Robin Sloan
The Message
Published in
6 min readSep 5, 2014


The steel man of #GamerGate

An amazing piece of writing appeared here on Medium the other day.

It made me more optimistic about the possibility of public deliberation than anything I’ve seen in a long time.

Weirdly, it was about an argument on the internet.

First, a scrap of context: The broad community of people interested in video games is roiling with accusations of corruption among game journalists; these accusations are marbled with some gamers’ irritation and defensiveness over recent criticisms of the deeply misogynistic content found in many games. Grievances incubated in the dark nurseries of 4chan and Reddit have grown into a full-blown schism, accelerated by the flywheel physics of Twitter hashtags.

The hashtag in this case is #GamerGate, and I won’t go any deeper into the details. In this context, they’re not important, because what I want to celebrate is not an argument, but a way of making an argument.

On Twitter, I follow a thoughtful writer named L. Rhodes. A few days ago, I noticed him interviewing users participating in the #GamerGate hashtag. His tweets had the cool, steady affect of a police detective. You say you saw him climbing the fire escape? Mm. What time was it? Could you see his face? Rhodes was asking questions. Listening closely. Asking more questions.