Zen Of Design

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

The Most Important Part of This Escapist Article Is the Anonymity

Some time ago, Alexander Macris from The Escapist asked me to write up my thoughts on #gamergate. I sent him a response (it’s still coming, I think), and told him that I hoped he was talking to some women. With my response, I told him frankly that I thought it would be a bad idea for him to ignore diversity for this topic, because much of the roots of this topic are based in minority viewpoints, particularly women. He latched onto this idea and ran with it. It’s a good read. Seriously, go read it.

It’s well-rounded, and does a great job of describing the total feeling of ominous despair I’ve seen overtake the dev women I know. Let’s talk about the most important thing about this article: most of these women wouldn’t participate unless they were anonymous. This maps to what I see in my friends list. There are people in my friends list who have been making games for 20 years.  Some of these are women who normally will NOT shut up about what is right or wrong in game design or the games industry.  Since the start of #gamergate though,  these outspoken designers are absolutely, positively refusing to engage on this issue. By far, this is more true of the women than the men.

There’s a simple reason: what happened to Anita, and what happened to Zoe.

I’ve linked a few times this article by Criado Perez who documented the avalanche of shit that piled upon her once the Internet decided she was an uppity bitch. By way of comparison, last week, the twitterverse took something I wrote out of context, and decided I was part of the problem. Here’s a rough catalog of what I got when Base Mom called me out.

  1. A whole bunch of people who pointed out helpfully that mentioning the KKK or Nazis in any argument that’s gotten heated was fucking stupid.
  2. A whole bunch of people who called me a handful of names, mostly harmless like ‘idiot’ or ‘SJW asshole (the latter of which my friends found pretty funny, because they know me).
  3. A handful of people attempting to organize Bioware boycotts because of me, or requesting EA fire me.
  4. A couple of people who discounted my opinion because of how Bioware fucked up the end of ME3, or the level design in DA2 (Note: I had no part and can take credit nor blame for either game)
  5. A whole bunch of people who went full mom and talked about being ‘disappointed’ in me.
  6. A distinct uptick in the number of people trying to hack my blog.

Now, demanding people get fired because they have opinions on video games different from you is pretty uncool. But still, I didn’t get Doxed. I didn’t get DDOSed. My wife, parents and siblings haven’t been getting phone calls calling me a slut whore bitch cunt. I haven’t gotten any emails or twitters suggesting I should get raped and murdered. No one has made a video game where the sole point of it is to punch me in the face. Which is to say, a lot of shit got directed my way. But much of it was fair, some of it crossed into ‘vaguely dickish’ and some was ‘fairly concerning’. It is NOTHING compared to what happens when a community decides a woman gets uppity on the net.

I frankly think that a lot of people on BOTH sides who say they are getting harassed have no idea what harassment is.  I’ve seen numerous cases where people complained they were being ‘harassed’ for being called stupid, or being told to shut up.  Whether you call this harassment or not, this is light years from the worst shit that is happening.

Reading through the comments thread of the Escapist article, I see that a ton of people don’t get it. They think that these women, who are all clearly well-versed in the controversy, just don’t ‘get’ what #GamerGate was about. Here’s a hint: they totally get it. But #gamergate is a Rorschach test. For some, it’s a fight against journalistic corruption. For others, its an attempt to get rid of progressive (“SJW”) elements from games and games journalism. Some are still fighting a crusade against Zoe and Anita. Some are convinced its still a crusade of harassment and misogyny (and there’s still WAY too much of that shit going on on both sides). Some are just mad about ‘gamers are dead’ articles, as if those actually had any kind of lingering power on the games you’re going to get.

But I gotta tell you, in this ink blot, a lot of women devs look at the ink blot and they see a massive middle finger aimed right at them. Read the article – all but one of them expressed the same general thoughts. They feel silenced. They feel vilified. They feel alone. They feel despair that other women in the industry also feel this way, and some are starting to question whether to leave.  And they feel terrorized that they are one crazy ex-boyfriend away from being made an example of.

And if I had to place a guess, they are really sick of being told that ‘they just don’t get what GamerGate is all about’ by people who have no idea how hard it is to be a woman in the games’ industry.

I’ve had a couple of women tell me that they are TERRIFIED TO ‘LIKE’ MY FACEBOOK POSTS OR FAVORITE MY TWEETS ON THE SUBJECT.

A few weeks ago, I made a point, which is that ‘As long as women gamers and game developers are living under a cloud of virtual terrorism, I don’t give a shit about your cause.’  Now, there are a whole bunch of people who want to bend over backwards to say that it’s only a couple of fuckwads, and that the idea that this is about harassment is a myth.  I can tell you right now, that narrative is not what’s perceived.  Because the women who watched this unfold KNOW that it unfolded in the roots of Zoe and Anita, and even if they want to disagree with those two, they know there is very real risk of their lives going through the same kind of upheaval.

For having an opinion about video games.

What’s perceived is that voicing an opinion is just not safe for a whole bunch of people who are, it turns out, right at the center of the debate.  Whether or not you are pro or anti-, its perceived as just not a SAFE THING TO DO to SPEAK YOUR MIND.  And that’s a really, really fucking shitty place to be in the profession you love.

65 Comments

  1. How did this happen?

    • Internet.
      (Most of Damion’s recent posts do a better job of trying to explain what #gamergate is and is not.)

  2. They want people to believe GamerGate is not about harassment because not every gamergater is an harasser, and GG is about “integrity in journalism”. Fair point.
    But know this gamergate
    Gamergate started with Zoe. Don’t tell me it’s “not about her”. It started with her story. Period.
    And what defined gamergate was the belief that knowing the truth, and publishing it, about possible unfair videogame reviews was MORE IMPORTANT than protecting a woman from more harassment.
    And still now, you believe that journalists who tried to protect her from further harassment were “colluding and corrupt”, or “pushing a SJW agenda”
    As long as you don’t get that, gamergate will be seen as siding with harassment, no matter how nice you personally are, or how much money you give to TFYC.
    You want to fight corruption in journalism without the harassment tag? Leave the gamergate tag behind.

    • The gamergate tag/identification postdated the ZoePost stuff by a couple of weeks, and most of the people in it were responding to the Streisand Effect of attempting to silence discussion and the “Gamers Are Over” articles, not anything connected to Zoe.

      Anyway, why does one side get to decide the terms by which the other side is allowed to oppose them? Can you see the irony is simultaneously calling out the GG side for making assumptions about the motives of the journalists, and your assigning them motives?

      *Nobody* has the power to make assholes stop being assholes. Making your starting conditions for discussions include an impossibility is not reasonable.

      • Everyone here knows perfectly how and when Ganergate started. Even if the tag postponed the story, it’s all linked.
        All Milo has been talking about is Zoe and Anita and Ben etc…
        All you see on the tag is more or less linked to that
        And everyone is pretty tired of the same response, over and over: “It’s not about X! It’s about Y!”
        I’m just pointing why you have a serious PR problem and why MSM report it as “linked to harassment” all the time
        Once again, lots of good people in there. Lots of good goals. But the roots are tainted.

        • I’m not on the GG side, I’m firmly in the “A pox on both your houses” group. But I can tell you that they are not all vile monsters, and for the most part don’t even want to talk about ZQ.

          Milo’s got his own “Culture War” agenda, he’s no friend of gamers of any stripe. He just hates feminists, and this is a good way for him to get in some shots on that front.

          • > But I can tell you that they are not all vile monsters, and for the most part don’t even want to talk about ZQ.

            I couldn’t care less. If you’re ignoring the harassment of women at the heart of GG and talking over women who want to talk about their fear of harassment to give lectures about what GG is “really about,” you automatically get promoted to “bad guy.” Just because you’re a low-level mook bad guy instead of a big boss doesn’t mean you’re not a bad guy.

      • Damion Schubert

        September 25, 2014 at 6:48 pm

        Saying that #gamergate is not about ZoePost is like saying that World War I wasn’t caused by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, simply because they didn’t have the war named yet.

        • In the same way acting as if gamergate was solely about the ZoePost is like saying WWI would happend if russia and austria-hungary hadn’t been in conflict before.

        • Saying that GamerGate is about ZQ is like saying that Woodrow Wilson declared war to protect the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

          It was the trigger, not the cause.

    • Why is it so important to protect Zoe? I don’t want her to be harassed, but I certainly feel no need to defend her. She abused her boyfriend, attempted to wreck a charity event, and helped spread dox on a minor. This isn’t even stuff that has to be inferred, it’s pretty cut and dry that she did these things.

      You talk about outsiders seeing gamergate as being tainted by harassment, but you can’t seem to move past the “defend the fair maiden” rhetoric that’s being used as a smokescreen by the games journalists. Zoe is a grown woman, she can defend her reputation on her own.

      Maybe I’m being too generous in seeing maliciousness on the other side, but it’s kind of hard not to suspect that’s the case when those in the industry suddenly decide that defending an abuser is the most important thing to do. I just don’t buy that so many people made an honest mistake here.

      • You don’t want her to be harassed, and I believe that.

        But try to put yourself in the role of a journalist whose decisions actually have a real impact over whether she will be getting more or less harassment

        • If they want to minimize the harassment she gets, they should stop talking about her. This thing has moved on, she doesn’t need to be in the spotlight anymore. Even if the articles were neutral, bringing her up every other day just keeps the spotlight on her, and keeps the trolls entertained with harassing her.

          And the articles aren’t neutral. They’re not “ZQ is being harassed”, they’re “ZQ is being harassed by hoards of misogynist gamers and the boyfriend she abused is an asshole and she’s the leading female dev in the industry and if you play games this is all your fault”.

          That stuff just gets people angry. Combine that with the fact that these journalists benefit by moving the spotlight off themselves onto her, and it’s very hard to resist thinking that these journalists aren’t doing this on purpose.

          • ZQ’s boyfriend is an asshole for airing out their relationship differences. Do you think that’s up for debate?

            Every #gamergate timeline I’ve read starts with that event. It provoked some threads, then some tweets, then Adam Baldwin tweeted about it, then some articles were written, and the “gamers = misogynists” came up.

            Then came the thread lockdowns, and then came the accusations of collusion and lack of integrity.

            Can you see where I might conclude #gamergate is fruit of a poison tree, and I might think someone such as you saying we should “move on” from talking about ZQ is trying to brush the issue of misogyny in video games aside?

            Do you think misogyny is worth talking about at all, or is it just that you really want to improve transparency in video game reporting? Because they both might be worth talking about.

          • Yes John , ZQ’s ex-boyfriend is a asshole, and what he did is a crime in some places [Brasil Penal Code Nº 139 is my exemple, yes i am from Brasil].

            I mean, he could just get going with his life and go on, but he goes with all this Massive Hurricane of s#@% that drag everything to hell.

            About ZQ’s its kind of heir to analysis she , if the texts are true she like any other human being can be a douche/shitty sometimes, lying , cheating are things that happen and it would be reasson to say mean things between each others and end the relationship[that looked already in its end] but not make it public for the hivemind of the internet to see].

            my personal matter about the fact is ZQ’s is the spark of the event, that brought together different groups of internet to gladiate between them , and people from both sides+ trolls that want to see the world burn made things escalate to a world of hurt.

            the gamesjournalist mail is a a different matter that its linked to it, they do use to archieve consensus in different matters and or talk about other topics, but thats it, it can be unethical to journalism but its not a conspiracy.

            and Sarkesian is just a victim of the massive shitstorm that is happening, where some MRA jumped and the wagon and now is cyber bullying any female activist that defend ZQ’s.

            This discussion is not good for anyone, already 2 journalists gave up on writing about games, REAL live threats to the security of human beings, the gamers name throw to the mud[its a minor thing, but still a thing, especially i being a gamer myself] everything because of ex-BF Drama.

            now, this would happen, it has just a matter of the right spark bring the right[or wrong] groups to the internet.

          • JUst a add to my post, ZQ’s[the person, she is just a victim] is not the spark … the ZQ’s incident[or Quinnspiracy if you like the term] is the spark.

            the mix of ex’s post + some people not liking zoe game + internet focus on it.

      • Damion Schubert

        September 25, 2014 at 9:52 pm

        It’s not so much a need to protect Zoe, as much as a general unease about the treatment she’s gotten. Hell, there is plenty of sentiment that Zoe is not, let’s just say, a sterling innocent flower who is free of evil. Hell, there are some people who have some pretty choice epithets for her.

        Here’s the thing: the problem is that she is STILL being judged. That’s what freaking out the women on this list. The fact that Cracked put up another article about her today, and comment #3 was still, basically, describing her as a whore. If this isn’t really about her, why does she keep coming up? And if I, as a woman, speak up, will this happen to me?

        And you can say that Zoe may have brought this on herself. What about Anita? What about Jen Hepler?

      • She didn’t “abuse” her boyfriend, that word has a specific meaning. And if calling out a supposedly inclusive charity for women for using transphobic language means “wrecking” a charity event, then it should be wrecked. Imposing tests to see if people are “really” trans or not is hateful and unacceptable. And my understanding about the “dox” was that all she referenced, separately, was someone’s name, which isn’t actually doxxing someone.

        But let’s suppose for a moment that she wasn’t a very nice human being. (A charge that I’ve seen no evidence of, other than possibly her conduct in a relationship, the parameters of which I know nothing about other than what one party decided to air dirty laundry about on the public internet — something nasty enough that it automatically means he is not blameless in the situation.) Anyway, suppose that were true. If so, it still wouldn’t justify rape and death threats. And if you think it’s ok to send rape threats to someone because you think they are a bad person, then you are an even worse person yourself.

        > you can’t seem to move past the “defend the fair maiden” rhetoric that’s being used as a smokescreen by the games journalists

        Women in general are effing terrified of being made an example of based on sketchy evidence with wild rumor built up around it. This is the most base character assassination imaginable, and an indefensible harassment campaign has been launched on top of it. Opposing that isn’t some kind of “white knighting”, it’s taking a stand against destructive mob sociopathy. Any decent human being should be on Zoe Quinn’s side, period. I’m sorry you’re not one.

        • Scrutiny is a highly needed thing if you want to get help in the rights hand and not into the hands of an asshole profiteer.
          If you think otherwise, than congrats your the definition of SJW, the well-meaning idiot, and are a person one should listen too.

    • Let’s not forget, when a subset of comic book readers co-opted #gamergate to create #comicgate, they weren’ railing about “colluding and corrupt” comic book journalists. They were mad because someone wanted to take away Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman butt cover.

      It’s not about misogyny? It’s not about women? Pssshhh.

  3. Yeah, everybody who sticks their head up gets abuse, but there’s a particularly nasty edge to what gets aimed at women. Since it’s the worst of it that sets the tone, even the less vile or merely rude stuff feels like it is “piling on” to the worst of it.

    But…there’s no way for anybody to stop other people from being assholes.

    • There’s no way to stop it, but we can stand up and call it unacceptable. Damion, I can’t speak for anyone else, but this female game dev really appreciates that you’re doing that.

      • The question is not if we’re going to call it unacceptable. Pretty much everyone except the actual assholes doing it thinks it is unacceptable. The question is if we are going to refuse to even engage with the GG issues because they are “tainted” by association with that behavior.

        But who made the association, and why? If everyone agrees that every, or nearly every, or even just “many”, issues that GG raises that are not directly connected to harassment of women are legitimate, *and* most of the people on the GG side of this are not engaging in harassment, then are we just saying that we’re not going to talk about anything else until the harassment of women stops?

        And that will never happen. So we will, apparently, never be able to discuss any of it. And the harassment will still continue.

        • I’ve tracked GG closely and there aren’t any legitimate issues that I can perceive. There’s a lot of innuendo, character assassination, and some vague mumbling about “journalistic integrity” in the game industry, a silly topic to begin with. It’s hard to have a discussion when there’s not even a coherent argument to engage with.

          Right now the harassment of real, actual, living women, is far, far more important than whatever slights someone feels may have been directed at their made-up virtual worlds.

          • “I’ve tracked GG closely and there aren’t any legitimate issues that I can perceive.”

            In the article thread below this, I asked someone directly what the goals of #gamergate are. He linked this: http://i.imgur.com/ZWUaWAE.png

            He wasn’t happy when I pointed out that this was a list of value statements without any real goals. To which he replied, “We want gaming journalists to adhere to the same ethical code of conduct that all other journalists are sworn by: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

            As a former member of SPJ, this was a little stunning. I hadn’t heard it said in association with #gamergate yet.

            Otherwise I agree, harassment of women is a topic that deserves discussion, and ought not be shoved aside, for any reason. Except, that seems to keep happening. “No, not misogyny again, I want to talk about Integrity.”

          • Another resumé, made by them.
            Again, full, of innuendoes about Zoe and Anita.
            https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ByK712eIUAEJIMX.png:large

          • @John Henderson,

            Wait, “Integrity” means avoiding saying negative things about the commercial IP of billion dollar companies whose advertising and exclusive access to early review copies keep the entire game journalism industry going? Seriously?

            Integrity in any form of journalism tasked with reporting on wealthy industries actually means THE EXACT OPPOSITE — a willingness to tell harsh truths about games despite the enormous financial and practical incentives not to do so.

            Who wrote this thing, EA?

          • Damion Schubert

            September 26, 2014 at 8:13 pm

            Tess, I’ll warn you, if you try to point this out, they’ll just say “people writing these manifestos don’t speak for all of us.”

        • Brands get burned.

          The #GamerGate brand is burned.

          If the issues matter, address them outside the penumbra of that brand.

        • The few times I’ve checked on the #GamerGate tag, it’s been entirely “These people are evil, let’s smite them!” or “We should update this list of evil people!” — which is technically a witch hunt, rather than a movement for change.

          What grievances I’ve heard have been far less than the grievances I was already aware of — the Metacritic-determines-Pay issue, Doritogate, et cetera; which isn’t surprising because I’ve seen a LOT of detailed, intriguing articles talking about the state of game reviews, and the need for better game journalism over the years. I haven’t seen any since #GamerGate began.

          The problem is, of course, that EA will pay for Advetorials, and almost no one will pay for actual Journalism — and I’m not just including Game Journalism in that.

          • I’ll do you one further: Most people who care about video games enough to actually play them would not recognize “actual Journalism” even if it existed.

            Good journalism takes time and effort, and shoe leather. The result is often unpleasant, and not much fun.

  4. I will not believe #GG is about legit issues until someone shows me a bunch of in-depth articles discussing the flows of money influenced by metacritic and how these may cause ethical issues in games journalism.

    As long as the articles are about random indie devs and games with small budgets that make minimal money, I won’t care.

    Show me the in-depth research exposing the money web surrounding metacritic.

    • We are working on that, and other larger things.Problem is, AAA is better at hiding their tracks, give us some time. I appreciate at least keeping the possibility in mind.

      • If you want that, like any investigation, you’ll need to cultivate inside sources.

        Of course, the relationships that cultivate inside sources are exactly the sorts of things being castigated by the #GamerGate folks, *and* the people who could get you helpful information are not likely to give it to people associated with a group that is hounding and terrifying their friends and colleagues.

        In short, what you say you want and the banner you are working under are in stark opposition.

        • You really should read up on motivations for spies and whistleblowers, as you seemingly have no idea of what’s going on in thies field.

          • The question isn’t “is there someone out there motivated to spill what they know”, it is “are they motivated to spill it to you”.

          • You can’t divide these questions. As their motivation completly determinates who they’re wanting to spill informations to.

            A scorned former employee isn’t that caring about his former colleagues, hell they could be the actual reason for him wanting to get some payback. The guy secretly despising his colleagues and their immorality also doesn’t care that much about them getting shafted.
            So again, you’re painting a picture of a happy industry here, when in reality we already had scorned former employees calling in and people seemingly giving informations out to Milo.

            So you’re surely right you’ll loose some possible whistleblowers by being an asshole. But than again a whistleblower will only give his informations to someone he thinks is able to put pressure on the institutions or individuals who he thinks are a problem.
            Going back a bit to spies – there’s a reason why russians and americans happily went to the biggest enemy of their country instead of calling switzerland.

          • The problem is that that does not jibe with the claim that “AAA is better at hiding their tracks”.

            If all you need is a disgruntled insider, there are way more disgruntled insiders in AAA land.

          • @Dave
            I’m not arguing about larger circles of person having a harder time keeping something secret. Damion and you are totally right about that point.

      • Damion Schubert

        September 25, 2014 at 9:56 pm

        Um, this is a lie. You know what makes a conspiracy harder to keep quiet? More people. With an indie game conspiracy, you have to keep maybe 5 people quiet. So they can maybe sneak away with 500 bucks.

        Destiny’s marketing budget was probably 9 figures. If there are skeletons in that closet, a LOT of people know about it. AAA has more people, which means any conspiracies are going to be much easier to find and expose.

      • With the Zoe Quinn thing, there wasn’t proof of a quid pro quo, just maybe sex one way for maybe reviews the other way and people filled in the gaps.

        So for the purposes of gamergate, the appearance of corruption is enough. Let’s apply that standard to the rest gaming journalism.

        I think the issues are pretty blatant. Maybe it’s so pervasive that it seems like nothing is going on, but there are a lot of incentives for publishers, developers and reviewers to get along so they each get more money.

        People are beholden to people who pay their bills. A lot of review sites take advertising from publishers. Sites that take money from publishers for advertisements, even through intermediaries like google ads have the appearance of corruption to me. There are ways to block certain companies and industries, so why don’t these sites do that?

        If sites get exclusives, that has the appearance of corruption.

        If reviewers can be fired or reprimanded for giving bad reviews, that has the appearance of corruption.

        If review scores can affect developer compensation, then there is the possibility that the developer will collude with the reviewers to get more money from the publishers.

        I don’t think it’s even necessary to show that explicit collusion actually happened because people are not stupid and will cover their tracks. The mere existence of developer bonuses being based on review scores gives everyone an incentive to shuffle money to other groups.

        Reviewers are beholden to the advertising dollars and “access” from publishers and devs. Developers are beholden to reviewers to get more compensation. Publishers are beholden to reviewers to get better reviews so that their games will sell more before people find out that they’re crap. All three groups have a huge incentive to go along to get along so that they keep getting more money pulled into the system.

        It doesn’t matter if there are hidden, awful things going on in the background. The only way to move toward objectivity is to have reviewers that get no compensation from devs or publishers, starting with no dev/publisher ads on review sites.

        No ads
        No cash
        No trips
        No exclusives
        No free games/stuff
        No invites to parties/special events
        No “promises” of jobs someday

        None of that.

        The only people who can fix this are the reviewers who can at least stop the appearance of corruption by taking no advertising on their sites from publishers.

        • So, basically, only fan sites or hobby sites?

          Since you’ve pretty much ruled out any revenue other than subscriptions, and other than Andrew Sullivan, it’s hard to think of anyone who has made that work.

          • Well there are some ad sponsors who are not also developers/publishers (when talking software, Nvidida and Intel and other sole hardware developer spring to mind), but that hardly sounds feasible.
            But in that respect i never got why people thought they needed to make a big point about Mountain Dew and Doritos or whatever having sponsored something.

          • The thing is, this is a standard that is far beyond anything in journalistic ethics.

            Journalistic ethics just require a wall between ad sales and content, they don’t block off advertisements of things that are covered.

          • Advertising from game developers/publishers. Ads for things they aren’t reviewing are ok.

          • @Dave
            Yeah the problem though is that we see such systems failing frequently. And not just in the hobbyist field of gaming, but take a look at the LIBOR scandal and you see that the idea of internal walls, is one that doesn’t hold all to well.

            An added problem is the whole matter of test versions or exclusive tests.

            I guess we’ve run into the typical ‘problem’ of low costs, low quality products displacing high costs, high quality products.

            And as far as i am aware we never found a really good answer to these things. Besides some small niches, where people try to act differently (at least on the surface).

          • Damion Schubert

            September 26, 2014 at 8:15 pm

            John Arras, the problem is that, if you’re not selling video games or machines that run video games, I probably don’t want your audience and your ad space is valueless.

            This isn’t unique to video games. Guns, cars – any enthusiast press has this core problem.

        • I understand no ads directly from publishers or developers so that you can separate that money. However, lumping Google ads into that is a bit misguided, since there’s less control a site has over exactly what gets shown in those banners using that system.

          And as has been said, with no other revenue, the users of the site will have to foot the bill- not that that’s a bad thing. Paying so you can be assured of better integrity isn’t a bad selling point. The question is, who is willing to buy, in this day and age of everything for free on the internet?

    • I find the people lamenting a press that says negative things about things they like, and pining for the days of *house* publications whose entire purpose was PR for the owning company calling it a “return to journalistic ethics” amusing in the extreme.

      But then, I try to cultivate an appreciation of irony.

  5. Gamer gate folks feel there is some obvious goal that, if not for our extreme ignorance, would be so obvious to us outsiders. The problem is that, at any given time, the hashtag has people arguing for an endless variety of things, and if you don’t agree uniformly you are automatically anti-gg and the enemy. But, even if I agree that sections of games journalism has gotten too chummy, I don’t want to be lumped in with the people who are randomly and blindly attacking anything feminist related on the net. Including Gail Simone, a comic writer completely unrelated to the game industry. Or the mighty no. 9 community manager. How are they even tangentially related to game journalism ethical practices. And god forbid I don’t want to be lumped in with the folks building a personality cult around conservative gossip columnists. Gg has become the class president offering everything to everyone who wants to latch on. Free chips in the vending machine? You got it! Freedom to both scoff and claim harassment in any given interaction? Have at it! GG is depressing because there are elements of it that have merit but it began in such a gross way and invited so many questionable people in it will never recover. They can argue one million tweets means something, but one million served didn’t make mcdonalds a classier restaurant.

  6. Have you thought that there could be people whose stated purpose in life is to search for an Internet controversy and then shit on the more sensitive band just to get off, and then jump to the next controversy (fueling the fire even more as a byproduct) without pledging allegiance to any side?

    Anecdotal experience, in the first days of the G-Gate, one of the authors of the most vicious Twitter attacks was someone with an anti-semitic avatar on twitter, a racy depiction of a Jew. It was evident that the same person was also a griefer in the recent topic of Israeli attacks on Palestine and he forgot to change his avatar to something more akin to the topic of gaming. The account was eventually mass reported by the ‘gaters and shut down.

    Then the sides alleging not having to do anything with the attacks, could be mostly right, most of the vile acts and words can come from people like the owner of that account.

    There are studies like this one:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2014/02/internet_troll_personality_study_machiavellianism_narcissism_psychopathy.html

    on what the personality of those griefers look like. Sociopathy, narcissism, machiavellism, sadism.

    But also:
    http://www.techvibes.com/blog/successful-entrepreneurs-possess-the-dark-triad-narcissism-manipulation-and-psychopathy-2011-12-09

    Maybe, just maybe the reason no one has done any real step to stop the griefers… is that the people with the power to do something meaningful has more in common with them than with us.

    • You don’t piss in the wind to stop a fire.

      The purpose of this particular article was to talk about women being genuinely scared to put their names to any talk about #gamergate, and they have reason to be. All you’re contributing to the notion is your own alienation.

      You’re not going to solve that by making broad generalizations about anyone, on the record.

      • I don’t invalidate the legitimate fear of those woman, also, for being long time developers I feel a lot of respect for them, even if their standpoints are motivated by fear.

        But what I say is that if you engage the REAL people in the #gamergate hashtag the worst you can get is to be called a shill and then the people will call to stop talking to you.

        The ones propagating the fear talked in this article are the sociopaths and hatemongers hiding in both sides.

        Like the ones that planned to drive Zoe to suicide from an IRC channel…

        Or the ones that drove Jenn Frank, a renowned game writer, out of the games writing business…

        Or like Leigh Alexander that knew that his Gamasutra article would spark a war and burn all the bridges and nonchalantly published it…

        Or like Samantha Allen that describes herself as hater of men and everything masculine and used game critic sites to spill her hatred…

        If you talk about ‘solving’ you need to talk first on how to mitigate the hatred. And #gamergate is doing something that the other side doesn’t have the courage to do, they publicly denounce and report the hatemongers hiding amongst them.

        • OK, I agree with that. In my Balkanizing mind, I think about those “in favor” of #gamergate as one (or more) of the following:

          1. People who genuinely believe they’re part of a movement that will result in a change, and are enthusiastic about participating in something bigger than themselves.
          2. People who were genuinely offended or even threatened by what they see as an insult to a label that greatly influences their self-concept (i.e., gamers being thought of as bad.)
          3. Internet performance artists, pranksters and sociopaths who just want to read other people being frustrated.

          There’s overlap, I’m sure. I don’t think there’s an easy way to tell the difference, and on Twitter it’s that much harder. But as time goes on, this is splitting into (at least) two issues: harassment of women and media transparency for the sake of game fans and enthusiasts.

          But just because someone wants to talk about one and not the other, they shouldn’t be reviled from that — it’s just hard when #gamergate gets referenced to know which issue is going to be discussed. As a result, there’s even less of a chance of a useful conclusion.

        • I’m sorry, but
          1) if you compare Leigh’s article and people planning to push someone to suicide, there is a serious problem of relativity and jugdement here
          2) haters are haters. Gamergate is being seen as tied to harassment by a lot of reasonable people/reporters. There is no need to include men haters in the dialogue or the equation. Your problem is not with them, it’s with us, reasonable people, gamers, devs, journalists etc…
          3) why, oh why does GG keep repeating that “we don’t publicly denounce harassment from some gg antagonizers”? For one, when one denounces harassment, he does it at general, wherever it’s coming from.
          For two, I really don’t feel I’m in the same camp as some “anti gg harasser than picks on gater targets”. I don’t have to denounce them more or less than any other harasser. Those people are in their own camp, and it’s not mine.
          For 3, the gg tag is 99% pro gg. If an anti gg were to go there to denounce all harassers (I know I personally did, the doxes of this week, the threats against Milo, etc), it would be lost in a sea of “People don’t get what gg is about!”
          I believe most gaters denounce harassment truly, and they believe it’s bad. (They just don’t get why the tag is tainted by it (cf my earlier post)). Why do you not believe we truly denounces it from all sides? You know, in the end, it’s not a contest of who will denounce harassment louder, or who will give more $ to charity. In fact, when we give to our heros, you accuse them of fraud… but that’s another story.

          If engaging a real person in the gg tag, as you ask we do, is being told that Leigh is comparable to harassers, or that “you don’t denounce harassment the way we do”, this comforts me in my decision to denounce the tag all together. I do it loudly. I do it without hate nor harassment. I’m disappointed some serious voices have joined the movement, or try to explain it, to make it more acceptable (ex the guy in the other thread saying it’s due to the industry alienating the gamers). It’s tainted from the start. Period. Erase the blackboard, start over.
          Reasonable people with reasonable issues should understand the need to abandon it altogether. As someone said here, the brand is burned. If you want to sell hotdogs, but 99% of the population thinks you sell tacos, and you spend 99% of your energy preaching that you sell hotdogs and not tacos, maybe you ought to start over.

          • Also, Leigh is a she. I missed that bit.

          • You are right in the notion that Leigh’s article isn’t comparable in magnitude to the machinations of Zoe’s harassers. However without her article, the tag wouldn’t had reached its current strenght.

            Before her piece it was clear that the people involved were mostly who somehow took issue with Zoe’s ex Tumblr post, people who thought they had the right to police her alleged sexual life and nobody sane sided with them.

            Also as a positive reaction the #welovegamedevs tag was born to spread a climate of admiration and love for devs.

            Leigh’s article had the opposite effect, to further alienate gamers from journos and devs, disguised as an anti- harassment piece.

          • @myzahnyx

            “However without her article, the tag wouldn’t had reached its current strenght”

            Probably true. But it comes back to my first post.

            Gamergate is people getting mad about people trying to stop harassment(sometimes beautifully, sometimes akwardly, sometimes with bad polemic essays, sometimes by talking with other journalists on a mailing list, sometimes by making generalizations, etc…).

            Normally, a crowd would have reacted to Leigh’s article: “Dude, if you want to fight harassment, do it differently. That was akward. Now let’s play Destiny.”

            But the gigantic, unending, 1,000,000-twitter-post reaction of the crowd proves that sadly, those essayists and polemist might have struck a chord.

    • Business people are not necessarily entrepreneurs, and are too scared of losing money by cracking down on trolls in communities because they are already risk-averse in almost all other aspects of operation. Just look at Xbox Live. I used to love playing CoD online, but I can’t stand the crap being said, and I haven’t got a damned mute button.

      Aside from that, yeah, I think that GG has, like all controversies, attracted “professional quality” trolls that are probably sociopaths or psychopaths. The sad part of the internet is that people with those disorders are very free to spread pain for their pleasure without fear of repercussions that would normally limit them (those with higher rates of those traits usually cross the line either online or in real life and end up in jail).

  7. @Jonathan (This forum has a depth limit)

    Its not just ‘people trying to stop harassment’. There is where lies the root of the problem. Most of that people are indeed, trying to stop the harassment towards Zoe, Anita, and others, however their premises are based on a view of men as eternal intrinsic oppressors of women. Thus, they empathizing with men or trying to understand them or doing any sort of outreach from them to gamers is seen as an act of ‘class betrayal’ because they follow a Marxist view where men an women are respectively oppressors and oppressed and the only dialectic resolution to their problems are the oppressed rising up and destroying the oppressors.

    I’ve seen that the people that indeed wants to outreach are usually non-radical feminists, tending more to an equalist-feminist view. A remarkable case is Jenn Frank, that after being driven out from games writing by the sociopaths, made a brief comeback just to write a love letter to gamers. I’ve seen more very moving cases, but I won’t say more names for fear of making them targets for the subhumans on the internet. To all those, my utter respect, admiration and love. If this will have solution, it will be because of you.

    It was precisely in protest for what happened to Jen that I stopped using the hashtag. However, the sentiment of it is mostly right, there is a current of cultural chauvinists (I refuse to call them ‘social justice warriors’ because they weaponize minorities to push their agenda further). And I stated the reason, they don’t want mutual understanding, they see all from a standpoint of class warfare where they must annihilate the perceived oppressors or die trying. No wonder they aren’t interested either in ending this mess.

    • Your rationalization efforts are commendable. As is your decision to abandon the tag.

    • ” there is a current of cultural chauvinists (I refuse to call them ‘social justice warriors’ because they weaponize minorities to push their agenda further).”

      What exactly is the agenda of “cultural chauvinists”?

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