The Social Media Stranglehold



Twitter suspended my 10-year, 5,000 follower account, apparently for asking Wil Wheaton a rhetorical question.

I haven’t always been the best behaved on Twitter, but have been for some years now as the platform, and my relationship with it have evolved.

To be suspended for such a silly reason, which doesn’t even breach any of their terms of service, is a bit of a shock but I’m not the only one. Twitter is suspending many people from the platform in a ‘purge’ which is barring people from all across the political spectra from having access to it.

In a horrible irony, many of the people who have been calling for more censorship (and who probably helped cause this to happen) have flounced off Twitter this month. They are demanding that the platform censor Alex Jones (of Info Wars fame) because of his conspiracy theory nonsense and the harassment and problems it has led to – even if not directed by Jones himself. They’re demanding even more censorship.

I consider myself aware of the implications and issues of the online space, I was a (relatively) early adopter of various aspects of the Internet, I have been a critic and have offered analyses of Internet culture and technology, and yet I was still blindsided by just how much of an effect this has had.


Why this is Serious

Stop for a moment and consider how much you use your social media. The odds are that Facebook, Twitter – or perhaps your Google account – describe the primary method by which you interact with the Internet. You use these things to communicate with your friends and family, to serve up exciting content, to follow celebrities, topics and content you like. Moreso even more than you likely use search engines.

Social Media has also become a tool of convenience for logging into third-party sites, games, comment sections and applications of all kinds. Media interactions – participation in culture, art, news – are all driven by social media.

It is also an essential aspect of a business, cheap marketing, providing support, finding people to do contract work, calling for artists, writers and so forth.
It’s a route to fame, notoriety and success – by going viral.

It’s essential for crowd-funding, Kickstarters, raising money for charities or personal emergencies. To many people and businesses, if you’re not on Social Media, then you don’t exist.

The Internet itself was a transformative technology, social media has been a transformative use of that technology, but our culture, laws and social ‘rules’ are lagging far behind that technology, and this lies at the root of most of our problems when it comes to that technology. The public square is in private hands, but we fail to understand this.


A Little Internet History (Web Portals)

Does anyone remember web portals?

Back in the earlier history of the Internet, this was how the significant sites of the time, like Yahoo or AOL, tried to provide usability to new users and to make the Internet less ‘scary’ by serving up content and links as a ‘front page’ to the Internet.

It didn’t work, it wasn’t personalised, and most people wanted to move well beyond that walled garden of advertising and the stories of the day that they decided you should know. That older way of doing things died off fairly rapidly.

How were people connecting with content? Mostly via email. Friends and family would send you links to something they thought you might find interesting. Unfortunately, this would also, often, include chain-emails and bloated files full of ‘funny’ images that took ages to download on dial-up but even so, your friends formed an informal Internet curation service of trusted links and material.

When social media finally took off, those companies – especially Facebook – found a way to monetise our trusted networks of friends, as well as to personalise advertising and to insert it into that trusted stream, gaining from second-hand trustworthiness via context.
Social Media is now your ‘frontpage to the internet’ with a great many people only really interacting with the internet via a handful of sites, social media topping the bill.


A Little Internet Futurity

China’s a bit ahead of the curve than the rest of us when it comes to the likely future of social media. China’s government is bringing in a ‘social credit’ system to identify good citizens and more and more China is integrating anything and everything they can with social media. If you’re in China’s cities and don’t have Aliexpress or WeChat Pay you often can’t even buy anything.

China is using this system to throttle people’s Internet, restrict their travel and to enact numerous other modes of social control. With your neighbours and friends enforcing your compliant behaviour because – in part – their reputation in the systems is interdependent with yours.

This system sounds horrific and dystopian – and it is – but it is just a governmentally formalised version of what is already happening here in the west.

Not a day goes by where we don’t hear about someone being fired for a bad joke, perhaps even made years ago. Businesses are now in the habit of checking applicants’ social media before offering them a job. The line between your personal and professional life is eroding, and it often doesn’t matter if what you’ve done or are doing is legal, a company might still fire someone for exercising fundamental human rights that are supposedly guaranteed.


Single Point of Failure

Different sites have different rules. Some will value free expression, many were founded with that as a fundamental principle (Youtube, Twitter) but have been beaten into submission by commercial interests and threats to their bottom line. When it comes to Social Media sites, it seems that you can have principles, audience and commercial viability – but you can only pick two.

Alternative sites have begun to spring up, but there’s something that they can’t – yet – overcome.


Whatever a site’s stance, whether it embraces free speech, political liberty, sexuality or not it just cannot sidestep the payment services.

You would think your money would be yours, that you could spend it on anything (legal) you wanted to, without repercussions. This is not how money in the modern age works, however. It’s a service, not something you own. The banks and payment services sit in judgement, and it’s their rules – not the law – that allows them to block payments, deny payments, charge higher fees, lock accounts and even to steal your money if they judge you’re engaged in ‘high risk’ or ‘immoral’ transactions.

People working in adult industries get hit by this all the time, but it has been spreading to the blockading of other content as well. The most recent case being Mastercard threatening to withdraw services from crowdfunding site Patreon if they did not block certain political commentators and sites from being funded via their service.


Echo Chambers & Prisons Become Camps

A massive problem with the modern Internet, one made worse by social media and its content algorithms, is the phenomenon of the ‘echo chamber’. We surround ourselves with people we like and trust, people who agree with us. This self-insulating behaviour is only natural, nobody likes to be disagreed with or proven wrong, but it’s vital that different ideas mix and battle and at its best, social media has fostered that kind of discussion. Not so much any more, however.

Increased commercial pressure has increased the demand to serve up what we ‘want’ to see, rather than what we need to see. Political polarisation and social polarisation have fed each other, forming a dangerous positive feedback loop. How often have you seen people post on their social media platforms that if you ‘disagree on X’ then you should unfollow them?

There has also been a proliferation of blocking lists. People are even proud of the fact that they cut off tens of thousands of people on the opposite side of even the pettiest of issues. The effect of this is to force even the people who work hard to expose themselves to other points of view, into ‘echo-prisons’.

We’re now seeing the next stage of this process of dangerous division, the audiences which used to mingle and battle on shared social platforms, are now moving onto their ‘
?6yt;[p’own platforms, some for the ‘left’, some for the ‘right’, segregated and policed to one degree or another (or just by their nature) so that interaction and discussions become even less likely.

As bad as things are now, they’re going to get worse if this goes on.



I’m sorry to say that there are no real solutions. My eyes have been open to all these problems for years, and I’ve done what I can to avoid becoming too reliant on any single platform and not to exist in an echo chamber.

I failed, via a combination of sheer convenience and the adverse actions of others.
We can’t force anyone to do anything; we can’t make anyone do anything. All we can do is – in and of ourselves – to try and act how we wish others did. It’s a cultural change that’s needed, and we can’t legislate or bully that into existence, though many continue to try.

If we want this to change we need to make sure that we, as individuals…

  • Respect the right to free expression of people, even those with whom we disagree.
  • Separate personal and professional lives and stop punishing people professionally for what they do personally.
  • Support people, financially and socially, who foster conversations that reach across the fractures in modern society.
  • Seek out ideas, arguments and sources of news and information that disagree with us.
  • Be forgiving.
  • Take personal and individual responsibility for what media we consume and how we react to it. Control our own feeds, block, mute and unfollow, rather than asking for people to be silenced.
  • Spread these ideas, and hold others to these standards.


Alternative Tech

Many tout so-called ‘Alternative Tech’ (unfortunate name) as a solution to this. They say that people should move to new social platforms that will respect their free expression and which have this as a founding value.

Twitter and Youtube had free expression as founding values. It’s only a matter of time until commercial pressures or a buy out compromise these new players – if they’re a success.

Another problem is that the first settlers of new media are most often those forcibly excluded from other forms of social media. Unfortunately, even if they were banned illegitimately, that does tend to mean that Alternative Media gets colonised by conspiracy theorists, crazy people and political extremists. Something which gets in the way of site growth by creating bad – undeserved – reputations.

Lastly, the monetisation problem often hits Alt-Tech sites hard, forcing them – almost immediately – to bend the knee to the demands of the payment processors or to move to crypto-currency. The problem there is that crypto is not user-friendly and is overrun with scammers, spammers and incompatibility issues.

Of the alternatives that are available, appears to be the most viable for social/micro-blogging and Bitchute for video. There’s still a long way to go for there to be any challengers to the primacy of Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, but the only way to change that is to use the alternatives, even while they’re imperfect.

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We let these things get this powerful and this important, and we didn’t work to guarantee our rights and to make these companies live up to their professed values and obligations at the same time. The only way to create change is to do it ourselves, and that’s hard. Even understanding these things as well as I do, being aware of these problems, I was drawn into it and still managed to be shocked when the rug was yanked out from under me.

Social Media might seem trivial; you might well be able to get by without it – for now – but if you work online, rely on the internet in any significant way it is now critical and is only going to get more so as technology relentlessly marches on.

We need to make a concerted effort to update our social contracts and our laws to match this technological reality, and letting companies off the hook because they’re ‘private enterprises’ cannot be a valid excuse.

Still, it all starts with us.

Let’s begin.

#Gamergate Fisking Felicia Day (No. I said FISKING, grow up).

Piracy is bad, don’t do it, but someone leaked the chapter out of her book that addresses Gamergate. I’m not going to be buying the book, but I’m not going to link to the leak or quote it in its entirety, but I’ll address the specific claims made about Gamergate in the piece and quote those bits here.

This is difficult, since the majority of the section supposedly about Gamergate has nothing to do with Gamergate. It’s a general whinge about trolls. Yes, trolls are bad, but Gamergate =/= Trolls and Trolls =/= Gamergate.

Listen to the wisdom of Gawker on this issue.

Screenshot from 2015-08-12 19:55:43

OK, so they’re talking about #BlackLivesMatter but the principle is sound.

Anyway, on we go…

And then #GamerGate happened. A perfect, hateful, digital gumbo that gave the gaming world, and me, a black eye not soon to be healed.

Felicia doesn’t really explain why she ended up getting a ‘black eye’, which was mostly upset, disappointment and outrage that she’d turn on her own audience without having done any research or having put any thought in. Just in case there’s any new people reading this, Gamergate is a consumer revolt against corruption in games journalism, politicisation and censorship. It’s not unlike the gaming revolt against Jack Thompson in the 90s, only this time its corrupt journalists and spurious accusations of misogyny, not legal threats and spurious accusations of encouraging violence.


I would suggest that a measure of hate is an appropriate reaction to corruption.

The whole #GamerGate thing started in August 2014, with a guy getting revenge over a really bad breakup by publishing every excruciatingly and maniacally specific detail online.


Gamergate came later. The sex scandal stirred up two tags/reactions (BurgersAndFries and Quinnspiracy) but not Gamergate.

The blog was also the kind of action normally lauded in social justice circles, an abused romantic partner warning other people about their abusive partner. Eron Gjoni – the writer of the post – made the mistake of thinking that as a man he had the right to do what lots of women have done without any real backlash or judgement.

He was cheated on many times, manipulated and emotionally abused by his partner, but the part that would eventually become Gamergate was the revelation that started here that there were undisclosed relationships between developers and press – a breach of basic journalistic ethics.

Evidence of her cheating on him, peppered with implications of sexual favors traded for reviews of the game Depression Quest that she had designed (accusations that were later disproven. Repeat: disproven).


The claim was never (until the lie got repeated a lot) that fucking had been traded for reviews, but for positive coverage – and that’s proven, especially with regard to one journo in particular. There were also financial entanglements. The point in all cases is not necessarily that there was wrongdoing, but that as a conflict of interest – undisclosed – it’s a breach of ethics. As it turned out that was merely the tip of the iceberg.

The roots of both incidents lie in 4chan, an anonymous website generally associated with hate speech and cartoon porn addiction, and the starting point for the attacks on Zoe Quinn. Basically, it’s the watercooler for some of the worst of the internet.

Not really, no, given that even 4chan ended up censoring discussion. The outrage was EVERYWHERE and was censored EVERYWHERE without being addressed. People had few places to go save 4chan and then 8chan. I also think this is an unfair characterisation of chan culture, something that someone claiming to be part of geek culture should know better about.

But it didn’t. It got worse. Because the issue somehow morphed from attacking a single woman over a messed-up revenge post to a quasi-conservative movement striving for “ethics in game journalism.” A large segment of the newly anointed “#GamerGate movement” decided that as a result of “the Zoe post” there was corruption running rampant in the game journalism world. And THEY were the people to fix it.

Because these were different things Felicia, things you’ve conflated into one. Nor is Gamergate conservative. As it turned out there were massive issues (see Deepfreeze again). The gamers were right, as you’d know if you’d bothered to check. More to the point, Gamergate has massively succeeded in this goal. So as it turns out, they WERE the people to fix it.

They focused a large amount of their wrath on people trying to add dialogue about feminism and diversity in gaming, condemning them as “Social Justice Warriors.” (That label was always so weird to me, because how is that an insult? “Social Justice Warrior” actually sounds pretty badass.)

Because this was where a lot of the corruption and issues were centred. It’s actually fairly incidental, but in the process of the scandal a lot of people – yourself included Felicia – tried to turn it into part of the ‘women in tech’ discussion, when it really wasn’t. As to SJWs, you seem to fail to understand that it’s not anti actual social justice, its a reference to extremism. You can think of it as the difference between Muslim and Islamist.

Ironically, the #GamerGate movement never focused on some of the big game companies who actually ARE unethical, bribing vloggers and censoring bad reviews on their products.

Actually it did. Totalbiscuit’s expose of this was signal boosted by Gamergate and old scandals were brought back out into the light, but since the current wave of corruption related to the indie scene, that’s where the attention fell. Should that corruption simply be ignored because other stuff goes on? Clearly not. Silly argument.

But as those two gamers walked toward me, for the first time in my life I didn’t have the impulse to say hello. Or smile. For some reason as I approached the corner . . . I crossed the street instead.

You’d bought into a lie, you were terrified for no reason. People may well have been angry at you for betraying your fans and turning against a hobby you profess to love, but this is clearly a ludicrous overreaction.

How sad I was that the actions of #GamerGate had created that feeling in me, to separate myself from people whom I would have assumed were comrades before.

That’s the thing though, it wasn’t Gamergate’s actions. It was your own and that of the same corrupt journos who were at fault. Those who painted a movement against censorship and for ethical journalism as a hate movement, without any evidence that this was so. You were sold, bought into and helped sell a lie and that’s why people are angry with you. Nothing to do with your vagina, but what you did. What could be more egalitarian than that? What could be less egalitarian than to hide behind being a woman when you’ve done something wrong?

And how the whole situation was creating the outside impression of a culture driven by misogyny and hatred, which I KNEW wasn’t true.

And wasn’t, and isn’t, true of Gamergate. If you knew it wasn’t true, why perpetuate the lie? Why act like it was true?

#GamerGate as a movement created an environment for attacks to flourish.

No. It didn’t. Trolls are always going to troll. Your own chapter here points out this shit was going on for years before and it will go on for years after. Wherever there is drama trolls will arrive and gender issues are great bait for them because gender activists are virtually guaranteed to overreact to any provocation whatsoever. Gender was, of course, nothing to do with Gamergate until gender activists barged in to make it about them.

You’re also forgetting that Gamergate members have also been doxxed, harassed, had their jobs threatened – or lost – but this message is never repeated. The victim narrative only applies to one side and so many – perhaps even most – victims are ignored.

The controversy created irresistible bait for trolls, but that ended up hurting everyone and most of it was probably nothing to do with either side. Indeed, if Gamergate were a hate movement, it’d be a damn sorry excuse for one.

I recently got a message from a mother who said, “I asked my fourteen-year-old what #GamerGate was and he said, ‘It’s because women are trying to ruin video games.

Simplistic and inaccurate, but after a year of this and the issue being hijacked by con-artists like Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu for self promotion, maybe not as inaccurate as it was at the start of all this, and that’s not Gamergate’s doing.

Because if you can’t be your own weird self on the internet, where can you be? And what would be the point.

And what if taking joy in games gets you branded a misogynist? What if you want to make games, but unless they’re a box-ticking exercise in forced ‘diversity’ they get panned? What if someone finally does manage to censor games with spurious science in the way Wertham did with comics in the 1950s? What if this great hobby is ruined, not by ‘women trying to ruin videogames’ but by dishonest activists killing genuine diversity because of their strange obsessions with identity politics?

You’ve joined an array of voices that is determined to NOT let people be their ‘own weird self’ on the internet, that want to bring petty real world concerns crashing into fantasy. You sided with the people harming gaming, you didn’t give ‘your peeps’ any benefit of the doubt and you did no research before simply assuming that a band of concerned consumers were trolls.

Then you wonder why they’re upset with you.

Then you write a whole chapter of your book, which claims to be about Gamergate but mostly isn’t, and repeats the same lies about it all over again.

Maybe talk to some of us like human beings. You, Wil maybe, a few others. Let’s actually talk, listen to each other and pretend – at least for an hour or two – that the other side is being sincere.

How’s that sound?

You know, I’ve been trying to get something like that set up, on and off, for over a year now, but nobody will do it. Afraid we might have a point?


#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.



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 How GamerGate Was Hijacked

b5miliqccaeiqt5What Gamergate is Vs How Gamergate is Seen

Gamergate is a consumer revolt against problems in gaming media. This is primarily a concern about the ethical conduct of gaming journalists but extends to concerns about one-sided ideological propagandising within the dominant games media spaces and issues of censorship. Gamergate draws on a long tradition of resistance to interference from the out-culture, previously in regards to game addiction, game representations of violence and even earlier to issues in other spheres like comics and tabletop RPGs. The difference is that this time the attacks are coming – at least in part – from the in group.

If you limited yourself to the larger gaming sites and the mainstream media, you would think that Gamergate is actually a misogynistic hate group, a gang of reactionary hoodlums intent on keeping women out of gaming. You might even think that they are terrorists, behind SWATing, doxxing, death threats, rape threats and all sorts of awful behaviour.

How is it that the reality of Gamergate and the public image of it are so wildly different and who hijacked it, and how?

How did the Message get Hijacked?

There’s two parties at fault for hijacking Gamergate. One more organised and unified, the other as chaotic and leaderless as Gamergate itself.

The first party are those called – disparagingly – ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (which you could consider in relation to actual social justice, the way you might read Islamist as opposed to Muslim). The second party are the internet’s usual legion of trolls, abusive commentators and drama-creators.

Trolls hijacked Gamergate simply because it was a magnet for a lot of drama, involving a lot of people and types of people who are perfect trolling targets. This would include the aforementioned ‘social justice warriors’ and most especially feminists, who can all but be guaranteed to takes trolls seriously and to create the drama and upset that trolls love.

For sake of clarity as the term gets misused, I am using ‘troll’ to mean those people who deliberately stir up trouble and post provocative and offensive things (spuriously) in order to garner a negative reaction. Trolling is nasty, and a problem that bears discussion, but it’s not a direct Gamergate issue.

The ‘SJWs’ hijacked Gamergate by making it about their pet issues. This was somewhat facilitated by the fact that some of the first corruption issues that emerged involved other ‘SJWs’, women amongst them. This made it quite easy for them to pretend that the ethical issues were, in fact, misogyny.

Since then, despite progress on the ethical and censorship issues, the dominant media narrative – in both games and mass media – has been misogyny, abuse, sexism and harassment, pinned on Gamergate, despite having nothing to do with Gamergate’s goals.

There’s synergy between the two hijacking parties because SJWs treat trolls as though they were part of Gamergate in addition to taking them seriously and treating them as though their threats and nonsense were not spurious. The SJWs get to smear their enemies, the trolls get to troll two parties for the price of one.

Why Was this so Effective?

It’s questionable whether it has been. Old media has lost a huge amount of influence, current games media has lost a lot of ground because nobody trusts it any longer. Still, it is distressing to see the public narrative so utterly skewed in both cases. On the other hand, this – in and of itself – is proof positive that there are issues of corruptions and ethical concerns and that they are serious.

To the extent that it has been effective, it has been effective in the following ways:

  1. Existing, dominant games media was always going to reject criticism of itself. D’uh.
  2. While Gamergate actions have exposed ‘wrong action’ by people of all kinds, the stories where women can be portrayed as victims are better press. Even if they’re corrupt (Sarkeesian) or have engaged in ghastly actions (Quinn, Alexander) there’s a psychological effect where women are seen as less villainous and more innocent than men that’s well known. Ironically the ‘damsel in distress’ is a trope that’s being taken advantage of here.
  3. Internet culture, and gaming culture, have existed for some time. Chan culture is an extreme that is often demonised, but not half as bad as it has been painted. Gamergate is just the latest in a long line of collisions between these cultures and a lot of problems are down to misunderstandings.
  4. Ideological corruption is harder to grasp than the more obvious financial corruption. While financial corruption issues have existed for years, it was ideological corruption that triggered Gamergate and has dominated much of the discussion (though the fixes for both kinds of ethical issues are broadly the same – disclosure and recusing).

Solutions & Consequences?

Are there any solutions to this? Nothing direct. The mainstream media is lazy and more interested in views (and viewers) than the truth these days. A sad consequence of the liberation of news sources and the ad/sponsorship driven model. The media can’t really be trusted to hold itself accountable, on any scale, for its own corruption and ethical issues. So far as mainstream and existing, dominant games media goes there’s only damage control and pressure.

A common complaint about Gamergate – from outside – is that it has no leaders. This has, in fact, been a huge advantage in making Gamergate more resilient and capable and has allowed it to survive internal drama and outside attacks. However, part of the reason there’s so little representation of ‘the other side’ in these media presentations is the lack of identifiable spokespeople. Gamergate doesn’t need leaders, but it does need spokespeople. It should be possible to find suitably eloquent, bullish and intelligent spokespeople that can be proposed and agreed to by a raw majority of Gamergate identifying voters in an online poll. Then you’d have people who are contactable for media appearances, to give the alternative point of view and to counter the kinds of nonsense that otherwise gets free rein on these reports.

The other solutions, beyond the successful pressure to tighten ethical policies, is to continue to act as a watchdog and to continue to promote alternative sites. Gamergate participants should also, in my opinion, strive to act well, represent the revolt well (I’m not saying mind your language, just to leave no suggestion of doxxing, no reasonable suspicion of harassment etc), and to concentrate on spreading the accurate message. Confounding the false narrative with charitable actions and NotYourShield also helps. Ultimately Gamergate wins out when people actually investigate and are pointed to the correct facts.

There are consequences to Gamergate that have deeply concerned me and I’d like to finish up by covering these and making an appeal to its enemies.

I, along with many Gamergate supporters, identify – or identified – as being on the left. We believe, passionately, in equality, justice and many of the other things that our enemies also believe in. Our differences with the other side come in when their demands come across as irrational, unscientific, unsupported, authoritarian or compromise other values – such as free expression – which we also hold dear.

My worry is that the extremists of the ‘SJW’ crowd and their hangers on, are driving a huge number of people to the right. The more right/libertarian media has been more sympathetic to Gamergate, due to their agreement on socially liberal concepts. This has earned those sources a great deal of sympathy and has meant people listen to them more, because they’ve proven themselves – at least on this topic – to be more honest and accurate.

I don’t want people to be biased in this way, by their bad experiences with a radical fringe and a corrupt media. I appeal to the opposing side to please, at least alongside everything else, to take the ethical concerns and issues seriously and to discuss those, at least, in good faith. Call Gamergate’s bluff, as PC Gamer did, by addressing the ethical concerns. The worst that can happen is that we all end up with better media and, hopefully, people will stop being pushed to the right.


So, Politics is Boring is it?

There’s a lot of people who ‘don’t do politics’ or don’t discuss it. Next to religion it’s probably the topic that will most quickly alienate people, lose you friends or tear a family apart. So we don’t talk about it, don’t discuss it, don’t examine it. It’s both boring and fractious.

We need debate though. We need to be an educated populace and we need to be involved in the political process – by one means or another – or you’re ceding control to a relatively small group of partisan wankers who can be bothered to vote and the people who vote tribalistically. Something none of us should do.

Yes, politics is boring, but it’s the process we have to go through in order to do great and important things.

Science has done many great things, but you don’t just wake up one morning and invent the laser, the silicon chip or penicillin. There’s a combination of good fortune, will, investment and hard graft that leads up to the worthwhile and edifying result.

So it is with politics. With investment, graft, pressure and hard work it is possible to wring positive change from the political process. This does not happen overnight. You need to campaign, protest, communicate with your political class, organise to counter the vested interests and the power of money. With sufficient hard work and graft you can blunt the worst evils and excesses and even make changes such as the NHS, human rights legislation, an end to bigotry enshrined in law.

It means you, every single one of you who wields a vote, needs to do the job of being informed and applying that informed decision making to who you vote for and, indeed, if you vote at all or apply your political strength by other means.

In the US and the UK voters have been particularly ‘meh’ lately and it’s understandable why. Parties have become rather grey with little differentiating them. Even if you determine to vote for ‘the lesser evil’ it’s harder to tell who that is. Opportunities to get voting reform in the UK met with a huge shrug from a poorly informed and soft-soaped electorate and even Lords reform is off the table. Political systems in both countries twist and even ignore the popular vote and favour the wealthy and vested interests.

This is all the more reason to get involved. Not less.

The process of politics is boring, but the end results can be wonderful – or horrifying.

Get involved.