#WeAreGamers

#GamerGate.

I’m a straight, white, cisgendered man which means I can pretty much say whatever the fuck I like about these people and still fly under their radar because their farcical “movement” is solely dedicated to the mass intimidation and harassment of women and professional journalists. #GamerGate’s arguments have an antagonistic relationship with logic, morality, reality, and basic common sense. They allege, that a vast conspiracy of feminists and “SJWs” (Social Justice Warriors, which, as a tip, if you are calling your archenemies “Justice Warriors” you just might be part of the Legion of Doom) control the games industry, control games journalism, and are using their nefarious vaginae to manipulate millions of people into unwittingly destroying the art form they love most.

That is what #GamerGate actually thinks. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

#GamerGate is not an activist movement. It is not about journalistic integrity, it does not have the best interests of the games industry or indeed any industry at heart. It is a hate group, a lynch mob. This is not difficult stuff.

To call the position lunacy, is to put it mildly, but it isn’t insane as much as it is diversion. The movement’s concerns have nothing to do with the quality of video games, or the content of them. The true goals are simple: Silence Women. Deny them their rights. Drive them from their homes, threaten them with rape, violence, murder. Actively conspire to drive women with opposing viewpoints to suicide, and at the end of the day, when confronted with evidence of your actions, scream “False Flag!” shroud yourself in noble intention and ignore criticism because fuck those people, they’re not us. They’re “Others”. They’re Feminists, they’re SJWs. To call it troubling is insufficient.

Where did this begin? How did it get so far? Why are we still talking about it? Well, as many of you will know, it all started when a man named Eron Gjoni posted a massive amount of highly personal and private information in what might be the single most massive breach of trust by any jilted ex I have ever seen on the internet. His novella-length tirade, which I will not under any circumstances link, is filled with screenshots of private conversations, along with his own editorializing. Whether his claims regarding his relationship with Zoe Quinn are true or not is entirely irrelevant. There is no justification for his actions in publicizing intensely private details out of pure malice.
Anyone who’s spent five minutes on 4chan knows what posting this screed there will result in. Instant lynch mob. Gjoni maintains he only posted this information because he wants people to “know the truth” about who Zoe Quinn is. Which is, of course, utter bullshit. He was, transparently, seeking revenge. Now, I don’t doubt that the man feels some degree of remorse now that he can behold the full form and horror of the monster that he unleashed on the world, but it is his monster. A monster adopted by those consumed by their own insecurity, self-hatred, and misogyny to rally around.

Hatred of feminists and those percieved as “SJWs” is sadly nothing new to the video game industry. It is an industry notable for its many and frequent fuckups on just about everything to do with gender politics, sexuality, and the general existence of women. That so many women have remained in spite of these unforced errors on behalf of developers, publishers, journalists, and consumers is testament not to how much they seek to destroy video games as #GamerGate would have you believe, but rather proof of their deep and abiding love for video games. That this is not more obvious is a sad reflection on ourselves as a culture.

Today, The Escapist ran an article  purporting to share the opinions of “Game Developers” regarding #GamerGate. The developers they dug up to comment, all male, were, oddly enough, not exactly what you or I might think of when we hear the term. Namely, they were prominent, hardline #GamerGaters. The article was originally run with the headline “Game Developers on #GamerGate”. When this was publicly contrasted with the title of the preceeding article, “Female Game Developers Share Their Views on #GamerGate” by Alex Lifschitz  it was eventually changed to the slightly more representative “What Male Game Developers Think About #GamerGate. Another telling comparison? The first article, found here, is credited to the byline “Anonymous Female Game Developers) while the later article is attributed to “The Escapist Staff”. This simple shift indicates a publication’s support for one viewpoint over the other, as do their unchanged original URLs. The earlier article, from the Anonymous Female Game Developers has a simple URL reflecting its content. The article that ran today, however, has a URL that reads “Game Developer #GamerGate Interviews Shed Light on Women in Games.”

It is clear that this article has not only been revised after publication following the deserved outcry but was potentially revised prior to initial publication, suggesting an earlier, even more biased and incendiary version. As it stands, the article is little more than an open platform for #GamerGate supporters to spew their toxins and false premise with a veneer of editorial legitimacy. Want to see what #GamerGate is really about? Go to the mentions feed of pretty much any woman working anywhere near the games industry. Here, I’ll even help you out.

That’s today. That’s just a few hours ago. Brianna Wu, of Giant Spacekat and Isometric Podcast, a person entirely uninvolved in the events surrounding The Escapist article, was doxxed and threatened in extremely specific terms.

“I’ve got a K-Bar and I’m coming to your house so I can shove it up your ugly feminist cunt”

“Your mutilated corpse will be on the front page of Jezebel tomorrow and there isn’t jack shit you can do about it”

This is #GamerGate. We as modern human beings, men and women of conscience, cannot afford to stand by and hope it goes away anymore. As Zoe Quinn herself has put it, “There is no ‘both sides’ here. People against GG’s actions are not organized, or campaigning, or using a hashtag. There’s a mob, and their targets.”

I think it is time to change that. Yes, it is depressing, it is saddening, it is maddening. We are rightfully ashamed of #GamerGaters and afraid of what they are capable of. We have seen their organization convince the world’s largest manufacturer of microprocessors to pull advertisments from Gamasutra. We have seen them drive Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian from their homes. We have seen them threaten the lives of pretty much every woman who works in the industry and doesn’t keep that fact as secret and safe as the fucking One Ring. Perhaps the best essayist to ever work in games writing, Jenn Frank, was convinced to abandon the industry altogether. Simply put, they are not going away and they are getting what they want. And their charade of standing for honesty and integrity and a great many other noble-sounding things has earned them enough support for sites as formerly-prestigious as The Escapist to pretend as if there is actually a debate going on here.

We are gamers. Our silence must not continue. #WeAreGamers. Pass it on.

Additional Information:
Timeline of today’s lunacy as regards The Escapist.

Thanks to commenter Avalon for providing the link to The Verge’s story on Intel caving to #GamerGate’s pressure.

Advertisements

Protected: The Case for PAX

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Thank You

If you only check my blog, and that would seem improbable you don’t know that I’ve been fighting cancer since late July. Its been mostly waiting so far and now that chemo has begun I wanted to, now that I’m one week in on the Big Fight write up a little list of all the people who’ve been awesome and put it online so you all know it. I’ve probably forgotten some people, chemo makes me scatter-brained. I’m sorry in advance. Everyone below has personally done something that has made this fight one worth fighting.

And so, in stream-of-consciousness order:

THANK YOU

Travis Maxwell
Bridgette DeFelice
Corey Greenhawk
Marian Call
Liz Smith
Ken Levine and everyone at Irrational Games
Dustin Tallman
PJ Megaw
Tommy Heflin
Gail Sexton
Gayle Gawlik
Jonathan Morales
Katee Sackhoff
Molly Lewis
Scott Barkan
Chris Fabugais
Robert Kirkman
Ruth Tallman
Justin McElroy
Travis McElroy
Griffin McElroy
Mark Williams
Kara Hodge
Grant Morrison
Bryan Lee O’Malley
Matt Marone at Project Triforce
Karen Chu
Craig Ostrin
James Zimmerman
Chris Dishong
Nick Lyman
Rachel Peters
Rachel Kemp
Michael Ballack
Alice Ly
Bobby and Naomi Knox
Andrew Bown
Pat Gravel
Paul Huston
Angela and Aubrey from The Doubleclicks
Nicole/Hello The Future I’m sorry I don’t know your last name
Bill Paxton
Eric Reid at WMEE
John McLaughlin
Jonathan Nolan
Jim Caveziel
Michael Emerson
Taraji Henson
Amy Acker

My grandfather Calvin
My mom, my aunts and uncles, my cousins
My father, who’s the best in the world.

Zerzhul, Frugus and the whole PAX Prank Group

CAN’T QUIT YOU!

And everyone else, all you beautiful human beings who make up the army I never knew I had, if I forgot your name I’m eternally sorry, because you are the people who are crafting these beautiful points of joy that have let me light my way through the darkness, you are all of you nothing short of amazing, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. They will answer to the might of the Magic Sword King.

On Tomb Raider

If Crystal Dynamics wanted to intellectually challenge me with Tomb Raider, they certainly did that.

I started off thinking that Tomb Raider looked good, if questionable as regards gender politics in their announcement trailer. The tone of that trailer was very similar to the torture/imprisonment scenes in V for Vendetta, where a female character, Evey Hammond, is put into a hellish scenario and through survival and defiance becomes more than she was before.

After the E3 trailer I started having doubts, while the technical aspects showed promise it did veer fairly close to what I define as torture porn. I actually thought the attempted rape shown in the trailer was a sign to the contrary, the nature of the story as crucible in which a heroine is formed was intact. And for all intents and purposes, Lara Croft is someone they historically depict as a sort of Lady Batman by way of Indiana Jones, so I think the “traumatic superhero origin story” fits what they’re trying to do.

Then the producers and PR jackals started opening their mouths and I moved from cautious optimism to complete skepticism with a handful of statements. Not statements taken out of context, mind you, things that stand on their own quite well and weren’t walked back later by others. The “You’ll want to protect her” angle. Not good. Way back in the announcement trailer the most negative thing was the implication of the drowning scene, where Lara is pulled out of the water by what is clearly a strong, male arm.

I think the intent behind it is as metaphor for her father, but it still sends a troubling message that this is someone who is not competent to survive on her own, without male assistance. A message reinforced by the producer’s statements regarding ‘protecting’ the protagonist. Suddenly the metaphor is warped backwards upon itself, casting the player as a controlling father-figure who the protagonist Cannot Survive Without. The E3 trailer furthers this idea with the narration that plays over the rape scene, in which Lara’s (presumed) father is reassuring her.

Finally we come to the point at which the PR apparatus, clearly in some sort of panicked, deranged Damage Control/Hype Amplification hybrid state actually double down on rape, saying it is something that enemies in the game will try to do to her. Now, this is one that could be misunderstood. It could be that one instance in the trailer and no more. Many would say that one instance is still way too far. Even so, in the context of the interview, it is implied that attempted rape is something that happens multiple times throughout the game, if not just a thing that enemies will pull out of their “move set” if given the chance. That is genuinely disgusting, but raises an even more troubling point to compound my feelings.

That is to say, what happens if I put the controller down? What if I, as PlayerFather, choose neglect be it by accident, frustration, or experiment? Will the protagonist be raped in front of me? No, that won’t happen, everyone has some common sense and that doesn’t seem like a good idea to anyone. More likely is that it will be treated as the exact same failure condition as physical death. Game Over screen, reload at most recent checkpoint. Now I’ll admit I might be reaching with this next point but to my mind that sends a message that is both horrifying and untrue, which is “Rape Is Not Survivable”.

While technically, Crystal Dynamics may be making a solid game from mechanical and graphical standpoints, they are clearly not equipped to play with the loaded gun that is the emotional complexity of extreme trauma and rape. Many have criticized the game for looking like Uncharted. It does, and Uncharted was called Dude Raider by a great many people well past its release. I don’t find that a problem. I like Uncharted, if Tomb Raider is like Uncharted then I will be happy.

But why do I like Uncharted? Long and short? Its human. It has actual characters who are developed, expanded upon, and undergo physical and emotional arcs, with triumph and tragedy along the way. It has love, loss, sacrifice, the pursuit of meaning, adversity and triumph over such. It is by no means narratively the Best Game, but it is very good, and consistently so.

Which brings me to The Last of Us. Like Tomb Raider this is no empowerment fantasy of a game. Like Tomb Raider, survival seems to be the crux of much of the gameplay. And here is where Naughty Dog prove themselves the superior developers, unlike Tomb Raider, The Last of Us is framed to have its cake and eat it too.

Both games are seemingly setting up to play off of paternal instinct to protect young girls. The difference is twofold, the obvious, you Play as Lara Croft, your job as the player is to protect her. In The Last of Us, you Play as Joel, your job as Joel is to protect Ellie. That makes a fucking mighty difference right there. Second, and more subtly, I don’t want to protect Lara Croft. I want her to protect herself. Contrast to The Last of Us, where every iota of information they’ve released on it has made me want to protect Ellie.

Ellie’s thirteen, though. She’s not fully equipped to handle this adventure, that is the specific reason that Joel is with her. Lara may not be fully equipped to handle her adventure as well but she should not be portrayed as otherwise helpless. Ellie, in contrast, is far from helpless. She’s smart, she’s sarcastic, she’s surprisingly well-adjusted, and most importantly she is not in the least afraid to brick a motherfucker in the face and then not three minutes later stab another in the back. Yes, Joel has to protect her but she can be just as important in protecting Joel. They need each other to get through this alive.

Lara Croft should not need a protector. I do not want the job. The story I thought I was getting, and might still get despite these communication turds to the contrary, is one ultimately of female empowerment. Overcoming the very real dangers facing her, on her own, and through this ordeal being reborn as a heroine as iconic as she is strong and independent. This still might happen, if it doesn’t, I will consider it an opportunity squandered.

Part of storytelling is knowing when to stop. Pushing boundaries is good, playing with the emotions of your audience is also good. The best stories we have do both. They allow us to grow as people, we emerge from the experience better for it. Tomb Raider has this potential. If it fails, it will be because no one in the room was smart enough to tell them when to stop, when to back away from the edge, leave some taboos unbroken, and in turn leave the next great boundary for another day and another story.

After all, if authors and audiences alike were capable of breaking all barriers with one swift narrative punch to the brain, we wouldn’t have any good ones left to tell.

Good Friends (maringally NSFW)

A good friend will indulge your oddities. A great friend will give you new oddities. Thanks, Kara.

To see what fresh madness I have been gifted, hit the jump.

Continue reading

On Seriousness

Since I returned there haven’t really been many dick jokes.  I feel I should remedy this.  A while ago, during my absence, I was cleaning up the kitchen in my former apartment, when I discovered a little bamboo skewer, charred at one end.  I had used it the night before to light candles when the power was out.  Now, however, an unspeakable urge called to me.  I noticed the tip left a black mark on my finger, as a pencil might.  The malformed box of neurons and psychoactive substances called my brain shifted gears.

Now, with impulse control less potent than that of an ADHD-addled five-year-old I took skewer in hand, just as Shakespeare himself may have once put quill to parchment, stirring the souls of kings and peasants alike, or Van Gogh held his brush aloft and carved color and beauty out of paint and canvas so many years ago.

Purposefully I approached the cutting board.  This was the time for something great to happen, there could be no other time.  If I was to delay, I was to fail!

Deftly, purposefully, I wrote “PENIS” on the cutting board, but like Icarus, I flew too close to the sun!  I added an exclamation point to the end.  Too much!  Surely it was too much!  So I scrubbed it away.

“That almost went too far.” I thought to myself, as I proceeded to draw a cock and balls next to the word instead.  Then I felt it in my veins, “No!  The exclamation point must go back in!  Where would mankind be if men such as me did not dare to push the boundaries of the ethical, the possible!”

And so the exclamation point went back in.  I knew that work of such beauty could not last forever in its original state.  Its glory would only dim with the passage of time.  Yet, it would have to be remembered in some way.  I fetched a camera to take a picture of my masterpiece before I washed it all away.

No shit, wordpress has below this field "Alt text for the image, e.g. "The Mona Lisa"".  I think that is appropriate

No shit, wordpress has above this field "Alt text for the image, e.g. "The Mona Lisa"". I think that is appropriate

There.  It was done.  My work photographed, I could wash it away.  I reached for the detergent.  And then, sensing genius swelling within once more, I stopped.  I waited.  A vile thought entered me.  I would wash the cutting board.  Not before creating a neon green snail trail of soapspunk leading from the penis toward the sink.  I am not proud, I am merely stating the events as they occurred.  I am a vessel, nothing more, nothing less.

Radioactive Spunk would make a good band name.

It is long gone, now, like so many other great works of art.  All that remains are these images, and this accounting of the events of that fateful night.  After washing the board I noticed that sudsing the soap made it look more realistic, but alas, my wings of wax had melted, and I had no more burnt bamboo to draw with.

 

The Insanisphere

In the suburbs of Washington, D.C. no one is actually from the suburbs. This is something natives all know to be true, and in the internet age is even more true. No one wants to say they are from “Fairfax, Virginia” or “Silver Spring, Maryland”.  As Lewis Black pointed out, it makes you sound like a pussy. I have another theory as to why all the natives of the D.C. area identify as being from the city, specifically.

We are all afflicted with the same insanity.

There is a little known law in the District of Columbia that states no building may be more than two-thirds the height of the Washington Monument. It explains why Washington is such a low city, something many people are surprised by. Indeed, you will find taller buildings in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, the Dulles Corridor, and such.

I’ve jokingly theorized that the law regarding building height is not, in fact, to prevent skyscrapers from overpowering the monument to our first President, but rather to prevent buildings from blocking the potent psychosis-inducing transmitter that is housed at the top. There is a twisted logic to it, after all, how else can so many people whose job it is to work toward the common good be so fucking bad at it? Simply, they’re all being brain-bombed. It also might explain John Boehner’s inexplicable orange hue.

Sadly this sickness extends far beyond the city center, slowly driving the inhabitants of the entire metropolitan area batshit fucking loco. Many short buses proudly carry those who have been most addled to and from their indoctrination camps and holding pens. From my experience, you will find some rather insightful and hilarious conversation on these buses, which is why I firmly hold to the belief that short buses for the crazy kids should be wired for sound, and recorded. The broadcast rights from my old bus alone would solve the funding problems many school districts suffer from.

Mind you I’m not talking about exploiting the blind, or the physically disabled, or the deaf, or genuinely insane, mind you, just the kind of kid who might craft an elaborate wizard’s staff complete with LED-lit crystal top during arts class. Or scuttle around like Gollum and freak out the “regular” people. Or go into a Panda Express with a lightsaber and ask for a panda burger (They’re finger ling-ling good!). Or say, panhandle for lunch money in between classes for a laugh. Side note, this actually gets you a surprising amount of money.

Those of you who’ve only visited DC wouldn’t know how true the effects of the Insanisphere hold. It infects all aspects of life. If you think traffic is bad in New York City, try living in D.C. for a few years. You’ll beg to be honked at and called a motherfucker while your bones are rearranged by the pothole-strewn roads. You might even welcome a homeless dude masturbating in a subway car, as long as it isn’t a) crashing or b) 80 days late because of track maintenance.

And the news! Oh the news. Local news is fodder for some of the greatest youtube clibs ever. We all want to see people keep fuckin’ that chicken, and stand in a hurricane getting literally coated in a mixture of sea foam and raw sewage. Or laugh at the latest manufactured controversy, the Internet Hate Machine, or the PlayStation Pornable. You won’t see that in D.C. You know what you’ll see? The same political horseshit that you see everywhere else. There is no barrier, no filter, nothing between you and the Crazy Lands Beyond.

I no longer walk in those halls, however. A wholly different brand of psychosis best defines my current residence, one not unfamiliar as much as distant. Lots of people here want to try and “Pray the Gay Away”, if you get me. Though I will say, by and large the people are nice and dislike the Christian Soldiers of Liberty University as much as anyone who doesn’t subscribe to that brand of lunacy would.

I do know one thing, however. Even removed from Washington’s madness and drivel, it defines me as much as it defines itself. I imagine it would not be terribly different than growing up in, say, Mordor, where the Eye of Sauron watches all.

I don’t miss you, Washington, you magnificent slut of a town, but goddamn if you didn’t amuse me.