' the most sacred of sacred cows'
July 12, 2017 8:10 PM   Subscribe

The untold origins of Gamergate — and the gaming legends who spawned the modern culture of abuse
Today, most people probably aren’t familiar with Old Man Murray, a gaming and humor website that ran from 1997 to 2002. Its writers and founders may ring a bell, though, as the creative minds behind some of the industry's most critically acclaimed games. Erik Wolpaw was a writer for Psychonauts, Portal 1, and Portal 2. Chet Faliszek was a writer on Left 4 Dead and Portal 1-2. Together, they “invented the internet,” as Scott Pilgrim author Bryan Lee O’Malley put it.

-_-_-_-
Old Man Murray’s influence is a rare link between ourselves and the internet of the 1990s.

Wolpaw and Faliszek were idolized by SomethingAwful, 4chan and the other dark reaches of the web. As Joel Johnson of Kotaku put it in 2011, the duo's “willful, ironic troglodytism was aped by internet idiots for years, but without the brilliance.” (Where or what the brilliance was remains a mystery.)
posted by the man of twists and turns (188 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
SA seems pretty much full communism now, nowadays
posted by hleehowon at 8:19 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


I wish i knew what you were talking about, Master Wayne, but i don't play videogames.

I prefer my fireplace.
posted by ELF Radio at 8:32 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Someone check in on the author, who knows how many muscles he pulled with that reach. Nobody tip him off on Maddox or Trey Parker!
posted by infinitelives at 8:33 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


Jesus, it's really disappointing to find that out about one of the founders of my favorite game companies. I really, really, REALLY love costume quest and its sequel.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:33 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


What was the Old Man Murray thing about crates in video games?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:36 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


No! No! Don't tell me this. Why must you destroy my memories?

Chrysostom: Crate Review System?
posted by Justinian at 8:38 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]




Old Man Murray was the alternative to IGN and Gamespot and whathaveyou for (mostly young, male, white) gamers of a certain vintage, and they've grown up to be today's lead developers and senior gaming journalists. It tracks very similarly to Homestar Runner in that it's reach far outstrips it's actually viewer counts.

But OMM was also part of PoE. Run by the same people. And that cesspool was basically 4chan 1.0. That undercurrent of misanthropy was always there, if not in the content of the OMM articles themselves, then in a links to the rest of their network.
posted by thecjm at 8:39 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


man, they don't talk about LF in there, do they? or the depression quest ad
posted by hleehowon at 8:43 PM on July 12


This is a tough one for me, because my recollection of Erik's unrelenting hatred of Roberta Williams is opposed by the fact that I discovered Seanbaby through OMM and I have literally fallen out of my chair laughing at Seanbaby articles.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:43 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


That was horrifying to read. I feel like I need to take a shower.

*sighs*
posted by Fizz at 8:47 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Seanbaby went off the rails, too, sadly. Still, we'll always have those Hostess Fruit Pies stories.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:50 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]


This is one of those instances where I invite people to call the article's bluff and actually go and read the OMM archives. It will be problematic at times but these are broad strokes the article is working with. There is clear cherry picking and Maslow's hammer in action here.
posted by infinitelives at 8:54 PM on July 12 [15 favorites]


Some of it seems a bit of a stretch TBH. OMM certainly didn't invent being rude and being rude isn't exclusive to gamer/chan weirdos, and it's certainly a bit of a leap from from being rude to being a roaming gang of right wing conspiracy theorists engaged in a serious harassment campaign.

(And let's face it, South Park had far more reach with these people than OMM ever did. )

But the Roberta Williams stuff in hindsight is pretty gross. And the argument that they are responsible for at least some of the DNA of the Swamp is probably true even if the article yadda-yadda-yaddas over great swathes of history.
posted by Artw at 8:55 PM on July 12 [21 favorites]


I'm always suspicious of the argument that X is responsible for Y's bad behaviour because destroyed a norm or some other indirect barrier to Y doing Y; mostly because it's always a counterfactual argument. I remember OMM at the time seeming both fearless and evenhanded, while gamergate was always, obviously focussed on women. Being evenhanded in un-evenhanded circumstances is no defense, though.
posted by fatbird at 9:00 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]


infinitelives: This is one of those instances were I invite people to call the article's bluff and actually go and read the OMM archives. It will be problematic at times but these are broad strokes the article is working with. There is clear cherry picking and Maslow's hammer in action here.

There's some pretty bad cherries they picked there, though. Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and R. Kelly aren't perfect analogies for this - maybe even not good analogies - but they're the first that come to my mind: 99% of what they did was either genius or not horrible, but that other 1%... it changes what we think of them, and what we should think of them.
posted by clawsoon at 9:10 PM on July 12 [25 favorites]


I'm sure there's a lot of cherry-picking going on here, and some of it feels like only quoting "Girls" and then calling out anyone praising "Liscense to Ill" today. But "Girls" is problematic enough (and it's popularity long-ranging enough) that MCA spent the latter half of his career trying to undo that damage, which is something we don't see in PoE, and I don't think it's off-base to assume that crowing OMM as the untouchable elder statesmen of freedom in gamer culture didn't have poisonous effects that helped lead us to where we are.

I remember when the Jade Raymond stuff hit. I learned about it here. My GF at the time had finally gotten her foot in the door into game development, which she'd been dreaming about doing her whole life. She's no longer in the games industry, and not because she couldn't hack it.

OMM isn't solely responsible for this, Something Awful isn't solely responsible for this, etc. But make a place dark and damp enough for the mold to grow and it will grow where you let it. They do hold at least some responsibility.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:10 PM on July 12 [29 favorites]


Odd... I consider myself an old school gamer and while I'm usually at least aware of even the most obscure internet history I can honestly say I'd never heard of OMM before this article. Depressing to think that the guy who wrote Psychonauts is that much of a straight up piece of shit though.
posted by cirhosis at 9:12 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]


somehow this came up in the "current job status" thread in SA

http://i.imgur.com/v1mimKr.png

posted by hleehowon at 9:15 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


heh.. I was recently just re-reading a significant chunk of Old Man Murray out of nostalgia.

I think it is really easy to remember the creative, funny, and insightful parts, but upon a re-read of the actual content with older eyes, some of it is really rough.

When I read Old Man Murray back when it was new I didn't realize how much of an affect words on the internet could have on real people in real life. The stuff that personally attacked specific people because they dared make a lackluster games was not as striking, and perhaps easier to forget. At the time, I found the site to be the best of the internet. While I still think several of the articles and approaches to game criticism still hold up well, after rereading it, it would be difficult to recommend to anyone, but I wouldn't hang the entirety of today's abusive gamer culture on their writing either.
posted by Hicksu at 9:18 PM on July 12 [9 favorites]


somehow this came up in the "current job status" thread in SA

http://i.imgur.com/v1mimKr.png


That's a screenshot of a subReddit not the SA forums. I, erm, have a friend, who's a Goon. Not, ummmmm, me.

Although, I might speak to that point, including experiences on the Blue. Namely, no matter how much I try to meet people on such points, it is never enough and the only way I can ever get close enough is be born someone else.
posted by Samizdata at 9:30 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I mean, cjs has the linked content in a post

https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3825322&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=29#post474295898
if you paid :10bux:
posted by hleehowon at 9:31 PM on July 12


For my part my closest contact to the Goon community is a friend whose wife is a prominent social justice activist by profession and he is a hardcore sidekick of hers in that regard. It's helped me remember to differentiate between SA and 4Chan in that regard, though SA clearly isn't without problems.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:34 PM on July 12


Holy crap, I had completely forgotten Portal of Evil. I spent way too much time on that site, and many of those psuedo ironic offensive edgy white dude echo chambers as a teen.

While my old main haunt is down, it's been cloned and many the same people are there. Luckily, I can't find any traces of my account anywhere. I was probably shitty back then and didn't know better.

It's so weird to think about how openly edgelordy the internet was back then, and how so few people gave a shit.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 9:35 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Invitation stands. Read the articles. Identify the quotes in the link and see that while they're not much more innocent in context they are the same kind of satirical hyperbole that comprises the other 99% of the text (the "retardeds" quote is a self-deprecating wondering about eugenics in a rayndian world order just because a company is called Fountainhead Entertainment ffs). It's easier to brush off something as wrong than understand it as complex.

And yeah clawsoon, it kinda nukes the discussion out of the water when you say "you know who else wants you to see the whole picture? RAPISTS."
posted by infinitelives at 9:46 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]


As I'm old enough to have read OMM back in the day and found it hilarious, I was interested to go back and re-read the Roberta Williams article linked.
OMM quoting a Roberta Williams interview explaining her games decline in popularity
Back then, computers were more expensive, which made them more exclusive to people who were maybe at a certain income level, or education level.
...
I think in the last 5 or 6 years, the demographics have really changed, now this is my opinion, because computers are less expensive so more people can afford them. More "average" people now feel they should own one.

OMM
First of all, I feel compelled to rebut her clearly in the rough language of "average" people: Fuck you, you pompous fucking bitch.
I think there's a lot more going on there than OMM calling Roberta Williams a rude name. OMM weren't the clown princes of video game review history back then, they were two dudes with a website. This was punching up.
(I am making the assumption they weren't bankrolled by some ultra-dubious shadowy media conglomerate here)

Obviously, with a couple of decades of experience on the effect of internet words we can certainly question a lot of their vocab and subject matter choices, but Bill Hicks was making 'Kill Yourself' jokes to wide acclaim not many years before. They were more innocent times.
posted by Sparx at 9:47 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]


Well, early internet properties tended to skew so edgelordy since they, well, were.

This is long enough ago there just weren't THAT many people using the net like there are today, and most of the existing users felt, well, special, and acted such.
posted by Samizdata at 9:48 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


It's hard to say "context matters" when discussing pulling quotes from a website, when simultaneously ignoring that the same website was part of the larger and more vile Portal of Evil family, and owner and operated by the exact same people.

Context Matters.
posted by thecjm at 9:50 PM on July 12 [22 favorites]


I'm just now realizing how "more innocent times" generally means "times when it was easier to ignore those outside our tribe."

(Not calling out Sparx AT ALL, just to make that clear.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:50 PM on July 12 [36 favorites]


Ironic misogyny and racism is still misogyny and racism.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:20 PM on July 12 [54 favorites]


OMM weren't the clown princes of video game review history back then, they were two dudes with a website. This was punching up.

They were white guys from what seem to be reasonably comfortable backgrounds. Is there literally any way this constitutes "up" except that she was more famous than them? The same could be said of the vast majority of the nobodies involved with GamerGate. White men talking about women this way are not punching up--were never punching up. And that wasn't an isolated example, to whit:
Of course, my sympathies go out to her, her family, the men who pay her for sex and her smelly dried-up fucking abortion vent.
The woman who was the target of this one was a reader. Not anybody famous. Was that "punching up" just because they didn't work at Valve yet? At what point do white cis men from comfortable backgrounds stop being allowed to be vile towards women?

These were grown men who were capable of being decent human beings while still being funny. They chose otherwise, and a lot of young men saw them as examples to be emulated, and yes, I think that influenced where we are now. Maybe they didn't really feel that way about women and they were just saying those things to be "funny", but if you constantly spout vile things like that, you take the risk that your audience isn't going to get the irony.
posted by Sequence at 10:21 PM on July 12 [76 favorites]


Man, I used to love OMM back in college. I still vividly remember their explanation why adventure games died using a particularly insane puzzle from Gabriel Knight. Not at all surprised those went on to create some great games - they always had real insight behind their humor and harshness.

I do think this article cherry-picks some stuff to make them SO MISOGYNISTIC but really they were fucking assholes to everyone they bore down on. It always was on the merits of their actions or work, though. Tying this to Gamergate is quite a stretch, especially if you think about how weird it was that Gamergate became such a big "thing" in the first place, for no clear reason (maybe it was a Russian propaganda dry-run?)

Yes, there is some juvenile and problematic language. But making boogeymen out of blog posts from 20 years ago doesn't seem like a great way to move anything forward, and it certainly hasn't led to anything in and of itself. OMM was a product of its time. It's like going after Mark Twain for using the n-word - put it in it's place, compartmentalize it and move on. Writing insulting words about quasi-celebrities isn't an OMM exclusive so I don't understand why we are supposed to believe they are directly responsible for current 15-year-olds being dipshits.
posted by lubujackson at 10:22 PM on July 12 [12 favorites]


Is there literally any way this constitutes "up" except that she was more famous than them?

She was also orders of magnitude (like, two or three) richer and probably more significant in the gaming news of that day. They mock her vacation house in Mexico, for example
posted by hleehowon at 10:24 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


current 15-year-olds being dipshits


If I had this illusion, I too would be very comforted by it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:27 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


but really they were fucking assholes to everyone they bore down on
I mean, there's a pretty big difference between calling a woman an "abortion vent" and calling a dude "unoriginal."
posted by xyzzy at 10:32 PM on July 12 [51 favorites]


It's like going after Mark Twain for using the n-word

Most of us are older and wiser than the OMM days, hopefully if you reread some OMM and reread Huckleberry Finn today you'd realize that no, it's nothing like Twain's use of the n-word.
posted by edeezy at 10:33 PM on July 12 [35 favorites]


I get a rather strong feeling that the author started by "knowing" that OMM was a root cause of the current crop of asshole trolls, and then tried to make reality conform accordingly.
posted by -1 at 10:52 PM on July 12 [15 favorites]


Alright, I think I feel the temperature of the room, so—if I'm following these other comments correctly—I should first establish my credibility as a source, by pointing out that I was active on the Internet at the time Old Man Murray was operating, but even then I preferred people like Jeremy Parish, and I have the Archive.org'd GeoCities webpage to prove it. But, since I should also admit to the flaws in my perspective, I'll point out that same webpage includes a link to Penny Arcade, and hell, I'll even admit that I've used 4chan in the past.

Yes, we can absolutely take Old Man Murray to task for being awful.

Look, Old Man Murray might not be the "root cause" of GamerGate or the trolls descended therefrom, but that does not matter. GamerGate happened, and the trolls are here. Trying to hold OMM above that shit-spray is a bit like defending President Andrew Johnson because he was good enough for Lincoln to choose as a running-mate: sure, he may have been trying to hold the country together in the wake of the Civil war, but that doesn't change the fact that he was a huge fucking racist and basically empowered southern institutions to pick right up where they left off before the war because he was so eager to dangle clemency over groveling southern aristocrats!

Intent's all well and good, but the way you do something—and especially the consequences that arise from the way that you do something—they matter at least as much.

I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for the the Deus Ex Walkthru. But fuck 'em. The internet we have today is a consequence of the Internet of Yesterday; OMM played a part.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 11:09 PM on July 12 [39 favorites]


I checked and Maddox's The Best Page In The Universe had its heyday in about the same era. Must have been the zeitgeist, the newly liberated hate.
I'm no gamer though, so I did not know about OMM.
posted by Laotic at 11:30 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


No, Gamergate specifically started because Eron Gjon thought it would be fun to rope a bunch of asshole gamers into harassing his ex-girlfriend. OMM may or may not have been part of the climate in gaming nerd circles that made this action possible, but they're not the source of Gamersgate.

If only because gaming nerds being unpleasant to women and/or people of colour and/or LGBT people is a tradition of long standing; I know, I was on comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.* a lot in the late nineties.

That it has worsened this decade is undoubtly true, but I'd argue that's much less the fault of a dinosaur site like OMM and more a consequence of the general coarsening of political discourse by the American right. It's what you get if you keep telling idiots that they're free to say whatever they want, no matter how insulting, obnoxious or dangerous it is.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:31 PM on July 12 [43 favorites]


Well the question is more like who's more at fault, the person who lit the match or who piled the tinder?
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:37 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I'm kinda bemused at some of the strident defenses in here. People seem to be taking it really personally.

Clearly the site isn't "responsible" for GamerGate - and yet equally clearly, misogyny in gamer culture and "journalism" has been a long-standing partnership, and OMM certainly was not immune to it (whilst other sites active at the time did not engage in the same way)

And some of those statements are clearly offensive and problematic regardless of context. It's valid I think to point out how this kind of casual misogyny came to be associated with a "real" or "authentic" voice in gaming writing.

Was OMM the sole exemplar of this? Absolutely not. Has it escaped some of the scrutiny other progenitors of this trend have had? Maybe?

At the end of the day, is insulting someone's vagina and implying they are a prostitute something that you want to defend?? Really?
posted by smoke at 11:48 PM on July 12 [69 favorites]


hmm.. i spent probably about 80% of my free time between 1993 and 1999 playing pc games, and was a disillusioned, self-obsessed, few-friends guy at that time (maybe now too?); i even played Full Throttle and used newsgroups! so i guess i was the target audience. but gladly i've never heard of these two fucking morons before.

anyway, those above are right who say it doesn't matter whether or not their dumbass website was the root cause of gamergate and the online alt-right. we're not trying to solve a whodunnit. we're trying to prevent a new technology (and it is still new, historically speaking) from being completely co-opted by dead-enders who've baselessly claimed ownership of it and want to intimidate people they don't like from using it. bravo for bringing their old garbage to light for all to see.
posted by wibari at 12:10 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


I think the grumbling is because that article is a tendentious wodge of bad faith piffle.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:49 AM on July 13 [11 favorites]


So you're saying it's about ethics in games journalism?
posted by glonous keming at 1:23 AM on July 13 [34 favorites]


There is clear cherry picking and Maslow's hammer in action here.

I do think this article cherry-picks some stuff to make them SO MISOGYNISTIC


Okay, honestly? I don't get why things like "abortion vent" are hand waveable just because they're not 100% of the content. That the vile misogyny cherries were there for a bunch of kids still learning about the world to pick is the point. The cherries are what the tree produced.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:00 AM on July 13 [55 favorites]


Eron wasn't the first piece of shit to start in on a woman, and organise a bunch of neanderthal nerds into a frenzy of entitled whining that was also a bunch of death and rape threats at women and their families.

What, y'all have forgotten Kathy Sierra and Weev? Jennifer Hepler?

Gamergate was more organised and capitalised on the ways a lot of women had been part of these communities before they went dickwolf on them. We were. I grit my teeth through this shit when I started out writing on games, right up until the rape 'jokes' got too much and I stopped video games entirely and as it turns out, have a traumatic response to the fucking things. Yes, communities create their own standards and one of the clear standards here is: women get gendered slurs and threats and it is funny and if they can't take it that's their fault and get out of the kitchen and so on.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:05 AM on July 13 [56 favorites]


Holy crap, I had completely forgotten Portal of Evil. I spent way too much time on that site, and many of those psuedo ironic offensive edgy white dude echo chambers as a teen.

Ditto! I mean, that was like 90%+ of the smart internet back in the day.

If we're gonna blame anyone though I blame South Park. Approximately 0 of my teen guy friends were on PoE, approximately 9/10 of them thought it was funny and great to be little slur-tossing shits.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:13 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


I heard his next article links the current xenophobic climate and "build the wall!" movement to a gleefully racist community website from 10 years ago. I knew that cesspool's day would eventually come.
posted by infinitelives at 4:50 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Embarrassing levels of saltiness going on in here lol.
posted by fleacircus at 5:00 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


Bill Hicks was making 'Kill Yourself' jokes to wide acclaim not many years before. They were more innocent times.


You and I have very different ideas of what innocence is...
posted by Dysk at 5:05 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


I knew that cesspool's day would eventually come.
Yeah, this isn't clever. No one denies that MeFi has a history of white cishet boyzone that it's had to work hard to address, but it's not even close to a just comparison. OMM was a zine with a definite editorial pov and style that defined its brand and MeFi is a community of people with diverse interests, education, countries of origin, etc. etc.
posted by xyzzy at 5:26 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


OMM weren't the clown princes of video game review history back then, they were two dudes with a website. This was punching up.

No it wasn't. Punching up works on a systemic, not individual level. So much like a poor marginalised straight person yelling homophobic slurs at a rich gay person, they're using a position of wider societal privilege as men to denigrate Williams (and women in general). Misogyny is not punching up. It never is.
posted by Dysk at 5:27 AM on July 13 [36 favorites]


Women like Roberta Williams were (and still are) being attacked with nasty misogynist rhetoric for no other reason than being female and part of the gaming community. The idea that this could be considered "punching up" is absolutely fucked, and is trying to reinvent the concept itself by completely inverting it. The fact that context has to be deliberately removed in order to make this argument is the real tendentious wodge of bad faith piffle here.

That people are defending this in 2017 is abhorrent, and BS like "they were more innocent times" only serves to emphasize how little has actually changed. That people are dismissing the entire article as bad faith despite members of marginalized groups right here are pointing out how much of it was and still is very real is shameful. And the fact that pretty much all of this is coming from men is...well, it's not at all surprising.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:41 AM on July 13 [42 favorites]


If they'd been making accusations of elitism and being out of touch or whatever, that'd be a different matter. But they peppered their articles with vile misogyny, and there is quite simply no nuance to be uncovered there. Misogyny is bullshit. If there was some valid point to be made about Williams's failings as a (relatively) rich and connected game designer, it was drowned in indefensible and uncomplicated sexism.
posted by Dysk at 5:44 AM on July 13 [12 favorites]


SA seems pretty much full communism now, nowadays

Communists have just as much capability to be misogynist shitbags as anyone else, in my experience. Not saying SA is currently full of misogynist communists, because I wouldn't know, but the two are not in any way mutually exclusive.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:55 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


I was a bullied, D&D-playing, gamer nerd who grew up in the 80's and early 90's. In high school I knew a kid, very similar to me, who turned the tables on the bullies using his sharp wit to cut them down in front everyone. His ability to come up with the most vile and deeply-cutting insults became legendary. At first I admired his ability to fight back, albeit with words instead of physical force. Pretty quickly though, I got sick of his shtick and found him to be an insufferable asshole who was every bit as bad as any other bully. By my senior year, he had a group of followers that would trip over themselves to defend whatever horrible shit he said.

This all happened in the comparatively small microcosm of my high school. When I saw it happen again and again in the much bigger universe of the Internet years later, I wasn't surprised--just saddened. OMM and Maddox and others in that vein always felt like they fit right into that nasty mold of "we're smart, witty nerds/geeks and it's OK if we say really heinous shit because, hey, it's funny, right?" Long before the Gamergate awfulness, I stopped thinking of myself as part of the gamer & nerd community specifically because of the growing toxicity--and because of how that toxicity was being tolerated or even encouraged.

I guess I don't have much of a point here, really. Just relating, lamenting. Maybe hoping there are other geeks out there who never understood this type of toxic "humor."
posted by tehjoel at 6:01 AM on July 13 [25 favorites]


The idea that OMM created bro culture is laughably stupid. They were swimming in a pre-existing cesspool. Did they contribute to it and deserve some blame for that? Yes. But they're 50 year old men with families now, and have done a lot of growing up since then. I don't think it's remotely fair to connect them to gamer gate.
posted by empath at 6:06 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised the Stevie Case stuff isn't the target of more concern, to be honest.

Regarding OMM generally, I never read the site during its heyday, so when people bring it up now, it's always to mention two things: one, that the writers behind it went on to work at Valve, and two, to talk about time-to-crate as a form of video game criticism. I think that's a big part of why that name still gets bandied about; most of the people in Gamergate have probably never heard of OMM and I don't think anyone that still talks about why they love the site say it's because some asshole photoshopped a woman's face onto pornography.

But OMM is also a product of an internet era where frankly, a lot more of us were shitlords and our moral standards were lower. This is at least partially the byproduct of who was on the internet back then: a lot more young men with a poorly calibrated sense of their own privilege. I was one of them. I'd like to think I wasn't so bad, but I remember being in IRC channels where people would send me the marketing materials for a Descent clone called Forsaken (read: NAKED WOMEN) because fuck, man, isn't she hot? A lot of us, even if we didn't necessarily take part directly in edgelord culture, were definitely adjacent to it.

People who have been targeted by Gamergate, like Sarah Nyberg and Zoe Quinn, have talked about their past teenage selves trolling in IRC channels and being shitty people. More generally, people in this thread have talked about Something Awful goons being awful people, and then turning into upstanding members of society (and even adopting progressive politics). All this is not to absolve OMM of its misogynist writing, or even to claim the people behind it have changed (although I really hope they have!). It's to suggest that the internet of two decades ago was in some ways a weird fever dream where everyone felt free to say the most transgressive, offensive shit on a regular basis, and some people recovered and some people didn't. I think there's a revelation or two to be had there but I need to get to work so maybe I'll come back later!
posted by chrominance at 6:12 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


Although, reading some of those excerpts-- whew lad is that inexcusable, and they really should take the opportunity to apologize for it. For some reason, I remember them writing about how awful adventure games were and none of that stuff.
posted by empath at 6:14 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


But they're 50 year old men with families now, and have done a lot of growing up since then


And they were 32 year old men back then. Men. Not boys. They're not blameless. Don't try to play this off like they were children before, or that they've apologized since (because I haven't seen it).
posted by thecjm at 6:15 AM on July 13 [37 favorites]


The idea that OMM created bro culture is laughably stupid.

It's about contributing to it and fostering it, not creating it.

They were swimming in a pre-existing cesspool.

Throwing more toxic waste into it doesn't excuse them.

But they're 50 year old men with families now, and have done a lot of growing up since then.

What thecjm said. And "well, boys will be boys" is a horrible way to handwave away bigotry whether someone is teenager or an adult.

I don't think it's remotely fair to connect them to gamer gate.

Directly from end-to-end, maybe. But to compare the toxic environments is absolutely worthwhile.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:23 AM on July 13 [18 favorites]


I would be willing to bet the OMM guys read Space Moose.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:24 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Metafilter never really stopped being a Boyzone, did it, If this thread is any consideration.
posted by divabat at 6:27 AM on July 13 [41 favorites]


Many of us who were assholes when we were younger but have now grown up a lot aren't even as old as the OMM guys were when they were supposedly young and didn't know better.
posted by Dysk at 6:32 AM on July 13 [22 favorites]


I think if this article was drawing a straight line from Portal of Evil to 4chan, no one would fighting to defend their honor.

But because it's about OMM (again, the same 2 guys who ran and created OMM also owned PoE) there's so much pushback because it's conflicting with people's cherished memories of being the smart gamer kid who read OMM instead of EGM or IGN.
posted by thecjm at 6:38 AM on July 13 [16 favorites]


I mean, I'm not a gamer now, wasn't then, so I have no bona fides. But all you really have to do if trying to decide if this was a problem is to imagine yourself as a 14-year-old girl, who really loves games, who was really enjoying the site, and then came up against something like:

Of course, my sympathies go out to her, her family, the men who pay her for sex and her smelly dried-up fucking abortion vent.

And that's when you realize; you can laugh along and pretend that doesn't make you feel weird and scared, or you can leave. You know that if you call them on it, you'll be attacked.

Now repeat that experience a couple hundred times.

Cause I'm not a gamer, but I have been that girl in other spaces. It's not fun.
posted by emjaybee at 6:39 AM on July 13 [81 favorites]


I vaguely remember finding the time-to-crate and Gabriel Knight articles funny at the time but being driven away by the general nastiness of the rest of the site. Even so, I think there was always a difference between the hyperbolic absurdist unpleasantness of old shitpiles like OMM and (sometimes) SA and the humourless, paranoid derangement of gamergate wastelands like r/kotakuinaction (don't go there). Just because neither of them is good doesn't mean that one lead to the other.

I do think this article cherry-picks some stuff to make them SO MISOGYNISTIC but really they were fucking assholes to everyone they bore down on.

The strange thing is that the article cherry-picks some really poor samples of how bad OMM could be. The bit about Roberta Williams' obnoxious "demographics" complaint seems to be accusing her of putting coded racism in her explicit classism, and there's not a lot there that, if you chose a suitable target and updated the language, you wouldn't get away with on Metafilter in 2017 (let alone early Metafilter). The "sea of “ironic” Nazi humor" (the scare quotes apparently insinuating that the irony is false and there's actual Naziism underneath) turns out to be OMM insulting Randian libertarians by comparing them to Nazis, which is not even ironic Nazi humour much less "ironic". The bit about epileptic Japanese children wasn't very funny, but it was an obvious reference to that epilepsy-triggering Pokemon episode. It takes about a minute of clicking around OMM to find much worse.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:44 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


The fact that they referenced a pokemon episode when effectively going "lol, epileptic fits are funny amiright?" doesn't actually excuse a lot.
posted by Dysk at 6:46 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


You may have misread; I'm not excusing anything. It was a terrible site, and there was much worse on it than that.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:58 AM on July 13


If there was some valid point to be made about Williams's failings as a (relatively) rich and connected game designer, it was drowned in indefensible and uncomplicated sexism.

This is the heart of it. I'd read OMM in the past, but not everything on the site, and as far as I knew prior to reading this article, the only time they'd mentioned Roberta Williams was in the context of the "Who Killed Adventure Games?" article, which was pretty accurate. The post in which they go after Williams for suggesting that fans of her games were smarter than people who played Quake or whatever is inexcusable; yes, Williams comes off as maybe a bit arrogant in the cited quote, but so what? Stop the presses, lots of people who create stuff in any sort of media think that their fans are better than the others. And if it's true that OMM also went after dudes such as John Romero and American McGee (and they did), there's still something very gendered about the shit that they said about women. It's no more defensible or excusable than Jerry Holkins or Mike Krahulik trying to handwave away the dickwolves thing because they used to get bullied in school.

That having been said, the whole framing of this article is ludicrous. Gaming was not some female-friendly Garden of Eden before the OMM guys came slithering along, and the article's arguing otherwise lets an awful lot of other people off the hook. (By the time that the Penny Arcade guys started making with the bullshit about dickwolves and free-range transphobia, they were already gaming convention magnates who were leagues more successful and influential in the gaming world than anyone else who didn't actually own a game company, or anyone else in webcomics, for that matter.) There's a section on Sierra, the company founded by Williams and her husband Ken, in Steven Levy's book Hackers; IIRC, Roberta Williams was the only woman creating content for the company, at least in the period covered in the book (early eighties) and Ken fostered the sort of dudezone atmosphere in his programmers' pool that seems to be typical of the gamer culture of ensuing decades.

Nevertheless, that doesn't excuse the reprehensible shit published in OMM, nor the efforts of their successors to paint them as elder gods of gaming criticism.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:01 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


Having never encountered Old Man Murray, I took a look at it and, yeah. It's just like SA, 4chan and Maddox and their ilk. It's all garbage. I'm sorry if you liked it when you were a kid, but this shit is awful. I'm so tired of white men being "edgy" by shitting on everyone else.
posted by domo at 7:10 AM on July 13 [23 favorites]


I guess because I was never into gaming I missed out on all this, but just from the few examples cited in this thread, it does seem like people were casually throwing around horribly misogynistic language and insults as casually as all sides still make fun of the mentally ill and poor, and while I can't speak to the chilling effects of that kind of misogyny on women from a first-person pov, I can definitely vouch for the fact that casual jokes, harassment, and insults targeting anybody on the basis of their identity and hateful stereotyping have made the internet a scarier and more hostile place generally. Speech has consequences and the internet is sort of stuck in an awkward place between being an open creative medium and being the new medium in which we lead our social lives. Contexts and boundaries are more porous online; the line between intentional creative performance and social speech is a lot less clear because we don't have mature conventions and norms to clearly distinguish those boundaries.

Regardless, ugh, why is it funny or even considered decent to insult anybody on the basis of traits and identity characteristics they have no control over anyway. It's just gross and discourages honesty and creative risk taking and has a stifling effect. The targeted harassment stuff is just straight up social violence. Nothing funny about that ever, really.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:23 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


> Metafilter never really stopped being a Boyzone, did it, If this thread is any consideration.

Yeah, this is one of the more depressing threads I've read lately. Thanks to all the people who are pushing back against the "edgy" push-backers.

> That having been said, the whole framing of this article is ludicrous. Gaming was not some female-friendly Garden of Eden before the OMM guys came slithering along, and the article's arguing otherwise lets an awful lot of other people off the hook.

So you're saying all the women saying things were better before are just liars?
posted by languagehat at 7:56 AM on July 13 [24 favorites]


The biggest stretch of the article is that OMM were populists. That is absolutely untrue. They were aiming to be gaming "elite," and looked down on casual gaming (like Myst). They had an insider's mentality long before they were actual industry insiders.

Some of the things that OMM said at the time don't look so good now, and are justifiably criticized. And there's also a fair amount taken out of context.

In the main, I take exception with the thesis. OMM certainly didn't create gamergate culture, or encourage it more than the thousands of other websites at the time. All of that vibe was there from the very beginning of the internet. They did tap into it FWIW. It had a toxicity even then, but it's worth remembering that it was mixed in with a lot of other stuff; it wasn't a distinct thing of its own like gamergate-type culture is now.

I'm not excusing the bad parts. I'm just saying that OMM isn't even close to being patient zero for gamergate culture. Besides, the Velvet Underground comparison is valid, because OMM was well-read in the industry but totally dwarfed by mainstream review sites among consumers.
posted by Edgewise at 8:01 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


For some reason, I remember them writing about how awful adventure games were and none of that stuff.

Yeah me too. I specifically remember OMM as the first games writing I read that was actual criticism, and not just paid product placements for game companies. A site that might talk about bad things games do, but by people who loved games and were insightful. These days I go to Rock, Paper, Shotgun for that kind of writing. Thankfully they are mostly not shitlords.

So it's enraging to go back and look at all the lazy, hateful crap that OMM also wrote and published. It's not that they Caused Gamergate, it's that they participated in a culture of misogyny in a way that normalized and spread it. They could have done better. They should have.

The fact that I could overlook the misogyny in the time and then forget about it just makes me realize how powerful a blinder male privilege is.

(Also the world needs more games like Myst. Anyone who dismisses that game as "casual" is an idiot.)
posted by Nelson at 8:08 AM on July 13 [36 favorites]


Myst is the counter to the argument that FMV games are universally rubbish.
posted by Dysk at 8:14 AM on July 13


Some of the things that OMM said at the time don't look so good now, and are justifiably criticized. And there's also a fair amount taken out of context.

Please, tell me what context makes bigotry and hate acceptable. I want to know.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:22 AM on July 13 [14 favorites]


The awfulness of OMM was part of a larger trend at work in the late 90's. Before the Internet, if you wanted your words or images to be widely circulated you had to buy paper and ink and arrange shipping and distribution. The people who did this on a regular basis would calculate the risks and there were certain things they had learned were Not A Good Idea. Nobody would publish your letter to the paper calling a woman an abortion vent.

But nobody was policing the Internet, and words like that could achieve wide circulation. And those words were reaching audiences who had never seen anything so edgy or transgressive. It was new and exciting and therefore popular because of, rather than despite, its awfulness. It was the real life extension of that set piece in Monkey Island where the result of a conflict is determined by who fashions the coolest insults.

This wasn't unique to gaming culture though. It was everywhere. Every discussion site struggled with assholes who decided trolling and griefing were a legitimate hobby. An entire culture arose to exalt the idea that nobody could stop you from using whatever words you wanted, publishing whatever pornographic images you wanted, copying whatever music you wanted, and so on. The trolls not only trolled for fun, they actively made war on anyone who dared criticize the very idea that trolling was natural and good and a perfectly fine occupation.

Back when I was active on a now-defunct discussion site and a frequent target myself, I would sometimes point out to the griefers that actions have a tendency to become habits, and acting like an asshole on a frequent basis is eventually going to make you asshole in "less appropriate" situations, such as Real Life. I was subjected to many explanations that I was an idiot because The Internet isn't Real Life. The thing is, as I told them then it turns out there really isn't some magic barrier between The Internet and Real Life. And if you adopt the persona of an asshole on The Internet, it doesn't make you a funny Internet asshole, it just makes you an asshole.

Nobody was buying it fifteen years ago, but I think it turned out I was right.
posted by Bringer Tom at 8:23 AM on July 13 [48 favorites]


I fully agree with what Nelson just said.
posted by empath at 8:34 AM on July 13


So you're saying all the women saying things were better before are just liars?

Hey, languagehat, that's a really unhelpful rewording of what I actually said. You may want to revisit the article, which starts out with a woman being interviewed who changes her mind (or at least her characterization of the industry) during the interview itself after finding out about the Jade Raymond comic. There's also this tweet, which gets mentioned only in passing. I was addressing the tone of the FPP article--written by a dude, you will note--and not discounting any woman's particular individual experience.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:39 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Please, tell me what context makes bigotry and hate acceptable. I want to know.

If you're asking me (since you quote me), I'd have to say "none." Not sure why you would ask me, though, since I explicitly didn't excuse those things.
posted by Edgewise at 8:41 AM on July 13


If you're asking me (since you quote me), I'd have to say "none." Not sure why you would ask me, though, since I explicitly didn't excuse those things.

"You're taking it out of context" is excusing behavior, though perhaps not explicitly.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:45 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


Yeah, there is definitely a heavy implication that the context would change the perception of judgement of the issue inherent to protestations of things being taken out of context. If the context doesn't make the thing any less heinous, what's the issue with excluding the context?
posted by Dysk at 8:47 AM on July 13 [12 favorites]


Consider this: If OMM had never existed, would Gamergate and the toxic environment it inhabits still be a problem?

I think it would. As other have pointed out, OMM was not a singular bastion of filth in an ocean of tolerance. The internet has been majority abusive for decades. I think we can probably all agree that OMM did not cause Gamergate, while also acknowledging that some of their behaviour at the time is easily identified now as abhorrent.

It feels that anyone arguing these points is trying to make themselves feel better about liking their shtick back-in-the-day. Most of us have been there, though. Most of us have used abusive language on a playground. Owning your behaviour and recognising how we can be better is important. Trying to defend this language now is the opposite of owning it.
posted by trif at 8:52 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


...I say most of us, and i suppose I meant most of us who were in school or college back then. Hopefully kids in playgrounds now are doing better.
posted by trif at 8:55 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I was addressing the tone of the FPP article--written by a dude, you will note--and not discounting any woman's particular individual experience.

The argument still doesn't hold water. The article wasn't trying to say that things were perfect, just that the situation was better beforehand; and was pointing out that OMM, being disproportionately influential, helped to normalize an environment of casual misogyny and abuse.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:55 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


"You're taking it out of context" is excusing behavior, though perhaps not explicitly.

The fact that OMM was terrible doesn't mean that every possible complaint about it makes sense. Why not concentrate on what was actually wrong with it, instead of things (like the "sea of “ironic” Nazi humor") that aren't?
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 8:58 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


The fact that OMM was terrible doesn't mean that every possible complaint about it makes sense. Why not concentrate on what was actually wrong with it, instead of things (like the "sea of “ironic” Nazi humor") that aren't?

If you think a specific point argued against OMM is wrong, then argue that, and explain why that is. Don't just make a blanket dismissal and then get upset when called out on it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:04 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


And if you adopt the persona of an asshole on The Internet, it doesn't make you a funny Internet asshole, it just makes you an asshole.

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
-- Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night
posted by chimpsonfilm at 9:05 AM on July 13 [18 favorites]


For my part my closest contact to the Goon community is a friend whose wife is a prominent social justice activist by profession and he is a hardcore sidekick of hers in that regard. It's helped me remember to differentiate between SA and 4Chan in that regard, though SA clearly isn't without problems.

It's come up here before but in the long long run SA/PoE on one hand and 4chan on the other ended up moving in broadly opposite directions politically, even though they started in a fairly similar place. The Internet is a strange thing.
posted by atoxyl at 9:05 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Regarding the idea that misogyny on the internet was less of a problem in the past; is it possible that the ubiquitous nature of the internet now means that people are more exposed to the abuse? It was better then because it didn't seep into our entire lives?

Much like there are more diagnoses of autism now, not because there are more cases, but because we are better at identifying it, are we identifying abusive behaviour more now?
posted by trif at 9:06 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


If you think a specific point argued against OMM is wrong, then argue that, and explain why that is. Don't just make a blanket dismissal and then get upset when called out on it.

I honestly have no idea what you're on about here. Where did I make a blanket dismissal and get upset?

I did point out some silly things in the original article here, though.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:08 AM on July 13


"You're taking it out of context" is excusing behavior, though perhaps not explicitly.

As opposed to when I specifically say "I'm not excusing the bad parts." If you really want to find implied excuses and ignore my very explicit lack of same, then it seems like you are looking for a point of contention.

And I didn't say that you're taking anything out of context, unless you wrote the article. Nor did I say that everything in the article was out of context. Just some parts. And I don't know why you'd have a problem with that unless you're familiar with the all quoted material and disagree.
posted by Edgewise at 9:11 AM on July 13


It's come up here before but in the long long run SA/PoE on one hand and 4chan on the other ended up moving in broadly opposite directions politically, even though they started in a fairly similar place.

Well, depending on how you look at it I guess. It's probably more accurate to say there was a series of schisms. I'm sure lots of people are still totally horrible they just ended up in different places from the people I keep up with at all.
posted by atoxyl at 9:14 AM on July 13


An article titled "The untold origins of Gamergate — and the gaming legends who spawned the modern culture of abuse" that's actually just a very specific airing of grudges against someone who is not the originator of gamer gate and did not spawn the modern culture of abuse can safely called bad.

There's an interesting conversation to be had about how people being shitty back in the day because they thought it was clever turns out to have been not that clever at all - this article exists to prevent that.
posted by Artw at 9:20 AM on July 13 [14 favorites]


You know, probably one of the ways that this "caused" Gamergate, etc, was that it drove women, POC and non-asshole white men out of the milieu - probably that's more of an issue than the legitimating of coarse language. The fewer women, POC and non-assholes generally are in an environment, the worse and more self-reinforcing it gets - the assholes have fewer and fewer non-asshole friends of any kind and non-assholes get figured as "outsiders".

Whereas if you have a critical mass of non-asshole demographics, asshole people are less likely to get away with it, more likely to change their behavior to keep friends and impress others and less able to pretend that non-assholes are some alien enemy.

You don't have to write every single article full of vile hatred to put off non-assholes - you probably don't even need to write one in ten full of vile hatred. So the percentage and the context don't seem very important - spewing hatred and rape fantasy only has to happen occasionally for non-creeps to decide it's not worth hanging around.
posted by Frowner at 9:26 AM on July 13 [48 favorites]


There's a section on Sierra, the company founded by Williams and her husband Ken, in Steven Levy's book Hackers; IIRC, Roberta Williams was the only woman creating content for the company, at least in the period covered in the book (early eighties) and Ken fostered the sort of dudezone atmosphere in his programmers' pool that seems to be typical of the gamer culture of ensuing decades.

One example of this would be the photoshoot for an advertisement/cover art for an early game of theirs, called Softporn Adventure (the text-only interactive fiction version of what would later be remade in graphical adventure format into the first Leisure Suit Larry game). Lacking the budget to hire an artist or professional models, the obvious solution for the company at the time was to ask three women on the company's payroll, including Roberta, to strip down and hop into the Williams' hot tub while Ken got a photographer friend of his from the local newspaper to take pictures. Inexplicably, the three were joined in the tub by a waiter from a local restaurant, in full uniform.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:30 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


NoxAeternum: The argument still doesn't hold water. The article wasn't trying to say that things were perfect, just that the situation was better beforehand; and was pointing out that OMM, being disproportionately influential, helped to normalize an environment of casual misogyny and abuse.

The article leans heavily on two interviews, with Roberta Williams and Scorpia, to make the case that things were so much better before OMM. Williams, to put it mildly, is something of an outlier for women in the gaming industry, as she co-owned one of the earliest and most successful computer game companies and was therefore not as likely to be discriminated against. (It also says something about how "influential" OMM was that, even though their insults against Williams were published several years before the interview, neither Williams nor the interviewer bother to bring it up.) Scorpia's views are a little more puzzling; she also insists that she wasn't discriminated against because of her gender, but hasn't found another venue for her reviews since being fired by CGW, and according to her Wikipedia article, stopped reviewing PC games in 2009 because she says that she can't afford to upgrade her system. As for how influential OMM was on the gaming zeitgeist, well, the author really doesn't have much aside from post hoc ergo propter hoc.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:38 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Misogyny obviously existed before OMM. They were, however, one of the first gaming writing outlets to spend a significant portion of time and (virtual) ink tearing down women who had the temerity to be noteworthy in some way in gaming circles. They were some of the first of any significance to do what gamergate actually does.
posted by Dysk at 9:42 AM on July 13 [22 favorites]


As for how influential OMM was on the gaming zeitgeist, well, the author really doesn't have much aside from post hoc ergo propter hoc.

I recall it being seen as a major feather in Valve's cap to land the OMM team to handle the writing for Portal. So the argument that they were influential holds water, at least from my experience.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:44 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


Like, to say OMM caused gamergate is probably an exaggeration, but you can definitely draw a solid line from them right through to the mess we have today.
posted by Dysk at 9:49 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


OMM didn't cause GG, but it makes an interesting bookend to it. OMM's message was, "We need to make better games, everyone! Better games, better journalism! Girls? You're not invited fuck you ha ha." Socially regressive/artistically progressive I guess.

But then, games did get better, and the industry opened up over the internet. Women were part of it, too, making indie games, doing game criticism, pushing the boundaries of what games could be. It even seemed possible there could be games centered on women that were not in a "girl game" ghetto.

GamerGate was gamers seeing that happening and saying, "WE SAID NO GIRLS!" It was wholly regressive, a reactionary spasm hiding behind lies. We're not getting Psychonauts and Portal out of it. We're getting notch sitting in his rotten candy mansion, tweeting obscenities.
posted by fleacircus at 9:49 AM on July 13 [21 favorites]


I've taken a gander at the OMM site to look at their archives and nothing at all about their writing is compelling or noteworthy. It is sophomoric trash. That they were influential at all speaks volumes about the audience that allegedly worshiped them. And they were in their early 30s? And they wrote the dialogue for Portal?!
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:50 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


You know, probably one of the ways that this "caused" Gamergate, etc, was that it drove women, POC and non-asshole white men out of the milieu - probably that's more of an issue than the legitimating of coarse language. The fewer women, POC and non-assholes generally are in an environment, the worse and more self-reinforcing it gets - the assholes have fewer and fewer non-asshole friends of any kind and non-assholes get figured as "outsiders".

Yyyyyup. And then men who maybe didn't start out as so assholish get involved, and they don't think the shitty behavior is so bad because it's not targeting anyone they know or like personally and it's kind of funny and hey, there's good stuff here too (for them), and so it's not so obvious; and then it comes to seem normal to them, a kind of "this is what the culture here is," and then....

oh hey, now we actually have more assholes than we did before because that environment is now not only concentrating assholes but also grooming and creating new ones. awesome.

You know the saying that one bad apple in a barrel spoils the bunch? Well, by driving out women, PoC, etc. out of these spaces--and I don't care how much you people are saying "oh it wasn't that bad in the aggregate, if I as a woman had seen an insult half as nasty as the "abortion vent" one I'd be fucking gone--you actually create an environment in which assholes and scum can more easily spread bigotry and dehumanize opinions of marginalized people to relatively naive dudes. You isolate women and PoC and you keep naive, well-meaning dudes from forming friendships and close relationships to them, at least within your subculture, and you normalize poor treatment of those groups within the subculture. It gets infectious.
posted by sciatrix at 10:03 AM on July 13 [42 favorites]


(Also the world needs more games like Myst. Anyone who dismisses that game as "casual" is an idiot.)

I still think Myst and its derivatives killed the market for the kind of adventure games I like (with actual characters and humor rather than boring atmospheric safecracking crap) for years, more than any ridiculous puzzles involving tape and cat hair ever did, and probably more than shooter games did. That said, that GK3 article's sidebar establishing the writer's adventure cred amused me. Doesn't make up for the rest of their assholery or for the effect it had on internet culture, but I'm not going to call it all entirely un-funny.
posted by asperity at 10:12 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I've taken a gander at the OMM site to look at their archives and nothing at all about their writing is compelling or noteworthy. It is sophomoric trash.

Yes, reading OMM now is rough going. But compared to something like IGN or EGM in 1998, OMM was bursting with personality. Shitty, toxic personality, but personality in a time where every other gaming pub was working to sand away every edge and appease every advertiser and PR directive. Just as you can draw a line from their creepy misogyny to 4chan and GG, you can also draw a line from their game reviews to the New Games Journalism of the early 2000's and the YouTube games reviewer cults of personality.
posted by thecjm at 10:14 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


> An article titled "The untold origins of Gamergate — and the gaming legends who spawned the modern culture of abuse" that's actually just a very specific airing of grudges against someone who is not the originator of gamer gate and did not spawn the modern culture of abuse can safely called bad.

Titles are virtually never written by the person who wrote the article; they're written by people who are trying to drive eyeballs to the article and very often misrepresent the contents of the latter. To use the title to bash an article is lazy and pointless.

> Hey, languagehat, that's a really unhelpful rewording of what I actually said.

We'll have to agree to disagree. You wrote "Gaming was not some female-friendly Garden of Eden before the OMM guys came slithering along," and that seems to me to explicitly deny what the quoted women were saying. And why are you so invested in attacking this article?
posted by languagehat at 10:21 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


Quotes or no the social histor of sexism in tech as posited by this article is an utter fiction, sorry.
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Interesting article. I'm not familiar with OMM, but it does in fact appear to be a bit of a sacred cow.
posted by defenestration at 10:29 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Just as you can draw a line from their creepy misogyny to 4chan and GG, you can also draw a line from their game reviews to the New Games Journalism of the early 2000's and the YouTube games reviewer cults of personality.

So it's actually about ethics in games journalism? Really??

I know which one of these I consider genuinely harmful to society, and which is just a bit tiresome.
posted by Dysk at 10:30 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


You wrote "Gaming was not some female-friendly Garden of Eden before the OMM guys came slithering along," and that seems to me to explicitly deny what the quoted women were saying.

Someone can be wrong about something without deliberately lying about something, which is what you accused me of accusing them of doing. (Not to mention that, if you delve into the linked interviews with Williams and Scorpia, they're only commenting on their personal experiences; the article's author mentions a couple of other women in gaming, and handwaves "countless examples" supporting his thesis, eventually promising more details in the (indefinite) future. That's pretty thin gruel.)

And why are you so invested in attacking this article?

Why are you so invested in defending it? I don't think that it comes close to proving its thesis, and implicitly lets a whole lot of other people off the hook by putting the bulk of the blame on OMM. If all the guy had to say was, "Hey, I know that there are still a bunch of people who think that OMM was the shiznit, but I went back and looked at their archives, and holy crap, you guys", I would have zero beef with that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:41 AM on July 13


Incidentally, I just looked at Tim Roger's 2004 essay on Earthbound (one of the seminal pieces of writing marking New Games Journalism) and the first two paragraphs are a tortured analogy about games as 'prostitutes', and how prostitutes have no right to complain, etc. Sigh. (Maybe he's embarrassed of that himself because I could only find an archived version.)
posted by naju at 10:52 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Wow, not just a prostitute, but a murder fantasy involving a prostitute. WTF? He seems to start the whole digression because of a quote from Shigesato Itoi, the producer of Earthbound. Still, WTF?
posted by Nelson at 10:58 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


and implicitly lets a whole lot of other people off the hook by putting the bulk of the blame on OMM.

That's not how blame works. You can say "hey, these people were major contributors to making things shit" and still point out all the other people who contributed to making things shit as well. There is no finite amount of blame that has to be apportioned properly.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:17 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


I don't know how to evaluate all the stuff about OMM because I largely avoided that site, but gaming culture / writing was gross and misogynistic well before they arrived on the scene. If you doubt it, go ahead and read the writing, interviews, etc. about Tomb Raider when it was coming out in 1996. Here are some magazine scans; thinly-disguised lad's mags. I remember the Eidos developers themselves saying at the time that they decided on the woman protagonist Lara Croft because they were designing a 3rd person behind-the-character game, and they'd "rather look at a woman's bum than some bloke's." Lovely origins to that major franchise. Nah, the idea that gaming was an egalitarian paradise for the 80s and most of the 90s is questionable and seems like a toxic reframing of history to me. Plus, lots of women who were gaming back then have shared stories and memories refuting that claim - Leigh Alexander, Jenn Frank, etc.
posted by naju at 11:22 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


There is no finite amount of blame that has to be apportioned properly.

Sorry to bring up the headline and the premise of the article again, but it is an attempt to do exactly that.
posted by Artw at 11:23 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


TBH I kind of suspect this John Adkins guy either somehow doesn't know what the fuck GamerGate is/was, or is carrying water for it by obscuring its outlines.
posted by Artw at 11:26 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Nah, the idea that gaming was an egalitarian paradise for the 80s and most of the 90s is questionable and seems like a toxic reframing of history to me.

Once again, nobody is saying that. What people are pointing out is that the sort of directed vitriol and abuse heaped on Jade Raymond was not something that you would have seen in the 90s. It is possible for the past to be better while not being perfect.

I'll have to find it, but I remember watching a video about the sexualization of game advertising and packaging, where art for an 80s Era game was rejected for being overly tawdry. That's not something that you would see happen today.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:28 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


Usenet totally existed in the 90s.
posted by Artw at 11:30 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


There is no finite amount of blame that has to be apportioned properly.

For real. I don't know if we'll ever find the one true gnarled root of nerdboy cisheteronormative terrorism. A lot of unchecked, unexamined awfulness contributes to the overall malaise. It's not that OMM and PoE being trash means that Maddox, that Seanbaby, that South Park and Family Guy and so on weren't also trash. And I say that as someone who read/watched a lot of them at the time and yukked it up because, like a lot of nerdboys back then, I think I was so stoked to find a culture which spoke to my interests that I managed to keep from quite understanding how vile that culture was for far too long a time. Seriously bums me out how many grown nerds still cling to this grognard shit. Turns out the jock bullies had a point, who knew? We turned out to be way worse than they ever were.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:32 AM on July 13 [14 favorites]


Once again, nobody is saying that.

Ah, well, surprised it hasn't been linked here, but the author's got a twitter thread where he goes in-depth on his impressions of gaming as an egalitarian libertarian largely-sexism-free place back then. That's definitely colored my reading.
posted by naju at 11:33 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


ha ha ha wooooowww lot of people still lowkey defending FYAD and their analogues in here which i guess proves the point of the article a little. it's dismaying to see some people arguing over minutia rather than engaging with the harder to dismiss shittiness on display.

note that i spent some time in internet shitboy forum land when i was misanthropic / internalized misogyny / trying to figure out a non-normative masculinity teen/early 20something so the phone call, so to speak, is coming from inside the house

the thing i am thinking about from all this is how i encountered lot of extraordinary bigoted / abusive behavior on and offline in the 90s-early 2000s, in internet jerk world and also in other spheres i was aware of such as music world (see wax trax / "ironic nazi" / current 93 activities and general shitty macho music bro behavior) and comics world and book readin' world. and while the exact style of shittiness varies by subculture, there are a couple things that seem to be in common:

- being extremely shitty as ingroup/outgroup policing
- being extremely shitty is ok because Épater la bourgeoisie!
- (in retrospect) there are older people in the group kind of egging this behavior on who should really, really know better, and the having a gang of malleable, badly behaved people around is giving them some social cred

i feel bad for being part of that shit and am happy that young people i run into today seem to have less of a tendency toward kneejerk shittiness of that sort. but seeing how presumably grownup people are reacting here, on good website metafilter, is kind of a downer. like even here people are willing to nitpick and back away from the idea that they might have been shitty, or really shitty stuff might have been portrayed as normal, and it's ok to get away from that.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 11:35 AM on July 13 [13 favorites]


Then the author is a fucking twit, if he does really think that things were perfect beforehand. Because they weren't. But, at the same time, I do believe that there has been a normalization of misogyny in modern gamer culture that wasn't at this level in the past.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:38 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


oh yeah also my experience in the land of shitboy forums was those places are kind of shark tanks, and one of the things that got me to leave was realizing that in normal social groups you don't have to maintain a respectful awareness so that people don't dox or harass you as a joke, and that super casual attitude toward being real invasive and escalating is total gg stylo
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 11:39 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Something else that I found significant was an interview that John Adkins links to early in his article, and how he characterizes it:
Looking back, you can see it happen in MTV's 2007 interview with designer Brenda Romero (formerly Brathwaite), during which she learns mid-conversation about the [Jade] Raymond comic. Up to that point, she's upbeat about the treatment of women in the industry, which she calls “a fairly liberal, hip place” wherein gender is mostly irrelevant.

After hearing Raymond's story, Romero is clearly shaken. She starts to recall the many, smaller instances of gamer culture's mistreatment of women.
But that's not really how the interview goes. The interviewer asks Romero if she's experienced discrimination in the gaming industry, and she'll say no... but then work around to recounting clear instances of discrimination. Such as her being mistaken for a booth babe at a gaming convention by someone who wants to talk to a game developer, and has to be told that they already are. Or male developers all heading off to a strip club to socialize. Or a company that she worked for having to develop a maternity leave policy specifically for her, even though they already had a paternity leave policy. And that points toward something that may be more of a factor in the perceived lower level of discrimination against women in the gaming industry back in the day: the lower number of women in the industry, period. Romero says that it was only relatively recently (as of 2007) that she didn't know literally all the women in the industry, and that it was a small enough number that they formed a sort of mutual support group. It's like saying that there isn't much discrimination against female Catholic priests.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:05 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]


And now, they run around as gangs of vigilantes, on behalf of the mighty "white man" ...
posted by infini at 12:10 PM on July 13


Seeing twitter chatter in general about this yesterday and getting caught up on the thread this morning, it's hard for me to get away from the boggler that the OMM heyday was 20 years ago. I was reading it in college, it was definitely one of those things you heard about from other people on the internet, a kind of spigot of revelatory gaming criticism and edginess and whatever. Witty and unflinching and critical of industry fictions and so on, is how I remember encountering it at the time: "do you know about Start-To-Crate" as the gateway in. I'd read it and laugh and cringe and as a lot of folks have said, years later it was a lot easier to remember the funny bits and forget about the cringeful bits. That was that site with the clever, caustic criticism of game industry trends, right? Right, yeah, that sounds about right.

But I've gone back a few times over the years to reread one or another of the big classics or to sort of sanity-check something about my recollection of them, and so I'm not having the kind of two-decade whiplash other folks are describing; I was able to ease into having a much lowered opinion of that old stuff in smaller steps. Realizing the assholery central to so much of the writing that I'd originally received as just being clever and audacious. Recognizing the misogyny and ironic racism as being pretty fucking problematic indeed. Figuring out that when shock value wasn't impressing me, it was a lot of empty shock value that made the writing worse.

There's a lot of gross, indefensible bullshit in the writing on OMM. It wasn't totally unclever stuff; mean assholes can be funny, mean assholes can build mean assholery around a trenchant criticism. But it's pretty awful shit, and every time I've gone back to look at it for whatever reason it has hurt a little to do so because in those way less critical college days I did think OMM was the shit. And at the heart of the site there was this incisive wit driving, or being driven by, the surrounding culture of fuckerish audacity.

Seeing people be shocked that the guys who wrote Portal used to write an adolescent shitlord thing makes me feel old; I was the guy shocked earlier and in the other direction that Valve hired the dudes from OMM of all people to write Portal. It's the "Kid Rock For Senate" of mid-late 2000s gaming scene, just doesn't even fucking compute. But when they're not being fuckery shitlords, they can be the witty writers they wrapped their shitlord fuckery around back then.

OMM was gross. A lot of the other Portal of Evil stuff was grosser still, and unlike the OMM content itself with it's basically one-way editorial voice of "here's a new article", with PoE as an internet community you had all the gross amplifying community toxicity that we recognize more clearly today as being an engine for perpetuating and fostering collective shittiness.

For me, at the time, it was easy to separate the somehow-excusable excesses of OMM from the PoE stuff in part because I didn't really connect OMM and PoE other than casually, like they were in the same basic place but different things, I guess? But also because I didn't have that sense of "shit, we're really brewing something bad here, huh?" foreboding about toxic communities that I feel very deeply these days. My only context was goofing on relatively mild bits of USENET and IRC, and low-stakes hollering/flaming for laughs on a couple BBSes and the college newsgroups. It all felt so small and consequenceless at the time that the actual badness I could recognize just did seem like it was happening in the back room of a local dive. That it could and would to disastrous results grow and spread with the explosion of the internet wouldn't have occurred to me then. Me or a ton of other people. Not sure whether that's more an issue of naive optimism or failure of imagination.

I think folks saying OMM/PoE isn't the genesis are right. I think people saying OMM/PoE was part of the problem and super fucked up to look back on are right. I think people complaining about the headline as a framing issue are right. I think there's a great big complicated pile of ugliness that distinctly precedes, independently proceeds from, and also very much includes OMM/PoE and the temptation to argue the details of whether and how much OMM was reaaaaaallly x% responsible/causal sort of misses the point that there's a lot of awful fucking shit in the OMM archives, way more still in the greater PoE phenomenon, and it's all very much of a piece with the gross shit we're living with today no matter what the causal diagram might be.
posted by cortex at 12:15 PM on July 13 [44 favorites]


SA and PoE were a big part of how I, as a young woman, learned how men talk about women when they aren't supposed to be around. And yet I kept reading. They were funny, sometimes, anyway. And I wanted to be brave, and I already had the idea that taking abuse is the same as being brave. But now I can't remember anything I read on PoE that didn't involve making fun of someone with developmental disabilities and/or some deep and obvious psychological problems. SA, at least, had more than that to offer.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:32 PM on July 13 [21 favorites]


> Sorry to bring up the headline and the premise of the article again, but it is an attempt to do exactly that.

I've already told you headlines are not written by the author of the piece; repeating this form of attack starts to look pretty disingenuous.
posted by languagehat at 1:39 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]


SA and PoE were a big part of how I, as a young woman, learned how men talk about women when they aren't supposed to be around.

Same! I started reading Something Awful when I was maybe 13. It was unbelievably eye-opening for me. I first discovered it through a feature called "Weekend Web," where they posted pictures of really creepy, out-there web forums and I was drawn in by morbid curiosity but then, I started reading the forums themselves. Since most of the people on there were probably much older than me, I was quite awed by all of it--the worldliness, the maleness. It all felt like a world locked away from me, utterly different from my own reality and so much bigger. I do remember that there was a filter on the forums at the time I read them (around 2003 or 2004) that automatically changed the word "rape" to "surprise sex." I wasn't offended by this, though I would be so deeply hurt today. I barely knew what the word "rape" meant at that age.
posted by armadillo1224 at 1:46 PM on July 13 [6 favorites]


OMM itself being the big thing slightly predates my, uh, posting career but I have a lot of things I could say about its sister sites - enough that I think it would take me way too long to put them together to say them. I have to admit my initial reaction was also along the lines of "sure, but wasn't everywhere online like that at the time?" - but it occurs to me that it's hard to have perspective on that since at the time I was fourteen and my "everywhere online" was about four websites with a fairly similar bent!

I think I could, and should someday, write at some length about my observations of how these sites and the people on them evolved over time - some got better, some got worse, and I think it would be worth delving into why. It's honestly kinda hard to separate my feelings about that era of forums from the subset of users I encountered who I still like, but if it's true that this isn't what kids on the internet do anymore I agree with nixon's meatloaf (who happens to be someone I recognize from those days, and is cool) that it's probably for the best.
posted by atoxyl at 1:48 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


> Sorry to bring up the headline and the premise of the article again, but it is an attempt to do exactly that.

I've already told you headlines are not written by the author of the piece; repeating this form of attack starts to look pretty disingenuous.


Ehh,.. Literally every other paragraph restates the premise that internet badness started with OMM.

The closing paragraph is "For now, suffice it to say that things were better before the writers of Portal 2 inspired Gamergate."

The fictional good old days it sets up are, I'm pretty sure, only there so it can be demonstrated OMM "spoiled" things.

Basically for whatever reason it's counterfactual narrative all the way down.
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on July 13 [6 favorites]


It's an interesting paradox, to claim that they were more innocent times, because thirty year old men didn't know that heaping abuse on women and making disability and Nazi jokes was bad.

Perhaps you, as readers, were more innocent (or rather ignorant. I certainly was, though I was not thirty at the time), but were the times more innocent? I wonder.
posted by smoke at 2:14 PM on July 13 [23 favorites]


oh also something interesting i've noticed is that off the internet a nontrivial portion of dudes do seem to pretty much talk and act like OMM/FYAD/etc, maybe less vulgar, but a lot of the underlying politics and opinions are there.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 2:32 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I'll cop to still whipping out the ol' "It's more likely than you think!" gag every once in a while, but on the whole I don't miss the days when centipedes lurking in vaginas was the apotheosis of internet humour.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:52 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]


Jay Allen (@a_man_in_black) thread here.

Excerpt:
The OMM article in Mic is another attempt to burnish a now bygone computer gamer culture that was overrun by FPSes and consoles

OMM was outspoken in saying that culture sucked, but was saying so in the way gaming forums did at the time

It feels like an archaeological reconstruction. All of the forums from the late 90s are all dead or buried their archives, but OMM survived

So the article reconstructs the CD-ROMs versus graphics cards fight of 2000-ish, but places it at OMM's feet

None of this excuses OMM, really. If they used it as an example rather than as some sort of origin point, they'd be a lot closer to right

I can't say I'm looking forward to the "land was green and good before the crystal cracked" followup

Especially tapping into some sort of better history when gaming was pure is also a toxic gamer trope popular in #gamergate circles

posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Oh, and a bit later...

That said, the article does rightly question why everyone is so complimentary of OMM when it was so often so vitriolically hateful

Which I think *is* a fair question. Rose tinted glasses and the time-to-crate metric actually being pretty useful, I suspect.
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Wow, the writer of Portal was a total dick? Wow. How did Kim Swift ever agree to work with him?
posted by floatboth at 3:34 PM on July 13


I can't say I'm looking forward to the "land was green and good before the crystal cracked" followup.
Well, I've been a gamer/nerd girl hanging around mostly white boys since 1992 and I can say that I've definitely noticed a change in the tenor of my interactions with other gamers and geeks online. When I was one of two female unix sysadmins working in the commercial space in the entire city of Denver I experienced some level of casual dismissal related to my sex, but more frequently I was expected to be every nerdboy's manic pixie dream girl who would (theoretically) kick their ass at the Quake LAN party then blow them in the bathroom afterwards. I was certainly invited and definitely belonged, but it was like being a circus attraction and not a human being. I didn't deal with much threatening hostility until vox chat became the norm in most online gaming environments. I generally didn't actively hide or advertise my sex, but I soon discovered that certain games almost require gender anonymity in order to avoid being the target of rape/death/doxx threats. (Yep, I'm talking about shooters.)

So I'm not gonna argue that the pre-OMM times weren't laden with misogyny; they most certainly were. But the nasty, violent nature of the misogyny is definitely much more pronounced now than it was when I first started going online. Back then I was welcome and invited but had to put up with low grade sexual harassment. Now I'm not even allowed to be good at games near boys/men playing the same games.
posted by xyzzy at 3:44 PM on July 13 [34 favorites]


The whole topic just depresses the hell out of me. I was in my early 20s in the late nineties and saw the gradual coalescence of gaming culture around first person shooters. It is not that there wasn't stupid misogyny and racism in games before this time, but the 90s were when graphics got good enough to really portray violence in a way that could capture a vast swath of young males, when before computer games were something of a childish pastime. Around the same time, the Internet was allowing unfetted communication with the games themselves for the first time.

I am not sure where the misogyny comes from - OMM is largely indefensible but they didn't originate anything, not even the cooly detached writing style, there were plenty of other sources of that even amongst the established game magazines. The difference was that OMM didn't have the minimal editorial oversight that kept the horrible culture going on behind the scenes in the gaming industry under wraps. And it turned out that there was a market for such things.

A recent episode of Doctor Who had line of dialog that everywhere you have humans you eventually get unfeeling Cybermen - it is just a law of nature. I suspect that something similar is true with young men - every subculture where young men get together to compete (whether games, cars, or drinking, etc) eventually spawns a sub-subculture of outgroup-hatred.

I can't really explain how GamerGate itself got going though. It seems completely ridiculous to me.
posted by AndrewStephens at 3:53 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Which I think *is* a fair question. Rose tinted glasses and the time-to-crate metric actually being pretty useful, I suspect.

I do also wonder how many people actually READ OMM back in the day as well, versus hearing about specific articles that are now practically internet lore like time-to-crate. Not to say I was representative, but the sites I remember reading a lot in those days were places like Blue's News (about as straightforward and dry a news site as you can get!) and PlanetQuake (which had a really popular column written by a woman, but in hindsight wasn't as progressive as maybe we'd like because it was basically a dating/family advice column?). But maybe all that means is the people who read OMM back in the day were just older than I was. I don't know.

All that said, you could definitely see bits and pieces of the misogyny even on those sites. Blue's News used to post .plan updates (remember those?) for a bunch of game developers, including much of the lead staff at id. So you'd get this weird thing where an update from Corinne Yu about some way-too-complicated-for-me 3D engine optimization code might be followed by Paul Steed talking about modeling scantily-clad women player models for Quake 2 and, well, yikes I didn't remember it being this bad but holy shit here he is talking about the difference between men and women.

I honestly wonder sometimes if those of us who lived through that period didn't notice or care about a lot of the less savoury opinions/outright misogyny because it was basically the temperature of the room at the time, and to stand up and take notice now is to require a certain amount of self-reflection that not everyone is capable of.
posted by chrominance at 3:59 PM on July 13 [14 favorites]


chrominance: I think you're right to partially blame the era to but the theory Roberta Williams advanced really rang true. When computers and network access were limited and expensive, the demographics were different — you certainly still had sexists, racists, etc. but many of them were better educated and the behavioral norms from e.g. right-wing talk radio hadn't spread everywhere. The guys writing their evo-psych theories about race or gender differences might come to roughly the same conclusion but they were much less likely to use obscenities or rape-threats. I'm not sure genteel bigotry is actually much better but it's certainly easier to ignore.
posted by adamsc at 4:53 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]


Again, prefacing this by saying that what OMM wrote was inexcusable, but the fact that so many of the men in this thread who read it barely remember all the misogyny should go to show you how utterly unremarkable it was at the time for gamers or young men on the internet. That was just how it was.
posted by empath at 5:18 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Yeah, and gramps just says the n-word a lot because that's how it was when he grew up.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:48 PM on July 13 [12 favorites]


Artw: I think that the last two tweets in that series also bear repeating:

That said, the article does rightly question why everyone is so complimentary of OMM when it was so often so vitriolically hateful

The answer is that time polishes our memories - and the followup looks primed to engage in that same nostalgia, just for a different era

posted by Halloween Jack at 6:00 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Oops, semi-jinx.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:00 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I suspect what it contributed to is a sense that being vile was supposed to be proof of authenticity. Like, a lot of games writing is/was forwarded press releases, games rated between 7 and 10, etc. And this is one way to differentiate yourself from that, by being something a sponsor wouldn't want to associate with.

Though I realize the paradox that it's supposed to be proof of how authentic you are but if anyone complains, it's just a joke.
posted by RobotHero at 7:20 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I will also admit that when I made my first comment way up in the thread, I was working under the assumption that OMM was written by people in their teens, similar in age to me. Clearly I didn't read the Mic article closely enough, or I would've caught that the author mentioned Erik Wolpaw was 32 when he wrote that post about Killcreek.
posted by chrominance at 7:36 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Again, prefacing this by saying that what OMM wrote was inexcusable, but the fact that so many of the men in this thread who read it barely remember all the misogyny should go to show you how utterly unremarkable it was at the time for gamers or young men on the internet. That was just how it was.
posted by empath at 5:18 PM on July 13 [6 favorites +] [!]


@empath, there is no difference between you excusing older misogynists who harassed their female contemporaries and people who excuse Gamergaters today. As a woman trying to stay below the radar both times, the threat from angry, entitled men who want to hurt women looks the same. The tactics have become more extreme, but at the heart of it, that was how it was and this is how it is.
posted by SakuraK at 12:09 AM on July 14 [9 favorites]


anecdotally, this kind of toxic culture does seem to have grown to be more mainstream and widespread since I started on the internet in the mid 90's.

I will say that, reflecting back on it, this type of shit is why I've only ever commented or posted or communicated with others online in places where I felt like i might be able to avoid that kind of shit, and i say this as a member of more than one privileged class.

A few years ago i would have jumped in here to say that Maddox's bit where he made fun of little kid's drawings was hilarious and to hell with anyone who thinks otherwise, but since then I've gone back and... unfortunately it's not as good and WAY more problematic than I had remembered.
posted by some loser at 1:31 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I have a non gender specific gaming handle I've been using since the 1990s, and recently logged in after a very long time just to see if the site worked and all. Was very taken aback to receive anon messaging asking if a) was I a gamer, and b) sending me a pepe signal of SS solidarity. Like WTF is going on these days? I rapidly withdrew, shaken.
posted by infini at 2:08 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


there is no difference between you excusing older misogynists

Did you read literally the first sentence I wrote?
posted by empath at 3:32 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


In my experience as an Old, when I see the scenes of my youth reevaluated in the harsh light of the social justice 2010s, I notice a couple of things:

1. It's difficult for people who were not there to understand the texture of what was happening, the specific information flows, etc.

2. It is true that there were "innocent" participants in problematic things - like, it is possible to grow up without access to certain language and ideas and therefore miss the meaning of offensive shit. I know this from my own experience - gender bias was hyper visible to me in the 90s, but it was not until I randomly stumbled across a bell hooks book that I started to have language and tools and started to recognize racial bias. Before that, I was not, like, intentionally trampling on people, but I had some dumb positions on free speech and the nineties culture wars stuff, and it was purely because I had literally grown up without access to racial justice language or ideas and literally needed some very straightforward, simple introductions to them in order to understand them at all. I cannot overstate my ignorance at the time.

3. However, the "innocent" participation is inevitably used to obscure the intentional, fully-aware participation, and to rope "innocent" participants into stanning for bad people. In some of the punk scenes I participated in and cared about, there were really active, shitty, overtly racist incidents (generally the "you say this is racist but it's not, fuck you, I'll do what I want" kind). There were plenty of people who had the language, tools and life experience to do better, but did not.

4. On the one hand, it's important to be able to talk about what actually happened because only then do we understand how racist/misogynist/homophobic/etc scenes sustain themselves. So I do think it's important to be able to say "this language was so commonplace that it was basically unheard" or "the people in this scene were raised by wolves and genuinely didn't understand how hurtful things were".

5. But on the other, it's important not to fall into a defense of what happened, and I think that's difficult to avoid. I think it's tricky and requires a lot of structural analysis, because what inevitably happens is this smokescreen effect - in a bad scene, the presence of the naive, ignorant and basically well-meaning is used to obscure the actions of the cruel, self-interested and bigoted, so it's a system. "Innocence" is weaponized by the non-innocent - "look at all this good fun these kids are having! Sure they're saying offensive things, but you can see they don't really mean it!" And many of them don't, exactly, and everyone gets a pass. Unless you understand the scene as an ecosystem, you're going to end up defending it through defending the less toxic of its participants.

6. "Innocence" often becomes apparent over time - the people who genuinely didn't understand what they were doing repudiate it, while the people who did understand or have solidified their bad values stan for the scene.

7. The best moral I've extracted from having been around problematic scenes is that if you care about a scene you act with as much probity as possible all the time. Violence, sexual harassment, racism and homophobia have a cumulative effect. You lose people over time, you lose ideas over time, you have to deal with a series of crises of violence and harassment, important people do vile things and must be expelled or else their continued presence corrupts the scene. If you care about the long-term future of a cultural project, you must continuously try to better your behavior and respond to criticism and problems while they are still small, before losses set in.
posted by Frowner at 5:16 AM on July 14 [31 favorites]


Did you read literally the first sentence I wrote?

It really doesn't matter how many times you say you're not doing the thing when you end up actually doing the thing anyway.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:21 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Maddox's bit where he made fun of little kid's drawings

Wow, that's really dumb. It's like We Rate Dogs only instead of fun and heartwarming with cute dogs, it's full of bile. Edgy! And it's not just some embarrassing artifact from the early juvenile Internet; he spun it out into a 320 page paperback in ~2008, then reprinted in 2012.

Stay tuned for his new masterpiece, "F*ck Whales". No, really. "the reigning king of Internet satire delivers a collection of humorous, unapologetic essays in the same voice that propelled him into comedic stardom."

I don't mind black humor, inappropriate targets, etc. But it better be smart, and it better be funny.
posted by Nelson at 6:53 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


How much of what OMM did was actually causative, though? Did they actually shape behavior, or were they just a turd floating with the current towards the cesspool? That's the thing that I struggle with, and it has a lot of parallels. The Internet is a pretty democratic place, in the sense that it doesn't take much (and arguably took less in the late 90s) to set up your own personal soapbox and start shouting to the crowd, if you assume a certain level of technical competence that was not an especially high bar (for people who were into computer games, at least).

Insofar as OMM is a sacred cow (to whom, I'm not sure, but presumably it is to somebody), it's probably well and good to take it down a notch and forcing people to take off any rose-colored glasses they might be wearing. But I think it's probably giving them too much credit for shaping a culture that they were a visible part of, but existed independently and would have found another gaming blog to elevate had they just not existed, or had a different editorial stance that wasn't in line with the misogyny latent in that community to begin with.

The real takeaway point is not just that OMM is perhaps shittier than those of us of a certain age might remember it being, but that OMM was both popular and its (mostly sexist) shittiness largely invisible at the time because gamer culture was shitty.

That's not really meant as a defense, more as a warning on where it's worth expending attention, both in the historical analysis and when looking towards the future. And yeah, while "blame" is not a fixed quantity that needs to be apportioned as a zero-sum exercise, attention and action both are; if we concentrate on policing what people are spouting on blogs, and somehow clean that up, but it turns out that it's just a symptom of some underlying pathology that we haven't affected, we've now lost an indicator without actually solving anything. It's putting makeup and perfume on a gangrenous limb, when you should be getting the tourniquet and bone saw out.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:47 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


How much of what OMM did was actually causative, though? Did they actually shape behavior, or were they just a turd floating with the current towards the cesspool?.... I think it's probably giving them too much credit for shaping a culture that they were a visible part of, but existed independently

First of all: why does this matter? Second of all: I think you are confused about how "culture" is "shaped." This is how it is shaped, by lots of little entities doing similar things, building a co-constructive narrative. That is how culture works. It is by definition cumulative, and all of the pieces form together to make something larger than the sum of the parts.
posted by sockermom at 8:05 AM on July 14 [8 favorites]


Maddox's bit where he made fun of little kid's drawings

Wow, that's really dumb. It's like We Rate Dogs only instead of fun and heartwarming with cute dogs, it's full of bile. Edgy! And it's not just some embarrassing artifact from the early juvenile Internet; he spun it out into a 320 page paperback in ~2008, then reprinted in 2012.


Yeah it was around 2012 when I went back and looked at it to show someone else who had never heard of it. (and boy did i feel dumb when i realized it wasn't nearly as funny as I had recollected.) I didn't realized that it was actually PUBLISHED in a fucking book tho.. holy shit.. 2008 must have been way longer ago than I thought because i can't even comprehend how there was enough demand for that tired shtick by the time 2008 rolled around. LET ALONE re-issued in 20-fucking-12?!??!


madness.
posted by some loser at 8:08 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


It really doesn't matter how many times you say you're not doing the thing when you end up actually doing the thing anyway.

I'm not excusing the behavior. Merely pointing out that they were participants in a larger toxic culture and not the originators of it.
posted by empath at 8:11 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to be a theme from now on, and next time I go back to watch some treasured bit of Chapelle's show, or Strongbad Emails, or rathergood.com, I'll realize it's problematic as hell and not nearly as funny as i remembered too, aren't I?

Ah well. At least we have Chuck Tingle now. That's never gonna change right? right guys?
posted by some loser at 8:18 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


I legit forgot Maddox existed when I moved out of my parents' house.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:21 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to be a theme from now on, and next time I go back to watch some treasured bit of Chapelle's show, or Strongbad Emails, or rathergood.com, I'll realize it's problematic as hell and not nearly as funny as i remembered too, aren't I?

Yeah, in my experience the suck fairy is often just that I can now really see the patriarchy. :(
posted by sockermom at 8:32 AM on July 14 [13 favorites]


The bright side of Chappelle is that he had a very public awakening where he realised that he was doing some extremely problematic shit and bowed out of the comedy scene to do some self-reflection. If the OMM guys had done the same, there would be far less need to revisit the flavours they added to the toxic stew of gamer culture.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:44 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I honestly wonder sometimes if those of us who lived through that period didn't notice or care about a lot of the less savoury opinions/outright misogyny because it was basically the temperature of the room at the time,

Probably true for a lot of people, but honestly, the only things I used the internet for in those days was trying to promote music and checking email, and I've been stunned in years since to learn about what kinds of things people were talking about and doing on sites like 4Chan. Other than contributing here (under a sock puppet originally, before it became clear to me the anonymity made it too tempting not to be careful about speaking too recklessly and off-the-cuff and since the NSA and others had pretty much undermined any real anonymity online already by that point anyway), I only used the internet to read news, listen to Audiogalaxy, promote shows and recordings on MySpace, and maybe view porn now and then. It really seems like the more toxic stuff has always been associated with hardcore gaming, though maybe other kinds of fan communities, too. I don't know, but wherever it comes from, I wish it would just stop. There's nothing valuable about pushing people's buttons just to prove people have buttons. It never seems like there's any more sophisticated motive to this stuff than that, beyond just being hateful because some people mistake cruelty for strength.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:14 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


I honestly wonder sometimes if those of us who lived through that period didn't notice or care about a lot of the less savoury opinions/outright misogyny because it was basically the temperature of the room at the time,

Thinking back to that time, isn't that right around when Tucker Max was the patron saint of the edgy young dudes on the internet? Some of this material reads like his work, with less drinking and sex but a similar level of offhand woman hating.
posted by theorique at 10:03 AM on July 14


The hostility towards critical thinking in this thread is kinda disturbing. If sexism matters getting the facts right actually matters too.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:39 AM on July 14


> The hostility towards critical thinking in this thread is kinda disturbing. If sexism matters getting the facts right actually matters too.

What hostility are you responding to here, and what facts are you disputing? As written, your complaint here is not actionable in any way.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:07 AM on July 14 [11 favorites]


I'm a female game dev and, look, geek culture and gaming were never free of the sort of misogyny that pervade the wider culture around them, but misogyny in geek culture in general and games in particular has absolutely gotten significantly worse in the last 10-20 years, and I think it's really important to acknowledge that this is a change.

Partly because we have to know what's happening in order to fight it, but also...there's this historical narrative about the situation that's widely believed by GG types, and it goes like this: originally, geek culture and gaming were created to be safe spaces for socially inept white men, and that's why they're full of these fantasies of hypermasculinity, because that's what geek media is for - to provide those men with the validation they lack in society at large. Then, sometimes in the 2000's , feminists and SJWs started entering the video game hobby and trying to change it. GGers therefore just think they're defending something that was always theirs against outside infiltrators who are trying to take it away from them.

That's a powerful narrative. But it's not true! Women were always in geek spaces, were always challenging geek culture to be better, and GG is in many way the movement that's new and trying to change things, and it's really important we undermine their narrative by pointing that out.
posted by waffleriot at 11:27 AM on July 14 [37 favorites]


What hostility are you responding to here

I'm not Rock 'em Sock 'em but I assume they mean the way any attempt to explain or contextualise OMM's shitty old website or identify the inadequacies of the original article is reflexively accused of "excusing". Apparently even pointing out that the examples of OMM's work in the article are not as bad as other stuff on the site is "excusing" because it fails to offer condemnation in appropriately categorical terms. It's really silly.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:44 PM on July 14


whataboutwhataboutwhataboutwhataboutwhataboutwhatabout
posted by tobascodagama at 1:52 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I had coincidentally been thinking about Space Moose the other day. The author saw himself as "offending everyone" but if you read the Take Back The Night strip, it really is more vicious than say, Antlers of the Damned.

So I think there's a dynamic where someone thinks they're an "equal opportunity offender" but blind to their own bias, do something that is in some ways worse, and then when that gets the strongest backlash take it as proof that feminists can't take a joke.
posted by RobotHero at 1:58 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Chappelle's recent shows on Netflix are great until they get to the homophobic and transphobic bits.
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Oh, goodie.

Still, the point is, if there had been even the slightest bit of public recognition from the OMM guys that they fucked up in the past, there would be less reason to dwell upon their past fuck-ups now.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:32 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I have to say: whatever charity I might feel towards the OMM guys as being arguably not that bad in context, kind of evaporates in the face of them not acknowledging at all that they were a significant part of the critical path towards the current terrible status quo.
posted by fatbird at 3:09 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


My comment (punching up, more innocent time etc) seems to have attracted a lot of heat and criticism, so I kinda feel obliged to go into a little more detail than I had time for when I posted it.

I in no way wish to condone the misogynistic language and tone of these sections of OMM, and fully recognize that its use creates a poisonous atmosphere with multiple negative consequences. I was interested, in part because of infinitelives comment, in the fact that the original article had shown the OMM response, but not what it was responding to, because for the purposes of the article that particular context was relevant. I think that the Roberta comments OMM quoted were unpleasantly snobbish and that OMM was right to respond, but bear with me here, absolutely not right to respond in the way they did. This is was I was referring to with "poorly thought vocab and subject matter", but I guess that didn't come across as powerful a rejection as some would wish.

WRT punching up - it was the former context I had in my head as I wrote it. As far as power levels go - The target (Game Company Owner making classist remarks called out by outsider humorists ) was justified, but the weapon used was not (because misogyny should not be used, as a weapon or anything - as someone correctly pointed out, it is never punching up to be mysognist). I don't think Jon Oliver should be prevented for making fun of Ivana Trump for twittering about champagne popsicles, but were he to do so via an attack like this he would be in the wrong.

In this case, as written, because I didn't go chasing down the entire history of OMM and Roberta Williams, they were not responding to her comments because she was a woman, but because they found them wrong-headed. You may think this is naive of me, but that's another topic. I had no idea OMM also owned Portal of Evil, and I am currently enjoying watching Marvel's Iron Fist so clearly I am both ignorant and wrong about a lot of stuff. Feel free to educate me, or, if you're too tired of explaining this sort of shit, to ignore me and take a nap. To repeat: I in no way endorse, or excuse or support the way in which they responded.

As for the innocent age comment, that was just intended as wry wrap-up with a passingly relevant reference to former MeFi cliche Bill Hicks . Many of us white, middle aged men have learned a lot in the past 20 years. Hopefully OMM have as well. Ignorant, in retrospect, would have been a much better word, or some clever play between the two. Hindsight is 20/20 and the time to make brilliant final lines is never as abundant as I'd wish these days.

If there was some valid point to be made about Williams's failings as a (relatively) rich and connected game designer, it was drowned in indefensible and uncomplicated sexism.

This is a completely fair response.

Still, the point is, if there had been even the slightest bit of public recognition from the OMM guys that they fucked up in the past, there would be less reason to dwell upon their past fuck-ups now.

And this is a very good point.
posted by Sparx at 3:36 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


"I've taken a gander at the OMM site to look at their archives and nothing at all about their writing is compelling or noteworthy. "

If you don't think "Seconds to Crate" was compelling or noteworthy, you're not going to actually have very much to add to the conversation.

Likewise, people dismissing this as "trash" are missing the point about what makes gleefully offensive stuff compelling. Like punk rock, pulp fiction, grindhouse cinema, etc., video games were written off by critics at the time as trash. Being vulgar and offensive screens those responses out immediately as worthless — if the point is to offend you, you being offended makes the work successful. And all of those genres are about unrestrained ids and hedonic transgression, including Portal of Evil (or Stile Project or whatever). Treating them with a smug condescension ignores the basic fact that we all do have horrible, anti-social and frankly evil thoughts pretty regularly. If you don't, you're either lying or not human. Part of growing up is learning to manage that — it's why children are horrid little shits whose evil is only made cute by their lack of capacity to achieve it.

Calling it dumb doesn't negate it — the whole point of Maddox's grading of kids' drawings is that it's STUPID and GRATUITOUS.

The problem isn't that it's stupid or offensive, least of all "trash." There are plenty of women who like trashy, offensive entertainment, even grindhouse or pulp or punk rock, the problem — as with all of those media — is when the mode of that offensive is misogyny or sexism (or any of the other racism, ableism, etc.). Instead of using classist proxies for comporting with contemporary social mores, either admit that it's not your thing and move on or commit to a view of transgression that recognizes that the solution to enjoying problematic things isn't to proscribe them but to recognize what makes them problematic and work to do better on those specifics.

And to bring this all back to GamerGate, that's one of the central ideological charges against liberals/feminists/SJW, that they're against fun entirely and want to destroy these transgressive moments rather than making low-stakes transgression something that's not defined by reinforcing an underlying unjust social order. Most people here can distinguish between killing people in video games and killing them in real life, just like most people can distinguish between porn and reality, while recognizing that whom is killing or being killed matters — GamerGaters seek to collapse that distinction, making any attempts to reckon with the issues of who and whom into issues of permission entirely, and dismissing all of it as stupid or trash just serves that agenda.

This article, too, serves that agenda — by using such a broad brush, cherry-picking and making dumb, sweeping declarations on irony and causation, it makes it easier to dismiss all the legit criticisms as just axe-grinding by someone who hates fun. Rather than holding OMM to account, it's the equivalent of trumped-up charges that inoculate OMM from legit criticism. While some folks in the comments here have done a decent job distinguishing, too many haven't.
posted by klangklangston at 4:01 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


we all do have horrible, anti-social and frankly evil thoughts pretty regularly. If you don't, you're either lying or not human. Part of growing up is learning to manage that — it's why children are horrid little shits whose evil is only made cute by their lack of capacity to achieve it.

This says more about you than it does about the linked article.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:07 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


> Likewise, people dismissing this as "trash" are missing the point about what makes gleefully offensive stuff compelling. (...) The problem isn't that it's stupid or offensive, least of all "trash." There are plenty of women who like trashy, offensive entertainment, even grindhouse or pulp or punk rock, the problem — as with all of those media — is when the mode of that offensive is misogyny or sexism (or any of the other racism, ableism, etc.).

No, not plenty. Is there parity? Then there's not plenty. And if, as you claim, everyone has this dark pleasure of the id, why isn't there parity in the consumption and authorship of offensive, gross-out, punk, edgelord, etc. culture? *whispers* paaatriarchy. This is the thing about OMM as an example, that to me is a glaring and unspoken problem, that the deliberately offensive discursive style is, in itself, so highly gendered and policed by patriarchal norms. It was always already boyzone.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:40 AM on July 16 [9 favorites]


[One deleted. klangklangston, don't assert that *everyone* is like X (they aren't), then set yourself up to take on all comers and condescend to and insult people in your responses. Just discuss normally if you actually want to exchange thoughts; this is not internet-tough-guy thunderdome, it's just Metafilter. ]
posted by taz at 2:54 AM on July 16 [7 favorites]


I find "seconds to crate" kind of funny, in that the last game that really impressed me (LoZ:BOTW) has crates and barrels in the entryway upon starting the game. There's no reason for them to be there, you have no weapons yet to open the crates. I can only imagine that the developers are thumbing their nose at OMM.
posted by domo at 8:54 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Jesus fucking Christ.

1) Yes, EVERYONE has transgressive arousal-seeking impulses. This is a basic psychology 101 fact.

2) Yes, EVERYONE is socialized to manage these impulses. This is a basic cognitive development fact. Of all social animals. Pretty much by definition.

3) The tension between these impulses and socialized behavior is often resolved through intentional violation of social norms in ways with apparent small stakes.

4) This can be seen in low-brow or "trash" culture as one of its defining features across media.

5) It is possible to distinguish different transgressions in both form and function. For example, gore and violence is different from sexism and misogyny, both in whom it offends and who bears the cost of that offense.

6) People who advocate for a maximalist interpretation of the value of transgression have an interest in conflating e.g. gore and sexism.

7) Condemning all intentionally offensive work as "trash" reinforces that conflation.

8) That conflation underpins one major rhetorical strategy of GamerGate.

9) Therefore, echoing that conflation is not an effective criticism of that rhetorical strategy from people who would support GamerGate.

10) This article, and several comments here, extend and reinforce that conflation.

11) By doing so, they unwittingly support the social structure that they decry.

12) This social structure is also patriarchal, and can be seen in the inverted — but still sexist — bourgeois conflation of femininity and purity.

13) It is neither "taking on all comers" nor "internet-tough-guy thunderdome" to point this out, nor to reply to patronizing comments disagreeing.
posted by klangklangston at 2:30 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


You're reading a lot into someone calling this trash. Maybe they just called it trash because the humour is rubbish, not as a blanket dismissal of all low-brow culture? And your idea of "intentionally offensive" is... well, it's stretching the definition of offensive. As a person playing in several punk bands, I absolutely do not think the purpose of punk is to offend. Loud and raucous is not the same as offensive. Gory is not offensive - shocking, perhaps, or socially transgressive, yes. But not offensive. Bullshit like OMM and Maddox is offensive. And yeah, the offensiveness - distinct from the social transgression of it - is a large part of what makes it bullshit
posted by Dysk at 3:44 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


The only "transgressive" humor these people use relies upon creating a distance between the one being mocked and an adult white cis male identity. That's the entirety of their shtick. Any substance or creative thought is buried. If people don't want to dig through the muck to read your argument, that's on you.
posted by domo at 7:07 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


I meant to put "hetero" in there too.
posted by domo at 9:29 AM on July 17


It's difficult for people who were not there to understand the texture of what was happening, the specific information flows, etc.

This is a good comment. I'm quoting this part of it because I think another thing that comes up is people feel like "yeah we did say some shitty things but it wasn't about that, it was (we thought at the time) a means to express something else"- and they really want outsiders to understand that. And then they run into people who have zero emotional stake in video game reviews from fifteen years ago and just can't possibly convey why it matters.

I understand the impulse to explain "no really it was more than that" and at the right place and time you might be able to convey some details that are worth conveying. But in general I'd rather try to cultivate the ability to let things go a little and to let other people take their shot than to remain totally anchored in the past.
posted by atoxyl at 12:35 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


well the thing about explaining is that when you have a just-so story like this one

(and that's about the quality of this article)

it really distorts the reality of the time it's describing, and distorts the reality of the current time.

if you go back to the mainstream media of OMM's prime time, it was really full of disgusting misogyny.

south park? check. but any adam sandler mainstream movie would have a dozen jokes that were just "lol women suck." howard stern was just the coolest amirite? nowadays you can actually go to a comedy and chances are it might even be written by a woman, or have a female lead. that just wasn't in the picture then. and gaming culture reflected that.

things, mainstream-wise, have gotten better substantially. to the extent that gamer gate is a response and a retrenchment, it's not just a response of gamers to a change in gaming culture. it's a response of men in general (who were, at the time, much more likely to be steeped in general culture than in gamer niche culture).

they've been driven out of the mainstream and they've retreated to an industry that happened to attract a lot of men to the same discussion groups, chats, etc. and, yes, was exclusionary to women. but beyond that, gaming and gaming culture has other features that led to it being a sort of pocket where misogyny can fester despite huge advances in the general culture.

What hostility are you responding to here, and what facts are you disputing? As written, your complaint here is not actionable in any way.


hey so getting sexism right is an action. hope that helps
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:57 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


South Park raised a generation of trolls

(Mono explanations are dumb but this one really does fit far better)
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on July 25


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