#Gamergate – Buying a Kluwe on Pakman

I may re-do this as a video Monday, so if there’s anything you want me to expand on or clarifywhen I do that, feel free to ask in the comments or on Twitter. I’ll cover Sargon’s interview later.

Kluwe was a hell of a lot more reasonable with the ability to talk than he is on Twitter. Perhaps the written word isn’t his forte. It’s hard to square the Kluwe in this interview with the unrepentant arsehole and cybersquatter on Twitter. Still, it gives me hope that a debate with Mercedes might actually be a productive exchange, rather than merely him being rhetorically kicked around like the ball he used to play with.

However, this doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerously naive, ignorant of a great number of things, hasn’t mischaracterised his opposition or isn’t riddled with hypocrisy and a desperate lack of self-awareness.

These things are curable.

That both Kluwe and Sargon have raised issues with interviews and titling is important – I think – and raises concerns about the way Pakman titles and presents his interviews, though not necessarily the conduct in them.

I do think Pakman’s first round of interviews were fairly neutral and both Wu and Chu did go off the rails in their reactions to his questioning. I mean that’s not a slant, that is what – unquestionably – happened. Given the enormous slant against Gamergate in most coverage in the past, and going into the future, it’s not surprising that a more neutral approach would read as somehow being pro Gamergate.

It seems somewhat disingenuous to blame Hotwheels for things on his site, not to mention foolish given some of the things hanging over Kluwe as well. It’s also irrelevant to the Gamergate matter and betrays a lack of understanding of how imageboards work. The same is true of the accusations regarding raid boards etc. It is an accurate point that he personally condemned, rather than officially condemned, but that’s perfectly in line with the philosophy behind 8chan and imageboard culture as a whole. Something that an expert on internet culture should know.

The complaint about the Chu interview title has a bit more substance, but like Wu he did, unquestionably, go off the rails under even the slightest resistance or probing. Rather than back things up, offer evidence or talk the reaction is an emotional outburst.

Obviously I am biased against the people in these interviews and also for the people interviewed in the more recent round of interviews (well, the subject, if not necessarily the people). However, that both pro and anti have issues with how things have been presented does suggest this is a broader problem that Pakman needs to be more aware of. I’ll go into this more in examining the Sargon interview, but as a quick point of comparison the Vox Day interview was titled as being about Gamergate, but dwelt on and mentioned his bizarre and extremist viewpoints (not especially accurately either, it must be said however much I disagree with him) and gave the impression that these were also the views of Gamergate itself.

They’re not. To present them in such a way is profoundly dishonest. It would be like presenting the ‘kill off 90% of men’ idea as being part of AGGro.

Regarding ‘sides’. How can there be two sides on the topic of corruption? Censorship perhaps, people have different places that they draw the line and so there’s room for sides, debate and discussion, but when it comes to corruption how is it even that there are two sides? There aren’t. There are substantial and supported accusations, and there’s denial and excuses.

The people who oppose Gamergate are definitely a side and they are a hell of a lot more politically and philosophically homogeneous than Gamergate – despite recent splits and infighting. It is, perhaps paradoxically, much easier to speak of anti-Gamergate collectively than it is pro-gamergate, at least in my experience.

One thing Kluwe said that I take massive exception to is the idea that he – and his side – are ‘intimately familiar with online culture’.

Someone intimately familiar with online culture would understand Brennan’s stance regarding 8chan, would know not to take trolling seriously and have some idea how to separate it from serious and sincere action and would know that internet tough-guys should not be taken seriously. If AGGro are ‘experts in this field’ they should not be making these kinds of rookie mistakes in dealing with internet culture. This means, I’m sorry to say, that they’re either lying about this expert status or wilfully being dishonest in their dealings. Indeed I had pegged this difference and problem in communication to Gamergate being genuine experts on online culture and AGGro being naive and inexperienced with it, prior to this interview.

So far as I am aware, and remain aware, no doxxing or SWATting has actually been linked to GG – though definitions of what these are differ. There’s no question however that doxxing and SWATting has been aimed at Gamergate and some of that has come directly from AGGro. Much of what has been aimed at both sides certainly comes from opportunistic third-party trolls but really, none of this is part of the Gamergate conversation. It’s a separate but important conversation, but nothing to do with Gamergate.

Kluwe complains about the government getting involved, but then you have to ask why is the government getting involved? Who is involving them? The answer there is that it is down to people like Quinn and Wu and the AGGro side, not Gamergate. Indeed Gamergate is remarkably unworried by the potential involvement of law enforcement and government in the short term, because – frankly – we know we’ve done nothing wrong and that we’ll (continue to) be exonerated, as happened with the threats against Sarkeesian. We also don’t think AGGro will come out so well. Personally I suspect – for example – that the threat called in against the DC Gamergate meet did originate from a sincere AGGro, probably in some way related to Chu’s histrionic attempts to get the event cancelled, if not Chu himself.

Kluwe’s worries about government involvement and ignorance are ones I share, so this is one point at least we can agree on. If AGGro didn’t keep trying to involve government however and actually dealt with Gamergate’s real issues rather than trying to make it about gender and harassment, this wouldn’t be an issue. It’s not Gamergate – or even trolls – threatening the free internet, it’s the opposition.

I’m afraid at this point, after 8 months, I find the claim that there is no objection to dealing with corruption in games journalism to be hollow. The steadfast refusal to debate and discuss these issues or to even admit they exist makes a lie of that claim. Off this point, Kluwe hitches standard talking points and attempts to push Gamergate to either disband or to become a less effective group.

To very briefly address these points:
‘Go after the devs’
If journalists stop succumbing to corruption, publishers and distrubutors (who are responsible more than devs) will stop trying to threaten or bribe them.

‘Don’t harass people’
Semantics are involved here, but Gamergate does not harass people. Dishonestly conflating Gamergate with trolls etc is a dishonest tactic by AGGro to try and derail the conversation about problems with ethics and censorship. The refusal to deal honestly with the issues Gamergate raises only contribute to a more and more fervid atmosphere. Frustration will mean people seek alternative lines of recourse for their grievances.

‘Change the hashtag’
No. There is nothing wrong with the hashtag and despite it being smeared so much it has had considerable success. Persistence and defiance in the face of those accusations has contributed to that success. Other hashtags have sprung up and the accusations have followed them. There’s simply no point doing so and it would be a form of admission of guilt. It’s not going to happen. Instead AGGro should just start to deal honestly with Gamergate as it really is, rather than the strawman they’ve created. GG is now having physical meet ups – that people keep trying to disrupt or force to cancel, or even phone in threats to.

Complaining about allowing Gamergate a platform would be part of the kind of problem that would be worth raising. Denial of any platform to present Gamergate’s authentic complaints has been part of the problem so it’s responsible to provide a means by which our side can be presented and, thereby, dealt with honestly. That Kluwe appears to want to make it impossible for that to happen – and thus for discussion and resolution to happen – is also telling.

Any honest and open examination of the facts of the matter utterly debunks the idea that Gamergate is a hate movement. Who does it hate? Can a hatred of corruption and censorship really be considered a hate group in the same manner that a racial hate group can? No, that’s absurd. It’s like calling the justice system as a whole a hate group. Ludicrous.

Kluwe has been dealing with Gamergate long enough that he should know that no, it was not founded on anything to do with Zoe Quinn, past the fact that the Zoe Post revealed undeclared conflicts of interest and wider journalistic and indie corruption when those specific revelations were a) not dealt with and b) obfuscated under the excuse that it was harassment. I refuse to believe Kluwe is genuinely that ignorant, which only leaves malice or wilful dishonesty as possibilities here. Corruption and censorship is a problem no matter who is responsible, expecting women to be treated differently when they engage in such behaviour would be genuinely sexist. For a ‘misogynistic’ group, Gamergate contains a much more female members, and diverse members, than it is given credit for.

Kluwe was wrong. The movement has broadly succeeded in its original goals. However, those goals have expanded as more problems and issues have been uncovered. So there are new goals and a bigger, broader community with a wider remit.

There’s this weird obsession that AGGro has with forcing Gamergate to organise along conventional lines. This would be a mistake. It would render the movement fragile and maladaptive to its purpose. It would make it easier for AGGro to pin bad actions on and even though they would be no more true than they are now, they would find it easier to stick. This strikes me as the real reason they want GG to organise on conventional lines, it would be easier to disarm, dismiss and smear. As to ‘noone to blame but yourselves’, untrue, the people to blame are those wilfully taking trolls seriously and constantly smearing Gamergate. Nobody else is responsible but them.

Kluwe talks about how ‘Gamergate attracts people like Vox Day’ but really you have to consider what it is that is the common thread. Whatever Day’s other, bizarre beliefs about things the common thread he shares with Gamergate is his concern over censorship and the monopolar politicisation of what might broadly be called ‘nerd media’. For him it is the Hugo Awards and Science Fiction, for Gamergate it’s video games. We also share a common enemy in the form of authoritarian social justice warriors. However obnoxious any of us find Vox Day’s beliefs, he has a right to them, to express them and for his work to be considered as work, rather than as him.

Stormfront has nothing to do with Gamergate. Kluwe is being dishonest about this as well. As I recall Stormfront’s involvement with Gamergate constitutes precisely one thread on one of their message boards that was largely met with indifference and derision.

With Breitbart and the rest, again, the common thread is the concern over censorship, monopole politics and the common enemy of the authoritarian social justice warrior extremism.

Now, the involvement of the right does also concern me, but in a slightly different way. I am a left anarchist but I see the abject and total failure of the left media to honestly report on Gamergate pushing what is mostly a left/liberal movement to the right. The depths of the problems with media have become apparent and many people feel betrayed and that is what could push them to the right which has been the only place they’ve really had a fair shake. If the left is genuinely worried about this, they need to give Gamergate a fair shake and stop abusing and lying about it or they’ll continue to drive people to the right. Once again, the only viable solution to Gamergate is to discuss and address its issues honestly.

Of course people and groups see opportunities here as people get disenfranchised. That’s nobody’s fault but AGGro and trying to link things like Vox Day’s non-gamergate related views to Gamergate is part of that issue.

The course of events leading to Gamergate that Kluwe lays out is, of course, factually inaccurate but that has been gone over more than enough so I won’t bother retreading it here. I’ll put it simply though. If I considered GG to be a hate group, I wouldn’t throw myself behind it. I find the accusation absurd.

Describing people like Wu or Chu as experts in this field is… silly, given the way in which they have acted. If that were true it would also be true of the Gamergate people, thereby putting you back to square one. What Kluwe appears to mean is a variation on ‘listen and believe’ which should not be part of any reporter, scientist or legal professional’s vocabularly, or indeed any rational person’s vocabulary. We see what goes wrong with that attitude when we look at the Rolling Stone issue – for example.

Kluwe seems, paradoxically, to be demanding people ignore their own experience and to automatically believe the experiences of others – that simply doesn’t work.

On a side note, I think 90% of solution to these internet social issues is educating people, rather than bringing in laws or forces. Expecting ‘the internet’ to be a safe space as a whole is ridiculous. The idea of self-policing might have been one I would have gone along with in the past, but AGGro has shown this can’t work. Block Bots create more problems than they solve. Monstering groups, unfairly, stifles necessary discussion and creates more issues – again – than it solves. There’s no sufficient due-process, no respect for facts, smearing and emotion-lead nonsense and lies rule the day. As things stand, online vigilantism can’t be trusted to resolve these situations.

Kluwe says Gamergate etc doesn’t understand the consequences of what they’re doing, yet Gamergate is part of the broader cultural counter-movement that is striving to guarantee online free expression while AGGro are the ones threatening it via their false narratives.

I’m frankly not interested at all in E-Sports, so I’ll leave it there.

Kluwe is wrong, misguided, misinformed or wilfully dishonest on a lot of issues but in ‘person’ he sounds like someone who – when confronted – might actually be able to be reasonable. Again, I hope the debate with Mercedes does happen as it may be a step towards some sort of resolution or progress by forcing people like Kluwe to acknowledge Gamergate’s points and sincerity.

Gamergate has nothing to fear from investigation by law enforcement and nothing to fear from an honest examination of the facts that relate to the scandal as a whole. Facts have a Gamergate bias.

Pax.

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