Down The Rabbit-Hole: Gamergate

I can’t promise you any big insights here. This is basically just me trying to summarise and collect a bunch of scattered thoughts that turned out to be too long for any other reasonable format.

Right, so… it started with a bunch of guys upset that a woman had sex. As one of her sexual partners was a journo, and she a dev, they apparently concocted this whole notion of corruption going across the whole of games journalism, on the basis the people have at some point met other people. The idea that the people writing about videogames are actual human beings is apparently unacceptable. Keep in mind that no actual corruption has been proven. If you see the fact that sex happened as proof, you clearly have a very different idea of what sex is and what it’s for than I do. Note: sex is not, by default, a transaction. You typically don’t have sex in exchange for something else, that’s not how the world works. Typically people have sex for entirely different reasons. Like that they want to.

But regardless, there are now a bunch of people who seem convinced that corruption runs rampant in games journalism. That it’s led by a secret cabal with the indies, of all things. If you can go that far and still think you’re on the right track, we might have lost you.

Now I’m not saying corruption never happens in games journalism, be it print, blogs or youtube. There have been proven incidents, like the good old Gerstmann case. People writing, and people running places where they write, and Youtubers, they’re all human. Some of them will inevitably be bad, or just make mistakes. But to think it’s ALL of games journalism, and that there’s a conspiracy behind it… maybe you need to take a walk and get some fresh air, because it sounds like your brain might be staling up a bit.

Then came the accusation of racketeering, and the call to report all of games journalism to the government. On what evidence? First of all, the ‘business’ doesn’t really work that way, and second I’m not sure if you have any idea what a racket is.

As for the ‘secret cult of games journalism’ that seems to have been accepted as proven now… again, on what evidence? That most games journalists have probably spoken to at least one dev or publisher at some point? I’ve seen some of the insane stringed-together maps that are being circulated. Have you ever looked at the business of film? TV? Books? Anything else that also has its own range of more or less professional critics? Getting out there and meeting people and networking is all part of the deal. It’s been that way since the inception of critique, most likely. Unless your next step is to accuse all forms of journalism and critique everywhere in the world to also be corrupt, perhaps it’s time to pause and think for a moment.

And then today I saw the people who are just messaging various reporters and pundits to try to drag them into this… just… would you please take a look at what you’re doing?

If you really don’t like certain journos or websites, the only thing you really need to do is not read/follow their stuff. It is really that simple.

You say that we need to fix games journalism. Right. But your idea of how broken you believe it is, is so far removed from the actual reality journos live in that they struggle vastly to even entertain your point of view. At best they might look at your far-fetched claims and think “I wish”. Does corruption happen? Yes. Asking any journo in a reasonable manner, and they could probably name a few cases where they either know or suspect something fishy going on. But your idea of how widespread it is makes it really hard to establish a dialogue, because being so accusatory naturally puts people on the defensive. Especially when you can’t actually provide evidence, and just keep repeating your claim for journos to ‘come clean’, which kinda hints that you won’t listen to anything they say, short of capitulating entirely to your fantasy.

You say you want to open a discussion. Right. Would you actually listen? Could you bear to handle how mundane the truth actually is? Or would you just write that off as more lies and obfuscation? Because it seems like you’ve already made your conclusion, and won’t pay attention to any evidence unless it directly supports your claims.

You say you’re being censored. Right. Can you show me instances? One of your targets, The Escapist, has done nothing about the over-16k posts in a forum thread over there which is basically nothing but throwing conspiracy theories back and forth. It seems like you are able to say pretty much whatever you want. Are you interpreting the lack of response as censorship? Or do you have actual incidents of censorship to show us? Do you know what censorship means?

You lament the lack of a major right-wing gaming website. If there actually was such a demand for it, it would have existed. Maybe your views aren’t as common as you think? And maybe acting humanely and advocating equality isn’t so much the sign of a “feminist SJW conspiracy” as it’s the sign of a decent human being? And I really hope the comment I saw about DARPA having a training camp where they indoctrinate people in the ways of SJW was a spoof. If people actually believe that, I don’t think we really have any ground on which to have a conversation. If you really want a right-wing gaming site, you can go ahead and make one. If people are interested, and you market it well, they will come.

At the end of the day, you don’t really stand to lose anything. The games you love aren’t going to vanish, or be deleted forever. More games like them will still be made, don’t you worry. Is it really so much to ask that we also encourage diversity and creating games that other people would love too? Are you really so determined to keep gaming as a thing just for you? Gaming is becoming mainstream. It is being taken seriously at an ever greater degree. People are noticing. It’s not a niche hobby any longer. And just because other people are getting things, does not mean you are losing things equally to that. It’s not a zero-sum issue. Your things are still there. They’re still making more of them. Just keep in mind that not all things have to focus on and cater to you. It’s okay that some things are for other people.

There is also the idea that any critique is a call for censorship, which is bullshit of the highest degree. Pointing out something you don’t like, or that you find problematic, is really just saying “hey, maybe we should think about this”. But I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen people immediately disagreeing by crying “THIS IS CENSORSHIP”. No, it’s not. Clearly you have no idea what censorship means. Not that critics have any power to censor anything anyway. Regardless of what you think, games journalists have virtually no control of the industry. If they did it would look quite differently, trust me.

You say you want games to be taken seriously. That games are art. Right. Yet you revolt at the first sign of serious critique that is commonplace in any other artistic medium, and suddenly it’s all “just a game”. You’re sending mixed messages here.

I think that’s it for now. I might fill in more if this madness persists.

And feel free to see this as me opening a dialogue. If you really want to talk, and can communicate calmly, feel free to send me a question or leave a comment. I wouldn’t mind some insight, if you can provide it.



Posted on September 3, 2014, in Games, Rant and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I more or less have nothing to add here, except that I’m still sad that the original ’emotional abuse and gaslighting’ aspect of it got written over so quickly. For me, that was the part of the discussion maybe most worth having.

  2. The problem with all of the dialogue is all the splintered axis of extreme opinion taking umbrage with anything in between leaving only the most extreme opinions with a smattering of uncaring trolls between.

    Are you Wulf the one time RPS forum poster? If so you’ve been missed and I’d like to talk further with you.

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