Internet Harassment: A Different Narrative


Read plebcomics. They give lulz.

I wasn’t entirely sure which of my blogs was the best fit for this article, but I decided – in the end – that the one devoted to skepticism and atheism would win out, because this is very much about skepticism. I am going to be talking about some particulars of my experiences though and those relate primarily to gaming and gamer/geek culture.

For those who don’t know, I’m a tabletop game designer. I’ve written many books and games and worked for Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Mongoose Publishing and others. I’m currently the creative director of Chronicle City, but for about a decade I’ve been freelancing and self-employed under the banner ‘Postmortem Studios’.

This is just to establish some background. TL;DR I have been an indie game designer for some years, with something of a profile and a degree of exposure and niche fame/notoriety.

I’m also a straight, white, vaguely middle class (in education and mores, rather than money), cisgendered male.

I also suffer from bouts of moderate to severe depression which can reach suicidal levels and I’ve been to the brink of suicide three times in my life.

I say this not to garner any particular degree of sympathy, monetary donations or anything else. I don’t really expect (or want) you to treat me any differently because of my illness, I mention it because it underlines some points I’m about to make and because being open about having a mental illness helps others.

So. I’m a straight, white, cisgendered, male, ‘middle class’, gamer nerd. This means, by the current narrative, that I am an avatar of everything that is wrong in the world and – likely – a bigoted internet troll. That’s the story that we have, that people like me are the problem and that the targets of concerted internet harassment are women, people of colour, LGBT people and so forth.

Well, I’m here to tell you that this isn’t necessarily the case.

For years now I have been subjected to abuse, disinformation, threats, slander and libel in a seemingly unending stream. Initially this was because I wrote an article defending the use of rape (and any other unpleasantness) as a plot or story element. This drew the wrath of the ‘social justice warrior’ crowd and ever since I have been pilloried and any work I have put out has been gone over with a fine toothed comb for anything that can be twisted around into something ‘problematic’.

Harassment against me has included, but not been limited to:

  • Death threats.
  • Rape threats against my wife.
  • Threats to kill my pet cats.
  • Petitions to browbeat any potential employers not to hire me.
  • Hit blogs.
  • Twitter harassment.
  • Harassing comments on my blogs.
  • Facebook harassment.
  • Threatening emails.
  • False accusations of making rape threats.
  • False accusations of rape (!)
  • Harassment and threats made against people who do work with or employ me.
  • Attempts to undermine projects.
  • Whole ‘satirical’ products aimed at a strawman caricature of me.

I’m not going to go into details on this stuff from the past, but I am going to make a case-in-point in a minute. However, there’s a couple of things worth pointing out at this stage. While much of this came from anonymous internet trolls and can – in my opinion – safely be ignored (and I wish more people would realise this) much of it did not. Much of it came from social justice keyboard warriors who felt no need to hide their faces or where they were coming from and continue to operate their accounts today.

This still goes on today.

Currently I’m seeking support for an RPG and (separately) a worldbook based on the controversial fantasy novels of John Norman – The Gorean Cycle.

This is, apparently, ‘asking for it’ and I’m ‘doing it for attention’ (doesn’t that remind you of troll comments about prominent feminism bloggers and youtubers?)

This has resulted in yet another torrent of abuse and hate from people who should know better, and indeed claim to know better when it’s someone who fits their political and social orthodoxy who is rocking the boat, rather than me.

As a case in point and limited to a single thread in a single forum, here’s a catalogue of the hatred directed towards me.

  • Childish
  • Claiming fantasy reflects real views
  • Despicable
  • Dishonest
  • Faking it for attention
  • Horrible
  • Insane
  • Kink shaming (a LOT of kink shaming)
  • Liar
  • Loathsome
  • Misogynist
  • Misrepresentation of media appearances
  • Pathetic
  • Persecution complex (there’s irony for you)
  • Pervert
  • Plagiarism
  • Plagiarist
  • Pro-rape
  • Racist
  • Rape apologist
  • Rapey
  • Scam artist
  • Shitty
  • Silly
  • Sociopathy
  • Stupid
  • Terrible product
  • Thief
  • Toxic
  • Trolling
  • Victim blaming
  • Violent
  • Weasel-worder
  • Whining

And all this on a site that normally enacts a very strict policy regarding personal and group attacks, yet whose moderators only really stepped in once someone pointed out the divide between reality and fantasy and other people’s failure to acknowledge it. Were similar attacks and harassment being directed at someone making a game within their political/social orthodoxy this thread would no longer exist.

And it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So yes, this will just contribute to accusations that I’m ‘whining’ or ‘doing it for attention’ or to promote my current project, but it’s much more to do with the ongoing debates and fights in the broader nerd community. I just want to show that the narrative you’re being sold – that women and minorities get the harassment and the hatred and get squeezed out – isn’t the whole story.

Everyone gets harassed on the internet, and it’s not always by meaningless, anonymous trolls.


9 responses to “Internet Harassment: A Different Narrative

  1. Unfortunately, and I know a lot of people aren’t going to want to hear this, but so much of that is the liberal element. It’s the same thing that leads the Atheism+ assholes to pull the same thing. It’s part and parcel with the extremist left and there really isn’t anything that you can do about it except not associating with them at all and learning not to give a damn about what they say. I ended up walking away from years ago because you can’t say anything even the slightest bit controversial there without being jumped on and attacked. I saw it everywhere and I didn’t want anything to do with it so I left. I can certainly understand some people, particularly the professional victim crowd, not liking John Norman’s books, but hey, they don’t have to buy the sourcebook. Of course, that’s not what these liberal wankers want, they don’t want to simply walk away from a product, they want to ensure that nobody has the ability to buy the product and that the creator is properly and liberally chastised for even daring to consider such a thing. This kind of ridiculous “social justice warrior” nonsense is rampant in atheist circles but it doesn’t stop there. It’s everywhere and it’s equally ridiculous.

    • Oh, so you’re against social justice? You’re against women and oppressed minorities not being raped and sexually objectified, of fearing every moment of walking down the street? Equality not for you? Aww that’s too bad didums. No one wants you here you misogynist right wing shit lord MRA virgin.. grumble privilege grumble cishet grumble! /sarcasm

      I’ve seen the most innocuous comments attacked like this, their disagreement is tribal in nature. I don’t like the term liberal but I can get the gist of it, these SJW types are of the left. They treat people like groups and stereotype them out of intellectual laziness. The only group more hateful than them I’ve ever met were real racists, only because the racists actually attacked me. They just have a different flavor of bigotry.

      I will hear anyone out, try to be dispassionate and I don’t hold grudges easily, the treatment I’ve gotten from their type is basically the opposite. The truth is they don’t even care about what they complain about as long as they feel like they are on the right team. Case in point Jack Thompson. That man made all the same arguments as the SJWs on the supposed harmful effects of fiction except his boogieman was violence as opposed to sexism. He was basically burned in effigy in the gaming community and press, harassed, sent an endless stream of hate mail and received more credible threats than the crop of martyrs the incestuous online gaming press promotes. No one defended him or sent him money back then and no one would now even if the his agenda was brought up for the first time, why? White male.

      If a woman makes the same discredited points a white guy did 15 years earlier, they are suddenly valid. Harassment of unpopular nonsense talking males is ok, females under any circumstance? never. I swear this ideology is spread like an infection in college.

      • I am on the left. An ‘anarcho-socialist’ if you will. This isn’t really a left/right thing, ideologically, and these people certainly aren’t liberal.

  2. As someone who has lost a gamer friend to suicide, please know that there are people out there who understand and are always willing to help. Don’t let them get to you, that is exactly what they want.

    Full disclosure……
    I am a straight, white, cisgendered, male, ‘middle class’, Husband, Father, and gamer nerd.

  3. Oh wow the comments on that forum…they are literally the same arguments people make against Sarkeesian all the time. It’s so weird how these double standards work.

  4. Your complaint is interesting – partly because you identify as “cisgendered”.

    The term “cisgendered” is barely eight years old, first used by radical (i.e. socially right wing) lesbian and transgender academics to impose a label on those who are not transgender. It has gained an amazing amount of traction very quickly since then.

    Transgender people form as little as 2% of the population. The number who actually change their gender is even smaller. Yet, here you are, adopting a label given to you by another group which is specifically designed to mark you out as “other”.

    You are not “cisgendered” in any context but in a direct comparison with transgender. Please do not perpetuate this pejorative labeling of one group by another.

  5. Pingback: Gor, Games & #Gamergate | Postmortem Studios

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s