So this Gamergate stuff...

Come on, I can’t be the only one who’s been watching. This is usually the sort of stuff that blows over in like a week, so the fact that it’s still going after a bit under a month is significant in itself. Who knew the internet still had an attention span?

Whole major sites are going ballistic, pseudo-celebrities and e-celebrities getting boxed into one side or the other, everything from reddit to tumblr and 4chan imploding… I have no idea if anything worthwhile will come out of it in the end, but at the very least, I’m actually being entertained by the over-long joke that is gaming journalism for a change.

I dunno, it seems to be blowing over to me. It was hard for me to avoid it when it happened, and now I don’t really see about it anywhere I go.

My big issue with this and other attacks on feminists is that the people who do really fucked up shit make it virtually impossible to have a dissenting opinion without looking bad. For example, I think Anita Sarkeesian raises good points about female representation in gaming, but only in a broad perspective. I think many of the specific points she tries to make are poor, and she idealizes this strange, egalitarian gender representation that I don’t think is useful or realistic.

…But, if I say publicly that I feel that way, I’m more worried that people will group me in with the types of psycho dudes that make death threats against her and other crazy shit. The issue is so divisive in my opinion, that there’s this sort of “With us or against us” mentality that I think is unhealthy if we’re trying to get a serious dialogue going about issues of gender representation in games and gaming.

I pretty much share your opinion. You just hit the nail on the head that allowed this to proliferate so much: regular nutjobs wouldn’t have been able to get this ball rolling for so long. The thing got real traction when the people who’ve been wanted to offer criticism but were sick of fearing being lumped together with the nutjobs jumped in.

And to be honest, it’s not just a matter of “The Crazy Critics” overshadowing “The Normal Critics”. There’s a hell of a lot of that for sure, but I also noticed a very blatant effort from whatever you’d call “the opposition” to draw the lines in the sand and frame any criticism as being entirely from the crazy party. It takes two to tango, and while there’s some heavy bullshit on one side, but the other is not exactly free of hypocrisy. If I ever had any suspicions about this, the fact that the entirety of the mainstream media dug up the trenches and decided this was solely about sexism and that there was “no ethics problem whatsoever in journalism so stop asking go away” convinced me there was definitely something rotten there.

I’m not sure if it’s “dying down” though, all that’s happened is that a lot of places just went full North Korea Media about it, so either you have concentrated heated megathreads filled with refugees from other sites, or total radio silence. After the mailing list leaked, the journos went dead silent again for obvious reasons, but I don’t see it dying yet.

What amuses me the most about it is that none of this is rare, but these scandals in other form of media are hushed up through PR tactics. These guys clearly have no PR telling them to stop mouthing off, and instead own the megaphones of gaming media. Seeing one of these media scandals happen raw in an arena where everyone involved is super bad at PR is kind of fascinating.

I’ve encountered the same issue SG has, albeit from a marginally different standpoint. People who have been on the warpath over Sarkeesian or Quinn have made it impossible to take even a middle ground approach. I’ve said several times that Anita should be able to make her videos without being harassed or threatened regardless of how you feel about her, and as a result I’ve been pegged as a “fan” of Feminist Frequency or that I admire Anita Sarkeesian so much.

…Except I’m not a fan of Feminist Frequency. Anita’s videos have some interesting points, but I find some of her critical targets off-base and I’m not the biggest fan of her style or the way she presents her ideas. We can’t even talk about that, though. Like SG said, it’s just gotten down to drawing lines in the sand and it’s drowning out the intelligent, healthy discussions we could be having.

Jennifer Hepler is another good example, even though she hasn’t been drawn into this debate as much. The huge outcry over her was her comments that her least favorite thing about video games is playing them, which suggested she wasn’t familiar with the nuances of writing within video games as a medium. Having played DA2, I thought the writing was weak and it did feel disjointed from the gameplay, almost as if people who took issue with Hepler’s comments had a valid point. But again, any valid points that could have been made were drowned out by people threatening her kids.

Here’s my 2 cents on the argument.

Everybody involved in this argument is wrong and the only thing we got out of this is that being a bum, knows no gender. If there was to be a debate on the role of gender equality within the gaming industry, this would not be it.

I feel we’re focusing on extremely different angles regarding this. Frankly I don’t give a damn about the debate about gender roles since, as you’ve said, the mess is too heated up and polarized to allow any real discourse about anything. I’d long given the thing for lost until this whole batch of talking heads fade and things cool off.

I started getting interested when the topic went into how most of the big journalist sites are essentially a small club of buddies who simply echo each other. THAT got my attention, since they effectively have a lot of the indie devs by the balls.

Start from the beginning, September’s a bit crazy and I’m a bit behind. What’s going on?

the tl;dr is that the disgruntled ex-boyfriend of this girl who made a game called Depression Quest - Zoe Quinn -put a bunch of crap online that demonstrated that she cheated on her a bunch of times and lied about it, under the guise that he wanted to make sure everyone knew that this champion of feminism in gaming was someone who allegedly slept with developers, conference organizers, journalists, etc. to further her ambitions. (Personally, I don’t believe that’s true - I think the guy is just an emo whiner, even if everything he wrote was true.)

Now, as a result, people are DDoSing this girl, hacking into her shit, finding her personal information, and sending her various threats…basically, the same as what hapened to Anita Sarkeesian way back. And, incidentally, it happened to Sarkeesian, again, at around the same time.

Women using sex to manipulate people to acquire power? Oh the humanity.

Don’t forget that part of the accusation is that Quinn copied the idea of the game from another developer and refused to give her credit, also that she (at first) pretended to be harassed for attention, and also slept with the mods on /r/gaming on reddit who are deleting all discussion having to do with the whole drama.

Frankly none of this matter at all because these people literally have no influence or name outside their little niche but it’s interesting to see them take themselves so seriously.

That’s a pretty outdated version of the initial stupid shitstorm though. This is in no way complete, but here’s an overview from where I’m standing.

Again, I didn’t pay attention until the stuff started involving journalism, so I don’t have the whole details, but the real hook for attention was that one of the guys mentioned in the jilted boyfriend stuff was a journalist for Kotaku, and another had been a jury in a contest where her game had gotten a prize. This basically splintered the matter into two: on one side, you had retarded harassment, yet on the other, you had people digging around for more dirt on journalists. Things kept going for a while, spawning other unrelated witchhunts (for instance, another kotaku writer was found to have been roommates and even romantic partners of another dev she had plugged a lot on her articles). This kept going for a while longer, but seemed doomed to peter out.

And then the first bomb dropped: within 24, a barrage of articles appeared on most mainstream sites all following the same rough line: “Gamers are entitled manbabies and we shouldn’t listen to them anymore.” The intent was clearly a stand against harassment, but the tone and scope of the targeting were… unfortunate. This is what I meant by lots of these guys not knowing PR. The things read more like they were telling their whole reader base to fuck off. End result: a whole lotta people who didn’t give a shit before got interested since they felt targeted.

Now you got a MUCH bigger mass of people who didn’t give a damn about the original scandal but were interested in the claims of journalistic corruption (around a dozen identical articles dropping simultaneously didn’t exactly help defuse the “You’re all a clique of buddies who simply push whatever you want” accusations.) This is made even WORSE by the magic of Twitter, where guys like Jason Schreder (Kotaku writer already notable for the Dragon Crown scuffle) openly boasted of the fact that “Nobody at Kotaku ever tries to be objective” or Leigh Alexander being… let’s just go with “Not polite”.

So now you got, on one side, a mob made of a mixture of shitheads looking to harass people, witchhunters, people with actual interest in the corruption accusations and the internet in general. In the other side, you got the gaming media insisting this is exclusively about misogyny. An assortment of stuff happened that would take too long to recount, though the highlights are that notorious right-leaning actor Adam Baldwin jumped in when discussing the corruption stuff and coined the #GamerGate hashtag, and later on another journalist from Breitbart (a British right-wing tabloid) got involved as well and started investigating. A startup charity trying to raise money for a gamejam for women accused Quinn of using media connections to torpedo their gamejam in order to help prop up her own and then blocking them from any coverage. Also one of the main accusations in the original slew of “Gamers are dead” articles was also the fact that this was all coming from “white priviledged kids”, so a secondary hashtag (#NotYourShield) appeared where a bunch of women, minorities and people from other countries claimed to support what at this point became “Gamergate”. At the same time, some of the claims of corruption or at least non-disclosure of conflicts of interest seemed to have some validity, so The Escapist released a new code of ethics and promised to be more careful with disclosing stuff in the future.

Shit went on for far longer than anybody would have expected (I was sure destiny’s release would snuff it out, but here we are) and the banhammer started swinging around the internet. The two “sides” entrenched each other pretty firmly. “GamerGate” insisting that the issue is about journalist corruption, and “The Media (Minus the Escapist)” pretty staunchly standing in place and decrying the whole thing as a misogynous withhunt.

And that’s kind of where we are here. Honestly, my opinion is that while the harassment stuff is indeed awful, it’s also being used to deflect investigation on some shady shit going on with journos. There seems to be a very concentrated effort from the media to keep this matter rooted on Quinn that starts to get a little suspicious after several weeks of ignoring a bunch of accusations that don’t involve her on the least. The Genetic Fallacy is being swung around mighty strong here.

Just a few days ago, the Breitbart guy released a story about how essentially all major players in gaming media maintain a mailing list where they mostly coordinate how to deal with news stories in mass. I’ve read the logs, and they irk me. A big problem seems to be that they don’t quite grasp how this is fantastically poisonous to journalistic integrity or ideas like keeping a professional distance from the subjects that you write on. It’s not really a “vicious conspiracy” so much as it seems to be an issue of these guys being essentially bloggers who moved up the ladder, but didn’t stop treating the business like a friends’ club even though they literally held the fate of many indie devs in their hands.

Simultaneously to all this, you get a bunch of journalists and indie devs popping up with stories about how the journalist clique works and how following the group is often the only way to make it in the indie scene. This guy has a pretty interesting read on the matter.

I have to disagree on that one. They don’t matter to the big publishers, but indies live and die by whatever coverage they can get. An article in Kotaku and the like is worth gold to the ramen-fueled production crowd. Even the middle-ranked guys can’t really ignore them, like when Daniel Vávra’s kickstarter project came under fire because of some or other nonsense. Ignoring the impact this has on indies gets harder the more “indies” starts to mean “Everybody who’s not EA or Activision”.

I’m not sure what’s particularly noteworthy about Dragon’s Crown. Jason Schreder wrote an combative article on the art style and George Kamitani responded with a “omg big burly men” retort. Both of them apologized for the exchange and that was pretty much the end of it.

Go join /r/MensRights. Pig.

Also, relevant question. Was Zoe Quinn released during The Fappening?

No, nothing to do with that as far as I know. The timing was just coincidence.

Welcome to “Why I stopped trying to do game journalism.” Not that I was ever very close to being on “the inside” (although I was writing for VGChartz for all of two months before quitting of my own accord), but yes, game journalism is a bottomless echo chamber. That should already be clear as day.

Although, ironically, I think that a large part of why game journalism is a huge echo chamber is because most of the content tries to appear objective. Being objective when writing basically anything but news is literally impossible; even if you only wrote facts and didn’t inject your opinion into the body of the review at all, you still have to say whether or not you enjoyed the game in the score. If you tried to give an “objective” score, it would be relative to what you thought about what other gamers figured the game would score anyways, so that’s equally pointless.

The ONLY thing that separates your review from another review is your subjectivity. EVERYONE is going to have written the fact, and I can tell you that even though gamers think they are discerning and can easily tell whether or not a journalist finished the game or not, that’s not true. Hell, most of the reviews I wrote back when I wrote a lot of reviews were 99% written by the time I was halfway through the game, only making corrections based on things I predicted that were ENTIRELY wrong, or if I wanted to comment on something that happened after the point where I had written the review. Your unique experience of the same game that 20-million other assholes are writing about is what makes your review special. This is true of almost everything written on a gaming website. The problem isn’t lack of objectivity; the problem is that gamers demand it without realizing how holy-god-damn-fucking-shit-ass re-motherfucking-dicks-and-balls-tarded that is, and journalists are more than happy to comply with that demand - or at least, fake it as best as possible.

And if you ask me nicely, I’ll tell you how I REALLY feel.

I think this is just a slice of the game developer harassment pie. It gets a bit more attention because its targeted at a minority member of the industry in starkly sexist terms, but things likes this drove out people like Phil Fish and Stephen Toulouse. Similarly, they directly or indirectly brought the attention of the trolls to themselves (not implying anyone deserved it). Its just the nature of what the internet has grown into.

We’ve known of this since well before 2004: ; I can attest to that having moderated this forum since high school :P.

In re: the lack of objectivity, I recall the DW7 - RPGamer controversy from 10 years ago. Games Journalism is terrible and the few interesting outlets like the GIA died a long time ago.

More like RPLAMER.

Gamergate goes all the way to Congress:

Congress-edits is a Twitter bot that posts all edits made to Wikipedia from the IP address associated with the United States House of Representatives. Today, it announced one very strange edit:

Kotaku is the popular game-news and culture arm of Gawker Media and has recently been embroiled in the toxic #gamergate movement of aggrieved and confused white nerds. The edit, which cites two Breitbart articles, is as follows: “In 2014, Kotaku was exposed as being part of a vast conspiracy to promote Cultural Marxism through video games.”

Even if you ignore the fact that its an election year, there’s absolutely no reason to care about what Congress thinks since the only thing they can agree on is bombing the shit out of things and gridlocking each other till doomsday.

Games Journalism is terrible and the few interesting outlets like the GIA died a long time ago.

all the different, bad opinions create confusion. I liked it better when it was just a few monthly game magazines, which made it easier to get a grip what was going on in and what games to get. Going to a website like IGN is an exercise in frustration.