A letter to Rab Florence

A response to this piece by the aforementioned games journalist:

You don’t know me, but I’m one of the many gamers out there who went to bat for you during “Doritogate”, and continued to in the name of demonstrating prima facie evidence of corruption in the gaming industry and games journalism to those positioned against “gamergate” who would actually deny it exists, or make genetic fallacies to paint the consumer revolt-cum-movement as fundamentally misogynist. So, it came as a surprise to me when you wrote this and I feel compelled to respond. I’ll skip your hyperbole and purely rhetorical commentary in favor of responding to key points in your post:

But hey – dude – you’re looking for it in all the wrong places. You’re flinging spears at powerless people. Have you never seen The Wire? Follow the money, man. The bad guy will never be some broke indie dev or some minimum wage journo. Follow the money, Jeez.

I’m not even touching for the sake of charity the explicit racism of “spear-flinging”. You should know better than that. I’ll instead respond to the second part this, which is to say (your claim of relative privation aside) we are following the money. So-called “indie” development is a multi-million-dollar niche industry now, and if anything can be said of it “small time” is not it, especially in the face of racketeering and contest-rigging allegations plucked straight from the pages of an organized crime novel. Perhaps your invocation of The Wire is more apt than you realize.

See, this is what I’m saying – it’s not that you’re wrong. Is there a bubble of smarty-pants writers and indie devs on the internet who all think the same way about stuff? Yes. But how do you respond to that? By joining a gang? By entering another bubble? That’s why you think all the games websites are the same! Because you’re stuck in a bubble! Break out – look for games writers you love, and support little websites and blogs. Discover them! They’re out there, desperate for you to find them. I’m with you, dude. FUCK those big websites.

Feel free to chime in with suggestions how consumers can organize an anti-press protest any time if you feel this strongly about the issue. By the by, “our bubble” didn’t create “GameJournoPros”, and if you want any reason for us to be validated in our belief the major gaming new outlets are “the same”, that’s it — especially when the involved journalists have been shown beyond a shadow of a doubt to have colluded in the private group.

As for the latter category, feel free to ask TechRaptor, RevueLabs, the new goodgamers.us, or NicheGamer how their traffic has been doing.

But listen – let me tell you something about writing. It’s important to be provocative. It’s important to be able to piss people off. It’s important to be able to be wrong. That’s what free speech is.

There is a line between evocative commentary and yellow journalism, and those involved have clearly crossed it. One is a net positive, and the second is a net negative that has been a scourge to journalism since its inception. Do you really want to be counted among those who would defend the likes of William Randolph Hearst?

What kind of world doesn’t let a writer write?

Apparently, considering the stories and lived experiences of individuals like “RogueStar” and Steve Tom Sawyer, the one you’re defending. The latter of which has a newfound voice denied him by the gaming press “establishment” thanks to that very “right-wing shock columnist guy” who “hates video games”, by the way. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for your apology and thanks to Milo Yiannopoulos for picking up where the gaming press has been sorely negligent.

Did you enjoy The Last Of Us? That story was a little bit more sophisticated, right? That’s because annoying people, annoying critics, over months and years, pushed video games in that direction.

Or, just maybe, over the past thirty years of gaming as an entertainment medium and form of art, the increasing power, capacity, and complexity of hardware allows developers to tell the rich and complex stories they’ve wanted to tell from the beginning, and that games “critics” are taking credit for something with which they had nothing to do. But what would I know, I’m not a games journalist and just someone who played games through the JRPG “golden age” of the late ’80s and early-to-mid ’90s.

Cool, right? Why would you want to chase those annoying people out of our community, dude? They’re working to make your games better!

Or, it is just autofellating (oh, don’t want to be gender-specific, autocunnilinguing), tone-deaf, nonsense to evolutions made in the industry and in the community a decade or more ago, for which “critics” want to steal credit by acting as if they are some vanguard of a “golden age” in gaming that, while those same critics were accepting payola and boozing it up in lavish press parties, already came and went.

Yeah, I wrote this column once about how games journalism looks kinda compromised by corporate influence. And then the website I wrote for got bullied into removing stuff from my column. And that meant I had to quit. And let me tell you – I was angry. I was all ready to go on full attack against the bullies I hold responsible – Intent Media (they also run the Games Media Awards in the UK, recognising games journalists for their work, how funny!). But I had to back down, because misogynists had taken control of the argument. There was a woman involved in the whole thing, and – well – you know what happens next on this fucking internet. Shit doesn’t roll downhill on the internet. It rolls towards the nearest woman.

“Gamers” didn’t lawyer up. “Gamers” didn’t put a gag order on you that caused you to quit your job. “Gamers” aren’t the source of a sexist, poisonous, business and management culture that holds access hostage to maintain an atmosphere of opacity and unaccountability. “Gamers” were behind you for exposing industry payola, at least they were at the time. After this, I can’t imagine them staying behind you; I most certainly will not, as least as long as you continue to misplace blame in the name of defending the very people that spurned you.

The problem with your statement is that you omit the possibility for a woman to be involved in a scandal, be in the wrong, and for criticism of her to be entirely valid without being fundamentally misogynist. Of course a woman would be the target of criticism, if she’s the one at the center of the scandal. Was there criticism of a distinctly misogynist nature? well of course, but it was your duty as a journalist to ignore invalid or hateful criticism and get the story; a duty, judging from your commentary here, you shirked out of fear of being called misogynist and associated with the hateful few.

You could have been gaming’s own little Woodward and Bernstein, but for doing what Woodward and Bernstein didn’t — bow to defamation and threats, which for you meant an easily-defended SLAPP and mean comments on the internet, nothing compared to what Woodward and Bernstein faced.

That’s on your head for lacking ethical fortitude, not gamers’. Shame on you for shirking that duty, and criticizing those who have taken it on in your absence.