Monthly Archives: October 2014

Gamergate 103: The Press

It is a strange sense of business acumen to demonize and dehumanize to attack your customers. Imagine if when confronted with a series of recalls, Ford Motor Company decided to launch advertisements and articles claiming the “Death of the Redneck”, labelled all Ford customers “redneck”, and brazenly declared “good riddance” to all of them because Ford no longer wanted their money anyway. Ford would, more than likely, get their wish and find that if they are not completely going out of business, then they are certainly enjoying a dramatic loss in sales and corporate worth. In short, it would be a decidedly stupid corporate move.

When the sordid details of Zoe Quinn’s sexual relationships, which included game reviewers, hit the internet, there were indeed the usual trolls that hit upon this issue and behaved in a sub-human manner. As I said before, I have no sympathy for these trolls, who thrive on doing harm wherever they can and to whomever they can. Those that have made death and rape threats deserve jail time, and I doubt you’ll find few people, including very few actual gamers, that will disagree with me on this point.

But beyond the trolls there was, and remains, a reasonable questioning of the integrity of some in the journalistic press. And, to be fair, some in the gaming media actually did revise their ethical practices, and even lay off some of the worst ethical offenders for such things as taking bribes, unethical collusion, and so on. And kudos to those members of the gaming press that chose their integrity over their ego.

Unfortunately, a large chunk, and certainly the loudest chunk, of the gaming press chose not to go this route. Instead a group of so-called ‘reporters’ and editors got together on their own mailing list to devise a plan to deflect all criticism away from their own behavior by equating any and all video-gamers with the internet trolls attacking Zoe Quinn (and also now Anita Sarkeesian). Within two days over one-dozen near-identical articles were released in the gaming press declaring gaming culture “right-wing”, “misogynist”, “tea-party-like” and, above all “dead”, along with the idea that the gaming culture itself deserved to die for being so incredibly evil.

And to a point, this cadre of propagandists successfully played upon very old and outdated stereotypes of the ‘college-loser-gamers’ to push the notion that the whole affair was not about how the media was acting, but about another chapter on the “war on women” with the virtuous feminists against the vile gamers. The relatively handful of vile tweets from the internet’s most disturbed was and is cited as proof of the ‘evil gamer’, and anyone who dared question the media’s role in all this was automatically thrown in with the worst misogynists.

Personally I think that this is the most disturbing aspect of all of the Gamergate controversy. What we have is a large segment of the ‘gaming press’ deciding to take the entire gaming culture, consisting of millions of fans worldwide, and making them social outcasts (once again). They’ve used the terrible behavior of a few dozen, at most, internet trolls and used that to justify the demonization and dehumanization of – quite literally – tens of millions of people.

So in closing up this whole sordid affair, I leave this as an open question: How is labelling all those who play video-gamers ‘right-wing misogynist would-be-rapist basement dwellers’ any different or any better than the internet trolling that has victimized Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn? Is degrading a whole and sizable subset of the world’s population really supposed to support the ‘feminist’ position, or this all a very juvenile response on the part of a chunk of the gaming media to deflect away from their own maleficence, even if it means destroying their own audience?

In the end, the so-called “Gamergaters” (and I do not mean the trolls) are really the only winners here, though it may not feel like much of a victory. The gaming press has revealed itself, and the good players – the ones that revisited their practices and treated their audience with some respect, will be the ones to carry the ball forward. For them, the beginnings of a much-needed journalistic reform have begun, albeit with great reluctance involving a great deal of kicking and screaming.

The losers, then, are those chunks of the gaming press that doubled-down, infuriating their audiences and alienating their sponsors. It’s hard to imagine that sites like or Kotaku will ever command any level of respect that they once had, or even if they’ll survive the dramatic loss of their audience. But they should remember that journalism requires a high level of intregity, one that too many of them have failed to live up.

Gamergate 102: The Sides

One of the games I worked on while at Talonsoft was called East Front, which presented an interesting problem. Between Adolph Hitler’s Nazis and Joseph Stalin’s communists, exactly who was the player supposed to be rooting for? I did a good job on my part of the game and it was well received but that question is one that always stuck with me. In such a titanic struggle, a person naturally wants someone to root for and someone to root against. Our nature demands that there be a “good guy” and a “bad guy”. So what happens when there are just “bad guys” and no good options to be had?

In a real sense this is the situation we have with Gamergate. There’s a strong desire to declare one side or another ‘morally right’, or ‘the vile human beings to have ever existed on the planet’. Certainly cries of misogyny, death-threats, rape-threats, and other forms of vile internet communication would be emotionally swaying except for the fact that all sides of this controversy are rife with such examples. While there’s a certain expectation with the lowest form of internet trolls to engage in this behavior, when it becomes mirrored in professional sites like Kotaku, where writers state that “Gamer culture is dead, and rightfully so,” because “All gamers are nothing but would-be rapists that are thankfully too cowardly to leave their parent’s basements”, the problem is far, far worse.

There just isn’t a lot of moral high-ground to be found here. Even the well-documented victims of this controversy, Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, have engaged in their own hostile and hateful behavior, sometimes even to their own supporters (as evidenced by their own websites). Indeed both women have made large numbers of threats and attacks of their own.

So with all this hate and anger and lack of positive role-models to be found, how do we define the sides of this conflict and where they stand? Obviously the roles of ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ aren’t going to cut it, since you’re not going to easily find many examples of either.

It’s easy, and probably obvious, to say, that the internet trolls are the obvious bad guys here, but they’re not really the villains of the piece. They’re more like the looters that show up after a natural disaster. Spare them no sympathy and offer them no comfort, but do not endow upon them a level of importance that they do not deserve. The only ‘movement’ than can be ascribed onto them is one that should not be described in a professional-sounding article.

Zoe and Anita? Both of these women have screwed up in several ways, are passionate political advocates, and have well-earned reputations as being less than honest. Yet all of this actually describes most of the internet. While these two women have indeed become, for better or worse, poster children for whatever causes are thrown around, they are not all that unique. Again, that this whole controversy stemmed from either or both of these women is farcical.

Can we blame feminism? Certainly quite a few sites and reporters have attempted to lay this whole controversy down at the feet of misogyny alone and have even gone so far as labelling all gamers as ‘right-wing tea-partying cavemen’, which came as a shock to the four female gamers in my household, of course. But feminist concerns in gaming aren’t new issues either. And, indeed, gaming in general has made great positive strides at addressing real concerns about misogyny in gaming content in the past several years. Indeed, it seems a little odd to attack gamers as such cretins now after so much has been accomplished overall. In fact, GDA has recently announced that the majority of game-purchases are for and by women – making the claim that the whole culture and industry is misogynist rather bizarre.

So what’s actually changed? Why has this moment, above and beyond all others, caused Gamergate to be this much of a firestorm? After all, we’ve seen everything else before, and all the players have been around and considerably vocal at least since AOL first went online. If gaming survived Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Duke Nukem, and even Ms. PacMan, why are so many people declaring gaming and gamers ‘dead’? Why are things so horrible now? If you notice, I did leave one side of this controversy largely out of this article, and that’s because that’s where the heart of this controversy lies and they deserve an article all of their own.

Next: The Gaming Press


Gamergate 101

If you’ve followed video-gaming in the recent months you’ll more than likely have noticed the hashtag “#Gamergate” as well as some extremely harsh words and tones thrown around it. Gamergate has dominated the gaming media for some time, and its presence is felt in pretty much every corner of video-game discussion. Yet despite this prevalence, it’s become increasingly difficult to get facts or a sense of history as to how this controversy came about, who the players are, and what the ‘right’ side of the argument really is.

I’m going to try to lay out the very basics of this controversy and hopefully explain the role of the players involved. In the interest of full disclosure I’m going to admit to the world that I’m a white right-wing male Protestant. I’m also a former game writer and developer, game resource developer and consultant. On occasion I’ve even been a member of the gaming press. In truth, I’ve been around pretty much every angle on this story, and not for just the couple of months that the hash tag has been floating around, but actually for nearly twenty years. So I do have some very strong biases but I will try, at least in this article, to keep to the very basics and rein my personal opinions in just a smidge.

So what is Gamergate and why is it so confusing? Well, at the very heart of the matter is that Gamergate isn’t just one controversy, but several mixed up into a perfect storm of outrage, politics, and posturing. Individually, each of these controversies is serious on its own, but when combined turned into a maelstrom of pure gaming angst. For someone just stepping into the battlefield, it can be difficult to learn just exactly where to start.

The first, and most covered, aspect of this controversy involved is the very real and ongoing problem of blatant misogyny in some aspects of gaming. More than a small number of video games, generally marketed to high-school and college-age males, can be extremely demeaning to women. Though video games, as a whole, have made dramatic strides forward in this department, there are still quite a few games being made which present women as nothing but sexual objects to be exploited, sometimes even violently so. The second aspect of this controversy concerns the corrupt and unethical behavior of the gaming media, including web-sites and in-print magazines. The gaming media has not been a stranger to scandal, with accusations and stories of bribery, collusion, and score-fixing dating back even well before I was in the industry. Compounding this is that many in the gaming media had gotten very used to no one covering their maleficence in turn, until the rise of independent reporting on the internet. The ‘established’ gaming media are now simply threatened by independent players.

The third aspect of this controversy is unfortunately an all-too-common issue when dealing with the internet. There exists a large handful of people in the world that live to cause trouble when they can get away with it, and the internet affords them some level of anonymity with which to perpetuate their behavior. These internet “trolls” do not care about cause so much, if at all, as they do about “stirring the pot” and enraging others. These are the people that, when something bad happens, can be counted upon to make the situation even worse.

The last major aspect of this controversy is the existence of political opportunists, proving that in this day and age, there is nothing safe from this corrupting influence. I already stated that misogyny was an aspect of this controversy, so its crusading counterpart, the political feminist, jumped into the fray with all the vitriol and divisiveness they’ve shown in the past. Suddenly there’s an attempt to somehow portray all of these issues in a ‘right-wing’ versus ‘left-wing’ light, despite political persuasions not truly being a factor previously.

As I stated, each one of these aspects would warrant a controversy on their own, and honestly have many times through the years. Gamergate, however, as a mash of all these things, has mired itself into a level of confusion, vitriol, and self-destructiveness that does indeed threaten both the hobby and the industry as a whole, and has already severely damaged the gaming media. No matter anyone’s views on any of these controversies, the nature of the whole beast has become so toxic that it seems impossible for it to be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction.

Next: A bit more on the background and history of Gamergate.

Original Paperformers

Decided to start up my papercraft gaming section today with a collection of old (practically antique) Paperformers designs. These figures are well below my current art and design standards, but haven’t yet been replaced with new figures. As new models get put up, these will start coming down.

Update: 1 October: I added a whole bunch of second-series Paperformers today, also on the Papercraft Gaming page. These are of superior quality than the first batch, but still not up to my current standards. Still, enjoy them, and feel free to make suggestions on how to proceed from here on out with the Papercraft section!

Update: 3 October: Added another batch of second series Paperformers from another archive. These are the same quality as the ones put up Wednesday, but with some refinements on some of the pieces. Still more to come.

Update: 6 October: Yet another large batch.. I had forgotten just how many of these puppies I had actually made!

Update: 8 October: Same story as before, another back of around 20 paperformers added to the archive. Enjoy!