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Small batches of developers from various studios are coming forward to pledge their support for the #GamerGate movement. These game-makers feel as if the industry needs a desperate change and have spoken up.
Brad Wardell, the CEO of Stardock Entertainment, a company known for games such as Sins of a Solar Empire and Galactic Civilization, has openly come out in support of the #GamerGate movement, writing some eye-opening words about how “toxic” the games media circuit has become: blog...
The problem is that the gaming media gets more hits from demonizing game makers which makes their audience angry and causes them to lash out at the appointed villain. So contextless articles are written designed to make you hate someone, usually people that the article writer already has a problem with. Those articles then live on via search engines perpetuating people being mad and going after the appointed villain. Toxicity is created, spread and maintained.
He felt that the gaming media portrayed him as one of these villains after he was sued for sexual harassment by a former employee. The case was later dismissed.
Wardell just recently made a post titled “#GamerGate – The Free Ride is Over”, making it known that...
“...the bulk of the “anti-#GamerGate” crowd, are perfectly comfortable with harassment and abuse as long as it’s the right people doing the harassment and abuse: Themselves.”
Both sides have managed to spew some hateful things, but most major media outlets only focus on the abuse that anti-#GamerGate individuals encounter. A website called GamerGateHarassment chronicles the abuse that also comes from those supposedly championing “inclusion” by promoting the “death” of the gamer identity.
An independent developer named Devi Ever made also stepped forward, making a 25-minute long video explaining some of the hurdles of dealing with cliques in the games media, saying...
“The nail in the coffin for me was when I had a friend in the industry say 'Hey, you should talk to Ben Kuchera [from Polygon], because he's open-minded and he'll listen to you.' I was like 'Are you f—king kidding me?' and they were like 'No, you should really talk to him.'
Devi also released an image of the e-mail exchange here.
It's not just the smaller developers stepping forward. Supposedly, a member of the original Xbox One design team posted anonymously on 4chan, using a photo of the white Xbox One that Microsoft sent out to the 2013 launch team as proof – stating the following...
“Me and a large part of my work colleagues support #gamergate. We work to create an amazing experience for our customers, for the gamers, and in return we are branded as misogynists, fat, neck-bearded creeps by these so-called 'journalists'. Yes, almost all of us here in this studio are gamers. We, on a personal level do NOT approve of these websites (which, at the end of the day, make money on our work) and their biased articles and lacking ethics.
Of course, is it possible someone purchased a near $3,000 Xbox One unit from eBay and then posted the #GamerGate post-it in the photo to boost morale? It's possible, but that's a very expensive way to troll.
Purportedly, a Ubisoft employee also stepped forward, posting an image of a medallion with the Ubisoft logo and their name on it... of course, the name was blocked out so no one would know their identity. They posted in a 4chan thread, which is still one of the only few places where uncensored discussion can take place about #GamerGate ...
“Game dev here (Ubisoft). A lot of my fellow dev friends love what you are doing.
Funnily enough, the supposed developer received a lot of disheartened flack from gamers in the thread because gamers felt as if the gaming community is losing the battle, and morale is dropping due to the larger media outlets not properly conveying what's really going on surrounding the #GamerGate controversy, painting the movement mostly as one designed to harass women. Many of the gamers are desperately pleading for developers to step forward and help them support #GamerGate in the open.
Additionally, a Riot Games employee also came forward to support #GamerGate, using a work-ID tag with the name blacked out. The League of Legends developer posted a photo of the badge with the following message...
“I know you don't really need to hear this but please don't harass anyone” … “Having said that, I really appreciate that this whole thing exists and applaud the level headed and respectful ones among you. The thing I'm afraid of is that without a movement like this, another game like Fallout 2 might never see the light of day. For a game like that to get made everyone in the room has to be able to discuss what the experience of enslaving people and buying a prostitute for your mutant friend will be. I have a hard time imagining that conversation comfortably taking place today and that's really sad. You can't really “win” in this fight, but making your voice heard and reminding people you exist, you aren't malicious, and that you are a gamer is great.”
The sentiment above about not being able to have those conversations has been reiterated twice before during the #GamerGate debacle by other developers; developers who fear that if something isn't done to curb the kind of censorship and attacks being utilized from the games media platform, certain games may not ever have a chance to exist.
In an interview with TechRaptor, a developer from a post-Soviet Union country talked about this very thing, saying...
“Today we are on a crossroad. Direction A means w, [sic] as indie developers commit ourselves to censorship and Direction B means we keep our “artistic freedom.” I was expecting the very same people from the movie to push events in Direction B’s favor but now one of them agrees that gamers are dead, one of them whines and acts like a toddler and others keep radio silence.
The independent developer was once a journalist working under oppressive conditions where he once lived; the kind of conditions where writing the wrong thing could make you disappear for good. He mentions that it would be a shame for the games industry to follow suit under social agendas that would continue to hamper creative expression because it doesn't fit within a specific, sociopolitical narrative, saying...
“On the historical experience note – the history of the last two centuries in my country is a history of oppression and censorship. The brightest minds of our society were executed and alienated by authorities. The only acceptable topics in art were topics mandated by censors. In the result a once rich culture drained and became anti-art. I know how dangerous censorship is. Censors killed culture with several centuries worth of experience and now imagine what they can do to a culture as young as video games.”
Daniel Vavra, the writer and designer for Mafia and Mafia II currently working at Warhorse Studios on Kingdom Come: Deliverance, also spoke out on behalf of #GamerGate. Vavra reiterated what the other developer mentioned about the demarcations being imposed on artistic freedom, saying...
“Assassin’s Creed had 5 different articles about its lack of a female character on the front page of an industry website in one day. Five! Next to each other. And we can continue: the Far Cry 4 cover “scandal,” Stanley Parable was accused of racism, Wildstar was accused of sexism, God of War, Hotline Miami, Bioshock, Divinity Original Sin, Witcher… Nobody ever dares to argue or protect his art, because it would mean instant accusation of misogyny/racism/homophobia/sexism… And then you realize that the people who are accusing others everyday have terrible conflicts of interests and very weird ethics. The pot calling the kettle black.”
#GamerGate is the result of a brewing basket of explosive emotions from gamers and developers alike, built up over the past couple of years. A lot of people simply want to go back to the days when games were made, reviewers gave scores and gamers bought and played what seemed decent enough for the money they paid for it. Vavra held nothing back regarding how he felt the major media outlets have mostly ignored many of the other aspects of the #GamerGate movement, instead focusing solely on harassment and misogyny, saying...
“When you look at the moral standards of some of those people. When you see them calling respected people with different opinions “Faded crackheads, s–tlords and misogynistic basement neckbeards”. When you see that one of the biggest gaming sites (Polygon) has a blacklist of people they don’t like to hear from, what would you expect? Many people also don’t go deep into the issue and they make an opinion just based on the hysteric reaction to anonymous threats, while the whole thing is about something absolutely different.”
Many large sites have responded to #GamerGate's ethical concerns by updating their rules for employees. Sites under Defy Media have altered their ethics policies. Destructoid, Polygon and Kotaku have done so as well.