This needs to be a sticky on both 4chan and Reddit.
I’ve said this before too, but if there are any outsiders I’m pissed off at, it’s the business executives running the big studios who don’t care about video games as a medium, but are just out to make money by trying to copy Call of Duty and Clash of Clans (and yet I’m not trying to dox them). Even if you don’t like Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, or Leigh Alexander, it’s not as if they had a huge impact on video games until people started giving them attention with harassment campaigns, and even now, the “impact” they have is debatable at best. The people running these companies are the ones in a position to harm the game industry, and they’re actively doing it by causing the erosion of creative ideas and entire thought in favor of trying to exclusively produce gigantic sequel factory franchises. It’s why big publishers decided that entire genres are dead, including traditional JRPGs in the case of Square-Enix.
I’m a little confused, Zeppelin. You claim that socially rejected gamers are “feeling like their last refuge in a world that doesn’t accept them is starting to crumble in around them, and so they lash out at those scrutinizing them.” You point to RPGClassics as an example of a “cast and crew” for whom “[g]aming used to be a bit of a refuge.” Under your theory, RPGClassics should be leading the crusade against SJWs. Instead, the opposite is true—most commenters here seem pretty firmly in the anti-Gamergate camp.
Indeed, if anyone is a hardcore gamer who likely dealt with social problems growing up, it’s the people who were so hardcore that they went on to write for gaming publications like Kotaku, Gamasutra and Destructoid. Yet the original complaint of Gamergate was that some social-justice types had the gaming media in their pocket (or elsewhere in their pants). See this article. This suggests precisely the opposite of your theory—it’s a few hardcore, socially rejected gamers who are welcoming in these outsiders, who are more concerned with “negative representations of women and minorities” than with, say, the relative merits of JRPGs and Western RPGs or the evolution of FPSes. What’s going on here?
To begin to understand the answer, I think it’s useful to consider what prompted Gamergate. Evidence came out that a very mediocre female developer—who somehow had managed to score excellent reviews from gaming publications—had been sleeping with journalists at those publications. The Gamergate crowd put two and two together and accused these hardcore video game journalists of selling out for sex. It makes sense, in a sad sort of way. This bunch of chubby, awkward guys working for video game magazines suddenly have a girl who likes video games fawning over them. Just about every male has thought to himself, at some point, “Maybe flattery will help win her over.” The evidence suggests these journalists did so by writing favorable reviews, sacrificing their journalistic integrity in the process.
The reason Gamergate resonated so deeply with ordinary gamers, I believe, is that it was one vivid illustration of a broader trend in many technology fields—giving industry influence and huge media support to outsiders who aren’t particularly accomplished or invested in the industries at issue, but nevertheless are constantly interjecting their criticisms of the industry for failing to do enough for women, racial minorities, sexual minorities, etc. These are the Anita Sarkeesians, Leigh Alexanders, and Adria Richards of the world. These social-justice outsiders advanced in their fields solely by catering to a certain political agenda, which (i) got them lots of page views and ad revenue by courting controversy, and (ii) attracted favorable coverage from the progressive mainstream media. E.g., Can Video Games Survive?, N.Y. Times. The gaming media gives them a platform because it’s profitable. Big game developers kowtow to them to avoid getting negative media coverage, and to stay on the good side of Democratic politicians (who, while annoying, are still much friendlier to the industry than Republicans). But ordinary gamers hate the social-justice types (just like they hated Jack Thompson) for corrupting the integrity of the development process, which should be focused on quality, not appeasement of political-identity groups.
The worst part is that these social-justice types have succeeded in crowding out from the limelight the many women who have achieved real success and influence in the gaming industry, by patiently toiling, over long careers, to make good games. Some of the Gamergate crowd posted an excellent graphic showing women who deserve praise for their contributions to gaming. Sadly, almost no one outside the gaming industry has even heard of them. The media ignores them. If the media were truly interested in increasing the female input in game development, it would celebrate these real female game developers and hold them out as examples for young women.
The Gamergaters who have tried to rationally make these points have been demonized by the mainstream media, which has lumped them together as “misogynists” and “extremists” based on a handful of morons who make far-fetched online “threats” (i.e., one-sentence, poorly spelled blog post replies) against prominent social-justice crusaders. You’ve taken a similar tack, Zeppelin, by lumping Gamergaters together as pathetically “paranoid” social rejects struggling to preserve their “last refuge in a world that doesn’t accept them.” But in my experience, when lots of people respond to an argument by denigrating the people making it, that’s usually a sign that their arguments are worth hearing.
Violently harassing the indy developer and anyone who defends her is even more insane; the entire movement is so npoisoned by misogyny, hate speech, doxing, and other offensive tactics that there’s no recovering from it. Someone threatened a mass shooting at Anita Sarkenseen’s talk in Utah for fucks sake. People are literally afraid of speaking out in opposition to gamergate on social media for fear of being doxed and harassed offline. Anyone who supports gamergate is directly supporting harassing women, if you believe otherwise you’re either naive, an idiot, or actively desire to harass women while attempting to hide behind the guise of activism.
^ This. There is no excuse for that kind of behaviour. And if there are GGs who are actual feminists, please do provide an example of someone loudly decrying the harassment and death threats without being dismissed as a White Knight.
Wow. Who exactly is being offensive here and trying to silence his opponents? The one making rational arguments? Or the one who ignores those arguments and accuses everyone who disagrees with him of being “naive, an idiot, or actively desir[ing] to harass  while attempting to hide behind the guise of activism”? How very ironic and hypocritical.
In any event, your claim that the anti-Gamergaters are the ones “afraid” to speak out is laughably absurd. Virtually every major newspaper in the country has published multiple, one-sided articles defending Anita Sarkeesian and lambasting the Gamergaters, many just in the last week, with some of them even posting articles by Sarkeesian herself – who has taken every opportunity she can to publicly smear everyone who disagrees with her views, by lumping them together with a few morons making “threats” on message boards. See, e.g., Anita Sarkeesian, It’s Game Over for ‘Gamers’, N.Y. Times. It’s the Gamergaters who are forced to resort to back-alley sites like Reddit just to get their message out, and who are torn apart by the media when their real names get out. At the very least, when Julian Assange and Breitbart agree that a group of people is being unfairly smeared by the media, that’s a pretty strong indication that the issue is a complex and multi-sided one.
To be honest, I would have expected better from RPGC on this issue. Every criticism of the Gamergaters could have been leveled 10x over at the gamers, including some here, who viciously attacked Jack Thompson for opposing violence in video games in the 1990s and 2000s – as though a few silly, message board “death threats” against Thompson (“TRY TO BAN VIDEO GAME VIOLENCE? I’LL SHOW HIM VIOLENCE!!!11”) somehow “poisoned” what thousands of legitimate critics of Thompson were saying. It’s disappointing to see that, when people here were passionately declaring that “it’s just a game, not real life” and that they supported freedom of expression in video games, they really just meant that they disagreed with Thompson’s moral views, and are happy to moralize in favor of their own views regarding artistic works, freedom of expression be damned.
I think lumping everyone into an “anti-GamerGate” position is just as damaging, Xwing. People can be in favor of ethics in journalism and still against the nature of what GamerGate has come to represent, specifically with the amount of harassment and threats happening. The threat of a school shooting has only really just brought it to mainstream attention. This doesn’t have to be a black or white, with us or against us situation. In a similar vein, it would behoove you to stop referring to everyone outside the GamerGate “camp” or everyone involved with gender issues in gaming as “SJWs”. While that term may have been meant to once upon a time insult someone with radical, you can support the idea of social justice without being a warrior or a crusader.
An ex-boyfriend claimed that Depression Quest had gotten a particular good review on a gaming news site only because (the angry ex-boyfriend claimed) Quinn had had sex with the reviewer to further her career. Quinn denies it, and the journalist never actually wrote a review. It still triggered an avalanche of attacks on Quinn’s ethics. You can say this is about ethics all you want, but this started with a vicious harassment campaign against a female game developer.
I’m not really sure what your concern is here. Are you afraid that somehow, political correctness will work its way into game development? I’d like to reiterate a point I made earlier, that the fate of the industry lies within a series of corporate boardrooms far, far removed from any of this. So far removed that EA, Ubisoft, Activision, Square-Enix, and all of the other major publishers haven’t even said a word about GamerGate. It’s also worth remembering that game developers have always had the freedom to create their games how they want and always will (even if some of those developers are under the influence of a publisher). It’s one thing for people to react to and question the lack of inclusion in games, like what happened with Asscreed Unity (and Ubi’s weak response) or even Tomodachi Life, but don’t confuse critical reaction to the tip of an enforcement spear. No one is forcing developers to do anything (again, other than maybe the publisher they have a contract with), and I don’t see how, over the past three months or even as long as Tropes vs. Women in Video Games has been going on, anything has been “corrupted”. Gaming has become more inclusive, but more people involved with games does not mean less games to go around. Even for the people who are more interested in critically analyzing game rather than playing them like Anita Sarkeesian, it’s extremely easy to just ignore these debates. Or it was, until everyone started giving them all of this attention and giving the media something to report on as a result.
As for the issue of someone like Anita Sarkeesian advancing her career by courting controversy, that might be true, and it does seem like she isn’t as “into” video games as she would want us to believe. That said, who gave Anita all the tools she needed to brew her own storm in a teacup? Without all of the harassment and threats, I dare say Anita’s project would have quietly faded into obscurity. Instead, not only do gamers continue to give her more free publicity than she could dream of, but people associating themselves with GamerGate can’t seem to stop themselves from attacking developers and journalists, the vast majority of whom tend to be female.
I’m sure there are people who legitimately care about game journalism ethics who are attached to the GamerGate campaign, but the amount of harassment and abuse surrounding the debate is difficult to ignore and has only served to discredit the idea that this is all about ethics. When writers with a lot of integrity - especially freelancers - are driven out of the industry by this harassment, it undermines what should be the very nature of GamerGate if it’s about ethics. Jen Frank is a great example; the fact that so many of the people being harassed are women is not a good sign. You should be vehemently condemning the venom that’s been co-opting and overtaking your cause, because clinging to a “It’s them, not us” argument only really allows this behavior to continue representing GamerGate.
Well, how about the various pro-democracy, pro-liberalization movements in the Middle East? Each of them includes some very bad apples, who, rather than threaten rape and murder on anonymous blog post replies, actually committed those crimes in the name of their movements. Does that invalidate the whole “movement”? Or does that just suggest – rather more reasonably – that even the most legitimate movements include some reprehensible individuals among their supporters?
Your movement could be about the most noble cause in the world and I wouldn’t differ in opinion. The fact that death threats are still happening shows that even if there are people with legitimate concerns in gamergate they’re not doing enough to stop the harassment. If you want anything to get done about gaming journalism the entire movement will need to start over from scratch without the vitriol to be taken seriously.
In those cases the reprehensible individuals aren’t the figureheads, and reasonable people do everything in their power to distance themselves and prevent future horrible actions. I don’t see that happening here.
I’m being realistic here in saying that the gamergate movement has such a history of anti-women rhetoric that there’s no way for it to be spun back into a positive light. The well has been poisoned, there’s no chance of recovering from it unless the harassment stops completely and even then it would be a long road to redemption.
Cut your losses and let gamergate die. Maybe in a year you can start over with real concerns when everyone has forgotten how horrible this entire ordeal was.
No, the same is true here. Many Gamergaters have gone out of their way to make clear that they’re not driven by misogyny and that they strongly support women who make games. They’re the ones who posted this excellent graphic listing influential women in technology and gaming, which is more informative on the subject than any number of New York Times or Washington Post articles. Of course, mainstream audiences don’t see any of this, because people like Anita Sarkeesian and the whole media do everything they can to publicize the bad apples, while tarring everyone else with the same brush.
The demands for Gamergaters to disavow the bad apples reminds me of how Muslims are treated in some quarters. No matter how much the majority of ordinary Muslims already do disavow, condemn, and disown the bad apples, their ideologically motivated critics will ignore it and continue to ask why Muslims don’t “do everything in their power to distance themselves from those people.”
Ok, I don’t want to get into a heated argument over this, but I feel like I have to draw the line when I see stuff like this.
Not only have people been decrying harassment since this began, but that have actually been actively hunting the trolls down and got lots of the suspended, including the people who made the threats against Sarkeesian.
You won’t hear a damn thing about this, of course, but it’s a far cry from claiming anybody decrying harassment is ignored. This isn’t just “loudly saying harassment is bad”, this is straight up being the only ones to do something about it.
He never wrote a review. He got her special coverage in two articles, one of which singled out her game from a list of other 50 and made it the centrepiece of the article.
This is honestly a very naive mindset to take right now as we keep seeing the rise of smaller studios making the hardcore-style games that the AAA industry has left by the wayside, and that same AAA industry seems to be inflating like an unstable bubble. None of the games I’m playing or looking forward right now have anything to do with any of those companies right now.
Except when independent middle-sized studios are literally harassed into making changes.
You can shut down anything by using this logic. Anything at all. “You have been associated with nasty things, by the people you are rallying against, so you should quit.” These guys haven’t just been condemning it, they’re the only ones who are doing anything about it, but you will not hear a goddamn thing about it. And you won’t hear about it because of that laundry list I posted up there. The cries of misogyny are the perfect smokescreen to not have to discuss that there’s something heavily fucking rotten going on, so you will be told exactly what you want to hear: that one side is completely in the wrong and that they don’t care.
I’ve been to pretty much every major rallying site these guys use, and the tone is always the same: frustration at the fact that nothing they do to clear the air matters, because the story is set already. Also, there’s this:
See above, but, really. What the hell do you want anybody to do besides what they’re already doing? What could they possibly do? What? I’m sure these guys would love to know, seeing as they’ve got people losing sleep just to make sure a doxx doesn’t go public. Don’t actually tell me there’s some fucking way to prevent internet trolls from sending bad words to people on fucking twitter. Which, I remind you, is the harassment that you’re talking about. How the fuck are you going to stop anybody from doing that?
I’m assuming you haven’t heard of the feminist teacher who was sent a threatening letter to her own faculty address, the journalist who was sent a syringe full of an unspecified liquid in the mail, the streamer who got the cops and the fire department prank-called on him and also sent a knife to his hone after being doxxed. You haven’t heard a peep about those guys because they’re on GamerGate’s side.
And who are these figureheads you’re talking about? They’re most prominent voices seem to be TotalBiscuit, a British political journalist and a 2nd Wave feminist (https://twitter.com/CHSommers)
And again, did you know about any of the things I just mentioned?
Like Occupy? C’mon, you have to know how this works. Anybody who comes up with a similar argument in the next five years is going to get compared to GamerGate and that is going to be used to discredit them.
Again, what possible defence is there against some shithead writing things in the internet? What proof is there that “the movement” has done this? Not that it matters. I’m sure you’ve seen the stuff with Brianna Wu already given how public it’s been. It didn’t matter that the seven or so tweets she got never addressed GamerGate. Their very existence is enough to pin it on them. In fact, you can pin anything on them. That right there is the abortion of logic that got me interested enough in this. You can literally just pin anything on anybody using this logic, regardless of any actual proof. There is no need to even check if this sentiment is widespread in any of the hubs where these people talk, you can just claim that this was both done by them and condoned, and claim it is the responsibility of their figureheads, whom nobody can define, and that is it. No fact-chekcing needed: just decide that it was them and it was them, instead of trolls getting a laugh of riling them up even as trolls will straight up admit they’re doing it (http://theralphretort.com/gnaa-trolls-admit-gamergate-sabotage/).
The rhetoric isn’t just disingenuous, it’s lethal. It sets a playbook of how to murder any movement whatsoever by lowering the barrier of what counts as proof to the point that any and all claims should be taken at face value.
The fact that anyone thinks that graphic is excellent is laughable. They found the names of some women who work in games, so what, anyone trolling through game credits could do the same thing, hell you could find my name if you troll through the credits for the games I’ve worked on and then cross-reference that with linked-in or something. It’s offensive because just showing that those women exist have have worked on games doesn’t prove anything and using their likeness to advance their cause doesn’t mean anything. This ‘unsung hero’ thing is ridiculous, it’s basically “lol just throw some coal miner in a campaign ad to show that I care about the working man”.
This was the only article Nathan Grayson wrote involving Zoe Quinn. It was about a failed reality show that Zoe Quinn and other developers were upset about being on. This was also before Quinn and Grayson dated and he hasn’t written about her since, let alone Depression Quest.
I’ll clarify by saying the fate of the big budget game industry on a large scale, but even when it comes to the rise of smaller studios, they only have even more leeway to what they want specifically because usually don’t answer to a publisher or or investors; even then, smaller studios tend to work with publishers that are more hands off. That’s why we’ve seen smaller and indie teams make genres that have long since declared dead by the big budget gaming scene, and that include games like Depression Quest. It’s odd that people are complaining that developers are being forced to do things and yet nobody is addressing the stringent requirements AAA publishers make of their studios. As for your other comment…
Developers are allowed to create the games they want just as people have the right to respond how they want, though threats are never okay, either towards developers or towards so-called SJWs. There is a gap of Kingdom Come Deliverance coverage on Kotaku, but unless you can explicitly tie it to Warhorse Studios speaking out about GamerGate, it’s speculation.
I never said that people passionate about game ethics in journalism should “quit” unless 984 ninja edited my post (and even then, he’d have probably just ninja edited it to say that I smell). I said that they should be extremely upfront and active in condemning the venom that’s coming to represent the GamerGate movement. Which they evidently haven’t, because that’s what’s getting a lot of the media attention. Not just game sites; the New York Times, ABC News, Newsweek, Mashable, and Forbes are just a few examples of the more mainstream outlets that have reported on GamerGate lately, and the focus has been on the harassment. You can claim the harassment and threats have been a smokescreen used by journalists to distract from actual ethical breaches, but then you would be arguing that nearly every major game website and some of the largest media publications in the world are all involved in this media cartel of sorts.