ComicsVerse Attempts To Rewrite History On #GamerGate, VidCon Incident
GamerGate Vidcon

ComicsVerse has an article up filled with misinformation and misleading conclusions formed from malformed depictions of what it considers to be facts. The article was published on August 23rd, 2017 and is titled “The Troll’s Tale: Sexism In Video Game Culture”.

Early on in the article the author, Sam Schenerman – a self-proclaimed “privileged” Jewish American – writes…

“Recent flare-ups like GamerGate are just the most visible form of this discrimination. And they’re not always private or covert: this summer, the feminist Anita Sarkeesian was publically harassed at a Vidcon Panel.”

Schenerman cites the Inquistr’s article about the VidCon incident, which occurred at the end of June, involving Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist critic, on a panel about women in media where she points out YouTuber Sargon of Akkad in the front row of the audience and proceeds to verbally berate him. You can view the clip below, courtesy of Sinatra_Says.

The incident prompted the VidCon organizers, Hank and John Green, to apologize to Anita Sarkeesian even though they acknowledged that she broke their rules. They also proceeded to admonish Sargon of Akkad because they felt his presence was “intimidating”.

There is no evidence that Sargon verbally or physically harassed Anita Sarkeesian. Even Sarkeesian admitted in her own words that someone making a video criticizing someone else’s content was not harassment.

Schenerman goes on to negatively paint an inaccurate picture of #GamerGate, claiming that 2014 was a particularly bad year for women in gaming. He then tackles the topic about Eron Gjoni’s blog post that aired the dirty laundry between him and his ex, Zoe Quinn, writing…

“He alleged that Quinn cheated on him with a gaming journalist for a popular site. A game Quinn had been working on got a lot of good press. However, none was from Nathan Grayson, the aforementioned journalist.

Actually, Nathan Grayson did write about Zoe Quinn and her project Depression Quest on a couple of occasions in a positive manner.

If you check Grayson’s profile, you will see that he covered Quinn in three articles without disclosing his relationship with her. Grayson’s first article was published at Rock, Paper, Shotgun on September 5th, 2012 covering Greenlight games, for which Quinn and Depression Quest were mentioned. Grayson mentioned Quinn and Depression Quest again on January 8th, 2014 in another article on Rock, Paper, Shotgun also discussing Steam Greenlight games. Grayson mentioned Quinn again in a lengthy article on March 31st, 2014 for Kotaku about the reality TV show that Quinn later admitted to sabotaging in leaked chatlogs.

Schenerman attempts to discredit #GamerGate, writing…

“As the controversy grew, the smarter trolls realized being called sexist isn’t great for one’s image. Therefore, they banded together in an attempt to reframe the narrative. Instead of a misogynistic spat against a female game developer, these GamerGate advocates claimed the spat was all about journalistic ethics.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s use of #GamerGate’s material in their investigation into Gawker Media, it is about ethics in journalism. That’s not to mention all of the gaming websites that updated their ethics policies in the wake of #GamerGate, including but not limited to IGN, Polygon, Destructoid and Kotaku.

The article quotes Quinn who claims she has 16GB worth of data and evidence of harassment, and she’s welcome to share it to prove her claims, but so far without evidence it’s just hearsay and so far the FTC’s evidence outweighs hearsay.

The quote from Quinn goes on to state…

“The fact that the review they’re propping up as the excuse for their crusade doesn’t exist and has never existed, that does not matter – it still gets thrown at me constantly…People can just make shit up and you can’t debunk it, they’ll just replay it.”

She is correct. There is no review. There never was a review written by Nathan Grayson for Depression Quest. Eron Gjoni never even mentioned the word “review” in the Zoe Post. The media used that red herring as a way to deflect attention away from the calls for improved ethical practices.

However, the issue had nothing to do with a review that didn’t exist, it was about the positive coverage Grayson provided without disclosure. A simple thing that could have been fixed with an apology and tightening up of ethical responsibilities, which is identical to a situation that happened with PC Gamer, where one of their executive editors was writing positively about Ubisoft games while dating a Ubisoft employee. PC Gamer promptly posted a public apology and improved their ethical standards.

Schenerman proceeds to circle back around to the Sarkeesian incident at VidCon, re-framing the issue where he admits that she committed the act of harassment but doing so out of self-defense, clearly contradicting his earlier statements…

“It was quite clear to Anita Sarkeesian (and most reasonable people) that Carl Benjamin and his followers’ presence was an intimidation tactic. Sarkeesian proceeded to lash out against this menacing presence by name calling and other reactions. It may not look great or be very nice, but lashing out at threats is a natural human reaction, and the feminist critic should be forgiven for her actions”

It’s difficult to take any other claims in the piece seriously when the piece discredits its own argument by first claiming that Sarkeesian was harassed at the event, and then later admits that Sarkeesian was the aggressor but that she should be forgiven for the incident.

Near the end of the piece, Schenerman begins making blanket, wide-swathing statements against the gaming industry, stating…

“Critics of sexism in video game culture are doxxed, harassed, intimidated, and threatened daily.”

While this could happen, in order to state this matter-of-factly a citation will be needed.

Schenerman also writes…

“In gaming, more than half of all consumers are women. For better or worse, money talks louder than anything else in our market driven world. If women can make their voices heard more — and men finally decide to hear them — then video game companies will listen.”

Women already spend money in genres that appeal to them, mostly puzzle games, mystery games and hidden object games, especially in the kmobile space. According to DeltaDNA, barely 10% of women play FPS titles, and only 22% play RPGs, while only 8% are interested in fantasy sports games.

The numbers aren’t much different across console and PC gaming either, with NewZoo reporting that only 23% of console share consists of female gamers, and the genres still look similar to the mobile categories.

Schenerman can continue to reiterate the same talking points as every other ideologue, but the numbers just don’t line up and likely never will, which is why despite all the claims about female representation being such a strong topic in a game like Horizon: Zero Dawn, it still hasn’t been able to sell anywhere near as much as the mostly male-dominated PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on PC, the latter of which is the best selling single-platform game of 2017. Ultimately, females just aren’t as interested in hardcore gaming as males.

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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