GamerGate Interviews
"Oakheart" GamerGate Interview

The Escapist Staff | 10 Oct 2014 16:30
GamerGate Interviews - RSS 2.0

Oakheart is a developer with 19 years of experience working at AAA game studios. The Escapist was privately provided with evidence that confirms Oakheart's biography. We interviewed Oakheart over email.

What is your definition of "gamer"?

I find the most self-evident explanation, 'someone who plays games' to be so broad as to be useless. As such, I prefer to think in terms of 'games enthusiast', someone that plays games on a regular basis and joins in discussing games, reads pieces of 'games journalism' and sometimes contemplates the design, structure, art, merits and defects of games.

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Do you make games for gamers? (I'm using "gamer" here to mean "core game enthusiast")

Yes.

Do you think gamer culture is more toxic than other enthusiast cultures on the web (political enthusiasts, fashion enthusiasts, car enthusiasts, gun enthusiasts, etc.)? (I'm using "gamer" here to mean "core game enthusiast").

Per capita, or in toto? There are more games enthusiasts than there are, for example, stamp collectors, and fewer than football enthusiasts.

I think that small groups have the capacity for intensely toxic behavior; every real world political body, from the small town City Council to our Federal Congress has deep seated rivalries that fester over years between opposed peers in what are otherwise small, tight knit communities, including factionalism, power brokering, and extremely personal infighting.

I think online games uniquely facilitate impersonal toxicity, but even that is an over simplification. I would offer up the people who participate in the forums at BoardGameGeek, who are absurdly welcoming, kind, and nigh puppy-like in their eagerness to make friends and talk about the games they love as an exhibit against the idea of gamers as toxic.

I think gaming is a big enough hobby that it is inevitable that pits of Highly Concentrated Evil (Call of Duty on Xbox Live) form and grow. I reject categorically that gamers are, on average, per capita, 'more toxic' than any other arbitrary collection of humans that are not gathered explicitly to propagate a Vision or moral code (i.e. the Khmer Rouge).

What is your reaction to this sentiment, expressed in Gamasutra: "Gamers are over. That's why they're so mad."

Any writer arrogant and conceited enough to make such a statement should find their career, or at least relevance, to be over. Lots of people have made X is over, or "end of history" statements over the years, including from directly opposing positions (such as Marx and Fukuyama*). World War One was dubbed "The War to End All Wars". Typically, such statements are followed by events in the real world demonstrating the utter conceit and stupidity of those statements.

*In fairness to Fukuyama, his position was rather more humble and less declaratory than Marx's silliness; this is rather obviously demonstrated by the simple fact that "The End of History?" features a question mark in the title.

I consider the behavior of the 'SJW' to be highly troubling, since they are not random, foul mouthed bottom feeders, but rather, they have an agenda and a sense of moral righteousness built on faulty premises and the imposition of vile standards and methodologies.

Briefly stated, what is your opinion of GamerGate?

Shortest Summary: there are two camps that are, largely, talking right past each other about different topics. Loosely stated, one side 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". On neither side is the majority actually, directly, addressing the other, or directly contradicting the other. I've not seen anyone on the 'GamerGate Side' claim to be in favor of threats and misogyny. I've not seen anyone on the 'SJW' side deny that they want to impose change on the culture, or claim that games journalism as it exists now is health and robust. Since they're not actually talking to each other, they just keep shouting louder and louder.

Extended Notes: I believe that when a game creator publicly espouses a moral position, and embeds that moral position into their work, and into their self-promotion while speaking in their professional identity, then the possible hypocrisy of that creator is news worthy. (If a person adopts a nom de plume for their creative works, and intentionally keeps a separation between that life and their personal life, then by definition anything said under the tag of the nom de plume is said while speaking in a professional capacity, or at the least while attempting to use their professional image as a signal boost, which I count as the same thing. Such a separation is not, in and of itself, problematic; it can be both practical and honorable. It is not, however, a shield or defense against gross moral hypocrisy)

Regarding 4chan et. al, The demonstrated hate and misogyny of some of their members reflects very poorly on those members, is without moral defense, and undeserving of support. It is unfortunate that they do not have more social pressures within their own membership to make it clear that such behavior is unacceptable and that its purveyors are unwelcome.

However, those moral failures in no way validate the calls for censorship or the restrictions of free speech and creation. Further, those failures are beside the point and completely irrelevant to the issues of journalistic ethics, transparency, and attempted broad scale smearing that have arisen towards 'gamers'.

In this vein, I consider the behavior of the 'SJW' to be highly troubling, since they are not random, foul mouthed bottom feeders, but rather, they have an agenda and a sense of moral righteousness built on faulty premises and the imposition of vile standards and methodologies.

Because they believe they wear the Mantle of Moral Superiority, they believe they have the right to declare who and is not virtuous and to speak for anyone that they see as being 'marginalized', whether or not the people they deign to speak for agree with anything they say.

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