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Opinion

On GamerGate And Choosing Who You Stand With

We're definitely not on the fence.

TheSixthAxis does not support the group that has become known as GamerGate. We urge our readers and those active in our community to distance themselves from the movement and immediately disassociate themselves with any and all activity done in the name of the group. If you have genuine ethical concerns, please continue to air those publicly and politely but do it away from the toxicity of a movement that now, through the despicable actions of a few, is tainted beyond any possible pretence of the ostensibly noble goals that may have drawn you to them.

For those of you who have thus far managed to avoid it, we encourage you to research the subject further by yourselves and form your own opinion on the matters involved. For the purposes of this editorial, here’s a very brief, very incomplete synopsis of the purported scandal that has come to be known as GamerGate.

It seems to have started with some tawdry accusations pertaining to the private life and possible personal failings of a game developer named Zoe Quinn. Zoe made Depression Quest and has often been something of an informal spokeswoman for certain types of activism in and around the games industry. As far as I can tell, and I try to keep in mind that it’s not really any of my business anyway, Zoe’s private life does not influence her ability to have interesting ideas for games.

But a part of the accusations made against her included one that she had a very personal relationship with a journalist who has worked for RPS and VG247, among others, but now works for Kotaku (Nathan Grayson). Nathan had mentioned her game a few times in articles that were published on Kotaku. One of the accusations was that he praised her work in a space that is incredibly visible, and that act potentially encourages a lot of people to want to experience her work (Depression Quest is available for free, by the way) so he probably should have disclosed his personal relationship with Zoe or excused himself from coverage of her work.

In the aftermath of the accusations and subsequent attacks on Quinn, a number of prominent media outlets also ran editorials proclaiming that the notion of the “gamer” is an outmoded idea which has no place in the modern gaming industry. The idea is that people who think of themselves as “hardcore gamers” and yet often only play one type of game should not be used as the ideal that represents a huge, diverse and often unnoticed group of people who regularly play games. It was generally an exploration of an evolving idea that the metaphorical “gamer” no longer exists, in part because we are now all people who regularly play games and the definition of what a game is continues to shift, redefining itself from moment to moment as the medium evolves and matures.

Some people who would self identify as “gamers” took the idea that “the gamer is dead” literally and felt compelled to stand up for themselves. They assumed that the timing and number of these editorials was not coincidental but a part of some wider conspiracy to support Quinn, orchestrated by those behind the scenes of the video game media who wish to further an agenda – generally assumed to be one of activism for things like transgender issues, gay rights, women’s rights and any other kind of underrepresented or under-explored demographic under the grand umbrella of video game consumers.

GamerGate was, at least in part, born with the idea that the people who consume the output of video game media outlets deserved a little more transparency and a lot more attention to ethical matters. The idea of a mass conspiracy is, frankly, ludicrous. But the idea that those of us who have professional relationships with people involved in the selling of video games should disclose when those relationships become personal is just common sense.

Here at TheSixthAxis, we’ve always tried to champion the idea that questions about the ethics of covering video games should be asked regularly. We’ve always tried to be open when we have a relationship with a game maker that is more friendly than business-like and we always disclose any trips that are paid for by publishers or agreements that have been made with companies to help us cover the things we think you’re interested in.

We support the idea that, as an industry, we should ask the important questions and have the difficult discussions about the ethics of what we do. We should have those discussions openly and with as much transparency as possible because it should be important to those of us who write or talk about games that those of you who read or listen can trust what we say to be our freely held personal opinions and ideas.

But we can not stand with GamerGate. Here’s why.

Regularly, throughout the lifetime of the GamerGate issue, there have been personal attacks made on individuals that are prominent in the representation of what might be perceived as minority groups. People who claim to represent GamerGate have snooped, hacked and doxed (the act of tracing and publishing people’s personal information from a variety of publicly available sources like Facebook, as well as hacking) their way to intimidate and threaten individuals and those close to individuals. People have received threats of rape, mutilation and murder. Just last night, a game developer received a threat against herself, her husband and any kids she might have that caused them to leave their home (her address was included in the threats) and seek police involvement.

Whether or not the foundation or core founding principles of GamerGate were noble, the movement itself is now irredeemably polluted by these actions and the many similar instances of bullying, intimidation and small-minded bigotry around the fringes. It seems obvious that there has always been an element within the movement that has revelled in the illegal activity and ignoble actions but the hateful deeds of those few now threaten to eliminate the possibility of any genuine misgivings being addressed. Why would anyone want to talk to you when there’s a spiteful thug standing next to you, threatening to murder their family?

If you’re serious about the need for more honesty and ethical concern in coverage of video games, you have to be equally serious about eliminating the language of hate and the atmosphere of intimidation that turns many away from this exceptionally diverse medium that is our passion. You have to disassociate yourselves from those that would mire you in the ignominy of hate and violence and inequality. GamerGate is poison but you already have the antidote and we can all heal together.

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46 Comments
  1. Starman
    Member
    Since: Jul 2011

    Had heard bits about this but not really looked into it. Nice explanation from the article & some comments. Sounds like the usual self-appointed internet morality police causing trouble as usual. And Alec Baldwin’s involvement makes it sound like a bad movie plot.

    Comment posted on 12/10/2014 at 18:35.
    • AricVader
      Member
      Since: Oct 2014

      You should look into the censorship of online forums to stop discussion or the actual original “gamers are dead” articles. Example: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/224400/Gamers_dont_have_to_be_your_audience_Gamers_are_over.php Many more where that came from, notice the bigoted positioning of the the author and how she depicts gamers.

      Or how about the modern day book burning from some of these people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51McaZrra7w&list=UU-yewGHQbNFpDrGM0diZOLA

      And if all of that is TL:DR try this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipcWm4B3EU4 Not as detailed but quick.

      Look into it. Look past the medias narrative on top. Look at some of the bigger leaders of the movement online. See if they act like haters that would give out death threats and check their facts.

      Comment posted on 13/10/2014 at 08:28.
      • Starman
        Member
        Since: Jul 2011

        Wow that gamasutra article is ridiculously hateful. Its like she read every tabloid stereotype and applied it to everyone. Was she trying to lose the entire readership of the website with one article?!

        Comment posted on 13/10/2014 at 09:22.
      • AricVader
        Member
        Since: Oct 2014

        There are more articles like that from places like polygon and kotaku, etc… There was like 14 articles all posted on the same day from different publishers with the exact same narrative. After the fact they tried to spin it that all those upset are just “gamers” that do not want women in the club, are exclusive and that “gamers” are just misogynists.

        As a gamer my whole life, I can personally say like most of gamergate, we do not care who is playing the game. It does not matter if the person I am playing with is a woman, man, homosexual, black, hispanic, etc…. We just care about playing the game. If you suck at the game you suck, if you are good at playing the game I want you on my team :). I do not like this media narrative painting a part of my identity, my hobby, as “evil”.

        P.S. If you want more links to more articles like that one just ask, or just look it up yourself. I think they have tried deleting some of them though, but the internet never forgets.

        Comment posted on 13/10/2014 at 10:01.
  2. Michael
    Team TSA: Development
    Since: Forever

    Great to see TSA giving out this message.

    Comment posted on 12/10/2014 at 18:44.
  3. MrYd
    Member
    Since: Mar 2011

    All very good, but as the whole thing is basically about some particularly nasty examples of internet trolls, it would probably have been best to just ignore it all completely. Always the best way to deal with trolls.

    And I guess we just pretend this comment didn’t happen either. I think technically telling people not to feed the trolls counts as exactly what you’re telling people not to do.

    Comment posted on 12/10/2014 at 20:00.
  4. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    It’s best if I’m honest about this too as this appears to be the correct platform to do it on. I am currently intimate with a female gamer – it’s been going on for three years – and I still can’t get her to play the games I want to. Where the f**k am I going wrong?

    Comment posted on 12/10/2014 at 20:03.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Also, top article, Peter. Read about this all in an hour or so last night and the threatening behaviour was despicable. I hope that Twitter chappie gets arrested for threatening people.

      Comment posted on 12/10/2014 at 20:04.
  5. C_S15
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    I have to say I strongly disagree with this.
    There is no mention of: the support for The Fine Young Capitalists, the multiple female (and male) developers who have come out in support against allegedly corrupt journalism, no mention of pro-Gamergaters being doxxed, threatened and harassed, getting The Escapist to admit their problems and administer a new ethics policy across their whole network… the list goes on.
    I understand it is a fairly incomplete synopsis but it mostly paints the bad side of this ordeal in the anti-Gamergaters favour despite similar insults being levelled at other female (and male) gamers who support Gamergate. Both are equally deplorable and vile. There is no policing tools on places such as Twitter. Most Gamergaters were quick to report and block the person in the above image.

    Gamergaters have tried having discussions on multiple websites where such policing could happen about the matter only to be insulted, banned and ultimately censored in their discussions. Their only safe haven is /r/kotakuinaction which has a strict policy against idiots like the one pictured above (who never even mentions Gamergate in the first place). You will find there nothing but good people wanting to see a better media and better people in gaming.

    Ultimately, this image is the one that best represents Gamergate.
    http://tinyurl.com/q2aznhq
    Not the one painted by the media that refuses to acknowledge it’s own short-comings.

    Comment posted on 12/10/2014 at 21:48.
    • Niko
      Member
      Since: Oct 2014

      Yes, there are people with more noble goals in GG, people who don’t abuse or harass, but the movement is so chaotic and confusing that if they really want to do something good it would be better for them to leave GG, because it’s too tainted by its 4chan roots and people like Milo.

      Comment posted on 12/10/2014 at 22:34.
      • C_S15
        Member
        Since: Feb 2009

        How can it be when any organisation is shot down and censored? Dare to talk about anything on Gamergate in some places and the owners of websites are harassed and derided. You only need to look at the abuse Escapist editors received after posting something that was actually pro-gamergate. Hell, you only need to dare look at the abuse some people got for posting things that were neutral!
        If most people are resorting to Milo and Breitbart for another side of the argument, what does that tell you about the reporting that is being done on this issue? I disagree with near enough anything else Milo has to say on most subjects but the actions of journalists and other gamers in this debacle are deplorable and deserve reporting.
        Gamergate is not defined by 4chan, or who it aligns with. This is the problem, everyone looks at who is arguing and not what the actual arguments are. “You’re all just fat white privileged man-babies!” is the answer to our questions on ethics.
        Gamergate should stick where it is and continue to deplore harassment of all kinds against all people regardless of their stance, gender, race, sex e.t.c. and preach for a better quality of journalism and gamers.

        Comment posted on 12/10/2014 at 22:55.
  6. alistair6969
    Member
    Since: Aug 2013

    I guess I’m not the only one that can see the good from gamergate, newsflash didn’t you know twitch & steam put in place that you must disclose if you gave paid a sponsor for your games.

    Or how about Intel pulling they ad from gamastura that from gamergate.

    Now a question for thesixthaxis or others why does Devs feel need to censor their games?

    If you said they feel of backlash from the media then you spot-on the gutter press will have a field day writing more dreadful hurt of how nasty or sexual things are.

    And the media is contain of SJWs, anybody going to buy the next dragon age soon I’m not Bio-ware has SJWs in their camp too.

    Good night it’s very late :o

    Comment posted on 13/10/2014 at 01:30.
  7. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Personally I think it’s all utterly ridiculous and if anyone thinks the entire games media is in cahoots with publishers then they are fuckwits. However, I do think there needs to be lines drawn. “Freebies” such as days out racing around Brands Hatch to launched a racing games and just not on, nor are lavish 5 course ala carte meals (which Nintendo put on to promote something recently).

    A couple of pints and some mini burgers in a pub/club while you play a pre-release game- that’s fine, if you went round a mates house to play a game you would expect him to be courteous and offer you a drink.

    Comment posted on 13/10/2014 at 09:25.
  8. double-o-dave
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    No disrespect to the article but I just skimmed through this and have no idea what the hell it’s all about & I don’t think I want to know either. Never heard of GamerGate and thats enough for me.

    Comment posted on 13/10/2014 at 09:38.
  9. OneShotWook
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    Good read but what a soap opera.My lifelong hobby is now fodder for idiots.
    Welcome to the mainstream i guess.

    Comment posted on 13/10/2014 at 10:34.
  10. WEL
    Member
    Since: Oct 2014

    this article right here is the reason why #Gamergate has been happening for like 3 months now. Game journalism and journalism in general is a very scary thing if you ask me. The author of this opinion piece, Peter Chapman, didn’t do his research and he’s only writing one side of the coin probably based on what the likes of Kotaku and Polygon have been writing since they are so deep on this. They don’t tell you about Zoe doxxing a transgender person for supporting gamergate. They don’t tell you about all the bullying GaymerX received for just being neutral and not taking sides. They don’t tell you about the accusations of terrorism or threats that boogie2988 has received for supporting gamergate, a movement considered by many to be worse than ISIS and so much more. They don’t tell you how aggressive, one sided and arrogant Brianna Wus has been toward gamergate. She’s been using the hashtag for months now nearly in a daily basis on a lone crusade against all GG supporters. That it took all this time for some crazy to go ape crap on her should be the actual news here.

    The narrative of game journalists toward #gamergate has been all about covering their own backs from the very beginning and it takes an outside source to finally write something objective about this whole thing. Not gaming media or a game journalist but someone from the outside that is not even a gamer. And mind you that she takes no sides, she exposes a lot of wrong in both sides.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/10/09/the_gender_games_sex_lies_and_videogames_124244.html#.VDb0ArQZ69g.twitter

    As someone that have seen this whole thing from its beginning to now all I can say is what I already said above, journalism is a very scary thing. The manipulation, twisting of facts and misinformation in game journalism is out of this universe. Never in my life I’ve seen something like this not even on Fox News.

    This guy is a gamergate supporter yet he makes more sense than everyone that is on the other side of the fence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FnrHhUJMxc But as long as game journalists keep chasing the same rhetoric where someone gets harassed and they automatically blame gamergate nothing will change. Gamergate is a movement without an organization, without leaders and stuff, it’s just a bunch of people that come from very different backgrounds and that stood together for this long because they are very angry at how game media does certain things. But if you start condemning everyone just because of a few you’d be alone all your life.

    And to end this long comment that no one will read I want to say that Brianna Wus will finally meet with some of the most notable #GG supporters to discuss the issue in a more open manner. Let’s see how things turn out for her. But it’s kind of funny that TSA is telling everyone to ignore the movement and stuff while the harassed woman is willing to be more open and talk. That’s game journalism for you.

    Comment posted on 13/10/2014 at 11:53.

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