Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bomb Threat Against GamerGate Meetup

   Gamergate is unfairly being represented as some kind of misogynist movement supporting the harassment of women online. I agree with Cathy Young, that it was certainly insufficiently against such harassment in its early days--the general attitude was: everybody has to put up with online harassment, and online threats are almost uniformly bogus. My own view is that this doesn't mean that online harassment isn't a problem, especially for women. Oh and: that they'd never win the support of the general public with that attitude. (I typically refuse to make such prudential arguments, but I bent that rule this time. Not that my view matters.)
   But the SJW-led anti-GG forces are strong, and they don't want to hear any pesky facts--e.g. that GamerGaters tracked down and exposed one of Anita Sarkeesian's most prominent harassers. Hoo should have seen the convoluted sophistries offered up to defuse that evidence...
   But anyway...: one of the main sophistries of the anti-GG crowd basically goes like this:
   Anita Sarkeesian et al. have been threatened...therefore GamerGate is misogynistic. Patent nonsense, of course...but that's just a specific instance of a generic type of argument often deployed on the left: someone who believes that p was mistreated, therefore p is true. I'm sorry that Ms. Sarkeesian has been threatened...but that doesn't mean that her views are true. Her analyses of video games are, in fact, almost uniformly very weak, ideologically motivated, and often downright dishonest. The fact that she's been harassed doesn't change that.
   But...see...if that (often tacit) argument form were to be accepted, then GamerGaters can now use it: we were the targets of a bomb threat, yo. Ergo our position is correct...
   Obviously silly...but what's sauce for the goose and so forth...
   I'm not so interested in GG's main issue: integrity in gaming journalism. What I'm interested in is the related problem of SJW propaganda in gaming journalism. What you have is a bunch of not-very-smart people who have picked up some bad left-wing quasi-philosophy third-hand or so, and who have far-left political and social agendas. They then spout that nonsense as if ex cathedra when they're supposed to be writing about, y'know, video games. Dissent is, of course, not welcome and not tolerated. If you do dissent, you see, you are a misogynist and ally of harassers. And so gaming journalism goes spiraling down the nutty rabbit hole of SJW / neo-PC fantasy.
   Yes, we need to do something about online harassment, especially of women. But that neither entails nor suggests that we need to accept loony far-left theories about it all--"rape culture," "microaggressions," the method of unrestricted, politically-motivated literary interpretation, identity politics and the rest of that whole mess... We already have policies for dealing with actual threats and genuine harassment, of course. We might need to think harder about how to apply such policies to the internet...but there's no need to go flying off the handle, grabbing whatever lunatic theory happens to condemn such harassment most strongly. Liberalism as the resources to handle this. There's no need to abandon it in favor of illiberal, radical-left theories. That would be an over-reaction of biblical proportions. It's a problem...but it's not even close to being a big enough problem for us to sell our souls to the thought police just because they offer one way to fix it.


Anonymous Greg said...

GamerGate is a large movement so I'm pretty sure trying to characterize it in anyway is not going to work too well.

However, it is possible to find information on the internet that confirms that after GG became a widespread movement that more women in gaming journalism have been harassed. IRC chats by the big names in the movement (mostly reactionary right wingers) revealed organized Doxxing. Sarkeesian has been getting flak for her videos since their insurrection, but it wasn't until GG that she actively feared for her life.

Now we can actually address what GG has to say. What the movement entails is usually some brand of MRA identity politics or a desire to avoid any critical examination of gaming or gaming culture or "ethics". As gamers have wanted their medium to be treated as art it seems they do not want the actual critical arguments that art receives. Maybe gaming journalism is too left wing. Maybe the articles about the death of the identity "gamer" are a little silly. But if you think that GG is just about "left wing journalism" and identity politics you are solely mistaken. If you have problems with these two topics you do not need to use GG as a Trojan horse to rant about them.

The movement is dumb and reactionary with too many people adopting it as a banner to condemn those evil feminazis and SJWs. But it's 4chan-based so what can you expect?

2:38 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

That seems largely wrong to me, Greg (and, inter alia, I think you mean 'stalking horse' not 'Trojan horse'...). I don't need an opening to criticize this things, incidentally...
Harassment might have gone up, but that doesn't mean that GGers are doing it...mthough, as you note, its a sprawling movement...

And so far as I know, gamers don't object to games being the objects of analysis...the objection to eg Sarkeesian is not that she analyzes games, but, rather, that she does it badly, with an extremist feminist political agenda. She also misrepresents herself as a gamer...but I don't care so much about that.
And note that I didn't claim that GG is driven primarily by SJW motives...but that's why I'm sympathetic to it--to the extent that I am.
Clearly many GGers are anti-harrassment...but the whole movement is falsely represented as misogynistic. This is largely a ploy to try to defuse push back against the SJW agenda....and that's par for the course. SJWs don't want to discuss specific issues...the vast majority of their arguments are ad hominems or red herrings--you oppose us, but you are a white male...Anita Sarkeesian has been harassed, etc. Thus do the misogynist psychos and the SJWs depend on each other...
And, of course there's the double standard...Sarkeesian is threatened ergo she is a martyr. GGers are threatened...but nbd. And lost in all this is the fact that internet threats are almost entirely hollow. But the anti-GGers pretend that they are in real danger.
When you begin with the axiom that some group is evil, its often pretty easy to spin all the evidence in that direction.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...


To give a bit of background I've been following the movement since it began. I was slightly sympathetic towards GG as it began but am now solidly anti-GG, since I believe that all of the "goals" of GG have been realized. Most online gaming journals have made clearer their stances towards their own ethics. If GG was actually about ethics it would have stopped. Instead it has become a vessel of right wingers fighting against the evils of leftism.

I don't think the anti-GG pushback believes that it is in danger. Those who are in trouble are the figureheads of the movement. I've hung out in many of these hubs and most people (not figureheads) are just kind of exasperated that the movement and harassment continues. Harassment is going up BECAUSE of GG. Prominent members in the movement have actively called for doxxing in leaked IRC chats.

And yes, though a bomb threat might actually be hollow (they usually are), internet threats are often misrepresented as being harmless. There exists this weird kind of "get over it" rhetoric in many internet camps that seems to diminish the effects of online harassment, death threats, and doxxing. This is often wrapped up as "feels" rhetoric that betrays a lack of empathy. Physical harm may not occur, but this does not diminish psychological harm that can be viewed apart from identity politics.

As for Sarkeesian, I've seen a lot of her videos and calling it extremist is rather absurd. Unless you think any bent of feminism or trope analysis is inherently extremist, her videos are pretty tame. But the fact that she has received such vehement feedback shows that there really is a problem with gamers to accept criticism.

GGers are threatened yes and that's bad, I won't fight you there. They should be allowed to voice their stupid opinions like anyone else. Do their stances deserve pity because of a bomb threat? No. And since this is a 4chan movement I can't even say with complete confidence that the threat didn't come from a GGer or someone impartial, based on 4chan's history of trolling itself.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, then you may have a clearer view of the matter then I do, as I haven't really paid all that much attention to it...
As for your first point: my own view is that GG has always had the new far left / SJWs / neo-PCs as a target. And that's why I'm inclined to be at least somewhat sympathetic to the movement. The more GG aims to fight that madness, the more sympathetic I am. And you don't have to be right-winger to be opposed to the. Nutty, illiberal left.

Well, some harassment may be going on BC of GG, but, of course some harassment is coming from the antiGG side as well. People may be exasperated that the movement hasn't died, but that doesn't mean that the movement is wrong. GGers themselves seem pretty exasperated that antiGGers are still doing *their* thing... And I'm very skeptical that gaming journalism has got its shit together...for one thing, the SJW is still strong with if you're right and that is one of GGs motives, its not surprising that its still going.
As for threats and harassment--i agree that it can't be dismissed. But the "get over it" rhetoric seems to me to have faded. And that's good. But sarkeesian and company often represent threats against them as serious. Which is unlikely. At any rate, consistency is required on that front. If physical threats against GG are so easily dismissed, then the same goes for those against antiGGers.
As for sarkeesians videos, they're mostly nonsense driven by a far-left version of feminism. Being opposition to that doesnt entail opposition to any kind of "trope analysis"... Though most of that stuff *is* pretty lame.the problem with such stuff is that its usually grounded in bad postmodernism...and it employs a sloppy method that allows almost any interpretation, no matter how implausible. Combine that with string, rather extreme political motives, and you get analyses that are one;sided at best and downright absurd at worst. Many of her points are ridiculous, and many are demonstrably fact, so bad that only intellectual dishonesty and/ or complete unfamiliarity with the game in question could explain them. So no...nobody thinks games are off limits... But bad, politically-motivated interpretations ought to be criticized. And the vehemence of the criticism is better explained by the badness of her analyses than some belief by gamers that games should not be criticized. (Of course *some* people probably do think you note, its a big movement...)
Well, antiGGers should be able to voice *they're* stupid opinions as well...and there's reallybnot much doubt that they are exaggerating the threats against them. They love playing the victim, and they are committed to an ideology that deifies victimhood and plays it like a trump card... So I've got to object to the double standard according to which only one side is capable of such things...
GG is not "a 4chan movement". It seems to have started with a dust up at wizardchan over Zoe Quinns mistreatment of her boyfriend... And it also seems telling that 4chan itself was taken over by SJWs...
Perhaps I only see the saner bit of GG, since I really only see what turns up on /r/Kotakuinaction... And anyway I'm not so much proGG as I am anti-anti-GG. My own view is that the attempt to paint GG as pro harassment is just another, predictable attempt by SJWs to pretend that any opponent of their illiberal movement must be a bigot or otherwise evil.

8:24 PM  

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