I don’t recall ever being told when I was six or so that girls couldn’t play video games. My parents didn’t really play video games, despite introducing me to the NES then. The most my mother ever played was Tetris. My sister played a little, but by the time she got to middle and high school, her focuses predictably shifted to the sort of things girls that age worry about. I’ll give you a hint, it was not exploring caves as a busty tomb explorer.

But if you believe gaming journalism today, women are always and forever repressed by a male-dominated industry, and are unable to replicate the same type of success to their games that their male counterparts enjoy. Now, I cannot refute this claim, because the base of that statement most certainly stands true, as it does with almost any other industry or professional workplace environment. Minority and civil rights has done quite a bit over the course of the last fifty years to change the way we deal with these sorts of things in a civil society. The difficult part of that transition though, is getting everyone on the same page. Like it or not, but the majority of this country is populated by stodgy old-types who prefer “the good ol’ days” when simplicity meant segregated bathrooms. People fear change, and they fear others encroaching on their beliefs and freedoms, being unable to separate them from respecting the beliefs and freedoms of others. America is the melting pot of a multi-cultural society that on paper demonstrates a truly unified society, but the sad reality is that despite all of us living under one umbrella, we still separate ourselves into different baskets. Why does a city need a “Little Italy” or “Chinatown” if everyone is functionally the same?

But when I read things like this, the “Quinnspiracy”, it really makes me truly sad that a lot of people are blinded by ME TOO copycat behavior fostered by the social media age of the internet. The reason we seemingly allow ourselves to get caught up in this euphoric sense of entitlement about our hobby is that we have people telling us that if we don’t subscribe to the social theory of the month by The Popular Gaming Site, or Super Cool Guy A and Super Cool Girl B, or even Super Famous Webcomic, that we’re monolithic pig-faced disgusting manbeasts who are socially inept and three-hundred years backwards because we don’t agree with their views. It is implied then that we automatically hate women, piss on minorities, hate Israel, and fifteen other tangentially unrelated things because we don’t bow and kiss the feet of our social internet gods. Furthermore, the people who choose to stand up and take a stand, get heckled and chased off by apologists for these people who are either brainwashed into their agenda, or fans of their work who believe they can do no wrong.

Now there are three components to this mess, her personal life, her professional life, and the community response to the compromise of both. I do have a few thoughts about her personal and professional life, but they aren’t particularly relevant to this, so I’ll get to that last.

The Community Response

Or to be more precise, the lack of response.
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This entire debacle revolves around Quinn’s indie game on Steam Greenlight, Depression Quest. Having not seen the game personally, I cannot tell you what it is about, but from what I gather, it is about depression. It’s a text adventure, and likely invokes a similar theme to Christine Love’s Analogue: A Hate Story. I’ve played Analogue, and as it turns out, you might have known this:

I don’t want to spoil the plot for you, it’s very well put together and very well written. I can tell you that the story deals in a largely patriarchal culture formed by the people aboard the ship prior to their doom that emulates the medieval Joseon Dynasty of Korea. Much of the logs chronicle three families centered around the highest of power among the ship’s denizens and their lives and struggles within. It touches a variety of topics, from love, to betrayal, family, social graces, customs, homosexuality, and transhumanism, among others.

Now, if people want me to play this game and compare the two, I’ll entertain the notion, but I have a feeling Love’s version of telling a social justice story will be better executed with better gameplay. But there will be those who will say a visual novel is not a game, that it is just a visual novel, you read, and you interact with it on some level. I call that a game, so for the purposes of this, we will refer to DQ as a game as well. A game submitted through Greenlight requires votes to be put into consideration for release. The allegations that she used hoax attacks against her by Wizardchan and other websites, and slept with certain journalists in exchange for favorable reviews, should be seen as acts done in order to get this game approved in Greenlight. Any responsible news outlet should be picking this story up, and investigating the facts. Facts can be skewed, altered, and manipulated to suit any purpose. One of the sad byproducts of internet journalism is that it borrowed a page from old news in that since it is the internet, everything contained on it must be true. Where one before the internet had to conduct an in-person interview or phone call to get all sides of the story, we accept Tumblr posts and Twitter conversations at face value, regardless of their content. We jump to conclusions and immediately slander the alleged attacker(s) based on conjecture and hearsay. More commonly, however, we sling armchair theories and shot-from-the-hip insults towards anyone who disagrees with the common sentiment.

What makes it difficult to separate the layers is that most “games journalism” really isn’t journalism. We’ve used a blanket word to describe people who write for magazines and websites about video games purporting they are respected experts on gaming who approach each review and article with an impartial hand, including not taking any kickbacks from publishers, developers, or other corporate entitles. This might have had more weight in the nineties and early 2000s, but as soon as social media boomed and gaming websites and blogs sprang by the hundreds, anyone could become a video game critic or reviewer. Having connections, making inroads, and taking kickbacks became part of the game for freelancers and even hired hands to gain notoriety in the field. I doubt GiantBomb would be here today had it not been for the fallout from Jeff Gerstmann and Gamespot over his review that Eidos pressured the company to dismiss him over. It’s acts like this that should be seen as faith that some people still respect journalistic integrity. This ties in to my qualms over her professional life later.

But my not being anywhere near this scene, I cannot really put words to this. So instead I’d like to comment on TotalBiscuit’s piece that was censored on Reddit.

Games journalism as a whole has a massive nepotism problem, encouraged by the publishers and developers and actively partaken in by many outlets. There are plenty who don’t, whether they be independent Youtube channels or important websites like Giantbomb, who made the decision not to review Bastion due to their connections with Greg Kasavin. Maintaining your independence or at the very least being completely honest about your relationship with the developer is paramount to maintaining the trust of your audience. So much shit goes on behind the scenes, more than you could ever possibly know about. I personally find things like industry parties thrown by devs and attended by the media, enthusiast press or otherwise to be a waste of money and time but more importantly an element that horribly muddies the waters in our line of work. It’s one thing to be more willing to provide coverage because you happen to know a developer, it’s quite another to not disclose that and then create a favorable review of a product, whether it be the final product or repeated pushes to the greenlight page. Transparency in all things is important. People are going to have friends in the industry, that’s natural. They are also going to try and help them when they can, they just need to be straight up about it and be very careful about keeping their bias in check.

Nepotism is a great word to describe this, because it’s usually a word best described to family businesses. A family business thrives on a family running the business, but as soon as you add sons, daughters, cousins, uncles, aunts, and anyone in the mix, the scope of the business changes, because everyone wants a say in how its run. They believe as a family-run business, if they’re part of the family, they have a say, like a shareholder. It’s a very mob-rules mentality, and one I have experienced on several occasions. It is the sort of thing you see on reality shows that feature small business in America, because many are family-run businesses. While most gaming websites and publications are not run by families, they engage in similar practices with each other. E3 is such a lucrative event, being that it is press-only, yet thousands of people are in attendance. Are there really that many members of the industry and press, or are they friends of friends of friends brought along for the ride? But publishers and developers will pull out the stops and throw lavish parties for these people because they will return the favor. It’s pay-to-play politics, and it really isn’t any different from your average politician on Capitol Hill. If you believe your US representative or senator doesn’t have a posh job or high-paying position at a company lined up for them after they leave, courtesy of companies using them to influence legislation, you are delusional and need your head checked. Gaming journalism is politics. Almost everything is politics. Anyone who is marginally successful at anything has both played off of other people to get what they need, and probably has skeletons in the closet to have gotten there.

Which leads us to the meat and potatoes.

Zoe’s Personal and Professional Life

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It’s a personal matter that never should have been made public, and I don’t want to delve into personal shit, mine or anyone else’s, while saying that people’s love and sex lives are no one’s business. I’m not going to talk about it. I will never talk about it. It is not your goddamned business.

On the contrary, your business became everyone’s business when you became a developer, nay, when you started using Twitter and acting as the face of your work.

One of the most troublesome aspects of the internet is that in today’s social sphere, your public face is expected to match your private face. Where people used to use pseudonyms and handles to mask their real identity, we’ve been conditioned by the MySpace and Facebook era to use our real names and locations when talking to other people. So in turn, we’ve angled our arguments and shitstorms to include our real identities to the people we’re arguing with. Failing to use your real identity usually makes you a coward or other expletives. They expect you to reveal yourself so they can proceed to “dox” you for your information and use it against you, despite its complete irrelevance to the issue at hand. Most of my personal information can probably be had by the right people, but at the same time, I do not go out of my way to identify who I am willingly. I grew up before social media, I used a pseudonym. For many gamers, pseudonyms are part of the experience, because your handle identifies you to your friends and foes alike. But as a creator, a developer, or any type of artist, using a pseudonym is generally bad practice. You want your real identity attached to your work, because you want to build the brand and sell more. Some people do get away with more anonymity than others while remaining successful, but most of the biggest names in the gaming industry are legal names printed on legal birth certificates.

To sit here and tell us that your personal life is none of our business, while that may be true, you’re basically telling us that you allowed your personal life to damage your professional life, your work, and your integrity, and you have no reason to fix that. If you were a politician, your career would essentially be over. No one votes for someone who has slept with five other partners, many of whom were married, in order to further their own work and ambitions. You can blame it on your ex, but you had skeletons in the closet, in all shapes and sizes, and if you thought the rest of the internet would not go looking for them after you started a shitstorm with a website no one has ever heard of or frankly cares about, then you have no idea how the internet actually works, confirming either your age, or your naïveté. Most people in this are focused on the games journalism part, because it’s more relevant to the story, but I felt a focus on this was needed because it highlights the gross negligence of many “gamer girls” in the video game industry today. You fly your pro-women flag, beating your chest about your accomplishments as a woman, yet you sabotage the entire thing making dumb mistakes and expect no one to notice? Really? Lemme break it down the response letter into why you are Public Internet Target of the Week.

I am not going to link to, or address anything having to do with the validity of the specific claims made by an angry ex-boyfriend with an axe to grind and a desire to use 4chan as his own personal army. This is not a “she-said” to his “he-said”. The idea that I am required to debunk a manifesto of my sexual past written by an openly malicious ex-boyfriend in order to continue participating in this industry is horrifying, and I won’t do it.

Two words: career suicide. What you’ve done is you told us that you will neither confirm, nor deny any of the claims he has made in his account of your actions. That tells everyone right there that you slept with five guys of various positions in the industry to further your goals as a gaming developer. I’m sure your feminist pals will tell everyone that you don’t have to answer to anyone, including us, and that is fine, you are completely entitled to plead the fifth, but as we all know, invoking your fifth amendment rights means you are refusing to implicate yourself and that you know what happened, one way or the other. That’s not victim blaming, victim shaming, or any other excuse the SJWs will come up with, you are being asked to prove your innocence with verifiable proof, and you have none. You are not guilty, but you are not innocent either. That doesn’t stop people from thinking you are guilty. Go read the social media on any child killing and tell me who sides with who despite the absence of facts.

What I am going to say is that the proliferation of nude pictures of me, death threats, vandalization, doxxing of my trans friends for having the audacity to converse with me publicly, harassment of friends and family and my friends’ family in addition to TOTALLY UNRELATED PEOPLE, sending my home address around, rape threats, memes about me being a whore, pressures to kill myself, slurs of every variety, fucking debates over what my genitals smell like, vultures trying to make money off of youtube videos about it, all of these things are inexcusable and will continue to happen to women until this culture changes. I’m certainly not the first. I wish I could be the last.

I actually side with you here. Harassment is not cool, and I don’t doubt you got some, but was it manufactured, or genuine? Regardless, one calls into the question of nude photos. For there to be nude photos of someone, that implies you had to give them to someone to exist, be that your ex, or posted online. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows not to put anything on the internet that might come back in full force later on. You have a professional career as a developer. Do you want this to tarnish your image? Again, SJW will step in here and say she can do what she wants without fear of repercussions from “shitlord men”, but the only scenario where anyone can reasonable side with her on this is if the nudes were given to her ex in confidence, and he pulled the dick move of publishing them to 4chan. Only then can we side with her and chastise him for being the shitlord. But if she modeled, or cammed for any site in the past, that is a skeleton in the closet you have to anticipate when moving into a professional career.

Suddenly I don’t have any right to privacy or basic dignity. Suddenly I don’t get to live out normal parts of life, like going through a bad and ugly breakup in private. I have forfeited this by being a blip in a small community, while those who delight in assailing me hide behind their keyboards and a culture that permits it, beyond reproach.

So let me get this straight, you wanted to be a notable game developer, to make a game, get noticed, and lead a professional career in the light, but you are worried about privacy? Ask any celebrity or famous person how much privacy they get. If you want to create anything and be a social recluse, you need to find Bill Watterson (good luck) and ask him to teach you how to be a cultural fucking icon and never be bothered by a soul in the world unless you want to be. He is the single greatest example of a cultural dynasty that ended because he wasn’t interested in personal fame, glory, or merchandising of his work. He took what he made and resumed his normal life away from everyone and anyone. We’re not saying your private life should be the subject of public display, but as a professional developer, your professional work will thrust you into the forefront and may open you up to unwanted attention, especially in scandal.

Sexuality is one of the most personal, hurtful, and easy things to demonize a woman over, and also has nothing to do with my games.

Really? So why did you pull the SJW sphere into your fight? Couldn’t fight it alone on your own technical merit?

Yet large swaths of the gaming community are either unable or unwilling to separate the two.

No, I think you are unwilling to believe anyone is capable of separating the two. You are >implying that guys just sit around in their underwear all day thinking “Man, I think I am going to make a Hot Pocket for breakfast, and harass and troll gamer girls today! Fuck them, they’re girls!” Some do. Won’t lie. I can’t speak for the entirety of the male gender, just as you cannot speak for the entirety of the female gender. What really makes modern feminism so rad is that they firmly believe that every woman should believe what they believe, act as they act, and be as they be. They view the video games industry through a thin myopic lens where males are the oppressors, physically barring them from buying games or playing them. I have not encountered a single guy anywhere I have gone who has smacked a controller or handheld out of a woman’s hand and told them they shouldn’t be playing games. I have seen some stupid shit online, and I’m not condoning those actions, but no girl in the history of video gaming is being physically repressed from enjoying games. Find me fifty girls who are, and I mean old-school they-will-beat-me-if-I-touch-a-DS repressed, by some truly shitlord men, and I will print all of this out and eat it with pasta sauce a la Spy Hard style. I have high doubts for that, because as it turns out, modern America is not as one-sided as you think it is, and for that matter, you have no fucking clue what equality means, because I can tell you what it doesn’t mean, and that is forced coercion into a set of beliefs championed by a few. That’s fascism.

This is another example of gendered violence, whereby my personal life becomes a means to punish my professional credentials and to try to shame me into giving up my work. I’m still committed to doing my small part to create a world where no woman is at risk of experiencing this.

Again, your professional career is linked to everything you say and do. You started the fire, and you’re upset because others want to push you into it? That said, no one is condoning the harassment you received, but if you think people not agreeing with you means they support systemic violence against women, you are delusional. If you’re allowing trolls to shame you into quitting, and you quit, you are a coward. Plain and simple. We don’t tell people to grow a thicker skin to support victim blaming, we tell people to do so because we live in a world where this shit happens whether you like it or not. Yes, that isn’t ideal, and it definitely supports what SJWs hark, but despite knowing I could be killed in a motor vehicle accident every day I drive, I still drive to work each day. We all do things despite the problems with the world around us each day because if we holed up in our hugbox all day worrying about the patriarchal oppression outside, we’d get nothing done. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, haters gonna hate, keep going. If you’re here to make games, prove it to us. Prove that you are a developer who can make something great, and I guarantee you the tune will change.

No one who would terrorize someone and the totally uninvolved people they love in this way on such a massive and public scale could ever honestly claim to be interested in “ethics” of any kind. These kinds of accusations have been levied against any woman of status in any industry, ever. I have been judged because, if you are a woman, you are expected to constantly “prove” yourself, and even mere accusations can somehow undo all the good you’ve done and justify any measure of depraved brutality against you. Meanwhile, I see major support thrown the way of my male colleagues when they are accused of any sort of wrongdoing.

You are correct, no person of morals and integrity would attack someone else. Yet every day, thousands of people are slaughtered in other parts of the world for another person’s ideals. Where is the justice there? The answer is there is no justice in this world, not the kind that would satisfy anyone. Those parents of the guy killed in Ferguson MO may get the man who shot him arrested, jailed or maybe even the death penalty, but nothing will bring their son’s life back. There exists no force on this planet that can bring complete conformity to the human species. None. We have literally spent our entire existence on this planet subjecting each other to our own warped visions of justice, in an effort to maintain order and control over a populace. You, like most of the SJW world, will bark and whine about how the world operates, but it has operated on a number of levels for thousands of years, unaffected by time. When we all die, our future generations will find new ways to subject each other to cruel and unfortunate horrors, out of love, profit, rage, jealousy, confusion, or intent. While some may influence the way a society’s ebbs and flows run, nothing short of being turned into robots with the same programming will make humanity whole on the same emotional level.

As for proving yourself, why do you honestly believe you do not have to prove yourself? Because you are a woman? Men prove themselves in their personal and professional lives every day. Not a day goes by where I am not proving my skills to the company I work for. I have to prove to my boss I am a competent employee who can complete the task at hand. I have to prove to strangers on the highway that I am a competent driver who won’t cause a large accident. I have to prove to my wife that I am a competent husband who can get the chores done and take care of the family. If you think that you can work in an industry that isn’t going to demand proof of your competency, your delusion is real. In real equality, women prove themselves like men prove themselves, and are judged on the same set of skills. Yet we’re told that we have to judge women by a different set of rules, a relaxed set of rules, favoring them over men. Look at Family Law, something skewered so heavily in favor of women it is an uphill battle for a competent male father to obtain custody from an emotionally-detached and/or unstable mother. All thanks to “Women’s Rights”. Do you agree with this? That they don’t have to prove anything? That they just have to show up and get a gold star for being there?

Now to be fair, after reading the article one of your five guys wrote on GAME_JAM, I’ll agree that you wound up with one hell of a douchecanoe there trying to really stir the pot with some off-color material. That testimony alone really should highlight what “reality television” is and blow the door wide open on how production companies and corporate America skewer what we see in the name of manufactured drama. It also is me saying that I do not deny that shitlords exist, or that we have a problem in the gaming industry and elsewhere in society, but it is simply not going to be as overtaking as you think it is. If it were, we’d see more fights, more harassment, and more violence coming out of PAX each year. I staff anime conventions each year and speak with women who enjoy the hobby and are every bit as equal to me. Assholes exist, but they do not dominate the scene. Why the SJW community cannot focus on the positives tells me that they are not interested in the positives, they are not interested in equality, they are interested in keeping a perpetual running gender and culture war with men to satisfy their own means. Prove me wrong.

So to TL:DR this for anyone unwilling to read WORDSWORDSWORDS

  • Gaming journalism is hardly journalism. It’s bought-and-paid-for opinions about games. Except Kotaku. Kotaku is about whatever the hell they think you like, and will likely be bought by Buzzfeed tomorrow.
  • Sexism in video games is real, but not nearly as bad as Tumblr-powered Social Justice Warriors would like you to believe.
  • Zoe Quinn, you slept with five men, of various positions, within the gaming industry, that you do not confirm nor deny. Implying implications will commence until you clear your name. Deal with that. Or pull a Bill Clinton.
  • Phil Fish, you are the video game industry equivalent of Amy from that episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Enjoy being a one-hit wonder like Seal. A picture of my balls are available upon request. I’ll even throw in the manboobs because I am not insecure about my weight.
  • Seriously, who the fuck cares about Wizardchan? I mean, who has heard of it before this? Anyone? No one?

Feel free to proofread all of this. I typed it over the course of about eight hours on a desktop and netbook. Probably going to be some errors.

3 thoughts on “Gaming Journalism

  1. Hey read the whole thing, and I found a spelling error. Good job op, and you voice mostly how I feel about the situation.

    …confirming either your age, or your nativity” should be naivete (or silly letters version naïveté).

    I don’t want to comment on the infidelity accusations, because true or not she has plenty of reasons to earn your distrust and scorn. Let us pretend that you never heard of the five guys saga, and instead focus on what she has done. It’s so similar to what Anita Sarkeesian did, it’s disgusting. It’s a new way for someone to con do-gooders and white-knighters and social justice warriors into giving them money. You can’t argue with the results either, last I heard she has a $2k a month stipend from a Patreon account.

    I’m upset that the DMCA take downs continue to be abused. The censorship in the reddit forums, 4chan, and other sites is eye opening.

    1) Going to wizardchan forums, 2 ANONS post sexist shit at her. No one checks for proof, everyone shits on Wizardchan, and not ONE PERSON even MENTIONS that it’s ENTIRELY POSSIBLE that she might have done it herself?
    2) The Fake doxx from /v/. No one capitalizes the V who’s from V. Fake doxx is obvious.
    3) Releases her game on steam same day as Robin Williams death, which may or may not be in her control to a certain extent. She probably didn’t know he was going to die that day. But she did use his death anyways to spread the message about her “game”.
    4) Her “game” isn’t even a game. It isn’t even a fun game. It failed getting on Steam Greenlight the first time. I believe the only reason it got on there was because of the support for her being a girl and some dudes saying mean shit to her.
    5) Bashes a female game jam that was coming to fruition for being Oppressive against her. Somehow getting your game made for free, and keeping 8% royalties with the rest going to charity is “oppressive”.
    The bad press it received effectively shut it down, although 4chan /v/ is currently trying to get everyone to fund the rest of the indie go go campaign. Im not sure if links are allowed but look up /the-fine-young-capitalists–2.

    However, I am thankful to her for one thing. I know now which websites to stop going to, and I think my life will be better off because of it. I may be just a single drop of water in the ocean but whatever. Let’s not forget this is just one jerk among many talented female developers that are otherwise tainted by this stupid scandal she made herself.

    Cheers to you brave man, for writing what others run from.
    -S

    1. After about five thousand words, I stopped spell-checking. Thanks for the tip.

      I really wanted to be bothered by Patreon like I am bothered by Kickstarter and HATS! on Steam. We talk about value in things, and how they’re determined by market forces, but the market here only knows how to spend, and they spend according to what tastes each other and their idols like. Penny-Arcade can take a video game that no one has ever heard of, mention it once, and it’s the best game you’ve never heard of on Kotaku three hours later. I am all for supporting people who create, but if Depression Quest is the best Zoe Quinn has to offer, she should take the hint from Phil Fish, flip a motherfucking Monopoly board, and exit.

      And releasing on Robin Williams death, I didn’t look to see if it released after the news or before, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she pushed the SUBMIT button after the story broke, because depression got a lot of spin on social media following his death, and she seems to be the type to ride whatever, or whomever’s coattails, alive, or dead apparently. As long as it sells >GAEMS

      I know now which websites to stop going to, and I think my life will be better off because of it.
      Exactly. Kotaku was shit to begin with, RPS ain’t far behind, as well as nearly anyone else connected to G4TV. Anyone who cares about a game will make their on qualified decision on buying it or not, and determining how good of a game it is. I’ve gotten better reviews from people outside of the core journalism sphere than I’ll ever get within it.

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