GamerGate Interviews
"Oakheart" GamerGate Interview

The Escapist Staff | 10 Oct 2014 12:30
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What is the root cause of GamerGate? Do you see it as part of a larger "culture war"?

Impossible question. Root cause in what time frame? I mean, do you want to go back to the establishment of what feminists will call the 'Patriarchy' in western society, in which case we're talking about Ancient Greece?
Or do you mean the triggering event, which is mostly the ZQ affair, but even that is an overbroad generalization.

I do see this as part of a larger 'culture war', in the sense that I perceive the SJW to be engaged in unceasing war on the rest of the established and tested society that does not meet their Vision.

The triggering event for the misogynists was the perception that a woman was vulnerable to attack for the (alleged) sin of being (extremely) morally deficient.

The triggering event for the SJW were the claims of ZQ for the alleged threats against her.

Aside: I say 'alleged' here only in reference to the first few hours of threats, before the whole thing exploded, of which no evidence was offered, and could plausibly have been an attention deflecting gambit. A brief web search of 'noose hate hoaxes' yields voluminous examples of cases where substantially worse allegations were made in substantially more serious circumstances that were eventually revealed unambiguously as hoaxes with full confessions by the perpetrators, in order to deflect attention from themselves or 'generate discussion'. Subsequent threats, of course, are both clearly evident and abominable.

The triggering event for free speech libertarians was ZQ's silencing of critics on YouTube.

I could go on, and, of course, and even these events and categories are over generalizations. I do see this as part of a larger 'culture war', in the sense that I perceive the SJW to be engaged in unceasing war on the rest of the established and tested society that does not meet their Vision.

There are individual elements in society, including every single individual that made a rape or death threat, that are abominable and detestable. However, I draw a sharp distinction between the acts of individuals and the mores of society, particularly when such behavior is already clearly and unambiguously a crime from all three sides - moral, legal, social.

Do you feel there is corruption among the game press? If so, is it primarily mercenary corruption (pay to get a good review) or primarily ideological corruption (toe the party line to get a good review), or a mix, or something else?

Less 'corrupt' and more 'incestuous'. The gaming press and game developers have very strong leverage over each other but always at different times. Before a game is released, the developer has all the leverage. After a game is released, unless the studio is a powerhouse with large potential future ad revenues and known upcoming releases, the press has all of the leverage.

To think that somehow this wouldn't lead to some tacit cooperation... previews are always glowingly positive, competition to get magazine covers around release (back in the day when people still read magazines) was always fierce and included all sorts of underhanded bribes and kickbacks, both monetary and other.
This is distinctly different from, for example, press covering politicians, in that the time between releases and announces is so very long, frequently 2-3 years or longer, as opposed to with politicians, who tend to be voting on and crafting multiple pieces of legislation at the same time.

What are the primary concerns that developers have, vis a vis the game press?

Most developers (as opposed to publishers) have, in their contract, substantial financial stakes that are indexed against their aggregate MetaCritic score. When I say "substantial", I mean that most literally; if the product scores better than an 80 aggregate, the developer gets enough money to stay in business and not lay everyone off. If it falls below that, it doesn't, and everyone loses their job.

To say that this creates an incentive to do whatever it takes to get that 80 is an understatement.

What are the primary concerns that developers have, vis a vis gamers?

Honestly, this depends a lot on the game in question. If we're talking a freemium game, then the answer might be, and I quote, "they're irrelevant". This is because the most successful freemium games, I have been told personally by the company president, care exclusively about the top 10% of monetizers.

For most of us, we want them to like us, or at least respect us since, y'know, that helps us keep our jobs. Ultimately, if you work in games, you are a gamer, so this is how you feel about yourself.

I believe GamerGate is a situation that has been brewing for years. Do you agree? If so, when did the situation begin brewing?

If by "for years", you mean since the dawn of human cognition, then yes. But, more narrowly, I do not believe that this event represents a fundamentally new thing; it is simply that games have grown large enough, with enough people caring, with enough money and emotions and attention and the potential for additional fame and notoriety and speaking engagements and interviews (cough) and discussions at universities that it has finally, inevitably, flared up.

Please note that nothing in this perspective is in any way limited to 'games culture'.

Are you or developers you know changing their interactions with gamers or press as a result of GamerGate?

I am not and not claiming that I am. Others in the industry are claiming that they are, but are not (as near as I can tell) actually doing anything different.

gamergate oak 3x3

If you have concerns with the press, what could the press do to improve relations with you?

I would love it if the press could ask more questions and provide more information on the craft and the industry, as opposed to focusing exclusively on the product. That would give us more things to talk about and them more things for them to write about. Given the popularity of the 'post mortem' articles at Gamasutra / Game Developer magazine, it is my impression that people find this sort of thing interesting.

If you have concerns with gamers, what could gamers do to improve relations with you?

Depending on how you look at it, either 'nothing' or 'they're already doing it.' Most commentary on forums is useless. Occasionally, there will be a gem. Thoughtful analysis, even if it's incorrect, is still welcome and a joy to read. Frequently, the incorrect ones are more useful than the (admittedly more gratifying) accurate ones, since a thoughtful person making a mistake is usually a sign that we didn't convey information well enough, or didn't live up to the desired ideal.

The negative and hateful comments, well, one just needs to learn to breeze past them and filter them out. There's no point in saying things like "it would be great if gamers would educate themselves more" since, first, there simply isn't any such thing as fixed point truths in games, and two, as they stick with the hobby they generally do learn more. The problem is that the people who know very little but say very much will always outnumber them.

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