Real #GameDev’s Sound off Regarding the #GamerGate Controversy

gamergate vivian james 09-18-14-1

Yesterday, I published an interview with an Xbox/Microsoft developer who shall remain anonymous, but a lot of our fans and readers have been asking what other, smaller developers have to say regarding #GamerGate?

Whether you fully believe in the meaning of #GamerGate, partially, or if you completely disagree with it – it has far reaching implications and lots of game developers have decided to speak out. The majority of them are scared, just like you dear readers and fellow gamers. Some of them may also be outraged at the evidence that has been dug up against the regular suspects, but they all seem to be in agreement – something has to be done, and a new standard has to be set.

I want to make something clear – these correspondences have not been altered in any way, and as such they are as close to the source material as I can take you guys. The only time I’ve edited things are for the game developers who wish to remain anonymous.

Rakan Almekhaizeem – Rasam Concept:

I’m a Middle Eastern game developer. It’s not easy going into this profession here, not a lot of people are accepting of the idea of making games and selling them for a living. If you do try to do it, you’re stuck making cheap mobile phone apps because those sell well, but they’re not the games you want to make.

I decided to risk it and go the full course, I wanted to make a game that I’ve always wanted to make. I work with friends, close partners who I’ve known for years. I’ve studied with and under some of these individuals and they’ve helped me become a better person, learn more about the world, and improve in so many ways.

Yet it’s a nightmare to look at the way journalists work right now. They never look at the positive qualities, it’s always the agenda. Everything is clickbait, even the slightest thing can be used against the person. I remember there was one time when a famous game developer was called sexist, someone who had made a game from my childhood, and he was called sexist for something taken entirely out of context.

I’m not ignorant, I realize that, as a Muslim and Arab game developer, I hit two things that most feminist movements despise. Islam isn’t known for its compassion towards women, and there are many Arab countries that have gained infamy for how they separate men and women. Yet those are governments, and organized religious movements. They don’t represent me, they don’t define me as a person.

What I fear is that they’ll look at those groups, horrible factions like ISIS and HAMAS who spend their time terrorizing the weak and preying on the innocent and assume that I’m like that. They’ll look at the events of 9/11 and assume I support it. They’ll think any incident of rape, violence, or gay-bashing is something I support, condone, or even participate in.

But that’s not me. I am not the only Muslim game developer, nor am I the only Arab. There are many others, and I don’t speak for them, just like they don’t speak for me.

It’s not natural for me to be afraid like this. It’s not normal for me to worry about being stereotyped, but then I look at what the big name journalists are like and how they edit their content. They support the targeting and stereotyping of their audience, as well as the content creators they review and analyze.

They never stop to think that these are real people, with reputation, emotions, and connections behind them.

I’ve reached an age where I have to start treating everyone as if one day, this is going to be someone’s parent, and I don’t want them to look at their child and remember anything shameful, hurtful, or embarrassing I said to them and feel like they’re less of a person because of it.

Is it too much to ask of these extremely partial reviewers to do the same?

Michael Vargas – Pipewords:

When I first saw the #GamerGate hashtag, I assumed it was about some convention I’ve never heard of. Or an actual “gamergate”, which is a type of worker ant that can breed with males, something I had learned about working on my latest game WINdshield which is primarily about insects. Obviously there must be some kind of cosmic magic at work.

Regardless, I click on the link and see the #GamerGate insurgents decry corruption in games journalism, which made me ask, “What else is new?” I am old enough to have hailed from an era of “LamePro” and “The Wizard is a must-see movie!”, so this is nothing new. But then I clicked the links offered and did indeed see something new: raging “journalists” and “media professionals” from mainstream publications insulting gamers as “truthers”, “freaks”, “weirdos”, “outsiders”, “self-destructive”, “hateful”, “dying”, and my personal favorite, “desperate”. “Desperate” indeed; someone gave Freud the slip, it seems.

The other stunner was a multitude of scandals that the “journalists” were all but diving out of windows to avoid covering properly. The sheer media silence and weasel writing required me to go to such ad-hoc journalistic bastions like KnowYourMeme and YouTube for, you know, actual information. That information revealed two absolutely stunning scandals to me: the now-infamous Zoe Quinn scandal, which would’ve shaken any reputable journalistic institution to its core, and this new bizarre sex-and-cronyism scandal involving an indie PR agent’s affair with the chairman of the Independent Games Festival, with her clients’ games coincidently all taking prizes.

The latter affair is especially outrageous, and not because I myself submitted a game, PipeWords, to the same festival. It’s one thing that I had participated in a rigged contest. It’s another that younger devs put college tuitions on the line, went into debt, made hours of sacrifices, all for a fraud and to send kickbacks to an indie clique. One that, judging by the actions and rhetoric of this sordid, pathetic “anti-gamer” crew, probably doesn’t like them anyway.

The final word on #GamerGate is that dealing with this hilariously hostile and venomous anti-gamer crowd is simply another variant of the same old moral authoritarians that have attacked video games to further their own careers and agendas. In the 1990’s, it was Joe Lieberman, who ended up retiring early from Congress very much disliked. In the 2000’s, it was Jack Thompson, who ended up disbarred. Now it is what seems to be a various mob of charlatans and agitators, whom I’ve dubbed the “Weasel Axis”. Like with Lieberman and Thompson, they do not get what freedom of expression means, nor do they get that a difference in taste, even questionable taste, is not a license to mindlessly demagogue, lie, or censor art. The only difference is that these moral authoritarians are inside the perimeter, which only makes them a thousand times more vulnerable than even Lieberman and Thompson were.

The way to deal with this issue is to not dance with these agitators on Twitter, but to calmly go to their bread-and-butter, which would be their sponsors, AAA developers, and the like, and explain that if they continue to do business with a mob that insults their own consumers, no dollars will be spent. Provide examples of harassment and alert them through all different media possible (from Twitter to customer support to email). Their management will do the math, and act accordingly.

To use a gaming metaphor, in Super Mario Bros, when you fight Bowser, you don’t argue with him on Twitter. You instead calmly move past him and use the axe lying right behind him to end his nonsense. There is nothing one can do about the proverbial “axe”, something these “journalists” are finding out already it seems.

I can assure you as well, management across the industry are taking notice and are as stunned as I am. Have you ever heard of Car and Driver calling motor enthusiasts “rapists” or “worse than ISIS”? They are no doubt worried #GamerGate could evolve into #GamersBoycottHolidays or #GamersBoycottXmas. The #GamerGate insurgents should do everything possible to make that point clear.

Slade Villena – Rogue Star Games:

My story; after an honorable enlistment as a US Marine, I left to chase my computer science degree, with a focus on game engines and development. I rode college on a GI Bill. Naturally, I was part of the “indie” movement that focused on game craft, software, and of course my pet agenda: war games. Most SJWs in Gamasutra didn’t like my writing (I wrote about war psychology, criticizing SJW rhetoric, game engines and software, all the stuff SJWs hate), but due to numerous readers, I usually score a featured post every week.

In 2012, I started getting into more and more heated arguments on Gamasutra channels and comments. During that year, after I scored seed funding on Kickstarter, I received the equivalent of a “shadowban”. Basically, I could no longer access my gamedev blog. 3 years of my writing as a gamedev student, and then some as an indie dev. I later learned through rumors that Christian Nutt and Leigh Alexander took direct control of the blog sections.

I started seeing similar patterns during that year, in full force, targeted at my other gamedev friends; Kotaku, Polygon, RPS, NeoGAF, and ilk. 2012 was the year “proto GamerGate” started, but they targeted smaller gamedevs that they could silence. As of late, they tried doing the same thing to gamers. I’ve only mildly encountered the SJW circles embedded in gamedev. They try to silence you for dissenting opinions.

It’s mostly a war on rhetoric, but they use isolation, shaming, media blockades, threatening future connections as a means of exploiting weaker willed gamedevs. Right now; they threaten indie gamedevs by mildly excluding them from meetups and discussions, boldly by spreading rumors with game festival staff. Please keep in mind; I talk to you under the threat of character assassination, and career sabotage.

All of which DID happen to numerous gamedevs over the past 4 weeks. It’s only apparent now because someone caught it; most of the time, this flies under the radar.

Anonymous Game Dev #1:

I’m a female game developer, 8 years experience. 12 shipped titles. Currently working a department lead for one of the largest game companies in the world.

The “misogyny” in the game industry itself is a life fabricated by outsiders, and supported with the voices of the vocal few.

Anonymous Game Dev #2:

I think that #GamerGate is a great thing and that it has the potential to do a lot of good. Game journalists and those with strong followings are claiming/believing that this was just an excuse to harass Zoe but to me this is the result of pent up feelings and the increasing disregard of gamers as people. The fact that no one expected this to happen or understands why this happened beyond the realm of Zoe’s business is shocking to me as a gamer and as a black game developer. Also, I don’t like how people with clout in the industry always want to control the narrative or perspective on major topics; it’s rude and condescending. I’m a huge advocate of diversity and I feel like if you want diversity, you need to accept that others may have different perspectives. But apparently talking with people like people is too much work and you can’t have a polite discussion without risking your career and/or being mobbed on. And let’s not get into how “social justice” issues are used as shields from critique and/or as clickbait.

I don’t approve of harassment campaigns and the false flagging and I would like that to stop. There are people getting hurt and I don’t like that. With that said, these past few weeks have revealed the smugness of gaming media and how they view gamers. I don’t understand how a person could constantly beat down their consumers and paint them in such broad strokes and then act surprised when they get mad. I don’t understand that they can’t believe that if you disagree with them, that you’re just a cis/white/het/neckbeard (this frustrates me so much). I don’t get how so many developers are afraid to lose friends, connections, and a presence for speaking out and that no one sees this as a problem. No one should be afraid to voice their opinion as long as they’re being reasonable about it.

There needs to be a standard that gaming media is held to because I feel like it’s wishy-washy. I know that in other industries that a lot of the remarks and derogatory things they’ve said would’ve got them fired. The industry is small, and of course you’re going to make friends with a lot of people, but the line between professional and personal needs to be drawn.

Anonymous Game Dev #3:

We’d love to be more vocal about it, but the risk of being strung up by the political correctness mob who hunger for ending the careers of anyone who disagrees with them just hasn’t been worth it….

Anonymous Game Dev #4:

I’m just an indie dev with only a couple games released, but I am working on more. I have tried to stay out of most of the debate for fear of being blackballed.

Hoping that gaming sites will at the very least start disclosing conflicts of interest. I think that is the likely result. It may be a long shot, but hopefully the big gaming sites will have to shut down for lack of audience.

I would bet nepotism such as in the ZQ incident is fairly common. The IGF/IndieFund incident is serious allegations though.

SPECULATION:I think the hacking of Phil Fish was unrelated to ZQ and more likely done by someone close to him hoping the press would pick it up and realize the connections. Those involved with Polytron were likely shitting themselves. Many of the gaming journalists probably knew nothing of the rigging and were just colleagues/connections encouraged to denounce those yelling corruption.

Anonymous Game Dev #5:

I’m a young game designer from Berlin, Germany. The company I’m working for is pretty low profile and not really involved in any of this mess, but seeing that I might be working for a bigger fish at some point in my live – in a job that may be influenced by those corrupt journalists – I feel personally involved. I encourage every single person in the industry to voice up! This is about everyone, if not today, then in future.

Anonymous Game Dev #6:

I actually have a lot to say about GamerGate, but what it really comes down to is that journalists and gaming sites are not even willing to discuss any of the complaints, they constantly just make fun of gamers and GamerGate. One of the top images for GamerGate right now is a fake “illuminati” type image created by Gamasutra.

When confronting someone about their article, saying that Zoe Quinn had potentially harmed a lot of other female game devs through her dealings with IGF and game jams, they responded back to me with “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” as if it were all just a big game. This person is also involved in the same PR company as Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian. Where is the objectivity? It’s all just one big media circle-jerk.

My female game dev friends have been constantly attacked by these anti-GamerGate crowd, yet it is not addressed at all. Most of the media has been entirely one-sided. It has nothing to do with sexuality, sex or race. It has everything to do with journalists trying to cover up their own corruption.

I agree with some of the messages Anita is making, about games needing better writing, and there needing to be more female protagonists, but she has done nothing to offer real solutions to the industry, she just hates everything. Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian are professional victims who get paid for “being attacked”. I would go as far as to say that most of their attacks are forged, as they have given no proof other than “I was attacked, I’m so scared” and then 5 minutes later they’re linking their Patreons and everything is ok again.

Most game developers are afraid to even talk about. I am a little bit. If I run a Kickstarter they could simply pass over me because of my name because I disagreed with them in the past. I could get review bombed by fanatics, I could get doxxed or silenced.

Anonymous Game Dev #7:

I’m pretty much a no name gamedev currently working on my first game, which I hope to have a demo ready by winter of if possible. As someone who has grown up and drawn inspiration from videogames they are an integral part of my everyday life from playing them to slowly developing one.

I looked at the indie scene more closely in the past couple of years and saw some amazing games come out which inspired me to start making my own earlier this year. To see such a large scale scandal come out with one of my go to sites (Polygon) being involved in one way or another and the people who write for videogames calling developers and players alike “shit people” is just atrocious.

Journalism for videogames has started to show its dark gloomy face which scorns the very people they cater to. Its starting to get to the point where developers and writers are loosing their jobs because of some cold war style political bullshit. People who want to work with videogames shouldn’t have to hide in the bunkers until the gas clears, but I guess we will have to wait for that whistle to howl. When the whistle howls I will be there my friend, through thick and thin we will Build, Create, and Survive.

Anonymous Game Dev #8:

Game journalists have a duty to provide honest, fair and informative descriptions of games to their audience. Their audience always expects games to be rated for their narrative depth, their mechanics, their lack of bugs and similar game-related aspects. When the reviewers instead give ratings to games based on their personal friendship or romantic partnership with the developer, the degree to which they share the developer’s ideology or the bribes that they get, they are not writing reviews for the benefit of their audience. They are writing reviews for their own benefit and possibly for the benefit of their ideology while trying to fool the audience into believing that what they practice is honest journalism.

The last few weeks have revealed conclusive evidence that Patricia Hernandez, Nathan Grayson, Leigh Alexander, Ben Kuchera, Phil Kollar and other game journalists have built ties with developers that place them in conflicts of interest, to the detriment of their audience. They have further revealed that Maya Kramer, whose consultancy firm had worked with all the finalists for the most recent Independent Games Festival, was sleeping with the festival’s organizer, Brandon Boyer. In this incident, Boyer was not only pursuing a conflict of interest against the gamers who trusted him, he was effectively swindling the honest developers who had paid $55 entrance fees to “compete” for awards that were all handed out to his girlfriend’s collaborators.

All of these people had lied to their audience, then shamelessly censored and denigrated that very same audience when it voiced its complaints. The mass comment deletions in Reddit’s /r/gaming, the locked threads in the forums of virtually all of the websites involved and the articles stating “the death of gamers” in unison highlight a state of contempt for one’s audience that transcends credibility and has never been seen outside game journalism.

I feel that major publications such as Gamasutra represent a threat and not a boon to game developers – at least to those developers who choose to disassociate themselves from politics. I see these publications as a greater obstacle than technical constraints or market saturation. In my own case, I am devoting three years’ savings to my game project; though I do hope to break even financially, I am mainly building my game for a good cause, to encourage secular people with a strong sense of morals to come together and build communities. I do not mind the possibility of failing to make a good game, as that is something I can correct on my own. I do, however, mind the possibility of getting poor reviews because I don’t happen to be (and indeed would refuse to be) in anyone’s political clique. I mind the possibility of helping other people out, only to later learn they belonged to such cliques and looked upon ethics with loathing. I mind the possibility of failing to get greenlit on Steam because of bad publicity given that I have spoken out against corrupt game journalists on #GamerGate. I mind the possibility of being blacklisted in the industry, of losing my savings, several years of my life and the means to inspire the people I care about in the event that I question the ideologies of these journalists. Most of all, I mind all the hardships that others have suffered at these crooks’ hands; The Fine Young Capitalists are one well-known example, and this team would have never managed to recover from its ordeal had it not been for the public outcry against Zoe Quinn.

There is cause to be optimistic, however. Browsing the #GamerGate hashtag on Twitter has shown me that there are many good people in the industry, be they gamers, journalists or developers, who want to put an end this state of affairs. I have also seen that women, LGBTQ people and members of ethnic minorities have posted in droves on the #NotYourShield hashtag as a response to accusations from Kotaku, Gamasutra, Polygon and other websites that they were no more than misogynistic homophobes for criticizing game journalists. More than 800,000 people have watched InternetAristocrat’s first video on the subject, with 34,800 upvotes compared to 1,300 downvotes. Finally, 1,000+ people decided to follow @phubans overnight when he mentioned that some people had unfollowed him after he tweeted a GamerGate video. #GamerGate has been trending for the last three days, and #NotYourShield was trending yesterday, in several parts of the world from Australia to Canada. Interest in the situation from the mainstream press will likely grow over the next several weeks, as will the likelihood of getting enduring results against the corruption that is now affecting game journalism. For the time being, I see this as an opportunity to bring some integrity into an industry that badly needs it, and hope to see a much more healthy journalistic landscape when the dust finally settles.

Anonymous Game Dev #9:

To begin with, I consider my personal politics non-toxic. Equality is the most noble goal we can hope to achieve as a society, and that includes race and gender but isn’t limited to them; I feel there are a lot of socio-political imbalances in culture, class and economic status that also need to be addressed too. I share a lot of views with a lot of the left, and that should be cool.

But in my want for equality, I believe there’s a certain strength in being tolerant of other people’s ideologies too; even if they may not be as progressive as some. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has this thing that he says, and I think it applies in this situation; “the cool thing about science is, you don’t have to believe in it for it to be right”. Replace ‘science’ with politics pertaining to equality, and I reckon that’s spot on too. It doesn’t matter if my neighbour thinks that people of colour are criminals, he’s allowed to be a nasty sonofabitch in his own time, but the larger powers in society shouldn’t act on that. They should maintain equality despite what he thinks.

This is relevant, I swear.

Because, there’s a bit of a strong current in the games scene (indie dev, AAA dev and journalism; this is a three-pronged problem right here) that has a repulsive attitude to their equality to the tune of “you’re with us [as feminists] or against us”, that I can’t get behind.

Let me re-state in different words that I agree with most feminist politics. Most. When people brand “all men” as rapists despite facts to the contrary, I believe we’ve got a problem – and it’s a problem we’re not allowed to stand up and address without being labeled ‘misogynists’ for our troubles. But here’s the thing; when one of these people say something like “rape is a womens’ problem” and someone else (which has on occasion been myself, but not any more- and I’ll get to that) steps up to correct ‘women’ as ‘people’, there’s that same outcry.

Why? To correct to ‘people’ is [a] fairer, regarding the ‘other half’ in this equation (which, regarding trans-genders, is a false dichotomy, but I am keeping it simple here) is [b] more accurate and [c] TOTALLY RESPECTFUL AS IT IS INCLUDING WOMEN IN THAT DEFINITION. To re-correct that ‘people’ back to ‘women’ is almost like saying that women aren’t people, and I’m totally against that.

Small details, I’m digressing a little bit.

Of late, I’m at the point where I just let these people spout their erroneous rhetoric and keep silent. I’d love the world to be a better place, but unfortunately the more extreme parts of this ‘narrative’ are taking hold in a very toxic way that claims to want to ‘open a channel’ and ‘discuss’ but name-calls even the most progressive and well-meaning people for daring to try and improve on the minutiae of their own well-meaning-but-unfortunately-flawed rhetoric. Name-calling that stays, as all things do on the Internet, and can damage a person’s career; there have been more than a few reports of developers being flat-out fired for not matching the politic on their own damn time.

It’s totally fair to ask someone to tow the company line professionally, but to expect their personal lives and ideology to fall within that is frankly unacceptable. Tolerance isn’t a filter that can be applied only to those who agree.

I’m just starting out. I’m a nobody. I’m keeping quiet about my own egalitarian politics and ways in which I would love to give feedback to others to see the world in a less-toxic and more progressive way (for example, demonising males and making an ‘other’ about them is really only going to exacerbate the gender divide, not magically fix it) and it’s kinda painful to Not Do What I Know Is Right in favour of instead Letting Them Keep Thinking They’re Right because it could fuck up any attempt at a future career in gamedev if I don’t.

I have even flat-out deleted one of my games from the Internet for gender politics that could be interpreted as anti-feminist (they weren’t, I left them purposely open-ended because I believe it’s a player’s prerogative to read what they choose from a game’s content), and am fearful of everything I say and create in this field; it genuinely feels like one wrong move will work against me and render all the hard work I’m doing in creating my games a wasted effort.

These people claim tolerance and understanding, but are in effect silencing dissenters through fear of repercussion; and that many of those are in that make-or-break position of being the reporters of the medium makes this all the more frustrating and painful.

Aspiring Game Dev #1:

First off, I should say that I’m not actually technically a game developer. I am a computer science major going into my third year of study, with an intent to make video games in the future. Video games have brought me so much happiness and fun over the years, that it is my dream to bring just a little bit of happiness and fun to other people by making some of my own. I have made a few “games”, but they were never published and were never really all that good. In that sense, then, my opinion is really only as that of a potential future game developer, so I don’t expect it to hold as much weight as ACTUAL game developers.

All that being said, though, I would like to express my opinion on the matter. In terms of politics, I am a bisexual, male-to-female transgender, and also a conservative. No, that’s not a paradox, either. I don’t let my politics leak very often, since I think it’s rude to do so in public, and also because I live in California, one of the most liberal states in America. I have experienced harassment and such for my political opinions in the past, so I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut unless I know the people around me are also conservatively-inclined. Aside from an English professor failing a paper I wrote because he felt that it was “not progressively-minded enough” (His exact words), I have never experienced any significant “oppression” due to my political beliefs.

In speaking with some of my computer science professors, though, I’ve learned that I might have quite a bit in store for me. Most of them are conservatively inclined as well, and even though none of them have worked in the games development industry, many of them report experiences such as “losing [their] job because [they] had the wrong bumper sticker on [their] car”, or receiving a pay cut because the wrong person caught them leaking their politics.

For a long time, I thought to myself that I would be able to avoid this, that I could keep it from affecting me. I’m not so sure now, after the past few weeks. The whole #GamerGate thing, the way indie devs have been being treated for just expressing their heartfelt, genuine opinions on matters, has shaken my confidence that I’ll be able to make good games for people to have fun with and play without someone deciding to harass and bully me for my politics.

I don’t want to push my politics through my video games. All I want is to make good, fun video games for people to enjoy. That is seriously all that I want to do as a game developer. But I’m increasingly feeling like I won’t be allowed to disconnect my politics from my video games, no matter how hard I try.

This is going to sound silly and childish, but this whole incident has seriously made me reconsider my dream of becoming a video game developer, since I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to make the games I want anymore. I’m afraid that I’ll be harassed and bullied for not following somebody else’s agenda, when all I want to do is make fun, enjoyable video games for people to be happy with. I know it’s stupid to be afraid of that, but I genuinely am.

I’m hoping, then , that #GamerGate will be able to make the game development industry more genuinely inclusive by the time I get there – Not just inclusive of all races, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, but also of all political ideologies, all religions, and all life philosophies. Inclusive in the sense that people like me, whose political opinions differ from the great majority of video game developers, are still allowed to do the job of video game developers: Making great games, for people to have fun with, and to make other people happy.

That’s all I really want to do, so I hope that by the time I enter the industry, that’s what I’ll be allowed to do.

I wanted to make a note of my inclusion of Jason’s message. With his voice being the creator of the #notyourshield sister hashtag to #GamerGate, I felt like having his message finish this off just made sense.

Jason Miller – The originator of #notyourshield:

Nobody cared who I was until I started #notyourshield. I came home last Friday to a comfy couch, my living room PC, to make a quick post about gamedev to my small but amazing followers and hopefully play some Left 4 Dead 2. With no warning or lead in I see a link on Gamasutra. A site I’ve followed since college days declaring “Gamers are Dead.” another article called “The Demise of Gamers”. I felt both articles were written so vitriolically, hatefully, if any person in any industry were to write that about their customers or people they must endure daily that person should leave for the health of the industry and their own mental health going forward.

That’s what I posted. I was immediately hit with a barrage of “why don’t you leave your basement sometime and stop leeching off mommy”. I respond “miss I have a five bedroom home” and perhaps a bit arrogantly “a surround sound and gaming PC set up likely more than your annual income”. I’m grown, I’m an audiophile, games enthusiast and I didn’t care for being spoken to like an angry child.

That’s how it started. For the days that followed chasing down a rabbit hole of hashtags, youtube videos, Adam Baldwin, deleted posts, figuring out who would and wouldn’t talk about all the weirdness that is #gamergate. I’m a mid 20’s African American originally from one of the poorest, most blighted communities in America, someone not only respected but gives back as often as I can lost my identity and became a “white fat, neckbeard dudebro manchild”.

I was the enemy. My history was attacked, I was never raised by a single grandmother and worked for my games with calloused hands, I was “privileged”. I don’t understand my own day-to-day struggles anymore or what I’m offended by, others would speak for me. I was in “deep denial”. “Shhhhh…” they’d actually say. There’s a name for what some of them are implying I was and I won’t say it, but it’s the subject of a famous Malcom X speech along with being defined for modern audiences in Django Unchained, played amazingly by Samuel L Jackson. I’ve even seen one with the gall to use it against the entire gaming community.

I had attempted to reach out to other indie devs and people in the industry with no avail. It’s been either you’re with us, against us, or silence. Twitter is the only place I’ve seen open speech. Now I’m going to take back a part of my history for a moment to tell you a bit about myself. On the block I grew up, to about every young man that came across her path my Grandmother was known as “The Law”. She didn’t care how big you were, how many people you had with you, if you were doing wrong she let you know and stopped you. She did everything she could to raise me as a man everyday of her life, taught me to stand up for people, pick them up, pick myself back up and got me here today so the next time someone wants to throw out misogynist know there was nobody in my life that taught me “patriarchy” only right, wrong and when to stand for what was right. I might have been a nerd but I’ve never been a coward. She was a straight shooter and so am I.

So as I’m looking through all of this I see a woman who made a parody piece on certain gaming personalities who was then harassed, doxxed, threatened to tears. Now that sort of thing lights a fire in me. I know I can’t go and punch every person behind a screen but the one thing I can do is say “not in my name”. If you want to hate, go ahead, insult people, ignore the people you claim to represent but do not claim you do it in the name of “justice”. What followed I’m not really proud of myself I was arguing, fighting, sunk down to their level in a lot of ways. But in some ways I am proud, I was able to throw myself, my work and everything on the table for a human being I had never met. While all the super-progressive people that were supposed to have our “best interests” stood by and laughed.

It wasn’t until one night I saw the other marginalized people fighting too I thought “there should be a hashtag. Something like “#NotYourShield”. I don’t have a huge following or a field of influencers to say “make it so” to around me, just some guys that like mobile games and weird experiments. I didn’t expect it would connect and resonate with others that well, the following, articles or videos it was a casual idea, many turned great.

Then came the allegations, it was either 4chan’s idea or I’m in collusion with 4chan whatever. None of that has a hint of truth. I don’t mind them using the hashtag because looking at Alexa they have more women there than most of the gaming sites and personalities we’re rallied against. They have an active lgbt board and users and each one of them deserves a voice. I’d rather not see sockpuppets because that hurts the rest of us.

Full disclosure: I have gone to 4chan since these events began and at least when I look I don’t see plans for harassment of individuals. Rowdy voices get snuffed out. That might be recent maybe with us joined in. In my opinion calling whats happening harassment is like a criminal calling it harassment when presented with evidence of wrongdoing. All of these different people who don’t know each other and wouldn’t work together 7 days ago, reading their history some of these sites were at each others necks months ago, didn’t band up just to mess up one or two small-name big-ego peoples days and sustain it for a full week. People are jeopardizing careers and livelihoods, taking a side while others are working day and night to call out corruption everything else can sit in the back seat.

We were “weaponized minorities”, at a better time I might intend to make an fps about that but for right now if anything is being weaponized it is the gaming industry and press vs it’s customers. They performed a set of actions that caused harm also caused us to band together, indie devs, youtubers, twitters(…tweeters?) redditors, tumblrs, bloggers and yes even 4channers in a way that might render them all but obsolete. If there’s a war for people to be imperialized the so-called Social Justice Warriors are the ones singing the White Man’s Burden.

We “don’t know what’s best for ourselves” because of course we can only legitimately participate in a movement when it fits their world view. The condescension is amazing. The fact that another indie dev who will not be named tweeted that 4chan screenshot, then removed and blocked me for coming with evidence. It was my doing only proves how far these people will go to spin whatever facts come up and I can’t abide that. I know what’s best for myself, my future and it’s not with you.

I am really truly sorry in my heart for whatever happened online, in games, to you, your friends and loved ones that made you so…hateful. But I and the thousands and thousands of people are #notyourshield to hide behind.


I wanted to thank all of the game developers that spoke to us, and Jason Miller for speaking to me publicly about his involvement with the #notyourshield hashtag. Again, if you’re a game developer and are looking to speak out, please contact me immediately.

I will protect your name if you reach out to me and wish to remain anonymous, but please consider stepping forward like Rakan, Michael, Slade, and Jason did. These individuals are risking their careers, their jobs, and their reputations for both myself, the staff, and you – our fellow gamers.

This has never been about spreading hate or misogyny, it has always been about clarity, ethics, and the end of blatant agenda pushing at the cost of artistic freedom and the freedom of speech. In this time of darkness and censorship, I hope I’ve given you all a light of hope to keep the fire burning. Let’s stop the bigotry and the hate together.

Brandon Orselli

About

Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.