Saturday, June 27, 2015

Gamergate was started by a psycho-stalker ex-boyfriend

I recently had an argument with a friend of my brother who wrote, when I asked him who he meant when he was complaining about "radical feminists" -
Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, anyone else directly involved with the whole gamergate nonsense, and any girl with a liberal arts degree and a twitter account.
Gawker explains Gamergate:
Quinn has been the victim of death threats and harassment since she began trying to publish Depression Quest, a text-based game partially based on her own experience with depression, in 2013. Last month, the New Yorker attempted to explain why Quinn and her game inspire such outrage among gamers —Depression Quest is not a "real game," it's "just words," its portrayal of depression is too personal to be relatable—but it's hard not to look at the last several weeks of chatter in the gaming community and not come to the conclusion that it's about the fact that she's a woman. 
Why do you say that? 
The harassment against her reached a fever pitch in August after an ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, wrote a series of blog posts alleging that Quinn had cheated on him with five other men, some of whom worked in games or games journalism. 
In gamer social media circles, a conspiracy immediately took root: Quinn had definitely fucked those five guys, gamers decided (they even turned it into a joke about the burger chain) and she'd done it to get publicity for her games.
I decided to see what Eron Gjoni was up to and I found this article in Boston Magazine from May of this year. It's a very damning account of Gjoni.
There’s a haunting resonance to Gjoni’s choice of location for our meeting. This is where he and Quinn first hung out in person: It’s where his obsession with her began. He’s come back to the beginning, and he wants me to know that Quinn is a “hypocrite,” a “compulsive liar,” and an “asshole.” 
Gjoni is a highly cerebral, 25-year-old software developer who was recently fired from Massachusetts General Hospital’s robotics lab. He chooses his words deliberately, spending much of our time together describing the month after his breakup with Quinn: how he extracted details from her Facebook, text, and email accounts; how he tracked her movements and shadowed her conversations. The process he described to me sounded as if he were gathering the pieces of a horrible machine, with each component designed to be as damaging to Quinn as possible. Eventually, the machine would have a name: “The Zoe Post,” a 9,425-word screed he published in August.

***
As Gjoni began to craft “The Zoe Post,” his early drafts read like a “really boring, really depressing legal document,” he says. He didn’t want to merely prove his case; it had to read like a potboiler. So he deliberately punched up the narrative in the voice of a bitter ex-boyfriend, organizing it into seven acts with dramatic titles like “Damage Control” and “The Cum Collage May Not Be Accurate.” He ended sections on cliffhangers, and wove in video-game analogies to grab the attention of Quinn’s industry colleagues. He was keenly aware of attracting an impressionable readership. “If I can target people who are in the mood to read stories about exes and horrible breakups,” he says now, “I will have an audience.”

One of the keys to how Gjoni justified the cruelty of “The Zoe Post” to its intended audience was his claim that Quinn slept with five men during and after their brief romance. In retrospect, he thinks one of his most amusing ideas was to paste the Five Guys restaurant logo into his screed: “Now I can’t stop mentally referring to her as Burgers and Fries,” he wrote. By the time he released the post
 
As he wrote, Gjoni kept pressing Quinn for information. About a week after their final breakup in San Francisco, Quinn finally stopped responding to Gjoni’s barrage of texts, Facebook messages, emails, and calls. He interpreted this not as a surrender or a retreat from his unwanted advances but instead, paradoxically, as a kind of attack. As he wrote at the time and later posted online, “GOD FUCKING DAMN IT. SHE’S AVOIDED ME EVER SINCE THIS CONVERSATION BECAUSE SHE IS PARANOID I MIGHT GO PUBLIC.” From this circular reasoning emerged a twisted justification: By withholding information, Quinn was somehow forcing Gjoni to “go public.” Eventually, Gjoni would come to see himself as the victim. “I was panicking at the thought of not publ 
After crafting the post for weeks, Gjoni shared his polished draft with about a dozen friends—mostly female game developers—as well as his mother, and asked them to weigh in on whether he should unleash it. He says about 10 of them gave him the green light. His mother, he claims, reluctantly approved, but was “very worried that I was going into it overly emotional.” One Gjoni friend I spoke with, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said, “I felt it was healthy to get it out there…. What harm would it do to get his feelings out?” 
Others who later read the post saw something much more deliberate and malicious. Jesse Singal, an editor at NYMag.com, said it clearly “followed a script” of “these sad, specific ideas that a segment of the gaming community has about women being duplicitous and breaking men’s hearts.” Slate’s Arthur Chu told me, “He’s an articulate, well-spoken guy who knows how to put together something on the Internet. That’s the kind of weapon guys like that have…the ‘crazy bitch’ story. It’s a very potent trope to use…. It’s a very nasty, very calculating train of thought, and it worked.”
By August 16, Gjoni had assembled his semantic pipe bomb. He first planted it on two video-game sites, Penny Arcade and SomethingAwful, and it quickly found its way to a third, 4chan, whose online communities had a history of harassing women gamers. But moderators at the first two sites deleted it almost immediately. Gjoni had anticipated that might happen, so he moved to Plan B: He posted it himself, on a WordPress blog. Gjoni visited his friend Rachel Martin, a freelance designer, and sat at the edge of her bed as she proofread it one last time to make sure that “The Zoe Post”—which was packed with Quinn’s personal information - didn’t violate the website's terms of service. At 12:42 a.m., on August 16, Gjoni clicked “publish.”
For the next several hours, he sat enrapt by the glowing screen before him, watching the bedlam he’d created explode and explode and explode.
***
On August 18, after the release of “The Zoe Post,” Gjoni worked overtime to make sure readers would keep coming back for more. Stoking the mob, he joined 4chan discussion boards and released additional information online, including Quinn’s supposed location and baseless theories on her sex life. Despite tacking a disclaimer onto his post—“I DO NOT STAND BY THE CURRENT ABUSE AND HARASSMENT OF ZOE QUINN OR FRIENDS. STOP DOING THAT. IT IS NOT IN ANYONE’S BEST INTEREST”—Gjoni taunted Quinn directly over Twitter and claimed online to be acting as a puppet master. When someone tweeted, “eron youre the pope of gamergate why don’t u help us,” he replied, “I am actually doing a lot more than you know in the background.”
In September, after a month of this, Quinn called Gjoni and asked him to stop egging on her harassers. “[He was] completely unrepentant,” she says, and claims he told her, “I did this for your benefit.” Then he tweeted, “Just had a private conversation with Zoe. It was trite, exhausting, and totally in bad faith. Ah the good old days.” That’s when Quinn filed a police report and secured a restraining order.

The attacks on Quinn started a wave that kept on rolling. Within a week of “The Zoe Post,” strangers threatened to kill other women in the industry. Jenn Frank, who wrote for the Guardian, ultimately felt forced to quit writing games criticism. In short order, Gjoni’s post had become the basis for a savage online movement that came to be known as GamerGate. GamerGaters cited “The Zoe Post” as evidence that women were ruining the video-game industry’s boys’ club. Attacks fanned out against any woman the mob labeled an “SJW”—short for “social justice warrior”—and GGs began a witch hunt against anyone involved in breaches of so-called ethics in video-game journalism. In October, Anita Sarkeesian canceled an appearance at Utah State University after an anonymous email promised “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if she spoke. The attackers continued to release troves of women’s, and some men’s, private information and coordinated threats for months. A few even “swatted” their victims, tricking police dispatchers into sending SWAT teams to raid women’s homes.
Unfortunately the term SJW has been so co-opted by right-wingers and I might have to stop using it. 

John Oliver recently did an excellent episode of his show about online harassment. And although he didn't actually mention Gamergate, as Jezebel notes Gamergate Shits Pants Over John Oliver Segment on Online Harassment.

This episode is not only excellent for the subject itself, it also features the return of the Carlos Danger song.

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