We are the dead.
You know the powder keg event that touched off GamerGate. Multiple attack articles written on August 28th and 29th with the goal of declaring gamers dead. No judge; no jury; just executioners. The articles had other aims as well: redefine gamer to mean everyone, redefine game to mean every piece of software ever written; decry the role of an informed consumer in an open market place; impose equality of outcomes associated with inclusion on gaming at all levels; and last but not least, that the defining acts of what would become GamerGate are harassment and threats of violence.
It’s a fabrication, of course, all of it. The beginning of a carefully constructed narrative designed to undermine the will of the consumer and the creative process. Part of the narrative comes direct from an elitist academic think tank. The rest is a tool to deflect all criticism that might be brought to bear against the narrative.
Surely there’s more to the start of GamerGate than just 12 attack op-eds? That would be right—though none of those articles were marked as op-eds. So let’s start at the beginning, August 16, 2014, with a blog post about a girl. In an unfathomable act of charity, I’m going to skip over the gory details of who knows who, and when they knew each other, how it affected invites to IndieCade 2013, whether or not the Pepsi Game Jam was tanked on purpose, who reported on the tanking of Pepsi Game Jam, the ultimately false accusation of harassment by Wizardchan, or that, combined, a total of zero critical words were written by the game press about any of these incidents.
I’m going to start with another event that had a total of zero words written about it by the game press. A developer made a false Digital Millennium Copyright Act claim against a Youtube content creator. Without even naming names, a fake DMCA claim against content creators is a matter of public interest. Because every DMCA claim, justified or not, counts as a strike in a “3 Strikes, You’re Out Forever” paradigm, every DMCA claim against a content creator is potentially fatal to them. Knowing that, a false DMCA claim against anyone is deplorable—an act of supreme cowardice that should be universally condemned by the gaming press when it occurs. The question at that point must become why the games media would completely ignore a matter of public interest like this?
Polygon editor Chris Grant would have you believe that zero words were written about any of the above events under the, heavily paraphrased, “Do no harm” clause of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. I suppose “Do no harm” would be justification for no one in games media to write a single word about a person who lied to Youtube to get a video taken down. Strange that this sentiment didn’t exist when the same cast of characters tried to destroy Max Temkin: Kotaku, The Daily Beast, Gawker, Jezebel, and The Mary Sue all ran articles about the Cards Against Humanity creator being accused of committing a rape while he was in college. The sentiment didn’t exist when the same cast of characters tried to destroy Brad Wardell.
The only person with the courage to speak out was TotalBiscuit. He did so on TwitLonger. The TwitLonger post was linked from Reddit’s /r/gaming board, and the thread quickly bloomed to 25000 comments. If you go to look at that thread today, you’ll find a ghost town. Thousands of replies to the thread just disappeared. The question is why? Could it be that Reddit moderators were censoring threads at someone’s behest? Reddit censorship would be irrelevant if all the big gaming news sites were allowing discussion on the topic, except the only place that was allowing discussion was The Escapist.
It didn’t stop Ben Kuchera from vehemently badgering (less has been called harassing) Greg Tito into censoring all discussion about this topic. Here are the quotes:
BK: This is the question: People are using your platform to harass a developer. Are you comfortable with that? [Author’s note: The assertion that the thread on The Escapist is harassment is itself a fabrication.]
GT: If there is harassment, I would shut it down immediately. And we’ve banned/warned on posts in those threads that are even close to that line.
I’m talking about the discussion. If I followed your logic, we should also shut down Twitter and the rest of the internet for being a platform for discussion. Which given recent events looks like a very attractive option.
BK: Someone signed up for an Escapist account just to post that thread, and try to spread alleged details of someone’s sexual past in order to shame them. I’m not sure what your definition of harassment is, but that fits mine.
GT: Many people create forum identities to post one thread. That’s not the definition of harassment by any means.
There’s also many people in both the threads who are working to educate the OP and others about these things. That’s a dialogue. That’s how change happens, I think. Or I hope, at least.
But thanks for the input, Ben. It is very much appreciated and has given me even more to think about.
BK: Ask yourself this:
1) Does that thread serve your community?
2) Is it making anyone’s life better?
3) Is it actively hurting someone?
4) Is that what I want the Escapist to be?
The answers, are no, no, yes, and I hope not. If using the forums to post hearsay to harass and abuse people isn’t against your current TOS, change your TOS. Don’t sit by and let your community be used to making gaming worse because of a technicality.
BK: I mean, if nothing else now we KNOW the post contains demonstrably untrue things about real people. Serious allegations. Is THAT enough to get you to consider taking it down? What does it take before the Escapist says “Maybe we shouldn’t be giving this a home.”
Happily, Greg Tito had the courage to stand up to Ben Kuchera’s bullying. Vastly more interesting is that Ben Kuchera was, and still is, a financial supporter of the developer who made the false DMCA claim in the first place. Further, it turns out the GroupThink conduit GameJournoPros email list doesn’t hold Youtube content creators in high regard. It would appear the GroupThink collective buries matters of public interest due to financial commitments and personal biases against individuals and groups of people. Clearly, it is harassment laid at the feet of anonymous message boards, and not corruption in games journalism that started GamerGate.
MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, and many other mainstream media outlets continue to be negligent in pushing their one-sided narrative. There are 15k+ voices in /r/KotakuinAction alone. Did any of the mainstream outlets bother to hear any of their stories? Or did the convenience of a narrative that fits the collective press’s world view blind them to an inclusive group of gamers who, when told they were misogynists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, racists, terrorists, and that they all needed to be killed, stood up with one voice and shouted, “NO!”?
There’s been talk recently of opening dialogue. There is value to be had in dialogue, but only if the adults in the room to the bulk of the talking. If the infants like Arthur Chu, Leigh Alexander, Ben Kuchera, Kyle Orland, and the like are allowed to mind vomit all over the discussion, then there can never be dialogue. If the main stream media as well as the corrupt gaming media refuse to hear the voices of GamerGate and tell the stories of GamerGate: how GamerGate hunted down a Brazilian click-baiting journalist that was threatening Anita Sarkeesian; how GamerGate members in 8-chan prevented doxx from staying on the front page of a board for hours by collectively shit posting the doxx off the front page until a mod woke and deleted the doxx; how GamerGate members mass report any Twitter account sending threating tweets to anyone, regardless of their stance on GamerGate; how GamerGate members raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity over 2 months; how notyourshield is real people with real voices and real concerns about gaming journalism; or how the mass censorship of discussion of specific topics, and the 2 Minutes Hate on August 28th, caused GamerGate in the first place, then there can never be dialogue. For as long as every doxxing or harassing tweet or forum post of a GamerGate opposing or neutral party is laid at the feet of GamerGate, there can never be dialogue.
The metaphorical ball is in the court of the people who seek to usurp the creative process of developers and our will as consumers, so I’m not hopeful. That said, perhaps the hits Gawker has taken in recent days will induce cooler, and truthful, heads to prevail.