Apple TV Please Fix On-Demand’s Black Hole
I decided to catch up on a show that I haven’t seen in a while: Hell on Wheels. I like the show enough to want to keep seeing it but, having no interest in following TV schedules, I’m behind the curve. So I go searching on a variety of streaming services for it on my iPad and Apple TV. I think you know how this story is about to go.
On Netflix I can watch up to season 3. On Hulu, Xfinity and AMC I can watch season 4 episode 4 and later, but not 1-3. On Amazon and iTunes I can pay $30+ for season passes, but this seems poor value as I’m sure it’ll be on Netflix 6 months from now.
Had I been on point sooner I’d be getting the show on demand with no problems, but I left it late but not too late, so I’ve hit a weird black hole. This isn’t the only show that I’ve encountered with this problem. It’s not consistently the case, but the policies of some shows disappearing from one service yet not appearing on others is a pain. So is the 20 minutes spent trawling through numerous services just to find out this information. In the end all it does is make me think “oh screw it” and watch something else. That seems wrong.
TV is basically a balkanized mess. Some shows are here, some are there, some are half-here, some are in black holes. No one system gathers all of what you want to see in a clean interface that makes sense and works on your time. Everything works around how TV companies want it to work, what they think is best to capture value, and of course that means a dozen different half solutions from a dozen different providers.
This feels like a very Apple problem. Apple TV plays host to many apps, for example, but it doesn’t do deep searching or tracking. It provides no master index, no global favorites or following functions. It pushes iTunes content too hard and at the expense of other supported services. And its service complement isn’t complete (Amazon etc). It could, and more. With new phones, watches and tablets all in the bag, TV is the problem I’d like to see Apple attack next.
Thoughts on how:
1. Release a new Apple TV 4 with:
- a cable connector similar to what Microsoft tried to do with Xbox One, to take over their terrible cable interfaces for live viewing.
- the ability to mirror that signal across AirPlay etc to other devices in the home.
- DVR style pause and rewind.
2. Release an updated OS for Apple TV that features:
- a global “Follow” function that works across all services
- a global “Favorite” function that does likewise
- a notification service to let me know when new episodes of followed shows are available
- deep searching across all services to find shows and viewing options
- Genius to work across all services
- better integration with provider logins (like Comcast’s) to avoid having to activate every app channel by hand
- more support for other kinds of apps (like games)
3. Create an “iTunes TV”in demand service that
- operates on a subscription rather than season pass model
- works with Apple TV etc
- has all the content (like Game of Thrones etc)
If done right, I would happily drop several other streaming services as long as the content was there. I’d pay $30 a month for this. Maybe even $40. In the mean time I guess I’ll watch something else.
A Quick Word About Copyright And Authorship To #Gamergate
Outside the argument over gamergate itself, we need to talk a little bit about copyright. One of the tactics that gaters use a lot is to mirror content from “blacklisted” sites in order to deny advertising revenue to providers. For example since Kotaku is on a blacklist but some articles are considered important to the gater cause, they mirror it on archive.org or similar.
This behavior is only quasi-legal at best in so far as it happens with the presumed consent of the copyright owner. Technically it’s infringement, in some cases widespread and systematic infringement. For instance Gamasutra might be fine with you mirroring, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% legit or a case of fair use. If Gama decided one day it wasn’t fine with it, you’d have to take it down.
Personally I have no problem if folks feel the need to mirror the content I write. I don’t care about traffic stats nor do I run any ads so if you feel like sticking it to Tadhg by denying him clicks because of all the harsh things he has to say, knock yourself out. However there is a line and that line is stuff like this.
This is a copy of the article I wrote about who’s really afraid of gamergate, copied and pasted into pastebin with zero attribution. That means that the copier stripped out all mention of who wrote it or where it came from and then proceeded to distribute it. That’s not cool behavior, not cool at all. Here’s what is cool:
If you want to copy my stuff you are welcome to. Everything I publish on my sites is under a Creative Commons license, specifically an “Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International" license. That means:
- You may share or mirror my content. Note that that doesn’t necessarily apply to anything I write for sites like TechCrunch. AOL and other companies own that content, and if they chose to act more restrcitively there would be nothing I could do about it.
- You must give appropriate credit. If you pastebin something I write then add “written by @tiedtiger” or “written by that asshole @tiedtiger” and include a link back to the source.
- No commercial uses. If my articles later turn up in a “Gamergate Cookbook” for sale on Amazon, I will sue/DMCA you. No making money off my work, period.
- No derivatives. You may not take my work, remix it and call it your own. My work is my work.
In the case of the above pastebin link I’m choosing not to do anything further so you can see an example of what uncool infringement looks like. In future please do not do likewise. The work is mine, I wrote it. The very least you can do while copying it is tell people that, even if you disagree with every single word of it.
Games/Violence Does Not Equal Games/Sexism
In the endless quest to find the chink in Anita Sarkeesian’s armor that completely undoes her whole argument, gaters have recently seized on something she said in one video about how sexist content affects the viewer. Indeed how believing yourself immune to such influence actually makes it more likely that you will be so affected. “But wait”, they say, “isn’t that the same as the widely-discredited view that violent games make us more violent?” Therefore therefore therefore…
This is specious reasoning. Why?
Media does not affect whether we act violently, this has been shown over and over. But that doesn’t mean media doesn’t affect our perspective. If, for example, you see a movie about a subject like the black experience in the 1850s it likely update your frame of reference as to what that situation was like. Similarly if you play dys4ia it will probably update your reference as to what living as a trans person is like. Your paradigm is altered.
Games can be highly educational. One of the key selling points of a game like Shogun 2: Total War is how it educates the player on what the political life of Japan was actually like, in many ways more so than a dry book might. One of the key traits of the Gran Turismo games is the window that they open into the world of sexy cars. They are capable of updating and altering our paradigm.
The question is whether that influence goes both ways. If dys4ia can change your view and perhaps make you more understanding of one situation, then can games that present more negative situations have a similar effect? If, for instance, you’re commonly playing games where women are set dressing, objects, playthings, tokens, rewards or the sole pink version of an otherwise male character ensemble, is that likely to affect your view of women.
Do games make us act more sexist? Probably not. But do their universes update player paradigms to become more sexist in outlook? That one is harder to dismiss. Anita has a valid point, one deserving of further study.
Who’s Afraid Of #Gamergate?
Here’s a YouTuber who goes by the name of Mundane Matt:
Mundane Matt has been making the case that the secret to “winning” at gamergate is starvation tactics. In essence he says that what the gaters need to do is not click on sites perceived to be in league with the enemies of ‘gate or its demands. No clicks means no ads means no revenue. Thus, goes the rallying cry, they will be afraid. This line of thinking is pretty commonly through gamergate posts, this idea that everybody is afraid of it.
But the gaming media isn’t afraid. There’s just no reason to be. Gaming media sites get traffic the same way that everyone does, mostly through effusive coverage of what games are coming and what consoles are selling and so on. Furthermore, as plainly explained by the founder of the Escapist, emotional headlines get clicks. Yes it’s tabloid and yes in a better world it shouldn’t be so, but it is so.
Game developers aren’t afraid of gamergate either. Why should we be? Gaters can claim to have consumer power on their side, but as yet there are no demonstrations of that power which could be considered credible. The kinds of people who like to buy indie games like Gone Home don’t really jive with gamergate in the first place (plus there’s the Streisand Effect) while the kinds of games they do buy? They’re going to buy anyway. That may sound depressing but it is what it is.
One group afraid of gamergate is the women who got trolled, threatened, targeted and so on. It doesn’t matter that the gaters claim that this behavior didn’t represent them. It happened, colored the whole thing and the outside reaction has been irrevocably tied to that. As I mentioned in my previous post, this is why gamergate is going to go down as a particularly ignoble episode in gaming’s history. Not the cause. Not the slightly-clueless demand for journalistic integrity. Not the veiled politics of demanding “real” games be judged in the media on “merit”. In the eyes of outsiders it’s only going to be remembered as a hate thing.
You know what else? Not many people find gamergate hilarious. In a callow way perhaps, in a rolling-eyes way maybe. Y’know, gamers, etc. For many of us gamergate is actually deeply disappointing. It reflects a part of the gamer mindset that we’d hoped had evolved by now, but apparently hasn’t. For the want of a better word I’m going to call it gaterism.
Gaterism has a corporatist, complaining, and inflexible character. By corporatist I mean that it seems to buy into the narrative of companies and the hero mythologies of platforms over people. By complaining I mean it acts as though it has been mistreated by the industry - at a time when we are falling down in games of all kinds to play. And by inflexible I mean gaterism represents a vision of gaming that’s small, functional, mechanical and unthreatening. One that maintains that functional merit should be all (by which is meant fun, playable, etc) and that anyone who’s successful for other reasons probably doesn’t deserve it.
As such, gaterism may consist of people from all across the spectrum, but it’s divisive. That whole idea that game publishing should be more controlled for “standards”. That notion that somehow the liberalizing of gateways was a bad thing. That attitude that regards game developers as needing to be brought to heel. All of that. All of it is related.
It should be the other way around. With the rise of digital and the lowering of barriers and costs of tools, we live in a goddamned golden age of video games. We see stories all the time of game developers making it on their own and being able to make the games they want to make without being in hock to higher powers. Some of those games are traditionalistic, some are fringe. Many are marketing story driven because that’s what you often need to overcome discovery issues. Many are developed in an open way. Many are bad, but you know what? Better that than being unable to get to market at all.
Gaterism isn’t there. Some game makers are, so are some journalists. Some of us see a future in the medium that goes beyond its past. Yet gaterism seems to just want its corp-game-products, which is fine, but also for nobody else to have games that don’t satisfy its standards else they corrupt the entire medium. And so gaterism becomes oppositional.
Because gaters are the ones who are truly afraid.
Facebook Comment Post-TechCrunch Piece Re: #Gamergate Answer
I’m posting this here too largely to make it more visible than FB comments are likely to.
(relates to this)
Rather than get stuck into all the comments like last time, here’s a phat addendum:
You’re (commenters, gamergaters, etc) getting so heated by your issue that it’s impossible to have any kind of conversation with you. You’re almost all in instant-reaction mode and not listening to any of the criticisms and observations being directed at you at all, preferring instead to target them as “enemy”. I’m not specifically talking about my column. Agree, disagree, that’s fine by me. I mean everything. I see 99% unfocused personal raging at something and only 1% engagement.
Here’s how it’s been so far:
* Someone looks at what’s going on in the movement and observes the sex angle? Attacked. Clearly a person on the make, on the low road, part of the problem etc.
* Someone looks at what you’re producing and asks question? Attacked. Clearly a person on the make, on the low road, part of the problem etc.
* Someone even goes half way and addresses the issue you want to address (see above). Attacked. Clearly a person on the make, on the low road, part of the problem etc.
It’s a pattern, and not a good one.
As to the point of the piece: I worked from a source graphic linked to above (here again: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BxdTyGdIIAAvAWX.png) that explains what the movement is really about. This graphic has been shared widely. And what does it say? Here’s how I read it.
- Not about race, gender etc. OK. I want to believe that but there are some associations that you haven’t gotten past. Nonetheless I took the step to ask what else.
- Against collusion. Check. What that means has rarely been clearly stated other than a sense that some folks must (not shown to be, inferred) be in cahoots.
- Creative endeavor. Check. Nobody disagrees with that.
But then this:
- “More importantly, however, games should be judged fairly, and on their merits, structural and mechanical, rather than unfairly shut out or badmouthed because they do not match a reviewer’s political stances or do not appease their sense of justice, social or otherwise”
You can rail at me all you like but this is a POLITICAL statement. That thing I said about gamergate’s answer being about the product itself? That is what this says. Here’s why:
- “games should be judged fairly”
Ok. What does “fairly” mean?
- “on their merits”.
What does merit mean? Does it mean that the game is significant for some people (arguably having merit for them)? Or does it mean that the game has a timeless quality? Turns out the latter.
- “structural and mechanical”.
This baldly states that gamergate considers games that lack strong structure and mechanics are bad, and those that have them are good. And by twinning those qualities with fairness the whole statement consciously says “good-product games should be considered more worthy”. Depression Quest etc should not be getting the reviews it did if it were “being judged fairly”. And why is this so?
- “unfairly shut out or badmouthed because they do not match a reviewer’s political stances or do not appease their sense of justice, social or otherwise” This is saying that all these “unworthy” games that do match up structurally or mechanically can only be being successful because of politics. It denies that there is any other reason that they might be successful. Such as, say, because they have merit on a scale that is different to yours. Occam’s Razor would suggest that’s all it is, but no. Gamergate can only see a conspiracy.
So, as I said both this week and last, and the week before that, this is an inherently conservative position and many of your tactics and responses are likewise. (I don’t mean you are conservatives in the wider political sense, but on this you absolutely are). You are literally denying that other interpretations of games, other views and other lenses can exist. You are literally claiming that there is an inherent merit in games over and above their context, and you are literally saying that that’s the only thing that matters. You are also, as a side note, maintaining a deliberate ignorance.
So your quest for journalistic legitimacy is not. It’s, as I said, an advocacy for a style and a rejection of other styles. You’re twinning broader views, or even the possibilities of them, with politics in order to justify your own inner idea of what the “merit” of games should or should not be. And that’s fundamentally a losing position to be in.
Because of course games are going to be reviewed in context. They can’t exist in a vacuum. Of course there is a narrative of the medium and that narrative is much bigger than “games should be fun”. I’m not denying you that aspect of games to acknowledge that, but your “what gamergate is really about” statement IS denying all the other aspects of games to everyone else. You are very directly calling all non-merit based judgments as unfair, agenda’d or political. This is intrinsically a small-universe view.
The irony in all this is that if you look at much of my other writing I’m actually a hard-nosed pragmatist most of the time when it comes to discussing games, what they are and what they need to work. Have a look at my prior series of articles about the Seven Constants of Game Design, or about the Four Lenses of Game Making, or much of the material on my site. I have a reputation as being a formalist, a designer who demands that games make sense. Many times I’ve been seen to argue that some kinds of games (such as adventure games) have inherent structural issues. And yet at the same time I maintain that games are magical and unique and need to be regarded on their own terms. You’d see that in many ways we’re all talking from a similar place.
But this movement and its knee-jerk character is largely in the wrong. It is self-marginalizing and destined to lose. One day it will feature on a “Top 10 Ignominious Things That Happened In Gaming” list, remembered largely as the most knee jerk reactionary thing the Internet had mustered in quite some time. You’re simply out of your minds if you think it can conclude in any way.
And, for now at least, that’s all I have to say on the matter.
You Are Not Censored
You are not censored.
Censorship is the proactive blocking of news, opinion or expression by an agency. Censorship prevents voices from getting out at all and is an affront to values of free speech and human rights. Censorship has had consequences ranging from fines to jail time to torture and execution depending on the regime. Censorship is not the same thing as having comments blocked from a site for being rude. Comments often detract from the quality of a well-thought out post. Comments are usually nothing but graffitti. Just because you have the right to free expression doesn’t mean you have the right to vandalize.
You are not censored.
You have the ability to build your own press organ for free. It’s easy to create an online presence, to place whatever kind of content you like on it. For example I set up this site on Tumblr. Through it I can broadcast my opinion to the entire world. It isn’t banned, isn’t blocked. I can say whatever I want with no threat to my personal freedom. So can you and nobody’s going to stop you.
You are not censored.
You have an opinion, we all do, but it’s not necessarily interesting. Developing insightful opinions is a talent, as is learning how to express them. It’s not as easy as it looks to think about something and understand where you actually sit with it, or why. It’s not easy to figure out how to put your opinion into words, to tease out its logic and see its contradictions. Usually it’s easier to just reiterate someone else’s talking points, to lash out. But just because you did that doesn’t mean it’s worthy of notice or response.
You are not censored.
The vast majority of time people in the West who complain about being censored are actually complaining about being ignored. The whole world seems to carry on a conversation around but not with them. They yell “I have something to say too!” but nobody cares. Meanwhile that blogger they hate with all those wrong opinions gets retweeted everywhere, which is so unfair. Clearly, the complainers eventually conclude, they’re being actively shut out. But that’s not it. They’re just boring. They write badly. Their opinions are unoriginal, their arguments insensitive and their tactics repellent. Their threads and comments are deleted because they can’t remain civil and always go for the poster rather than the post.
You are not censored.
It’s easy, comforting even, to explain away a lack of impact as being censored, but usually it’s about credibility. The Internet creates space for the long argument and the deep view. The Internet facilitates a body of work, but that means you need to take the time to build one. You need to build your legitimacy and authority, and it happens slowly. I have a body of work out there that establishes the authenticity of my voice. It is far from perfect, but I did it (and still do) and this is why some people follow and listen to me. Do you?
You are not censored.
You are ignored because you are dull. However if you do learn how to become interesting, gain credibility and authority then we will eventually notice you.
PS: Don’t be surprised if - in so doing - your original opinions evolve. They should.
On #Gamergate’s Ignorance
In the latest rounds of gater “discoveries” and railings about “truth” the targets shifted from indie developers like Zoe Quinn over to talking about DiGRA and a few key folks like Kris Ligman and Zoya Street. In particular one Pastebin tried to lay out an inferred web of corruption (to which I responded) between various people, centering on this:
At the DiGRA panel, many different words were used in approaching what the panel was actually about. It’s difficult to put into layman’s terms, so here is a single except from the transcript spoken by Adrienne Shaw which explains the main topic of the panel rather clearly:
Line 64 of the file:
Adrienne: Why do we see such tension between academics and game designers? less of an issue with indies, but there are always some people in industry that have similar questions until industrial logic takes over later and how can we better intervene in industrial logics to disturb that process. How can academics bridge the gap to the industry audience to help them do different work? How can we disrupt the capitalist norms that facilitate this?
And to explain the difficulties this ideology is having in academia, Line 80 from the same file:
Aaron: Peer review and publishing models. The corruption of the peer review system is problematic. The reliance of peer review to get tenure and a job impacts us and slows us down.
At this point it seems as though the individuals speaking on this panel are having difficulties with the “corrupted peer review” (as stated by “Aaron”) system used within academia and wish to move into the industry itself.
We’re concerned due to the content of the transcript and the evidence pointing to possible collusion within the peer review system that grants given to papers published under this process, though not this paper specifically as it is merely being used as an example to show that their papers are recieving grants for funding, might be improperly used, and perhaps should be looked into.
Subsequent to this the authors then go on to ask what peer review is, and say this:
So let’s look at how academia’s peer review system functions:
First Person Scholar is a peer-review site which offers timely constructive feedback on the articles they publish. On their site is a page where a Board of Discussants is listed [13a,b]. The notable names on that list are Mia Consalvo, Adrienne Shaw, and Gerald Voorhees.
Gerald Voorhees wrote an article titled Identification or Desire: Taking the Player-Avatar Relationship to the Next Level [14a]. The contents of this article are not important, however at the bottom of this article, Adrienne Shaw is listed as a Discussant [14b]. Below the Discussant comments, a series of articles cited are listed. Amongst these articles are writings by Mia Consalvo, Adrienne Shaw, and the author of the article, Gerald Voorhees [14c].
With this we see that the author and the discussant of the articles noted are citing each other to establish a justification for the publication of the article. With this we can infer that the authors of these papers are probably colluding together to legitimize the content of their published papers within academia as discussed at the DiGRA panel.
See this rather neatly expresses the real problem. It’s clear from the commentary associated with the research that the Pastebin’s authors have no firm grasp of what peer review is - especially with reference to the arts - nor indeed what “industrial logic” is or what the corruption of the peer review system that Adrienne Shaw references actually means. Because they assume that something’s going on, all of this material seems to indicate collusion. Indeed as they say at the top of the piece itself:
It is very likely that some individuals connected to this are not necessarily guilty, but are simply trying to pay the bills and doing as they are told by their employers. We are not looking for people to lose jobs over this. We are simply looking for an explanation. All information contained below is easily viewable by any person who cared to look.
Their perspective is pre-judged, and therefore their material prosecutorial rather than investigative. They’re not (indeed nobody in gamergate seems to be) taking a step back and looking at the context. They just assume it means something bad.
They just don’t know that, for example, peer review means that you get your peers to review your critical work as a way to improve it. To the gamergaters that’s people in cahoots working to back each other up and present a front. They just don’t know that Shaw’s reference to the problem in the review process is about how hard it can be to break into it. To the gamergaters that’s people colluding together.
They just don’t know that the reason they keep seeing the same names across sites is that the pool of people critically writing about games is tiny. They just don’t know that the available funding for said people is microscopic and that - far from conspiring to control the industry - several of the talks at Critical Proximity were about how hard it is to make ends meet. They just don’t know that Kris Ligman has long struggled to pay her rent and even took to Twitter once threatening self harm because of it.
I’m not calling gamergaters stupid, but I am calling them ignorant. Specifically a widespread ignorance around the arts, how the world of the arts, criticism and so on work, and what all these links they think they’re finding mean in context. Gamergate is the equivalent of watching fantasy fiction fans try to haul obscure literary writers over the coals by claiming that since lit people know each other and the people who write for review columns, they must be colluding to destroy the world of publishing. It’s missing the wider context that literature is a small scene of people committed to the art itself, and who often struggle and help each other out. That it’s a club, not a cabal.
Gamergate doesn’t seem to understand that DiGRA, Indiecade, IndieFund, SilverString media, Critical Distance, Critical Proximity, Gamasutra articles (and other as-yet unpicked targets) represent a nascent arts scene. Gamergate doesn’t know what that is. Gamergate doesn’t understand the language that it uses, and in many cases (especially on video) gamergate doesn’t want to understand. Gamergate wants to judge. Gamergate already thinks it knows enough. Gamergate wants answers, but when the answers come in terms that gamergate doesn’t comprehend, gamergate yells “conspiracy!” and “you’ll get yours!”.
In the two major articles that I wrote about gamergate I painted it as a far-right kind of political reaction. That assessment still holds. The Tea Party was full of motivated people who wanted to see government revert to an order that seemed to make sense (constitutionalism in this case) and managed to seize the coverage agenda for a while. But Tea Partiers eventually showed themselves to be largely ignorant of how government worked, why it worked the way it did and why they often were beneficiaries of that system. They just didn’t understand it and so rejected their idea of what it was. Gamergate is basically the same, but in our space.
Such problems are very hard to unpick because there is little common ground between those who have a wider view versus those who don’t. However I think there is an emerging difference between the moderate gamers who have been swept up in the emotional tide of gamergate and the hardcore gaters leading the charge. I happened to have a discussion on Twitter with one such moderate yesterday, but such discussions are few and far between. Most are loaded, goading and full of leading or push questions that try to frame the debate in ludicrous terms, full of urges to “get educated” and “see the truth”. There’s not much talking with that.
I do think gamergate will eventually burn out, but it’s going to take time. It hasn’t uncovered anything of any note, has attempted to mudsling in order to get at its perceived truth and caused a couple of great people to give up in the face of the madness. But the energy of that reaction can’t sustain indefinitely. The moderates will realize that it’s run its course and even that it went to some pretty awful places, and recant. The gaters will continue to bang their drum but do so in an echo chamber.
The wider question for journalists, academics, game makers and more is how to get better at conveying their world. For all the fake ”truths” that have emerged from this whole sordid affair, the one genuine truth is the disconnect between our literary scene (maybe “interary” scene in our case?) and large sections of the base. The allegations that started gamergate and continue to prop it up are an elaborate fiction, but the energy that they’ve tapped into is real. We all need to get better at talking to each other without declaring each other to be over, or going straight to the language of who’s oppressing who.
I Don’t Know Why I Care About #Gamergate
(#gamergate is this.)
Sometimes I’m overcome by the need to grasp an online nettle. I have always had this side, ever since I first discovered Usenet forums. Actually maybe even earlier, like when reading the Letters pages of Dragon Magazine aged 12 and growing hot-headed at some of the things they had to say. I sometimes end up embroiled in massive thread fights for days, occasionally weeks, at a time, long past the point of all intellectual utility.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t. Don’t feed the trolls. Don’t wade too far into the murk. Don’t go too far up the river else you go mad (to steal Sal Romer’s analogy). But I sometimes can’t help myself. On Twitter, in Facebook comments and elsewhere some discussions just seize me and I end up goading people who show the apparent emotional maturity of an eight year old and the sense of humor of a stone.
And I deserve what I get in response. Much as all Internet discussions eventually go to Godwin, all discussees eventually become the bore who thinks he’s hilarious and insightful and tells me so while drubbing me with the three talking points he learned on YouTube. Meanwhile my friends start to look at me funny and privately ask “Why are you doing this?” and I have no good answer. Because someone on the Internet is wrong, it seems.
Often it’s because the discussion broaches on something or someone close to me. In this instance I care because I’m friends or friendly with several people who’ve been attacked for the crime of knowing one another. These are not rich, powerful or influential people you understand, they’re rent-scrabbling indies and journos who feel motivated to go make some games, write gaming-related content, whatever. They’re contributors and I feel protective of them.
It bothers me to watch hard-working contributors suffer the onslaught of the frustrated. It rankles me to watch the couch-borne deign to sit in judgment of people who work 16-hour days for years. It makes me seethe to see those who know nothing of the industry sanctimoniously accuse insiders of not living up to their morality. It enrages me to see consumers form blacklists and issue their promises to ruin careers and worse. It turns my stomach to watch so much energy being poured into a cause whose inevitable conclusion is obscurity, alienation and a souring of the will to make games. And it galls me to watch cowardly death threats issued from anonymity denied as further proof of conspiracy.
It’s also just the ugliness, like the guy who sees fit to answer Big Tough Questions about Anna after he spends a couple of minutes wondering who she is and laughing at her appearance. It’s the begrudged developer trying to invent a rationale for why his game never got into the IGF by accusing everyone he thinks was involved of being whores. And of conjuring conspiracies around Brandon’s alleged love life while seemingly unaware that Brandon is very ill.
It’s the heartlessness, the meanness and the callousness. It’s the lashing out at convenient targets. It’s the sneering self righteousness over something so trivial as whether an indie game got greenlit. It’s the need to complain for two solid weeks that no, posting relationship dirty laundry online is not an act of heroism, no, accusing people of fake-hacking themselves is not ok, and no, hurtful attacks online aren’t either. And then to watch in turn as they hypocritically claim they never bought into that logic to begin with and it’s just another example of you deflecting from “the truth”.
It’s also a sense of deep embarrassment at the state of gaming, that for all that game makers have fought to achieve, an epic adolescent tantrum is their reward. That despite their hopes for a broader tomorrow when the world might regard what they do in the same cultural breath as any other art form, the conservative fan prefers to snipe about who the contributor is and why their work “oppresses” the “true gamer”.
But who would want to engage with that? Who in their right mind would want to make games for that? Who needs that kind of grief? There’s nothing as dull in all the world as arguing with a teenager who believes (s)he’s right, nothing to be had from discussing, debating or engaging with people so completely unaware of their contradictions. Theirs is the domain of madness and hormones and ignorance and the co-opting of language like “harassment”, “censorship” and “oppression” because they don’t really understand what those words mean.
These are things that I’m supposed to be relatively philosophical about. In my work I rarely deal with games that even glance off this crowd. Most gamergaters have never heard of anything that I’ve worked on. Most of them are not broad, sophisticated aesthetes of the form with cultivated tastes. They’re deep otaku types who get very very mad if the hair color of a character changes from one release to the next. Yes that’s my generalization, and I’m happy to make it. I should know better than to bother with them.
I also know that most of them will eventually get over this. The irony of “movements” like this is that they fire up enough to burn some people alive, but their participants then move on. Five years later they look back on themselves and laugh at how dumb they were back in the day. But the burned stay burned, and maybe that’s why I care. Maybe that’s why I grasp the nettle.
Yet at some point I just have to stop. Some things I can change, some have to change all on their own, and this feels like the latter. Some fights are not actually mine to fight, and I feel a little of that too. It doesn’t really matter that I don’t respect gamergate or that I think it’s showing off some of the worst tendencies of all things geek. It’s irrelevant that it’s a self-enclosed ideology, a magic circle unto itself busily generating its own mythology. It doesn’t help to know that it’s just another snake that will eventually eat its own tail and body. I just have to stop.
So I’m turning off those additional columns that I’ve had open in Tweetbot for nearly two weeks scouring all the important hashtags. I’m disconnecting from knowing who’s #notmyshield. I’m ignoring further comments on my TechCrunch piece. I’ve said my piece on what I think the movement really is and what it’s about, and I’m in danger of turning into a bore repeating my own mantras and giving the movement more oxygen than it deserves.
I’d wish you luck gamergaters, but that would be insincere. Instead I wish your reality check comes swiftly and that you do something more valuable with all that energy than bitch. Something less ignominious, something less acidic. I hope you learn to contribute, to add rather than subtract. I hope you eventually realize that your reasons for feeling as you do have little to do with games or the gaming media, and more about where you’re at in life. I hope you grow and learn to appreciate this world where people give you almost everything you could ever want for free and work harder than you know just to make you smile.
I hope, soon, you learn the art of giving thanks.