#Gamergate – Does Crowdsourcing Enable Fraud?

Again, not an academic, just a skeptic and rationalist. The next question I was asked was:

Show that Kickstarter enables and encourages fraud by game developers/abuse of the gaming press by game developers and/or those sympathetic to them in said press.

This is really a matter for the legal system, not an academic or scientific discussion per se. All I can really offer here is my opinion on the matter, but that’s a good opportunity to educate people a little on the issues surrounding crowdfunding and why they should – perhaps – be a little more wary. Consider this item usable as a future citation when building a case for or against crowdfunding.

I have run several successful crowdfunding campaigns. Including:

Crowdfunding is NOT PREORDERING. You have absolutely no guarantee that you will get anything at all when you back a project. You are making a MICROINVESTMENT not dissimilar to something like Kiva. You may get nothing at all, you may get the product or material being developed, you may get your investment back, you may not, you may get a bonanza of stretch-goal content.

DO NOT INVEST UNLESS YOU’RE PREPARED TO GET NOTHING AT ALL!

Now, obviously, no evidence required, it would be very possible to defraud people via these services and with varying degrees of evidence and court/investigative involvement this appears to have happened.

Buyer beware.

Keep in mind also that with the best will in the world, things can go wrong. Shipping costs can go up (often with fuel prices) partner businesses can go under (printers, component makers and so on), people can fall ill (happened to me), artists can get injured, divorces, house fires and so on. Many crowdfunders are very inexperienced in business and get carried away – especially with stretch goals (this happened to me and I’ve been making games for 15+ years). Costs can be underestimated. There’s a lot that can go wrong and if that scuppers the project you might lose out – but it’s not fraud.

Of course, what this question is really about is whether Anita Sarkeesian is a fraud.

In my opinion, yes.

Why?

She raised many times the amount required to meet her goal, yet has not delivered on even the basic promise yet, years later.

She lied about who and what she was.

She has stolen art

and video.

Lied about the veracity of threats.

And has a history of connections to dodgy businesses one step shy of pyramid schemes.

And there’s more.

This is sufficient for me – hell the ‘I’m not a gamer’ is enough for me, to consider her a fraud. Even without the rest.

She presents ideas that would be worthy of discussion (keyword: discussion), but she is the wrong person to do it and has probably tainted the conversation for at least a decade.

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#Gamergate – Influencing Sales. Are Reviews Relevant?

Once again, I’m not an academic. I see my role as criticising and exposing problems in pseudo-academia as it relates to research in the area of games, much the same way I see my role in debunking creationist arguments or exposing their flaws.

I’m bringing together the next two questions I was asked as they interrelate.

Show that the gaming media has a significant impact on game sales, to the point that corruption would impact game sales.

Show that the Let’s Play coverage style isn’t as or more influential than other forms of gaming media coverage (or to phrase it differently, show that GG’s decision to not include Let’s Players in the definition of game media reviews makes sense).

This hasn’t particularly been my assertion. My concern, rather, is over the effect media coverage has on devs, thought leaders, academia (and vice versa) and the role of hate mobs (genuine ones, rather than Gamergate) in creating self censorship. So I find myself in the odd position of being asked to prove something I don’t particularly consider relevant.

Still, there is a huge corpus of information out there about how sales are affected by reviews though much of the current research is concerned with how much customer reviews affect sales rather than how much professional reviews do.  To pick out just two (you can find plenty of others yourself and they broadly suggest the same thing) Dimensional Research‘s survey (2013) suggests 90% of customers are influenced by online reviews while The Cone Agency did a survey in 2011 that suggests around 80%. These are generally for all products and not hugely useful save to establish a sort of background expectation.

With gamers considered by many marketers to be more technologically and social media savvy it’s important to consider them in their own light and according to a recent ESA survey professional online reviews only account for about a 3% influence over gamers purchasing habits.

That’s not to be sniffed out, despite sounding small, when you look at the other parts of the survey showing that advertising (a huge budget drain) only accounts for 1% – according to the survey. By contrast, word of mouth is at 11% and the biggest factor (22%) is having an interesting story/premise.

It is, incidentally, interesting to compare this with the Waggener Edstrom survey of 2009 (it’s behind a paywall but pertinent information is here). In 2009 reviews were rated at 15%, which shows a considerable drop since then.

So I would actually disagree with the contention that reviews are an especially significant driver of sales. Somewhat, but nothing compared to word-of-mouth.

Where do Let’s Play’s feature in this? It’s hard to say since they’re really a form of word of mouth. Certainly the industry is taking greater notice of YouTube personalities and Let’s Play’s as a way to shift product as evidenced by the Shadows of Mordor scandal.

So, into opinion-land then. Let’s Plays are good for sales as they are essentially word of mouth and they allow the average punter to see the game being played and thus have a nearly direct experience of the gameplay. However, that doesn’t mean people can’t be paid to shill the games harder and there are other pathways by which this avenue could be corrupted. I won’t go into detail here for fear of giving people ideas, but hands-on play at conventions/via demos already has issues and there’s no reason this couldn’t extend to Let’s Play.

So what influence does the games media have then? Some via sales, but also some via the conversation and condemnation or praise. Much of this is hard to directly demonstrate without a decent study (I’d like to see one on the real influence of Let’s Play’s too) but bad review scores, even if they don’t affect sales, can and will affect bonuses and the greenlighting of sequels etc. As shown by the New Vegas/metacritic issues. The original tweet confirming this is missing, but there’s an archived image here and it is mentioned and reproduced in many news articles on the issue.

Perhaps devs should respond to this by paying less attention to their fears of reviews, and pay more attention to their customers. As things stand content is being changed or removed due to fear of negative press. One well known example being linked here, and another being Lucky Chloe (this one being more of an example of mob-censorship).

#Gamergate – Is Games Media Corrupt?

More conversations with the ‘opposition’, leading to conversations about the flaws in pseudo-academia raised in the previous blog. Now, I’m not a scientist or an academic. I’m a writer, game designer and, perhaps more applicably, a skeptic and rationalist. As such I don’t expect to be able to meet genuine academic standards, but I do expect self-proclaimed academics to conduct themselves in an honest and rigorous fashion. I see it as my ‘job’ to find errors and suggest ways to fix them. Still, I agreed to go along with requests to address some topics with evidence.

Show that corruption in the gaming media exists.

I do not think

(Kotaku, hostile site on the question of journalistic corruption so an article from there that admits that is a more effective evidential source. The writer – a games journalist – admits aspects of corruption as a primary source and links to further evidence of corruption in the form of Gerstmann-Gate, Doritogate and more with direct references to supporting evidence from places like Neogaf, Eurogamer, promotional tweets on Twitter, legal threats from Lauren Wainright and more. It also links to discussion blogs about problems in game journalism – secondary sources. There’s more, but this all rather demonstrates that anyone rejecting the source hasn’t looked at it).

at this point

(MTV Multiplayer, a site that has avoided the controversy so far but provides a reasonable summary – again with links – as a secondary source on Gerstmann-gate, also referenced and supported above. While it contains denials it also contains links to further data and evidence and as such provides a decent overview and curated list of further evidence).

that this is

(Erik Kain is neutral on Gamergate and one games reporter who has come through the scandals with reputation relatively intact from all sides. Again, Gerstmann-Gate is referenced, further reinforcing the previous sources on this issue. Again it acts as a usefully curated storehouse of evidence of this particular sub-scandal, Shadows of Mordor, including Totalbiscuit’s comments and those of Jim Stirling who also provides access to contract details. Kain is also a primary source on corruption himself, discussing a case of a review requiring approval prior to publication, which he refused. Boogie is another direct, primary source on this issue listed and presented in this article. Another reason to pick this source is that while admitting corruption again, as above, it is broadly hostile to GG and saying it should have taken this seriously. A hostile source – singly or collectively – that admits the case of its opponent has greater value. EG a first century Jew talking about Jesus and his miracles as a hostile witness carries more value than a first century Christian, precisely because it would be a hostile source).

in doubt.

(This ten minute video is a primary source, Alex Lifschitz. He is very much a hostile source and this is one of the presentations he made surrounding the whole issue. Side note, I found it interesting he used Magritte in the opposite way I do. About 4:50 is where he admits press junkets and corrupt attempts to pay off journalists.He then goes on to encourage his audience of journos and writers to overtly become corrupt on a political basis, rather than a ‘payola’ basis. To force a particular narrative – something that has already been going on for some time).

(Sources chosen, largely, to demonstrate that when they’re not the ones being corrupt the press is happy to tackle the issue or to openly admit corruption and to call for more, albeit on a different basis). I have also personally witnessed corruption in the form of threats to withdraw access to early-access and review copies if a review score was not changed (upward). Unfortunately I cannot go into detail on this issue, at least not publicly.

As a side note it is worth mentioning that out-and-out corruption is not the only issue. Loathe as I am to reference Zoe Quinn she makes a useful example, known to most people as a point of reference. If Ms Quinn got her positive coverage in exchange for sex (something virtually impossible to discern beyond reasonable doubt) that is corruption. What isn’t in doubt is that she did get positive coverage from people she had romantic/sexual/financial ties to. That is not corruption, but undeclared conflicts of interest are a breach of ethical standards. One which, fortunately, as a bare minimum, Gamergate seems to have gotten sites to enforce.

As a final commentary/opinion I would like to state that in my eyes I think Gamergate has been a hugely wasted opportunity for games sites. Here was a popular uprising against corruption which could have been used to free the sites in question from the AAA level corruption as well as the ideological corruption. Rather than leverage audience outrage to everyone’s advantage, they instead decided to turn on their audience and, well, here we all are.

Pax

***

The challenger’s reply in the comments provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the original problem that the challenge addresses. Namely that of bias in pseudo-academia. I’ll replicate it here beneath the article to cover and support that point, and as a future citation of flaws and unwillingness to accept evidence that contradicts pre-existing bias in pseudo-academia.

Now, your first paragraph is saying you don’t expect to meet academic standards, but since the challenge you agreed to provide proof for was that academics don’t adequately research things YOU know are true, and must therefore be able to prove, I’mma hold to you to them.

And this remains the case, and this reply adds further evidence to support that conclusion.

There are the sum total of the links you provided, w/ the text you used in quotes. Ignoring how profoundly you broke all the citing rules (bc, as you said, you are not educated in doing them), here is why exactly NONE are valid as direct proof of any claim you made.

Irrelevant. What’s relevant is whether they support what’s being claimed and, as such, provide evidence towards it. Placing song-and-dance over substance would appear to be another issue that would require addressing. It’s also a pointless distraction and an attempt to make a fallacious argument from authority. Argue the evidence.

“I do not think”(The Contemptible Games Journalist) – Secondary source. Does cite evidence for some stmts, but it isn’t a DIRECT first-person source. Arguably an op-ed. Not directly on-point.

It contains links and references to the story, allowing the reader to follow up (as do all the other sources). Of course, you have to bother to do the research. Something which seems… weirdly… to be anathema to people self-styling as academics. I’ve gone into further detail underneath the source above.

“At this point” (Gamespot’s Top Reviewer Fired) – Old, secondary source, I have yet to see confirmation of this being true, and you provided none. (Certaintly indication of corruption, I may personally BELIEVE it is true, but it isn’t PROVEN, so it could be part of cites for an indication the trend exists, not definitive proof.

Again, references links and support exist within the article and it’s child’s play to find more. See above.

“That this is”(Shadows of Mordor) – Relevance? Secondary source. You cited an op-ed article that cited a video of a guy saying he saw a contract that was given to someone else that proved companies are trying and failing to corrupt a Let’s Play-er, who is, by GG definition, not a reviewer.

See above.

“In Doubt” (The Treachery of Games) – Alex Lifschitz – Relevance? Failure to support point in correlation to citation. Seems to just be an op-ed you dislike, but at least it is a direct source.

Primary source damned out of his own mouth and calling for more corruption. You won’t really find much better witness evidence than that. Witnesses have their own issues and aren’t especially reliable, but nonetheless, it does support the contention that gaming is corrupt.

“Zoe Quinn got her positive coverage”: This is a cite to a wiki and therefore wholly invalid for academic purposes or as proof.

Same species of logic fail by arguing the source rather than the information, which is also referenced and linked from the wiki for more direct sources. An academic should know that dismissing information simply because it is referenced from a Wiki is not a logically defensible act but this kind of snobbery appears to also be part of the problem in pseudo-academia.

“Gamergate Seems to have gotten sites to enforce”: This is a secondary source, not on point, op-ed, among the organizations being accused of inaccuracy, and it quotes a broad spectrum of ppl w/o providing links to all of their stmts, or any form of citation for verification.

That’s actually me stating an opinion. The source contains a disclosure, thereby demonstrating that sites and writers – even those who have long been opposed to Gamergate – are now acceding to these basic demands.

“Turn on their audience” – This is a cite to a wiki and therefore wholly invalid for academic purposes or as proof.

Poisoning the well again, same logical fallacy as above. Argue the evidence, not the source.

You provided zero adequate citations, and therefore demonstrated no facts of any kind.

These are all citations and references to evidence which combined (and not even comprehensive) leave no reasonable doubt whatsoever that there is corruption in games journalism. Only an unreasonable person with massive pre-existing bias could ignore such. As such this reply now forms direct evidence of problems in academia surrounding logic, bias and refusal to accept evidence that contradicts that bias.

On a personal note, I had hoped I would be able to bridge this gap with this person and as such be able to start to address some of the broader problems. I feel like an idiot now for extending that trust.

***

The person in question gave their version of how they would go about it, which is functionally identical. Just like my initial post it contains primary sources, secondary sources and collations/opinion pieces with links and citations of their own. In effect – other than length, there is no significant difference in methodology or content. See here.

If held to her own standard…

State press is a secondary source, which apparently is enough to dismiss it if she’s held to the same standard she applies to others. This is also true of Gamefront, igameresponsibly, Boston Magazine, Kotaku and so on.

Links are given to Totalbiscuit and Jim Stirling, whose evidence is also present in my links. Presumably it can be dismissed similarly here because ‘reasons’.

Some additional sources that I, personally, would accept are also present, but they’re primary sources of the same ilk of Lifschitz damning himself and his industry out of his own mouth, which is somehow not valid.

The Zoe Post is referenced, which seems peculiar as I don’t consider it slam-dunk evidence of corruption, but rather other ethical breaches such as conflicts of interest. It was the spark that would lead to the uncovering of corruption, but what it provides is evidence towards a different concern – ethics and professionalism.

Of the sources presented I see nothing that is functionally any different to anything I provided, which goes to illustrate the double standard that games ‘academia’ – such as DiGRA – operates under, failing to apply the same rules and consider their own material to the same standard that they do critics of them. There are more sources and more detail is gone into than in my original post, but corruption is so egregious in games media, as proven by both articles, that this is just unnecessary.

#Gamergate – Fisking Pseudo-Academia

A person I’ve been having a – mostly – productive discussion with wanted me to look over THIS article.

So I did.

I have a general rule, instituted after talking with creationists, that I give articles or videos three ‘strikes’ before I give up on them. This helps avoid issues with the Gish Gallop and with wasting time on hours and hours of video of interminable nonsense.

Still, they asked nicely, so I’ll go through the entire article properly.

PHILADELPHIA — A “persistent and very terrible problem.” An “explosive harassment campaign.” An “extremist movement.” The “tea party of gaming.” That was how some panelists at Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: Conversations about Games, Gender and Diversity, a conference held at the University of Pennsylvania on Friday, described Gamergate, the movement purportedly surrounding ethics in gaming journalism that some have used to harass critics calling for more diversity in video games. Some of those critics are feminist scholars, a popular target among members of the Gamergate movement.

To those involved in Gamergate alarm bells will already be willing. Such assertions by panelists at a supposedly academic conference held at a university, immediately betray a total lack of understanding of Gamergate and subscription to an – admittedly prevalent – false narrative. One would think that academics would make at least the minimal effort to understand what they were talking about. Sadly, it appears not, rather they have bought into and perpetuated that false narrative. This isn’t that surprising as activist academia has been a source of concern for Gamergate itself, most especially DiGRA.

Gamergate is not ‘purportedly’ about ethics in gaming journalism, that is what it is about (admittedly it has grown and diversified since then, but to say ‘purportedly’ is to ignore the strides GG has made or inspired around this issue and to accuse thousands of people of consistently lying over the course of eight months.

Is GG a harassment campaign? Again, no. There is some disagreement over what constitutes harassment of course, with some seeming to think dissent, argument, disagreement or even retweets constitute harassment. For any reasonable person however I don’t think these qualify. There is little doubt that people on all sides have been harassed, but there has been little or nothing linking Gamergate to any harassment – though the same cannot be said for those on the other side. It is also true that various critics have indeed been harassed, but this happened before Gamergate, it has happened during – but separate – to Gamergate and it will continue even after Gamergate has faded into the past or become something else entirely.

Trolls gonna troll.

Accusing Gamergate of such actions is to ignore that GG has outed several abusers and trolls and instituted an ‘anti-harassment patrol’, though since these efforts went uncelebrated and ignored and blame continued to be assigned they fell by the wayside.

It’s also not strictly accurate to describe the ‘targets’ Gamergate as feminists, or feminists as being popular targets. Many feminist scholars or self-described feminists are fairly popular within Gamergate – most notably Christina Hoff-Sommers. What makes someone a ‘target’ is an ethical failing or an attempt to censor. Sarkeesian’s efforts are often a target because of her fraud, theft, bizarre assertions, refusal to debate and the uncritical praise she gets from the more corrupt parts of the gaming press.

A lot of problems do stem from the censorious wing of authoritarian feminism, but that’s what draws the attention.

The back-to-back afternoon panels of women in gaming, which included researchers, game developers and faculty members in fields such as education, sociology and media studies, were structured as though the controversy had passed. The first panel looked back at Gamergate, the other, forward. But while media coverage about the movement has declined since peaking last August, speakers stressed that questions about increasing diversity in gaming remain, and that critics are still facing harassment.

It’s a cheap-shot I know, but describing people in these disciplines as academics is a bit of a stretch. “It’s not even science!” as Peter Bishop might say. When people in these – let’s be generous – soft sciences and humanities make empirical assertions they need to be held to scientific standards and that scientific standard is the kind of peer review and repeat experimentation that people expect and require when these kinds of things are asserted. EG: “Games cause sexism” or “Games cause violence” (both of which have proper studies contradicting those claims).

For Gamergate, an already massively diverse crowd, the question is whether such efforts are necessary at all (especially given the alleged 50/50 gender split of the audience that already exists) and if it has to be done by destroying what already exists rather than adding to it. Even then, it’s not necessary to make seemingly spurious and often insulting claims about the art form or its audience in order to bring about change.

“We wouldn’t be having this conference if we were claiming victory,” said Justine Cassell, associate vice provost for technology strategy and impact at Carnegie Mellon University. “With each generation… we have new means, new people at the table. What are we going to do to ensure that these voices actually change the nature of the conversation, change the audience to whom we’re talking, change the people at the table and change the landscape for gamers and for critics of games?”

Quite right they shouldn’t be claiming victory, but if they truly want to understand and assess whether the change they want to bring about (activist academics, inherent bias!) really needs to come about then they have to actually talk to and understand people like me who are on the other side. There’s been little to no effort to do so as can be seen here in the assumptions and lack of understanding previously noted.

The Gamergate movement spawned from an accusation that a female game developer traded sexual favors for positive media coverage. The theory caught fire on sites such as 4chan and Reddit, causing some gamers to aggressively pursue potential conflicts of interest between the people who create games and those who write about them. For example, the Digital Games Research Association, or DiGRA, last year came under scrutiny because scholars in the same field cited each other’s work — a common occurrence in academe.

None of this is particularly accurate. ‘The Quinnspiracy’ pre-dates Gamergate and is really something entirely different. The internet – being the internet – had a bit of fun with a sex scandal but what grabbed people’s attention were the conflicts of interest and potential for abuse that was revealed. It doesn’t really matter whether the coverage was because of the sex or not, the conflict of interest in and of itself is a breach of ethics.

Then what happened?

The media closed ranks, revealed more corruption, GameJournoPros was revealed, the media turned on its own audience and a cluster of additional problems turned up under investigation. Rather than deal with these issues the existing games media doubled down, gamers got angry and away we went. The relationship of the Quinn to Gamergate is, perhaps, analogous to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand to World War I. A spark, but not really, meaningfully, the cause or much of anything to do with it.

Of course she – like Wu and Sarkeesian – has self-inserted a lot and done everything she can to pervert the story into one about harassment etc and that has pissed a hell of a lot of people off, especially now she’s gone ‘Full Thompson’ and started lying to the government.

The complaints about DiGRA are largely that it is activist pseudo-academia with foregone conclusions. Its work is more like creation ‘science’ than actual science, starting from a conclusion and trying to support those conclusions with inherently biased ‘research’ and speculation which is cited as though it were fact in a rather large circle jerk. Sargon of Akkad’s videos go into much greater detail on the problems with DiGRA than I’m inclined to here.

The scrutiny has in some cases progressed to harassment, with those arguing for increasing diversity in gaming receiving threats about violence and rape and having their personal information posted online. In one example, Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist writer and target of much of the harassment, was forced to cancel an appearance at Utah State University after the institution received threats about a shooting. 

Again, trolls are always going to troll and getting involved in drama (Gamergate) or advertising your ‘triggers’ (feminism) on the web is going to draw trolls. That doesn’t mean they have – or ever did have – anything to do with Gamergate. Here we see an example of Sarkeesian’s self-insertion into the story and misrepresentation, the kinds of things an academic or a journalist should have bothered to check.

EG: The threat was never considered credible, by the police, the university, the FBI or anyone else that looked it over. She chose to pull it entirely of her own accord and against advice. The threat was never linked to Gamergate and there’s some, somewhat credible, speculation that it was faked (though not by her necessarily).

Such harassment threatened Friday’s conference as well. A spokeswoman for Penn said some of the speakers had been harassed as part of Gamergate and did not wish to participate on a public panel. In the end, both panels were made open to the public, but a workshop earlier in the day took place behind closed doors.

It would be a reasonably safe bet that, like the overwhelming majority of other claims along these lines either what’s gone on is not what a reasonable person would consider harassment, or has nothing to do with Gamergate. This also raises suspicion that these people are more interested in activism than accuracy – again.

Yasmin B. Kafai, the professor of learning sciences who organized the conference, applied for funding from the National Science Foundation to host the conference months before Gamergate reached the headlines. In the end, she said, she wished the university could have held the event sooner to discuss the underlying issues. “What Gamergate has changed is not the situation for women and minorities in gaming, but it has changed the public perception,” Kafai said. “People who actually study gaming communities, who work in game design — what can we promote as possible solutions and ameliorate the situation?”

This rather begs the question what they think the ‘situation for women and minorities’ is in gaming. The members of NotYourShield certainly would beg to differ with the claims I’m sure, and resent being spoken for. Surely they represent a useful academic resource for research that goes against the accepted bias?

What can we promote as solutions? Start talking to Gamergate and about Gamergate rather than assuming, rather than fixating on personal axes to grind, rather than inserting other concerns or self-inserting. You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand and there seems no willingness to even attempt to understand on the part of most. Rather, insultingly, we get meaningless buzzwords: ‘misogyny’, ‘reactionary’, ‘conservative’. Terms as inaccurate as they are lazy and say more about the ‘critic’ than their subject.

Online harassment is not new, Kafai said, and neither is the debate about diversity in gaming. Some of those in attendance on Friday also participated in 1997, when the conference was known as From Barbie to Mortal Kombat. The most recent event was held in 2006. Reviving the conference with a focus on Gamergate gave participants a new chance to discuss their work, the issues related to the controversy and whether their role as academics requires them to participate in the debate. “If anything, Gamergate has made it so you can’t really be neutral anymore,” said Adrienne Shaw, an assistant professor in Temple University’s School of Media and Communication. “Critique has become… so threatening, and that represents something about the educational system — that people don’t understand what criticism is. That’s something we can work on. It doesn’t have to be a direct response to Gamergate. It has to be a direct response to changes in our educational system and how higher education structures people’s ability to read theoretical work.”

Finally an accurate point. Online harassment is not new and has nothing whatsoever to do with Gamergate. It’s an issue that needs discussion certainly, but to constantly override Gamergate with it is a misstep at best and deliberate misdirection at worst.

I don’t think these academics, I had to restrain myself from using scare quotes, have ever been neutral. They’re activists and have been part of the problem. What we really need is a genuinely detached, academic, scientific and neutral approach to foster discussion and bridge building.

Critique per se isn’t threatening, save when it’s incorrect and misrepresentative. Much of it is useless and much of it masquerades as reviews – which is a problem. People do indeed understand what criticism is, they also understand what it is not. Part of the problem is that there are various forms of criticism, some of which aren’t really criticism, or honest. I made a video on this issue, but in short the most problematic one is criticism in the form of ‘critical theory’ which starts from a position of bias. People understand it, but they reject it. It’s somewhat patronising to assume that because you reject a thing, you do not understand a thing. I think it’s also important to differentiate between ‘theoretical’ in the proper scientific sense and the kinds of wild speculation masquerading as academics that one finds in things like Gender Studies.

Gamergate, Shaw added, “makes us all have to decide whether or not we want to be public game scholars.”
Other panelists, such as Jen Jenson, professor of pedagogy and technology at York University in Canada, argued that Gamergate has already “taken our work into public in a way that none of us could have imagined.” She suggested academics use the protections that come with their positions to take an active role in the debate. “That we have institutions behind us means that we also have the freedom to speak up and out differently than some others might not,” Jenson said. “I think that we ought to use that power to do that.”

I would argue that the need for genuine, non-activist scholarship is even more pressing. The previous status quo has contributed to the issue and groups like DiGRA carry some of the blame via their influence on the irresponsible, also activist, wing of games media. It has been, in part, the abuse of position and resources by academics that has helped fuel Gamergate’s anger. Further abusing that position and platform will only add fuel to the fire. Responsible, properly conducted, neutral scholarship is needed more than ever.

As the discussion topic shifted from reflecting on Gamergate to looking forward, speakers continued to emphasize the importance of communication with the gaming industry, academics who don’t play games and the general public. Florence M. Chee, an assistant professor of digital communication at Loyola University Chicago, said academics who have been subj ected to harassment can teach their colleagues about doxing (having personal information published online) and how the Gamergate movement coalesced, among other topics.
“What is innovative about it is the environment in which we live and the media environment, where it is possible to galvanize around a single hashtag,” Chee said. “It is our responsibility to understand how social movements happen with the technologies we have available.”

I don’t think academic discussion into the games industry is needed. As this article – and so many others – have demonstrated they’re so woefully ill-informed that they can’t have much of a meaningful contribution given the current status quo. Activist scholarship needs to die and be replaced with a much more rigorous, meaningful and scientific approach. It is necessary to gain a genuine understanding of anon culture, trolling culture, chan culture etc to avoid misattributing blame or taking ‘shit-talking’ too seriously.

As things stand, academia such as DiGRA are a part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Hopefully that can change, but I don’t hold out much hope.