I am not a fan of Gamergate.

Maybe that’s been unclear to some because on occasion I’ve been willing to listen. That’s simply because, no matter the hashtag a group might band together with, I believe that if they raise serious issues about ethics in journalism, those issues should be addressed or looked into.

But here’s the problem: While the Gamergate movement does on occasion raise those issues, it also raises a myriad of unrelated issues. Those who use that hashtag also harass, antagonize and say and do other vile things. Sorting through the nastiness, the unrelated, the personal attacks, is both exhausting and a waste of time.

So here’s what I propose: If your concern is ethics in game journalism, if that’s what motivates you, than use a different hashtag to bring up those issues. I’m not addressing the import, value, or your right to be a member of GamerGate, but I am saying that I can no longer justify to myself, the value of wading through the political mire, vitriol, hate and ad hominem attacks to find those occasional important concerns.

Besides, if what you want is ethics in journalism, why would you want that very important message lost in a sea of unrelated messaging and antics? If that’s really your concern, it’s time you find a new home.

What about something simple? Maybe EiGJ. Of course that hashtag will only be valuable for as long as those who use it can maintain its purity as a place to discuss ethics, not the myriad of other topics that so overwhelm the GG hashtag.

GamerGate is a movement that – even if you ignore how it started and its use by people who have broken the law to harass others – is inarguable about much more than simply ethics in journalism. Continuing to use it to address that is at best a fallacy and at worst dishonest.

Game journalism, all journalism, faces a slew of ethical quandaries. Sifting through them to determine what has already been figured out through past example and what needs to be discussed or revisited is an incredibly important task.

What GamerGate has done in regards to ethics in journalism is create a smokescreen behind which some non-journalists can lob attacks and some journalists can hide from a very real, very important call to action.

Let’s, those of us who really do care about this topic, move on and find a new place for civil discourse.

5 thoughts on “Ethics in Game Journalism or EiGJ”

  1. This is discouraging, as I have and do consider you in good esteem, despite our disagreements on many things. I find that this suggestion has several issues that stem from a narrow perspective and honestly, have made some fell accusations against thousands of people, falling into the same pitfall that many other would-be critics of GamerGate have.

    Firstly, this specially imposes a standard of behavior upon users of the #GamerGate hashtag; You’re criticizing all users of a hashtag for actions that are simply not unique to the hashtag. #BlackLivesMatter is filled with ad hominems, vitriol, hate and political mire from both supporters and opponents, but that hasn’t stopped outlets (including Vox) from trying to defend it as if it were an angel sent from on-high. Why apply such a special standard only to the #GamerGate hashtag and users there-of?

    Second, the hashtag has reinvented itself, several times, and many separate events have disillusioned users who involve themselves in it from entertaining the idea. You may not be aware of the full history of #GamerGate (indeed, the confusion on its origins is spectacularly common); #BurgersandFries and #TheQuinnspiracy were about the Zoe Quinn Scandal; #GamerGate was a rebranding that occurred after Adam Baldwin’s tweet; It started because the attention shifted away from Zoe, and to the implications that the scandal held for Games Journalism in general. It changed nothing, #GamerGate was still worse than ISIS, Ebola, etc.

    To further illustrate this point, this same phenomenon has occurred with the Savepoint panel for SXSW. Despite being drastically distant from the #GamerGate hashtag (the panel was specifically meant to address Ethics in Game Journalism, and included the potential future head of the SPJ on it), it was still attacked by opponents of #GamerGate, with threats, hate mail and what-have-you, because of the same reasons. Changing the hashtag has done nothing, and I’m inclined to believe it will continue to do nothing, because hashtags don’t require membership, nor do they seem to change the minds of bigots or zealots.

    Third, I’d really like to suggest that perhaps you’re looking in the wrong place if you are wanting niceties. The internet is a uniquely unbridled place, and hashtags on twitter are no different; As mentioned before, they don’t require membership, so anyone can come in and spew anything they want. Instead of just crashing the hashtag with a hard landing, why not build rapport with credible users who are involved? It is hard work, to be sure, but just as you even suggested, there are many who do pursue ethics in our midst.

    And for the record, I want to mention that I’ve seen just how ridiculous things can get in this hashtag and the events that surround it: I myself have been branded a traitor and SJW by more extreme factions more than once.

    But that’s the internet. My convictions don’t falter just because someone on the internet doesn’t like me or says mean words, and I refuse to attribute their actions to some greater, amorphous majority – first, because I was not raised to, nor do I deign to, believe in labelling groups, and second, because I’ve met some of the nicest people in this hashtag, and I know it isn’t true.

  2. Where were you when there was #spjairplay? #savepoint? You act like that wasn’t tried before.

    Here’s a simple answer; you weren’t listening. You still aren’t. This is an excuse to simply kick the can and ignore the problem.

    You can’t reasonably ask your potential audience to police the internet, but you have. You’re unwilling to use even the least bit of congnative ability to discern the difference between trolls (who are obvious) and concerned potential readers who are upset at a myriad of examples of corrupt behavior. You act like there isn’t a website for presenting these issues completely disconnected from any trolling.

    In short, you’re disingenuous. You’re no more interested in a dialogue than any of the other journalists, critics, or involved parties who keep using a hashtag and the completely false (reference WAM study) accusation of Gamergate as being remotely about harassment (.66%? how can that be considered anything but negligable?)

    This has been studied. If WAM’s own data and analysis says it’s not about harassment, why do you keep parroting a known lie?

    So, let me be blunt. You are part of the problem. If you truly want to have a dialogue about these issues, you’re going to have to actually 1) open yourself up to the evidence or 2) stop pretending you don’t already know that the ‘harassment angle’ is a lie.

    I’m not interested in trying to convince you anymore. You’ve more than proven you’re unwillingness to be honest about this subject. I’d sooner burn the game journalism industry to the ground and rebuild it than salvage it at the expense of the truth. We’ve played that game for decades and it’s time for something better.

    Call this a ‘come to Jesus’ speech if you want. Your ‘side’ burnt all the bridges, made all the lies, did all the damage; don’t expect us to rescue you now. So make your choice. The truth or your lie. The evidence is on #gamergate’s side.

  3. I try to not pay much attention these days, but this appeared on my feed and it made me a bit nostalgic. I was involved until around November of the past year. I saw the way the wind was blowing, how disagreement was handled, the amount of crap people were excusing and I kept seeing the same trenches. I believe the most dishonest people (on both sides) are the ones who have benefitted the most from this and they won’t let it go away. I’ll admit defeat in every objective I had and I have no expectations that anything can be fixed anymore, some people are going to hate you forever without getting to know you, it’s how it is. You’re simply correct saying it’s not only about ethics and these days you’ll find a lot of people accepting that openly. I still follow people involved and IMO, GamerGate now isn’t about ethics or harassment, it’s mainly about GamerGate. It’s a place where friends talk to friends and if you’re outside of the circle you’re a third party troll shill. If you’re part of the “corrupt clique of doom”, the objective isn’t to make you reconsider your options anymore but to sink your platform. If I try to share what you wrote I’ll soon have people asking others to not read it because it comes from a demon that writes for Polygon.

    I understand why you don’t want to touch it, I don’t really get why you think it’s a situation that can be defused at this point. It’s not going to stop and it’s going to be used as a smokescreen for people inside and outside to filter reality. You can make a new tag to talk, but they’re going to find it and the same problems that make you not want to engage it anymore are going to appear. There’s even another problem, using another tag is seen as an attempt of cooption. And although I think people are often way too paranoid, I get that argument. Try if you want, but to me it’s very evident what’s going to happen.

    In another time, people would have been way more open to take Kotaku’s side in regards to what’s happened with Ubisoft and Bethesda. A lot of people understand there’s an ethical problem there, but the lines in the sand are drawn in such a way that they’ll side with whoever moves against Kotaku. The train of thought is something like “Kotaku is unethical, so anything that will help purge them is ethical”. It doesn’t need to make sense. At the same time we have people comparing leaking a new Fallout game to Snowden. There’s been too much dishonesty and too many open hate to expect a productive conversation can happen anymore.

    My advice is that you should do you and see who follows. If you want to talk ethics and you want to include your readership, think about how to do it outside of twitter. Expect a very small audience and little support. I miss you fam, you’re a very decent human being and I’ve seen your attempts at building bridges more than once. It pained me to see them falling on deaf ears while nonsensical incendiary statements got the megaphone. But although I’m not GamerGate anymore I’m very done with Polygon.


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