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Mark Kern started a petition recently calling for Kotaku and Polygon to lead the healing process in the rift between games media, gamers, and developers in the wake of the Intimidation Game episode of Law & Order: SVU.

The petition lays the blame for the SVU episode’s existence at the feet of Kotaku and Polygon “yellow journalism” and on those institutions to come to the defense of gaming…

And you shouldn’t sign it, because it doesn’t go far enough.

Don’t get me wrong, Mark Kern’s heart is 100% in the right place.  Games media is solely responsible for the 2 Minutes Hate on August 28, thereby igniting the GamerGate hashtag in the first place.  However, there are more organizations that house bad actors than just Kotaku and Polygon.  Ars Technica, Gamasutra, Badass Digest, The Mary Sue, and The Daily Beast all share the responsibility of opening the rift by telling gamers they needed to die, were dead, should be killed, and in the case of Gamasutra, how to assassinate them.

An Institutional Case Study from Sports

College Football in Texas has always been a big deal.  In fact, in the early 1980’s there was a football conference made up of 7 Texas colleges and Arkansas, called the Southwest Conference.  The level of competition in the SWC lead to allegations of rampant NCAA recruiting violations, including at Southern Methodist University.  Multiple NCAA investigations concluded SMU had repeatedly violated recruitment rules.  In 1986, the NCAA gave out the harshest penalty in its history, colloquially called the “death penalty”:

  • The 1987 season was canceled; only conditioning drills were permitted during the 1987 calendar year.
  • All home games in 1988 were canceled. SMU was allowed to play their seven regularly scheduled away games so that other institutions would not be financially affected.
  • The team’s existing probation was extended until 1990. Its existing ban from bowl games and live television was extended to 1989.
  • SMU lost 55 new scholarship positions over 4 years.
  • SMU was required to ensure that {George} Owen and eight other boosters previously banned from contact with the program were in fact banned, or else face further punishment.
  • The team was allowed to hire only five full-time assistant coaches, instead of the typical nine.
  • No off-campus recruiting was permitted until August 1988, and no paid visits could be made to campus by potential recruits until the start of the 1988-89 school year.

The penalties were so harsh, SMU has only had 3 winning seasons in a 20 year period from 1989 to 2009 and defeated only 2 teams ranked in the Top 25 in that same period.  The scandal also ultimately resulted in the dissolving of the Southwest Conference in 1996.

I am not suggesting that telling gamers they should die is equivalent to cheating.  However, writing baseless propaganda, not disclosing conflicts of interest in what is being written, projecting presumptive arrogance and being insulting on Twitter, refusing to even discuss—let alone write about—matters of public interest in public forums, privately colluding on what to cover and how to cover it, and blaming gamers for the media’s repeated malpractice seems like enough to qualify games media institutions as “repeat offenders” worthy of a “death penalty” akin to SMU. And yet, calling for the healing process to start on the ashes of SocJus Ministry of Truth games media also seems wrong.

Bad Actors

Calling for the end of games media institutions seems wrong; however, there are still bad actors in those institutions that should face some sort of sanction.  Ben Kuchera is a bad actor.  Leigh Alexander is a bad actor.  Patricia Hernandez is a bad actor.  Chris “fashion > rocket science” Plante is a bad actor.  Ian Miles Cheong is a bad actor.  Arthur Chu is a bad actor.  Casey Johnston is a bad actor.  Nate Grayson is a bad actor.  Christian Nutt is a bad actor. Carolyn Cox is a bad actor.  Devin Faraci is a bad actor.  Jill Pantozzi is a bad actor.

In much the same way the assertion, “The Tech Industry is sexist,” is an inaccurate amalgamation of bad actors into the entirety of the tech industry, suggesting shuttering the organizations that house the bad actors potentially hurts good actors trying to operate below the radar of the SocJus outer party.

It is on the metaphorical bones of the bad actors that the healing process should begin.  I don’t know exactly what that looks like: apologies, resignations, sitting down for coffee with someone from the “opposition” to talk business, or actual earnest discussions in public forums where ethical grievances can be heard and addressed and due deference given to the gamers who built the gaming industry twice in the last 40 years could be a start.

The Next Steps

Then, let’s find someone who gives a damn about video games beyond the industry’s potential for personal profit, and let’s have an earnest discussion of representation in video games and the industry in general.  Propagandists, anti-intellectuals, and the gaming academic elitists need not apply.  Let’s focus on facts and data.  Let’s think about ways to make Princess of Persia interesting so people would want to play it.  Let’s talk about STEM education and how to deepen the pool of qualified candidates for tech sector jobs, but let’s make that discussion a serious one—not one where Bay Area tech jobs are treated like an entitlement.

Then, let’s clean up the acronyms.  Let’s give IGDA and DiGRA the enemas they’ve proven over and over they are in desperate need of.  Let’s get people who care about real progress in the industry, turning 100 billion dollars worldwide into 120 billion dollars worldwide, vice faux progress, an ocean of crappy not-games to indoctrinate the weakest generation in the history of history into  the outer party of SocJus.  Let’s get people in the leadership of DiGRA who want to work with the will of the consumer and the creative process and will speak about representation in the gaming industry.

Oh, and this last one is for me.  As his last act as an employee of Polygon, Ben Kuchera gets to interview Zoe Quinn, but (and this is a HUGE but) he must ask the following questions:

  • Did you and/or Robin Arnott tank the Polaris Game Jam on purpose?
    • Was the Grayson piece designed to invoke sympathy in order to give Rebel Jam a boost?
  • Did you file a fake DMCA claim against Mundane Matt?

I’m feeling slightly selfish, since none of what I’ve proposed is going to happen anyway (projecting presumptive arrogance).  Had anyone in the “gamers are dead” camp had the courage to stand up and ask these questions in the first place there’s every possibility GamerGate could have been avoided.

I applaud Mark Kern for trying to begin the healing process.  The petition is a good first draft for just such an effort.  That said, the bad actors who insulted their core audience still need to be banished to their own personal blogs.

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.

  • nomuru2d

    Wow. Way to be EXTREMELY late. In the time that passed between his forming the petition and now, his eyes have since been opened regarding the websites he tried to petition, among many others. His current project is restarting League4Gamers as a symbol of unity within the gaming community against corruption within the industry.

    Might help to try and be up to date on a subject before you release an article about it.

  • Rakeela Deskairn

    Like Kern with his original petition, the author of this article has his heart in the right place.

    Besides, I can’t help but see value in naming names of bad actors. I haven’t seen many lists that concise. It even had names I didn’t recognize, and one (Chris Plante) that I’d forgotten about.

  • Dulius

    I think the author’s heart was in the right place, but yeah.. with all the happenings since, that petition goes NOWHERE near far enough

  • TheCybercoco

    “Sign At Your Own Risk”

    What exactly is that supposed to mean? That’s the exact message that places like VG247 were saying to intimidate developers out of signing it. Was “Does Not Go Far Enough” not adequate enough for a title to this?

  • The spark that started GamerGste happened on Aug 18th. By the 28th it was already at full steam. Everything that happened after the 20th was all inconsequential with respect to what the root cause of this insanity is. Just reactions and overreactions.

  • Typical

    The petition went no where from the beginning. This is too far down the rabbit hole to back out amicably. The only solution is to burn the SJWs to the ground, and salt the earth. In other words, you have to beat them so badly they are afraid to try this entryism bullshit in video gaming ever again, and beat them so bad, they go underground for a time before trying it to any other industry. They’ve already tried and had successes in ruining table top gaming, comics, science fiction, movies, college curriculum, and television, hopefully showing them beaten back so severely by a bunch of nerds will make these other industries find their fucking back bones. There can be no peace with these ones, they are not to be trusted, they need to be burned out of their holes and any who give them comfort likewise destroyed until they are driven from the industry.

  • “The only solution is to burn the SJWs to the ground, and salt the earth”

    Amen to that.

  • Alex

    It’s sad to see Techraptor go clickbait so fast… They are kinda looking like hypocrites now…

  • Raziel Barkrai

    Are there other clickbait articles on Techraptor? The only other one that comes to mind was that Huniepop article.

  • Ricardo Lima

    The bad actors should reap what theyve sown I agree, And Kerns s already realized they wil lattack anyone who doesnt follow the party line.

  • Alex

    I’m sure there will be…

  • BeetleGal3055

    Perhaps it’s alluding to the horrible things the SJW bad actors will do once they get their hands on the list.

  • vr

    assumption is the mother of all fuck ups, Alex

  • GrimFate

    I’m glad I left Polygon and Kotaku and came here.