On Demands

Some followup from my brief foray into the herpderpery Wednesday:

Mark Kern still can’t speak. No, he’s literally speechless, despite people telling him exactly how to speak. I am not making this up.

I’m not sure why Leigh Alexander is keeping Mark from speaking, save that since Gamergate has anointed her one of the High Priestesses of Evil, she is CLEARLY the source of all bad things that happen to good game developers, but by gosh, Mark is not going to stop talking about not being able to talk, and he’s clearly on a roll. And finally, his quest bears fruit!

Maybe Mark thinks Mr. Carless is Leigh’s FINAL FORM, I dunno. Or maybe he just wants to keep invoking Gamergate’s villainess as a spirit animal. Or maybe he’s just confused!

Riiiight, we’ll go with “confused”, then.  As of this writing, Gamasutra is still cruelly preventing Mark from speaking. That’s OK, though, he’s moved on to world peace.

How can you be against PEACE? What kind of MONSTER are you? Clearly, Mark’s message of… what was it again?

So, he’s not here to talk about Gamergate, which, actually, is about ethics in game journalism, but is here to talk about ethics in game journalism. OK. Does he have any specific beefs, other than Dick Wolf’s crime procedural dramas?

OK, having seen this myself, with you so far, anodyne statements that are impossible to disagree with, go on…

Hmm. You don’t say. He might have a point. I have heard that game journalism is pretty suffused with scoundrels just wanting to cram social justice and colored hair down your throat. Let’s take a quick look at the top stories on the most popular gaming sites right now.

kotaku polygon rpsppe swiftly reaxxion


Welp, he’s got me, that narrative is definitely under an iron fist of control, hammering home the message that gamers are all reprehensible over and over.

If only gaming websites would give game developers a chance to speak…


…OK, maybe not like that.


…OK, probably not like that, either.



Right, that should be good. OK, so I think I have it. The path to ethical game journalism is to have game developers write articles about their own products, ideally in a way that makes their current project look good. This is clearly the path to expunge corruption from games journalism and achieve peace.

Oh, and also, without that annoying screaming.

Yes, sports fans, he means my article.



…where, mind you, the paragraph of ALL CAPS was my imagining Mark Kern talking after talking for about 10 hours – not an exaggeration – of tweets and retweets about WHY WON’T YOU LET MARK KERN SPEAK.

I think he kind of missed the point there. So let me make it QUITE CLEAR, since Kern is probably going to read this, being the self-googling type.

There is no conspiracy in games journalism to say anything. There, in fact, is no real “voice” of games journalism. There are *voices* within games journalism who say things. Some of them you may disagree with. Some of them you may agree with. This is how a free press works. People have opinions, and other people respond to them.

In fact, the real failing of games journalism isn’t a hatred of its audience (what I think Kern was trying to express, if flailing about unable to actually express that); although some writers absolutely do hate their audience at this point, and why wouldn’t they? Have you READ the comments lately? Anywhere? Yet still they write. But not enough do. They don’t see it as a vocation or a challenge, they see it either (seldomly) as a rote drudgery to slump through on the way to another day’s paycheck or (more often) as an enthusiast with no desire to critically engage with what they write about, but only to gleefully reword press releases sent to them by oh-so-solicitous PR agencies.

You see, that’s the actual corruption in games journalism. Not that there is a viewpoint – viewpoints are awesome! Even viewpoints that disagree from mine! Especially viewpoints that disagree from mine! But that for so many, there is no viewpoint. There are only top 10 lists, recaps of the latest video cards, and the same 12 screenshots you saw everywhere else on the Internet that day. This is probably why people don’t even pay attention to games news websites any more and just watch people stream games on Youtube mumbling to themselves while calling other writers drunks. telling them to fuck off, and complaining to their employers if they happen to be game developers.

Oh brave new world, that has such journalism in it.

Meanwhile, my taunting Gamergate by mocking one of its anointed and poking it with a stick had some mild results:

– a few emails to my employers demanding I be severely talked to. The best response to that came from Facebook:



– some mild taunting from Gamergate diehards on Twitter. The weirdest was this entry. I’m thinking it says a lot more about them than about me.


(part of it’s true, though, I am totally a goony beardman. holding a cat. Heck, that’s a painting from Everquest on the wall behind me! You can’t see it because my goony beardman head is too big.)

The weirdest, saddest, and most cogent commentary?

Leigh Alexander got harassed for 2 days (and counting, if you count Totalbiscuit’s diatribe as descended from that) for tweeting agreement and discussion of my article.

I got attention bordering on mild harassment for about… 4 hours.

Something’s wrong with this picture, and it’s not the color of anyone’s hair.

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  1. This is a great piece. The bit at the end is undoubtedly the most cogent, as you say, and a perfect illustration of why no person using their capability to reason actually thinks Gamergate isn’t about targeting uppity women.

      • And at no point did I ever say anything different? It’s possible to be a woman and (gasp!) still oppose equality for women and be awful towards women. CHOBITCOIN has intentionally tried to egg other trans women into suicide, which is pretty awful. The best GG example is probably Christina “Let’s Bring Back 1950s Gender Roles” Sommers.

  2. You are my favorite goony beardman. Please carry on, it’s a relief to see such common sense applied to a fundamentally irrational situation. I’ve long since lost track of the score, the teams or the rules of this online blood sport.

  3. “I got attention bordering on mild harassment for about… 4 hours.”

    1- Because no one knows you.
    2- Because you take a reasonable stance.

    But more importantly the tactics people like Leigh and Sarkeesian use to defend certain ideas are about as much effective as writing on rant sites about MMORPGs and expecting them to change.

    And we know how great that worked out…

    • What are Anita Sarkeesian’s tactics? She releases well-produced videos and gets attacked ceaselessly for it. She repeatedly says that she’s not saying things about gamers or even specific games, just trends and she is accused of saying gamers are bad and developers are bad and games are bad.

      Actually, I guess you’re right. Her tactic of reasonability isn’t working at all!

      • Taking a side instead of a broader view. The desire to understand things, instead of carefully selecting only those that reinforce your preferred point of view.

        Leigh just yesterday answered to Totalbiscuit with “if i was expecting a sophisticated sense of humor my first stop would not be ‘dudes who mumble over videogames'” answering to a tweet calling him “dudebro”.

        It’s a more sly kind of namecalling, but it has the same intention of annoying, provoking and generally ridicule who you’re talking with. Why? Merely because they are like leaders who are trying to gain consensus from their minions, and namecalling builds that “us versus them” sense of identity.

        Notice how very rarely they talk to each other (I mean both sides). They only talk within their own side, slyly referencing the other. It’s just in-group reinforcement mechanics. Finger pointing and name calling.

        And the last thing I saw from Sarkeesian was about complaining about female body-types, but failing to notice how very often male body-types are also equally sexualized through shirtless muscly guys.

        The only fact is that the male body is sexualized differently from the female one. But both get sexualized anyway. Male/female gender roles are culturally different, both both are equally stereotypes. The real problem isn’t their difference, but the stereotype.

        Why this is stupid as a tactic and won’t work?

        Because if the thesis is true (lots of female players out there who are disappointed) then it means there’s a market waiting. MONEY TO BE MADE. You don’t complain and demand games to change, you make new ones to tap on a big market you think is there.

        Most of these battles are AGAINST something. As if you have a right to “polish” someone else’s enjoyment. Make it more politically correct. Whereas the goal should be about making something different, and knowing it has the strength to stand on its own.

        • “male body-types are also equally sexualized through shirtless muscly guys”

          Female body shapes in video games are designed to appeal to adolescent male power fantasties.

          Male body shapes in video games are designed to appeal to adolescent male power fantasies.

          It’s equal! It appeals to boys and boys!

          • It’s pretty obvious that it’s not equal.

            But for sure the female side is not the ONLY one that is misrepresented. And those who complain never include concern about both sides and only care about theirs.

          • Yes, yes, WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ!!!! indeed.

            Of course, if you’re serious about wanting complaints about how men are poorly served by this sort of thing, what you can do is go to your nearest feminist and ask them to talk about toxic masculinity. Many of them have a lot to say about the subject.

          • Don’t you even realize that it’s the partiality of the accuse that simply consolidates the fact there are two sides?

            This type of feminism has the only practical result of building an antagonizing side. Instead of fixing problems, they simply create more enemies, and are happy about that. Some people are happy about that because their “ideal” is in the fight and feeling being part of the righteous fight, more than actually make things better and understand motivations on both sides. From my point of view the only way to dismantle all the flamewars and hate is simply about removing that dividing line and observe things without “sides” and without enlisting in one or the other.

            But from what I also observe MOST people who usually engage in these arguments are only interested in building up the hostility and getting approval of their friends.

            Even Lum’s post here, I’m not sure what kind of practical effect it’s supposed to have beside being applauded by those who already think the same. Mark Kern is very obviously an idiot, but to target him is a sort of straw man argument.

            Just a way too easy target.

          • You heard it here first, folks: criticizing a real person’s real words is a strawman. And thus the process of the word strawman’s definition degrading to “thing I don’t like” is complete.

          • Lum’s post originally started with:

            “I bring this up because we now see the advent of Gamergate’s latest hero, Mark Kern”

            So it was not about criticizing Mark Kern personally, but as a meaningful example of something that is going on that is much larger in context.

            Hence, it’s a “kind of” a strawman. Meaning that Lum took the easiest target in that larger context to make a point.

            Also, since I agree 100% with what Lum said in both posts I don’t see how it qualifies for “thing I don’t like”. The only aspect I don’t like is that it was a too easy target.

          • This idea that Anita Sarkeesian owes anyone a discussion of ‘both sides’ is idiotic. If a scientist does a study about the effects of a certain drug on cats, she doesn’t then have to devote equal time to effects of the drug on ducks. She’s talking about the effects of the drug on cats, and as such that’s all her paper needs to be about. The same way the series Anita Sarkeesian is producing is based on representations of women in video games. She doesn’t have to mention how men are presented. She doesn’t have to mention how ducks are presented. She doesn’t have to mention how women are presented in movies. She doesn’t have to mention how women are presented in kabuki. She has a focus, she’s making quality, educational videos on that focus.

            If you want to make a series about how men are represented in video games, there are apparently enough complete dipshits willing to pay you for it that the Misandry video got funded, even though they appear to have run away with the money. Or, I suppose, you could just write about it on your blog. Though I assume you already did that about, what, six months ago?

          • I’m not say she owes anything. I said that taking only one side has the practical effect of only reinforcing the identities of the two groups and so make everything worse. It’s not written anywhere she has to present both sides, but it surely would be more actually useful to her cause if her position was less partisan and partial.

            Her study could be good, but its usefulness poor, because it would present a very partial view of a problem whose nature is much wider and whose causes much deeper. Her study would be good, but the political battle would be lost.

            My actual critic to her is on another aspect. She wants games “to change”, and this will always be met with hostility because it ends sounding about someone who wants to impose an arbitrary canon. Whereas a legitimate battle would be about making DIFFERENT games, instead of changing those that already are there.

            But of course an antagonizing stance is much more popular than actually building something different.

            Besides, if games reflect a sexist society surely you won’t obtain anything by asking games to change without fixing the society they come from. It’s about mixing the effect for the cause.

          • Does any of that nonsense justify the harassment Sarkeesian has gotten? No? Then who cares? The harassment is the issue, not your petty critiques.

          • A trope is a frequently used (and possibly overused) storytelling device. When your device is something like ‘women used as scenery’ or ‘the damsel in distress’, it’s hard not to see THESE tropes as being hostile toward women. So A) she’s using the word correctly and B) she’s not setting up some false antagonism between these tropes and the women who might otherwise play these games.

            Now when you say she misuses ‘trope’ are you thinking perhaps of the word ‘tripe’? Because that’s what pretty much every GG complaint is.

          • Nope, but thanks for playing. A) She is flagrantly missing the point of some of the games she “critiques”, and she is on camera saying she is NOT a gamer. She steals footage from youtube for her games (without citing), and she doesn’t even know the story in some of the games she criticizes. She criticizes for hits and donations. You seem to be the target audience.

            B) I can see you don’t even know what a GG complaint is, much less could name any of them. Facts aren’t your strong suit. Thanks for the update on your bias, though.

          • You’re just establishing that the GG complaints are tripe.

            I mean “she’s on camera saying she is NOT a gamer”? Assuming you’re talking about the same videoclip that all the other GGer’s are wailing about, she’s just saying that she’s not a fan of ultra-violent shoot-em-ups. She’s on record as playing/liking games in other genres. In any event, it’s certainly possible to be an art critic even if you hate all the stuff you’re critiquing.

            Or, “she criticizes for hits and donations”? Really? Every single art critic on the web is “criticizing for page hits”, and most of them will take donations. That’s an usually silly complaint even by GG standards.

            Honestly, you can do better than this. Can’t you?

          • She’s not a “gamer”. She said it on the video tape (the whole tape.)

            She is critiquing based on assumptions from NOT playing games. Don’t tell me “someone had to show me how to play videogames” is the same as “I don’t like violent videogames.”

            Good stretch, though. I don’t really care about Sarkeesian or Wu. I care about journalistic ethics, but that’s foreign to you because you assume I’m a misogynist.

            Get bent. You know the truth. You just won’t accept it. The internet is PLASTERED with the information you seek. If you want me to regurgitate it because you feel the need to try and discuss (rather preach) it, don’t bother.

            You really should think before you type.

          • Yeah, sure, clearly you don’t care about Sarkeesian and Wu. Who doesn’t spend hours spreading lies about people they don’t care about?

          • Not interested in watching a video. If you have a point, make it. I’m not about to follow trolls through every briar patch on the farm.

          • What a sexist concept: “Toxic masculinity”.
            I prefer to listen to feminists who speak about facts, not pseudo-academic wah wah.

          • So we either must believe that all men everywhere are perfect angels, or we’re sexist against them? I prefer to think of men as human beings affected by their cultures, thanks.

          • Except Bayonetta was designed by a woman as a female power fantasy, and idiots like Feminist Frequency still say it is made for men.
            Tell us more about how oppressed first world rich white women are.

      • Seriously? FF constantly lies and cherry-picks information to suit their already-formed agenda. They claimed Hitman Absolution “encouraged” the player to kill strippers and play with their dead bodies as a necrophilic fantasy. Clearly what the devs had in mind, right?

        • That’s a lie. Why would you even tell such a lie about the most commented on and picked over bit of footage since the Zapruder film?

  4. I see that I’ve fallen behind in my “translating GG to English” classes again. Can someone explain what a “she-twink” is? I know that a “twink” is an effeminate gay male, so maybe a “she-twink” is a male-to-female transgendered person who has culturally feminine mannerisms? But then that’s just the same thing as a “woman”, and there are lots of even more offensive slurs for women, so you’d think they’d just use one of those instead.

    “Rainbow haired” means using a lot of different hair dye colors, right? I get that the GG community hates hair dye, although still I’m having trouble figuring out why.

      • That tweet was written by a trans woman with a sense of humor and no time for your SJW tears.
        Your whining is old and boring.

      • That’s why I asked someone to explain the joke to me! I thought GGers liked to “explain” stuff to people. (Even a dishonest explanation would be useful, because it would help me understand the dishonest narrative that they’re trying to push.)

        If no one else is willing to help me out, then I’m just going to go with Dungeonlilly’s definition and assume that a she-twink is a woman who has inherited a lot of family heirlooms. Is that what you want me to do?

  5. What’s really funny about Kern’s whining about how he’s not being allowed to speak, specifically at Gamasutra, is that now that he knows he can write whatever he likes at Gamasutra he’s punted on it. Apparently all he wanted to speak about was the brutal censorship he faced, but now that its revealed that he could write for them any time we wanted, he’s got nothing to say.