until there are viable ways of reproaching the offending players that impacts on their gaming experience. In other words, offenders won’t change until you take their toys off them.

  18. +1 to Damion.

    If 99% of the NPC civilians in a zone are harmless, and 1% will arbitrarily backstab your avatar and then hit you with malware, do you travel through that zone with your defenses up or down?
    If they do so only when you have a female avatar, do you feel less safe when your avatar is female? Do you act differently in a zone without that 1%, or when you use a male avatar?

    Josiah’s got a point. My answer: ask the mods of that forum why THEY tolerate fuckwad posts; and if they insist on allowing fuckwaddery, take your time and money to another game and another community.

    Hey, encouraging good behavior works at least as well as discouraging bad behavior. What games, game publishers, gaming communities are doing best at zero tolerance for fuckwaddery? Kingdom of Loathing, to be sure, but that’s a niche game…

  19. Surviving Despite

    August 29, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    With your posting of #4, you can add “belittling abuse survivors” to the list of your failures as a progressive/feminist force. Victims should be allowed to call out their abusers and speak to their experience.

    Myself, and it seems a number of other survivors (based on those who have reached out), had the decency to give the benefit of the doubt to a victim’s account. So we read it, triggers and all, and saw that Eron was mentally and emotionally abused, and that it followed the pattern for escalation toward physical abuse. In more progressive countries, some of the things that happened to Eron could even lead to charges.

    You, Damion Schubert, like this ordeal has shown so many to be, are no an ally to domestic abuse survivors. No one deserves the vitriol, misogyny and harassment that have happened, that’s for sure. It should be spoken out against, it should be stopped. But, you and others are also using that to bury and blame an abuse victim.

    The games community, especially those we thought we could look up to, has definitely shown it’s not safe for us here. You’ve isolated us even more, even though games are the escape for so many of us.

  20. In my opinion, all gamers are fat, ugly, and slutty. Also overwhelmingly male.

    I guess with all the outsourcing, automation and unemployment, these are our modern circuses. Depressing.

  21. I wouldn’t say i’d agree on everything you pointed out here. And it’s important to note that we should be able to discuss things more calmly and should moderate people who can’t. But there are two points i want to critizise.

    1. The generalization of groups of people as being human waste, without a huge majority of said group having done something ill-mindes, is part of the overall problem of our society.
    Neither all gamers, nor all men, nor all women, nor all black, latinos, asians, natives nor any people of any sexual orientation, nor anyone else is generally bad. And you neither help the society, nor the group, nor the victim by perpetuating a mostly irrational fear for a certain group of people.
    Victims often need help because they often feel anxiety when dealing with people who are visible similar to their offender. And it’s not helping them if you confirm their fear by sayin they’re rightly afraid of every person of a mostly innocent group.

    So it’s not just being technical right. It’s even more important to uphold this reality when we speak about politics. As we no longer want segeration, no do we?

    And a easy test to see if something is right or wrong to say, is by exchanging the men by colored, women or by ones own groupname, and thing if that would any -ism.

    2. No matter what her Ex did after she cheated him, it’s no legitimization for her having cheated on him, nor is it a legitimization for her to corssing her own moral principles. Especially not if she defined her actions as rape, when generally speaking about such behaviour.

    I’m really sad and sorry for her. But we need to realize, that she acted not only a bit shitty. And judging from what she and other endured in the last weeks i’d advise them on seeking the assitance of a psychologist to deal with that and maybe other problems they might have.

    So overall a good level-headed post from you. I just would have wished you stayed a bit cooler yourself while formulating it.

    • Damion Schubert

      August 30, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      1. The whole POINT of the article is that all gamers are not fuckwads, but that a small percentage, perhaps less than 1%, are. And that 1% is making the rest of us look bad, and we shouldn’t tolerate it. No female gamer, no matter what she does in her private life, should get doxed, should get fake nudes posted, or should have to fear for her life. No female developer should need to get her phone line disconnected. No female academic should have to call the FBI because she dared to say ‘hey, filling our games with dismembered nude women is really kinda icky’.

      People who call themselves ‘gamers’ are pissing in our pool. Good gamers should reject them.

      2. I don’t think its anyone else’s god damn business who sleeps with who. I certainly don’t think it’s anyone’s place to do so when you aren’t friends with either person, and you’ve only heard one side of the story (and the details from that side seem to shift). I also don’t think that anyone should judge anyone based on the crazy things that happen during the time when a relationship is falling apart. I’ve certainly done crazy things. The people that I’ve dated have certainly done crazy things. One should not judge.

      However, saving every bit of correspondence and every snuggly photo of your ex, and posting it not only on an independent blog but also one of the largest web sites in the world, and then leaving the fucking website up while you protest ‘i never meant for any of this to happen’, makes that person a shithead. Should he have sought counseling? Sure. Left her? Quite probably. Confronted her with all this. Cheated on her? Started a poly relationship? I genuinely don’t give a shit – it’s all between them. Form a virtual lynch mob of people threatening to kill and rape her? Fuck him.

      What you don’t see is that the response that she is getting is WAY the fuck out of proportion to what similar behavior would get if she were a guy, and women who are in and around this industry see it every. Fucking. Day.

      • Surviving Despite

        August 31, 2014 at 3:42 am

        You are minimizing the abuse that has occurred and reducing it solely to “cheating” or “crazy things while a relationship falls apart”. This is not the case, as a number of abusive behaviors are easily identifiable and occur over a long period of time, evidence by Eron having shared his experience. Please see this resource for a non-exhaustive list of abusive behaviors: http://www.newhopeforwomen.org/abuser-tricks
        In particular, gaslighting is evident: http://www.thehotline.org/2014/05/what-is-gaslighting/

        By minimizing the abuse and then demanding the victim have stayed silent (or stating that the fallout by simply having come forward implies maliciousness or directed intent), or that they are responsible for other individuals actions resulting from their simply having coming forward with their victim experience, you are engaging in victim blaming and inherently protecting the abuser and their actions. “It should have stayed a private matter,” is one of the most common ways of silencing victims of various forms of abuse and assault. This type of victim blaming implies to the victim (and other abuse victims) that you find the abusive behavior acceptable. Please see this brief overview as a source (though there are many available should you need more information): http://stoprelationshipabuse.org/educated/avoiding-victim-blaming/

        Please note: None of this effects that the harassment is unacceptable and should be stopped and spoken out against. However, the focus to do so should be on the “fuckwads” as you term them. Not a victim of abuse.

        • Surviving Despite

          August 31, 2014 at 8:52 pm

          Well, looks like you’re not going to let my comment through; later ones are already up. I was angry in my first comment, but I stuck around because I thought you’d be open to learning. I guess not.

          This whole situation has been funny, horrible funny. Talking to other survivors, we don’t even know who or where safe places are anymore. And games are where most of us escape/escaped. You’re all so busy in your war that you don’t seem to care who gets hurt in the crossfire or thrown under the bus. I could barely breath when I wrote that last comment. The one who beat me for three years used the same excuses you do. I didn’t share publicly, just tried to get support from our mutual friends (no one else left), but they pushed me to leave town because I was just obviously vindictive and my family decided not to judge… You ever had to try and build a new life alone out of nothing, Damion?

          But, fuck me and other abuse survivors, right? We’re liars if we don’t provide evidence and trying to lynch people if we do. We have to stay quiet because things might get messy. We might get used as an excuse to start harassing someone, or to push an agenda and that’s our fault. Who wants to know that their friend or someone they like uses another human being like a toy. Just keep everyone comfortable. Except survivors I mean, because fuck us, afterall.

          We don’t matter when there’s a point to be made. Just delete my comments, it’ll make it easier to pretend people like Eron and I don’t exist. I won’t be back.

          • Chill dude. He knows me personally (like I hang out with his wife and have been to his place for parties) and it still took over 24 hours for my comment to appear. He has a life and it’s a long weekend.

          • Damion Schubert

            September 1, 2014 at 6:22 pm

            On day 1, I deleted about 40 posts, and I was being aggressive, but there was a river of vile shit flowing through the comments. Is it possible I was overzealous? Perhaps. Being told repeatedly to go fuck yourself can make one overzealous.

            At this time, the comment moderation queue is clear, so any potential posts are either up or gone.

        • Damion Schubert

          September 1, 2014 at 10:27 pm

          I’m not minimizing the abuse. I don’t know what happened. And neither do you.

          There is a lot of space between ‘doing nothing and taking it’ and ‘posting chat logs, photos and emails to one of the largest gaming forums in the world, knowing that they would, due to their preexisting bias against her, go thermonuclear’. Not to mention posting chat logs that may get people fired and/or divorced.

          No one should stay in an abusive relationship. They should certainly seek help. This method of addressing harassment is unacceptable, and should be stopped and spoken out against. And I’ve seen nothing as of yet that makes me consider the jilted ex to be anything other than Fuckwad Zero. The fact that he has still neither apologized nor taken down his blog, despite the fact that he SWEARS he didn’t mean for any of this to happen, pretty much seals it for me.

      • 1) Sorry if i seemingly missed that point.
        As said i agree on your overall points. I just get the vibe that we might judge people a bit differently (not speaking about people who spew shit around like broken sewage plants), but i’m able to live with that. It though plays about into #2.

        2) I can’t completly agree upon how it’s no ones deal who sleeps with whom. No one has to care about that, as long as no ones affected by it. And that’s what a lot of people argue about and where i think you and me are reaching a different judgement.
        See as someone in his early thirties i don’t think i’d react vastly different to reversed roles. I might have another connotation in my head, but i’d still question if the journalists weren’t mentioning and praising a game because of wrong reasons, yep i might be naive here. Just to mention it, i didn’t voice my concerns regarding any of this story other than here.

        I should believe you and other developers / journalist though about on harassment towards game developers and so i’ll try to do just that. And if it’s that bad we need to find ways better deal with that. So yes, we need to try to figure out how to react to toxic people. I think, and that’s why i wrote my 1), we always need to point out that it’s a small minority and that the majority is good, because otherwise (and i realize that this will mostly have been your point) we will force people into pack mentalities, which isn’t helping the problems.

        But, yeah don’t jump at me for that but yet, when you spoke of that 1% die-hard PKs in UO sounding like 10% i remembered how i once read that about 1% of the population of the USA are showing signs of psychopathy. And i just read that psychopathy is more prevelant in male then in female humans. So while we should try to stop it, we might not forget that we might be unable to stop it, because a certain amount of our human (and especially male) population is saddly wired to lack in empathy.
        So the video game industry might also need to prepare a plan b). Saddly i don’t know how such a plan might look beyond offering harrassed developers psychological help.

        So thanks for your reply, helped me quite a bit understanding you better (-don’t know if it was a language barrier i hit). And thanks again for your post.

  22. Thank you.
    It’s important.

  23. Awesome read and so very true. I agree that it’s important to get this type of message out to as much of the gaming community as possible. We shouldn’t tolerate these fuckwads any longer.

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