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Brian Ellis
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Flying to Zürich for work! We're following the terminator across North America; it's been sunset for hours.
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6/22/15
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Hey everybody.  I've been seeing a lot of posts about GamerGate in my stream lately, and thus far I've not said anything about it myself, mainly because I'm pretty sure there's not going to be anyone reading this who substantially disagrees with me (except perhaps by thinking I'm not going far enough).  In that environment, to do so felt somehow self-serving, as if I would be mindlessly repeating a popular opinion in the hope that people would like me because they agreed.

+Matthew Brewer, however, just reminded me that there are people out there who can't say the sorts of things I'm about to say without fear of reprisal.  I pretty much can, so I feel like I have a certain obligation to to do so, even if this is unlikely to be seen by anyone who actually needs to read it.  So here we go.

First, regarding ethics in gaming journalism: yep, it's an issue, and yes, I'd really love to have a conversation about it, which makes all this that much sadder, because the chances of that happening anytime soon are pretty much zero.  The reason they are zero is because GamerGate was never really about ethics in journalism except as a cultural touchstone, an uncontentious sound byte that served to draw people in and expose them to the toxic notions that really fueled the movement.  This has happened many times before, and it will happen again.  It's the first resort of the tyrant and the dictator, and we should all recognize it when we see it.

What GamerGate is really about is anger.  Much of that anger is against women.  Some of it is against other things, but even that has been directed more or less exclusively against women by those who have made it their mission to demonize them.  Some have tried to claim that this is a coincidence, that somehow the fact that Zoe Quinn is female is irrelevant to the discussion except that the social justice movement will inevitably close ranks around "one of their own" to derail the conversation.  That isn't true, and there is ample evidence of that.  First, the supposed derailing never happened in the first place: Zoe Quinn's conduct (and many other parts of her life) were under a public microscope for weeks, and it turned out that the thing that people were blaming her for didn't even happen.  And two, GamerGate mystifyingly chose to go after a tiny independent game developer instead of a massive behemoth like EA, which the Internet loves to hate only slightly less than friggin' Comcast.  Either of those things alone would be enough to make any detached observer wonder why GamerGate is a thing at all, and both together absolutely beggar belief.  There was nothing coincidental about their initial target, and there's nothing coincidental about who they've been harassing and threatening and doxxing since then either.  This is about mysogyny.

The most common defense of GamerGate I hear (mostly second-hand, it should be noted) is that not all members of the movement should be painted with that brush, because not all members of the movement harass, stalk, threaten, or dox women.  I'm going to take a slightly contentious position on that and say sure, okay, if you want to distance yourself from that behavior, please do not let me stop you.  +Yonatan Zunger may not have ever seen anyone condemn that behavior while still claiming to speak for GamerGate, but I have.  But please understand that if you continue to use the term "GamerGate", you are associating yourself with a beast with no head who has shown time and again that it is perfectly willing to do horrible, despicable things to women who disagree with it.  There is no rational, benevolent center to GamerGate; this is the Internet for crying out loud.  Simply condemning or disclaiming all the actions you don't like while taking credit for the ones you do is neither reasonable nor workable.  You are going to be held responsible for the actions of the group as a whole, and when that includes things like death threats, there is no coming back from that.  If you truly repudiate the actions of these people, your best bet right now is to say so loudly and firmly, without qualification, and without trying to change the subject.  Anything else is like trying to blow out a forest fire.  Also understand that GamerGate has set back your cause by several years, and thus any attempts to seriously discuss ethics in gaming journalism are pretty much doomed to failure for the foreseeable future.  If you want a reason to be angry, be angry about that.  Lastly, understand that if you have associated yourself with GamerGate in the past and do not speak up now, I am going to take your silence as evidence that you are complicit, and so are a lot of other people.

Lastly, a note about the word "gamer".  I've never really gone in much for labels, but a lot of people are pretty attached to that one.  GamerGate is destroying it, bolstering the cases of those who associate it with ignorant, entitled bigots with violent tendencies and serious anger issues*.  Felicia Day used to call herself a gamer.  I wouldn't blame her if she didn't anymore, and that makes me sad.  If "gamer" is part of your identity, you need to reclaim that word, and you need to do it fast.  The longer there's any doubt that these people don't speak for you, the harder that's going to be.

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* You'll notice that I did not say "basement-dwelling neckbeards" here, because it actually bothers me a lot that otherwise well-meaning people invoke that stereotype.  Living in a basement or having a neckbeard does not make you part of the problem.  Attacking women does.
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A rare redstone-related video. I'm pretty proud of this design. There is a mystery regarding how it works though... if you know, let me know!
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Need a centerpiece for your wedding? Why not Zoidberg?
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Yup. Definitely in Maine.
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Brian Ellis hung out. <a class='ot-hashtag' href='https://plus.google.com/s/%23hangoutsonair'>#hangoutsonair</a>
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Brian Ellis hung out. <a class='ot-hashtag' href='https://plus.google.com/s/%23hangoutsonair'>#hangoutsonair</a>
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Brian Ellis hung out. <a class='ot-hashtag' href='https://plus.google.com/s/%23hangoutsonair'>#hangoutsonair</a>
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