13 Jan 2015 20:44

Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

The Orphans of GamerGate

As the temperature around GamerGate continues to fade, the various forums and threads about the subject have been cooling.  Many people around the industry seem to be warming to the idea that the worst is finally over.  KotakuInAction is slowing, GamerGhazi is encouraging discussions of other topics, NeoGAF is looking to let its gamergate thread die without replacement once it hits max length.

Zoe Quinn, on the other hand, reminds us that for some people, it’s not over.  Abusive shithead behavior towards her and Anita long precede GG, and there is no real sign that will end in the future.  This is probably true of many of the prime targets of GG, including Brianna Wu, Leigh Alexander, Grace Lynn, Mattie Brice, Chloe Sagal and Randi Harper, all of whom can’t pretty much say anything without getting Sea Lioned to oblivion if not worse.   And often, its way worse, as in lose-your-faith-in-humanity worse.  Zoe’s take reminds us that for a small, select few, it isn’t just about throwing spaghetti on a screen and hoping you don’t piss off 8chan, it’s instead about lawyers and legal dates and leaked legal documents, it’s about trying to explain to cops what the fuck twitter is, and its about having a number with the FBI so your regular contact there can add more shit to an open file.

There is a vile scum in and around the games industry who seem to spend their time looking for targets like these.  They existed before GG was a thing.  They happily used GG as an excuse and a cover for their bad behavior, making a mockery of all those who joined in the movement because of an earnest belief in the problems of games journalism.  And these assholes will still be doing it long after GG is a distant memory.  Kathy Sierra’s story came to mind – it took a jail sentence to stop the constant, slow torture of her career, her internet presence and her sanity.

So yeah, things are mostly better but there are still some lost souls outside the castle walls who , and its not clear what really can be done for them.  If there is any solace to be had, it is that more people than ever are aware of the fuckwittery that happens out there is going on, and they’re making at least lip service to finding ways to make things better.   The IGDA has, the ESA has, Blizzard has, Sony has, Intel has, Namco has, and so on, and so on, and so on.   Will they still care in 6 months, when this whole kerfuffle is a distant memory?

I don’t know.  That just does not seem like enough.


  1. The reason it won’t end, is that this is no longer about LW or ethics in gaming journalism. Just as the battle of Sommes was no longer about Arch Duke Ferdinand.

    This has become SJWs vs. Gamers. It’s a culture war with no possibility for understanding or compromise. Go to the Steam page for Hatred to see just how bad it has gotten.

    Gamers are many, they are technical, they are patient, and they can vote with their wallets. And since they have been slandered for decades by the likes of Jack Thompson, they are not going to cry uncle at the sight of Anita Sarkeesian.

    • Except it’s not SJWs vs. Gamers. It’s a subset of Gamers vs. a different subset of Gamers. To white-wash the culture issue by deliberately excluding the “SJWs” from the Gamer sub-culture is to be ignorant of the world around you. Whereas Jack Thompson was an easy way to present a unified front because he was a threat to all gamers, Anita Sarkeesian is not. The Gaming identity is currently split between folks who think she raises some good points, and others who believe she is attacking their identity with the intent to destroy it.

      • To add further, the fact that folks are splitting SJWs and Gamers into mutually exclusive identities speaks loudly of the attempt to make their opponents “the other”. It’s a classic divide and conquer strategy to capitalize on people’s latent xenophobia to prop up their own argument, resulting in dehumanization of the opposing force and making it easier to discard arguments of people who you do not identify with.

        You see it in politics with Democrats vs. Republicans and you see it with Science vs. Religion, to name a couple of big examples. It does nothing to further the discussion in one way or the other, but continues to polarize and widen the divide. Which I mean, if that’s one’s intent, congratulations. But it’s not helpful to having a constructive discussion, for better or for worse.

      • I think he means “Gamers” like referenced in Leigh’s piece — not people who play games (which is essentially everybody), but the neckbearded misogynistic parent’s-basement-dwelling trolls that she suggested we not consider the archetypical “Gamer” in her reactionary article.

        • Keep telling yourself that. But once we start voting with our wallets, and make Hatred a massive commercial success, the AAA companies will realize Anita is a liability, toss her aside, and stop listening to stupid SJW nonsense.

          • If you seek out a mental health professional, they might be able to help with your delusions and persecution complex.

            I expect Hatred to be as much of a success as Postal was, considering it sounds like pretty much the same game for pretty much the same audience. I’m not sure, though, considering I know enough to know that it doesn’t sound like it’s a game for me. I’ll just go back to playing Saints Row and mowing down pedestrians for kicks, like a reasonable SJW, thank you.

          • If you think Hatred actually looks like a fun game, more power to you. But it looks like shit. If you want to spend money on a game just because it’s about a psycho murdering people, that’s your prerogative.

            GG only has a population if you count sock puppets. And they don’t have disposable income.

    • I, for one, on behalf of gamers, welcome Anita and her voice. I don’t agree with everything she has to say, but I welcome her voice.

      Why? Because I’ve listened to what she’s actually saying, and not the idiot responses to it, so she doesn’t actually bother me. Just because you can’t keep yourself from pearl-clutching when you hear about someone criticising something you like, doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t.

      You are not “Gamers”.

      • That voice? You mean her lies about Hitman Absolution, her stealing other peoples YouTube videos, disabling comments on her videos.

        She is an extremely shady character. No surprise she’s become a saint to the SJW crowd. I wonder if the creator of Vivian James had her in mind, when he made something 180 degrees different from Anita.

        • Hey, you’re the ones that sainted her. Don’t blame us. I have no obligation to believe any word she says (although, honestly, much of what she says is blatantly obvious to anyone who has played video games for any amount of time. If you haven’t noticed that ‘save the girl’ plots happen insanely frequently, then you have not played a lot of games.)

        • ‘Lies’ about Hitman Absolution that take doing a single search on youtube to find out are actually true.

          ‘Stealing’ content from videos that at one time were themselves considered such egregious violations of copyright that games companies tried to shut them down. Not to mention that the ‘stolen’ gameplay footage belongs to the games companies, not the youtubers, and would be covered by copyright law to use without attributation anyway.

          Removing comments? Well, yeah, when people have had two years to see all the threats and abuse that has been thrown her way and yet still resort to already disproven lies and false accusations in response to a post explicitly calling that behaviour out, rather than actual substantive rebuttals to her arguements, then, yeah, removing comments is a good idea, akin to taking away metal knives from Psych patients who can’t be trusted with them.

          We (gamers) had a chance to engage with Sarkeesian in a proper, adult manner, and we blew it big time. Thanks buddy.

        • “disabling comments on her videos.”

          You must hate TotalBiscuit then.

          As to the rest of your bilge it’s pretty clear you haven’t watched a single one of her videos seeing as you’ve just regurgitated thunderfoots feces. Watch them yourself and you’ll quickly realise that she’s doing something that’s not at all radical and has been done in regard to most, if not all, other forms of media.

    • Damion Schubert

      January 12, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      So what you’re saying is that GamerGate-the-hashtag has been fully coopted to be about a small subset of gamers vs. those who have progressive, feminist or ‘SJW’ ideals. Funny, I’ve been saying that for a long time.

      You and your little fan club do NOT speak for the majority of gamers or game developers. At all. Not even close. Also, game developers have given Anita *awards* for her insights into how to make more diverse games and broaden our markets.

      • We are not small, and we do speak for the majority of gamers.

        The SJW crowd are on the wrong side of history.

        • “we do speak for the majority of gamers.” Only if you No True Scotsman ‘gamers’ into meaninglessness.

        • > we do speak for the majority of gamers.

          Thanks for the laugh

        • You most certainly do not. Of my circle of gaming friends (and I’ve been at it for 10+ years, so it’s more than a few people,) I can think of one person that has mild GG leaning – and that’s b/c I suspect he hasn’t looked too deeply into it.

          (And just in case you were wondering, said friends are relatively diverse in their political and cultural leanings. So don’t argue that it’s because I’ve surrounded myself with SJW’s for the last 10+ years. Unless by SJW’s, you mean good, reasonable people. In that case, maybe I did.)

          • Yep same here, even the guys who I thoguht would be behind GG wanted nothing to do with it as they quickly realised that GG was self-defeating and toxic.

            Hurin you do not speak for all gamers and I wish you and your ilk would stop proclaiming that you’re speaking for the rest of us. You’re not.

          • I can’t think of a single person I know who has shown any semblance of even having heard of Gamergate.

            I’m sure there must be one or two that have, just that absolutely none of them have ever brought it up in conversation or written about it, as far as I can tell.

    • For the record, no one should object to gamers voting with their wallets. In fact, I champion it, given how many games are on the market. If you think you want to buy one, educate yourself first, then make an informed decision.

      THIS is the objectionable shit. THIS is what’s being done in the name of GG, when it well could be done for any other reason tied to “lulz”.

    • I know this is nitpicking on my part but I can’t help but laugh at the fact that you chose to use LW instead of naming who you are referring to. Literally Who is a very special euphemism. It isn’t just a nickname, this is a code word created to viciously attack a bunch of women while being able to falsely claiming that the conversation is “definitively” not about the targets, is just a “figment of SJWs’s imagination.

      You chose to use a euphemism the same way neo-nazis use “international bankers” and you except to be taken seriously.

      Here a hint, if you express yourself in a way that strongly hint of dishonesty, you argument will suffer.

  2. “There is a vile scum in and around the games industry ”

    I agree, it’s the ones that sleep around for support and coverage, abuse other people and then act as victims and the “journalists” that only converse within their small niche and ideology, lie and misrepresent and lie some more and couldn’t give less of a shit about their audience or industry. That is why GamerGate will never be truly dead and the people that they pissed off and pissed on the past several months, including by people like you and your colleagues at BioWare like Patrick Weekes and David Gaider, will still be there when the next opportunity will arise and you’ll have to try and start smearing them all over again.

    • Damion Schubert

      January 12, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      I don’t have to smear anyone. All I have to do is to let comments like yours speak for themselves. Here, you condone the abuse that Zoe got, further the blatant and easily disproven lies about her coverage, drastically misrepresent the nature of the games press, and promote the laughable claim that game developers and journalists who are speaking against GG don’t care about the industry. The thing is we do care. That’s why I’m speaking out.

      GG will be around for a while, I agree. However, it’s opportunity for being a force for good has long passed, as the moderates have been chased out by people who… well, spout out bullshit like you have right here.

  3. You know, if you weren’t so pedantic as to call people supportive of gamergate ‘lost souls’, you might actually engage in actual discussion. But it’s pretty clear you’re only interested in preaching at this point.

    • The only kind of “discussion” to be had with those who still think GG has a positive point is the kind that any sand moderator would have locked down for pointlessness. GG has no goals other than:

      1. Noise
      2. Chaos

      This is no longer a mystery to anyone.

      • 3, Harassment
        4, Character assassination
        5, Ruining careers
        6, Negationism
        7, Revisionism
        8. Anti-feminism
        9, Racism
        10, Protect pedos and Nazis

    • “Pedantic” I do not think it means what you think it means. Unless you intended to charge Damion with being meticulous and precise.

      On closer reading, it’s not clear to me that he is in fact referring to gamergate supporters as lost souls left outside the castle walls. I’m not sure what the castle is in this metaphor. Who is it protecting?

  4. I read Zoe’s last piece. No matter what she did, she definitely doesn’t deserve that, but also I want to point the fact that the so called “progressives” using her game as spearhead of what they think games “should” become have brought a lot of unwanted, negative attention on her. So I think the “progressive” or “tumblr-aligned” side of this conflict is not clean-handed about Zoe’s harassment.
    The real reason of Depression Quest raising to the spotlight IMHO wasn’t any exchange of sexual favors but it being pretty convenient to the “progressives”, that rallied to it as a banner with total disregard to the consequences it would have on Zoe’s life and well-being.
    The Kathy Sierra incident and others similar (the harassment of Anita, Mattie Brice, etc.) show that this modus operandi isn’t even constrained in time and space to GamerGate, more like a trend in all Internet that has been in unfortunate growth.
    Damion Schubert, as a long time game designer, thinking of the whole internet as a MMO, what do you think of the relative easiness to do nasty, potentially life-threatening actions (like doxxing, or SWATting) as a “cheat” or “hole” in the rules of the internet? Thinking again of it as a MMO, and knowing that you were involved in one of the MMOs with the most positive communities around (SW:TOR), how could you help to protect Zoe, Anita and others? What can the average internet nobody, like me, do to deter that harassment? (And please don’t point that piece by Leigh Alexander to me, I think things have escalated a lot for the worst since she wrote it).

    • A good rule of thumb: Try not to read too much Tumblr if you want informed opinions about what is and is not proper human relations.

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