This Shit Needs To Stop
Why the fuck does this keep happening? It seems like almost every time something in a video game is not up to par with expectations, certain segments of the gaming community go absolutely batshit and start harassing employees and game devs. Why do we tolerate this behavior? Better question, when did we START tolerating this behavior?
If you don’t know, a preview demo of Mass Effect: Andromeda was released a few days ago (with the full game coming out on March 21st). It has been heavily criticized and mocked for it’s stiff, often uncanny facial animations. Many memes have been made about them and for a while everyone was laughing. Then some people decided that someone needed to be punished for UNFORGIVABLE CRIME of the game they bought having poor animation. Like, holy shit, that is the WORST POSSIBLE FUCKING THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN TO ANY HUMAN BEING EVER! WE MUST HAVE VENGEANCE ON WHOEVER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS ATROCITY!
Deciding to take up this noble cause is former GamerGate celebrity and human trashfire, Ethan Ralph. Ethan Ralph is a viciously misogynistic fat pig of man who believes that all games exist only to cater to needs to him and to like minded people. This was pretty much was GamerGate was about. A bunch of unemployed, thirtysomething losers living in their mom’s basement, with no intention of growing up and being functional adult members of society, lashing out at any attempt at making gaming more inclusive of women and minorities, or politically progressive. These entitled warts on humanity’s collective asses spend their entire existence whining about “SJWs” and “feminazis,” on Reddit, and their only joy comes from engaging in harassment campaigns against people that either criticize the games they like, or if they make a game that just wasn’t fucking perfect enough for their tastes.
This is all they do with their lives. They can’t take any joy unless they’re destroying another human being for some perceived—and often completely imaginary—slight against them. It’s bullying at its worst—complete and total lack of empathy and regard for the feelings and plights of others. Fucks like Ethan Ralph and GamerGate make the entire gaming community, the online community, and young men in general look like whiny, crying pissbabies.
What happened here is something that has happen several times before. Ethan Ralph decided to dox a woman he believed responsible. I’m linking to this Kotaku article about the debacle here—ordinarily I would link directly to the person who started the campaign for the full context, but I refuse to give this motherfucker any traffic. He does this shit for an ego boost, and he doesn’t care if the traffic he gets is good or bad. Basically, Ethan Ralph gas lighted a woman named Allie Rose-Marie Leost, including a twitter page where she was identified as the “lead facial animator of Mass Effect: Andromeda.” He accused her of being an inexperienced cosplayer with no experience in making video games aside from “some background in art.” He ended his article by saying that she’s “very experienced indeed, “ and the he “had an idea of how she landed this gig.” Basically, implying that fucked her way to the top.
His evidence? None. Just a theory, a suggestion. That he knew would result in Leost being harassed, and it did, because she was dogpiled by angry man-children, with numerous misogynistic slurs being sent her way, asking her “how much dick she sucked,” to get her job.
BioWare released a statement on Twitter saying referring to her as a “former EA employee” who was “misidentified” as a lead member of the dev team. Apparently, they got the wrong person. Well, wasn’t this just some whacky misunderstanding? Aw shucks!
Wait a minute, no it’s fucking not. Even if they had gotten the right person, it would still be wrong. There shouldn’t be targeted harassment at all, much less for something like shitty animation in a video game!
Harassment campaigns have happened over even less important things than this. Last year, a woman named Allison Rapp was fired from Nintendo. The controversy involving Rapp was over localization of Japanese games, which is hot button topic in the online community (this is the case with anime as well.) Rapp was an outspoken feminist and critic of the way online harassment is trivialized as “trolling,” or “a joke.” Nintendo was removing some sexualized content from games imported from Japan. Rapp wrote an essay in college back in 2011, entitled, “Speech We Hate: An Argument for the Cessation of International Pressure on Japan to Strengthen Its Anti-Child Pornography Laws.” The essay contrasts the cultural differences between Japan and the West, including their different views on youth sexuality. She distinguishes between the exploitation of real-life children and the creation of fictionalized sexual material.
Basically, Rapp was a young person who was very into Japanese culture, and she wrote an essay in which she argued that Japanese popular culture shouldn’t bow to censorship from outside forces. Since Nintendo was removing sexualized content from Japanese games, naturally Allison Rapp was to blame because she was an “SJW Feminazi.” Yes, GamerGate’s logic is seriously that broken.
She was harassed by GamerGate, and eventually fired by Nintendo after trolls leaked some out-of-context excerpts from her essay, and she was fired from her job because of public pressure (although the official story was that it was because she had a second job that “conflicting with Nintendo Corporate Culture.”). The trolls who got her fired obsessively dug up her old tweets and writings, as well as her address, to make her life hell. And the kicker here was that she had absolutely no involvement in the localization process of games at Nintendo whatsoever! She was targeted entirely for her political beliefs. Trolls took her out of context and obsessively tried to destroy her life because they couldn’t handle someone with strong opinions.
Incidentally, that’s is exactly what GamerGate accuses SJWs of doing. Trying to get people fired over differing political beliefs. I have no intention of trying to get JonTron kicked off YouTube despite his incredibly ignorant and disturbing beliefs about immigration and race (this will be the topic of my next post, BTW), because he doesn’t deserve to lose his job any more than Allison Rapp deserved to lose hers. Unlike GamerGate, Jon has never doxed or harassed anyone, and he does not deserve anything more than criticism of his ignorance.
But GamerGate, if anyone dares have the temerity, the audacity, to speak in support of feminism, of social justice, it’s “BURN THE WITCH! BURN THE WITCH! GATHER YOUR TORCHES AND PITCHFORKS AND BURN THE WITCH!”
Going back to the Andromeda controversy, there were hundreds of people who worked on that game. She worked at EA Labs, and not the team’s offices in Montreal, so she couldn’t have been the lead animator in charge of how Andromeda turned out. And even if she had, there are multiple factors involved in creating animation for games. Slow tools, limited resources, tech problems…blaming one person is insane.
I haven’t found much information about other than a four-year-old tweet of her announcing the launch of an “animation and art” website by the name of allierosemarie.com. I pray the harassment she received didn’t result in her deleting her twitter account.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Leost turned out to be a feminist or some form of nebulous “SJW” bogeyman that the remnants of GamerGate continue to chase online. She certainly was an easy target for GamerGate, who are obsessed with the narrative of women sleeping their way to top in order to “exploit” gaming for their “SJW Propaganda.” Let’s not forget the movement started because a woman was accused of sleeping with a Kotaku journalist in exchange for a good review of her game by her jilted ex-boyfriend. GamerGate has a culture war mentality in which they believe themselves to be the heroes, saving gaming from invasion by the evil outside forces. In their minds, anything they do is just, any accusation against them is bullshit, and any evidence of wrongdoing on their part is a false flag.
I will give credit to some in the gaming community where it’s due. When BioWare released the tweet about the harassment incident, PewDiePie tweeted, “No reason for personal insults or harassment, it’s just games.” But there’s a bigger problem in the gaming community at large—a tendency to sweep incidents like this under the rag and to dismiss the perpetrators as “just a few bad apples.”
I’m sorry, but there are far too many fucking “bad apples,” in online gaming. Far too many trolls can be found on gaming forums like Steam and IGN, it’s one of the reasons I haven’t been on the forums to discuss things in so many years. I got sick of dealing with petulant trolls and shit disturbers.
I see too many people defending the kind of behavior I’ve been describing as, “it’s just trolling, it’s just a prank, bro!” How does that legitimize it? How does causing emotional distress, economic distress (if you get someone fired), and personal endangerment (if they get doxed) translate into being funny? It fucking doesn’t.
We need to collectively take a look at ourselves in the mirror. We need to ask ourselves how we got to the point where this kind of harassment is considered okay, because people who work in developing games get death threats for something as minor as bugs and glitches. Reviewers get death threats for giving a sub-perfect score to a popular game. People get doxed for speaking out against these issues. And then there's this shit: W? T? F? And people refuse to speak in support of the people who get victimized because, “it’s not me/I don’t know them so who gives a shit?”
And quite frankly, I’m fucking sick of it. This behavior is a disgrace to gaming community, to gaming as an art form, and to the entire fucking human race. I don’t care what fucking political beliefs you hold, it’s time to stop defending indefensible behavior. It’s time to actively speak out against the toxic subculture that spawns bullying campaigns like GamerGate. It’s time to start actively penalizing people who start trolling campaigns on gaming websites, it’s time to stop making excuses for the people that do it (“Oh, but they were bullied as kids, they’re just misunderstood”—get the fuck out of here with that bullshit! How does that fucking excuse trolling, harassment, and death threats/rape threats. We don’t consider rioting to be a justified response to police brutality and injustice. We don’t consider racism against whites to be a justified reaction to historical racism against non-whites. Why the fuck do we think it’s okay for people who were bullied in school to become even worse bullies as adults? It’s such fucked up mentality to have!), and it’s time to start actively speaking out in support of the victims more.
I want gaming YouTubers to speak out in support of the victims of trolling campaigns, I want them to speak out against bullying in their own communities. It’s hard to call out bullies in your own community—you want to believe yourselves above it, it’s natural to not want to see the dark side among the people you consider your friends, but it’s absolutely vital that you do this and emphatically tell your fans and anyone who is listening to you that this shit is not okay!