Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 04:23 on 09-09-2014, Daniel F
Fair enough. You have my apologies.
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at 03:10 on 09-09-2014, Pear
Perhaps we see hateful, screaming shitbeard man-toddlers involved in this because we and our communities are the ones who suffer harassment at their hands. Pretty easy to block out their violence when you're not the one being hit.

Let me spell it out for you: if other people (esp. women and people of genders and sexualities other than straight cis man) are saying sexism and harassment are a really big issue in any given situation, and you're all 'SURE IT'S A PART OF IT, BUT I HAVE READ LOTS OF STUFF SO I DON'T WANT TO SAY IT'S ALL BAD, AND I HOPE FOR THE GOOD STUFF AS WELL,' it's not a terribly good thing to say. If the situation is about geekdom, it simply makes you sound like another common or garden shitlord.

Just stop, okay. Stop.
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at 00:59 on 09-09-2014, Daniel F
This is a pretty decent rundown of how GamerGate was more or less exclusively spawned and driven by hate.


I have actually already read that one. Full disclosure: for the past fortnight or so I've been moderating a fierce discussion of these issues elsewhere, so I've had to read quite a bit. What I can't do is bring myself to say that everyone involved in this protest is unreasonable or being motivated by hate. The deathofgamergate tumblr post maintains that same strawman: 'screaming toddlers' and so on.

I don't want to get into a link war with you, but while I've been reading explanations like deathofgamergate, I've also been reading explanations like this one, which seem credible enough to me.

Again, I'm not disputing that sexist politics were deeply embroiled in this thing. Everyone knew about Kane & Lynch, but that didn't blow up. Linking corruption to Quinn created a story, with personal drama, which as best I can see allowed a long-festering protest to finally explode. If we must compare it to neo-Nazis, there was neo-Nazi support for Occupy Wall Street. The hate protest is more deeply connected to how GamerGate started than how OWS started, though. Maybe that taints it.

*sigh* Put it this way. I have my hopes that something good might still come out of GamerGate, as well as the bad.
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at 16:28 on 08-09-2014, Arthur B
@Michal: Oh, I thought those dudes had mobilised their own fanbases for that effort.
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at 16:15 on 08-09-2014, Michal
@Arthur: It's the thing that got Warbound and "Opera Vita PoorlyconjugatedfauxLatin" Hugo nominations.
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at 14:33 on 08-09-2014, Arthur B
That's a really good point, actually, particularly since if you are looking for the real scandal in games journalism, it'll be in payola and skullduggery surrounding advertising revenue and sponsorship, as the Death of GamerGate article points out with the Kane & Lynch example, and only AAA developers and publishers really have the deep pockets necessary to indulge in that sort of bribery on a regular basis.
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at 14:19 on 08-09-2014, Fin
Yeah, from my perspective as a genderqueer aspiring game dev all the talk of protesting corruption in the industry just looks like a smokescreen for a campaign of harassment and it terrifies me. The charges of corruption seem to only be levied at marginalised indie developers and critics, because hey why care about the things AAA developers get up to when there are minorities trying to take away their toys?
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at 11:04 on 08-09-2014, Arthur B
@Michal: Sad puppy slate?

@Daniel F:
You're absolutely right about not becoming entangled with hate movements; but I suppose I'm not sure that's what GamerGate is.

It is, it really is, you really don't have to spend too long researching how it kicked off and who's driving it and who the core organisers are to work out that it is.

This is a pretty decent rundown of how GamerGate was more or less exclusively spawned and driven by hate.

Moreover, it seems like a nasty silencing move, to me, to say "You should not criticise journalism right now because hate groups are also criticising it."

Which isn't what I'm saying, what I am saying is that at the moment if you want to criticise gaming journalism you're going to need to actively distance yourself from the toxic anti-Quinn/anti-Sarkeesian howling because otherwise you risk contributing nitpicking about the mote in gaming journalism's eye whilst ignoring the log in fandom's.

Like it or not, GamerGate is the big story around gaming journalism at the moment and if you're going to comment on gaming journalism people will expect you to have an opinion about it one way or the other. Otherwise it's like trying to talk about Middle East politics without mentioning the Islamic State; there may well be a lot to talk about, but there's a huge story overshadowing the rest of it and you're not really telling the whole story if you ignore it.

The word 'GamerGate' is not a slogan in itself, and it's hardly an inherently offensive term.

"Confederate States of America" was not an offensive term prior to the 1860s, but it sure has connotations now.

In practical terms, I think "You can criticise gaming journalism but don't affiliate yourself with GamerGate" comes off as "You can't criticise gaming journalism". It's just too polarised. Whether you use the term or not, criticising gaming journalism right now will be interpreted as GamerGate.

Well, no, if you actively make the point that the hate campaigners are hate campaigners and distance yourselves from them (and do your fact-checking to make sure you aren't parroting some of their more reasonable-sounding concocted talking points) then you can go right ahead and criticise gaming journalism. People might try to connect you to GamerGate anyway, but if you have made your stance on it clear enough (and done your fact-checking to make sure you are dealing with real information rather than something concocted by one of its proponents) then they won't be able to do so very credibly.
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at 02:27 on 08-09-2014, Michal
it's like trying to protest Israeli government actions and letting neo-Nazis share a platform with you.

Or in more Ferretbrain-relevant terms, like expressing your dissatisfaction with the way the Hugo Awards are run by throwing your lot in with Larry Correia & the sad puppy slate.
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at 02:01 on 08-09-2014, Daniel F
Sure, I think all of that makes sense. As you say, it did come up with ME3. As I said, it's tapped into much wider frustration. So the way it comes off to me is that dissatisfaction with gaming media has been percolating for a long time, and in this case, a somewhat misogynistic original protest and an incredibly quick, univocal, and dismissive response from media outlets were the spark needed for that dissatisfaction to become a general protest.

You're absolutely right about not becoming entangled with hate movements; but I suppose I'm not sure that's what GamerGate is. Moreover, it seems like a nasty silencing move, to me, to say "You should not criticise journalism right now because hate groups are also criticising it." The word 'GamerGate' is not a slogan in itself, and it's hardly an inherently offensive term. If you want to force real change in games journalism, you need to tap into a strong vein of public support, don't you? In practical terms, I think "You can criticise gaming journalism but don't affiliate yourself with GamerGate" comes off as "You can't criticise gaming journalism". It's just too polarised. Whether you use the term or not, criticising gaming journalism right now will be interpreted as GamerGate.

I suppose I'm inclined to be generous because GamerGate is where those criticisms are being made and it seems like the best chance of getting them addressed that has existed for some time; and because there have been a few credible efforts to disassociate GamerGate from the hateful voices within it.

Argh. Sorry. This conversation probably isn't going anywhere good.
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at 14:04 on 07-09-2014, Arthur B
@Daniel F - Wasn't meaning to suggest that objections to the state of game journalism were illegitimate just because they were old, I was more emphasising the fact that that isn't a new discussion. It comes up perennially and is a regular side dish in other gaming controversies. (For instance, in the Mass Effect 3 debacle lots of people noted a decided disconnect between the attitude of many games journalists and the response of the fanbase to the ending.)

The point I wanted to make was that GamerGate didn't invent objecting to games journalism. Literally the only thing novel about GamerGate is that it was inspired by a grumpy man's one-sided account of a messy breakup.

If you want to present credible criticism of games journalism, the last thing you want to do is get entangled in this GamerGate stuff. To use a potentially inflammatory example, it's like trying to protest Israeli government actions and letting neo-Nazis share a platform with you. There might be good reasons for you to object to what you are objecting to, but unless you distance yourself from extremist dickwads your good points are going to be overshadowed by the fact that you are sharing a platform with actual hate groups. And if you use their slogans (ike "GamerGate"), you're opening up your platform to them.
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at 12:42 on 07-09-2014, Jamie Johnston
... if you want something to counter people talking shit about how it's a spontaneous protest against game journalism corruption rather than an organised harassment campaign against individuals, here's something.

As it happens I used that storify for exactly that purpose yesterday! Alas, there are always people (not on this site, I think) who will resort to extreme mental gymnastics rather than change their minds. In this case the response, as far as I could decipher it, was that all those IRC screen-shots must have been fabricated by Quinn! o_o
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at 12:06 on 07-09-2014, Daniel F
...dangit, just realised that made it sound like I have sympathy with attacks on women developers and journalists. I don't mean that. I mean that I sympathise with "games media are awful and we should push them to be less awful".
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at 12:02 on 07-09-2014, Daniel F
Right, but I'm wary of using "it's not new" as an excuse to delegitimise protest. It's absolutely the case that the GamerGate protest was touched off by this Quinn business, and that was filled with everything you just described; but to the extent that the movement now has a life of its own, it's because there is more going on with it than just hatred of female promiscuity.

That's what I find most interesting about it, and where I find room for sympathy. I don't think GamerGate would be what it is if it hadn't tapped into a much wider feeling of frustration. Harassment of female video game pundits has happened before, but without leading to this much fury directed at the entire field of online games journalism. What's made it a wider protest this time? Why have a handful of attacks on women in gaming led to a massive outpouring of discontent with online games media?
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at 09:44 on 07-09-2014, Arthur B
Games journalism being in cahoots with the industry to retain favourable access to previews and review copies, and more generally entertainment journalism being in cahoots with the relevant entertainment industry for similar benefits, is as old as the hills and the resultant terrible quality of journalism is well known. (There's a Zappa quote to the effect that music journalism consists of people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read.) Criticism of this state of affairs is fair, valid, and not new.

GamerGate, however, the specific hashtag and associated outpouring, isn't just wrapped up with and helped along by vile garbage, it was specifically spawned by said garbage using vague notions of journalistic integrity as a stick to beat women with. Witness the fact that, to my knowledge anyway, there's barely anyone on the pro-GamerGate side who is able to discuss the issue without alluding to the Zoe Quinn saga.
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at 03:32 on 07-09-2014, Daniel F
I don't think anyone regularly reading this page is likely to have much sympathy for GamerGate nonsense, but if you want something to counter people talking shit about how it's a spontaneous protest against game journalism corruption rather than an organised harassment campaign against individuals, here's something.

I suppose I'll be daring and say that I'm not without sympathy for the gaming protest.

It's beyond question that sexism/misogyny played a major role in getting this whole protest started, and that there's still a nasty current of hate running through it; but it seems to me that it's also difficult to deny that games journalism is terrible. As much as I dislike the 'gamer' identity, the GamerGate protest does seem to have a legitimate point about online gaming media being in bed with developers.

The difficulty I have is that legitimate protest is wrapped up with and indeed helped along by a lot of vile garbage. The protest itself is so diverse and multivocal that it's nigh-impossible to generalise about the people carrying it out. It's not just 4Chan, is it? It's a movement that started in a quite sexist place, and which still incorporates a substantial contingent of people who seem to view it as an opportunity to strike back at a 'social justice warrior' strawman: but neither of those points mean that the movement is wrong about gaming journalism. GamerGate has the power it does precisely because it's right about journalism.
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at 23:07 on 06-09-2014, James D
So, the Pathologic remake kickstarter is off to a good start. I admit, I'm pretty excited.
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at 19:51 on 06-09-2014, Arthur B
So it turns out that Zoe Quinn has been monitoring and documenting the 4Chan "GamerGate" harassment army's IRC channels for weeks and caught them planning all kinds of shit.

I don't think anyone regularly reading this page is likely to have much sympathy for GamerGate nonsense, but if you want something to counter people talking shit about how it's a spontaneous protest against game journalism corruption rather than an organised harassment campaign against individuals, here's something.
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at 04:53 on 04-09-2014, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Yeah, I was talking about the movie. I rewatched it a little while ago, and I just started to notice some affinities between it and the generic concept of New Weird. We've got the bugs, of course, but we've also got the teeming exotic urban environment of the Interzone, with peoples and beings mixing, interacting, and merging. We've got all manner of social and sexual transgressions. We've even got the horror aspect with Cronenberg's focus on sex, transformation, and human grotesquerie. (Seriously, the entire movie is just seething in malignant organicy.) There's nothing in the movie that can be argued in sf terms, and it also leaves the possibility that everything is in Bill Lee's head easily arguable, but there's a fair amount of material.

Honestly, this is one of those "brainstorm at 2 AM" ideas. The big difference with Blade Runner is that the latter appeared just as cyberpunk was getting underway and immediately influenced the subgenre, while New Weird began to appear about a decade after Naked Lunch. 'Course, a number of the initial wave of New Weird authors were publishing material they'd written in the 1990s (or earlier) that sat in desk drawers/untranslated before Perdido Street Station showed there was a market for these books, so Cronenberg's influence is not out of the question for some.
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at 03:38 on 04-09-2014, James D
Oh duh, I misread Alisdair's original post as being about Naked Lunch the book, not the Cronenberg movie.

Honestly, I don't think there's a single movie that encapsulates the pseudo-archaic "look" of New Weird like Blade Runner does for cyberpunk. Maybe The City of Lost Children?
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at 23:45 on 03-09-2014, Arthur B
Well, as a literary inspiration rather than a cinematic one, I'd say that Viriconium is more like what Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is to cyberpunk. ;)
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at 22:56 on 03-09-2014, James D
I'd say the title of "the New Weird's Blade Runner" goes to M John Harrison's Viriconium series, if anything. It has the focus on a single richly-described fictional urban setting; the mixture of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror; the dream-like atmosphere; the post-modern aspirations; the vivid, bordering on purple sensory descriptions; the focus on characters and individual scenes rather than a driving plot as the primary source of interest.

Of course, M John Harrison is a much better author than any of the New Weird types, at least from what I've read.
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at 10:41 on 03-09-2014, Arthur B
You mean like how Blade Runner synthesised a lot of the influences on cyberpunk into an aesthetic which cyberpunk subsequently latched onto and ran with?

I mean, I get what you're saying with the bugs, but I don't recall much New Weird with an actual 1950s beat aesthetic (or, for that matter, genuine Weird on a Burroughs scale).
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at 05:04 on 03-09-2014, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Topic question: Is David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch to the New Weird what Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is to cyberpunk?
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