GamerGate Interviews
Daniel Vavra GamerGate Interview

The Escapist Staff | 10 Oct 2014 16:30
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Daniel Vávra is a Czech video game writer, director, designer and co-founder of Warhorse Studios. He is best known for being the author of Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. As of 2011, he works on role-playing game Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Follow him on Twitter @DanielVavra. We interviewed Mr. Vávra over email.

When somebody calls people ugly neckbeard virgin nerds or terrorists, he shouldn't be surprised by rude response. It's the same as going to church during a mass and screaming that God doesn't exist at people.

What is your definition of "gamer"?

According Encyclopedia Britannica it's "a person who regularly plays games and especially video or computer games." I am ok with that. But while I am not saying that match-three games are bad, playing them over breakfast doesn't make anyone a gamer. It's silly that the same journalists who insist on calling people playing such casual games 'gamers' are not reviewing those games in their gaming magazines. The line between a "true" game and "casual" game is thin, but I guess that everyone can see the difference between somebody who owns several consoles and plays very often and somebody who plays Bejeweled on his way to work. Those people aren't the same and the games for them are produced by different industries. I felt very uncomfortable when all the magazines started to write about all those success stories of Farmville and other cash cows and pretended that it's the same industry as the one I am in, only because they made lot of money. It was disgusting when everyone started to claim that free-to-play and casual games are the future. Farmville is much closer to slot machines than to the games I am making and traditional hardcore games are far from dead.

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

Yes. I don't need to attract everyone. I am making it for myself and people who have similar taste. I am perfectly ok if someone doesn't like it. He can make games that would fit his tastes or buy something else.

Do you think gamer culture 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").

No. I only think that part of the audience is very young and these teenagers tend to be a bit ruder than adults. I believe that when it happens, they need to be educated or ignored. The worst thing you can do is to threaten, criminalize or patronize them, because that will make things even worse. Just like with all this harassment. When somebody calls people ugly neckbeard virgin nerds or terrorists, he shouldn't be surprised by rude response. It's the same as going to church during a mass and screaming that God doesn't exist at people. What do you think would happen?

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

Its total bullshit. Seriously. And it's pathetic when it's written by somebody who was drunk on live stream in front of those kids she calls dead, who pretends to be cultural critic and editor, but who also owns PR agency, and who is never short on F bombs when talking with people who disagree with her. I also hate the tone of it. The whole piece is written not as an opinion, or something to discuss, it's written as something authoritative that can't be questioned. I don't like that attitude at all. I don't like people who are forcing their opinions on others in this way. And I am not planning to settle some truce with such people unless they change their attitude. Their behavior is unacceptable.

I am not planning to settle some truce with such people unless they change their attitude. Their behavior is unacceptable.

What is the root cause of GamerGate? Do you see it as part of a larger "culture war"?

Over the last decade, media were taken over by people who think that their ideals, opinions and way of life are superior to others and so they have the mission to tell others how to live, what to think and what to do. Those people have learned that there is a very easy way of manipulating others with guilt and fake goodwill. They will tell you that you should be ashamed, because you are privileged. You are white, you are healthy, you are rich and it's your fault that there are others who are not as lucky as you. So you must redeem those crimes by doing what those social justice warriors think will please those who are not privileged enough. And if you don't, they will jump on you and give you a hard time. Nobody wants to be called sexist, misogynistic, rape culture supporter, and everybody kind of agrees that it's great to help people who were not as lucky as them, so for some time this works.

Over the last decade, media were taken over by people who think that their ideals, opinions and way of life are superior to others and so they have the mission to tell others how to live, what to think and what to do.

The problem is that this is not enough. At the same time, these people persuade those that are not so lucky that they are victims. They make enemies out of people. They ostracize different opinions. They usually speak in the name of others. A white male journalist from a magazine that employs only white males calls gaming company sexist and racist for not having enough black female developers. People who have no qualifications at all to get a job are making loud claims that it's because their gender, sexuality or beliefs, while the truth is that they are not able to code, write or make art. Nobody dares to say the truth to them. Everybody feels kind of sorry for them and nobody wants to be called names.

This whole concept of victimhood is bullshit. I grew up in a communist country without the freedom of speech, without comic books, without Lego, without videogames, without computers, without American movies. I couldn't even learn English at school. All this was considered to be capitalist evil and prohibited. You could hardly call me privileged. And you know what? I never blamed Americans for being luckier than me. I never wanted them to give me anything for free. I wanted to be like them! And here I am, making games, doing the stuff I always wanted. I never felt the need to blame anyone.

And that is the root cause of Gamer Gate. People had enough of those hypocrites that started to inject their ideology everywhere while they do exactly the opposite of what they preach to others. 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. Their "official" story about how the whole GamerGate started is one big lie that is repeated over and over by ignorants who want to tell the world their opinion without even trying or pretending that they investigated how it's started and what it is. It's not a 4chan misogynistic conspiracy. That is one big ad hominem attack: If you don't have arguments, accuse your opponent with the worst thing you can imagine. Some of those people should see a doctor.

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