#GamerGate Does Not Seem to Understand Ethics Nearly As Well As It Thinks It Does

If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with #GamerGate (which I’ll be calling GG from here on). You’re also probably familiar with the usual criticisms thrown at it – that it’s pro-harassment, that it’s responsible for death threats, that it’s all white men having a temper tantrum.

(And seriously, can we stop with that last one? Even if #notyourshield was astroturfed at the start – and that’s a big if – it’s full of actual people. Stop denying these people’s identities, please!)

Those aren’t the criticisms I have for it.

Let’s start with a vague timeline, shall we? You’ll find a lot of attempts to re-write history here, with claims that GG started in response to the ‘Gamers are Over’ articles (the most notable example being Gamasutra’s by Leigh Alexander). But this is to deny its origins – the first use of the hashtag was by Adam Baldwin on August 28th, linking to two of the infamous Quinnspiracy videos. Whilst many people may have joined over those articles, GG was not a response to this. It was instead, a response to the claims made by Eron Gjoni about his ex-girlfriend.

I won’t be using the language of most of the media here – to call Eron jilted or the like is to be insensitive to those who read his post and see emotional abuse. Instead, let’s look at how the post was responded to. There’s an attempt by some of GG now to claim they cared about the emotional abuse aspect from the start – and I don’t doubt that for some of them, that’s true! But the fact that the post quickly became a meme (Five Guys) and the disdain often shown for Eron whilst discussing this highlights that for many, it wasn’t.


For a movement allegedly about journalistic ethics, it got off on the wrong foot – it put the emphasis on the developer, not the journalists. I suspect that’s because they know they had very little. You may still see people saying “but Nathan Grayson reviewed her game.” The problem is that he didn’t. He listed her game as one of fifty indie games over on Rock, Paper, Shotgun and he mentioned it again in a Kotaku article about a game jam. Neither of these are the reviews that many in GG claim.

Here’s my core issue with GG: it’s built on a lot of misinformation, and that misinformation is still getting passed around as fact.

Early on, GG got excited over claims of corruption in the IGF. Maya Kramer was accused of sleeping with the chairman to get an award for a game she did the PR for – The Stanley Parable. The fact this was an Audience Award seemed to be conveniently ignored.

People both want to say that Phil Fish must have hacked himself, but then use the financial records apparently gained through this hacking to “prove” something about the IGF. What this proves is very little. For instance, the claim “In 2012, FEZ gets through nominations and wins big. Of note here is the IGF anonymous nomination panel: all of the finalist judges are invited back to nominate games the following year. So the Indie Fund judges from 2011 would anonymously judge entrants for 2012,” (source) is fundamentally meaningless. There are hundreds of judges in the IGF. Eight or so would not be able to weight the votes so heavily. Especially when none of those who have financial interest were on the 2012 jury. And yet, the idea that the IGF was clearly corrupt and clearly rigged because of this floats around, unchecked.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun gets continually listed as a site that had a “gamers are dead” article written for it. It didn’t, it merely linked to one of the others. But knowing that would require fact-checking, right?

There’s more – DiGRA (the Digital Games Research Association) had some exceptionally strange claims made about it. There’s claims that they’re against peer-review, when in fact, that comes down to a few members talking the worth of it in a fishbowl discussion, in a manner very similar to others in academia do. There’s also claims that they’re funded by DARPA. They’re not, by the way. They once posted a job advertisement for a role that was – at a university. And yet still these myths float around the tag to be pulled out as though they’re worth something.

But enough of that for now. Let’s look at what GG has proven, shall we? The GameJournoPros list is the big one. Of course, ask GG to point to what actual collusion they’ve seen happen on there, and you’ll get very little beyond ‘they decided not to cover the Quinnspiracy stuff. This is barely a conspiracy. What’s more interesting is that the writers that wrote the notorious “gamers are over” articles are mostly not on that list. So the claims that those articles were co-ordinated via that list? Sorry, wrong.

Ethics? What Ethics?

Another key problem with GG is that many in it don’t have a grasp of journalistic ethics. Let’s take a look at an example that got big recently.




I criticized this – after all, this is not anti-corruption. This is encouraging corruption. Publishers being able to control the early coverage of their games is a huge deal, just take a look at the Shadow of Mordor issue from earlier this month. This “operation” is basically saying that blacklisting journalists who give lower scores (and since when is 7.5 a low score?) is okay. It’s also a bit weird, since apparently, the fact Polygon dissented from the common consensus on the game is a problem now – whereas, if anything, that shows a lack of collusion on their part!

But many in GG are no longer at a point where the actual ethics are something to consider. They’re at a point where anyone who disagrees with them is seen as an enemy of sorts. Because apparently, when someone like me (critical of GG from the start) says that this is a bad idea, what some of GG see is: “This is a great idea, because she disagrees.” Source/archive. This isn’t the behavior of a movement concerned with actually sorting out ethics. This is the behavior of a movement concerned with being right.

An important thing to remember about this “operation” is that it’s based in the idea that criticizing something from a cultural angle is bad. This is something many of GG believe. From the cries of cultural Marxism (which honestly, is just as big a buzzword as misogynerd now) to suggestions that reviews should just be about gameplay and nothing else, there’s a clear rejection of the idea that social critique has a role in reviews for some GG participants.

Social Critique is NOT Corruption

Throughout GG, I’ve undertaken a survey to find out what people want from reviews. Some of the answers highlight the above issue:

“Basically, a review that describes the game without involving the author’s personal opinion on it.”

“Focus on the gameplay and technical aspects, not the story and art style.”

“I mean that I want a game to be judged solely on its mechanics, story, immersiveness, strength of character and level of involvement, and judgement be based solely on that. Not whether a game is ‘problematic.’”

These are all totally valid things to want from a review – it’s okay to not care about social critique – but the inclusion of these things isn’t corruption. It’s just a style of review people don’t like. It’s also not unique to games journalism. Over the past two months, people keep linking me Roger Ebert’s little rule book for what they want from reviews. This seems to ignore the fact that Ebert frequently did call out films in the same way these journalists discuss games. As a brief example, here’s a quote from his review of the Flowers of War:

“One of the ancient ploys of the film industry is to make a film about non-white people and find a way, however convoluted, to tell it from the point of view of a white character … One of the last places you’d expect to see this practice is in a Chinese film … Now let me ask you: Can you think of any reason the character John Miller is needed to tell his story? Was any consideration given to the possibility of a Chinese priest? Would that be asking for too much?”

This lack of awareness of how criticism of media works limits GG in scope – it’s unwilling to consider that it’s not evidence of corruption, but simply, an opinion they don’t hold.

What’s The Point of It?

It’s all of this, plus the chaotic nature of the tag, that makes me critical of it. It’s a tangled mess of those who want feminist critique removed entirely – even suggesting it’s cultural genocide, those with genuine concerns about the nature of publisher/journalist relationships and those who think the military is paying DiGRA to learn how to brainwash people.

The common criticisms I brought up earlier? Like the idea it’s pro-harassment? Sort of. I don’t think it’s pro-harassment, but I think it creates a climate where harassment – of all sides, all angles – is common and supported. There’s a phrase I’ve seen a few times: “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.” It’s this attitude – the idea that the grand goal of ethics is so worth it that a few accidents on the way don’t matter – that sustains a culture where harassment happens. So whilst I don’t think GG is pro-harassment, I think it’s creating a space where harassment is supported even as people condemn it.

The thing is, even if you could convince me that such a grand, transcendent goal as ethics was worth the mess on the way (you can’t, but let’s pretend), this wouldn’t make me less critical of GG. Why?

Well, as I’ve said in this very lengthy piece and could have actually summed up in this single sentence: GG does not seem to understand ethics nearly as well as it thinks it does.

Jenni Goodchild
Jenni Goodchild likes philosophy, theology and pretending that reading science fiction counts as studying them. Sometimes she even writes about them on geekessays.wordpress.com. Most of her interests revolve around the intersections between geek culture and academia, and she spends most of her year putting together academic content for a a UK convention.
  • http://theflounce.com Jen Pink

    The idea that a review shouldn’t include any cultural criticism is absurd. Movies, television and book reviews almost always contain some mention and analysis of the degree of cultural competence displayed, and they should. So why video games would be any different is beyond me. Absurd.

    • grim.gate

      I think this point isn’t articulated correctly. I think what people get upset about is that the social critique is affecting the overall game score which is not really based around social critique. Game scores uses a different system than movies.

      I don’t think gamers would be opposed to having a separate morality or culture score or to at allowing reviewers to critique the social aspects as long the reviewer discloses their political or ideologies that may bias that critique.

      However, what is upsetting people is that social critique gets wrapped up into the overall game score which could be arguably viewed as a score that meant to be strictly for graphics, speed, story (if the story is well written regardless of social critique), game mechanics. Its similar to how computer hardware is scored (price, speed, quality, etc).

      http://www.polygon.com/2014/10/13/6957677/bayonetta-2-review-wii-u has a lower score for social critique reasons from a guy who has a suicide girls account on a game that had its graphics designed by a female.

      • goladus

        I think that, in a more general sense, people get upset when the overall substance of the review suffers due to the presence of social critique. Taking one minor cosmetic element then making that the headline along with some blatant shaming language is just as bad as docking a score ridiculously for the same reason.

    • Chris G

      Very true. However does feminist or social critique of films call audiences misogynist? I have never seen that. I have seen films and filmmakers being analyzed, but not accusations of film audiences themselves being misogynist. If “Film Comment” were to write something like that, there would be an interesting reaction. In this case, it goes even further because you didn’t have one mag write this, but multiple (10+) sites releasing articles on the same day calling “movie goers”, uhm, I mean “gamers” as backward and misogynist. Then you are trying to tell me that this constitutes avant-garde critique? Rather, it’s the same old hamfisted modern SJW movement which has done precisely the same thing in Atheism and comic books. Each time they don’t start with thoughtful critique. Rather, they start out with a pre-established conclusion: misogyny, the medium is the tool of the patriarchy, there is harassment, etc. Then, they predictably cause a split in the community and the little cultural kerfuffle is on it’s way. With Atheism we have seen the results last year: there was a split in the community and the 3rd wave feminists, SJW’s formed their own, insular community, Atheism+. Please do not compare the situation here with thoughtful literary or film critique. It’s your typical “pop-feminism” (http://bit.ly/1DlYEn0) at work. Hence, the uproar.

      • KKoro

        Ive not only seen it in regards to film, literature, etc, but youre clearly avoiding the main thing that makes games unique – thyre INTERACTIVE, meaning the audience is fundamemtally part of the work and thus able to be critiqued.

        • henrykazuka

          The audience is part of the work as much as the developers allows it. Games aren’t some magical thing that let’s me turn The Sims into a World War 2 simulator.

    • henrykazuka

      Gameplay is to videogames as the ability to make you laugh is to comedies. Cultural criticism is great, but you shouldn’t let that take one quarter of the score. Otherwise, the best black comedies would only get 7.5/10 at best.

      • Malky

        I do not understand this comparison at all.

        • Vanessa Ray

          It makes zero sense.

    • goladus

      The idea that a review shouldn’t include any cultural criticism is absurd.

      I completely agree. See my comment here: http://theflounce.com/gamergate-seem-understand-ethics-nearly-well-thinks/#comment-1641550786

      I’m not going to accuse Jenni of debating a straw man or that her questions are disingenuous, of any article critical of GamerGate that I have seen, this was the most fair. But it’s unfair to simply denounce these sincere replies to the survey and declare them absurd as if there’s nothing more to be said. Maybe they just haven’t articulated the ideas in a way you’re prepared to accept? In order to do that, they probably have to understand you better, which means you would have to engage them directly. Then you’d have to give them a chance to respond.

      So far, that has not been happening. Every so often, an anti-GG poster will show up with some polite questions on the KotakuInAction subreddit, their questions will usually be answered in a pretty straightforward way. But not as often as it should, and most attempts by GG to venture into any anti-GG forum to explain themselves is met with deletions and bans. Discussion cannot advance under these conditions.

      So anyway, to answer your question: it’s not just presence of cultural criticism, it’s the manner its presented and the perceived sincerity and honesty of the presenter (writer/speaker/etc.)

      And yeah, I think Jenni is right, the average GamerGater doesn’t have perfect understanding of ethics. But they are sincere about it, even if they fail to articulate it perfectly.

  • Malky

    I’ll never understand how so many people were duped into joining this campaign.

    • Matchstick

      It’s the power of telling people what they want to hear

      • goladus

        Quite the opposite, actually.

        Consumers gave the gaming media their power and influence. Gaming media began abusing that power and after censoring readers who complained, they responded with this: Dead Gamer Articles

      • jack

        There was a lot of that, for sure. A lot of confirmation bias at play in proto-GG and GG even now, as the misinformation noted in the article demonstrates.

        But the irony of your statement is that it applies to anti-GG too, to a lesser degree. Anything to feed the narrative, both sides agree.

    • goladus

      I’ll never understand how so many people were duped into joining this campaign

      Have you tried to understand?

      • Malky

        I’d like to think so.

        • goladus

          It might help to drop the presumption that people were “duped” rather than fairly considering the evidence presented by both sides.

  • Kav P

    I’m so glad to read your write-up here. You did a lot of research for this that I’m sure floods of comments will say are “biased” (or “bias”, ho ho ho) but I’ve been following you, the questions you ask and the answers you receive and I don’t think anyone can say that you didn’t give them a voice or that you twisted their words.

    And for those of you who might think otherwise, go have a look at pixietalksgamergate.wordpress.com and read through the unedited answers by actual GamerGate supporters. Look through Pixie Jenni’s Twitter feed at the multitude of GG supporters who have engaged with her. Look at the screaming tantrum she was subjected to on KingofPol’s own livestream. Look at all the available evidence and come to your own conclusion.

  • big guy

    The bayonetta 2 campaign was something that was torn apart by gamergate supporters. if you want to do actual researh you can look at the posts in /r/ KotakuinAction concerning it or on /gg/ in 8chan. its gets torn apart. it is disingenuous to claim that something only supported by a few people is indicative of the whole.

    The concerns over IGF is much more complicated than you portray and that is pretty insidious as well. if you actually do care like you said you do check out this article http://techraptor.net/content/lack-integrity-poor-management-igf

    the claim is not that nathon grayson gave her a review, this has been repeated so long by media outlets that some people on both sides have become confused. it was about how she always got favorable coverage when destroying Game_jam, creating Rebel-jam which has no start date and takes donation to her paypal from day one, When she began and supported a harrassment campaign against a forum for depressed male virgin wizard chan, and was not questioned when she willfully accused The fine young capitalists of being transphobic and a scam, It is also about in zoe quinns own words ” the incestuous relationships between indie devs and journalists”, and there is no transparency with them.

    The Escapist acknowledged this and changed their ethics policy to reflect that. Gamergate supported it, even though greg tito heavily disagrees with gamergate on many issues. Go to escapist and consider if those changes were somehow anti women. Gamergate wants above all, is transparency. Something that is being refused.

    • namelessbanana

      If this bayonetta type campaign was torn apart how come the top post and the Sticky on KIA are about contacting advertisers of sites of the GG “hit list”? Its literally a WEEKLY sticky thread about it with a new company each week with all contact info and email brigade information.

      So yeah thats the exact opposites of ethics in game journalism.

      • big guy

        those boycotts are not in response to reviews from any POV, but from dishonest and combative journalism, that attacked its audience unfairly, and display a deep disregard for both the practice and appearance of Journalistic ethics.

        • namelessbanana

          So you are attempting to contact advertisers to not advertise on on sites to pressure/punish those sites into not running editorials that you do not agree with? Great thanks for proving my point.

          • Lulzhunter

            There is a difference between editorials people don’t agree with and libel.

      • henrykazuka

        Denying early copies for reviews silences any kind of criticism (good or bad): it’s wrong.

        Telling Intel they are supporting a site that is insulting Intel’s customers: it’s good.

        The boycott was put in place because of the “Gamers are misogynyst white neckbeard, STFU” smear pieces, not because of a game review.

        • namelessbanana

          Dont try to do it under the banner of journalistic ethics when what you are doing is the exact opposite. Its no better then EA threatening to penalize a site for giving a game a bad review.

          • henrykazuka

            A low score on a review can be justified if the game itself is bad. Calling your audience a bunch of misogynerds is never justified, especially if it’s not true.

          • namelessbanana

            I think those articles went right over your head.

    • Lulzhunter

      The original Escapist threads, which are the only ones never deleted (though they were merged and thus difficult to read), contains the claim that Grayson reviewed DQ.

      That did go away pretty fast, but the media didn’t manufacture it.

  • John K

    Dear Jenni,

    “GG does not seem to understand ethics nearly as well as it thinks it does.”

    Baffling. This article started as a criticism of an alleged argument from ignorance launched by Gamer Gate concerning the facts on corruption. It ends on a note that has nothing to do with the main subject of the article as the conclusion has nothing to do with your criticisms levied.

    One does not need an academic degree to understand that lies, corruption, bias, censorship, cover-ups, collusion, and moral indignation go against journalistic integrity. If you are saying this is not what is actually going on, then stick with your guns and say we are getting the facts wrong. Making this an issue of some misplaced philosophical objectives is ivory tower nonsense. I know you are a fan of that sort of thing but it simply has no practical evaluation as demonstrated here. This is the inherent problem with theorizing with what other people are thinking internally or feeling emotionally without those thoughts or emotions having been expressed.

    This would have been a better sentence to have gone out on:

    “it’s built on a lot of misinformation, and that misinformation is still getting passed around as fact.”

    So let us move on and address your actual complaints!

    First, the Zoe Quinn sex scandal. If you have not been paying attention, the gaming press has done everything they can to protect the parties involved by refusing to disclose and censoring any conversation of the subject, which I must distinct from silencing of harassment. People speculate and lash out and blame said parties because they have nothing else to go on and nobody is certain who, if anyone, to blame. This is a clear ethical violation of good journalistic practices, for the cover-up is worse than the crime.

    Second, you have seemed to drop a vial of poison in that well. You find something unfavorable about the movement, in this case the origin of the movement, and use that to discredit the movement. By that lapse of logic, wars are bad, chattel slavery in the united states was only brought to an end by the Civil War, ergo chattel slavery should be re-instituted.

    Third, Rock Paper Shotgun may not have released a “gamers are dead” article, but it still linked to one, is not innocent from other allegations of collusion, and nine other websites (http://gamergate.community/showthread.php?tid=3) still released “gamers are dead” articles. You make the claim that there is no evidence that there was collusion in this hit piece. Ignoring that given there was already a major colluding group already it is likely there are more, you also missed the problem. Telling your readership you are no longer writing for your audience, gamers, are no longer relevant is like a motorcycle magazine telling bikers they are no longer relevant to the activity of biking.

    Forth, DiGRA and award shows are outside of the main focus of Gamer Gate. They are not journalistic outlets. Although in the case of DiGRA many would still take issue with dodging peer-review and academic incest which you brush off.

    Fifth, when it comes to Bayonetta 2, you seem to miss the second part in the (short) manifesto of #gamergate that we are against corrupt and /biased/ journalism. Cultural critique is well and good. However, when you step beyond criticism and use moral indignation to say why a work is /morally/ or /consequentially/ wrong you have stopped being a critic and become a preacher. In a review, you can only give your personal opinion based on your personal experience based on how you felt (or feel) about the piece of art in question.

    Additional: You raise a good point about how nonsensical review scores are. I support John Bain’s (aka Total Biscuit) on the subject that scores are nonsensical, for you cannot put a numerical qualifier on a subjective opinion, and should be removed from reviews entirely. But that would require reform in games journalism.

    Sixth, you seem to have shifted the goalposts right before the very end with whataboutry in a very round-a-bout fashion. Harassment is a completely separate issue from Gamer Gate and pushing a narrative that we are responsible, in this case responsible by omission or by this movement existing, after we have shown time and again we are against harassment and fight it when we can is simply lying. That argument is dead – we cannot help that harassment exists in the online or gaming community. If we stopped, harassment would not end. Further, if you are saying that by existing harassment follows you are appealing to the consequences.

    Seventh, stop cherry-picking. Corruption and collusion in the games industry abounds. You personally could easily site actual examples having had the time to research and gather information for this article. Picking specific false flags, some of which are not actually false flags, is intellectually dishonest.

    Epilogue, Jenni – it is not too late to join Gamer Gate. We stand for a just cause and we use just means to carry out that end (even if you disagree with that last part). To be on the side of change is to be on the side of progress.

    • Kav P

      “To be on the side of change is to be on the side of progress.”

      I completely agree. I don’t think that’s a statement that really supports GamerGate to a large degree, though.

      I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think that games journalism is corrupt. Just perhaps not in the way you seem to believe.

    • KKoro

      “People speculate and lash out and blame said parties because they have nothing else to go on and nobody is certain who, if anyone, to blame”

      …if you admit you dont have the facts, why are you trying to blame anyone at all? You sound like youre justifying, if not glorifying, mob mentality witch hunts.

      • John K

        No, that would be a strawman as I am not in favor of any of those things.

        If you put yourself out there, regardless of who you are, and something uncouth is brought to the forefront, people will talk about it. A sex scandal is always a hot topic which will raise concerns. Beyond human interest, corruption in games journalism is not new and asking questions as to remain skeptical is a logical course of action.

        Lashing out is also a natural consequence; however that does not make it right. It is simply harassment. However, by disclosing what had happened the issue would be put to bed, less people would be talking about it, and less people would be inclined to harass those involved.

        Journalistic websites collectively playing damage control instead of addressing the issue only fans the flames. For not only is there radio silence where there should be coverage, not only are readers being censored, but also it raises the question of what reason would they have to play damage control? All it serves to do is protect their interests, whatever they may be, and this causes a gross distrust between the reader and the journalist. Journalists win, readers lose. That should never be the case.

  • Artemisia Poppycock

    Jenni, do you find it acceptable for game reviewers to write positive reviews and feature stories on close friends, roommates, or people they monetary support? (http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/2ejs7v/gaming_journalists_patricia_hernandez_of_kotaku/)

    Do you find it ethical for writers and editors to give gifts to subjects they report on? In this email dump, which is confirmed as true by Wiliam Usher, one of the members of the Game Journo Pros mailing list, one of the journalists suggests all of them pitching in for a “feel better” gift for Quinn. (http://yiannopoulos.net/2014/09/19/gamejournopros-zoe-quinn-email-dump/)

    Do think that, rather than ending GamerGate in a day by apologizing for this unprofessional behavior and reprimanding or firing these implicated journalists, it is preferable to continue the online drama, where several people on both sides of the conflict have been threatened, doxxed, and even mail contaminated syringes, simply out of a need to win a petty internet argument?

    If the answer is no to all of the above, then you support GamerGate.

    I’m a feminist, progressive minority woman who is a gamer and fully supports GamerGate for all the above reasons. I understand completely why the initial kneejerk reaction is to condemn GamerGate for these perceived conflicts, but all of this wouldn’t have blown up into such a major storm had these game media sites dealt with these concerns appropriately instead of trying to frame their readership as nerdy misogynists. They had the power to stop the harassment of these women (which includes both pro and anti-GamerGate supporters) from day one, so why aren’t they doing so?

    • Kav P

      I’m puzzled. Which are the media sites that specifically called all gamers nerdy misogynists and can you link me to them? If you’re referring to the “Gamers are Dead” articles which specifically talked about the death of a stereotype of gaming being an exclusive venue, then I guess all this fuss came out of nothing.

      • John K

        “If you’re referring to the “Gamers are Dead” articles which specifically
        talked about the death of a stereotype of gaming being an exclusive

        Except, that’s not what they said no matter how many times people claim that is what they said.

      • Artemisia Poppycock

        Here’s a Slate article that has linked several of the articles (http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/bitwise/2014/09/gamergate_explodes_gaming_journalists_declare_the_gamers_are_over_but_they.html).

        Almost all of these were published on the same day, August 28, which sparked suggestions of writer collusion that later turned out to be true because of the GameJournoProsList, which had writers from all of these game and technology news sites discussing how to spin the narrative to stamp out questions about “the incestuous relationship between press and developers,” as said by Kotaku writer Jason Schreier.

        These articles link the harassment Quinn received with the “gamer” identity, which they stereotype as being white, teenage male hyperconsumers and “lonely basement kids” (see Leigh Alexander’s Gamasutra article) and imply that these stereotyped “gamers” use “straw man ‘game journalism’ ethics conversations” — ethical concerns that all turned out to be true — as an excuse to feel important. They also imply that the video game industry can thrive without gamers, and Leigh Alexander specifically states on her personal website that her goals are to dispossess “nerds” and “outcasts” of “their sense of relevance” (http://leighalexander.net/faq/).

        The problem is that gamers are their core readership, not all self-indentified gamers are white, male, misogynist or racist, and not all the gamers concerned about journalistic integrity in game media are white male misogynists either.

        Again, I’m a minority, a woman, and a gamer, and I have been a GamerGate supporter since day one and felt personally insulted to be told I’m some fat, white neckbeard just because, as a person who studied journalism under actual journalists, I take issue with the nepotism, cronyism, unprofessional social media behavior and conflicts of interests of these writers and editors of Kotaku, Polygon, Gamasutra, and RockPaperShotgun.

        • Kav P

          Again, you were not told you were a fat, white neckbeard. The “Gamers are Dead” articles were about the death of a stereotype. As a minority, a woman and a gamer, I praise those articles for finally saying that games are for everyone, not just a stereotype of what “gamers” are.

          And as a professional translator who is a member of several professional mailing lists related to translation, this “collusion” that people “uncovered” is a perfectly normal part of being in a professional organisation of people in the same industry. People discuss things relevant to the industry and throw out ideas. I’ve read the logs and I saw absolutely nothing to suggest that there was “collusion” any more than journalists who take their source information from Reuters are “colluding”.

          I believe there are serious problems with games journalism that need to be fixed, but I do not believe that the “Gamers are Dead” articles are indicative of these problems in any way or form.

          • Artemisia Poppycock

            So you’re a translator, and that’s great. Are you a journalist? Did you study journalism?

            I can tell you as a journalist myself that writers from competing news outlets are not supposed to share information related to the articles they are writing with each other. They are not supposed to pretend to be independent organizations if they are trying to convince each other to come out with a “signed, joint letter of support from the Game Journo Pros” or, try to pressure an editor from another media outlet how to do their job, or to group together and stamp out coverage of ethical concerns from their readers.

            That is collusion, plain and simple, and journalists get fired or forced to resign for that (see David Weigel from the original JournoList, which Ars Technica Editor Kyle Orland specifically stated was inspiration for the GameJournoPros mailing list).

          • Kahboom

            Journalistic organizations create content partnerships frequently. Professional organizations, conferences, informal list servs, etc. all facilitate conversation between journalist across company lines. All the time.

    • atchesonate

      You guys need to get out more. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. These links prove nothing. I work in the film industry and you would be astounded by the amount of behavior that goes on that you would consider “collusion.” It’s part of the world. Human interaction is the basis of all these industries. Expecting journalists and developers not to speak to one another is not only idiotic, it’s impossible. It also wouldn’t be good anyone.

      Seriously, you guys need to get out more. See the world. Have a conversation with someone in real life. Live a little. GamerGate is not the answer. It’s a block to you becoming actual human beings.

      • Artemisia Poppycock

        I’m copying my response below which is relevant to your post.

        Are you a journalist? Did you study journalism?

        I can tell you as a journalist myself that writers from competing news outlets are not supposed to share information related to the articles they are writing with each other. They are not supposed to pretend to be independent organizations if they are trying to convince each other to come out with a “signed, joint letter of support from the Game Journo Pros” or, try to pressure an editor from another media outlet how to do their job, or to group together and stamp out coverage of ethical concerns from their readers.

        That is collusion, plain and simple, and journalists get fired or forced to resign for that (see David Weigel from the original JournoList, which Ars Technica Editor Kyle Orland specifically stated was inspiration for the GameJournoPros mailing list).

        • atchesonate

          Look, I’m not saying you don’t have a point. Of course corruption exists. It also exists in places far more important and potentially damaging than gaming journalism. But if you want people to take you seriously then stop posting under the banner of this horrible hate group and start a real movement that focuses on these issues alone.

          • Artemisia Poppycock

            This is the exact reason that the GamerGate and Not Your Shield hashtag was coined, because several articles all came out from these implicated sites insinuating that the gamers angered by Kuchera, Grayon, and Hernandez’s conflicts of interests were the same anonymous trolls harassing Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian (who, until these writers shoehorned her into the discussion, had no connection whatsoever with Pre-GamerGate).

            The central hubs of GamerGate discussion is Reddit’s KotakuInAction, which has a zero-tolerance policy on harassment, calls to witch hunt, and doxxing; and 8Chan’s GG thread, which also bans doxxing and refers to misogynist threats against women as shilling/agent provocateuring.

            Zoe Quinn, Briana Wu, and the Anti-GamerGate writers and editors continually fail to include in their screencaps and articles that the moderators of these communities quickly delete any doxxing information and ban these posters, and when the 8Chan moderators are unavailable, posters have actually spammed the board to knock the doxxing posts off the last page, which automatically deletes these. They also fail to mention that Milo Yiannopoulos, who first reported the GJP leaks, had contaminated syringes mailed to his house, Zoe Quinn shared the doxxed information of a teenaged pro-GG Wikipedia Editor, Twitter user GGFeminist was doxxed and sent rape threats from an anti-GGer, and Gamasutra Editor Leigh Alexander has asked her Twitter followers to post names and addresses of pro-GamerGate supporters. Because this does not fit the narrative that GamerGate supporters are advocating a hate campaign.

            It does not matter what GamerGate calls itself, or how much the community actively polices itself to stop trolls, or how many GamerGate supporters (like myself) are actually progressive feminists because these writers and developers implicated in GamerGate will STILL label the boycotters as white, male misogynists, women with internalized misogyny, or minority “Uncle Toms” (yeah, I’ve actually even seen Twitter users call black GG supporters “house n*****s).

          • atchesonate

            GamerGate was coined by noted sexist homophobe Adam Baldwin, who has directly led to the harassment of some of the women you mention. There’s a reason sane people despise GamerGate: it’s an anonymous hate movement led by straight white men. The presence of a few minorities and women does not change its core demographic or its tone, which has been nothing but intolerant.

            If you want to be taken seriously then stop posting anonymously, and stop associating with a group that made the front page of the New York Times because of its association with the terrorizing of women.

          • Artemisia Poppycock

            Can you please provide me with links that Baldwin or any nonanonymous troll has doxxed or threatened these women, and provide links of the GamerGate community wholeheartedly supporting these threats and doxxing? the only nonanonymous example I’ve seen was posted on KotakuInAction by a friend of developer Ralph Koster, and he was totally torn down by the community for his disgusting behavior.

            You say that GamerGate is led by straight white men (there are no “leaders,” btw, only GG supporters). Yet Milo Yiannopoulos is gay, Christina Hoff Sommers is a woman and Democrat and 2nd Wave Feminist scholar (disagree with her views if you want), and Huffington Post had a live panel yesterday featuring three women GG supporters, Gamesided staff writer Georgina Young and gamers Jennie Baraj and Jemma Morgan (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/15/female-gamers-gamergate_n_5990310.html).

          • Lulzhunter

            The idea that CHS is a feminist is laughable. If you want to save GG, you need to reject her lies, *all* of them. There were lots of real feminists on your side at the beginning, now you’ve lost all but GGfeminist.

          • henrykazuka

            If “homophobe” Adam Baldwin, “gay” Milo Yiannoupoulos and feminist C. H. Sommers can get along under the same banner, maybe it’s not a harassment group and you are trying to deflect the issue that really matters, journalism integrity.

          • Artemisia Poppycock

            I agree with you wholeheartedly. I’m quite tired of being told I’m brainwashed by racist misogynists, or that I’m pretending to be a woman, or that I’ve internalized my self-hatred of woman or whatnot.

            If you don’t agree with GamerGate, fine.

          • atchesonate

            Last try, because this is getting really dull: of course corruption exists. Of course there are some people who have a good point here.

            But GamerGate is dead. It’s been destroyed by every mainstream news outlet that’s covered it. If you want people to take you seriously, if you really want to make a change, ditch the hashtag and start a movement that isn’t directly connected to harassment.

          • Artemisia Poppycock

            If you can actually convince me that GamerGate is dead (which it isn’t–it’s still being tweeted thousands of times a day, and more advertisers are pulling out of Anti-GG media outlets; just today, Mercedes and Google ceased advertisement with Gawker Media) without circular logic that GamerGate is a harassment campaign because the media scrutinized by GG says it’s a harassment campaign, despite no major GG supporter or GG-affiliated community condoning doxxing/threats, then I’ll consider ceasing support of it.

          • Lulzhunter

            How would that help? The ‘hate group’ thing was, originally, a lie. It’s gone south since then because people bought the lie (affected membership, people joining in were more and more likely to be extremists). If the journalists are simply able to call any movement to talk about their bad behavior a hate group and get away with it, creating a new group would be useless.

  • NeutralGuest

    I’ve followed GG on and off since the beginning (and before) while attempting to keep my neutrality on the subject and only really engaging in conversation on points I’ve felt have been misinterpreted, misinformed or overlooked (That’s my disclaimer and I’m sticking to it ^__~ ). I’ve seen all sorts of behaviour from both sides and I’m also relatively well-versed on “chan culture” as it has intersected with another of my hobbies in the past. I also don’t particularly class myself as a gamer these days, despite sinking hours into Football Manager and other games (Tropico 3, which I got free, has been my latest time drain :D), though an observer would probably class me as one.

    I probably have a lot to say on the subject, but I’m going to temper any response for the moment and just focus on the Eron Gjoni blog post. You say that the focus on emotional abuse is somewhat disingenuous from GG but I think the point that’s being missed isn’t that people thought the post shone a light on an emotional abuser but that *all* conversation on it was ignored and, in a lot of places, simply removed. When Zoë got heat for it, she replied by calling everyone asking questions “terrorists” (this was before she was doxxed) and the handful of game bloggers who reported on it (TotalBiscuit comes to mind) received severe backlash *even when they remained neutral*. And this backlash wasn’t just from Zoë’s supporters but from Zoë herself, her boyfriend, and I think Leigh Alexander also threw abuse his way (I say ‘I think’ – I cannot verify this as I’m going by memory and she tends to delete tweets she can’t stand by). One of the female journalists who appeared on the Huffington Post stream about Girls of GG, or whatever they called it, was only there because she had genuine questions about Zoë’s involvement with the Fine Young Capitalists that she put to her in her Reddit AMA – and she was banned with a message along the lines of “don’t ask a woman if a husband’s stopped beating her” (paraphrased). Add that to the fact that the forums of every major games journalism site was deleting every mention of the subject (including Reddit and 4chan, which seems absurd) and a picture was starting to build up of it being a taboo subject – in fact, The Flounce article you linked to is the only one I’ve seen that addresses some of the points that I’ve seen about the blog post since the very beginning. It’s not by chance that 8chan and Twitter have become the staging posts for the GG discussion – very few places will even *allow space* for it.

    I’ve seen people posting screenshots of Eron’s admission that he deliberately made the account more entertaining and was playing to the gallery in his ‘beta’ role (which is why 8chan also ridicules him in equal parts because it’s an ‘alpha’ domain of the Lord of the Flies variety), and they assume this means he implicitly lied or that this invalidates the blog post. It doesn’t. The events, from what I’ve seen, haven’t been disproven at all (How can they be if Zoë ignores all discussion on them?) and the memefied aspect is down to the culture within which the two have communicated. From what I’ve heard, both Eron and Zoë were Something Awful users (the forerunner of/a foil to 4chan?), so this meme culture is indicative of their online speech. You only have to look at Zoë’s tweets, and in particular, her communication with her new boyfriend on Twitter to see that that’s the case. That’s why Eron used “Five Guys” – to spark a meme to make this rant memorable and more noticeable than other ‘beta splurges’ along the same lines – of which there are many, though the participants aren’t usually so well-known. I think there is definitely an emotional abuse angle that hasn’t been addressed at all – also highlighted when Ouren came out on Twitter as being sexually harassed by Zoë at a wedding, only to be shouted down by Phil Fish and effectively disowned from the Indie game dev clique for doing so. These are potential big red flashing alarms and for some reason, discourse on it is taboo and shut down, with all talk perceived to be based on ‘invading someone’s private life’ being classed as misogyny?

    That’s what gets me most. It seems to be the antithesis of social justice at heart – closing down debate instead of honest, open conversation about social issues – and while it’s true that GG naturally backed away from it to try to shed its image of being nothing but a misogynistic stick to beat loud feminist voices with, that’s not the same as saying those misgivings weren’t there in the beginning.

    • http://theflounce.com Jen Pink

      Ding ding ding. That’s what drew me to look into it, was wondering, “Why the hell are they shutting down conversation about this?” When I read that reddit is censoring discussion… Something is seriously fishy.

      • namelessbanana

        Because people were doxxing her and a witch hunt was forming (well it did form). The question is what does ZQ (a very minor indie dev) cheating on her boyfriend have to do with gaming?

        • NeutralGuest

          She may be a minor dev but she has a loud voice by the sounds of it. I think the people who did go “hang on a minute…” with regards to the emotional abuse (which I was talking about, not the overall GG octopus) is that it is so contrary to her *public* persona and the issues that she tries to highlight and amplify. It calls into question how genuine she is about the causes she stands for. I think that’s worthy of some debate, at least, don’t you?

          • Anne Wellington

            The biggest issue I have is that the gamergate squad gobbled up Eron’s posts and accusations without stopping to think that a jilted ex boyfriend may not be the most reliable source of facts. Reverse the genders and she would have been laughed off the Internet for being hysterical. Eron never did give proof for what he accused Zoe of doing, he just told a bunch of tools something they wanted to hear about a female game dev they were already harassing.

          • NeutralGuest

            I agree that GG as a whole isn’t the most discerning of eyes and much more likely to suffer from confirmation bias, but at the same time, this is a little myopic. Nathan Grayson has also received numerous death threats over it but has passed under the radar by and large because he didn’t rise to them, so he’s pretty much been forgotten in this since the initial round of threats. ZQ and her boyfriend, by contrast, have sat in chatrooms and on the chan boards and regularly tweet everything that goes on in an environment primarily known for its hatred and vitriol (pretty much goading them which seems unwise given past form?).

            I also don’t really understand the reversal of genders argument, because even if GG didn’t arise from it, the same content would have caused a buzz with the current anti-GG crowd – and you bet they’d hassle and harass and blow everything out of proportion in the same way. The ’emotional abuse’ angle would probably be more relevant – and the woman would probably be championed for speaking up and helping a wider audience to understand the ‘ugly face’ of abuse – and the current issues would be more downplayed as the suggestion of sleeping your way up the ladder or for promotion wouldn’t be as plausible for a man in video gaming (solely due to gender representation in the relevant industries – not saying it doesn’t happen in other industries though!).

            It’s easy to say Eron never gave proof but the more salient point is that ZQ has never *denied* any part of that blogpost. Accusations of sleeping with your boss (I think I heard this was before he gave her a job? Unconfirmed though. Working on memory alone which is always a tricky thing) *and* a journalist who works for a publication that is already viewed by some as producing questionable agenda-driven articles… well, you’d think that would merit some comment to dispel if they *weren’t* true, wouldn’t you?

          • Anne Wellington

            She did disagree with the accusation about her sleeping with the Kotaku journalist. As for the rest, she said she wasn’t going to go into details of her past sex life because she shouldn’t have to be talking about that as a game developer, it’s irrelevant (her own paraphrased words).

            If she had disagreed, do you really think GGers would have listened?

            I do agree with you that if genders were reversed people would have picked up on the “emotional abuse” aspect, good point. I think they still wouldn’t have taken her as seriously without proof as Gjoni has been, though.

          • Lulzhunter

            I don’t get the ‘without proof’ thing. The screenshots could be faked, but they’re as strong as the evidence could possibly be, and there’s no counterevidence.

          • Anne Wellington

            Fair enough. But even if Eron is correct about what Zoe did, why all the harassment and death threats? Isn’t that a little excessive? And ESPECIALLY why is Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, and anyone who so much as laughs at Gamergate being hated so much? Even if we take the Quinnspiracy out of the picture that’s still a lot of harassment towards people who have done nothing wrong. Gamergate can hardly take the moral high ground when it’s allowing that stuff to happen within its ranks.

          • Lulzhunter

            How are they allowing anything? If the FBI, with two years of work, can’t stop the person who is sending Sarkeesian death threats, what makes you think anybody in GG is qualified to stop it?

          • Anne Wellington

            Because while the phrase “Gamergate does not agree with harassment” gets used, a lot, I have never seen the good Gamergaters directly challenge those issuing threats. Nothing. No hash tag, no announcements from key figures like Eron or Milo (not that I’d call them good Gamergaters, Eron explicitly said in a tweet that he would not abide by his restraining order), nothing.

          • NeutralGuest

            From what I’ve seen, the GG crowd has been more likely to report the threats and get Twitter accounts of abusers banned, whereas their naysayers appear to simply retweet the threats to overexpose them. They’ve also tried to negate doxxing by overloading imageboards where anonymous posters have posted personal info about certain people (from what I’ve seen, more GG people have been doxxed than non-GG people).

            I think it’s a case of numbers though – I’ve heard the KotakuInAction subreddit (which is a staging post for a lot of GG discussion, though it’s not limited to there) has 12k subscribers alone. The number of publicised death and rape threats to the three people known to have been threatened (ZQ, Anita and Brianna) is perhaps four or five cases? Might push double figures – it’s hard to say how much evidence those three have that they haven’t posted, but considering how they’ve reacted whenever they’ve received abuse of that kind (Wu, in particular, had only one known threat and has toured pretty much every English-speaking news channel to talk about it), it seems unlikely there would be all that much in the way of unseen evidence of direct threats to them. I’d imagine that’s why a lot of GGers use the defensive ‘not agreeing with harassment’ line a lot – we’re talking about a lot of people in this ‘group’ who’ve nothing to do with the harassment at all.

            And I’m talking about actual threats made to the person themselves, not chatting on forums or in IRC channels because while the chatter might be shocking and horrendous sometimes (though often just a warped sense of humour, I believe), those aren’t technically *threats*.

          • Lulzhunter

            You mean the restraining order where a judge refused to let his lawyer speak? You’re seriously defending that?

          • Anne Wellington

            Wait what?

          • jack

            Quote and link the tweet where Eron said he “would not abide by his gag order,” please. I’m fairly sure it doesn’t exist. At most, he refused to not-challenge the order.

            The gag order is prior restraint, on its face unconstitutional, and challenging it in court is perfectly acceptable for Eron to do, laudable even. It’s a gross misuse of the courts. Have you even read the account of eron’s hearing on reddit?

          • Anne Wellington


            Eron refuses to stop fighting the restraint AND to abide by it.

          • jack

            That is not what it says. Someone demanded he do two things. Refusing to do both is not the same as stating that he’ll do NEITHER.

            And even if he did defy an incredibly vague gag order–which, if you read anything he says about it, he appears to be trying to keep within the restraints of, until it’s overturned– I don’t see how that would make him a bad person.


            Disobeying unconstitutional abuses of the courts isn’t a statement on your morality or status as a “good gamergater”. Just your risk taking.

          • Anne Wellington

            [double response, oops]

          • Anne Wellington

            And I ask again, if Gamergate is about journalism ethics and the Quinnspiracy, why is Sarkeesian, Wu, and others being targeted?

          • Lulzhunter

            because they have *no ability* to stop that. How exactly is somebody in GG supposed to stop a twitter account that existed for 15 minutes?

          • Anne Wellington

            That’s not making sense. I know that good GGers can’t stop the harassment but I want to know why it’s happening in the first place to people who are unrelated to the cause?

          • NeutralGuest

            I think part of the reason is that, due to the blanket ban on discussion about the subject over a variety of sites, the spiritual home for GG is now 8chan and *one* subreddit because that’s where people have been forced to go to talk about it. The chan boards, in particular, are known for being chaotic for the sake of chaos, so it’s hardly surprising that people with no stake in the outcome of this ‘movement’ but with a penchant for the destructive would muscle in and do things like it. As the Dark Knight quote goes: “Some people just want to watch the world burn.”

            It’s not just a GG thing though. I refer back to the Chloe Madeley incident where rape threats were made to her regarding her mother’s words on rape. Do you believe they helped the cause? Or is it more likely that certain individuals used the mass indignation as a cover for being as vitriolic as they possibly can? This, alas, is a symptom of social media.

          • Anne Wellington

            Oh I definitely believe that if Gamergate did start out as a noble cause it’s been hijacked by a very loud minority. But with the prevalence of MRA types now infiltrating the boards (the ones screeching about how games are for men only or some shit like that) it’s not looking good for the good guys.

          • NeutralGuest

            Did she? I thought the Nathan Grayson link was confirmed in the statement from Kotaku Editor-in-Chief Stephen Totilo that (quickly summarised) said something like ‘There was a relationship but it didn’t amount to a conflict of interest.’ But in a sense, the issue raised here isn’t with her as a game developer (and let’s be frank, I’m sure there are far worse moral offenders within the industry – and any industry in fact) but her as an outspoken voice for ‘social justice’ which is probably why these points have been raised on this particular site. They are legitimate questions about the conflict of what she’s said in public and what she’s done in her private life (which is all I’m talking about in this discussion) which seem to have been shut down by saying her private life is her own business and sites deleting/banning people on sight for even daring to go “hang on a tick…”.

            I don’t think gender reversal would make a difference. Recently, Tao Lin, a writer, was accused of emotional abuse (using the words rape and hinting at emotional manipulation) in a past relationship by ER Kennedy (a trans man who identified as female at the time of the relationship) and he was roundly lambasted by commentators and various websites going on the strength of ER’s words alone. There was no evidence provided (and ER even claimed Tao Lin had plagiarised from his work which is a pretty serious claim), but people went on the strength of his words. By contrast, Eron has provided screenshots of phone and FB conversations alongside his narrative – which admittedly could be faked, but the screens again have never been disproven.

            As another example, Brad Wardell (CEO of Starfox) has spent two years under fire for a sexual harassment case that was thrown out of court *with prejudice*! Yet just yesterday he had to defend himself again (in a blogpost to a Bioware dev, no less!) to people accusing him of being lecherous and misogynistic. He has regularly received death threats and threats from people saying they’d sodomise his son. So suggesting that the reaction wouldn’t have been as tempestuous if the genders had been reversed is frankly nonsense.

            Unfortunately, the internet likes a ‘good’ scandal (especially when sex is involved) and people have a general tendency to judge and form opinions even before they’ve been presented with enough evidence to see both sides of any given tale.

          • Lulzhunter

            The line from kotaku is that Grayson had no CoI because he never actually reviewed her game, just talked about it (briefly) and her (a lot).

        • http://theflounce.com Jen Pink

          I couldn’t say, except that I understand she was vocal in “social justice” circles and often spoke on behalf of women gamers. So if she were really an emotionally abusive piece of shit purporting to represent me, I’d certainly like a safe space to have a conversation about whether or not she were the best person to have on my team. And if you’re a public figure whose voice evidently carries any weight in any particular industry, then whether or not you’re an emotionally abusive piece of shit is up for public fodder. For reference see Ray Rice.

    • KKoro

      If I were a mod, I would ban that kind of discussion too, because its -not- a social issue – its texttbook tabloid journalism, “Michelle is totally cheating on Barack gaiz!” BS that, as it happens, was trivially proven to be unrelated to gaming journalism. As the author said, the alleged crimes can be easily disproven, and if one really cared about corruption, there are scads more evidenced and meaningful scandals to get mad at.

      As for “you dont ask a woman…”, that ones obvious. If the questions youre asking set up a false dichotomy (youre husband beat you, but stopped or he still beats you vs. The more honest Wtf are you talking about he never beat me), then its clear youre not debating in good faith – youre trying to tar the opponent rather than cooperate to uncover the truth.

      • NeutralGuest

        If Barack Obama came out and said that Michelle had been cheating on him, you betcha it’d get people talking. Why would you ban discussion of it on open forums? And when were the gaming press above tabloid journalism? Most of the major sites are barely above the level of clickbait journalism (though it looks like most “news sites” are going that way – I’ve seen tweets from the Independent with titles that are prime examples of how to clickbait an article). And if you read my comment, I wasn’t actually talking about the link between gaming journalism and ZQ (which was tenuous but somewhat suspicious), but the stifling of debate on the whole subject and the backlash for even mentioning it.

        Also, please read what I wrote. The person who asked the question (herself a woman) was interested in ZQ’s involvement with the Fine Young Capitalists. The ban reason was so divorced from the actual question she wrote, it was bordering on being a non sequitur. It’s these kinds of overreactions (Just like your “I would ban that kind of discussion too”) which has caused many moderates to side with the GG ’cause’.

        As I said in my original comment, I have no horse in this race, but the ONLY way you’ll get GG to quieten down is by getting the moderates out of the ‘movement’. Vilifying it in the way it has been over and over again (“Gamers are over” article with its disparaging illustrations of what Leigh Alexander believes ‘gamers’ are) will only perpetuate it and you’ll only make the moderates, i.e. the ones who will actually do the talking and work towards a resolution, angrier.

  • sanic

    1) game companies are under no obligation to hand out free copies they do so for positive press not to be nice, if you want to eliminate corruption there eliminate all free copies.
    2) Eberts complaint is about immersion an all white casting of roots would get shit on too.
    3) fuck social commentary if you review games and absolutely love trains so much that you docking points if they lack trains you serve no one but yourself, make it about things that people have some tangible grasp over visual fidelity, control, game mechanics, hell create operational definitions to give your reviews structure and have a section called “discussion” where you share if the game hurt your feelings.

    • Lex_Discipulus

      I agree with you that there are major issues of transparency regarding merchandise and the press. But your complaints, as valid as they are, are found in everything.

      I dont do gaming, but I do follow a lot of beauty blogs. Lancome or Clinique or Mac will give “press samples” (aka full sized versions of their product) to reviewers. Now does that mean it is a favorable review right away? No. But it can, and does, lead to a lot more positive feedback than negative feedback from certain bloggers/websites.

      As a reader I am aware that some are more prone to positive reviews and some are not. I keep that in mind when reading reviews.

      Your third point, while logical, cant really apply in the real world. Yes there are certain objective criteria that can be used to review any product, there is a LARGE amount of subjective when it comes to a personal review. I dont think there is a really good way to use only objective criteria.

      • sanic

        What you say is correct you will never get something truly objective but that’s exactly why I say make operational definitions and keep your bias for a discussion section. I mean these people are taking on the attitude that they shouldn’t even try and if that’s how they want to be they should find a new occupation or stop claiming to be journalists and embrace the moniker “blogger”.

        Here’s the founder of rock paper shotgun pictured below saying he can’t be bothered to try.

        • Lex_Discipulus

          I totally understand the theory behind what you are saying. It makes logical sense. But even news journalists have a political leaning that colors their news. I mean look at how Fox and MSNBC handle the same story. Reporting the facts without your background and history coloring that story is just something that cant really be removed. I suppose they can do like a checklist? But even then you have to use some personal preference when discussing how good a certain aspect is. Your personality and history are impossible to remove.

          Personally, I think as long as journalists are open and honest with their bias and history and preferences you can weed through that when you read what they write.

          • sanic

            See it’s funny that you mention FOX and MSNBC because both are blatantly biased and both are reporting lower viewer ship every year, people are leaving for the internet looking for information. I don’t disagree that you can sift through the bias and find the truth but it’s incredibly frustrating that game mags from 20 years ago do a better job talking about games and only the games.

          • Kav P

            Just piping up out of curiosity. I heard that GamerGate supporters have been seeking to get FOX news to report “their side of the story”. Is there any truth to this?


          • sanic

            It’s entirely possible, there are plenty of people willing to spread lies about gamergate and its aims but fox news has not as far as I know, I would not be willing to participate in that action as I disagree with the legal precedent set by fox media group making it legal for news agencies to report information they know is false.

            That image appears to be from infinitychan if you want to look into it further.

          • Kav P

            Thanks for clarifying! :)

            A word to the wise: getting on FOX news is not going to make GamerGate look better, for the reasons you mentioned. I hope it doesn’t go ahead!

          • goladus

            I think Gamergate in general is happy to have virtually anyone willing to report facts objectively, no matter what their affiliation. Obviously neutral, objective parties are the most desired but truth transcends faction.

          • Kav P

            I dunno, even if FOX news does tell the “truth” about GamerGate, the fact that FOX is reporting on it will probably make people skeptical of what it says… Not sure it’s the best PR for GG. :(

  • henrykazuka

    No mention of the Streisand Effect or TFYC? If you want to write about GamerGate or Five Guys or Quinnspiracy’s origin, you can’t not mention the Streisand Effect. It’s the reason the whole thing exploded.

    On the first week, people were harshly criticizing Zoe Quinn, Nathan Grayson and Eron Gjoni and raised some good questions about developers and journalist being too friendly to each other. Then the banhammer and censorship hit hard. If you wanted to harass ZQ you got banned -which is great, harassment should be punished-, but if you wanted to talk about journalism you got banned too! This was the perfect time to see an article addressing what the hell have happened, but there wasn’t any mention anywhere. It was the Streisand Effect (phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely).

    That’s when the s*** hit the fan, sites like Rock, Paper, Shotgun (not because of “gamers are dead articles” like you said) and Reddit were criticized for it, because people who wanted to talk about journalism integrity were being ignored completely. The few exceptions being The Escapist forums and 4chan. The Escapist managed to keep a civilized conversation, while controlling that there wasn’t any doxxing so evidently banning anyone mentioning the issue was a mistake.

    In the middle of all that, the campaign of TFYC happened. It was a project to promote women in gaming with the proceeds going to charity. If you haven’t heard about them it’s because they never got any kind of publicity form the media, they were blacklisted. Even when 4chan decided to help fund it there were no articles written (“4chan promotes feminism” is one of the most easiest clickbait things to write about). The reason? Zoe Quinn was in bad terms with the TFYC because it competed with her own Rebel Jam, created after the failed Polaris Game Jam, which Nathan Grayson wrote about with a heavy emphasis on Zoe Quinn’s pov back on April. Those two again? That raised the question once more, maybe journalists are too friendly with some developers, there can’t be this kind of selective and biased journalism. Then more proof was found involving Patricia Hernandez and her undisclosed relationship with developers, Anthony Burch and Destructoid, etc.

    The hashtag Gamergate started because of that, but it really took off with the “Gamers are dead” articles. They stopped censoring the debate, now they were smearing anyone who dared to call themselves a gamer.

    • namelessbanana

      I get the whole thing about the the Streisand effect but TFYC is where you start to lose me.

      It was a project to make a woman’s idea of a game (doesnt teach her any useful skills) The money then goes to a company in south america that does have some female employees to make said game. The biggest issue is that it doesnt really teach the women anything nor does it help them get into that gaming industry. It feels kind of pandering to the whole “women in games” initiative thats been going on recently. There are so many good charities and initiatives for this type of thing that are better choices to donate to (code liberation, black girls code, pixelles montreal, etc).

      Why do you believe they were blacklisted (outside of one of the owners saying it was)? There were a few articles written about them but why are TFYC owed publicity?

      There are currently 594 live games projects on Kickstarter right now (not including indiegogo), do those all deserve multiple articles on their kickstarter project?

      ZQ didnt have a problem that they competed with her rebel jam because they didnt. Its not a game jam is just a project. There are tons of projects and game jams out there. These arent the only two in the world. The issue she had was part what I stated above and part about the issue with their policy on Trans-women (which they have since clarified). There are legitimate issues that people have with TFYC project.

      • big guy

        TYFC were harassed and attacked by a prominent indie dev for being (Falsley) accused of Transphobia and scamming women. Her many thousands of follower followed suit. They lost 10k in financing, they suffered damage to their reputation, one of the TYFC founders was doxxed and sent death threats and they did everything they could to correct the misconceptions, even offering to shut down their contest the indie developer could point to their lawyers how their contest was transphobic.

        They tried talking to journalists, they tried buying press releases, but because of one indie developers personal crusade they were dead in the water.

        Also the Winner does gain valuable skills in directing and working with a development team. you can check the winner’s twitter whenever you want but you can see clear as day the valuable skills she is learning.

        • namelessbanana

          If you think she was a prominent indie game dev then we have different definitions of prominent. Did you even read her tweets or the emails between ZQ and TFYC?

          Do you really think that ZQ has the power and influence to stop all media outlets on reporting on this project? Seriously they have another project that hasnt gotten publicity either. There are thousands of Kickstarters and indiegogos for gaming that never get any press either. Is it a giant conspiracy for them not to get press either? What make TFYC so special? They are not owed press coverage.

          They are involving the winner more now which is good and have changed and clarified their policies on twitter but that was only AFTER the criticism.

  • goladus

    I avoid the term “objective review” because review itself implies opinions which are, by default, not objective. But if I did use it, here’s what I would mean:

    1. A review must not be propaganda, especially not political propaganda.

    2. A review should demonstrate comprehension of basic facts about the game.

    3. A review should not deliberately distort facts to give the wrong impression about the game.

    4. A review should rely on facts and avoid fallacious reasoning when attempting to describe a game’s goals or purpose.

    Obviously, #1 is the biggie, the others sort of follow from it. A review can be opinionated and not propaganda. Criticism can be harsh and focused, but not propaganda. Distinguishing propaganda from legitimate reviews and criticism is obviously not easy, and it’s hardly fair to expect a mob who have this general feeling that they are being fed propaganda, to perfectly articulate this. But it’s not impossible, either.

    If a review distorts or omits facts, or uses fallacious reasoning– in most cases it’s just a careless, bad reviews. Those reviews end up in the dustbin at GameFaqs or Amazon.com. They aren’t showcased on major gaming sites. But when professional, well-written reviews do this regularly, it’s a warning sign that all is not right. When these professional reviews regularly use these techniques to contribute to a specific narrative, we’re venturing into propaganda territory. The reviews are more likely being used as a tool to shape perceptions rather than engage in honest criticism.

    Part of being a good reviewer is disclosing biases– or at least encouraging readers to identify that bias on their own. It is nearly a universal truth of reviewing in all genres that as a consumer, you should try to find reviewers whose tastes match up with your own. Furthermore, reviewers biased in such a way should not be discouraged from reviewing such games, occasionally, since they will have a critical eye and may highlight weaknesses that will be useful to designers and developers.

    But a reviewer with a bias can still be objective. So long as their opinions are clearly their own and derived from a reasonable attempt to portray what the game is really like, it can still claim objectivity. In other words: “This game does X, Y, and Z, which are boring.” If someone reading thinks “But I like X, Y, and Z!” That’s fine. The reviewer satisfied the demands of objectivity by faithfully presenting “X, Y, and Z.”

    This even applies to reviewers with a ideological bias, such as a feminist one. If their bias is up-front, their review includes faithful presentation of supporting evidence from the game, such reviews can still claim objectivity.

    A hypothetical reviewer who trashes an entire genre by completely and deliberately missing the point, presenting all kinds of misleading, cherry-picked evidence and complaining about minor things that no reasonable person should care about: they cannot claim objectivity. Taken an extra step, where the trashing of that genre is done deliberately to promote a greater narrative about culture or politics, and you have subversive propaganda.

    The difference between an objective review from a feminist perspective and a piece of political propaganda is that the propaganda will deliberately omit or distort facts and present evidence specifically to send the desired political message.

    Do you think that this is a neutral/objective statement about a piece of media, or an example of bias and opinion? Explain why please – I want to understand what you mean by what you say clearly, and this seems a good way to do so. “The most novel thing about [this piece of media] is how lumpy, labored and relentlessly episodic its narrative is.”

    This is mostly not an objective statement. It is quite clearly a statement of opinion. However it cannot be evaluated fully out of context, since a good reviewer will make such a statement and then proceed to justify it and explain what they mean by “lumpy, labored and relentlessly episodic.”

    There is one objective portion of that statement, however. The statement asserts the media is “relentlessly episodic.” This sort of assertion is factual and can be easily verified. Whether you find “relentlessly episodic” to be a good or bad thing will depend entirely on you. “Lumpy” and “labored,” on the other hand, are both terms that are too vague to understand on their own.

    What do you think the difference between an op-ed and a review is (if any?)

    The main difference between an op-ed and a review is that a review is always about a specific product or products. An op-ed can be about anything.

    What do you count as “pushing an agenda”? Can you give me an example?

    “Pushing an agenda” generally means subverting the form for another purpose. That is, subverting a review specifically to send a message about culture, without ever actually giving a fair review to the game. That is: pretending to do one thing but actually doing another.

    It is critical to note that allegations of agenda-pushing are aimed as much at editors and owners than specific reviews and reviewers. There is a huge difference between a single reviewer “pushing an agenda” and a dozen different reviewers and multiple large sites pushing the same agenda in a coordinated way. When the exact same catch-phrases, plugs, and false or misleading generalizations appear in multiple reviews across different sites, that dramatically weakens the credibility of those sites. It’s also a sign of perception-shaping: propaganda.

    Do you think there are any “agendas” that are okay to push in game reviews, or not at all?

    This largely depends on whether the agenda is primary or secondary and whether the agenda is open and honest or hidden and dishonest. It is common for an honest game commentator or reviewer to advocate for something specific. Usually, this advocacy is fairly simple and based on a fair assessment of the game itself and others like it (this is the objectivity aspect). The issue is when pushing the agenda compromises the integrity of the review itself.

    Generally, when people say “pushing agenda” in the context of a specific review, they are usually talking about a political or cultural agenda. That is, an external agenda likely to compromise the integrity of the review as a review of the game itself. They also say it to differentiate from merely sharing opinions.

    Do you have an issue with any of these three things, and if so (or if not), why? “I think this game has poorly designed female body types and it’s somewhat sexist in how it portrays them” -> Game changes body types “I think this game has poorly designed weaponry and I find it very boring and unintuitive” -> Game changes weapons “I think this game has made poor choices in promoting actual weapons and linking to arm manufactures in doing so and it’s glorifying war by doing this” -> Game changes weapons

    I think this is asking the wrong question. The key is the honesty of the complaint and whether the game was changed as a result of the criticism or if it was changed as a result of social pressure.

    If players don’t like the models in a game and the developer makes them better: no problem.

    If players think the models are fine but a tiny vocal minority opinion is promoted by every single mainstream site and the developers cave to the resulting pressure from the media: that is the problem.

    GamerGate is about calling out that kind of bullying and abuse of social pressure to try and make changes in the industry. Basically, if one side is relying on social pressure to make a change and another group doesn’t like the change, it’s only fair that they use social pressure in return. Given that GamerGate has been at a distinct disadvantage in terms of voices in the media willing to give them a fair shake, I think they’ve done exceptionally well.

    • Kav P

      “1. A review must not be propaganda, especially not political propaganda.”

      Just curious more than anything, but I would have thought that it would be more important that the review not be propaganda in the sense of blatant paid advertising/PR for the game. I mean, that’s what corruption in games is, right? I have serious problems with games journalism being corrupt, but it has nothing to do with “political propaganda”, which seems to exist more in the games themselves than in their reviews, in my opinion (textbook case: CoD – with real weapons – and any war game involving real nations).

      • goladus

        Just curious more than anything, but I would have thought that it would be more important that the review not be propaganda in the sense of blatant paid advertising/PR for the game.

        That’s not unimportant and still undermines credibility of the writer and the editor. But ideological propaganda is different in the way it often deliberately encourages guilt, shame, fear, anger, prejudice and divisiveness within the target audience. This negativity makes it a more serious concern.

        • Kav P

          “But ideological propaganda is different in the way it often deliberately encourages guilt, shame, fear, anger, prejudice and divisiveness within the target audience.”

          Isn’t that present in AAA games already? I certainly feel that way…

  • Gabriel Wainio-Théberge

    This article is so based. This site’s whole coverage of GG is so based. Thank you.

  • chizwoz

    I’d say it’s twitter and the internet that have created the climate for harassment to occur. GG seems to have done no worse than it’s detractors on this issue. It’s just been reported on more.
    Your point about social critique not being the same as corruption is a good one. I think the point you’re missing out there is that the kinds of people who work in the gaming press, overwhelmingly fall into one camp on what type of social critique they’ll offer. That becomes a problem when it doesn’t represent their general audience’s politics. If they represented the whole range of political opinions, that would likely stop being a problem.
    This is largely what happened with the Sarkeesian issue. The reason people reacted so badly to her entire cause is because the gaming press overwhelmingly sided with her from the start. Giving her a huge platform for almost no reason and as far as I’m aware, not one of the mainstream press have published a single one of the thousands or criticisms of her work out there. Not even the ones by other feminists.
    We don’t have to call that corruption necessarily. But it is a problem. It’s an over-privileging of one ideology over others and they should’ve realised it’d blow up in their faces.

  • raven beast

    “Social Critique is NOT Corruption”. YES dear Jenni. you are correct: it’s not corruption, It’s a TOXIC NARCISSISTIC NONSENSE that degrades and destroys anything it touches. So i guess you are right about that part!!!!