At this rate it looks like #GamerGate might not ever end… unless, of course, the journalists perpetuating the onerous tumult within the gaming industry finally take a leave of absence. The continuing saga of the battle for ethics managed to suck into the fold the digital director of communications at Electronic Arts, Chris Mancil. Why? Because he mentioned Ben Kuchera, an editor from Polygon and a Game Journo Pro, in a post that involved prominent journalist Milo Yiannopolous from Breitbart… and his association with #GamerGate.
Mancil described the absurdity of the event and proceeded to explain why the 2,500 followers stopped following him, writing…
“Little did I know, that Milo Yiannopoulos currently bears the gaming community’s Twitter version of the scarlet letter. This flaming mark of public shame and exile which was apparently sewn on his breast (profile) by auto-blocking bots that systematically mute and silence a wide-swath of gamers, and their friends, whom they dislike and disagree with.”
“In warfare, dehumanization and ‘othering’ allows more flexibility for the troops, and their administrators, to you know – temporarily abandon ethics and morality, for the greater good, and other such mindless rationalizations. A dangerous but all too familiar historical phenomena in war, but also with strong roots in our entertainment history – such as the Hollywood Blacklists for communist sympathizers.”
Mancil’s plea for rational thought was met with a rather odd bit of criticism. In the original article Mancil linked to Ben Kuchera’s article about how Twitter could improve policing harassment on the social media service.
However, Kuchera was not pleased that his work was linked in Mancil’s piece, going off on a Twitter tirade, stating…
“I can’t stop @chrismancil and others like him from linking my articles when defending harassers in gaming…but I can sure let everyone know how repugnant his actions are. This is @EA’s director of digital communications, for the love of god.
“Never, @ChrisMancil. Never ever. People are afraid to speak up, but I’m not. Don’t use my work that way. Don’t you dare.
“The guy who “leads player engagement” for @EA can’t understand why we block those who threaten to KILL us? @ChrisMancil, you’re the problem.
“I have zero tolerance for people using my work in that way. So angry. Sorry for the rant.”
Mancil proceeded to remove the link to Kuchera’s article and attempted to appeal to reason by stating the following on Twitter…
“Death threats & harassment are serious problems in our communities. Let’s be united on that. Then be open to discuss the right remedies.”
Nevertheless, this was met with more vitriol and repugnance from Ben Kuchera, who appeared to be indignant at the idea that neutrality and peace should be sought. However, an unlikely individual stepped up to defend Mancil… Josh Olin, the community and publishing director at Xaviant, and former community manager of Turtle Rock Studios.
— Jennay (@JennOfHardwire) March 14, 2015
After seeing Mancil get shutdown by Ben Kuchera – the same as Mark Kern getting shutdown by Ben Kuchera and VG 24/7’s Patrick Garratt – a few other devs decided to step in and speak up against the gaming journalists responsible for twisting a narrative against the gaming community since August of 2014.
Thomas Geffroyd, the content director on Ubisoft’s Watchdogs, was one of the Cavalry that arrived to backup Mancil, joining in on a new hashtag called LetDevsSpeak.
.#LetDevsSpeak because they do have valid opinions about our industry and diversity of those opinions makes it a whole.
— Thomas Geffroyd (@Orph30) March 14, 2015
Geffroyd was then joined by other developers who chimed in as rebellious chorus against the gatekeepers of old. Game designer Matthew Callahan hopped on board, utilizing the hashtag as well.
— Matthew Callahan (@CalabuMaki) March 14, 2015
Moderate journalists and writers also joined in on the action, hoping to get more developers to step forward and speak out, something that’s been a difficult task to accomplish for the past seven months due to the kind of backlash that we’re seeing against developers like Mark Kern and Chris Mancil.
#LetDevsSpeak because if we're going to critique their work, it's only fair that they can reapply or disagree with ours too.
— Liana K (@redlianak) March 15, 2015
— EscapeVelocity (@EscapeVelo) March 15, 2015
This has been compounded with tools like the GG Autoblocker, which adds various neutral followers and retweeters to a list generated around prominent #GamerGate figures and blocks them systematically. This GG Autoblocker has even managed to catch various indie devs just looking to get informed about events surrounding the matter.
The GG Autoblocker is a blacklisting tool used to exile dissenting voices in the game industry. #LetDevsSpeak or there will only be silence.
— Red Morgan (@DreadMorgan) March 14, 2015
On the upside, Eurogamer has added a ‘right to reply’ clause to their ethics policy in hopes of bridging the gap between news and editorials that developers feel portrays them or their content in an inappropriate or unjust light; however that doesn’t really solve the problem of games media using their platforms to silence and censor developers from addressing rampant censorship and speaking out against corruption.
(Main image courtesy of Alejandro Argandona)