GeekDad Speaks Out About Gamergate – UPDATED

Geek Culture

ShallWePlayAGame

We can’t stay silent any longer. We know what’s happened to people who have spoken up before, and we are well aware that people are going to leave comments on this post that would make a Klingon blush. Staying silent would be the easy thing to do. But we don’t consider staying silent an option for us any more.

Gamergate began as revenge-motivated backlash against an indie game developer named Zoe Quinn, sparked by her ex-boyfriend. Fueled by criticism of the video game industry for treating both female characters in games and female developers of games as less useful and interesting than their male counterparts, the flames from a depressingly large number of men on Twitter and other social media grew higher and higher. It got to the point where media critic Anita Sarkeesian cancelled a speaking appearance because of threats of violence. From there it got to the point where any woman who dared speak up about the subject found her personal information immediately revealed online for anyone to find (doxxing), and herself threatened by complete strangers with sexual assault and violent death. And it’s kept going, under the guise of being a discussion about journalistic ethics (because the original, false, allegations against Quinn were that she had traded sexual favors for positive reviews of her games).

It’s very clear that the atmosphere has been corrupted. We’re guys who are gamers, and we don’t want awesome people like Felicia Day to think we might be misogynist jerks. We have mothers and sisters and, more importantly, daughters, and we want them to be able to wear their geeky gaming shirts proudly, to go to conventions and enjoy the camaraderie, to enjoy the basic human right not to live in fear.

The internet is the greatest vehicle for free expression that has ever existed. Websites gave birth to blogs, which gave birth to social media. Social media, combined with the smartphones in everyone’s pockets, is a wonderful and terrible thing. Gamergate has brought this into stark relief, and on some level we suppose we should be grateful for that. This is a problem that’s been there for too long, like a nagging pain that only sends you to the doctor when it turns agonizing.

Free expression is one of the most misunderstood concepts this side of special relativity. Too many people seem not to realize that their right to express themselves stops where other people’s rights begin — in particular, in this case, other people’s right not to be threatened with injury or death. The fact that this isn’t obvious to some people is depressing, perhaps mostly because we aren’t as surprised as we’d like to be that it isn’t.

We geeks like to think of geekdom as accepting. We like to think of ourselves as a group that will let anyone in who wants to join, because we were once the outcasts. We were the ones who were bullied in school, who were looked on with derision by so many adults, who, yes, often had trouble dealing with members of our preferred sex. We made our own manhood rituals fighting trolls and owlbears. We got our triumphs figuring out how to get the Babel Fish in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Infocom game, or how to use the Warp Zone in Super Mario Bros.

There were plenty of girls who played games in the ’80s, too, of course. But if we knew any of them then, we KNEW them; they were our friends. We played with them, so they didn’t intimidate us. We didn’t have a World Wide Web to constantly encounter perfect strangers with similar interests. Perhaps the problem is that lots of guy geeks have become hardwired to see other guy geeks, and particularly gamers, as “normal,” so they accept them pretty quickly. But women? Women that they DON’T KNOW? Hell, no. They’ve got to protect their territory from those GIRLS! And after that, with fear as a motivator, things can get ugly.

Whatever the case, we know there isn’t anything we can say that’s going to change the behavior of anyone who’d sink to the level of making personal threats against strangers. Heck, the likelihood of any of those people reading this article is minimal at best. If you’ve read this far, you probably feel the same way we do, and if so, we’d like you to join us in a pledge:

1. We commit to support the development of video games with female characters that are at least as realistic and interesting as their male characters.

2. We further commit to publicly call out video games and other related geeky media that treat women as less interesting or capable than men, and particularly fantasy art in which women appear to be stupid enough to think that wearing only an armor bikini would actually be useful.

3. We commit to support female game developers as much as possible. This could include publicizing crowdfunding campaigns, reviewing indie games that might otherwise go unnoticed, interviewing developers, promoting programs to encourage girls to pursue careers in game development, and anything else we can think of.

4. We further commit, however, NOT to reject in any way any video game simply because nobody on the development team was female. Because that would be just as bad as the discrimination we’re trying to fight. Because in order to raise the level of discourse, everyone must be treated equally (with fairness and respect). [Ed. Note: we’ve justifiably taken some heat for the wording of this item, as it read as if we were suggesting discriminating against male-only-developed titles would be just as bad as the terrible things female devs have suffered through Gamergate. Not our intent at all, and so we’ve changed it to better reflect our desire to do better for all devs and gamers.]

5. We commit to provide a safe place on our site for anyone, of any gender, to comment on articles without fear of doxxing or personal threats in our comments. If for any reason we are unable to adequately filter out such things, we commit to disable comments entirely on our site in order to make it a safe place.

GeekDad henceforth officially commits to all five parts of that pledge. Who’s with us?

Rob Adams
Dave Banks
Matt Blum
Jason CranfordTeague
Ken Denmead
Matt Forbeck
Dave Giancaspro
Ethan Gilsdorf
Michael Harrison
Whit Honea
Anthony Karcz
John Kovalic
Corrina Lawson
Chuck Lawton
Bart Leib
Jonathan Liu
Jim MacQuarrie
Brian McLaughlin
Tony Nunes
Anton Olsen
Curtis Silver
Tony Sims
Erik Wecks
Z

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90 thoughts on “GeekDad Speaks Out About Gamergate – UPDATED

  1. “Gamergate began as revenge-motivated backlash against an indie game developer named Zoe Quinn”
    False. The hashtag surrounding Quinn was Quinnspiracy and fiveguysburgersandfries which were a result of ‘The Zoe Post’. The #gamergate hashtag was created separate as the issue evolved far beyond Quinn and there was accumulating evidence that there was collusion between many bloggers, journalists and website moderators/admins to silence discussion around the alleged ethical breeches of Quinn and her peers. Quinn has been irrelevant for about two months now, much to her chagrin. She wishes this was still all about her so she could milk more money for her patreon by playing the poor victim after she did such despicable things like gloat over getting the original TFYC kickstarter to get women into the gaming industry so she would not have competition for her own project.

    The rest of your article is not even worth reading and its contents are predictable since you appear to be satisfied with parroting the media’s slander campaign against #gamergate instead of rubbing two brain cells together and doing your own investigation and speaking with both sides of the issue.

    1. Well… That didn’t take long.

      You said it yourself: the issue *evolved* from “quinnspiracy”. Therefore, it can all be traced back to that; or, in other words, “Gamergate began as revenge-motivated backlash against an indie game developer named Zoe Quinn” and then *evolved* (you said it yourself) into what it is today, which, should *NOT* be something anyone defends, given the doxxing and violence (both physical and sexual) threatened against any woman who speaks about it (including Felicia Day, FFS! probably the most famous female geek alive and one who has made huge strides in encouraging acceptance of everybody everywhere). If the gamergate issue wants any legitiamcy, those that support it should vocally speak out against ANYONE who makes those threats (since its common to claims those threats only come from a very small and very vocal minority) otherwise it looks like support through silence.

      1. Are you going to deny Quinn’s actions that she herself admitted to when she started a Twitter discussion which lead to the TFYC project being ddos’ed? She even bragged about it after on twitter. When the TFYC went to the games media to tell their story, the resounding message was that they all believed Quinn’s story without considering TFYC’s account of the story? No one deserves to be harassed, but when you defend people who deserve to be criticized, you are condoning their reprehensible actions.

        The fact that you would spin fringe comments made by people that cannot even factually be linked to #GG as disparaging the whole and legitimate concerns is dishonest of you. By marginalizing the refusing the engage in an open dialogue with the movement, you are only serving to make the situation worse.

        1. I don’t even know what TFYC is, nor do I care. I’m only a casual gamer (I only have an Xbox 260 and a Wii because my in-laws gave them to our kids the last couple Christmases) The fact that (some) supporters of #gamergate are doxxing and threatening women to the point they feel the need to flee their homes for safety, and that the rest of the supporters aren’t doing anything to stop those that *are* issuing the threats, tells me all I need to know which side of the argument I want to be on. Do you have any significant females in your life (mother, wife, girlfriend, daughter)? How would you feel, and what would you be willing to do about it, if anonymous people were doing these things to them? Why is it so hard for the gamergate supporters to publicly denounce their actions, if it truly is just a small minority? Why is it still happening?

          1. You do began your paragraph with “I don’t know what this group of feminists trying to get women into gaming is, nor do I care.” Then proceed to go on about threatening and doxxing women is bad, while condoning an active attempt to suppress getting women into gaming in the first place. Do you have any significant females in your life? Because I feel bad for them if they want to get involved in the creation of video games, seeing as how you actively condone the destruction of such vehicles.

            Also there is no report of anyone at Gamergate actually harassing anyone. Even one of the main spokespeople for the anti-GG people John McIntosh admitted as such. The majority of the doxxing and harassment on either side have been third party trolls, using the situation to their advantage.

        2. DeusExDraconian let me put my question to you this way. Let’s say that everything said about Quinn is true. Something I just don’t believe to be fact but for the moment I will grant all the facts to you. Why does it matter? One woman might have slept with one guy to get a review. Even if that happened. Even if it did so what? If the game sucked it won’t sell. If the game was good it will. Why all the anger?

          I mean it’s a pretty well established that many publishers manipulate the best seller lists for books–including the New York Times best seller list, but there is no outcry. They pay hundreds of thousands to get a book to number 1. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2013/02/22/heres-how-you-buy-your-way-onto-the-new-york-times-bestsellers-list/) Yet, we simply say, “well that’s the way the game is played” and move on with our day. No author or agent or publicity person is threatened with violence and doxxed over this.

          Why all the energy here? Why all the hatred and vitriol? For me it doesn’t pass the sniff test and it makes me tend to doubt your supposed facts.

          What’s really going on here? What are you so worked up about? Why does this matter to you so very much? Help me understand the real issues at stake here.

          1. The problem lies in that many games media outlets which should be in competition with one another had been found colluding with one another via the gamesjournopros mailing list.
            http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/21/GameJournoPros-we-reveal-every-journalist-on-the-list
            Excerpts from this mailing list would suggest that dozens upon dozens of individuals within the games media industry decided in secret what to report upon and what not to. For the indie dev scene, this type of collusion is potentially disastrous. Many of these startup teams are vulnerable finically and the attention they get, or not, can ruin them. Sometimes, an award handed out or not means the difference between making a second game or not even paying the bills That someone could be blacklisted (again, as is implicated to have happened by the mailing list) would destroy their startup. It breaks away from the egalitarianism of the gaming industry that those who created it have enjoyed for decades. Such collision and co-opting from an authoritarian left-wing bias threatens to punish potential people wishing to enter the industry with an ultimatum to tow a certain set of values or be dismissed or even crushed. It is establishing a Hollywood mentality that it is who you know, not what you know or what skills you can bring to the table.
            I would be hard pressed to find anyone who could argue that a ‘game’ such as Quinn’s Depression Quest, which was created with HTML and not even programmed one bit (it is a ready made fisherprice application), as elevating her further by merit than someone labouring away with their own engine or hammering at Unity to create their game. It is an insult that her non-game was even given focus at all and in an article about 50 different titles hers was highlighted.
            The very fact that gamers have wished to discuss this and were then immediately vilified for doing so (only pointing to a few cases of individual tweets which did not even encompass more than 6-9% of the total discussion) and were told they were dead and that they were not the target demographic anymore, angered them. This in addition to people’s creative efforts being unfairly scrutinized by claims of sexism is detrimental. This from sites that remove so much as a single point out of 10 from their total score. Many devlopers rely on meeting a certain metacritic score for their bonuses. If it is a set of 90s an then a 65 because someone took offensive to how clothed a female character is, it is harming actual people who are losing money. The gamers want them to focus on the graphs, mechanics, controls and music/sound and how good the story is. The consumer is smart enough to decide for him or herself if they are offended. They need not be talked down to by someone pushing their own values into their reviews. They can blog about it or keep their own perspective separate just like how Christian game reviews do. By separating the actual game review from a values review that will not hurt the metascore and by extension the developers. Anyone disagreeing is immediately labeled as misogynist and removed from the conversation. Anyone who refuses to condemn and self-flagellate themselves for the actions of others are also dismissed. It is a culture that threatens to take over the industry that excludes others for just disagreeing with a certain viewpoint. And disagreeing and wanting to discuss things is not harassment.

            Thank you for asking what I think. That’s a lot more respect than what most people in this movement are getting.

          2. There’s a good “tell” that this isn’t about ethics in journalism, and that’s the focus on Quinn. Even if the allegations against Quinn were true (and they don’t appear to be), Quinn isn’t the journalist in the equation. You may like or dislike the alleged actions, but the breach of ethics, if any, would all be on the part of the male journalist. But the backlash is all directed at Quinn, which tells you that the fact she is female is the most significant factor. The #gamergate hashtag is so poisonous at this point that no reasonable person will still associate with it, no matter what their original reasons might have been. It’s clearly now a refuge of hate and misogyny.

            I suppose what’s in the pledge.

        3. DeusEx,

          It won’t let me comment below on your response. So I will comment here. You’re welcome for the respect and the platform. We want to be a safe place for respectful people to disagree.

          So let me start by summing up what I’m hearing you say. You believe that an association of game journalists has gotten together–under pressure from critics like Anita Sarkeesian–and decided to downgrade games which don’t meet a certain “authoritarian left wing” standard (your words, not mine).

          (I am going to assume that you are discussing the treatment of women in games including clothing, damsel in distress storytelling, violent sexuality and the like. All the things that Sarkeesian critiques. Please correct me if I am wrong.)

          That choice has had an impact on gaming which you feel has destroyed its egalitarianism, and you take pains to point out that it has had a real financial impact on some start ups.

          I’m listening. I hope you will listen to me.

          In one of your other comments below you say that the “free market” should decide what games are made. In general I would agree. If boobplate armor sells then let it sell.

          However, I would also think that criticism is part of that free market (Something another commenter pointed out). If I can criticize boobplate armor and keep it from selling then the market changed, didn’t it? That is what I see Sarkeesian and others attempting to accomplish.

          I think Sarkeesian did a great job making her point, and I wrote about how it helped me create better people for my science fiction world. (http://geekdad.com/2014/10/anna-sarkeesian-made-better-writer/) So for me this criticism of my work is personal. I have been on the other side of it.

          My response wasn’t to be angry or to throw away my book. I know my heart and I accept my imperfections–ok some of them–some of them piss me off. I just decided to do it better next time. But believe me, it did affect sales. I got a pretty damning review (no longer online, or I would link to it) which took me to task for missing the mark. It was fair criticism. The only thing I didn’t like is that the commenter got personal. That hurt, but you know what? Feelings get hurt. It didn’t make the criticism any less valid.

          I also believe that you would agree with me that sometimes the market can’t be the only determiner of right and wrong. I used the example of child trafficking below.

          In this case it would be wrong for the market to develop a review apparatus that supported such behavior (which brothels are better etc.), and I believe that even if we lived in Nevada and wrote reviews of prostitutes we should collectively agree to not write reviews about under age or even non-licensed prostitutes. I am sure that we agree that in such an extreme example such “collusion” would be justified.

          So if I read things correctly where we disagree is whether or not the treatment of women in video games deserves that same kind of collusion. In this case we may disagree whether or not reviewers deciding on a mutual standard by which such treatment would be criticized, even to the point of blackballing some indie developers.

          (Really I don’t know if this is true, and I don’t really care. Again, I am going to grant you all the facts. Just don’t mistake that for my agreement to the facts. I haven’t researched them personally, but for the sake of this conversation I will grant all of them to you.)

          Let’s get one thing out of the way first. I have no illusions that any such standard will be applied equally. I mean, I assume that the next GTA won’t face the same scrutiny as an indie. It won’t get ranked down for it’s treatment of women, will it? (Money matters in our world.) That’s a problem for me. If we go down this road we have to be consistent and not treat anyone differently no matter how popular and powerful. So I think it’s very fair to demand consistency. I just think you or I might disagree on which way that consistency should flow.

          I’m a father of three daughters. All of them geeks. I want them to grow up in a world where they can be seen by men as persons, not merely tools for unlocking some kind of sexual level up achievement. That’s going to be hard because they’re not just geeks, they kind of fit the current standards of beauty as well.

          Remember, I’m a guy, so I get this, and I grew up thinking this way. I still fall back into it at my worst moments. I know that a lot of guys will think that they can make themselves valuable by trying to level up with my daughters. I thought that way.

          (By the way: the best defense dads, tell them exactly what you wanted to do in Jr. High and High School–exactly. It freaks them out and puts them on guard. At least it did mine. It also opens up really frank conversations because they’ve got hormones too.)

          We play Pathfinder together. In fact I will be DMing our campaign tonight. It’s our favorite family pastime. The thing is I have had to do a lot of ‘splaining about how I don’t agree with the bestiary and the core rule book’s treatment of women. There’s little variety. The women are uniformly sexualized. I want them to value themselves as persons not objects, and I’m frustrated that I have to point that stuff out and talk about it. (Frankly I’ve been avoiding writing about Pathfinder on GeekDad for over a year now. I’m never sure how to say, “I love your game but hate your art.”)

          ..and I guess in the end I’m comfortable with the gaming journalists adopting a standard which recognizes that the treatment of women is an important component to a game. (I don’t see that as crossing a line. I see that as recognizing that the market is bigger than the men who want to sexualize women–which are a small group compared to the potential video game audience. It’s good business. That’s the free market for you sometimes you lose–like I did with my first book.) I think that creates a geek-space that is more inclusive not less.

          If games are truly about the mechanics as you suggest then lets create games that everyone can play together with really awesome mechanics. Let’s make the gamer space more inclusive not less.

          That leads me to my last question I would have for you is why go to war to protect a culture that sees my daughters as objects rather than people? It seems an odd thing to defend. Why are objectified sexualized women so important to preserve?

          (Again a serious question–not trying to bait you or dismiss you, but I will confess I hope you give me something more than the tired free speech argument. I have treated you with respect. I hope you will do the same by being more honest than that. I just don’t believe that free speech is the only reason. Again, it doesn’t pass the sniff test.)

          1. “That leads me to my last question I would have for you is why go to war to protect a culture that sees my daughters as objects rather than people?”

            This is a good question. And the answer is that the realm of video games is often an escape, a magic realm where we can be people we aren’t in the real world and do things we can’t do in the real world.

            When Anita Sarkeesian in her series criticizes games for sexualized tropes, such as a metal bikini dragonslaying game, she is directly challenging that escapist world. She’s not leaving that choice to the player, weather male or female, she’s making it for you. I’m not a muscle bound He-man, but I enjoy playing one. I know girls who love killing dragons in a metal bikini, because it’s not enough to kill a dragon, you want to look goood while doing it.

            It’s not about sexualizing women, it’s about preserving a world where you can be someone else.

            I mean seriously, she attacked Ms. Pacman for being sexist because Ms. Pacman was wearing lipstick. Furthermore, this is an unwinnable argument for people opposing her: if Ms. Pacman had boobs, Anita would really be complaining, and Ms. Pacman without lipstick is…just regular Pacman, which Anita would ALSO dislike as now there is no female representation.

            Look, I’m an equality feminist, but I feel like Anita and co are creating a false (and even unfalsifiable) narrative. That’s the issue. No once is trying to send women back to the kitchen. This is 2014! But we are challenging the story Anita is putting forth, and when we do, she and the media favorable to her lash out and call us mysogynists for doing so. And that made it personal.

          2. Cyberia,

            Can I ask a question about your language? Do you mean that Sarkeesian is challenging a singular escapist world? Is there only one world in which women are sex objects for male pleasure? Because I hope there are more escapes for a guy than objectifying women. To be frank I don’t think that’s very healthy fantasy… but to each their own. (I plead guilty. I do this at times.)

            It seems very fair for Sarkeesian to suggest that we create new types of escapism that is more inclusive for other people than simply the small group of men who for some reason need to objectify women to escape. (I think they really ought to ask themselves why they need to do this.)

            I have no doubt that sex will never leave video games there will be plenty of escapes for guys who need that for whatever reason–if for no other reason than sex sells. Sex has never left movies, books or television. It will be there in games if you need it for escape.

            All the sturm und drang and the fear about what? What’s really behind it? It doesn’t make any sense. No one. No one at all is under threat here. So maybe someone called gamers sexist. That happens. Don’t take the label. I’ve been called sexist before.

            I’ve behaved in sexist ways before… and racist ways for that matter. (I would suggest that anyone who says they haven’t participated in these things either intentionally or unconsciously is either unwilling to look hard at themselves or is a liar.) It happens. I’m human.

            So someone said that gamer culture is dead….says who? I think Gencon will happen next year. Pax will happen too. Whatever, who cares what they said. Just carry on.

            It’s the sense of threat that seems so weird. How can a critic really threaten you unless something they said felt a little too close to home?

            For me, I will say. It would be nice to have a wider variety of escapes for myself and for my daughters rather than the more narrow sexualized view of women.

            I guess I should also say that I don’t believe that fantasy is pure escape. It says a lot about our real world values. What we play matters. If we play at using other people–sexual objectification is using a woman for my pleasure–I think I’m more likely to use people in real life. That’s not good.

          3. Your praising and claiming Sarkeesian is doing a good job is where I first diverge with you. You only need to look so far as her video where she uses gameplay from the game Hitman Absolution. In it she kills two strippers and drags their bodies around the room before stuffing them into a box. The whole time she talks over it saying how these women are objects to be acted upon by the player and be punished for the sexuality and gender. This is grossly taking things out of content as well as putting the cart before the horse. She assumes games are sexist and then goes about cherry picking in order to prove it. How do I prove otherwise? Go watch let’s plays of the same level from about 10 or so other individuals. Everyone ignores the two women. Why? First, being seen by them or harming them actually hurts your score and you will not achieve the highest ranking for completing that mission. Second, they are background characters. Extras in a movie that have a few speaking lines. The most important things they say in passing while you sneak past them is to outline how horrible, sexist and creepy the man you have been sent to kill is. Sarkeesian purposefully uses misinformation and lies in order to get her point across. She is dishonest and her type of criticism is toxic well before I even get to why I would disagree with her.

            But there is no shortage of people who are defending her. Defend her against threats, I will not fault you there, but do not defend her against legitimate criticism leveled against her message or her methods in doing so. When I disagree about the overarching negative portrayal of women (roles big or small) in video games, that does not make me a sexist. When her defenders keep saying that I am, and effectively vilify me and remove me from the conversation, it turns it into a ‘us vs. them’ mentality. By extension of her use of words such as ‘problematic’, ‘exploitive’ and ‘toxic’, they are laden words that mean she doesn’t want more of an alternative, she does not want those types of games at all because she thinks they are harmful and cause sexism. Just as there has been no study which finds that video games cause violence, nor is there anything to prove they cause sexism. The world your daughters will be entering if critics like Sarkeesian are given free reign and what they have to say is taken as legitimate, is a world where honest, fair and open discussion is all but gone.

            I’m sure you do not want that for them. And yes, there have been reviews that took points of a GTA score because the author of the article was a woman with an agenda who did not like that there was no female player character. The writers and designers decided that was not the direction they wanted to take. It was a story of three men, each with different stories. Three monkey criminals trying to make it big and strike it rich quick with underhanded means. There’s even a scene where they cover either their eyes, mouth or ears respectively. By claiming that there must be quotas such as putting female characters, or the type of female characters that will not offend anyone, only serves to limit creative freedom.

          4. “I mean seriously, she attacked Ms. Pacman for being sexist because Ms. Pacman was wearing lipstick”

            No, she didn’t. What she was specifically pointing out was the male gender is often considered the default in our society. The Ms Pac Man character is an example of that. Pac Man has no defining characteristics. He doesn’t have a mustache, he doesn’t have a tie on. He’s just a yellow circle.

            Ms Pac Man has a bow, lipstick, a beauty-mark (a la Marilyn Monroe) and eye shadow. That doesn’t mean Ms Pac Man is sexist, it means that in our culture when we don’t see signifiers of gender we immediately assume the masculine gender applies.

            It’s this exact sort of sloppy reading of what Anita is saying that takes SO MUCH credence away from her detractors.

        4. Remember. It’s not doxxing, threats, or harassment when THEY do it. They have a monopoly on all things good, so if they support it then you have to be against it.

          Check your privilege.

    2. So, what you are saying, and I quote, ” #gamergate hashtag was created separate as the issue evolved far beyond Quinn..” For something to evolve it has to have a starting point, that starting point was a misogynistic attack on Quinn. Therefore, you are agreeing it started with the Quinn. And let’s not forget that the one of the guys moderating the subreddit r/Kotakuinaction also is a moderator for r/breakfeminazis…. no leg to stand on… none.. not a one….

      1. It was never about harassing Quinn. It was about investigating her and those involved with her for potentially breaching journalistic ethics by giving her undo attention and awards because people were friends with her or even financially supported her.
        The notion that it was all about harassment is a smokescreen to deflect questions about her and others conduct in the industry. Considering you are quick to jump to her defensive despite all the proof of the reprehensible things she has done shows that it is an effective tactic to use.

        1. Why investigate her if the one who has an ethical code to uphold is the journalist? Why was the journalist not threatened or doxxed? Oh, right, because he’s a guy.

          1. “Why was the journalist not threatened or doxxed? ”

            Too busy trying to forever ruin his career as a journalist.

            Guess it doesn’t count when you aren’t paying attention.

    3. @anarchangel:

      My exact words were actually: “I don’t even know what TFYC is, nor do I care.”

      I don’t know what that abbreviation stands for because, as I mentioned, I’m only a casual gamer and don’t keep track of the video game industry. Truth be told, I didn’t even know who this Ms. Quinn or Ms. Sarkeesian were before Gamergate happened. I don’t care to know what it is about in the context of this discussion because any issues involving that are completely (or should be) overshadowed by the fact that women are being doxxed and threatened to the point they feel they need to flee their homes for safety. The bigger issue is, if Gamergate really is about anything other than scaring and threatening women gamers, why don’t the pro-gamergate crowd do anything to stop the threats other than deny they happen, trivialize them by claiming its only a very small group doing it, or justifying by pointing out other groups that threaten people. If Gamergate wants legitimacy, the pro-crowd needs to “police thyself” and clean up their act; or, in other words, “get your $h1t together”. Until that point “TFYC” makes no difference to the big picture. That’s what this post is about: the threats against women. They are *never* justified and should *not* be trivialized. Once pro-gamergate gets their house in order, then, and only then, it might be worth my time to find out more about TFYC. I will continue to ask this to every gamergate supporter I communicate with: do you have loved ones of the female variety (mother, wife, girlfriend, daughter)? How would you feel and what would you do about it if someone did to them what has been happening to these women?

      1. Gamers have rallied a group who specifically hunt out and engage harassment, if for no other reason that the women and minorities behind #GamerGate receive a disproportionate level of harassment and abuse.

        Don’t act like you’re a moral authority here. You aren’t paying attention, but that doesn’t stop you from chiming in on an issue you know nothing about and write off the real harassment and abuse that people face explicitly because you aren’t paying attention and haven’t heard of it happening.

        THAT is what trivializes and enables abuse. This blind ignorance that it’s okay when it’s happening to the people you disagree with. This bold disregard for who those people are or the fact that you’re hurting them in one hand while claiming to be speaking for them. Privilege doesn’t get worse than that.

        Wonder what the heck is wrong with you people sometimes.

        1. Are men being doxxed and threatened with death and rape? I haven’t heard about any, but if they are, that needs to stop!

          Are women being doxxed and threatened with rape and death? Yes. It is well documented and yet the pro-gamergate crowd is NOT loudly calling for that behavior to stop. Why not?

          I’m not sure if I can boil the issue down any further/simpler.

          1. From what I can gather, men are only being threatened if they stand up in support against the threats levied against the women. In other words, if you’re a man, keep quiet and you’ll be left alone. Speak out against them, though, and you’re fair game.

    4. “The #gamergate hashtag was created separate as the issue evolved far beyond Quinn”

      so it “evolved” from the starting point of Quinn…

      “and website moderators/admins to silence discussion around the alleged ethical breeches of Quinn and her peers”

      and again, Quinn is right there in the origins of this “separate” hashtag. But yeah, totes nothing to do with it.

    5. How do you know the contents are predictable if the rest of the article is “not even worth reading”? Who cares about the hashtag, it’s the vitriol that’s.

  2. “and particularly fantasy art in which women appear to be stupid enough to think that wearing only an armor bikini would actually be useful.”

    So, you are going to censor most fantasy art created in the 80s and 90s? What about male characters that use almost only underpants, like Conan?

    I despise Gamergate, but I also despise this type of knee jerk reaction. Sorry, but you just lost a reader.

  3. How come none these people who are so concerned about “journalistic ethics” in gaming have said anything about the collusion between major media publishers and major game companies? It’s not uncommon for game companies to fly in reporters and bloggers to press events, put them up in four-star hotels, wine them and dine them and give them swag bags, then send them home to write glowing articles about the next big game. There’s no ethical problem there, but let an independent game developer talk to a reporter while being female and watch the nerdrage go.

    I was proud to sign this.

    1. Let the free market decide. Instead of shaming and belittling people for creating, expressing and enjoying themselves as they wish, let the consumers vote with their wallets. If they fail, then let that be a message that such art direction and themes will not fly. Should it sell well and succeed by including such art, then you’ll just have to sit on your thumbs and accept that people have different values and sense of aesthetics than you.

      http://orogion.deviantart.com/journal/Save-the-Boob-plate-380891149

        1. And the person in that article says their company received threats and harassment in lieu of criticism. It doesn’t exactly put those wanting to push for ‘better female characters’ in a very good light.

          1. DeusEx
            You ask us to not associate you with those who doxx others but then in a single breath you dismiss everyone pushing for better female characters.

            Which standard do you want to use? Can we associate you with those who promote violence or will you recognize one fool doesn’t dismiss all criticism.

            I think you argued for the latter standard above. I hope you’re willing to use the same standard for your own behavior (and thinking) that you want to enforce on us.

            Perhaps some people arguing for better female characters have a point?

          2. Erik, my point is that the situation is far more mottled and nuanced than the media push against gamergate has led everyone to believe. The story hitting every news headline is that women are being targeted and that gamers are misogynists who are out for thier blood. What hasn’t hit the headlines is that both parties are guilty of fringe elements throwing about threats to the detriment of the industry.

            My only wish is for developers to be free in creating the content they wish. That neither side be able to push anyone out or force the altering of content for how sexist it is perceived to be or how left-wing agenda pushing it is. I don’t want my hobby to have a spectre of political correctness hanging above it any more than I want women chased out. However, when people (including women) criticize games based on flimsy and false accusations and cherry picking, or make a game that several people do not think is good, I don’t want them shielded from criticism just because they are women and a few people out of many more harass them.

      1. DeuxEx,
        I mean this sincerely. I’m not trying to bait you. I think you make an interesting point. My question–legitimate question–would be is there a point were the market ends and ethics begin or does the market always determine ethics? I mean for instance, at one time there was a market for slaves in our country. If such a market still existed (which it does–trafficking of young girls–but that’s a different story) would it be OK to just let it exist?

        Obviously I think you will say “of course not.” So let’s skip that and move on then to the more interesting question, how do you draw the boundary? When does the market become unethical?

        (Again, I mean this sincerely. I’m interested in the conversation not trying to be a d*ck)

        1. The only line is when people’s rights and freedoms are being infringed upon.

          I do not agree that people have the right to think they have the freedom from being offended. They failed to prove video games cause violence, and I suspect they will also fail to prove that video games cause sexism. Until they do, there should be NO restrictions on the freedom of developers to create the content that they wish.

          1. Whether developers should be restricted or not in what they develop, do you feel that methods like doxxing or making death/rape threats are acceptable means of arguing against criticism? When we talk about changing the way women are represented in videogames, we’re suggesting that people (the market) start supporting different types of games—it’s not legislating or forcing anyone to buy something; it’s recommending a change in tastes and personal behavior, the way somebody might tell me I should try exercising more or try that new restaurant down the street because the food is really good.

            Making threats so that people fear for their lives—that seems like infringing upon freedom to me. And even if there are well-meaning Gamergaters who would never do such a thing, the problem is that there are people doing such things under the banner of Gamergate, and it’s hard to hear the well-meaning arguments when they seem to be defending or writing off these horrible tactics.

      2. No, we don’t have to “sit on our thumbs and accept” anything. We can continue to speak out and demand better, even if we remain a minority voice. Dissent is part of the free market, it’s not “a majority rule, we win so shut up” deal. If I’m the last man still objecting, so be it, I’ll go down fighting.

        1. And threats along with harassment are not the way to do it. That is what the company and artist working on Divinity: Original Sin said to have received. There are plenty of developers who speak anonymously for fear of their own safety and livelihood who do not feel free to create what they wish for fear of backlashes. One boobplate too many and a flock of harpies descend upon them for being horrible human beings and toss threats and insults about how much they hate women.

          1. That depends entirely on what you consider a threat. Saying “I’m not going to buy this game” is not a threat, it’s exercising the power of the free market.

            P.S. Really, “a flock of harpies”? You can’t rein in your hatred of women for a whole paragraph? Get help.

          2. I have yet to see gamergate supporters denounce the doxxing and threats against women speaking out about it. The only responses I have seen is: denial (Its not really happening. people are lying), trivializing it (that’s only a very small, vocal minority doing it), or justifying (other people do it too eg. “a flock of harpies descend upon them…and toss threats and insults…”)

            It is not a lie that women are having their contact information publicly released and very specific threats aimed at them to the point they feel they need to leave their homes for safety. It happened to Felicia Day, for goodness sakes! Why is it so hard for the pro-gamergate community to denounce these behaviors out-right and clean up their act instead of denying, trivializing, and/or justifying. Until that is fixed, any legitimate complaints (if there really are any) will be completely overshadowed and will never have an iota of legitimacy. Why is it so hard to do something about the threats?

  4. If Gamergate was really about “journalistic integrity,” or calling people out for any actual/verifiable ethical transgressions, then where were the well-organized campaigns to speak to the media? Where were the named spokespersons to go on camera and talk to the networks. Where was ANYTHING resembling an adult conversation.

    It was only ever about bullying women while totally anonymous. Weak!

    Sign me up for that 5 part pledge!

  5. I don’t want my daughter to grow up and resent the geekiness present in our household because a few bad apples ruined the whole community.

    The niche culture that once was a safe haven away from ridicule has become a source of ridicule towards its own kind. disgusting.

    1. That’s the part that makes me the most sad. I have three geeky daughters who are blissfully ignorant of this whole thing. I hope they have a community where they can grow up safe.

  6. I’m proud to sign this! Whatever good intentions gamer gate might have had has been lost by the horrific actions of the trolls. I am a proud geek dad and my daughter and son will be raised to not be afraid! Well done geek dad. For any readers you lose you have gained one for life. You have done the right thing. Keep up the great work!
    Jake Boyd

  7. “And my axe.” Sign me up.

    I’ll be wearing my “Gaming Feminist Illuminati” shirt with pride tomorrow, and go back to editing and formatting a genderqueer contemporary fantasy novel after the convention. I’ve been gaming in some form or another since the late 1970s, and GamerGate absolutely makes me sick. They do not represent me, not in any way.

  8. I thought this was mostly cool! That said, even speaking as a man who has worked on multiple creative teams (in and out of the games industry) without any women, I’m not sure point 4 communicates what you mean it to. “Rejecting a game for any reason” is pretty broad, ranging from “I just prefer to support games by women” to “I am publicly boycotting this to send a message.” I don’t feel comfortable telling women what they can and can’t “reject” in their purchasing and entertainment decision-making.

    Moreover, I feel that the discrimination we’re trying to fight is actually far worse than snubbing games made exclusively by men, and the “just as bad” statement troubles me by implying otherwise. What we’re fighting is deeply-ingrained, cultural problems ranging from gendered threats of violence to hiring and pay practices that get explained off as “just the way it is.” How would a minority of consumers choosing to “reject” games exclusively by men—which, let’s be frank, couldn’t even make a dent in the industry at large—comparable to issues like that? That is not a rhetorical question; I am sincerely confused by this part of the pledge.

    1. Jason – it may be a confusingly-structured statement. It’s meant as a clarification that our pledge to support games developed by women doesn’t mean we’ll exclude those developed by men.

  9. I’m not going to argue with you or try to make you blush. I’m just going to unlike you on FB and stop visiting. Anita Sarkeesian want to control what you and I are allowed to like and what games we are allowed play. That’s not right. You should have been standing up for men.

    1. “Anita Sarkeesian want to control what you and I are allowed to like and what games we are allowed play.” After seeing most of her videos, and all of her long-form ones addressing video games specifically, I honestly have no clue how someone can come to that conclusion.

    2. When I see men receiving death threats and rape threats and having their personal information exposed so that others can harass them, I’ll stand up for those men. Meanwhile, there is nothing Sarkeesian could have said or done that would warrant the treatment she and others have received.

      1. Of course you intentionally ignore the threats and harassment and dox that men have received because you’re a buffoon.

        SJWs have been doing this for quite some time, sucks to be you that now its being used against you as well.

        It will continue and it will get worse. If you think its fair to collude and censor and lie, then its fair to harass and send some death and rape threats your way.

    3. As I see it, men are being threatened by those like Sarkeesian because they’re being told that some of what they like is sexist and misogynistic, and that there should be other games being made that have non-exploitative female characters. Women are being threatened by having their private information posted publicly and with physical violence, rape, and death. Men aren’t the ones in this situation who need standing up for, as far as I can tell.

  10. I am in as well. Regardless of how this started, it has devolved at the larger level to harassing any woman who speaks up about the role of women in games and geek culture. Anyone who resorts to harassment, threats, and doxxing, has lost their voice in the argument.

  11. Hi Erik,

    I don’t think sexual objectification is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, usually we all like it. We like that other people find us attractive or exciting. It’s why every woman has 6382 shoes and a little black dress. It’s natural and healthy.

    Yes, there are situations where it isn’t, but we deal with those as they come, rationally, not with blanket statements.

    Playing in a metal bikini isn’t the ONLY game people play. Sometimes they play to be Luke Skywalker, or a sports legend, or chess master, or Cleopatra or…

    As for choice, see? You already have choice. There are tons of not-at-all sexualized or violent games out there. Buy them. This is exactly the false narrative she’s presenting. Choice already exists (and sure maybe there could be more) but Anita consistently rallies *against* the games she doesn’t like rather than *for* the ones she does.

    She’s very much into making moral choices for other people.

    Further, there’s nothing stopping her from creating a games studio herself with the type of games you and she would like. Games by women, for women. Do it. There’s a market for it. Just don’t demand the existing market go away or modify itself to meet external demands. Capitalism, nor moralism will solve the problem.

    Look Anita’s not really an art critic. Art critics take the story and subject matter *in context* to provide perspective on the story and what it’s saying. Anita takes her examples entirely *out of context*, often stringing together a series of video-bites to create the narrative she wants. I could string together a sequence of clips making Sesame Street look like a Neo-nazi rally, but that wouldn’t make it so, would it?

    Would it be fair to characterize Romeo and Juliet (or Othello) as mysogynistic because the girl dies? Isn’t the entire point of the story to lament the fact that she dies? Yet Anita consistently gives the games she reviews this out-of-context, moralizing treatment, and calls herself an art critic.

    This conflation is why people are rebelling against her story, as well as the 14 “gamers are dead” on a single day, as well as rebelling against the idea that you agree with Anita or you’re a misogynist.

    1. Hi, Cyberia, I think if everyone who disagreed with Anita Sarkeesian stated their objections the way you do, there would be more chance of a civil discussion. The problem is that there are also those who respond in ways that I hope you’d agree ARE misogynistic: by calling her names, issuing rape/death threats, and doxxing. It’s one thing to rebel against her story; it’s another to essentially confirm that one is in fact sexist and misogynistic by resorting to personal attacks. It’s hard to sit down and have a conversation about the specifics of her argument (or yours) when there are people in the same room shouting for her to be violently abused.

      I personally don’t agree with everything Anita has posted so I’m not going to be an apologist for her statements. But I will defend her right to make her case without being personally attacked. Attack the argument, not the person.

  12. I remember growing up in the 80s & 90s and having authority figures moralizing about how I was going to hell because I played D&D. They said I was going to grow up into a violent killer because I owned a Nintendo and I played Duke Nuke Em on a friend’s PC. That is not an exaggeration, those are actually things said to me by Teachers and Boy Scout and Church leaders. Well a couple of decades later and none of that happened. I have not been possessed by a demon and I haven’t killed anyone. I’m an adult and a working professional. Yet here were are with a new generation of Jack Thompsons and Tipper Gores saying that gaming is going to turn me into a rapist and a sexual harasser. If I dare claim otherwise I’m told I’m also a misogynist. There are always going to be opportunists like Anita Sarkessian and Zoe Quinn feeding off the insecurities of others. What makes me sad is that my fellow geeks and gamers are still so ashamed of their hobby that they now believe those accusations too.

    1. Nice straw man. Nobody is saying (or at least I haven’t heard anyone saying) that “gaming is going to turn [you] into a rapist and sexual harasser.” That’s a distortion and an attempt at deflection. What people ARE saying is that there is no justification for the rape and death threats and abuse directed at women in the gaming field. You think that by changing the subject and debating a point that isn’t part of the discussion, you can bury the truth. Nope.

      The people sending rape threats to Sarkeesian, Quinn and others are in fact sexual harassers. Whether gaming turned them into that is not the issue; the fact is there are sexual harassers in your hobby and you are defending and excusing them. That is unacceptable.

  13. I wouldn’t mind signing the pledge but I have a few problems with it. I will go down the list as it is numbered in the article and give my problems with it (as I interpret it).

    1. We commit to support the development of video games with female characters that are at least as realistic and interesting as their male characters.

    1. I am assuming that the video game being developed in question lets you choose between both male and female characters and they both should have equally well written characters (obviously subjective, but I understand the sentiment). However the way this is written it reads that you wouldn’t support the original Super Mario Bros, because let’s face it a princess who isn’t even tied up stays with her captor until a plumber who risks his lives to come save her over 8 different worlds through a series of pipes and monsters, just isn’t equal on both sides of the gender table. Now if you are saying that you would support a game where the roles could be reversed and it wouldn’t impact the game, (using the earlier Mario example, if Peach was a female plumber that was rescuing Prince Mario from a castle) I completely support that, as long as the roles could be reversed and game play and story don’t change then you know it is equal.

    Hell, most of the characters I pick in video games tend to be female (Peach in SMB2; being the best character there is due to her jump glide ability. That game also being a good example of characters all being at least writing wise being equal). Though I also don’t expect every game to have a female in it, or that the females be super strong women, it is how ever the creators decide they wanted to make it. I will say another good example for good character development that could go both ways is Parasite Eve, female protagonist that if switched for a male would be just as good. Also, RE2 playing as Claire didn’t mean any less game play as playing as Leon, which is awesome.

    However I also liked playing games like Duke Nukem where the portrayal of women was, lets say poor. But, did it make the game worse? Nope. It is exactly the type of game I wanted to play, not because I don’t respect women, but because I like shooting alien pig monsters and stuff. Would the game work if the female characters were strong willed empowered women? No, it probably wouldn’t, because that is what the game calls for. They are filling a role. It is what that game is supposed to be as the designers wanted. However, would it have worked with reverse roles and still been a good game (Duchess Nukem?, and male strippers, or what have you)? I think yes. However since I have no interest in male strippers or seeing half naked guys I probably wouldn’t have bought the game if it was the main feature of the game or the reason I was buying it.

    Voicing one’s opinion on the matter of gender roles in gaming is fine. Telling people that their choice in games is wrong or that your choice is better because it empowers women is wrong. You may not agree with it, but it is up to them to decide, and they shouldn’t have to be ashamed for liking what they like. Nor should it be any sort of mandate that a game has to have a certain amount of one gender or race or that the characters be equal. It doesn’t work in all games or stories, someone has to be the damsel and if the developers decide it is a woman, deal with it. It’s what they chose, it’s what people bought, it is obviously what people want.

    2. We further commit to publicly call out video games and other related geeky media that treat women as less interesting or capable than men, and particularly fantasy art in which women appear to be stupid enough to think that wearing only an armor bikini would actually be useful.

    2. You can call people out on this if you want, but doing so will seem like you are attacking them and the things they like. So don’t be surprised when people try to defend it. I mean, this is art, so it may not be the kind of art you are into, but don’t be surprised when people take it personal when you say they are sexist for liking women wearing bikinis into battle. That is up to them to decide what they like, and I am not one to judge them on it.

    3. We commit to support female game developers as much as possible. This could include publicizing crowdfunding campaigns, reviewing indie games that might otherwise go unnoticed, interviewing developers, promoting programs to encourage girls to pursue careers in game development, and anything else we can think of.

    3. My problem with this is that it isn’t fair to guys. Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure that it is difficult to get into the industry as a woman, but giving one side special treatment because they are male or female, black or white, or any other reason is ridiculous. It shouldn’t matter your race, gender, sexual orientation. All that should matter is the final product, do you (in this case) have a game I want to play. I couldn’t care less if you are a trans-gender Hispanic male with one eye. Did the game satisfy whatever need I had for it to do? If so, then good. I won’t treat anyone different on this subject, sorry being female doesn’t grant you any more rights than being Asian does.

    4. We further commit, however, NOT to reject in any way any video game simply because nobody on the development team was female. Because that would be just as bad as the discrimination we’re trying to fight.

    4. I think this one is pretty straightforward on being fair to everyone, no exclusions based on gender (also, hopefully other discriminating factors).

    5. We commit to provide a safe place on our site for anyone, of any gender, to comment on articles without fear of doxxing or personal threats in our comments. If for any reason we are unable to adequately filter out such things, we commit to disable comments entirely on our site in order to make it a safe place.

    5. Another pretty straightforward one, protecting your users. No arguments.

    I also feel it should be noted that people should not have to say that they don’t condone the doxxing and harassing/threatening of women (or anybody for that matter), it should just be assumed that unless otherwise stated that the person is against such things.

    As far as journalistic integrity thing goes, for me. Journalists, don’t sleep with people that you are doing articles on (unless the article is about sleeping with them, I guess), and if you are going to at least have the integrity to be fair to everyone and not play favorites just because you two (or three, or four, or more, who am I to judge?) are boinking. Being a journalist is an important job, don’t spoil it with falsifying information.

    For those with the TL:DR, just be fair to everyone, treat them as people, not male or female, black or white. Be awesome to each other. Pretty simple.

  14. Thank you for the article! I support GamerGate and support the five points of your pledge. If you support the pledge, you also support GamerGate.

    1. Thanks for the post and the link. A much-needed perspective from a cooler head. Heat gone, reason restored. Thanks.

  15. Most of the games I’ve seen with characters like you describe are coming straight out of Japan, and have seriously rooted anime backgrounds.

    Are we supposed to be condemning the Japanese anime culture? There’s more sexism and (insert SJW buzzwords here) in Japanese pop media culture than we can shake a stick at here… yet we’re attacking it here. That’s odd to me.
    Quinn comes off as unhinged and it’s all too convenient for her to lash out and then hide behind her gender privilege and white knights when the heat gets too hot for her.
    Anita has made claims of threats, been busted faking threats, and has yet to provide a shred of evidence. She’s riding the media coattails as well.

    I’m pretty much sick of gaming these days. Not because of the games, but because of the feigned controversy over insignificant junk.

    1. Quinn, Anita and Wu are most definitely milking the drama for all it’s worth.

      Wu has flat-out been caught faking threats against herself. God help her if it gets revealed she made the threats against Quinn or Sark.

      Also, notice the pivot all three girls make in interviews: “I’m being harassed on the internet! So, let’s look at industry hiring practices.” (aka: I want a high paying developer job at a AAA company)

      Non-sequitor

      They are literally, literally trying to make money off this. Wu acutally slipped up during one interview and admitted this, right at the end.

      Open your eyes people.

      1. Nice to see you’ve dropped all pretenses of reasonable debate in favour of ludicrous conspiracy, Cyberia, alleging that very real threats against women in the gaming industry are just false-flags made up for attention. At least we now know what type of person you are, and the amount of contempt we should treat you with.

        Always funny to see the irony of GamerGate supporters whinging that their lot were very definitely hacked, doxxed and threatened, but whenever a woman claims she was threated the same (backed up by well-documented, overwhelming evidence), you all get defensive and start with the whole “she’s just making up for attention/money!” garbage.

          1. Bet you feel proud, saying I “deserve rape”. Come say that to my face you snivelling little coward.

  16. “Free expression is one of the most misunderstood concepts this side of special relativity”

    Quite, and it’s pretty clear that the author of this article repeatedly fails to grasp the concept.

    Hyperbole on the topic instead of facts is going to get this discussion bogged down quickly, alas.

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