Everything TotalBiscuit got Wrong in Way Too Many Words
So I saw in a couple of places a comment submitted to this video by John Bain, a.k.a. TotalBiscuit, a.k.a. The Cynical Brit, a.k.a. #GamerGate’s latest major supporter.
In this post he seems to attempt to set the record straight on GamerGate, as he sees it, and to address why he thinks the video in question and by extension most of the reputable coverage of GamerGate “doesn’t seem to have too much basis in reality.” I’ve seen it get a lot of attention around regular GamerGate haunts, and truth be told it really is one of the most complete, and more importantly coherent overviews of GamerGate from the Pro-GG perspective.
You can read the original comment here to get an idea of it first or play along with me. To summarise though, in the end I came to about 3000 words worth of annotations, over twice the word count of the original post. Some of that comes down to me being long-winded at times, though I did try to edit for brevity. However, most of that is me attempting to correct misinformation, misleading representations, or outright lies that TotalBiscuit seems to be largely uncritically repeating in much the same way GamerGate as a whole operates in general.
Now, without further ado;
LET THE CORRECTENING BEGIN!
Original text left as-is, (corrections and commentary bolded in parentheses)
While I appreciate the calm tones I feel that this video does not give an accurate assessment of the situation and furthermore continues to push a harmful narrative that really doesn’t seem to have too much basis in reality.
So it’s important to really know the history behind it. The catalyst was a long post by an ex of an indie developer called Zoe Quinn. In this post, it alleged a conflict of interest between a Kotaku journalist and the developer. (This relationship was never actually alleged in the post, it was a baseless assertion posited originally on 4chan [It’s since been brought to my attention that he has added a similar correction to his original post — “This claim appears to have been manufactured somewhere down the line and repeated enough times that people believe it” Hilariously enough, I find this characterises much of the rest of his comment but to the time of this writing it’s the only correction he’s added]) This information turned out to be inaccurate to a point, it alleged that the journalist (Nathan Grayson) had written a positive review of the game while in a romantic relationship with the developer. This is not true, however what is true is that Grayson wrote an article using Quinn as a source on March 31st of this year, regarding a game jam, in which he promoted her game. In “early April”, the two began a romantic relationship. (This is misleading at best and flat out inaccurate at worst. Depression Quest was only mentioned in the article in the context of “Depression Quest Developer Zoe Quinn,” who is also only referenced a few times, with no undue commentary. It’s also pretty disingenuous to imply more proximity between these events as anyone who has written an investigative article knows it typically does not come together in one or two days, and the Game_Jam events had taken place month or more before) Editor in Chief at Kotaku Stephen Totilo claims he does not see a problem with this, since the romantic relationship began after the article was written, however many people including myself disagree, since it is unlikely that the relationship suddenly sprang out of nowhere and that a friendship was in place prior to this. I and many supporting Gamergate believe this should have been disclosed or that Grayson should have recused himself from writing this article. Kotaku disagrees. (Most ethics policies at major journalistic institutions do not require disclosure [except occasionally to supervisors for advice] or recusal in the event of normal professional friendships, TB might disagree with Totilo and Kotaku, but most ethical standards do not) However, while this and many other examples of corruption and nepotism (It’s just been pointed out that by and large, journalistic standards do not consider this corruption whatsoever, and certainly not nepotism. It’s disingenuous to assert that this is an example of either, so TB should probably begin elaborating on those “many other examples”) are core to what keeps Gamergate moving along, it wasn’t even called Gamergate back then, it was called Quinnspiracy or later, Burgers and fries. These two names were abandoned because people wanted to disassociate with Zoe Quinn and any trolling and harassment that had gone on and focus on ethical issues. After 10+ articles were released in the course of one day, claiming “gamers are dead” and using hurtful and incendiary language to condemn the identity of many innocent people (The closest number I could get while looking was 8 articles on Aug 28th, and none of them actually used the phrase “Gamers are Dead” and to characterise them as an attack on Gamers is very misleading. Many people have broken down why this assessment is incorrect, and no, “Death of the Author” doesn’t come into it. Thought I would get that out there as I know TotalBiscuit and GamerGate have a history of using that term incorrectly), #Gamergate exploded, after the term was coined by actor Adam Baldwin. It was a consumer backlash against anti-consumer articles. (This is best I can tell a downright lie. Baldwin coined the term the day before any of those articles, in a tweet containing videos which assert libellous misinformation about Zoe Quinn that even at the time had been debunked. Gamergate certainly “exploded” after many people seemingly wilfully misinterpreted the much-maligned “Gamers are Over” articles [“anti-consumer” they are not], but attempting to whitewash the tag’s origins will not win him many points. TotalBiscuit will later go on to describe GamerGate’s coining as an attempt to separate the group from harassment but considering the content of said coining tweet that doesn’t seem to carry much weight either) Many people felt angry and alienated by them and in my opinion rightfully so.
In the course of this, Anita Sarkeesian released her latest video and inserted herself into the discussion. (I can personally attest to the fact that Anita was involved in the discussion well before any mention of the threats. The day before the threats were mentioned, Tim Schafer tweeted about how important he felt Anita’s latest video was. In response to this tweet, Tim received a stream of insults and other ignorant responses, which I watched in real time for several days, as well as lamentations concerning his support. Going through his timeline again and examining those taking part in this conversation reveals many who would go on to be part of GamerGate proper, using many of the faulty arguments against Anita that GamerGate members repeat to this day. This was Tim’s only real interaction with proto-GamerGate and continued to be well into its first week once the tag was established. Once it was, the people complaining in his feed started explicitly identifying as members of GamerGate. Again, his only interaction to that point had been to tweet about the FemFreq video and mock the response. Side Note: To characterise someone publishing a fairly simple breakdown of some tropes in videogames in video form, for which she then received extremely graphic death threats which included her home address as “Inserting herself into the conversation” is blatant victim blaming so disgusting I almost stopped reading right there) She published alleged death threats from an anonymous internet troll (they were not alleged anything. They were death threats) and then decided to go on the offensive, repeatedly associating these threats with the entirity of those involved with Gamergate and getting directly involved in the hashtag by posting constantly negative attacks (Once again, some flat out untrue shit here! Her only mentions of Gamergate within the first week of the threats were 2 retweets concerning the number of Gamergate members insisting that she had fabricated the threats! A little over a week after the threats were made she personally tweeted the hashtag!…in reference to a Paste Magazine Article. Then finally a couple days after that she retweeted someone saying something negative about Gamergate that was implicitly connected to her threats. Even if she had immediately tried to link these threats to the burgeoning movement, that would not constitute “associating these threats with the entirity [sic] of those involved”) She has nothing to do with journalistic ethics, however she inserted herself into the discussion. I personally have no doubt that she received these threats, death-threats are unfortunately very common online but I do doubt their credibility and who exactly sent them. We simply do not know. (I’m not sure why he would feel the need to doubt their “credibility” here. The threats contained personal information about her including her home address. Personally I think, and clearly law enforcement agrees, that this bumps them into “credible” range) The problem with a hashtag is that there are no entry requirements. Anyone can post and claim to be associated with the movement, however it is leaderless and the actions of one person being tied to the entire movement seem fairly illogical and require some serious use of the guilt by association fallacy. (Fallacies really are not required in order to tie the movement to the harassment. The past months have been widely recognised as the worst episode of concentrated harassment in the inudstry’s history. And what is the new element? What makes the industry now different from the industry of 6 months ago? Or a year ago? The answer is Gamergate. That’s it. Nothing changed about the regular “troll” haunts, except that GamerGate discussion was ousted from 4chan. Even if the anonymous harassers are in no way linked to anyone in GamerGate at all, one still has to admit a relationship between the appearance of the two phenomena. And even if you don’t accept that premise, I’ll examine a little ways down how one doesn’t need to take part in harassment to be complicit in facilitating it) In response to a one-sided narrative by the media, proclaiming all those involved to be misogynist, disgusting white male sexists, (This is a widely touted characterisation of the response but in reality is severely overblown. It is never supported by contextually applicable quotes. At best this is the way the media has characterised the probable harassers, who nobody needs to be offended on behalf of) groups of those claiming to be part of Gamergate raised money for charity, hunted down and reported harassment efforts and even tracked down someone who had been sending Sarkeesian death-threats (Strangely, none of these have anything to do with Ethics in Games Journalism. When asked what else should characterise GamerGate but the harassment that lurks in its shadow, these are the common responses. If that’s the answer then I posit that GamerGate, if you ignore the harassment for whatever reason, is not a movement defined by a desire for improved Journalistic Ethics, but a movement out to defend its own reputation. That is the only alternate characterisation supported by these other actions, which are for some reason more attributable to GamerGate as a whole than threats and harassment [hint: the reason is it makes them look good despite its illogical nature]. Also note that of the several threats Sarkeesian received concerning her planned Utah appearance, GamerGate investigators did nothing to look into the one that explicitly cited GamerGate as a motive) Unfortunately Sarkeesian has refused to take this information and use it to press charges for some reason. (This is an assertion that’s, I’m going to guess, based on little to no information. Considering it would likely be relevant to an ongoing investigation, the assumption that based on no evidence she has not made use of the information at all seems rather maliciously baseless)
The idea that in order to discuss journalistic ethics you must disassociate yourself from harassment is a frustrating one. (This is only half the idea most people are positing. In reality it’s closer to “If you want to discuss journalistic ethics, 1) disassociate yourself from harassment and 2) actually come o the table with an understanding of ethics and actual examples of breaches”) These people already tried that multiple times. They raised over $70,000 for a campaign by the Fine Young Capitalists to help women make videogames. (This does not in any way seem to be a tangible, good-faith attempt to disassociate with harassment. In fact, considering that a TFYC employee knowingly spread false negative information about Zoe Quinn when she was under harshest attack, in what I would characterise as an opportunistic and disgustingly misguided revenge attempt, which is the only reason GamerGate was ever aware of the group, I’d say it does the opposite) Critics called it “weaponised charity” (The Fine Young Capitalists are not a charity. All proceeds of the IndieGogo go to the company. 74% of net profits on the game go to charity. Additionally, most commentary realting to “weaponised charity” was more in regards to the actions of Mike Cernovich, non-practicing lawyer and date-rape denialist) They raised money for anti-bullying causes after Gawker employee Sam Biddle, tweeted to his tens of thousands of followers that he endorsed the bullying of nerds. (This also has nothing to do with any attempt to disassociate from harassment, or Games Journalism. In abstract an admirable goal, donating to charity does nothing to disassociate one from harassment. Good deeds do not somehow erase bad, they merely mask their impact) They changed hashtags twice to disassociate from harassment but what good does that do when the entire media is against them? (Changing hashtags has only ever been a suggestion for those truly interested in legitimate ethical issues. If those involved in #Quinnspiracy and #FiveGuys/#BurgersandFries, a ridiculous conspiracy theory with very little basis and essentially slut shaming respectively, make up much of GamerGate and are the “They” TB’s referring to here then is anyone really surprised the media doesn’t consider them credible?) Ashly, you say that we cannot talk about ethics until we stop harassing people. I say, we cannot talk about ethics because you won’t stop talking about us allegedly harassing people. (This argument only really works if there’s anything more important, or even close to as important, as the harassment that GamerGate has led to if not directly caused. The fact of the matter is that GamerGate has not had any tangible effect on the industry except to facilitate and shield harassment. It doesn’t matter how good “Most of GamerGate”s intentions are, they have not had anywhere near an equivalent positive output when compared to the immense negative output of the situation) What is the first law of the internet? DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. (This is a gross mischaracterisation and minimisation of what has actually gone on the past few months. There are absolutely voices, out in the open, within the movement, and openly welcomed and acknowledged who are motivated by a desire to see Feminist and other Progressive critique ejected from the Games industry. They make up a lot of it. Their posts are often among the highest voted on KiA, the purported bastion of moderate GamerGate. The fact is that most of the worst abuse is motivated by the same desire. They aren’t doing it for attention. This is not some idiot making specious arguments on an internet forum so they can make people mad. They are motivated by a desire to silence those they mistakenly see as a threat to their chosen environment. The “Ignore the Trolls” approach stops working as soon as your silence is the thing they desire. Ignoring the culture of fear and harassment that is a long-time issue in games culture clearly hasn’t done anything to fix it, and ignoring it when it’s at its worst sure isn’t going to help either. “Don’t Feed the Trolls” is not a helpful criticism on minimising harassment. It’s a self-serving lie, because you know that it makes the movement you’ve misguidedly hitched yourself to look like the awful, misshapen mistake it is) By pushing this harassment narrative, you are giving these awful people victory and marginalizing the moderate majority who do want a serious conversation to happen about journalistic ethics. (It is not a “narrative” of harassment. It’s reporting on the fact of harassment, and the well reasoned conclusion that said harassment is linked to Gamergate. It’s destroyed lives. Nobody cares how many of the “moderate majority” are being marginalised because people’s lives have been actually affected. If there are so many people who want a serious discussion about ethics I have to wonder why their very short list of tangible achievements so far has contained concerted efforts to contact Intel, a Gamasutra advertiser, in order to try and influence editorial voice. That is the opposite of Ethical Journalism. It evidences a fundamental disconnect between that “moderate majority’s” understanding of Journalistic Ethics and the one held by the rest of the world) I would strongly urge you to come to the table and discuss ethical issues, freeze out those who would harass others, just as popular Gamergate forums like Kotakuinaction on Reddit have been doing for months. (See now here comes the Rub. This is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while so it’s going to be the longest annotation. KiA is a perfect case study in why one doesn’t have to be participating in harassment to be complicit in it and to facilitate it. KiA is a hotbed for victim blaming, dehumanisation, and other really terrible attitudes toward victims. Constantly you will see whenever harassment is discussed maybe 10% “condemn it” lip-service, but overwhelmingly the attitude that it’s either fabricated or played up for attention. Most of the prominent victims or harassment are considered “Professional Victims” and in a misguided attempt to prove that the movement has nothing to do with these women, members of Gamergate communities have seen fit to dehumanise them by referring to them by the codenames “Literally Who?” or more recently “Mojo Jojos.” It doesn’t matter how much you say you condemn harassment if huge numbers of your movement then turn right back around and continue activity that dehumanises victims of said harassment. Some words, and the sentiment they evidence, speak much louder than others. This is to say nothing of the near-constant unabated misinformation spread through GamerGate channels about people they are “investigating.” Disturbing numbers of GamerGate members still believe that Zoe Quinn slept with people for positive coverage of her game. No efforts are made to correct any of this wilful ignorance by established GamerGate groups or individuals, so far as I have seen. I could go on. Ignorant rationalising away of issues like the uneven nature of harassment towards women online and elsewhere, the fact that Doxxing and Threats are the only thing considered harassment by the “GamerGate Harassment Patrol”. All of these things contribute to a culture where despite the mantra of “we condemn harassment” such actions are [I have to hope unintentionally] encouraged and facilitated. Many of these things are evidenced in this very post, especially victim blaming) This industry has problems that need addressing but this is not the way to go about it. The longer the harassment narrative goes on, the worse this gets, the more frustrated alienated gamers of all races, genders, sexual orientations and creeds involved in this to improve their hobby and passion become.
Do we honestly believe this is an organized effort to drive women out of the industry? (It’s not just an attempt to drive all women out though. As “NotYourShield” evidences, GamerGate is perfectly happy with women and any other minority being around so long as they toe the line and consider their identity as a Gamer more important than anything else [A point covered somewhere in this great breakdown of the situation]. As soon as their Racial, Sexual or Gender identity comes into conflict with GamerGate orthodoxy they are ejected. The prime example being DeviEver. She was an ardent supporter of GamerGate until their fervent association with the odious gremlin that is Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo’s a documented, fervent, aggressive Transphobe, among many other things, and DeviEver was uncomfortable with that and rightly critical of the move to welcome this discredited, bigoted half-journalist who was clearly acting from pure opportunism. The response? She was subjected to severe abuse and promptly retreated from the public eye.) If that were true, why on earth would the targets be a controversial Youtube critic and two practically unknown indie developers? (And here we have the actual reason GamerGate targets, ‘investigates’ and dehumanises who they do, and who then coincidentally face horrible abuse. It’s not just an attempt to oust women. It’s an attempt to curb Progressive, especially Feminist voices within the games industry. Zoe has been well known in the past for facing harassment due to her progressive work in her games and her feminist views. Anita is probably the most well-known feminist voice in gaming at the moment, and Brianna Wu was targeted for the double crime of being an outspoken feminist dev who also made fun of GamerGate. They also have only been the three most prominent members of a much more sizeable and frightening roster of victims, largely women) Wouldn’t people be trying to drive out women of note in the industry who work at major studios and have real influence over the direction of games? (Again this is operating on a flawed premise. It’s not women as a whole. It’s women [and sometimes not women, but mostly women] who talk about Feminism or other Social Issues.) If this is a harassment campaign aimed at driving women out of gaming, it is the single most unsuccessful one in the history of mankind. (Here TB callously ignores that this campaign has already driven at least two very prominent feminist voices out of Games writing: Jenn Frank and Mattie Brice. Not to mention people like Samantha Allen who were targets of these same people before they had a new face and a new shiny name and a new batch of misguided people to shield them, or the countless people who have been dissuaded from ever joining the industry after watching this disgraceful display [Those contained within the Those Who Left folders on Zoe and Brianna’s desktops]. TB either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care just how bad the past three months have been to watch or experience for most women, other marginalised groups, or hell anyone with a shred of goddamn empathy in their souls. How “Successful” do you need a campaign to remove prominent female voices to be before you consider it evidence of its true purpose? This section belies a deeper insight into TB’s priorities in this situation. His primary care is not for the tangible, real, horrifying human impact of the past few months. His primary care seems to be how this malformed little crusade is perceived. “GamerGate Moderates are being Marginalised!” is 90% of his takeaway from this entire situation)
Indeed, there is far more to this. Harassment has happened, I will not deny that, but it is not the responsibility of the moderate majority to apologise for the behavior of trolls. (It’s not their responsibility to apologise, it’s their responsibility to admit their part in maintaining an atmosphere where abuse and harassment are doubted for no good reason, lies are spread continuously, and any and all responsibility is denied for maintaining the movement that is undoubtedly correlated if not causal with the environment of fear and harassment) It is indeed partly the responsibility of the media for encouraging said trolls and rewarding their behavior. (Again, attention is not the reward these abusers seek, here called abusers because calling them merely trolls minimises their impact and disguises their intent and viciousness. They desire the silence of progressive voices, including those whose only statements are to criticise GamerGate with good reason [see: Felicia Day]. The media doing their job and actually reporting on the tangible, important, life-affecting events rather than the largely fabricated anger of GamerGate “moderates” hold no responsibility for the abuse. Silence does nothing but isolate victims of abuse from support networks and allow the problematic elements of our culture to continue unopposed.)
Yes, we want to talk about ethics. There are plenty of examples that need resolving. (This should be good.) This all started with Nathan Graysons relationship, Kotaku believes he did nothing wrong, some of us disagree. (Again, TB might disagree, but most journalistic ethics standards do not. Professional, working friendships do not typically require disclosure or recusal. Speculating on the timeline of a relationship in order to retroactively rationalise a blatant and life-destroying harassment campaign with no rational basis is frankly pretty vomit-inducing) Patricia Hernandez of Kotaku wrote glowing articles about developers she was close friends with and in one case, even lived with as a roommate. (This is probably the closest thing to an ethical breach GamerGate has yet uncovered. The number and nature of the articles involved has been consistently misrepresented, however, and the only reason this information was uncovered was because of feverish digging into the personal life of *gasp* a progressive female voice. The response to the equivalent of an ethical hiccup has been absurd. Half a handful of small opinion pieces bringing mostly free games to the attention of readers who may be interested. If this is to be used as the closest thing to a GamerGate “victory” then it changes nothing [This annotation has been edited for clarification and accuracy-06/11. Explanation can be found at the bottom of the article]) No apologies were given, disclosure was given retroactively. (Stephen Totilo considers this a simple mistake and I err on his side rather than that of someone who has shown a distinct lack of understanding of journalistic standards. The amended disclosure is warranted, the demand for an apology or the common and even more ridiculous demand for Hernandez’s termination are absolutely not) Said journalist also wrote an article accusing a card game developer (nothing to do with videogames btw) of rape and after he defended himself, complained that he hadnt done enough to start a positive conversation about “rape culture” (No, she didn’t. This seems to be a wilful and malicious misrepresentation of the intent and content of the article in question, which was entirely an address of his response to the accusation by a third party, in an attempt to start an uncomfortable but important question about how we as a society view things like consent, perspective, and rape accusations). This is a man who had a potentially life-destroying allegation held over his head and Kotaku had no issue writing about it and presuming his guilt (There was no presumption of guilt whatsoever. The article goes out of its way, even before the clarifying update, to reinforce the fact that it’s an essentially unknowable situation.). Danielle of Polygon gave Gone Home, a game which her friend was the sound designer of, a 10/10 perfect score, she did not disclose her relationship with said person (Chris Remo was a musician contracted out for the original score for Gone Home only. Danielle appears to have had nothing more that professional relationships with any actual employees of Fullbright, the game’s developer) Destructoid reviewed Borderlands 2 for which the brother of Ashley Burch was a writer and also an ex-staff member of Destructoid. This was only disclosed much later when they fell under scrutiny, they had not thought to disclose it prior (Aside from this being well-known fact, and a common throughout an industry this small, it only became known to GamerGate after Burch himself pointed it out as an example the supposed ethics movement had missed in its laser focus on women and progressive voices) A group called GamejournoPros with a large number of “competiting” journalists allegedly colluded to blacklist a journalist called Alistair Pinsof (This “allegation” has no basis in reality or any non-circumstantial evidence, and misrepresents a situation in which Pinsof was more or less ejected from the industry for actual unethical activity. Discussing that fact and talking about just how little anybody would want to hire an actual unethical journalist is perhaps the worst attempted example of Blacklisting ever. At least he said allegedly though right?) and also discussed sending letters of support and gifts to Zoe Quinn, clearly not realising the wall that should exist between subject and journalist (This was a suggestion briefly floated among the group, and has been acknowledged and apologised for by the source of the suggestion. What this statement fails to mention, however, is through the normal operation of what is essentially a Press Club [given, an online variety] said unethical suggestion was correctly reasoned out as being inappropriate. The group worked as intended: encouraging ethical practices through professional consensus. They “clearly”, beyond a momentary empathetic lapse on the part of one member, did recognise the need for that wall, and upheld it accordingly). Indeed one of them even referred to her as a colleague. The release of so many articles proclaiming gamers dead on the same day raised questions of collusion that have yet to be answered (Said “questions” have no basis in actual evidence whatsoever. The articles are the result of Zeitgeist if anything. Several disparate members of the Games media picking up on points made in one or two original articles and offering their own take is extremely normal operating procedure of any kind of media. When a game-related announcement is made and many more writers offer their take much more quickly, it is not viewed as a prompt for some sort of collusion. The game related announcement in this case happens to be that a prominent critic and critically acclaimed developer had been forced from their homes. Thus, these “questions” have been answered with a conclusive and appropriate answer of “Are you stupid?” which is the only response such conspiracy theory thinking deserves. Additionally, presenting this idea alongside mention of the Google Group seems like an attempt to purposefully mislead, as well. It might have been worth mentioning that very few of the authors of the articles, which again, do not actually use the language “Gamers are Dead”, were members of the GameJournoPros group)
However, if you need real proof that this is about ethics, you need only look at the following. The Escapist, Polygon and Kotaku all revised their ethics policies soon after this began in direct response to it. IGN and various Youtubers have either published ethics codes or intend to do so. If this wasn’t about ethics, why would you do that? (I’m not sure exactly how to point out that this is “proof” of very, very little. Honestly a little gobsmacked by that assertion, still! I suppose, as largely a smokescreen, the ethics discussion does necessitate at least small amounts [very small, as seen in the above paragraph] of legitimate particulate. Concerns about Patreon and other crowdfunding services have been an ongoing conversation in the industry well before this point and attributing these changes entirely to GamerGate, seeing as these changes largely took place before the movement’s nominal inception, is misleading at best, and does not actually evidence anything refuting GamerGate’s role in facilitating a culture of fear and harassment and housing ignorant anti-feminist and anti-progressive sentiment. In fact, Patreon’s links to largely progressive, poor, and mostly powerless Indie developers and freelance writers says a lot about proto-GamerGate’s intentions in targeting it as one of their main early “concerns”)
I call on everyone to reject harassment in all its forms, but simultaneously realise that the few do not represent the many (Unfortunately, even if GamerGate was not tacitly encouraging this harassment while simultaneously “Condemning” and “Rejecting” it, the “Few” have taken almost all of the tangible action of the past few months. If the positive output of GamerGate actually outweighed the negative, or was actually largely concerned with ethical concerns rather than unrelated charity efforts [a blatant PR move] it might be worth re-characterising. While the active, wilful dehumanisation of critics and blaming of victims, as well as the almost total lack of concrete ethical activity continues, GamerGate will continue to be defined by its most tangible effects, namely abuse, harassment, and regressive and ignorant anti-feminist sentiment) Do not engage in guilt by association (As pointed out, this is not what is actually happening. It is guilt OF association. They are guilty of associating with a movement based on excusing, facilitating and thus complicit in performing harassment and abuse. No, this does not go both ways. GamerGate is a movement, a group, a “consumer revolt” even. It is a choice to take part in the discussion under that banner and in the spaces set up for it. It is a choice you can rightly be judged for. On the other hand, Anti-GamerGate is not a movement, it is not a group, it does not have dedicated activities, or ops, or spaces for discussion of Anti-GamerGate matters of the day. It is an opinion. #StopGamerGate2014 or #GamersAgainstGamergate are not analogous at all to the GamerGate hashtag and the deeper associated meaning and sense of organisation and tribalism that it belies) and instead treat people as people, not some labeled box of sub-humans online for you to attack and dismiss. Gamers are very much alive and they are more diverse than ever (Note that this was in fact almost the entire point of Leigh Alexander’s article and many others that get lumped into this discussion as part of some sinister strike) It disturbs me greatly that anyone would claim otherwise or even worse, attack their identity (This, on the other hand, is entirely not the point of those articles. “Death of the Author” does not allow one to simply claim an interpretation not supported by the text itself as equally valid) Gamers deserve better media, everyone deserves better media. Let’s discuss how to make that happen and let’s not indulge the whims of trolls and bigots.
I noticed that TB continued to talk to people and repeat half-truths in the comments following his larger post and wanted to include and comment on this one specially:
I’ve seen plenty of examples to the contrary. KotakuinAction is the biggest gamergate forum and has strict anti-harassment rules that are heavily enforced (See above for why anti-harassment rules and nominal sentiment has no effect on the victim-blaming, dehumanising, and ignorant, libellous nature of much of the discussion that goes on there, which props up a culture where harassment is implicitly encouraged and forgiven) When someone tried to doxx Brianna Wu on 8chan, users spamposted to bury it to make sure nobody could read it until the moderators came along. (This is a misleading tale. Well-meaning GamerGate members [who people have widely acknowledged do exist] or members who knew it would make them look bad, did try to bury Brianna’s doxx while it sat unadressed by moderators for several hours. However, 8chan’s unlisted boards, which aren’t as tied to GamerGate as the explicitly labelled /gg/ board, are still well known and used by /gg/ members. As you can see here, mods have stickied guidelines on how to properly collect and distribute doxx and the rules surrounding such. The slur used there is referring to one of their victims. The public areas of /gg/ may be sanitised of any direct incriminating actions, [though other very problematic behaviour and discussion is rampant] but the unlisted 8chan boards are far from clean) Any harassment attempts on Twitter are reported and condemned (Again, the GamerGate Harassment Patrol largely concerns itself with Threats and Doxxing, and other things that are explicitly against Twitter’s ToS. Instances of abusive behaviour that skirt these lines which have been brought to their attention have been repeatedly minimised, and victims belittled)
I really dont see what else people can do. I can tell you for a fact I have been harassed by devs and their supporters during this, even threatened with the DMCA by one of them. Now unless they’d like me to blame their entire “side” for that, they should probably take a step back and think “hmm, maybe I shouldnt attribute negative actions to a nebulous group” (Once again the extremely flawed argument of reducing the situation to two equally structured “sides.” GamerGate is a far from nebulous group. Anti-GamerGate is an opinion. One is a chosen association and one is not. Assessment and judgement of one has to be very different from that of the other)
(So there we go! My words from here on out ->) Someone of some repute finally sitting down and compiling their entire perspective on the situation finally allowed me to do what I’ve been wanting to do for a while now; it allowed me to sit down, research, fact-check and type for a total of about 5 and a half hours, and come up with what I think is a pretty good summation of why I think GamerGate is a morally and intellectually bankrupt movement, and has been from the start.
You can treat all that as inexcusable bias if you like and ignore what I’ve written but it is my honest conclusion from nearly 3 months of essentially constant observation of the situation right from the beginning, and especially from my reading, re-reading, fact-checking and correcting what is honestly the single best, most lucid, and most concise Pro-GamerGate summation I’ve yet come across. Which again, now has twice its length worth of corrections attached.
A Brief About-the-Author, for those curious or looking for fuel to call me a shill:
I have never written professionally or casually about Games or Gaming Culture, despite being a lifelong enthusiast of Video Games. I’m not an academic and I don’t hold any particular qualifications in that area. I’m not a Youtuber and hold no aspirations to be, my voice is much too silly. I’m not a Developer, though I think that sounds kind of fun. I’ve never met any of the people I’ve written about here, and have at most exchanged twitter favourites. I proudly and unreservedly consider myself a feminist, but hold possibly the least amount of influence possible in the area. I think the Chrome extension that turns ‘SJW’ into ‘Skeleton’ is hilarious. I’m a student from Australia who has spent far, far too much time watching these events unfold.
The annotation concerning Patricia Hernandez has been edited in order to clarify my stance on the nature of the events. It was the item I was least familiar with and so attempted to avoid details I was unsure of, but issues of tone and nebulous definition were introduced due to the vagueness.
I sincerely apologise to anyone who was hurt or made to feel uncomfortable by my comments.
Anyone else with feedback of this sort can contact me @SvizraLion on twitter. I tried very hard to avoid misrepresenting anyone in this piece, and any feedback to help me avoid that is more than welcome!
The section it its original form, for the curious, can be found here.