#Gamergate the Card Game (play example).

SJW1To start with, both players draw their hand of cards. This is all too typical of card games I know, but sometimes the old mechanics are the best ones, whether it’s progressing through a level by shooting people in the face or drawing cards.

In my test game for this write up, the Social Justice Warrior team didn’t draw any Ethics Breaches in their first hand – strange, as they never seem short of some new miscreant behaviour in real life. Anyway, with no Ethics Breaches to hand their first set of cards are discarded and they draw again.

This time they do draw an Ethics Breach and so the game can start.

The SJW team always goes first. Since there’s no Ethics Breaches in play and they have one, they have to play it out for their normal action. However, you can also play any number of Action cards, whenever it makes sense to do so and the SJW player has a doozy of a card toSJW31play.

First they play their Ethics Breach – The Chloe Post (Not actually anything to do with Gamergate, still, people insist). Then they play Pox Prime (From schlonghounds to diversity lounges, how the mighty have fallen), a big convention that distracts all the misogynerds, giving the Social Justice Warriors a second turn straight away. Gamergate aren’t going to get a turn yet, since they’re all too busy frotting cosplayers and failing to wash, so the Social Justice Warrior player has an opportunity to bolster their defences.

The SJW player starts their second turn by redrawing their hand back up to five cards.

Now they need to bolster the defences of their Ethics Breach. The best Defender they have to hand is a Corrupt Moderator (Can’t have a discussion if I don’t allow you to discuss, therefore I win!) so they play that. Raising the scores of the Ethics Breach to:

SJW13   Corruption 5
Outrage 7
Bullshit 6

Now Gamergate finally gets a turn.

Gamergate needs to beat all three scores to win this Ethics Breach, nothing less than total victory will do, but right now the priority is beating any single score to buy themselves a little time. About the only card they have that will do this at the moment is Cicero Everybodypeeps (In his honour they renamed it the gayro) who has a really high anti-corruption score. So they play him out. The floppy haired journalistic Spartan begins his fabulous journalistic investigation.

The scoring turn follows.

The SJWs are currently scoring:
GG1   Corruption 5
Outrage 7
Bullshit 6

Gamergate are currently scoring:
Corruption 7
Outrage 1
Bullshit 1

The Breach can’t rotate backwards more than being upright (this is how you track who is winning), so it doesn’t move for the Corruption issue, but the SJWs are beating Gamergate on Outrage and Bullshit so The Chloe Post rotates 180 degrees to be upside down. Halfway to being gotten away with!

SJW5The SJWs start their new turn by drawing their hand back up to five.

They have drawn ‘Dox‘, a powerful card that can knock an enemy card completely out of the game, with no penalty (It’s OK when they do it). However, the best tactic here is to bolster defences as well as unleashing an attack.

First they play Literally Woo on the Ethics Breach (Driven from their home, by courtesy car, to a TV studio). This raises the scores to:

Corruption 6
Outrage 9
Bullshit 7.

That’s not an end to it though. They also play Dox on Cicero Everybodypeeps, taking him outSJW18of the game completely. Syringes full of mystery fluid and being buried in mountains of toilet paper will do that.

Gamergate starts this turn in deep shit. They have no Attackers on the Ethics Breach and it’ll be scored next turn if they can’t stop it. The enemy will get away with it and no amount of ‘pesky kids’ will stop that happening.

None of the cards they have can even equal a score to delay things. The best move is a desperate card draw, hoping its a good action.

It isn’t.

With no Attackers to contend with and with a Corrupt Moderator and Literally Woo pushing the agenda, The Chloe Post rotates all the way back around to its starting position. They got away with it and it’s scored for the SJW side!

The game of Lolcats and three-button mouse continues with the forces of evil in the lead.

Here’s a couple more preview cards.

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#Gamergate – Escapist/Desborough Interview Disclosure

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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.

***

UPDATE

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
THE ESCAPIST STAFF | 10 OCTOBER 2014 5:30 PM

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.

UPDATE

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.

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#Gamergate MCV? SFW

Oof

Social Justice, the white man’s burden.

So I was linked to this article in MCV regarding the ‘aftermath’ of #Gamergate (which is still ongoing by the way, and Intel just pulled advertising from Gamasutra in response, so there’s that).

In reading it, one really has to wonder precisely what universe it is that the writers inhabit.

Matt Lees: It’s already caused people to loudly leave, and we’ll see plenty more quietly shuffle off because of this in the next few months. Multiple events across a number of years have made one simple fact clear: success as a woman in the games industry will likely lead to severe harassment at some point. We’ve seen the media and a few studios stand up against this awful trend, but publishers need to have a stance on the matter – it’s an environment where vocal women can never feel safe. Who wouldn’t feel deterred by that?

What?

This isn’t what #gamergate is about, it’s never what #gamergate has been about. Even going back to Quinn’s sexcapades (which were never really people’s issue other than her poor boyfriend) gender had fuck all to do with it while manipulative and dishonest behaviour, up to and including collusion, corruption and nepotism, were.

EVERYONE gets harassment on the internet, regardless of race, sex, gender, height, weight, sexual proclivity, sexual activity, choice of hat and even regarding what games console they prefer. Various studies have shown that men get most of the harassment online [1], [2]. Studies such as these are, of course, flawed – as are the studies specifically into the abuse of women online, but they do challenge that dominant narrative. What definitely is different is the seriousness with which such abuse is taken depending on gender, both by the victim and by society at large.

Female journalists do seem to get more abuse – though less than male politicians – but perhaps this is because so many female journalists and bloggers online are presenting a contentious feminist (veering radical) viewpoint, rather than presenting more mainstream opinion and views. One would not be in the least bit surprised if, say, Laurie Penny got more abuse than Jon Snow, simply because of the nature of their content.

Anyway, the point is that this is an attempt – yet again – to reframe #gamergate as a misogynistic hate mob and to make the argument about claimed sexism, rather than about corruption, collusion, nepotism, censorship-by-other-means and the politicisation of games media. Of course, as such, it stands as just another example of the politicisation and corruption of games (and tech) media.

Matt Lees: So much of the ire aimed at the media boils down to a complete disdain for games journalists and a complete lack of any kind of trust. I don’t see any point in negotiating – anyone who thinks we’re scumbags and liars will never be convinced of anything otherwise. When dealing with people who have irrational beliefs about widespread conspiracies and corruption, you’ve got to be pragmatic about what you’re likely to gain from any conversation. 

The disdain for games journalists stems from their status as a) shills and b) political ideologues who put that agenda before serving their audience. Trust has been eroded to the point of non-existence with many sites while others who have negotiated, have talked, have acknowledged issues and taken steps have reaped the benefits of so doing. People certainly won’t be convinced you’re not scumbags and liars if you keep lying and being scumbags – as happened in this interview.

As to these ‘irrational’ beliefs? These beliefs about what has been going on are not irrational. It’s long been an open secret that AAA developers have been buying reviews and even seeding forums and social media with ‘positive bots’. It’s long been known also that AAA developers have been holding sites hostage, threatening to withdraw early access and review copies – and advertising – if they don’t stick to the script. What’s relatively new is discovering that the hectoring, lecturing, high-horse indie mob have been just as bad. DiGRA is an ‘open conspiracy‘ with the aim of ‘dismantling hegemonic masculinity’ amongst others. Yes, ‘conspiracy’ makes it sound stupid because we’ve all been dealing with crazy 9/11 ‘truthers’ since 2001, but in this case the evidence is damning, not to mention the leaked Gamejournopros mailing list content.

Own your shit.

Matt Lees: This movement has actually exacerbated a very real and present problem; too much games media is solely supported by advertisements from video game publishers. The advertising issue is also being hurt by the swarming nature of angry hate-mobs. People don’t want to advertise on websites filled with comments by scumbags, which is rough – because these people aren’t indicative of the actual audience, and often aren’t even a part of the audience at all. Unless something changes, the future of games journalism will either mean arriving with a thick suit of armour or explicitly avoiding all contentious topics.

I have an alternative hypothesis.

People don’t want to advertise on websites that insult, denigrate and demonise the target audience they’re trying to reach and that audience doesn’t want to read websites that insult, denigrate and demonise them (other than the occasional masochist or guilt-ridden SocJus apparatchik).

How much cognitive dissonance do you need to still think the problem is the audience, while you’re hemorrhaging advertising dollars? How much cognitive dissonance do you need to think it’s about ‘contentious topics’ rather than spurious, politicised, unevidenced attempts to manipulate and guilt trip your audience?

Seriously.

Fuck this guy.

Keith Stuart: Anything that makes journalists assess how they operate is probably a good thing – even if there are utterly horrible aspects to the events of the last few months. Most major sites are doing okay – they understand their reader bases; they understand that alienating them will directly affect revenue eventually, and they behave accordingly. I honestly don’t understand the endgame of some of those in the Gamergate movement. If you don’t like sites, don’t read them – set up alternatives. Maybe that – a lot more game sites – will be the outcome. I hope so, because that would be something positive, and lord knows we need some positivity right now.

But you’re not reassessing Keith, you’re doubling and tripling down. You’re digging a deeper grave for yourself day by day. If sites are continuing to employ people Like Matt Lees or Leigh Alexander, who clearly don’t give two tugs of a dead dog’s cock for the audience, the medium or the games, then they don’t understand their reader bases.

The endgame of #gamergate?

I think it’ll continue to be a long battle but I envision the endgame being something like:

  • Better ethics in games journalism (declared CoI, open about biases, editorialising limited to editorials).
  • Preservation of free expression (SJW journos and activists have been trying to do an end-run around forcing censorship via legal means).
  • A change in the landscape of games reporting, with other sites becoming more prominent.

I also hope that, as a result of this consumer revolution, we see a rollback of SJW and activist influence over tabletop games, art, SF&F, film, cinema etc and a greater acceptance of a diverse range of content, including things that are ‘problematic’.

SJWs and activists should ‘Fuck off and make their own shit’ rather than trying to co-opt the pastimes and hobbies of others.

That seems a worthy endgame to me. Greater ethics, greater diversity, whining activists putting their money where their mouth is.