Monday, September 01, 2014

/V/ Has Gone Nuclear: The Quinspiracy Fallout, And Why I'm Done With It All

WARNING: The following is a massive and very poorly-focused rage-dump brought on by a storm in a teacup, specifically about "Games Journalism" as covered by websites like EuroGamer, The Escapist, Joystiq, Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun, Polygon and so on. It's just me using this space to vent about how sick of being talked down to I am, and how glorious it's been to watch a small part of the internet choke on its own flaming intestines. I'll probably update it to make it a bit more readable, but it's low-priority. Consider this a cross section of blind madness, at best.

I'll be back in the near future with your regualrly scheduled Kentai Blog programming.
 For now, enjoy the flames of internet-war. Preferably while listening to Mike Oldfield's Nuclear.

Behold! Zoe Quinn's magnum opus.

So I can't even try to summarize everything that's happened over the last two weeks. Quinnspiracy, GamerGate, Bullshit That Makes No Sense - call it what you will. All I know is that it's been a blast to watch unfold, and the fact that it's sure to extend into week two is nothing short of glorious.

The shortest version of this possible is this:

* Zoe Quinn, independent game developer, self proclaimed feminist role model, with a history of being harassed solely for existing, released her game Depression Quest on Steam for free the same way Robin Williams died. Kind of inappropriate timing, but... whatever.

* Shortly thereafter, her ex-boyfriend posted a long, detailed summation of their breakup, in which she cheated on him with fellow game designers, her boss, and games journalists.

* People picked up on the story (because of course they did), curious if these relationships led to better press. Zoe then used a series of false copyright claims to remove the information from YouTube.

* When Reddit, NeoGAF and 4chan started discussing the copyright abuse itself, massive moderation erased tens of thousands of comments on the matter. The Reddit mod who later leaked conversations between Zoe and her janitor would be promptly banned.

* Discussion of mass censoring crops up on popular Gaming Journalism sites including Kotaku, Polygon, Joystiq, Rock Paper Shotgun and others. All deleted. No stories about Zoe's scandal were run on any of them.

* Zoe Quinn's social media is "hacked" by someone who claims to be the lead moderator of " /V/" (which is so false it's not even worth discussing).  Phone numbers, addresses and eMails are posted with the account itself, which is quickly deleted.

- Whether or not this "hack" was a legitimate case of a third party doxxing Zoe, or a smoke screen made by a proven compulsive liar is still being debated. Whether or not the info leaked is even partially legit remains unclear.

* Phil Fish, developer of Fez, defends Zoe Quinn, including publicly shaming and silencing Wolf Wozniac, another indie dev who he claims was sexually harassed by Quinn. Meanwhile, smaller websites covering the Zoe Quinn controversy are taken down by the site owners, despite the writers behind them asking for clarification as to why this subject is untouchable.

* Matt Rappard steps forward on Reddit, claiming that his charity meant to help women get into game design and provide money for cancer research - The Fine Young Capitalists - was harassed, Doxxed and shut down by Zoe Quinn and her followers.

-  He shows proof that the two exchanged a lot of ill will, shows private communications, and mentions that he's restarted the charity again in the wake of this insanity, but can't get a single gaming journalism website to cover it.

* Phil Fish's website, Polytron Studios, is also hacked by "/V/" - as well as a 1.5 gigabyte upload featuring contracts, sales numbers, game creation files. Fish also publicly quits the game industry (again) and puts the Fez IP up for sale. This is covered by the gaming press, but only vague mention of "harassment campaigns" are mentioned.

- Said "doxx" file was hosted on Fish's own web host, and included files that shouldn't have been on the server anyway. It's assumed that this is a smokescreen, as there's simply no reason Fish's personal bank records and game assets would be on his corporate website to begin with.

* 4chan's /v/ board denies any connection to either of these hacks, and begin supporting The Fine Young Capitalists as a sign of good faith. Donations from /v/ members grow exponentially, to the point where Rappard - overcome with gratitude - tells 4chan they can design an original character to appear in the finished game.

* Vivian James - mascot for TFYC's cause, and dubbed /v/'s "daughterfu" - is born. Rappard not only gets /v/tards to approve a t-shirt design for Vivian, but will donate proceeds to a colon cancer charity in the hopes that their actions will "chemo away butthurt". I officially love TFYC for this.

* With the integrity of Kotaku now in question, it's uncovered that Kotaku's Patricia Hernandez was writing positive reviews for Anna Anthrophy, her landlord, and that several staff writers were donating to Quinn's Pateron account. No disclosure was ever made.

* Greg Tito, editor for The Escapist, leaves the thread open but admits he'll continue pushing for an "agenda of kindness". After several days of discussion about how disingenuous assuming all reports of abuse are true, he vows to report allegations as allegations, and even edits the original article about Quinn's harassment to be to standard. Good for him.

* Kotaku instigates a "no Pateron, no Kickstarter" policy which results in anger from a number of indie developers who were getting donations from the same people who are supposed to review and report on them as impartials. Polygon's policy is for any donations or connections to be reported in the footnotes of the article, which I personally think is "good enough".

* Anita Sarkeesian, in the heat of this madness, posts her latest episode of Tropes vs Women in Video Games. It's shortly thereafter discovered that both Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian - feminist game critics/creators with a history of harassment as the lynchpin of their notoriety - use the same PR firm, and hasn't said one word on the Zoe Quinn controversy.

* The Fine Young Capitalists themselves are themselves are ALSO hacked by "/V/", which raises further questions if /V/ is simply a third party anarchist. Around this time, bomb threats and DDoS attacks to both Playstation Network and Xbox Live are made by a separate party calling themselves "Lizard Squad". 'Cause sure, that isn't getting confusing.

* Oddly, The Fine Young Capitalists have yet to be mentioned in the Gaming Press at all, despite them eating up the abuse and harassment scandals against Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, plus countless articles about how gaming has "moved on" from focusing on straight white men as the only demographic. (Never mind that most of the big-budgeted "AAA" games covered in game journalism are still made for that specific demographic.)

* Despite refusing to cover the controversy itself, both the gaming journalist press and mainstream offshoots with an interest in "nerd culture" - framed the whole thing as misogynist rabble-rousing and slut-shaming, despite most of the conversation about Zoe having largely been buried in the discussions about the lack of transparency in the gaming media and the charity she managed to bury.

- Perhaps my favorite example was Devin Faraci, owner of Badass Digest, claiming "I have more respect for ISIS than the anti-Quinn people". If he were joking, that'd be hilarious. Sadly all signs point to him being as spiteful towards his own audience as a Mark Millar comic.

* Sarkeesian posts about getting death-threats and needing to leave her home. Hours later she posts the harassment for the world to see - oddly, said tweets appear to have been made three hours after she initially reported them. Sadly, the very nature of Twitter means it's hard to confirm one way or another.

- Incidentally, 24 hours later Sarkeesian suggests that anyone who wants to support her in this crisis can donate to Feminist Frequency. Because nothing un-does a criminal threat like fucking cash donations.

* The Fine Young Capitalists post a public "Peace Treaty" after long talks with their lawyer. They basically admit that Zoe Quinn was a factor - but not the sole issue - that closed down their previous attempt, that said complications cost him an investor worth $10,000 that he had to make up for out of pocket. He wants to speak no more of Quinn, and has - as far as anyone can tell - is taking it on the chin solely to be the better person and walk away with his dignity intact. Good for you, buddy.

* The gaming press, despite their dedication to supporting and championing women in video game related fields, still refuse to cover The Fine Young Capitalists. The only real piece we've had was in Vice, in which Vivian James, literally the symbol of hope and actual justice in this whole thing, is shat on... in an interview with Quinn's ex. Really, that's a thing - or was, until it was taken down 24 hours later.

* A number of sites have posted scathing, nasty articles calling for "The Death of Gamers" arguing that the word itself has literally become tainted in the wake of all this bile and hatred. I think Leigh Alexander via Gamasutra was the first to do so, but about a half-dozen followed suit within 24 hours.

* Leigh Alexander also runs a PR firm and regularly tweets on her work-account about projects her clients are working on? 'Cause her acknowledging that ethics in the gaming journalist side of things clearly wouldn't leave her with an obvious conflict of interests...

As of this writing, only The Escapist forum has allowed a full, uncensored discussion of the events, and it currently sits at over 14,500 posts(!) - and constantly growing as new articles appear, more supporters poke their heads up, and more bile is puked out - often including links and screencaps (and as much of this is twitter-based, expect regular purging). Everything you could want and so, so goddamn much more. I have little doubt that, once Pax Prime is over and whatever new developments crop up there are finished, someone with more free time and passion for internet insanity will piece together this Gilgamesh-level epic into the comprehensive and cohesive saga that it deserves, but for now, you can either take my summary as-is, or start poking around for yourself. I'd encourage the latter, but Jesus Christ, this stuff is over the top and hard to follow sometimes... Why do I suddenly feel like Batty?

I've seen things over the last two weeks you people wouldn't believe. I've seen grown men threaten the life of a 10 year old boy, only for the child to turn around and tell his harasser "Don't worry, you'll stop crying over this soon." I've seen /v/ declare a furry with no direct affiliation to this bullshit (other than he knew it was bullshit) based. I've seen JonTron Jafari get a massive heaping of people insulting him for basically just being white, even though "Persian" isn't exactly the American definition of the word to begin with.  I've watched Will Wheaton and Tim "My Goddamn Hero" Schafer defend Anita Sarkeesian's worthless video series, and I've watched Adam fucking Baldwin defend The Fine Young Capitalists and Christina Sommers call this entire kerfluffle bad for feminism of all stripes. I've seen Ariel Winters materialize, a feminist blogger creating a false account, stating that they'd lose their jobs if they admitted how they really felt under their "professional" names. I've seen Zoe herself call the people who write about her game "journalists" when saying she felt they deserved respect, and "bloggers" when their donating to her becomes public knowledge. I've seen people suggest that the revolution should call the new breed of "prorgressive" gaming enthusiasts "gamers+", and I still can't tell if they're joking or not. I've seen so many tweets saying 'I disagree with you, but I wish no harm to befall you regardless.' be deleted, because it goes against the hero/villain complex so many of the people involved in this flaming, glorious trainwreck.

All those tweets will be lost in deletions, like... trolls in the rain. Time to stop giving a fuck.

There's a number of websites I won't bother feeding with any ad revenue after this, and that's honestly bumming me out. Don't get me wrong, I don't usually care about the inter-personal bullshit of the industry unless it concerns me directly, but... the fact is I'm fucking sick of it. I'm sick of puerile and guilt-wracked articles written by guys younger than I am shouting "WELP, I guess I've been sexist this whole time." I'm sick of reading articles written by Americans who tell me to get a perspective on the Japanese gaming industry, when most of what I buy are Japanese games. I'm sick and tired of hearing that Anita goddamn Sarkeesian getting a series of tweets threatening her is undeniable proof that the entire gaming community is a pack of neanderthal mysoginist scumbags when all it proves, at most, that one fucking person on the internet is a sociopath.

Let's think about that for a second: When some fucking psycho showed up to the opening of The Dark Knight Rises with an assault rifle, nobody blamed "movie culture" - nobody wrote articles about how we, the film loving audience, clearly have a massive problem and need to look ourselves in the mirror. Because that would be stupid. No, what the whole world saw was one lone, sick, stupid asshole doing what sick, stupid assholes do. But if you believe the limited focus present in the video games themed press, the fact that I play games means I'm somehow "part of it". Somehow "gaming culture" has failed. It's not just tedious, it's downright insulting... and the saddest part is that it's nothing new.

Pictured: /v/'s Daughterfu being violently born out of a
mutually agreed upon rejection of The Quinnspiracy's bullshit.

Meanwhile, not a single part of this industry is covering The Fine Young Capitalists charity, something that actually wants to put women in the industry, and - at /v/'s own suggestion! - are actively creating videos to spotlight women who are famous and celebrated for actually working in the industry, not simply being shills for their own celebrity beside it. It's actual activism which would make a difference, small and positive as it is... but because it's not going to get people to bluster about and argue with it, nobody actually fucking cares. The Social Justice focus - at far as these sites are concerned, at any rate - is to make gaming more inclusive and to establish that women are both a part of the marketplace and a creative force in the industry. And yet here's a charity trying to push both of these ideals to the forefront, and they get completely ignored. That's fucked up.

Maybe you're a person who doesn't bother reading EuroGamer or The Escapist or Gamasutra or Rock Paper Shotgun and you have no idea what I'm talking about. God, you'd be a happier person than I am. But the short version is all of this ties into another bizarre phenomenon that, really, has no direct correlation to video games; it's the Social Justice movement embraced by Twitter and Tumblr, which typically seeks to use petty harassment to stamp out sexism, racism, transphobia and so on. The goal seems to be sincere enough, but it can also wear thin when you find bullshit like people being upset that the new Ridley Scott movie "white washes" the royal cast, despite the fact that science's latest testing on the mummy of Rameses II suggests he had naturally red hair, which... isn't a feature usually found on North Africans. In other words, Egyptian royalty were likely a biological melange of Hasidic and Roman lineage, not what a modern day Egyptian would look like. Meanwhile, nobody cares that Christian Bale is playing Moses even though he's Welsh - not a Jew - because... reasons? Or people complaining that Pokemon, when it asks if you're a boy or a girl, doesn't have an "other" option. The people who have gender identity disassociation issues are in a shitty spot; they're such a tiny portion of the population that they naturally don't get any decent representation in media, but expecting a Japanese game franchise that's trying really, really hard not to piss off the rest of the world to do it is expecting the moon on a string. It was about the time I read a piece on how some Social Justice types were putting stickers on Halloween costumes called "Indian" and "Geisha" and so on declaring them 'Racist' along with 'One Size Fits All'. Yeah, that's cute. Also, the only person who gives a shit is the teenager being paid minimum wage who has to peel those fuckers off during his unpaid break. You really showed the man that time, you little rebel. It's with this in mind that the phrase "Social Justice Warrior" is typically used with derision, and typically towards young, outspoken people who clearly mean well, they're just... focusing on the wrong things. If the only thing you took away from Disney's Frozen is how a film set in Norway doesn't acknowledge the Sami ethnicity, you're probably a SJW. And if you think it's horrible that Disney didn't acknowledge a race of people of color living in Norway, chill the fuck out; Renee Zellwigger is a Sami, and that blonde bitch is probably whiter than I am.

Charlie: A unique and important female character in the world of video games.
Either I'm a fucking idiot, or Anita Sarkeesian is. I'll let you decide who.

It's that uniquely focused mindset that's gotten us where we are in so many articles decrying the generic white hero of 7th generation console games, they'll seemingly praise anything that deviates. One of my favorites was the recognition Thomas Was Alone had for a non-sexualized female character, who's - and I'm not kidding - literally a blue square narrated by a man. That's how desperate the SJW side is to praise anything that falls outside of the stock standard and doesn't present women as sexualized. Their talking points are literally anthropomorphized Tetris blocks. I can't even make this shit up if I tried.

Don't get me wrong, the idea behind their argument makes sense; it's really no secret that Whitey has been the center for Western media since media was a concept, and to be honest, I'm as tired of the same old as any of them. That's why I played Thomas Was Alone in the first place. I just don't think that's the direction actual storytelling is going - or, if it is, gaming as a medium to tell unique and interactive stories is going a direction I'm not entirely thrilled with. But then, I'd like to think I'm not a particularly bigoted human being - just a spiteful one. I just generally hate everyone unless they give me reason not to, regardless of gender, race, status or how well they yodel, which I find remains the easiest way to get through life.

Don't get me wrong, though. Saying you'd like RPGs to have more female characters because you're a woman who likes RPGs to have a more similar dialogue to how you'd handle problems, or you're a black man who'd like more dark skinned protagonists in open-world action games makes sense, and I think those are things we should see. Fuck man, I don't care if my fire breathing biologically antihero looks vaguely more like Idris Alba than Aaron Paul, but Jerome might, and I can't think of an example like that since, what, Prototype 2? So cool, give it to him! I don't care, and if he does, everyone's happy. The disconnect here is I don't want some over-sensitive arsehole on The Escapist explaining to me how The Walking Dead adventure game features racial overtones in "every choice". Dude, I've played that game. There are scenes where the ethnicity of the hero are important to other characters, absolutely, and there are also big chunks where it's not; if you really think every moment is about the color of Lee's skin, you're ignoring the fact that the game is multi-layered and nuanced, just like real people are supposed to be.

Hey! Did you know that over half of gamers are women? That's what the ESA has to say on the matter, and I have little doubt that it's true. You know what they neglect to mention? What particular genres and platform women are actually playing. That's kind of a major factor that largely gets ignored, and independant studies in Europe have - unsurprisingly - found that while certain genres, like strategy and roleplaying games have a roughly even male-to-female playerbase, card and simulation games skew towards females, while racing and shooters skew towards males. Hell, Bioware's Mass Effect franchise has been given tons of praise for allowing all genders, races and sexual preferences, specifically catering to the inclusivity ideal that these sites are pushing for... and yet, over 80% of Mass Effect 3 players have played the game with the male version of Commander Shepherd. Even if a large number of those players were female and that none of the FemShep players were male, it further suggests that even when inclusivity is offered, the vast majority is more willing in playing with a male avatar.

Sorry, Nilin. We won't.

Oh hey, what about that weird memory-rewriting Sci-Fi adventure game Remember Me? How pumped all the sites and the comments therein were about how it was new and exciting and had a unique, powerful female lead? And how the developers had such a hard time finding a publisher because the game has you playing as a woman who - gasp! - kisses men, and some of the publishers felt that would make their sweet, sweet young male demographic uncomfortable because ewww, that's gay? Got news for you. It sold like shit. An estimated 140,000 copies across all platforms on release. The people clamoring for better female representation didn't actually support a game that included it, and that's a goddamn fact.

Meanwhile, Dragon's Crown - a game who's massive, jiggly titties were such a hot button issue with the gaming press (despite, as I've discussed at length, said titties being an act of parody at most) - sold upwards of 940,00 copies in about a month. Why did the controversial, exclusionary game sell better? Well, a big part of this is the fact that Remember Me... kind of sucks. It's a cool concept, but the combat is weird and the maps are dull to navigate and the only novel part - the whole memory rewriting thing - just isn't as fun to perform as anyone expected it would be. Remember Me just wasn't very good, and a combination of only lukewarm reviews and no massive marketing push left it to die on the vine. Dragon's Crown, stylistically bankrupt or not, is a fun arcade style brawler that has 4 player local co-op and is a goddamn fun time. The gaming press can and will harp on whatever it likes, but the simple numbers suggest that people actually buying and playing the games aren't nearly as fussed about the gender or non-sexualized nature of the character as the press says they should be. And for fuck's sake, anyone suggesting that "tits" are the only reason Dragon's Crown sold are morons; the player characters are fairly small and the screen fills up with new sprites so quickly you'd probably find it easier to jerk off to a single frame of porn spliced into every reel change of a Disney movie.

But maybe that presumably male-dominated audience just... doesn't like playing as a girl. Maybe everyone who bought Dragons Crown is just playing as The Dwarf, and sexism is still a huge problem! Fair enough. But that doesn't explain the Tomb Raider reboot selling over 6.5 million copies over the course of a year on all platforms.

Wow! It's almost like maybe the majority of the market straight up doesn't care about the avatar, and is just more concerned about the gameplay? Imagine that!

"But sex appeal!" I hear some of you thinking.
It's about as sexy as Auschwitz, all things told.

"If it doesn't matter anyway, why not broaden the audience?" Some theoretical dick might ask. And that's not an inherently bad idea, is it? Lara Croft herself was always just a gender-swapped Indiana Jones, and she even got Rule 63's back into a dude to become Nathan Drake (somehow). But how much impact does the gender, or race, or whatever really have on most games? Certainly gender impacts a game like Beyond: Two Souls or even Bayonetta, but if - for example - the latest Legend of Zelda game really did finally make good on presenting Linkle as a playable heroine... well, so what? The novelty would fascinate me for an hour or two, but the game would still be about chopping down long grass and throwing chickens and stabbing bosses in their big, glowing eye; other than acknowledging that the Legend of Zelda franchise has a number of female fans who'd love to see a bit more of themselves in it, the gameplay isn't fundamentally affected in either way. The argument that "I want more interesting characters" kind of falls on its face when 90% of game characters themselves are written to be without a personality, thus allowing the player all the freedom possible to tell their own story however they like. It's possible to infuse a faceless player character with a voice and a personality - Booker DeWitt, for example - but the Zelda example shows how little things like gender typically matter in the constraints of playing an action or adventure title.

And while a slightly different argument than my own above, if your stance is "more representation in general leads to better social awareness and a gradual rejection of stereotypes" - hey, that's fine. I'm a firm believer that gay marriage acceptance wouldn't be where it is today if non-flaming theater fairies hadn't started popping up in the media and acknowledging that they were exactly the same as you, they just didn't like the same parts as you. I don't really have an argument for that, because it's not entirely entirely true; when all you see are stereotypes and poor representations, you're not trying hard enough. But if you're asking for heroines over heroes, or black heroes over white heroes, or trans-inuit non-playable support characters and then claiming "THAT'D BE MORE INTERESTING!" without acknowledging that game hero characters tend to not be interesting for a reason, you're undercutting your own argument. An "interesting" character is simply a well written and nuanced character, which doesn't inherently adhere to any one gender, race or nationality.

While I agree that that harassment and threats and the like are inappropriate for any community, and there have been some really nasty examples of it in the last few years, it's the selective narrative around them that's been bothering me. I think anyone with a shred of common sense knows that harassment, threatening and generally being a shitty person on the internet is inappropriate; calling someone an asshole on a blog or a YouTube video is fine, but finding their home address is the level of scumlord that makes you literal human garbage. Even then, though, odds are it's just someone with an advanced degree in Googling, not an "actual" threat to your and your family - but that's neither here nor there. Harassment is generally covered as news in the industry... when the victim is female. Because the narrative of the gaming press, infused with those SJW tendancies, is that death threats are just hilarious trolling when targeted at someone who's not already facing an uphill battle in the patriarchal society of game development or criticism. And there's the core of the problem, or at least the core that's led to the bullshit the entire press and the community vested in them are going through right now.

A perfect example of the blinkered coverage in this might be Brad Wardell, the owner of Stardock Software. Kotaku literally posted videos of him literally comparing him to Hitler after a scandal about him sexually harassing an employee came to light... and were promptly thrown out of court for being bullshit. His wife received nasty phone calls over the incident, and people wrote him eMails with his home address threatening to sodomize his son. Was any of that newsworthy? Of course not! In the gaming press, this guy was already the villain, and the only thing he got were a number of redactions pointing out that charges were dismissed - no new coverage to actually clear the air and establish that the woman who filed charges against him was full of shit. Because he's a man. He's married. He couldn't possibly be a victim or harassment in a community where women are treated so much worse, because that's the basic narrative the entire industry of game-focused tabloids have picked up as the only thing worth talking about. If he were black or gay, someone else that isn't the assumed defacto "gamer" audience, maybe we'd have a story... but hey, it is what it is. Zoe Quinn, who's released literally one game nobody was willing to pay for? Front page, bitches. A guy who owns a studio who's released multiple games, accused (but not proven) of wrong-doing, and the coverage of which has directly led to him and his family being harassed? Fuck him, who cares.

The narrative has an end goal, too, but one I'm shocked the gaming press thinks they'll reach without going under. The whole argument that "gamers" have to make room for new audiences and accept that they're no longer the driving force behind the market starts to fall apart, however, if you realize what the ESA numbers are actually counting all games, which include tablets and smart phones and social media games in the same breath they would Call of Duty, Diablo and Smash Brothers. Remember what a big deal the Wii was when it came out, introducing plenty of people who had never played a console game before to the world of games? Remember how game sales for that console outside of first-party franchises, bought by the audience that already existed for Nintendo games to start with, was fucking abysmal? Remember how fucking poorly the Wii U has sold to this point, proving that it was a one-time novelty, not the birth of a generation of middle aged hardcore gamers? Yeah. That's the kind of thing being counted in these studies, and while it's not entirely irrelevant, it does mean that the "new audience" their shallow anti-partiarchal bend has been championing might not be a perfect replacement for the one that already exists, the same way the massive influx of older and less-obsessive players who bought the Wii didn't come back to the gaming well once the fun of Wii Sports wore off. The "core" audience are gamers who are obsessive and pre-order and buy DLC, and even Nintendo is willing to write off the 'casual' audience once they realized that the Wii's success was a one trick pony.

For fuck's sake, if we include "all gamers" into the samples, by far the most popular game on the planet is Candy Crush Saga. FUCKING CANDY CRUSH SAGA. If you want to represent "all gamers", that's what you're pushing for to be thrown into the spotlight. The only thing anyone reading Kotaku or Rock Paper Shotgun cared about that game was the disgusting copyright trolling and subsequent revelation that the developers had willingly and purposely knocked-off games designed by creators they didn't want to spend much money on (because the evils of capitalism fit squarely in the Social Justice basket). In short, the gaming press focuses on the passionate, hardcore  demo that actually gives two squirts about how the industry is fucking them over with pre-order DLC bonuses and wants to know what mechanics are being tweaked in the next sequel, and those players represent a very specific - but equally very valuable - cross section of the market. That's why the majority of the advertising on these sites are for the AAA games themselves being discussed on the sites to begin with.

 Who's laughing now, Gamers?

Prophesying that "Gamers are Dead" so that a Tumblr-ready feminist revival may dance on the graves of the patriarch's treehouse isn't going to happen unless these sites are willing to shift their entire marketing and ad-revenue system to cater to the latest Candy Crush update, and to that, I say good fucking luck. Much as I, personally, may not give the slightest shit about the latest Medal of Honor game, I'm not so naive that I assume the sites I read about the upcoming releases of Metal Gear V and Bloodbourne would even exist without the advertisers pimping the latest city-destroying simulator in the meantime.

And no, stating that demographics are a thing isn't being sexist - nor are they absolute by any means. My wife is better at Saints Row the 3rd than I am, and I'm typically snuggled up with her while she spends fucking around in Skyrim. She's terrible at Metal Gear, but I can't figure out Kojima's bullshit controls either - I'm just better at tranquing and hiding over time. She's awful at Mortal Kombat, but can for some reason beat my ass red in BlazBlue. She also likes The Sims and Terreria, and fuck if I can figure that out. The fact that she has a vagina in no way makes her a less valid player, or less of a target audience for these supposedly "exclusionary" products. But that's because already liking games, she's closer to the "boys club" than the mythical audience that the gaming press thinks wants games to no longer feature extreme violence and sexually charged stupidity. She didn't care that the game Wet sexualized a CG Eliza Dushku; she was just pissed off that the slide function didn't work half the time, and it pulled some Superman 64 bullshit making you ace time trials when we just wanted to be sticking our sweet katana up Malcom McDowell's ass. Her complaints wasn't "This game is sexist." It was "This game isn't nearly as fun as it should be.", and she's far less forgiving of lapses in entertainment than I am. She also slogged through all but the last map of Kane and Lynch 2 with me, because fuck it, a couples shooter that really wants to be a new Michael Mann movie? I'm in, warts and all. We'd have finished it if the game weren't such a pile of buggy shit that it literally locked up on the final stretch twice.

So what of GamerGate, or The QuinnSpiracy, or TheSchism-Something or whatever the fuck the forum warriors are calling it at this point? I can tell you that things are only getting uglier as the week wears on. Devin Faraci posted photos of YouTuber Boogie2988 to point out that his opposition was a bunch of overweight neck-beards; what he neglects to mention is that Boogie himself has been perfectly neutral on this controversy, and is about the sweetest lump of a guy you could hope to find in the wretched tradition of Guys Talking Into Their Webcam On The Internet. If anything, The Internet Aristocrat is kind of a pompous asshole and would be a more fitting example of something that weakens the defending argument, but because he's got a more handsome avatar he's not nearly as much fun to shit all over. Adam Baldwin has posted several tweets in support of games journalism cleaning up its act, only for Leigh Alexander to ask if he's the washed-up crackhead of a Baldwin. Luke Plunkett posted a dime-store version of Alexander's "No More Gamers" article, and ended it with blatant confirmation that he'd purge any comments that weren't "nice". Total Biscuit has consistently declared that people have some fucking perspective, with his best point to date being (and I'm paraphrasing) that if fantasy violence doesn't directly impact your life, neither should fantasy misogyny. Bob Chipman has been so adamant and ridiculous about calling gamers MRA scum over the last week that The Escapist has shut down it's Twitter Feed completely, and acknowledges that shit has gotten to the point of being ridiculous. Faraci continues to compare anyone who stands against Zoe Quinn to the KKK, and Zoe - a literal nothing in this fight - to Martin Luther King. (I think even the KKK would be offended by that comparison.) For better or worse, it appears that little has actually happened at PAX, where there was talk of protests and handing out flyers about Vivian James and TFYC charity, but when the other side claimed that said flyers actually contained links to Zoe Quinn's nude photos they decided that keeping it to internet chatter was, by far, the safest way to keep tabs on everything and not give the other side any more ammunition. In the meantime, /v/ is compiling a list of advertisers that promote each of the sites funneling the gaming media, so that anyone who's legitimately sick of it all can simply eMail the advertisers directly, tell them which writer convinced them to split, and let the rest work itself out.

And before I forget, there's now a push to call people who support the 'death of the gamer' to call themselves "Gamers+". You know, like Atheism+! Which... how did that end, exactly? Look it up if you want a laugh. In the meantime, here's a piece of photoshop that may be satire and it may not. This shit is so asinine I don't even care anymore.

*opens mouth, finds no words, closes mouth again*
Ah, okay. /v/ made it as a joke. I think?

At this point, I can't even pretend to keep up: I'm 40 pages behind the current state of affairs, and last I saw was EuroGamer posting an article about "Why we Need Zoe Quinn", and I nearly threw up in my mouth. No, Dan Whitehead; we really don't need a shitty Twine game that makes the average Japanese porn game from 1996 look positively nuanced, and the fact that you're only posting this two weeks after release as the fires of fury are still burning proves you're just doing this because you know you'll get a thousand angry comments, each one a delicious drop in the ad-revenue bucket. A shame, since Digital Foundary is about the only technically inclined place out there. Meanwhile a writer from Forbes has publicly admitted his previous article - calling gamers mysoginistic sociopaths - was way off base, and is currently trying to get an interview with The Fine Young Capitalist to further awareness of their cause. Ain't that some shit? The gaming press it burying itself in the sand while "real" journalistic websites are realizing that the cottage industry of angry bloggers poised as game critics has been a sham all along... I fully expect a few heads to roll in the coming weeks, and I'm making it a point to keep tabs on which authors have only been going out of their way to call me an asshole so I can do my best to avoid them.

The side that wants Social Justice to carve the heart out the current state of affair in favor of guilt and shame says "No More Gamers" doesn't have a leg to stand on at this point, and I'm shocked they're even continuing to rabble and holler, considering they don't even seem to know what they want, whereas the gamers themselves are just looking to be treated with a little respect by their purported representatives in the media that literally depends on them to exist. I stand on the edge of the abyss and shake my head, remembering one thing: Gamers Respawn. Leigh Alexander, Bob Chipman and Anita Sarkeesian have had their day, and I'm certainly sick of reading their bullshit. Zoe Quinn herself was bit the match that lit the powder keg, and I'm confident that in time, the fact that she fucked five guys will be forgotten, even if the lingering fallout clings to everything that surrounded that fact. I just know I'm going to continue picking through the last 40 or so pages of The Escapist forum, and make a concentrated effort not to read the rest of their site going forward... oh, wait, Yahtzee's still there. *Sigh* Fuck it. I'll go once a week, then.

If I have to get every bit of legitimate gaming news from Yong Yea, so be it; I doubt I'm missing much by side-stepping a new article about how, I'unno, Bloodbourne having sexualized harpy enemies is bad for the medium or what-the-fuck-ever else they decide is worth bitching about.

So... enough of that. If you actually want to make a difference and support progressive, sincere support for getting more women into game design, give The Fine Young Capitalists $5. Don't take my word for it, even Adam Baldwin thinks you should. You gonna' argue with a Baldwin, even if he isn't Alec Tier? Didn't think so. If you don't care about furthering a feminist approach to game design, hey, that's fine too! Being a consumer and not looking at the "big picture" of an industry that thrives on a specific demographic just so survive doesn't, contrary to the snarling and eye-rolling of sociopaths with an agenda that has nothing to do with games themselves, somehow make you a bad person. Odds are you'll be hearing about the "Death of Gamers" a lot less in the near future anyway.

Also, because my brain can't deal with this shit anymore, here's an article about the U.S. House being banned from editing Wikipedia for constantly adding transphobic slurs to the Orange is the New Black page. It even mentions Anita Sarkeesian! WHAT THE FUCK IS EVEN--

As a pallet cleanser, here's a cute love letter from the guy who made Thomas Was Alone - a decent and clever game you should play because it's fun and unique, just not one I'd pick as a Feminist Icon, that's all. Personally, I'm going to go play some MGS3: Snake Eater HD and remind myself that I can enjoy games without picking through hundreds of articles telling me how awful I am for it.

UPDATE #1.1: Here's a FANTASTIC ARTICLE about what the "No More Gamers" people evidently want. It's written by a community member rather than a staffer, but it is being hosted by GamaSutra, which is, again, the ground zero of Alexander Leigh's "No More Gamers" bullshit. The literal comparison to terrorists are a nice touch, but by far my favorite part is this:

We stop upholding “fun” as the universal, ultimate criterion for a game’s relevance. It’s a meaningless ideal at best and a poisonous priority at worst. Fun is a neurological trick. Plenty of categorically unhealthy things are “fun”. Let’s try for something more. Many of the alternatives will have similarly fuzzy definitions, but let’s aspire to qualities like “edifying”, “healing”, “pro-social”, or even “enlightening”. I encourage you to decide upon your own alternatives to “fun” in games (while avoiding terms like “cool” and “awesome” and any other word that simply caters to existing, unexamined biases).

I've been mainlining so much of this shit the past two weeks that Poe's Law is taking hold; I can no longer instantly tell what's real and what's satire. So maybe I'm just not in on the joke anymore, I can't tell. But if this is even close to how the people on the other side of this argument really, honestly feel... I don't even have a conscious thought to articulate against it. "GAMES DON'T NEED TO BE FUN." That's like saying food doesn't need to be edible.



It is as it was.

Anonymous said...

All I can say that I'm glad that game "blogging" (really, let's not dignify it as journalism) is finally getting the proverbial kick in the nuts that it's been begging for.

In fact, the most eerie thing about this debacle is how it mirrors the off-kilter infamous codec sequence at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2:

And if you've missed it Kentai, what I love the most right now are the half-assed apologies from disingenuous dunderheads like Bob Chipman, who apologizes about how he "expressed himself" in regards to characterizing those mean old misogynist gamers, but keeps of tweeting in support of Anita and trash talking his audiences of so-called nerds. It's like a dog with its tail between its legs that still tries to eek out a petulant stand-offish bark.

And then you have people like Justin Sevakis who are self-proclaimed non-gamers but decide to dip their toes in the argument anyway... by tweeting in favor of these SJWs. But I'll leave it at that, if being uninformed is makes 'em happy, so be it.