The 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.
He 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.