#Gamergate Fisking Chris Scullion

Screenshot from 2015-07-30 23:44:14

But all I did was write off a whole subculture as angry teenage boys! Why are people upset?!?

NB: Chris would prefer that we think of him as a lazy idiot who doesn’t put any effort into his articles, rather than a malicious propagandist. I’d actually prefer if this were true as it’s more forgiveable, so fair enough. Let’s consider him stupid and shit at his job, rather than actively malicious.

Chris Scullion is a games media writer who has recently written an article for Vice and a follow-up on his own blog.

Here’s the non-archived links.

Blog

Vice

Now, Chris claims to have been a games writer for a very long time, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t take him at his word. Given the content and nature of these two articles that either means he’s breathtakingly incompetent, or acting maliciously.

Having tried to talk to him on Twitter and having read both articles, I’m forced to conclude that, in my opinion, that he is acting maliciously. This would seem, to me, to be less insulting than being called stupid – which is the only other possible conclusion if we assume he did any of his research properly.

It does properly beggar belief that such a supposed veteran could get so much wrong.

Let’s start with the Vice article and continue from there.

Vice – We’re All Gamers…

In our conversation on Twitter, Chris didn’t seem to understand why people would object to this, or why they would see this as a turnaround from the ‘Gamers are Dead’ articles OR why one journalist might be deemed to speak for another or as a bloc.

People object to it for the same reasons they objected to the ‘Gamers are dead’ articles. It eliminates their self-identification and in both cases is based around a total misunderstanding of what a ‘gamer’ is. In the case of the ‘dead’ articles the suggestion was that the identity should be gotten away from, that it was bad, nasty, toxic and should be eliminated. In Chris’ article the same end is achieved (rendering the identity meaningless) but in his case by over-extending it to the point of meaninglessness.

So it is possible, and is indeed the case, to both contradict the previous 10+ articles beating the same dead horse and simultaneously make the same mistake in a different way.

Why might one journalist be expected to speak for others or be seen as a bloc? There’s a large degree of homogeneity in games-press positions and ideas and dissenters usually stand out pretty clearly. Chris does not and is, furthermore, working for a publication that recently announced the hiring of some of the worse people who started off or contributed to Gamergate taking off. It’s unfortunate, but he’s going to be tarred with that brush and, given GameJournoPros, not without good reason to be suspicious.

As a long time gamer, Chris should know – if he’s being honest – what the term ‘gamer’ means. Not everyone who plays games is a gamer any more than any 14 year old, drunk off her tits on screwtop Lambrusco is a sommelier or someone who only ever reads The Bible is a bibliophile. ‘Gamer’ implies a hobbyist, someone who is engaged with and cares about games, someone steeped in the history, the lore, the process of making games in the way a film buff is engaged with Cinema.

This is the first hint that ‘something is up’.

And yet there are some gamers who are unhappy with the way things are going. Some who feel the definition of that very title – gamer – is being challenged, and they don’t like it.

To some, you aren’t a gamer unless you’re playing a traditional console or PC game: a first-person shooter, an RPG, a 3D platformer. If you’re the sort who only plays mobile games or are addicted to Pirate Kings on Facebook, you apparently don’t count as a gamer.

A sideways swipe at Gamergate obvious enough to anyone who has been abreast of events for the last 12 months, but also obviously erroneous to anyone who has kept abreast of those same events

There are people unhappy with the way things are going, but not so much because of the rise of mobile games etc, but because of moral panics, censorship and political interference in gaming. The same kinds of people who objected to Jack Thompson in the 90s, Pat Pulling in the 80s or Frederick Wertham in the 70s. There are also people unhappy with the way the games media has been acting – these articles being prime examples – seemingly being simultaneously out of touch with their audience and in bed with PR and agenda-pushing developers.

Games media no longer serves its customer base and, indeed, often treats them with contempt as this article does.

‘Casual gaming’ for want of a better term, does present a problem when it comes to the identity of gamers, but furthermore it also feeds into the issues of censorship and political interference.

By way of a singular example, the much-touted statistic that ‘half of all gamers are women’ only applies if you do count all those mobile and social media games, yet that statistic is used as a political bludgeon on console and PC games. While it’s true that gender disparity is closing across game genres and platforms it’s not accurate to say 50% when talking about ‘proper games’ and the women that do like ‘proper games’ tend to have as much of a problem with these gaming culture issues as the guys do (#NotYourShield).

So the immediate assumptions and aspersions cast towards the gamer community are almost immediately obvious here.

Of course, these people are wrong. Everyone who enjoys playing games, regardless of format or genre or budget, is a gamer.

And everyone who takes a picture of their penis and sends it someone is Larry Flynt. Right?

No. ‘Gamer’ is not the same as ‘plays games’, whether it’s computer games or otherwise. Grandma isn’t a ‘boardgame fan’ because she owns everyone at Monopoly every Christmas.

Back then it was almost as if playing video games was something to be ashamed of if you weren’t a schoolboy. If you knew of a girl playing games it was a big deal, and if you knew of an adult playing them it was even bigger.

The irony here, of course, being that now it’s people like the author who are shaming and bullying gamers, in large part via the spurious accusations of misogyny which this article just adds to by presuming this anti-female attitude or that women necessarily have a worse time of it in gaming. A claim with scant evidence reliant on shoddy research, which the recent ‘Losers‘ study serves as a fine example of.

Two things spring to mind. The first, frankly, is shush. Not only are the fears from some self-proclaimed gamers that their precious hobby is being taken from them by dreaded women and casuals completely unfounded, they’re single-minded and annoying to gamers like me who are adamant of one thing: they don’t speak for us.

The preceeding paragraph being a complaint that people object to the current model of ‘free to play’, DLC and ‘pay to win’ which this does nothing to support or to counter the objections. Instead it conjures up the spectre of of the misogynist gamer, a libellous accusation against a huge swathe of people and implicitly directed at Gamergate (despite all the women and minority gamers who are part of it).

This is a strawman argument, it always was. You’re the media, you’re supposed to speak for gamers, but if you’re that out of touch with gamers, how can you? Yet he – again – claims to have been a gamer for a long time, which renders it unlikely he’d be so utterly, breathtakingly ignorant of the community or would make these misogyny claims… unless he’s being disingenuous, which in turn suggests malice.

He goes on and on, further misdiagnosing the complaints, further throwing strawman misogyny etc claims and so on, again, implicit charges against Gamergate. Since the start Gamergate – and broader objections – have been against moral panic and censorship. People don’t object to games being open to more people, most gamers are evangelical about games, they object to certain practices and pressures upon games which are side effects of this, or the way in which this diversification is being used as a club to beat gaming over the head with.

Which Chris should know, if he knows gaming culture at all, which he should, which means this must – logically – be malicious.

Lots of people play games Chris, not all are gamers, which any gamer should know.

Now on to his blog post…

Game Journalism: That Prick

This was his reaction to the reaction he got to his previous article, which was – unsurprisingly – negative. People are utterly sick, at this point, of being mistreated, misrepresented and ignored. As a (very) late addition to the Gamers Are Dead articles AND a contradiction to them, little wonder he got angry responses.

The bulk of it is a rather tortured and extended metaphor with Games Journalism as if it were a real person growing up and doing various things as he does so. It’s pretty awful, so I’ll spare you the details, suffice to say it misses out a great deal and paints game journalism in a relatively glowing light.

While true early gaming journalism (Spectrum through to Atari/Amiga) days was a lot more fun and a lot more honest, the rot set in pretty early when you started getting ‘house organs’. Nintendo Power and the like weren’t actual journalism, they were PR mouthpieces and White Dwarf clearly stole the idea circa 1990 or so (around WD100) when it ditched being a general RPG mag and became a glorified shopping catalogue as well.

Mention of this aspect of early games journalism is conspicuously absent.

When he gets to the internet age he seems to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the consumer.

The immediacy of the internet also led to a greater need to report on this sort of gaming news. Magazines tended to focus on game previews and reviews because by they knew by the time they were printed and published any news in them would be out of date. But on the internet Games Journalism could now deliver news quickly.

We wanted to know things, we were interested in our hobby and, somehow, this was a bad thing and the demand could only be met by games journalists acting like dicks, apparently.

Because happy people are generally quiet people, this meant the majority of voices making themselves heard in Games Journalism’s comments sections and forums were actually those from the negative minority.

Listening to them, Games started writing negative news stories, thinking it would generate more traffic. It was right. As is the case in general news reporting, scandal sells: a story about a game running better on Xbox 360 than on  PS3 got many times more traffic than one simply showing screenshots of a new game. People on the internet like arguing, and Games Journalism gave people a place to do it.

‘You gamers are terrible people and you made us engage in clickbait and shitty journalism, because reasons’.

This is the justification behind Gawker, and look how badly they’re doing now. Even though practically every other ‘journalism’ site has followed suit with sensationalist pseudo-trolling, we may be witnessing a die-back in clickbait journalism and there’s definitely a chance, an opportunity, here to carve out a niche in terms of actual, factual, well researched and well thought out reporting.

More irony here in that the ‘we’re all gamers’ article was negative bait itself.

These days, these arguments are no longer confined to squabbles among Games Journalism’s readership. In recent times Games Journalism itself has come under criticism, mainly from certain groups of angry people. For example, last year Games wrote an article explaining that ‘gamers’ are dead which enraged a small number of people more than willing to be offended. Yet just this week, it wrote another, this time called ‘We’re All Gamers’.

It’s worth reiterating at this point exactly WHY games journalism has come under attack.

It has forgotten what it’s for. When it’s not troughing PR money and free laptops it’s prosecuting extreme political agendas. Rather than defending gaming as it did in the 90s against the far right, it’s going along with the far left, even though the claims and threats to free expression and creativity are much the same and for much the same reasons. It’s rotten to the core, it treats its audience with contempt and it keeps pulling bullshit like these two articles.

Small numbers? Active participants in Gamergate (the implicit reference here) are hard to gauge, but a small estimate is 150,000 and with 50,000 some people on Kotaku in Action alone, this doesn’t seem unlikely. GamerGhazi on the other hand, the site of the opposition – claimed to be in a majority – can only garner the support of around 8,000 people on Reddit.

Gamers as a whole are generally not fans of censorship, as previous experience with Jack Thompson etc attest. It is absurd to think that anger is limited to Gamergate, or to a minority of ‘proper gamers’. The games media appears to be very much in the minority on this, and that requires examination as well.

To suggest that it is the people objecting to this treatment that are the ones ‘willing to be offended’ is just absurd. Gamergate, and the broader reaction against this stuff, is a reaction AGAINST the terminally offended who think everything is racist, everything is sexist and that the only solution is the ban or control everything or force everything into a world of checklist diversity and box-ticking inclusion.

Gamergate is part of a broader cultural war AGAINST those who wish to be offended by everything and thence to control it.

The ‘Gamers Are Dead’ article – as it’s usually referred to – that I mentioned above was actually one entitled ‘Gamers don’t have to be your audience: Gamers are over’. It was written by Leigh Alexander for Gamasutra eleven months ago (and, incidentally, doesn’t mention the word ‘dead’ at any point, but why let facts get in the way of hyperbole).

It wasn’t one article, it was a spate of them, seemingly coordinated, some of which did use such terminology and ‘over’ etc, which lead to them being collectively termed the ‘Gamers are Dead’ articles, but why let facts get in the way of minimising what was done and building another strawman?

I explained earlier why this was backtracking and contradictory, why it upset people and why journos are now seen as a hostile bloc already, so there’s no need to go over this again.

For good or ill, gaming journalism is now majoratively seen as hostile to its audience and as part of the problem. You have a lot to work against to overcome that Chris, and contributing – belatedly – to the ‘Gamers are Dead’ articles with a contradictory yet supportive article, with no research and little consideration is not going to help you. Nor is a follow-up blog feigning surprise that shitting on your audience and parading your ignorance of them upsets them.

Mind you, given that some of them are so distrustful that they’ll actually link to an archived version of this very article instead of the article itself so I don’t get any traffic from it (a practice that is legally dubious at best… at least it would be were it not for the fact that I don’t actually make any ad revenue for this site so they’re looking at a poorly formatted pirate copy of my article for no good reason), it would appear I’m somehow no friend of theirs.

It denies shitty sites ad revenue (if you want to be whitelisted, do better work) and ensures that the article in question cannot disappear by being altered or deleted – something which has been happening a fair bit. So again, you don’t understand what you’re talking about and haven’t taken the time to do the research.

Regardless, despite having never actually been properly involved in making my specific and detailed thoughts known on that sort of thing, I have lost count how many times I’ve been accused of corruption, hypocrisy and lies because of what “Games Journalism” has said in the past.

My response to these people is always the same. My name is not Games Journalism. My name is not Vice. My name is Chris Scullion.

And by writing a shitty pair of articles that implicitly or explicitly shit on your audience and expose how out of touch you are, you’ve shown that you too, are part of the problem. It might be unfair, but if Gamergate is going to be held responsible for the actions of trolls who have fuck all to do with it, then you can be held responsible for any bad thing any games journalist does. Given that the issues in games journalism seem to be systemic, it’s probably a lot fairer to hold you accountable, especially after these articles, than it is an anarchic hashtag.

But if anyone is ever exposed of corruption – and I mean proper corruption, not fellow professionals discussing the industry in a private forum – in no way does that give you the green light to go “AHA! PROOF that Games Journalism is corrupt.” If one person is ever proven to be corrupt, that one person is corrupt. The rest of us are not responsible for their actions. If a footballer bites another player, they’re banned. Not their team, not their league, certainly not their entire sport.

Chris asked for evidence of hypocrisy, well here it is. He’ll happily paint whole swathes of gamers as ‘angry teenagers’ and collectivise and broad-brush their opinion and imagined wrongdoings, but reverse the flow of accusation and he pitches a fit. That’s hypocrisy Chris.

I also can’t stress this enough: if you can’t just let an article lie and need to tell the writer you’re peeved, do so respectfully. If you tweet them with an attitude, dropping snarky, passive-aggressive comments or outright dishing out insults or abuse, you won’t get a reply: if anything, you’ll be blocked. Contrary to what you may think, this doesn’t mean they’re “hiding from the truth” or that you’ve won. It means you’re a fucksmith.

I also can’t stress this enough: If you can’t let something lie and just have to slag off your own audience and libel them all as misogynistic, reactionary shitlords, do so with a modicum of respect. If you write shitty, poorly researched articles calling them names, misrepresenting their complaints or outright abusing them you’ll get an angry response. Contrary to what you think, this doesn’t mean your shitty article was right, it means you’re part of the problem.

Follow your own fucking advice and stop contributing to the problem. Make the minimal effort it actually takes to know what you’re talking about, get back in touch with gaming culture, learn how to filter trolls from genuine disagreement and write better articles.

Or you’re just a fucksmith.

#News Internet Reporting: Tyler the Creator Barred from Oz

A couple of days ago I made this video, a sort of ‘how-to- guide to avoid a great deal of the internet reporting mistakes that most news outlets slip into. By great fortune, an event fell into our collective lap to show how media fails to report on the internet, and how these guidelines might help.

Rapper ‘Tyler the Creator‘ has – allegedly (at time of writing this was not confirmed) been denied entry into Australia to do a show, largely due to the agitation of a feminist organisation called ‘Collective Shout’ and in particular one of their members Coralie Alison.

You already know you’re in for a bumpy ride when online feminism is concerned, but when you involve the rap community, a controversial rapper, and you account for the fact that Tyler is known to many people for this tweet…

cyber-bullying-tyler-the-creator

Then you know things are going to get extra interesting, wise as the tweet is.

So to recap, a rap performer has (allegedly) been denied a visa to perform in Australia, due to the intervention of a feminist group. How is this being reported?

Not very responsibly.

It’s being reported in terms of ‘misogynistic hate mobs’ attacking feminist activists, and the fact that they have successfully (it would seem) prevented an ‘undesirable person’ from entering their country to practice their free expression has been largely ignored. I mean, it’s obvious that the only reason anyone might be angry or upset is because these people are women, right? It couldn’t have anything to do with censorship, authoritarianism or lack of understanding of rap culture, could it?

Let’s apply the rules…

1. Am I being trolled?

Yes.

A huge amount of the abuse etc directed at Coralie and vice versa appears to be trolls. There are egg account, low volume accounts, brand new accounts and clearly dedicated trolling accounts all involved. Much of the ‘worst’ of the abuse can be dismissed as irrelevant trolling that isn’t representative of either side.

2. Understand what a troll is

In addition to the above, many of the angry people have genuine reasons to be angry. They’re not trolling or being abusive or harassing, but expressing their outrage and anger over what has happened. They have legitimate beef, as do the anti-censorship activists and others. Disagreement, however strongly, doesn’t make one a troll, abuser or harasser.

3. Understand online movements

Reaction here is organic. Individual people and existing networks of interested parties (such as anti-censorship groups) have latched on because the controversy fits their interests. This is very different to organised harassment, it’s emergent behaviour.

4. Understand Chan/Anon culture

Tyler’s tweet on cyberbullying virtually makes him a patron saint of anon/chan culture. So if he gets in trouble it’s going to draw them. Amongst the trolls you’ll find plenty of people expressing their anger in less-than-pc terms, but this still isn’t evidence of misogyny or other nasties, their anger is legitimate, they’re just not saying it in a way the general public is used to. A tech reporter should know better. What’s happened also plays into identity politics, which is the philosophical opposite to anon/chan.

5. Be Fair

The story is being reported in a one-sided fashioned, centred around the supposed misogynistic abuse of the people responsible for the censorship and visa denial (allegedly) and downplaying the fact that a huge act of artistic censorship has taken place. The other side of the story should be more important, especially since it plays into the motivation of those who have objected and explains their anger. It also annihilates the (pre-existing) ‘harassment of women online’ narrative by making it clear that what’s being hated is not women, but a specific group of feminists and one particular woman, because of something they have done. Not what genitals they have. This is not misogyny, but giving a woman or group of women a free pass when they do something wrong (like censor an artist) ‘because vagina’, is sexism.

6. Clickbait and Gonzo

Gonzo isn’t a problem here, but clickbait is. ‘WOMAN TARGETED BY SEXISTS!’ will draw attention, play into an existing culture war and cause comment battles, all of which means clicks. It’s not, however, an accurate reporting of the story. This may be made worse by the fact female journalists are the one female group that has been shown to get a bit more abuse online than the norm – which is fairly equal.

Conclusion

So what would a responsible and informed report look like?

Well, to hit the main points…

A controversial rapper has (apparently) been denied a visa to enter Australia and perform, thanks to the influence of a feminism pressure group. This censorship, enacted on their behalf by the Australian government has caused a significant online backlash on social media against the office of immigration and the feminist group, particularly Coralie. I would then compare this to the deportation of Islamic extremists or the barring of entry to the UK which was enacted on pick-up artist Julien Blanc.

The most important aspect here is the censorship and the angry reaction to it. It’s irresponsible to claim this is misogyny (hatred of women for being women) when there is a very clear and obvious cause and effect, and it’s irresponsible to lump those with legitimate anger and outrage in with obvious trolls or a fringe minority of genuine abusers.

What do you think?

Rape & Fear – What is a Rational Level of Fear?

woman-walking-alone-night-426705

NB: Bitter experience suggests I can’t expect people to parse this correctly. The point is, is the level of fear proportionate to the risk? Is it a rational level of fear? What IS a rational level of fear and threat mitigation? Isn’t more harm done by the fear, than the thing itself? I welcome discussion, but not accusations. Nobody is excusing or covering for rape, or trying to say it isn’t bad.

‘Not having to be terrified when walking home at night’ often seems to come up as an example of ‘male privilege’, but is this a rational thing to fear, is the degree of fear rational?

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales men are about 50% more likely than women to suffer any kind of assault against the person, up to and including all forms of sexual assault, yet men do not fear this to anything like the same degree that women do. Why is this? Do men underestimate risk or do women overrate risk?

We also know that 4/5 of sexual assaults against women are from people known to the victim, rather than random strangers in balaclavas, lurking in alleyways.

In England and Wales in the most recent data I could find, there were around 22,000 rapes annually. Even if we round that up to 25,000 to account for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the UK population is about 64,000,000 (50% female) making that around a 0.08% chance of being raped, annually, much less in reality since multiple instances often happen against the same person and with our 4/5 stat that a 0.016% chance of a random sexual assault in the street. This isn’t completely accurate as I haven’t accounted for the rapes and sexual assaults of men, but it shows a general level of risk and men’s statistics are hard to come by on these crimes anyway.

Yet this fear is overriding for many woman. Something that guides everything from how they dress, to the choice to carry a weapon, to not go out at all, to pay extra money for taxis and so on. The fear has a much greater negative overall impact on collective female happiness than the act of sexual assault itself. Men do not carry the same level of fear of being assaulted at all, despite – statistically – being at greater risk and being at greater risk of being injured or killed.

Are the women over-assessing their risk, or are the men under-assessing their risk? What level of risk is it rational to so utterly alter one’s behaviour for and to live in fear of?

Compare with the statistics for car accidents. Around 180,000 traffic accidents happen annually in the UK, many times the risk a woman faces of being sexually assaulted. About a 0.3% risk, annually. Yet people do not act with anything like the same level of fear every time they cross the road or get into a car.

There’s a thing colloquially called ‘The Daily Mail Effect’ which is a phenomenon where, despite crime rates having dropped consistently since the 90s, people with a certain kind of media intake believe it has gone up. There are pensioners shut up in their houses, behind locks like a fortress, because of their massive over-assessment of the level of risk and criminality around them. It severely, negatively impacts people’s lives.

I propose that the fear of rape may be a similar phenomenon, a fear that is grotesquely overrated compared to the level of risk, and one that is massively, negatively impacting on people’s lives.

It’s clear that many people are too emotionally invested in this to have a conversation about it, but to me that just makes it seem more important that this sort of thing be examined coolly, calmly and rationally, looking at the facts.

What is a rational level of fear? Rape is something that happens, but rarely. So are car accidents. So are assaults on men. Why do we fear rarer, less deadly events more than more common, deadlier events?

At what level of risk does it make sense to drastically alter your actions and life choices?

Does not this degree of fear, over such an unlikely event, qualify as a phobia?

What do you think, and what’s your reasoning?

NB: Psychology offers a few insights into why we may be so bad at relative risk assessment, at least on an instinctive level:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200712/10-ways-we-get-the-odds-wrong

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-inertia-trap/201303/why-are-people-bad-evaluating-risks

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/wrong-about-risk-blame-your-brain/

http://freakonomics.com/2011/11/23/the-truth-is-out-there%E2%80%A6isn%E2%80%99t-it-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/

A ‘Talkorigins’ for #Gamergate

(This is a model for an ongoing post, if you have examples of claims against Gamergate, or want to make one that’s missing from here, I’ll work on adding it. Your own complete posts are also welcome to be added, follow the same format).

Origins

Claim GO001 – Gamergate Originated with the Harassment of Zoe Quinn

Abuse

Claim GA001 – Gamergate Published an Ebook fictionalising the Rape of Zoe Quinn
Claim GA002 – Gamergate is a Misogynistic Harassment Movement
Claim GA003 – Gamergate has Targeted Women for Harassment (Sarkeesian, Quinn, Wu)

Origins

GG001 – Gamergate Originated with the Harassment of Zoe Quinn
While ‘The Zoe Post'[1] by Eron Gjoni about his ex girlfriend Zoe Quinn uncovered some of the conflicts of interest and potential corruption which sparked off Gamergate, Gamergate itself didn’t come about until much later – sparked by Adam Baldwin’s use of it as a hashtag[2]. Gamergate, then, originated as a move away from ‘TheQuinnspiracy’ and ‘FiveGuys’ which were salacious, borderline abusive and prurient, while Gamergate fixated upon the ethics issue. Ironically for those who keep saying ‘change the tag’, Gamergate itself was a ‘change the tag’, though it made no difference to the smear tactics.

Quite apart from being untrue as the origin of Gamergate, this would – in any case – be a ‘genetic fallacy’ [3], rendering it invalid as an argument. One need only look at all the change Gamergate has managed to enact[4] and the problems it has catalogued[5] to see that.

TL;DR: ‘Quinnspiracy’ and ‘FiveGuys’ were – arguably – harassing of Quinn, or at least laughing at her expense. Gamergate came later and was explicitly concerned with issues of ethics and censorship.

[1] The Zoe Post
[2] Baldwin Tweet
[3] Genetic fallacy
[4] Gamergate Achievements
[5] Deepfreeze

Abuse

Claim GA001 – Gamergate Published an Ebook fictionalising the Rape of Zoe Quinn
No, it didn’t and – in fact – led the charge to get it taken down. As it happened the author came on to Kotaku in Action and explained at length why they did it, that it wasn’t a rape book and that they were nothing to do with Gamergate.

TL;DR – Nothing to do with Gamergate, according to the author, not a rape book either according to the author. Gamergate helped get it taken down [2].

[1] The author talking.
[2] Story admits Gamergate worked to remove it.

Claim GA002 – Gamergate is a Misogynistic Harassment Movement
While Gamergate has taken issue with corrupt women, it has also taken issue with corrupt men. While it has taken issue with poorly researched studies of games by women, it has also taken issue with poorly researched studies of games by men. The claims of misogyny require one to ignore all the men whose wrongdoings have been uncovered and catalogued by Gamergate[1]. Claims of misogyny and harassment have been a handy deflection, but the truth of the matter is that Gamergate cares about what people have done, not their genitals. It also seems unlikely that a misogynistic harassment movement would contain so many women[2] including feminists[3]. It also seems unlikely that a misogynistic harassment movement would give so much money to help women get into games development[4]. A feminist group helping Twitter support deal with harassment did a survey at one of the heights of Gamergate and found that only 0.66% of a very loosely defined Gamergate sample had anything to do with harassment. This is not statistically significant and much of this was down to trolls or multiple reports on single accounts[5].

TL;DR: Gamergate cares about what you do, not what genitals you have. It has supported women in gaming and is supported by leading, dissenting feminists. It contains many women. All very strange things if this accusation is true.

[1] Deepfreeze
[2] NotYourShield
[3] Christina Hoff Sommers
[4] The Fine Young Capitalists
[5] WAM report clears Gamergate

Claim GA003 – Gamergate has Targeted Women for Harassment (Sarkeesian, Quinn, Wu)
Sarkeesian and Quinn had been being trolled for some time prior to Gamergate[1]. As outspoken feminists who gratifyingly reacted to their critics, they were always favourite targets for trolls who are always looking for that reaction. Again, as you can see from the problem people listed on Deepfreeze[2] the people who have been causing problems, and thus have been targeted by Gamergate, are of both (all?) genders.

These figures have certainly been disagreed with and argued with, but not harassed – at least not any harassment with any link to Gamergate. For example, Sarkeesian’s ‘Week of Harassment’ story contained obvious trolls, things which weren’t harassment (disagreement, argument, objections) and virtually nothing had any link to Gamergate and that which did seemed to mostly be one-off use of the tag, coat-tailing.

TL;DR: Gamergate targets problematic people, regardless of genitals. These figures are perfect trolling targets but all sides have been targeted by trolls[4].

[1] Article on Sarkeesian and trolls from 2012, before Gamergate.
[2] Deepfreeze
[3] Anita’s Week of Abuse
[4] Gamergate Harassment

#WhiteGenocide is Utter Bullshit

rainbow_puke_hitler_by_naigora49-d31znyiOf late I’ve been wrangling with a few white supremacist loons on Twitter from the nonsense-hashtag #Whitegenocide, all thanks to my friend there @Seculawyer who seems to have been sparring with them for a while. Supposedly, according to these lunatics, we’re currently in the middle of some sort of ‘white genocide’. I mean, just take a look at their absurd website HERE.

In a moment of delicious irony they kept trying to guess my race, as a means to dismiss me based on pure racial stereotype, but couldn’t get it right. For the record, I’m Caucasian, at least as much as any mongrel Brit can claim to be anything.

Now, personally, I’m not aware of any Caucasian targeting death camps anywhere and somehow the wholesale slaughter of white people has escaped global attention in a world of satellite imagery, drone strikes and where – while challenged – western, white-dominated countries that would take exception to such mass slaughter still exist.

Oh, but that’s not the definition of ‘genocide’ that they mean. Never mind that the OED confirms that genocide is:

“The deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.”

No, they use a fallacy of redefinition, transparently using ‘genocide’ to yank on people’s emotions and fears, and instead what they mean is a legalistic definition, found in one of their ‘memes’, here:

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As I say, the reason for doing this is transparent and obvious. They’re cashing in on the emotional appear and fearmongering effect of the word ‘genocide’ and then using this as a backtrack from that obvious hyperbole, despite it no longer meaning actual genocide.

Still, let’s play along.

Even if we go along with their shenanigans, none of this is happening either. All of these points are subsidiary to the destruction of a nation or ethnicity.

  • Is there any targeted killing of white people that would destroy them? No.
  • Is there any targeted bodily or mental harm that would destroy them? No.
  • Is anyone inflicting on white people conditions (famine, lack of medical care for example) that would destroy them? No.
  • Is anyone deliberately sterilising or separating white men and women, forcing abortions on whites only? No.
  • Is anyone taking away white children and giving them to people of other ethnicities to eradicate ‘whiteness’? No.

The one place you might have a case in the modern world might be the current despotism in Zimbabwe and the ethnic cleansing – not genocide – of white farmers there. Even then, this is more a result of propaganda and blaming, stirring up the mob, than explicit policy. It’s still bad and doesn’t get enough international attention, but genocide it ain’t.

So what does their ridiculous site offer up as examples of ‘white genocide’?

Well you can go and look for yourself, but this is where it all gets a bit more complicated and interesting.

While nothing they show is indicative of ‘white genocide’, much of it does come down to levels of hypocrisy over racism going on in the world and provocative and nonsensical statements around race and other issues of inequality. The febrile atmosphere around racial issues – most especially in the US – is feeding dangerously into these people’s delusions and their sense of being persecuted and wronged.

There is racism against whites, albeit not that powerful or widespread, and every time someone (like Bahar Mustapha) claims that they ‘can’t be racist against white people’ it fuels the paranoia of these nutters.

Every time special consideration is given to Islam within the school or legal systems, these idiots see justification for their racism (never mind that Islam isn’t a race).

When ‘diversity quotas’ and positive discrimination, both of which are indeed horribly racist, are excused or gain traction, genuine white supremacists feel validated.

It doesn’t matter that these people are fringe loons, they’ve reached a sort of parasitic alliance with their counterpart lunatics on the other side. When a social justice warrior does something insane related to race, genuine white supremacists get validation and feel vindicated. When white supremacists say or do something equally insane on their side, the SJW element can point at them as ‘part of the problem’ and to justify their own extremism.

It’s an arms race of lunacy and it’s no good for anyone. It also serves as a great example of why identity politics creates huge problems in a way genuine egalitarianism and secular, fair culture does not.

There’s likely more genetic difference between me and another Caucasian than there is between me and a member of another race on the basis of race, racial differences are minuscule and insignificant. It only has the power to create divisions where you regard it as important, and that is the dangerous area in white neo-nazi lunatics and Social Justice Warriors meet.

Race and Crime

spy-vs-spy1Prompted by the spat AtheismIsUnstoppable appears to be having on Youtube with various people, I thought I’d look into this myself. Now, the statistics are incredibly hard to get right so I have very little confidence in what I’ve put here save in the absolute broadest strokes. Hence I’m not bothering with citations. I encourage you to look yourself to see just how hard it is to drill down to the necessary data.

It’s almost as though there’s something to hide :-/

Incarceration Rates
Black 4.7% of adult male population
White 0.7% of adult male population

So what accounts for this?

  • Black people are around 30% more likely than whites to live in the inner city, a situation which correlates with increased crime rates.
  • Black people are around 30% more likely than whites to be poor, a situation which correlates with increased crime rates.
  • Black people are around 10% less likely to complete high school, 10% less likely to complete some college, 13% less likely to get a BA and 5% less likely to get an advanced degree.

These all crossover to a greater or lesser degree, but it’s fairly safe to say that this means that non-racial community differences can account for at least 1/3rd of the differences in crime rates, probably more. Poverty, and its attendant life-problems, is the single biggest factor in the ongoing difficulties of the black community.

So correcting for socioeconomic differences we’re looking at a very rough guesstimate of adjusted crime stats at:

Black: 1.57% (adjusted)
White: 0.7%

It’s still double (though probably a bit less) and that part that remains still needs to be accounted for.

Racism is undoubtedly part of that, as is racial profiling (which is statistically, if not ethically justified), however it’s unlikely that it is as much of a problem as is being made out as there are still other factors.

Culture may well also be a part of that, at least amongst young black men. Young black women defy many of the above statistics and are doing especially well in higher education. There may well be some valid critiques when it comes to ‘gangsta’ culture and the relative hopelessness of being a young black man in the inner city seeing few opportunities but crime (or outside bets like music or sports).

The major problem is socioeconomic though. If you want to make the biggest difference to poverty – and racism – the best way to do it is to tackle social inequality, the wealth gap, the lack of social mobility in American society as a whole.

Raising class consciousness and common ground between the poor and disenfranchised, across racial lines, will do far more for everyone than deepening racial divides, and the black community seems as guilty of that as any confederate flag-waving redneck. That’s possibly the greatest tragedy an outside observer of American culture sees, sadly.

Fisking Vocativ’s Shoddy #Gamergate Piece

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The original can be found HERE.

Gamergate’s zombie horde of trolls have struck again. This time, the target was Canadian journalist, author and PhD candidate Natalie Zed, slammed for trying to discuss gamergate for an entire conference without publicly saying the word: gamergate.

Gamergate and trolls are two very different phenomena, though both Gamergate and anti-gamergate attract trolls in their wake because trolls like a) drama (which gamergate provides) and b) lolcows (which anti-gamergate provides).

Zed has become a target of ire for a number of reasons, but not least amongst them is that – if anything – she has been a troll. Calling people ‘Deatheaters’ as a means of talking behind their back is simultaneously trollish (designed to cause a reaction) and sneaky. That she has been a gigantic arsehole to anyone and everyone who challenged her hasn’t helped her.

She’s hardly a ‘very brave woman’, as this article would seem to be trying to say. Not a victim, an antagonist. Nor was she helped by the fact that she is, essentially, a walking stereotype. A blue-haired, gender-studies, militantly misandrist feminist who offers nothing but abuse to her critics and then plays the victim.

Last week, Zed attended the Canadian Game Studies Association’s 2015 conference as a panelist. In the opening comments, the organizers asked attendees to refrain from using the Gamergate hashtag, even though many of the panels were focused on the Gamergate phenomenon (depending on your perspective, either a debate about ethics in gaming, mostly focused on the sexism in games and gaming culture, or a vitriolic campaign of hatred directed at women who dare venture into the gaming industry).

So the question would be – why hide? Gamergate doesn’t troll, but it does take issue with bad ideas, poorly presented ideas, unevidenced ideas and attacks on or dishonesty about the gaming community. If these attendees were not engaged in any horrible behaviour they should have nothing to hide and IF they were genuine academics they should welcome challenge and engagement from the public they allege to speak to and for, as it should lead to better work.

Gamergate IS a campaign for ethical games journalism and against censorship. The ‘hate campaign’ thing is a false narrative thrown up to deflect and distract (or as a publicity exploit). Anyone who honestly researches it and talks to members of the movement will know this. It’s not obfuscated at all.

So the question then becomes ‘what were they hiding?’ and since this #deatheaters thing and Zed were exposed, that was brought to light.

The imposed twitter silence was an effort both to protect attendees from Gamergate troll hostility and to prevent Gamergaters from hijacking the online conversation about the conference, rendering Twitter useless for attendees.

Again. Gamergate are not trolls, trolls are not Gamergate. Dissent, examination, discussion, debate, these are not the actions of trolls. Participation is not hijacking. Gamergate is certainly capable of taking over and destroying bad-faith hashtags, as it has done repeatedly to unethical hashtags, but an honest discussion will always be welcomed. GG is keen on honest and open debate yet its opposition will not engage honestly.

Zed tweeted some thinly-veiled frustration. Then she compared the fear of Gamergate trolls to the fear of Lord Voldermort in the Harry Potter series.

Still not trolls and Gamergate is the very antithesis of authoritarian stormtroopers. From Gamergate’s point of view the people one finds in these conferences or trying to censor and control geek media are much more akin to such forces.

The evil wizard is known in the Harry Potter series as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and the conference organizers correctly warned that anyone mentioning #Gamergate risked attracting a deluge of attackers. It’s a completely rational fear, as women who have engaged with Gamergate in the past have been targeted. For instance, trolls shared game designer Zoe Quinn’s address and personal details, and threatened to murder and rape game-studio co-founder Brianna Wu.

Again. Dissent, discussion and participation are not ‘attacks’. This constant mischaracterisation is not productive and only widens the gap. This is not a rational fear at all. Women have not been targeted by Gamergate, unethical and dishonest people have been exposed but gender is irrelevant.

Zoe Quinn has little or nothing to do with Gamergate, Gamergate didn’t dox her, Gamergate never threatened to murder or rape anyone. No threats have been deemed credible by law enforcement (Wu’s weren’t even reported to the police it now seems) and her most notorious troll was a ‘performance artist’ with no links to Gamergate. Indeed the ONLY credible threat, according to the authorities, was the bomb threat against the GG in DC meeting.

Zed then referred to Gamergate trolls as Death Eaters, after the group of wizards who follow Voldemort. #Deatheaters took off among conference attendees, panelists and followers. “It was a really effective way to communicate for the duration of the conference,” Zed says. “People could talk about their work without bringing down a giant torch storm on everyone that was there.”

Still not trolls. It’s worth mentioning here that members of Gamergate have also been doxxed, threatened, had pictures of them masturbated over, have been sent needles, razorblades and other disgusting things, have had their jobs threatened (or lost), have been thrown out of conventions and much more. Genuine consequences much more often, I think, than AGGros.

The entire conference went smoothly, free from gamergate interference. But then, someone said the word that must not be said.

“Literally during the closing remarks on the very last day someone from the official Twitter account used the word ‘Gamergate’,” Zed says. “The tweet was up for about ten minutes before somebody else caught it and deleted it.”

But it was too late. The zombies had stirred. “Somebody said the word and that’s what it does—it brings the scary part of the Internet to you.”

As they saying goes, ‘talk shit, get hit’. It’s not that Gamergate just waits to be mentioned and descends. It looks for bad practice and promotion of the false narrative about itself – and then it objects – strongly. It also has an eye out for bullshit, such as seems to often be promulgated at these conferences. Again, this kind of vigorous dissent and ‘peer review’ should really be welcomed by these academics, if they were really academics rather than pseudo academics.

Gamergate is not, in any way, the ‘scary’ part of the internet, unless you’re the sort of person who jumps at their own shadow.

Ironically, or perhaps as one would expect, Zed, who tried to shield the conference from the Gamergate trolls, became their target. “I was in a car and drove from Ottawa to Montreal, and went to bed. And when I woke up in the morning I had 275 notifications in my Twitter and discovered that overnight Gamergate had figured out the hashtag and figured out who I was and what was going on.”

Provoking people is not shielding anyone, it draws ire, it doesn’t defuse it. If Zed – and indeed the whole conference – had engaged honestly and openly with Gamergate none of this would have happened. Zed’s trolling and a degree of ‘say it to my face’, coupled with her – and others – later aggression, lack of academic chops is what gave things a negative slant.

Gamergate has essentially been exonerated from the harassment narrative thanks to the WAM report and due to SPJ taking its concerns seriously enough to host AirPlay. Articles such as this and attitudes such as Zed’s, furthering the false narrative, serve no useful purpose towards bringing this chapter of gaming history to a close.

Over the next 24 hours, about 19,000 mocking and threatening tweets were tagged with #deatheaters.

I watched Zed closely and the threads closely. I’ve been involved in Gamergate since its precursors. I saw no threats. Mockery? Plenty. Criticism? Yep. Dissent? You bet. Discussion? Sure. Threats? No.

According the Zed, trolls have now rendered her Twitter unusable because she’s getting hundreds of notifications a day—mostly abusive tweets, Japanese anime porn pics and invitations for debate. They have taken to criticizing the validity of her work and her appearance, all of which ramped up once they discovered Zed is working on a PhD on Gamergate. Trolls sent out hundreds of negative tweets with the hashtag #gamergatephd. They’re currently bombarding her employers with requests to to disqualify Zed from her program on the (invalid) grounds that openly criticizing the phenomenon is a conflict of interest. Some have suggested showing up en masse at her upcoming speaking engagements or buying up all the domains associated with her name to influence search engine results for Zed, so that any potential employer searching for her would find something offensive rather than her actual professional profile.

Still not trolls, but it is extremely likely that – having established herself as someone who will react – she has now also drawn trolls. Given her abusiveness and dismissal towards people some may well have resorted to ‘shitposting’ through frustration, but saying that they’re victimising her because of it is akin to victim blaming. Why invitations to debate should be considered in the same field as trolling, I’m not sure.

Yes her work and her attitudes are under intense scrutiny and criticism – and again a real academic should welcome this.

The part about her hostility is just bizarre. Would you trust a Neo-Nazi to produce a useful or accurate study on the Jewish community, or vice versa? Zed is extremely hostile to Gamergate and has shown through her ‘discussions’ that she knows fuck all about it and is wedded to promoting the false narrative, rather than learning what it really is. These are not – or at least should not – be the actions or attitudes of any would be academic.

The rest of this seems like legitimate protest towards a hateful person who is lying about them. Not harassment but consequences for an unethical and abusive person. Were the situation reversed, people would be praising such moves to protest. Consider things like the reaction to CH Sommers appearances at American universities. It seems when the same tactics are used in the other ‘direction’, people finally start to see why they might be problematic.

Zed seemed to handle the backlash well, batting away her harsher critics with sarcasm.

This is the very opposite of handling things well. For trolls it is giving them what they want, a ‘butthurt’ reaction. For Gamergaters is only cements her position as an ignorant and unethical pseudo-academic.

Offline, she shows even more resolve. “What I’ve learned is that when you actually get them isolated from the mob and treat them as human beings and have a conversation you see how much pain there is behind that hostility,” Zed says. “I’ve had conversations with people who genuinely feel that there’s not a place for them and they think that this thing that has always been a place for them is somehow being taken away. It’s really gutting to see how much pain there is behind that hostility.”

This is more hopeful sounding, but it’s also massively patronising and not genuinely reflective of the issues Gamergate has. This is simply a ‘softer’ way of trying to say that Gamergate is scared of change, women, diversity, minorities. That isn’t the case at all and if you don’t believe me, just ask #NotYourShield.

But she still doesn’t think that warrants the volume of abuse she, and others, have endured. “As heartbreaking as that is, I fully respect everyone who has been attacked by this monolithic hostile anger. It’s ruined lives and it’s put people in genuine danger. I don’t want to make light of the real damage. It’s sad to be so lonely, but you don’t get to take that out on anyone.”

Again. Dissent, disagreement, criticism and examination are not abuse. Nobody’s life has been ruined and the only people who have had real consequences have been unethical journalists who, frankly, SHOULD have consequences for their actions. Pseudo-academics probably should to. The standards of academic research and discourse around games and other nerd media are frankly appalling. We deserve better.

Let’s end on a positive note.

If you want to ‘get away’ with discussing Gamergate without drawing ire…

  1. Don’t hide.
  2. Treat Gamergate with respect and openness.
  3. Discuss, debate and engage – honestly.
  4. If you call yourself an academic, be one.
  5. Block the trolls without blaming Gamergate for them.
  6. Don’t go on hearsay, ask.

Treat Gamergate and their concerns with respect and you’ll be treated just fine, even celebrated, even if you still disagree.