Essay: “DrWut”

I became aware of the GG situation well after the Zoe Quinn affair. I went online one day and I saw discussion about mass censorship on many internet boards. That drew my attention and I became acquainted with what was a pretty ordinary story of not-really-a-celebrity gossip. Shortly thereafter a staggering amount of articles came out with amazing coordination telling me that gamers were dead. That I should not have a say on my hobby because I was part of a group of virgin dorito-stained neckbeards who wanted to drive women out of their hobby. As a non-dorito-stained, non-virgin neckbeard who has exactly 0 problems with women doing whatever the hell they please I took offense to this and decided to inform myself better about the situation.

And turns out the situation was kind of bad. I saw a group of journalists who have no ethical qualms in reporting allegations of sexual misconduct against game developers with no regard for their subject’s career. Who refuse to retract and apologize when the allegations turn out to be false, even when their subjects are, to this day, still insulted and harassed by misinformed people. These journalists have no problem taking to twitter to have shameful emotional meltdowns, to insult people or to threaten other journalists/devs to end their careers just because they don’t like something they said or wrote.

I saw these same journalists, who would normally jump at the juicy clickbait, circling the wagons when the accusations of sexual misconduct were levered against a game developer that had sexual and/or financial ties with them. They decided the best way to react, instead of addressing their readership’s concerns and talk to them like human beings, was to put out article after article insulting their readership, insulting concerned customers, insulting just anyone who didn’t blindly agree with them.

When people dared to suggest that two dozen people who knew each other could be coordinating, journalists dismissed it as a tin-foil hat conspiracy theory. Unsurprisingly, it was discovered that these journalists were indeed communicating with each other and even pressuring each other to censor discussion in forums and boards (something they have no business doing, by the way). And still they denied it had any importance whatsoever. At this point I decided that these people think we are idiots who are not aware of how sometimes “independent” outlets coordinate in PR campaigns to create the next hot topic.

So after all I am concerned that we have a group of people with very little tolerance and restraint having an undue amount of influence within the industry. Deciding which indie games succeed or fail, blacklisting people for spurious reasons, who can and will accuse whoever they don’t like of racism/sexism/whateverism and sic the trolls on them while they promote people they like without even the smallest attempt at being objective. I am also personally outraged about the refusal of these people to even address the concerns of their readership or to bother talking to them like human beings.

A game developer recently said that having the rage of the internet mob on you is like facing the Eye of Sauron. I worry that some people who style themselves as “leaders” or “megaphones” are using their soapboxes to direct the Eye of Sauron and using it to foster cronyism, favoritism and an ambient of paranoia, since any slip of the tongue, any offense, real or imaginary, could result in these people deciding that you are going to be the next troll fodder.

DrWut

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