Letters to T-Mobile: Call to Action

First I just want to express my deep frustration toward Comcast.  When COMCAST DECIDES TO DIE FOR SEVERAL HOURS on a Sunday night right after I already decided not to run an article the previous night to attend the birthday of a close friend’s daughter, it gets a little frustrating.  Just wanted to apologize for breaking my schedule and I will be on it again now.

GG_VJ

Some of the latest that I noticed last night: After the foot-biting of Pol, people started to calm down and remember that we have a mission here.  King of Pol reminded us that we should, in fact, watch what we are saying but not become the thought-police in the process.  I also saw this exchange of tweets cross my vision:

POL_MOBILE

T-Mobile seems to have stated, to some effect, that they will not be swayed by any number of emails and that they require an out-pouring of physical letters about the topic to flood into their offices.  Honestly, I chuckle and think of the scene in the first Harry Potter film where the letters explode in through their mail slot.  We need to make it rain on them, and I have an idea how.  Write 5 letters a week, by hand.  PLEASE do not use automatic mailers for this one, people, as they are asking for physical letters in order to see the human side of this conflict.  The human side of us.  Write with your own meat-hooks.  I know this is difficult, but do it.  Some of us may be dislexic or unable to hold a pen properly, please feel free to sign a printed letter.

For the rest of us, though, make 5 letters to send out during the week and mail one each day to T-Mobile.  I know it sounds silly, but this will have the effect we, and T-Mobile, are demanding to see.  It will help us make the change happen and it will show T-Mobile the human cost of doing business with these folks.

Here is the Address for T-Mobile.

T-Mobile Customer Relations

PO Box 37380

Albuquerque, NM 87176-7380

I will include a typed copy of my own letter for an example.  Please feel free to embellish, improve and personalize.  That’s what they are asking for!  Just no death threats or evil letters of angry anger-tude.  That will set us back in this.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of T-Mobile,

My name is _________ and I am a blogger, gamer and supporter of #GamerGate.  Please hear me out.  I am writing to you tonight concerning a request, issued by your company, for physical, written statements concerning recent events with Gawker Media, Vox Media and statements of bullying.  First, let me give you a little background.

When I was younger, I received the brunt of much bullying from Elementary School all the way through High School to where most of my memories of being a child focus on being bullied at school.  It had a powerful influence on myself as a child and is still visible in me as a man.  It is one of the reasons that I loved Boy Scouts so much that I and my four brothers became Eagle Scouts.  Despite boy scouts being my only refuge from school life, even it got hard at times and many nights I would cry to myself.  I would stay home from school “sick” and have even considered self-harm.

I am a man now.  I am lucky enough to have found a spectacular wife (who I met in high school, funny enough X D!) who is excited to bear our children.  When those children go to school, I know, though it saddens me deeply, that they will face bullies as I did.  How they and others like them handle this harsh reality will be greatly influenced by the “real world” and its perception of these acts.  If they see in our society the same sort of ambivalence toward, or even support of, bullying, I honestly don’t know how many of them won’t commit suicide.

As a father, American and former military member, I will likely tell them what I will advise you tonight.  Fight them and others like them.  There is nothing bullies fear more than isolation.  Seeing those that once laughed with them and echoed their ideas walk away shaking their heads is always at the back of their minds.  They know that one day no one will care what they have to say.  My kids will be taught not to feed into them and, worse comes to worse, how to throw a mean left-hook; but the response I propose for T-Mobile is less straight-forward and immeasurably more effective:

Please discontinue any support and advertising for all Gawker Media Sites (Kotaku, Gawker, Kinja, Deadspin, Jezebel, io9, Jalopnik, Gizmodo, Lifehacker), all Vox Media sites (The Verge, Curbed, Racked, SB Nation, Polygon, Eater, Vox), Gamasutra, Destructoid and Ars Technica.  These sites and their staff have repeatedly bullied their consumers, at one point releasing a media blitz of 14 articles in one day – around Labor Day nonetheless – stating that gamers are dead, that we are evil and misogynistic.  They continue to state that we are part of some great misogynistic narrative, created by them to validate their extreme ideas.

Recently these groups, their sites and their staff have suggested that bullying “nerds” is acceptable and even that it should be “brought back.”  They have provided some apologies, but this seems to be a hollow-hearted reaction to losing money and financial backers for their sites.  Their constant rhetoric, damaging relationship with their (former) readers and constant harassment make the support of bullying the last PR straw that should break their wallets.  People this toxic shouldn’t be paid for insulting others.

In every way, as you may imagine, these words – especially as they come from major voices in my favorite hobby, gaming – anger and disappoint me profoundly.  I have been a regular customer of T-Mobile, enjoying your mobile products and accessories for many years.  They have brought myself and my wife hours of fun and good times playing games and communicating with loved ones.  For a time I even had a T-Mobile phone when I was in the Army, used to talk to the woman that would be my future wife.  If T-Mobile supports these individuals and their rhetoric, I will have no choice but to consider my time as a consumer of T-Mobile products at an end.

As a concerned business made of responsible, reasonable people and parents, please stand with GamerGate to relax their grip and teach them the level of their relevance.  Help us speak out against these bullies.

Signed and dated.

Now I will be including printed copies of tweets in question and other items that can be referenced as you might put links and such in an email.  Hopefully we can get through to them.

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Internet Slow Lanes and Net Neutrality : Why Gamers Should Care

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About one month ago, numerous internet giants and companies, like Netflix and Tumblr, did a call to awareness known as Slow Internet Day to show people what they could look forward to in the future.  On May 15th, democrats voted up an FCC regulation that would allow major companies to prioritize their content by paying for faster internet service.  Now that doesn’t sound so bad, right?  It just means that the actual content that people want to see will get good service whereas unpopular stuff like child porn will go slow right?

Nope.  Think again.  The internet is unique in that all companies and organizations have an even playing field as far as speeds and tampering with that will ultimately start to slowly enforce a regulation on it.  Sure, some negative content will suffer, but at the same time upstart websites that are aspiring to overtake their larger cousins will have an extra obstacle to surmount: driving sales and ad revenue with the shitty internet connection that is left while their competitors can afford better internet.  This will maintain a distinct pecking order and help keep a ‘status quo’ on the internet.  I will allow money to dictate where the people go, rather than the current model which makes the money follow the people.  FUCK THIS SHIT!

This is a problem that I have been voicing my opinion about and writing imporant people about.  While the internet was still wondering who the fuck Zoe Quinn was, I was calling congress telling them that the proposed slow lanes were a bad fucking idea.  This is an idea that GamerGaters should really consider carefully, because if it is allowed to go through, it will murder the movement overnight.  Literally, overnight.  The worst part is, that it was voted on in May.  I received this e-mail from Pennsylvania state representative Mike Fitzpatrick about the issue:

unnamed

 

October 6, 2014

The Crotchety Old Gamer
Where he lives
Greater Philadelphia, PA

Dear Nathan,

 

Thank you for contacting me regarding your thoughts on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) proposed “Net Neutrality” rule. Your input is a valuable part of the legislative process and I appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.

A free and open internet is the best way to enhance commerce and encourage the free flow of ideas.  In fact, as we’ve seen in counties across the world, it can even facilitate revolutions.

On May 15, the FCC voted 3-2 to move forward with a new set of regulations with the stated goal of guaranteeing a more open internet. The FCC explains that these proposed rules are designed to prevent Internet providers from taking advantage of an unregulated system by knowingly slowing data.  At the same time, they would allow content providers to pay for a guaranteed “fast lane” of service.

Opponents of this plan are concerned that such a policy would discriminate against the content of those who cannot afford the “fast lane” service. Several lawmakers have expressed that these changes could create tremendous legal and marketplace uncertainty.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler intends to finalize the open internet rule making process before the end of this year. As Chairman Tom Wheeler stated immediately following the vote, “What we’re dealing with today is a proposal, not a final rule. We are asking for specific comment on different approached to accomplish the same goal, an open Internet.”  This month’s vote began a process that will start with a 120 day comment period.

The FCC openly encourages the public to share their views, as your remarks will help the Commission decide upon the final rules. You can submit your comments for the rule making to the FCC’s designated email on the matter: openinternet@fcc.gov. Please visitwww.fcc.gov to read more about the proposed plan.

I will continue to monitor this situation; keeping your comments and concerns in mind as it develops. If you have any questions or concerns pertaining to this or any other legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (202) 225-4276.  For additional information, please visit my website www.fitzpatrick.house.gov. From this site you can sign up for my e-newsletter, access statements about current events or pending legislation and receive detailed information about the many services that I am privileged to provide for the 8th District of Pennsylvania. You can also connect with me on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/RepFitzpatrick, or follow me on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/RepFitzpatrick.

Sincerely,

unnamed

 

 

Mike Fitzpatrick
Member of Congress

 

Mike, you might as well have signed this letter “an out of touch old legislator who really has no idea what is going on.”  Think about it this way.  You are in your room, reading an article on your favorite low-level gaming news site and generally enjoying yourself.  Your 17-year-old little brother decides to hop onto his Xbox One and play some of the latest Call of Doody while playing his favorite teenage rage songs over Grooveshark.  Your mom is streaming the latest video posted on YouTube by Ellen Degeneres and your dad is watching the latest Rocco Siffredi porno in his office.  You go to click on a new article and you now have to wait for 20 minutes while it loads like you are in the goddamn 90’s on a 56.6k modem.

Now, yes, the family dividing up the bandwidth on their connection might be a slim example compared to the internet as a whole, but follow.  If major companies are able to buy up all the “fast lanes,” which are now voted into regulation, this means that smaller sites will really be usable since they will have a lower slice of the bandwidth and thus will be slower.  Now, I would say just log on at night, but putting in a permanent regulation that makes others move faster is outright PRIORITIZING THE GODDAMN INTERNET!  This is a load of horseshit because it means that larger companies will be able to dictate which sites you will go to just by paying for the better connections.  It almost sounds fair, but look at it like this.  In a system like this, you will be told where to go for content and forced to migrate toward major outlets simply because the connection is better.  They are using a technique of social engineer whereby they dictate the flow indirectly.

Example: there are three public water fountains in town from which the townsfolk get much-needed water for daily tasks.  We’re talking like a Roman fountain where you hold a bucket to collect water and not the standard “bubbler” as they call it in Wisconsin.  Now, the town regulates flow to these different fountains throughout the day, typically to provide water to each during necessary times of day.  One day they decide they will start sending most of the water to the fountain in the middle of town while the other two are left at a trickle.  They say, you can still go to those ones, but you will be waiting for an hour to fill one bucket, and that is without the lines that will likely form.  It makes sense, then, to go to the fountain in the middle of town to get water.  You later realize that this was part of a plan to eliminate the other two fountains in favor of one where they could watch everyone easier and limit the diversity of outlets of water, fully controlling the waterflow.  Now they can accurately tax the water.

Sure, that last bit about water taxation is my own little add-in, but if they are able to limit the internet, eliminate competitors for data-flow and get more people going to specific locations, it would open the internet to information regulation and social engineering.  They would be able to dictate where you go simply because of the excuse of “well what, they couldn’t afford the better connection!”  Quite simply, the internet needs to remain open to all so that the diversity of flow can continue, otherwise smaller ideas, which could explode into larger, more potent movements, would be allowed to founder and die.  Don’t let them use money to regulate the flow of information and, thereby, the internet.  Speak out against the slowlanes.  Call your congressmen!  Mail your senators!  Shit, these fuckers CANNOT be allowed to tamper with our connections.  They have been trying to do it with every acronym under the sun, don’t let some concept of data-darwinism be what renders the internet inviable as the pure source of free-flowing information that has toppled dictators, countered social strictures and enhanced the world.  Sure, there are horrible things on the internet, too, but are the few examples of horrible people and inhumanity an acceptable reason to allow internet regulation?  I hope you just said no.

I will be hashtagging this with #GamerGate and #NotYourShield because this is something that we should all be considering.  Afterall, our movement depends entirely on the even playing field that the internet provides.  Get rid of that and what are we?  Fight #datadarwinism.

Need a better explanation or more information?  Here is list of articles about the slow-lanes.

Time – FCC Votes to Move Forward on Internet ‘Fast Lane’

The Daily Tech – FCC’s New Fast Lanes, Slow Lanes Net “Neutrality” Plan Angers Everyone

Forbes – The Real ‘Slow Lane’ Threat to the Internet

Huffington Post – Fast Lane, Slow Lane — “No Lane” — End Game in Telecommunications


And add you voice to the support:


Open Media International – Say No To Internet Slow Lanes

Labzat on the Future of Gaming and GamerGate

GG_VJ

Editor’s Note:

The work that follows does not represent The Crotchety Old Gamer, but I felt that it would be relevant to share the ideas of other gamers from around the world. This is a translated text from Labzat: a Mexican gaming blog. I have been working with these guys to get my work translated into spanish and shared with a broader audioence; and in the spirit of #NotYourShield, I thought it would be interesting to see how gamers worldwide viewed this conflict. It is a little rough at times, but I feel like we share a lot of the same views regarding the situation. The following article has been edited for coherence by myself and translated by a natural Mexican spanish-speaker. Some things may have still gotten lost in translation.

La futura industria del videojuego

Its been a couple of weeks (or more depending on when you are reading this) since the beginning of the game industry’s social media revolution, known as #GamerGate. Many already know what this was about, but now that polemic has been diluted and all that energy of change has been expended on useless discussions. I want to analyze, from my perspective of a foreign gamer (cuz I’m not in the USA), what it means and what it could (or could not) mean for the industry.

The “corruption” of the videogame press

The firs topic within #GamerGate is the corruption of the press. Let me tell you this: I don’t think there is any sign of corruption, yes they are partial but it’s not the same as corrupt. When you write about videogames or any other topic, you always make relations, maybe of friendship or love. It doesn’t matter, the point is that you always have people that you prefer over others. Every media has an editorial preference for some kind of information. For example, my blog Labzat gives preference to discourse about the game industry in México, Spain, and Latin America because it’s my interest to promote the game development in these regions. If there is a private relation between a reporter and a game developer, nobody has to care about it, that is an element of their private life, and it’s hard to say that it interferes with work. Why is that? You could easily say a certain game is “the best,” but the readers have their own voices and opinions; so if you are not objective, they will simply stop believing you and you loose your readerbase. And trust me no body that survives by writing about videogames wants to lose readers.

Where I see a true conflict of interest is in the sponsorship the big companies provide to the videogame press; you won’t care about being impartial when your income is provided, not from the traffic on your page, but from contributions paid by Microsoft or Sony to promote their games. Then you go from being a serious analytic reporter to the slut PR of a company. This produces a decline in the quality of articles: the very short space the indie developers have to promote their projects and the rising of fanboy trolls who just reinforce the idea of gaming as an antisocial activity. Yep, what they blame the whole society for is just the product of their own system. Also, this monetization model sucks because it means indie developers need to pay for reviews to get substantial attention. A couple of times, I have heard rumors in the Mexican indie scene that you have to pay to get reviews. I’m not sure if it’s true and I’ve never seen it directly; but if it is true, we are killing small studios and a lot of new perspectives on the future of gaming.
To solve this, we need to band together as a community and create a new press structure for the highly specialized sector of the infinite universe that is gaming nowadays. The press should also find new ways to monetize in order to be more independent from big companies. Trust me, much more impartial is the site that relies on Google Adsense and ads from other sectors of the gaming world than those who are branded by big companies.

The immaturity of the community and their opinion leaders

Yes, it’s true. Some gamers are just immature, aggressive guys. But don’t forget that most of the games are created with the belief they will be played by a public of 15 to 25, and I feel very conservative about this fact. Unless American teenagers at one point expressed their inconformity and arguments in a clear and polite way (something I have never seen in my life), I think it common sense to expect aggressive reactions to critics discussing videogames they love to play. In fact, I know adults that still react in a violent way.

But I care as much about the visceral actions of the masses as I care for the immature and superfluous declarations of the opinion leaders in the game industry. You can’t be a public figure (as Phil, Anita and Zoe are public figures) and talk without thinking or studying themes like sexism & harassment in a completely serious way. When I read the Phil tweet that states something like “Gamers are the worst, you should nukem them,” I should just remind him of that German dictator who said “the Jews are white collar criminals, lets persecute them.” It might sound like a joke, but declarations like this grant it a whole new level of gravity. A lot of wars have been started because of harsh and careless words.

On the topic of speaking without thinking, Anita basically seems to claim that all games which represent women in a way she dislikes are misogynistic. She sounds like a religious leader who claims her religion as indisputable truth, then sends her followers to vanquish all other religions from the earth. She just says a lot of things then blames gaming, seeing only the surface of topics. I want to see what she thinks of Shakespeare. You know, the part where Othelo kills Desdemona with his bare hands? Or how about Lady Macbeth being the evil force behind all the tragedy of Macbeth? She attacks videogames because developers are nerds who read comics, nearly anonymous to their own audience. I doubt she’d expect a truly intellectual level of discussion, but learning she was artificial and contrived, a lot more voices would likely rise.
Both sides of #GamerGate have made mistakes, but I’m optimistic because I believe that eventually the voices of the trolls and pseudo-intellectuals will vanish while the other side of the community, those without the attitude of children, begin to participate more.

The incapacity of the industry to reach a new market

The videogame industry probably grown the most in recent years; In fact, I’ll bet it’s bigger than pornography. Just imagine that. But when we read articles of the videogame press, it seems that the major industry is always on crisis mode. Like Third World countries, they have a lot of wealth while they simultaneously have a lot of economic problems. Fortunately, it’s easier to understand what is happening in the videogame industry than what goes on in the Third World. The industry is growing up thanks to the new models of distribution and the accessibility to tools to develop games.

But the ones who reap the benefits of this growth are neither the studios, the pulishers nor the gamers. So who benefits? Easy. The digital store owners. They just created a new consumption and production model. A lot of developers produce a lot of games that get distributed at a very low prices because supply is much bigger than the demand. So the gamer gets a lot of games at very low cost or free. They’ll log maybe an hour of gameplay, then forget about them. At that point, gamers don’t play games, they just store them.

When the press writes articles stating “gamers are dead,” they are writing about the gamers who play games and give them the value of a book or a movie. The ones who play to improve their skills on Street Figther, to collects pokemon: the ones who play epic adventures and share it with their loved ones because it was significant to them. It’s sad to read that we have no value to the major press or major companies because we are too few in economic impact for them. But it gets worse! They blame us for their mistakes, for their incapacity to reach the new public that Google, Apple and Steam do! We are not the problem. The problem is yours for generating shity games and reviews. We used to pay more for the games when the games were well-developed and the story, music and graphics were respectively epic, when they cared to utilize the best of technology, give us the best mechanics and polish their code lines to a blinding sheen: When they cared about the game experience. And, yes, we would buy fewer games, but paid much more for them.

It’s fair to recognize, though, that not all the fault lies with the companies, but that it is also ours. We accepted the new system of gaming, of being treated like thieves. We support incomplete games, and never complain about the laziness of developers or the ambition of CEOs. We just sat and and let the industry turn into a bunch of FPS with sepia tones and puzzles F2P. Now what can we expect for the future? I think the industry will turn into two: the massive, fashionable games and the elite games for a very specific public: mimicking the modern film industry.

Rebuilding Our Culture : Where Do We Go From Here?

games

 

(As a reiteration from my first article) From the outset, I need to say that this article is in no way connected to any of the reporting outlets for which I produce material.  Everything published herein is a product of my independent reading and research on this topic, and can only be said to be connected to those who choose to support it.  I will present my findings as objectively as possible.  I was up until 3am last night just reading and reading and reading about this situation and I am no more decided on this than I was at the start.  I will only explore the arguments and each side’s standpoint so those who have no idea on what is going on can at least get a picture of what is going down on the internet.  Again, this is in no way connected to any Games Journalism site that I develop and produce content for outside of my own. (reiteration ends here)

It’s out there.  Our gaming industry is severely corrupt.  Which makes sense, really.  We’ve all been staring at it directly in its ugly face and shrugged with a desultory sigh at the massive tangled web in front of us.  Why should we do anything else?  We are mostly responsible for the way the industry is now, as gamers.  But with so many of them and so many hands holding up their world, how could anyone dare to do anything?  At that time, we were all just playing games and didn’t want to care about it.  Now the pillars of our own internet community have turned into cruel elder gods, lording their power and cackling maniacally.

As I did in my article earlier today, here is a list of the articles involved in the media blitz attempting to label me, my wife, all of my friends (physical and virtual) and the majority of people I have known as misogynistic men who want to rape and pillage everything good in gaming.  This is my revised list of sites I will no longer visit.

Gamasutra – ‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over

Gamasutra – A Guide to Ending “Gamers”

Ars Technica – The Death of the “Gamers” and the Women Who “Killed” Them

Dan Golding – The End of Gamers

Polygon – An Awful Week to Care About Video Games

Kotaku – We Might be Witnessing the Death of an Identity

The Mary Sue – A Disheartening Account of What is Going On In Games Right Now (And How Adam Baldwin Is Involved)

BetaBeat – Feminist Video Blogger is Driven From Home by Death Threats

Financial Post – Sexism, Misogyny and Online Attacks: It’s a Horrible Time to Consider Yourself a Gamer

Jezebel – Misogynistic Trolls Drive Feminist Video Game Critic From Her Home

The Daily Beast – It’s Dangerous To Go Alone: Why Are Gamers So Angry

The list grew, and so does my disdain.  It is readily apparent that the tag of “gamer” is under direct assault by the gaming press.  I do not support harassment, and engaging in it is disgusting.  Were it that those who harassed Anita and Zoe could be found, it would likely help in some small way.  Recently a bunch of devs and journalists (including myself) got together and signed a petition to speak out against harassment.  Good.  It was signed by all the same people whose journalistic integrity is being called into question.  Not as sure…  PC Gamer tried to pawn it off as being directed at Anita’s harassers, but it is not.  They are now under review for addition to my list.  The petition just says:

“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.”

But there is derision among devs themselves as to whether this is the solution or not.  While I am not inclined to throw out names, I will say that the discussion is on Twitter.  Go see for yourself.  Many who disagree with the “popular crowd’s” petition have been signing a petition by Boogie 2988 entitled Gaming Industry – Please Stop The Hate.  I have signed and fully endorse this petition.  Sign it if you are not a misogynistic neckbeard that squeals with rage when things don’t go your way and sends death/rape threats to people.  I know I’m not.  The complete text of this petition reads the same as that above, with this addendum:

“We are asking indie developers, AAA developers, and other folks to stop branding gamers as neckbearded, misogynistic, hatefueled, ignorant, homophobic, idiots. While hate exists in ALL demographics, gamers are no exception.  However like most demographics, most gamers are kind, open minded, good hearted and love our fellow gamers. Stop the hate.”

One thing that is increasingly interesting about this all is the fact that everyone has just accepted male power-fantasy games as the norm for games.  Sure, it is fun to spend a day killing dudes and have extreme social freedom, but that is not all there is to gaming.  At some point, after the thousandth charge in Day of Defeat, someone got bored and wished there was something else to play.  Something fresh, something new!  Maybe even something artistic, or dramatic or made them feel something about who they are.  Something more than just killing dudes.

I’ll admit it: When I was a pubescent boy vibrating with a frenzy of hormones, I soaked it up.  I loved conquering and enslaving cities, laying enemies low and collecting my share of babes and loot, scarcely differentiating between the two.  Some times it is still fun to indulge heroic fantasies, meting out justice to evildoers, but often I want more.  Sometimes I want to laugh out loud, or explore what it means to be human.

Just because I am 28, doesn’t mean I have to give up gaming, but it sure is time gaming grew up with the rest of us.  Considering the audience that games have catered to until now, it’s no wonder their uproarious caterwauling is visible across the internet, but the rest of us are pushing back.

A gamer is what I am, and I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of it.  I grew up playing video games and I have been on many adventures and military campaigns.  What I have experienced in games has always been something I take with me because I experience the story alongside the character.

Some years ago, there was a show called Battlestar Galactica based on an older show from the 80’s.  It was so poignant in its messages about culture and society that the actors were invited to speak to high school students at the UN.  While there, on of the actors, Edward James Olmos, said the following:

“You are what you eat, you are what you think and you are what you do.  If you use technology […] to pass the time and get caught up inside of the game world, then you’re going to be in a game world”

Now EJO was using this opportunity to pass on some archaic beliefs about games, and that is they’ll probably destroy your life.  But they cannot even start to understand just how right he was and in what manner.  Some of the ways I think about my job are in the sense of a game.  I sell products to get a higher score, if I sell several products at once it’s called a cross-sale bonus and if my team makes its goals, we get a payout as our loot.  Seriously, this is how I look at my regular job.  Of course, you have to make sure you do it right to suit the customer or you lose some of your hard-earned loot, so integrity is important.  In the occupation of games journalism, however, integrity has fallen by the wayside, and this is the reason for the backlash.

No words, Viv, I know.

No words, Viv, I know (Found on DeviantArt. Art by Ilikepieism)

Now the big issue is about what we do now that this ivory tower of gaming has erupted like a cesspool atop a live volcano.  Well, I would support a full upheaval of their system, since they are trying to destroy our culture.  And yes, they want it destroyed and, somehow, they will rebuild it atop the bones of gaming to be a little puppet that will do their bidding, bowing down to their every word.  That is not how it works.  As I have, please consider boycotting the sites listed above (Polygon, Kotaku, Ars Technica) and others that refuse to uphold the journalistic integrity they should stand by.  I don’t trust them anymore where once I loved them like my big brothers.  I am not just saying this because it might benefit me, I am saying it because we could hold new faces to this promise easier under the figurative piked heads of their predecessors.  Just putting this out there, though.  I consider myself to be a gamer, but I also think of myself as a hobby journalist.  I am not saying that ALL game journalists are a problem: just the one espousing hate and printing a storm of articles about how gamers are the devil, and gamers are over, etc.

Even Vivian James is coming under attack, and you know what?  I love her.  I am considering getting her tatooed on my arm because she doesn’t represent misogynistic assholes who want to see feminism fume over feminist support for their cause.  Vivian James, at this point, represents female gamers, the accountability of games journalists and, personally, my wife.  Hopefully my daughters will likewise love games like her, even though there is no way they’ll be ginger.  As a result, my wife agreed to dress up in her own version of Vivian’s customary garb and I took a picture of her.  Here is the picture.

I love her

Love my lady

She agreed to do this, not because I tricked or forced her into it, but because she loves games and thinks this whole thing is just stupid.  Not to mention she did a great job with it X D!  Vivian was accepted by The Fine Young Capitalists as a symbol of women in gaming, and here she is, my lady in gaming.  This is what Viv represents.  And she is just as confused by all this as I am.  This is not the story of sexism, it is a story about journalistic integrity.  The Fine Young Capitalists had to deal with their own horrifying ordeal at the hands of the popular crowd of games writers, and now they are almost at their goal of 70,000$ to make game development a reality for female gamers.  To create something that represents them in gaming and what they are capable of.  It is awesome.  Please support them on IndieGoGo, I know we did.  Adam Baldwin did, and he has nothing to do with games, really.  If you like TFYC and what they are doing, and your gamer girls do too, ask them to dress up like VivJ and tweet them with the tag #TFYVivians!

On Reddit, several threads have begun exposing instances of  corruption in games journalism.  There is one here.  Then there are also people on Reddit talking about how we should be taking this situation.  You can read that here.  Not sure that you know how you can contribute, or even how to discuss this situation?  Check out this video, here.  Even just talking about this and propagating about this discussion and what it is really all about will help keep it in the front and center of our culture.  Check out this article about the things you need to know for a thorough update if you aren’t sure!  Ours is a culture of diverse characters and stories, ours is a culture of inclusion and ours is a culture of tolerance.  It is time they learned that.  Just don’t do it in a way that will make #GamerGate look like a group of assholes and don’t do it in a way that is harassing and upsetting.  Most of us dealt with bullying throughout high school, like this guy says, so don’t start throwing it at people.  It sucks.

NYS-tweet

 

<update> One more way that I have been seeing people speaking out against this situation is through the use of #notyourshield.  Essentially, the above statement covers it.  Women and minorities have a voice in gaming.  Theirs is a strong voice that we want to hear.  Gamers accept and celebrate them because they have been here all along.  Games Journos just seem to have this idea in their heads that gamers are actually all just basement-dwelling neckbeards that feel entitled and special.  As a result of moral elitists using minorities and women as a crutch to hide the corruption in games journalism, men and women of all races are now using the hastag to call them out on their shit.  Check it out for yourself.  Seeing this response from gamers and the internet is beautiful.  We all game.  We all love to game.  It brings us together into something bigger than just ourselves, and gives is all a unified element of all our cultures that weaves us together like a tapestry.  Are you really going to fuck with that?  I will leave you with this image I found on the hastag.  It is awesome. </update>

hush

This is all evidence of video games growing up.  Video games are not just for young, adolescent boys, but something enjoyed by men and women of all ages.  My wife has Pokemon X in there.  Sometimes she plays Harvest Moon.  Sometimes she plays Farmville on her iPad.  And there are plenty of others, black people play games, hispanic people play games… anyone you can imagine these days has likely played a videogame.  This is why the gamer will never die: there are too many of us and our culture goes so far beyond just who talks about our games that we don’t need them.  They don’t define us, we define them.  When I heard Wil Wheaton speak at Pax East 2010, I loved him because he said games are an art.  But he also reminded us of one thing: Games don’t divide us, they unite us!  They are a force that brings this diverse group of people together and makes them all relevant to one another.  As a group we are now taking to the internet and saying that this is who we are.  So what if Vivian James was created by 4 Channers, some of which might deserve the flak from Gamasutra and others?  She is a symbol of hope, not hate.  Unlike what the games industry has shown toward us.  I just want to reiterate, not all games journalists are the problem.  There are plenty in the lot.  Just like with gamers, there are just a number of bad apples.  But in the case of major, culture-influencing journalists: there aren’t many good ones right now.  This is directed at them.  Thanks for reading this tirade.  It is, in most ways, a collective release of all my frustration over this.

There is Something Rotten in the State of Gaming

GJshitstorm

From the outset, I need to say that this article is in no way connected to any of the reporting outlets for which I produce material.  Everything published herein is a product of my independent reading and research on this topic, and can only be said to be connected to those who choose to support it.  I will present my findings as objectively as possible.  I was up until 3am last night just reading and reading and reading about this situation and I am no more decided on this than I was at the start.  I will only explore the arguments and each side’s standpoint so those who have no idea on what is going on can at least get a picture of what is going down on the internet.  Again, this is in no way connected to any Games Journalism site that I develop and produce content for outside of my own.

Figuring out where to start with this is difficult as even placing one argument above another in a list-type article could be construed as preferential.  However, since this is turning into a war between gamers and those reporting on the games we love, I will start with the gamers.  Hell, I am a gamer myself.  My biggest concern is the “Death of the Gamer” as it is being coined and the “Death of an Identity”.  On this topic I am a little upset, since I have always called myself a gamer.  I am.  I grew up playing video games and gaming has gotten me through some tough times.  I tried to walk away from it, but it is so key to the things I love that I couldn’t do it.  Across the past couple weeks, however, numerous games reporting sites have put up articles blatantly stating that the Gamer is dead.  I have filtered these through DoNotLink to avoid directing clicks to them.

‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience.  ‘Gamers’ are over. – Gamasutra

A Guide to Ending Gamers – Gamasutra

We Might be Witnessing the Death of an Identity – Kotaku

The Death of the “Gamers” and the Women Who “Killed” Them – Opposable Thumbs

The End of Gamers – Dan Golding

So we’re over?  That’s it?  Honestly this just seems like the most childish smear campaign ever.  Gamers will never be over.  As long as there are games, and people growing up playing them, gamers will be alive and well.  I love how they didn’t say the “death of misogyny in games” or “the cleansing of gamer culture”: They just outright attacked everyone that plays games.  It is disheartening, honestly.  I will no longer be granting these people ad revenue by directing links to their site, I will start using DoNotClick to send readers there without adding to their viewing statistics.

Now they make some valid points here.  Harassment is messed up for any reason.  If anything, people deserve to be allowed to keep some things to themselves, and their personal lives should be the big one.  So, I don’t care who it is, harassing people for any reason is insidious. If you are trying to destroy someone’s credibility, harassing them will only provide them with a wall of anger and hatred to champion a cause against.  This, in turn, only grants them a valid soapbox to stand on, especially if you end up having a serious effect in their real lives.

The most powerful accusations in this situation come from the gamers themselves, actually, and it seems to be the reason gamers are so incensed over this.  These accusations are pretty thoroughly summed up by the Internet Aristocrat, focusing primarily on Zoe Quinn.  When I first saw this guy’s video, I thought he was just another hate-mongering asshat with a silly wig; but seeing some of the evidence presented, he makes a compelling argument.  If any of what he says in his video is remotely correct, then there is definitely something really ugly hiding in games journalism.  Of course, the video also makes some leaps in logic, such as not wondering if the ZoePost Blog was entirely true and not just the rantings of a jilted ex.

Now he says a lot in there, including that Zoe Quinn has single-handedly been able to manipulate all of games journalism with the magic power of her vagina.  Now that is a tall order, but if something wasn’t true about the level of journalistic integrity being called into question, why would Kotaku and Polygon both alter their policies on Journalistic Transparency in response?

Another big name at the center of this controversy is the girl at the top left of the banner for this article.  Her name is Vivian James.  She is a character created by 4chan (note her hair adornment) to represent females in gaming.  She was adopted by The Fine Young Capitalists.  They are creating a Game Jam where female gamers submit game ideas and TFYC work with developers and artists.  These games are then sold and the proceeds go to charity.  The really bizarre thing here is that 4Chan is known for being a haven for those with anti-feminist and anti-inclusion beliefs.  VICE.com recently posted an article about Vivian where they actually defame Vivian as being created for the sole purpose of spiting feminists. I also find her initials mildly comical since they sound like a euphemistic term for a woman’s.. ehem.  You get the gist.  Personally, I like Vivian since she resembles my own wife, who plays 3DS, iPad games and loves Mountain Dew all whilst wearing hoodies.

Major internet games media has a lot to answer for, really, but if there is some element of journalistic integrity that needs to be called into question, it should be openly discussed and investigated.  Harassing people is always wrong, and my heart goes out to those that have suffered in the wake of this shitstorm, because it honestly is a shitstorm.  There are plenty of people, famous and small-time, who want to see this situation calm down and seek to peacefully support progress in the direction of an inclusive gamer culture.  Support The Fine Young Capitalists and their IndieGoGo Campaign. Contact people and tell them it is time for transparency and serious discussion about inclusive gamer culture.  But don’t let the raging flame war continue, because it is hindering progress.  I know that I will no longer be reading Kotaku, RPS, Polygon and others since I no longer know who I will be able to trust.

Some things that have come out of this, however are good.  First, The Fine Young Capitalists are at 71% of their goal.  Second, girls in gaming now have a character, albeit fabricated by 4Channers, that represents them.  Honestly, someone should inspire them to make characters representing various faces contributing to gamer culture and turn it into a webshow.  There is also a petition being signed by developers, gamers, social media outlets and others that calls for combating internet harassment.  I don’t need to tell you that is a good thing, but as long as it is enforced equally there shouldn’t be a problem.  PC Gamer tried to say it was signed to support Anita Sarkeesian, but the letter itself just states:

“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.”

And they are right.  I would have signed this thing myself, but it was closed by the time I found it. (UPDATE: it has come to my attention that I did, in fact, sign this petition.  While some have said it might be a petition of the “major people” involved, the message is still one I wholly endorse. I remember sending my name in, but I also thought I was too late and not important enough anyways. My thanks to Vlak for the ) Finally, and most importantly, people are calling for gaming journalists to be held accountable for their actions.  To this measure, I will share with readers the games and campaigns that I have supported via Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.  Some I have already openly mentioned my contributions to, others not so much.  Either way, here they all are:

Elysian Shadows – I funded them worth 50$ and wrote an article about their game.

Goblin Quest – I funded them worth about 50$, but it is based in the UK, so I really gave them 30£.  I haven’t written an article on the tabletop yet, but I am considering doing so once I get my hardback copy of the book.

Beguile – I funded them worth 59$, which was about 65$ Canadian after shipping outside Canada and exchange rates applied.

Redneck Assassin – I funded them worth 15$ since I was really poor at the time.  I haven’t reviewed the game, but I plan to once it is finished.

The Fine Young Capitalists – I funded them worth 25$ and haven’t done an article on them.  I probably won’t write an article, but I think what they are trying to do is noble and pretty freaking cool.

I don’t think there is a problem with supporting campaigns that I like, especially when they’ve made so much already that my contribution is just a drop in the bucket.  From now on I will be posting how much I have contributed and whether I have a plan to do so, but sometimes it is just a spur-of-the-moment decision. And that is honestly it.  This is really all that I have to say about this topic for now, so hopefully it has been informative and gives readers that are still confused about this situation an idea of the arguments on both sides.  There will be more to come, including my own strong-armed opinions, but for now, objective discussion.  As per usual, I will be creating a topic to discuss the situation on my Steam group, Crotchety Gamers United.