About24. IU grad. about as lost as you are.
I don’t know where you are right now
or who you are
or what you are
or how you are
and I am not ready to have such a responsibility of pouring all of me into you
and I am not ready to trust you
but I am ready to meet you.
I am ready to know that it is you
and you alone
who will adventure with me to the ends of the earth.
Come to me, my darling.
I already love you. I just don’t know you.
i’m sorry does my feminism bother you
does my support of women in games bother you
does my belief that women should be able to do whatever the fuck they want sexually bother you
THEN GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY BLOG
What Is GamerGate?
It’s the Tea Party of video games. And Zoe Quinn is its Benghazi.
Okay, But What Is GamerGate Really?
GamerGate has been disingenuously framed as a grassroots campaign of gamers “concerned with the quality and integrity of video game journalism.” The campaign is, in truth, an effort to fold in, rehabilitate, and retroactively justify a previous campaign of blatant gender-based harassment against a female videogame developer for the capital offenses of having (a) a vindictive ex-boyfriend and (b) friends within the industry.
GamerGate is a campaign run by people who don’t understand what a real conflict of interest actually is, and who would institute standards of disclosure and prohibition on reporting so restrictive as to essentially disqualify all actual journalists from the space. They sincerely believe that the mere act of patronizing a developer precludes one from objectively reporting on that developer - a standard more stringent than that found in political reporting, and for a field of journalism that is far less important.
Yet even if GamerGate’s proposals were reasonable (they’re not), it wouldn’t matter, because no matter how noble its purported aims, the campaign sprung up from one of the most noxious onslaughts of sexism to rock the gaming industry in years, and a not-insignificant number of its proponents continue to engage in that harassment to this day, tarnishing the rest by association. #NotAllGamers, you say? Tough. Welcome to the word of open-invite politics, where anyone who lays claim to a movement is technically part of that movement. See also: the Tea Party. You live and die by your worst members, and right now, your worst members are utterly and openly putrid.
Admittedly, the Tea Party has managed to do well for itself in certain parts of the United States, so why couldn’t GamerGate? The answer is simple: The stakes are too low to stomach the vitriol seeping out of the movement’s underbelly. The Tea Party, laughable as it may be to some, seeks to address real-world issues impacting the country at large, where lives, jobs, and communities are actually at stake. That people within the games industry sometimes hook up doesn’t quite rise to that level of seriousness.
GamerGate, at its core, is about a woman being denied sexual agency. Yes, there is high-minded rhetoric about a lack of integrity in journalism, but with a curious inability to point to any examples of inaccurate journalism that can be traced back to any sort of influence-peddling. It is impossible to see the tenuousness of these claims and the ferocity with which they are made as anything but overcompensation for what gamers have done to Zoe Quinn. And the refusal to admit this is only making it worse.
The Unflattering Genesis
For those unaware, GamerGate can be traced back to a single event: The Zoe Post.
In short, indie game developer Zoe Quinn was recently made the subject of a novella-sized blog entry by her scorned ex-boyfriend (“The Zoe Post”), who laid out a sordid and overwrought tale of interpersonal betrayal. His professed goal was to “warn the public” as to what kind of person Quinn supposedly is. The immediate reaction was predictable: burner Twitter accounts began to pillory Quinn with cruel invective, memefying her alleged infidelity and hounding her on every corner of the Internet.
Around this time, digital hazmat teams were deployed by many websites to stop their message boards from being used as coordination hubs for harassment campaigns against Quinn. The hue and cry of “censorship” reared its head, forming one of the core conspiracies of GamerGate: that the upper echelons of the gaming industry attempted to suppress any discussion of The Zoe Post to protect “one of its own.”
This is where accusations of corruption begin to fall apart. Zoe Quinn, while certainly a colorful personality in the gaming industry, is not by any means a power-player, and her peers are not beholden to her from any sort of financial or publicity standpoint. How easy would it have been for Kotaku et al. to run stories on The Zoe Post and rake in easy ad revenue thereby? They forfeited these opportunities, however, in the name of integrity and an attempt to elevate the collective image of the gaming industry – to show the world that we are not captive to sub-TMZ levels of malicious voyeurism.
Yet as the old adage goes, you can’t save someone from themselves. With members of the press refusing to validate The Zoe Post as an actual story, schoolyard cruelty turned to outright animosity. The details of this chapter are highly disputed, yet simultaneously unimportant – whether Quinn was “doxxed,” or doxxed herself for attention, there is no doubt that the campaign against her hit a fever pitch of venom and outright misogyny. One way or another, gamers were going to make Quinn into a headline.
And it worked.
The press finally took notice, but not for the reasons that GamerGate proponents wanted – they had unwittingly become Exhibit A for why the gaming industry was still widely considered a cesspool, unbefitting the respect accorded to traditional media. Quinn was a victim, and the gaming community her assailant. Well done, gamers!
The Incredulous Transformation Into GamerGate
To most outside observers, the discussion of Quinn was not only highly offensive, but downright embarrassing for the community at large. It was a tawdry affair with no real public interest component, one conducted with a high school-level of maturity, and the fact that so many gamers seized on it with such fervor only reinforced the “man-baby” image that our industry has been trying to shed for years. The refusal of the gaming press to validate it was, in fact, an attempt to save the community from itself. But the community made clear that it wanted nothing more than to set itself on fire.
At this point in time, it was safe to say that the campaign against Quinn had been a failure. If the intent was to ruin Quinn’s personal life, her detractors certainly came close – she and those around her endured weeks of harassment and personal threats, made even worse by the suggestion that they not “feed the trolls” by fighting back against the torrential abuse. Yet Quinn’s professional life had never been more secure. Her Twitter followers went up by 50%, Patreon funds flowed in, and the industry realized more than ever how much it needs people like Quinn – people capable of revealing just how much adolescent rage and misogyny still exists amongst rank-and-file gamers.
Quinn’s detractors quickly found themselves on the receiving end of some well-justified scorn for how they had collectively conducted themselves. They realized that, in order to gain any sort of foothold into legitimacy, they would have to shift focus away from “Zoe Quinn is an awful person” as their mantra, as too many of their members could not resist dragging Quinn’s irrelevant sexual exploits into the discussion. Instead, they attempted to seize on the one kernel of The Zoe Post that might conceivably serve as a springboard for objective critique: Zoe Quinn once dated a video game journalist.
Seriously. That’s all they had.
Gamers Put On Their Journalism Hats
The story goes that Quinn got into a relationship with a guy shortly after he wrote a piece on her involvement in a scrapped webseries. The guy then went on to write for Kotaku, where he never reported on Quinn again. Somehow, this non-story got spun into a whole web of accusations about bias and corruption in the media, failing to identify a single instance of alleged bias in the journalist’s writing. Even now, people still accuse Quinn of sleeping with journalists to generate good press and/or reviews for her games, yet have been unable to provide any examples of this actually occurring.
The hysteria of GamerGate has, amongst other things, reduced the concept of a “conflict of interest” to absurdity. Are gamers simply unaware of how industry - not just video gaming, but any industry - functions? Do they think restaurant critics are not friendly with chefs? Film critics with actors? Music critics with musicians? Without relationships, there can be no reputation-building, no insight, no nuance or holistic understanding of subject matter. To reduce every point of interest to a presumptive conflict, as GamerGate does, both fundamentally misunderstands and kneecaps journalism, and will inevitably result in journalists getting worse, not better.
The unfortunate thing is that there is certainly corruption and a lack of ethics in many pockets of the video game industry’s journalistic wing. Suspect sponsorships and payola have been standard for years; anyone remember when Jeff Gerstmann got fired from GameSpot way back in 2007 after writing a middling review of Kane and Lynch, advertisements of which were plastered all over the website? Where was GamerGate back then? Why did it take The Zoe Post, a story utterly bereft of actual corruption, to galvanize gamers into pushing back against these entrenched practices?
No matter how desperately GamerGate proponents try to sweep this detail under the rug, the fact is that they only got truly interested in this subject when there was a woman to sexually shame for it. And that’s more damning than anything in The Zoe Post.
The Oppressors As Victims
Right out of the gate, GamerGate has only managed to find traction as a data point in a wider discussion of sexism and persecution in the video game industry. It is a desperate attempt to put a constructive gloss on what started and continues to operate in the shadows as a vehicle for gendered abuse and scorn. And so the narrative has taken another turn, this time towards “gamers” as an oppressed minority, vilified simply for wanting a certain level of decorum in discussion of them and their activities.
I’ll let the irony sink in for a moment.
The big problem with that angle is that GamerGate proponents conflate the act of gaming with their self-ascribed identify as gamers. Gamer doesn’t simply mean “one who plays games” – rather, it describes those who build a lifestyle around games, who emotionally invest in gaming subculture, and who take an active interest in the internal politics of gaming. And many of those so-called “gamers” are, in fact, the ones who were first to seize on The Zoe Post in its nascent, most prurient stage. Before anyone was interested in “journalistic integrity,” it was gamers launching incendiary volleys of slut-shaming Quinn’s way, choking her Twitter feed with blatant harassment.
Gamers are not being vilified for the mere act of playing games. They’re being vilified for constructing and nurturing a subculture that readily allows fiascos like The Zoe Post to take hold. One simply doesn’t see this level of sustained, community-based harassment in other spheres of media; not even comic book nerds would have the gall to conduct themselves in this manner. To throw up one’s hands and whine “#NotAllGamers!” is to abdicate any responsibility for taking care of one’s own house - a house that desperately needs tending before termites destroy the whole foundation.
Video gaming has come a long way in the past decades, from being a niche nerd hobby to now constituting a multi-billion dollar global industry. Attempts to shed its reputation as the #1 hobby of stunted man-children, however, have been regularly stymied by the “core” fanbase of gamers who perceive any critique of their subculture as a personal affront, one requiring not merely a retort, but retaliation. It is this childish mindset that prohibits many gamers from perceiving what is and isn’t fair game in a discussion.
In case they need it spelled out, the number of people someone has slept with isn’t fair game. Nor are weak gestures at legitimate issues when they operate as Trojan horses for gendered animosity. And until a sufficient number of community members digest that lesson, the remainder must accept that they will be judged alongside their brethren.
Don’t like it? Tell your brethren to knock that shit off.
Why GamerGate Won’t Succeed
The preceding should make it abundantly clear that the ostensible overarching goals of GamerGate have been entirely subverted by the muck and mire it crawled out from. The prevailing headline is not about any journalistic crisis in video gaming, as the GamerGate community has failed to provide any journalistic product that demonstrates inaccuracy linked to bias. Instead, the headline is about how gamers attempted to destroy a woman’s entire life (additionally targeting anyone in the blast radius for the sin of proximity) largely based on alleged crimes of gender.
(Again, #NotAllGamers is irrelevant. They were gamers. They came from the gaming community. They did it in the name of gaming. And they get away with it because of the nature of the gaming community’s prevailing subculture, which many gamers continue to defend in substance, if not in form. The community is culpable for what it births, and that culpability grows every time its member try to sweep the abuse under the rug.)
Whether or not you agree with the preceding capsule summary is irrelevant – that’s the headline. It’s the one that’s been carried from The Guardian to Time Magazine, with only a handful of low-level webzines and YouTube channels buying the GamerGate version of events. And every subsequent attempt to change the narrative has only collectively dug the community in deeper as it runs from one corner of the Internet to the next, desperate to avoid a mea culpa - to find something, anything, to exonerate it, instead of lifting a finger to try and help the people hurt by its own members.
This is the conduct of children. This is the conduct of screaming toddlers unable and/or unwilling to admit the extent to which they transgressed, desperately deflecting to purported issues of substance in the hopes that enough flailing and kicking will make everyone forget what got them in trouble in the first place. This is why gamers are infantilized – because they so often act like infants. And GamerGate won’t change this perception, because it’s an extension of that infantile aversion to responsibility.
Let’s not mince words: GamerGate is stillborn. It will not be salvaged by a public relations cleanup. No number of cute mascots or appeals to broader principle like censorship or journalistic integrity will negate the damage its members have done to their own cause, simply because the cause is not one of sincere origin. It would be as if the Ku Klux Klan (or a group that includes members thereof) tried to convince the public that their real concern is high levels of inner city crime created by low-income residents – knowing where the Klan came from, why wouldn’t their superficially legitimate concerns immediately be seen as suspect?
(A note for the slow: No, this is not to compare all gamers or GamerGate proponents to Klansmen. It is to say that the foundational movement of GamerGate, borne of The Zoe Post, is a heinous one, and the linkage between the two still manifests to the detriment of every single constructive element of the campaign’s current form.)
If gamers really want to make a positive impact on the perception and function of their community, they will get their priorities straight. The first goal should be to make sure what happened to Zoe Quinn can never happen again – at the very least, not on the appalling scale that it did. After that, maybe we can start to talk about those ”standards of conduct” that were curiously absent from GamerGate’s entire first act.
READ. THE. WHOLE. THING. #standwithzoe
I’ve said my piece about my personal life and that holds true. I have zero interest in ever discussing my sex or love life publicly on other people’s terms. If you want answers about the particulars of a game developer’s private romantic entanglements, please ask yourself why you feel entitled to such a thing. As far as I’m concerned, the only people who have any business in knowing these things are the people they actually effect - and my current partner is aware.
Professionally, I feel like there are some things I can easily address though, now that things have begun to calm down.
Regarding the claim that I have exchanged sex for positive reviews. This has been investigated and debunked, and oh right, the review in question doesn’t even exist. Anything else written by Nathan in 2014, before we started dating, in which I am vaguely, tangentially mentioned at all has been the same tone and coverage as everyone else who covered it. There is no corruption issue here - if there was, you’d think there’d be some talk of massive AAA companies flying out and wining and dining games journalists rather than discussion of Phil Fish’s relationships. (warning: all of these links are screenshots and there’s a small sampling of the smorgasbord of fucked up shit in them) It’s almost like this whole scandal only blew up for reasons other than "corruption".
Regarding the claim that I doxxed and destroyed The Fine Young Capitalists, that is also incorrect. You can read that here in their own words. I know that when things kick up online it can be hard to sort out who did what, but aside from their own statement, there is zero evidence of this. What I did do was be critical of some of their policies on twitter, because as someone who has taught women game design and created programs to help them get started making their first games I get really passionate about this stuff. We have different approaches but share the same wish to get women involved with game development, and I wish them the best of luck in accomplishing that. Rebel Jam is not one of these programs and was totally unrelated to anything having to do with TFYC and came as a reaction to everything that was wrong about Game_Jam - but I will have some really exciting things to announce soon about it that I’ve been holding in for a while until paperwork clears and red tape is cut. Stay tuned.
Regarding the claim that I am the head of a massive conspiracy that is able to censor and shut down all major games press sites, 4chan, reddit, and god knows what else, I WISH that was true. God how cool would that be? A shadowy overlord of the internet, who is also kind of a cyborg? Shit that would be a good story. But that’s all it is - a story. Occam’s razor is still a thing. What is more likely, the pulp story of a lone woman manipulating the entire internet or that maybe, JUST MAYBE, other people can recognize this for the TMZ style bullshit it really is?
If you have any further concerns about what I stand for or if my role in the industry has been one for the betterment of other people, despite releasing a game pushing back against the stigma of mental illness for free on the biggest digital distribution platform, creating guides and programs to make game development more accessible to people of traditionally discouraged backgrounds, standing up for the image of future of indie games even at risk of getting sued back into the stone age, fighting for a better games culture where developers don’t have to fear consumers, experimenting with new formats of distributing free games, helping organize queer-friendly game jams; then I encourage you to watch me in the coming months. I am going to continue trying to break down barriers and disrupt the culture that enabled the abuse I’ve endured from the last two weeks from ever happening to anyone ever again. No more Phil Fishes. No more Anita Sarkeesians. No more Zoe Quinns. No more of the less known, less extreme cases where we don’t even notice or hear the voices disappearing. No more developers living in fear, afraid to speak their minds, afraid to be people, wondering when they might be next. This has always been my MO, this will continue to be so. I am going to keep doing what I do, I’m going to keep being a human with all the flaws and moments of brilliance that come with that, and hopefully I can work towards these goals with some level of effectiveness.
Time to get back to work. I love you all.
Don’t just scroll past this. #standwithzoe
Recently there’s been a new outpouring of misogyny and hate from certain sections of the gaming community. There’s an excellent analysis of the events on this blog, if you’re not caught up. I was strongly affected by one of the tweets featured in that article, from game writer Lana Polansky:
It makes me incredibly angry to hear about women working in this industry that are being ground down by harassment and abuse. I’m not putting up with this anymore. I’m furious that these abusive people exist. I wish I had more influence to speak out against them. What I know I can do is provide some moral support to those who are making a larger difference. So instead of outright venting, I decided to write about how proud I am of the people in this community who are standing up to this abuse, and why I believe in the future of this medium.
I’m not a developer, but a professional in the video game music industry. I arrange music for piano and small ensembles. From just the few people I’ve met, I know that the VGM industry is full of wonderful people. You know why? Because the work we do is a celebration of one of the best aspects of the medium – the music. Video games are full of problematic elements, but the music is something we can all be proud of. We can take that aspect aside, shine a spotlight on it and marvel at it’s brilliance. No-one can stop anyone else from enjoying that experience.
But I don’t do this to go on a never-ending nostalgia trip. I do it to bring novelty to a genre of music that I love, and the in-game experiences they represent. When I say “novelty” I mean the literal definition: the quality of being new, original, or unusual. This is the quality that a medium needs to grow, and that an industry needs to survive.
All art (including games) exists so that we can experience novelty and enrich our lives with new experiences, no matter who we are. Novelty challenges us, not only in our fiction, but in the day-to-day narratives of our lives and societies. Through story-telling, we can create safe spaces to explore familiar and unfamiliar ideas, situations and lifestyles. Through gaming, we can create literal simulations to explore our humanity with an even deeper focus. Whether creating or consuming games (or any art for that matter), we build on a tradition of encouraging novelty, connecting people and ideas, and creating a more enlightened world for subsequent generations.
When artists, writers and musicians decide to project their passion for gaming through their own unique personal lens, we come across the most exciting questions and ideas. To present these ideas or demands, is to insist that the industry keeps striving towards newness, and to include as broad a spectrum of people as possible, so that everyone feels welcome, represented, and encouraged to add their own stories to the medium. In this way, the medium never stops growing, and the stories that gaming can tell become limitless.
Why wouldn’t you want that? Yet, some people want less novelty, and more familiarity, insisting that the same stories continue to be told - and to the same people, ie: “Jack Dudebro is back, only this time he can literally shoot stubble out his own face! Press R1 to fire stubble, press L1 to recharge your stubble by thinking about your murdered wife.” Like a child who asks for the same bedtime story night after night, familiarity is comforting, but never challenging (and eventually, plain boring). If games no longer seek novelty, in fact if any artistic medium is done telling new stories, then it may as well be dead.
Once a person becomes apathetic towards or even afraid of novelty, refuses to listen to new stories, and even shouts down and abuses people who want to tell new stories – then they are actively contributing towards the decline of the industry they love, contrary to their claims of being a “true fan”.
When someone asks “Why not have a female character here? Why not have more POC characters?” and your response is to wail about how “your” pasttime is being forced to change, let me remind you why we are asking those questions: because we believe in the future of this industry. It has more stories to tell.
So my advice is this: seek out novelty. It’s literally everywhere. There are a lot of bad people who are screaming, abusing, and threatening us. It’s important to challenge them, and to try and be louder than them. But when your efforts leave you exhausted and defeated (and I can’t imagine how much willpower is required if you are a woman under their scrutiny), just take some time to look at some fanart, listen to a musical arrangement, or read an email from a fan. Individually, these are small things, but together they form the beating heart of this community. Recharge your mind by reminding yourself of how many wonderful people believe in the life and future of this industry. I’m proud to know so many of them.
Don’t give up!
sengav said: Whats your thoughts on the whole Zoe Quinn thing
Officially, we stand with Zoe Quinn. It is our position that her personal life has nothing to do with her as a game developer. Allegations from her ex-boyfriend has nothing to do with games like Depression Quest and thus, this has nothing to do with our blog. Zoe Quinn has asked for her privacy to be respected and we are more than happy to do that. Her sexual history has nothing to do with gaming and the recent attacks on her for that is simply indicative of the misogyny that is rooted within gaming culture.
What’s happening to Zoe Quinn right now is fucking despicable. Fuck gamers, fuck video game culture. I want to burn it all to the ground and play my games in a vacuum.
This shitty sexist boys club needs to die a quick death. I hate how awful the people who share my hobbies are.
So let me get this straight. It is perfectly acceptable for JonTron to contribute to the abuse Zoe Quinn is suffering by sharing humiliating content of her with his thousands of followers and suggesting she’s too ugly or fucking whatever to cause a scandal, and for gamers in general to criticize women frequently for their physical appearance, but when I reciprocate and make one comment, ONE MEASLY COMMENT, I’m a DREADFUL human being who is UPHOLDING SOCIETY’S EMPHASIS ON BEAUTY. What double-standards? THERE ARE NOT DOUBLE-STANDARDS HERE DAMNIT. HOW DAR SUGGEST DOUBLE-STANDARDS. HOW DAR.
Oh and then people call me a cunt and criticize MY appearance whilst telling ME not to make “personal remarks”. Self-awareness. It’s a thing.
Here are the things that matter here:
1) A woman is being systematically abused, threatened and humiliated because of a post her ex-boyfriend wrote about her sex life that people are taking as fact. Nothing she could ever, ever do could warrant the abuse she is getting. EVER. That is the most important thing here.
2) Popular YouTube personalities are not addressing this, but instead suggesting she brought it on herself, because she was trying to “censor” criticism and is involved in “nepotism”. See my previous point. Even if she is guilty of ALL THE THINGS, it still does not warrant abuse, bullying, rape and death threats. It never, ever, ever will.
In JonTron’s case he is contributing to the harassment by sharing humiliating comics of Zoe and saying she’s “nothing to cause a twitter scandal over”. (If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out, Jon.)
3) JonTron ignored a tweet I sent criticizing his actions on this and instead retweeted the one I wrote in impetuous anger, intending to incite his followers to bully me into silence. Because he is cowardly. I am a young woman with 16 followers. He is a man with thousands and he can’t even face my actually very mild criticism of him. That’s pathetic, Jon. YOU are pathetic and cowardly. You victimize women. You are part of the problem. And if my mean comment about your face got you so upset, maybe you should consider another line of work.
He is actively contributing to people getting tormented and bullied. If he thinks he can just say things and that they won’t affect anything or incite aggression, check your fucking follower count and try again. You are being followed by some nasty, aggressive people, Jon. You’re pretty ignorant if you don’t think they will leech off of every bully-enabling action you make.
4) A WOMAN IS BEING THREATENED WITH RAPE AND MURDER.
Things that do not matter here:
1) I got angry and made a mean comment about JonTron’s face.
Get it yet?
Anonymous said: I hate the whole "she slept her way to the top" when it comes to women in positions of power. ALOT of people truly believe this. There's usually at least one comment to that effect on any article involving a woman with alot of success. People like to pretend that they know what that person is doing with their sex life so that they don't have to feel intimidated by women who are already better then them. Thank you for shutting that shit down fast. She doesn't deserve the shit she's getting at all
I know. It’s always straight to that whenever a well-known woman’s sex life is discussed. People have sex with each other, and it’s usually with people the spend a lot of time with. Workplace romances are so common. Do you have any idea how many journalists are married to politicians? But they’re acting like this thing with Zoe is threatening their very way of life. Please.
Today is brought to you by the experience of waking up grimly certain that if the genders were reversed in the Zoe Quinn “scandal,” the headline would not be “dude trades sex for reviews,” but “lady trades sex for scoop.”
Anyone who thinks this story is about integrity and not punishing women for their presence is fucking delusional.