#Gamergate – End Game & Olive Branch

olive-branch-wallpaperIt’s time to bring this home, but neither side is talking to the other and that’s a problem.

Whether you think people are faking or not, there have been suicidal thoughts and feelings of being threatened over this conflict because it is so inexorably linked to people’s identities. I have been loath to use my own self-destructive episode to aid Gamergate but I have also seen that the other side has dominated and diverted the conversation with a narrative of abuse that, contrary to the media image, is not one sided.

We have to get some sort of resolution before someone is driven over the edge.

I’m writing this before I leave for the USA on a break and I’m scheduling it to drop on Saturday.

What I would like is for some of the more reasonable people on both sides to get in touch and begin to try to find acceptable, reasonable solutions to Gamergate issues and the broader issues for which Gamergate has been a proxy war.

I’ve had a shock, I think others have too and I think shared pain is an opportunity to at least open a useful conversation.

My email is grim@postmort.demon.co.uk

Please reshare this, pass it on to people from the opposition who seem reasonable and to people on the Gamergate side who seem reasonable. Ask them to pass it on to others and let’s try to find people from both sides that can create a blueprint for the future.

I don’t know whether this will work or not, but it seems to be worth at least trying.

Stripped of the context and battle-lines I think there are less differences than people think and I don’t think anyone, really, can credibly say they’re against ethical journalism.

There’s a chance for conversation.

Let’s give it a try.

Gor – A Quick Sneak Peak

I am off and away for a week and a bit, so while I’m off taking a much needed break, here’s a sneak peak at some idea sketches for the second cover.


#RPG – Soooooon…

While I rest amd recover, let’s show off some cool things.

First, a mock up of a possible/likely configuration of the first Gor cover, with completed art.


Second, a glorious cover for an OSR project, thanks to the efforts of the man, the artist, the legend, that is Gary Chalk.


#Gamergate – Gettin’ Ettin’

horseshitSA Goon, troll, harasser and RPGnet moderator (yeah, I know) Ettin, just published a hit-piece about me on Tumblr (yeah, Tumblr, I know).

All of his accusations and nonsense have been answered before and ‘SA Goon’ should have told you all you need to know. He’s a person who has built up a reputation along with other trolls who have been made RPGnet moderators for hurling abuse at other tabletop gamers and hiding behind the shield of ‘social justice’ – but you know that story.

Here’s the link.

Now, given that I’ve been dealing with this same bullshit for years now, I’d rather not do it again. The refutations remain the same, yet the arguments don’t change, so all I can do is repeat myself ad infinitum. Still, since there are large numbers of new people being introduced to me through this frankly libelous slant I guess I’d better.

As you probably already know, Desborough is an indie tabletop RPG designer who gave an interview about Gamergate to the Escapist recently. They removed it after receiving evidence that he’d harassed people. That should tell you what you need to know, but let’s keep going.

I have not – to my knowledge – harassed anyone but it’s a little hard to tell given that SJWs (yes, I know it’s not a perfect term but it’s what we have to work with) set the bar for harassment so low. Maybe I replied to someone on Twitter, mentioned a troll by name or stare-raped someone by looking at their Imgur, I have no idea. Nor have I been informed why the interview was removed, nor was I warned or consulted or asked to give my side. So basically, I have no idea what’s going on but this would be one of the problems with SJWs. They think accusation is enough.

Nymphology, a joke Dungeons & Dragons supplement about sex magic that uses sexual violence as a punchline.


I’ve talked about this before but the frustation was that I really wanted to come at this book with a more serious examination, but the publisher wanted comedy. I ended up with something that still had undertones of the thought ‘what would the world of sex really be like if magic was real’ along with knob jokes. I do know that some people saw the more serious side and applied it in online roleplay, many of them women.

The Slayer’s Guide To Female Gamers, another joke book about women gamers which mostly repeats the same “females are mysterious and manipulate men with their insidious boobie powers” joke endlessly. (Here’s a sample.)

What people don’t seem to get here is that ‘The Slayer’s Guide to Female Gamers’ wasn’t about women gamers at all, but about the very tired jokes and ‘women as other’ nonsense that has long been (erroneously) passed around geek culture. Women were big buyers of this and the copies I signed were mostly for women. If Suey Park is any measure, these people are tone-deaf to satire.

Hentacle, a card game about tentacle rape

I have no real idea what the objection is here. Tentacle Rape as a genre is ridiculous, I made a ridiculous game about it. Kink shaming? Cultural imperialism against Japan? I don’t really know what his point is here but I’m not going to apologise for people’s kinks or pornography given that – as we’ve established – I’m a free expression advocate.

Privilege Check, another card game about mocking social justice activists and minorities, including body-positive folk and people of color.

Not quite (see satire comment above). Mocking social justice warriors, yes, mocking minorities, no. Again, much like with the other things, I’ve had decent praise from people IN minorities for the game. Mixed race people or people of less obvious ethnic background especially loved the much presented ‘brown person’ card.

Recently, Desborough ran an Indiegogo for Chronicles of Gor, an RPG based on a universe where women are willing sex slaves.

Yes I did.

Gor is hugely popular with a great number of people, many of them women (seriously, check out some of the amazing stuff Second Life people – primarily women – are doing with Gor). It would be a huge disservice to those fans to ‘clean Gor up’ for anyone’s sensibilities, let alone those of the SJW ilk.

Ettin also makes my point for me. It’s fantasy. Not reality. Some people seem to have an issue telling the difference.

As to The Escapist and Macris helping fund me, you can find all the info on that and why it’s not an instance of corruption like the instances gamergate is against HERE.

Desborough explicitly doesn’t describe himself as a feminist because he’s a vocal men’s rights activist. Page through his blog (don’t actually do this) and you’ll find he claims that patriarchy and rape culture don’t exist, calls male feminists “quislings”, and quotes Christina Hoff Sommers. He appeared on al-Jazeera to discuss #NotAllMen and downplays connections between Elliot Rodger and MRAs. He once told someone “at least I haven’t cut my dick off as a sacrifice to Athena”. People accusing him of misogyny are just trolls and social justice warriors, though.

Not exactly. I’m an egalitarian who has been pushed towards the MHRA side of things by – amongst other things – the censorious and authoritarian nature of SJWs. Not to mention their tactic – as we see with Ettin’s post – of smearing people they don’t like. So attacks like this only reaffirm that I have been making the right life choices.

No I don’t believe in patriarchy and when people say it I hear ‘Invisible space lizards’. Patriarchy is a concept associated with radical feminism, and is pretty ‘out there’.

No, I don’t believe we live in a rape culture here in the west. I do, however, believe there are ‘rape subcultures’ (often surrounding sport in the US) and that genuine rape cultures exist in places like Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh. THIS is a rape culture. Our culture condemns rape, imprisons people for rape and even false or unproven accusations have huge social impact for the accused. To describe western nations as rape cultures is, then, laughable.

You may disagree with me on these, but smearing is not putting forth a rational argument or trying to change my mind.

‘Quisling’ is obvious hyperbole and that’s all the reply it deserves.

CH Sommers is ‘based’ and an egalitarian feminist. So why wouldn’t I quote her? She talks sense on some issues and less on others.

Yes, I appeared on Al Jazeera because I’d been active on the hashtag debunking the BS (repeated here) that Elliot Rodger was connected with MRAs or the PUA community. I have my issues with both communities, but I’m not going to stand idly by while they’re smeared with the actions of a murderer, any more than I’m going to stand by now while Gamers are smeared with the actions of sociopathic trolls.

Yes I said that in a fit of anger. Don’t tone police me. 😛

Yes, people accusing me of misogyny are trolls and SJWs. Misogyny is the hatred of women. I do not hate women.

End of.

By “biological realist”, Desborough means “transphobe with a dictionary”. It means he believes trans people aren’t the gender they say they are. Don’t worry, though — while he used to refuse to “indulge” trans people by not misgendering them, these days he’ll magnanimously use proper pronouns while insisting that you’re wrong and “can’t change reality or what I know”.

Nope. I mean biological realist. Let me click my brain over and use SJW terminology for a moment, even though I disagree with it and prefer to use biological terminology.

What it means is that no matter how much I respect your choice and personal feelings to present and live as whatever gender you happen to believe yourself to be, you are not and you never will be the other sex. I feel bad for you, I feel sorry for you, but my empathy and understanding cannot override the facts of the matter.

Nobody is going to be able to persuade me otherwise, any more than they would be able to convince me that gravity is because of goblins.

Accepting you as you want to be, while understanding that the reality of the matter (biologically) is something different should be acceptable, surely?

Desborough really wants people to think he’s got the intellectual high ground. He presents himself as “rational” while comparing his critics to religious extremists, relating everything to his deep and incredibly boring struggle as an atheist. When he wants to defend his rapey RPGs he says “it’s not real”, like everybody didn’t already know that.

If everybody knows that, why do they keep complaining and acting as though it is real? Yes, I compare my critics to religious extremists because, well, see above about biology versus feels.

When he tells trans people that science is on his side, he compares them to creationists. When he describes Goobergate with an analogy, he places himself in a position of authority as a teacher and compares people attacking him to “Nation of Islam extremists”. Even when pretends to engage his critics with a reasonable discussion he can’t resist giving his detractors a silly nickname to imply that he’s the calm and rational one.


What Desborough doesn’t get is that good satire punches up, not down — and if Desborough actually thinks he’s punching up when he takes shots at women and “brown people”, as Jonathan Swift once said: lmao.

What these people don’t get, is satire. Again, reference Suey Park.

When he’s not doing that, Desborough rails against censorship. The most devious form of censorship at all, in fact: Criticism. He’ll tell anyone who will listen (you laugh, but the Escapist did) that he’s constantly being bullied simply for defending his right to free speech, rather than building a career out of demeaning women. Both the Escapist and Goobergate were buttered up with tales of abuse, censorship, and “moral panic” so bad that he struggles to find work; of course it’s all the fault of “the crazies”, and not because he’s the kind of person who wants to make a Gor RPG. To him, freedom of speech means freedom from consequences, and Goobergate is a struggle against moralising censors rather than a hate campaign so ridiculous even the Daily Mail sees it.

I begin to suspect that SJWs have a very different concept of the term ‘censorship’ to that of other people. I think they mean some sort of combination of ‘critical theory’ and ‘literary criticism’ rather than, you know actual, criticism. “The analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.” To me free expression means not being hounded, lambasted on the basis of nothing, silenced by false accusations of harassment and rape apologia… you know, the kind of stuff in Ettin’s post.

Despite railing against harassment when it’s convenient for him, Desborough is incredibly dismissive of threats against women. He posts comics about feminist robots who cry rape and responds to news of women receiving rape and death threats with “Yes, that’s terrible, but can we talk about Goobergate?”. Before Goobergate, when his fans sent a critic rape threats and announced that she didn’t “deserve consent”, his response was to shrug it off with “I’m sure she knows they’re not genuine threats”. (Hot tip: Harassment is awful no matter who is getting it, and Desborough has, but using that as a weapon to encourage women to be silent and demand to talk about what some dweebs think about game journalism instead isn’t the answer.)

I think there’s a big difference between some anonymous twonk on the internet saying something vile and someone who actually has a face, profile, media platform or whatever else and doesn’t feel the need to hide trying to destroy people’s careers and reputations. As someone who has been on the receiving end of threats myself I know that they’re bad, but I also know that they’re spurious. One side (net experienced and not seeking to get mileage out of threats) plays them down or ignores them, the other side plays them up.

Gamergate is not about threats, has received threats, has constantly policed and called out harassment, contacted authorities, helped trace the person making threats to Anita Sarkeesian… yet the false narrative continues to be spread. That’s why I say ‘Yes, threats are awful, but can we talk about Gamergate now?’ We’ve been talking about trolling and women in tech for some time already, Gamergate isn’t even remotely about that… heck, you know what, I’ll let the ladies talk FOR ME.

Before the Escapist removed his article, he went out of his way to list “SJW” designers in the community so goobers could go after them. He also has a list of people who disagree with him that he distributes to his Goobergate followers. This is what happens when you downplay harassment instead of trying to remove it. (If the Escapist removed the article over something else, I’m not aware of it.)

In answer to a question I listed some people and companies as examples that the issue was also deeply rooted in tabletop games. I fail to see what the problem is there, given I get mentioned a great deal, unfairly as a ‘problem person’. I do indeed have a list of people who are ‘crazy SJW idiots’ called ‘Room 101’. It’s people I block but can then use the list to keep an eye on to see what the ‘social justice panic of the day’ is about. I didn’t share it with anyone until nonsense about it being an ‘enemies list’ and me supposedly sharing it began to be put about. So I then shared it. After all, you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

Desborough once wrote an article titled “In Defence Of Rape”, defending the use of rape as a “fucking awesome” element in fiction. (My understanding is it was a “response” to a much better post by Chuck Wendig.) Rather than break it down, I’m just gonna link to Mightygodking’s response and point out that if you’re going to talk about rape as a plot device, opening with a self-admitted clickbait title and comments about “pompous outrage”, writing asides suggesting evidence of rape culture is “spurious” and comparing people who talk about it to Jack Chick, writing a follow-up post that falsely compares it to murder and tells people to “grow up”, and being James fuckin’ Desborough are all bad ideas.

You could have stopped at ‘defending the use of rape as an element in fiction’, because that’s what it’s about. If you disagree with free expression, you’re my enemy.

That should tell you everything you need to know right there, and oh my god I am so done.

Yes, it should.

As you can clearly see, Ettin’s post is yet another example of the cherry-picking, abuse, harassment and misrepresentation I’ve consistently gotten. You would think this material, much of it rather old, were the only things I’d ever written.

Far from it.

If you feel like being supportive, links to places you can buy my stuff should be in the side bar.

#Gamergate – Escapist/Desborough Interview Disclosure


TL;DR – Yes Alex backed my project. No it doesn’t breach their ethical policy. No it doesn’t compare to Gamergate’s complaints. Yes I think they should have disclosed. I asked them to but I defer to their decision.

So Alexander Macris is getting some flak from people who are anti-gamergate because they think he has violated the same ethics issues Gamergate has been about by me being interviewed for The Escapist.

Let me say from the first that I agree there should be a disclosure in the item. Not because anything that happened was wrong, unlike in the cases Gamergate is upset about, but simply because in the current atmosphere things need to be whiter than white.

Full disclosure, I know Alex – at least online – and we have ‘shot the shit’ some of these issues for a while. I think The Escapist is one of the few sites that has treated Gamergate remotely fairly in allowing discussion and in showing all sides of the argument. They also revised their ethics policy and fully disclosed it and have otherwise done a lot of things worthy of praise and support.

Here’s the relevant part of The Escapist Ethical Policy:

Site staff are permitted to contribute to crowdfunding campaigns and subscription services like Patreon. If editorial content is derived from these contributions, disclose the contribution. However, staff may not create content surrounding a crowdfunding effort if they are a contributor to the effort, and the effort will not be funded if it fails to reach its goals.

The crux of the matter is ‘editorial content’.

The interview was not about the project, Alex had no byline in the interview – I think it’s Greg who has been managing the interviews on the site. The interview does not support or promote the project – which has closed in any case.

The things that Gamergate has been concerned by are explicated in the ethics policy quote above. Specifically:

  • Editorial content derived from contributions.
  • Creating content surrounding a crowdfunding effort (if they contribute).

The instances Gamergate were pissed off about were cases where people in positions of power were promoting individuals that they patreoned or projects that were underway. Places were the conflicts of interest were obvious and massive, once you understood the relationships involved.

My interview is one of many, providing a variety of views and does not promote my project – which closed out successfully by the time this came out anyway.

Still, I felt it should be disclosed because of the kind of attention everything is getting.

TL;DR – Yes Alex backed my project. No it doesn’t breach their ethical policy. No it doesn’t compare to Gamergate’s complaints. Yes I think they should have disclosed. I asked them to but I defer to their decision.

There’s another couple of side issues here.

1. They misrepresent Gor and what they say amounts to failing to understand the difference between reality and fantasy and kink-shaming. In a world where 50 Shades of Grey is a bestseller (despite being awful) I don’t think it’s safe ground to point and laugh at people’s BDSM fantasies.

2. The following is the extent of my involvement in the ‘Burgers and Fries’ IRC channel, an open channel that I clicked on to try and find out more about what was going on:

Sep 04 14.47.48 *	grimachu (cgiirc@Rizon-4B2EF135.demon.co.uk) has joined #burgersandfries
Sep 04 14.49.00 <grimachu>	Yeah, that's been problematic for me as a far left lib, but these people aren't any sort of left/lib I'd recognise.
Sep 04 14.49.27 <grimachu>	Is that streaming anywhere Noire?
Sep 04 14.50.01 <grimachu>	Ta.
Sep 04 14.59.23 *	grimachu has quit (Quit: http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client)

3. Also, for the record. I said good things about Depression Quest, used to follow Zoe Quinn, I donated money when she was mugged. I regret this now, due to her actions. Not the configuration of her chromosomes. As a sufferer from depression myself I thought it was a good thing, sadly, made by a person who it turns out is not good.

If you want any more clarification, detail or explanation, please leave a comment.



The interview has since been removed, apparently for ‘harassment towards Escapist contributors’. I have no idea why, and have no idea who I might have ‘harassed’ (though the bar these days is set so low it could be anything).

James Desborough GamerGate Interview

James “Grim” Desborough is a game designer, author and blogger who has worked primarily on role-playing games, as well as card games, board games and social computer games. He won an Origins Award in 2001 and has been a pundit on men’s issues. Follow him on twitter @Grimachu. We interviewed Mr. Desborough over email.

Have any public comments by you about GamerGate triggered or abuse or harassment from games or game journalists? If so, please share what you deem appropriate.

I’ve been shocked by the contempt many games journalists seem to hold for their audience and my comments have met with some hostility. I haven’t paid that much attention to the “who” and the “where” and have tried to follow my own best advice and ignore it. A lot of it comes from people who aren’t anonymous trolls or new accounts though and that-to me-is the striking difference between the #GamerGate side and whatever you might call the opposition. There are trolls on all sides, but the ones that are public about the abuse, name calling etc., certainly seem to be more on the anti-GamerGate side.

Gamer Gate Harrassment has been doing a good job of logging a tiny a portion of the abuse.

Some developers have reported to me that they are being blacklisted or stonewalled by journalists over comments they’ve made relating to #GamerGate or similar issues. Have you experienced anything similar?

Tabletop gaming has been undergoing similar upheavals, but without anything like as much opposition. These kinds of arguments can be two-edged in that notoriety can bring money and attention to your projects in the short term but can make people unwilling to work with you in the longer term.

I have had to operate under a pen name on occasion because of the faux controversy and hatred directed towards me, other creators have not wanted to work with me not because they disagree with me necessarily or don’t want to work with me, but because they’re afraid of – and I quote – “The crazies.” From my point of view the harassment issue – as is reported in the media – is 180 degrees from what really goes on, but then the media is often in on the harassment.

I’ve also had interviews evaporate or it has taken weeks longer than necessary to talk to the right people. That’s either disorganization or, well, something else.

What does being blacklisted or stonewalled mean?

It makes it harder to get work, harder to get exposure. If you’re not part of a larger company that makes promotion of your material more difficult and it makes it hard to be part of the conversation. A very one-sided and caricatured ‘debate’ tends to appear in the press so the other side of these arguments doesn’t get as much airing.

How was the blacklisting or stonewalling communicated to you? How did you find out?

It wasn’t. I found out via friends or doing a little digging and prodding.

Did they give a reason for your blacklisting/stonewalling?

The aforementioned issue of ‘The crazies’ – or similar – has been brought up several times. The article I wrote defending the use of unpleasant tropes in stories (rape in particular) has been cited a few times. Rather absurd to be living in a world where fictional bad things happening to fictional people has such an impact in life.

What do you expect the consequences of this to be?

It just makes everything that little bit harder, but it also makes the fight more important. On a broader scale I think the right to free expression is being severely curtailed both by this atmosphere of slacktivist orthodoxy and by issues around private ownership of communications media.

Do you know of any developers who have been silenced or self-silenced by concerns of how gamers or journalists will react to their opinion of GamerGate?

There are plenty who hold their tongues over issues like this, and this in particular, out of a sense of self-preservation. I think they really should stand up for their consumers and community though. It just goes to show how bad things have gotten if they don’t feel they can actually side with their fans.

Have you ever been subjected to criticism of misogyny, racism, or similar because of your actual game development or other work in the industry?

Yes, though it doesn’t take much to be accused of misogyny these days. Merely disagreeing with someone who happens to be a woman seems to be enough. It’s a form of apophenia [editor: the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data] in my opinion. You go looking for something to be offended by and you’ll find it.

Are there particular articles, journalists, sites, or communities that are considered particularly egregious in their criticism by developers?

RPGnet, Yourdungeonissuck, http://wouldyouagreethat.tumblr.com/. In the tabletop RPG community much of the ‘social justice’ criticism comes from the developers and writers themselves, such Tablehop (a known troll and abuser) with a definite split which, again, is related to certain indies. Evil Hat are quite ‘SJW’ish, the Eclipse Phase people famously banned ‘MRAs’ from their site, without really defining what one was exactly. Machine Age Productions actually do a good thing in that they make their own games, but they spoil it by slagging off and hating anyone and everyone that doesn’t share their views.

Some developers have reported that #GamerGate is a situation that has been brewing for years. Do you agree?

Absolutely. There’s a conflux of issues here coming together. The Indie scene was vulnerable to a particular kind of ‘social justice’ infiltration because it was smaller and dealing with the right kinds of subjects. Corruption in gaming journalism goes back almost as long as computer gaming, but the death of the magazines and the rise of the sites was supposed to make that better. Now it’s the turn of the YouTubers it seems, and sooner or later they’re going to have their scandals. The abuse and criticism directed towards ‘mainstream’ gaming (consoles, PC) has been building for years and many gamers have become heartily sick of everything they love being torn apart on dubious ideological bases. I think this was just the last straw that took them past questioning themselves.

When did the distrust begin?

Things have been going wrong since the 80s I reckon, but the ‘social justice warrior’ issue seems to have kicked into high gear around 2010.

What are the primary concerns that developers have, vis a vis the game press? Vis a vis gamers?

I want people to be able to make anything and for consumers to be able to buy anything. Whether that’s Gone Home or Battle Raper, I don’t care. When I read a game review I want to know about the graphics, the specs, the sound, the options, the game details. Not whether it ‘objectifies’ women (I can judge that for myself, thanks) or what Bell Hooks or Simone de Beauvoir might have had to say about the strip club level. As a writer and developer I want what I work on to be judged on its artistic (or fun) merits, not whether it conforms to a particular political orthodoxy. The game is what matters and it’s the game being reviewed. Not speculation about my private life or beliefs.

Are developers changing their interactions with the game press or gamers as a result of GamerGate?

I used to try and interact as much as possible, even with the haters, to try and understand where they were coming from. Not any more.

What could the press do to restore developers’ confidence that they will treat them fairly? What could gamers do to restore relations with developers?

The Escapist seems to have made the biggest step in adopting some professional guidelines. I’d like to see other sites doing that and I’d like to see opinion clearly marked as such and, perhaps, separated out from the ‘meat’ of a review so that those who are interested can read that and those who aren’t can skip it.

Gamers need to be conscious that any creative act is putting a part of yourself out on show and that they need to be twice as positive about the good things as they are negative about the bad things. Tell people what you like about their games, not just what you hate. #GamerGate has been heartening to me as a game maker, even in another field, because it shows that developers and writers aren’t alone in their frustrations.

Is there a perception of corruption among the game press? If so, is it primarily perceived as mercenary (pay to get a good review) or primarily ideological (toe the party line to get a good review) or something else?

There’s not that much money in game press, so I think it’s more ideological and unprofessional favors. That doesn’t make it any less worrying though.

Any other comments?

This whole thing is a tangled mess of issues and they, perhaps, need to be untangled. The Zoe Quinn issue was merely the spark, though recent questions have brought her – and Sarkeesian – back into focus. There were clear conflicts of interest there, even if nothing actually wrong was done. It’s not sufficient to be innocent when it comes to public opinion, you must also appear to be innocent.

From there concerns about DiGRA, IGF, Silverstring and a whole host of other issues with clear conflicts of interest have been found out. Both of these concerns tie in to existing worry about issues such as Colonial Marines and a dev at Gearbox essentially admitted biased coverage.

The SJW issue is one that impacts creativity as a whole and ties in via the indie games scene and a biased games media that has been pushing these particular agendas hard for years, not waiting for things to change organically – which they have been doing – and even heavily criticizing games that advance the form. I think, really, gamers’ patience has just run out.


The takedown message has been updated, and reveals that the interview was taken down merely on the basis of accusations. As a fan of logic and due process I find this unacceptable.


#Gamergate – #OperationFairAndBalanced

Here’s the video just shown on MSNBC. Obviously and blatantly it is utterly, utterly biased and launches a false narrative right from the start. It doesn’t get any better than there.

I encourage you to watch the video and then to contact MSNBC to complain.

Letters will be the most effective method but any and all complaints will be useful. With luck we may be able to get them to do a follow up show providing the #Gamergate side of the argument.

  • Be polite!
  • Focus on the bias.
  • Ask that the balance be redressed.

Contact Information

Twitter: @MSNBC
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msnbc
G+: https://plus.google.com/+msnbc/
Tumblr: http://msnbc.tumblr.com/
Email: contact.nbcnews@nbcuni.com
Phone: Phone: 1-212-664-4444
Address: NBC News, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10112

Also contact/CC Accuracy in Media:
4350 East West Highway
Suite 555
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: (202) 364-4401
Fax: (202) 364-4098
E-mail: info@aim.org

#Gamergate: Escapist, Interviews, Paranoia

1095f029d8ac-xlThe Escapist has interviewed a bunch of developers about #Gamergate, me amongst them – giving a slightly different perspective as a veteran of the troubles around erotica, fiction and tabletop games.

I was pleased, and relieved, to discover I wasn’t alone in seeing the kinds of things that have been going on as dangerous and unethical or, more broadly, the cultural censorship (culture war) that we seem to be in.

Greg Costikyan’s stance, however, is particularly disappointing. You would think that someone who wrote the Paranoia RPG would be more tuned in to the threats of McCarthy style witch hunts, part of what he was satirising in Paranoia. That he should succumb to this kind of paranoid, censorious groupthink is shocking.

It’s hard to see how someone who is supposedly an egalitarian feminist would hold such scorn for men’s rights as well, though sadly it’s not unusual. His characterisation of Gamergate is essentially one gigantic strawman, but sadly it’s a strawman that seems to have a lot of traction with people, even those that should know better.

As an RPG veteran Greg should know the dangers of these moral panics as (and I know I belabour this point) someone who lived through The Satanic Panic and Pat Pulling. As a veteran computer game developer the echoes of Jack Thompson in the ‘rape culture’ and ‘misogyny’ arguments should be setting alarm bells ringing but again, something weirdly seems to stop people seeing that this is the same old cycle.

SoggykneesHe conveniently ignore the doxxing, threats and other issues that Gamergate supporters have suffered, especially professionally. He thinks Anita Sarkeesian is a gamer, which is inexcusable ignorance at this point. He also fails to understand that many of these people are not building their alternative game culture on the back of FOAMYOS, but on attacking and denigrating the work of others, claiming it’s ‘problematic’ and organising, even duplicitously to distort presentations.

Then there’s the hopeless argument that ‘yes, there’s corruption’ and that ‘it’s worse elsewhere’, which doesn’t excuse anyone else’s corruption, especially amongst those claiming the moral high ground.

Sorry to pick on Greg, but of the people featured he feels most like a peer and he is the one I feel the deepest disappointment in for utterly failing to follow events – not to mention that ludicrous – and literal – white knighting he engaged in.

‘Misogyny’. Right Greg, couldn’t be anything to do with people being cunts, rather than having them.

#Gamergate: Attitude Polls

The Political Compass was a good way of having an immediate way to counter people’s claims that #Gamergate is a right wing, reactionary, conservative movement but arguments still persist. Arguments that Gamergate is about ‘bullying women’, or denying criticism (I know, hypocritical already) and all the rest.

I know some people see it that way and I know why they see it that way (because they’re being lied to constantly and because it plays into a pre-existing false narrative).

What I see is a movement that is finally standing up against censorship, politicisation and abuse from the very sources that are supposed to be acting in our interests as consumers. I see witch hunts dressed up as criticism, and then I see counter-criticism dressed up as witch hunts. I see people held up as not being accountable, I see the denial of conversations about the issues in favour of pronouncements. I see a line in the sand against this creeping malaise that has infested tabletop gaming, SF&F and many fandoms as a whole. ‘The long march through the nerd institutions’.

I continue to be disappointed in friends and coworkers, especially those who – like me – lived through and experienced previous moral panics in music and D&D, buying into this moral panic because it dresses up in the language of equality and fairness.

It’s my hunch that Gamergate is full of people who, like me, want to see more diversity, more mature plots, more experimental and artistic works, but don’t want everything to be forced to fit into a narrow, ideological, inoffensive pigeonhole. People who want art to be created by the creators, to their vision – whether singular or aggregate – without these kinds of interference, bullying, force, collusion and – yes – conspiracy.

Please answer the polls honestly, I know some people will try to distort them one way or the other, but still it might help to have something like the political compass results that we can point to.

For those who want to see more diversity, FOAMYOs.


Snapshot of results. Keep in mind it was an open poll based on accusations, so the questions were not well crafted and a troll presence was definitely there. Even so, I think it’s useful




Introducing FOAMY-OS, a REVOLUTION in Creativity & Inclusiveness!

#Gamergate – Three Things off My Chest


Return Advice to Zen of Design (I’m more of an ‘Asatru of Design’ person myself)

Since you took it upon yourself to give #gamergate unsolicited advice, allow me to do the same for your camp, it only seems fair.

Lacking a central organisation or any true leaders is what has helped make #gamergate work and has given it the authenticity and power that it has. It is a genuine, grassroots consumer and resistance movement, despite claims to the contrary. The ‘leaders’ are emergent, the cause of the moment is emergent and it lacks a ‘head’ to be attacked, silenced or harassed. These tactics, contrary to what many seem to think, are far more characteristic of the AGGros than GG itself.

On the other hand, the AGGros do have leadership and public figures who are, indeed, shaping the debate and even abusing their position to misrepresent Gamergate. That’s something that can be used to help move things forward, not that I think this is what will happen.

Gamergate is addressing actual wrong, a ‘cursory’ examination of the facts would actually reveal that. It has also managed to create change. Ethical standards have been re-prioritised, there have been shifts in policies. It may be too little too late, but the positive reaction The Escapist has created by re-examining the issue and allowing an open discussion has been enormous.

So, yeah, here’s what YOU should do:

  • Take #Gamergate seriously: Our concerns are real (to us). Our complaints are real (to us). We seriously want them addressed and we take them seriously.
  • Stop misrepresenting us: The mainstream media is now reporting, but they’re mostly taking their cues from games media pieces which are hit pieces and not representative or accurate. The more this happens, the more pissed off people are going to be.
  • Muzzle your hounds: The trolls of Gamergate are not representative and they’re anonymous throwaway accounts with no authority or cachet. First, stop takig them seriously, second, muzzle your own trolls. Not forever, free expression is important, but we can’t have a productive discussion with people like Phil Fish, Ben Kuchera, Laurie Penny, Amanda Marcotte and Leigh Alexander, Pixie Jenni and oh Klono’s beard and whiskers, so many others, constantly berating and abusing gamers. If you’re going to have secret lists and communications where you all get together to control the narrative, use it productively. Which brings me to…
  • Sack Up: If you can collude and cooperate to promote games and political agendas, collude and cooperate to shake off corruption. We all know AAA development studios bribe and threaten journos to control reviews and we know politicised groups like Silverstring and DiGRA are pressuring in their own way. Be professional, declare conflicts of interest and COLLUDE to provide honest and apolitical reviews. If you all do it, AAA devs have no way to get purchase on you and politicised groups can be rebuffed in the same way.
  • Apologise: AGGros have been misrepresenting, smearing, hating and harassing since day one – longer in fact, which is why this has been building up for a while. Apologise, on your sites, on your Twitter and Facebook accounts and engage fairly and openly with people
  • Stop Using the Word Misogyny: At this point its a joke, an empty noise. Stop invoking it like a magic word to deflect criticism and smear your opponents. It’s not working any more. While you’re at it a moratorium on ‘Shitlord’, ‘Pissbaby’, ‘Fedora’ and ‘Neckbeard’ would probably also be in order. At least learn what it means (hatred of women) before using it again.

What I see in #Gamergate

People keep asking me what I see in Gamergate and what I see is what we’ve failed to do in tabletop gaming, card and board games, comics and numerous other geek media as well as pornography, SF&F publishing and other arenas. That is, we have failed to even really try to resist the latest in a long line of moral panics that have attacked our hobbies and interests.

I call this censorship, some people baulk at the term because they seem to feel that it can only apply to a little man in an office somewhere, acting on behalf of the government. However, given that some on the AGGro side have taken to complaining that a boycott and letter writing campaign are censorship, perhaps their definitions are more flexible after all.

For what it’s worth I don’t particularly back organised boycotts and the attempt to strip away sponsors, precisely because I do view that as a form of censorship. I’d rather see things develop naturally. However, the hypocrisy and whining now that the censorship shoe is on the other foot, does piss me off.

Anyway, as points of comparison that I’ve brought up before.

In the 1950s Fredric Wertham:

Seduction of the Innocent described overt or covert depictions of violence, sex, drug use, and other adult fare within “crime comics”—a term Wertham used to describe not only the popular gangster/murder-oriented titles of the time but also superhero and horror comics as well—and asserted, based largely on undocumented anecdotes, that reading this material encouraged similar behavior in children.

In the 1980s, as part of the Satanic Panic, Pat Pulling:

Pulling formed B.A.D.D. after her son Irving committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest on June 9, 1982. Irving was an active D&D player, and she believed his suicide was directly related to the game. The grieving mother first filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her son’s high school principal, Robert A. Bracey III, holding him as responsible for what she claimed was a D&D curse placed upon her son’s character shortly before his death. She also filed suit against TSR, Inc., D&D’s publishers. She appeared on an episode of 60 Minutes which also featured Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons & Dragons, and which aired in 1985.

In the 1990s, as part of the general climate of fear around violence in video games, Jack Thompson:

Thompson has heavily criticized a number of video games and campaigned against their producers and distributors. His basic argument is that violent video games have repeatedly been used by teenagers as “murder simulators” to rehearse violent plans. He has pointed to alleged connections between such games and a number of school massacres. According to Thompson, “In every school shooting, we find that kids who pull the trigger are video gamers.”[38] Also, he claims that scientific studies show teenagers process the game environment differently from adults, leading to increased violence and copycat behavior.[39][40] According to Thompson, “If some wacked-out adult wants to spend his time playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, one has to wonder why he doesn’t get a life, but when it comes to kids, it has a demonstrable impact on their behavior and the development of the frontal lobes of their brain.”

There are other examples, such as the PMRC and there have been more modern attempts to claim things such as Harry Potter causing kids to turn to witchcraft or Pokemon being used to sneakily teach evolution to good Christian kids, but these stand – for me – as the big three examples.

The 1950s moral panic was about moralistic concerns of the time, though much of it is the same now other things are strikingly different. It was a concern that homosexuality, kids imitating what was shown in the comics (violence and horror). Less well known is that he also raised similar concerns to the modern moral panic – about the proportions and capabilities of female characters. Of course, Wertham’s concerns were shown to be absolute nonsense over time. No effect was shown, the moral panic he helped engender and sustain led to self-censorship – under duress – in the form of the Comics Code Authority which stifled and lessened diversity in the field for years.

The 1980s moral panic was in part due to the rise of the evangelical right in the USA and the increase in their influence over society and the government but also due to the ‘Satanic panic’. This was a witch hunt caused by – yet again – spurious claims about widespread cults of satanic occultists kidnapping children. Suddenly everything with occult symbolism was suspect and being blamed for anything and everything. Tarot cards, Ouija boards and Dungeons and Dragons. D&D was toned down, steps were taken to protect the hobby via the CARPGa and so it went on – and still does to some extent. Of course, the claims people made about D&D turned out to be absolute nonsense over time. No effect was shown. The moral panic and those who used it, however, led to a stigma that’s been hard to shake.

The moral panic of the 1990s seems almost laughable today, but a new generation of ‘realistic graphics’ and the real onset of the internet combined into a fuss which we’re still working through today. Concern about violence in games was more widespread than Thompson, but he became the poster child for it. Whether he genuinely believes in what he did or was purely exploiting the situation for notoriety and money we may never know, but the panic was real. Many of the more draconian game censorship rulings are in place from that time and, if I remember correctly, Australia’s are pretty bad. The Stick of Truth more recently had material censored, ridiculous given that (other than Mohammed) South Park has gone out without much restraint on television since it first aired.

In each of these instances there was resistance from within the community and the effects of the panic were blunted. In each case the moral panic came from outsiders. In each case we found out there was no basis to the moral panic and that people were reacting in an ill-informed manner.

Which brings us to today.

Today’s moral panic is a combination of anti-sex feminism and well-meaning ‘progressivism’. On the face of it the goals are all well and good, equality, diversity, representation but if you scratch beneath the surface you find a great deal of hatred, authoritarianism and speaking over and for the very people the panic is supposed to serve.

What’s different about this moral panic, unlike previous ones, is that the people within the pastimes and hobbies, especially in production and journalism, have bought into the hype. Why that should be I do not know, but like before there’s no actual substance to any of the fears and concerns of the lobbies involved. Games – and comics, and books and everything else swept up in this current panic – simply do not have as profound an effect on behaviour as people appear to like to think. It’s hard to discern that it has any effect on anyone whatsoever and the largest scale experiment we have – modern society since the 90s – at least suggests that there’s no massive, negative impact on society from any of this material. The hugely diverse gaming audience and the increasing diversity of games and fiction rather suggests there’s no need for this harassment driven and abusive push by the ‘social justice’ crowd.

What’s not clear is why people have bought into it this time and, as has become depressingly usual, there’s no evidence that any of the ill effects that they presume to take place – actually do.

Is it a desire to be seen as open and inclusive, being exploited to gut the very breadth of imagination and willingness to tackle hard subjects that marks out these hobbies and genres?

Is it genuine, but misguided, belief that forcing everything to be the same will somehow lead to a better world?

Do people really believe fiction cannot be a safe space to examine difficult ideas or to hold ideological and other principles up before the light?

Are people scared of being tarred and feathered for questioning the claims being made? After all, most of us are against sexism, racism and all other forms of discrimination and it is painful and nasty to be accused of being those things, even when you’re not, even when you’re just questioning some damn fool nonsense some idiot with an agenda to grind has said on Youtube.

What’s going on?

When games designers, games journalists, writers, artists, directors and creative people of all types are getting behind a policy of censorship and enforcement – across multiple media – something is wrong, and it’s not the media. Free expression is still a fundamental human rights and it is still the cornerstone of any and all artistic enterprises. Without free expression we have nothing.

So in this moral panic, across media but most notably, recently, in video games, I see the ghosts of moral panics past. Wertham, Pulling, Thompson and I worry that if we do not resist – as creators not just consumers – then we stand to lose a great deal. I am especially disappointed in fellow writers and designers who buy into this authoritarian, bullying, censorious agenda simply because it dresses itself up prettily as progressivism.

I think we have to resist. It’s possible to commit to BOTH progressive values and free (and ‘problematic’) expression. There’s no contradiction. To a ‘true’ liberal you can’t be progressive without free expression.

Is there a place for criticism? Yes, absolutely. Actual criticism that is. Dressing up your personal taste as a desperately important social issue is simply disingenuous and pointing and screaming like a pod person or subjecting any and all cultural artefacts to a once-over for deviation that would put Hopkins’ needle to shame is not it.

I don’t want to take these people seriously, but they’re dominating the discourse, bullying creators and bending the public narrative about games, fiction and art. It has to stop.

More on GG’s Politics

I forget who it was that said this, or quite how they phrased it, but it was something like:

“Every social justice warrior tweet on Gamergate creates a new, freshly minted conservative.”

That would be a desperate pity and it betrays a serious problem that gamer gate has, being either a) co-opted by a political group or b) being painted as being of a particular political slant.

Truth is, there’s people from all over participating in Gamergate, but there’s a strong concentration in the left/liberal side of things.

That’s not really that surprising, all things considered and it rather counters the myth that everyone in Gamergate is some kind of reactionary conservative. One need only look at #NotYourShield to see how diverse and inclusive Gamergate is. By and large everyone’s very much behind diversity, not against minorities of any kind.

They’re against corruption, nepotism, the politicisation of games and reviews and attempts to censor and control anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the ‘SJW’ extremist version of ‘progressive’.

Please don’t let the AGGros paint you as something you’re not. Resist it as hard as you would being called ‘misogynist’. Please don’t let others co-opt you into their political pigeonhole, whatever you really are or think of yourself as.

Meanwhile, here’s a really cool timeline.

Also, please go and vote here to help counter the false narrative being aggressively pursued by mainstream media and games journos.