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Social Justice Warriors and The Grand Conspiracy

The Gamasutra/Intel debacle cannot possibly be summed up better than in the pictured tweet. I’ve blacked out anything identifying because I’m specifically leaving individuals out of this post. This is not about any one person. If you need a broader primer, this article at The Verge is a good place to start. For actual, non-fantastical ethical concerns in games journalism, this is a pretty good start(Edit: And this, because GG is not about ethics.)

So, how’ve you been?

Let’s talk about social justice warriors and their grand conspiracy to… well, I’m not sure what. But it must be bad for so many people to get all riled up. All I can say for sure is that I’m with you! (I’m not.) These people, these SJWs, must be stopped! (Nope.) We must not have social justice in gaming. (Because why?) Because justice is bad. Inclusion is bad. Diversity is bad. It’s a grand media conspiracy to destroy gaming because gaming must never change. It must never be criticized. It must never evolve. It must never engage in self-examination. It must never grow or broaden, it must only double-down on what it’s been for the last ten years or so, because that is the only history that matters. More guns. More explosions. Bigger tits. These things must not become an endangered species just because a bunch of chicks who are barely gamers to begin with, and the dudes who want to score with them, think games can be more inclusive.

If you support the ideals that you believe the Gamer Gate movement represents then that paragraph is going to sound belittling and misrepresentative. And that’s okay. It was meant to be. I know, being a large-ish (maybe?) group of people, you’re not actually all of one mind about this, and what GG represents from one person to the next isn’t identical. I believe there are good people (probably) who support GG and what it represents to them; people who are genuinely fair-minded (probably); are not racist or misogynistic (probably); people who are not inherently hostile and believe with every fiber of their being that they are on the right side of the issue (probably). I believe these people exist because they have to. No movement of this relative scope can legitimately hinge on making sure vocal women can’t sleep soundly at night. I have more faith in people than that. For the life of me, though, if you’re one of these “reasonable” Gaters, I can’t begin to figure out what “issue” you think you’re on the right side of.

Seriously. I have questions…

Your so-called group of SJWs? (As if there is a some card-carrying universally like-minded SJW organization. Hint: There isn’t. They’re every bit as individualistic as you are and you should stop thinking of “them” as some kind of swarm. “They” are not your enemy.) But taken as a whole, I can understand what many, who are ascribed that label, want. It’s pretty simple stuff, really. Generally speaking, they want gaming to be more inclusive of women and people of color. They’d like AAA publishers, in particular, to stop drinking quite as often at the well of overused tropes. They want to see less use of obvious degenerating gender and racial stereotyping in games because they believe these stereotypes are harmful to the perception of women and people of color in the real world. (I wonder what could possibly give them that idea ?)

Yes, I can see why you would be afraid of what havoc these warriors for social justice can bring to gaming. These are some dangerous notions, so much more dangerous than the onslaught of hostile and threatening criticism they face for the crime of speaking up.

Except you know that’s preposterous. You know that if mutilated hookers disappeared from games tomorrow that it doesn’t mean gaming as you know it is gone forever. I am going to go ahead and assume you are not that stupid. So please explain to me, what is your line in the sand? What damage are your so-labeled SJWs or anyone like them doing to society or the world of gaming? What games have been cancelled and what titles have completely tanked in sales because someone suggested that a female protagonist would’ve been better? How does an opinion column, one that argues the label “gamer” is no longer particularly useful, damage your quality of life or that of anyone else? If games don’t have a problem with misogyny or detrimental stereotypes then what changes are you afraid of happening? You do know that the stoic, white male hero isn’t going anywhere, right? Go ahead and explain all this to me. I’m listening.

Okay, so let’s approach from the “journalistic” side (while trying to remember this is not the New York Times; this is enthusiast press, like Entertainment Weekly). If what concerns you is the editorial direction of websites that feature games writing, maybe you’re not aware that there are like a billion of them, catering to every possible style under the sun? Maybe you’re not aware that these sites are not democracies? They get to choose their content. You may not like their choices, but, the beauty is that if they consistently choose poorly, people won’t go to them and your problem with them is solved. (See: High Scores, No.) And if people do go to them, then maybe the work and viewpoints they espouse aren’t as outside then norm as you’d like to believe. Maybe –and stay with me here– if you, specifically, can’t find an outlet that adequately reflects what you like about games (because the only good writing is writing you agree with?), then you’re either looking in the wrong places or you must acknowledge that it is your views that are increasingly outside the norm in 2014?

This, to me, is the biggest mystery in the entire Gamer Gate fiasco. It’s a movement in search of a cause. It is misplaced and unrestrained anger looking for a punching bag and it’s not particularly picky about who it’s punching. “Look! This gal thinks differently from us and she’s saying so publicly! Get her!”

That is, perhaps, the biggest difference between the Gaters and those of us in the pro-inclusion crowd. I don’t see people in the latter group trying to bully anyone out of the industry or out of the hobby (and I follow a lot of the people near the epicenter of these debates). The vast majority of what I’ve seen written, tweeted, or recorded, has been in advocacy for how gaming could be better for more people if it were more inclusive. You can’t say that about the Gaters. This is a movement that is entirely about silencing voices. Boycotting something is not how you express disagreement with a perspective. Boycotting is how you say that something is so beyond the pale awful that it must be ended immediately, and until it’s gone you won’t do/buy thing X. That has its place in our society, but that place is not because Chris Writer, who happens to write things like, “Game Y would be better with more women in it,” belongs to a group of professional colleagues that –Gasp!– actually discusses issues in gaming and games criticism.

The stupidest part of all this bellyaching that writers (and developers) have opinions and a tendency to express them is that gaming –you know, the actual games– is experiencing a renaissance at this very moment. Today. It has a long way to go, so don’t conflate this with me saying awesome = above criticism when it’s not, but it is getting better and it’s becoming so much more like it used to feel when I was a kid — hugely diverse.

I remember walking into a software shop as a ten-year-old and marveling at the sheer volume of options at my disposal. Not just the total number of games, but the variety of them. For a kid to walk in the software aisle in 1986 as your dad told you, “You can pick out just one”? That was a flipp’n holiday. And a huge giant matzo ball of stress because how can you possibly look at this wall of stuff and pick just one?

And then gaming got popular. Like, really popular. Like you were no longer the weirdo because you played games. And when something gets popular, more money gets involved. And when more money gets involved people who like to make money get involved. And these people don’t actually give a fig about games or gamers, just money, so they’re only going to fund the games that they believe are likely to make the most money. Simultaneously, the machines on which we play got more advanced. And as they got more advanced, games got a lot more expensive to make. And then, one day, you suddenly had to pull up giant armored trucks full of money and pour it out onto a table to get games made at all. And with all that up-front money required, you kind of had to be hugely, ridiculously successful in order to make it worth being a ginormous publisher in the first place. We have stockholders to appease, dammit!

(Hey, look at all those sentences that start with “and!” Suck it, 8th-grade English teacher!! I’m living the dream right now!!! Exclamation points for everyone!!!!)

As this played out, the variety and types of games narrowed and it narrowed some more and it narrowed some more. We call this the Golden Age of AAA Publishing. Or I do. Except I don’t mean it because I’m a sarcastic git. It’s really more like a ginormous, burning mound of coal, the kind that’s putting more carbon into the atmosphere and slowly killing us all. (Ooops. That was liberal. I apologize for my embrace of a giant consensus of edumacated climate scientists and their desire for the human race not to die out within a millennia. They’re worse than the SJWs.)

AAA publishing produced a lot of good games, so don’t get me wrong. But it didn’t produce a particularly broad variety of games and the script just a few years ago had become so beyond the pale rote and boring to me, that I very nearly gave up on gaming altogether.

A quick synopsis of me from 2011 to 2013.

A funny thing happened, however, while I was busy lamenting that $60 boxed copies of games were becoming more and more homogeneous. People, a whole lot of very creative and talented people, were making and utilizing tools that could make independent and small studio game development plausible again. A hobby that started out as a few of guys or gals in their basement or garage dreaming up something cool and different, and turned into something that only a team of hundreds could build, began returning to a few guys or gals in their basement or garage dreaming up something cool and different.

Only these folks? There are more of them and they’ve got the Internet now, not to mention a couple of very popular delivery platforms that will host and sell their content. I don’t know if gaming has gotten bigger as the indie and small dev scene has exploded, but it has absolutely gotten broader. I’ve watched gaming evolve for more than 30 years. There is more stuff out there today, and a greater variety of it, than at any time I can remember. As a gamer, even if that broadening means that there’s also a preponderance of stuff out there that you wouldn’t play if your life depended on it, that’s something you should celebrate, not something to fight against. It’s okay for some things to be for people who are not you.

The other thing that’s happened as gaming has broadened, is that so has the media that covers them. Guess what happens when the people who write about games become a more diverse group? Yeah, you get more and different opinions about games. And you? You’re not going to like all of those opinions. Some of them are even going to say mean things about games you like.

I KNOW!

Scandalous.

The beauty is, you don’t have agree with any of it. Nobody is forcing you to carry a placard and decry the evil AAA publishers because maybe not every single shooter in existence needs to have a set piece featuring strippers. Mostly, this cabal (not a cabal) of SJWs just wants to be able to speak about this stuff without you calling them in the middle of the night with orders for Five Guys, or, you know, issuing vile epithets, rape, and death threats on Twitter. And if you could cut out the doxxing that would be swell too.

I know that’s asking a lot, this request to behave with some shred of basic human decency, even in the face of people saying things you don’t like. It is, sadly, the world we live in. But we’re not talking about you, right? Because you, Rational Gamer Gater, you are probably staunchly opposed to this behavior too. For you it really is “about the principles.” Well, there are two things here:

1. Whether you like it or not, if you align yourself with this whole GG thing, this harassment campaign is something you’re aligning yourself with. It’s not avoidable.

2. People writing things you don’t like is not corruption, nor is it, in and of itself, a reason for those things not to exist. More to the point, people writing things you don’t agree with doesn’t make them wrong.

Game reviews and opinion columns are not supposed to be objective, nor balanced, nor must you agree with them to get something out of them. Some of the best game writing I’ve ever read took positions with which I didn’t agree. (A favorite quote: “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.”) Writers who can paint a clear picture and substantiate what they love or hate about a game (or gaming) in an eloquent way are hugely valuable to the gaming community because they do, in fact, allow you to make your own informed judgment about what to buy and who to follow. If you’re looking for a game review or an opinion piece to be objective, or if you think something is bad purely because it engages in ideas or perspectives you don’t agree with, then your problem isn’t the writer or the outlet, it’s you.

Now, say I’m wrong about every last thing I’ve written here. It wouldn’t be a first for me. Guess what? Even in that case, all you folks who are upset because you’re convinced gaming journalism is corrupt can still sleep soundly at night in the knowledge that games writers really don’t move the needle all that much and when we do it tends to be in a way that spurs sales, not spurns them. Publishers determine what and how games get made, not critics. Publicly traded AAA publishing companies, in particular, go where the money is. If gamers buy a game en mass, then no egghead writer is going to stop the publisher from making another one just like it. Boom. Done. Ballgame.

As long as publishers feel there is more money in bigger guns and dead hookers, that’s what we’ll continue to see. However, many of us in the “pro inclusion” crowd believe there is actually more money to be made in being more inclusive, and opening more doors to more and different people, than there is in a potentially harmful status quo. And there is at least some evidence to suggest that needle is moving. Slowly, yes, but it feels like it’s happening and, if so, it’s surely in large part because games criticism, development, and publishing are gradually becoming more diverse. More smart women and people of color are finding places for their voices to be heard and it’s a travesty that so many people would ally themselves with a movement whose sole purpose is to extinguish those voices.

A good chunk of the time when I hear something from one of those voices, I don’t even agree with them. Or, more accurately, I agree with some bits of it, but not others. Yet I’ve learned more in listening to those voices and giving them my consideration than I have from bandying about with a bunch of people who already think like me. I hope this trend of fresh new voices, and old voices finding new and more platforms, not only continues, but accelerates. We can only learn, grow, and benefit from them. And if it just so happens that it leads to publishers and developers pushing harder to make their games more mature, more consistent in acknowledging women and people of color as something other than stereotypes, then remember that they’re doing it because they think there’s a larger audience for them in doing so. It’s not because of censorship (maybe look that term up before you start bandying it about), it’s because the market always wins eventually and sometimes that means you lose.

It’s an outcome that I can only hope comes to pass, for the simple reason that this hobby is at its best when it’s by everyone, for everyone.

Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at ToddsFoolery.com.

23 thoughts on “Social Justice Warriors and The Grand Conspiracy

  1. I just submitted an email to Intel on their site (under the Corporate Responsibility section) saying that I’m personally boycotting their products unless they reverse course on this. I’m telling everybody I know to do the same, because this fucking “gamergate” bullshit has gone beyond ridiculous and into the realm of completely absurd.

  2. I’d like to know if there’s anything constructive that the rest of us can do about this situation. I’ve honored the earlier request not to engage with GameGaters here on No High Scores, but it’s awfully hard to sit by and watch people get harassed into shuttering their social media accounts.

    Even if every accusation the GamerGate crowd has made turned out to be true — including the contradictory and demonstrably false ones — it still wouldn’t justify their behavior in any way. The fact that they’re able to hoodwink Intel into pulling an ad campaign for no demonstrable reason doesn’t lead me to believe things are going to die down anytime soon.

    1. Angel, my comment in the other post was just to try avoid having drive-by comments engage in the whole liberal/conservative nonsense that got brought up in one comment. Really didn’t want to see it turn into a political right v. left thing as those get combustible fast. Ultimately, I should have trusted the community here more because you folks that have stuck around through the lack of posting are all aces.

      As for what to do, some of this stuff is just impossible. I have no idea. Personally, I think supporting WIT who work through services like Patreon is a good place to start. Writing to a writer’s editor and saying you love the work and that they offer a home for it is good. Engaging with people in meatspace who are aware of the whole GamerGate thing, but don’t really know what it’s all about is also helpful.

      If anyone else has ideas, do post ’em.

  3. Todd, good commentary/rant, I’d like to see more folks talk more about the ridiculousness of the whole thing. If you look at the history of anti-feminist movements the GG crowd is just a new wav of the same cycle. They may have some legitimate points and concerns, but those seem to always be over ridden by the vehemence of their message and methods. Like other inequality movements the surface arguments used in the message just belies a deeper push back against a change in the status quo. I pretty much ignore the whole kerfuffle, and keep posting and speaking a pro-equality message outside of the various shitstorms.

    I should add that the recent addition of Holly Green to the podcast is a great step forward for visibility of women in the gaming community. One of the main reasons I started listening to the podcast almost 200 episodes ago was because of Danielle. As one of the voices I would hear each week she gave me a different perspective that I felt had been sorely lacking in the gaming community. Keep up the good work.

    1. I have also appreciated having Holly join in on the recent episodes. She’s got different taste in games but seems to mesh well with the Brakkowski-Schnell (sp?) hour of power.

      Plus it makes them talk about food more, which is good :)

      1. Can’t begin to describe how much we love having Holly be part of the show. Am so glad Brandon reached out to invite her on.

        And, yeah, we still miss Danielle being on. Makes me smile every time when I see her name come up at Polygon or that she’s recorded a show with Idle Thumbs (or several others). Nice to see how hard she works pay off for her.

  4. Remember kids, it’s ok the make racists and toss out broad gender insults, as long as you are on the side of the progressives. So Leigh Alexander tweeting out line after line of gutter trash is fine, but a few people who don’t represent the majority of those who believe in GamersGate are the voice for the entire thing. Did I get that right Todd?

    I think Prager says it best when talking about social justice bullshit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUBoWi37Y8o, which it is, being about as far removed from justice as it actually is. It must be nice for you left leaners to be a perpetual victim your entire lives.

    1. Whatever “gutter trash” Leigh puts out, it pales into insignificance compared with the blood-curdling threats, hacking and actual abuse that progressive people, particularly women, have to endure on the internet.

      I appreciate that justice is a loaded term, that means different things depending on where you are in the political spectrum. That’s partly why I find it so bizarre that SJW is tossed out as an insult. Whatever justice means to you, the idea that it might be a bad thing seems laughable. But either way, it’s not “justice” to seriously suggest a bit of trash talk is justification for threats of rape, torture and execution.

      1. Right because there’s been zero hacking, insults, or flat out racist remarks from any of the “Journalists” or social justice progressives, with zero integrity. mmm hmm.

        In fact now there’s this gem from Ben Kuchera who’s solution is to censor speech the agenda pushers don’t agree with. http://www.polygon.com/2014/7/30/5952135/twitter-harassment-problems

        So not very shocked, and really if for one second anyone wants to claim there isn’t a political motive in all this? You’re more naive than you think.

        1. Arguing that the act of giving individual users better tools to block harassers (which is the premise of that linked article) is an act of censorship is, not surprisingly, a staggeringly bizarre/inaccurate interpretation of the word censorship.

          I think what’s naive is your notion that individuals can fit so easily into your much-beloved right/left stereotypes.

    2. Yep, when you don’t want to argue against what’s actually written, just go ahead and make up something to argue against. Pretty standard from your playbook, but don’t expect me to defend arguments I’m not actually making.

      Also, inferring someone to be gutter trash? Yeah, that totally separates you from this “minority” of people saying hateful or threatening things.

      1. If you’ve read any of Ms Alexander’s racist tweets what would you equate it to? Eloquence? It’s funny Todd that you make a mention to not understanding why those who support GG do so, yet ignore flat out hateful and ridiculous comments from one of the main proponents of just one of the reasons why it exists besides the complete lack of journalistic integrity from said sites, Gamasutra, Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun etc.

        Though I’m sure you don’t have an issue with the progressive agenda pushing in the games industry because you typically lean left yourself. Which seems to be a theme with those who are anti GG and continually throw out the Misogyny card left and right, rather than focusing on the actual issues of a lack of integrity, and the fact that these game journalist seem to all hate the very community of the industry they’re writing for. That doesn’t strike you as odd at all?

        When one of the heads of Gawker media tweets a statement that nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded with plenty of writers in the industry and of other tech sites like Ars retweeting it isn’t that akin to the very thing the anti GG crowd is trying to claim here? abuse?

        And I’m sorry for you Todd I truly em, this is an obvious progressive push, when networks like MSNBC pick it up and run with one side of the story rather than give equal time to both sides of the story it makes it pretty obvious exactly what it is. We’re not all idiots. Politics have no place in games.

        1. OK. I’m going to try this because I’m tired of just reading these comments.

          “Which seems to be a theme with those who are anti GG and continually throw out the Misogyny card left and right, rather than focusing on the actual issues of a lack of integrity, and the fact that these game journalist seem to all hate the very community of the industry they’re writing for.”

          We are going to focus here. I’m going to jump around a bit as I’m tired and scattered brained.

          First, the misogyny thing. Why is it that all “anti-gg” people seem to focus on the fact that gg supporters are misogynistic, when gg supporters claim to be in this for journalistic integrity? Because the most vocal, most public facing supporters are those throwing horrible vitriol at, specifically female, critics and developers. This is akin (very loosely) to civil rights movements in the 60s. MLK tried to enact peaceful protests, start a conversation, try to get their side across. You know what probably got all the press? Any of the more violent protests. That then colors the entire conversation. Despite any good that might come from the more rational, the other side will simply ignore it until the irrational violence (a much more serious issue) stops. If you are flying under the same banner, you are going to be lumped (fairly or not) into the same camp.

          Another point on this. This entire movement started when Zoe’s ex posted a story alleging she slept with a journalist for coverage, yes? That’s my understanding anyway, so my explanation stems from that. One of the major arguments against the, “we are in it for the journalistic integrity, not because we are misogynists”, is why is the focus on Zoe and other women developers (such as Brianna Wu)? If a politician accepts a bribe, it’s the politician who is at fault, yes? So why haven’t I heard about the journalist’s life being ruined? Basic reasoning being that she is being attacked because she’s the woman in the scenario, she’s the outsider trying to manipulate the system. Obviously, there have been some questions brought up about the guy, but all evidence points toward nothing nefarious occurring. His life hasn’t been ruined. He hasn’t been chased from his home. He doesn’t have horrific harassment thrown his way every waking moment of the day. Just Zoe. Why?

          The reason the NYT, MSNBC, BBC, whoever are only doing articles on the harassment is because that is the story. There is no debate to be had. There is no justification for the deplorable things that have been done/said to these women. ABSOLUTELY NONE. There is only one side to that part of the story, it needs to stop now (If both sides are harassing, which I have not been shown evidence of, then it needs to stop from both sides). A more rational conversation about inclusivity (there should be more, but that doesn’t mean developers are going to stop making games with strong white male leads. Just that they should look at their games and think, you know, this part might make some people uncomfortable, because it unfairly represents them, or diminishes them in some manner), ethics, whatever can happen somewhere down the road, after that mess is settled.

          The fact that you think game writers hate games or people who enjoy games is ridiculous. If you think, hey, this sites views or opinions don’t mesh with mine. That’s great! Healthy even! You can have that opinion. You can also choose not read that site and it will not affect you in any way. If that site’s ideas are not found useful by anyone, it will go away (here’s me trying to appeal to your “conservative” ideology…that’s basic capitalism). If, however, it speaks to other gamers, and grows in popularity? So what? You are still going to get games and opinions that align with your own. Just not everywhere, all the time. So go and support those sties and writers. God knows they are not going away anytime soon if ever. Not all gamers think alike, because not all humans think alike. We all have different backgrounds and experiences that colour our opinions. Just because someone thinks differently from you, or looks different from you, is no reason to make them feel less than. All Anita’s videos were trying to do, for instance, was point out that things in these games might make female players feel uncomfortable and explain why that might be. Can a developer choose to ignore that? Absolutely. Can a developer also reflect on that, and think, hey, I didn’t mean it that way, but I see where you’re coming from and I’ll try and not diminish the role of female characters in the future? Again, yes. Can a gamer who enjoyed that game still enjoy that game? Again, yes. No one is being attacked by her criticism. It’s constructive criticism that seeks to give voice to a different viewpoint.

          If you respond, and I hope you do because I was seriously posing some of those questions to you, let’s try and see if we can avoid any and all inflammatory buzzwords (i.e. liberal, conservative, left wing, right wing, sjw, etc) and have a rational conversation.

        2. Penguin beat me to the punch, but since I already had this written up, I’ll post anyway…

          You know my first reaction here was to restate, “I’m not going to engage in arguments that I’m not actually making,” but I’m going to take one last shot at addressing you here, on your terms. I’m doing it because, unlike several of your last posts (from which I honestly can’t determine if you’re frustrated as hell or simply trolling) you come off more earnest here, which I can at least respect, if not agree with. After this, however, I’m done. I have real world shit to do and stuff I care about way more than going around in circles on the same things over and over again every time I dredge up the motivation to write a new post.

          So here it goes…

          One:

          I’m not “equating” anything to Leigh Alexander’s tweets because I never brought up any of her tweets. You did and that, among other reasons, is why I say you’re inventing arguments I’m not making. I very purposefully didn’t bring up any individual in my post. This is not about individuals. It is about group behavior. It is about our shared gaming community, which has a toxic element to it that has made its home at the heart of Gamer Gate, whether you particularly like it or not. That is reality.

          I’ll admit, however, I am curious what you’ve seen Alexander say that you’d regard as racist. I’ve only followed her Twitter account for a month or so and I have seen frustrated, angry, and at times condescending tweets, but nothing so ugly as what you describe. Against whom do you think she is a racist? I can only assume generalizations of white men, to which… um, no. That’s just not an equivalent thing. I’m not saying racism towards white men doesn’t exist in any form, but 1) we’re not systemically harmed or threatened by women saying “men do x” and 2) unless you’re going to show me an example of actual racism/slander/harassment from Ms. Alexander I’m not going to acknowledge that she engaged in such behavior as a given fact. She seems a perfectly decent and intelligent human being to me. I agree with some things I’ve seen her say/write and I disagree with others. Just like anyone. She just happens to have a platform to speak from that many don’t and she has that platform because she’s been doing work that people respect for a long, long time. You may not respect her or her work, but that doesn’t mean other people don’t. She’s earned her platform.

          That said, I will grant you that when I see someone say, “something something ,white men, something something” that I am momentarily irked because reductions like that irritate me no matter who they come from. (Hopefully you understood that part of the point of this post was to specifically agree that not everyone who says they support Gamer Gate could possibly be a raging misogynist.) These things, however, are not equivalent to what we’re talking about when we’re talking about the rotted core of Gamer Gate. They’re just not. A sarcastic “white men” comment is not the same as, “Here’s your address and I’m going to rape and kill you and your family.” It’s not the same as, “If you allow this woman to speak at your school I will massacre everyone.”

          That stuff is happening (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/17/brianna-wu-gamergate-human-cost). And it’s not happening a little. It’s everywhere and it is all coming from people who have endorsed/used/identify with Gamer Gate. They may not represent a clear majority of it, but the fact is people *are* afraid of even mentioning Gamer Gate as a hashtag and it’s not by accident or misunderstanding. Hell, I’m afraid of them just for what I’ve written here and I’m nobody. It’s not hyperbolic or an overreaction to say there are people in this “movement” actively trying to destroy lives. The shit that is going on is fucked up and it’s scary as hell. Why do you think so many public figures with platforms are increasingly speaking out against it? (http://waxy.org/2014/10/gamergate_schadenfreude/) It’s not because they’re fooled or that they’re imbeciles. They can see what’s going on. I don’t know why you can’t.

          I can tell what we don’t see are Alexander, Quinn, Wu, insert any woman’s name here, saying things like, “I’m going to find you and kill you,” to anyone. (Again, if you have evidence that’s wrong, show me. I will gladly disavow that person, assuming the person they’re threatening didn’t threaten them first). I’ve shown/linked examples at NHS of the harassment they’re receiving and there’s plenty more where that came from directed at far more people of both genders than are generally acknowledged. In an argument between people being threatened with violence and intimidation and people rocking the boat but not literally threatening anyone, I’ll sit with the boat rockers every single time.

          Two:
          So let’s set the violence out of it because you’re a non-violent guy. (I don’t actually know that, but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.) You don’t like the political message and that’s fine. You view it as agenda pushing, but we are all agenda pushing. Your resistance to what you view as “their agenda” is also an agenda. Many people don’t like the sort of agenda you’ve been pushing here. I’m one of them. I may have attacked your positions or your statements, but have I attacked you personally? Have I made sweeping judgments about you as a person? No. I don’t even know you. I just know you post angry things here that I think are rather ignorant. (To which, fine. Think what you want. As long as you’re not threatening anybody, it’s no skin off my nose.)

          Regardless, somewhere along the way you seem to have concluded that I don’t think there are politics involved in any of this, which isn’t the case. A person’s personal politics influences everything. It influences their writing. It influences how they design games. It influences how they perceive the world. That is not avoidable and I’m not rejecting that notion. What I reject from you is your right-left classification of people. Someone takes a position you don’t like, you slot them in as a liberal/SJW/progressive which is beyond meaningless in the real world. You are taking people, people who believe different things that slot in all over the ideological spectrum, and reducing them to fit a very narrow view of politics in which there is only right and left, which you also seem to errantly interpret with right/wrong and good/evil. You don’t know me. You don’t know these other people. Stop talking about us like you do. It irritates the ever-loving shit out of me.

          People are more than that, and politics are more than that, and these things are (usually) not a matter of good versus evil, but different ways of seeing the world. There is value in acknowledging and attempting to understand someone else’s world view, even when you don’t specifically understand or agree with it. This is not a war. Or, at least it shouldn’t be.

          Three:
          The difference between even the non-violent/harassing aspects of Gamer Gate and those who oppose it are still pretty easy to contrast. I’m not saying there is no hypocrisy that comes from the anti-gamer gate side of the fence. Of course there is. There’s a huge volume of people involved in it and whenever that is the case you are going to have to take the good with the bad (or stupid). But…

          – Shaming is not the same as threatening. And you’re not degraded by people saying they think games and gamers can do better and be more. That message, “we can do better,” is at the heart of the message you ascribe to SJWs. That is the core. You may not agree that there’s anything that needs to be better, but that doesn’t mean you’re being denigrated. Good grief. When did it become offensive to want to set the bar higher?
          – Anti Gamer Gate people do want the Gamer Gate hashtag to go away, but civil discussion is not something anti gamer gate people have advocated against. There are legitimate discussions to be had about ethics in journalism. If you listened to the first 100+ episodes of JtS or followed this site in its early years, you’d of heard us address many aspects of those concerns with some regularity. I’ve heard it from other journalists and websites who are equally frustrated by many aspects of the journalist/publisher dynamic. But what Gamer Gate frequently attacks are not examples of poor ethics in journalism. Hell, Wu and Quinn aren’t even journalists. They’re developers and what they do with their personal lives is not our fucking business. There has never been any evidence shown that either of them have done anything unethical with a journalist to advance their careers. Every example I have seen of it has been very effectively refuted. It would be laughable if the consequences for their lives weren’t so fucking awful.
          – Forgetting even that, it’s rather hard to have a discussion about integrity when your life is being threatened. If someone threatens my life or my family I’m not going to give a shit what you think about my personal ethics or conduct. I’m worried about my fucking family, you know? In that scenario, battling those threats and the people that make them would become my world. There would be nothing else I care about. (And this stuff is not being made up. If you really believe that then you’re being willfully ignorant to what has been going on over the past month+… years, really.)
          – The Gamer Gate movement, as I wrote in the post *is* about silencing specific voices and that is a huge difference from the people who are writing/saying things in an attempt to influence gaming culture in a way that they believe is beneficial to the gaming community. You may not agree with their ideas of what’s wrong with gaming culture, but that isn’t the same as denigration, harassment, and violent threats. Yes, you also have every right to speak your mind about what you want games to be, too, but you don’t do that. Or you haven’t been doing that here. You’re attacking the people and you’re doing it with some pretty wild caricatures of what they’re actually saying. (Your interpretation of the Kuchera article is a good example of that.) Don’t expect me to identify with or understand your side of things when you’re calling people “retards,” accusing them of false flagging, and take posts about threats and harassment and say, “Yeah but…” A proper reaction to something like the Utah State threats is not, “Well, I don’t support that, but Sarkeesian is a horrible person,” but rather, “Gosh, that’s awful.” Far too many people in the pro Gamer Gate crowd do not seem to understand that we need to make sure people are *able* to say what they want before we worry about debating what they’re saying.

          Four:

          There is fundamental misrepresentation of what good journalism is and you specifically advocated one of them — not all sides are equal in a story. If there are two groups of people –one who says the sky is blue and has done a volume of research to show why it’s blue, and another group who says it’s covered in apples– someone covering that story is not obligated to give the people spouting nonsense equal time. People saying mean things about games you like, or even engaging in shoddy journalism, is not equivalent to harassment and threats made against those people’s lives. They are not the same story and they do not deserve equal time on the stage together.

          I covered this in my post at some length. It’s very strange thing to hear “it’s about ethics” from the Gamer Gate corner from people who consistently display that they have very little understanding of what journalistic ethics look like or how rules change based on context. (See the tweet pictured at the top of this post. Pressuring advertisers to influence journalism? How does a person not see that irony?) I’m not going to say gaming journalists and publishers don’t have a hinky relationship. I’m not going to say dumb shit doesn’t go on. But widespread collusive corruption that’s harming gamers or games? That’s a pretty huge leap. And the people being targeted as unethical are among the poorest examples one could name, especially given that some of them aren’t even fucking journalists. (I’m sorry, but this maddening.)

          Reviews and editorials, which is most of gaming journalism that people pay any attention to, are not the same as reporting on events at the G7 summit. These things have different rules. There isn’t balanced. There isn’t objective. Those things are not part of the damn equation. Yes, when you’re writing a review or editorial you are attempting to inform, and you have a responsibility to be truthful and accurate, but the writer is doing that within the framework of how they *felt* about the game. That is not supposed to be objective. That is not supposed to be unbiased. An unbiased look at a game is a fact sheet and it is utterly useless.

          And I know you feel like the misogyny card is overplayed, and it does get thrown around in places where I think it’s inappropriate to do so, but you need to understand that it’s hard not to see misogyny in a movement that is so blatantly focused on silencing women. Of course the people facing harassment on a minute-by-minute basis, from people in the gaming community, are going to want to talk about misogyny in gamer culture. They’re being inundated with it on a daily basis. To expect them not to talk about it, complain about it, and rail against it is to set a standard for them that isn’t human. If you don’t understand why it’s wrong and harmful to tell women they shouldn’t talk about the harassment they receive (which is an argument I have seen from GG supporters and one you’re implicitly supporting in your argument) then try replacing the word “harassment” with “rape.” And that comparison *is* equivalent, because a culture that tolerates harassment and intimidation of women enables the rape culture by association. That’s not a wild leap in the sequence.

          Now, understand, I am not accusing you specifically of making deliberate arguments in support of harassment, threats, rape culture, etc. But your notion that these things can be separated from the Gamer Gate hashtag isn’t realistic. It’s too endemic. It exists in the roots of how Gamer Gate started. It flows through the trunk. You, and people who “don’t support harassment,” are branches and if you want to be taken seriously you have to separate yourself from the Gamer Gate tree. Unfortunately, even granting you that, I cannot help but come back to the notion that your problem isn’t anything to do with ethics or integrity, but that you have a problem with people who say things about games with which you disagree. That’s not their problem. If you can’t handle people saying things you don’t like, things that in no way cause physical or mental harm to anyone, then the issue is yours. That is my position and it is what this post was about.

  5. And again lets make it about Quinn, Wu, what ever poor oppressed female you latch on to. They are irreverent and it was never about them, #NotYourShield is there for a reason, please stop using these women as a shield to spew liberal propaganda k thx. Todd if you’ve been a follower for a month you clearly saw them. here’s a link to refresh your memory http://theralphretort.com/racist-tweets-leigh-alexander-discovered/

    It’s funny to me that you obvious progressives keep making it about these women, and point to a couple bad apples as over representation of the entirety of GG. Then have the balls to say “if you can’t handle hearing things you may not like” Guy where do you think all those gamers are dead articles came from? From hearing things those poor progressive pushers didn’t like, they then proclaimed an entire hobby dead because of it. You people really just need to get the hell over yourselves.

    1. So it was never about these women? As Todd showed, it always was. Here’s the thing if you want to have a discussion about ‘journalism ethics’ Gamergate is not the way to do it. The well is poisoned. The root is from harassing women, the most public side of it is harassing women.

      See here is the thing, Gamergate has this whole internal dialogue going on, but the only time that the movement pokes its head out of its bubble is to harass people who they dislike. The threats are the face of the movement because they are the most coherent, organized, and forward facing part of the movement. Everything else is a confused mess.

      To prove this, look at what an actual real journalist did when trying to write a fair piece on GG, done by actually trying to use the sources GG wanted him to use: https://twitter.com/tortoiseontour/status/524001778904608768

      A journalist trying to be fair, and give the movement the benefit of the doubt, and using sources that they wanted used, found the movement to be about harassing women in games. How can you possibly expect anyone to take the ‘ethics’ concerns seriously when the movement is rotten to the core.

      Here’s another thing, those ‘Gamers are Dead’ articles? You might want to reread them. They do not say what you think AT ALL. Is it a deliberately agressive attention getting headline? Oh yeah. They are trying to be as subtle as a sledgehammer. What the article does not say though is anything trying to destroy your precious segment of the hobby. They exist to, rather correctly, point out that gaming has diversified itself. In audience, games, form, and genre the medium is far more non-homogeneous than ever before. So rather than perpetuate the myth that gaming is the domain of exclusively white male 18-34 players, which if you look at the marketing is the dominant sphere, that ‘gamer’ means so much more. So much that, anymore, the term gamer itself is rendered meaningless. The term ‘gamer’ is dead as an identifier because it can, literally, mean anyone. So to move forward it is useful to lose the old term, and use something more meaningful.

      Besides these articles follow in a long line of ‘X are dead’ pieces. It’s an attention getting way to state the premise that a traditional form no longer holds the value as an identifier it once had. To prove it:

      Action movies are dead – http://filmjunk.com/2012/04/20/open-forum-friday-is-the-american-action-movie-dead/

      Books are dead – http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/aug/22/are-books-dead-ewan-morrison

      Books aren’t dead (yet) – http://www.salon.com/2013/03/21/books_arent_dead_yet/

      CDs are dead – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/music-sales-2012-digital-physical_n_2440380.html

      Rock music is dead – http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/gene-simmons-rock-is-finally-dead-20140907

      And on, and on, and on.

      Point being that inflammatory attack on traditional gamers article was nothing of the sort. If those so up in arms about those articles would crawl out of their bubble once in a while, they would know that type of article is a long established form, and one that is largely RIGHT.

      Now if you really want to talk ethics in games writing (I don’t deem to call most of it journalism, it’s enthusiast press really) there are some valid things to discuss. It will NEVER be properly addressed by GG though, the source is rotten, and infected by some truly despicable elements. Abandon the tag if any real discussion is to occur. Maybe then we can get somewhere.

      For a starting place, and yes I am picking this source deliberately, look at the list Leigh Alexander posted of ethical concerns. It’s a damn fine list of some genuine ethics problems in games media.
      http://leighalexander.net/list-of-ethical-concerns-in-video-games-partial/

    2. Mr. Thundr, as a proud Irish-American, I am not your shield. Pretending to defend the dignity of Irish culture has no place in your misogynist hate campaign against Leigh Alexander. It’s not the reason this started and it isn’t the reason it persists. Digging up out-of-context tweets from two years ago in an attempt to score political points is disturbing.

      Although I cannot see inside anyone’s head, I personally think that the tweet doesn’t make a lot of sense, racist or otherwise, unless Leigh is referring to the “Fighting Irish” football team and, by extension, its fans. Although based in Indiana, this team is quite popular in the rural and Republican areas of Massachusetts: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/03/upshot/ncaa-football-map.html#8,41.545,-70.431

      I imagine that there are some persons of Irish descent who are legitimately offended by the “Fighting Irish” football team name, and I think one could have an extensive discussion on how Irish people came to be included in American whiteness and thus not really subject to racism in the United States, but that would be a rather severe digression, especially since there is no evidence that you actually care.

      Finally, I will add for purposes of humor that I notice your link is illustrated with a plantation owner from Django Unchained. I guess we can add “Leigh Alexander’s tweets” to the lengthy and unfortunate list of “things that have been compared to slavery”.

      1. Mr. Timzania, I have never heard the term Hood Rat meaning ghetto applied to the Irish. I think we both know what she was referring to. I pointed it out because it speaks to the quality of the character of these people that are claiming gamers are misogynists.

        I’m sure those are the same people offended by the Redskins team name, because you are professional victims, the lot of you. Always looking for the next “injustice” to be offended by. That you have people on the anti GG side comparing gamers to Klan members shows that liberals will go to all lengths to bully people into an ideology. You all should be ashamed of not only yourselves, but those who you let speak for you.

  6. I feel like the internet is now home to a lot of armchair-whatevers that like to strike a claim at something that they do not fully understand or comprehend.

  7. And thus did the internet begin to consume itself, and humanity gave of its intellect and prosperity, and abashed the Devil stood and felt how awful goodness is, and saw virtue in her shape: and pined his loss.

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