So there's this thing called #GamerGate


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edited in General
It's a few days old now. But there's a significant number of self-identifying gamers that believe there is a conspiracy in games journalism.

This article mentions it. Though it doesn't go into much detail. I think it captures some of the tragedy of the situation though.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/03/gamergate-corruption-games-anita-sarkeesian-zoe-quinn

Obviously, it's all over twitter right now. There's a lot more information out there.

A lot of these #GamerGate gamers are planning on avoiding indie game news sites. They say they're boycotting most of the websites that have had a positive impact on the visibility of our game.

So I thought this might be a relevant place to discuss this phenomenon. And discuss any response game developers should have. Though I know it's a prickly subject, and a lot of you are probably exhausted by it already.

And it may be about to blow over (though I was saying that a couple days ago, and now I doubt myself).

Comments


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    First up, if you followed along closely the thing that should be most apparent is that none of this is a crusade against "journalistic integrity". No amount of fuss this big was kicked up over reports that YouTubers were taking money to cover games, and not even the Halo Doritogate thing drew the attention of this particular mob - not in this way.

    All of this is a poor excuse to rally boys to join what is basically a hate campaign aimed at women in the industry. The majority of the hate is flung directly at female writer/creators and less vigorously against allies of said female writers/creators. They do poor job of covering up this fact too. And I do speak of them as a unit.

    You can see it in the language they choose. They feel threatened and think that people are trying to take away their games, or that "not true gamers" are trying to push them out of what they perceive to be a male-dominated space.

    And the boys in this male pig-pile do not care about facts. They doxxed and harrassed Jenn Frank, who typically writes op-ed pieces and stories about life experiences. These types of articles are not meant to be "impartial" and if they had an inkling of interest in her writing, they would know this. They're not reviews, and are not tainted in any way by who-ever-the-fark she knows or supports on Patreon.

    As an example, go read her piece "Allow Natural Death" on Unwinnable where she uses Super Hexagon to illustrate a point. She did the voice for Super Hexagon. "Line." "Triangle." "Square." "Again!" By the the freak-brigade's ill-conceived logic, that piece is corrupt and should not exist.

    But it does not matter, because it's not what it's about. It's just directing hate at women without needing a good reason.

    I used the word "boys" a lot here, because more and more this is all starting to feel familiar. This is the same kind of shit I grew up with. My neighbourhood was full of after-school fist fights and bullies. Whenever there was a target, there'd be a crowd. And I can guarantee you if you tried to extract a reason for their hate/bullying, they would try their best to justify it, but it'd be weak.

    @BlackShipsFilltheSky Not sure why you are showing concern that these people might boycott sites where your game has exposure - do you really want these assholes as your customers? Why not make a statement that you do not support hate, and maybe ask folks to be better? Maybe some of them will turn back to sanity.

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    @rustybroomhandle I think you misunderstood me. I was trying to keep the conversation open. I thought that starting by expounding my personal views would only earn me back pats from a bunch of people I know agree with me already (at the cost maybe of not being able to have a conversation with the people who somewhat disagree with my personal views).

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    Fair enough.

    I do think that it'll help to show the mob that the people who create the media they consume are not supporters of this type of hate though.

    Some of them genuinely believe they are furthering some kind of divine crusade against corruption like they're Nelson f-ing Mandela though. The mind boggles.

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    I have to admit I don't know how to respond. What's scaring me is I have a daughter (nearly 2 years old) who I'm excited to introduce to gaming but I'm afraid of how she'll be treated and this #GamerGate, for me, is just the visible boil that's been the misogyny in the gaming audience for years now.

    I would really like to hear from someone like @Hanli who works in SA to promote disadvantaged game devs/artists & women in our industry, about what I can do to protect and nurture my daughter (and other women) against these odds.

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    The GamerGate people seem to be already claiming that developers are colluding with journalists to get good reviews. Obviously, that's what "GamerGate" refers to.

    So I gather, we're not seen to be on their side already. So us not supporting their actions is probably ineffectual?

    I'd like to somehow make them less angry about the things that are making them angry.

    I don't think public condemnation has a history of achieving that. Unless I'm misunderstanding something about humans. Don't humans often grow more determined in the face of condemnation?

    (Obviously the rape threats and the threats on people's families and the online harassment deserve condemnation. But that isn't how the GamerGate gamers self-identify. The vast majority of them aren't threatening people like that, and you can't talk to that majority if you lump them together with the worst members of the group)

    I know Soz on Twitter said he was going to write an article offering some information about how journalists and developers actually work. I don't know if it'll be read by the right people. But I thought that might be a good move?

    Although I guess that's just one aspect of what is making GamerGate people angry. Though it seems the most easily refutable.

    My mind is pretty boggled honestly. I'm not sure I'm keeping it all straight.

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    Information dumps might be good, but you need to find ones willing to read and absorb it all.

    When asked to show evidence of corruption, they usually cite the Zoe Quinn thing that kicked it all off. But that's THE weakest example. She "had sex with journalists to get positive reviews"? For a game that's free!? Nathan Grayson never wrote a review of Depression Quest. He mentioned it in a post announcing a round of Greenlit games. Some will even point to that post as evidence of "corruption".

    What I'm getting it at is that it's very difficult to reason with that sort of ignorance.

    So anyway. If I were a master of propaganda, I guess I would try and aim for:

    1. Calm
    2. Getting the truth across
    3. Separating the ones from the group that can perhaps be reasoned with.

    And some of them must at some point realise that they are getting absurdly worked up over something frivolous. And being overly defensive and as a result hostile. It's just games, man. Games come in many flavours, played by many different types of people. There's nothing at all to get insecure about.

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    @rustybroomhandle Yeah : )

    I think Soz's post maybe approaches that?

    http://sosowski.tumblr.com/post/96628756767/the-lack-of-communication-and-the-bitterness-in-video

    But I like Soz, so maybe I'm totally biased.

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    Amagad, you so corrupt!

    I just read it. Good piece. Now to get the horde to read it.

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    @rustybroomhandle Every time I speak to an journalist at an event, we give a knowing wink to each other at the end of the conversation. Both of us knowing he/she is going to write outrageous lies about how much he/she enjoyed our game.

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    @rustybroomhandle Every time I speak to an journalist at an event, we give a knowing wink to each other at the end of the conversation. Both of us knowing he/she is going to write outrageous lies about how much he/she enjoyed our game.
    AND you get ALL that without offering sex? That's absurd!

    Jokes aside. I've vaguely been following the drama, and I really have nothing more to contribute than "it's sad that reasonable, good, level-headed views are less press-worthy" - that's to say that people with extreme views get all the attention for shouting and being indignant and extreme.

    So sad :(

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    You guys do know that the whole "GamerGate" name was coined by a fucking Lesser Baldwin Brother linking to the horrid videos judging speculation about Zoe's private life, right? Man, fuck that guy...

    Anyway, I gotta say here that while some people may indeed be concerned about their gamer identities or journalistic integrity, how people are engaging with this is the real kicker. If someone comes at me on twitter with some false equivalence bullshit, they're part of the problem, especially if they're using some sock-puppet new account to spew crap at people. If people really do want to talk about ethics, great, do so in an ethical way.

    @Tuism: It's not the extremist views that are getting attention, it's the extreme actions that people are taking that are having really bad effects on the lives of others. People are scared to go home, people have had their private lives raked through by mouthbreathing assholes searching for stuff to shame, a goddamn airliner was diverted because of a bomb threat to spite a Sony exec about this. This isn't reporting perspectives, this is people saying that behaving like this is not okay, no matter how far you stretch reality. The people co-ordinating these hate campaigns aren't communicating using the media, they're divorced from pretty much everything but the insular forums and corners of reddit that they inhabit online. This isn't a case of media hyping something up, it would be happening without coverage... The coverage is of the "Holy fucking shit, this is so not okay" variety.

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    Please can we stop sharing and linking to the sites that are throwing out these vile versions of the truth?

    I've had a lot of people IM me with good intentions in the past week, sharing a link and asking my opinion on the thoughts posed in said link. I've started to explain that I refuse to click on links with article titles like "promiscuous women ruining gaming" because it gives that site traffic - and your traffic is your vote for what the media will keep producing. (I then very happily will explain every aspect of the situation and how slut shaming is a part of rape culture and I've had a least one conversation which ended with the guy saying "hadn't thought of it that way"...and the rest have led to unfriending because I don't need that rubbish in my life)

    Every time we visit and share the links we're upset about, we're encouraging more of that. The only way to affect the digital media is not through sleeping with them (cause apparently Zoe couldn't get a free positive review doing even that /sarcasm) but through being responsible about the traffic we're generating.

    [Edit]

    Okay, so addressing the question of what do we do here because (1) we know that when people are faced with evidence that goes against their beliefs, their beliefs become stronger, that (2) people who victim blame are (ironically) people who are motivated by a desire to see the world as a fair and just place where people get what they deserve, (3) we're in an us vs them situation and people tend to behave in ways that promote the "winning" of their "us" even to the detriment of others (ie: it's not about good of all people, just about winning in this situation) and (4) "logic is not effective in countering emotions—people will ignore or distort any challenge to their belief."

    (You can read a whole bunch more details about the kind of distorted thinking here).

    There's also the chance that this is brought about by this weird idea that there is a threat over resources - that the more women play games, the less "man-games" there will be. Maybe that's true. But I think the people here would generally be happier playing great games rather than playing games that are great if you are a heterosexual white male.

    What can be done?

    "The hope that prejudice can be reduced by education has proven naive. Change requires more."

    Honestly, I think we need to overwhelm the media (through creating content and through targeting our traffic) to ensure that this kind of rubbish is not available to confirm anyone's beliefs. People exposed more and more to information - where it becomes the social and cultural norm - might be more accepting. You're still going to have your extremists (the KKK refuse to die, for example) but the fence sitters are getting confused by misinformation and don't have the time to research. We're actually only looking to affect those fence sitters.

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    dislekcia said:
    You guys do know that the whole "GamerGate" name was coined by a fucking Lesser Baldwin Brother linking to the horrid videos judging speculation about Zoe's private life, right? Man, fuck that guy...
    That's Adam Baldwin - he's not one of 'the' Baldwins. It's the guy who played Jayne in Firefly. I thought someone Joss Whedon would choose to be in one of his shows would have a bit more integrity. I am disappoint.

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    @dislekcia, ok no I didn't know about all those incidents. My experience of the coverage basically felt like this:

    image

    Not saying what you're saying is wrong, I'm just outlining my experience of it, from someone who didn't dig that deep. I guess I'm pretty much the people @dammit is talking about - someone who didn't research.

    I hear what you're saying, those are certainly dick things and terrible things that are being done to people.

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    My position is that anyone who operates a sockpuppet account who uses terms like "ethics" and "integrity" can be dismissed outright. I am utterly uninterested in their side of the story. They are vacuous fools who have no worthwhile insights to offer and who believe that free speech is defined as the right to abuse of strangers. Criticize them and they will cry censorship. Also telling that they seem to be blissfully (or willfully) unaware of the corrupting nature of advertising and sponsorship on the journalism they claim to care so much about. The word "disingenuous" was invented to describe prats like these.

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    Zoe's been recording the IRC channels that the 4chan users who orchestrated #GamerGate were using to plan things.

    The harassment was planned. The hacking was planned. The doxxing was planned. The smokescreens and positive PR spin campaigns were planned. The "ethics" angle was a ruse, the game journalism focus was a ruse... It was all revenge bullshit.

    *drops mic*

    *picks mic back up, hands it to Zoe. Stands and applauds for a solid hour*

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    @Dislekcia I've read through some of the forums where this was happening (not 4Chan though). That wasn't my conclusion. Most people (outside of the worst offenders) seemed genuinely upset about the issues, though their facts were out of wack and their logic awful.

    Still. Good on calling out out 4Chan. And on exposing the criminal actions of the harassers there.

    And fucking sweet that the FBI have been alerted. (I've been hearing elsewhere that the FBI want to pursue cyber harassment a lot more seriously, which is awesome).

    I'm not sure if there's anything left to salvage from the situation. Though I'd like to I agree with Rami in his recent tweet where he said that maybe now (having identified some of the harassers) a proper conversation about the concerns that triggered the hashtag can be held.

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    @BlackShipsFilltheSky: I'm not saying the ruses didn't catch potentially well-meaning people. That doesn't make them any less planned though. If anything, it should make the people who're campaigning for - uh - ethics take a long, hard look at both why they supported something without questioning it's methods and organisation, as well as what said campaign actually achieved.

    No actual corruption discovered. No conflicts of interest that weren't voluntarily reported by the very journalists that people were going after. Instead what did they achieve? Give cover to a harassment campaign and make valuable voices quit their jobs. I gotta say, that's not a thing I would be proud to put my name to, even if I really thought that the "movement" was worthwhile at some point.

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    Seems like all the indies and journos are going "hurah we defeated 4Chan". Which makes me rather nervous. I'm really not happy with this us vs them attitude. I think a lot of people were made to be angry at indies and game journalists by the way indies and game journalists communicated. It feels to me like ammunition for another fight in the future (probably with females in gaming being the victim again).

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    @BlackShipsFilltheSky Yep 4chan has a reputation for not really giving up till they have won. They will be back...

    I think its not really the indies fault that we have a us vs them mentality. They came and deliberately attacked us. Thats not cool.

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    Does 4chan ever really "win" though? Usually it just goes on till all parties are equally bored of it. Same as boys having after-school fights- there's seldom any winner.

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    Kobusvdwalt9 said:
    I think its not really the indies fault that we have a us vs them mentality.
    It's totally understandable. I think the indies and game journalists behaved in totally morally acceptable ways.

    But if indies and game journalists communications come off as partisan/divisive, and further inflame things, then the result is the same: More harassment of women in our industry.

    This whole incident is certainly (at least partly) a result of how badly the Depression Quest saga was handled.

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    But if indies and game journalists communications come off as partisan/divisive, and further inflame things, then the result is the same: More harassment of women in our industry.
    Ah ok so a "turn the other cheek" sort of behaviour would be better suited to this situation. If you don't give the bully the satisfaction he wants, he will eventually move on to other things or someone else.

    The thing is its incredibly hard to just sit there and take all of this.
    To tweet something is so easy and simple and empowering that most people don't stop to reconsider the ramifications.

    Its all a bit juvenile if you ask me.

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    Juvenile sells papers. Reasonable... doesn't.

    I'm not saying "people are only doing it for publicity". I'm saying the thing that gets talked about gets noticed.

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    Tuism said:
    Juvenile sells papers. Reasonable... doesn't.

    I'm not saying "people are only doing it for publicity". I'm saying the thing that gets talked about gets noticed.
    This is why we do actually need to keep talking about it. Rather than just reacting to trolls, we need to keep this conversation going - keep up the momentum - and change the social and cultural norms within our sub-society. It's slow work, much like wading through thick (stupid) mud, but it's worth doing.

    And this also actually means having the conversation all the time. In any gathering where it's relevant. When someone is being sexist or racist (even as a joke) we need to stop them (or ourselves! I've caught myself saying the oddest things sometimes) and start the conversation. When games are being developed with inappropriate tropes, we have to say so. We can still like the rest of the game, but we need to say that we don't want this aspect any more.

    And then, if you care enough, you start voting with your wallet/purse. What you buy is what will get made in future. What you don't, won't.

    Same for clicking and sharing links (but I've covered this above already).

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    Tuism said:
    Juvenile sells papers. Reasonable... doesn't.

    I'm not saying "people are only doing it for publicity". I'm saying the thing that gets talked about gets noticed.
    We can't affect what sells papers unfortunately : (

    But I think we can be more careful about how we portray those that disagree with us. And how we portray their disagreement. Indies and game journalists have clearly angered and alienated a lot of people recently and the results have been horrific.

    When we visibly take sides, it's much harder to get the other side to listen. And we need people to listen. I agree with @Dammit that we need to talk about these issues. We need to make ourselves understood.

    I'm not saying be meek. More like, be aware of how the people you're speaking to see themselves, and see you, and try talk to them on terms that won't end up offending them.

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    Yeah I agree. And it's not just about "angering the other side". When the carnage spills over to everyone, people who aren't involved get fired at for no good reason, with jargon and in-phrases that they don't understand, and it creates a sense of hostility, which creates enemies and turn what's otherwise good ideas and good intentions into venom for everyone.

    I think it's important to be cognizant (spelled with a z??!) of this.

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    But I think we can be more careful about how we portray those that disagree with us. And how we portray their disagreement. Indies and game journalists have clearly angered and alienated a lot of people recently and the results have been horrific.
    I don't see where that idea comes from. Game developers and journalists as a whole didn't anger a lot of people at all - sexist assholes took the opportunity to jump on someone they've long victimised. Remember that there was an organised hate campaign against Zoe already, and all she did at that point was release Depression Quest... In fact, there's been constant hate against a large number of prominent women in the games industry for quite some time now.

    I very much doubt that has anything to do with how game developers and journalists communicate and everything to do with the unchallenged sexism of a minority of angry, entitled, sad people. There weren't even really sides to any of this, at least, not in terms that are in any way reasonable... I've interacted with many of the GamerGate stalwarts and so far none of them have shown any inclination towards NOT being trolls (at best) and not being hateful people.

    And finally, if there really was any real concern for ethics, then people would engage on actual ethical reportage. Even if they didn't engage with Jenn Frank or Sophie Prell's writing, they should at least have engaged with Mike Rose's excellent investigations of how people in the game journalism sphere get paid for things. I'm afraid that I'm really not seeing much evidence of any actual desire to discuss ethical matters - whenever you try, they simply start accusing you of other things.

    Because, yes, while some of the people who identify with the GamerGate honestly seem to feel that "people are calling them names", that doesn't change the fact that they're wrong. Especially when people who write articles "doing the name-calling" are constantly going out of their way to both identify with the people they're describing (because they're those people too), and when they're also taking pains to say they're not accusing individuals (except those who hack/harass/dox) of terrible behavior.

    If someone is dead set on being angry no matter what you say or how you try to convey your message, then trying to place the emphasis on the people actually trying to communicate to "change their messages" is meaningless. It's basically tone-policing at that point. All that achieves is to tell the aggrieved the things they want to hear and further entrench them in their entitlement.

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    When we visibly take sides, it's much harder to get the other side to listen.
    In this case, you do need to visibly take sides. Not visibly taking sides in an issue this important and this large is a disservice to those in our industry and to yourself if those are values you wish to uphold. It also sends an unclear message on where you stand with regards to the issues being addressed.

    As I've pointed out before, we do not have the capacity to change the minds of those who have made the staunch decisions (and attacked someone else - because once you've attacked someone else for an issue, then you'll hold onto your beliefs about you being right in this issue in a way that's near impossible to shake) but rather we have the capacity to influence those who have been sort of caught in the middle. The fence sitters, the people with little time nor information. And you can only influence those if you show a strong stance on your side. If you look like a fence sitter, then you're less likely to influence a fence sitter.




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    dammit said:
    In this case, you do need to visibly take sides. Not visibly taking sides in an issue this important and this large is a disservice to those in our industry and to yourself if those are values you wish to uphold.
    True. I wasn't trying to say "don't support your colleagues/friends/community". I was trying to say "avoid divisive rhetoric when you communicate". Sorry, I phrased that terribly. I didn't mean to advocate fence sitting.

    @dislekcia I can'y really agree with what you just wrote. I think your idea of how people operate is a bit different to mine. I'm looking at the same evidence and drawing very different conclusions. So we might have to agree to disagree?

    For whatever it's worth. I'm operating from the assumption that the indies and the gamers and the game journalists are a system that is producing undesirable results. I think how Depression Quest was handled contributed significantly to the viciousness of GamerGate. And there definitely were perceived insults thrown at gamers during GamerGate. I'd be very surprised if they forgive and forget.

    But I'm really not trying to single you out and condemn your personal actions if it comes across that way. I didn't enter the fray myself. And like @Dammit mentioned, being perceived to defend those of our own is important. No-one wants to let those who are being attacked also feel alone. And I agree.

    I have been lumping indies and game journalists together, and I've been critical of them (and generalizing in this way is lazy of course). But I'm not trying to say they're doing something ethically/morally wrong, I'm trying to say that their actions don't appear to me to be having the desired result. So what, if anything, can we change?

    To me, it looks like these results might be escalating in their horror. I hope I'm misreading this, the level of fallout is well beyond unacceptable already.

    So the status quo really worries me. What, if anything, can we change?

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