#Gamergate – Documenting SJW Harassment

CPp5wtQWIAAagGnWith the news that SXSW is now going to host a day-event to discuss online harassment, this having previously cancelled a harassment panel and one about the political/ethical climate of gaming. The cancellation having been due to what appears to have been third party trolls making threats related to both panels. Despite the SavePoint panel not really having anything to do with harassment, their inclusion and position as previous supporters of Gamergate demonstrates what the unwritten assumptions about the situation have been.

Leaving aside that the harassment panel has at least one out-and-proud harasser on it (continuing the trend from both UN and Google meetings about online harassment, consulting harassers) it’s obvious that the existing narrative is entirely one-sided. It is widely believed that the gamers who want uncensored games and an ethical games media, lacking corruption, are the ones harassing people.

Many of us know that this isn’t true and we have suffered quite horrific levels of harassment from the ‘Social Justice Warriors’ from people going after our livelihoods and jobs to wild accusations of things like misogyny, rape apologia, racism and so on. Reputation destroying nastiness.

My own harassment at the hands of these people has been fairly well documented. Back in 2012, long before Gamergate was ever a thing I wrote a blog article defending the use of nasty events and traumatic experiences in fiction (In Defence of Rape) and ever since then have been harassed, demonised and subjected to a level of scrutiny that Big Brother would be ashamed to engage in. This contributed to a long battle with depression and two suicide attempts, the second during the first year of Gamergate when old wounds were re-opened and even celebrities saw fit to try and shame me for my participation in the defence of free expression.

The point is, that many of the people complaining about harassment etc online are some of the worst offenders. The community that is supposedly pushing for diversity, tolerance etc is one of the least diverse (in terms of ideas) and least tolerant.

Apposite to the situation at the moment are two key incidents. The young artist Zamii has been turned on by the Steven Universe fandom of ‘progressives’ on Tumblr, and driven to a suicide attempt by that degree of intense online bullying, and Thunderf00t had his reputation and employment attacked by a group of ‘progressives’ within and around the atheism community – though this backfired spectacularly.

Many of us do not take online harassment very seriously. We know what trolling is and we know to ignore it. The character of this kind of abuse though, driving fragile people to suicide, pursuing people offline, is something much different. Much worse. Those of us on this side are often unwilling to make a huge fuss about the harassment we get and maybe it’s time we did start talking about this, documenting it, getting our experiences down and letting them be known, rather than brushing them off.

I know there’s many of you out there who have suffered. Please join me in telling your stories. Comment below with links to your stories or post a short summary of what happened to you and I’ll append the links and stories below. We can help define what actual online harassment is (going after people for real) and provide fodder to show that our opposite numbers are – at least somewhat – engaging in what they claim to decry.

If you’d rather have your experience documented anonymously, email me at GRIM at POSTMORT dot DEMON dot CO dot UK.

An account of Harper’s abuse

SJWs fuel censorship in RPGs 1

SJWs fuel censorship in RPGs 2

Man loses job due to SJW harassment

A previous attempt to document SJW harassment on social media

The Tim Hunt affair

Zak Smith, Walk Outs, Censorship and SocJus insanity

GamerGhazi Harrangues and Erases

More Documented Harassment

Targeted Harassment of GG Supporters

Famous ‘victim’ as harasser.

The Silencing of Gamergate, with documented harassment cases.

Linklist (many expired links, but much of use)

Goodreads Review harassment One, Two, Three, Four, Five

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#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.

Hateful?

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.

Nope.

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).

Nope.

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 – GG Via Rules for Radicals

I generally prefer Sun Tzu or Machiavelli, and I’ve read them more often and more recently than Alinksy, but Sargon’s video was a reminder that there’s some good stuff there and that Gamergate has actually done very well by Alinsky’s standards.

It’s worth taking a moment to reflect upon Gamergate from the Alinsky perspective and see where it’s done well, and badly, and where – perhaps – Alinksy is no longer quite so relevant or effective.

It’s important, before we start, to first frame what’s going on with Gamergate. Even though we all know.

Gamergate is a year-long, anarchistic and emergent campaign (99% online) against corruption in games journalism, against censorship of video games and against the politicisation of video games media.

Gamergate’s enemies are the status-quo games media (the large sites and commentators/critics), pseudo-academia (the soft humanities and agenda-driven cultural critics) and cultural authoritarians in general, including the mainstream media when it’s also pushing an agenda.

Gamergate is characterised by being a politically neutral, genuinely grassroots movement of game enthusiasts and consumers.

Gamergate’s enemies are characterised by being the existing, comfortable establishment even though they exploit and use a victim narrative and pretend that they do not have the power.

RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)

Gamergate has both the money and the people, hypothetically. Gamergate is much larger than its opposition and, as a consumer movement, controls a great deal of money in terms of advertising clicks and consumer dollars spent on product and merchandising. In theory, then, Gamergate should have the power in this situation, and it could.

Gamergate’s opposition, however, has power in strategic points and places which acts as a great force multiplier. If you only had games media and mainstream media to go on, you would have no idea what Gamergate actually is. Gamergate’s enemies control the narrative and gatekeep people’s access to the genuine Gamergate, preventing many from finding out what it truly is.

For Gamergate to continue, expand and succeed it must find ways to get around the enemy’s control of the mainstream media and to gain access to the wider array of ‘normal’ people.

RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

Gamergate has, relatively speaking, the ‘common touch’. Jargon is light and what is there is well known in the gaming community, and gamers KNOW GAMES. When nonsensical news stories come up about lack of diversity in games, gamers know it’s bullshit and can rattle off thousands of counter-examples. When accusations of ‘privilege’ come up, again, from personal experience there are thousands of compelling counter-stories.

Gamergate’s enemies do not know or understand games or gaming culture to anything like the extent that gamers do and they’re strangely proud of that fact. Their ‘play’ is made at the corporate, reputational level and with mainstream ‘normal’ people by painting Gamergate as misogynistic, racist, hostile etc, though their jargon and lack of relatability lets them down.

Gamergate can get around the ‘shaming’ tactics that have served AGGro so well simply by continuing to do what it has done, to ignore and mock it. We don’t need to understand or adopt their argumentation when your average normal person fully understands racism to be ‘prejudice on the basis of race’ and NOT ‘prejudice plus power’. Examples like Bahar Mustapha and Rachel Dolezal have been great for Gamergate as your average person just squints at either like they’re crazy – which they are.

In short, it’s unnecessary to be experts on race/gender etc, only to speak in commonly understood – but decent – terms on these things.

RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

Gamergate already occupies an arena outside the expertise of the enemy and can make them look ridiculous whenever they try to talk about games or nerd culture at all. Every attack can be countered by greater knowledge. This is our default position, so this is not hard at all.

AGGro’s area of expertise is ‘social justice issues’ but this is a naturally small demographic of particular echo-chambers when taken to extremes. We don’t need to meet them in this area, but in the common understanding of these issues where they will flounder and look foolish.

RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)

Gamergate could do with doing more of this. Not a single anti-white or ‘uncle Tom’ message from the enemy should exist without a string of replies pointing out that it is racist. Not a single anti-male message should exist without a string of replies pointing out misandry, the same goes for the ‘damseling’ that goes on and the presentation of women as ‘weak’ which can be interpreted as misogynist. Not a day goes by that AGGro doesn’t make a mistake in this regard and they need to be vigorously pointed out as hypocrites.

AGGro has begun to use this against us, most notably with the attacks on Sargon. They are attempting to hold us to our own demands for ethics, even though we are – by and large – not paid journalists and (thus far) haven’t actually done anything unethical. It has been a tactical mistake to answer these accusations when they should probably, simply, be dismissed. After all, we’re not journalists, we’re not being paid to do that job and so are not beholden to journalistic ethics.

Of course, we should be reasonably circumspect, for PR if nothing else.

RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)

Gamergate wins massively on this score. Gamergate is FUN, Gamergate is FUNNY, Gamergate has the BEST memes and Gamergate as a collective entity is an expert at taking the piss. AGGro, on the other hand, have zero sense of humour, take themselves deadly seriously and this makes them vulnerable. Exquisitely so.

RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid “un-fun” activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)

To reiterate, this is somewhere where Gamergate shines. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s amusing. We need to find more fun activities and we need to make the less fun activities easier.

AGGro, by comparison, are not fun or amusing. They’re just mean and they think everything is terrible.

RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)

This is why ‘happenings’ are so important in Gamergate, they fuel engagement and re-engagement. ‘Ops’ need to come back too in a big way and in ways more innovative than ‘send email’.

AGGro have been repeating their same tactics since the start, so a refresh and renew on Gamergate tactics should be even more effective.

RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

Gamergate was good at this initially but has begun to slacken off. This is a reiteration of the need to keep the heat on, to keep piling the heat on and to develop new tactics and operations.

AGGro do this, naturally, but they are not fighting just us. The pressure is a constant push from media outlets and pseudo-academia and needs to be met just as strongly every single time it appears.

RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)

Perception is not reality and one major departure I have from Alinksy is his innate embracing of irrationalism. In the end reality is always what determines what happens, not perception. You need to know and have the reality AND to work the perception to the correct end.

Also Gamergate doesn’t want to be seen as a threat, we want to be engaged. Being seen as dangerous and a threat is counterproductive to the narrative that we want to sell. We also want to sell the narrative that it is the opposition that are dangerous and a threat – to fundamental human freedoms such as free expression.

RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)

We are the underdog in Gamergate and we have been subjected to a great deal of brutalising treatment from doxxing and threats to brigading, jobs being threatened and so on. We’ve also been censored from even discussing the problems we’ve found in most remotely mainstream places.

Yet AGGro has successfully presented the narrative that Gamergate are the harassers, the monsters and so on. This needs challenging and countering constantly with concrete examples from topic bans and blockbots to documented cases of harassment.

RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)

We have our solutions. Alternative sources of media, truly egalitarian and meritocratic games, truly free expression. This side does, however, need to be pushed more. Since the start we’ve pushed ethics policies and we’ve made ground on that, but we need to go further.

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

Personally, I do not like this tactic. It’s an automatic ad hominem, but there’s no denying there’s plenty of awful people in AGGro who are easy to demonise from Butts and Harper to Sarkeesian and Joshathan McInjosh. There’s a steady flow of awful people doing awful things.

AGGro has done well in demonising certain people like Davis Aurini and smearing our whole side based upon them. They do a similar tactic with websites like 8chan and their constant accusations of paedophilia etc or trying to claim that Gamergate is inherently ‘conservative’.

I personally can’t condone this tactic, but there’s no doubting its effectiveness. What I could advocate is holding up certain AGGro personalities as exemplars of everything that’s wrong with the ‘Social Justice’ movement.

Those are the twelve rules but there’s something else in Rules for Radicals worth addressing and that’s building a broader movement and constructing alliances. We’ve been wary of doing this and of going beyond ‘ethics in journalism’ because of the lessons learned from Occupy Wall Street where bringing in too many subjects ended up breaking the movement and removing its power, turning it into a lunatic fringe.

I think it’s possible to expand Gamergate without becoming lunatics and that’s by building alliances.

  • The moderate end of the Men’s Human Rights Movement are good allies with similar experiences, knowledge of tactics worth sharing, a higher media profile and an existing network.
  • Skeptical Atheism has been through this same situation with Atheism Plus and has a good array of Youtube personalities and debaters that make good allies – ‘The Slymepit’ especially may make good common-cause fighters.
  • The Sad Puppies pushback against PC culture in genre fiction is a cause worth supporting and allying with.
  • There are similar disorganised pushbacks in comedy, music, pornography and elsewhere.
  • Then there are individual causes and issues where the opportunity for broadening appeal and allies exists. Shirtgate or Tim Hunt being fine examples.
  • The moderate right wing are not people we should be afraid of, nor the equity feminist movement. We don’t need to agree on everything to agree on something.
  • Alternative publications, such as Spiked, which also occupies a left-lib position could be strong allies, as could groups such as the ACLU and the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund.

Reflecting on all this, my own suggested guidelines for Gamergate moving forward into a second year would be these…

  1. Come to a consensus on what Gamergate IS: We pride ourselves on disorganisation and consensus, but there are aspects to Gamergate that are more easily ‘sold’ to normies. A consumer advocacy group is a good selling point. Free expression is a good selling point. These are things people will reflexively support. Being apolitical is also a good thing, and probably why people try so hard to make Gamergate out to be ‘right wing’.
  2. Come to accept that PR matters: We all hate it, and yes, it shouldn’t matter, but it does. The Harassment Patrol needs to make a comeback and we need to be ruthless with trolls like Ayyteam etc. Disassociation from these kinds of people will disempower the harassment narrative and, honestly, we’re more often their target lately anyway.
  3. Challenge Everything, Expose Everything: We can’t let these things slide. Every attack is an opportunity to fight back. Every instance of racism, sexism etc by the opposition is an opportunity to build alliances.
  4. Mix Things Up: We need new operations and new tactics and to streamline existing tactics. Our email campaigns are effective, but would be a lot easier with form letters and mailing via a website. The less effort, the more effective, the more mails. We also need more innovative operations to bring our message to new places and to get around the bans on discussing Gamergate. New scandals and nastiness could probably be addressed independently without mentioning Gamergate and supplementary hashtags to use (without the Gamergate tag) would get around those who automatically write off anything Gamergate. Multiple accounts are also useful to get around blockbots, though that sails close to harassment.
  5. Broaden and Build: Gamergate can’t just be ‘ethics in journalism’ if its to succeed and continue. It needs to be a broader anti-SJW movement and a free-expression movement. These naturally combine together as it is, since they all interrelate in the issues anyway. We also need to signal boost, and be signal-boosted by, groups that can be our allies.
  6. Link, Share, Host, Spread: OpSkynet was very effective on bringing people into contact with each other. We need to use these networks to share and host material. Thumbs-up and reshare each other’s videos, reblog, host, pick up on good stuff and spread it around – without the tag necessarily so that we can reach more people with this material.

Gamergate’s message IS positive, so hammer that home.

  • Your media shouldn’t lie to you.
  • Your media shouldn’t preach to you.
  • You should be free to make what you want.
  • You should be free to buy what you want.
  • You should be free to say what you want.
  • You’re not evil.

#Gamergate Fisking Chris Scullion

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

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

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

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

Here’s the non-archived links.

Blog

Vice

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

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

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

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

Vice – We’re All Gamers…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now on to his blog post…

Game Journalism: That Prick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or you’re just a fucksmith.

A ‘Talkorigins’ for #Gamergate

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

Origins

Claim GO001 – Gamergate Originated with the Harassment of Zoe Quinn

Abuse

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

Origins

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

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

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

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

Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fisking Vocativ’s Shoddy #Gamergate Piece

Gamergate-Trolls-Zed-002591324270

The original can be found HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s end on a positive note.

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

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

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

Fisking #Gamergate and the Right

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This ground has been gone over a huge number of times, so I’ll try and keep it short and to the point – even though the article itself isn’t. The entire premise of it is overturned from the very start. Numerous surveys and political-compass aggregates have repeatedly demonstrated that the majority of Gamergate are left/libertarian (small ‘l’) with progressive values and that they stand in opposition to an authoritarian bent in the modern ‘left’, especially the successors to the 90s ‘PC police’, the ‘Social Justice Warriors’.

To recap, briefly, no matter what you’ve heard Gamergate is primarily concerned with:

  1. Ethics in games journalism (and increasingly mainstream journalism).
  2. Countering censorship (censorship here broadly defined, not limited to governmentally enforced censorship).
  3. Worries over the politicisation of games journalism and how that no longer serves the consumer.

For the last month and a half, most of what I have read, watched, or listened to on the Internet has been either directly or indirectly related to GamerGate.

This is obviously a lie since the entire article is riddled with misapprehensions, outright lies and propagandist spins. If they had, indeed, spent their time on things related to Gamergate they would know better. It’s either a lie or incompetence, and it seems to me that accusing someone of malfeasance is the least insulting option.

If you haven’t been following the chain of events, GamerGate started in late August when Eron Gjoni released a blog post alleging that his former girlfriend, game developer Zoe Quinn, had slept with a journalist in return for positive coverage of her free interactive fiction game, Depression Quest (this was later proven to be false).

  1. Gamergate started later.
  2. The claim was never a review, but ‘positive coverage’. This did, indeed, take place.
  3. Gamergate has little or nothing to do with Zoe Quinn other than this was the ‘Archduke Ferdinand assassination’ that was the initial spark. We’re now ten months on and the only times Quinn comes up are when she self inserts, when claims she has anything to do with GG need to be debunked or when parts of GG support Gjoni’s free speech rights and right to a fair trial.

This resulted in a sustained harassment campaign targeting Quinn, as well as her family, friends, and supporters, and inspired the creation of the GamerGate hashtag on Twitter.

Trolls exist. Trolls have been trolling Quinn since long before Gamergate and likely will long after. GG has also been targeted for harassment by trolls. Trolls are drawn to drama. This is a dishonest and inaccurate attempt to associate Gamergate with the actions of those who are not part of the consumer revolt. Ironically, this accusation could equally – perhaps more so given the likes of Randi Harper – be levelled at anti-Gamergate.

The stated purpose of the hashtag was to raise awareness about corruption and ethics in game journalism, but it also served as a marshaling ground for people who had a bone to pick with “feminist ideologues.” Other feminist critics and game developers were targeted, many of whom had already been subjected to both online and offline harassment, including Anita Sarkeesian, Mattie Brice, Jenn Frank, and Brianna Wu.

There’s actually no divide, difference or conflict here. Many of these people have used corruption to further their agenda. Many of them are – or more generously appear to be – con artists who have repeatedly lied to boost their own profile and to smear the games community to forward their own ideological agenda. Corruption wears many faces, not all of them financial.

Feminism has been at the forefront of a surge of authoritarian censorship across many forms of media, which makes resistance to it unsurprising. It’s also not that surprising that people spin rejection of an ideology (modern feminism) into rejection of women (people) even though this is wildly inaccurate.

Supporters of GamerGate have repeatedly tried to distance themselves from the harassment, doxxing, and threats, but thanks in part to the disorganized and decentralized nature of the “movement,” they have had little success thus far. As many critics of GamerGate have pointed out, GamerGaters have largely focused on the activities of small indie developers and critics, rather than large companies, which are far more likely to have access to the resources necessary to influence and manipulate the gaming press, though some supporters have succeeded in pressuring advertisers to pull their ads from websites that have published articles criticizing the movement.

The only reason this hasn’t been successful is the unwillingness of the opposition to accept it and to treat honestly with Gamergate.

  1. The focus on indies (really it’s been focussed on games media) has come about for a number of reasons which I’ll briefly cover here:
  2. Gamergate has focussed on ideological corruption and nepotism, which is primarily a sin of the indie scene.
  3. Corruption and problems in the larger publishers etc are old news and already well known.
  4. Indies and ideological campaigners have been on their high horse for a long time and have been shown to have feet of clay. To be as bad – or worse – than people they were attacking. There’s an emotional payoff for a lot of people going after them.

Just to reiterate, the real focus has been on games media. Insomuch as there HAS been any focus on indies, it’s for the above factors (and their nepotism with some of the games media).

Aside from a public discussion I hosted about a month ago, this is the first time I’ve sat down to write something that maybe will be seen by more than one or two people. I feel a bit badly for not speaking up earlier, not so much because I feel I have something especially important to say that hasn’t already been contributed by somebody else, but because I think that numbers matter. It’s part of how we measure “public opinion,” but it’s also a way of resisting the silencing tactics used by some of the more vocal (and violent) anti-feminist supporters of GamerGate. No one is obligated to read this, but the very fact that it exists is my way of saying “You may have succeeded in scaring the shit out of me, but I’m not going to back down.”

Accusing Gamergate of silencing tactics is… a bit rich.

Discussion of the scandals was censored from just about everywhere – even 4chan. Gamergate has been accused of all sorts of nonsense since the start in an attempt to silence it. Misogyny, racism, harassment, child porn, white supremacy… nothing has worked. Gamergate’s efforts – yes, even the shitposting and taking over of hashtags – has all been engaged in to overcome that.

You have no reason to be scared of Gamergate, if only you would engage honestly and openly with it without smearing it. If you are dishonest, corrupt, don’t want your pseudo-academic nonsense debunked etc then, perhaps, you have something to be afraid of.

Still, it’s hard to know where to start. The impact on the gaming community I’m a part of has been tangible, but I also think it has, and will have, impacts far outside of that. This is because GamerGate is part of several broader trends, the most obvious of which is the polarization that follows in the wake of (or occurs as part of) economic, political, and cultural crises. By crisis I mean a sudden shift in the status quo, which occurs in any unsustainable system, and leads to a struggle over a limited supply of material and symbolic resources. Think of a house of cards, or a Jenga game, and the inevitable collapse. It’s the dramatic release of tensions that have been built up over a period of time, as a result of contradictions or oppositions that can’t be reconciled: the very act of playing the game and expanding the system, of adding cards or pulling out and restacking blocks, increases the instability of the system as a whole, until eventually it can no longer expand, and something has to give. In Jenga, this marks the end of the game, but in reality, life goes on, and people are forced to deal with the (often unpleasant) consequences of the collapse.

I can’t disagree with much of this. I do believe that GG has had a big – and mostly positive – impact. As a creator myself I now feel more emboldened and less likely to self-censor. I no longer feel as isolated or alone and I feel part of a community which, while very disparate and fractured on a great many points shares my values of free expression, truth and reason. Values that have long felt under siege.

I also see Gamergate as one battle in a much larger culture war and as part, finally, FINALLY, of a reassertion of enlightenment values against what has been a very dangerous, authoritarian imposition of fact-free censorship and ideological imposition (interestingly, imposed by both left and right).

If I had to compare it to anything, it would be The Restoration, not in terms of monarchy, but in terms of the (potential) explosion of intellectual and artistic progress we got during that period after a long period of po-faced, censorious absolutism.

Capitalism, particularly in its current form, is a highly unstable, and ultimately unsustainable system based on private property and the endless pursuit of profit. Overall profit goes in one direction, from those who have less wealth (the employees) to those who have more (the investors), and this produces ever-greater inequalities. However the rich can only get so rich before people, infrastructure, economies, and other things that depend on the continuous circulation and redistribution of wealth, start to give way. The 2008 financial crisis is the product of the instability created by the push for endless growth (of markets and fortunes) in a finite world. The effects of this crisis are still being felt today, and it is partly because of this that we’ve seen waves of large-scale protests and conflicts emerging in countries around the world: Tunisia, Greece, China, Turkey, Venezuela, Brazil, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Egypt, the United States, Syria, Canada, Spain, Libya, Portugal, and the list goes on.

I would mostly agree here too and that’s a point upon which, as a staunch leftist, I depart from the more free-market Gaters. However I see these problems and the austerity resulting from them as a factor which has empowered the authoritarian social conservatism enacted by both left and right.

A prime example of this is the UK’s pornography censorship, enacted by a right wing government but enabled by ostensibly left-wing activists (like Gail Dines). The sides both share an authoritarian streak and a rhetorical flourish and fondness for moral panic reminiscent of the Satanic Panic or the PMRC.

(At this point you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with GamerGate, but bear with me, I’m getting there).

Nothing really so far…

In a crisis it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a “middle ground,” as people are pressured to identify with one side of the conflict or another. As time goes on and the conflicts continue, both of these sides will tend to diverge, separating themselves from both the representatives of the old status quo (the liberals, centrists, and moderates, who present themselves as the “natural,” “normal,” and “neutral” middle ground), and the other side. This is what I mean by polarization. Historically, these two “sides” are what we call the Left and the Right. The Left is egalitarian and progressive, while the Right is hierarchical and reactionary.

By this metric Gamergate is on the left while AGGro, DiGRA etc are the right. As noted earlier, this isn’t really left/right, it is libertarian/authoritarian.

Some call this ‘horseshoe theory’. In practice there was little to divide Stalinism or National Socialism, just as there’s little today to divide ‘moral majority’ Conservatism from ‘far left’ social justice warriors.

By comparison, Gamergate is positively moderate.

Often the Right adopts surface-level terminology and symbolism from the Left, as was the case with the “National Socialists” or Nazi party, which can fool people into supporting them, something that would be difficult if fascists were honest and open about their real motives. While the Left is pushing for greater inclusivity and equality, the Right is focused on protecting their turf from “outsiders.” This turf can be a nation, or it can be a medium like videogames. The outsiders can be Muslims, or Jews, or they can be feminists and “cultural Marxists” (a recycling of the term cultural Bolshevism, which was widely used by the Nazis during the Third Reich). Often this is wrapped up in language that emphasizes purity versus corruption, tradition versus change, strength versus weakness, order versus chaos. Class is almost never mentioned. Instead, the focus is on race, ethnicity, ability, gender, “merit,” sexuality, and ideology. In right-wing ideology, employees and bosses, rich and poor, are united against a common enemy.

What is sought to be preserved in this case is the freedom and liberty. Games media are more like Poland being invaded by the Nazis than the Nazis being paranoid about Jews. Social Justice Warriors ARE the outsiders, most seemingly knowing little or nothing about the medium they seek to criticise, and seeking to force change on a medium that is already diverse and welcoming and – ironically – putting that at risk. The propaganda is representing gamers as sexist, racist monsters and dehumanising them. The comparison may have some validity – but in reverse. Which is sort of amusing.

By way of example of the ignorance of these outsiders, one can point to something like #GamesSoWhite which was complaining about a lack of PoC in games, only to be met by pages and pages and pages and pages and pages of examples and statistical analyses which showed this to be nonsense.

Briefly, ‘cultural Marxism’ has become a bogey-word, used by both left and right but it DOES refer to a real concept. That cultural surroundings, as much as economic surroundings, work to oppress people. You can draw a line between that idea and the idea of ‘false consciousness’, the idea that people don’t know their own mind (which is one of those areas where I also depart from standard left ideology).

That it gets abused by all sides, either as a conspiracy theory or to dismiss things AS a conspiracy theory, doesn’t make it an inapplicable term.

Class has been mentioned a great deal in terms of Gamergate, since its opposition seems – largely – to be made up of wealthy, upper-middle class trust fund kids who can afford to get useless degrees, while GG – while diverse – seems to skew more blue collar.

The goal of the Right is to eliminate “difference” in order to return to an imaginary, and heavily idealized past, a past where the power and privilege of the dominant race was unthreatened and unquestioned, a past where men were “real men” and women knew their place, a past that was morally, racially, and culturally “pure.” Everything and anything that is wrong with the current state of society can then be blamed on the outsiders, the invaders who have infiltrated your turf and who are responsible for its decline. All of your problems, all of your insecurities, all of your fears, can be channeled into hatred of the Other. This is called scapegoating, and it provides a simple solution to the difficulties that you’ve encountered throughout your life but have never been able to name. It provides comfort, a certain degree of safety (as a privileged insider), and a sense of community. You may not have much power, but at least you’re better than “they” are, at least you’re not one of “them.”

This is, again, completely backwards. While GG is a reaction, it is a reaction to RETAIN the gains of past revolutions. To retain and maintain the free expression and open creativity of games (and increasingly other media) against reactionary and socially conservative forces – albeit dressed up in the regalia of the left.

SJWs need to understand that, to gamers, they’re just another Frederic Wertham, Pat Pulling, Jack Thompson or PMRC. Just another threat to what is – otherwise – a democratised and open medium. Perhaps if they could understand, grasp and absorb this fact we might make some progress.

Again, the irony here is that this article, like so much else, is engaged in smearing and scapegoating gamers. It’s Sargon’s Law all over again.

The Left, unfortunately, represents a threat to all of that. The Left wants us to change our whole society around, the Left wants to upset hierarchies and disturb the “natural order of things,” the Left paints you as a bully even though you’re certain that you are the underdog. The Left represents everything that is wrong with the world, and it needs to be fought, tooth and nail. The Left is weak, corrupt, cowardly, and illogical (i.e. feminine), but we are strong, brave, rational, and valiant (i.e. masculine), and we are going to prove this by crushing the Left, and anyone else that dares to oppose us, because that’s how masculinity works. We’re the winners, not the losers, and we’ll do whatever it takes to win.

To repeat. This is not a left/right conflict and to poke at some more of this…

Gamergate is non-hierarchical, anarchistic, emergent movement. The idea that it would be upset by overturning hierarchies is… laughable. Meanwhile the opposition often tries to use authority (academic, media and others) to impose their point of view.

Again, also, Gamergate is primarily left/lib, so presenting it as opposition to the left is disingenuous in the extreme.

All of this is seemingly projection again. Masculine/feminine is also nonsense, though the opposition does appear to be irrational – that much is true.

And Gamergate IS winning in terms of meeting its goals.

In order to achieve this, we may claim to represent certain underprivileged groups, but deep down we can never accept them as equals, because as much as they try, they will never be real, white, heterosexual men. Never mind that they provide the basis of support that allows us to carry out some of our more extreme activities, never mind that they, like us, are simply looking for answers, and a sense of security, and belonging. This is, after all, the appeal of hashtags like #NotYourShield, which invites women and minorities to support and identify with GamerGate. It’s the feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself, of feeling included, and welcomed, of having a clear purpose. It’s the same feeling that has united so-called “social justice warriors” on the Left, and activists of various stripes.

#NotYourShield is a genuine movement started by minorities from amongst Gamergate and they’re treated as true equals. Again this article just demonstrates its authors prejudices and lack of knowledge far more than showing anything about Gamergate.

The thing that is rarely understood about the Right, and its more extreme variant, fascism, is the extent to which it thrives on crisis. Crisis is what produces the anxiety, the uncertainty, and the desperation that pushes people to look for answers, to look for security, in whatever form. Crisis, which also brings with it the potential for change, the potential for a dramatic redefinition of the status quo, threatens those who currently occupy a position of power or privilege, particularly when they are faced with a strong and organized Left. In order to prevent the Left from gaining ground during the crisis, the old guard will start to support (or at least fail to prevent) the activities of the extreme Right, of the fascists, who at this point may be the only ones who seem capable of putting down the Left. The fascists are not afraid to use violence, whether that means beating up and killing Leftist activists or harassing feminist critics and game developers online. The elites, meanwhile, are perfectly happy to let somebody else do their dirty work, even if publicly they will denounce the violence, or pretend to take a neutral stance. Up until now they have had to put up with constant criticism from the Left, but no more. From their point of view, fascists are actually preferable (an enemy of my enemy is my friend).

This is just more reiteration of the same mistakes (repetition seems to be a major flaw in this presentation).

Again, GG is primarily left/lib. It’s not a phenomenon of the right. Nor, in my opinion, can GG’s opposition properly be called left according to normal left-wing political thought. It’s desire to set up a cultural elite with social control smacks of fascism, to be honest.

The point I’m trying to make is that you do not have to be a fascist to act as a basis of support for fascism. You do not have to be actively harassing women and minorities to provide a cover for those who are. Not everyone in Germany was a Nazi, and not every Nazi was necessarily a xenophobic sociopath, but that didn’t stop them from committing genocide. The Nazi party emerged in a moment of crisis, initially supported by members of the Western ruling class who feared the spread of communism and its promise of a global revolution more than anything else, just as the fascist parties of today are slowly but surely gaining ground, alongside the rise of movements like Occupy and Idle No More.

Again, repetition, trying to link GG with the actions of third party trolls and bad actors. Unfortunately these people also attack GG, undermining the ghost of a point that might exist here.

GG has been actively condemning such behaviour and rooting it out (Celebriando), not providing cover for it, which is another place this all falls down.

Such an argument might be valid when prosecuting, say, moderate Islam, but has no place here.

This is why I find anti-feminist sentiments and references to “cultural Marxists” in GamerGate videos and texts so absolutely terrifying, because I know where those things come from, and I know what they can produce. Anders Breivik repeatedly decries the corrupting influence of “cultural Marxist” in his manifesto, which he published not long before massacring 77 people in Norway. Elliot Rodger blamed women for his suffering, and for his inability to live up to the impossible standards of patriarchy, before killing 6 people and himself. Marc Lépine claimed he was “fighting feminism” when he murdered 14 people and committed suicide at École Polytechnique.

Lone nuts have no comparison to a popular and broad movement which shares no values with these people at all. It is scaremongering and smearing – yet again – to try and claim otherwise. This is propaganda, again, which brings us back to the role reversal from earlier. It’s Gamergate that is the target of dehumanising propaganda.

If you think GG and – others – anti-feminism is anti-woman, then you don’t understand. If you think people who object to modern feminism are objecting to, rather than DEFENDING equality and fairness, you simply haven’t been paying attention. If you want to understand why people oppose modern 3.5 wave, Tumblrist pseudo-feminism you need only look at its actions.

These might seem like isolated cases, but they all fall back on the same old myths about women and minoritized groups that are perpetuated by the mainstream media and supported by structural oppression. Every time we use a sexist slur, or dismiss the experiences of women and minorities, or make a crack about “feminazis,” or dehumanize someone who is struggling with poverty, or blame unemployment on immigrants, we contribute to a toxic culture that serves as a breeding ground for hate groups and right-wing extremism. People on both sides are suffering, but it is ultimately the people who are already disempowered, who are already vulnerable, that will bear the brunt of it, regardless of which side they identify with.

These aren’t the old myths, the old context or the old media. Another point of misunderstanding is that people like the writer of this article, and the media, don’t understand anon or chan culture. You would not suggest, I hope, that the slur ‘nigger’ has the same meaning within the black community as it does coming from without. Slurs like this, similarly, have a different context and meaning within anon culture and reacting as you would if someone dropped a term like this at the dinner table is ludicrous and only betrays your own ignorance.

This entire article is rooted in ignorance of politics, history and – most importantly – Gamergate itself. What it believes, what it does, what it has done.

It’s just more propaganda and if we demand better of our media and our academics than half-baked hatchet jobs, surely that’s a good thing?