#GamerGate

A Deplorable Nexus

#deplorable | #WhatTheyVotedFor

"Shame on The Daily Beast for stealing this joke headline from our draft folder, we [puts finger to ear] ah, I see" [@pointclickbait, via Twitter, 29 August 2017]

The tweet is not a joke. Or, as Brian Patrick Byrne really does explain for the Daily Beast:

On Friday, Persson, who sold Minecraft to Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014, tweeted “(pizzagate is real),” to his almost 3.9 million followers. The tweet immediately caught the attention of a vocal crowd of supporters that continues to believe a debunked conspiracy theory that Democrats led a pedophile ring out of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C.

When The Daily Beast asked Persson to clarify his beliefs on Friday, the 38-year-old responded: “I feel more like people are picking one of two sides emotionally in this incredibly insanely huge binary split, much like politics.”

However, shortly afterward, Persson embarked on a verbose defense of Pizzagate. The man who publicly called Zoe Quinn, the initial victim of Gamergate, a “cunt” in June, rallied up even more support among ardent believers, writing: “People are saying there’s a lot of suspect codewords including the word ‘pizza’. That place has very disturbing art and social media.”

Persson was referring to Comet Ping Pong, the name of the pizzeria from where conspiracy theorists falsely believe Clinton, and her former campaign chairman John Podesta, operated a child sex trafficking ring in its basement, despite the shop having no basement. The theory was born out of what believers say are coded messages in Podesta’s emails, like “pizza” for “little boy,” made public by Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential election.

And, you know, while it is easy enough to appeal to any excuse to recall Elton John, but sometimes the answer is simply no. We already know this story and its sickness, and while it is easy enough to say this is all about supremacism and lulz, at some point these facts are supposed to mean something. We might suggest this is an astonishing nexus of deplorability, but would be overstating the circumstance. Predictable is hardly astonishing, and a steaming heap of blended whatnot does not a nexus make.

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@pointclickbait. “Shame on The Daily Beast for stealing this joke headline from our draft folder, we [puts finger to ear] ah, I see”. Twitter. 29 August 2017.

Byrne, Brian Patrick. “Minecraft Creator Alleges Global Conspiracy Involving Pizzagate, a ‘Manufactured Race War,’ a Missing Tabloid Toddler, and Holistic Medicine”. The Daily Beast. 29 August 2017.

(h/t to Barry Deutsch.)

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#GamerGate: Moving Pictures and Megalomania Mix

Detail of animation by Mark Fiore, via Daily Kos, 31 October 2014.

Hold the Line, against new and different games produced by girls … who are not sufficiently buxom and supportive of your awesome manliness!

Be Brave, good gamer soldiers … and continue your anonymous attacks against these upstart good-for-nothing girls!

Mark Fiore

In a way, it really does seem to come to that. The #GamerGate phenomenon would be entertaining for all of a few seconds, much like we stare at someone we think is attempting spontaneous and nearly-insane comedy right before we realize, to our horror, that we are about to laugh at a spastic disability. In truth, the phenomenon would not even be a one-hit wonder except for a spectacular nexus of bigotry and juvenilia.

Detail of animation by Mark Fiore, via Daily Kos, 31 October 2014.Mark Fiore’s moving (ha!) editorial might sound like open satire, but such an assessment would be somewhat insulting, as it would suggest the artist required some sort of herculean labor to simply run down the checklist of hashtag-GamerGate.

Online, we are supposed to call it Poe’s Law, which is an alpha geek’s attempt to claim originality for pointing out that truth is necessarily stranger than fiction. However, we ought not knock Poe’s Law, because the internet age does raise, by orders of magnitude, the frequency with which the question arises whether we are viewing the real thing or a vicious satire. Evangelical Christianity, the Republican Party, Fall Out Boy, and now #GamerGate.

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Slog on Stephen on #GamerGate

The Colbert Report, 29 October 2014

Imagine that.

Much in the same way Colbert recently dragged the whole Hachette vs. Amazon dispute into the mainstream, this is a significant turning point for Gamergate. I don’t suggest you ever visit 8chan, but the Gamergate boards are in absolute dissaray over Colbert—who for some reason most Gamergaters believed was on their side—making a strong statement in support of Sarkeesian. (He even broke character somewhat at the end there to confirm that he is, in fact, a feminist. This is only something Colbert does when he really believes it’s necessary.) It’s turning into cartoon-villain territory in Gamergate-ville, with people making “you’ll never take me alive” declarations ....

(Constant)

And there is an important point in Paul Constant’s note about how important Colbert’s segment is.

...the Gamergate boards are in absolute dissaray over Colbert—who for some reason most Gamergaters believed was on their side ....

(more…)

More #GamerGate Fun

Detail of Matt Bors, "GamerGate Contagion Spreads", 29 October 2014.  (via Daily Kos Comics)And then there’s this.

At any rate: What do you call two GamerGaters swapping fantasies about how they want to rape a woman to death?

Closet cases.

What? What were you thinking?

Note to #GamerGate: Seek immediate help.

(Detail of Matt Bors, “Gamergate Contagion Spreads”, 29 October 2014. Via Daily Kos.)

A String of Obvious Questions

Detail of framegrab from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

File under Stupid:

Green River Community College went into lockdown Monday morning after a threat was made against the school, Auburn police said.

Cmdr. Steve Stocker of the Auburn police said an unknown person made the threat to a faculty member at about 10:15 a.m., saying something to the effect that there was going to be a shooting.

(KOMO News)

Perhaps a number of factors are coincidental. We do, in our society, have a problem with misogyny that reached a dramatic height at GeekGirlCon earlier this month, when someone issued a bomb threat against the convention; apparently the mixing of females and technology is a mortal offense? And the deadly violence at Marysville-Pilchuck High School seems, ostensibly, to have been about a girl.

But we don’t really know what pushed the GRCC terror threat, and that is important to note.

Yes, we need to address misogyny, but there are also a number of other factors to consider.

The thing is that each part of the issue has a way of spilling over its banks and soaking the others. This sort of overlap causes confusion for many people; indeed, we at This Is have a good friend who is bright and rational and all of those nice things we appreciate about people, but he is by nature incapable of comprehending what guns have to do with anything.

Not that we need to campaign against guns, specifically, but it does make some sort of point to acknowledge that there are people in this world who wonder what guns have to do with mass murder by firearm. It happens. To wit, he says, “Don’t make new laws, enforce the ones we have!” But there are some laws he believes exist everywhere despite observable reality.

And, you know, it might be kind of a low blow, but he also wonders why anyone would ever prosecute someone who negligently shot his own son to death with a handgun he was prohibited by law from carrying. And while that tragedy out of Pennsylvania has seemingly little to do with what has been going on around the Seattle area of late, there is also more there than it seems.

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An Appeal

I think, therefore you are.

I need to step out of any pretense of character, but it is most important to stress that this is not supposed to be about me.

If you have five minutes to spare, I would ask that you take a bit over four and a half of them to watch Rachel Maddow’s report and commentary about the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. There is a bit to take in, but the segment includes a point about readiness, and regardless of what you think about how Maddow makes the point—I’m aware many just flat don’t like what she has to say, or how she says it, and so on—the key word is readiness.

Geographic proximity is always a bit rattling when these atrocities occur. And this time it was really close; my daughter does not attend Marysville schools, but that is beside the point. The only reason the two-town hop to Marysville seems like a long drive is because traffic through Everett is often plain obnoxious.

But this is not about fear. This is just the horror and revulsion, and yes, it seems a fairly reliable human behavior that proximity increases the magnitude of those sickening sensations. Let that say what it will.

But this is where it gets weird.

There are a handful of people in this area for whom this was the second jolt in a week.

Nobody died, but this was Wednesday for anyone who reads The Stranger, a weekly newspaper in Seattle:

Who the fuck calls in a bomb threat at GeekGirlCon?

And then one might wonder, “I’m sorry, what? How is it only now that I’m hearing about this?”

For BoingBoing readers, the news came a day earlier:

I didn’t feel safe going into GeekGirlCon. Hours earlier, Game developer Brianna Wu had tweeted about the threats she’d received, about calling the police, about sleeping somewhere else.

Just thinking about it made it hard to sleep. The next day, I was almost late to game critic Anita Sarkeesian’s opening panel, and was one of the last to be let in. There had been a bomb threat, of course, though we wouldn’t know about it until afterwards. They searched our bags.

Either way, there are a few people who experienced a very strange silence in their chests: My daughter was there, damn it!

And it is possible to skip denial, fleeing desperately into rationalization. It is not mine to suggest the threat was treated lightly. True, #GamerGate and its merry miscreant tagalongsα have yet to actually muster the will to follow through on their threats, but that really is not a fate worth tempting. It is enough to know the issue was handled well by conference personnel and local law enforcement. Something about readiness probably goes here.

In the end, it is tempting to skip anger according to the principle of whether it is really worth it to waste the energy of being angry.

Which in turn would seem to leave but a few basic questions that one might dare hope would have some useful purpose:

• What, exactly, is going on here?

• Why is this happening?

• How is this happening?

• What needs to happen in order to change what is happening?

• Please?

The worst thing that could happen now is that we don’t learn anything.

This is going to keep happening. What are we going to do about that?

Please?

____________________

α The dust that followed the dog that followed the horse they rode in on.

Broom, Jack. “Wounded girls identified in Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting”. The Seattle Times. 25 October 2014.

Maddow, Rachel. “Gun-wielding student shocks Washington school”. The Rachel maddow Show. 24 October 2014.

Anonymous. “You Can’t Keep a GeekGirl Down”. The Stranger. 22 October 2014.

Dieker, Nicole. “GeekGirlCon is an oasis of acceptance”. BoingBoing. 21 October 2014.

Your Tweet of the Day

Meanwhile, in other news about the #GamerGate terror movement, we might look to The Stranger, an alternative tabloid newspaper in Seattle, where an anonymous contributor to the weekly column, “I, Anonymous”, asks the obvious question:

Who the fuck calls in a bomb threat at GeekGirlCon?

The rest of the rant is worth a read.

And in case you might be wondering what GeekGirlCon means, you can always check out their website. Or perhaps peruse Nicole Dieker’s review of this year’s event. Meanwhile, the countdown is on. 351 days until GGC’15.

The soul of #GamerGate.To the other, if you’re wondering what #GamerGate means, Clickhole recently attempted to explain the issue to readers, and, frankly, we’ve a couple of bits in our own archive. But setting aside our own egos, the Clickhole version is the least stomach-churning explanation for what’s going on.

The bottom line, though, is that Jack-o’Dantern, being a masculine-sounding name, is in pretty good shape when it comes to cracking wise about #GamerGate. So are we at This Is. That is to say, we’re men. And #GamerGate, as much as they like threatening to rape women to death, is afraid to fight with other men. Presently, the best guess is that their delusions include some manner of belief that other men support them. And why not? So far, the software industry has been pretty quiet; it would be bad for business to piss off gamers.

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Jack-o’Dantern. “I’m not associated with Gamer Gate”. Twitter. 23 October 2014.

Anonymous. “You Can’t Keep a GeekGirl Down”. The Stranger. 22 October 2014.

Dieker, Nicole. “GeekGirlCon is an oasis of acceptance”. BoingBoing. 21 October, 2014.

“A Summary Of The Gamergate Movement That We Will Immediately Change If Any Of Its Members Find Any Details Objectionable”. Clickhole. 22 October 2014.

Stuart, Keith. “Brianna Wu and the human cost of Gamergate: ‘every woman I know in the industry is scared'”. The Guardian 17 October 2014.

What it Comes To: Icky Girls and Terrorism Edition

Gamers .... (via South Park)

It is not necessarily the normal course for a stereotype. You know the one, about gamers and tech-heads being zit-faced, overweight, lonely guys in their mothers’ basements, and all that.

That is to say, normally such people work to overcome those stereotypes. And often it is difficult. Even Bill Cosby will tell black people to whiten up.

And then there is GamerGate, a situation we referred to last month as (ahem!) “a pretty minor scandal”.

About that … er … um … yeah.

Now just work with me here, for a moment. Please.

This is a purely behavioral phenomenon. That is to say, we might recall those who would combat racism or sexism by undertaking racist and sexist rhetoric. You know, the old argument about how there are women, and then there are bitches; or there are black people, and then there are niggers. And it is tempting to tell people to not live down to bad stereotypes, but that’s the point. Bad behavior is bad behavior, and it really shouldn’t matter what color one’s skin is or what they have between their legs.

But this? Gaming is not quite the same as being black or female.

All of which is our own little preface; the real point here is that Brianna Wu has responded to threats against her life and the lives of her family:

They’ve taken down women I care about one by one. Now, the vicious mob of the Gamergate movement is coming after me. They’ve threatened to rape me. They’ve threatened to make me choke to death on my husband’s severed genitals. They’ve threatened to murder any children I might have.The police just came by. Husband and I are going somewhere safe. Remember, #gamergate isn't about attacking women. (Brianna Wu, 10 October 2014)

This angry horde has been allowed to wage its misogynistic war without penalty for too long. It’s time for the video game industry to stop them.

Gamergate is ostensibly about journalistic ethics. Supporters say they want to address conflicts of interest between the people that make games and the people that support them. In reality, Gamergate is a group of gamers that are willing to destroy the women who have invaded their clubhouse.

The movement is not new. Two years ago, when Anita Sarkeesian tried to crowdfund a series of videos critiquing the hypersexualized female characters of video games, they threatened to kill and rape her. The movement reached fever pitch – and got its name — when a jilted former lover of indie game developer Zoe Quinn published transcripts of her life online. Gamers who were outraged over charges that Quinn’s game Depression Quest had received favorable reviews due to an alleged romantic relationship with a journalist, seized the opportunity to shame and terrify her into hiding. Now, Gamergate is a wildfire that threatens to consume the entire games industry.

Yes. Really.

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Something About Misogyny

Sauerbraten: Two players, a zombie ogre and a robot warpig, battle it out in a map borrowed from some other game.

A funny story . . . er . . . right, sort of. Okay, not really.

Once upon a time, several years ago, a friend and I stopped by his tech-sector office late at night to grab a couple boozeless drinks from the staff fridge. And while the idea of people working late is hardly unusual in these United States, there were several people hunched over in their cubicles, clacking away at their keyboards, and they were apparently pushing for deadline. Such is the software sector.

There was a proper butch lesbian of larger bodily proportions and less contrived personal fashion—i.e., disqualified from the “hot” list—working out of the corner cubicle. Indeed, she is only important in the context of the rest of the anecdote.

There was nothing unusual about that night, but my friend commented on a story I had recently heard from a woman; he was the other player.

So it goes, for reasons that were never clear to me, a female friend had stopped by his office for something. Sure, that’s sort of a clue that something is up with the story, but there is nothing else on the other end to suggest why. Whatever, this was over a decade ago; I could easily have smoked away those memory cells.

Apparently the sight of a lithe blonde woman of chesticle endowment brought the office to a halt.

“They don’t see women very often,” my friend joked, and if you remember the alpha geek jokes from the time, well, that’s right on target. I did point out the lesbian in the corner cubicle, but got the, “Dude?” shrug in return: Nobody thinks of her as a “woman”. Dude.

And let that say what it will.

Dude? Dude.

It is naturally the first memory to mind as the “GamerGate” story penetrates my sphere of indifference toward the perpeutal juvenilia known as gamer culture.

And when I see a bunch of gamers panicking? Well, that just recalls the old alpha geek jokes.

For those unfamiliar, GamerGate is a pretty minor scandal. For those with a stake in its issues—in this case over half the American population, i.e., women, as well as software industry workers and executives—it is actually a sad repetition of roadworn attitudes reminding just how badly Americans have trashed the Shining City on the Hill.

Still, though, it is very nearly amusing to see the gamers panic.

Brief summaries should suffice to bring people up to speed. Stephen Totilo of Kotaku explains:

The current drama goes back, however directly or indirectly, to an ex-boyfriend and a series of blog posts attacking his ex-girlfriend’s character, then it goes to scrutiny and harassment, takes a turn to involve a possible game journalism sex scandal (refuted), maneuvers into vitriol against feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian (horribly nasty stuff), takes another turn to be about journalism ethics (addressed), spills into some essays and round-ups about how fraught the marketing-driven “gamer” identity is and how it might be dying or dead (rounded up here on Kotaku in an article that says there are many a cool gamer, too!) and then in some way flows into a thing called GamerGate which was actually first used as a Twitter tag a day before any end-of-gamer articles were written.

Over at TechCrunch, Tadgh Kelly tries his hand at telling the story:

#gamergate began a few weeks ago when an ex-boyfriend of Zoe Quinn posted an enormous, pompous and self-important diatribe online accusing her of sleeping her way around the games industry. He posted screengrabs of chats they had, presented his side of the story as the noble and maligned man being led astray by this faerie creature who turned out to be full of lies and so on.

His revenge-porn/character-assassinating rant went all around the gaming world at the speed of rumor and was followed by hacks and “doxxing” activities that purported to show that gamers had been right to be suspicious about Quinn. In its wake a torrent of abuse and more abuse started to build a head of steam. Allegations of conspiracy, of women using sex to manipulate the industry and all the rest of it gained outsized publicity largely due to a video shared by actor Adam Baldwin. And then, somewhere around the same time, Anita Sarkeesian published her latest Tropes vs Women video and the waves of rage and accusations of agenda-pushing in the media began all over again.

And that’s the thing about stereotypes and legends, techies and the Dudehood. There’s nothing new, here. (more…)