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GamerGate and Ethics in Journalism

For anyone who doesn’t know, the seeds of the GamerGate movement began when game developer Zoe Quinn’s former boyfriend wrote a blog post accusing her of cheating on him, and of generally being “an unbelievable jerk,” which led to a campaign of harassment against Quinn. Quinn’s ex- alleged that one of the people Quinn had slept with was journalist Nathan Grayson, and that this led to a brief mention of one of Quinn’s games in an article that was published before the alleged relationship ever started.

Because GamerGate is all is about ethics in journalism. And also time travel, apparently.

The movement began its crusade for stronger ethics in journalism with such rallying cries as, “Next time she shows up at a conference we … give her a crippling injury that’s never going to fully heal … a good solid injury to the knees. I’d say a brain damage, but we don’t want to make it so she ends up too retarded to fear us.” People who spoke out in support of Quinn were attacked as well, and their personal information published online.

All right, fine. So this all started with a whiny man-child’s temper tantrum about his failed relationship. But then it evolved into a Very Serious Conversation about ethics in journal–

Actually, what happened next were death threats and other harassment against Anita Sarkeesian.

But that was all before Adam Baldwin coined the term “GamerGate”! Just because the not-yet-officially-named movement was born in the muck and slime doesn’t mean Baldwin couldn’t turn things around and lead the newly-baptized group into a more Productive and Important Discussion of ethics in–

Wait, no. Baldwin coined the term in order to spread the attack on Zoe Quinn. Sorry, my bad.

But soon women and minorities joined the #GamerGate boat, coining the new hash tag #NotYourShield to protest those who were focusing on harassment instead of ethics in journalism. Apparently a small minority of Angry Feminists™ and Social Justice Warriors were using GamerGate as an excuse to push their own agenda. But ethics affect everyone, and #NotYourShield clearly showed that most women and minorities weren’t upset about–

Whoops. Turns out #NotYourShield was born and raised over in 4chan, using sockpuppet accounts and such.

Well, I’m sure GamerGate soon turned their attentions fully to the issues of ethics–

I mean, after they got done sending death threats to game developer Brianna Wu, driving her and her husband from their home, presumably as ethical punishment for the crimes of Mocking GamerGate and Gaming While Female.

All that aside though, the core of the movement is to reduce the nepotism in gaming journalism, which game designer David Hill notes “was essentially coopted as a marketing arm for certain AAA publishers.” Aha! And now we see GamerGate finally focusing on its core mission to fix ethics in–

Oh … Hill goes on to note that GamerGate looks like “some strange bizarro world” where the people being targeted and attacked have nothing to do with the larger problem of ethics in journalism.

But the people making threats aren’t really with GamerGate. They’re all sockpuppets, and also, Wu and Quinn and everyone else have been posting threats against themselves to discredit the movement. Because we all know women lie, right? And the best way to criticize a group you don’t like is … um … by posting your own home address on the internet? I guess? So where were we. Ah yes, ethics in–

And now Felicia Day gets harassed and doxxed for expressing her concerns about GamerGate.

But the sidebar in the Reddit GamerGate group clearly says “No doxxing,” so it couldn’t have been anyone from GamerGate. Lots of GamerGate people are speaking out about how the harassment and doxxing has to stop because it’s awful, unacceptable, hateful behavior it makes GG look bad.

And maybe it wasn’t an official GamerGater. Because at this point, the top Reddit post in the GamerGate discussion also says, “Stop identifying as ‘#GamerGaters.’ You’re Gamers first, Consumers second.”

Problem solved! If nobody is identifying as GamerGaters, then obviously GamerGate isn’t harassing anyone.

Look, from reading through some of the boards, it’s clear there are people involved with GamerGate because they genuinely care about the problems in gaming journalism. And it sounds like there are legitimate concerns there, and things that need to be challenged and addressed. But there are an awful lot of people who jumped on the GamerGate bandwagon because it was an opportunity to troll and harass and attack women in gaming. Who view “Ethics in Journalism” as synonymous with “The Evil Social Justice Warriors are coming to Ruin All the Things!!!”

Sexism and harassment in gaming? That’s a legitimate and real concern too. And the GamerGate movement was born from it. Maybe it’s grown into a hydra with one head that truly just cares about ethics while another head is all about harassing women, and a third head is just mad at social justice warriors, but no matter how many heads GamerGate has sprouted, it only has one ass, and it’s been dropping an awful lot of particularly noxious crap for months now.


Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 24th, 2014 03:36 pm (UTC)
Someone in one of the comment threads I've read (or an article) pointed out that if you really want to disentangle game reviewers from game developers, you should be championing Anita Sarkeesian*, even if you disagree with her. Because she put together a series of videos reviewing aspects of games that were beholden to no one but the game-players and game-consumers that funded her. If you want game reviews that focus on whether players will enjoy this game, you want a model that doesn't rely on ad revenue and game companies' promotional tactics. (OTOH, game companies' giving review copies to places to write reviews lets the reviews be ready when the game is released, so there are tradeoffs.)

And not just the response videos claiming that games are totally not sexist at all. But all the sorts of reviews that basically give gamers a chance to say 'this is a game for people who like really challenging strategy games and not the kind of game for people who want a plot that is mode of more than tissue paper cutouts strung together between battles'.

But so often, even the ones who claim to be about ethics in journalism think that Sarkeesian and radial feminists are the real problem with games journalism, or that game developers sleeping with games journalists is more of a problem than mentioning that it would be a shame if GamesCo stopped buying ads in your magazine, and you did want the exclusive review copy of the new game, right?

* Not just saying that 'hey, it looks bad when you send her death threats'. I don't threaten to kill or rape people, even if I think they are acting in terrible ways that should never be emulated.
Oct. 24th, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC)
Whatever the douchebag patrol may think, neither Sarkeesian nor any other feminist commentator on games I've ever encountered is a radical feminist. Radical feminism is a specific branch of feminist theory, based originally in radical economic and class politics, that is largely discredited and unpopular now due partially to a history of racism, transphobia, gender essentialism, biphobia, ableism, anti-sex and anti-sex-worker positions, and general nastiness. "Radical feminist" doesn't mean "feminist who wants radical change," it means this specific type of feminism. Please, please, please don't use the term this way just because MRAs and misogynists who don't know what it means use it this way.
(no subject) - beccastareyes - Oct. 24th, 2014 09:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inaurolillium - Oct. 24th, 2014 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - beccastareyes - Oct. 24th, 2014 09:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 24th, 2014 03:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks, as always, for pulling this all together - more thanks than usual, as this time it's been very, very clear that white men talking about GamerGate can mostly do so without being terrorized (see Kluwe's profanity-laced rant with much less blowback than Felicia Day got), and I've been seeing more and more feminists I like and trust saying that basically they're too afraid to speak up. Which means the terrorists got what they wanted, but I DO NOT BLAME THEM. I won't make a peep in public fora either.

I *have* been pointing out, privately, that people who care about ethics in game journalism should be enraged at GG too, for making that whole legit issue too entangled with the crap pile to be dealt with seriously or appropriately.
Oct. 24th, 2014 05:53 pm (UTC)
I don't blame anyone for taking steps for the safety of themselves and their families. But since I seem to be able to speak out about this sort of thing with relatively fewer potential consequences, I figure that's even more of a reason to do so.
(no subject) - beth_bernobich - Oct. 25th, 2014 12:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 24th, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, if after hearing the origins of the hashtag, all those "ethical" folks don't immediately turn tail and find their own flag, then I'm guessing the misogyny is a bug, not a feature.

On a G+ thread the other day, in the middle of his, "It's about ethics" spiel, a GG-er suddenly started spewing hate about Zoe, "We need to make sure that awful slut never does that again!"

Does what? Cheat on a boyfriend who has since demonstrated that he sucks? Because that fucking for a review thing DID NOT HAPPEN. And if having that pointed out to you doesn't change your tune, guess what? *sings* MISOGYNIST!!!!!!!

I'm tired of people asking me to pretend the GG-ers have a side that is anything other than gatekeeping misogynist bullshit (not that you are). I've just spent my commute trying to explain to someone why I think they should be met with derision and mocking.
Oct. 24th, 2014 09:39 pm (UTC)
if after hearing the origins of the hashtag, all those "ethical" folks don't immediately turn tail and find their own flag, then I'm guessing the misogyny is a bug, not a feature.

I think you mean "is a feature, not a bug"?

spewing hate about Zoe

Can we please talk about adult women using their last names, like we would adult men? Thanks.
(no subject) - sirriamnis - Oct. 24th, 2014 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 24th, 2014 04:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, at this point the GG8 well has been thoroughly poisoned; anyone who identifies with the tag is effectively saying that they also identify with the scum.

(Sort of like the Confederate flag, in that respect -- your interest may be historical, but if you hang it in your courthouse you can't avoid looking like a racist asshole, because that's what it's come to signify.)
Oct. 24th, 2014 05:52 pm (UTC)
The Confederate flag comparison is one I hadn't thought of or seen before, but it's a good one!
(no subject) - mtlawson - Oct. 24th, 2014 06:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tzaddi_93 - Oct. 25th, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 24th, 2014 05:29 pm (UTC)
And, of course, they doxxed Felicia Day who was (relatively) nice to them, and ignored Chris Kluwe who is a) a guy and b) capable of kicking all of their collective asses.
Oct. 24th, 2014 05:37 pm (UTC)
You read my mind! I loved Kluwe anyway, but his defense of Ms. Day took it to a new level. His profanity-laden post on GG gives me hope, too…

(no subject) - swan_tower - Oct. 24th, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - perseph12 - Oct. 25th, 2014 07:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tsubaki_ny - Oct. 25th, 2014 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - perseph12 - Oct. 25th, 2014 07:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 24th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC)
I have been meaning to friend you for a while, and this post just confirmed my suspicions that you are a Good Egg (™).

Thank you.
Oct. 24th, 2014 05:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And welcome! :-)
Oct. 24th, 2014 05:47 pm (UTC)
Has anyone linked you to http://actuallyethics.tumblr.com/ yet?
Oct. 24th, 2014 05:52 pm (UTC)
Yep :-) Saw some of those popping up on Twitter.
(no subject) - mtlawson - Oct. 24th, 2014 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inaurolillium - Oct. 24th, 2014 09:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - starcat_jewel - Oct. 25th, 2014 06:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inaurolillium - Oct. 25th, 2014 06:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zelda888 - Oct. 27th, 2014 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 24th, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
I've been following this over the past few weeks. I've seen some pretty disturbing and sickening hate spewed over the internet at women and other minorities over the years, but I have to say this newest mess put me over the top to utter disgust. There is just so much smug self-righteousness on the part of the doxxers/harassers/stalkers, some rabid sort of 'righteous' raging against the wimmen and the Social Justice Warriors *TM, it makes me really upset. And there's so much "Not all Gamers!" instead of "Protect the victims" going on that UGH, it really tests one's patience and goodwill and willingness to look at all sides of a debate.

I keep hearing these "justifications" that it's from all these people who were bullied (cry me a river) and ethics and bla bla bla. Funny, I got bullied a whole lot in middle school. Didn't turn me into an asshole who has nothing better to do than dox women and harass their family. Don't see anything too ethical about the doxxing and stalking either.

^Long time lurker commenting a rare comment, because this issue really does make me unreasonably angry :)

Edited at 2014-10-24 08:03 pm (UTC)
Oct. 24th, 2014 08:05 pm (UTC)
I just want every "It's about ethics in game journalism to explain just what Brianna Wu did that had anything to do with game journalism.

Also why the "it wasn't us!" excuse works when the person who doxxed Felicia Day was called Gaimerg8 (my actual spelling of his handle may be incorrect but pronunciation is dead on...).
Oct. 24th, 2014 08:35 pm (UTC)
Clearly Gaimgerg8 is some SJW trying to make Gamergaters look bad, by working in cahoots with Felicia Day in some scheme so she could paint herself as a victim.

I haven't looked, but I guarantee you there are people saying this exact thing.
(no subject) - sihaya09 - Oct. 24th, 2014 08:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - maladaptive - Oct. 25th, 2014 01:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lenora_rose - Oct. 24th, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - maladaptive - Oct. 25th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inaurolillium - Oct. 25th, 2014 11:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tsubaki_ny - Oct. 25th, 2014 01:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lenora_rose - Oct. 25th, 2014 02:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 24th, 2014 08:38 pm (UTC)
ProTip: If you think "Social Justice Warrior" is an insult, you are not one of the good guys.
Oct. 24th, 2014 09:38 pm (UTC)
"Look, from reading through some of the boards, it’s clear there are people involved with GamerGate because they genuinely care about the problems in gaming journalism."

I have yet to see a single GGer express any actual concern over any actual journalistic ethics or bring up any problem that is actually happening. Wailing and gnashing of teeth over shit that isn't happening, railing against the power of people who have little to none, and so on and so forth, but no concern over problems that actually exist. Possibly I'm looking in the wrong places, of course, but while I keep seeing people of good will and good faith granting that these people do actually exist, I have yet to see any evidence that it's true. I keep wondering if the people of good will are giving the GGers too much credit.
Oct. 25th, 2014 10:38 pm (UTC)
And as clearly shown in the GG strategy logs released by Zoe Quinn, the asshats are deliberately sockpuppeting "reasonable" people pretending to be interested in ethics. Any three-sentence or three-tweet exchange with those "reasonable" folks makes this pretty damn clear, as they swiftly fall back on spouting debunked claims.

At this point, I call it 100% likely that any "reasonable" person claiming they're under the GG banner to stump for ethics is a fake. On the minute chance there's still one earnest ethics concern person, they're too clueless/stupid to warrant paying even the slightest attention to.
(no subject) - inaurolillium - Oct. 25th, 2014 11:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 25th, 2014 02:48 am (UTC)
I listen to a gaming podcast called Isometric which is hosted by Brianna Wu, and hearing her talk about this stuff that's been happening to her is extremely powerful and disturbing. I feel so sorry these ladies, and I admire them for standing up in the face of this abuse.
Oct. 25th, 2014 04:44 am (UTC)
Thanks for a very clear account. A couple of points you might add sometime:

What is 'doxxing'?

Are the 'GamerGaters' the good guys (in this case, the women) or the bad guys (harassers)?
Oct. 25th, 2014 05:27 am (UTC)
Doxxing is finding someone's documents (dox). That is, their address, phone numbers, emails, workplace, bosses, SSN, and any other information they can get their hands on, and then posting it publicly. It is literally an invitation to harass someone. "Look, here's how to find this person in the real world."

GamerGaters are the harassers. And the terrorists. No, seriously. Bomb and school shooting threats are terrorism.
(no subject) - kimuro - Oct. 25th, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 25th, 2014 05:24 am (UTC)
Zoe Quinn has been hanging out in an IRC channel where her ex and a bunch of GGers have been planning the whole thing. She has screen shots, logs, and video. They planned bringing in Adam Baldwin, they planned doxxing her and hacking her accounts, they planned #notyourshield and faux-policing harassment, they planned false flag claims.
Oct. 25th, 2014 03:20 pm (UTC)
One factual query - the link in the post after Adam Baldwin's name: was that his first use of the GamerGate hashtag, or was it subsequent?
Oct. 25th, 2014 03:39 pm (UTC)
That's my understanding, though if anyone has facts to the contrary, I'd be interested in seeing.
(no subject) - kalimac - Oct. 25th, 2014 06:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inaurolillium - Oct. 25th, 2014 11:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kalimac - Oct. 26th, 2014 06:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dionysus1999 - Oct. 27th, 2014 06:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kalimac - Oct. 29th, 2014 07:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inaurolillium - Oct. 25th, 2014 11:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 60 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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