Guys, stop behaving badly

Tauriq Moosa did a thing. In a Daily Beast article titled “Hey, Creeps, ‘Compliments’ Are Harassment, Too”, he called out the bad behavior of men, whether online or on the street. He criticizes the excuses–“boys will be boys”, “it’s just a compliment”, “but they’re asking for it”–used to justify that bad behavior, and also tells men that we need to step up and do better.

He’s right; men need to do better. The vast majority of the time, harassment directed at women online or in meatspace comes from men. It’s not something women ask for–hell, they’ve been asking men to stop. It’s not something caused by clothing. Like rape, harassment doesn’t just happen. Someone has to make the choice to harass for harassment to happen. That person can control themselves.  And because people can control themselves, the argument that “it’s just how men are” doesn’t fly. For one thing, not all men are like that. For another, men can change. They can adapt. They can be compassionate. They can listen to women when they say this shit pisses them off or frightens them. They can and they should stop acting so horribly.

Not content to stop discussing this issue, Moosa took to Twitter where he and others turned the discussion to GamerGate. That’s when something interesting happened.

This began the #ReaderGate hashtag, which started when one intrepid Twitter user wondered to Moosa, Hey, what if literary criticism never took into account a novel’s political and social context and themes, instead just relying on the very basics of what’s written. Well, as we’ve been learning for the past few hours on social media, it would be a weird, weird place.

#ReaderGate hashtag users have adopted the four most common arguments from GamerGate supporters — such as anti-GamerGate advocates are just professional victims, the real GamerGate platform is about ethics in video game journalism, and those against the movement are just ”social justice warriors” trying to push politics where there isn’t any — and co-opted them, pretending to build a case for readers taking on gamers’ GamerGate concerns.

The results? They were hilarious, yes, but then you have to remember that the arguments behind them are all too real for some people, and that’s just scary.

Here are a few of the bitingly satirical Tweets:

I wonder if the GamerGaters understand satire…

Guys, stop behaving badly
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"We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world."

Those are the words of Jesse Singal, correspondent for the Boston Globe, in Gaming’s Summer of Rage. In the piece, Singal covers the genesis of GamerGate, from the angry retribution of Zoe Quinn’s ex to the misogyny laden responses of many gamers (and yes, he mentions that the very foundation of GamerGate-that Zoe Quinn slept with a writer of Kotaku to get favorable coverage-is a false narrative; although this doesn’t stop the anti-feminist gamers from ranting, raving, and sending rape or death threats to Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian). He makes the argument that insecurity is at the heart of the anti-feminist gamers:

Trying to unravel where all this anger comes from could occupy dozens of dissertations’ worth of interviews and research (I’m not sure if the relevant field would be anthropology or clinical psychology). But what this whole sorry summer comes down to is insecurity — profound insecurity — on the part of some male gamers reacting to their hobby of choice becoming more diverse and nuanced and, I dare say, emotionally intelligent.

It’s a simple point: The form art takes depends a lot on who is allowed and encouraged to make it. We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world. Women are increasingly breaking into the industry, writing about games and playing them.

One of the things I’m continually saddened by in all of this is that feminists like Anita Sarkeesian are only asking for women to be treated better in games.  That’s it.  The gamers simultaneously claim that the background sexism and sexualized violence in video games isn’t that big a deal to them (which shows their privilege-they don’t have to think about these things; to them, they aren’t affected by a culture of indifference towards sexism and sexualized violence) while decrying efforts to change these minor little things. I find it amusing (and horrifying) the lengths these people will go over something they consider not a big deal.  Ultimately it is a big deal because women comprise more than half the gaming audience. They have concerns about sexism in video games and it would behoove manufacturers to listen if they want women to part with their money.

So how did the anti-feminist gamers react to the various insights by Singal? According to The Mary Sue, Singal was told to check out the subreddit KotakuInAction.  That would show him what the real GamerGate was all about. I’m sure they didn’t expect him to do that.

Their bluff was called.  Here’s his response:

Uh huh. That’s why at this very moment three of the top six posts on KIA—the subreddit I was explicitly instructed to visit if I wanted to see the real GamerGate—are about Wu and Sarkeesian (oh, I’m sorry, LW1 and LW3 [or is Wu 2? I can’t keep track]) and social-justice warriors.

So, to recap:

Me: I don’t think this is really about corruption as much as it’s about discomfort with feminism. After all, a lot of the heat seems to be aimed at small female devs/commentators of a feminist bent.

GamerGaters on Twitter: Not true! So unfair! Go to KIA!

[Goes to KIA. Suspicions appear to be mostly confirmed.]

This has happened over and over and over again (I also looked into the 8chan board and some other “approved” places). As a journalist trying to be fair-minded about this, you can’t fucking win. If I’m arguing with someone from the NRA or the NAACP or some other established group, I can point to actual quotes from the group’s leadership. With you guys, any bad thing that happens is, by definition, not the work of A True GamerGater. It’s one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book.

So what is GamerGate “really” about? I think this is the kinda question a philosopher of language would tear apart and scatter the remnants of to the wind, because it lacks any real referent. You guys refuse to appoint a leader or write up a platform or really do any of the things real-life, adult “movements” do. I’d argue that there isn’t really any such thing as GamerGate, because any given manifestation of it can be torn down as, again, No True GamerGate by anyone who disagrees with it. And who gets to decide what is and isn’t True GamerGate? You can’t say you want a decentralized, anonymous movement and then disown the ugly parts that inevitably pop up. Either everything is in, or everything is out.

Anyway, faced with this complete lack of clarity, all I or other journalists can do, then, is journalism: We ask the people in the movement what they stand for and then try to tease out what is real and what is PR. And every every every substantive conversation/forum/encounter I’ve had with folks from GamerGate has led me to believe that a large part of the reason for the group’s existence is discomfort with what its members see as the creeping and increasing influence of what you call social-justice warriors in the gaming world.

I’m not just making this up based on the occasional Tweet or forum post. After my HuffPost Live appearance, I was invited into a Google Hangout about GamerGate by Troy Rubert, aka@GhostLev. I accepted, and when I got in just about everyone who spoke openly talked about how mad they were that progressive politics and feminism were impinging on gaming, which they saw as an area they had enjoyed, free of politics, forever. They were extremely open about this. A day or so later, another GamerGater, @Smilomaniac, asked me to read a blog post he’d writtenabout his involvement in the movement in which he explicitly IDs as anti-feminist, and says that while some people claim otherwise, he thinks GG is an anti-feminist movement.

I believe him; I think GamerGate is primarily about anger at progressive people who care about feminism and transgender rights and mental health and whatever else (I am not going to use your obnoxious social-justice warrior terminology anymore) getting involved in gaming, and by what you see as overly solicitous coverage of said individuals and their games. And that’s fine! It’s an opinion I happen to disagree with, but “at least it’s an ethos.”

But this is only going to be a real debate if you guys can cop to your real-life feelings and opinions. You should have a bit more courage and put your actual motives front and center. Instead, because some of you do have a certain degree of political savvy, as is evidenced whenever GamerGaters on 8chan and elsewhere try to rein in their more unhinged peers, you’ve decided to go the “journalism ethics” route.

Unfortunately, that sauce is incredibly weak. There was no Kotaku review of “Depression Quest,” and fair-minded journalists will see through that line of attack right away since ZQ was receiving hate for DQ long before her boyfriend posted that thing. Journalists donating to crowdfunding campaigns? I bet if you asked 100 journalists you’d get 100 different opinions on whether this should be inherently off-limits (personal take is that it isn’t, but that journalists should certainly disclose any projects to which they donate). Collusion to strike at the heart of the gamer identity? Conservatives have been arguing that liberal journalists unfairly collude forever—I was on the “Journolist” that people wrongly claimed was coordinating pro-Obama coverage when really what we were doing, like any other listserv of ideologically like-minded people, was arguing with ourselves over everything. What happened was Gamasutra ran a column, that column went viral, and a lot of people responded to it. That sort of cross-site collusion doesn’t happen the way you think it does. When everyone’s writing about the same thing, that’s because the thing in question is getting a lot of discussion, which LA’s column did.

You guys know as well as I do that a movement based on the stated goal of regaining gaming ground lost to feminists and (ugh) SJWs would not do very well from a PR perspective. But you’re in a bind, because the ethics charges are 1) 98% false; 2) complicated to follow for the layperson; and 3) pretty clearly a ruse given the underlying ideology of the folks pushing this line forward.

(Important side note: A lot of the people calling for “journalistic ethics” quite transparently don’t know anything about journalism — to say that sites should clearly label what is and isn’t opinion, for example, is just plain weird, because a) that distinction is less and less relevant and is mostly a relic of newspaper days; and b) it’s a basic reading-comprehension thing; anyone who reads on a daily basis can tell, pretty simply from various cues in the narrative, whether they’re reading a work of “straight” journalism [outdated, troublesome term], “pure” opinion [again, bleh], or some combination of the two [which is what a lot of games coverage is].)

So I’d make a call, one last time, for honesty: Stop pretending this is about stuff it isn’t. Acknowledge that you do not want SJWs in gaming, that you want games to just be about games. Again: I disagree, but at least then I (and other journalists! you do want coverage, don’t you?) could at least follow what the hell is going on. If your movement requires journalists to carefully parse 8chan chains to understand it, it gets an F- in the PR department.

You guys need to man and woman up and talk about what’s really on your mind, or stop whining about “biased” coverage and/or blaming it on non-existent conspiracies. And that’s my overlong two cents about your movement and why I’m having a lot of trouble taking it seriously.

(Edited right away to fix some stuff; more edits surely to come given that I wrote this quickly and in an under-caffeinated state. Feel free to snap a screenshot—I won’t be making any substantive changes.)

Yes, will you gamers just be honest? Your deplorable antics are transparent. Your “movement” is a failure (here are 10 reasons; some are annoying bc of the “both sides” BS), because you aren’t really focused on corruption in journalism. Oh sure, some of you might be. But most of the GG’s? You’re really engaged in a campaign against feminism, threatening physical harm or sexual assault all because you don’t want progressive minded people intruding into your world. Unfortunately for you, it’s already happened, and it’s going to keep happening. Games aren’t just for you guys any more and that’s not a bad thing.

"We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world."

“We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world.”

Those are the words of Jesse Singal, correspondent for the Boston Globe, in Gaming’s Summer of Rage. In the piece, Singal covers the genesis of GamerGate, from the angry retribution of Zoe Quinn’s ex to the misogyny laden responses of many gamers (and yes, he mentions that the very foundation of GamerGate-that Zoe Quinn slept with a writer of Kotaku to get favorable coverage-is a false narrative; although this doesn’t stop the anti-feminist gamers from ranting, raving, and sending rape or death threats to Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian). He makes the argument that insecurity is at the heart of the anti-feminist gamers:

Trying to unravel where all this anger comes from could occupy dozens of dissertations’ worth of interviews and research (I’m not sure if the relevant field would be anthropology or clinical psychology). But what this whole sorry summer comes down to is insecurity — profound insecurity — on the part of some male gamers reacting to their hobby of choice becoming more diverse and nuanced and, I dare say, emotionally intelligent.

It’s a simple point: The form art takes depends a lot on who is allowed and encouraged to make it. We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world. Women are increasingly breaking into the industry, writing about games and playing them.

One of the things I’m continually saddened by in all of this is that feminists like Anita Sarkeesian are only asking for women to be treated better in games.  That’s it.  The gamers simultaneously claim that the background sexism and sexualized violence in video games isn’t that big a deal to them (which shows their privilege-they don’t have to think about these things; to them, they aren’t affected by a culture of indifference towards sexism and sexualized violence) while decrying efforts to change these minor little things. I find it amusing (and horrifying) the lengths these people will go over something they consider not a big deal.  Ultimately it is a big deal because women comprise more than half the gaming audience. They have concerns about sexism in video games and it would behoove manufacturers to listen if they want women to part with their money.

So how did the anti-feminist gamers react to the various insights by Singal? According to The Mary Sue, Singal was told to check out the subreddit KotakuInAction.  That would show him what the real GamerGate was all about. I’m sure they didn’t expect him to do that.

Their bluff was called.  Here’s his response:

Uh huh. That’s why at this very moment three of the top six posts on KIA—the subreddit I was explicitly instructed to visit if I wanted to see the real GamerGate—are about Wu and Sarkeesian (oh, I’m sorry, LW1 and LW3 [or is Wu 2? I can’t keep track]) and social-justice warriors.

So, to recap:

Me: I don’t think this is really about corruption as much as it’s about discomfort with feminism. After all, a lot of the heat seems to be aimed at small female devs/commentators of a feminist bent.

GamerGaters on Twitter: Not true! So unfair! Go to KIA!

[Goes to KIA. Suspicions appear to be mostly confirmed.]

This has happened over and over and over again (I also looked into the 8chan board and some other “approved” places). As a journalist trying to be fair-minded about this, you can’t fucking win. If I’m arguing with someone from the NRA or the NAACP or some other established group, I can point to actual quotes from the group’s leadership. With you guys, any bad thing that happens is, by definition, not the work of A True GamerGater. It’s one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book.

So what is GamerGate “really” about? I think this is the kinda question a philosopher of language would tear apart and scatter the remnants of to the wind, because it lacks any real referent. You guys refuse to appoint a leader or write up a platform or really do any of the things real-life, adult “movements” do. I’d argue that there isn’t really any such thing as GamerGate, because any given manifestation of it can be torn down as, again, No True GamerGate by anyone who disagrees with it. And who gets to decide what is and isn’t True GamerGate? You can’t say you want a decentralized, anonymous movement and then disown the ugly parts that inevitably pop up. Either everything is in, or everything is out.

Anyway, faced with this complete lack of clarity, all I or other journalists can do, then, is journalism: We ask the people in the movement what they stand for and then try to tease out what is real and what is PR. And every every every substantive conversation/forum/encounter I’ve had with folks from GamerGate has led me to believe that a large part of the reason for the group’s existence is discomfort with what its members see as the creeping and increasing influence of what you call social-justice warriors in the gaming world.

I’m not just making this up based on the occasional Tweet or forum post. After my HuffPost Live appearance, I was invited into a Google Hangout about GamerGate by Troy Rubert, aka@GhostLev. I accepted, and when I got in just about everyone who spoke openly talked about how mad they were that progressive politics and feminism were impinging on gaming, which they saw as an area they had enjoyed, free of politics, forever. They were extremely open about this. A day or so later, another GamerGater, @Smilomaniac, asked me to read a blog post he’d writtenabout his involvement in the movement in which he explicitly IDs as anti-feminist, and says that while some people claim otherwise, he thinks GG is an anti-feminist movement.

I believe him; I think GamerGate is primarily about anger at progressive people who care about feminism and transgender rights and mental health and whatever else (I am not going to use your obnoxious social-justice warrior terminology anymore) getting involved in gaming, and by what you see as overly solicitous coverage of said individuals and their games. And that’s fine! It’s an opinion I happen to disagree with, but “at least it’s an ethos.”

But this is only going to be a real debate if you guys can cop to your real-life feelings and opinions. You should have a bit more courage and put your actual motives front and center. Instead, because some of you do have a certain degree of political savvy, as is evidenced whenever GamerGaters on 8chan and elsewhere try to rein in their more unhinged peers, you’ve decided to go the “journalism ethics” route.

Unfortunately, that sauce is incredibly weak. There was no Kotaku review of “Depression Quest,” and fair-minded journalists will see through that line of attack right away since ZQ was receiving hate for DQ long before her boyfriend posted that thing. Journalists donating to crowdfunding campaigns? I bet if you asked 100 journalists you’d get 100 different opinions on whether this should be inherently off-limits (personal take is that it isn’t, but that journalists should certainly disclose any projects to which they donate). Collusion to strike at the heart of the gamer identity? Conservatives have been arguing that liberal journalists unfairly collude forever—I was on the “Journolist” that people wrongly claimed was coordinating pro-Obama coverage when really what we were doing, like any other listserv of ideologically like-minded people, was arguing with ourselves over everything. What happened was Gamasutra ran a column, that column went viral, and a lot of people responded to it. That sort of cross-site collusion doesn’t happen the way you think it does. When everyone’s writing about the same thing, that’s because the thing in question is getting a lot of discussion, which LA’s column did.

You guys know as well as I do that a movement based on the stated goal of regaining gaming ground lost to feminists and (ugh) SJWs would not do very well from a PR perspective. But you’re in a bind, because the ethics charges are 1) 98% false; 2) complicated to follow for the layperson; and 3) pretty clearly a ruse given the underlying ideology of the folks pushing this line forward.

(Important side note: A lot of the people calling for “journalistic ethics” quite transparently don’t know anything about journalism — to say that sites should clearly label what is and isn’t opinion, for example, is just plain weird, because a) that distinction is less and less relevant and is mostly a relic of newspaper days; and b) it’s a basic reading-comprehension thing; anyone who reads on a daily basis can tell, pretty simply from various cues in the narrative, whether they’re reading a work of “straight” journalism [outdated, troublesome term], “pure” opinion [again, bleh], or some combination of the two [which is what a lot of games coverage is].)

So I’d make a call, one last time, for honesty: Stop pretending this is about stuff it isn’t. Acknowledge that you do not want SJWs in gaming, that you want games to just be about games. Again: I disagree, but at least then I (and other journalists! you do want coverage, don’t you?) could at least follow what the hell is going on. If your movement requires journalists to carefully parse 8chan chains to understand it, it gets an F- in the PR department.

You guys need to man and woman up and talk about what’s really on your mind, or stop whining about “biased” coverage and/or blaming it on non-existent conspiracies. And that’s my overlong two cents about your movement and why I’m having a lot of trouble taking it seriously.

(Edited right away to fix some stuff; more edits surely to come given that I wrote this quickly and in an under-caffeinated state. Feel free to snap a screenshot—I won’t be making any substantive changes.)

Yes, will you gamers just be honest? Your deplorable antics are transparent. Your “movement” is a failure (here are 10 reasons; some are annoying bc of the “both sides” BS), because you aren’t really focused on corruption in journalism. Oh sure, some of you might be. But most of the GG’s? You’re really engaged in a campaign against feminism, threatening physical harm or sexual assault all because you don’t want progressive minded people intruding into your world. Unfortunately for you, it’s already happened, and it’s going to keep happening. Games aren’t just for you guys any more and that’s not a bad thing.

“We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world.”

Pop Culture News Link Round-Up 10.8.14

Who ya gonna call? Hilarious women?

It’s been confirmed.  Ghostbusters 3 will feature a team of women.

Katie Dippold, who wrote Paul Feig’s female buddy action comedy The Heat, is reteaming with the director for Sony’s new Ghostbusters movie.

After years of development as a sequel with the intent to bring back the original team (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis), script setbacks eventually led a path to focus on a new generation (think Jonah Hill). When Ramis died earlier this year and then original director Ivan Reitman left in March.

Feig came on board to rejuvenate the project in August. But he came with a twist: the Ghostbusters would now be a female team and the project would no longer be connected to the earlier movies but now launch a new series.

Feig is already seen as female-friendly in comic circles; he directed Bridesmaids (which gave Kristen Wigg andMelissa McCarthy career breakouts), and then The Heat, which starred McCarthy and Sandra Bullock.

Dippold’s hiring will buttress the female voice as the script is rehauled. She recently finished penning a sequel for The Heat and previously honed her comedic voice working on NBC’s Parks and Recreation as well as MadTV.

What’s that sound? The howls and wailing of internet misogynists and sexist assholes who cry and whinge and moan anytime news like this hits. They just cannot stand the idea of women infringing upon “their” fandom.  “Ghostbusters is supposed to be all guys. You can’t do this, because reasons!” If the cast were all African-American, or all Asian-American they’d be whining. If the cast were all LGBT they’d be whining. They whine if any changes are made to reflect the diversity of the population. They need to get the fuck over it. The world is composed of far more than heterosexual, white males. Hollywood is long overdue to reflect that reality.

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World’s richest man says 3-day work week is coming

Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom tycoon worth over $80 billion, believes life would be better with a three-day work week.

“You should have more time for you during all of your life — not when you’re 65 and retired,” Slim told CNNMoney’s Christine Romans on Tuesday.

But if Slim had his way, people would also work longer days and much later in life. He suggested 11-hour shifts and pushing the retirement age to 75.

Slim raised eyebrows over the summer by calling for a three-day work week, but he doubled down on that proposal on Tuesday.

It’s nice to read a story about a mega rich person (actually THE mega richest person) not shitting on those less fortunate than him (which is like, the entire rest of the planet).  It’s especially nice to hear him say that he supports a 3-day work week so that people can enjoy life more. The only thing I ask is that he do more than mouth those nice sounding words. With the wealth and power he has, he can make that a reality for countless people.  He isn’t filling me with confidence when he says this though:

Slim declined to throw his weight behind recent calls for workers to get paid higher wages though.

Unlike you, the rest of us have bills that we need to pay on a regular basis. That means we need money for that. We should be making reasonable wages for the work that we do.  Most of us are not. The attitude that we don’t need higher wages is held by a great many wealthy people.  We’re not going to get to the point of a 3-day work week if you rich folk don’t completely turn around your way of thinking.

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Explore the Liwa Desert with Google Maps

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Stop supporting GamerGate

If you’re a person who cares about video games and also happens to care about other people, you should denounce “Gamergate.” You might have heard that it’s a movement about ethics in video game journalism, but in practice it’s a months-long campaign of harassment against women and progressive voices that’s just the latest in a long history of online abuse amplified by extreme right-wing media trolls.

Gamergate is distinguished, like so many other things ending in -gate (or more recently, -ghazi), by its aggressive and desperate tone. Its supporters have largely attempted to scare anyone, but especially women, who have asked the same critical questions about the video game industry that are routinely posed in other communities. Critics of video games and Gamergate itself have been branded as liars, sluts, and co-conspirators.

The militants of Gamergate claim they are the vanguard of ethical games journalism in order to justify their harassment. They have established no credibility as such, but maintain the titillating promise to “expose” corrupt game journalists with memes, sock-puppet trolls, and the kind of internet detective work that caught the wrong Boston bomber.

It would be easy to mistake the angry members of Gamergate as mere fanboys; people who have incorporated objects of consumer culture so deeply in their personal identity that an inconvenient or embarrassing revelation about a product they like is an attack on the self. Or, as Matthew Burns described them, “consumer kings” who mistake the ritual of consumption for self-importance. But they’re not just fanboys; as Peter Frase wrote in Jacobin, there’s a extreme right-wing flavor to all of Gamergate’s desperate yelling. (Liz Ryerson was the first to thoroughly document this extremism.) “Some gamers would like it both ways: they want everyone to take their medium seriously, but they don’t want anyone to challenge their political assumptions or call into question the way gamers treat people who don’t look and think like them,” Frase wrote. “They hate and fear a world where games are truly made by and for everyone.”

Those who claim GamerGate is about ethics ignore the fact that the face of GamerGate has been decidedly sexist and misogynistic gamers lashing out at women.  This is not how you investigate journalistic ethics violations. This is how you attempt to silence women and drive them away.  Read more about GamerGate here, here, and here.

Pop Culture News Link Round-Up 10.8.14