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At some point, unbeknownst to everyone who understands how GamerGate really came about, a group of “academics” or “intellectuals” decided GamerGate was a thing to be studied, like animals in the wild.  Unfortunately, there’s almost no one on the aGG side that’s qualified academically, intellectually, or as a gamer to actually do any sort of rigorous research about who GamerGate is and what GamerGate really wants. [Author’s Note and Protip: Actual games that don’t suck made by people who aren’t trying to destroy the gaming industry nor indoctrinate the innocent to “correct” ideologies, full stop.]  Don’t worry though, lack of competence hasn’t stopped academic elitists before from “researching” topics for their own ends.  After all, it was an elitist academic think tank’s stated disregard  for the will of the consumer and the creative process that served as the conceptual basis for August 28’s 2 Minutes Hate against gamers.  Among the legion vast that ran with the narrative was Katherine Cross, a self-proclaimed “academic” who’s missing the key credential academics in virtually every field must have, a PhD.  What Katherine has done is attempted to harvest more narrative from other pseudo-academics, semi-intellectuals, professional pro-corruption, pro-narrative, pro-thought-crime trolls, and a token dude that maybe made a game once, kind of.  Without further ado, I present new depths in intellectual dishonesty and cognitive dissonance.

Gamergate-KCross 1

I find it fascinating in pseudo-intellectual circles, a piece of code with the worst design imaginable could be perverted into “a work in progress”.  I base my assessment of ggautoblocker’s design on the assumption that the board of directors of IGDA weren’t mislead as to the design goals of ggautoblocker—yet another unfathomable act of charity from me to a group of people who deserve none.  If you were going to code something in perl with the design goal of blocking only those who harass, then the very last thing you would do is design the tool exclusively around who a specific Twitter handle follows.  The appropriate design is to mine the content of Tweets as well as handles and display names for harassing contents, and flag/block based on the contents of the tweets.  It’s completely understandable to want to block @Brandisbasspipe for example; however, a couple of things are crystal clear based on looking at the code itself:

  • It was designed exclusively to block the followers of GamerGate supporters, vice blocking harassers regardless of their politics with respect to GamerGate.
  • That design element is so central to how the autoblocker is coded, a change to that particular design point would require a complete rewrite of the tool.
  • The offensive names of arrays and variables make it obvious as to what the design goal of ggautoblocker really was.  The only topic of debate is whether IGDA leadership knew it was designed to be a blacklist and gave the green light anyway.

Software design this reckless is wrought with problems: false positives, missed flags, and inefficiencies.  Far more concerning is how the obvious destructive ends the proceeds of ggautoblocker could be used: to prevent important voices and budding artists from entering the gaming industry based exclusively on guilt by association rather than the acts of the individual. Also, your buddies need the ability to change their twitter handle to something like @killallmen without consequence.  Am I right, Katherine?

Gamergate-Cross 2 It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that GamerGate would be sensitive to “Guilt by Association” arguments considering it was a set of them on August 28th that got GamerGate going in earnest.  I point this tweet out because of the intellectual dishonesty of the tweet itself, but also the meta involved with the tweet.  The corruption that has encompassed the overwhelming majority of games media is based on relationships—not what the nature of the relationships are, but who those relationships were with.  A developer has a relationship with a festival judge and suddenly his/her not-game gets featured as a part of the festival; a developer has major financial backing from a group of investors who are all anonymous judges for an independent games festival, and the backed game manages to win somehow; as well as other matters of public interest that were ignored by the gaming press: fake DMCA claims, a groupthink google email list, the (total lack of) credentials of GDC panel participants, blacklisting of software developers and journalists, IGDA’s total mismanagement of ggautoblocker, an avalanche of click bait trash articles designed to destroy careers, and a tsunami of commentary about how GamerGate is supposedly a machine for harassing women out of the industry.  I have distinct recollections of trying to destroy Stevie Case’s career in 1999 and 2000, while she was busy being a pro gamer, tester and level designer at Ion Storm.  I remember all the comments made on reviews of Portal and Left for Dead saying how they were garbage solely because Kim Swift was on the team.  Oh wait, none of that happened, because gamers, in general, do not care who makes their games.  Gamers care whether or not the games they play are good.  That said, there are people out there that are going to be jerks, but those people speak for no one but themselves.

Gamergate-Cross 3

One has to love the idea of 8Chan being the overlords of GamerGate chiefly because it demonstrates how little about the real world these particular “academics” really know.  Eight months ago, I had the entirety of my social media interactions laid out in front of me; anything beyond mundane postings I had to answer for.  My Facebook friends were also examined, and I had to explain who those friends were beyond the obvious.  Aerospace is hardly unique when it comes to this kind of scrutiny of a perspective or current employee’s online footprint.  The question, then, is whether the “academics” claiming all of GamerGate is run from 8Chan are choosing to be willfully ignorant how career track jobs in the real world work for the purpose of pushing the narrative, or have they been hiding in academia for so long that they really don’t know how the real world works?  I suspect they bought Leigh Alexander’s asinine crap about gamers not being able to hold career track jobs (like she would know what it takes to hold a career track job, but I digress) hook, line , and sinker.  To give an indication of how badly the 8Chan assertion fails the “smell test”, here’s a thought experiment: The Kotaku in Action subreddit has over 20k subscribers; do we all take our marching orders from and post about our successes in /gamergate/?  Why would anyone with a career track job take the risk of posting actively on 8Chan if there were even the slightest possibility that being active on 8Chan adversely affecting one’s career?

Gamergate-Goodtroll 1

A piece about anti-GamerGate’s anti-intellectuals wouldn’t be complete without talking about my Honorable Mention recipient for 2014’s Least Valuable Troll, Jenni Goodchild.  Let’s examine the paragraph above.  GamerGate doesn’t use words the same way everyone else uses words.  Here’s a partial list of words anti-GamerGate anti-intellectuals have attempted to redefine since August 28th:

  • Game
  • Gamer
  • Consumerism
  • Harassment
  • Criticism
  • Critique
  • Sociologist
  • Researcher
  • Academic
  • Objective
  • Review
  • Research
  • Peer Review
  • Engage

GamerGate has been going on for four months, and the anti-intellectuals are still trying to make Newspeak definitions of words to suit their purposes.  For example, critique now has two meanings: in anti-GamerGate anti-intellectual circles, critique means restating and amplifying the original hypothesis, no matter how flawed the hypothesis is (e.g. GamerGate is a hate group); the real world definition of critique to the anti-intellectual is a synonym for harassment.  A person is a sociologist without completing the coursework necessary to actually be one—great news for me, because by that logic I’m a mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer!  Also , it’s comical to see Jenni complain about having tried to engage GamerGate as if no one who was involved in the hashtag would find this roundtable discussion.  It was widely known by the second day Jenni tried to “engage” with GamerGate that she was a troll, and any attempt at engagement by her was not in earnest.  Once the word spread, is it any surprise no one was willing to spend the effort to engage with her as an equal?  The anti-intellectuals would have to acknowledge there are actual people in GamerGate, and some of those people may very well outclass them as intellectuals and academics ten fold before earnest engagement would happen again.  Don’t hold your breath GamerGate, because neither of those is going to happen.

So, if you’re looking for insight into the mind of the anti-intellect, anti-academic, anti-creative-process, anti-free-market, anti-discourse, anti-gamer, anti-gaming-industry, pro-thought-crime, pro-newspeak, pro-corruption, pro-indoctrination “researchers”, I can’t recommend Katherine Cross’s missives enough, both Safeguarding Research (by non-researchers pushing a narrative as hard as their taste for their own bile will allow), and We Will Force Gaming to be Free (by any means necessary in spite of market forces).  She’ll trot out Sociology students and doctorate candidates as researchers; she’ll claim a secretary is an academic; and she’ll find a couple of dudes who’ll do nothing but agree with everything Katherine says and mumble incoherently for a bit.  Katherine Cross is petrified of having legitimate academics, intellectuals, or (god forbid) a gamer or two on her panel.  That said, if Katherine Cross happens across this post, and if she is interested in having an earnest exchange about the gaming industry and GamerGate at large, I’m available, easy to find, and I have at least as much credibility as an academic and gamer than half your panel in Safeguarding Research.  I’ll be waiting for your call; Top KEK.

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.