Moving Beyond Hit-And-Run Warfare: How #GamerGate Can Actually Win

This is going to be a bit of a hard and sober piece for most supporters of GamerGate to swallow. Bitter medicine is how I would describe it.

GamerGate in its current form will likely not exist a year from now. Chan movements don’t have the energy to sustain themselves for longer than a year without a significant drop in firepower, especially if the other side begins to take steps to starve them of oxygen: apathetic responses, instead of white hot rage, from the SJWers, as well as lack of concrete success.

Project Chanology didn’t win. Occupy Wall Street did not win, either. The fundamental problem with mob action is that while low orbit ion cannons are a formidable force in the short run, the crowd soon grows weary hitting the same target again and again. Sustained guerilla warfare is a tough endeavor and requires commitment. Frenetic energy and the emotional grip of battle fades over time, only to resurge on occasion, as in the case of Anonymous exposing the Scientology ad-network over Craigslist sometime in October 2013. Doubtless there are a few other hangovers in Anonymous who have some sort of personal stake in seeing Scientology collapse. But the lumbering mass of the chans no longer actively have Scientology on their minds. Scientology is still here. It is still around.

So the historical lesson is this: the fire will die, and gamers will move on. GamerGate may last for a year of crusades, until gamers are thrown a few token sacrifices for appeasement. Either way, without lasting infrastructure and plans for the long-term, GamerGate will wither away.

Do not approach this article with foggy lenses. Carefully watch your reaction and ask yourself whether it is ultimately useful. “Fuck you, we’re apolitical gamers who are tired of the gaming establishment forcing SJW memes down our throats! We will crush them, we are winning!” and so on feels good and should be employed as earnest propaganda on news sites.

But enough sloganeering, for a minute. Slogans and platitudes are good in the right place and the right time. Not now. This is a place, a forum to talk soberly and sincerely about the long-term.

It’s a war of drudgery. Gamers never wanted to have to do this. They wanted to be left alone. That’s all they wanted. GamerGate is like a hibernating bear who’s been poked too many times. He just wants to sleep, so he roars a great roar and scares off the SJW kid carrying a sharp stick. The bear has awoken momentarily because the SJWs miscalculated. They were too greedy. They pushed too hard, too quickly, taking too much ground.

Nevertheless, slumber eventually must overtake the bear once more, and his consciousness slides into the back of his head as he drifts off to sleep. With a gleam in his eye, the kid slowly makes his way back. He’s smarter this time, and he’s brought some friends with him, too. Sharper sticks. Reinforcements. The whole deal.

GamerGate is not invincible in the long run. It is not eternal. Like any other movement, it is subject to entropy, and entropy will have the last say. Movement Entropy is a killer. The SJWs have been organizing for many years, and they will be back.

So, what’s to be done? How do gamers get back to their games without worrying about the SJW menace?

 

“We want SJWers out of our video games!”

That’s vague and imprecise. No good operation is run that way. That’s an overarching objective, but the victory condition isn’t laid out. Moreover, the logistical how is often as important as the what itself. Assuming this is the goal, how exactly does it defeat the problem of movement entropy? Logistical questions become easier when we hammer out exactly what we want.

First question: What is your victory condition, GamerGaters?

It’s somewhat of a war, and gamers are wont to frame their fight in terms of military language. If Gawker goes, will that be all? If Sam Biddle goes, will that be all? Jumping aimlessly from target to target without an end state (or just a vague end state) speeds up movement entropy.

The objective I laid out above is no good. Let’s try and tighten it up:

“We want to capture or secure commitments from 3/4ths (or whatever number deemed feasible) of gaming journalist sites that they’ll be apolitical in their coverage and reviews of video games. We want them to sign a statement on ethics in game journalism and to immediately remove journalists who demonstrably violate these terms. Owing to violations of journalism ethics, we want retroactive removal of violators X, Y, Z, etc. from your gaming sites.”

A classic Magna Charta strategy. This formulation is much better than the previous, since it allows the gaming media to capitulate to concrete demands instead of playing on the defensive because of uncertainty. If the media doesn’t know the victory condition the gamer hordes are searching for, it makes sense to shore up defenses when the hordes rush the gates.

Who can blame them?

An ethics statement is important because it establishes thorough commitment. As a sort of contract, it makes vigilance a lot easier. Lots of gamers read gaming sites already, and so it’ll be easy to spot violations. For the rest, GamerGate has shown itself to be incredibly thorough at poring through evidence and linking together disparate pieces to illuminate dark scandal. GamerGate is good at muckraking. All it takes is a little investigation and a little time.

Having a set number of people who volunteer on a centralized site to patrol the gaming journalism network is not a half-bad strategy to organize vigilance. For those who want to get back to playing games, the proposal works well. And for those who are interested in whatever it takes to push back the wider cultural forces of SJW, there’s no shortage of work to be done or other forces to join, which focus not just on games, but on every area SJWers have infiltrated in, say, the last thirty years.

With a victory condition, entropy is staved off longer: gamers are less uncertain about when they can return to games in peace, and so will keep up the fight until the achievable objective is achieved. Do you really play a game with no victory condition programmed into it? One or two counterexamples isn’t enough.

What else is needed? Maintenance of cultural norms. In order to hold journalists accountable, gamers need cohesive norms about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. For gamers, the common leftist slogan that the personal is the political is anathema. Game reviews are supposed to be about games, not sexism in games from writers who disparage and despise gamers and admit to never playing games, anyway.

The personal is the political? Anathema. Yet, on a philosophical point, ‘GamerGate is apolitical’ is an important slogan in that we all understand what it communicates, even though it’s technically incorrect. Group culture must in some sense be political to keep the bad politics out. Free speech is a political value. Individualism is a political value. Meritocracy is a political value.

By apolitical, gamers mean that there should only be a very small, base set of values, rather than an expansive set of anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-this, anti-that values. GamerGate supports thin political values, not thick ones.

Even if you reject the potential solution that I’ve offered here, rejection alone doesn’t negate the problem of movement entropy. GamerGaters will have to recognize that decay is a real phenomenon, and that something, rather than nothing, has to be done.

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18 Comments

  1. Not bad. Though we’re already seeing progress in how some sites are offering full disclosure in their reporting.

    At this point, the mob will mostly be mollified with the death of Gawker and seeing other sites put up some sort of standard. The bar isn’t exactly high here. The Escapist’s standards aren’t exactly gold standard, but the fact that they actually tried instead of waving their hands and attacking the userbase counts for alot.

    Again, the bar isn’t exactly high. These sites don’t need to do alot for this to end or for at least getting #GamerGate off of their asses. They just need to TRY.

    Gawker is going to burn, though. Polygon is damn close, but they still have a hope, yet.

  2. If you want to make the Magna Carta argument, you need to remember the enforcement mechanism. In Section 61, 25 barons have the authority to amierce the king of lands and holdings if he violates the agreement.

    Frankly, what needs to come out of #GG is that the SJWs need to be solidly deterred from coming after gamers again, and this means if #GG ends without a collection of SJW scalps, it will fail. This is the reason I think all anti-SJW movements have failed in the past, or at least ended in stalemates like Chick-fil-A and Duck Dynasty. It’s good that sites go under, but that won’t work like real people losing their jobs. ACORN reformed under a new name, so will Gawker and Polygon. The people involved need to feel real pain, or the SJWs simply come again. This is how the enemy holds their territory: non-SJW academics and media figures have been silenced for years using these tactics. If you guys want to win, that’s what works. Blacklist high-profile enemies from game journalism and enforce it, or they’ll just be back next year.

    1. “Frankly, what needs to come out of #GG is that the SJWs need to be solidly deterred from coming after gamers again, and this means if #GG ends without a collection of SJW scalps, it will fail.”

      “Blacklist high-profile enemies from game journalism and enforce it, or they’ll just be back next year.”

      Sounds like ethics to me.

      1. Check the banner, bud. Not GamerGate. Alt-Right. I frankly don’t give a crap about ethics in journalism. All journalists are the enemy in my book and anything that gives them a black eye is good.

    2. Blacklist high-profile enemies from game journalism and enforce it, or they’ll just be back next year.

      Making a set of choice names permanently unemployable in journalism of any kind would be, in my mind, the best possible outcome—an outcome that would only be certain retrospectively over a decade from now. That and gawker going down, even if only because they deserve it.

  3. While I respect this piece, I’m going to have to disagree with the bear analogy. There are two things to consider:

    1) For many of us, games are our life passion. It might be hard for a non-gamer to wrap his or her head around what that means. You know those fisherman that have every issue of Trout and Stream, constantly call the weather service, know everything about average water levels and how it affects salmon migratory patterns. And they’re really really into it. And every week they’re on some river they know like the back of their hand. And when they are at work, they daydream about fishing. That’s us. Except we do it from home.

    2) Games journalism is ridiculously corrupt. We have Journalists that work for PR company A, take money from PR agent of developer B, and are making some low-quality game or otherwise helping their friends C. And every article they write is essentially native advertising for A, B, or C. We have these tangled webs of patreon accounts, personal relationships, and ideology-based internet communities. And they have come out and plainly said that are using this power system to take control over what games get made, and what games do not get made — and the games that get to be made are A, B or C. And they have the *right* to do this, because they are morally superior to us nerds. We made something cool, and now they want to be in charge of it for our own good (and the good of their bank accounts).

    This is not like Chanology, because Scientology didn’t directly affect the lives of the participants in that. This is not like OWS because we don’t have some abstract outrage at an unfair system. We have a specific outrage at a system that directly affects our lives.

    We have proof of blacklisting. We have proof of collusion. We have false allegations made in print of developers, who happened to be competing with the projects of the friends of that journalist. And apparently, this isn’t just limited games journalism… one thing GamerGate blew open was the mentality that this is normal and acceptable has infected the tech and culture pages of established venues like Time, Guardian, Huffington Post, MSNBC, New York Times. They are printing outright falsehoods. Basic facts that can be disproven in 5 minutes of internet research. Perhaps they are printing these falsehoods as part of some grand “circling the wagon” operation, or perhaps they too are tied through this tangled web of PR agencies and patreon accounts through a shifting sea of Editors-at-Large and e-celebrity.

    One thing is clear. If we lose, it is the end of games ever being art. Art is made from the free and creative expression of the artist, not a bunch of journalists and critics forcing the artists to inject a monolithic ideology into everything they do. What’s going on is a very cynical and money-driven sort of digital colonialism. At the heart of the matter, these journalists and critics are incapable of creating games themselves that contain their message (would require experience, talent, and work) so they will shame and harass until others do that work for them. Leigh Alexander pretty much said this straight-up in her Time piece. They’re not even obfuscating their goal, because they can’t understand why it’s wrong.

    At it’s heart, this is a battle between grasshoppers and ants, creators and parasites. This is an existential conflict, and I don’t see it “fizzling out” due to boredom. It will be over when our hobby and our passion is either safe, or completely hijacked by this pox. I have a feeling, now that the MSM is involved, it will be a long fight. And we’re all ready.

  4. My question is this. Instead of looking at how gamergate is eventually going to fail, why aren’t other mediums, and industries pointing at gamergate and say “see, this is the shit we are talking about!. This is exactly how our industry/media/ whatever was co-opted by moral authoritarians!” and then provide examples, and shove the shackles on them back in the face of their masters. Yes, I said masters, because at this point there are slaves, and there are masters in the realm of idea framing in America. The outright slandering and black listing is on full display, if you want to take a look.

    I do not like the term SWJ. They are moral authoritarians. Everyone who is even slightly libertarian in nature, hell, you just have to be a “live and let live” type should be absolutely disgusted. There are real tools that have been used against all kinds of moral authoritarians in the past, and very successfully I might add. Christianity has been virtually kicked out of main stream society because their opponents framed them as moral authoritarians.

    The problem that comes into play, is if you just want to replace rad fem tripe with your own agenda you have no credibility. That is the REAL, TRUE PROBLEM, not how effective at controlling narrative rad fem authoritarians are. The problem is everyone else has their own little agenda list too. At this point I could go on about the failures of multiculturalism, and what not, but I won’t.

    This is why I am Libertarian. In a Libertarian society everyone can exist, equally. Rad Fems, Black and White Nationalists, so on and so forth as long as they don’t poke pointy sticks at me, or anyone else. Of course we all know pointing pointy sticks is human nature, which is why I believe the vigilance of gamergate is the “new normal”, at least for the roughly 3 generations of Americans involved in it. The only thing that is different is what they are vigilant against.

    1. This has nothing to do with libertarianism, since the anti-GG folks aren’t using the coercive power of the state to violate rights, as far as I know.

      1. Paul W. Asright October 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm

        Authoritarianism doesn’t have to explicitly co-opt state power to be effective and hazardous to liberty – and it should be obvious that this form of radical Marxist feminism has many allies in the governments of the world anyway.

        1. Right, but libertarianism is incredibly thin, definitionally. What you’re looking for is some sort of Millian liberalism.

  5. Paul W. Asright October 29, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Well-stated, but we have to worry that no matter what we do, so long as SJW nonsense can find funding somewhere it won’t die; and this group has a strong Patreon money laundering underpinning from 1000 corners. We have to root out and destroy this cash nexus to win.

  6. For me, this ends when Gawker dies.

  7. “Do you really play a game with no victory condition programmed into it? One or two counterexamples isn’t enough.”

    It’s kind of adorable that you don’t know any better than to say this.

    Common modes in games include score attack and time trial. Neither has a specific victory condition – the implied objective is to perform a little better each time, to compete against one’s own (or in some cases, the entire internet’s) previous performance. There is no guarantee that the game will flash “you win” on the screen and they usually don’t – the mechanic is there for players to do with what they wish. That is one key to dissolving your remark.

    More specific examples? The Mount and Blade series has no “victory condition”, aside from individual skirmishes being either won or lost, and the player has significant power to affect how and when skirmishes happen by declaring wars, offering services as a mercenary band, buying fast horses to evade pursuers, et cetera. Creativity tools like Minecraft are seldom bounded by a victory condition – Minecraft specifically has some bosses, but they’re frankly uninteresting and are hardly a capstone to play when some people use the engine to recreate middle earth or Ming dynasty China. Open world games such as the Elder Scrolls series are similarly not bounded by their “victory conditions” – especially in the case of the most recent entry, Skyrim, in which nothing much changes after completing the main quest and the end boss is almost tragic in how underwhelming it is. Roguelikes such as Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead and survival games such as Project Zomboid, 7 Days to Die and DayZ simply continue until the player dies.

    And then of course we can talk about games which feature chaos – among them the Grand Theft Auto series, the Saints Row series, and the Postal series. Some have technical ‘victory conditions’, but people care to varying degrees. You *could* give a damn about what’s going on with the plot… or you could try to land a helicopter on a moving train for half an hour, because it’s there. Here’s a dubstep gun, there’s some street toughs, knock yourself out. Also you can run up the side of buildings and glide half a mile at a time now. This is the other key to understanding why a ‘victory condition’ is not that critical – the process of play itself can and should generate fun. The kind of game which forgets this – the kind which depends too much on its story/ultimate ‘victory condition’ and forgets to make the gameplay itself interesting – tends to be an atrocious drag. Like a textbook which teaches you nothing significant but has a little ribbon on page 1036 to congratulate you for making it that far.

  8. I’m not that interested in hypocritical SJW’s, but I want all the media outlets that ignored all this crap to give it the coverage it deserves:

    https://imgur.com/a/HHpnv
    http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/2ejs7v/gaming_journalists_patricia_hernandez_of_kotaku/
    http://www.gamezone.com/originals/here-s-what-we-know-allistair-pinsof-destructoid-yanier-niero-gonzalez-game-http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/17/Exposed-the-secret-mailing-list-of-the-gaming-journalism-elite

    I want them to admit, and put it front and center, that they actively ignored this to cover their own asses. I want them to sack the most offensive wankers like Sam Bidell, Mark Read, and Leigh Alexander. The racist, ableist, and just ourtright bigoted shit that these yokels got away with, without any of the media calling them out for it, is absolutely disgusting. Can you imagine the headlines had Clint Eastwood said any of the shit these HYPOCRITES did? Would he have gotten away with passing it off as hipster irony or a joke?

    This is the only aspect of the “SJW” (call them the Outrage Brigade instead, please) that I care about. These are the moral crusaders that constantly berate others for ANYTHING, thinking that they’re the arbiters of morality, and yet they betray their own hypocrisy. I don’t want them representing me. #NotYourShield #NotAnyone’sShield. They need to be exposed in the mainstream– and they’re only the tip of the iceberg.

    Hypocrite and racist Hugo Schwyzer, who racist and sexist Amanda Marcotte and her ilk tried to sweep under the rug– all of these types need to be exposed. The mainstream media does not question them. For too long they have hidden inside feminism and everyone knows #solidarityisforwhitewomen

    I would also LOVE for the #gamergate people that care about this to LEVEL UP like Wiki Leaks suggested, because the mainstream media has been awful in its coverage of this. The mainstream media, as opposed to these gaming rags, are supposed to be objective in how they present news, but instead what we got were a lot of opinion pieces masquerading as news reports. ZERO balance. And this goes beyond games.

    1. It would be a state of miraculous science if you were to rescue the terms racist and sexist from their controllers – as attack terms they are tribe colored and once you said “I’m not your shield” you declared you were not in their tribe. This means that such terms may apply to you, but you may no longer apply them meaningfully to members of the other tribe.

      Strategically, it is important that gamergate’s political axis cross the normal ‘political’ axis — since accusations of ‘racism’ and ‘sexism’ only mean something if someone who is believably leftist utters them. Crimethinkers such as myself can only utter them defensively, as a proverbial “rubber and glue.”

      As a second point, the most important thing you gamergaters can do is construct a robust alternative media that applies such rigorous standards to itself, capable of replacing not only the gaming media, but the whole of the corrupt media apparatus itself. Nature abhors a vacuum.

  9. Hadley —

    I had thought about the political ramifications of #GamerGate. I think what’s going on is actually politically interesting. Gamers and game developers by nature are egalitarian, and deeply believe in meritocracy. “Fairness” is at the heart of developing and playing games. Genuine, actual fairness and even-handedness. And freedom, and logic, and critical thinking.

    Most games, and game developers, I think traditionally have voting patterns which are vaguely left-leaning progressive. The remainder is largely libertarian left, followed by traditional conservatives, and I’ve also seen communists and anarchists and every other viewpoint since we’re a tolerant bunch. In our two-party political system, neither side comes off as sincere believers in meritocracy. The Progressive wing of the Democratic party often get the language right, but then go and do the opposite — which is explained away as honest mistakes. But what #GamerGate has revealed is these people aren’t sincere, and they aren’t honest. We know them now to be liars, and utterly corrupt and dishonest.

    I don’t think the majority of gamers will ever call themselves conservatives, or Republicans. I think there is too much of a branding issue, which ironically could very well be an instance of the same corrupt media manufacturing bias against an opposing viewpoint, exactly what they are trying to do to gamers now. First they came for the conservatives…

    If conservatives really want to learn a lesson here, it’s that at least one demographic in America isn’t a pack of sheep. Note the Republicans I know who are gamers tend to be “Ron Paul Republicans,” and were deeply outraged with the last-minute rule changes (and other shenanigans) the RNC made during the convention to create an uncontested ballot for Romney. It simply wasn’t seen as fair.

    I think it’s pretty clear that #GamerGate will have some impact on the next Presidential election, for no other reason than it is the traditionally left-leaning media that has taken up the crusade against gamers, and peddling dishonesty and falsehoods to do so. We have journalists that said “gamers are worse than ISIS” and “gamers are worse than ebola,” referring specifically to gamers revolting against corruption of journalists and the media. In the context of what a journalist is supposed to be, that is beyond outrageously bizarre. Milo Yiannopoulos is probably the only “mainstream” journalist that listens to what we say, rather than what strawmen are created about us by other journalists. The right is building bridges to the gaming demographic, while the left is burning them over insincere for-profit ideology.

    At the end of the day, we want to live in a free society, a meritocracy, where our media is honest and our politicians are sincere. Call that a pipe dream, but we should at least all agree that’s the goal. I see the political ramifications of #GamerGate with respect to conservatism as being an opportunity to re-establish your credentials. Many of us have hit a moment where we realized “everything the media says is a lie, and it has been that way my entire adult life.” Because you see them using the same language and tactics against you, as they have against every previous boogyman. You start to wonder, is all of it manufactured? So there is an opportunity here for a mass re-evaluation of conventional wisdom in the political sphere. Just be aware as soon as Fox News blames us for a school shooting, or the political right creates narratives about technology they don’t understand for political gain, the window will close.

    1. Valid point. I think most gamers fall into the equal opportunity camp. Games, after all, are inherently competitive. You want a level playing field that controls for every skill except for the ones being tested by the game. For example, competitive multiplayer games often control for Internet latency so players with faster internet speeds don’t get an unfair advantage. So what I mean by meritocracy is isolating the skill or behavior that is valued. Players who are simply better at the thing tested by the game deserve to win, and not lose due to some arbitrary factor. There are some obvious parallels with real-world socioeconomic organization. Games shouldn’t be rigged — either to penalize competency near the end when a goal is almost reached, or to give some an unfair starting advantage over others at the beginning.

      Furthermore, I think the difference between good and bad games is quite simply that good games value the skills they claim to. This is true even in RPG games, where “skill” really means predicting narrative results based on actions or solving obfuscated logic puzzles. Gamers have a long history of criticizing games because the things that were supposedly valued by the game ended up not mattering in the final analysis. Here are also a lot of parallels with real life, especially when the qualities that are supposed to be valued by society (hard work and talent) are contrasted with the qualities that often actually are (nepotism, and the ability to manipulate media and markets).

      I would consider it a good thing if this specific moral compass was brought to mainstream political discourse in an honest way.

  10. Hadley, Gloria Sass is right. So are you.

    Accept Gloria’s characterization, because it’s true. Its corollary is Alinsky Rules #6 & 7:

    6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

    7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.

    Compare:

    “This is the other key to understanding why a ‘victory condition’ is not that critical – the process of play itself can and should generate fun. The kind of game which forgets this – the kind which depends too much on its story/ultimate ‘victory condition’ and forgets to make the gameplay itself interesting – tends to be an atrocious drag.”

    Gloria’s point leads to encouragement of finding new ways to go after Gawker, Polygon, et. al. as a form of gleeful entertainment. Poke, poke, poke… and if up from the ground come a bubblin’ something worthwhile, gather the clan and bring them along for the ride.

    That’s pretty cool all by itself. The process is known as ‘gamification,’ and it is used by political movements.

    Beyond that, however, it’s worth acknowledging that many gamers do rather like victory conditions. “End of Gawker” would be a fantastic trophy to hang on the wall, doesn’t matter if they come back in another guise. They have to raise money, and that will much harder if Gawker burns or is even significantly hurt.

    That’s an outstanding Total Victory condition, after which we revert to Gloria’s suggestion of collecting SJW scalps as a gamified activity with occasional bursts of intensity, and a clan social respect payoff.

    I would set a secondary victory condition, which would involve the end of Zoe’s journalistic career (minimal victory condition) and possibly Anita’s too (now we’re getting into points systems :-) ).

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