Women speak out about harassment at GDC 2015
March 4, 2015 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Today at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Zoe Quinn [previously] and other female game developers spoke out about online harassment and how to fight back. Quinn expressed her disappointment with the lack of action on the part of the game industry and also announced a new partnership between her Crash Override anti-harassment network and Randi Harper [previously] of GG Autoblocker fame, a new anti-harrassment non-profit organization called the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative.
posted by murphy slaw (23 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
"a controversy that started as a spat between lovers"? that's a load of shit; it started out with an abuser rallying hate mobs against his ex-girlfriend, and attempts to create a false equivalence between that and a "lover's spat" is part of a awful, shitty narrative that gets lots of people to dismiss domestic abuse; it's part of a shitty misogynistic societal narrative that enables a lot of the awful stuff that gamergate does.
posted by NoraReed at 7:25 PM on March 4, 2015 [113 favorites]

I'm sure Goobers reacted to this with the calm and equanimity they're known for.
posted by kmz at 7:48 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

If a site called "VentureBeat" can't be trusted to provide high-quality journalism, we're all in big trouble.
posted by uosuaq at 8:21 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Zoe Quinn has superpowers derived from her bionic implants. Sure, they're pretty minor now, but I don't think you'll want to be her enemy once she has ceramic razor teeth, toxic saliva, and particle accelerators built into the long bones of her arms.

So if any GG types are reading this, it would probably be a good idea to make nice now.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:16 PM on March 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

I can't help but admire Quinn's willingness to continue engaging with this cesspool of assholes and not let game developers off the hook. I would have given up long ago.
posted by dry white toast at 10:15 PM on March 4, 2015 [23 favorites]

drywhitetoast:I can't help but admire Quinn's willingness to continue engaging with this cesspool of assholes and not let game developers off the hook. I would have given up long ago.

Yeah, this is worth repeating. Zoe's been the target since her ex dumped his screed about her wherever he could to ruin her life and she's still around and doing kickass work to help any other victims of harassment.

It's also worth remembering that back when it was just starting up there was no help and no talk about GG, so she went and did her own investigative journalism and documented exactly how widespread and awful it had become. The strength to not only weather the harassment but do everything that nobody else would is incredibly respectable.
posted by flatluigi at 10:30 PM on March 4, 2015 [32 favorites]

Yeah no, "spat between lovers" is just...ugh, terrible framing (that whole article is kind of terrible; "virulently denying"? Surely they mean "vehemently"). I read the blogpost by Zoe Quinn's ex, and he comes across as kind of a self-pitying asshole with delusions of ownership —"we were briefly broken up and got back together again and while we were broken up she slept with other guys which is CHEATING because I own her!" is what it reads like, which, fucksake—and somehow bitter little man-child's butthurt whining about how he was "cheated" on morphs into "and that's clearly the only reason her game got positive reviews, because she was fucking some dude who writes for Kotaku!"

And the whole ugly idea of men owning women and women always being wrong is something at the heart of the whole Gamergate thing and its resonance with various MRA types, I think, which is kind of ironic and bleakly amusing, because if the positions had been reversed and Quinn's ex were off shagging various other women while they were "broken up"? They'd be high-fiving him. "What, I don't see the problem? If he's fucking other women it's clearly your fault, because there's something wrong with you, not with him, he's a guy, we can't help it. Biological imperative! Evolutionary psychology! So what if that one chick was a writer for Kotaku? He's done games that got positive reviews before, you're only saying that because of jealousy!" But because she had some extracurricular contact during a "breakup"? "wow, you cheated on him? You're a terrible bitch! How could you do that? Obviously the only reason your shitty game was well-reviewed is because you screwed this guy and he was cunt-struck!" The whole thing is about misogyny and control of female sexuality and resentment at women in traditionally male-dominated spaces.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 10:41 PM on March 4, 2015 [14 favorites]

Yeah, to address that directly: Eron Gjoni (Zoe's ex) posted his screed on many different sites before it caught on and is on record as saying he was intentionally trying to ruin Zoe's life. In addition, nowhere in it is the accusation of the alleged relationships being unethical w/r/t journalism (this was trumped up after the fact) and in fact the only instance of any of the accused having written about her game was a tiny one-line mention in an article about a few dozen other games. There were no reviews.

It's a flimsy accusation that doesn't stand up to the slightest analysis and yet has stuck around so hard because it keeps getting repeated -- a very common tactic with GG, similar to the accusation of Anita Sarkeesian as being a "scam artist" despite releasing many videos and successfully carrying out exactly what the money was being raised for.

It really sucks that it's been repeated enough that people have taken it as fact.
posted by flatluigi at 10:48 PM on March 4, 2015 [6 favorites]

that's a load of shit

It speaks to how incredibly successful they've been at selling their(and his newer) narrative as The Narrative, though. It's worded in just enough of a "both sides" way that it sounds a lot more reasonable than "this guy is a piece of shit manipulative stalker", which when the other side is saying something that's less one sided, sounds "biased" to the untrained eye that's being corralled in to a misinformed choice.

I'm still waiting for more journalism on this that presents it entirely as him being well, a fucked up piece of shit stalker, and not a... ugh.. lovers spat.
posted by emptythought at 11:13 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mod note: A couple of comments deleted. Please lay off the metadiscussion in here, feel free to use the contact form if you have questions about moderation, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 11:40 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

It speaks to how incredibly successful they've been at selling their(and his newer) narrative as The Narrative, though.

While that's absolutely true, it also speaks to our media's unshakable love for binary stories and the need to seem "fair and balanced" (he said without irony). That, and straight-up lazy reporting.

I don't understand why it's so hard for the media to include one simple line: Gjoni's accusations were all unfounded. Five words. But apparently that's just agonizingly painful or something.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:52 PM on March 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

While that's absolutely true, it also speaks to our media's unshakable love for binary stories and the need to seem "fair and balanced"

That's what i'm getting at though, the "argument" narrative was pushed by them because it's so salaciously easy to glom on to if that's what you expect. the media does, but so do a lot of regular people who aren't familiar with this sort of chicanery.

It's a play to the media, but a lot of pseudointellectuals and people who just don't realize their unconscious bias love a good story with two sides, and a good swing at devils advocate. It's like, taylor made for that.

There's also a huge element of the immediate leap a lot of people make, not just men, that a woman's story is suspect. The tread is almost worn of the tires of discussing that one, especially on here, but... Stack the two and you have a pretty legit cruise missile to discussing What Actually Happened, and not just with the media.
posted by emptythought at 12:03 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

These women - particularly Zoe - are doing a hell of a lot of work in an unbelievably toxic environment. I don't think I'd be able to maintain in that circumstance. Good on them.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:40 AM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

. Zoe's been the target since her ex dumped his screed about her wherever he could to ruin her life

i agree with what you say, i just want to make a small change to this because i think it's important - zoe has been a targert since before thezoepost, and her stalker ex knew that, which is why he knew his screed would work.
posted by nadawi at 6:52 AM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I take some schadenfreude from the knowledge that Eron Gjoni will be overshadowed for the rest of his life by a massive online cumulonimbus of evidence of the kind of person he is, discoverable by anyone who taps his very distinctive name into a search engine, and that is going to make all his future job interviews and first dates problematic.

Also that his Patreon is making just over $80 a month.
posted by Hogshead at 7:17 AM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can't help but hear "a controversy that started as a spat between lovers" in the context of the present-both-sides-of-the-controversy, respect everyone's point of view ... thing ... in the media this past decade. The false equivalency.

It's a real shame that so few people, at least so few people in the media, are willing to use a bully pulpit to say:
Yes, you must vaccinate, on the same schedule.
No, creationism has no place in our schools, we teach method and science here.
Yes, we see that Zoe Quinn's boyfriend made many unfounded accusations after their breakup. Poor little guy, but no donut.
No, gay people marrying have no effect on your own marriage, and you have no right to impose that bigotry on others.
No, birth control does not cause abortion, and you are not entitled to that impose that misbelief on your employees.

The media's fundamental job is to provide context for news, as in: here's the news, and here's what we also know about this subject. Not: here's the news, omg! you'll never believe what happened next!
posted by Dashy at 7:30 AM on March 5, 2015 [13 favorites]

I forget the title, but maybe about two years ago, there was a book which was explicitly about the media's bad habit of turning every story into a set of binary claims on equal ground. This lazy illusion of objectivity routinely distorts many narratives. The moment you say that there is a "debate" over evolution is the moment you begin to lie about where evolution fits into science.

GG is tailor-made for this kind of distortion, because the GGers have a giant pot of lies and irrelevant half-truths. It's very easy to turn any article about GG into a relitigation of those claims. More importantly, in practice the whole thing is a longform misogynistic neoreactionary temper tantrum - it's not even about the claims that it's "about".
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:35 AM on March 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

A related article in my feed today: That's not a haystack, it's just a tiny a pile of needles.
posted by rifflesby at 4:38 PM on March 5, 2015

Not sure if we would want another post about GDC goings on, but indie game developers are officially kids in candy stores as Unreal Engine 4 is now on a royalties-only model, with the first $3000 free, and Unity 5 is released.
posted by Jpfed at 9:48 PM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Valve's Source 2 engine is also going to be free to developers. Great time to make games.
posted by Tenuki at 10:34 PM on March 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

God bless Tim Schaefer and his poorly delivered dad joke that has somehow managed to melt more goobergrubbers minds than anything before it.
Yes: the harassment campaign so fond of telling its victims to "grow a thicker skin" was driven positively incandescent with anger over a joke delivered by a man's hand in a sock.
posted by Theta States at 8:21 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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