And this is how they do it. This is how they start to spin it in their favour, and make it all about the bold, defiant gaming press standing up against the ‘pouting, obstinate children’ that dared to question them.
That’s a screengrab from a Polygon article that went up yesterday, I wasn’t going to link to the actual site because I was loathe to give them my own traffic, never mind encouraging others to do the same, but in the interests of giving access to both sides of the story, you can find it here.
I actually do recommend reading it, and cross-referencing it with the last article I wrote, as well as the links I provided at the end. You may notice some curious omissions.
Most curious is the fact that, following this statement:
“Good, positive and kind action happened this week, too. Progress, while not always as loud as repression, is being made in games culture.”
Absolutely no mention was made of The Fine Young Capitalists indiegogo campaign to get more women developing video games. You know, the campaign that Zoe Quinn sabotaged and got shut down; the one that we ‘obstinate children’ have been promoting and supporting, almost entirely on our own, because no one in the mainstream press seems willing to give them the time of day.
Why might that be? Well, one commenter on my last article suggested that TFYC might be a scam. They didn’t provide any evidence why this may be the case, but I suppose it’s something you should consider, as you should with literally every single other crowd-funding project.
No, I think the reason that TFYC didn’t get a mention is because of things like this:
That was Samantha Allen, contributor for The Daily Beast, letting me know exactly how she feels about TFYC project, and those who are supporting it.
Back to the Polygon article, though, also curious by virtue of omission is the fact that, while giving a rundown of all the horrible things gamers have been saying to industry figures –and there have been horrible things said, I am absolutely not denying that– the article felt no need to point out that industry figures haven’t exactly been playing with kid gloves, either.
Let’s take a look at some of that ‘open-armed, love and compassion’ Polygon claims that the gaming press have been using this past week:
That there’s Devin Faraci, a writer for Badass Digest, who prides himself on his ‘reputation as a loud, uncompromising and honest voice,’ which apparently extends to him comparing gamers –and he does say gamers, as in all of us; there’s no singling out of just the dickheads who are doing the harassment– as worse than ISIS. You know, the terrorist group who fucking execute people.
Now, I can write that one off at least as intentional rhetoric, being used by a man who is used to using exaggeration for effect. I can’t be too hard on Faraci for doing something I’ve been known to do myself in the past, not quite to the level of painting hundreds of thousands of people as terrorists, but you know I can get what he was going for.
This one, though, not so much:
Adam Atomic, there, showing that he’s more than happy to game Youtube’s broken copyright system to fuck over TotalBiscuit, whom you may recall, from my last article, was completely diplomatic in his assessment of the situation.
Didn’t stop from people fucking with him, though, did it (no mention of that in the Polygon article, either); it didn’t stop any number of big-mouth developers, actually –hi, Phil Fish– from running their mouths, and going so far as telling a man who claimed he was sexually harassed by a female developer to fuck off.
All of that was curiously absent from the article. Throughout it all, there wasn’t a single mention or hint that the industry/press side of things had maybe acted in a less than professional manner, there was no mention of the female developer who spoke out anonymously about how easy it is to get blacklisted in the industry if you don’t chime with their agenda. No, it was all pretty one-sided, as far as Polygon are concerned: there is a clear enemy in all of this, and that’s what they want their readers to know.
Well, I like to think I’m a bit more even-handed in my approach to these things, so now that I’ve done a bit of name-and-shame on the press side of things, let me talk about the abuse of Anita Sarkeesian, and all that other stuff the Polygon article brings up.
The people who have threatened Sarkeesian, repeatedly, amongst others in the industry –men and women alike– the people who phone in fake bomb threats and hack peoples websites: Fuck them all.
I don’t care what side you are fighting for, you don’t win a war of ideals with threats and intimidation: you do it with facts, and by being reasonable. Resorting to the kind of vile shit that Anita puts up with doesn’t help anyone or anything that you might think it does, all it does is give the other side more ammunition to pile into articles like Polygon’s, but here’s the most crucial thing, the thing these articles always, ALWAYS omit: those people? The rape and death threat people? They don’t speak for all of us.
It’s funny how, when the media reports on any reasonable grievances the community may have, they’re dismissed as the bleats of a ‘particularly vocal minority,’ and yet when some fucking sociopath threatens to rape a woman with a knife, it is suddenly the work of the gamer hivemind collective. We’re all hanging out in one big warehouse, with hundreds of pinboards and loads of red string, all co-ordinating these attacks together so that, what? What do you think we want? To scare women?
If I wanted to scare a woman then I’d take my top off.
Now, the article admittedly doesn’t come right out and say that the people threatening Anita represent all gamers, but given how heavy the bias is throughout the entire article, given how they don’t concede even a single inch of ground in regard to the notion that maybe some members of the press have acted inappropriately, or with their own interests in mind, just like Anita’s attackers, and given their closing statement which paints a very clear ‘us versus them’ narrative in the mind of the reader, it’s extremely obvious to anyone who’s heard both sides of the stories what their plan really is.
They know fine well that they’ve fucked up, here, that all of their dirty little secrets that they’d tried to bury are bubbling up to the surface, and they know that it’s eventually going to bring an end to the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. No more developer parties, no more free shit, no more lining your pockets in exchange for your journalistic integrity: all of it is going to come to an end, eventually.
It might not happen this time, especially now that the narrative machine has spun itself into total overdrive and started pumping out shit like this at Polygon, but they’ve got a glimpse of the future, and they know what’s coming, and like any other dictator watching their empire fall around them, they’re going to do every last thing they can to cling onto it, even if it means painting their own community, the community they claim to care so much about, as a bunch of psychopathic rapists.
If I’m being totally realistic, I don’t expect anything to change, after this. There have been a few small victories, like Kotaku writers no longer being allowed to fund Patreons for their developer friends, but too many people have too much money invested in the narrative that they’ve already spun to quit on it now.
And that’s all it comes down to, really: money. The people at the top, who fund the sites…they don’t give a shit about social justice or being progressive, they just care about what gets them clicks; they’d probably promote fucking horses if they thought it would be more profitable than milking the SJW angle, but internet activism is what sells at the moment, and all the writers are more than happy to be paid for the opportunity to spin their tangled web of self-serving bullshit.
Really, if they cared at all about equality, then they’d report on sexual assault allegations against women just like they do about men (although, in an ideal world, they wouldn’t be reporting on either.) They would report on a forum of lonely, mentally unhinged men being harassed just like they reported on the woman who was, allegedly, harassed by them. Of course, in doing so, they’d have to admit it was their fault the forum got harassed in the first place.
If they were really an objective news source, sites like Kotaku would have came out in condemnation of people like Adria Richards, who used her position of power to enforce her own extreme-feminist agenda and make an innocent man lose his job, before being fired herself after it turned out she was, in fact, just a nutbar. Instead, they gave her a soapbox; they made her into a martyr. (Full Disclosure: That link actually goes to an article on Jezebel, a sister site of Kotaku; both Gawker-owned. Just wanted to make that clear.)
As for me, I don’t make any money off of this, (although I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t super exciting to watch my traffic bar spike the last couple of days,) I’m just a dumbass gamer who’d like to play video games.
So why do I care so much? About sites like Kotaku and their little circlejerk of other websites and writers? Can’t I just ignore them and go elsewhere?
Well, if I can highlight another part from that Polygon screenshot up there, it should serve as an ample diving board:
“The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, __________ as an organization.”
This, this right here is absolutely everything that I have a problem with. This is the only thing I really, truly have a problem with, in fact.
If it’s your personal opinion, go post it on your personal blog, like I do; no one should be getting paid just to have an opinion.
A news website is supposed to be objective, and they know that a little disclaimer isn’t going to stop most of their readerbase from taking what they say as gospel, but there they’ve got their little cop-out warning to absolve them of any liability when people who take the time to inform themselves on both sides of an argument quite rightly hit back, saying that all they’re doing is spewing their own bullshit agenda, and bringing harm to innocent parties in the process.
This leaves us –‘us’ in this case referring to those who don’t wish to partake in the regurgitation of disinformation– in a catch 22: we can’t go onto those sites to tell people in the comments precisely how much shit the author is full of, because that’ll drive up their traffic –and they’ll just delete any evidence that contradicts their agenda, anyway– but if we just let this go on, then they’ll continue spewing their biased rhetoric to a naive general public who will continue to believe that anyone who speaks out against Polygon or anyone else in this shit show is just a stubborn little brat that doesn’t want to share his toys.
Let me tell you something, as one of those stubborn little brats: I wish everyone in the world was a gamer. I really, genuinely, honest to based god, do.
I wish that I wasn’t just limited to talking about video games in real life with the people in G-Force when I buy shit from them. I would love to argue about video games in the pub the same way the rest of my friends do about football; I would love to have a conversation with an older person about video games that didn’t start with me explaining why they’re not all just murder simulators; I’d love to have a girlfriend who was super into Final Fantasy, and who I could argue with over the merits of a turn-based battle system versus the more Western hack-and-slash.
I want all of that, but it’s never going to happen as long as the outside world continues to perceive gamers as a bunch of over-sensitive manchildren, not because we are, but because the gaming press keeps telling everyone that we are, EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW IT’S NOT TRUE.
[UPDATE: On 30/08/14 the co-founder of The Escapist, posting as Archon, released a statement in the forums, in response to recent events. You can read it here, but be very wary of all the nebulous language used, and remember that, while this does seem promising, until any real actual changes are put into effect, this should be treated as little more than hollow posturing; it certainly isn’t a victory, by any stretch of the imagination. When the Publisher’s Note mentioned goes up, I’ll link to that to; hopefully it will shed more light on what their exact plan of action is. Cheers.]
[UPDATE: The Publisher’s Note is up, go check it out.]