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The Never Published GameRanx Pro-GG Interview

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Mar 26th, 2015
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  1. Matthew Mitchum [email redacted]
  2. Jan 13
  4. to ian
  5. Hello,
  7. I'm responding to your general message to Developers who might wish to discuss #GamerGate. We are an independent company (2/3 female) making an MMORPG about Renaissance and Enlightenment era values. If there's anything you'd like to ask, please feel free, and thank you for sharing game developer viewpoints!
  10. Ian Miles Cheong [email redacted]
  11. Jan 13
  13. to me
  14. Hey Matt,
  16. Sure thing. Thanks for reaching out to me! Here are my questions:
  18. 1. Please tell us a little about yourself and about the game (or games) you worked on.
  20. 2. Tell us a bit about your studio -- give us a demographic breakdown.
  22. 3. Are women in your studio allowed to comment on gamergate, and if so, why or why not?
  23. 4. Judging from some of your past tweets, you have come out in support of the Gamergate movement. What encouraged you to be a part of it?
  25. 5. Do you think that there are issues in games journalism that need to be addressed?
  27. 6. Why do you think the industry has yet to take a firm stance on Gamergate?
  29. 7. What is your take on the "gamers are over" articles?
  31. 8. What do you think of the recent attacks to try to kill critics of Gamergate with SWATing?
  33. 9. Knowing what you know now about how proponents of the movement have sent Swat teams to the homes of their detractors, defended child pornographers, and engaged in a 5-month long harassment campaign of Zoe Quinn, do you still continue to support Gamergate, and if so, why?
  35. 10. Any parting thoughts?
  38. Matthew Mitchum [email redacted]
  39. Jan 13
  41. to Ian
  42. 1. I'm the designer of Brunelleschi: Age of Architects, a free-to-play MMORPG that's currently about 55% finished. The test server's at and is freely accessible.
  43. 2. There are 3 of us, 2 are female, they are both programmers, while I'm generally more of a facilitator, providing IT and Linux Admin support for them while they write code.
  44. 3. They're encouraged to, though only one has any vocal opinions on the matter. Our engine programmer (@dead_lugosi) is staunchly neutral and wishes the whole thing would go away generally, while the 3d developer (@aesoprebecca) enjoys the interaction between 'chan' culture and the traditional denizens of Twitter. I managed to get Rebecca to talk about it here, but she's not generally inclined towards public grandstanding.
  45. 4. I've personally determined by viewing the participants in the situation and their interactions on Twitter. I don't spend a lot of time on Reddit, IRC, or the Chans so I've seen mostly the emotional debating styles and beliefs of the participants. My initial instinct was to stay neutral, but the brutality of the attacks on Gaming culture and Lifestyle convinced me that I could not stay silent. The cruelty demonstrated by people opposed to the discussion of the scandal surrounding 'Depression Quest' and 'Gone Home' were frankly shocking to me.
  47. For some perspective, I only heard about this when it went to Twitter. My friend who's still neutral knew who the major players were long before I did, I still only barely know why the original fight broke out prior to the involvement of the twitter-based Indie developer community. My first view of this was a respected independent developer that I was following began talking about professional victims, which I later understood to be a reference to some of the participants in the original fiasco.
  49. On investigation I found that the people supporting discussion of the scandal via #GamerGate and other methods (8chan, KiA, etc..) were fighting for things I already believe strongly in. The opinion that the Quality of a Game is more important than the Identity of the Developer is I agree with very strongly. The concept that women are being intentionally excluded from game development is something I strongly dis-agree with, and have personally spent a decade encouraging female developers to make games! Everywhere I look I see strong support for developers of all races, genders, and idea sets from the community, with what seems to be an irrational bias against certain types of games from the gaming press.
  51. 5. On this I have to listen to the consumer base. A significant number of people have expressed a strong desire for more responsible journalism, more ethics policies, and greater overall transparency regarding developer - journalist relationships. People in those positions have to respect the wishes of their audience, or risk a form of artistic schism and the ultimate splitting of the industry based on demographic lines. I think the latter situation would be a huge loss, because ultimately we gain more from combining as many viewpoints as possible in the same overarching 'gaming industry' than from splitting into isolated pockets based on pre-existing ideologies.
  53. 6. In general there's no reason for them to do so. The industry is moving in a tectonic fashion, slowly and reasonably adapting to a changing world. The eruptions on social media and in the news are earthquakes being triggered by deeper forces. Presumably those guiding the larger companies have nothing to gain from ignoring the deeper movements in favor of the surface disruption.
  55. 7. The timing of the articles is the real problem. It would be easier to view them as cultural commentary if the barrage hadn't been launched with such careful precision. The overall take-away is one of manipulation and intentional, hurtful stereotyping. It hit a lot of people in the middle-school bullying feels and ultimately has to be considered, at the very least, a tactical mistake. My first response was to be offended and annoyed. I really don't think attacking an existing culture is necessary to advance the level of tolerance and freedom of expression available in the industry.
  57. 8. SWATing is dangerous. I don't really know why anyone would do that, and I've seen it happen to a lot of people. A pro-GG lawyer and person who could only be described as 'incredible nice' were also SWAT'ed a few months back with basically no consequence, and it is, as far as I know, impossible to prove affiliation to any group in any situation. I hate that it's come to this, but the sad fact is that these sorts of harassment seem to be the price of modern e-Notability. Doxxing, SWAT'ing, and other forms of abuse and harassment are all to easy to obscure, and the existence of fame-seeking black-hat groups makes the whole thing an investigatory nightmare.
  59. It's very hard for me to comment on these things, being immune to those forms of harassment in most cases. I'm not even sure if my town has a SWAT team. I hope everyone stays safe and remembers that you can talk to the police, they are very friendly! If you think you'll be the victim of a SWAT-ing, you can always inform them and give them clear information about your pets, weapon ownership status, and even invite them over if you're so inclined. Police are people too, and they try not to kill innocent people in the vast majority of cases.
  61. 9. I've never really thought of #GamerGate as a movement. The people involved can barely stand each other in many cases, and the organizations and groups that support the discussion just aren't really that coordinated. If GG were a Government you'd have to call it Anocracy, there are at least 4 major sub factions within the discussion, and at no time has everyone agreed with or supported ANY of the #ops or goals. Some sent e-mails, some didn't, some go on twitter, some won't. I can't get my head around blaming a group of people having a conversation for the actions of someone else nearby, or even blaming all of them for the actions of a single participant.
  63. I'll always support the ideas that Artists should be free to Express themselves, and that an Audience should be free to respond as they wish.
  65. 10. I really like seeing things like 'A Man in Black' talking in 'Kotaku in Action', I hope that people on the 'sides' of the debate can start to find middle ground and make some changes for the universal good of the Industry. We all care about Gaming or we wouldn't be so passionately discussing this. Less Doxxing / Insults and more honest attempts to bride the gaps with Diplomacy and Philosophy would be my vote.
  68. Thanks very much Ian! This has been a great writing prompt and really got me thinking. I hope some of this is useful to you, and that you don't mind if I make the full text available on my site.
  70. Attachments area
  71. Preview YouTube video Random #GamerGate current events w/ Matt & Rebecca
  73. Random #GamerGate current events w/ Matt & Rebecca
  75. Matthew Mitchum [email redacted]
  76. Jan 13
  78. to Ian
  79. Oops, this is a much better video:
  81. Attachments area
  82. Preview YouTube video Inveterate Neckbeard Misogynist Rebecca Nicol talks #GamerGate
  84. Inveterate Neckbeard Misogynist Rebecca Nicol talks #GamerGate
  86. Ian Miles Cheong [email redacted]
  87. Jan 13
  89. to me
  90. Hey Matthew,
  92. I have a follow up question regarding #8: that "pro-GG lawyer" you described, Mike Cernovich, was not SWAT'ed contrary to what you may have heard. While it's true that it is impossible to prove which group was responsible for the SWATing of that other individual you mentioned, the SWATing of individuals opposed to GamerGate can be proven to be the work of GamerGaters based on the fact that their doxxes were released on the 8chan subforum /baphomet/ where self-identified Gamergaters have congregated. Don't you think it's a little disingenuous to blame it all on anonymous black hat hackers, especially when the evidence points to Gamergaters?
  94. Thanks!
  96. I won't mind you putting up the article on your website after it's posted on Gameranx. I'll tell you once it is. Should be sometime this week.
  99. Matthew Mitchum [email redacted]
  100. Jan 13
  102. to Ian
  103. Sure, you make some interesting points, but I'll tell you, Baph isn't GG. I'm pretty sure they hate us, and if anything represent the minority which believes in things like doxxing. Their separation from GG represents a backlash against precisely the condemnation of Doxxing and Harassment that has been requested of GamerGate supporters.
  105. The core of #GamerGate discussion has always been moderates, not interested in the sex scandal except as it related to the larger issue of journalistic integrity. Baph are extremists going their own way, further proof that GG has no organizational structure, no central command, and can not be claimed as a movement in itself, but a conversation composed of many subgroups and individuals.
  108. Ian Miles Cheong [email redacted]
  109. Jan 13
  111. to me
  112. Who says /baphomet/ isn't part of GG? GG has no leaders. No one to dictate party line or goals. Anyone who wants to be part of GG is part of GG. You can't say who isn't.
  114. So you say /baphomet/ isn't part of GG. Why do you get to say that? The people looking at them sure as shit think they're part of GG. Because they walk like GG, talk like GG, quack like GG, and coincidentally have all the same targets as GG.
  116. This isn't how the real world works. All people have to go on with GG is their actions, and that's why everyone is so repulsed by GG. There is no source of wisdom for the actions of members to betray, only the actions themselves. Labels aren't magic. Labels are inferred from action becoming of a label. That's why people look at /baphomet/, and immediately say "this is GG."
  119. Matthew Mitchum [email redacted]
  120. Jan 13
  122. to Ian
  123. I don't think Baph is GG. They would call 80% of the members of GG 'moralf***', and I'm personally not looking to get messed with by them.
  125. I guess they're allowed to support GG, I can't stop them. You're right in that nobody has the power to 'induct' or 'kick out' members of GG, because it's not an organization. So, I guess they could be one of the sub factions involved in the discussion, but that still wouldn't make the majority of GG pro harassment, and they're too strong to shift the narrative (even with help) in that direction.
  127. The majority of people using #GamerGate for discussion aren't in Baph, and wouldn't join them or condone them in any case. Frankly, I think the larger 'Targets' in GG are just as afraid of them as prominent opponents of the discussion.
  129. I don't agree that everyone is repulsed by GG. I've seen new people joining it every day, and the outlets that support it are doing pretty well. NicheGamer, TechRaptor, Highland Arrow, and now BasedGamer are building support, and the story is ongoing. I've met new people throughout the post-scandal discussion and have noticed newfound energy in the sub-sections of the movement (journalists, streamers, devs). Derek Smart's restarting 'BattleCruiser' for example, Seedscape development going strong, all the signs point to GG having a profound positive impact on society. Tens of thousands for charity etc..
  131. Baphomet just can't control something like GG, they're too small, and that's not even their goal. If they revive the old style of raiding introduced mostly by SA Goons and other 3rd party trolls, they'll call it a win, and GG be damned if you'll pardon the pun.
  134. Ian Miles Cheong [email redacted]
  135. Jan 13
  137. to me
  138. You use the word “majority". Where do you get this information from? What are your figures? How do you explain the huge amount of investigative and anecdotal evidence that has propped up the hostility to Gamergate as a zeitgeist?
  140. At the time of this writing, I glanced over at 8chan’s /gamergate/ subforum and found the front page articles to be composed of the following:
  142. - Attack Gamasutra
  143. - Attack GamerGhazi
  144. - Hate SJW's
  145. - Milo worship thread
  146. - Zoe Quinn mock thread
  147. - Attack Polygon
  148. - Hate SJW's, also Metal Gear
  149. - TotalBiscuit worship thread
  150. - TechRaptor support thread
  151. - Milo worship thread
  152. - Hate SJW's
  154. Just as well, Reddit’s KotakuInAction subreddit features the following topics at this time:
  156. - Won’t someone please think of the feelings of the extremists?" TB totaly rekt #FullMcIntosh.
  157. - Genna Bain sells some Intel stock, is promptly reduced to a child by people who rather wish she hadn't.
  158. - While investing $300m for diversity in tech, Intel laid off 1500 employees in Costa Rica, reducing its workforce in almost half
  159. - I’m Milo and this is my #GamerGate book AMA
  160. - CBC Journalist Amanda Lang in “serious relationship” with RBC board member while reporting on RBC. Surprise! Popular personality from an Anti-GG network is involved in a romantic conflict of interest
  162. It seems that time and time again, the common threads of Gamergate emerge naturally: Pushback and hatred towards social justice and those with progressive ideals, grounded in scandals targeting women exclusively, and carried through on campaigns against them coordinated on these boards.
  166. Another question:
  168. Do you denounce the harassment? Do you denounce Baphomet and the people who are supporting them?
  170. What would you say to the people who have had their lives ruined by Gamergate's personal campaigns? What has Gamergate accomplished that would justify it? What would you tell them?
  172. And knowing all this - why is there anything stopping you from moving to a tag less synonymous with this kind of terror, to discuss a topic (ethics in the games industry) that their very targets were discussing for YEARS before them?
  176. Matthew Mitchum [email redacted]
  177. Jan 13
  179. to Ian
  180. My information is based only on what I can perceive directly. I'm trying to personally avoid getting caught in any web of trust fallacies by believing unverified information.
  182. As I understand it the more hardcore elements of GG use the mockery of certain figures as a method to raise morale. It's regrettable, and I wish they'd stop in most cases, but pretty standard group morale building exercise. I try to mention when I think it's getting into '2 minute hate' territory, but mostly it's not my concern how cliques behave.
  184. From my perspective, it seems like the strongest supporters of GG as a forum for open discussion take the Chans (8ch/etc..) and KiA with a grain of salt. As far as I can tell GG discussion (at least these days) is taking place in smaller groups, sort of a naturally distributed grassroots efforts, like early Christianity or Women's Suffrage. We don't have access to each others homes', but conversations are taking place in streams, comment sections, chat rooms, Steam Groups, and a thousand other little busy hives of discussion and activity. The most vitriolic tend to get the most attention, in part because they continue the narrative that's captivating to a certain audience, but in fact I believe most of the people involved in the consumer revolt aspect of GG are in fact quiet, productive, friendly people who avoid the drama and focus on enacting positive change.
  187. To your questions;
  189. Harassment is pointless. Nobody should be killed or have their lives ruined over this. I've seen Harassment and I condemn and legitimate acts of cruelty. I hope that everyone would also be willing to strongly condemn false claims of Harassment and Stalking, those don't serve any purpose but to further harm real victims and the general public's trust.
  191. Baphomet's too destructive, and I'll definitely denounce the idea of tearing things down when there's so much to build.
  193. I'm not sure, I stay out of those people's lives. I can't imagine the horror that Eron Gjoni has experienced in having his right to confront his abuser denied in court, and his civil liberties stripped away by privilege. I'm glad Brad Wardell has received some vindication and support after accusations nearly tore down one of the Original Indie Studios (one which employs many female coders). I know a lot of people claim that they've been damaged by this, but many of them were using assumed names, had ulterior motives, and seem to be very wealthy, so I don't really believe that their lives have been strongly affected in a negative way.
  195. The Tag Switch theory is tainted by prior failure. #BurgersAndFries was the previous tag, that's the one that started over someone's sex life. #GamerGate is the discussion of a far-reaching scandal involving journalist corruption and collusion to propagate an agenda against the wishes of the Customer Base. I'll keep using it, and I hope other people do as well.
  198. Ian Miles Cheong [email redacted]
  199. Jan 13
  201. to me
  202. Eron Gjoni was hit with a restraining order because of his continued abuse of Zoe Quinn online—this has been backed up by the court. To state that his civil liberties were ‘stripped away by privilege’ as you so put it and that he has a ‘right to confront his abuser’ twists the facts. Does a man who continues to pursue his ex-girlfriend reserve the right to continue creeping into her life? The courts do not agree.
  204. As for Brad Wardell, his situation has nothing to do with GamerGate and happened three years prior.
  206. Adam Baldwin coined the hashtag #GamerGate with a link to Internet Aristocrat’s video about the sex scandal, which claimed that Zoe Quinn had slept with a game journalist named Nathan Grayson for a favorable review of her free game Depression Quest. Grayson never reviewed the game, and an investigation by Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo concluded that no breach of ethics had ever occurred. Given these facts, why are members of GamerGate, yourself included, insistent on regurgitating the same falsehoods about Zoe Quinn or even caring about what she does with her life?
  210. Matthew Mitchum [email redacted]
  211. Jan 13
  213. to Ian
  214. From the court reports that I saw, it didn't look like he was allowed to testify. I'll double check, but everything that I saw looked like a clear use of money to control the speech of a less wealthy person.
  216. Brad Wardell's situation has clear relevance if you don't insist that #GamerGate relates to a sex scandal. As an overarching discussion of ethics in reporting the shabby job of investigation done by reporters in Mr. Wardell's past is very clearly applicable.
  218. Nobody that I've talked to in weeks cares about anyone's sex life anymore. The discussion these days is all about faked harassment, false police reports, gag orders on nice guys who just wanted to talk about their lives on their blogs, and the continued attempt to paste a Diverse group of sex-positive, friendly, welcoming individuals as somehow Misogynistic.
  220. There has been some discussion of what appears to be a con artist named Chelsea Van Valkenburg who has been agitating on the Internet and making false claims to secure funding. I believe 'Zoe Quinn' is one of her aliases.
  223. Ian Miles Cheong [email redacted]
  224. Jan 13
  226. to me
  227. I will have to suspend the interview at this juncture as I am not comfortable introducing Zoe Quinn's private dox and personal information into the interview.
  229. Thank you for your time -- and I'll keep you posted on when the interview goes up.
  232. Matthew Mitchum [email redacted]
  233. Jan 13
  235. to Ian
  236. Interesting perspective, perhaps the entire issue derives from a question about the nature of Notable figures and what counts as an invasion of privacy. Thanks for talking, and have a great night. ^_^
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