The GamerGate Thread

@Laroquod, Ouch–hope things go well for you. I’ve been fortunate to have stability.

Re: gamergate, when I think of the people who said Vaporware was harrassing Jason McIntosh–this is crying wolf! There’s someone I lost a lot of respect for on twitter, because they’ve gone from me thinking, wow, they wouldn’t have said this if it weren’t true to, well, maybe they need to say it for effect to, ouch, here they go again.

And while I can’t see myself supporting gamergate, I refuse to go along with people who’ve carefully thought out why I need to have a knee-jerk reaction to whatever they say, if I were thoughtful at all.

Hmm, have I missed something?

I slightly misremembered it’s “GGers” not you… which is a really overblown response to your one very fair question.

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Ah, so Vaporware’s question counts as harrassment now, does it? Sheeesh. I don’t know if it’s a defense mechanism or what, but Porpentine and Inurashii both really tend to aggressively attack whatever they perceieve as being attack-worthy - and there’s a lot that they do.

(I’m fully aware there are precious few other places in the IF community right now I could post the above paragraphed without being flamed out of existence)

The plus side is, now GGers and non-GGers alike now have plenty of motivation to enter the comp. So the games win.

EDIT - On reflection, Laroquod what a bit more active and aggressive after Vaporware’s question got deflected. Maybe that’s what was perceived as harassment. It’s easier for me to understand, at least. But it’s still taking one individual - one concerned individual, making relevant points, and having the guts to make damn sure that everyone knew about it - and making a serious generalization.

This is a scary world, where tweets can be read as facts.

Hm, I’d forgotten about that, too. So that’s reasonable. And, well, I like Jason McIntosh, and I appreciate what he’s done, but I also think Laroquod’s questions were fair and not ad hominem.

I’m not naturally aggressive (passive aggressive? Maybe) so I tend to give people a lot of rope saying, well, they just are braver and get involved easier, and we need to account for different personal styles. But I’m also glad to read I’m not the only person that feels the way you do. When people jump into arguments easily, they should not be surprised others feel the same way.

At some point there’s a balance between being happy with what you have and pushing for more, and I think it gets out of whack on twitter as people try to keep it exciting for their followers, etc.

And it’s good to have a forum where I can say that and move on and get back to writing.

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<dum dee dum, pad it out, make it 20 characters…>
Amen to that.

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I have been labelled a terrorist and all other kinds of monster actually on And the funniest part is, that was tame compared to what I was labelled in the rest of my 10 months supporting GamerGate — often by actual celebrities. ‘Harassment’? Might as well claim a ‘booboo’. Biggest online joke of the decade. I have become completely inured to being demonised for being unwilling to have my pro-free-speech opinions silenced, and I now fully expect to be labelled the worst things possible the moment I deviate from the community’s and other authoritarians’ political orthodoxies.

It is a badge of honour. These days, if you aren’t being accused at least indirectly of harassment or terrorism, then you probably aren’t saying anything that everyone hasn’t already heard.

If one is going to label themselves as part of any group or cause, they are going to take on the adjectives used to describe that group inherently, whether those adjectives are warranted or not. If I say I’m with Greenpeace, I’m going to be labelled a hippie whether it’s true or not. If I say I’m in the AARP you’re going to assume I’m old, whether it’s true or not.

It’s sort of like the people who want to maintain the Confederate flag but say they’re not racists. That might be the case, but since racists have carried that flag for centuries it’s kind of hard to say “that is not what I’m about!” when one is voluntarily wearing a cape made of the Confederate flag.

Hey, if Aldous Huxley did it, you can too. His comment: “Hitler was unintelligible on everything except mass communication. There, he was clear.”

My big book I was ashamed to have people see me read was The Game. It’s a horrible book, about a man’s great journey to help others pick up women (read: pick off the weakest one in a crowd and convince her what she really wants.) But it goes beyond that to general being controlling, and realizing people actually thought like this and tolerated it helped make sense of some nastiness I couldn’t understand before.

I read not too long ago that a common thread in the Holocaust and some of the other most horrible events in history is dehumanization. So that’s something to look for.

SSC: “My Id on Defensiveness”

I like discussion, debate, and reasoned criticism. But a lot of arguments aren’t any of those things. They’re the style I describe as ethnic tension, where you try to associate something you don’t like with negative affect so that other people have an instinctive disgust reaction to it.

There are endless sources of negative affect you can use. You can accuse them of being “arrogant”, “fanatical”, “hateful”, “cultish” or “refusing to tolerate alternative opinions”. You can accuse them of condoning terrorism, or bullying, or violence, or rape. You can call them racist or sexist, you can call them neckbeards or fanboys. You can accuse them of being pseudoscientific denialist crackpots.

If you do this enough, the group gradually becomes disreputable. If you really do it enough, the group becomes so toxic that it becomes somewhere between a joke and a bogeyman. Their supporters will be banned on site from all decent online venues. News media will write hit pieces on them and refuse to ask for their side of the story because ‘we don’t want to give people like that a platform’. Their concerns will be turned into bingo cards for easy dismissal. People will make Facebook memes strawmanning them, and everyone will laugh in unison and say that yep, they’re totally like that. Anyone trying to correct the record will be met with an “Ew, gross, this place has gone so downhill that the [GROUP] is coming out of the woodwork!” and totally ignored.


People like to talk a lot about “dehumanizing” other people, and there’s some debate over exactly what that entails. Me, I’ve always thought of it the same was as Aristotle: man is the rational animal. To dehumanize them is to say their ideas don’t count, they can’t be reasoned with, they no longer have a place at the table of rational discussion. And in a whole lot of Internet arguments, doing that to a whole group of people seems to be the explicit goal.

There’s a term in psychoanalysis, “projective identification”. It means accusing someone of being something, in a way that actually turns them into that thing. For example, if you keep accusing your (perfectly innocent) partner of always being angry and suspicious of you, eventually your partner’s going to get tired of this and become angry, and maybe suspicious that something is up.

Declaring a group toxic has much the same effect. The average group has everyone from well-connected reasonable establishment members to average Joes to horrifying loonies. Once the group starts losing prestige, it’s the establishment members who are the first to bail; they need to protect their establishment credentials, and being part of a toxic group no longer fits that bill. The average Joes are now isolated, holding an opinion with no support among experts and trend-setters, so they slowly become uncomfortable and flake away as well. Now there are just the horrifying loonies, who, freed from the stabilizing influence of the upper orders, are able to up their game and be even loonier and more horrifying. Whatever accusation was leveled against the group to begin with is now almost certainly true.


I’m glad I retracted my post, because vaporware did a much better job of saying/quotiing what I meant.

So, let’s fully unpack this reasoning for each example. Greenpeace says ‘save the trees’. So if you join Greenpeace, you will be labelled a tree-hugger. A retirement association says they support elder people’s rights, so if you join it, you will be assumed to support elder people. The Confederates in the Civil War openly supported the institution of slavery (yes), so if you support the Confederate political cause, you will be assumed to turn a blind eye to slavery.

GamerGate says they support ethics in journalism and artistic freedom from ideological censorship, so if you support GamerGate, you will be assumed to… support misogyny and harassment of women??

One of these things is not like the others.

But yes, It kind of is. You and I both know that GamerGate did not arise from an online group of well-intentioned people who one day decided to make “Ethics in Gaming Journalism” their cause. It started with the systematic and almost gleeful abuse of women whom had ruffled the fur of a particular group of misogynists who were only too glad to have a concrete reason to unleash their abuse in an online fury. The “Ethics in Journalism” thing is an attempt to whitewash (and perhaps find some nugget of legitimacy) in the ensuing tsunami of bad press.

You say “GamerGate”, I think doxxing, swatting, bomb threats, death threats; no matter how much you want to explain it’s about fair play in journalism. Just as nobody could take a person giving a lecture about German heritage completely seriously if they are standing under a Nazi flag, nobody is going to take any sort of “Ethics in Journalism” movement seriously under the GG hashtag. As I stated before, associating one’s self with a particular movement is going to get that person assigned the labels of that movement. The “-gate” suffix is synonymous with scandal.

Laroquod, I know you’re a smart person with intelligent things to say. I have no personal reason to stir this up and by no means would I want you ejected from this forum forcibly or by self-ban. But understand that the words “Gamer Gate” are internet poison that (as you’ve experienced on cause 90% of your readership to tune-out and mark void all other words in the same vicinity, no matter how well-intentioned. That was the point of my post. You don’t need to align yourself with any cause; especially one that ruins your chances of being heard and understood without bias.

(wonder whether we should start a new thread. Ah well)
EDIT - And lo and behold, a new thread appears! Thanks, vaporware!

I have to say, I keep reading up on the whole GamerGate thing. It’s hard, because there’s so much hatred and so many people are happy to hyperbolise. I find it hard to find a factual account of the events leading up to the creation of the GamerGate hashtag and everything it brought.

But I think I finally did. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the genesis it all was an attack on Zoe Quinn - an attack that, I think we can all agree, reached alarming and unforgivable levels - which caused some well-intentioned people, who were viewing it dispassionately, to call out what they saw as hipocrisy and hyperbole. I did the same thing on that “Brothers” thread; I’m not a woman-hater, but I totally saw an abuse of feminism in some of criticism that I felt was needlessly damaging the work, and I called it out.

If I understand correctly, what I did - and it caused a pretty ugly situation, mostly because I was then unable to properly argue my point and even unable to keep a civil tone, which surely didn’t help - is what the “good” GamerGaters are all about.

I have to agree with Hanon now - isn’t it best if all the people who really care about this were to distance themselves from GamerGate? I thought GG had been hijacked by a dangerous vocal minority. From what I’m reading, that’s not the case - GG has, instead, been hijacked by people who saw a nugget of truth amidst all the abuse and threats. I’m not sure, though, how any group can expect to be taken seriously if their starting point is… well, the quinsspiracy.

Let me try and put it like this, since I’ve already brought the Nazis in. It should be OK to base a philosophy on Nietszche’s super-human theory, and the idea that there are worthy “lions” who are superior to the rest of the world. It would not be OK to base a philosophy on Hitler’s interpretation of those theories.

If it looks like I’m backing down, well, I am. I’m not a stubborn ass. Well, I’m stubborn, and often an ass, but I avoid being both at the same time. :slight_smile: On the whole GG situation, I do believe people like Laroquod - who is passionate, eloquent and argues very convincingly and effectively - really would be better served by starting a new hashtag, one that was meant - from the very first - to be all about ethics in journalism et al.

But going back on topic, if there still is a topic, auto-blocking anyone on the basis of what they choose to follow or read is no solution. It’s the “Are you now, or have you ever been” mentatlity, and that seriously frightens me. It’s a good thing McIntosh backed down on that.

Part of what made that “Brothers” situation ugly is that suddenly I was being treated as a mysoginist GGer - something I knew nothing about at the time. I was being labelled; I had no idea there WERE labels. That was a false positive, the sort of thing I’m pretty much against. The more I argued for the game and its artistic integrity and the source material that it drew upon, the more heat I took. I really don’t think that’s right. That’s what auto-blocking does; those people “auto-blocked” me when they saw that I was speaking against feministic concerns. (and also when I started calling people out for being too sensitive, but that was my fault. It was a gross faux pas, it didn’t help, and it’s the part of the story I really regret now. Taking the high road is always the better option, and it leads to understanding other people’s POV better)

And I’m not saying that people on the other side weren’t overzealous. There are certain hot-button things that you can politely avoid, knowing that’s how you maintain polite conversation. It was a shame what went down on the other forum, but part of the game is knowing when to abandon an ideologically sinking ship, especially when it causes people to irrationally ignore what you say. It’s like starting a post with “I really hate Interactive Fiction, but…” if people turn off and stop listening because of the flag you’re flying, there’s no point in even arguing at all.

Please understand that although you might perceive it that way – perhaps because it’s been portrayed that way in the sources you read – your perception is not shared by those who disagree with you.

This “You and I both know…” stuff doesn’t help anyone. You believe one thing, other people believe something else. Only a cartoon villain would willingly get on board with a movement they believed to be about the “systematic and almost gleeful abuse of women”. Do you think anyone here is a cartoon villain?

You do realize that GG has been the victim of that sort of abuse as often as not, right? Search for “gamergate bomb threats” and see whose gatherings have been disrupted.

As the blogger I quoted above explained so eloquently, the tactic you’re engaging in here is a vile one that tries to tar a disfavored group with negative affect, encouraging others to dismiss their concerns out of hand and attempting to “win” a disagreement through tribalism instead of reason.

It’s not true that nobody is going to take a movement seriously under the GG hashtag; there are thousands of people doing exactly that. What may be true is that you refuse to take it seriously.

It’s also not true that associating oneself with that cause automatically gets one associated with all the most negative labels that its opponents have tried to paint it with, or automatically ruins one’s chances of being heard or understood without bias. What may be true is that you’ll spread those labels or you’re unwilling to hear or understand people without bias.

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Depends which side you are on. If you’re in GG, you’re going to insist that it’s all about journalism and ethics. The rest of the people who’ve witnessed the wrath of the “Gate” will never take anything said by that group seriously because they see that the major accomplishment of GG is pain, suffering, and an attempt to drive women out of the video game industry.

Didn’t you say you got banned from some IFComp list due to GamerGate associations? Wasn’t that stupid? That’s what I’m talking about. You can be who you want to be, but don’t let people (or automatic ban lists) pigeonhole you with a label!

Form an ethics community about gaming journalism, but start afresh with new branding and new hashtags. Anything with its roots in bullying and online abuse is never going to be viewed as a legitimate cause. Ethics is a good thing and doesn’t deserve the baggage of Gamer Gate. Insisting otherwise is about as good of an idea as starting a restaurant and calling it Dahmer’s Place: The cannibalistic mass-murderer’s family might have had some good recipes, but who’s ever going to believe it?

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Yes… this is one reason why I started a new forum, and it still gives me occasional doubts about how much I want to be involved with the IF community. I look at people who dislike a certain game development system being attacked as sexist, and the organizer of the IF Comp literally encouraging people to irrationally ignore what I say, and I see a ship that’s taking on water while its inhabitants try to stay afloat by pushing each other into the sea.

One might just as easily claim that the people who’ve witnessed the wrath of those you’re siding with will never take anything they say seriously, because they see that the major accomplishments of your favored group have been to dox, swat, and mail threatening packages; “out” closeted teenagers to their friends and family; and make a series of decreasingly effective bomb threats.

But rather than stoop to that level, I’ll point out that you’re overlooking what GG would list as their accomplishments, such as getting many gaming media outlets to publish/revise their ethics and disclosure policies, getting the FTC to issue new guidelines for disclosure, funding several charities, and defunding outlets that committed ethical violations and promoted harassment of gamers.

Not quite; what happened what that the comp organizer encouraged people to subscribe to an autoblock list that includes me. Previous subscribers to that list have included organizations like OSCON, Raspberry Pi, and the International Game Developers Association.

Was it stupid? Yes, it sure was. And I place the blame for that stupidity squarely on the people responsible: the developers of the autoblocker, the people who subscribe to it, the people who promote it, and the people who defend it.

The autoblocker doesn’t care about labels. I’m included on its list because of who I listen to, not what I say.

It’s been tried. It doesn’t work.

The opponents of GG aren’t stupid. They see that whatever new branding or hashtag comes up is an offshoot of the old one, populated by many of the same people and talking about the same things, and that ultimately it has the same “roots”, so they smear it with all the same accusations.

To continue your analogy, it’s as if whenever you tried to rename your restaurant or start a new one, a group of angry reviewers flooded your Yelp page, saying “This is the same guy who started Dahmer’s Place! It’s just cannibalism under a new name! If you eat here you’re a cannibal!”

Judging by the number of remarks I’ve seen like “who cares, it’s only games”, you might be surprised at how many people don’t seem to agree that it’s a good thing. That’s what happens when you make “ethics in game journalism” into a bingo square and mock everyone who ever brings up the subject.


vaporware, you bring up the most fascinating links.