Credit to the artist.
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Yesterday when it was announced that Jennifer Hale would be doing an interview with Marketplace Tech, there was some palpable apprehension among #GamerGate supporters. Jennifer Hale, the voice behind FemShep and about a million other games we’ve all played is perhaps the most beloved voice actor…
What has come out of GamerGate more than anything else is that games developers and journalists need to stop listening to the loud voices of “social justice advocates”, and genuinely value diversity instead of, as “social justice advocates” prescribe, change. When criticising gaming culture and…
I’m beginning to think the real problem we’re having with gaming journalists isn’t their collective lack of ethics. After reading Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s latest piece defending their views in the #GamerGate scandal, I’ve concluded that the real problem here is that the gaming press is just outright…
Breaking news! Social justice has slew ‘The Gamer’!
Or so you may have read this week, with myriad sites declaring the ‘gamer’ dead.
‘Interesting! you say, ‘Tell me more’. And I’m not surprised you’d ask, because you’re probably a little hazy on the details.
The full story, after all, isn’t being reported in any of the major publications. In fact, they’ve downright ignored most of the affair.
So let’s get started. But make sure you’re not sitting in the dark, because it all begins with a fairly harrowing tale.
Indie games developer Zoe Quinn, last week, was subjected to a hateful and totally outrageous campaign of online bile. This campaign was sparked by completely unfounded allegations against her character by a jilted ex. Within this campaign, misogynistic insults and sexist slurs were used to try and break her. Fortunately Zoe was no video game damsel in distress and managed to endure.
Shortly after, Anita Sarkeesian, another prominent female within the gaming community allegedly received death threats from an anonymous online sociopath. It seems this sociopath was upset at the nature of Anita’s work. Anita reported this grizzly affair to the police and thankfully was unharmed, at least physically. There’s no doubt such an incident would take a psychological toll.
This behaviour has rightly been condemned by all of the gaming publications and the majority of gamers commenting on the matter. No right minded person could look at this and think it is in any way acceptable. And that sentiment is widespread within the community, with the overwhelming majority of gamers decrying that behaviour.
The tale, however, continues.
In the midst of this witch hunt, some gamers stumbled across information which did indeed seem to indict a journalist in a matter related to a conflict of interest. It was alleged that a Kotaku writer had maintained a close personal relationship with an indie games developer whilst covering said developer’s work, which appeared to breach Kotaku policy. Gamers brought this matter to the attention of Kotaku editor Stephen Totilo. Totilo was swift to take action, declaring:
‘We’ve long been wary of the potential undue influence of corporate gaming on games reporting, and we’ve taken many actions to guard against it. The last week has been, if nothing else, a good warning to all of us about the pitfalls of cliquishness in the indie dev scene and among the reporters who cover it. We’ve absorbed those lessons and assure you that, moving ahead, we’ll err on the side of consistent transparency on that front, too.
We appreciate healthy skepticism from critics and have looked into—and discussed internally—concerns. We agree on the need to ensure that, on the occasion where there is a personal connection between a writer and a developer, it’s mentioned. We’ve also agreed that funding any developers through services such as Patreon introduce needless potential conflicts of interest and are therefore nixing any such contributions by our writers. Some may disagree that Patreons are a conflict. That’s a debate for journalism critics.’
And man, was there debate. The usually happy-go-lucky indie scene exploded. Some pretty much declaring Totilo an ‘appeaser’, an ‘apologist’, or an ‘enabler’. Appeasing, apologising and enabling what, you no doubt wonder. Well, apparently, the vicious trolling of Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn.
Yes. In confronting editorial matters within Kotaku, namely ensuring there could be no perception of a conflict of interest, some observers would charge Totilo with being effectively complicit in the aforementioned abhorrence. Their main gripe seemed to be that without the support of Kotaku journalists, small indie developers would be severely affected financially, and that he was doing this only to mollify his readers.
Upon reading that objection, I was immediately alerted. If these indie developers are so financially dependent on this practice, then one simply cannot expect their opinions to be objective. In essence, consciously or not, they’re effectively lobbying Totilo to maintain a main source of income.
So instead, I tried to look at the issue from a different point of view. I thought, If EA, or Ubisoft, or any other large games company were veraciously attacking a publication for ensuring a separation between the journalist and the developer, what would I think? I’d think, rightly or wrongly, that they were benefiting from the relaxed rules.
And that’s the problem.
If the reader has any rational reason to even be able to ponder a bias in the reviewer’s piece, there simply will be no trust in the review. And if donating money to a development, which the journalist may then go on to review, does not suggest the reviewer may have a personal and prior interest in the game succeeding, I don’t know what does. Totilo has simply taken steps to ensure that his readers can have the utmost trust in the Kotaku reviews.
This scuffle enflamed the debate. ‘The Gamer’ had become bewildered that no publication was reporting on the fact that a conflict of interest had been discovered; the gaming press had become livid at the treatment of Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian. What followed was, frankly, one of the most bizarre journalistic events I’ve ever witnessed.
The gaming press apparently declared war on their readers. Journalists from several publications outright mocked their followers on Twitter, whilst a well-timed slew of articles declared the gamer dearly departed.
Within the space of two days, at least eight articles, from seven separate publications, were posted exclaiming the death of the gamer.
Thus, #GamerGate was born. Tired of being ignored by the industry press, gamers attempted to draw attention by the use of a hashtag campaign.
By this point, though, figures in the mainstream had begun to pick up on the story. An American writer (of the American Enterprise Institute) named Christina H. Sommers had rallied to the gamers’ cause. She tweeted ‘It is clear that gamers are being bullied by opportunistic, evidence-free gender warriors. But who are the enablers? Game companies? Bloggers?’ The affair has also caught the eye of a British cultural commentator named Milo Yiannopoulos who tweeted ‘Just filed something on #GamerGate. Should be up soon. Tough to overestimate the damage this has done to the gaming press.’
It seems the gaming media’s eulogy on the death of the gamer may have been somewhat premature.
That vicious, vindictive gamer, it seems, is clawing his way back out of the unmarked grave Kotaku, Ars Technica, Gamasutra, Buzzfeed, the Financial Post, The Daily Beast, and Vice had shoved him in.
Of course, no such ‘Gamer’ exists. To give this type of character the label ‘gamer’ is to suggest either a connotation to gaming or a causation. Both of which are absurd suppositions. The Internet is full of hateful people. Some of those people happen to be gamers. That doesn’t then allow one to say gamers are hateful. People are hateful. Some people play games. A tiny minority of those people who play games are cruel and regressive. The journalistic barrage is broad, and cares not for collateral damage. It has released a volley at all gamers, by use of reckless wording and disinterest in their readers. ‘Gamer’ is nothing more than a word used to describe people who play games.
Some in the gaming media want you to believe this is simply a matter of misogyny. They state that there is no argument to answer, that this is pure vitriol because a woman is speaking out. But on perusal of the #GamerGate thread, I can’t recognise this to be true. And nor can Skylar Baker-Jordan, a writer for The Columnist, who tweeted ‘I’ve had mostly constructive conversations about #GamerGate with gamers tonight. Thanks for allowing me into your world, and for listening.’
I’d suggest it’s an altogether more complicated beast. Mainly because I’ve engaged with gamers, and listened. They have concerns about the tight-knit community and the objectivity of some games journalists (male and female). And importantly, the homogeneity of opinion within the reportage.
Gamers can’t understand why the entire gaming media, which has become politicised (and that isn’t a criticism), is so monolithic. Why is there not a diversity of opinion? Why is it, whether you read Polygon or Kotaku, Ars Technica or Gamasutra, you seem to be reading one set of opinions? Gaming journalists will not kill their darlings.
To this, the reaction of the gaming press has been one of denial and one of deflection.
Either wilfully, or out of sheer ignorance, the gaming press has managed to entirely avoid combatting the legitimate grievances of the community. Mainly by refusing to acknowledge they exist. This is exemplified in the conclusion of the piece Chris Plante, co-founder and editor of Polygon, wrote:
‘Two groups are at opposite ends of this moment:
One side has folded its arms, slumped its shoulders while pouting like an obstinate child that has learned they are getting a little brother or sister but wants to remain the singular focus of his parents’ affection.
The other side has opened its arms, unable to contain its love and compassion, because they understand they are no longer alone.
This week, the obstinate child threw a temper tantrum, and the industry was stuck in the metaphorical grocery store as everyone was forced to suffer through it together. But unlike a child, the people behind these temper tantrums are hurting others. It’s time to grow up. Let’s not wait until next week to start.’
Plante believes you are either, well, a gaming journalist or a troll, it seems.
To these journalists, ‘gamer’ is no longer just a noun to describe one who plays games - but a vicious, misogynistic, threatening harasser. A sweaty, overweight, troll among men; only good for abusing women, and making their lives a misery.
Well this isn’t the case. Most gamers, like most people, are perfectly civil human beings. You reading this just now are probably a gamer. Does that description fit you? Unlikely.
Some have asked why bother confronting this issue at all, when there clearly is misogynistic abuse flung at female gamers.
Well, because any rational argument should be based on fact, not skewed opinions, blatant falsehoods, and outrageous stereotypes. It’s unbecoming. And it’s also acted to silence any disagreements some may have have with the gaming press.
One cannot say, for example, ‘You know, I found that Anita’s perspective on X seems to be slightly off’ without being called a hater of women. That’s a ridiculous state of affairs. Inner debate, between people who share the same goal (equality), should not be silenced like that. I have no doubt Anita, as a skilled researcher, would love for her work to have a robust critique by the gaming press. But they just won’t do it. They simply parrot it. And anybody who objects to this, or any other social justice opinion pieces, is silenced via a tidal wave of personal attacks on their character.
The legitimate argument, in essence, is that the gaming media is too tight-knit, and rejects and condones the alienation of readers who have a different perspective than the convention.
In America, they have the WSJ and NYT. Here we have The Guardian, The Independent, and The Telegraph. When it comes to gaming journalism, we have about six different versions of The Independent.
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yo quería que se lo comiera:c
More proof that Paul Ryan is a despicable human being.
one of my favorite things about robin williams is that when he was filming “one hour photo” there’s a scene where he offers a boy an action figure from the store he works in, and robin williams asked the director if he could pick the toy and he fucking brought in his own evangelion figure and somehow the director said yes, even though there’s no way a store like that at that time would have a toy like that
There’s something about Evangelion. It helps. it really does. When I was a stupid 14 year old, it got me through that fucking year. When I was 17 and still depressed, in bed for days, I’d watch Evangelion, and it wouldn’t make me better, but it’d make me feel.
So when I saw this, it didn’t surprise me. It didn’t surprise me that Robin Williams liked Eva.
It’s no secret that we present different versions of ourselves to different people, but we also think we can see through everyone else’s versioning system.
Somehow we believe ours is impenetrable, yet the rest of the world can be read like a book. As David McRaney,…
The ’50s were fucked up man.
*tries this at next house party*