Thankful for GamerGate

Disclaimer

My final thoughts on #GamerGate (Hopefully)

I've been meaning to write an update to my ongoing blogging about #GamerGate for a while now, probably at least 3 or so weeks. A lot has happened, and I've done a lot thinking on this. As usual, my disclaimers apply:

Question everything. Trust, but verify.

One of the largest resounding principle that has been repeated to death by those supporting and pushing #GamerGate is the notion of having firm evidence to back up claims. If a media, any media, is to report on a subject with any sincerity, they must have irrefutable proof of their claims. This demand for sources, researched pieces is hardly something that should even be discussed, let alone have to be demanded of any outlet which calls itself a source of news.

For those critical of this demand, who might say: "who cares about gaming journalism"? I do. Who are you to say what I, or anyone else should or should not care about? Also, gaming journalism is a career for many people, I'd bet that they care about it. I'd bet those who sink billions of dollars into the sites that run and produce content care about it. If a game receives no coverage than how will the companies who produce it make money? If a media has the ability to influence bonuses by giving a score, then it matters. Especially if that score is going to indicate a user's interest. Not everyone uses "Let's play" videos or gameplay footage when making up which game to buy. In other words, the sincerity of the news media when reporting has a direct influence on a lot of people's behaviors. You would think those who are part of that industry would care more.

You'd be amazed if everything you read was well researched and debated like adults in the media. Incidents like dorito gate and Gerstmann-gate would likely happen far less often. If the press did thorough analysis as the standards say they should then we'd likely all be on the same page, or at least be able to debate intelligently about these types of things without resorting to ad hominem attacks.

Within the #GamerGate community, whenever somethings happens, the words trust but verify appear, sources are requested, and once these things are settled and people have reasonable cause to accept a fact as a fact, the information can be used. Taking a look at gitgud's timeline you can see the information which the members of that group have decided fair to put out.

It is not always easy. Asking for evidence can often be misconstrued as a personal attack on the persons character. When someone says: "I was attacked" as RevueMage claimed, there must be a way to verify this before accepting. In addition, context matters as well. Were they attacked because of something personal or something related to political stances and views? Of course safety of any potential victim should come first, but if one makes a claim, then it is up to them to provide evidence. And without actual evidence, those claims should not be spread, or if they are, they should be spread with a disclaimer.

Labeled as a harasser

This is really what prompted my third, and hopefully final, writing on #GamerGate. This techraptor article details the information about the blocklist. In short, an individual created a list of people to block based on if you were following large voices in the #GamerGate debate. This wasn't any cause for alarm at the time, it was a list used by a few perhaps, and wasn't widely known. In fact, the only thing it did to me at the time was to change my twitter handle to include "my number" on the list (#4448 to be precise). I was placed on the list simply because I happened to be following the "wrong people".

However, when the IGDA, (the international game developers association) placed this blocking tool and list on their website they labeled me: one of the worst offenders in online harassment. To state that a list of nearly 10,000 people are the worst offenders of online harassment is not only ridiculous, it is darn right harmful to every individual on the list. If it truly were a list of actual trolls and harassers, then it would be a resource as the IGDA claims, however in actuality it is a list of innocent people caught in the crossfire of one programmers bias and ignorant and foolish idea of guilt by association.

The IGDA has removed the list, however the damage has already been done. The internet does not forget, any thorough investigation for a job interview will likely show these types of things in a background search. And in fact, many developers reacted strongly to the list, and the chairman of IGDA's Puerto Rico branch was on the list and he threatened to resign. Despite the disclaimer about the IGDA not endorsing the list, this is in fact what they did by having it on their site in the first place. And no disclaimer alleviates you from being held accountable for creating a potential blacklist. Especially when you had your "fingers in it".

If being told I was scum by the Gamers are Dead articles weren't enough, now I'm apparently a harasser. Quite frankly, my only response besides disbelief at the complete absurdity, is a large middle finger directed towards the creators and endorsers of the tool. The tool has a whitelist and an appeals google group. However in this country, last I checked, you are innocent until proven otherwise. And my first thought on the matter was this scene:

I think we can all agree that it's ridiculous.

The Facts

Fact: GoodGamers.us just updated their ethics policy, do you think they had a reason for that?
Fact: IGN announced a policy disclosure coming soon.
Fact: The escapist revised their ethics policies (This includes all of DEFY's media as well).
Fact: Destructoid updated their disclosure policies.
Fact: Kotaku now requires writers to not donate to anything they cover via patreon or any other donation platform
Fact: Polygon requires the same as kotaku, disclosure of patreon/kickstarter donations from writers
Fact: The FTC plans to issue revised disclosure guidelines for affiliate links and youtubers
Fact: At this time the GameJobsBot uses the blocklist as a blacklist
Fact: The issues raised by #GamerGate operation UV are being addressed by the FTC

Now let me ask any naysayers out there. Do you really want to make that joke where you say: "actually it's about ethics in game journalism". Because honestly, those links up there are what we've been about the entire time

Next up on the facts list. Let's take a look into the claims of harassment.

Fact: The statistical analysis of the people the media has said are being harassed by GamerGate shows that overwhelmingly, the tweets sent to individuals are Neutral. And the negative tweets sent (7% or so) are actually skewed more towards the high profile men involved

Considering that according to recent news and surveys men receive more hateful harassment online, this isn't that surprising. Also not surprising, is that despite the media narrative that GamerGate is all about harassment of women, it simply is not true. No one that I know or associate with thinks that harassment of any kind is ok.

Fact: An ongoing study by user the_nimbus_ shows that those oppose to GamerGate, and who view it as a harassment campaign seem to show harassment themselves.

This isn't that surprising considering that the media has continously dehumanized supporters of the GamerGate hashtag in each new hit piece. If you'd like to keep up to date, Nimbus's twitter feed is updated everyday with new results. If you want to peer review his work and see for yourself if his conclusions are valid, they describes the methodology here.

Fact: The GamerGate Harassment Patrol is a thing. People who report trolls who threaten or release personal information about others.

And here's a fun fact, just for kicks. Supporters of GamerGate have rallied and funded numerous charities. Why? Well, do you really need a reason to donate to the less fortunate? The mentally ill or abused? To video games? Or even to a Sea Lion? The answer is no. However, when you have a lot of people together, working together towards a goal, who actually care about issues in the world. It shouldn't be a surprise that they're willing to drop 5 dollars here or there. Especially when Gamers, as a group, typically come from less fortunate homes, fall on the autism spectrum, love animals, or have been victims of bullying or abuse.

And finally, if you really want to dive into #GamerGate after seeing the facts listed above, I'd say a good starting place is the Dossier on gamergate.me, or maybe on the wiki.

In conclusion

In my previous post I talked about the end goals of GamerGate and why I push the tag. In the post before that I talked a little bit about Zoe Quinn and it was definitely a piece which I was emotional and reactionary about. In this one I've mentioned a lot of the good that has happened over the last 3 months. I hope to provide it as a reference point for some to be able to grab the links out of. For a more detailed view, I'd recommend checking out the timeline on GitGud.net for that. A good group of anons, and yes, myself, contribute to that timeline.

Does this mean that #GamerGate is over? That we can all get back to our lives? For some, yes, seeing this shift in the industry will appease many. For others, no, they will not rest until they see sites like Gawker burn to the ground (figuratively).

What about for me? To be honest, I'm pretty burned out. Being active in any type of political scandel or movement is extremely draining. My commits to tools for twitter activists are still there. My extension for archiving information is still available if you need it.
My commits to the GitGud repositories have slowed. I'm still posting on twitter and trying to spread information, but I'm far less active in the IRC channels now-a-days, despite being an operator in some. I might take a break for a little while from all of this, but you can be sure that my stance on this hasn't changed throughout the last 3 months of this happening train. There is still corruption to be outed I'm sure, and I'll dig and archive as many links as I can for the cause.

The fight against corruption is important. Perhaps not as important as fighting to slow/halt climate change, or cease FGC. But it's still extremely important that media be held accountable for their actions and journalism be held to its standards. What the media has done throughout this ordeal has been to perpetuate what a friend of mine called: "A culture of fear", it is completely and totally unacceptable behavior. I for one, am glad and thankful that gamers have stood up and stated that this will not stand. And that the demands are having a positive and lasting effect on the industry.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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