Sorry in advance here. I was originally planning on doing my racing game round up just in time for the weekend, but something else has come up that is much more deserving of my attention. I’ve made my jabs in other posts talking about games writing, but maybe it’s time I dedicated a whole post to it. Much like my post on dealing with Crash Override and the fallout from that, you can choose to believe me or not, I don’t care. I’m simply putting my story out there.
If you’ve been living under a rock, or if you’re a normal person who’s smart enough to avoid games journalism entirely, I’ll give you a contextual cliff’s notes: Jeremy Soule, the guy who did the music for all those terrible Elder Scrolls games everyone tells me are good, is a piece of shit rapist (allegedly– legal department) who has attacked multiple people, and has managed to get away with it because, I don’t know, I guess the upcoming rerelease of Skyrim on the Ouya just wouldn’t be the same without him there. Some point later, the final boss of gaming journalism, Kotaku, did a piece on these allegations (italicizing these words because the guy has money for high-octane super lawyers and I don’t). The piece in question was written by Cecilia D’Anastasio (hopefully I spelled that right, and if not, who cares she can fuck off anyway), and she did a number of interviews with some of Jeremy’s victims, one of them being artist and game developer Nathalie Lawhead. Nathalie and the others had been promised that the article would be sensitive and respectful of them. Then Cecilia asked a bunch of shitty, probing questions, then released a sensationalized pile of garbage that did more harm to Soule’s victims than Soule himself. Nathalie has since, once a day, every day, for over a year, asked Kotaku to take the piece down. If that seems reasonable to you, that’s because it is. Nathalie has written multiple posts about this, but here’s a good place to start.
Kotaku has kept the piece up, while numerous idiots in the field claim that simply taking down an article is too complicated. I mean, it wasn’t too complicated to take down an article where the writer fell for an obvious April Fools joke, and wasn’t too complicated to take down an article about jackin’ it to an underage Emma Watson (complete with uncanny valley Source Filmmaker screenshots), but this article that is doing a number on the people in it apparently is. Clearly this is bull shit, right?
As a result of all this, games journos have decided to close ranks. Coming out of the woodwork to strongly imply that Nathalie is an unreasonable, hysterical liar. Comparing them to Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan suing Gawker into oblivion. Nathalie Lawhead wants to destroy an entire institution that employs numerous marginalized people! Why does this lying liar who is probably lying about their rape hate Black and trans people so much?? Nathalie isn’t the victim, WE ARE! Gamergate never ended ya’ll, even though we all suddenly and abruptly declared it to be over as soon as people were talking about Sarah Nyberg instead of us. If you stick up for Nathalie, you’ll suddenly find yourself blocked on Twitter by pretty much every games journalist in the industry. You and that lying bitch are directing harassment at a bunch of writers with no power who simply wanted to shit-talk a sexual assault victim in the privacy of their five-figure follower social media accounts.
None of this is new.
Let’s take a quick, and by quick I mean extremely long, break from Nathalie’s situation for a moment. Let’s step into my time machine. Yes, it’s just a cardboard box with a wire hanger fashioned into an antenna, and the dials are drawn on the side of the box in crayon, but it works. We’re going to go back in time. April 2015. Six years ago.
Six years ago was when I started paying attention to games journalism, since I learned long ago that you can get more gaming wisdom from a long-forgotten Angelfire page with an eye-searing color scheme than anything written by a professional. Gamergate was in full swing at this point, and since I hated these right-wing motherfuckers, I figured I should at least give some moral support to the other side. This turned out to be a bad idea. My introduction to this modern era of games criticism and game development was being woken up at eight in the morning by my phone after a bunch of people I never heard of left notification after notification calling me a “fucking retard” over a video game article I didn’t write, on a web site I never worked for. Despite what you might assume, these people were not GG trolls going after what they thought would be an easy target. No, these were a bunch of supposed leftists coming to the defense of some indie game dev I never heard of, because her name wasn’t mentioned in said article I didn’t write. Apparently, I was not the only trans person suddenly being given the blame for an article written by a cis woman, if talking to them is any indication. So what do you do when you’re woken up out of a dead sleep and called a bunch of ableist shit? You tell people to go fuck themselves! If you have a problem with an article on a web site, maybe take it up with the people who were actually involved with it? It was a bunch of bull shit, and that was strike one.
Later on in the month, Ian Miles Cheong did his heel turn, going full-on alt-right after a short period of pretending to be a leftist. Hey, he did a good enough job of convincing people he was a good person; at least convincing enough to get him a spot in Crash Override. Ian took to Twitter prior to his Witcher 3 meltdown, because nothing good happens on Twitter, and proceeded to talk shit about the same developer who had been snubbed in that article. Then, after Ian went all “ha ha, I am a nazi now,” said angry developer and all her games journo friends decided to retaliate by…going after all the trans people who had either talked to or worked with the guy during his CO phase, because that makes sense. Suddenly, trans people weren’t just a bunch of dumb ass idiot retard imbeciles who were unintelligent, but also a bunch of dumb ass idiot retard imbecile neo-nazis! Strike two. And then after that, some cis dude in Seattle went on Twitter and said something along the lines of “uhhh allyzone.” And what would have been a cringe tweet long forgotten in an hour turned into some Pizzagate level conspiracy because the creator of the Chris-chan wiki threw a shitfit about it. While I’m on that subject, something that has never been fully explained to me, or explained at all, is this: why were/are so many of these supposedly leftist writers and developers hanging around with the creator of the Chris-chan wiki? Regardless of what you might think of CWC as a person, I think we can all agree that it’s fucking weird 1) to make a web site tracking every minute movement of an individual and 2) do it for what, like ten years? No one person, no matter how outlandish or strange, really calls for that level of a response.
Let me make something clear before I continue on:
- Trans people did not write “Punk Games”
- Trans people did not coin the term “Allyzone”
- Trans people did not suddenly transform into Ian Miles Cheong and dunk on your shitty TERF friend at Riot Games six years ago
This shit went beyond mean words and social media blocks. This is not, nor has it ever been about blocking people. This was a harassment campaign directed squarely at trans people, mostly trans women, over things that we had nothing to do with. Even if we did, an article or a fucking tweet are not things to try and literally kill people over! Strike three. A mass block list was created, cutting out a lot of trans creators, and everyone who stood up for them, from the greater games industry. Lots of misinformation about us was spread as if it were the truth. IGF award winners were sending fucking death threats to my family! Aside from that, I was mostly unharmed, because there wasn’t much they could do to me. But I had to watch, over and over, as completely random, innocent people were losing their jobs, losing their relationships, and even losing their homes over this shit. Let me reiterate, and make this clear as fucking crystal: there is a clique of people in games, both journalism and development, a lot of whom you The Reader respect and admire, who used their platforms to literally drive disabled trans women out into the streets, all because some thin-skinned idiot got her ego bruised, and wanted to take it out on someone. And a lot of other transphobic fuckheads, like Gita Jackson and Dante Whatever-The-Fuck-His-Last-Name-Is-I-Don’t-Care, were willing to join in on this. Anyways, I’ve been beating around the bush long enough: the angry dev in question is Soha El-Sabaawi, and last I heard, she was still working for Riot Games’ “Inclusion and Diversity Initiative,” which goes a long way towards explaining why that company is in the shape it’s in.
This all happened six years ago. To this day, I still have the memories of all of this seared into my brain. All those late nights, up until dawn, literally talking someone down from a ledge. I still wake up from a dead sleep, bolt upright with a burst of adrenaline, and look down at my phone, hoping that everyone is still with us. A lot of names; a lot of great names you’ll never see again. They disappeared from public life, because getting shit from both sides of the political equation was too much. If it wasn’t Gamergaters doxxing you (I’m spelling it with two X’s, fuck off), you had what was essentially your side joining in, throwing you under the bus. Why were people with ACAB and BLM and DSA in their bios sharing a Brietbart hitpiece on a trans woman like somehow, Milo Yiannopolous managed to tell the truth this one singular time in his life? Where were they sharing a Brietbart hitpiece at all? Why would you want to continue to take part in something where the reward is one side calling you a tranny fag pedophile who should be publicly executed, and the other side is the alt-right? Why continue to plug away in an industry that will chew you up, spit you out, ruin your entire life, then claim that you are the abuser? Only reason I’m still here is because I’m an idiot who doesn’t know when to quit. Or a retard, I guess, as the case may be. Too many others aren’t as lucky. No matter how much I kayfabe myself into thinking otherwise, this is not something I think I’ll ever truly get over. It’s hard sometimes to be in a casual conversation with someone that not too long ago, you came within a hair of losing, all over something so fucking stupid. It is a very angering thing to know that so many good people almost didn’t make it, and everyone who hurt them and fucked their lives up for a long time got rewarded with jobs, respect, awards. It’s bull shit. It’s fucked up that a lot of people, myself included, are looked at as a bunch of neo-nazi rapist sex monsters you should never support of look at with anything other than disdain, when our biggest crime was simply existing on the wrong day. 2015 was nothing more than a way to justify harming trans people. Full stop.
Now let’s get back into my shitty little time machine, and go back to the present day.
What has been happening to Nathalie Lawhead these last couple of months is nothing new. A group of assholes who used blacklisting and disinformation on trans people and their supporters, essentially cutting them out of an entire industry are now…using blacklisting and misinformation on someone who uses they/them pronouns and their supporters, essentially cutting them out of an entire industry. And despite any bad faith argument you may have heard, this is not a black and white issue; this an issue of basic human empathy. Before I continue, let me say: fuck Cecilia D’Anastasio. Fuck Stephen Totilo. Fuck Nathan Grayson. Fuck Heather Alexandra. Fuck Patrick Klepek (don’t know if he’s involved in this, but fuck him anyway). Fuck anyone else who thought it was a good idea to straight up tell a justifiably angry person they all exploited to go fuck off, that their story means fuck-all aside from some clicks and “engagements.” Jeremy Soule had other people he victimized (…allegedly…), why isn’t Gita Jackson logging on to Twitter, apropos of nothing, and accusing the cis women he assaulted of being unreasonable, hysterical liars? Why isn’t she comparing them to The Hulkster and his blood-drinking venture capitalist friend? Why isn’t Dante Who-Fucking-Cares-Shut-Up blocking everyone sticking up for those other women, making a tasteless analogy of sleeping with dogs and waking up with fleas? I already know the answer: because for all the posturing, the boasting, and dare I say it, the virtue signaling, these self-proclaimed leftist personalities are no less reactionary than the Reddit-dwelling chuds who complain about “SJWs.” This has been going on for six straight years. Hell, it’s probably been going on for even longer; I can’t imagine that this all suddenly started as soon as I started paying attention.
Nathalie does not deserve this shit. I mean, none of us do, but they don’t either. This whole facade of “alternative” games has been nothing more than a front for people to abuse others, free of consequence. I’m making this post because I don’t give a fuck anymore. What are they all going to do, block me on Twitter and tell everyone I’m a liar? Been there, done that. I used to be angry, then the last couple of years, I started to doubt myself. I had started to wonder: what if I was wrong? What if all these people calling for my head were the good ones, and I was the bad one? They’re the ones with all the respect, and I’m some fucking nobody. You can see in some of my past writings. I don’t name search myself, so I have no idea how popular or unpopular I am; it’s still a pleasant surprise when I introduce myself to someone, and they already know me. But when I do hear about myself, it’s never any good. You probably clicked on this post thinking that I’m some fucking weirdo that sieg heils a burning cross with the same hand that I used to molest a child with. If that’s the case, congratulations on hate-reading the last 2,444 words! That’s how fucked up all this shit is: you will begin to lose your own sense of reality. The reason why I act the way I do now, strutting and acting like hot shit, is the result of years of fighting back against that gaslighty self-doubt. Now, I’m not God’s Gift to the world, but I can at least rest a bit easier these days knowing that I’ve built a slightly larger audience in 2021 that didn’t involve me stomping on the less fortunate like a bunch of cockroaches, and I’ll be boastful about that. I was angry, then I was confused, then I was ambivalent, now I’m antagonistic. I will continue to take potshots at this shitty, toxic industry built on a rotten foundation that is “games journalism.” Their transphobia. Their racism against the Japanese people. Their whorephobia (I still remember the way you all tossed Allison Rapp aside). Their willingness to work with some of the worst people to attack some random women they don’t like, or are taking too much attention away from them. All of it. I’m still doing this shit because, despite all of this, I still really like games. I can’t speak for Nathalie, but I would imagine that it’s the same for them, too.
Yes, Nathalie was right: games journalism is dead. Though one has to wonder whether or not it was ever truly alive in the first place.