Scion runs an iOS development company. He has developed various mobile titles, including well-known titles, and his published work on mobile web apps has been read by more than 500,000 readers. We interviewed Scion over email.
Briefly stated, what is your opinion of GamerGate?
I don't talk publicly about GG because I'm concerned about the fallout. In spite of the fact that I run a fairly-well-trafficked (for programming nerds, anyway) blog, and in spite of the fact that I regularly print that certain programmers might be on crack and similar hyperbolic rhetoric, I don't publicly touch this issue with a ten-foot pole.
In reality I'd like to think I have an open mind about the whole situation. There are two sides to this story, and I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. And that is a view that manages to piss everybody off.
I'm far enough on the outside that the damage to me would probably be minimal, but on the other hand there is no upside and unlimited downside.
Have you ever been subjected to criticism of misogyny, racism, or similar because of your work in the industry?
Yes. On many occasions.
In one situation I posted to a technical mailing list using the word "dumb." It was in a completely ordinary context, something like "this might be a dumb question, but I was wondering..."
At best I get positive press from sites that routinely insult my audience, and what is that worth? At worst these sites come after me with a hatchet. Either way I lose.
I got back a lecture about how this was ableist, with a link to various reading material on the subject. I decided not to reply, but nobody else did either, so I'm still not sure if the group as a whole thought I was a bad guy for my use of the word or whether it was just the one person.
I regularly get flack on my blog for using male-gendered pronouns to refer to hypothetical software engineers. My position is that in a male-dominated field, these pronouns are accurate, and when the situation calls for the use of a pronoun, I will choose the one that reflects the reality I live in, not the reality I would like. I would get a ton of blowback if I said that in public. It's not that I oppose women in the field - quite the opposite really - I just think editing the pronouns in a blogpost doesn't hire one single woman programmer.
I've also expressed (anonymously) my opposition to the Outreach Program for Women on the basis that it has caused serious financial problems for the GNOME project and that view was not well-received. Again I'm not against inclusion - I've actually blogged in favor of it many times. But the political climate here is such that criticisms of projects that allegedly help certain groups are invalid no matter what kind of criticism is leveled.
Are there particular articles, journalists, sites, or communities that cause you more concern?
From what I can tell, Kotaku, NeoGAF, and Gamasutra are the worst. Gamasutra is unfortunate particularly because they are supposed to be a blog for game developers themselves. I've read a lot of articles there over the years. It's really too bad.
As a developer I wouldn't talk to these sites. Not so much from the political perspective - again I'm trying to keep an open mind about this whole thing - but just on the basis that they write really inflammatory pieces, deriding gamers as man-children, etc. If they are willing to do that to their audience, they'll do much worse to me. At best I get positive press from sites that routinely insult my audience, and what is that worth? At worst these sites come after me with a hatchet. Either way I lose.
When you have actual senior editors saying things like "I will end you" that is a serious WTF. The fact that the institutions these journalists work for don't immediately walk those statements back when they're sober the next morning is a second WTF.
Some other developers have reported that #GamerGate is a situation that has been brewing for years. Do you agree?
Sort of - I think game journalism sites have been insulting gamers for a long time, and things are kind of simmering over. On the other side I think game journalism has never been really stellar. But in my view that's no excuse. It's still a bug, not a feature, and the criticism isn't invalid because it's just now being raised.
When did the distrust begin?
I don't think there has ever been a whole lot of trust between the likes of Kotaku, etc., and gamers. But things have really gone downhill lately. It was a long fall from "distrust" to "let's call your advertisers and get them to pull ads."
What are the primary concerns that developers have, vis a vis the game press? Vis a vis gamers?
To be honest, I just want to program. I don't want to be a pawn in somebody's political war. I feel like everything is being analyzed right now in terms of how well it aligns with Anita or 4chan.
I occasionally toy with the idea of doing indie stuff under my own brand. But I definitely wouldn't do it in this climate. You make one wrong move and you've cut your audience along political lines. I just want to make cool things.