#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