Famous words once uttered by the great Bill Hicks. He was talking about pornography in his skit that used that phrase and he was talking about the condemnation of pornography by the Supreme Court but you can apply that same question to… pretty much anything.
#Gamergate continues to rumble on. There’s been a few victories for transparency to reduce – or at least highlight – conflicts of interest and that’s been heartening to see (at least on the few websites where it has been brought forward). We’ve also seen a few people implicated in favouritism, conflicts of interest etc do the honourable thing and stand down or step away. This is all to the good and they should be lauded for doing the right thing, even if they did the wrong thing earlier.
On the other hand there’s been some downsides, including a lot of doubling-down, more hatred flung by developers and media at their audience and out and out admission of CoI and collusion at Gearbox. If I hadn’t made up my own mind already that I liked Borderlands, I’d be thinking again about now and considering not buying it. Certainly I’ll be thinking longer and harder in the future before they get my money and the same goes for a lot of devs who have come down on the side of collusion, conflict of interest and standing up for the wrong side.
What has beggared belief though is not only the devs but people I respect and public figures who should know better, coming down on the wrong side in this.
Why would Joss Whedon (actually, not that big of a fan of a lot of his work other than Firefly and Avengers – he ruined Xmen after Grant Morrison had made it interesting again) who has been both lauded and damned by the ‘social justice warriors’ side with a group that has given him such a hard time?
Why would Will Wheaton, who not so long ago really was called up and dragged through the wilder spaces of Tumblr for using the phrase ‘spirit animal’ side with the wrong people? The very same kind of people?
Why would Greg Costikyan, who wrote the Paranoia RPG – and therefore clearly knows a little something about McCarthyite witch-hunts, censorship and dystopian mind control – side with the wrong people and literally become a sexist white knight over the whole thing?
Why are so many people who were so skeptical over apparently feigned threats and attacks, accusations and clear examples of conflict of interest, so non-skeptical of a cherrypicked IRC log that may or may not be kosher?
Why is it that people who should know better, who have been targeted, who share folk memories of ‘video nasties’, ‘bothered about dungeons and dragons’, the Judas Priest trial, ‘murder simulators’ and all the rest would fall for exactly the same kind of bullshit this time around? Especially when it’s so obvious.
Still, all these people , people who should know better has been enough for me to go back and reassess, right from the beginning. So let’s apply ‘Hick’s Razor’ to each bit.
The initial spark came from an upset lover.
Yeah? And? So? What? Does that devalue the information or magically make it not mean anything? No, it does not. Many of the involved parties have admitted various aspects of it and even if we accept sex wasn’t traded for favours then it’s still an example of nepotism, conflict of interest and poor practice.
It makes no difference to Silverstring’s exposure, Gearbox’s admissions, the abuse flung out by gaming media, DiGRA, The Fine Young Capitalists, the nepotism at The Guardian, the issues with Leigh Alexander or anything else that has emerged since the initial scandal. It certainly makes no difference to the very long-running issues of extortion and bribery by large game publishers or the lack of ethics and professionalism in games journalism.
It’s slut-shaming! Sexism! Misogyny!!!!!11!!!!ONE!!!
Yeah? And? So? What? Only trolls are being slut-shamey and misogynistic because… well, that’s what trolls do to get a rise. There’s trolls attacking both ‘sides’ but there’s also your ‘social justice warriors’ attacking #gamergate people. Difference being that they mean it. What’s the difference between:
“2+2=4 you dumb bitch.”
The information is correct in both instances, the second one just happens to also include an insult. The fact that it contains an insult makes no odds to the actual meat of the point being made.
Sexism? Just because some of the targets of ire happen to be women? Isn’t it egalitarian to hold women to account in the same way as men? Not to treat them with kid gloves or to offer to ride to their rescue as a white knight? Isn’t it MORE sexist to presume women are helpless, fragile beings who need protecting and to buy any amount of BS from them simply because of the configuration of their chromosomes or their choice of gender expression?
Trolling is its own problem and one worth address – separately – as is the abuse and hatred from ‘SJWs’ and the gaming media, but it’s largely irrelevant here and a distraction.
It’s always been like this! It’ll never change! You can’t change it! It has to be like this to work!
Yeah? And? So? What?
Maybe, but shouldn’t we try to do better? Just… you know… try?
That or burn the whole thing down and listen to genuine fans instead of jaded, hipster, hacks.
It’s all a 4chan stunt!
Yeah? And? So? What?
Even if #gamergate and #notyourshield were originally orchestrated by 4chan – and I’m not convinced of that – they’ve taken on a life of their own and people are using them sincerely. 4chan has used this effect in the past to discredit people, by making up ridiculous stunts and hashtags that people have unwitting bought into and thereby been exposed as idiots (free bleeding anyone?).
In this case, however, people are genuinely standing up and saying to stop speaking for them. They are genuinely concerned about the journalist ethics of the major news sites and it has grown beyond any – presumed – stunt into something of its own.
#Gamergate remains about the same things it has been about at the start:
- Corruption, nepotism and conflicts of interest games journalism.
- Censorship of discussion and attempted censorship and pressure on content.
- Agenda driven reviews and clickbait.
Anyone telling you anything different is selling you something.