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The Shocking Inadequacy of GamerGate Coverage: Part 1

Disclosure and introduction: Shatter will be posting this information on behalf of a guest writer.

After an article by MoviePilot writer Alisha Grauso titled The Battle for the Soul of Geek Culture went viral via the gaming news networks, reddit, and twitter – Shatter picked up on it and started to listen. Having known Alisha many years, she paid attention to anything directly dissenting from her article and found a direct YouTube appeal to Alisha was popping up all over. Shatter reached out to the user for comment and offered a platform for discussion – and as a result will be bringing you ScrumpMonkey’s three-part take on GamerGate from a dissenting opinion. We ask that everyone remember their manners and try to add only constructive voices. So, with no further ado – content begins below:

 

The Shocking inadequacy of GamerGate Coverage

-PART 1-

The Pissing Contest for the Scraps of Geek Culture

I don’t believe in a unified “Geek Culture.” I don’t think there is one. Games, comic books, etc. are different industries with different audiences. Yes, there is crossover, but it is not a homogenous blob. So when someone delivers a doom-laden sermon on “The War for Geek Culture” I can’t help but regard it with suspicion. I believe in the plurality of ideas within gaming. People who set themselves up as the self-appointed guardians of “geek spaces” need to realize that their vision of a uniform and utopian community is unachievable. You can’t make millions of people adhere to the same exact set of ideas. People who “Fight for the heart” of it are not to be trusted. “Geekery” is a series of niches, each with its own unique split of gender, sexuality, politics, and race, and each with its own unique needs.

I’m growing a little weary of this ‘War.’ This is written in response to “The War for the Soul of Geek Culture” by Alisha Grauso. There is a tedious tendency to attempt point by point rebuttals in these cases, but I take issue with so much of the piece that it would end up with a detailed annotation after almost every line. The article is, in my mind, a complete write-off that should go back to the drawing board.  Here, I’m going to lay out an alternative vision, and also explain why sensationalist claims made in the media about gamers are false.

WTF is GamerGate?

Trying to cover six months of complex and nuanced controversy in a few paragraphs is impossible. So I’m not going to. At the bottom of this article there is a list of further reading and viewing material that I would recommend as a primer before going any further with this article if you are still unfamiliar with GamerGate. What is presented here only scratches the surface of the many aspects of this now long running controversy.

There is a sense of panicked confusion for many who try to look into what is accurately described as a “clusterfuck” , a “shitstorm” or “the great flame war.” Looking from the outside, it’s a mess with so much dust kicked up by both sides on tangential issues that it can be hard to penetrate. But I find all of that falls away if you realize one simple fact: people are talking at cross purposes. One group of people are trying to have a discussion about proven conflicts of interest in gaming journalism and the attacks and smears on the audience that was used to attempt to cover it up. Another group of people is having a conversation about online harassment that is almost entirely unrelated to what the first group is talking about and doing. You seem to be getting two conflicting and confusing stories about GamerGate because there ARE two conflicting and competing stories. When the press talks about GamerGate they are referring to some vague notion of anonymous online trolls, with all forms of abuse attributed to the hash-tag.

gamergate hash

Here’s what gamergate is in a nutshell: a consumer revolt and boycott against corruption, collusion and unprofessionalism in games journalism that has expanded to correct and fight a finically and ideologically motivated clique of people who benefit from the status quo.  Phew, that’s a mouth full.

In the months that have followed GamerGate has formed to attempt to achieve roughly these aims:

•    To expose and correct conflicts of interest within games journalism
•    To encourage sites to adopt and enforce binding codes of ethics
•    To fight and correct anti-consumer or devious practice.
•    To prevent the exclusion of games journalist and developers based on differences of belief.
•    To protect games industry whistle-blowers from blacklisting.
•    Expose corruption at industry events and awards
•    To rebut the idea that the games industry and community is intrinsically sexist and misogynistic.
•    To expose and refute media lies about gamers.

Let me give you an example of a clean-cut case of how GamerGate functions:

The Problem
Tyler Wilde, a writer and editor for PC Gamer, had a clear personal conflict of interest. He was engaged in an undisclosed long-term relationship with Anne Marie, a Ubisoft employee, whilst he was also doing extensive coverage of Ubisoft games. This could possibly bias PC Gamer’s coverage of Ubisoft products without their readers being aware. This was uncovered by people in the GamerGate hash-tag and brought out into the open wherein PC gamer was contacted for comment.

The Solution
What did PC Gamer do? Did they call people making the claims sexist misogynists? Did they declare PC gamers dead? No. PC Gamer issued an apology  and Tyler Wilde will no longer cover Ubisoft’s products.  A discloser will be added to his existing article, thus removing the conflict of interest.

No women were harmed in the making of these ethical enhancements. Anne Marie didn’t get any death threats, and to the best of my knowledge, has been largely left alone since this was resolved. It was the journalist who was at fault for not recusing themselves.  The publication accepted that, corrected their mistake and moved on.  This was a beneficial resolution for both parties. The only people who did not receive this well were those staunchly opposed to GamerGate who attacked PC Gamer for “Giving in to terrorism” and refused to acknowledge the role the average gamer had played in gaining enhanced transparency.

What we, what I am asking for is pretty basic: disclosure, both financial and personal, the correction of false statements, and the admission of wrongdoing when journalistic ethics are violated. This case would probably never have come to light if it was not for the meticulous research of GamerGate that some try to pass off as personal harassment.  It was discovered using public information volunteered openly on social media. That is why GamerGate exists: the press seems completely incapable of keeping its own house in order, and so a group of gamers has decided spontaneously to do it for them for free.

PC Gamer is the exception. Here is another clear-cut case of conflict of interest at Kotaku. This is from August and was one of the inciting incidents of what became GamerGate. Kotaku responded by silently adding little (oops lol) notes to the end of the offending articles, and a brief blog-post by Steven Totillo tried to deflect the issue away and defend Kotaku’s decision to not adopt an ethics policy in the wake of these events, which something sites as big as IGN have done in response to recent events. Many try to attack GamerGate at its root but there have been ethical issues at its heart since before the tag was even coined. Neither Kotaku nor Hernandez has admitted any wrongdoing or been sanctioned. It is now mid-February.

The reason GamerGate earns its name as a “-Gate” is because much of the growth and controversy has been about the reaction and closing of ranks in the face of allegations like those against Kotaku writers Hernandez and Nathan Grayson. PC Gamer is no longer drawing fire because it did not double down on its malpractice. Instead of simply correcting errors and moving on the gaming publications now infamously declared “Gamers to be Over” with a barrage of rhetoric even many fellow journalists found unpalatable. These articles are so toxic not merely because they insult games but because they are a direct response to the ethical concerns that arose in August. The question from gamers was “Why are you not disclosing personal relationships?” and the answer from the gaming press was “Fuck you misogynists! You don’t even have the right to exist anymore”. This reaction is what drove GamerGate to the fever pitch it still sits at today, with its eventual emergence in the mainstream providing an explosion of attention.

So as you can see there is FAR more to it than simply the hand wave many websites give out about “supposed campaign for ethics in journalism.” This is the entire point of GamerGate, its reason for being. Thousands of people are talking at length about problems in journalism, sending millions of tweets about problems in journalism and spending their time and effort e-mailing advertisers to try to pressure websites into correcting problems with their journalism. But according to the bulk of the news media, it’s more likely that this is just a cover for running women out of this industry. Think about it for a moment. Here’s one I made earlier on the subject of this mind-bending conspiracy theory that GamerGate is some organized cover up. Go into the GamerGate hashtag right now on twitter. Go to Kotaku in Action (the GamerGate subreddit). Go to the GamerGate Wiki or read their press dossier. What do you see? Do you vitriolic attacks on women? Or do you see an earnest if disorderly cry for better games journalism?

Highly respected gaming journalist Erik Kain laid it out like this: “GamerGate is not a hate-group, it is a consumer revolt.”  For the his views on GamerGate, Erik Kain has to be a “terrorism apologist.” And for the article that has sparked this rebuttal to be true, everyone who has ever done anything apart from shriek in horror at the mere existence of GamerGate has to be a vile and hateful human being.

Where to start on GamerGate:

GamerGate in 60 Seconds

The History and Evidence of GamerGate

#GamerGate: If it’s not about ethics…

 

Jump forward to PART TWO

 

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About the author

Shatter

Alexis is the lead fabricator and designer for Shattered Stitch Cosplay, based out of Tennessee. She has been in the cosplay community over 10 years and is a familiar face at cons large and small all across the Southeast US.

Alexis is a consummate nerd with her genres of expertise and interest being concentrated in Marvel comics and World of Warcraft. Also on her interest list is Top Cow, Aspen, DarkHorse, and DC, as well as most all videogames with her personal concentration being PC gaming (Master Race).

Her costumes span everything from comics and fantasy books to live action, including: Final Fantasy, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, Studio Ghibli, and Conan.

If you'd like to nerd cred check, step right up and give it a swing. You'll receive your consolation prize as you exit stage left.

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