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The Oppressed Rulers of the Games Industry | stateofthegaming – The misogynistic ramblings of an anonymous game dev

I’m a white cis male working within the games industry. That’s all you need to know about me. Who I am in particular is not important, you’ve not likely heard of me, but I needed to speak my mind on what I consider an extremely troubling direction the games industry, maybe the entire internet, seems to be moving in. I’ve had enough. I need to get these thoughts out there. I know me being anonymous reduces my credibility or the use of anything I write, but that’s all I’m comfortable with right now. I have however confirmed my identity with TechRaptor, so hopefully that lends credibility to my claims. I’ll admit to some mild misdirections to make my identity harder to pinpoint, but nothing that changes the legitimacy of my points or experiences.

1) No one cares, notices or remembers all the instances when males get attacked on the internet. When a female is attacked however, it is reported on endlessly, and the motivations for the attacks are always attributed to sexism or other forms of prejudice, regardless of the person attacked or context.

2) Any serious and respectful refutation of any of the arguments put forward by people like Anita Sarkeesian, about GamerGate, or other relevent issues are by default lumped in with the trolls and never addressed, while only the ridiculous or vulgar attacks are ever held up by these people as examples of their critics. There have been countless detailed refutations that dismantle pretty much every argument Anita Sarkeesian has put forth, using video evidence of flat out lies and misrepresentations a plenty. It’s pretty damn shocking the more you discover. However, combating ‘abuse’ gives these people license to block all forms of critical discourse, from comments to like / dislike ratio, which allows them to project a higher perception of agreement to those within and without the games industry.

3) The subject matter of troll tweets are specifically tailored to upset or annoy those who are trolled. If Zoe Quinn was a black male the ‘n’ word would be coming out. If Anita Sarkeesian was a gay man the ‘f’ word would be making an appearance. An outspoken feminist getting tweets telling her to get back in the kitchen and make a sandwich is not a surprise, and it is far from certain that even those sending such tweets remotely subscribe to the views they use to attack her, considering the nature of the tweets is specifically designed to UPSET A FEMINIST. Making any asssumptions as to the inherent nature of over a billion gamers, their values, or the progressiveness of their views based on what could amount to 10s, or 100s of people is ridiculous and disrespectful. The reputation of gamers as misogynist thugs is then transmitted uncritically on mainstream TV talkshows, and ruin our reputation based on the actions of a tiny percentage of us.

4) Jack Thompson raised the exact same concerns about the games industry, with violence being the specific nature of his worries instead of sexism, with the same unfounded claims it affects real world behavior. However he found few or no allies within the games industry, and despite also being victimized by phone threats on himself and his family, attacks on himwere rarely condemned to the extent attacks on females have been. When Jack Thompson made his claims, we all rallied in defense of the reputation of our beloved industry and hobby. This time, it seems the entire games industry is colluding with the outside threat and this confuses and scares gamers. Aren’t our games press meant to be fighting in our corner? Why is sexism treated with more importance than violence, and why is sexism in games more likely to modify real life behavior than violence is? It’s so ironic that the privileged white rich male, reputed to be ‘listened to’ by other people due soley to his gender, was completely ignored and mocked industry wide, while the ‘downtrodden female whom no one respects her views due to her gender’ is seemingly celebrated, worshiped and applauded at every turn by the entire industry despite almost complete equivalence of arguments

5) Several of the notable key figures who have been victims of twitter abuse and identify as anti-Gamer Gate and are largely supported by the games industry, have shown a long history of volatile and extremely hostile behavior against others on twitter, often with little perceivable justification or imagined oppression, often rivaling the aggressiveness of the trolling they received.

Where the industry at large is pretty united in calling Phil Fish a controversial figure, sometimes even an asshole, and all understanding fully the reasons he draws such negative attention from trolls, the same logic is never used on these other less male, less cis figures guilty of the exact same hostile and unpleasant behavior. It’s not possible to dislike these figures or disagree strongly with them without it being packaged in misogyny.

6) In addition to this, several of the notable key figures have added little of notable worth to the games industry, beyond the perceived value of their progressive views and the fact they are a minority within the industry, or have been the victims of internet attacks or threats. There are plenty of much more talented women within our industry that don’t hold these outspoken views on feminism and social justice, and therefore don’t attract the same kind of negative attention these few controversial figures do. Their work gets infinitely less attention from game news sites because of this, a specific example of indifference to an extremely positive female role model springs to my mind I found utterly abhorrent, but I won’t drag their names into this post. It makes gamers feel that when it comes to female developers, their political views and propensity to be victims of abuse defines their worth within the industry moreso than their game development or design abilities, and this has the potential to annoy women as much as men, both within the industry and who play games.

7) From speaking to several women within the AAA industry, including one in particular who talks at schools about pursuing a career in the games industry, this narrative of women getting attacked for no reason, and the grossly incorrect view that the games industry itself is an actively hostile place for women, or a self-fueled ‘old boys network’, is making the problem WORSE. The number one question being ‘how will I survive in this industry’ despite the games industry generally crying out for female developers, and all of these women reporting their studios making them feel welcome.

Putting aside the unique viewpoint female developers bring to the table, working in a single gender environment is pretty horrible and unhealthy, when you consider that most game industry devs move to new cities for their jobs and likely only have colleagues as their entire exclusive social circle. It’s ridiculous to suggest anyone, bosses or employees, in the games industry likes the status quo of having no women among our number, or that we actively work to maintain this status quo. It’s horrible.But the resumes just aren’t there.

Worse, the number of resumes for female developers available for AAA studios to hire is going down because of this fabricated perceived hostility they will face, and this is only going to make women less represented in games as time goes on, fewer strong female characters in games.

Even to accept at face value that any female indie developer on twitter will get masses of abuse for no reason but their gender, this still has nothing to do with the respect and appreciation a AAA games studio and its employees would have for female colleagues. Considering the AAA industry seems to be the number one focus of the sexism charges, it’s time to stop painting employment at a big studio as some misogynistic hell hole.

It’s completely false and hurtful to the industry and is actually achieving the exact opposite of your apparent goals to improve the portrayal of women in games.

8) The big figures in social justice are seen as a threatening authority to many within the games industry with the power to destroy our reputations irreparably. Worse, that several key figures are a volatile, unstable, vindictive and willing enough authority to explode at little provocation, a faux pas, a badly worded tweet, and that their peers continue to support them and validate their viewpoints despite this. The lack of any critical opposition to the views or behavior of the social justice proponents is perceived by gamers as collusion, but as with myself being scared into anonymity for fear of being labelled a misogynist, I would never dare be publicly critical of Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu or others even though I consider them to representmost dangerous elements within the industry today (largely due to the complete immunity to critical discourse and perceived unwavering support outside misogynist trolls).

The same likely holds true for the games press. It’s unclear how many are cowed into silence and how many actually genuinely subscribe to the views.

9) We’re in a bad state when someone is named as one of the 100 most influential people in Time, and the write up on that person has a flat out demonstrable lie as the first line.

“Anita Sarkeesian has played video games her whole life. “

This is the first line of her write up on Time. By Wil Wheaton no less. Wesley, I thought better of you.

Again, those critical of Anita Sarkeesian have been aware of this video for a long time. The fact that she’s flat out lying, and not for the first or last time, is demonstrable with video evidence, but this counts for naught.

It’s impossible to look even casually foranything critical of Anita Sarkeesian without running into that video clip, it’s rarely a single related video away. I’ve seen it politely sent in defenders directions countless times.So why do none of her supporters seem to know about it? They just shut their ears and close their eyes and stamp a big misogyny troll stamp on anything critical of her, regardless of the respectfulness of the criticism. The guy writing her write up on ‘100 most influential people’ has never watched or read any critical arguments against her viewpoints? Have all these high profile and influential people who support her (looking at you, Sensitive Joss Whedon) done aslittle research into her claims and arguments before promoting and defending her?

She’s as much of an outsider as Jack Thompson was, worse one who pretends to be one of us. Gamers know it.

Gamers don’t like her, just like they didn’t like Jack Thompson. At what point has any of this got to do with women, just because a few of those trolls bring up sandwiches and rape?

10) Has anyone ever tried twitter searching @ the victims of abuse and counting how much abuse they get?

Because I do. Every single time. It’s a point of special interest to myself, as you will see in the next point. What do I see when I do this?

Literally 100 or so tweets saying how inspirational and wonderful they are, with 1-2 nasty tweets throughout. It’s almost impossible to find these hordes of trolls amongst all the praise and adulation. And this is Fem Frequency I’m talking about here. Consider actually looking for yourself next time instead of relying on her to paint the picture she wants you to see.

11) I was the victim of a month of fairly solid email and twitter abuse. I’m a white cis male, sono one thought that was a particularly big problem.

Yes, I even got rape threats. Me, a man! While I’m sure they numbered much less than a female dev would have received (though the murder threats and cancer wishes made up for it) they were there. There was the guy who made Flappy Birds. He got abuse too. The guy who changed the sniper rifles on COD. He got abuse too. Notch? Dean Hall? Phil Fish? People get twitter abuse, nasty nasty horrible hurtful twitter abuse, every day on twitter.

What I did, instead of collating them all into a big montage to parade around TED talks, is I deleted them, and laid low for a few weeks. I was traumatized, I won’t pretend that that’d be the same for everyone, and many can likely brush off such things, but it messed me up for a long time.

I’ll tell you this flat out too, I didn’t have 100 praise and adulation tweets between them to take the sting out of it either.It was fucking wall to wall nasty.The fact of the matter though, is I accept the reasons I was trolled and attacked. I didn’t feel there was just cause, but neither do I make any claims its about gender, race, political views or anything else except I was ‘the bad guy’, I’d been a dick in the internet’s eyes, and was in need of some internet justice.

And funnily enough, I too lumped all those being politely critical into the ‘asshole’ pile too. It’s easy to do if you’re the one getting attacked, but those on the periphery should consider investigating some of the criticisms to see if there is any weight to them (and there is, a LOT of weight to the arguments against Anita’s view on the games industry) and don’t rely on the person being attacked to offer up any refutations of their causes. Because that’s not bloody likely.

Being careful to investigate the claims is important. These women always push the viewpoint that women should just be believed by default, be that in what abuse they are receiving, to claims to having being raped. Investigating these things is important, as it has the potentially to ruin people’s lives if people just believe what the woman says because ‘why would she lie?’ some women lie. Some women are fucking horrible people, just like some men are horrible people. I’ve seen how women can treat each other, and can put my hand on my heart and say I’ve generally seen IRL women being much nastier to other women than I’ve EVER seen a man being to a woman. Let’s not paint women as some saintly figures incapable of doing any wrong. This is the root of all our problems here.

So to sum up, I was completely messed up, for months, because of trolls.

I was a mess. Being a victim is horrible.

These other so called ‘victims’ though? Hasn’t anyone apart from me and those ‘horrible sexist gamers’ noticed that their behavior doesn’t REMOTELY tally with those who are victimized.

Does this woman look traumatized like I was? Is she cowed into submission before the twitter hordes?

Or is she poking the internet with a stick? Waving a red rag in front of its eyes? Riling them? Trying to get them angry. This isn’t the behavior of someone oppressed and downtrodden by some authority.

As unpleasant as trolling is to deal with (I know) these people would barely exist and wouldn’t matter one iota if it weren’t for the controversies that surround them. That’s the sad truth few in the games press will entertain.

I’m not going to claim any abuse tweets are fabricated as others have, I don’t think that’s required. I will however accuse these people of courting and encouraging trolling, and I find it ridiculous that anyone could look at the previous picture and argue otherwise. This happened time and time again, another example was a photo of them laughing at dumb trolls tweets on their phones in abar, not an opportunity was spared to say ‘fuck you’ and rattle the bear cage to keep the abuse train running. This is not what someone who wants the abuse to stop does.

It’s the last thing in the world I’d ever have done. Funnily enough the hostile abuse slowed down and stopped, but obviously that’s because I am a man, not the fact that I purposefully went out of my way to avoid continuing to agitate those who were attacking me. I wanted it to stop, so I hid and waited for it to stop. And lo-and-behold it STOPPED! This woman is not ‘oppressed’, she’s never mattered more. It’s MADE her. She’s more famous in the games industry than I could ever dream of being despite having worked in the industry many times longer, worked in a senior capacity on high profile AAA games. She matters. I don’t. We all know it. We ALL know it. I don’t care that I don’t get the attention. I care that she and her cohorts do.

She’s featuring in indie game development documentaries despite having done little more than a HTML based twine game, and you can make all the claims you want about how helpful it may be in dealing with depression (I’ve heard conflicting reports on this one) but when it comes to the majority of the Steam member base that is worth VERY LITTLE INDEED and they would be equally aghast at a male who made the same game getting the attention she did. This woman has no right to be as well known, respected, or to have the attention she has received from the press, and this just continues to fuel this perceived collusion of the games press to push this narrative. Everyone knows it.

They make women in games look bad, like if you put a woman in the games industry all you’ll ever hear for the rest of your life is how horrible people are to women.Is it really that hard to see why they make people so angry or why people get so tired of seeing their faces on games news sites? Is it not fair to somewhat expect them to fear more women coming in games if what ‘more women in games’ means all they will ever hear on a day to day basis is about how shitty the games industry and men are to women?

She’s been propped up on a pedestal way way way above her objective worth. As has Anita. As has Brianna Wu and many others who fit into this mold. The ones genuinely oppressed and downtrodden by some authority wouldn’t be mouthing off loudly to thousands of twitter followers about their views, quoted in articles and featuring in documentaries and TV shows. They wouldmore likely be too scared to speak out publicly on these kind of issues, they would lie low, and would… ah….probably resort to writing anonymous blogs to vent what theywould consider to be legitimate areas of debate but are too scared of the oppressive forces dealing retribution and punishment on them for holding those views or being the way they are. Kind of like I am, for example?

But god forbid any white cis male even claim a slight slight feeling of oppression from women, as they will be laughed out of the room.

It may be that I dare not go on twitter. It may be that I dare not speak my mind around my peers, discuss matters of import to myself of the industry I am part of, it may be because I’m scared of being destroyed, thrown out, black listed, and attacked and being publicly torn down as a horrible misogynist because I disagree with these people’s views. But I can never claim to feel oppressed, because what sort of asshole guy with white skin, who is attracted to the opposite sex, who was born with a penis and still has one would everdare to claim that? I guess I’m one of those nutty MRAs, huh?

The unbelievably privileged white females in America will be first to claim that just because people in the Middle East may be MORE oppressed than they are, that doesn’t make their own oppression a non issue.

There’s a point to be made there I feel. But sadly this doesn’t extend to white cis males. It’s literally impossible for any of us to be oppressed, regardless of social standing, class, financial background, education or anything else. We’re all rulers of the universe.

However here I am, writing an anonymous blog, terrified at the prospect of these apparently powerless and marginalized people rallying the entire games press and thousands of their supporters to tear me down and destroy me (and my colleagues, game and the company I work for getting caught in the splash damage), and yet I’m encouraged to feel like an asshole for suggesting I feel oppressed by these people because I’m a white male who apparently has all the privilege in the universe. No one listens to me. I’ve sold games to millions ofpeople in my career, many of those copies can arguably be directly attributed to my own work, ideas, views, but my views are not ever ever ever expressed in the gaming press. I can’t recall one instance in my 15 year career a news site contacted me to ask me what I think on anyissue.

Yet Zoe Quinn with her little twine game commands the attention to be in documentaries, to be quoted on Kotaku, as Anita Sarkeesian is claimed to be one of the 100 most influential people in the world. These people represent us. Worse, they represent women in games and they simply should not be. I’d like to know when ‘people listening to me because I’m a white male’ will kick in, because it hasn’t so far. It feels almost like double-speak at this point, it’s crazy.

The worst part of all this is it seems they have one rule for themselves, and another for the rest of us. We just gotta be quiet, nod along and toe the party line, otherwise a Kotaku article outing us as horrible sexists may just be around the corner if we ever express any exacerbation at these people. And that shit sticks to you for life. It’s scary. Despite me never having a‘woman hating’ thought in my life that I can recall, the threat of me being labelled a misogynist is ever present and real. It’s crazy.

I’m thankful to those slightly more moderate types for genuinely helping me become more progressive in recent years. As I said above, my life has had relatively little social interaction with women since I spent the majority of my adult life within AAA studios where there were 1/100 females and the people at the studio were the only people I ever talked to (fun fun fun! we’ve got to maintain that wonderful status-quo!). This likely made me a bit socially stilted because of this and I came to twitter likely being a little behind on such things. If only I had more women in my working life, huh?

So thank you for giving me your point of view, and it made me self reflect on a lot. But you’re going too far. WAY TOO FAR. People throw the term ‘Feminazi’ around but as someone who was on the receiving end of a month of constant abuse from gamers and being emotionally fucked up by it, I still find myself much more fearful of attracting the attention of game industry feminists than of gaining more attention from trolls. I still don’t hide beyond anonymity when addressing stuff that may piss off gamers, let’s put it that way. They can throw a few insults on twitter but they can’t destroy my livelihood or throw a label on me that will follow me on google for the rest of my life, for nothing more than disagreeing with them, as I’ve seen them do with various others in the past.This should worry you all if you’re that concerned about oppression in society. But one rule for you, another for the rest of us again.

I don’t know what the solution is. I can see more and more resistance and more critical thinking on it as time goes on, as people seem to be getting tired and more skeptical of it all, but we’re still not at the point that someone can vocally oppose them without getting that ‘M’ label hoisted upon them.

I don’t know all the details, but I hear Total Biscuit is a misogynist now. I’ve only seen a few things he’s said, but it seems to originate from criticizing Brianna Wu. I’m prepared to concede it’s possible TB went over the line at some point as I haven’t read everything, but still I’m only thankful he’s been brave enough to take on the ‘M’ label to speak out against it. I hope it’s the start of a trend, but I’m not brave enough yet. If it were just me that would be affected I’d probably just go public with my own name. I just don’t want the people I love around me to be dragged into it.

To summarize, I’d just like to make it clear to the GamerGaters who aren’t sending sexist shit to females on the internet, aka99.9999% of you.

You’re not alone.

Just because we don’t shout from the rooftops that you’re (mostly) right doesn’t mean we don’t agree. Even those who offer nervous noncommittal vague agreement with your opponents may be on your side more than you know. But to be honest, I’ve seen behind the curtain, and on games journalism ethics you do have a point. But it’s honestly not quite as bad as it appears and sadly the way the press have conducted themselves during GG has led to a few conspiracy theories that went a little far (sorry, I’m even handed with my honesty). Regardless, the foot soldiers, the writers themselvesare likely as frustrated at the issues that do exist, both in social justice and in game journalism ethics, as you are. Even the people running the sites are more capable of caring about games and ethics than people give them credit for, but it’s hard not to be suspicious, even knowing what I know, because of so much appearance of collusion due to the social justice narrative and sheer unified condemnation of their entire audience. Their arms are tied though, the games press walks an ever thinning tightrope, squashed between the might of publishers ability to withhold the stuff they need to actually write about games, the requirement to meet people with shared interests and hobbies and turn off any emotional connection to those people or retain impartiality in spite of that, and trying to be as honest as they can get away with in an arena filling up with all manners of colored tape they have to navigate. All the while being under the biggest and most constantscrutinywithin our industry.

Its a sad reality, but you’ll find very few games journalists who don’t want to tell the truth, who don’t seek to do just that at every opportunity. They are paid a really shitty small amount of money but continue to do it because they love games and love writing about them. Friendships do (or DID, I can tell you this has very much changed) form between devs and journalists. It’s hard for two groups of people who love games to meet and not hit it off. This is a problem, but it can also lead to good stuff as well as bad, and I’ve been turned down many a times by journalists I’ve known for quite seemingly innocuous things on a ethical basis. It does happen, a lot, and did long before GG. Many of them are prisoners to this same thing though, like myself, and are not really the enemies. Trying to do they best within an industry fraught with issues on all sides. As random gamers on the internet there isn’t much to lose about speaking out. Sadly the same isn’t true for those of us who make your games and write about them.

You are not alone.

EDIT: I’ve made a followup post here:

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