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Even the Most Virulent of Internet Scuffle-starters Can (Maybe) Be Reasoned With


So today I had an argument on the internet… about GamerGate. First a little bit of context: I don't usually pick fights on the internet and I have never been nor ever will be labeling myself as GG or anti-GG at any point because fuck the rampant guilt by association that exists on social media. The reason I did pick up the fight was that I spent the morning listening to Jim Sterling’s ‘interview’ with the people at Digital Homicide (the ones that DMCA’d his channel and give him all sorts of shit every time Jim mentions them) which put me in an argumentative, sweary mood. The argument took place in the comments of a Kotaku UK article about a meeting between a pro-GG developer and Stephen Totilo, a writer for Kotaku UK and someone who has been critical of GG, Totilo was nice about the guy but that did nothing to stop the shitstorm in the comments. However, I may, thorugh patience and reason, made the internet a slightly better place.

The basic conclusion of the piece was this: The dev is a pretty reasonable bloke separate from the lunatics on twitter. This was my comment, I thought I was being helpful:

‘I think you;ve managed to discover something that frankly seemed obvious: there is the kind of core group of GG and Anti-GG respectively who are generally nice people convinced of their views and who both think they are doing what is best. Then there is the public face of such groups who tend to be angry hangers on who never even visit the main hubs of the respective groups.

Youtuber NerdCubed (through his community manager/internet butler Matt) did some great research on this and discussed it here: 

Then a commenter called Nick Harris rocked up to my comment. Looking through the rest of them, he clearly had an axe to grind, but Jim Fucking Sterling Son had somewhat invigorated me to have fisticuffs on the internet and after he posted this:

‘There can't be anyone 'nice' in the self-identified #GamerGate community, it is a contradiction in terms. Were they to disassociate themselves from that toxically misogynistic reputation smearing hashtag their call for journalistic standards would have some credibility. Were each to speak with their own individual voice rather than click to Retweet some pithy ill-researched hate then real questions of bias could be confronted.

Case in point, Eurogamer:

9/10 - Halo: The Master Chief Collection (broken for 9 months)
8/10 - Battlefield 4 (not as broken, but flaky for about 12 months)
8/10 - Destiny (rushed out a year early with three cutscenes, no story)
7/10 - Assassin's Creed: Unity ("the game struggles to keep up with you")


With such little scrutiny at launch publishers have no incentive to not force their developers to rush out the next iteration in a franchise, or chop parts of it away to be held back for DLC. The previews hype the game. The review focuses on the inconsequential story. Later articles appear months later to appraise the children who have already been sold broken toys that recent patches have digitally distributed at their expense that means it is finally safe to play. Microsoft, EA, Activision and Ubisoft must be laughing on the other side of their faces.

 To which I thought ‘this guy did read my comment right? Or watch the video? Well, let’s try again.’ Actually, I perfectly re-enacted this beforehand:

So, now you know the sort of mood I was in, here is the response I gave:

‘'There can't be anyone 'nice' in the self-identified #GamerGate community'

Stop there. Take a breath. Can the generalization. Continue.

I don't disagree with the rest of what you say, but that has little relevance to the point I was making, which is that most of the core people in both movements tend to be nice people (like Vavra). Twitter is a toxicity engine, and should not be used for debate at all unless every single tweet uses a twitlonger. I agree, people would do themselves credit by staying the hell away from twitter, I avoid it like it were cholera.

Most people retweeting puerile crap are, as researched in the conveniently linked video, nothing to do with the core of either group. (and this applies to BOTH, in case you need it spelling out)

An inability to distinguish between the usually calm and reasonable groups on places like Reddit and the psychos on Twitter does just as much harm as using Twitter as a medium of debate. I treat the two separately, and as a result I am far better able to parse what goes on. In column A (Reddit) we have a discussion between reasonable groups of people, in column B we have Twitter users, a hive of scum and villainy. Seperate the two, because they are separate, as even basic research makes clear.’

Now I thought that was a reasonable comment. I maintain a level of skepticism when it comes to internet discussion, but I try not to go so far as to assume that the people I’m talking to are simply morons – even if they are. It seems his axe was not sharp enough, and hit back with something that just didn’t make sense in relation to my previous comment.

‘"There can't be anyone 'nice' in the self-identified #GamerGate community"

Let me help you parse that as you are having such difficulty.

So, to that end allow me to pick someone who self-identifies themselves as a member of the #GamerGate community at random. I dunno... uh.... Adam Baldwin...

Adam Baldwin is a crackpot Libertarian Hollywood actor who gave credibility to the InternetAristocrat's unfounded smear on Zoe Quinn's reputation with since debunked allegations of impropriety with videogame's journalist Nathan Grayson here at Kotaku. It didn't happen. The timeline of events precludes any chain of cause and effect and therefore any quid pro quo from having taken place.

As I posted before, this misogynistic hashtag inspired Adam Baldwin's many twitter followers to assume he had done due diligence in corroborating the underlying facts of the "story".

He hadn't.

Maybe he didn't care.

Maybe it fit some Libertarian anti-Liberal Media Agenda.

Who cares what the reason was.

It wasn't a 'nice' thing to do.

Anyone. Absolutely anyone who uses that same hashtag in a supportive way is self-identifying as part of the community of #GamerGaters. That ought to mean #JournalisticEthics but as Adam Baldwin screwed it up from its very inception it is tarnished and nothing good can come of it. Furthermore, the #NotYourShield tag is a diversionary ploy, but even if it was well intentioned (it isn't) it fails as it defines itself in relation to the understandable anti-#GamerGate hostility. They could've gone for... I dunno... #CreativeFreedom or something.

So, everyone who has posted tweets ending in #GamerGate agree with Adam Baldwin, think Zoe Quinn is a slut (she isn't) and are therefore misogynists. I think it is mild to say none of these people are 'nice'.’

Shall we have the banana man image? Yes, let’s have the banana man image.

So, on the internet discussion today I was patronized, insulted, ignored and just what in Bonaparte’s Balls didn’t he get about sample sizes? 1 is not a good sample size, and I’m certain he hadn’t watched the video. That axe must be sharp enough to cut God himself by now. And the politicisation of literally every statement made? Fucking hell’s bells that is a lot of welled up anger. Let’s be calm though, and I responded with this:

Right. One last time.


You're 'let's use one bad person to generalise a movement' as a counter to the statement that saying 'all GG-ers are nasty people' is not exactly the most compelling evidence.

The youtube clip (which you can just click play on and watch btw) goes through this in detail - with research taken with a decent sample size (significantly more than your sample size of 1 - which is pathetically small).

I'm beginning to see why this was such a shitstorm - generalisation left, right centre and upside down too for good measure. No actual talking to people, just at them. Please, treat your opinions as what they are: opinions; fallible statements of belief that can and should be discussed reasonably with the application of logic and evidence. I see it lacking in pretty much anything outside of the GG and anti-GG Reddit threads. I've given you evidence on a plate - and my expectations on a plate, and you ignore both it seems. Disappointing.’

Thinking back, I do come across a bit dickish there, but in fairness my patience was being tried. I’ve dealt with a few ultra-political people in my time (including a couple of UKIP hardliners, if you’re from the UK you’ll know how tough that can be to deal with) so I braced myself for what was sure to be a mix of comedy gold and cringe worthy logic. I was not disappointed.

‘They are not my opinions. They are irrefutable facts. Why are you trying to make them appear to be 'generalisations' when you must know full well that my statement is a truth derived from logical inference.

If you think that I am attacking you or your associates who still self-identify as either members of #GamerGate or the wouldn't-exist-without-it-having-existed-first #NotYourShield movements then you would be correct.

However, this is soon remedied.

Disown them.

Speak for yourself. On Reddit. On Twitter. On Kotaku...’

I don’t think he expected me to respond here, that last part sounded like some sort of puny ultimatum – as if I cannot defend my opinions. I once spent 3 hours arguing viciously that KoTOR’s turn based combat system deserved to be their against someone (a good friend) who believed the game would have been better off without it. I won. This internet argument is elementary.

*Flexes fingers, hears slightly worrying crack, starts typing*

‘Umm.. sure.

1) 'you or your associates who still self-identify as either members of #GamerGate or the wouldn't-exist-without-it-having-existed-first #NotYourShield movements'

I have never ever identified as anything. I have sod all social media presence. No Twitter, no Facebook, sod all. I do not approve of harassment - I generally speaking follow the Harm Principle as an ethic, with extension to harassment being an act of harm. I cannot disown that which I do not consider my own. I'm with the majority of internet users who have sat far away being confused for a while. I haven't a flying fuck of a clue what #NotYourShield is, and I'm guessing I don't want to find out - its a Twitter thing anyway, and I steer clear of general Twitter. My Reddit presence is minimal also, I occasionally post in the /r/EliteMahon subreddit, though that is about Elite: Dangerous so probably not that important.

2) 'They are irrefutable facts'

The very existence of this argument is strong evidence to the contrary (especially given use of the word 'irrefutable' which technically nothing is, and in practice only the most proven of things is considered as such). You still have not addressed the fact that a sample size of 1 is poor evidence - the evidence I cite (that video is still there for you to watch btw) is more compelling and tells a more complex story: Twitter is shit, Reddit is alright. Go to the Reddit GG (Gate or Gazi, preferably both) and read them, they are pretty reasonable on the whole - disagree in places, agree in others, but I can understand the angle of most on both subreddits.

3) 'Why are you trying to make them appear to be 'generalisations''

Because they are. From Google Definitions: 'a general statement or concept obtained by inference from specific cases.'. You cite a specific case and make inference - if that is not a generalisation then we must be speaking different languages.

The example you cite supports your point. That person, I think we can both agree, is a dick. I don't disagree - but he is not representative of the GG Redditers, separate from the GG Twitters. Again, that video discusses that at length.

So, here's some things for you to do - this discussion seems good (and is at least getting some of the neurons going).

1) Tell me what you think of the video
2) Justify your opinion that GG is a coherent movement and not a clusterfuck of ideas, some of which are shitty, some of which are reasonable as the evidence (actual, large sample size from many sources evidence) suggests.’

I liked the ‘From Google Definitions’ part the best. The following silence was golden. I’d like to think I made the internet a slightly better place yesterday. I may, may, have brought him round to my way of thinking. By this point I was just in the discussion for fun – I take a certain amount of joy in being right, calm and reasonable. But he never responded. If he changed his mind, the internet is a nicer place today as that person had an axe that needed grinding, and grind he did – in every single thread of discussion. After our little exchange, he stopped.

It seems even the most virulent of internet scuffle-starters can be reasoned with – if you don’t lose your calm. He could also have had enough of me, though that can’t be parceled into a message for a blog now can it?

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About James Internet Egoone of us since 2:56 PM on 04.21.2015

Howdy! Welcome to the little corner of the internet that a part of me calls home. Here's some stuff about me.

Occupation: Student

Hobbies: Videogames, Chess, Philosophy

Interests: Law, Philosophy, Gaming

Chores: PC maintenance, Uni prep

Current Thought: Damn you Witcher 3! Damn you Crones to hell!

Favorite Game: KotOR 2 for reasons, but Witcher 3 is now joint first, bloody marvelous game.

Current Game: The Witcher 3

I am a fan of the written word as well as the spoken variety, so you'll find me doing a lot of written stuff. Every couple of days hopefully.

Here is a nifty list of what I think is my best stuff.

Destructoid C-Blogs
How Cities: Skylines Almost Screwed Up My Exam
Why the PR Man Can Lie
On Mods and Money
How Mass Effect Made Me Like Music
Questing For Immersion
An Afternoon With the SWG Emulator
How to Buy a game in 2015
Some Upbeat Thoughts on Bioware
The Pain of Playing Old Games
Why Citybuilders Are Not ABout Building Cities
On Valve's Inability to Follow The Law
Band of Bloggers: KotOR

Some Written Word on Game Design
Ambivalence and Not Caring

Front Paged Things
Bloggers Wanted: KotOR 2

Kotaku UK
The Best Zombie Game Out There

That covers the bio, right?

Oh, right - name. I'm James, in case you couldn't guess.