I have spoken to a lot of people in the games industry who are frustrated about GamerGate but shaky on the prospect of speaking out themselves; they’re worried about receiving death threats, or drawing unwanted attention to their employer, or just overextending themselves getting involved in an exhausting conversation.
All of these are valid concerns! The problem is that good people being silent on the matter is what enables this to continue; many of the folks who organize under the GamerGate banner (both harassers and non-harassers) genuinely believe that they’re speaking up for the silent majority who share their beliefs but aren’t brave enough to speak out. (Personally, I tend to assume that people are jerks despite their good intentions until proven otherwise; IMO the hard part of being a good person isn’t thinking the right thing, it’s doing the right thing.) In other words, silence is interpreted as implicit permission to continue.
So, here’s the thing. Speaking out doesn’t mean you have to wake up every morning and only get out of bed after reading the previous night’s GamerGate stuff for twenty minutes and getting angry. (I will say it’s pretty good at getting me out of bed, though.) There are a bunch of different ways that you can make your voice heard, depending on how your personal HP/MP are doing.
1. Read up. The challenge with GamerGate is that it is a complex, multilayered, distributed organization that depends largely on people who are willing to take their statements at face value (“We’re just about corruption in games journalism, guys”). I think these two articles (here and here) are good starting points for approaching GamerGate with a critical eye and understanding how it works. If you have an opinion, make sure it’s well-informed.
2. Signal boost. Hitting that retweet button (or reblog, share, whatever) does two useful things. First off, it allows the folks who are speaking out to gain extra visibility, which is important to allow their voices to extend past their immediate friends and friends-of-friends. Second, it allows your 1st/2nd-degree friends to see where you personally stand, even if you don’t feel comfortable using your own words to do so. Both of these are useful for minimizing the silence-as-permission effect, and neither of them should get you personally targeted. (If you are personally targeted by your 1st/2nd-degree friends, then you might need new friends.) This is the lowest-cost, lowest-risk way of getting directly involved, but it’s still super important!
3. Speak yourself. I think that for most intelligent folks, seeing their immediate friends/family/colleagues making their opinions known is more powerful than seeing strangers or internet celebrities weigh in, so if you vocalize your support in your own words it sends a stronger message than retweeting someone else’s. That said, this is a bit higher-risk, because you will be putting your own words there for critique (and if you use GamerGate in full, hashtag or no, you will attract attention from supporters who probably aren’t in your immediate circles). Tweet, write blogs, whatever you can to add to the voices on the Internet. If you simply won’t risk doing so your under your real name, find a way to publish anonymously (pastebin is good for this). Heck, if you have a story you want me to tell anonymously, let me know.
4. Indirectly engage. In addition to making your own voice heard, you can speak to the people and organizations that you want to hear from as well. If you want to see these issues covered on publications you read, tell that to their editors and writers. If you want to see it discussed at games events, speak to the event organizers. And so on for any channel you think has an obligation to cover and/or weigh in. This is useful because, fundamentally, channels that haven’t been covering GamerGate are likely omitting it out of fear — fear, specifically, that their readership includes a large body of GamerGate supporters — and addressing them specifically gives them yet one more counterexample. This can be a bit more costly, as it will expose you to GamerGate supporters looking to argue with you.
5. Directly engage. Basically, this is “talking to GamerGate supporters”. I leave this at the end because I think this is the most taxing, as far as your time and emotional energy go — and I don’t want you to assume that partaking in any of the above four methods mean you are committed to directly engaging.
In an ideal Internet, everyone would be talking to each other with respect and good faith. This is, obviously, not an ideal Internet. “Concern trolling” — people pretending to want good-faith conversation and instead responding with pre-scripted talking points that require more time to assert than they do to debunk — is a very real tactic adopted by GamerGate supporters, and it’s impossible to know whether a stranger on the Internet is in fact engaging in good faith or not.
So: Just because you say something on the Internet doesn’t mean you are obligated to follow-up with every single person who disagrees with you, especially in this case. I know it feels bad, but it’s simply not viable in the face of tactics like concern trolling. Personally, I mostly engage with people who I have a pre-existing connection with, because I’m willing to trust their intentions far more than a generic Twitter account with no name or professional history.
Frankly, I haven’t seen many attempts to directly engage that I would call successful, so I can’t recommend it myself. But if you’d like to learn that yourself, go right ahead. Just remember that no one is entitled to your time, and you can stop at any point you feel yourself running out of energy. If your Twitter feed is full of sea lions, it’s totally okay to block them.
What’s the ideal outcome?
GamerGate, like the Tea Party and Occupy, is fundamentally unwilling to articulate a specific agenda outside of individual campaigns (“Boycott X advertisers!”) because it correctly realizes that to have an agenda means miring itself down in defining an actual position, with actual ideals — something that would necessarily fragment its organizing efforts and open it up to criticism from people who are smarter than GamerGate. Basically, GamerGate’s organizing tactics indicate that isn’t really about getting stuff done so much as drawing blood wherever it can in order to feed its participants with the feeling of validation and power they normally get from video games. (This is what allows GamerGate to say it is about advertisers’ corruption in journalism while simultaneously trying to silence critical journalists by targeting their publications’ advertisers.)
Because of this, I doubt GamerGate will ever go away; at best, it can be widely criticized, and its methods exposed, to the point where one’s association with GamerGate is considered a personal liability (again, like the Tea Party and Occupy, though I’m sad about the latter). That, I think is the the best outcome we can home for. For better or worse, video games are politically polarized now, just like everything else, and the sooner you understand how to navigate this, the stronger your voice will be.
“Hatred" is an independent PC game by a group of Polish developers. In order to set it apart for promotional reasons, the developers have stated that they are committed to "pure gameplay", claiming that mass murder of civilians by an angry disenfranchised man is more "honest" or somehow free from political narrative, unlike other modern games.
Hatred is not apolitical. In fact, the opposite is true - it’s a game about glorifying violent racism and white supremacy. Consider the game’s trailer, which conspicuously lingers on the white protagonist brutally murdering and mutilating people of color.
In this photo of the development team, we can see that one of the developers wears a shirt depicting a historical anti-communist military group (Żołnierze wyklęci, historically associated with the Freikorps) that is lionised by right wing extremists.
Despite using registered marks held by the ESRB and Epic’s Unreal Engine attempting to legitimize their project, there is no working relationship between the studio and either organization. In a statement provided to Gamespot, Epic Games stated that “the video is using the trademarked Unreal Engine 4 logo without permission from Epic, and we’ve asked for the removal of our logo from all marketing associated with this product.”
Journalists and commentators alike do the industry a disservice by obfuscating the developer’s racially charged political hate in deference to the otherwise well-trod issue of violence in games. In doing so, they are playing into the exact type of controversy its developers have sought to capitalize on.
This story is a submission from one of our readers. If there’s an issue you think FNVG should cover, you can find our contact information on the About page.
i knew hatred looked awful but i didn’t expect it to be made by literal neonazis
holy fucking SHIT
mmmmmwell this is a good sign of absolutely nothing
So, there are a lot of people shitting the bed right now over Polygon’s review of Bayonetta 2. I’m not going to go too much into it, or how absolutely contradictory and ridiculous it is that #GamerGate wants Polygon to step in line with all other media outlets. But I did want to say a couple of things.
I’ve heard that people are mad because the reviewer let his “bias” about “social issues” inappropriately affect the score. I’m not going to do the “bias” thing again, because I’ve already explained many times that reviews are inherently subjective, and if these people don’t get it by now, I don’t know what to tell them.
But on to the other point. People are continually saying that the game is perfect, but that the writer took off points for “social issues” outside of the game itself. But that’s clearly not true, if they would just bother reading the actual review they’re yelling about. The over-sexualization (as perceived by the writer) that was programmed into the game, was distracting and annoying enough to actually hurt the game for him. Let me make that clear: a part of the game made his experience with the game worse. We’re not talking about “social issues” - we’re talking about the game. A reviewer’s job is to describe their experience with a game. His was continuously hampered by some of the art direction and visual design choices, and he said so. This is not some social justice crusade - the guy just liked some parts of the game less than others. It’s really not that earth-shattering.
Even if you are completely ignorant about the nature of subjectivity in reviews, and you think personal biases are unacceptable, it’s not like the guy is bringing in some weird outside baggage or taking off points because of some bizarre close-reading interpretation that isn’t supported. The game is constantly shoving tits and ass in the players’ faces, and he’s entitled to not enjoy that. You don’t have to agree with his opinion, of course. In fact, most reviewers don’t, and you can go read their reviews if you prefer. But this constant, whiny, “I don’t agree with this thing, so it’s WRONG and must be STOPPED AT ALL COSTS” thing is just childish.
Once again, I have to say what has become my mantra for these people: this is not corruption; it’s just an opinion that differs from yours. Grow up.
The Escapist recently published an article titled “Female Game Developers on Gamer Gate” in which several female game developers all anonymously (by request) discussed the whole gerbergate thing. They were, shall we say, rather negative.
To proved TWO SIDES, the Escapist then published an article titled “Game Developers on Gamer Gate” (see the first issue?) in which several male game developers talked about gamer gate with much more positive reactions.
And then a few problems came up.
For starters, not everyone in that list was an actual game developer. Some were just dudes. You see, the guy who actually did all this sourced it all from 4chan. He has also been very unabashedly loud in his support of gamergate, so hey, corruption in games journalism, right? This lead to most of the questions being incredibly biased from the start. Then it turns out there’s other problems with the people being asked. Again, some were not even game developers. One, Slade Villena aka RogueStar, was one of the bigger harassers in the beginnings of gerbergate, eventually trying to organize a harassment effort get Zoe Quinn to kill herself, also tried falsifying tax information to get Anita Saarkesian arrested, and even harassing and attacking other Escapist staff. Another was Brad Wardell, who is basically a living version of those cheesy mandatory office videos that teach you how not to treat employees. Yet another was James Desborough, a tabletop games indie developer “famous” for his constant books about demeaning women and engaging in harassment campaigns of anyone who even so much as disagrees with him, at one point writing a full essay on how much he loves to talk about rape.
This is who the Escapist felt was worth giving an open forum to.
And just to wander back, look at these fucking questions.
“Imagine a development team composed of middle-aged white men creates a game explicitly aimed at young men called AMERICAN VENGEANCE that features a lantern-jawed white American soldier attempting to save his exotic-dancer girlfriend (complete with jiggle physics) from torture at the hands of Jihadists. Violence is the only way to advance in the game and the girlfriend’s torture is as graphic as anything in the movie SAW. But as far as violent shooter games go, it is exceptionally innovative, gorgeous, and fun. Is it fair to give the game a low review score for lacking inclusiveness? Is it fair to give the game a lower review score for having violent or misogynist themes?”
That is a literal question the Escapist asked one of these people.
But it actually still doesn’t stop there. In a few interviews, the interviewed listed personal information, real life names, and/or social networking addresses of their favorite targets to get others to attack them. In one case, the aforementioned Desborough began listing the people he hated most - all of whom immediately went under attack as soon as the articles were published.
The Escapist has fixed a small number of these problems. SOME of Desborough’s targets were edited out, though not all. The added “Male” to the title. RogueStar’s interview was taken out. But the overwhelming decision to keep almost everything else intact paints a very grim picture.
At this point someone is bound to say “Well what about literally this one specific person that works there and isn’t terrible?” Well, apologies to them, but it does not matter. The website they work for acknowledged how much of the above was a problem, and then didn’t do a damn thing about it. Several of the people listed out as attack targets are still being attacked - some of whom are friends of mine.
And that is why The Escapist is the website that hates women, rather then just the website with terrible journalism. Because they KNOWINGLY TOOK ACTIONS that lead to women being attacked, and when confronted with it, shrugged it off. Shortly after the articles were released, multiple women - some publicly, some privately - went under attack and had to momentarily drop off the internet. Some had to go further and call the police.
The Escapist and Greg Tito, in turn, stated “we don’t condone harassment” and changed nothing.