Posts Tagged ‘gamergate’

Gamergate coverThe complete playlist of Inside Gamergate is up.
You can find it HERE.
If you want to purchase the book you can find it at LULU and AMAZON.
“A fair glimpse at what really happened not the false narrative a corrupt media pushed.”
“This has to be the best telling of GG.”
“Read this if you want an accurate and well written depiction of gamergate as it would be presented by most of the “gators”. Every story has at least two sides, and this book is as good a pro-gamergate argument as you could hope to find.”
“It does a good job explaining Internet culture and the drama that revolved around the movement, It doesn’t come off as one sided or shove the message down the reader’s throat. If you have a friend or know anyone who doesn’t know anything about GamerGate I recommend showing them this book. “

Read Full Post »

Buy it HERE.

I am waiting on proofs of the print version and after print copies are shipping to backers they will be more broadly available, an update will appear on this site when that happens.

This book exists to record, for posterity, the events of Gamergate from the perspective of someone within Gamergate.

There is a real danger that, what with the media bias against Gamergate, that the other side – the right side – will not get recorded. In the future, anyone looking back is likely to encounter an entirely one-sided version of events from people who have been acting very shadily.

As a participant in Gamergate, that worries me.

As a historian, that worries me.

As someone who cares about truth, fairness and accuracy, that worries me.

Gamergate coverI think I’m uniquely positioned to give an interesting take on what happened. I know the history, I can properly contextualise it within a timeline of other moral panics and responses. I participated in Gamergate. I’ve seen the aftermath of it. I’ve seen how it influenced things and how it fits into the broader culture war that has characterised the twenty-teens. I’ve been targeted by its enemies, who like to portray themselves as good people, and are anything but.

Mostly I want a record from this side, from this point of view. A counter-narrative to the one against Gamergate. Opposition to the stories being told by those who, despite mainly losing the cultural conflict that was Gamergate, are getting to enter their version of events into the record unopposed.

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

InsideGG.jpgGamergate was many things to many people, depending on their perspective. For some it was a harassment campaign, even terrorism, for others a key fight for ethics, against censorship.

Sadly the prior view had all the mainstream attention and is likely to be the only point of view that will go into the long term record.

It’s important, for posterity, to present and record the other side.

I was part of Gamergate. I want to tell it’s own story. I want to correct the record.


I’ve also done an interview about the project – and GG – which can be seen HERE.

Read Full Post »

dr81There’s often some core, fundamental beliefs to people that usually stem from some deeply scripted familial programming, experience or self-established values. I think we all have some of these. Mine take me off the chart on the Political Compass in terms of left/libertarian (small ‘l’) values, yet weirdly I more and more often get accused of somehow being racist, sexist or (increasingly) conservative. None of this is accurate and all these accusations go against my core left/lib values.

I’ve come to see – largely via involvement in Gamergate – that this divide isn’t a left/right one, much as it is characterised as such, but rather a libertarian/authoritarian conflict that is being characterised as a left/right one. ‘Conservative’ has become an insult, and as an old-school lefty living under a Conservative government, it’s easy to see why, but it is being misapplied in much the same way ‘socialist’ or ‘Marxist’ gets abused as an insult by the US right wing. It shuts down discussion, reduces things to tribalism, much like empty accusations of sexism or racism do.

If I had to write down my core values they would probably look something like this:

  • Logic, reason and evidence having the greatest worth in problem solving.
  • The value of individualism.
  • The value of maximum possible liberty, individually AND collectively.
  • Challenging authority.
  • Skepticism.
  • Science as the most efficacious method of addressing problems.
  • Tolerance – ‘Do what thou wilt, so long as it harms none’.
  • Equality.
  • Fairness.

Pretty much the values of The Enlightenment, all told and while some people do, indeed, object to these ideas by wanting equity over equality and disregarding objective science as somehow being white imperialism, most rational people surely couldn’t particularly object to any of these on principle, could they?

So where’s the problem and why, knowing my own mind as I do, and knowing that I’m not sexist, racist or any of these other accusations do they bother me so? Why do they both me sufficiently that I sit down and work through my thoughts on the issue in a blog post? Let’s have a look at a few of the areas of contention and work through these thoughts – I think better in writing so this blog is really more for me than anyone else, though I’m interested in your comments.


If I describe myself as being anti-feminist, what’s the message received by that statement?

If you look to the dictionary it will tell you that feminism is about equality (at least on a cursory reading) and most people would take feminism to mean things like women having the vote, legal equality and so on. People also tend to equate feminism (the ideology) with women (people) which is a bit disingenuous, like equating Putinesque nationalism (ideology) with Russians (people). The one doesn’t necessarily follow from the other.

So if I say I’m anti-feminist, you – perhaps understandably – think that must mean that I hate women, regard them as inferior, don’t want them to have equality and so on and so forth.

However, that’s not the message being communicated.

When I describe myself as anti-feminist I am talking about the modern kind of censorious, authoritarian, overreaching feminism. The kind that labels all men rapists. The kind that wants to censor and control a great many forms of artistic expression. I’m talking about the kind of misandrist, pseudo-scientific, sex-negative feminism found in the likes of Anita Sarkeesian, Jessica Valenti, Gail Dines etc. The kind you find on Tumblr, swigging from ‘male tears’ mugs and tweeting unironically on #killallmen. The Bahar Mustaphas, the exploiters. The people that campaign to restrict artistic expression, to put trigger warnings on everything, lie about statistics and even want to strip men of the right to a fair trial in cases of alleged sex crimes.

This is the third-to-fourth wave feminism that dominates the current discourse and that is what I’m opposing, precisely because of my core beliefs of liberty, equality and fairness.

Are there still problems women face? Yes, largely in the third world and especially in Muslim communities and countries, but these need to be addressed – in my opinion – by egalitarianism, not feminism.

Men’s Human Rights

If I describe myself as a Men’s Human Rights Activist, which I didn’t until fairly recently, what reaction would you have?

This betrays a certain hypocrisy in people, because if you define feminism purely by its dictionary definition then why not men’s human rights? Who could possibly object to men having human rights after all? In this case, however, it’s not the meaning that counts is it? It’s the supposed actions and other factors.

I was describing myself merely as someone who was interested in men’s issues, but enough people spat ‘MRA’ at me as though it were an insult I decided I might as well adopt it and make it my own.

Are there issues with men’s rights activism? Yes. Absolutely. Just as there are with feminism but, on the whole, I’ve found MHRAs to be much more amenable to discussion, debate, dissent and to hold a much more rationalist viewpoint – which appeals for obvious reasons (core values). There’s a lot of bitter men in the MHRA movement, just as there’s a lot of bitter women in feminism – both with good reasons – but that doesn’t invalidate the problems men genuinely face, nor the problems that women genuinely face.

So when I say ‘MHRA’ you hear ‘woman hater’, ‘whiner’ and it goes against the peddled narrative that women are oppressed and downtrodden, even though – at least in the West – that can’t really still be said to hold true.

The message actually being transmitted is that ‘men are facing a huge amount of problems in our society and I want to address them and campaign to see men getting a more equitable and fair deal’.

Fairness, equality, core values again – plus I have a vested personal interest in men getting a fairer deal in terms of medical access, especially mental health.


If I say I’m part of Gamergate, and have been since its inception (going on ten months), what’s the message you get from that? If you know nothing but what the media tells you, Gamergate is – supposedly – an organised harassment campaign to push women and minorities out of games.

That’s absolute bullshit, but it has been the mass-media and games media message as well as being one hijacked and tacked on by existing ‘SJW’ activists within the industry.

Is that the message being transmitted though?


When I say I’m part of Gamergate I’m saying I want ethical media around games (and given the hatchet jobs by lazy mainstream media, there too). I’m saying I want game creators to be free to make games according to their vision without being harassed, demonised and shamed by ‘SJWs’ and I’m saying I want to be informed about the games I might want to buy, not the political and social biases of the reviewer (at least not in a review).


When people accuse me of these things it does give me pause and cause me to take the time to examine myself – again.

When someone calls me sexist I stop and I think ‘Am I?’ and I’m forced to conclude that no, I am not. I think we should all be treated equally on the basis of gender and if thinking that means no special privileges for women (or men) is sexist, then so be it. It doesn’t meet the definition though.

It’s the same with racism and it’s the same with everything else.

Questioning bad ideas, challenging conclusions that don’t follow from the evidence, calling ‘bullshit’ on spurious claims of misogyny, racism or other prejudice does not confirm that prejudice or mean you have that prejudice. It means you’re skeptical, that you demand evidence, that ideas should survive the application of logic and reason before we accept them.

That’s being a responsible, rational human being.

Not a bigot.

IF you think I am being such, ever, you’re welcome to point it out – but do so reasonably and don’t just fling accusations. Nor would disagreeing with you confirm your accusations. There’s room for disagreement and we’re unlikely to agree on everything (or anything!) but discussion is always better.

Read Full Post »

teal_deer_by_matheusrosa94-d30bu6uTeal Deer: Whether something IS censorship or a distortion of the free market or marketplace of ideas is a different argument as to whether said censorship or distortion is justified and acceptable.

What is a boycott?

What is censorship?

What does a completely free market (FM) look like?

What does a completely free marketplace of ideas (MOI) look like?

Strap down, this is going to be a long ride and a lot of definitional stuff and background needs to be established at the start.


Over the last couple of days I’ve gotten into late night arguments over the interplay between the free expression of artists and companies (or other collective entities) to create material and the right of other individual and collective entities (such as activist or protest groups) to protest. It’s the old ‘freedom from’ versus ‘freedom to’ issue I’ve banged on about before.

A particular set of sticking points clustered around:

  1. The difference between exercising individual choice to buy or not to buy something versus an organised boycott.
  2. The concept of ‘violence’ as wielded by to silence or control others, going beyond actual physical damage or threats to reputational, emotional or fiscal harm.
  3. How threats etc distort both the FM and the MOI meaning that they can no longer be described as free.

This set of topics was particular difficult for me as I am a left-anarchist and pragmatic socialist, not a libertarian. I don’t not particular believe in the pure value of the FM or the impartial power of the ‘invisible hand’.

In fact, I think the FM as it is expressed in capitalism is often the worst possible choice as a way to run certain things. The classic example of a bad place to apply FM is in medicine. The aim of a medical system and a medical marketplace should be to supply the best possible care to the greatest number of people as cheaply as possible without harming them. In practice this only occurs in socialised medicine where triage is based on need, rather than FM medical systems where triage is based on the size of one’s wallet and people are often still ruined.

An argument can also be made, I think, that aesthetic goals are also not necessarily best served by a system that values profit and money above those goals.

The MOI is something I believe much more strongly in, but even there we have problems. The fact is that being correct, accurate and factual is no guarantee of the ‘fitness’ of an idea. A free market – whether capitalistic or noospheric – is supposed to be analagous to a Darwinian biosphere, where the fittest survive and thrive. The bot-fly in the cheek here is that bad practices and bad ideas can survive and thrive, despite the harm they do to the whole. In the FM this results in things like environmental damage, lying, cheating, stealing, fraud etc and in the MoI this results in things like fearmongering, lying, playing to emotions and people’s laziness and exploiting human psychological tendencies towards faith and groupthink.

Religions, for example, are fantastically successful memeplexes, arguably more successful globally than rationalism and enlightenment values, despite the latter being responsible for so much more that has benefited humanity as a whole while religions and cults such as Scientology or third-wave feminism (winky-face) cause nothing but harm and are very, very distant from enlightenment values of logic and reason.

So I found myself arguing for the ideal version of FM and MOI that I don’t necessarily buy into myself.

To further complicate matters I don’t particularly like arguing about boycotts, having been targeted by one that was particularly vicious and particularly dishonest. Its too personal and I don’ trust myself to maintain the kind of intellectual distance I normally try to muster around these subjects (though I sometimes play up the anger for effect on videos). Indeed, I did lose my rag late in the argument when it became apparent the opposition weren’t in it for a discussion, but for disingenuous ‘lulz’.

Alright, let’s move on to the definitions…


Boycott: “To withdraw from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest (OED).”

A boycott is an organised & directed (see below) attempt to censor or control via a threat of violence (see below).

Censorship: “Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups.” (ACLU).

Censorship is ANY act that silences or attempts to silence ANY form of expression. The true argument is whether an act of censorship or a form of censorship is justified or acceptable. To my mind the best test we have at the moment for that is a cost/benefit analysis derived from JS Mill’s ‘harm principle’. Does this action cause harm? Does it cause more harm than benefit?

Emergent: “In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties.”

By way of example, flocking behaviour in birds is an example of emergent complexity. Each bird is acting individually, of its own volition, slightly influenced by its nearest peers. Each bird’s actions are individual and simplistic but the behaviour of the whole is something complex and wonderful that has the appearance of complexity.

Many human actions are emergent and it is a force in societal change, economics, traffic flow and many other aspects, including social trends, runs on the stockmarket etc. Evolution is an emergently complex system. With regard to these topics, genuine grassroots movements – such as Gamergate – are examples of emergently complex systems. People acting individually find themselves suddenly aligned and a new force emerges. Compare and contrast with directed.

Directed: “Controlled, operated, managed or governed” (OED).

Directed actions contrast with emergence by virtue of being hierarchical and intentionally organised and directed. They have leaders, firmly stated goals, brittle but forceful organisation and so on. This may be obvious – in the form of state or corporate hierarchy – or less obvious, as in the case of Koch brothers funding of the Tea Party as ‘astroturf’ (a directed group masquerading as an emergent group).

Groups like No More Page 3 and other organised and directed ‘activist’ operations are of this sort, rather than being emergent. Often a movement will transition from emergence to directed over time, though it can break apart under the strain. The Occupy Movement stands as a powerful example of the risks and problems of transitioning from emergent to directed and that shift is what killed it as an effective force. Gamergate probably needs to transition from an emergent mass-action to a number of directed groups with more defined goals over time, but it remains to be seen if this can or will happen.

Violence: To do violence is to: “Damage or adversely affect”.

My misguided anarcho-capitalist and (big ‘L’) Libertarian semi-comrades make great play of the implicit or explicit threat of statism. The state as an actor is backed by the ability to project force via its courts etc and at the end of all the veneer of civilisation it ultimately comes down to the capacity to force compliance by physical violence.

The state is not the only actor capable of violence in this broader definition. Companies can do violence by leveraging their market-share or buying power to cut out, buy out or marginalise competitors. Activist groups can do reputational damage in terms of public relations issues, they can lie, cheat, play to emotion rather than fact and can wear on the emotional health and sense of security of those they choose to pick on.

The threat of such violence need not necessarily be a bad thing. In a perfect world the threat of police violence helps to maintain a civil society and they act responsibly and in accordance with the proper ideas of fair treatment before the law. On the other hand, Ferguson.

In a perfect world everyone tells the truth and do not abuse the fervid atmosphere around sexual assault allegations for attention or to harass-by-proxy. On the other hand we have the UVA hoax scandal and the damage done by mobs willing to listen and believe, uncritically, and to act before the wheels of a supposedly detached and truth-oriented legal system could turn.

The Actual Argument – Censorship

Boycotts are censorship. They come about as an attempt to silence, control, remove or ruin. They are intended to force a change in behaviour or the removal of a product or form of expression and, as such, they are censorship. They can, confusingly, also be an act of free expression in and of themselves in that you should be able to express disgust, concern etc individually or collectively about a product or form of expression free of interference just as the creator should be able to make it under the same conditions.

The difference between a boycott and individual action or inaction with regard to speech or products is the organisational nature. If I choose not to by the new Thor comic (Ther) because it is poorly written femsploitation, that is me acting individually and not a boycott or an act of censorship or violence. It’s merely an exercising of choice. If you choose to organise a campaign to take breasts off page 3 of The Sun this is a collective action and is, indeed, censorship with an implicit or explicit threat of violence. Even many individuals, independently making the same choice not to buy is not the same as a boycott.

So the argument is whether such acts are justified, for which you need to look to the Harm Principle. Specific arguments and cases are beyond the scope of this piece and there are no hard and fast rules here. It’s an eternal debate but one that I personally would assess to be skewed away from the harm principle in most instances at the moment and instead to be in the realms of dangerous moral panic.

I will, however, note that it seems to be very difficult to get traction for a justified boycott of, say, Apple for their Chinese sweatshops and all too easy to get people worked up over a few lines of text hidden away in an obscure side-track of a computer game. Something is clearly out of whack.

The Actual Argument – Free Markets and Marketplace of Ideas

A truly free market or marketplace of ideas is a platonic ideal that probably cannot exist. There are simply too many things at work that constrict our ability to truly think freely or to operate a truly free market, unimpeded by outside forces.

That said, if you’re advocating a truly free market you cannot be arguing for boycotts, letter writing campaigns to advertisers or anything else that actively seeks to distort a free market. In a free market you would not boycott, you would make your choice and leave others free to make theirs, trusting to the individual actions of people to emergently form the success or failure of whatever it is you take exception to.

To take a case in point with No More Page 3 since it’s well known and provides a good example, the effort is made to distort the market by associating bare breasts in a tabloid newspaper with misogyny, ‘rape culture’ etc and to forcibly shame people into abandoning their patronage of the newspaper via bad publicity. As noted above, it’s the difference between the emergent ‘I don’t like this’ and the directed ‘You shouldn’t buy this’ and pushed forward via dubious tactics, pseudo-science and browbeating, rather than the harm principle.

Boycotts are deliberate and wilful acts to distort the market. The real argument is over whether they’re justified or not.

To use a different example from earlier of the medical system, in order to create a more effective and humane medical system we might want to eliminate the financial free market and replace it with a market that rewards efficiency, provision of care and medical success (low waiting times, high success rates etc) and this is what socialised medicine attempts to do.

When it comes to the marketplace of ideas, keeping a truly free and open mind is incredibly difficult. We are all the product of our upbringing and past influences and it is very difficult for people to give up ideas that they have become wedded to, even if they’re provably and demonstrably false.

This is reflected in the heritability of religious and political affilations (75% with modest defections in free societies) and in the criminal arena people’s unwillingness to admit they’ve been defrauded and continued vulnerability to fraud even after the fraud is revealed. This is how people end up hundreds of thousands of pounds in debt on obvious scams, they simply don’t want to admit they were fooled, or wrong, so they double down.

In Conclusion

The argument over whether something is censorship or whether it is against free market or marketplace of ideas principles is separate to whether it is justified or the correct course of action – or ‘right action’ if you want to get Buddhist about it. There is no escaping the fact that if you’re trying to silence someone or something it is censorship. There is no escaping the fact that if you’re trying to strip individual choice of action away, you’re distorting the free market. The question – again – is whether it is justified or not.

Obviously, I’m involved in Gamergate and so lets wrap up by bringing it back to that.

Gamergate is an emergent system, a genuine grass-roots consumer revolt to reassert the desires of the majority market in games (and increasingly geek-media on a broader base) against the directed control of a minority voice that shouts loudly, but often aren’t even consumers of the media.

Some of Gamergate’s actions are censorious and some of them are anti free market.

Many, if not all of their opposition’s actions are censorious and against both the free market and the marketplace of ideas. Especially against the marketplace of ideas, revealed in a great unwillingness to debate honestly, if at all, or to examine their ideas. GG, for all its faults, is much more willing to engage and to thrash out ideas amongst itself.

cbf23abd52736fe31698651fb24fb77eThere’s much that genuinely emerges from GG that I do not agree with and do not participate in, but I do not presume to insist others conform to my personal choices on these issues, nor do I withdraw my support from the overall aims (ethical journalism and anti-censorship) simply because I disagree with parts.

To me, GG is simply a necessary and long-needed counterbalance to the largely unchallenged opposition that has ridden roughshod over consumers and creators with insults, shaming, censorship and distortion for years.

And ye gods, that’s a long essay. Thanks for reading.

Read Full Post »

I was going to do this as a video, but I’m in the middle of upgrading my desktop PC so you’ll have to make do with a blog post for now.


So, recently we all got the wonderful news that The Block Bot – a crude and breathtakingly stupid and stifling tool that came out of the AtheismPlus schism – was shutting down.

And there was much rejoicing.


But then… IT CAME BACK!


Well, that’s not necessarily so bad. They seem to have kept all the wording changes etc they made to avoid legal action. Further, they’re trimming the team and consulting other people. Hopefully with a bit more legal advice and fewer and more level heads there won’t be a problem. So who are these people they’re working with?

Screenshot from 2015-03-21 19:55:13

I try not to be prejudiced, but I do think there’s a difference between prejudice and bitter experience. While I’ve met some awesome trans people in my offline life and via Gamergate, most of the ones I’ve met who are online activists are gigantic arseholes, more concerned with being gigantic shitheads to everyone that crosses their path than on education, discussion, explanation or understanding.


Between the exhaustive lists of pronouns and the rest of the language used on the site, there’s more red flags than a North Korean march past.


But this, THIS is the glacé cherry on the diarrhetic shit-sundae of the whole thing.

Screenshot from 2015-03-21 20:16:31


So you’re going to put a supposed ‘anti-harassment’ tool into the hands of self-admitted racists, sexists and heterophobes?

What a brilliant idea! Almost as good as Randi Harper, considered by a great many people to be a hate-spewing harasser, setting up her own version of the bot in relation to Gamergate and trying to set up an anti harassment initiative.

Here’s some other great ideas of the same form:

  • Australian daycare by dingos.
  • The Jimmy Saville Initiative – Paedophiles working in primary schools to repay their debt to society.
  • KKK-run racial sensitivity seminars.

Seriously, all this website needs is a Confederate flag and a looping midi of banjo music to fit the degree of gobsmacking prejudice on show.

But hey, maybe they can swallow their clusterfuck of ‘isms and continue the improvements and lawsuit avoidance that has been going on already. On the other hand, maybe they’ll make things worse but engage in ‘reverse libel tourism’. That may not help if they fall afoul of anti-discrimination and hate speech legislation though.

I’ll hope for the best, but I ain’t holding my breath.


PS: Can we all agree that this kind of ‘article’, full of shitty memes and reaction gifs, and low on words has had its fucking day by now?


Read Full Post »

Fahrenheit-451-007Switch your adblocker on and go familiarise yourselves with THIS Jezebel article, which I’ll be referring to as I go along.

There’s some obvious problems with the article, which I’ll get out of the way first, then I’ll talk about this development in more general terms.

1. No threats etc have been linked to Gamergate as of yet and none have been considered credible.
2. Wu has been mocked, investigated and disagreed with by Gamergate, but again, no harassment has been linked to GG. Wu self-inserted into the controversy to make it about her specifically and about women in tech and online harassment. These are issues worthy of discussion, but are not Gamergate.
3. While it’s true no prosecutions have been made, there have also been no credible threats and these things are often very difficult to prosecute and severe punishments are hard to sell to the public (ref Criado-Perez’ trolls).

Representative Clark wants to make online abuse a priority, but there are very good reasons why it is not a priority for law enforcement. It’s hard to investigate, hard to track down, hard to prosecute, requires technical expertise, can be safely ignored the vast majority of the time and often results in prosecutions that seem draconian and unwarranted against people who are often seen as vulnerable – shut ins, people with mental or developmental issues or young kids.

The cost is very high, the benefit is very small and the amount of cyber-abuse incidents that carry over into the real world can be counted on the fingers of one foot.

Now to move into this event more generally.

Many people in Gamergate welcome this intervention, and not without good reason. Gamergate feels that it has nothing to hide and that it will – again – be exonerated. Gamergate would also welcome third-party trolls and any genuine abusers in its ranks being exposed and run off. Gamergate also would like more law enforcement scrutiny because evidence is increasing that various violations of business regulations are also taking place and investigation would likely end up supporting many of Gamergate’s concerns.

I would, however, enter a note of caution.

It is extremely unlikely – though not impossible – that this Rep. Clark is coming into this out of genuine concern for a constituent. It is far more likely that this has other political implications. Attempts to regulate and control the internet are ongoing and a moral panic about online abuse of women, however fake, is a very good way of getting these kinds of controls and regulations past a skeptical public.

I’m not just blowing smoke here, we’ve had years of this problem in the UK. The actions of campaigns such as No More Page 3 and others are bad enough, actively supporting campus censorship and doing all they can to demonise free expression campaigners but it has gone beyond mobbing and shaming as government involvement has increased.

Moral panic, stirred up by the likes of Gail Dines, accompanied by spurious claims about human trafficking, negative effects of pornography etc has contributed towards enabling the Conservative government (progressives and conservatives working together is a dead giveaway of socially regressive goals) to bring in various measures including:

The US has more protections than we do, thanks to its first amendment, but this isn’t just a free expression issue but about the preservation of a free internet in many other senses.

Just be careful.

It may, finally, be time to embrace PR and Gamergate definitely needs to ‘elect’ a few spokesmen to appear on the media as counterpoints to its critics.

Read Full Post »

Sick Again


The black dog has me in its teeth once again.

The last time I was really down was triggered by events surrounding Gamergate and the resurgence of old bullshit accusations towards me. Of course, these are ceaseless, but sometimes its worse and sometimes its better – depending on how bad the depression is at the time.

I’ve made pretty good progress dealing with external depression causes – thanks to good support structures etc – but haven’t yet figured out a means to deal with the natural ebb and flow of mood when it takes a steep dip like this.

I’m not suicidal, even though I’m pretty damn low (physical symptoms too) but it seems like I’m going to have to take a bit of time off from things. One can only pretend to be OK and ignore things (hoping they’ll go away) for so long.

So this is a courtesy note to people to let them know I’m going to be shit for anything, at least for a couple of weeks.




Read Full Post »

636.x600.ft.muppetsOne of the most common spurious defences against #Gamergate’s appropriate concerns about censorship is to dismiss those concerns as ‘Criticism isn’t censorship’. Now, technically, that is true, but the trouble is that what most people understand by ‘criticism’ is now what your ‘SJW’ means by it.


As most of us would understand the term ‘criticism’ we would think of it in terms of ‘The analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work’. So a film critic watches a film and gives their assessment of its plot, cinematography, storytelling prowess, acting, set design and so forth. We might also think of this in terms of ‘constructive criticisms’. Offering reasoned, valid analysis with the hopes of making things better.

Art is parasitic on life, just as criticism is parasitic on art.
– Harry S Truman

Literary Criticism

Literary criticism, by contrast, is ‘The study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature.’ While it’s called literary criticism, it can be applied to many different art forms including games and films. The emphasis is on interpretation. The trouble with literary criticism, and the related field of literary theory, is that it is all completely subjective – sometimes wilfully so – and as such its interpretations are only really true for the individual applying it. They can tell you essentially nothing about the work itself, only about the person doing the interpreting.

Literary theory is essentially a set of ‘lenses’ through which literary criticism can be applied. A literary critic using feminist theory, for example, might subject a piece of art to examination based on the Bechdel test or unsupported hypotheses such as objectification. Obviously, to use these lenses it to deliberately and wilfully invite a huge amount of subjective bias, something not normally invoked in any serious study or academic discipline, which usually strives for objectivity – insomuch as is possible.

Literary criticism need not be entirely useless. It may be able – in aggregate – to help us understand how people interpret different symbols, metaphors, similes, music, palettes etc, but in individual cases it remains largely useless (save for understanding the critic) and relies overmuch on the arrogant conceit of ‘death of the author’.

Isaac Asimov repeated in several places an anecdote based on this: He once sat in (in the back of a large lecture hall, so semi-anonymously) on a class where the topic of discussion was one of his own works. Afterward, he went up and introduced himself to the teacher, saying that he had found the teacher’s interpretation of the story interesting, though it really wasn’t what he had meant at all. The teacher’s response was “Just because you wrote it, what makes you think you have the slightest idea what it’s about?”

Critical Theory

Critical theory is defined (OED) as: ‘A philosophical approach to culture, and especially to literature, that considers the social, historical, and ideological forces and structures which produce and constrain it.’

As with literary criticism (to which critical theory is in part related) the problem with this is that it tells you more about the critic (or the ideology they are using) than the subject of the criticism itself. This philosophical lens that they apply is distorting to such a degree that it can only really tell you something useful about a product that derives from that same philosophical basis.

Critical theory is also steeped in Cultural Marxism, stemming as much of it does, from the Frankfurt School of sociopolitical thought. As such it was originally predicated upon the idea that fictional and cultural constructs are operating tools of oppression that shape a culture, rather than deriving from it. In cases of cults, closed societies or propagandist totalitarianism this may be valid, but in a pluralistic media landscape it’s clearly nonsense.

Modern critical theory, at least as applied by activists, applies the same idea to a wide variety of different causes and ideologies and takes it further. Any examination or attempts to understand the topic in question are to be ‘deplatformed’ lest they cause damage.


True, actual, criticism strives for objectivity and distance. It assesses an artistic artefact on its own terms and adjudges its success. Some of these matters are subjective, some are objective (especially when it comes to games).

Literary criticism is entirely subjective and as such can tell you little or nothing about the artefact or product in question – and a great deal about the critic. Literary criticism is not ‘this is…’ but rather ‘I think…’ or ‘this made me feel…’ This has no real place in a consumer review and is of the quality and type you’d get in a small conversation with friends.

Critical theory only tells you about the ideology of the critic, not the quality, intent, execution or true nature of the artefact being assessed. It’s literary criticism writ large. Of the three literary criticism is probably the most ‘problematic’ (to coin a phrase) as it relates media content to real social problems, apparently as a means of justification for not liking something. As such it transmutes a matter of taste into a matter of policy, which is then used to justify censorship, control and limitation.

Lit crit and crit theory have their place in commercial product assessment – in editorials. If you want to know about the actual product, stick with those who simply and purely are critics.

The_2de74d_2130342 (1)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »