Well it was bound to happen sooner or later but someone finally had the balls to step up and tell it like it is. Even I’ll admit that I wish I could do the same elsewhere to far more striking results, but there’s this thing called bills and all that jazz. Anyway, the CEO of Stardock Corporation, Brad Wardell, decided to finally step up to the plate and call a spade a spade in what’s really happening during this media blackout surrounding the unethical behavior from some of the larger gaming outlets out there.
Wardell’s software company is responsible for niche hits like Sins of a Solar Empire and the Galactic Civilization series. He’s been on the receiving end of his own kind of harassment and toxic media coverage, so he knows a thing or two about being railed on (mostly regarding stuff I’m not even going to waste time bringing up). Nevertheless, Wardell took to his own personal website to pretty much shame the way the current gaming media machine operates, mostly calling it “toxic”; I don’t disagree.
Cutting through to the core of his points, he makes it known that not every site is bad; not every Tim, Rhonda, Odell, Larry and Lana out there are trying to stir up the inner anger of their audience to get the “harassment” brigade to drop jail-worthy threats at the speed of 140 characters per tweet.
Some of the folk out there are genuine, and Wardell wanted people to remember that.
Nevertheless, he explains that there are several forms of toxicity currently running rampant in the gaming media industry and one of them includes the tabloidization of just about everything happening in gaming (something that’s a bit unavoidable in any form of media really). Of course, when the tabloid news is used to hurt careers, people and companies on a lack of thorough investigation and information that’s when it becomes something far more sinister.
The Stardock head-honcho wrote that…
“It’s not just that the gaming media publicizes every tawdry rumor or speculation about the individuals involved in making games. It’s that they actively take sides and drive the narrative. This is extremely divisive and thus creates a constituency of people waiting “their turn” to air their grievances.”
We’ve seen this time and time over again. In fact, a lot of the high-horse riders have excused why it was okay to attack Wardell and game designer Max Temkin over accusations before the whole story was out. You can get a decent overview of what happened without giving Kotaku any hits by reading an overview of the whole thing via this Reddit thread.
Funnily enough, as Wardell points out, it was okay to shamelessly drag certain people through the mud without getting the whole story, but when it happens to someone the gaming media happens to be in bed with, there’s a blackout enacted across the board (even for a while affecting the discussion threads across multiple sites surrounding the topic). Thankfully, the issue was too big to be contained and it’s now starting to seep out like the contents of a septic tank forced inside of a fishbowl.
This article basically breaks down a few of the connections that keep certain sites with their balls duct-taped into their rectums over the issue. They chose not to come clean about the whole ordeal, when in reality a lot of this could have been resolved rather quickly with some simple admissions of accountability… an absent virtue in today’s media.
Thankfully, we’ve had grassroots movements finally popping up and even some journalists finally seeing the light, with a prominent feminist going as far as to apologize to 4chan over being blinded by all the hate and rampant misinformation being spread about the core gaming communities.
But Wardell hammers it home about the forfeiture of scruples from armchair mercenaries who have turned toxicity into profit, stating that…
“The point is, the gaming media is perfectly happy to profit from spreading toxicity into Internet culture. The only difference now is that people are able to push back against the narratives being foisted.”
And push back they are.
Gamers have been rallying – the strongest force keeping this momentum going is a thread over on The Escapist (I advise you to be polite and courteous if you decide to join in on the crusade) – and trying to stir up as much of a ruckus in all forms of the media circuits as possible to make it known that the people who are supposed to be the leaders and front-runners of how information is shaped and delivered are partaking in some reprehensible behavior.
Wardell mentions that using the “professional victim” disposition as a form of propaganda is another toxic incarnation of gaming media culture that has done nothing but create a divide within the community, and I couldn’t agree more. Phil Fish, anyone?
Brad states that…
“Professional victims rely on the fact that we don’t condemn intolerance and abuse universally. Because of that, like issue #1, the culture becomes more divisive, more toxic. When people feel they haven’t gotten a fair shake or that their beliefs are being misrepresented, they get angry.
“Lastly, a reminder: Trolls customize their insults just for you. They will pick what they think will upset you the most and use that. If you wear your grievances on your sleeve then it’s just that much easier.”
This is one thing I think everyone tends to forget in their firefights on social media: Trolls feed on your reactions.
I’ve always held the belief that a fool can tempt a smart man into acting a fool simply by getting him to react to foolishness.
Every time a certain someone makes an inflammatory remark and gets the manufactured ire of a thousand trolls it’s feeding toxicity both ways. The victim is vilified by the trolls and in return seeks those who can exercise their authority to fulminate an entire community over the actions of select trolls. In return, the trolls just keep firing shots or finding new ways to harass. All the meanwhile the average gamer is being painted in a poor light just for being a gamer.
Nevertheless, my favorite part of Wardell’s post is the following…
“One of the worst trolls I’ve had to deal with was the founding editor of Kotaku. He even made a YouTube video comparing me to Hitler (it’s still up if you search for it). Imagine if the former editor in chief of Kotaku posted a video comparing a female game developer with Hitler. What do you imagine the coverage would be? What does that tell you about the attitudes of some people in “activist” media?”
I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I don’t know Brad Wardell personally and I’m not really into 4x strategy games so I’ve little vested interest in Stardock as far as that ship goes, but I must say that everything he pointed out in the blog post is spot on.
I mean, all those people out there claiming to be for equality and whatnot are always the last to actually put forth any effort in actually supporting movements that put those words into action. The whole TFYC IndieGoGo is proof that it has nothing really to do with equality, at all. Otherwise the people yelling for a fair shake would have dumped their money into the campaign and any other start-up aiming to do the same thing. But that’s not what happened is it?
When 4chan’s /v/ has to step in and become a real social justice warrior for the gaming community you really have to question what’s up with the people on the other side of the fence stating that they’re all for rights and equality when they’re trying to shutdown an actual cause that supposedly fits in with their agenda. Like, really?
As Wardell notes in his “too long; didn’t read” part of the post…
“The tabloid parts of the gaming media shit out a lot of toxicity that lives on forever via search engines. Unaccountable trolls read up on this and then perpetuate the original toxicity by keeping it alive, thus perpetuating the cycle. Meanwhile some cynical people capitalize on the gaming media bias to get career boosting publicity despite their meager real world accomplishments.”
I couldn’t agree more. The best thing to do now is to continue to show support for those who actually care about the gaming industry. Keep. Making. Noise.
Feel free to tweet out support for the righteous movements in game culture using the hashtags #4chan4women and #GamerGate. And remember, don’t feed the trolls; don’t mention the one who shall not be named; and don’t breathe in the toxic venom… you become the thing you hate most when you adopt their practices.