#GamerGate diehards insist that the current discussion has nothing at all to do with politics and that they are, in fact, trying to keep politics and ideology out of gaming. Which is stupid – Bioshock, the Sims, Call of Duty and Civilization are all games that have a lot of message and ideology – but yeah, you could ignore all that and stick to that broken point of view. And a lot of #gamergate fanatics have – in a display of hypocrisy which has now become everyday in this hashtag, #GamerGate has anointed as their champions two right-wing nutjobs desperate to insert their own ideology into the discussion in an apparent successful attempt to be instant patron saints of the Movement. Hilariously, both have admitted to not really playing any games, something that was considered high treason when it was inferred to be true about Anita, despite the fact that her stuff appears to be mostly very well researched and, uh, for the most part, to have problems but contain some pretty good points. Apparently this isn’t a problem if you’re willing to just take #GamerGate’s side although kudos to whoever suggested that Hatoful Boyfriend should be Milo’s first game).
@girlonetrack We write about how tech is changing the world around us. You write about how many cocks you’ve sucked this week. Back off.
— Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) July 18, 2012
If you’re a grown man with hands clamped to an Xbox controller instead of a pair of tits you need a good slap.
— Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) August 26, 2014
Meet Milo, a writer for Breitbart, who is one of the rare people in the history of all humankind who I hated immediately instinctively and then disliked and had less respect for even more the more I researched him. He is an associate editor in a web magazine that even the conservative blogosphere considers to be a pimple on the ass of conservative thought. Seriously, most of what the site is like what would happened if you combined the National Enquirer, a yapping Chihuahua, and your drunken racist uncle at Thanksgiving wearing a tinfoil hat. Here they are talking about Birthism while vehemently denying that they do so, for example. Here they are giving credence to Benghazi, a ‘scandal’ that even the House GOP is now admitting is bullshit. Here they are losing their shit because of stock legal language at the bottom of a photo op. And normally, their coverage of pop culture is wrapped up in bashing violence and defending Christianity from the evils of Hollywood. Yes, a site that specialized in ‘woe is me, why is there not enough clean, wholesome, Christian entertainment’ has suddenly decided to defend the tits and violence bonanza that is gaming.
As for Milo, this crusader against ideology started this whole thing off with an article titled, “Lying, Greedy, Promiscuous Feminist Crusaders are Tearing the Video Game Industry Apart.” Apparently, his editor had a rare crisis of conscience, which must be like discovering your first orgasm if you work for Breitbart, because it was actually shortened to be less offensive to what you see (you can see the original name in the hyperlink). He followed this up with the hysterically all-capitalized “AN OPEN LETTER TO THE VIDEO GAMING COMMUNITY FROM A SELF-CONFESSED RIGHT-WING BASTARD” – because hey, you know, he’s not about ideology at all. This crusader for diversity calls transgenderism a disease. This defender of equality thinks that men are just BETTER at technology than women, because fuck you that’s why. All of this is because the so-called #GamerGate scandal was JUST NOT OBVIOUSLY HYPOCRITICAL ENOUGH yet.
As you can tell, Milo brings a veneer of maturity and respect to the sobering #gamergate core issues of journalistic integrity and respect towards women. As a side note, his private twitter handle is @caligula, because of course it is.
The other pundit is Christina Hoff Sommers, a writer for the American Enterprise Institute, a site that consistently favors right wing solutions to problems. It’s currently got the Koch Brothers and Newt Gingrich in it, and likes to promote causes like austerity, dissing the minimum wage, and declaring that Obamacare will be a disaster. Which is to say, the AEI makes a living about being very, very right-wing. Needless to say, I also think they are very, very wrong on these topics, but that’s beside the point – they are DECIDEDLY ideological. Somehow suggesting that that organization is going to make some sort of statement that opposes ideology in a medium in anything is seriously smoking something, and not being polite enough to share with the rest of the group.
Christina, for her part, has made a career about depicting men in society as being an oppressed victim class, a load of garbage that apparently sounds less stupid when its spouted by a woman instead of a Men’s Rights Activist. She’s Fox’s go-to guest when they need someone to say that fear of rape on college campuses is NO BIG DEAL (reality check: while sexual assault has dropped mightily in the last 20 years, the US still leads much of the civilized world). Here she is complaining about the feminist conspiracy of making kids play freeze tag instead of normal tag. Here she is complaining that boys are forced to read works of literature instead of Tom Clancy and comic books in English Literature classes. Here’s her saying that a lot of feminists are ugly women who preach feminism to get back at men and beautiful women, along with a lot of other egregiously bad data. You get the idea.
So what cunning observations have these two paragons of thought brought to the debate? They do not disappoint with their uniquely self-promoting brand of stupidity.
Sommers throws out some stats and figures, and then somehow leaps to the assertion that Games aren’t Sexist, it’s just that women don’t like games. This is roughly akin to saying that the KKK isn’t racist, it’s just black people don’t want to join, or the Nazis weren’t anti-semetic, it’s just the Jews weren’t jiggy with the way they did things. Which is to say, it’s a nonsense logical leap, entirely circular in nature, and one that would get you a big red ‘F’ if you handed in a paper with this argument in your Intro to Logic or Philosophy class. Which makes the fact that Sommers bio describes her as a former philosophy teacher even more hilarious. Who knows, maybe she didn’t leave that profession by choice. There’s a lot more horrible logic in here, but I’ll just let you watch this lovingly crafted video rather than rebut it point by point. Short form: this is a very non-serious answer from an ideologue hoping simply to advance her own profile amidst the chaos of #gamergate. (EDIT: link about this paragraph with more analysis, discussion of my choice of phraseology is here. No, I didn’t call gamers Nazis)
As for Milo, his crack investigative reporting has uncovered the fact that Journalists sometimes are on mailing lists, and sometimes discuss issues in a non-public setting. As someone in my friendslist pointed out, If you’re surprised that professional mailing lists exist, then you either aren’t good at your job, or nobody likes you. As Kyle Orland explains on Ars Technica, these lists can and do frequently help journalists maintain connections, find sources, discuss ethics, and a host of other topics. I believe him because these things are true for devs as well. But more so for journalists who cannot get stories without talking to people, and that includes other journalists.
I suppose its possible that Milo might surprise me by digging up actual proof of a scandal here – I can tell you that few developers would be surprised at revelations of actual shenanigans by and around the press. But one would expect Milo to actually put his best foot forward, and instead he sprawls spectacularly on his face. Take yesterday’s dump: his proof of widespread collusion resulting in journalists engaging in ‘damaging groupthink’ is a bunch of journalists in strong disagreement as to whether or not to send a harassed girl a comforting note. Even the guy who suggested the idea admitted it might be problematic. Several people said they liked it, until a couple people pointed out there was an ethical problem with it. Presumably, then the idea died.
Crack detective work there, Milo.
This is EXACTLY the sort of thing that a private, industry-only mailing list or discussion group is good for, and in this case, resulted in the right move happening. Milo would know this if he knew anything about the games industry. Or the tech industry. Or, you know, journalism.
Incidentally, it’s not really collusion if a professional organization just DOES something. I’m a member of the International Game Developer’s Association (IGDA) as well as BioWare. The IGDA has many individuals in many, MANY companies. If the IGDA were to debate in email with its members whether or not it should, for example, send Milo’s mother a nice bouquet of flowers to comfort her on the money she flushed down the toilet on her kid’s wasted journalism degree, that’s not BioWare, Blizzard, EA and Valve making a statement, it’s the IGDA making a statement.
Getting journalists on the same ideological page is nothing new either – the GOP famously sends their daily talking points to Rush Limbaugh and all his ilk, for example,and all Fox hosts get a memo discussing not just what to say but also how to say it. Perhaps someday Milo will get off of the video game beat and actually get to see one of these fact sheets, but if this is the quality of his reporting, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
His day one dump was marginally more interesting, because that’s where we saw a whole bunch of journalism professionals pointing out that the Zoe Quinn situation was a shitty breakup between private individuals that had no merits as a legitimate news story, and that as shitty as games journalism is, credible games sites should hold themselves up to a higher standard than TMZ or, say, Breitbart. Given that all attempts to establish wrongdoing by Zoe Quinn or Nate has proven to be baseless or unprovable, it suggests the journalists were more than correct to remember the lessons they were taught in their Journalism 101 classes. It’s not a conspiracy when 10 people look at the sky, and decide that it’s blue.
Also, just as a side note, #GamerGate spends a LOT of time trying to stress that this IS NOT ABOUT ZOE QUINN. BECAUSE SHE’S NOT REALLY A WORTHY STORY. And so, Milo’s great examples of collusion – are all about Zoe Quinn. Way to feed the narrative that the stated motives of #GamerGate are completely at odds with the ravenous tabloidesque tendencies of the internet mob.
What #Gamergate claims they favor is a more diverse and more inclusive games industry, where more voices can be heard. The way that its actually been reflected is as an ideological purge. Look at the list of approved websites, blessed by the #gamergate powers that be. There are PLENTY of websites that appear to meet ideological muster, that being one that happily slutshames a developer in fear of losing their audience. The idea that, somehow, Polygon and Kotaku control the whole message of the games industry is a joke. No, only a small subset of the games media is actually under attack right now, and that’s the part that is too principled to put a developer’s sex life on the front page.. It just so HAPPENS that these sites also tends\ to be the sites most interested in talking about social issues, behind-the-scenes developer issues, and giving coverage to indie games instead of Gears of God of Destiny Soul Caliber War XBII. What’s approved are media that focus on shoving the publisher’s canned talking points about the game so far up your ass you can’t walk straight. That’s not a minority view, it’s 90% of games journalism. And most of it is closer to being bought and paid advertisement than anything resembling ‘journalism’.
I do not favor any movement that tries to silence a valid voice in the art and business of making video games, and you shouldn’t either. ESPECIALLY, if it’s aimed at targeting a particular point of view.
Look, I’m not going to defend everything that game journalists do. Of particular note, I remember fondly when Kotaku actually did games stuff rather than fill half their website with weird Japanese shit. And there are some very, very sketchy practices in the games industry between press and developers.
Big league games like Destiny and GTAV cost more than 9 figures, and a third of that at LEAST is usually earmarked to marketing. Is anyone following that money? Some years ago, a Gamespot journalist was fired right after giving a bad review to a AAA game. Games from big studios seem to rarely get reviews below 70%, but indie devs who can’t afford to advertise routinely do. Some companies have been caught giving payola to Youtube streamers (). Companies routinely fly press around the country and wine and dine the journalists that will review them. Here’s a story about a company who hired a reviewer to do a mock review, solely so he couldn’t legally write the bad review they thought he’d give them.
But we’re now entering our second month of this, and we’re still not talking about any of these things. Instead, despite the fact that everyone on #GamerGate that it’s REALLY NOT ABOUT WHATSHERNAME, we are, thanks to Milo and his ideologically skewed muckraking, once again talking about Zoe Quinn. And we’re describing as a grand conspiracy a handful of like-minded guys disagreeing with each other on a platform more archaic than an Facebook discussion group. Gaming may deserve better than its journalism. But it sure as hell deserves better than its supposed cure.
Note: I use a whitelist policy on comments: your first comment must be approved by me and then, in general, you can post freely. Note, I will use the banhammer if you get out of hand later. I am fairly liberal with what I allow, but I still insist debate remain civil, and I am unapologetic for that. If you want to see my standards, see what goes on in other threads.