about “Wizardgate”, and a game about Depression

This whole “Zoe Quinn” thing.

My opinion is this: She’s a hypocrite, and thats why its making such an uproar on the internet. It has nothing, absolutely nothing with the act of cheating. No, I am being ridiculous: In a way it sort of does.

What ultimately makes it all so angering is that the very ideals this woman sets upon a pedestal is also the same things she is throwing against a wall, smashing it and her perception of purity along with it.

First, a history: Who is Zoe Quinn and why am I typing about something no one else seems interested in amidst much larger issues such as Ferguson, Israel/Pakistan, and other things of the sort? (Lets also not be so silly. No news authority of any merit would broadcast blog wars between video game crusading feminists and people who supposedly oppose her. And if they did I would lose all respect for them.)

Zoe Quinn, from what I’ve read, is considered a feminist video game designer in the indie gaming field, producing content, getting exposure, living that dream we all strive for. A quick googling of her name, and you are met with articles that sound more or less like this:

“Poor defenseless video game designer gets attacked for being a woman”
“4chan and internet trolls at it again!”
“Woman ostracized from gaming because silly ex decides to post dirty laundry all over the internets”

At first glance, it is gleaned from these articles that she is one more victim of internet bullying. A strong capable woman creating a video game about something that has been on everyone’s mind as of late: Depression. The suicide of Robin Williams is something some people are still trying to cope with, and a woman going out there and creating a game that tries to address the issue of depression and raise awareness about it is a thing to be admired. The fact she even released the game FOR FREE after Robin William’s suicide seems like such a noble cause. She is truly a compassionate and caring human being, with strong ideals and a good sense about her.

Her biggest exposure on the internet seems to stem from being bullied online. We all have heard the terror stories of those darned channers attacking and harassing any girl gamer out there who happens to be “in the bizz”. These internet assholes just decided to zero in on her with a raid and make her another countless victim of their abuse.

No.
Wrong.
SO very wrong.

What makes this so so wrong? The entire story is never told. People are only seeing the tale of the poor woman being harassed, and fail to dig any deeper. What about the perpetrators of these heinous acts?


The “Trolls” and the “Raid” they carried out.

“My days grow indistinguishable from one another. An old and tired mind stuck in a young man’s body, ready to hang his coat up and kick off his boots.”

– A terrible monster of a troll

 

In order to understand the absolute fallacy of this so called “raid”, you need only understand the supposed attackers — wizards. No, I am not referring to the Hat and Robe sort. The term ‘wizard’ has recently earned a new definition; that to describe people so fed up with the world that they have decided to shut themselves up from it, swear off women, and to live a sexless and solitude life. Sometimes this is of their own choosing, but most of the time these “wizards” feel a victim of the world they are forced to be a part of. They suffer from depression, social anxiety, and low self esteem. A strong comparison can be drawn from Japan’s Hikikimori, young men pulled into a severe depressive and solitary state because they feel they are inadequate and different from the rigid norms forced upon them by the strict and polite Japanese society. They can’t see themselves living as businessmen, instead drawing into themselves and their rooms, leaving only when absolutely necessary.

The young men suffering this self inflicted fate have absolutely no desire to interact with your or me, and are quite frightened of the idea of calling someone on the phone. To assume these people are capable of pulling off any sort of raid is laughable.

Yet, Zoe tries her hardest to do just that. Her proof? A mere two or three posts on an image board mentioning her name, her photograph tacked on it. While the content of these two screenshots are quite disrespectful, at one point calling her a “cunt”, the fact remains that it was a topic on an imageboard only populated by these “wizards”. No one attacked this woman and posted fanatically about it on the board. No one hacked her. No one ordered 200 pizzas to her address. It was merely someone complaining on an unpopular site and someone creating drama out of it.

The thing about an anonymous image board is the fact that you cannot discern one poster from another. Who is to say these posts were not a setup to create drama? Accuse someone of raiding you, of being a victim of misogynistic men, and immediately you will get exposure in this age of internet feminism. You may think its kind of far fetched to just accuse someone of setting a raid up purely for PR. The other incidences mentioned in my rant may make it seem more plausible.

But more on that later.

As to the other evidence of the raid, Zoe claims she was harassed by phone calls to her cell.

“Those dudes got my phone number and jerked off into my phone. That’s hardly harmless or “just douchey”

  – Zoe

 

If this were true, I would most certainly say she experienced some harassment at the hands of trolls.

But the people she is accusing of doing this barely leave their own rooms for any length of time, much less call anyone. The people who style themselves “wizards” are usually too scared of social contact to even go to the doctors for a medical problem. How could they ever muster enough energy or confidence to jerk off over the phone?

More than likely, someone else randomly decided to troll her cell. It happens. But the more plausible explanation, based on Zoe’s character, is that she is flat out LYING about the whole ordeal for PR. It may seem bold of me to say this, but evidence of her character make it highly likely that this is all a stunt.

But..whatever. This is not the ultimate reason this whole “wizard” debacle is so awful to me. The back and forth between this secluded group of hermits and that group of pro-Quinn fans is not something that concerns me all that much.

Its the hypocrisy of it all.

Quinn’s new video game. The one she’s apparently falsifying raids for (among other things) is a game that attempts to address the issue of Depression. The fact that she is trampling on a group of socially terrified, depressed shut-ins in order to gain attention goes against what she is attempting to address in the first place! The character of the game experiences the same melancholy and hopelessness as the wizards, but without a care in the world Zoe has no problem allowing her fans to harass these people. Since those initial screenshots there hasn’t been any attempt by a Wizard to “attack” Zoe. In fact the only thing any of these recluses have attempted was to proclaim their innocence and defend themselves. But because her fans only care about what she has to say, it all falls on deaf ears. No. THEY are the bad guys. They came to HER websites and attacked her. It can’t possibly be the other way around. Oh no.

These are the people you should be marketing to. These are the individuals that may get the most out of a game like this. And they were accused and harassed merely because someone who has a little pull around the indie development scene decided to pick the smallest fish for their feigned harassment.

As said previously, perhaps it seems like a huge stretch to assume that Zoe made it all up on a whim. Who am I, anyways, to blatantly call her a liar without anything to back it up? It may even seem like I am simply siding with the “trolls” on this. But there is some evidence that, while not outright proving the concept of this being one big fabrication, does show the type of personality this person exhibits when away from her glorious spotlight, lending substance to the idea of her lying. To illustrate this, we move onto “bad guy” number two.


The “Misogynistic Boyfriend”

“..Seriously, you really don’t want to trust Zoe Quinn.”

                                                                                      — the ex-boyfriend

 

After the “Wizardgate” debacle, a new voice came forward to offer a fair warning to anyone in contact with Zoe Quinn — her ex. A long blog entry was created. Accusations were thrown. Screenshots were included. The world gasped. (Not really.)

Not unlike countless others who read the initial revelations on this blog post, I shrugged to myself. “Okay, so she slept with a couple of men who may or may not have had an influence on how her game was perceived to the gaming community. So what? Hoes gotta hoe.” I didn’t see the big fuss, really. Guys do it all the time, don’t they? And should a chick’s sexual infidelity have any merit on the media she puts out to the public at large? Does what she do behind closed doors really matter? Was this just the story of a relationship gone sour?

More or less, yes.

The big “to do” with the community really wasn’t the fact that she had slept with five men. It was the fact that some of those men were pretty high up on the ladder of some popular (popular, not influential.) gaming journalism websites. Some saw this as her using her womanly ways to wiggle her way up the popularity ladder. Zoe, after all, needed support for her game to be accepted on “Steam Greenlight”, so she could begin selling it on Steam. What better way to get some much needed exposure than to sleep with a writer who would inevitably write praise for her project?

(As an aside; I’m not going to bash the concept. Personally I think its a very good concept that SHOULD be tackled in interactive media in some way. The attempt is an honorable one, regardless of the little drama going on behind the scenes. I am also not going to assume that the praising review was written just because she slept with the writer. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. Maybe that effected the review. How do I know? Thats not for me to discuss here. If her sexual powers did effect that review, however, it has QUITE ALOT to say about contemporary gaming journalism, doesn’t it?)

As for me? Whatever. I don’t read that particular site. I don’t intend to even play the game. It doesn’t concern me.

What really grinds MY gears in this particular fiasco is the clear representation of her character and the hypocrisy exhibited there. Apparently Zoe initially presented herself as a woman with strongly held beliefs when meeting up with her now ex. She made a point to preach transparency in a relationship, spoke about the absurdity of cheating on a loved one. Even equating it to rape. She also spoke of being responsible and honest, and never hiding the truth from a loved one. This strong sense of character is what drew the ex to Quinn. They got along quite well, it seemed.

And then she completely contradicted everything she promised to her boyfriend.

I am not going to go through that whole drama here as it is not my place to do so. (There will be links for those inclined to some extended reading.)

It was the typical relationship gone sour: Lying, distrust, cheating and avoiding. Big deal. Like I never heard of those stories before.

But what it all eventually boiled down to (for me) was this: When these two love birds decided to try and work out their problems, it seemed Zoe cared more for the limelight than her significant other’s feelings. She didn’t want to come clean. She didn’t care to work the details out over the internet with her significant other. Why?

Because there would be a record!

How can someone who preaches honest and responsibility be so very callous and uncaring to someone she loved so much? How can you set yourself so very high on a pedestal and proceed to fling poo down on the lookers on? How can you care more about that sparkling spotlight than the one who chooses to love you?

What is most telling about all of this is the sheer amount of lying that went on to cover up her own mistakes, as well.

This awful attitude. This obsession with celebrity. It speaks volumes of her character.

When stacked up against “Wizardgate”, does it then seem so farfetched to assume that this same person would be willing to lie and cheat to get what they ultimately want? Celebrity? If someone is capable of lying about something as personal as a relationship, how could they not be more than capable to fabricate a shoddily attempted “raid” claim in hopes of bringing attention to her “plight”, and ultimately her game?


The Further reaching consequences of such actions.

Let us assume all of this is true for a moment.

  • What does her actions say about the things she represents?

Is it not hypocritical that someone noted as a popular feminist uses the very tactics women are trying to keep away from to get forward in her career? For how long has the female gender had the general stereotype plastered above their heads that they only get anywhere in a career by sleeping with the big men with power? Images of scantily clad secretaries dance in my mind. Oh the ass grabbing.

I think that is what the whole “she’s making feminists look bad!” comes from. Its not the act in itself, but the perception she is putting out there for the gender. There is no doubt in my mind that there, indeed, is alot of sexism going on in gaming. I am not talking about the industry itself, (In terms of character design/representation/etc.) but the gamers. Whether doing it for their own enjoyment or for the fact that they truly think that way, alot of hardcore gamers feel women are the very thing Zoe made herself out to be; a sham. I’m not going to sit here and say she set the whole “movement” back, however. I honestly don’t think any progress has been made on that front to begin with, and it will be quite a long time before we truly see any kind of change in the gaming community. That will only happen with time, and the eventual changing face of the gamer.

But her actions certainly didn’t help anyone, and makes the idea of feminism in gaming look ridiculous to anyone outside of it. It cheapens the whole thing, true or not.

  • What do these events say about gaming culture as a whole?

Really? I’m not surprised. When hasn’t this happened, really? In what career are you not going to find the opportunist looking for some easy game? Clinton? Tiger Woods? Anthony Weiner?

There will always be someone using their power to get a little sumthin’ sumthin’.

Yea thats all I pretty much have to day about it. Not surprising. Oh, Kotaku? Not surprising.

It makes video game journalism look bad, either way. Say what you want about the other sites, I have yet to hear of any naughty sexscapades going on behind closed doors and aired out like stinky gym shorts.

Bottom line: to me its just downright annoying that this type of heinous behavior is happening in gaming. While I think its a brilliant and wonderful thing that practically anyone with a little know-how and elbow grease can produce a game that can sell and evolve interactive media in a way not seen before, the level of immaturity on display here is just..embarrassing! Maybe I am a little uneducated? Does this type of thing happen in the independent film business? Are indie directors running around screwing Entertainment Tonight writers in hopes of getting their film a little recognition? Again. Wouldn’t be surprised. But at least indie film has a level of class and sophistication to it. They hand out Oscars to those people, for Pete’s sake.

And now we talk of Phil Fish.

Although I didn’t delve as deep into this person and how he coincides with this whole scandal, I do know the man is about as adult as a 12 year old going apeshit in ‘Generic FPS dujour’. He was one of many who came to Zoe’s aide in her hour of need. He defended her honor, insulting and hating on the same community he relied on for his own fame and popularity. I want you to imagine a barely-at-puberty voice cracking as it reaches full volume, shooting out expletives to anyone that dares defy them. That is essentially Phil Fish. That is an adult.

“Absolutely pathetic, ball-less manboobs”

                                                — The divine maturity of an acclaimed developer

 

This is an ACCLAIMED DEVELOPER, I said. And he acts like the very trolls he hates so much. When you are attached to words like “acclaimed” and “award winning”, I would imagine you need to at least try out and air of maturity. Spielberg didn’t throw a tantrum every time the giant mechanical shark failed to work. He just dealt with it and moved on, creating an amazing movie. Turning lemons into lemonade. But not this guy. And ontop of all his immature remarks and troll-tier douchery, he manages to have a hissy-fit and cancel development on the one thing that may have made all his ranting and raving worthwhile: Fez 2.

Now I am not saying I honestly care either way, as I have yet to play Fez. But this person acts like he is performing genocide in punishment for how the community at large treated him. He fails to understand that inevitably, something better will come along. This person and that game will be forgotten. Your rage will be for nothing. Congratulations. Good job. You cut off that nose to spite that face, good sir.

I can’t name anyone on this earth who would want a foul-mouthed, meme spouting asshat defending them against negative press, deserving or not.

But enough on that.

The point I am trying to make is that these people are representing the fields they are in, and they’re making it easier  and easier for the general public to think what they assumed was true all along: That gaming is for kiddies.

Here is a golden opportunity, where people can begin seeing games as a form of art and not just an overly expensive toy to placate and babysit a spoiled child. There now exists independent news, independent game creation. People are stretching the medium to new heights, using it as a way to tell stories and address problems like they were never addressed before. The focus is shifting ever so slightly away from big budget studios, and people are legitimately looking at independent development as a real and worthwhile thing. The larger global shift from big budget to independent is overall an amazing achievement in my mind. The idea that you and I do not need a studio, a record producer, a corporation, to promote our work and our passions is a truly inspiring thing! No middle man here! You’re good at what you do, so we recognize you for it. Thats the dream of anyone who strives to be creative. No elbow rubbing. No favoritism. Just the creator and their work, and any fame you get from it being purely your own.

These people, these immature people. they’re stomping all over that idea, making a mockery of it. Concerning themselves more with the limelight and their own personal gain than the bigger picture. If this medium is ever going to be respected on a large scale, people like this need to be chastised for their immaturity. Whether thats a firing or a scandal, its not for me to decide. But this type of behavior needs to be reigned in. Children should not be in charge of things they don’t have the intellect to understand or appreciate.


 

Natalie sources and extended reading:

An alternate point of view, for good measure

The Wizard’s story. The whole fiasco for your personal consumption

The ex’s story.

FYI: what is Hikikimori?

 

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