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 13:38 on 13-09-2014, Pear
Robinson L., you describe 'having been' That Guy.

Well, congratulations, you are being That Guy right now! WAHEEEY *party poppers, kazoos*

It's okay. Have a seat.
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at 13:28 on 13-09-2014, Jamie Johnston
Robinson — I think we can safely assume that Pear and Cheriola did not mean that literally anyone who ever refers to 'SJWs' in a critical way is necessarily wrong and should be ignored.

Of course it's possible to use that sort of term, like the way 'minority warrior' is used round these parts, in highlighting how some attempts to oppose oppression are actually unhelpful. But it's abundantly clear from the context that that is not what we're talking about at the moment, and I'm not sure it's useful to turn it into the topic of conversation.

Both '~ah but what you've just said is not literally true in every single case because of this counter-example that is clearly nothing to do with the substance of what you were saying~' and '~ah but let's scrutinize the terminology you're using even though we all understand what you mean by it and there's no suggestion that it's harmful~' are fairly classic derails, even if not intended as such.
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at 20:00 on 12-09-2014, Robinson L
It's been a few years since I saw that stuff, but I definitely get the impression Valse (and other women, people of color, and people from other marginalized groups) have been burned by well-meaning but wrong-headed white people trying to be helpful without putting sufficient critical thinking into what they were actually saying and doing. Having been That Guy myself on occasion, and seen plenty of instances of my fellow white/male/straight/[insert any number of other privilege categories here] people Doing It Wrong over the years; I don't find it too much of a stretch.
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at 19:14 on 12-09-2014, Bjoern
white people who uncritically support writers of color without seeming regard for whether that writer's works are, in fact, completely horrible and offensive

Do these people actually exist?
Seems like a strawman to me.
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at 18:30 on 12-09-2014, Robinson L
I'm pretty sure I saw Valse use a similar term (one which included the words "social justice") as pejorative to refer to "white people who uncritically support writers of color without seeming regard for whether that writer's works are, in fact, completely horrible and offensive." So I guess she might argue that it can, in fact, be a bad thing when the people doing the standing up consistently half-ass it and don't apply sufficient critical analysis to the task.

... I do not for a moment, of course, suspect that this is what's happening in the case currently under discussion, it was just a thought that occurred to me.

"Is it time for feminists to step off our hobby?"/blockquote>
*Facepalm* Because of the grammatical construction and because I seem to be pathologically drive always to put the least awful interpretation upon everything I see, I initially interpreted that as "Is it time for feminists [like myself] to step off our [gaming] hobby [because of all the misogynist backlash we've been getting]?" and it wasn't until I was most of the way through that a paragraph that I realized how you were reading that header. Sadly, now that I've got it, I'm sure your interpretation is the correct one.
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at 02:58 on 12-09-2014, Cheriola
Anyone who sincerely believes in and criticises "SJWs" shows they are a dolt and bigot and I'm not inclined to listen to their thoughts on the treatment of women.


Oh yeah, it's like the new "political correctness" in the way you can use it as a litmus test to see who is worth listening to. It's like... What on Earth is wrong with you that you would think standing up for the rights of people who aren't part of your own social group and/or minority and sympathising with their plight could ever be a bad thing? How ignorant and unselfaware do you have to be not to realise you've just outed yourself as a bigoted creep just by making that judgement?

Only last night I was reading old entries in the Bad Webcomic wiki out of sheer insomniac boredom, and while most of the reviewers there see things like racism and sexism as serious critical points in a comic, I also ran across the phrase "panders to social justice warriors". And lo and behold, the rest of that review also featured the slurs "pansy" and "cunt", despite the reviewer seeming otherwise unaware that he is a douche.


I don't have anything to contribute to the topic, again, mainly because my computers are so slow and old that I haven't bought a new game in like a decade. Though it strikes me from Pear's description that it's really just the same old anti-feminist backlash (intersectional version) and lack of genuine male ally-dom (allyhood? allyship?), just with other terms and in a different arena.

I had heard of the newest threats against Anita Sarkeesian, of course, but I hadn't come across the phrase "GamerGate". Though I do look into The Escapist at least weekly, (I enjoy a couple of the video reviews in a I-don't-have-anything-better-to-do kind of way) and despite idly glancing over the article headlines and titles of popular forum threads while waiting for the videos to load, I hadn't noticed until you started mentioning it here. And a day or two later, it was all over The Escapist as well. Huh.

I was actually staring in some morbid amazement at the thread title "Is it time for feminists to step off our hobby?" yesterday. I wasn't tempted to read the thread, because it has over 700 posts, presumably mostly vitriol. But, just... How do you put so much self-damning awfulness from so many angles into so few words? It's almost like some sort of vile piece of art. (i.e It manages to convey the poster is not a feminist, considers being a feminist to be a bad thing, considers gaming inherently a hobby that feminists have no right to and wouldn't naturally engage in if not to complain (a boy's club), considers it his perogative to exclude people from the hobby if he doesn't like them... And that's just before we get to the trolling (= purposefully upsetting and shit-storm-provoking = sadistic/sociopathic) goal of the question, or before we ever consider that he might be so benighted and clueless to actually be serious in his inquiry...)

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at 13:15 on 10-09-2014, Pear
Thank you, Daniel F.

Arthur, I'm always glad for your observations. Anyone who sincerely believes in and criticises "SJWs" shows they are a dolt and bigot and I'm not inclined to listen to their thoughts on the treatment of women.

Generally I understand that we can care about several things at once. That's a given to me. One could, hypothetically, care about the integrity games journalism and about the harassment of women, folks with disabilities, and queer folx working in tech. You could even say they go hand-in-hand.

But that is not what's happening, because criticism about the integrity of games journalism is coming from the viewpoint of the entitled shitlord.

I'd say the complaints about the generalisation of the scrublord geekdom are derails. Alright, to be fair, they're not merely screaming man-toddlers. They're also unethical misogynists who have threatened the safety of at least two women working in tech, have released the nude photos of one of them, and treat this harassment as a long-running joke. They've shown no sign of regret, nor stopping their hateful campaigns. Temper tantrum by adults which run unchecked have the power to harm. I've a friend who works in games journalism, a queer woman, and each day I see her being trolled and called slurs.

Male gamers do shitty things and then are surprised and offended and say, 'Not ALL gamers,' when called out. If someone points out you've done a shitty thing, and you get defensive and start equivocating--that's a red flag. Male gamers feel needled by certain criticisms but do little to listen and make reparations. They're so, so far off from realising that these criticisms are well-deserved; in their minds, they're the aggrieved party. I suspect they treat their own geekdom as not a pattern of consumption, but a culture born of objects and stories venerated on the margins of society, therefore anyone saying bad things about said culture is engaging in a kind of anti-geek oppression. Those darn ~*SJWs*~, right?

Where rot is observed in the community at large, there needs to be a collective effort to address these concerns. Where are the male gamers calling out other male gamers for their misogyny? Where are the male gamers saying, 'Hey, knock this shit off'? Where are the male gamers sincerely lending their support to women and queer folx? There are some, but not enough.
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at 11:19 on 09-09-2014, Arthur B
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.

Nah, dude, it really isn't.

For starters, although it mentions InternetAristocrat's (first) video on the subject, it conveniently glosses over the actual content of that video. InternetAristocrat likes to loudly rant about how he's documenting all this in the name of journalistic ethics!!!, but apparently doesn't have enough ethics not to crack a heap of jokes about Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a gag the Zoe Post started in reference to Zoe's alleged promiscuous behaviour.

On top of that, his video on the subject is fairly consistent in terms of tone and agenda to much of the rest of his YouTube channel. The guy likes to attack more or less anyone he perceives as a "social justice warrior" and any cause he deems to be associated with them. He cultivates this, well, Internet aristocrat persona to try and seem sophisticated and charming, and yet he's more than happy to wheel out the odd anti-gay slur here and there. He's put out videos attacking the very concept of ableism and white privilege as ideas, which fairly clearly demonstrates the ideological viewpoint he's coming from.

Later, cainejw's narrative tries to say that GamerGate didn't arise from misogyny by linking Adam Baldwin's twitter post, but Adam Baldwin's post links to InternetAristocrat's videos, videos whose very titles are based around a misogynistic, slut-shaming joke. cainejw also pulls the classic tactic of trying to shut down all talk about sexism by defining misogyny as "dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women" and suggesting that that means that unless someone overtly says I HATE WOMEN they can't be doing anything misogynistic - so apparently in cainejw's eyes linking to a troll YouTuber's videos who go for the slut-shaming angles when they name their YouTube videos on this subject isn't misogynistic.

Sorry, dude, but even scanning the post briefly I'm finding some pretty serious holes in it.
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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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