When it was discovered that the female e-sports competitor “Ellie” was actually being operated by a male gamer going by the handle of Punisher, the gaming news media ended up with a lot of egg on its face after championing “Ellie” as some female abuse survivor, when it turned out that she was part of a social experiment by Punisher so he could get picked up by an e-sports team. Most of the media outlets shirked back into the corner to avoid further humiliation while other outlets like Rock, Paper, Shotgun and Kotaku decided to dig their heels deeper into the muddy trenches of the culture warzone and pretend as if their fake news didn’t stink.
Well, furthering the heel-digging antics regarding the whole Ellie situation is none other than the CBC and Kotaku’s own Kate Gray.
The piece was a short, near-11 minute radio piece that aired on the CBC’s ‘Q’ program on January 29th, 2019.
In the interview, Tom Power talks with Kate Gray about the Ellie controversy that unfolded around the Overwatch competitive community. But before they peeled back the layers of that one-sided discussion, Power prefaced the conversation by outlining the topic with women portrayed as perpetual victims within the gaming industry; hapless damsels in distress preyed upon both furtively and outwardly by an amorphous collective of violent and emotionally unfettered men.
Twitter user Lunar Archivist collected the relevant quotes from Power in a transcript.
.@OneAngryGamerHD @pewdiepie @Haunted_Backlog @nickmon1112 @Brad_Glasgow @nichegamer @GamesNosh @SuperNerdLand @mombot
Like a heroin junkie who just can’t kick their habit, the CBC’s shooting up on #GamerGate again and using the recent #Overwatch Ellie controversy to do it. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/CCkt5X2pBF
— Lunar Archivist (@LunarArchivist) January 29, 2019
If you’re unable to read the text or refuse to listen to the radio program on the CBC’s website, Power states…
“If you play video games at all, one of the things that’s so appealing about them, especially when you play them online, is that you can kind of take on a different identity. You’re not really playing as yourself. And by virtue that you’re not being your true self, you would think that might level the playing field, right? Well, not exactly. The truth is that female gamers and female-identifying gamers are often subjected to awful behavior in the world of online games. Stuff like abusive messages, threats of sexual violence, and especially doxing, which is when people find out and reveal your personal information like your real name, sometimes even your address and your phone number.
“You might have heard about some of this before when a big controversy called GamerGate made headlines and exposed a lot of this stuff a few years ago. But now there’s a new story shaking up the gaming world. It paints a picture of what’s changed for female gamers and also what hasn’t. […] It has to do with a video game called “Overwatch” and a mysterious professional “Overwatch” player known only as Ellie.”
Power introduces Gray to the program, who gives a quick rundown of how she got into the business and dealing with harassment within the gaming industry. Gray portrays herself as little more than a vessel for attracting abuse and a victim struggling through an industry out to get her.
Gray and Power skim through the Ellie controversy, completely leaving out how the media completely misrepresented the entire story and turned it into the controversy that it was by building up the narrative about the female being nothing more than a victim to abuse.
Only, it turns out that the skeptics who questioned if Ellie was just a smurf being played by a man, and that the only reason the e-sports team picked up Ellie was because they thought they were a girl, were right all along. Even Gray has to acquiesce that point, almost begrudgingly, but not without flipping the narrative on its head by trying to turn it into yet another victim story when asked by Power why Punisher created the Ellie persona. Gray states…
“Well, all the information we have from Punisher is that he says it was a social experiment. He doesn’t say what that means exactly. But it sort of sounds like what he was doing was that he was trying to prove that misogyny is a thing? Which is odd because, you know, every female “Overwatch” player has already said that it’s real. And I think that it’s very clear that it’s real. But this guy wanted to prove that it was real himself, somehow, and I mean, he did. Congratulations. But he also mad eit a lot more difficult for every future female “Overwatch” player. Because eveyrone’s going to think they’re all fake now.”
Except that’s not how things went down according to Rod Breslau, who actually did something that Gray’s outlet, Kotaku, failed to do when reporting on the initial story: investigate.
According to the e-sports consultant, Breslau tweeted out that despite all the ridiculous claims leveled at the gaming community on behalf of the fictional Ellie, the non-existent female e-sports competitor wasn’t actually harassed nor doxed by the people that the media had originally claimed were responsible for the harassment and doxing.
According to a third woman who has spoken to Punisher but does not wish to be named, and did not come forward earlier due to fear of harassment, says Punisher is behind the Ellie Discord and Twitter accounts. It’s all fake. No girl or person was initially harassed by Haunt.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) January 6, 2019
Unintentionally, certain game/culture journalists from sites like Kotaku and Polygon ran with Ellie’s removal without proper due diligence, now a recurring problem for the media’s esports coverage. All to the detriment of the serious issue of women facing harassment in games.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) January 6, 2019
Breslau also tweeted out that he had reached out to talk with Punisher, and shot down the concept that this was some sort of a “social experiment”.
Keep in mind that Breslau tweeted this out back on January 6th, 2019, well ahead of the interview that Gray had with the CBC about the way events unfolded.
No matter what he has to say, this wasn’t a social experiment. This also wasn’t worthy of dozens of articles and tweets.
It’s some asshole kids trolling and griefing each other, Overwatch community, esports, and the Internet for the luls. 🤷♀️
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) January 6, 2019
Regardless of what the actual truth was, various major outlets ran with the same narrative purported by Gray in the CBC piece: that this somehow harms women getting into e-sports.
Networks like ESPN penned a headline claiming “Ellie ‘social experiment’ a setback for women in esports”, while The Escapist Magazine wrote a piece titled “Overwatch Competitor ‘Ellie’ Creates a Difficult Future For Women in Esports”, all while completely brushing the media’s flagrant fanning of the flames aside.
It also makes it difficult for the average layman to get proper information about the event because Google has all of the fake news outlets at the top of the search when you look it up, which obviously leads people down a perpetual rabbit hole of fake news.
What’s worse is that even after the entire thing was exposed and the media was shown to be liars (again), the media is still downplaying the harm of spreading fake news and shifting the blame onto the nebulous amalgamation of “harassment”. It’s equivalent to what they did when #GamerGate popped up back in 2014, which criticized the media for many of the same unethical acts they just recently committed. And just like with Ellie, back in 2014 the media fabricated a story about #GamerGate being a campaign of harassment.
Also, just like with Ellie, once a little due diligence was put into effect regarding #GamerGate and actual investigations were carried out, it turned out that all of the media’s canards were just more smoke and mirrors. The FBI report concluded that they couldn’t find any actionable evidence that indicated that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign, and just the same the Women Action Media!, peer reviewed report couldn’t find any conclusive data to indicate that #GamerGate was the big bad harassment campaign that the media claimed it to be.
Nevertheless, the corrupt media outlets that control the news you see, hear, and consume on a daily basis will continue to push falsehoods in order to maintain their narrative. Thankfully, more than 1,000 journalists were put out of work recently, but that still hasn’t curbed the tide of fake news that envelops nearly every major and enthusiast media news network out there.
But given the CBC’s long history wish misreporting #GamerGate and pushing the harassment narrative, this news is neither shocking nor surprising.
(Thanks for the news tip Lunar Archivist)