Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hydra, the Quinnspiracy and the kitchen sink..




Captain America: the winter soldier is a fantastic movie for a lot of reasons. It proves that you can place a comic book character into the styling of a charged political thriller and have the movie be simply fantastic for it. The movie is also amazing for the fact that it takes the concept of corruption in the heart of a government institution and makes it fresh in the context that it's being portrayed. You're probably wondering where I'm getting at with this, and I'll be more than happy to oblige; In fact, it's hidden corruption that is at the heart of the matter I want to discuss with you, dear reader.

This story started weeks ago, as a indie developer's jilted lover set in motion a set of dominoes that are clacking one-against-the-other, hitting everything in it's path, while creating an image of corruption that went deep in the halls of game journalism. The same Game journalism that we have been calling out for years now for it's garishly obvious problems, and the problems that it has since surrounded itself with. This is so very much a matter that involves all of you, and after this is over I don't know if the relationship between the readers and the industry are ever going to be the same.

The first thing I'm going to make crystal clear, is that I don't care about Zoe Quinn's sex life. I could care less about her being promiscuous, or what her sexual appetites are, but the matter stops being a private when it involves actions that otherwise would be noted as a conflict of interest and using unsavory means of manipulating certain persons in the media for your own benefit through sexual favors, accusations and other tactics. The fact that her antics are bringing a lot of things home to roost is indicative of a real problem that implicates a sizable number of players involved. Some of the really heavy hitters in Video game journalism. Before I get to that, though, let's start at the beginning of this firestorm...



People thought the problems started with what was deemed "The Zoe Post". a blog post from former boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, which implicated her in sexual relationships with five gentlemen including Kotaku writer, Nathan Grayson. In reality, This drama started back (Way back) in April of this year. Zoe had been preparing to submit her game, Depression Quest, to Steam's project Greenlight, and claimed that she had been the victim of abuse at the hands of Wizardchan, a "virgin male" image board.

She claims that the board focused attacks of "harassment, A raid and perverted phone calls", and according to various articles (including The Escapist and Gameskinny) Was the focus of an anti-harassment statement and subsequent campaign. It's in your best interests, dear reader to know that since the article has been posted, The Escapist, has gone on to state that the claims were one-sided, but the damage had already been done.

Keep in mind that harassment is a terrible thing to do to a person. It doesn't solve anything, and it only makes you seem like a bully in the eyes of other people... well it would, if the events even happened. According to these images taken from Know your  meme (1 2 3 4 5 ), there is very little evidence supporting that any of that took place. Even on Wizardchan's site it's pretty obvious that they don't even know why she's attacking them. Meanwhile, her twitter posts jump from some form of distraught to elation over her successful project Greenlight standing. It's difficult to gauge emotion from a twitter post or a text, so it's easy to argue subjectivity, but then after some digging I found this thread on the Wizardchan forum, and this image I screen capped from Tumblr.







debatable, yes, but still adds to the mystery..

 

Flash forward back to the blog post that reared it's head on the 16th of this month. Now, I didn't discuss any particular names other than Grayson, but it seems fare to oust the others in proper fashion. I'll let the Internet Aristocrat handle this one... 


 Now the following people confirmed to be involved in this scandal are below.

  • Robin Arnot (Sound designer creator of Big Sea /chair on the indie arcade night selections board which zoe won)
  • Nathan Grayson (Writer at Kotaku and Rock-Paper-Shotgun)
  • Joshua Boggs (Creator of Framed / Zoe's Boss)

Now the other two are still speculation (actually, a fourth was revealed. details later) so there is no certainty to the identities of the other two.

The reason why I only talked about Grayson at the top of the article, was because there have been multiple articles written about Zoe, by Nathan which have generated clicks and page hits for both Quinn and given her publicity about her game, Depression Quest. This is the biggest issue, the crown jewel in the entire ordeal. The review of depression quest was deleted from Grayson's blog after this scandal broke. and shortly after that, Stephen Totillo, of Kotaku came forward and posted a statement saying how he finds nothing wrong with the whole thing, despite the very common sense reasoning that a person of the press having a romantic affair (or whatever) with an industry professional is a blatant conflict of interest, which is a bad thing.


 Let me clarify on that, for a moment; A romantic relationship between someone of the press and someone within the industry of which the press interacts with for news and reviews is bad, because that connection is compromised for any information pertaining to things relevant to the segment of the industry of which the person is involved. Your relationship ultimately clouds your judgement, and compromises your ability to be fair balanced and objective towards your job. One more time - Nathan Grayson being a writer for Rock Paper Shotgun, a gaming blog, and now a writer at Kotaku, A website that covers gaming and gaming news, writes stories about video games. Quinn is a independant game developer who has to interact with the press in order to promote her projects and gaming based activities, and through a number of months has done this with the help of Nathan Grayson, as well as a possibly a number of other writers.

 This is just one of the problem with why people are seriously concerned about this situation. Let me sum this up for you some more by quoting an article written by KC Vidya Rants.

"I’m disappointed that no major news outlet will cover this story, despite it not being about her personal life, but tackling a much bigger issue: corruption in the video game journalism industry and the indie game development scene. If this spreads, Kotaku will lose all credibility as a news site (as if they hadn’t already) because they’re literally in bed with certain game developers for good reviews. Zoe Quinn does not deserve to be in the indie game dev scene and creates a negative image for all current and future female game devs with her actions. Thanks, Zoe, for enforcing the idea what women can’t get anywhere in the game dev industry unless they f*ck journalists for good reviews".
That is about as real as it gets, readers. and I'm not even done. There's still more information that has came to light.

                                   

Not only has there been backlash from quite a few sites where any discussion about the ordeal has been blatantly censored, there have been additional attempts to attack people who are trying to get the information out about this. Which is the reason why I decided to take this article on.

Jon Tron speaks his peace...
This includes Total Biscuit being attacked by the very indie developers he has championed for the past four years. Jon Tron additionally made a statement in support of TB and was also attacked.  Of course, during this, we got treated to the always dramatic Phil Fish, developer of Fez, and...well.. Fez. He had already been grandstanding about the issues going on in Ferguson in great detail, and this was after his whole talk about Gamescom and Hideo Kojima. Stepping up to defend Quinn, he goes on one of his trademark tirades, seen here.

 Nearing the end, he refers to everyone who is against Zoe as "Essentially Rapists" before deleting the post.

                
                                               
 

For those of you who don't know about Phil Fish, A lot of his twitter posts are primarily grandstanding, and discussions about his "suffering" or the "injustices" of whatever it is he's crusading against. despite the bravado, a lot of the tirades turn into temper tantrums and ends in him storming off the internet, only to return when something piques his interest. This situation is really nothing different, as the situation came to a head when both Phil's website and Zoe's website were DOxx hacked and their information broadcasted for the entire world to see. This eventually lead to Phil putting Polytron up for sale, and quitting social media. The result lead to a basic smattering of praise on Fish, and other developers via the hashtag trend #welovegamedevs.

( I would like to add that yes we do love game devs, but we love them even more when they're not acting like spoiled children! )

Sad business, really. But many savvy internet users are casting doubt on these "attacks".


                                                         


The second half of the image shows the following information that conflicts with these statements.

1. 1.5GB of information could not be gathered compressed and uploaded that quickly after the site was hacked . It's not possible that this could happen within 15 seconds from an outside connection. This also suggests that the file was ready to eb uploaded before the supposed attack even happened.

2. Judging from previous examples (Lulzsec) It's incredibly unlikely an actual hacker would upload the files back to the hacked webserver. Why would anyone upload the files back to a serer when the owner can regain control and delete it soon after? It's common practice to upload the file elsewhere as this is much more sensible.

3. Considering there were no threads on /V/ or /i/ or any known IRCS planning an attack (which is common for any attack that happens - Xxsp!) it is incredibly unlikely that Quinn would have been attacked at the exact same time.

4. There is absolutely zero reason for all this information to have been on the Polytron website server. The polytron website is nothing more than company website showcasing Fish's works. Why would it contain personal information on Fish and actual Fez game files? Even if the Polytron server was being used to host the Fez game files? Even if the Polytron server was being used to host the Fez games files (A huge security flaw) There's still no reason for Fish's personal info to be located on the server or anywhere else.

All of this among the fact that Fish and Quinn conveniently maintained control of their personal twitter accounts (why even bother with the Polytron accound when you can have Fish's?) to garner support and sympathy suggests it wasn't an outside attack.

Another interesting tidbit is a paragraph from Know your meme, about the nature of the data "hacked" from Quinn's website.

"In addition, the phone numbers included in the Tumblr dox post were found to have no connection with Zoe. The number listed as “Dad’s Work” is no longer functional and was associated with a closed down motorcycle store called, “Twin-Tech Motorcycle Shop.” The number that was listed as “zoe’s Cellphone” connected to a text to land line phone located in Hawaii. "

What you probably didn't know is that while she was accusing others, something else was going on in the background. Back to the Know your meme article on her.



"During the immediate fallout of Eron Gjorni’s blog posts, a Reddit user going by the name of SillySladar has raised allegations that Zoe Quinn intentionally sabotaged a female-centric game development event on the grounds that the idea was oppressive, in order to promote her own similar event, Rebel Jam, which is currently being organized[18]. On August 19th, The Fine Young Capitalists released a SoundCloud recording as their explanation as what to what was going on and why they were doxxed.[20]"


Let's stop for a moment and actually consider what's been said in the SoundCloud file.. In fact, I'll quote reddit user ZexMarquies01, who picked up on this and has actually elaborated even more.


"Forget Z.Q. for a minute.

As far as I can tell, No one has mentioned the big red flag that was brought up in this audio blog.

NONE of the journalists he contacted would touch his game jam, unless there was a woman who was being oppressed attached to it.

Did no one else catch that?

Seriously, Journalists that claim to be on the feminists side, claim they want more opportunities for women in gaming, And they finally have a chance to write a piece on something being done, and they refuse to talk about it because it doesn't have a "hook", That it isn't "Click Bait" so to speak. There isn't a damsel in distress, so they won't touch it because there they feel there won't be enough clicks, or enough interest unless someone is being oppressed.

There are two major problems with this.

1. They are being hypocrites! They claim to care about this subject, but when push comes to shove, no one ( that he contacted ) would talk about it, because what it all boils down to, is what will get the most publicity. What will get more clicks, what will generate more ad revenue. This shows, that at lease these specific individuals don't actually care about the issue, but are simply piggy-backing on the wave of excitement whenever there is a controversy.

2. This means that the only "women in games" articles being published ( again, at least by the people he contacted ), are articles showing someone being oppressed, attacked, or in some way or another, being hindered from participating in the gaming sphere. This means, Only the shitty instances of women in gaming seem to be reported, So whenever good stuff is happening, No one is willing to talk about it, which can create the illusion that this problem is worse than it may really be. ( Whether it is or not, I don't know. But if there are enough publications with this mentality, then the perception can easily be skewed in one direction or the other. )

In this entire audio blog, This was the thing that stuck out to me the most.

I honestly wish he would release the names of these "journalists" and the publications they work for, So that way we know not to trust these specific people anymore whenever they talk about women in gaming. That we can rightfully so call them hypocrites for claiming to be for women, when they clearly show that they are only in it for the clicks.

I want to know who these people are, the ones that are making this problem seem worse, the ones that, by not reporting on the good stuff going on, are causing the SJW crowed to get even more mad at the industry and at gamers, because they never see the positive articles.

Seriously, I honestly hope this guy releases names, publications, and any conversations that may have been recorded to the public.

Fuck, as I read more about the whole Z.Q. thing, I end up caring less and less about the stuff directly pertaining to Z.Q. herself, and am getting more upset by the way these "journalists" are handling themselves. If these "journalists" were doing any actual journalism, and doing any real investigations, maybe some of them would have stumbled onto the fact that Z.Q. is a fraud, and NONE of this shit would be happening right now. But no, no one decided to do any actual homework on this person, so instead, everything is just one giant cluster-fuck of a mess."
The claim made from SillySladar..

I'll let that one linger for a moment, before I return to my discussion.

         So after Quinn basically refused to help Fine young capitalists without proper monetary compensation, and destroyed any chances of TFYC getting any help with their charity event (a "brilliant" gesture to strongarm a charity aimed at helping women get a foothold into the
industry, i Know.) Something strange happened..

In an interesting turn of events /Pol/ and /V/, of 4chan, wound up coming to the rescue, generating enough money to help get the indiegogo project off the ground, and even went so far as to create a character, who happened to be female and non sexualized, named Vivian James (a slight pronunciation  corruption would alter her name to its intended form; Vidya Gaems) as well as additional concept art for the women of the charity event to use in their game pitch. The details on that are here

With the character, /V/ went so far as to even create a personality for Vivian, giving her these core believs:

  • Tough-loves video games.
  • Loathes dishonesty and hypocrisy
  • Low-affect, grumpy perpetually fed up and tired.
These were a means of showing the board's attitude towards the current controversy, and in some ways these feel like nicely worded jabs against Quinn, and others like her, including the detractors on Feminist Frequency who chastise TFYC for accepting donations from 4chan.

You would imagine that this would result in everything going smoothly for both TFYC and the people involved in the charity event wouldn't you? Well given the circumstances, and Quinn's influence, you would imagine wrong. The page was closed down, with a message addressing /v/ from the indiegogo team, themselves. That message read as follows


Dear /v/

We think that it is abhorrent what you are doing to Zoe Quinn and other indie devs.
Indiegogo does not support hacking or other illegal activity that comes from you message board.
We are shutting this fundraiser down before things get more out of hand.

Sincerely,
The indiegogo Team.
It seems that if people wanted to donate to a good cause, the only game in town seemed to be
Quinn's Rebel game jam, which was created in the wake of Game Jam's destruction (which according whom you talk to may have been the result of Quinn Arnott and Grayson's involvement).As of the time of this article, Quinn's Rebel jam has no start date or finish date, or additional details. Only blurbs and a link to her personal paypal page for donations.

----

EDIT: I had planned to end the article after that segment, but I've since found even more information that just continues to floor me. A anonymous indie developer who calls herself Gabrella Knight, posted more information on this matter, complete with different people's accounts of Zoe's behavior and the behavior of her supporters towards anyone who says anything bad about her. You would think that some of this falls in line with a street gang protecting their own, or a cult protecting their leader. It's incredibly bizarre, and I just don't understand how something like this could get as big as it's gotten.

I understand that this is basically hearsay, due to it being from an undesclosed source, but at the same time, a lot of these stories fall in line with what others have been saying around the web.

 But this isn’t about Zoe, her scandal is just a microcosm of the widespread corruption and nepotism in this industry. Another example is when the IGF allowed Fez to re-enter the competition (even though it had been there before) just because of Phil Fish’s connections to the festival organizers. These are not isolated incidents, and one need only look at the unprofessional interactions between journalists and devs on social media, at cons, and elsewhere to see that any semblance of professional barriers between these people don’t exist. It’s already apparent from their interactions that they form a very strong clique.

To be part of this scene while holding the religious and political views that I do is very difficult. I generally keep it close to my chest because the few times I’ve said even simple things like “I can’t make it to the thing on Sunday because I’m going to church” had led to all sorts of derision and mockery by other people in the industry. I shudder to imagine the blowback from their clique if I told them about how I voted yes on Prop 8. Just look at the way Doug TenNapel’s Kickstarter was lambasted by people in the industry (led by Ben Kuchera) because he dared to have a (non-liberal) political opinion. The creator of Earthworm Jim was only barely able to reach his Kickstarter goal, which was relatively modest compared to most of the others I’ve seen. This is just one example of how only those who toe the social justice line are allowed by the press and the devs’ clique. Even those who just try to keep quiet and uninvolved are often called out for not doing enough, or being a poor “ally.” To succeed in this industry you have to meet the standards of this clique, when it should be about meeting the standards of gamers. But when it’s impossible to get any publicity or work without meeting the standards of these self-fellating sycophants, that’s near impossible.

There were issues that I've had during the last few months on twitter with how things are being handled. The Hearthstone tournament for instance had been treated like a modern day witch hunt; complete with using a misinformative title for click baiting purposes, and Ben Kuchera basically leading an SJW bullying assault on leSF. I'll post the exchange I had during that period, in the future.

Without getting too deep in the post, because it just begs to be read, I want to post a bit more of this before I finish this



"Let’s be completely honest: most women don’t play Quake III. Most of those few women like me who actually like first person shooters, grand strategy, space sims, and all those other genres that make up “core” gaming don’t care if they can play as a female protagonist, or if the girls are wearing skimpy outfits, or if you have to rescue the princess. They like the exact same things as men who like those games, and they just want good games, nothing more nothing less. And most of them feel that all this rambling on about representation is distracting from the real issue: big developers and publishers are making shitty games for mass appeal instead of the kind of awesome games we played growing up. When you distract from that to rant about what is literally imaginary misogyny you’re hurting women like me who just want good games. There’s a reason the only new game I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this year was the new Strider, even though I’d rate it an 8 out of 10 at best: it’s a simple premise with solid execution. No attempts to speak about how the social justice topic du jour, just solid gameplay and enough of a story to string it together. Not that I’m opposed to games telling a story, but for the vast majority of genres stories aren’t all that important, and speaking out on social issues is irrelevant to what I want: gameplay. Most other women, if they play games at all, play Candy Crush and Farmville and Solitaire and whatever else is popular on phones. By conflating us with them you’re hurting us and keeping the games we like from getting made.

Beyond that, I have a problem with the entire agenda that these people are pushing, and believe it to be extremely harmful to women.


In the wake of this Zoe scandal I saw dozens of self-proclaimed feminists arguing that women being able to sleep their way to influence was actually a good thing. That kind of culture enables the kind of sexual harassment earlier feminists fought so hard to outlaw, and undermines the legitimacy of women who actually have the talent and do the work. We shouldn’t be encouraging women to sleep around, we should be holding men and women equally up to standards of fidelity and ethical behavior.

The entire premise of equality (as pushed by the clique that runs the industry, at least) is silly to begin with. How do you make a cat equal to a dog, or an apple equal to an orange? Men and women have fundamental differences (biological, psychological, and spiritual). Trying to make them the same is not equality. Men and women have complementary traits, and trying to make them the same destroys their strengths and amplifies their weaknesses. Women have a lot of unique things they can offer to the game industry, but trying to treat them like men will only destroy those contributions."

-----------

So here we are. Threads on Reddit as well as all the major gaming blogs and sites are blocked and users are being shadow banned, while the moderators are shmoozing with Quinn, Reviews are being blocked on steam after this information has come to light. And we have a bunch of people strangely trying to protect someone who is using and manipulating people within the industry and indie gaming scene in order to get what she wants with no regard for who's getting hurt or who's in her way.

Meanwhile, the major question on a lot of people's minds are "what does this have to do with me?". Well either that statement or the "ignore it, and it'll go away" mentality. The question you should be asking yourself is; Is ignoring things really going to solve anything? If someone stole money from you and then proceeded to steal from other people would you not say anything? Not even to warn others about it? This is a similar problem.

This whole thing is not only showing a darker side to something that is usually known as a 'cool hobby', but it's also proving the theory that has been lingering around in my mind for months; That Not only did Quinn fabricate attacks made from forums, and caused attacks to any sites that went against her own agenda. This also could mean that people like Anita Sarkeesian, whom already was debunked as fabricating their credentials, could have also fabricated attacks in order to gain publicity for their causes. This opens up tons more questions; like are the attacks on gamers just a means of dividing us? (wouldn't be surprised). Fortunately, this matter in particular is definitely bringing us together,  but we need to stay vigilant, and start holding the people involved in this, as well as the others who are hiding just out of reach of the allegations, accountable. Oh and that other person that I mentioned in the "five guys" discussion? Check out this video.

                             

And I can't help but to hear Marvin Gaye's hit, "Trouble man" echoing 'round in my head as the truths are slowly spilling out for everyone to see. Hydra was hiding in our midst the whole time, and here we are dealing with the repercussions of the sudden yet inevitable betrayal.

 While we're talking songs, I would like to close out with the lyrics to Ace's 1975 hit, "How Long", which is incredibly relevant to the situation at hand...


Well, your friends with their fancy persuasion
Don't admit that it's part of a scheme
But I can't help but have my suspicions
'Cause I ain't quite as dumb as I seem

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