Gaming is Free
Deconstructing the pseudo-academic narratives on gaming.
[Anyone can write academic sounding headlines.]
Katherine Cross, a “feminist scholar” who has written for Kotaku, released an article on the 8th of October criticising #GamerGate. Cross’s article is titled “We will force gaming to be free, On #GamerGate and the license to inflict suffering“. I must question Cross’s bias by naming it so. The headline of the article implies that the #GamerGate movement is licensing people to inflict suffering. This is not an academic observation, but a personal assumption.
There are myriad articles criticising #GamerGate, all of which assert that the GamerGate consumer revolt is a misogynistic, Caucasian, male-driven backlash against women in the gaming industry. The #notyourshield reaction has demonstrated that these assertions are demonstrably false.
However, Cross’s article differs in that instead of attempting to frame #GamerGate as a misogynist movement, Cross attempts to shift the goalposts of the gaming journalism elitists, reframing #GamerGate as an “angry and resentful” movement. This change in narrative is significant; it means that with videos as the one above, the early narrative from the gaming journalist elite on #GamerGate is slowly crumbling. This poses a problem for the likes of Cross’s old employers, as a new narrative has to be created to replace the old one.
Just like in the “GAMERS ARE DEAD” articles episode, in which a single tumbler post, backed by a single [questionably peer reviewed] academic piece, was sufficient “proof” for gaming journalists to pass gamers, and the gaming culture, as obsolete. In a similar fashion, the gaming media will attempt to use academics like Cross to control the narrative on #GamerGate in order to later dismiss it, instead of addressing the issues brought to light by #GamerGate.
To examine Cross’s assertions and allegations, let us go over her first paragraph.
From the beginning it was a concatenation of ironies. They declaimed unethical games journalism with the aid of an unethical journalist; they claimed women and minorities were #notyourshield while using them as a shield against criticism of GamerGate; they excoriated “blacklists” while creating aggressively enforced boycott lists of websites and authors who disagreed with them; they averred their movement had nothing to do with Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn even as they remained unable to stop talking about them; they promoted a vague notion of “inclusion” while expending great energy claiming that there was nothing wrong whatsoever with gamer culture’s treatment of women.
The “unethical journalist” which Cross is making a dig at, is Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo was one of the very few journalists at the beginning of #GamerGate who looked into the controversy being exposed by Gamers. It was not Milo who started the #GamerGate, and it is not relevant that he decided to look into #GamerGate as Gamers did not employ Milo. Cross on the other hand was employed by Kotaku, a media outlet caught up in the videogame journalism ethics scandal. Cross’s bias is glaring when ripping apart, whilst failing to look into Kotaku (and other gaming journals). If the allegations published by the Guardian against Milo are shown to be true, that will not make the journalists of Kotaku&Co more or less ethical; neither will Milo’s investigations into the GamesJornosPro leaks be less relevant or true.
“They [GamerGate boycotters] claimed women and minorities were #notyourshield while using them as a shield against criticism of #GamerGate”. The #GamerGate boycott always included women and minorities, these created #notyourshield on their own when the gaming media dismissed #GamerGate early on as a group consisted entirely of “privileged white heterosexual males“. Cross does not appear to know the difference between criticising and smearing. The origin of the #notyourshield movement is a result of women and minorities speaking out against gaming journalists who were using them as a shield against the backlash they received. However Cross has chosen to spin the meaning of #notyourshield with the purpose to pass #notyourshield as a shield of #GamerGate, instead of individuals (females and minorities gamers) expressing their own opinions, opinions which are ironically and egregiously being dismissed by the privileged gaming journalists who claim they represent the very interests of women and minorities.
They [GamerGate boycotters] excoriated “blacklists” while creating aggressively enforced boycott lists of websites and authors who disagreed with them“. No one behind #GamerGate is enforcing others on #GamerGate to boycott, Gamers can choose to boycott or not. Cross has confused boycott lists with blacklists. A blacklist is a list to deny employment on the basis of political affiliations or whistle blowing; blacklists are institutionalized discrimination and illegal, whilst boycott lists are a form of consumer choice against companies or institutions.The differences here is that the consumer is powerless against corporations unless he co-operates with other customers. Institutions, on the other hand, have a lot of power. Thus, a consumer revolt is a legal protest by the consumer against a company, and in this case, a series of companies who smeared their very audience. It is worth mentioning that the consumer boycott was the last resort employed by Gamers.
“They [GamerGate boycotters] averred their movement had nothing to do with Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn even as they remained unable to stop talking about them“. #GamerGate is a response to corruption in the videogame journalist industry. Zoe Quinn was the “spark that lit the tinder”, the tinder being the backlog of corruption in the gaming industry, as well as the numerous articles demeaning and ridiculing gamers. Whilst #GamerGate is not about Zoe Quinn, the revelations from thezoepost triggered gamers into exposing videogame journalist corruption. The link provided by cross is a single tweet screenshot with the name of the user blacked out. We were unable to verify the authenticity of the tweet. One problem facing GamerGate, is that the gaming journalists caught up in the ethics scandal continuously put both Anita and Zoe in every article related to #GamerGate, using them as a shield. Anita Sarkeesian was not and still is not a part of #GamerGate, members of #GamerGate do not wish to associate any part of #GamerGate to Anita.
Social Justice Warriors
Cross then moves on to talk about social justice warriors, who she accurately describes as “an archetype based on a toxic tendency in leftist activism”.
But the greatest irony of all is that from the beginning, GamerGate took as its enemy the “social justice warrior”—an archetype based on a toxic tendency in leftist activism—and then employed all of their tactics in service to their supposedly noble and just aims. A careful examination of GamerGate reveals an anarchic social movement that is now fully given over to paranoid purge logic, purist orthodoxy, deep suspicion of outsiders and institutions, and, above all, a willingness to believe that the ends will justify the means. This conviction all but ensures that the movement will continually violate its own stated principles in order to achieve them, layering terrible irony atop terrible irony.
The Kotaku article, “We Might Be Witnessing The Death Of An Identity“, (part of the “Gamers are Dead” saga, written by Cross’s colleague, Luke Plunkett) is filed under “Social Justice Warriors“. It is no wonder that the GamerGate took SJW’s as the aggressors. It was the SJW’s who took it upon themselves to fight Gamers for a myriad of made up injustices that don’t actually exist.
SJW is not a defined term, Cross however has done a good job of defining the SJW in her article, (although incorrectly attributing the traits of SJWs to Gamers involved in GamerGate.) Using Cross’s views on GamerGate boycotters, we can define social justice warriors as follows.
“A careful examination of [the social justice warrior] reveals an anarchic social movement that is now fully given over to paranoid purge logic, purist orthodoxy, deep suspicion of outsiders and institutions, and, above all, a willingness to believe that the ends will justify the means. This conviction all but ensures that the movement will continually violate its own stated principles in order to achieve them, layering terrible irony atop terrible irony.“
Thank you Cross, I couldn’t have put it better myself. Cross explains the origin of the term social justice warrior:
The phrase ‘social justice warrior’ was originally coined on Tumblr to describe a dangerous tendency among some leftist activists to aggressively and angrily pursue political goals according to strict ideological codes, often to the detriment of others, with no clear collective gain, but significant personal aggrandizement.
Cross fails to explore the many claims that the anti-GamerGate/social justice warriors have made several threats online, bullying, harassing, and made calls to doxx people who merely supported #GamerGate.
In failing to do so, Cross has shown egregious bias in favour of Kotaku and other gaming journalists sites and the anti-GamerGate/SJW who have been lambasting GamerGate boycotters, misrepresented #notyourshield minorities and put Gamers overall in disrepute.
GamerGate, for all its loathing of anything that is vaguely redolent of leftism, has spectacularly failed to learn one of the hardest lessons that leftist activists have painfully struggled with for more than two hundred years: no imagined future paradise is worth terror in the here and now.
Well, I would argue that leftists have still not learnt this lesson. #GamerGate is not politically motivated, although the same cannot be said for Kotaku. Video Games are the only medium left, not tainted by political ideologies, games are for having fun. Injecting politics by ideologues would only serve to poison the Gaming medium.
But this is also the story of what makes GamerGate different from other extreme political movements. Its pretensions to being a “consumer revolt” make it both more distinctive and more dangerous than any “social justice warrior.”
Cross does not give any examples on how #GamerGate is more “dangerous” than a SJW. This type of allegation is used to incite fear in the reader, and is something often referred to as concern trolling. Concern trolling is a logical fallacy, which making vague allegations about something without details in order to quash an opposing view.
Throughout his life the political philosopher Isaiah Berlin grappled with a haunting question: why are revolutions, especially violent ones, so often unsuccessful? In Berlin’s considered view, the great problem of utopian thinking (whatever its political provenance) is that it effaces human difference and diversity of thought: the honest and sincere disagreements about principle that characterise political life. True tragedy, he wrote, lay not in good against evil, but good against good. How, for instance, are we to always successfully reconcile justice and mercy? Revolutionary movements depended on an ideological fiction of harmony: that all conflict could be erased by their “final answer” and the cacophonous chorus of dissent would fall silent before the sight of perfection.
A perfect statement, it applies squarely to the SJW narrow mindset. The #GamerGate consumer revolt was majorly caused by the continuous assault by the gaming press on their audience, accusing them of every “-ism” in the book. Many prominent #GamerGate orators have expressed that there are, indeed, bad apples within the #GamerGate revolt, notwithstanding, these have been called out and their actions been condemned. On the other side of the picket line, the anti _#GamerGate crowd have shielded themselves and their friends by printing out a false narrative. Cross’s article is indicative of this.
This, Berlin believed, was a recipe for disaster. “If this is possible,” he wrote in The Crooked Timber of Humanity, “then surely no price is too heavy to pay for it; no amount of oppression, cruelty, repression, coercion will be too high… This conviction gives wide licence to inflict suffering on other men.” The ends, in other words, would justify the means because the revolutionaries always knew better. Citing Rousseau, he believes that this lies behind his conviction in “the right of society to force men to be free.”
#GamerGate does not “oppress, repress or coerce” anyone. It is a consumer boycott against institutions like Kotaku who operates as the “ministry of truth”.
The Fine Young Capitalists
Since Cross has brought up Zoe Quinn in her article, I have to address her allegations. Note that I did not want to speak of Quinn, as any mention of her is used to further the narrative of the gaming journalist elite.
In an exclusive interview with Nicole Seraphita of APG nation, The Fine Young Capitalists told their story about what happened between TFYC and Quinn.
On the 28th of February 2014, ZQ became aware of the fine young capitalists competition to bring more women into the gaming industry. For those who don’t know who the fine young capitalists are, TFYC is a “radical feminist group” who believe “it’s important for people to see women as creators of ideas that are financially viable”. Quinn asked TFYC why they thought that women “should work for free”.
“@TFYCapitalists why do you think that asking women to work for free helps women in the industry“,
TFYC responded to Quinn that the competition was not to get women to work for free but the winner would keep 8% and the rest would go to a charitable cause. TFYC pointed out that the 8% is a standard in television for producers.
Quinn then proceeded to misrepresent TFYC trans policy as one of policing transgendered women. TFYC stated that their competition was open only to women, including Trans Women. In order to verify that Trans women developers were indeed trans women and not just a man pretending to be a trans women in order to gain funding, the fine young capitalist required documentation to prove that trans contestants were real.
“We explained that the reason for this policy was to prevent men lying about their identity (You have to identify as a woman publicly before the start of the contest) to gain access and to make it more accessible to people without identification.”
Zoe deliberately misrepresented this, and continued smearing TFYC, despite TFYC’s efforts to explain to Zoe that she was misrepresenting TFYC’s intentions. She then gloated on twitter on how she was “accidentally killing an exploitative startup site”.
Maya Kramer (Zoe’s manager) revealed on twitter the Facebook page of a TFYC senior staff member, Zoe re tweeted Maya’s dox tweet which went viral for twenty-four hours, in which the TFYC staff member received death threats from some of Zoe’s followers. TFYC website got DDoS’d and TFYC received numerous angry emails calling them transphobic and exploitative (false allegations made by Quinn at an earlier time).
“But the major points are she DDoS’d our site, she called us exploitative, and her PR manager Maya Felix Kramer posted my Facebook information which Zoe replied to, alerting her followers. Due to this, I received a death threat. My name Matthew Rappard does not appear on the current site or the previous site for TFYC, and I would have preferred to be a silent partner. This Twitter re tweeting went on for almost 24 hours, most of them calling us transphobic and exploitative.”
As a result of Quinn’s and Kramer’s actions, a partner of TFYC pulled out of the venture, depriving TFYC of $10,000. This type of action by Quinn is called defamation and libel, and it is a crime. When Quinn got called out on twitter for doxxing and smearing TFYC, she responded with “I posted 4 tweets saying I didn’t know how I felt about their [TFYC’s] approach.” Quinn actually posted 44 tweets regarding TFYC, they can be viewed here.
Gaming journalists then declined to interview TFYC as the group had become too toxic to talk to after the false allegations and negative reputation they got from the twitter barrage. Whenever TFYC tried to reach out to journalists r the gaming community through sites like reddit, their threats would get deleted. In their frustration, TFYC tried to clear things with Quinn, they repeatedly tried to email her to no avail (see article). Quinn finally contacted TFYC on August 27th after TFYC put out a statement revealing how Quinn had doxxed TFYC. Quinn then attempted to bribe TFYC with coverage in exchange for the removal of the statement TFYC had put out. TFYC declined but offered a new statement pre agreed with Quinn in order to soothe things. Quinn initially agreed but backed out later. TFYC currently has this statement which I encourage everyone (including Cross) to read.
“I wrote a long statement with the help of Zoe Quinn to explain that we were no longer angry at her.“
Cross does not address this episode between Quinn and the fine young capitalists, and neither do her colleagues at Kotaku. Nonetheless she parrots Quinn’s innocence as the harassed and not the harasser.
A transgender gamer, tired of being used as a shield by Quinn, uploaded video above with this statement in the description:
“Zoe Quinn, stop speaking on behalf of transgender people. Stop using shitty terminology like “transgendered people” or getting transgender gamers upset about things that aren’t true. You aren’t fucking helping us, you’re making things worse by weaponizing us”
Bias? What Bias?
As aforementioned, I must bring into question Cross’s Bias. It has been demonstrated that Cross has protected Quinn and failed to look into TFYC’s case. Now I would like to address the headline of the article, “We will force gaming to be free, On #GamerGate and the licence to inflict suffering“. The headline, (and the rest of the article) implies that #GamerGate as a movement is licensing people to inflict suffering. I would like to ask Cross, who is licensing who to inflict suffering? If Cross had spent some time talking to the people at The Fine Young Capitalists, she would have found that it was Zoe Quinn who inflicted suffering, and those that protected Quinn (or failed to address her actions towards TFYC), in effect, licenced her to do so.
When TFYC defended themselves from Quinn’s accusations, Quinn responded with “whatever videogame development nerds. It sure isn’t the sexual identity police“. Not only is this insulting, as nerd is a pejorative term, it is also confusing because the female is supposedly a developer too. After the Quinn successfully undermined TFYC’s project to gain notoriety.
You won’t find any mention of this in Cross’s blog, instead Quinn is defended on Border House by Cross’s colleague.
“I’m not going to name the developer in question here, because it’s already unfair how far this discussion of misogyny and ethics has been going on in her front yard. I don’t want to continue associating this person’s name with the awful things that have been said. Her abusers want to see her smeared, they want to see her work undermined in favour of a discussion about her moral character. I refuse to play into that, and this article isn’t about her.“
Cross’s colleague refuses to talk about the female developers moral character. I think that perhaps Cross and her colleague do need to have a discussion about Quinn’s moral character given her role in smearing a feminist charity. If they don’t, then its Cross and Border House who are “licensing to inflict suffering” and not the #GamerGate consumer boycotters.
Cross’s article is neither academic nor is it news, it’s a veiled Public Relations piece written to reframe GamerGate as an “angry mob“. Cross’s connection to Kotaku, a videogame journalist site who has been connected to the article collusion of the “Gamers are Dead” saga which was pushed for ideological reasons. The purpose of Cross’s article, is to reframe the original narrative spun by Kotaku, for which Cross stated she writes for, as an academic piece. This can later be utilised as a reference against #GamerGate. The narrative has to be rewritten as the old one is losing credibility, advertisers are withdrawing revenue from the aforementioned sites, who under no circumstances will acknowledge #GamerGate as a consumer revolt. Instead the gaming journalists caught up in the ethics scandal will attempt to paint #GamerGate as a political movement, an apolitical movement is harder to criticise. #GamerGate is being strung up as something it is not, so that gaming journalists and academic elitists can later beat it down with ease. The mentality of major parts of the gaming press have become one of contempt for their readers, preaching to the masses from their ivory towers to the proletarian gamer who cannot see how s/he is privileged in some invisible way.
The real infliction of suffering was perpetrated by Zoe Quinn on The Fine Young Capitalists, and she was licensed to do so by the gaming media, as well as people like Cross, who continue to shield Quinn under the pretext that she did nothing wrong.
DISCLAIMER: The Times Of Pol does not condone harassment, of any sort.
Regardless of Cross’s bias, we ask our readership not to engage Cross on social media, even if doing it in good faith to point out her logical fallacies, as anything said against anti Gamer Gate individuals is automatically reframed as harassment.
If you have any tips or new information on GamerGate, please email us. We cannot promise that we will publish if we cannot substantially verify the authenticity of the information we receive.