Let’s Read The Gamer Bill Of Rights

jawsethics

I haven’t mentioned Gamergate at all in this blog because I have way more interesting things to do (like feeding my cat or hurling myself into an active volcano). If you don’t know what I’m talking about I’m not going to rehash the details here; do a Google search.

However, just recently someone produced a “Gamer Bill of Rights” that was so inane and stupid I felt like making it into a kind of virtual pinata. You can see an annotated version here and read along at home.

Gamergate has spawned a lot of really nasty stuff, but on the fringes there are elements to it that are more hilarious and/or pathetic, such as how it’s become this all-encompassing vortex sucking in minor gaming controversies and gripes that erupted over the last few years: namely indie games and negative reviews, neither of which are really relevant to the original “issue” that started the whole thing. Indeed, the re-packaging of the “movement” as a crusade against unethical games journalism was so obvious a fig leaf that it’s turned into a huge joke (the one about how actually, it’s about ethics in games journalism).

Case in point: a lot of people are still super duper mad at Gone Home more than a year later. I don’t even know what the fuck they’re so pissed at. The fact that it got critical praise, I guess. Because review scores are a finite resource and if critics give too many of them to one game they’ll run out. And hey presto, Gone Home gets mentioned several times in this “Bill” despite not having anything to do with…. well, anything, really.

But you don’t want to hear about my general thoughts. Let’s journey trough this thing’s mysteries together, as is my style. I intend to show that the Bill, and by extension all parts of Gamergate not associated with harassing women, are really just immature spats by people who internalize their hobby way too much.

This isn’t a harassment campaign.

Your Bill of Rights is off to a good start when literally the first sentence is an insistence that you’re not about harassing people.

We simply want those implicated to realize —

“Those implicated” refers to Zoe Quinn and whoever else the Gater mob has decided to go after today. Probably Anita Sarkeesian, because why not.

We, who love games, did not vest them with the power to dictate to the market, “what games are”.

This is a bit rich coming from people who lose their fucking shit because a fairly obscure indie game got more critical praise than they thought it deserved.

(Note also the implicit assumption that the people being “implicated” don’t love games; considering several of them are game developers, this is a bit hard to believe)

If the act of reviewing a game triggers a need to write a page and a half decrying its content, maybe that game isn’t for you. Please consider passing that review off to a journalist on your team whomight enjoy the content.

Aaaand the mask comes off. See, the secret here is that a whole lot of Gamergaters- and a lot of the more reactionary gamers in general- are really just mad that people say mean things about the games they like. That’s it- that’s all there is to it. They’ve internalized the entertainment they consume to such a degree that they perceive any criticism of it to be a criticism of themselves, so much so that they apparently don’t want negative reviews to exist at all.

We believe that power belongs to the gamers. To the players. To Us.

Jesus Christ go take a long walk or something

An ‘In’clusive market includes all gamers, not just the sort you approve of

Translation: we’re being oppressed, cried the majority

We respect your right to review, comment & pontificate.

“But please stop saying mean things about the games we like”

Please respect the power of your reach, and the influence you hold

This is probably referring to the fact that Metacritic scores are known to have a huge influence on game sales and sometimes things like employee bonuses. A poor score can potentially even sink a studio, given how much money gets pumped into a lot of games these days.

I agree that all of this is a problem, but it’s a problem for the industry, not for critics. Tell developers to stop spending so much fucking money and re-evaluate how they gauge success. It’s not the job of reviewers to make sure that games sell.

#GamerGate is a Scandal. Scandals go away when the problems uncovered are addressed, not before.

This is a completely true statement, but I don’t think I’m interpreting it the way the author(s) of this thing intended. I guess it all depends on what you think the “problems” are- harassment and intimidation, or whatever the fuck the gamergaters have decided is the big issue this week.

If, instead of addressing such issues, you’d rather cling to your self-appointed lofts and hurl down buzzwords and smear campaigns, realize you do little more than court another scandal such as this one

Is it just me or does this come across as threatening? Keep in mind that for a lot of people the “scandal” involves them literally being run out of their homes, so these vague waffly warnings are akin to “that looks like a real flammable house you got there, be a shame if anything happened to it”.

It is unfortunate that debate could not forestall this event, but keep in mind that opportunity was denied to us.

I don’t even know what the fuck this means. An indie dev’s boyfriend accused her of cheating on him with a games journalist and then a segment of the internet went fucking apeshit; at what point would “debate” have stopped this? Who was being denied the opportunity?

We desire accountability

I agree, the people hurling death threat around should be held accountable.

reform

Reform of what?

and an acknowledgement that the customer should decide what they play

As opposed to our bleak, dystopian present in which consumers are forced to play games they don’t want by….. reviewers? Anita Sarkeesian? Big brother?

— not journalists pushing dogmatic fringe ethics

 

I’m not quite sure what “fringe ethics” means, unless it’s a reference to feminism and/or other ideas that “social justice warriors” want to push. In which case the fact that the author of this piece considers these things to be “fringe” is kind of telling.

about gamer susceptibility to content, i.e. Jack Thompson in a new coat.

This one’s a bit incomprehensible if you’re not steeped in gamer lore but basically: a while back there was a right wing lawyer named Jack Thompson who (among many other douchey things) decided to go after violent videogames, probably as part of a cynical attempt to appeal to fellow cranks and reactionaries. It didn’t work, and in hindsight it’s become apparent that the guy was just an obnoxious opportunist who never really posed a threat to the industry. At the time, though, the defeat of Thompson seemed like a watershed moment.

Just recently a certain segment of the Gamergaters have pulled his mouldy effigy out of storage and dressed it up in an Anita Sarkeesian costume, apparently failing to understand the distinction between criticizing games and wanting to ban them.

We will continue to stand up for Freedom of Expression, Artistic Vision and a free market to decide what it wants

Just to demonstrate how incoherent this whole thing is, the sentence above is immediately followed by this non-sequiter:

We suggest fans of Gone Home review Gone Home —and fans of God of War Review God of War

This is the first time Gone Home gets mentioned, completely out of nowhere. Like I said, if you weren’t extremely familiar with the topics that get thrown around in angry comments threads across the internet this entire thing would be utterly baffling. A lot of gamers probably don’t even know what Gone Home is, much less why it’s getting name-dropped in a political manifesto.

Anyway, the point being made here is once again that there should be no such thing as a negative review, everyone should just talk about the things they like. How exactly this would work in a professional setting is highly mysterious- if the first person to get assigned the review didn’t like the game, would someone else have to play it all over again? What if they hated it as well? What if everyone on staff hated it, would they have to hire a freelancer? How fucking vapid does that kind of criticism sound?

It is in this moment that professionalism engages

“Professionalism” is a common buzzword in some gamer circles. In the specific context of reviews it’s a measure of how much the reviewers opinions match the readers- the more they align, the more professional a review is. The inverse is also true, because journalists shouldn’t criticize things that I like are good.

Also fairly certain that isn’t a real sentence.

and a journalist demonstrates whether they are worthy of our trust.

Journalists earn our trust by only saying good things about games we like. That is, our trust that they’ll continue to say good things about games we like.

This is not a Zero Sum Game. There is room for Gone Home, just as there is room for God of War III

WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU PEOPLE SO OBSESSED WITH GONE HOME

(btw in case you were wondering, I have a feeling God of War III is getting mentioned because Anita Sarkeesian said mean things about it in a recent video)

Also, I know from personal experience that many of the people who support Gamergate do not actually agree with this statement and will act like you just burned their house down if you dare to make or like something that doesn’t appeal to them personally.

We believe “increasing possibilities” is important to grow and enrich the tapestry that is our gaming culture;

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but it must be done with Care and Patience

…..why are care and patience capitalized? Also wait what

Think of the industry as a field to be cultivated, rather than as stones to be sundered.

That analogy makes no sense. Is the industry going to implode or something if people release too many indie games about lesbians instead of big budget games about angry bald dudes tearing people’s arms off?

We are always open to rational debate on the validity of these points, however; intellectually dishonest engagement may be met with creative ridicule

That’s a strange phrase for threatening to murder someone.

Please take this last bit with a grain of salt

So we…. shouldn’t believe the last bit? What last bit? The last sentence? What? MY LIFE IS A LIE

and respect the quirks of the culture from which we hail

GAMING IS NOT A CULTURE

Tattoo it onto your forehead or something: GAMING IS NOT A CULTURE YOU DO NOT GET TO EXCUSE BEING AN ASSHOLE JUST BECAUSE YOU GREW UP SWEARING AT PEOPLE ON HALO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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27 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Gamer Bill Of Rights

  1. piratekingray

    kotaku did acknowledge a problem with reviewers funding or having relationships with people they were reviewing; that is still a problem. There are feminists among the gamer gate movement as well; the problem is that the organization is decentralized unfocused and unwilling to call out the sexists in the movement. Even people who are otherwise not sexist have refused to acknowledge it.

    And yes there were people who claimed Quinn was a saint.

    Reply
    1. Reveen

      Yeah, uh, the problem here is that calling someone a saint isn’t fucking harassment or libel. Which a lot of the bullshit thrown at Quinn and others like Sarkeesian absolutely do.

      Reply
  2. piratekingray

    Part of it is that Zoe Quinn still did things like….exploit robin williams death to promote her game and the fact that at least one feminist accused zoe of sleeping with her boyfriend. The movement has sexism problems no doubt, but Quinn is not a saint.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      Depression Quest had already been scheduled to release on the day of Williams’ death. The only way she “exploited” it was by deciding not to delay the game’s release, the reasons for which she goes into extensively here http://ohdeargodbees.tumblr.com/post/94490732659/releasing-depression-quest-on-steam-today

      “The movement has sexism problems no doubt,”

      Saying that gamergate “has sexism problems” is like saying the ocean contains water

      “but Quinn is not a saint.”

      No one ever said she was. But the moral character of a single small indie developer is completely irrelevant to whatever larger point Gamergate is supposed to be about.

      People are reacting to this like its the fucking Bill Clinton scandal even though the person concerned has almost zero visibility or influence in the industry.

      Reply
  3. MYWA

    Damn. Now, that’s the thorough thrashing that thrills those that think!

    “They’ve internalized the entertainment they consume to such a degree that they perceive any criticism of it to be a criticism of themselves…” – My favourite part. One need look no further than this fact to understand what motivates every single instance of hostility among gamers towards…anything, from Roger Ebert to Anita Sarkeesian to Gamasutra; they attack like vicious honey badgers anyone and anything that has an iota of negative criticism towards the kind of games they enjoy.

    Contrary to more or less public opinion, GamerGate isn’t predicated on sexism or misogyny (though it has exhibited a good deal of it, especially its genesis as Quinnspiracy) so much as it is merely the glorification of childish tantrums and personal gripes against those whose views are perceived as a threat to their hobby. Naturally, this is compounded by a pre-existing desperation, paranoia, and persecution complex on the part of many gamers based on mainstream perceptions regarding video games. The extent to which they are driven by their hedonism is, frankly, disturbing. If that’s what “gamer culture” is about, it can hang.

    (Remember when “gamers” consisted mainly of 6-15-year-old boys? God knows they were less entitled, whiny, and self-important as this GamerGate lot.)

    Reply
  4. q____q

    Off-topic: Some (or rather a lot) not so nice RequiresHate news:

    http://azarias.dreamwidth.org/7186.html

    Not really sure what to make of this yet. It’s a fact that she been very disrespectful and hateful to a lot of people including, PoC/WoC. And of course it’s theoretically possible that the worst things have been done by an an impersonator. Scary.

    Reply
    1. Chackludwig

      So the person who “introduced” me to both this blog and tumblr is actually really horrible. Figures. But I’m glad she did, or I’d have ended up as one of those Gamergate ghouls.

      Reply
      1. q____q

        Yeah, same here. I think her tone really forced me more than any other SJW-site (and I’m using this as a positive, reclaiming-that-phrase expression) to think about gender, racism, my privileges etc. I also got to know a shitload of awesome books, anime etc. from her site. I am sad to see her go, Banjanun doesn’t seem to be into anime that much.

        Reply
        1. braak

          Yeah that whole scene turned out to be a real bummer. I didn’t realize about the history of apparently really poisonous harrassment, but a lot of those vituperative reviews were pretty on-point. It’s kind of a shame that a bunch of the white male writers are now going to feel vindicated because RH turned out to be a gross monster.

          Ughh shit is messed up.

          Ronan’s still okay, though.

          Reply
    2. Emily

      I’m not necessarily defending RH here, but I’d like to point out that collection of links is actually really, really loaded, and that the person in question obviously has an agenda in mind. She literally groups people under “defending abuse,” so, yeah. The “Claims” are also quite slanted, in that she takes really ridiculous claims (like everyone speaking against her is white) to essentially ridicule anyone that might consider RH’s side of the argument.

      I’m still sorting through information, personally–it’s hard because I’m trying to weed out links like the post trying to make RH into some kind of cult leader where her “friends and supporters” were somehow brainwashed/abused into following her (unsurprisingly written by a white woman); I’m trying my hardest to look, instead, through PoC testimony cos that’s what’s relevant–but sloppy rhetorical writing attempting to disguise itself as neutral summaries irritates me greatly. Also because the very same people raising their voices against RH are people who were part of the RaceFail debacle and/or stood up for people part of it.

      Reply
      1. Reveen

        She literally groups people under “defending abuse,”

        Specifically, one of the people that she singled out as “defending abuse” is Kameron Hurley for writing this. Even though it’s fucking anything but. (You should read it, it’s good)
        http://www.kameronhurley.com/on-becoming-what-you-hate-redux/

        That’s not exactly helping, the backlash to the abuse is already a mess. The last thing needed is for people to devolve into Goldsteining people for having the wrong reaction.

        Reply
      2. Emily

        I did read Hurley’s post, actually, as I found it quite difficult to believe that she would “defend abuse” given her pieces in the past.

        “That’s not exactly helping, the backlash to the abuse is already a mess. The last thing needed is for people to devolve into Goldsteining people for having the wrong reaction.”

        What exactly is that in response to?

        Reply
      3. Austin H. Williams

        I thought it was funny that Cameron Hurley gets lumped in as an “abuse defender,” especially since RH was none-too generous about Hurley’s works.

        At any rate, there have been plenty of WoC coming out with statements about receiving harassment and abuse.

        Tangentially, it’s a great time for popcorn sales in the SF/F community!

        Reply
    3. dbrvnk

      Necroooo and I’m not sure anyone will read this (or that there’s any point to it), but.

      I also got here from ROTYH and find myself sympathising with Ms Sriduangkaew more than a lot of people seem to be. Obviously that’s an easy thing to do if you’re not involved which I definitely am not.

      To be totally clear I only discovered ROTYH, this blog and the existence of other parts of the internet that aren’t completely dominated by straight white men and where subjects like endemic racism and sexism are acceptable to talk about, within the past week or so. Basically I saw a link to ROTYH in some discussion about how horrible feminists are (because MRAs are everywhere now, opposed only by clueless ‘male feminists’ who argue that actually women aren’t horrible monsters, they’re gentle and caring creatures of amazingness and nurturing), found it actually really insightful and interesting, and have since been exploring the few links that have survived in the hope of finding some sort of community. So that’s why I’m posting here even though this is definitely the wrong place.

      Anyway! Perhaps because of this background I find myself really sympathetic to the idea of becoming the biggest, meanest, loudest voice for a good cause, using shock and insult to cut through the lazy, thoughtless, spiteful cynicism most [white] people [on the internet that I know of] fall into whenever an issue of social justice is raised, like those gay activist groups created to ‘bash back’ against homophobic violence. I can totally see how someone could be tempted to create that sort of persona, and why people might cheer it on, even though at the same time I can also see the slippery slope to less justifiable behaviour (power corrupts etc).

      Another thing is tailoring personalities to people’s expectations. This is something I did for years so I find the existence of separate BS/RH personas to be less mystifying than some other people who seem to be trying to figure out which one is the ‘real’ one, how much of the apologies are ‘sincere’ etc. (Or at least the people who were trying to figure this out in November. It’s January now, this drama seems to have blown over, I don’t know why I’m even posting) It seems pretty clear that the RH persona was consistently reinforced by its social circle, and the BS persona by its. A lot of the worst abuses RH is accused of would not have happened if there had not been tacit or overt approval of those abuses from RH’s supporters and friends. Painting Ms Sriduangkaew as a lone sociopath kind of minimises the role of the subculture in creating her RH persona and pretty much guarantees that this kind of abuse and harassment will continue (in fact it seems to be ongoing, just with RH the target instead of the perpetrator this time).

      Basically what I’m saying is don’t think of her as Darken Rahl, think of her as some kind of complex, interesting, convincingly motivated villain whose actions are a metaphor for some kind of societal ill (have we seen any of those on this blog yet? I’m not so sure actually.)

      Come to think of it there might be some kind of correlation between scifi/fantasy villains being written as one-dimensional caricatures, and scifi/fantasy subculture’s tendency to see any bad person as a one-dimensional caricature rather than representative of any kind of trend. But I’ve written way too many words already

      Reply
    4. Cat

      I initially was totally against RH, but I’ve been rethinking things lately. Actually, the only things I ever disagreed with was her use of personal insults and violent language. She has absolutely every right to call someone’s work racist, sexist, an atrocity to the written word, diarrhea on a page. RH has been raked over the coals, and yet there are still people defending Marion Zimmer Bradley (who beat and raped her own kids), just because her work meant something to people (well, whoop-de-fucking-doo, that doesn’t mitigate what she did). At this point, it feels like dogpiling, not justice.

      Reply
      1. E

        I saw that RH/Benjanun got doxxed by people digging into her internet history 10 years in the past. Wow. I don’t know what to say except that stalking is wrong and fucked-up. I don’t care if the stalking victim has bullied others in the past. The science-fiction and fantasy community likes to think its progressive, but I’ve seen over and over again that it can be toxic as hell for anyone who isn’t a straight white male.

        Reply
  5. q____q

    That person needs to get his capitalization skills right (I too but that’s another matter): why is it:

    „Freedom of Expression, Artistic Vision and a free market“
    and not
    „Freedom of Expression, Artistic Vision and a Free Market“
    ?
    I assume he (I assume) is American so FREE MARKET should actually all capitals.

    I listened to a podcast recently that argued that a huge part of harassmentgate is actually coming from a non-gaming background, but since anti-feminists, nazis, etc can agree with the disgusting shit that happens there they take part in it. They also said they read the icq-logs of some of the people leading the movement and the military-conspiracy-theory-induced tone reminded them of Norwegian mass murderer Andreas Breivik (not going to look of the correct spelling of his name now).

    It’s strange how this is so unbelievable laughable and frightening at the same time. All in all I think that all the backlash and harassment means that things are actually changing.

    Reply
  6. Naoist

    GamerGate seems to be an eruption of the misogyny/homophobia/general discrimination in the gaming environment, wherein straight white males are incensed by any minority portrayed in any video game ever, and demean any representation of anything that isn’t a straight white male as “pandering to the SJWs”.

    Reply
  7. nickfernan

    Awww, you got me all excited that someone actually decided to put together some sort of hypothetical legislative document that I could throw to people with knowledge in law and political science for laffs.

    But instead it’s just warbling about how gamer spaces must be made a hugbox to protect the feelings of the Sheldon Coopers of the world.

    Reply

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