The IRC logs, and what Zoe Quinn taught me about talking to people like they're people. • /r/GirlGamers
Okay, a bunch of people were asking me to speak out about what Zoe pulled with the logs, so I posted this on /r/GirlGamers. Unfortunately, it seems they do indeed care more about Zoe’s word than the actual content of the evidence she provided. But I think it’s a worthy read in any case.
A couple of days ago, a tumblr anon asked me to chime in on one of Zoe’s tweets. That tweet was one of a set containing screenshots of an IRC chat for gamergate discussions she had been logging. Her tweets were interesting. The screenshots were of me trying to calm people down, though Zoe’s commentary oddly claimed the opposite. Oddly enough, the commenters responded in cheer.
I told the anon I didn’t care that much — it was clear she was misrepresenting the situation. If anyone couldn’t readily tell from the screenshots, they could easily go and read the logs for themselves. And if they were willing to take her spin after either or both, then they weren’t going to be convinced anyway.
My supporters didn’t like this reply, and kept urging me to make a statement.
"You should say something" "No, they clearly don’t want to listen, and I’m tired of explaining myself."
"Why aren’t you saying something!?"
"I’m tired of explaining myself"
"No, can’t you see I’m tired of explaining myself?"
"This isn’t like you, please say something!"
"Why? It’s pointless! They want to believe Zoe.”
And then I stopped.
They were right. This wasn’t like me.
I’d set out to warn people about the sorts of things Zoe does, and here she was very clearly misrepresenting the contents of the logs, and abandoning her own views on the importance of trying to talk to detractors — in order to vilify me for doing just that. And people just believed her about it.
No, I don’t think I was wrong to be in that chatroom. It was overwhelmingly the right thing to do. And if you wondered “what kind of person even chooses to associate with that group of jerks” then simply put yourself in my shoes.
There was a very large and angry internet mob going crazy with conspiracy theories and ready to lash out at anything that reeked of an attempt to suppress them. A bunch of people who had just been lashed out at banded together in a show of solidarity, and started to harass right back. There were no discussions across the groups. Both mobs were getting angrier and angrier. And no one was trying to get the two sides to understand each other.
And I had an open and eager audience willing to discuss things with me, whose views were completely contrary to my own. I wasn’t powerless to prevent things from devolving. I could do something.
So I did. I did the kind of thing I fell in love with Zoe for saying she would do. I did the thing Zoe is now calling me evil for doing. I did the thing that was most needed, and that no one else would do. I talked to them, like they were human.
Because they are human.
They are human. They are human. They are human.
They are human, and they’re willing to listen to you if you’ll just let them know you’re willing to have an open and honest discussion with them. They will talk openly and honestly, and if you do it back, you’ll agree on what sorts of actions are in everyone’s (including their) best interest.
They are human, and they want to listen, and they want to be listened to. And even if you don’t always come to an agreement, so long as you discuss in good faith, you will always come out of it understanding each other a little better. And you will find that sometimes, the disagreement is understandable.
People in that chat would often PM me just to discuss the differences in our views. Sometimes those differences were cultural. Not the “indie hugbox” vs “internet hatebox” kind of cultural.
The kind of cultural differences where the idea of “get women into games” didn’t make much sense at all. Because the users were from places where the first reaction to a female developer isn’t “holy shit a female developer!” because those cultures had just too recently gotten past a climate where the first reaction was “holy shit you can afford a computer?”
Or the kind of cultural differences where things like affirmative action didn’t make any sense contextually because the racial makeup was too homogeneous for those concepts to even warrant emerging. And so things like making active efforts to increase the cultural diversity of game developers or characters didn’t have a backdrop in which their importance could be interpreted.
Sometimes the parties were merely uninformed, or very well informed, but with different political leanings to bring to the table. In the case of the former, the discussions were as easy as explaining things. And in the case of the latter, they ultimately amounted to exploring the differences in our views until we found the axioms which we were unlikely to convince each other of. But we always came away from those discussions liking each other more, because that’s what happens when people spend a long time trying to understand one another. And no matter what the case, the conclusion was always clear — fighting was not the way to improve this situation for anyone.
I’ve included excerpts of some of the discussions in a comment to this thread as well as a link to the full log. But the take away is that I spoke with them. And they listened.
They started voicing real concerns to the right people in productive ways. And the people they were speaking to listened. Kotaku listened. Polygon listened. The Escapist listened. And not only did The Escapist listen, but they realized the new policies they drafted up in response were really good. So good that they were adopted across a dozen sister publications completely unrelated to games.
The twitter harassment didn’t just begin to die down, but was actively being discouraged by members of the movement. When members used the tag to harass; other members would reply to tell them to stop.
And it wasn’t just for show. I went into the IRC again after reading a distressing reddit comment to say I really didn’t think they should wear the Five Guys apparel if they intended to do the protest. And do you know what they did?
They laughed. Because they already knew. And they’d already decided not to do that. That it wouldn’t help anything.
They were no longer going to identify as Burgers and Fries. They wanted to be gamergate. And they wanted to make a difference.
Then, when ten journalists in two days wrote articles denouncing and dehumanizing the movement by painting them all with the same misogynerd brush; when they dismissed the movement based on its beginnings, and when both journalists and devs said they were moving on and leaving gamers behind: the uproar started anew. Of course it did. Because unwittingly or not, journalists and devs called for war, just as the movement had started trying to make peace.
And throughout this fresh now double sided slew of harassment, something interesting happened. Without intervention on my part, the people who’d been trying to make peace kept at it. They told their side to stop harassing. It didn’t matter that they were being harassed back. Those few that realized the situation they were in spoke up and explained it to those that didn’t. And those people listened. And even now they’re doing it. Amidst and against the harassment, they’re calling for reason.
Going into that IRC wasn’t a mistake. That was the thing that needed to be done. And the thing I’m disappointed that no one else was doing.
The movement isn’t “astroturfed.” Astroturfed movements have goals, and aside from journalistic reforms, gamergate is still pulling in all sorts of directions. Because they’re uncomfortable. Something is wrong and they’re trying to figure out what they need to fix. And no one who knows is willing to help them. Because there’s still too much war in the air. Even as Zoe declares a meaningless victory against a group of people she claimed she was setting out to convert.
A woman on twitter reached out and asked me if she could interview me for her podcast. I was tired of everything at that point. An interview seemed pointless. I didn’t care that Zoe had just lied about the logs, and for whatever reason, I was somehow happy that the people who had been harassing me were now falling for the very sort of behavior I’d warned them about. I’d finally become the vindictive ex everyone who’d never met me decided I was. But the feeling wasn’t toward Zoe.
I snapped out of it. The very logs Zoe had published and made readily falsifiable claims about contained exactly the thing that needed to be done.
So I asked the podcast host for something else. Instead of an interview, how about a friendly and good faith debate? How about me versus that guy who made the first few Quinnspiracy theory videos calling people to arms against SJ in games?
So that’s what I’m going to do. A podcast debate with InternetAristocrat. I know gamergate will likely tune in, and hopefully relevant members will come away with a better understanding of SJ, and maybe decide it really isn’t so bad. And if we manage to set it up, hopefully you’ll tune in too, if for no other reason than to better understand some small portion of a large movement which has actually accomplished quite a bit in a very short time, but has largely been dismissed.
I can hopefully hide away after this. But I want to set a tone.
Things are rougher in the internet hatebox — hateboxes don’t act on consensus, they only act on mutual interests. And by definition, the hatebox is a box that will hate you. The hatebox hated me too at first, and inherent lack of consensus means some of it still does. But I went from being known as a “beta cuck” to a “devilishly attractive beta cuck” to having people eager to speak with and listen to me. So yes, it might be rough at first, but you really can foster honest discussion and even camaraderie with people who initially disagree with everything you stand for. I know it’s not impossible, because I’ve done it. And maybe others can too.
Oh nice. /r/GirlGamers just deleted the thread.
I am amused and feel bad for people. But oh well. Their choice.
This is actually really interesting.