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This excerpt from a 4chan post really sums up what bothers me most about this whole GamerGate situation.

Like, I keep seeing people pushing the idea that GamerGate is some kind of attack against female developers, or that it’s driven by a bunch of sexists or racists trying to push a secret agenda. One of the replies to my last post even claimed that it was “just misogyny masked behind coded pretenses.” There’s this weird assumption that the whole cause is a cover for something malicious, being plotted by a secret misogynistic cabal on 4chan.

But like… 4chan operates in the open. They don’t do secrets. If you want to know what they’re doing on GamerGate, you can literally just go there and read the thread. They’re discussing their tactics and ideas out loud. You can ask a question if you’re confused about something. I’ve done it, and I’ve seen actual journalists there doing it too. It’s not incredibly secretive.

But people don’t seem to understand that. Like, look at this 4chan screenshot Zoe Quinn posted on her Twitter:

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It looks like 4chan is planning to harass her for “not knowing her place”, right? 

Note the links at the top of the message - it has thirteen replies. You can actually go look at these replies. 10/13 of them are calling the post out, accusing it of being a False Flag (or Zoe herself) trying to stir controversy. 2/13 of the replies are laughing at the way the post’s picture fit together with the unrelated reply below it. The last 1/13 is someone claiming that they no longer support 4chan after that post - a reply  that curiously appeared with the exact same wording the last time that post showed up. In other words, it was probably the same person who made both.

And I mean, you could claim “4chan shouldn’t have let that post be made in the first place!”, but like… they didn’t. It was reported and deleted within 15 minutes of being posted. Whoever sent that screenshot to Zoe Quinn was either the person who made the post, or someone who had been watching the thread constantly for hours, waiting for any piece of harassment to show up so they could send it. It might have even been Zoe herself who made it. Either way, it’s undeniably from someone who was trying to falsely implicate 4chan’s /v/ board as harassers. 

This is not deep investigative journalism here. It was five minutes spent looking up a post that was made on a public site, which someone posted out of context in a way that made it look like the community was harassing them. This is the kind of thing everyone should do when they see a seemingly-incriminating quote posted out of context. This is something I wish people would do for me whenever they see that rumor that I hire web designers and then pay them with gift cards. For some reason, nobody ever does.

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As I wrote originally, I’m not committed to my position on this Zoe Quinn thing. I’m trying to look at the evidence and support what is right. However, based on what I’ve seen, the two possibilities are that Zoe Quinn is evil, or Zoe Quinn is stupid.

She might be evil. She might be playing up her harassment for popularity. Media attention over her harassment was one of the factors that helped her get a free text-based game full of grammar errors onto Steam. She might have made those 4chan harassment posts herself to create an enemy people could hate. She might be taking a serious issue - the harassment of female gamers - and be falsely slating herself to become its poster child. 

Or, she might be stupid. Maybe someone else is sending her screenshots and trying to implicate 4chan, and she lacks the wherewithal to look into these claims. Maybe someone is trying to attack feminism by getting Zoe and others to rally against what many can see as obvious half-truths. Maybe her PR skills are legitimately just so bad that generalizing and making enemies of everyone who questioned her seemed like a good idea. 

We don’t really know. Unlike 4chan, she is not operating out in the open - we don’t even have a clear response on whether the sexual harassment allegation against her was valid (though the accuser was quickly shamed into being quiet and apologizing). 

But, as many others have said, GamerGate isn’t really about Zoe Quinn anymore. Many of the people involved - myself included - still want her to at least respond to some of the things she did, but let’s be honest: if she is doing this for attention, the most biting retaliation would be to simply ignore her. If she was doing it out of stupidity, the kindest response would be to ignore her. She doesn’t deserve harassment - regardless of whether she wants it or is legitimately trying to avoid it. Invisibility is simultaneously the kindest and cruelest thing she can receive. 

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But, to everyone else involved in GamerGate - the gamers who don’t like being generalized into misogynistic scum, the 4channers who are boggled at how they can be slandered when they keep no secrets, the minorities posting in #NotYourShield to protest the idea that only straight white males are upset, the second-wave feminists who don’t like seeing the cause they fought for used to defend harassment and name-calling, whatever - keep fighting, and make the news sites recognize their transgressions against you. Keep evolving, and finding new angles to attack from. Remember that the goodguys are the ones who don’t have to keep secrets - the people who can lay all their cards on the table and still win. 

Personally, I am not terribly effected by GamerGate. I want to get into game design, but I’m not some unknown who would have to put his games on Steam and pray for a good word from Kotaku. If anything, I would benefit from “gamers” becoming a niche market with less competition, or from the industry standard becoming art games that aren’t actually fun. Yet, at the same time, I try to stand up for critical thinking and spread the idea of understanding others, and on that level I want to see GamerGate succeed. I want to see news sites recognize, yeah, it’s not cool to generalize and attack a large group, nor is it cool to claim we are doing it in the defense of another group. I’ll leave the fight up to you guys, though - I’ve spent enough time this week writing essays on the topic. 

In short: question everything, try to understand others, and stand up for what you think is right, even if harm is threatened against you for it. Even if I oppose you, you’re a good person and I am happy to call you a friend as long as you do those three things. 

Empowerment

Months and months ago, I wrote a post about Tom Siddell - author of Gunnerkrigg Court - and his near-suicide. Among the responses to it was one calling me a shitty person and bad communicator. 

"Shitty person" I can understand. I mean, it’s not something I agree with, but it is a vague title that will inevitably be given to pretty much anyone who holds an opinion. The one that drew my interest, however, was “bad communicator”. Communication is something I’m deeply interested in; the post itself was about communication. To be called a bad communicator is kind of like walking up to a mathematician working on a chalkboard, saying “wow, you’re bad at math!” and walking away. That is to say, it’s not necessarily offensive, but it certainly raises questions. 

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I privately asked him for further explanation, and for the most part his response was stuff I’m used to: saying that I’m too removed, that I lack empathy, and that I treat everything as a big tactical issue when most people are just doing what they feel like. However, along with that was the interesting statement that if I wanted people to listen to me, I shouldn’t have accused a large part of my audience of almost murdering someone

At the time, the criticism more or less made sense. As I thought about it more, though, I began to question it. I mean, first of all, I wasn’t accusing them of almost murdering someone, I was accusing them of almost voluntary manslaughtering someone. And second of all: was such an accusation necessarily disputable?

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Think about the situation Tom Siddell was involved in: he made a Tweet about Louis Lane that sounded transphobic when taken out of context. People attacked him for it, trying to persuade others to join in the attacks or boycott the comic Tom makes his living off of. It’s not really arguable that they were consciously trying to hurt him. Since he suffers from depression, the attacks were enough to make him seriously consider killing himself. Had he gone through with it, that would pretty much be the definition of voluntary manslaughter. Functionally, it’s no different than a restraining chokehold killing someone whose neck can’t take it

When I make the statement that “Tumblr’s social justice community almost killed a guy”, it’s not an opinion; it’s an empirical truth. However, it’s important to recognize that it is not the only true statement I could have made.

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Tom Siddell, despite knowing he was depressed, interacted with people in a public setting where his depression could easily be triggered.

This statement is also empirically true and cannot be disputed. However, this one manages to put the blame on Tom. He’s the one who endangered his life by insisting on working a stressful, public job that could potentially push him over the edge. 

Tom suffered from depression, meaning the stress and drama of social interaction that would make most people sad could potentially drive him to suicide. 

Here is another empirically true statement - a rather tactful one that puts all the blame on his mental illness. From this angle, neither him nor his detractors would be made out as responsible for his death. 

Tom made a statement that upset a minority group and then went on to guilt them by saying their criticism almost pushed him to suicide.

Now this one is neat in that it creatively spins Tom as the attacker. Like the others it is still empirically true. It’s not a misleading lie; even if you know all the facts, this is still true. However, it’s miles away from my equally true statement of “Tumblr’s social justice community almost killed a guy”. 

The reason I am bringing this up is because it’s important to this post to establish why I chose the particular phrasing that put blame on Tumblr. If you read my blog, or the posts I make on any forum I visit, they’re about how to do things. I talk about the techniques I use to make stuff, or the way your actions can affect other people. Even when my grandmother died, I exploited those emotions into a post about how you could write realistic death scenes. I want you to be able to do things

When I talk about Tom Siddell’s near-suicide, I don’t care that it wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t have depression. I don’t care that he chose to say things that hurt other people. All I care about is what you and I can do; I care about the angle in which we are responsible for the events that transpire. I care about the angle that empowers us. The one we can use to make a difference.

And after a fourteen paragraph intro, that’s what I want to talk about: empowerment.

Empowerment (for real, now)

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An important thing to realize is that any time something bad happens, we are all partially responsible. Like, imagine someone getting mugged in an alley. The mugger made a conscious choice to commit a crime against a victim. The victim, however, also made a conscious choice not to carry pepper spray or a gun, which might have prevented the robbery from succeeding. The person walking along the street makes a conscious choice not to investigate the sounds she hears in the alley, and even the guy sitting at home watching TV made a conscious choice to vote for the candidate who wanted to cut the police budget.

From a legal perspective, the mugger is accountable for anything bad that happens in this event - after all, he’s the one who broke the law and instigated the whole thing, and he is the only one who had a 100% chance of preventing it. However, any one of the people involved in this still could have prevented it. They all had the power - or at least potential - to do so.

If I was trying to prevent muggings from happening, my angle would vary depending who I am talking to. To an ex-convict, I would emphasize the control he has over the situation: ways he could make a living other than robbery. To a potential victim, I would emphasize self-defense and preventative measures. To a potential bystander I would emphasize the importance of never assuming someone else will call 911, and to a voter I would emphasize the importance of security cameras and patrolling officers. I want to prevent this thing from happening, so I am going to take the angle that empowers people to stop it.

The big problem I have with a lot of rhetoric and expectations - especially on Tumblr - is that they are predominantly geared toward empowering the opposition.

Like, what good would come from me saying “remember that time Tom Siddell’s depression almost killed him?”. You can’t do anything about the fact that Tom is depressed; all you can change are your actions toward him. To do that, it is important to understand how your actions affect him. Here’s a hint: they almost killed him.

To make a difference, you need control. Part of that means recognizing what control you have. Rhetoric that emphasizes a group’s lack of control accomplishes nothing more than alleviating guilt. Convincing yourself that you are powerless means you don’t have to feel guilty knowing you could have prevented something.

I’ve written about this phenomenon before, but it was in the context of one’s own perceptions - convincing ourselves we are guiltless for the bad things that transpire. However, it bothers me that disempowering rhetoric is something we very actively push onto others - often under the guise of social justice. In many cases, it’s something we’ve come to expect - when something bad happens, we want to read about it in a way where we’re not responsible. 

If you don’t get what I mean, look at this Tumblr post that was going around a few weeks ago, comparing Gone Home and The Stanley Parable:

Two games came out in 2013 based almost entirely on walking around a building and listening to voices. One of these was met with a barrage of accusations that it wasn’t really a game, and one was not. One of these was also about a young gay woman, and one was not.

Remember how I showed all the different ways you could describe the Tom Siddell situation to place the blame on different people, and how all of them were technically true? On the surface this post looks like social justice, calling attention to inequality in the games industry, but it’s literally the one angle you could take to blame all of Gone Home's criticism on the fact it had a gay female character.

Like, how about we discuss the fact that Dear Esther, a game about a straight male character, received all the same “not really a game” criticisms that Gone Home did.

Let’s talk about the fact that The Stanley Parable was a story specifically targeted toward gamers, deconstructing the idea of following a set path. Why don’t we mention that it had a nonlinear plot, or the amazing audience connection it developed?

Let’s talk about how Gone Home was yet another Tragic Lesbian story about forbiddden romance, a cliche so overplayed it has a place on The Worst Muse

Or how about we talk about Mighty Jill Off, a game about lesbians, made by a trans woman, and released to critical acclaim? 

Of all the possible comparisons that could be drawn between Gone Home and The Stanley Parable, and all the explanations we could give for the latter receiving less criticism, what is gained by blaming it on the female main character? Who does that empower? What message does that send to a soulless market researcher who is scouring social media to discern what sort of game will sell well? What message does it send to a new indie developer who needs to make a successful game to survive? Hell, what message does it send to a young girl who wants to get into the games’ industry but doesn’t have the upper-middle-class luxury of pursuing an education that won’t necessarily pay off her tuition?

Fuck that noise, is what I’m saying! If you want to help a group, take the angle that will empower them, emphasizing their innate value and what they can achieve, not the angle that will make them feel even more disadvantaged and hopeless. These are the sort of tactics that are used in wartime to make enemies surrender or desert; we should not be using them on people we want to help. We shouldn’t be trusting people who use them.

And actually, a more important question: when people do this stuff, why don’t we view it as misogyny? 

Like… blaming a sexist statement on an external factor doesn’t make it less sexist. A person who pushes the idea that a game with a female protagonist can’t become successful because the game industry is so male-dominated is still pushing the idea that a game with a female protagonist can’t become successful. Blaming it on an external factor doesn’t change that. 

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If anything, it’s reminiscent of biotruths - this idea that something’s not actually bigoted if it’s backed up with “fact”. Only, rather than justifying our statements with biology, we justify them with social observations. When we see a game like Portal get critical acclaim despite having a cast entirely consisting of nonsexualized female characters, we don’t take it as a refutation of the idea that the games industry is horribly biased against female characters. Instead, we try to explain it off as an anomaly - saying that its excellent design made up for its female protagonist, or that it would’ve been even more popular with a male one. We use the exact same rhetoric a flagrant misogynist would use to dismiss people like Marie Curie or Jane Goodall, claiming that their femaleness was a liability they managed to overcome.

And like… why is that okay? What is with this emphasis on femininity being a liability? Why don’t we talk about marketing benefits in making game characters that stand out from the norm? Why don’t we talk about the 47% of the human population so few developers are directly catering toward?  I’ve seen tens of thousands of people reblogging posts griping about how female-centric games get less marketing attention, but I’ve personally never seen anyone talking about these tens of thousands of people here right now who would buy a high-budget game with a female or gay or trans protagonist. 

This isn’t even limited to sexism. Even when we’re not in a group, we talk about all the things racial minorities can’t do because of white people, or all the things sexual minorities can’t do because of straight people, and rather than talking about the things they can do and how it can be used to their advantage, we just leave it at this message of hopelessness. We go to extensive lengths to empower these group’s enemies, but do almost nothing for the people we purportedly care about.

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And tying this back to the earlier parts, is it really just an avoidance of guilt? Do we just want to avoid the knowledge that we could have made things better if we had acted more strategically? Or is there something more malicious? Are there people out there, right now, suppressing groups by empowering their enemies, defending their bigotry as being veritable “sociotruths”? 

This isn’t a conspiracy theory. This is a thing people do. It’s a thing people do in wars. It’s a thing people do in business. It’s even a thing people do when playing games - bombarding their enemies with a feeling of hopelessness until they weaken and give up. We all understand the excitement of making everyone at the table fold when you secretly have a shitty hand. When you leave a game and enter the real world, your enemies don’t suddenly get dumber.

The people who oppose you want you to feel disempowered. They want you to feel hopeless, and outclassed, and like no matter what you do, it won’t matter. They want you to spread a message of disempowerment, and to take offense at the idea that you have strength that you are not using. Most of all, they want you to get fucked over, and you need to know this so you don’t play into their plans. 

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The world is not kind, but it’s okay because you’re awesome. You need to understand that.

If you feel like you are disadvantaged in an endeavor, you can overcome it. It might not be easy, and you might have to get a little strategic about it, but that’s okay, because there are a lot of resources on doing shit like that. Some people start in the hardest starting position, and that’s not fair, but it means that you need to do everything you can to stack the odds in your favor. You need to look past the people who tell you things are hopeless, or encourage you to spread that message of hopelessness, because chances are they have an agenda. Play better than your enemies. Have an underhanded agenda of your own. 

I’m a writer. I write comics about a sad cat. I describe my thoughts and methods in excruciating longwinded detail so you can learn from it. If I do something that works well, you can copy me; if I do something that backfires horribly, you can avoid repeating my mistakes. I will get criticism for being heartless and manipulative and cold and tactical, but I’m okay with that because I don’t want to leave you with a piece of vague advice like “write from your heart and things will work out”. I know that, unless you are a wealthy white cisgendered male with perfect industry connections, that isn’t going to be enough. 

It means you will have to take take blame for your missteps. Understanding the power your actions have means understanding that bad things are partially due to your own actions - or lack thereof - and are not solely a factor of external circumstances. When you get mugged, you’ll think “I could’ve stopped this if I brought my pepper spray”. When your project fails, you’ll think “it would’ve worked if I did things differently”. Sometimes, you’ll accidentally almost kill Tom Siddell. This is normal. Recognize it, because that’s the only way you’ll keep it from happening again.

You are almost never truly helpless, and by proxy you are almost never truly blameless. It’s a worldview not everyone is comfortable with, but one I stand by nonetheless.

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Once when I was younger, I was at a little clinic to get a flu shot. A teenage boy and his father were sitting next to me in the waiting room. The teenage boy was writhing in pain.

We were in that waiting room a very long time before he was called in. A while after he was called in, an ambulance arrived, taking him away on a stretcher to the nearest hospital equipped to perform surgeries. A nurse I asked later said it was a very inflamed appendix. His father was following the stretcher, and looked me in the eyes on the way out.

I don’t know if the boy was okay, but I still think about it sometimes. I knew the signs of appendicitis. I knew how to differentiate it from a stomach ache or regular nausea. I sat in that waiting room for minutes and minutes watching him writhe, his father putting a gentle hand on his back for comfort the boy could barely acknowledge. I never thought to look at the signs, or that it might have been something serious and that I should’ve stood up immediately and gone over to them and said that, yes, this boy needed to get to a proper hospital as soon as possible. I just sat there, watching, and I still remember the look his father gave me as they left.

I feel responsible for whatever happened to him. It’s not a wholly bad feeling though, because it carries with it a certain level of empowerment. I know that if I’m ever in that position again, I’ll know what to do. I’ll know there’s something I can do, and that I’ll be prepared to act. Next time, I won’t miss it. 

And if you are ever there, clutching yourself in agony, you had best hope that there will be someone like me the room. If it’s just a bunch of people who think the problem is out of their control, you’re going to end up in the ground. 

Indie, Addendum (or: why I benefit from GamerGate's opposition)

I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to talk about GamerGate anymore. So instead: let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about Daggerfall.

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This is Daggerfall. It was the second game in the Elder Scrolls series - the sequel to the 1994 Arena and predecessor to the 1997 Battlespire

You don’t see people talking about Daggerfall much, but it had a lot of interesting concepts that set it apart from the series’ later titles. The scale was enormous - the width of Cyrodiil in Oblivion is just a bit shorter than the distance between two of Daggerfall's 15,000 towns. Dungeons were not made to be navigable - they were confusing, winding messes where there was a good chance you would have to give up without ever finding the artifact/person you were looking for. On top of this, quests were timed - waiting around to heal or getting roped into a sidequest wasn't viable, since you were only given a certain number of days to complete a mission and a good number of those would be dedicated to sleep or travel. If you failed a quest, it would reduce your reputation with factions or make the main storyline unwinnable.

Daggerfall was a game from a different era. Its production values weren’t high: it was made by twenty people, around half of them credited as just “additional art” (which in my own credits is codeword for “drew one sprite”). It was released one year after its predecessor - for comparison, I’ve been working on my 2013 Seven Day Roguelike entry for longer than that. The game was also very punishing - unless you had looked at the 100-page manual and gotten a good grasp on its mechanics, you probably weren’t going to make it out of the starting dungeon. You’d get killed by a rat.

But that’s the thing: Daggerfall was made for a certain kind of person. It came from an era where games were made for gamers. Like a child whose family could only afford one toy for Christmas, there was an expectation that the people who bought games were going to care about them. They were going to explore them, learn their nuances, use their imagination and find depth where others couldn’t. Games were meant to release their content over weeks, not hours. I once saw an interview with an early adventure game developer where he explained that, in his era, adventure games weren’t something you plowed through in one sitting - they were something you’d have to put down for a while, and think about the puzzles as you went through your day. They weren’t for a casual audience - much like Ulysses is only read by literature aficionados who care enough to dissect its nuances, games were only played by gamers.

With Daggerfall in particular, that dedication was required. It could take weeks or months of playing before you began to see the scope of the main plot. You’d have to save up hundreds of thousands of gold pieces to even speak to a Daedric Prince and get their quest. You were encouraged to do frivolous things for your own fun, like buy casual outfits for your character to wear when in town. I found this beautiful relic of a roleplaying guide, pointing out things like how you can be a “Knight of the Dragon” by wearing fullplate and refusing to attack dragonlings. It’s like watching a grown man play with dolls. It’s awesome.

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At some point, games lost that. I’m not going to say games turned bad, because I love games like Skyrim - but I love them in the same way I love The Avengers or Gravity. They’re high-budget quick fun, but after a few hours they’ve shown all their cards. Developers aren’t going to put huge amounts of effort into some critical twist that comes after a month of playing because they know most of their playerbase won’t be that dedicated. And with a team of 100 people working on a game for three years, you need to target the biggest audience you can to recoup losses. A niche won’t do it.

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This is how “gamers” became a demographic separate from “people who play games”. As games grew to be accessible enough that the average person could throw a few hours into them, gamers became a niche market of users who cared about games enough to explore their full depth. Mainstream games continued to rope them in with things like optional high difficulty levels or weapons that have a high skill ceiling that can only be reached after weeks of practice. Indie games, on the other hand, found a niche market that let them survive in the shadow of mainstream games: comically difficult platformers and heinously deep RPGs appealed uniquely to this demographic that wanted to care about their games. 

This is important to understand: indie games, in their earliest years, were not conceived as art. They were a business. We didn’t have these short three-hour rides showing a creative new mechanic that define indie games today: rather, we had games that survived by niche marketing to a small audience - typically gamers, since they were the only ones who would care enough to seek the game out. They were also the ones who would continue to support you - if you made a game that targeted their rare tastes, you could bet they’d be back for the sequel rather than simply moving on to the next popular FPS. Jeff Vogel has been surviving off this mentality since 1995, milking his tiny little squadron of fans - many of whom seem to remember the original Exile. In his latest blog post, he even spells it out: 

Indie is a type of business. It’s a type of funding. It’s a marketing term. In fact, the term ‘indie’ can mean everything but a type of game.

And yet, today indie has become something different. It became about art. With the internet and later Steam, niche marketing to gamers was no longer a necessity for indie devs. They could compete in a mainstream market, as long as they could keep their production expenses down. Thus, you got little games: short one-hour romps, gimmicky iPhone toys, and art games relying on the presentation of a single creative idea. You got what Vogel calls “the Indie Bubble” - this idea that the market has become completely diluted. It became a roulette game: people would make a creative thing and hope to hit it big. If you were friends with advertisers, reporters, or award judges, you could give yourself an edge.

And just like that, indies unknowingly reinvented the publisher. Success as an indie developer no longer pivoted on connecting with a niche audience, but on working your way into a group of advertisers. If the group thought your ideas were good - that they’d make a decent return - they would pay you to make games. It wasn’t about hitting the niche audience you had built or discovered, but rather about working with someone who could advertise you to the non-gamer mainstream. 

It’s what planted the seeds for “GamerGate”, and eventually this mass declaration by news sites that “gamers are dead”.

The Death of the Gamer (and why I benefit)

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Imagine, for a moment, that the Coca-Cola company suddenly became very health-conscious. Obesity in America, they decided, is a big problem. That day, they announce that from now on they will be producing nothing but vegetable juice. They will now be a competitor to Campbell’s V8 Juice. Not only that, but they publicly announce that all soda-drinkers are trash, and if they want to be accepted anywhere they will need to learn about healthy eating habits. Health groups are overjoyed and commend Coca-Cola on the decision. But do you know who’s even happier about this?

Motherfucking Pepsi.

I was introduced to indie development through the Old Ways. I don’t talk about it much, but my first steps into game design came when I was copying Exile off one of my dad’s shareware disks and discovered that all its visual resources were stored externally. Summoning up my mad Kid Pix skills, I drew my own character overtop the default male fighter. When I saw him in the actual game’s party-builder screen, I was enthralled. 

I never had a game console growing up - all my money went to Very Important Legos. My introduction to gaming was through shareware games distributed by companies like Spiderweb Software or Epic MegaGames. I never grew up seeing games as something high-budget that you needed dozens of people and a publisher’s backing to produce. The biggest hurdle was that you needed this mythical device called a CD Burner that cost well over 1000 dollars - enough to buy nearly six copies of that awesome Unitron monorail I wanted for Christmas. I didn’t grow up seeing games as coming from these big companies like Nintendo or Sega, but from these smaller individuals like Jeff Vogel or Cliff Bleszinski. They didn’t put a dozen copies of their game on shelves, but rather seeded the world with free shareware to find that niche that liked their product for what it was. They could get away with making weird shit because they had us. They had gamers, who cared enough to fill out that order form. They reached out to us like friends because we were theirs, and they were ours.

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"Gamers are dead" is a stupid-ass thing to say. I don’t mean "stupid" as in it’s wrong - though it is - but stupid in that it’s a self-defeating business move. 

Sure, it’s true that normal people play games. I was at a bar earlier today - to my left, a grizzled man in a Ravens jersey discussed the math behind how he was going to defeat his Fantasy Football rival, and to my right, a woman had her collection of riddle-emblazoned beer bottle caps (I helped her figure out one involving a picture of France, which I admittedly only recognized thanks to Francis the Talking France). These people probably wouldn’t consider themselves gamers, but like many other people in our culture they can enjoy the occasional game.

But at the same time, non-gamers are not the people reading gaming news sites, or buying short little art games because they won indie awards. They’re the people buying the latest popular shooter they see advertised on TV, and yelling “you cocksucking whore!” into their mic when a gamer headshots them.

Alienating gamers is a stupid-ass move. For a gaming news site, it consigns their audience to the people with the least investment in their content. For a developer of small indie games, it deprives them of the two demographics that would possibly hold them in higher regard than mainstream media - the remaining group being the notoriously broke artists. I’ve even seen an article declaring that, in addition to gamers being dead, games should no longer strive to be “fun” - and instead, developer’s primary goal should be to create games that can teach good lessons and encourage positive social behavior. The Coca-Cola-switching-to-vegetable-juice analogy runs deep. All of these people are completely fucked.

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But you know who’s not fucked? I’m not fucked. The old-guard indie developers - the ones who knew how the industry worked before you could buy a game for a dollar while sitting on the toilet - are not fucked.

Let’s be honest here: when we stand up for GamerGate, we’re doing it for sites like Kotaku who don’t know how to be writers or people like Zoe Quinn and Tim Schafer who know shit all about being an indie. We’re trying to maintain an industry where these people are not automatically fucked. You ask a random person on the street if they’ve heard of Broken Age, you’re going to get nothing. When you finally find someone who says “yes”, go ahead and ask if they’re a gamer. These newbie indies don’t even realize who their audience is, and I doubt they’d last a second if their de-facto publishers ever pulled the tit from their mouth.

But you, me - the Jeff Vogels and the Rich Burlews and everyone inbetween - this doesn’t hurt us. If anything, we stand to gain from it - groups stigmatized by society become all the more likely to look up to or help those who treat them as equals. In the end, all we’re really doing with GamerGate is protecting idiots. And I mean, that’s fine! That is a just cause; nobody deserves to get hurt, even a creator who attacks their audience. But the more I think about it, the less crushed I’ll be if the opposition ultimately prevails. I’ll be sad, until I realize how much money I’ll be getting.

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I ran into an old friend this week - one of the most chipper and upbeat people I had ever known. They’d had a bit too much to drink, and admitted to me that when we first became friends in high school they were being sexually abused and raped at home. It went on for years before they told someone, and even longer before it was actually taken care of.

I guess on some level it reminded me of why I originally started caring about GamerGate. I want to see Zoe Quinn at least respond to some of the more serious allegations against her. Maybe refute them, maybe apologize, but at least stop attacking people or painting them as villains for bringing it up. I want to see her friends and the gaming press acknowledge that the things they said in defense of her got pretty horrible at times.

But I don’t know if I’m actually scared. I mean, sure, I’m probably on Kotaku and Rock Paper Shotgun’s blacklists by now, but as someone whose work has been praised on those sites and was able to analyze the benefit incurred, I can say that it’s not that big of a deal. I mean, fuck, I’ll even show you:

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Rock Paper Shotgun, after a praising review that told everyone to read my webcomic, sits down in a comfortable 10th place, making up 3.38% of my direct referral traffic since the review was posted. Ahead of it are three social media sites (Facebook, Tumblr, and Reddit), two communities I used to post in (MSPAForums, Something Awful), two art sites where I can only be linked in individuals’ journals and image descriptions (Deviantart, Furaffinity), a wiki (TVTropes), and a webcomic (Three Panel Soul). The 5000 clicks when the Rock Paper Shotgun article was first posted were nice, but the bulk of my traffic comes from communities. It comes from the people who respect me or my work, or the niches like MSPAForums or Furaffinity who it connects to specifically.

And you know who’s in a close 11th place behind Rock Paper Shotgun?

Motherfucking 4chan. A positive reputation with 4chan is worth almost as much as a glowing mention on a news site. And things that are worth even more than journalists: furries and webcomic authors. Welcome to indie.

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So, yeah. GamerGate is a good thing; I want to see it succeed, gaming journalists get standards, bad people face justice, that kind of thing. But in the end we have to remember to put it in perspective: your reputation with Furaffinity is worth more than your reputation with gaming journalists. Rather than working my way into some nepotistic indie clique or standing up for some wannabe feminist icon, I’m just going to post this picture of a shirtless argonian. They can never blacklist me from cold, scaly pecs.

GamerGate failing will only make me and people like me stronger. The damage has already been done: people are offended; hundreds if not thousands of individuals are getting their gaming news from other sites and being more cautious about believing info from the big ones. A bunch of game designers have been complete assholes to their audience. And then, on the flipside of this, you’ve got me. And you’ve got the old indies. You’ve got the people who care about gamers. Not only will we will make things you love, but we think you rock.

Toss your Coke-branded vegetable juice and crack a Pepsi. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Close

anonymous said:

I personally think that one of the greatest injustices that happens to our children are the boxes of gender-roles we force them into. We raise kids who are insecure because they're a girl who wants to play a football, or a boy who cries during movies. These kids learn shame when they should love themselves because they are individuals, and they shouldn't be defining themselves by what society says a boy and girl should be. How can we fix generations of damage?

Destroy binarism and patriarchy embedded in culture by constantly educating yourself and others. Change language usage (slurs, denial of agency), change cultural practices (microagressions, gender roles). Defend individuals and practices, expression and diversity (trans, non-binary, intersex individuals). Agitate the public through direct action (mindful consumption, boycotting, petitions, education, general spreading of awareness). Critique and seek proper representation in media.

Build a culture where binarism, sexism, transphobia are unacceptable, rather than acceptable. Make a movement self-sustaining: educate others to educate others.

4

An Awakening in the Eternal City

By John Ray

Roma’s Ultras held up a banner that read “Not knowing how to respond to defeat is worse than defeat itself” upon the side’s presentation to supporters on August 21st. They were referencing the side’s 1-0 loss to Lazio in the Coppa Italia final, the first steps of what they assumed was the destruction of a young but talented team, as well as the uninspired hiring of Rudi Garcia, who was resoundingly booed. It was assumed that Garcia would merely be the next to fly off the Benedetto consortium’s coaching carousel. In the carousel’s wake lay the mangled egos of Zdenek Zeman and Luis Enrique: men who I greatly admire, but found it difficult for their idealism to gain traction in the pragmatic landscape of today’s Serie A.

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Speed is the absolute essence of any form of combat, from a fencing match to the Six-Day War. Apparently overwhelming strength is of no im­portance if it is not brought to bear before it is pre-empted. In our Old West it was said, "Do unto others as they would do unto you, but do it first.” Amen.

Col. Jeff Cooper

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