13 Jan 2015 20:42

Zen Of Design

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

Yes, GamerGate Still Exists- Just In Petty Drama-Oriented Form

So, how is #GamerGate going, you might ask?  I’ll be honest – I went out of town for five blissful days for a board game convention, which is pretty much as close to a religious experience as I get.  During that time, I was far too transfixed by dice and wooden meeples to give any fucks about what was going on.  This was me thinking about gamergate while at BGG.con:

Well, there was the part where the dynamic duo dug Jack Thompson out of his court-sanctioned exile so that they could declare him quite reasonable and sadly misunderstood.  Well, that required me to come up for air to give my two cents.

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But seriously, the board game con was a few thousand game players – sure board gamers, but literally, other than one person who saw my Sea Lion T-shirt and broke out laughing, and said ‘fuck gamergate’, not one mention the whole time.  You would never know Gamergate was a thing. It was blissful, and once I came back, I tried getting back into things, and to be honest, my heart wasn’t in it.

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Seriously, it’s like a fever had broken.  Now, a huge part of that is because GamerGate has, since the week of the Red Wedding, veered into Shirtstorm and the Jack Thompson fiasco, pretty much devolved into being an endless miasma of anti-SJW fuckwittery and, even more than that, endless, endless web drama that is more obsessed with defending Gamergate’s right to exist than anything remotely related to, you know, that ethics thing.  But hey, don’t get me wrong, the GGers are having fun.

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But it’s a pissant, petty, nihilistic sort of ‘fun’.  Here’s a little taste of the penny-ante bullshit that has been CONSUMING the hashtag on twitter, KiA and Gamerghazi. 

They’ve spend five days now talking about how a bunch of assholes began tormenting Brianna Wu about the death of her dog, with some claiming to have poisoned it, and others creating a mock account of her dog self-describing its own death.  Milo suggested the dog killed itself to get away from her .  Oh, and they doxxed her whole family.

A webcomic artist lamented he couldn’t draw #gamergate cartoons full-time.  Brad Wardell casually invited him to apply for a job without, perhaps, googling to discover that ‘gamergate cartoons’ he liked to draw involved Zoe Quinn giving sex for games coverage.

Random #Gamergater decides it would be fun to start stalking Randi Harper’s place of employment.  Includes maps of how to get to her office from his place. Mentions of knife carrying are involved.  Is surprised but unapologetic at the backlash.  Decides to start badmouthing the developer who she works for.  In related news, if anyone knows of a good lawyer in San Francisco, let Randi know (seriously!)

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Milo Yiannopoulos took the time to call out Anita Sarkeesian for using terms like ‘we’ and ‘our industry’ despite the fact she’s not a gamer.  Note that Milo was, as recently as August 14th, was describing grand theft auto players as ‘ weirdos in yellowing underpants’  and that GTA fans ‘need therapy and their internet connections taken away by mum?’ before discovering that these weirdos could be his brand new army in his anti-SJW culture war!  And in September, they were suggesting which games should be his very first!  (My hat is still off to whoever pushed a pigeon dating simulator on him).

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King of Pol may be doing an Interview on Fox News.  You may remember him from the Best Week Ever, where he tried to con Milo and Hot Wheels into believing some faked Facebook pages from Gawker’s CEO actually came from Kotaku’s editor in chief.  Yeah, for some reason, that guy may be going on Fox News.  #GamerGate is freaking out about it.

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Now, you may notice a few things here.  First off, none of these things are actually about Ethics in Games Journalism.

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Which should come as no surprise – #GamerGate at this point is so rarely about ethics in games journalism these days that when it stumbles upon it, it feels almost like an accident.  Secondly, with the possible exception of the Australia story, this is all minor league bullshit – effectively the equivalent of reddit drama, only across multiple platforms.

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Well, we do, because the third thing that’s true is that, despite repeated assurances that #gamergate is not about Brianna, Zoe, Anita and newly-inducted rage tank Randi, these women’s names still are the ones who come up.  All.  The.  Freaking.  Time.  Still, really, it’s not about them!

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But don’t you worry!  GamerGate is winning!

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Don’t worry, though.  I suspect they’re winning the same way that Charlie Sheeen was winning.  I present their theme song.

One of the things that you learn covering GamerGate is that it is, truly, Bizarro’s Consumer Revolt.  As Katherine Cross said (h/t Zoe)

From the beginning it was a concatenation of ironies. They declaimed unethical games journalism with the aid of an unethical journalist; they claimed women and minorities were #notyourshield while using them as a shield against criticism of GamerGate; they excoriated “blacklists” while creating aggressively enforced boycott lists of websites and authors who disagreed with them; they averred their movement had nothing to do with Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn even as they remained unable to stop talking about them; they promoted a vague notion of “inclusion” while expending great energy claiming that there was nothing wrong whatsoever with gamer culture’s treatment of women.

So yeah, when you see them claim that they are winning, you’re right to be skeptical. But hey, lets take a quick look at their accomplishments.

  • Their numbers are still tiny.  The fundamentals haven’t changed.  Also, they promised we’d see some big activity during Black Friday, but instead they troughed over the holidays, presumably being forced to interact socially with family members..
  • The press that they claim it is their mission to reform has found that they can just ignore them.  And why not?  These websites are still delivering the readers that advertisers crave.
  • Developers refuse to acknowledge their existence.  Sony joined Blizzard in, when being asked, what do you think about GamerGate, saying harassment is ‘completely unacceptable’.  Gamergaters have desperately tried to spin this as a nothingstatement.  Here’s a hint: if you ask me if you should date my best friend, and I respond ‘I’m not a big fan of ball lice’, it is fair to assume that I find the two intrinsically connected.
  • Their noted enemy, Anita Sarkeesian, has gotten more exposure and fame than she ever would have otherwise.  She’s made not only the Colbert Report, but also the cover of New York Times and most recently Bloomberg.
  • Their leaders are still disappearing.  Nope, they all didn’t disappear after the Red Wedding Week.  Recently, it was Internet Aristocrat who took a break, wiping his whole internet profile (rumor has it due to his new job).  You may remember IA for his greatest hits, including the original ‘Five Guys’ videos.  Well, those crucial bits of internet history were removed from the net.  And good riddance.
  • Their one pressworthy victory was overturned.  Remember Intel?  Yeah, about that… so far, Gamergate ha had no victories of Intel’s size on an actual gaming site.
  • They’ve managed to get twitter to acknowledge that something needs to be done about abusive shithead behavior on twitter.  In fact, when Twitter rolled out their new ‘how to block people’ video, the blocked target was depicted as… an alligator.  Get it?
  • Even they know their name is poison.  You know all of their letter-writing campaigns?  They always mention that writers should hide their gamergate affiliation.

So yeah, hell of a job there, gamergate.

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  1. And in other news, Roguestar has asked Brad Wardell for a job, which got a favorable response from Mr. Wardell. So he seems determined to stick to this strategy.

    Also, Totalbiscuit won an award/popularity contest for “The Game Awards” and GG wasted no time in claiming that was a victory for them. I remain skeptical, but I’m willing to believe they can sway an online poll enough to keep Pewdepie from winning. Personally, I’m waiting for him to denounce the group as he seems to be a strawman they can hold up and say “see? we’re really about ethics because we support this guy!”

  2. Brad Wardell didn’t have a chance to find those cartoons, they weren’t on the guys twitterstream and all he did was telling the fellow to send in his resumé, not even to a specific job.

    The pro GG fellow who posted that stuff in regards to Randi Harper, said “Help!” because he was so close to her? As in he was scared of her. As in the whole thing was “Dear god, I live so close to the crazyladys workplace, glad I have a knife”, there was no threats.

    IA told everyone to mirror his videos before leaving, giving people plenty of time and now they are spread allover youtube instead.

    Their leaders are still disappearing. -> noone wants leaders, we call em signal boosters at best. There was a survey with 92% saying that any leader will be dismissed instantly. That’s the closest thing to leaders you will see in GG.

    Meh I think I could go on about each of your points here but what about all those things GG have achieved e.g. the new FTC guidelines as well as the clarifications of such guidelines. That’s even bigger then Intel? That’s conveniently left out of your write up here? Do you just want to bash, is that goal?

    • Brad Wardell could apologize for his mistake. If it was a mistake. It’s not like he promised the guy a job.

      Randi is being straight up harassed by that guy. It’s more than just what Damion wrote. He is being beyond creepazoid.

      GG didn’t make FTC do anything.

    • Damion Schubert

      December 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      Brad could have backpedalled or kept quiet. Instead he chose to double down, talking about how it would be ‘blacklisting’ to not hire an artist for being terrible to women. It was bizarre.

      Randi’s follower did not just take a picture and leave. He’s been engaging in creepazoid asshole behavior for about a week now. Incidentally, doing stuff like that to a woman who has most certainly receieved rape and death threats is pretty dumb, given Cali’s stalking laws.

      IA’s videos are not easy to find now, unless you are ‘in the know’, which is not what a side wants their side’s propaganda to be. But IA needs it this way for professional reasons on his part. As for leaders, trust me, GG needs some kind of rudder because right now, they are devolving into stupidity.

      The new FTC guidelines were in development before gamergate was even a thing, and have little if any bearing on ethics in games journalism. It literally is gamergate getting excited for getting the equivalent of a form email in response to a letter campaign. It’s a nothingburger, especially when you consider what their core mission is supposed to be.

      • FTC: You’re right, they were but they are also being specified to the games industry as well now as per email exchange.

        IAs videos: Were they easier to find before?

        Brad Wardell: Anyone would get pissed over it, he has nothing to apologize for. ZQ should apologize for attacking someone who didn’t have a chance to find that material. She could have directed her problem to Brad in a different way, making a scene out of it is beyond belief.


        “Although we were already planning on updating our Endorsement Guide FAQs to address various issues that have arisen with respect to endorsement-related practices, the fact that we recently received many complaints about undisclosed affiliate links has made it clear that the FAQs need to address that specific practice. In terms of the best way to bring practices of concern to the FTC’s attention, filing separate complaints, as what happened here, is one way. If the consumers you work with want to join together to file a petition, that would be another way. A single email to me, as you did, is another way. Although the pure number of complaints won’t necessarily affect our analysis of whether the FTC Act has been violated, we do strive to be responsive when we see a pattern of complaints in our database, and certainly we saw a pattern here. I forget if I mentioned this before, but while we can’t intervene in individual disputes, we can and often do take action when we see a pattern of complaints about a particular deceptive business practice.”

        It seems that the emails made do some prioritizing but Gamer still doesn’t seem to understand that:

        1. The FTC works slowly and has been on this issue for years now. They also happened to make updates in regards to Youtube policies.
        2. The FTC only updates its FAQ not its rules or even guidelines. e.i. it it only made an clarification on something that was already there.
        3. The response said that they don’t considered the number of complains, which means it was enough for one person to send a single email compiling all the violations he could find.
        4. The disclosures put it actually encourage readers to click them and help the site out.
        5. Just because an article has a affiliate link inside it doesn’t mean it’s paid endorsement. If review a game and put an affiliate link to purchase it from Amazon you are not advertising Amazon. Further they don’t make the distinction between that, native advertising and outright sales articles.

        While yes Kotaku did update an disclosure on several articles, such as this one:

        GamerGaters took Kotaku on task their sales articles and claimed they improved Kotaku by making them add disclosures to all of these:

        Pretty disingenuous to complain about an online site that posts an article on the hour having alot of content selling shit on freaking Black Friday! Never mind that those articles are marked as written by a COMMERCE team and many of them under a separate url such as “deals.kinja” . Or that there is nothing wrong with cross platform linking.

        This got passed around and nobody even question it. And here is the fun part: the thing is that nobody even bothered to check that Kotaku were already putting those kind disclosures for at least an year already.

        So I decided to test them. I made a post in Kotaku in Action where I said this was a victory for them, but I also sneaked in the above link. I was waiting for the time that somebody would actually check the link that was there in the original post and go “wait a minute!”.

        But alas, that never happened. It reched 270+ upvotes and 100+ comments but nobody noticed the contradictory link. The only way they got aware of it was by me talking about it in an IRC chat.

        TL;DR – I concerned trolled Kotaku in Action. Trust but verify is non-existent.

      • Also, on the topic of FTC someone contacted the them about the Oliver Campbel allegations:

  3. @John Cobalt Gish Gallop again, GGers are quite fond of this “technique”. Just throw tons of bullshit and hope somebody believe some on it.

    I just take the time for one bullshit. Defending the guy stalking Randi Harper is insane. He claim he is scared and he post a map where she works, that bad enough. Problem is, the scared narrative don’t hold if he goes to Randi’s workplace uninvited, with friends. He   chose to go to her workplace. He   starts a confrontation against somebody that doesn’t know anything of him. At this point, claiming that a knife is for self defense is pure madness, is it for intimidation and/or assault.

  4. “Problem is, the scared narrative don’t hold if he goes to Randi’s workplace uninvited, with friends. He chose to go to her workplace. He starts a confrontation against somebody that doesn’t know anything of him”

    He lives nextdoor, he stood outside next to the logo, he probably walks by every day to the local store also you need to recognize a joke when you see one.

    This was done in jest clearly, he did not go in, he did not stalk or do anything illegal, there is nothing to see here besides outrage over a bad joke.

  5. “This was done in jest clearly”

    You clearly think so, which tells me that you haven’t read Randi’s links of his tweets that she interpreted differently (which I linked above) or you have a failure of empathy. You don’t need to break the law to be a high-order creep.

    More to the point, this guy supposedly went to school to be a game designer. This is exactly the kind of behavior that separates potential employees from creepy fanboys who treat their fellow human beings like roadside attractions and NPCs.

  6. Oh and there was the claim that Margeret Gel (@_icze4r) was getting insulted and harassed with gendered slurs more than Zoe Quinn or Anita Sarkeesian. They based that on topsy searches of mentions of the twitter account along with those slurs (bitch cunt and whore). A quick look to her mentions on twitter shows that it’s just an effect of having conversations with GamerGaters as they are almost exclusively the only ones saying bitch cunt or whore to @_icze4r.

    Sometimes it is just them using offensive words as normal speech or even terms of endearment. Sometimes they are actually using them to insult other people. Mostly non-GamerGaters.

    You can actually say that part of that statistic is GamerGaters trying to belittle and harass.

  7. I have a problem with comment box on this blog. When I try to expand it to the right it gets cut off and hides the expand marker, so I can’t reduce the size back to normal and part of my text is hidden

  8. Oh, hey, I remember Shredded Moose! I think, but cannot be sure because that would involve subjecting myself to it if it is even still around, it was one of the many strips that flooded the various comic sites in the day of “shitty Penny Arcade knockoffs.” Except Shredded Moose replaced any pretense at being gamer humor with raw, uncut misogyny.

  9. Well here is the thing Damion. While I agree that GG has largely become an inconsequential echo chamber, led by some rather bizarre and obsessed people, it seems that their avowed enemies are having about as much success as them. The feminist/SJW crowd as it were. Sure Sarkeesian has manage to appear on Colbert and a few articles but what have they really accomplished?

    Mr. Jonathan McIntosh the self described “Transformative media maker” (can’t help but chuckle at that), declared TotalBiscuit to be all but the devil. Meanwhile mister John Bain is getting an award for trending or something.

    Mr. McIntosh, who I guess is the closest thing to a leader for their movement, seems now to be on a one man mission to alienate himself from the industry he so badly wants to change. Some examples:

    Also this man now apparently has as big a problem with super hero movies as he does AAA games.

    Something tells me the large Hollywood studios are going to care about his opinion about as much as the large game publishers do.

    Why am I picking on this guy so much? Well because he is the producer/co-writer behind tropes vs. women in video games series for those that don’t know. Also as seen in this video he obviously has some level of connection with a few rather well known people:

    While I would say that this particular crowd is better at putting on a good face for the public and is more articulate than gamergate, they are in many ways quite similar to GG. They increasingly seem like an echo chamber that no one outside their group is really listening to. They appear to be just as boycott happy as GG is, as seen here:

    And yes, just like GG they seem to have the capacity to get nasty once they declare some person to be an enemy:

    Now admittedly I have no proof that came from a supporter in their group but it’s as tenuous as most the accusations against GG supporters have been. That being said it does not take much digging to find proponents of either side advocating doxing of the other side.

    Lastly, both sides seem to have a few members that can’t pull away from twitter for more than 5 minutes. @a_man_in_black and @_icze4r Just pointing this out to show the rather obsessive nature that some have about this ‘debate’. Also it’s rather funny that these folks don’t seem to realize that no one but your own supporters are even listening.

    So yeah, to summarize, while GG does seem rather ridiculous at this point. The other side of the argument seems almost as ridiculous in my view.

    • But here’s the thing. “Anti-GG”, such as it is, has only one primary component, and one secondary component.

      First: We want GG to stop being a thing. Reasons differ, but that is all that “Anti-GG” is. A desire shared by many people for GG to stop existing.

      The second thing is more something that I’ve noticed that most people who oppose GG share, and which isn’t necessary to be “Anti-GG” is a desire for women to be able to share their thoughts and opinions and not get hit with rape and death threats. Or to be called horrible things for having an opinion or daring to make a game. Hell, I personally want to see language like that not getting thrown at anyone in the gamer culture, but this stuff is worse when thrown at women than at men, so why not start there.

      And the only reason why that secondary goal is there is because it’s the main reason as to why people are against GG as a movement.

      Now that my main piece is said, a few side notes.

      It is interesting that each group has their leaders despite being leaderless movements. However, I would definitely disagree with your categorization of McIntosh as a leader. I mean, do you need to explain who Milo Yianapoulis is to people? The fact that you feel this need to say who he is and why he matters means he’s not a prominent voice in this. Anita, sure. Hell, A Man In Black also works, as his works get passed around a lot.

      This also brings us to the other thing. Why, while there’s shit getting flung at people in both camps, one side is having it stick while the other side doesn’t. A) Beginnings. GG started with harassment and doxxing and a lot of nastiness. Anti-GG, such that it is, started with revulsion and opposition to the Zoe Post and the hate that she was getting. B) What the leaders do. Milo, IA, and most of the other folks that GG has been looking up to and affording respect have generally been some pretty terrible people who do harrass. While the people who’ve been getting passed around a lot as arguments against GG have been staying fairly professional. I mean, read a storify by AMIB, where’s the offensive language and hatred? Look at the stuff getting put out by Sarkeesian or most of the journalists covering this. Not on the same level at all.

      • Couple quick points:

        1. Small distinction but I was not really talking about ‘Anti-GG’ so much as I was those that support femFreq

        2. Reason I clarified why I was talking about McIntosh was to make clear I was not just targeting some random person (as is done to often with attackers of GG). McIntosh is a more prominent figure in this whole debate that probably anyone except Anita.

        3. Um I don’t disagree on your criticism of GG, I think they are largely ridiculous. So on that we agree.

        • GG has declared that everyone is on the same tier; this decentralized approach to leadership probably has some advantages, but the most pertinent disadvantage is that it makes every deranged crackpot member an equal representative of the group.

          Which is to say, a random gger spouting on 4chan is gg’s spokesperson exactly as much as anyone else in the group.

          For those not in gg, there is nothing to be a spokesperson of. McIntosh speaks for no one but himself; there are no operations, no missions, no campaigns to rally behind. Anita is defended for her right to say things people who defend her disagree with. (I, personally find the idea that a racist attitude isn’t racist if people of the same racial background aren’t powerful enough to be somewhat ridiculous. I mean, it’s important to draw a distinction on the consequences of the racism — the more power held, the bigger results, obviously — but it needs another term to separate it from the common, dictionary-definded use of racism.(I would add, this isn’t a crackpot theory of Anita’s, but is common usage amongst sociologists. It’s a jargon term focusing on institutional racism, which does not actually require any people to be racist — just the system. It’s a reasonable theory, but using a loaded common word as a jargon term is problematic at best, much as most reasonable people would object to botanically correct berry ice cream featuring avacado and pumpkin.))

          • I would say Anita is clearly the spokesperson of their movement to ‘clean up gaming’. Seeing the fremfreq recent video that had some prominent members in gaming press clearly shows that yes, there is a mission or campaign.

            As I said in the OP though, it is looking increasingly ineffective. I don’t think RockStar is thinking ‘boy, femfreq and their supporters don’t like a lot of the content in GTA, we better do something about that’.

  10. Damion, you play Terra Mystica yet? Perhaps the best board game ever.

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