Some worthwhile cultural analysis on Gamergaters


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How is ‘fictional ethnicity’ a meaningful statement? Race & ethnicity are social constructs, either all are fictional or none are.

how is ethics in games journalism a meaningful statement?


welcome to boingboing


how is ethics in games journalism a meaningful statement?

What? I’m sorry, are you responding to my post or dismissing it because you imagine I belong to some other tribe?

I’m seriously asking, if ethnicity/tribal affiliation are socially constructed (which they are), how is describing one you consider invalid as fictional at all meaningful?

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Here is one of my favorite works of critical analysis of GamerGate. It’s a 20-minute video applying literary criticism to the movement. It’s part of a video series on literary criticism, so it’s probably a coincidence, but it’s nonetheless amusing to see GamerGate being discussed by a literal sock puppet.


So, if I say “Hey! We’re an ethnic group, comprised of those people who identify as Chevy Chase, and you’re not (because you’re not Chevy Chase)” that’s as valid as people saying “hey! We’re Jewish, and you’re not (because you can’t prove matrilineal descent from another person accepted as Jewish)” or “hey! We’re gamers, and you’re not (because: SJW)” ?

Ethnicity may be a construct with permeable boundaries, but that doesn’t mean that any assertion of “ethnicity” is valid.


speaking purely intellectually, those storify articles are fascinating. Disturbing as hell, but fascinating. Especially the A Man In Black one about how chan-style arguments work.


Do I only have those choices? Then yes.

But FYI, I don’t disagree with you because of what I imagine is true about you. That’s just a strawman, and not a strong one.

It’s what you said.


I haven’t described anything as fictional. That was you describing what -I- imagine. You wandered into fiction, not I. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Please don’t imagine things for others and then attack them for what you’ve decided that they think. It’s like a 20 minute guitar solo, if you catch my meaning. Who needs the grief?


I believe he’s (mis-quoting the extract which uses fictive ethnicity; don’t think there’s much of a practical difference between “fictive” and “fictional”:

If you weren’t attacking the first comment, what the mode of your reply? To me it seems combative, as you asked a question (using the phrase “ethics in games journalism” that is usually quoted here on BB to mock GGers) about something that wasn’t in his comment. So, it seemed to me that you were identifying @voidfraction as a GGer, and by using a dismissive rebuttal to a typical GGer battle-cry*, dismissing him|her. Since vf has not been identified as a GGer, and questions of ethnic authenticity as inherent in the original post, you seem to be imagining this identity, and attacking them for what you’ve decided that they think.


* more along the line of tears than war.


Maybe, just maybe, jewishness is a mitochondria-linked trait…?

I propose calling this flavor “pseudo-ethnicity” and then we’re done with the word-lawyering and can move on to the core problematics.

I think there is a big difference between fictive and fictional, since the author is clearly writing in a particular jargon. A fictional ethnicity would be the Bene Tleilax, no one denies that gamergate is a real thing or that people are really part of it.

I find arguing with the term a little bit bizarre. The author wants to talk about how people feel about gamergate by drawing parallels to ethnicity, but doesn’t want to suggest that she is confused in thinking that gamergate is an ethnicity in the same way that Jewish, or French are ethnicities. It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone actually disagrees with that.

Which sort of brings us to the second storify, which says that a big part of chan (and gamergate) culture is arguing with everything even disingenuously. @voidfraction came here to present us with a dilemma where are are supposed to choose one of two horns: Either being in gamergate is the same kind of thing as being Scottish, or there is no such thing as ethnicity at all. All of this based on substituting one word for another because they are similar. Do I think that @voidfraction actually believes either of those things? Maybe the latter - that there is no such thing as ethnicity at all - but even in that case I’m sure @voidfraction knows that when people use the word ethnicity they are trying to mean something that would apply to Scottishenss and would not apply to gamergateness. And really, I kind of don’t care whether @voidfraction does believe either of those things. If @voidfraction wants to argue for one of those things or the other, then there is plenty of space here to do so. The question is an adolescent argumentative tactic meant to sow confusion, not the expression of any opinion. It is right to meet it with hostility.


I believe he’s (mis-quoting the extract which uses fictive ethnicity; don’t think there’s much of a practical difference between “fictive” and “fictional”:

Thank you, that is exactly what I was referencing. (Also, the parent post refers to the gamer identity as both fictive and fictional)

As for your previous post, I agree ethnicity is too strong a label for, say, gamers, burning man attendees, hippies, gamergaters, gun owners, social justice warriors, etc. But these occasionally overlapping groupings do form recognizable tribes, with their own modes of speaking, shared culture, stereotypes, etc.

Cory Doctorow’s Eastern Standard Tribe provides a useful fictional example of such a tribe. I think ‘gamer’ is another.

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The second storify (a_man_in_black) was actually very enlightening to me. I thought I understood chan culture but there were definitely some elements that I didn’t get.

Anyone on these boards who has read about or posted about gamergate has seen me try to ask people who support gamergate what they actually want to change - what would make them happy - and never get any reply. In fact, asking people who support gamergate about the genuine feelings about it seems to be some kind of repellant that scares them off (not that these accounts usually last long anyway).

This description of chan culture makes a lot of sense out of gamergate, and it makes a lot of sense out of how gamergate has interacted with people outside gamergate.



It is right to meet it with hostility.

Well, the important thing is that you’ve found a way to justify hostility based on armchair psychoanalysis while still considering yourself a good person.

How about we let void ask me the fair question, and let void move that conversation forward? I’d answer that question, if he asked it. My mode was to challenge him to respond the way you have, and put in the intellectual effort phrasing his questions, at least to the degree he feel entitled to a thoughtful answer.

I love nothing more than when someone makes a black and white sttemenr, and then challenges anyone who responds to it as -the one ruining things-. Oh hush now babies. hush now.

Which is to say, he got the respect he paid forward, and I believe him likely to be another gamergater here to distract, derail, and generally be further proof that ethics in games journalism is exactly what we need to keep them focused on, if only to keep them from trying to ‘‘help’’ with actual injustices.

As i just said:


Care to state which of the horns of your original dilemma you actually stand with? Is gamergate the same kind of thing as Scottishness or is there no such thing as ethnicity at all? Or was I right that you don’t think either of those things and were being argumentative for argumentation’s sake? Or maybe there is another option I’m not thinking of - I’m always happy to be enlightened?

Look, I don’t know if you wrote this heart-string tugging reply because you are consciously trying to get me upset or because you’ve just been conditioned in your life to think the best way to win an argument is to use statements like this - ones that will make the other person too uncomfortable to continue so that you win by default. If it’s the latter then please re-read what I wrote and realize it is a criticism of the substance of what you “contributed” to the conversation: you proposed a dilemma that is disingenuous unless you actually agree with one of its sides or have a different way of constructing the idea of ethnicity that avoids both that I’d really hope you share. If it is the former then I’m sorry your pool of cheap shots is so shallow.

I do, however, take offense at the idea that I think I’m a good person.