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IMO: Acts of Supreme Cowardice

Todd Wohling / January 19, 2015 at 9:00 AM / Gaming, Opinions

Forget the Twitter timeline of @srhbutts.  Forget the inane ramblings of a mediocre ex-punter.  Forget the elitist academic think tank that whined about Peer Review and stated overtly they wanted to undermine the will of the consumer and the creative process.  Forget the shrieking of “Hate Group” in bass for 10 minutes on MSBNC.  Forget every moronic article written for Jezebel, The Mary Sue, Polygon, Kotaku, Ars Technica, Badass Digest, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian that spelled the demise of the consumer in the gaming industry.

Forget all those acts of cowardice, because there are new acts of Supreme Cowardice that deserve to be highlighted with Archimedes’ Death Ray—acts that sit at right and left hand of the Coward’s Throne of August 28’s 2 Minutes Hate at the summit of Coward’s Peak.

Charity Streams Gone Wild

[Disclaimer: TB and I were colleagues from 10/2006 through 2/2010.  I emailed him to get some details about his charity work for the purposes of this section.]

A group of people decided to do a charity stream on New Year’s Eve.  Nice thought, if you aren’t planning to participate in your Day Job-given right to get pickled at the location of your choice and ring in the New Year with loved ones (regardless of how temporary that love might be).  The ad gives the list of games and asks for people to signal boost the charity stream.  So someone did—Total Biscuit to be precise.

Apparently, a legitimately popular personality in video games with a metric f-tonne of followers doing his infinitesimally small part for a charity stream is a big deal to some people.  Enough for someone named Durp to post a sniveling missive about how TB “ruined” their charity stream.  Let’s dig in.

Those of you that know TB know that he regularly does events for charity: he’s supported Charity:Water to the tune of 80k; he’s been involved with Yogscast Christmas charity drives; he’s promoted Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ), The Fine Young Capitalists, and Desert Bus for Hope. His stature as an ally for folks doing charity cannot be challenged, except for one small thing—his politics are all wrong.  He’s pro-consumer, pro-free-market, pro-creative-process, and anti-corruption.  In short, his followers might support GamerGate.

Apparently, a person with an actual audience and a track record of supporting charity is scary to some people.  This was the response from Durp after the initial retweet from TB:


It gets worse, to the point where Durp claims to be “legitimately pissed” TB had done exactly what the original tweet for the charity stream said to do.  Why? Because TB’s audience might be pro-consumer and anti-corruption.    Max Tolvo goes so far to say that if TB’s audience actually shows up, he might not, because he’s too “drained” to handle that possibility.

It strains credibility to be honest, for several reasons.  First, this stream is happening on New Year’s Eve.  I’m part of TB’s audience, and I can assure you I had infinitely many more interesting things to do that night than watch a charity stream.  It’s not a stretch to say similar would be true for most of the rest of TB’s audience.

Second, the list of games for the charity stream isn’t very good.  There’s little long term staying power with that games list, so most people who do show up are only going to do so for at most the hour or two their favorite game on the list is being played.

Finally, there’s no evidence anyone from TB’s audience was going to show up, and if someone from TB’s audience showed up, there’s even less evidence that any of the people who did show up would have stuck around for the whole thing, made their presence in the stream known, or harassed anyone.  The Storify is an exercise in fear mongering and character assassination; however, it isn’t the “what” that makes this particular act one of Supreme Cowardice, but the “why”.  Examine this quote from the Storify, which was edited in after the fact:

As well during the stream we might have talked about representation in games, our experiences, and any number of other things that could set people like that off and get them hurling horrible things at us.

At last we come to the actual goal of this charity stream.  This stream was an avenue for a bunch of cowards to talk trash about gamers in a public place, and when it became known they might be held accountable for their character assassinations, baseless assertions, biased anecdotes, and mockery of consumers, they whined and sniveled about the stream being ruined.  Charity wasn’t even in their thought process.

People with any level of character whatsoever would have welcomed anyone with disposable income into the stream, especially members of a pro-consumer commentator’s audience, since that audience is more likely to have day jobs than Patreons and can afford to support the charity.

It should not be a surprise in the wake of backlash against the fear mongers sniveling their stream had been ruined, the title of the Storify was changed and a couple of lengthy paragraphs were added to try and explain the situation by stating they just wanted a public place to talk trash without challenge (i.e. “safe spaces”) or their moderators weren’t competent or ambitious enough to handle the hundreds of people that TB’s retweet was going to send to the stream or whatever.

Bottom line is Durp, Max Tolvo, and pals were not only cowards, but when they put out evidence of their cowardice for all to see, they didn’t even have conviction enough to stand behind the original posting; they had to try and water it down to cover their own asses, as if trying to cowardsplain away the original post was going to save them from being held accountable for their actions.

Outside the Lines

ESPN is hardly a stranger to e-sports.  I’d go so far as to say they made the first attempt at turning professional gaming into sport when they broadcast Magic: The Gathering tournaments in the middle 1990’s, as well as being at the right place at the right time when Chris Moneymaker bluffed Sam Farha out of major pot heads up at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003.  It isn’t much of a history, to be honest.  The production value of the Magic tournaments wasn’t the best, and physical card games aren’t terribly telegenic.  Poker, on the other hand, exploded post-2003 WSOP.  11 years later, ESPN is sill covering WSOP, and several channels have had poker programs in that time.

The Outside the Lines show on 1/4/2015 featured segments about e-sports and GamerGate.  Those 2 topics have virtually nothing in common with each other.  Considering how superficial and pedestrian the e-sports segment was, it seems like the GamerGate was jammed into the end of the show to make a political statement.  The big take away from my perspective was the take on harassment by Raynne Moore, who said she wouldn’t leave gaming because a 13 year old had access to a keyboard.

I could point out all the factual inaccuracies in the OTL piece on GamerGate; however, being inaccurate about GamerGate, its origins, and the harassment narrative is run-of-the-mill cowardice that put ESPN in line with The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, The Huffington Post, and The Guardian.

The act of Supreme Cowardice on the part of OTL and ESPN comes in the panel discussion after the pre-produced segment on GamerGate.  Chris Sullentrop is the guest.  Chris ends up doing some massive flailing trying to link a question about sports games to online conduct in multi-player Call of Duty.  None of Chris Sullentrops’ nigh incoherent answers to the questions raised are the problem.  Chris Sullentrop being on the show at all is very much a problem.

You see, Chris Sullentrop hangs with, or is a financial supporter of, many of the propagandists responsible for crafting the false narrative against consumers in the gaming industry.  There is a photograph of Sullentrop hanging with Chris “I don’t know science, but I totally know fashion” Plante; there is a twitter exchange between Totilo, Sullentrop, and the Supreme Pontiff of the Orthodoxy, Leigh Alexander on stylistic choices for a random article; there are tweets about bigots and not-game developers attempting to “reclaim” gamer for themselves; [Authors Note: One must have the moniker first, before one can reclaim it.] and Sullentrop financially supports Jenn “I waited 18 years to tell people I was victimized by Mario 64” Frank.  Oh, and he wrote about her too without disclosure.

So, Sullentrop is incapable of giving an honest answer when it comes to GamerGate.  He certainly didn’t in the interview.  The questions are who was responsible for putting him on the show in the first place, and how could they not know Sullentrop was incapable of giving earnest answers to any questions regarding GamerGate.  I submitted a question to the ESPN Ombudsman about the segment, but have not received a response at the time of publication.

The funny thing about trying to write a commentary like this is one cannot dawdle.  If one does, then something else gets added to the pile, like Nate Grayson ducking Milo’s request for an interview for the GamerGate book, bragging about the request among the ethics deficient, and getting wtfbbqpwned by Milo and internet for leaving a rogue “And n” at the bottom of his response.  #AndN became a thing on twitter, and many kek’s were had at the expense of Grayson has profound lack of courage.

By now, it’s not a surprise that acts of such profound cowardice are happening regularly.  The SocJus mafia is so desperate for a win there’s no level they won’t stoop to.

Todd Wohling

A long time ago on an Intellivision far, far away my gaming journey started with Lock n' Chase, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons The Cloudy Mountain, and Night Stalker. I earned both a BS-Physics and a BS-Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Today I spend most of my time on PC. I left a career of 14 years in aerospace in Colorado, so I could immigrate to Norway.