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What Male Game Developers Think of #GamerGate

The Escapist Staff | 10 Oct 2014 12:30
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Editor's Note: We have deleted the timeline originally presented in this article to avoid editorial opinion as much as possible. The goal of this introduction was to present some context behind these interviews, not to comment on the issues presented. We have also updated the title (the art is being updated at the moment) to "What Male Game Developers Think of #Gamergate" and encourage you to read the companion piece "Female Game Developers Make Statements on GamerGate, which was presented separately and anonymously at the request of those developers. (Exception: Crowned Daemon Studios includes both genders but is grouped with this list.) The goal was to offer game developers of all kinds a chance to have their voices be heard. If you're interested in the official stance of The Escapist, you may read these editorials.

Editor's Note #2: We have removed the testimony of Slade Villena, known as RogueStar, after we've received evidence that he has harassed some contributors to The Escapist. Due to our strong policy against all harassment and abuse, Villena's opinions will no longer be presented alongside those of his colleagues.

Editor's Note #3: We have removed the testimony of James Desborough, after we've received evidence that he has harassed some contributors to The Escapist. Due to our strong policy against all harassment and abuse, Desborough's opinions will no longer be presented alongside those of his colleagues.

Editor's Note #4: The Escapist removed the interviews of Slade Villena and James Desborough due to complaints (accompanied by what appears to be actual evidence) that Messrs. Villena and Desborough have harassed members of the online community, including certain of our contributors. While we cannot speak to the legitimacy of such of complaints, due to our strong policy prohibiting harassment and abuse we thought it best to simply remove the interviews.

All responses are the work of the interviewees, and have been edited by the Escapist solely for length and to remove identifiable information. As previously noted, such responses may not represent the opinions of The Escapist or its staff.

Largely left unheard in these fraught times has been the perspective of the game development community. Since the start of #GamerGate, The Escapist has collected statements from more than two dozen game developers. We published the first portion of these in our earlier piece, and are publishing the remainder today.

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As the creators of the videogames that gamers play and journalists cover, game developers need good relationships with both segments and have every incentive to persuade all parties to communicate in a civil manner. Nevertheless, as you will see, the game developers we spoke to had strong, complex, and often opposed viewpoints.

Note that these interviews were collected over a series of several weeks. While many of the developers answered a standard set of questions over email, some of them insisted that we speak on the phone in dialogue; others only answered a sub-set, or offered essays, or provided additional or alternative questions that they wished to answer. In a few cases we submitted follow-up questions because some answers seemed to provoke interesting responses. Where necessary, the questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length, and in some cases, to avoid identifiable material where anonymity was requested or for legal reasons.

We are presenting these interviews in full because we found the sheer amount of testimony to be extremely valuable. Doing so also prevents any semblance or perception of an editorial bias, which many allege is at the heart of the controversy. The voices and opinions of the game developers below are as varied as the voices we hear everywhere in the world.

Brad Wardell
"In my opinion, the root cause [of GamerGate] is a frustration from having a group of people which doesn't really care about games and knows little about them, showing up in forums and in social media making ignorant, inflammatory statements about people who make and play games." More

Greg Costikyan
"It [GamerGate] is about a kind of reactionary conservatism: a desire to preserve games 'as they are,' lacking any knowledge that games 'as they are' is a temporary historical moment, and the games were not 'as they are' as little as fifteen years ago, and will not be 'as they are' fifteen years from now.." More

"There was never 'integrity' in games journalism... and there never will be 'integrity' in games journalism. Think of the gaming website that you view as having the most integrity, and I'll guarantee you that somebody, at some point, has bought favorable coverage from them in the past." More

Crowned Daemon Studios
"The lack of willingness among journalists to investigate potential conflicts of interest was the catalyst [of GamerGate]. The fact that a lot of cultural elements influence the discussion gives it the semblance of a culture war." More

James Covenant
"I think GamerGate is part of a larger cultural issue. We have a tendency to take responsibility for the harmful actions of other people. We can't afford to do that. If we focus too much on the negative things that other people do, without any thought of the good things that we are doing, we will bring down the entire culture." More

"The gaming press attracts a certain type of person... you go to a lot of parties on other people's dime, you rub noses with people who make million-dollar games, and you have the power to say good or bad things about other people's work-there's a certain amount of hubris that comes with that." More

Daniel Vávra
"The root cause of Gamer Gate [is that] people had enough of those hypocrites that started to inject their ideology everywhere... And the fact that the only reactions from them is pretending that nothing happened, or accusing millions of people of misogyny, or comparing them to ISIS, proves that something is terribly wrong." More



Dave Rickey
"[GamerGate] has become a proxy fight for the larger "Culture War".... Neither really has any regard for games and gamer culture. Both sides would be willing to leave a smoking crater in the cultural landscape labeled "Games", and they would not feel that anything of value had been lost." More

Kyle McConaughey
"This whole mess started when media publications called all of us gamers 'misogynist nerds.' We have been called terrorist 'worse than ISIS,' and journalists like Leigh Alexander have been threatening to blacklist Independent developers that are speaking out." More

Tadhg Kelly
GamerGate declares itself to be a movement about journalistic integrity and not-your-shielding, about a perceived leftist takeover of the industry. GamerGate is actually an extreme rightist reaction to an imaginary enemy." More

"Damion Schubert"
"The hateful revenge porn of a jilted ex-boyfriend was the spark [of GamerGate], and the raft of 'Gamers are dead' articles was the gasoline. I think that some people THINK it's a culture war, and I think that some people are definitely trying to make it one." More

"One side [of GamerGate] is saying 'there is misogyny, and it is bad,' and the other side is saying 'we have ethical concerns about the state of games journalism, and what we perceive as a rising culture of reverse discrimination and intolerance'." More

"I've personally been against the phenomena of 'social justice warriors', as well as the path certain gaming publications have taken in recent years (more and more discussions on morals, feminism, misogyny and other non-game related issues, and less talk about actual games and the industry)." More

"[GamerGate has] been building for a while, as the press placed by publishers to regurgitate PR and marketing don't represent the majority of gamers. What's more the press also tend to look down on gamers as well as exhibit a level of self-loathing over gaming itself (likely on account of the lack of social status gaming has in the West)." More

"The issue of journalists and nepotism was the catalyst; but what it revealed, particularly OF gaming publications, feels much more cultural. And that's what's so scary. I think that people who play games are afraid of a game censorship revisitation...by citizens (or people within the industry) who are socially self-righteous and umbrageous." More

The Escapist would like to thank all of the game developers who provided statements to us. Game developers already have little time and lots of online criticism, so their willingness to spend so much time answering questions and offering their opinions on this matter merits respect, regardless of your agreement or disagreement with their position.

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