tactics

9

1 may 2015 - Thousands of anti-capitalist protesters took to the streets of Milan to protest the opening of the international exhibition ‘Expo Milano 2015’. During the march a smoke screen was created, from which a large black bloc emerged. For an hour the black bloc fought the riot police and attacked banks and shops, only to disappear again in another smoke screen, leaving behind only piles of black masks, gloves and jackets. [video]/[video]

How Liberalism Infects Movement Building

It never fails. Every time there is critical resistance, an uprising and continued unrest people get dragged back to compliance (with permits) under the rhetoric of being peaceful or nonviolent. The movement gets dragged out of the street to sit attentively at the feet of the oppressors with speakers that tell us change will come if we are calm (and peaceful).  Nevermind the normalized police escort, or the “security team”. We are just following the rules, nothing to see here.

Rhetoric about resistance and direct action becomes meaningless, lost in the symbolism of marching for civic change. Movement managers try to make the movement mainstream-popular, inviting celebrities and business leaders to come forward, while at the same time pushing out radical elements that released pressure valves to begin with. If not directly, through terrible tactical choices that alienate people (like working with the police who are critically engaged in counter insurgency and developing profiles on agitators to undermine the movement).

Never mind, that working with the city and police legitimizes those avenues, while making it easier for the police to knowingly divide and attack groups that take nonpermitted action or respond to their conditions without the permission of the state. Is this what solidarity looks like?

Instead of hearing about what groups are doing to sustain themselves during these uprisings, we hear more and more about demands. Police reforms that usually come with dangerous baggage, more technology and funding for the police. But the movement is so pressured by popular media and civic leaders to clarify its goals, policy change becomes a priority before much needed discussions can happen. Before policy change can be challenged not as a goal, but maybe a tactic to gain concessions in a larger fight to abolish the infrastructure that makes racial oppression profitable. 

But once the movement is focused on policy change, containment is practically complete.  And the agitators who were able to explore what it means to act autonomously for liberation, who were harassed and attacked by the police, are cast aside as unreasonable. Ungovernable.

Unity becomes language to gather behind and solidarity is reserved for those who will declare their nonviolence or tolerance for police collaboration. Never mind that nonviolence never actually was not violent- it just tolerates violence in the hopes of receiving change. It accepts violence as a means of determining justice- because if someone is constantly violated don’t they deserve to be saved? 

The cops are killing people, but pacifism will kill the movement every time. We say “first do no harm” but liberalism does harm to the movement every time. People pull permits in the name of pacifism, but invite the police. How does this make sense?

What is liberalism? There are many ways people might define or apply it. But for now i’ll start with, peace for the sake of appearing peaceful regardless of whether the conditions are peaceful or not. Appealing to and supporting state violence (the government) to restore “peace” whether the conditions are peaceful or not. Working with the enemy to minimize the affects of oppression, while never supporting those looking to prevent or abolish it.

Redirecting the outrage and energy of people away from their own communities and into organizations that work with and support the state (and it’s violence). Taking real anger and pain, and neutralizing it so that it does not actually threaten the economic and social conditions that produced it. Believing that the state is the only way we will be free. Controlling how other actors behave so that the state will make you free. And finally, using peace as a reason to dismiss and silence people seeking critical movement building dialogue to prevent the co-optation of the movement. Demanding peace without first acknowledging the conflict is dismissive and heartbreaking. Same with #notallcops rhetoric.

The popular media finds it much easier to latch onto movement building for reform because the hierarchical political structure wants people to resign power over to representatives and allow those representatives to determine clear goals. And just like that the movement becomes less about supporting black solidarity and more about appealing to the dominant white (and liberal) gaze for approval

But what if the goals aren’t clear? What if supporting black rage and insurrection means that all of it will have to fall? Especially the privileges and comforts gained by whites and non-black POC under the capitalist system built on genocide and slavery. The economy of wagery and servitude that makes (black) people poor and deprives them of resources. The system of governance and gender violence that pits (black) community against each other based on sexuality, gender and patriarchy power. The lack of empowerment and shared decision making.  The lack of access to resources for those who are disabled by society. The political system itself, who carries on war after war here and abroad without the consent of the governed. The way problems are handled, policed and result in mass imprisonment and violence for poor, brown and black communities of color.

It’s not simple. But to build this movement we cannot oversimplify it. We cannot ignore that non-black and white people benefit from seeing this movement silenced or neutralized. And we can’t pretend that it doesn’t make whites uncomfortable to think about a black revolution. This might be a large reason why people in the movement fall back on learned liberalism. Because people, particularly people of color, have been taught that to assimilate in Amerikan culture means to behave, which has become synonymous with being “reasonable” or deferring to white models of power. But this is not reasonable, co-optation will fail and the conditions will fall.

Gamergate: Alternate Theory

If you didn’t pick up from the title, this is another post about GamerGate. The normal disclaimers apply: if you disagree with what I say, you are free to talk to me about it. My contact info is in the sidebar. Every time I make this offer, I get a bunch of emails and Skype messages agreeing with me and thanking me for what I said, and then like one or two people on Twitter talking about how wrong I am. I want them to know that I’ll still hear them out, and if it seems like I’m holding onto an opinion you disagree with it’s because literally nobody is countering it

Anyway, this time I’m particularly interested in people’s thoughts, because I want to write about something a little different. A friend was talking with me about my last blog post, and she began to bring up parallels between it and GamerGate - including a few I didn’t actually think of. It made me think of it in a slightly different light, and I’d like to propose a potential alternate interpretation to why this thing called “GamerGate” exists.

Throughout its life, GamerGate has been claiming it is about ethics in gaming journalism - and, I think a lot of people associated with it do believe that. However, I have a theory that its core goals and actions are better described as a focus on something else: individual accountability.

Think back to the very beginning, when this whole thing started. You had a game developer who had sex with a games journalist. People discovered this, and (wrongly) thought that the journalist had written a positive review of her game because of it.

Right there, any creator with a lick of common sense could have ended this whole issue with the simple words “I had sex with people in the industry, but I made sure it was nobody who would review my work or otherwise help me get ahead”. Just like that, she would have taken accountability for the actions while emphasizing that they were harmless, and no one would care. 

Instead, you saw something different: rather than addressing this as though it were an attack on the developer specifically, she (and the journalists she was apparently associated with) addressed it as an attack on female developers as a group. People who had legitimate concerns about favors in journalism were publicly dismissed as being against female developers. Gaming media pushed the narrative that the attack had nothing to do with the developer’s actions, and everything to do with the groups she identified as a part of. To proto-Gamergate, though, it wasn’t about the group - it was about the individual, and no one seemed to see that.

You see this pattern continue into GamerGate’s more recent behavior. In almost all of their actions, GamerGate tends to target individuals in the game industry. They’ll send in a whole bunch of complaints about a particular writer who said something discriminatory, or try to persuade advertisers to pull from the specific news publication that employs that writer. Rather than targeting a group, GamerGate tends to very, very specifically go after people they interpret as doing something wrong. 

And honestly, most of the people GamerGate attacks are being pretty horrible. Like, I think the latest one is some writer who said that GamerGate was proof that nerds needed to be bullied into submission. GamerGate retaliated by getting some advertisers to pull from the website that employs him, as well as donating a bunch of money to anti-bullying charities to make a statement. It’s largely a targeted call-out campaign, which is something I actually think is pretty awesome if executed with the right amount of skepticism.

In response, though, you see GamerGate’s targets try to make it about groups. They’ll claim that GamerGate is attacking journalists, or attacking independent developers. They’ll push a narrative that the attacks are purely based off group membership - that nobody in these groups is safe - and thus everyone in them should stand against GamerGate. Even the opponents who try to engage GamerGate diplomatically do it in a very removed and group-oriented way, asking what specific changes GG would like to see to their policies, all while refusing to talk about individuals. Anyone who tries to draw attention to them is a harasser

You see the same thing when GamerGate’s opponents characterize GamerGate. They’re an angry mob, or a bunch of straight white cisgender men who are upset that their industry has diversity. Any individual voices or diversity inside GamerGate gets erased in favor of characterizing them as a homogeneous group. 

Portraying a group as homogeneous means you can characterize them by any single member. If someone who claims association with GamerGate sends a developer a death threat, it’s not from an individual, it’s from GamerGate. GamerGate’s members, for their part, usually make an effort to track these harassers down and hold them personally accountable for their wrongdoing, but meanwhile their opposition holds up the harassment as proof that GamerGate is an unsalvageable cause full of harassment and everyone involved should abandon it. Interestingly, TotalBiscuit wrote an excellent essay on how publicizing death threats only encourages copycats, logic by which GamerGate’s opposition is causing more death threats to happen with their response. You don’t see them taking any personal accountability for that - it’s just GamerGate’s fault for sending the death threats to begin with. Anything to avoid acknowledging individuals.

I’ve even noticed this trend of anti-individuality in my own experiences. I’ve written things about GamerGate before and had its opponents immediately dismiss me on the basis that I’ve “drank the kool-aid” and been manipulated into supporting a bad cause that harms game developers and minorities.

But like… that’s me! That’s me you’re defending, on both counts. Can we talk about how GamerGate really does benefit the sort of business tactics I use? Or how my emphasis on word-of-mouth popularity and positive audience regard means I’ll be even more powerful if the journalism scene utterly crumbles? Heck, can we talk about how consumer-focused tactics like mine actually remove entry barriers, and how increasing their comparative power would probably bolster the number of women and minorities in the industry? I don’t want to be dismissed as part of a group - want to be acknowledged as an individual who has actual experiences and motivations that drive my actions. 

That’s actually another thing I really like about GamerGate, and which also plays into the theorized emphasis on individuality. GamerGate’s opposition is mostly straight, white, cisgender men who claim they are bravely protecting innocent minorities from, apparently, GamerGate’s straight, white, cisgender men. GamerGate, on the other hand, tends to actually push their minority voices to the forefront. Maybe it’s just a response to the accusations of homogeneity, but any time a woman or minority speaks out in GamerGate’s defense there is an effort to really get her side heard and draw attention to it. They want to actually get the minorities themselves in positions where they can visibly speak, rather than just consigning them to an offhand mention as “my gay friend”. I’ve met more female, non-white, and LGBTQIA gaming writers and Youtubers through GamerGate than I have through at least four years of seeing gaming news sites talk about the importance of diversity in the industry. There are enough minority voices in one place that erasure has become a joke, with things like TallBlackNerd changing his Twitter name to “Cis White Gamer”. It’s hard to express how oddly meaningful that is.

And this all seems to tie back to that one core idea: individual accountability. GamerGate tends to push for things to be viewed in terms of people, whereas their opponents tend to push for things to be viewed in terms of groups, stereotypes and labels. Maybe this is intentionally malicious and they’re trying to cover up active wrongdoing, or maybe they just naturally think in a very privileged and discriminatory way. Whatever the case, just imagine how much smoother things would go if the industry at large shared GamerGate’s dedication to individual accountability:

I guess what I’m really getting at in all of this is that I’m not sure GamerGate is doing itself a service by saying that it’s about “ethics in journalism”. At its core, I think the central idea is really about people in the game industry being held individually accountable for wrongdoing. That’s not an issue of ethics - it’s an issue of letting people defend themselves without dragging a group into it. If an employee of yours did something so bad that people are able to present evidence that gets advertisers to stop supporting you, then you need to treat that employee as a liability. And beyond that, you need to thank the people who called him out for doing you a service. 

Is the theory accurate? Would such an angle better summarize GamerGate’s motives and give it a stronger arguing point? I don’t know. I’m one person, and most of what I focus on is my own goals and ideals. I do think it is an interesting idea to consider, though - and puts a better emphasis on what I find generally agreeable about GamerGate as a whole.

I’m not following GamerGate as closely as I used to, but I am still interested. Analyzing its advocates and opposition is beginning to give me those same feelings I get when playing an Elder Scrolls game or reading a story. I like the ideas, but beneath it there is a brooding realization: I could do it better

(EDIT: Since this post is still going around, I’d like to add that Social Darwin Awards talked to me after this was published and convinced me that I was wrong to suggest doxxing harassers is how it “should” work. He made a decent point that such information should be delivered to law enforcement, not to the general public for vigilante retribution, and I can’t really argue with that. I still think journalists have a responsibility to stand against individuals who are wronging others, but they shouldn’t be encouraging illegal actions against them.)

I tried this one without the cell shading, but it doesn’t look as much like a propaganda poster as some of the older ones. We’re getting closer to finding that art director, but there’s still time if anyone is interested.

The dialogue on these posters won’t appear in the main story, but you’ll find them as collectibles, and they help give insight into the personalities of the cast.

8

Starship Troopers Friend or Foe?

To answer the ? “should any government emulate it and why (militarily speaking.)”

Yes unaquivicably yes.

Militarily this book is as it should be. The recruiters are specifically designed to scare off anyone who isn’t ready, motivated, or dedicated, the exact opposite of modern recruiters who will take almost anybody provided they are above the age of 18 and have a pulse…

Basic training lasts 5 months and has a 90% fail rate, making training as hard as possible on purpose and allowing for only the best to pass into the ranks of the military and from there combat or service. Meaning that those who partisipate in military sevice are not only volunteers of dedication and ability they are also the best that the nation has to offer.

As the book says “There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men. We’re trying to teach you to be dangerous — to the enemy. Dangerous even without a knife. Deadly as long as you still have one hand or one foot and are still alive.”

To become and officer you have to serve enlisted, show apptitude, be selected and then pass through another even more rigourous basic training. So that the officer corps is agian the best of the best and you know or can rightfully assume that because its a meritocracy that your chain of command is the best of the best of the best… And that the officers are required to do and be able to do everything their troopers can, or better…

The Chaplain Corps also fights along side the troops blessing as they fight, fighting as they bless, experienceing everything with their troops. Unlike current Chaplains who are noncombatants, who often times have little to no practical experience in regards to the trials of the troops in the field.

They also believe in a true no joke NO MAN LEFT BEHIND POLICY, to the point where for a single prisoner they would go to war because as i have previously stated “Its about brotherhood and strength. As a trooper those captives are your brothers and sisters and their freedom is priceless. As a government a prisoner is an insult and a weakness, and cant be tolerated. If people can take or keep your people that will lead others to believe you weak which will lead to more of the same. Besides especially since in order to be in government you had to serve they are your family as well.”

The entirety of the book is about the social responsibility of the individual for and to the community, and how by serving the community you are inherently rewarded. They further enforce the inherent reward of community service with social incentives (the ability to vote and hold public office) and punishment for destructive and criminal behavior through things like public punishment, and depending on the severity of the crime Corporal punishment. The book bases everything on the indiviual voluntarily assuming responsibility for the common good. It encourages service, but does not punish or stigmatize lack of service.

I also like that governmentally they put forward the idea that only those who had volunteered to serve could really be trusted to appreciate the responsibility of governing, having sacrificed personally for the nation and society, and intimately understanding the sacrifices that can intail. That ONLY those who have served and sacrificed inherit the appropriate moral and social authority to lead, and that, that service need not be military in nature, but that military service is the ideal. That only full Citizens (those who have served) can vote or hold public office but that all Civilians (those individuals that are part of the nation but have not served) still maintain all other rights (freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly…) and that they only lack the abiltiy to vote, hold public office and recieve selected government aid.

Check out my other Terran Federation post here.

http://unrepentantwarriorpriest.tumblr.com/post/109347071860/unrepentantwarriorpriest-warrior-culture

GamerGate: Primer/Finale

I swear, I really do want to stop making posts about GamerGate. As interesting as it has been for me, I really need to get back to my own responsibilities. Not just that, but the GG people have pretty much won at this point - more people are talking about GamerGate than ever before, a lot of unethical behavior has been fully confirmed, and word has it that more people in the industry will be coming forward about their experiences after things calm down a little. Like a chess player who whittles her opponent down to just their king and queen, all that is left is the long and tedious process of chasing them around the board and trying for a final checkmate. 

At the same time, though, I know there are still a lot of people out there who are confused on what this whole “GamerGate” thing is about. Tons of misinformation is going around, and you still see a lot of people saying things like “Isn’t this about getting rid of female developers? That’s what Kotaku told me!”. To combat the misinformation, I want to (hopefully) conclude my essay spree with a post about how this started, what happened, and where it is now.

So grab your sledgehammer, lonely Tumblr people, because a wall of text is coming.

Part 1: The Beginning

Journalists should avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

-Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics

This all started off when a game developer’s ex came forward to purportedly warn people about the developer’s manipulative and deceptive behavior. He detailed the emotional abuse in their relationship and how it ultimately culminated in this discovery that she had secretly cheated on him with five different people before he had the common sense to break things off with her.

The whole thing would’ve ended there if not for one fact: she was a game developer, and at least one of the people she she was alleged to have slept with was a gaming journalist.

Whether the ex-boyfriend’s actions were cruel or brave is up for debate. In the time since I first started writing this post, I’ve had two separate abuse survivors talk to me about how uncomfortable and victim-blamey it is to see the ex-boyfriend being painted as a villain for speaking out. No matter where you stand on the ex-boyfriend himself, the important part is that - as far as readers were concerned - a game developer had an undisclosed relationship with a gaming journalist. People started looking into it, and digging for any potential conflicts of interest this could have caused. The most well-known analysis of the situation was the Internet Aristocrat’s “Five Guys Saga“ video, which currently carries over 36 thousand Likes. To make things worse, after the information was out, other people began to come forward to talk about abuse they had suffered from this developer - this is where we heard about things like her harassment and supposed press blacklisting of The Fine Young Capitalists or her alleged sexual harassment of developer Wolf Wozniak. Evidence was seemingly beginning to pile that something was up with this developer and her connections to the media.

Gaming journalism sites had to respond. At this point in time, we now know know that Journalists from the major gaming publications discussed it together and agreed that, rather than responding to concerns of journalistic conflicts of interest, they were going to focus on the harassment the developer received after the details of her sex life were outed. And indeed, when the news about this hit, there was no mention of journalistic corruption. Just “Female game developer harassed by internet misogynists”.

(Edit: for people who are apprehensive to believe the Breitbart link, there are members of the group confirming the messages real)

Part 2: Exacerbation

Journalists should be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.

-Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics

The “conflict” that followed was as ridiculous as it was entertaining. Here you had a diverse group of people - many of them women or feminists - concerned about the potentially abusive (or arguably rapey) actions of a developer and whether the media was connected to it, and in response they were being labeled as misogynists. When people tried to speak out in protest, there suddenly came a new wave of simultaneous articles declaring that the “gamer” identity had become something bad - a ravenous swarm of disgusting, sexist white men who were only speaking out on this because they wanted to keep female developers out of the games industry. You saw a new hashtag arise on Twitter, “Describe a Gamer in Four Words”, where people created these strange portrayals of gamers as a caste of angry and childish white males. 

The pushback came in the form of a counter-tag called “#NotYourShield”. Women and minorities of every kind who enjoyed gaming were encouraged to come forward and declare that they were not okay with journalists harassing gamers under the guise of "protecting women and minorities”. They argued that they were gamers, and that this portrayal of gamers as white men was nothing more than minority erasure. So, naturally, these people faced a whole new wave of accusations that they were fake accounts made by men, or commands of “if you’re really female, post a picture!”. When it was made clear that they were actually who they said, they were accused of being manipulated into defending a misogynistic cause - or, with some of the people who stood up, they were just harassed or hacked into silence. Even today, most news sources claim that the #NotYourShield tag was started as a “jamming tactic” by white gamers on 4chan, ignoring that its earliest use came from the anime reviewer Ninouh. Jason Miller, another black developer who is sometimes credited as the tag’s creator, was purportedly fired after someone from the internet contacted his boss

Around this time, you also got this interesting influx of well-known Conservative personalities coming out in GamerGate’s defense. They claim that it’s because “the Right supports free speech”, but I think the actual truth is a much simpler one: they faced no consequences to standing up. Liberal or feminist personalities who stood up in GamerGate’s defense risked alienating fans or losing connections - Boogie2988 even came open about the fact that he was receiving threats to his career if he “continued to connect [himself] with a movement that is ‘increasingly being associated with harassment and misogyny’”. Even when I sent in formal complaints about some of the journalist’s conduct, I did it under an alias in fear that the writers would read the complaints and perhaps make good on their threats of career-ending slander. Conservative personalities, though, didn’t need to worry about things like that - to them, threats were just more evidence that all liberals are evil and irrational. So, they stood up.

Of course, the gaming journalism sites took this and tried to spin it as a liberal-versus-conservative issue. There was no mention of the threats or harassment someone on the Left could receive for supporting GamerGate, just the shallow observation that conservatives were standing up for it. Sometimes, the observation wasn’t even true - Kotaku ran an article about feminist Christina Sommers titled “Conservative Critic Argues That Gaming culture Is For Guys”. When it was pointed out to them that Sommers is a registered democrat and leans liberal, they edited the title to “Critic Argues That Gaming culture Is For Guys” - curiously leaving out any note of her political affiliations.

All through this, you still had people looking into that original question of whether developers were colluding with journalists. The curious lack of press coverage or even acknowledgement of this issue only caused them to redouble their investigative efforts. On one hand, this is probably what led to the continued harassment of several independent developers - which the gaming news outlets continued to report on as vigorously as they could. But on the other hand, the investigators began to scrape up evidence of actual legal wrongdoing. The Independent Games Festival, it turned out, might have had some games’ investors as judges. To quote developer Michael Vargas: “It’s one thing that I had participated in a rigged contest. It’s another that younger devs put college tuitions on the line, went into debt, made hours of sacrifices, all for a fraud and to send kickbacks to an indie clique”. Eventually people even uncovered evidence that could potentially place indie developer Phil Fish in prison - nobody knows what is going on with that now, since lawyers got involved and he deleted his Twitter.

This all eventually culminated in one games journalist contacting flaming conservative Milo Yiannopoulos and anonymously leaking the existence of “GameJournoPros” - a mailing list where competing gaming journalists could discuss issues in private. Milo’s article on the emails shows journalists dismissing the claims of journalistic favoritism toward the accused developer, while simultaneously agreeing to spin their articles in a way supportive of her and describing her as a “colleague”. At least one journalist in the group decries the actions as unethical and says he wants no part. Others discuss how they could use this to help the developer get positive PR - a curiously duplicitous move to support a developer who recently criticized 4chan for discussing how to best gain support.

Now, you pretty much just have confusion. There’s no clean, decisive victory in things like this. There are still people who only know about GamerGate from biased information delivered on gaming news sites. There are gaming journalists defending the GameJournoPros group, saying that it was just a gathering of friends and there was nothing unethical about it. On the flipside, you slowly have more developers and journalists coming forward to talk about their harassment or unethical actions, now that the tide is turning such that those who remain silent might be the ones remembered as being complicit. All that lies ahead is a slow and tedious cleanup as people without a voice band together to tediously correct misinformation one debate at a time.

Usually, something like this would just end with a few people getting fired. Sadly, gamers love going for the 100% completion score. Godspeed, journalists.

Part 3: Why I Care

Journalists should expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations. They should abide by the same high standards they expect of others.

-Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics

So, reading all this wordswordswords, you’re probably wondering: “why does this person care? And, why should I care?”.

If you read my blog, you know that I still consider myself to be a scientist. Truth is important to me, and discerning the truth means you must be able to judge the credibility and biases of information.

Just like academia has standards, so does journalism. Journalists are not just really popular bloggers - they have more credibility than the average person because we assume they abide by certain rules. We cite our sources and defend our beliefs and even write our own pieces using news articles as a reference - not because they are popular, but because we believe them to be more credible than the average internet blogger. When you have major public news sites publishing articles about how a bunch of gamers have been launching an organized harassment campaign at a female indie developer, it’s because the reporters got this info from sites like Kotaku and Rock Paper Shotgun, and assumed it was credible.

This whole fiasco has revealed that gaming journalists do not, in fact, abide by these standards, and in many cases probably don’t even understand them. They view themselves no differently than any popular Tumblr personality who uses their follower count to bully others - to quote professional gaming journalist Leigh Alexander: “Be careful with me. I am a megaphone. I am much less kind than [other journalists] and I won’t mind making an example out of you”. These are the popular kids who beat up gamers in high school, masquerading as journalists in a halfhearted attempt to do it again.

By all accounts, this blog is effectively a more credible source than sites Kotaku. I might have a hundredth of the followers they do, but at least I have a degree in the things I’m talking about rather than a degree in talking about things. As a standard blogger I have no obligation to abide by SPJ’s code of ethics, yet I still manage to abide by 32/35 of their edicts. Just going by information they’ve admitted to during this, sites like Kotaku stand at 6/35. People need to know this before regarding these sites as any more credible than hearsay.

Yes, it sucks that a female game developer got harassed - it sucks when anyone gets harassed. But she is a popular, public figure. It is unethical for journalists to focus on her harassment while being knowingly complicit in silencing people she harassed. Journalists are supposed to give “voice to the voiceless”, not say things like “I do feel that there is some legitimate public interest in a game developer being attacked by the internet”. 

I admit, though, there is another reason I care about this too.

Gaming is not a big deal. The gaming journalism industry is small and poor, and they don’t have the money or experience to launch any major information coverup or maintain a sizable conspiracy. This whole thing has been a sloppy and pathetic attempt at a real conspiracy.

And yet, people are still falling for it.

Sure, it might not matter now. A news site can declare “gamers are misogynists! We need to push back!” and the worst that will happen is some people get bullied on the internet or mailed an ominous syringe. But what happens when the news declares “Egyptians are terrorists! We need to attack!”? What happens when you have actual collusion and falsified information, headed by professionals, guiding you to political conclusions? \

The manipulation tactics people have fallen for over the course of GamerGate are appalling in their simplicity. You see people using grouping as a call to arms - “you’re a social justice warrior. If you want to keep being one, you need to stand against these misogynists with me”. You see harassment and threats given to people who speak out - before the syringe, Milo Yiannopoulos was sent 90 rolls of toilet paper as a presumed message of “I know where you live (and you’re shit)”. You see people using guilt by association - citing Adam Baldwin’s homophobic statements and how he’s a GamerGate supporter - or relying on the Genetic Fallacy - pointing out how much of this started on 4chan and claiming that ruins its credibility. I swear you even see fucking negging: people getting hit with these subtle implications that they’re inherently racist or overprivelaged, but that they can counteract it a bit by opposing GamerGate. Negging, for God’s sake! 

If you want a picture of how sloppy this entire operation is, consider this for a moment: there is no name for people who are against GamerGate. People who oppose abortion, for example, get the cheerful title of “Pro-Life”, but people who oppose GamerGate aren’t pro- anything. They can say “I’m pro-safety in the games industry”, but then GamerGate people just reply “so are we. We want people to be able to speak without losing their jobs”. They could say “I’m pro-women in gaming”, but then GamerGate people point out that they are too, and funded The Fine Young Capitalists after they were DDos’d and slandered by journalists and their friends. If they say they’re against harassment, the GamerGate people will point out that they have been actively calling out harassers in their own ranks while their opposition hasn’t. The anti-Gamergate people can’t even claim they’re “pro-representation in media” because, as people have pointed out, the gaming journalism clique is predominantly white men. #NotYourShield was created (and promptly ignored) because minorities were pissed off at these people’s claims to “represent” them. The only position anti-GamerGate people have is that they are against GamerGate. Sometimes, they even endorse all its goals but are pushed to stand against it anyway.

And this is all so easymode. We are better than this; these are manipulation tactics that should be harmlessly bouncing off anyone who graduated highschool. I’m glad that GamerGate seems to be winning, but understand: we need to be able to win harder. We need to learn from this, and become resistant to these methods. There are bigger enemies all around us, and we can’t afford to waste this much time struggling to beat the rat in the starting dungeon.

While writing these essays on GamerGate, I got a piece of fanmail from someone near Russia. He said that my writings and analysis of GamerGate were helping him question and confront the media coverage of the Ukranian crisis. “While bullets fly in our neighbour’s eastern parts, an information war is waged in traditional and electronic media and frankly, it’s terrifying.” This is the sort of thing we need to prepare for, and our track record following this GamerGate thing is pretty abysmal.

The dumbest part is, people who oppose GamerGate because they want to talk about sexism or misogyny in gaming aren’t even helping that conversation happen. There are people on both sides who really do want to talk about those issues, but it’s hard to do it when the media won’t even acknowledge women on the GamerGate side of things are getting doxxed, harassed, and blacklisted for not fitting the journalists’ model of how a woman “should act”. If we had just stood together and held journalists and their friends accountable for their wrongdoings without letting them subtly change the subject to harassment and misogyny, we could have moved on from this and all started talking about those other issues together. Heck, as soon as enough people stand up, that’s probably how it will play out anyway.

I’m not the kind of person who likes to 100% games. I can see a gold coin laying on a table and I won’t even take it unless my character is short on cash, and I’m not going to keep writing about GamerGate while gamers go through the long and arduous process of dissuading site’s advertisers to pull out and getting people fired. If you’re interested in staying on top of things, there are people obsessed enough to do daily updates on the happenings. Please understand, though: we need to get faster at this. We need to get more resilient, keeping manipulation like this from having a leg to stand on to begin with. In the future, lives will depend on your ability to see through lies and discern the credibility of information sources. You can’t always afford to take this long.

But, to everyone who questioned this stuff from the very beginning, stood against harassment and misogyny even when the news itself was calling you a misogynistic harasser, and endeavored to give a voice to the voiceless even when the media tried to stomp them out: rock on. The world needs people like you.

2

Live Streamers Make Great Informants | We Cop Watch

There are many ways to effectively document the movement while protecting the space, its movements and people’s privacy. Live Streaming is generally NOT one of them.

A common issue with Streamers is their display of entitlement, often citing the value of bringing the movement to the people. But Streamers have a hard time admitting that the police find their work more valuable then demonstrators.

In a world of voyeurism and exhibitionists, Streamers often get carried away, interpreting their role as being a narrator for the movement. They often film people without their consent, placing more value in presenting to their viewership, then protecting the group that is already taking risks by just getting out into the street to protest.

One of the biggest problems with streaming is that it gives real time information to the police as far as what people are present, the group’s intentions, as well as its location and routes. Embedded Streamers give police a tactical advantage when trying to conduct mass arrests.

An even more tragic contract Streamers impose on demonstrators is the raw, unedited, archived video that is often made public and available online for law enforcement to use later to help identify and target people.

Before we move to “Streamer Solutions” lets review some “Streamer tactics” that are favorable to law enforcement, and almost always at the expense of the people.

Very Poor Streamer Etiquette

Calling People out by Name on Streams.

People don’t go to protests for other people to call them out on streams that are put up permanently online for law enforcement to review.

Filming Peoples’ Identities on Streams

Law enforcement use streams to target and identify people for repression and arrest

Narrating your Interpretation of what Kind of Action is Taking Place

Streamers often divulge personal opinions rather than facts when narrating about actions. Are you prepared to be a witness for law enforcement in the future?

Filming Direct Actions

Everything you film, can and will be used against protesters if law enforcement has anything to do with it.

Narrating Logistics and Tactics

At the height of Occupy Oakland, Undercovers were being called into certain FTP protests because of the “no Live Streaming” / “no Twittering” tactic.

FTP marches are ongoing Fuck the Police marches that take place in Oakland and across the Bay.

Narrating Group Routes

Police have a much easier time arresting people in the streets when they have Streamers narrating the group’s routes. You don’t need Undercovers and helicopters when you have a front-row seat.

If you want to be helpful to the movement, be honest about your intentions. Is your viewership more important than the people you are standing with? Do you want to be doing something that benefits the police over the people? Every action, every mass mobilization, has a story that can be told. But folks need to either start holding “non streaming” actions again, or streamers should stop operating as informants for the police.

If any of these issues are concerning to you, maybe consider NOT “Live Streaming” your next protest. Pick up a still camera, conduct some audio interviews, heck shoot some video. There’s no reason why you can’t go home after a protest and produce some content that is useful and not harmful. But in case it’s not in your blood to consider other people on that level, here are some good Live Stream tactics.

“Good” Livestream Tactics

  • Stand hundreds of feet away from the group so the low quality recording doesn’t pick up conversations or peoples’ identity.
  • Don’t film peoples’ identity without their consent.
  • Don’t narrate intentions, tactics, locations, or destinations.
  • Wear a bright shirt that says “Live Streamer” or “Informant.”

More “Real Good” Livestream Tactics

  • Live Stream an event, panel, or discussion where all parties consent.
  • Live Stream a demo or action where all parties involved consent.
  • Live Stream your interactions when being stopped, questioned, or harassed by law enforcement. (maybe put your channel on private!)

Be safe out there, and make it safer for the masses by considering them when you point a camera at them.

Agency

The other day I made my first (and, hopefully, last) Twitter posts. The person they were directed at, of course, did not respond and promptly blocked my account. I’ll leave his name up there uncensored, in hopes he may get pressured to reply. 

It’s weird to take a step back and look at how my relationship with the thing called GamerGate has developed these last few months. It started with me looking at as much evidence as I could find and reluctantly speaking against someone’s actions. I asked people to provide counterevidence in case I was overlooking something. Lady Fuzztail stepped up to the plate, and within three messages she more or less agreed with my position. My brief exchange with her back in August, however, literally marked the last time any of the “anti-Gamergate” people actually tried to convince me they were in the right.

I mean, sure, there has definitely been a concerted effort made to show how terrible GamerGate is and how everyone who touches it is evil and supports harassment or something. I have been told time and time again that there are consequences to showing support toward something like that, or occasionally just been outright attacked for it. But, despite my pleas for someone to do so, nobody is really trying to defend the other side of this to me. Nobody is really trying to alleviate my concerns about the people GamerGate is opposing, and this bothers me so much.

Like, these people who oppose GamerGate keep getting creepier, and they’re not doing anything to alleviate it. I was really bothered by the response to Wolf Wozniak’s alleged sexual harassment and the way he was immediately attacked for speaking out. I was sickened when someone responded to the whole Eron Gjoni thing with an article saying that victims of abusive relationships needed to think about what they did to cause the abuse. I was appalled by the way things like NotYourShield have been completely ignored or accused of being manipulated. At this point, I am literally sticking with GamerGate because I feel like this is the side where I am less likely to get raped. And, for some inconceivable reason, nobody is even making an effort to convince me my feelings are unfounded.

I am just at a complete loss at how to handle this. Like, I’m trying to do what is right here, but one side of this is making no attempt to show me they are the good guys. Even when I outline the exact apprehensions that keep me from taking their side, all I receive is disappointment that I’m not taking their side. I just don’t know what to do.

Further Appehensions

I guess as this goes on, there are some disturbing patterns that have emerged. At least, disturbing to me. 

Like, look back up at the tweets above. There’s this thing that keeps coming up, “chugged all the 4chan kool-aid”. Conceptually, this is just so bizarre to me.

I get along fairly well with 4chan, 8chan, and other anon cultures. This is not a huge secret. My background is in research psychology; I’m used to using anonymity to gather opinions and just generally dealing with people at their weirdest. I interact with pretty much every other site that discusses my work, too, but 4chan is apparently the one that surprises people the most because for some reason they are terrified of it. 

There’s this weird idea, though, that there is some sort of tainted knowledge there and that once you touch it, you have been manipulated and there is nothing anyone can do to correct this until you voluntarily choose to disbelieve this information. Which, of course, pisses me the hell off because that is not how manipulation works. Manipulation revolves around feeding someone misinformation, which can be easily combated with logic and counterevidence. Just listening to things or having a positive relationship with a group is not enough to “corrupt” someone. 

But you know who tends to push that line of thought? Cults do. One of the key components to most cults is that they stigmatize knowledge that would draw people away from their beliefs. If someone digs too deep and acquires knowledge that causes them to question the cult’s beliefs, they are immediately declared a lost cause, or even publicly punished to dissuade others from pursuing such forbidden fruit. This is how cults maintain power over their members. This sort of “lost cause” and “making an example” behavior is also the exact behavior a lot of the GamerGate opponents seem to be displaying toward me, even Tarason up above. 

Like I said in my reply to him, though, the part that disturbs me more is the general lack of agency this attributes to me. 

What he’s saying pivots on this implicit assumption that, because I hold a different position than him, someone else must be controlling me without my consent. What’s not considered is that, perhaps, I am consciously choosing the side that is making a better case for itself. Like… you know, the thing I actually say I am doing. Again and again, while outlining the exact reasons I make these choices?

Try to look at this from my point of view. When I see people say things like “Eron Gjoni wrote a long hitpiece claiming his ex-girlfriend traded sex for reviews”, this scares me because you can actually read the thing and see that doesn’t occur. When someone who claims to have been sexually harassed by a well-connected person can be attacked for it while someone who attacks a well-connected person can be baselessly accused of sexual harassment, that scares me because I could easily end up in either of those positions. When someone is only acknowledged to be female or a minority when they are being oppressed or harassed and the rest of the time are erased into being Straight White Men, this scares me because it takes away any control I have over my own group’s reputation. 

These are the kind of behaviors I see as characterizing GamerGate’s opposition, as well as being things that GamerGate combats either directly or by proxy. If I am wrong about feeling these things, then I want someone to convince me they aren’t actually occuring - or, perhaps more likely given how much of it now comes from personal experience, convince me that controls have been instituted to ensure these things cannot not occur in the future. As of yet, nobody is really taking that step to convince me “anti-GamerGate” are the good guys here. At best, there’s just that push to paint GamerGate as harassers.

And you know what? That really gets on my nerves too. Like, everything people point to as evidence of GamerGate harassing people is about as bad as I get just by virtue of being relatively well-known. On top of that, a lot of the harassment I see held up as particularly horrible is very on-par with the response people get when they attack their audience - which is exactly what is happening here. To me, it feels like another instance of problems being erased or ignored until they happen to someone well-connected - and even then these people aren’t speaking out against harassment in general. Fuck, GamerGate has been the ones publicly denouncing harassment, whereas the prevailing opinion with its opponents seems to be “harassment is okay, if against the right people”. And like… I can’t side with that. If I’m wrong in parsing the situation that way, I need someone to show me I’m wrong.

And then there’s the whole “just bunch of angry straight white men afraid of video games becoming diverse” thing. You know, where there was a movement of hundreds if not thousands of women and minorities showing their support for GamerGate, and it was dismissed as being sockpuppet accounts and people who were “tricked” into supporting it? Apparently there is this perception that GamerGate is somehow going to somehow drive all minorities out of gaming, despite the fact that GamerGate is notoriously leaderless, meaning even if they destroyed every gaming journalism outlet in existence the only thing they could really bring about is a chaotic quasi-meritocracy. And like… do you even realize how bigoted it is to suggest that only straight white men could prevail in an environment like that? That kind of situation - where there is no overseer beyond the general populace deciding who does/doesn’t get visibility - is the kind of environment I want. That’s something I’m willing to fight for. 

Through all of this, I’m just left wondering: what exactly is the endgame here regarding people like me? Like, is the message here that if I agree with GamerGate’s opposition, then I will be protected from their harassment and allowed to harass others? Am I supposed to feel like by taking their side, I would be exempt from any kind of real-world sexual misconduct that would otherwise come from their supporters, and will be covered should I do those things against others? Is the message that if I agree with their position now and remain silent about their minority erasure, then in the future I will be able to dissent with my sexuality properly attributed? I just don’t understand what their sell is. What is the thing that is supposed to make me want to support them? On what level are they not everything I am morally obligated to oppose?

I am not being manipulated here; I have agency and am making a choice based on the evidence I have available. And like I’ve said again and again, if you feel like I am making a choice on bad information, then you can provide more information. This is not a trap, this is an invite. I would prefer this to be two groups who are competing for my allegiance, rather than one group trying to win my allegiance and one group threatening me for opposing them. But, as of yet, I cannot see any evidence that the Opposition side of this benefits me. Nobody is making a case for why they are worth supporting. Nobody is making a sell.

Sure, like I said earlier, people are really quick to talk about all the evils GamerGate probably** did. But as I’ve stressed before, a group that is morally gray is preferable to one that is morally devoid. I see this as a group of flawed humans attacking a bigoted and problematic institution. I want to see this institution burn, and frankly I’ll show respect to whoever is holding the torches. If you have a problem with this, then you have to convince me it isn’t as bad as I think. This is not complicated.

At least, it’s not complicated if your group is actually not that bad  

Applying Agency

This all really comes back to this idea of agency. 

GamerGate, whether you approve or disapprove of its actions, has almost always positioned itself as being a choice. They show a lot of respect for people who weigh both sides, and usually remain confident that evidence will lead neutrals to their side. If someone opposes them, their first tactic is to try to dissuade them with reason. When they sought to emphasize their diversity, their method was opt-in: people wore the “#NotYourShield” tag by choice. These are refreshing design choices.

The opposition, by contrast, has been… less accommodating to the idea of people thinking on their own. I’ve seen neutral parties attacked for even giving GamerGate the time of day, “for the good of women and the minorities!” is constantly thrown around no matter how hard people scream “no! You don’t represent me!”, and there is of course the idea, perpetuated by people like Tarason up at the top of this post, that anyone who opposes them has been indoctrinated and manipulated and is no longer in control of their faculties. 

This feels black-and-white, and that bothers me. It is increasingly difficult to hang onto this belief that there are two sides to this that have legitimate points. Like I keep stressing, I want to be put in a situation where two sides are competing for my allegiance, but only one side is even playing. 

I’m just not sure how to respond to that, other than… keep offering to listen? As usual, I’m here, and even if I don’t reply to all my emails anymore I promise I’m reading and heeding. 

We need better archives of the woman-hating bullshit trans activists say

I feel really frustrated right now. “TERF” (in quotes because it is a bullshit term that no woman I’ve ever met “identifies” with, though I’ll dispense with the quotes from here out for reasons of readability) has become an all-encompassing mark of evil. The merest accusation that someone is, or has ever been, a TERF is enough to permanently discredit everything about the person - everything they ever said or did, no fact-checking needed.

From my perspective of being immersed in this stuff for a long time, it’s clear as day, 100% unmistakeable, that TERF is misogynistic. Clue 1: TERF was popularized by trans activists who hate women. Clue 2: TERF is only ever applied to people born female, except occasionally (often by accident) to trans women who are gender-critical. Clue 3: it is 100% acceptable for white “cishet” dudes to make death threats against TERFs, since they’re only doing so to “defend trans women” from the “literal human garbage of TERFs”. 

Just like “feminazi” before it, TERF is a term popularized by males, and used (primarily) by males to dismiss, demean, and discredit (female) feminists they don’t like. However, TERF is an “ace in the hole” for men’s rights activists, so to speak, since TERF is even more useful than feminazi for creating divisiveness and conflict among women discussing feminism. There are a lot of trans men who love to call women TERFs, and (from my observation) “assigned female” (ie female) genderqueers are some of the people who hate on TERFs the most. It’s totally heart breaking the way genderqueer ideology makes it ~literally~ impossible to name the agent of male violence, but anger at patriarchy needs to go somewhere, so there it is. 

However, none of this exactly is what’s frustrating me today! Haha that bullshit has been going on for long enough that while it makes my heart terribly sad when I let it, I’ve also just started to accept it as a background that I’m working against. And I do believe that we will turn that boat around!

Rather, what is making me really frustrated right now, today, is that we still don’t have a good archive of violent threats made towards TERFs, corrective rape tweets made to lesbians by mtf’s, trans activists calling women ugly bitches, etc. There have been several attempts on tumblr: terfisaslur, violentreceipts, violenttransarchives. All of these blogs are great, but all of them have the same problem (from my perspective) - the blog owners editorialize and argue with the people they are documenting. The reason that’s a problem, is that to an outsider it reads like two people arguing, not one person being a clear, unabashed misogynist. We need to archive these things without comment, as screen captures, classified by category (ie old-fashioned sexism, violent threats, sexual harassment, etc), with the source clearly identified.

Screencapping and sourcing are particularly important, as this masterpost of trans bullshit from 2013 shows. Many of the links are broken, and only a few of the quotes are screencapped. A lot of these are so perilously close to Poe’s law, it’s easy for activists to dismiss these as “fabricated”. Except, if you’ve been around this shit long enough, and you are able to admit to yourself that writing by teenage boys who hate women and writing by teenage boys who want to become trans women in the future and also hate women is 98% identical, and/or you realize that because of structural misogyny it feels a lot more comfortable for people born female who feel oppressed by gender to attack other females (and if the threats they make are violent, that just “proves” they really are men, right?) - in that case, it’s not hard to believe these words are real, at all. 

Another complaint I have about some of these collections (especially violentreceipts - but this applies equally to Cathy Brennan’s Name the Problem site - eg posts like this) is that the threshold for “violence” is sometimes unrealistically low. What makes the masterpost compelling is that all of the quotes are over-the-top. Like, nobody can read “go fuck yourself with a chainsaw” two different ways.

A related issue is how best to document trans women who actually beat, rape and murder women and children. Some of these people get posted on Name the Problem and/or Gender Identity Watch, but again GIDW frequently moves into editorializing/twitter fighting, which for the uninitiated can be off-putting. I want something like the out of my panties list, but categorized by cross-dresser, pre-op trans woman, post-op trans woman, murder, abuse, etc. I mean, I don’t want ANY of those things to happen, but when I’m trying to show that the Dhejne study is actually, really, true, I don’t want to leave the “those are just crossdressers, not trans women” loophole open.

The best collection of internet trans threats so far (in my opinion) is on documentingthebacklash. I am so grateful to Ms. Hell Bedlam for putting it together! I just wish the web site used a slightly less “creative” menu system, that the names of the pages made a little more sense, and that the metadata tagging was better so it would be easier to find in google search. But, it’s a fantastic start!

A few other examples that I particularly appreciate are Cathy Brennan’s video reaction videos Trust your perceptions: this is a violent man, and Nancy Boy. This kind of documentation is really hard to unsee. And can a person really keep parroting “Trans women are women” after watching these creeps? It’s very hard to imagine. The more videos feminists make like this, and the better they’re indexed/easier they are to find, the better for all gender-critical people.

So here’s my question: who wants to help work on a new “documenting trans activist violence” page? It needs to have careful curation, strict guidelines about how to properly document violence, and an easy method of search and index. (Metaphorical violence/violence by erasure is also fine, but only with appropriate context, like here.) This would be a HUGE help to every gender-critical feminist, or ally of gender-critical feminism. We have a huge problem right now, which is that those of us in the gender-critical community have a finely-tuned way of discussing these issues amongst ourselves, but our message universally fails to reach those outside of gender-crit, and (most importantly) fails catastrophically with younger third-wave feminists. We need to work on our message and our tactics.

Lahm is a scandal. He is super-intelligent, understands the game brilliantly, knows when to come inside or to stay wide. The guy is f****** exceptional.
—  Pep Guardiola (from his brand-new biography)