A rebuttal to another critically flawed article by Brianna Wu

Brianna Wu recently wrote another article full of logical holes I wish to debunk, because frankly it’s full of disingenuous statements, untruths, and outright BS that needs a good breakdown

(Wu’s words in italics, my comments in regular font)

It’s Not About Censorship, It’s About Professional Standards

Last week, I attended PAX Dev and gave a well-received talk on flat organizational structure. It was a blast. But one of the best moments happened outside the conference, a dinner with other women that work in gamedev, where we shared some of our most recent horror stories of working in this male dominated field.

I reserve judgment on how true this is, since this is a common canard amongst the SJW set that the game industry is monstrously prejudiced against women and it’s a massive sausagefest, except to say I’d like to see some facts and figures to back up such a loaded statement.

If there was any consistent theme, it was this — men that work in gamedev are dreamily oblivious to what the women here experience. And that manifests in ways that kill women’s careers, including:

  • Management’s inability to understand its hiring biases

If management is discriminating against certain hirees based on gender, good point. Otherwise, this is just complaining a more qualified male employee may have been picked over a female employee.

And to counter the diversity refrain before I get hit with it, hiring a bunch of women or men of little talent to fill a diversity quota instead of hiring competent employees is a fatal mistake for any company wishing to make a profit, and the real world doesn’t always align to diversity quotas, desirable though they may be to attain.

  • HR’s unwillingness to protect women who speak out

Beg pardon? It’s a lot easier for women to win workplace discrimination cases and men get roasted over the coals in the media much more quickly than women these days, unless the news I’ve read over the last few years is a masterful lie at my expense.

  • Organizational unwillingness to respond to blatant sexual harassment

Again, excuse me? See my last point about it almost impossible for this to go unpunished and ignored.

  • Women being assigned to roles based on unconscious gender stereotyping

This is possibly true, I’ll admit, but employment is voluntary, and if women don’t wish to work in certain roles, they can always elect to refuse to be employed for such an employer.

  • Failure to intervene with gendered team conflict that could have ended in violence

Citation needed, what is Wu referring to here?

Yesterday, my friend Jessica Price wrote this blog about trying to communicate with DriveThru RPG about their choice to sell a game called “Tournament of Rapists,” where the players rape and murder whoever is weaker.

WRONG. The actual content of the game is to KILL rapists.

The most disturbing part was their response, which basically amounted to a shrug, some false equivalencies to censoring the f-word and invocation of a slippery slope that all games could end up censored.

Because you and a bunch of SJWs got triggered by the (admittedly vague and misleading) title, failed to do adequate research, and launched a campaign of wanting something censored because it offended you based on little research and emotional outrage.

These two events might not seem related, but they are. They’re both part of the core problem with the game industry — which is a disturbing exclusion of perspectives that are not straight, white and male. The industry has been built to work for a very specific kind of person. It’s very comfortable for them, but frequently harrowing for the rest of us.

Again, IT’S A GAME WHERE YOU KILL RAPISTS. I would’ve thought that’s something the SJW mindset would be all over as a GOOD THING. No offense, Brianna Wu, but you and your allies did not do the research.

From the beginning, I have had a single goal as a public figure in the game industry. It’s something that I think many people don’t understand when I read articles about how I want to censor all games, or ban all white men from being developers, or usher in a feminist totalitarian state. None of that is true. They have to misrepresent my position, because what I actually want is so eminently reasonable. So, here it is — my actual mission in bold:

My mission objective is to raise professional standards about diversity in the game industry.

HOW? You’ve produced one middling iOS game that had bad sales figures and worse sales returns, you’ve spent almost all of your time on Twitter and complaining about how life sucks for women in tech, and your proposed solutions amount to “I WANT MORE DIVERSITY NOW!”

I thought about making that text blink, but decided it would be over the top.

Wise choice. It’s ridiculous sounding as is.

In any case, that’s it. I want the game industry to be a safer, fairer place for the rest of us to work, and I want our industry output to be less actively hostile to women, people of color, and LGBT people. Because I have to say, the culture in this field is poisonous in ways a lot of gamers don’t seem to realize.

Again, citation needed. Maybe you feel ostracized, but got any facts or figures that can prove this from objective sources?

To DriveThru RPG, this is a fun, hypothetical problem about theoretical censorship. What they don’t understand is that the rest of us are dealing with an industry that does actual harm to women and other minorities. To be clear, my problem isn’t that there is a game about rape — it’s that DriveThru RPG doesn’t hold themselves to reasonable professional standards in the content that they sell.

IT’S A GAME ABOUT KILLING RAPISTS! MALE AND FEMALE RAPISTS, and the PLAYER can be of any gender. HOW IS THAT A BAD THING? Also, “professional standards” is very much a “eye of the beholder” proposition.

In an age of digital distribution, censorship is impossible. Anyone can release and sell a game. The question is, what kind of work do the adults that work here choose to support? What are the standards we hold ourselves to?

“Censorship is impossible”. Tell China that. Tell Germany that, where anything with Nazi content is banned. Tell Australia that, where games can and do get banned. Hell, read Wikipedia, look for any random game that has controversy attached, they will be banned or censored in at least one or more countries.

A videogame version of “Tournament of Rapists” would NEVER get sold on PSN, XBLA or the Nintendo eShop. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t worried about my games being censored for violent or sexual content for about two decades. There are professional institutions that say, “There is the adults table and the children’s table. If you want to sit with the adults, there are some rules of decorum you have to follow.”

Then if you feel this way, why are you complaining? Don’t like, DON’T BUY.

I tweeted about DriveThru RPG yesterday and their disturbing response. And I’m happy to say, last night they did talk to the author and get Tournament of Rapists removed. But, in reading the response from the company, I’m unconvinced they understand what’s really going on, or the issue at play. It does no good to get someone to change their policy if they don’t understand the underlying reasoning behind it.

I contacted the company myself, and I was informed the creator removed the game voluntarily, and the company merely told you in this tweet that if you found it so offensive, making MORE people aware of it was counterproductive if you don’t like it.

As the CEO of GSX, my values are reflected every single day with the choices I make. It’s reflected in who I hire, in what my policies are, the press that I agree to do and the people I work with. What the public doesn’t see is all the things I say no to behind the scenes. For example:

  • I regularly veto stories on Isometric and Rocket because they don’t meet my professional standards.

YOUR professional standards. These can vary from company to company.

  • I regularly choose not to do media appearances with some people because they don’t meet my professional standards.

Again, YOUR standards.

  • I regularly have delayed ship dates of our games because they haven’t yet met our professional standards.

Wise call, no game developer should ship a substandard product.

  • I regularly have fired people because they don’t meet our professional standards.

Considering pretty much all the staff who helped you make “Revolution 60” no longer seems to be employed with you any longer, that seems to be the case.

  • I regularly say no to advice to be silent about industry institutions that hurt women, because they need to be held to professional standards

Basically, you feel silence implies surrender. Fair point.

Your company does reflect who you are as a person and the standards you hold yourself to. Until last night, DriveThru RPGs standards were so low that they didn’t think twice about selling a game glorifying rape. In fact, their initial response was to defend it. I hope that’s something they’ll think seriously about.


I apologize for the allcaps abuse in this article, but the flaws in this article and blatant ignorance regarding the actual product Wu is castigating…well, I just couldn’t think of a better way to emphasize just how misinformed and wrong the crux of this article was.