When there is no penalty for stupid the stupid multiplies

There is an old, possibly apocryphal helpdesk tale of a hapless helpdesk operator informing a particularly clueless user (after a very long conversation about her non-functional monitor had progressively revealed that there was a power outage and her UPS system had run out of battery as these things do) that her best course of action was to box up her computer, monitor, and peripherals, take them to her employer’s IT staff and tell them she was too stupid to be trusted with a computer.

If this standard was applied to the Internet at large, the Internet would get a whole lot smaller.

For evidence of this, Google “Gamergate”. Now, apart from the bloody irritating memeology that’s decided that every frigging scandal absolutely must have “gate” appended to it (FFS people, Watergate got its name because of the Watergate Hotel. Gate was already part of the name! If there was a scandal involving an actual gate, would it become gate-gate? Er. Sorry… micro-rant over), the gist seems to be that someone claimed a game developer (female) was trading horizontal favors for good reviews and those reputedly receiving said horizontal favors naturally denied any such thing.

Okay. Fine. Humans are corrupt. Many of us have somewhat wobbly moral compasses (not that we’ll admit this, of course. We’re also extremely good at rationalizing what we do so it’s the “right thing”. This is why I say that with very few exceptions people do not get out of bed and say “What evil shall I do today?”) and will do things that could, when viewed in the right (or wrong) light be thought to be rather, well… unethical. For the absolutely best of reasons, of course. Otherwise the saying “the ends justify the means” would never have been said.

Now, whether this purported trading of horizontal favors for good reviews (damn it, nobody ever offered me anything like that… oh wait. They’d be more likely to offer the good reviews for not trading horizontal favors. Nevermind) actually happened, there’s a flurry and flap over the whole thing that’s spread to apparent death threats, questions about endemic sexism in the gaming industry (folks, we’re talking about a haven of nerds and geeks that makes the science fiction and fantasy convention scene look mainstream, with all the associated lack of social ept one might expect. It’s going to look as sexist and everything-else-ist as hell, but it’s also going to be ruthlessly merit-driven. Unless the Glittery Hoo-Haas have come in to reform it, in which case it’s sexist all right, but there’s no misogyny there. Just misandry) and all the froth and bother one might expect from this.

Two things come to mind immediately. First, one of the most influential females in the gaming industry worldwide has had nothing to do with the mess. That’s right. Rhianna Pratchett has stayed out of it (as far as I know – she tends not to make news that much). Of course, she does prefer to be judged on her merits rather than her equipment. Second, the loudest screams seem to be coming from the social gaming scene (I may be wrong on this: it’s a little difficult to pull accurate information from the screams of outrage).

Frankly, you put three people in one place, you have a hierarchy. We here are all well-acquainted with the relative standings of different genres of books. Why is everyone acting so horribly shocked that casual and social gaming is seen in game development (and game playing) circles as easier than other kinds of games. I’m not that much of a gamer myself, and I don’t particularly care if my choice of game is looked down on by someone else, but I can appreciate that there’s a hell of a difference between a game that you play for a bit of mindless amusement and one that immerses you in a complex environment and forces you to make a stream of tactical, strategic, and logistic decisions. The latter is harder to write, harder to design, and harder to play. Complaining that the tactical gamers (who, coincidentally, are mostly male) look down on casual gamers (where there are a lot more females) is like complaining that chess players look down on people playing Tic-Tac-Toe.

So, yes, a lot of really dumb stuff has been said about all of this. A lot of people who should know better have made “you’re too dumb to own a computer”-level comments about the whole mess, mostly by assuming that the people who are – legitimately – concerned about the integrity of game reviews (let’s face it, a smaller company that releases one flagship game per year can be sunk by bad reviews – and hurt by a competitor getting unwarranted good reviews) are evil sexist bastards who want to get them wimmen out of their man-caves.

Honestly, if you put something like this into a book, you’d get panned by people saying “No one would ever be this stupid!” And, well, the average fantasy world does still have the built-in natural penalty for extreme idiocy that our modern life has largely removed. There are times when I wonder if that’s really a good thing.

129 thoughts on “When there is no penalty for stupid the stupid multiplies

  1. Don’t forget that another aspect of this is that it came out that there was a Game Media version of JournoList, and leaked eMails from that prove that there was SJW collusion in the Game Magazine industry. This is part of why the moment GamerGate broke out, all the major sites simultaneously ran stories about how white male gamers are “Over” or “Dead”.

    Which has been the goal all alone. So yes, the GHH’s HAVE come to reform Gaming, which is why for years now they’ve been going on non-stop about how attractive female character designs are sexist, etc.

    1. I have to admit, I (sometimes) take issue with the attractive female character designs as well.

      Not because they are attractive, no – because their costuming is invariably a poor fit for the society and/or environment in which they live.

      Fur bikinis in an icy wasteland give you frostbite.
      Chainmail bikinis in an icy wasteland give you frostbite faster.
      Anything tight fitting in a desert will give you heatstroke. (Chainmail would likely give you very interesting burns, since they never seem to back it with cloth or leather.)
      Anything slit from here to breakfast will not be acceptable in a society with high standards of modesty.

      The “problem” is not sexism or misogyny, the problem is poor character design skills. Quite frankly, I think the could be easily solved by making the Virtual Tech & Design kids take a costume design class as part of their videogame design degrees.

      This would also serve to inform them of what is and is not possible with fabric.

      1. Ok, lets start with the obvious. The male costumes often aren’t any better. Fur loin cloth in snow anybody? The costumes are unimportant, the specs of protection are. Now do the costumes use lots of T&A? Hell yes. The majority of players are male at any level of gaming other than social gaming. Just like in action movies they want to look at hot chicks. Which is a reason many guys choose female characters, more eye candy for when they are doing slow stuff that takes time. Forex walking into a wall for real time hours to build up a skill. Now when a game allows modifications as Oblivion did one of the first sets of modifications becomes nudes to play. and better looking females. The sexy is what the majority of gamers want. This is why a costume design course is semi ludicrous. No one cares about accurate period detail, they want more enjoyable gaming experience. As long as males make up most of the gamers their tastes will be catered to, as they should be. Just like in a chic flic shoot’em’up scenes are uncommon. Catering to the demographic is practical.

        1. I suppose “invariably” was putting it too strongly, since I immediately thought of several games where this was not the case. “Often” would be a more accurate phrase.

          The male costumes often aren’t any better.
          Which supports my point.

          Just like in action movies they want to look at hot chicks.
          Fair enough, nobody (reasonable) can blame them for that – women are the same way.

          No one cares about accurate period detail, they want more enjoyable gaming experience.
          One would think that a lack of incongruity (which is what wearing bikinis and loincloths in the snow really is) would enable the player to better immerse himself in the game.

          Or is everyone so accustomed to blizzard beachwear that weather-appropriate clothing would require greater suspension of disbelief?

          1. Fantasy, Fantasy, not reality, people don’t care, they want to see boobage and buttocks. Reality is for people who can’t handle fantasy

              1. That’s only a raise if it actually matters to the game. You’ll find somewhat more accurate clothing in games such as Dragon Age than in hack and slashers such as Sacred 2. Plot and world are integral parts of a game like Dragon Age. Not so much so in Sacred. Sacred is a romp its rules are different and less realistic. The limitations of 3d real time rendering are also a factor.

          2. One would think that a lack of incongruity (which is what wearing bikinis and loincloths in the snow really is) would enable the player to better immerse himself in the game.

            It’s classic. I know at least one of my uncle’s childhood Conan novels (boomer) had Conan in the classic fur speedo, some kind of strap on his chest and some kind of fur cape flapping dramatically.

            More importantly, you can hand-wave “my character doesn’t get frostbite” than “the chain mail, plate, leather and cloth all react the same as my character’s hair to the wind, and they ALL occasionally pass through the character’s body.”

          3. “The “problem” is not sexism or misogyny, the problem is poor character design skills. ”

            You don’t know what you’re talking about. I mean, you literally know nothing about it. The artists who do the art in AAA games are capable of doing whatever is required of them. Very few people choose the full-clothing options; many games have them.

            “One would think that a lack of incongruity (which is what wearing bikinis and loincloths in the snow really is) would enable the player to better immerse himself in the game.”

            None of the hundreds of millions of people playing these games gives even a quantum of a damn about clothing congruity. It is risible to listen to people try to lecture professionals in a very, very successful and competitive industry how they “should” be doing things. Certain elements matter for immersion. Others don’t. Thanks to online gaming, game developers have massive quantities concerning player habits and preferences.

            Seriously, it is often astonishing how little many people who play games understand about the design and development process.

            1. I wouldn’t call it astonishing: I’d call it normal. The designers and programmers do their best to make everything look and feel seamless, and people who don’t understand either programming or game design don’t have a clue how much work hides behind the scenes.

              Hell, I test payroll software for a living, and there’s a TON of design work behind that just for look and feel matters. Game design has to have way more – and I freely admit I don’t know much about what goes on in that field.

              I have no objections to designers and developers giving their player base what they want – even if what they want is the fur bikini and loincloth option (which I find personally laughable – but if a game has everything else going for it, I won’t actually care about the ridiculousness of the costume). Some of them probably wish they could monetize the popularity of nude mods without running foul of the censors.

              1. I would estimate that we spend up to one-fourth of our design and development time (not counting the artists) on anticipating and countering players doing things that have no possible utility in the game and operating outside the game’s perspective. The reason that you usually can’t intentionally do stupid shit that will break the game and give you an excuse to complain to all and sundry? Because we anticipated you and provided some mechanism to either prevent you from doing it or mitigate the consequences of your a) griefing or b) idiocy.

                It’s a huge fucking waste of time and I’m always annoyed by it. If everyone would just play the bloody game as it is conceived and presented, we could probably do 10 to 15 percent more content on every game. Or, as is more likely the case, get them out faster and on schedule.

                That is why it is very difficult to surprise a game developer. Anticipating every possible action is simply part of the basic job description.

                By the way, Intel has known for more than a decade that gamers drive their CPU sales. We did our first bundling deal with them when they released MMX back in 1997. They signed 15 different game companies to work directly with them and we were the smallest of the 15. In fact, we were the party that discovered the need for the AGP bus. Intel couldn’t tell us why the chip was so much slower than advertised (which was a problem since it was too slow to permit the 1280x1024x16 graphics we’d planned for), so we blitted a 2-bit black rectangle, one of the simplest possible graphic operations. When the speed turned out to precisely match that of the PCI bus, we knew where the bottleneck was. Needless to say, Intel was NOT happy to receive the bad news. MMX was a lot better than anyone knew, but its graphics horsepower was throttled by the bus.

                1. That doesn’t surprise me. The top-grade games have always pushed the ability of graphics engines, CPUs and busses. I didn’t know Intel worked that closely with the game companies, but it makes sense that they would.

                2. It’s a huge fucking waste of time and I’m always annoyed by it. If everyone would just play the bloody game as it is conceived and presented, we could probably do 10 to 15 percent more content on every game.

                  If you’re so upset about the lack of mind-reading and following your grand plan, there’s always the option of making it an MMO and banning anyone who fails to follow along to your grand scheme.

                  It will probably go over about as well as the DMs that try to force their players to follow along to the planned out adventure, but you could do it.

                  Or you can bitch about players not being good little followers who only play the game exactly as you intended, because it’s not like that’s a “huge fucking waste of time.”

                  1. Fox – there’s a huge difference between what he’s talking about, and what you’re talking about.

                    I don’t do game design for a living, but I’ve been buying and playing games since D&D came in a box set with Keep on the Borderlands, and “Ogre” was available as a pocketbook game. I’ve bought or read most of the early TSR games (Top Secret, etc.) and been through many evolutions of various board games from the 90’s on, including trying to get people to play Panzerblitz back in middle school. One of the podcasts I follow is the D6 Generation, where design principles, mechanics, and the impact they have on games is a frequent topic.

                    People buy games for various reasons – I’ll stick to board and such for the moment – including the nature of the gameplay itself, the theme, etc. Many games are abstractions of actual combat, or of certain “real world” or fantasy situations.

                    So go to boardgamegeek and start digging for “is _____ broken”

                    A “broken” rule or ability is one that basically violates the spirit of the game or of fair and even competition.

                    It could be something that utterly breaks the theme. You could have a combination of rules that is easily subject to abuse, is so powerful that not using it may make the player noncompetitive, but more importantly breaks the “theme” and intent and style of play. Basically loopholes that, while entirely within the rules, make D&D Magic users far more effective as straight melee fighters than any other class in the game, or than a magic user played straight and casting spells.

                    You have combinations of rules/abilities/stats that make someone so powerful that nothing can compete, period. Games with many possible combinations like Magic: The Gathering, Warhammer40k, Warmachine, etc, can – if careful attention is not payed to rules interactions – can have combinations of units or guards that are unstoppable. One reason a lot of people hated Magic was that for a while, there were rare cards that were broken in that way, and a person with a deep bankroll could buy an unstoppable deck. Later more attention was paid to making rarer, more powerful cards more difficult to deploy or more situational, and the Magic community also instituted “drafting” competitions and such that gave everyone an even chance.

                    I’ve heard Steve Jackson and a number of other game designers from Fantasy Flight, etc. talk about the importance of the beta testing process, and how you can discover after a game is released that someone took a different perspective than you did, and make the game no fun for anyone playing it straight. Unit costs and abilities for Ogre had to be tweaked in the GEV expansion, and later editions of Ogre, to eliminate the all-powerful GEV squadron.

                    You’ve also got bugs that can lock a game up. Power Grid: First Sparks has a condition where if the player is not careful in the first two turns, they can make it impossible for them to ever expand their tribe. I’ve seen a computer RPG where it was possible to permanently sell or discard a critical item in the game if one hadn’t yet figured out they needed it.

                    And game balance does matter. Unreal Tournament had a game mode called “instigate” where any successful hit was an instant kill. But you knew this before getting onto the server for the game. Imagine if someone had a recoilless full auto sniper rifle with unlimited ammo, against people with stock weapons…. it’s also why so much effort goes into Team Fortress/etc. to prevent cheating programs that interact with the game and provide auto-aiming/etc.

                    1. Dislike of rules lawyering, and not exploiting bugs, is not what he described. More like dancing on mailboxes or going “Hm, I wonder if I can get it to….?”

                      I am aware of the constant cry of “X is broken” when people think it gives someone an advantage, and I am aware of balance issues.
                      Again, going off of his needlessly obscene text, not what he was complaining about.

                    2. I guess we read that differently – I certainly, especially in terms of bringing up “griefers” – ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griefer ) take what he was discussing to NOT be a power trip, but to be about letting people enjoy the game without assholes abusing loopholes to ruin the fun for people who DO want to experience the game as intended.

                      I certainly didn’t see where he was trying to be a little overlord, forcing everyone onto rails, and bitching “about players not being good little followers who only play the game exactly as you intended, because it’s not like that’s a “huge fucking waste of time.”

                      “If everyone would just play the bloody game as it is conceived and presented” in the context shown is about people not abusing rules to ruin the experience for everyone else. Again – Griefers. Its the guy deliberately playing Arkham Horror in a way to cause the group to fail. Or the guy playing Mario Brothers (which was intended to be 2-player co-op) as a last man standing combat game and pushing the other player into the turtles (unless they both agreed to those ground rules).

                      The language was a bit blunt, but I really don’t see any grounds for thinking there’s a tin god complex involved.

                    3. Also – having done web site and app development, a HUGE part of our programming time is spent time hunting down ways in which pranksters and jokers can take down a database-driven/dynamic site by exploiting issues in SQL and Perl/PHP. Hardening a public website against exactly that kind of similar “griefer” is an absolute must. Failure to do things like preventing SQL code injections will result in loss of data or the site.

                      Same issue applies – the vast majority come to the site and accept what’s presented. Then there are idiots that decide to see what they can break. A LOT of development time is soaked up preventing that last.

      2. Hmmm, that would be useful, if the point of gaming were realism instead of Fantasy. And that’s something the SJW’s really don’t seem to get on a fundamental level.

      3. Character design can be totally insane sometimes. I personally prefer the games where they play it for laughs and make it outrageously impossible (it’s not just a chainmail bikini, it’s a chainmail bikini with SPIKES. And bits that defy gravity (as does the character’s anatomy)!)

      4. Amusingly, my husband mostly plays female characters…and then works to give them RP appropriate gear. The only one wearing something like a bikini is the mage that throws fireballs all the time.

        Have contests for gear, and put more time into designing characters so that the male ones don’t usually look horrible.

      1. Well, the original Temperance League were people who knew first hand the real problems caused by heavy drinking. We can argue about their “cure” being worse than the problem but they were dealing with a real problem.

        The SJWs only imagine that there’s a problem.

        1. whether there was a real problem or not is a matter of opinion. Yes, drunks are a problem and I despise them. That being said there are people w3ho abuse anything. Whether the SJW whining for some perceived injustice or a religious zealot screaming because of sin. In fact, I wonder if many of the SJWs are not frustrated Church Ladies without the comfort of a real church

          1. It was probably the competitive environment that created the Saloons that was driving a lot of the complaints. Or at least as far as that era was concerned.

            When it was whiskey, I think it was more the combination of a very rough frontier culture, with a lot of land growing corn that couldn’t get to market any other way.

            I am prepared to believe that these are clerical class sorts who don’t have Jesus, and hence are focusing on other faiths.

              1. There is a difference. A “drunk” got on the bus the other day… after missing the door the first try… he *stank* though he was still young and still looked healthy… he spoke far too loudly and you couldn’t understand him… and then, when anyone said anything he got belligerent.


                When I was young there was a local young man (who still looked healthy) who was a drunk… he could be at a party with other drunk people and the difference, who was drunk and who was a drunk, was pretty clear. He’d *very quickly* drink to drunkedness, get annoying to everyone else, and then get given more alcohol *on purpose* by others until he passed out so they could stash him behind a couch and ignore him. Pretty much like the wife of an alcoholic who, when he starts knows what’s going to happen, so gives him another bottle so he’ll go down.

        2. Recently, on a computer related podcast, one of the casters remarked that he saw a tweet that was “almost on the edge of understanding and an epiphany”. Praphrased, the tweet was “If you looked at everything the way Anita looks at games, you’d see sexism everywhere.”

          There were some chuckles about “how close the tweeter almost came to realizing sexism was everywhere.”

          Not once did they consider the statement an indictment of Anita’s way of looking at the world. That like looking for bigotry, or (for the McCarthy haters) communism, if you looked hard enough, you’d see it everywhere.

          While “when your only tool is a hammer” sort of applies, I’m actually appalled that a self respecting geek wasn’t aware that what they were making fun of was basically a restatement of a main corollary to the “Law of Fives”


          A statement that at first blush seems to mean that by seeing “five” in more and more places, you’re getting wiser, but on deeper thought, means that you’re creating patterns that don’t exist while blinding yourself to what’s going on. That everything being related to five is a relationship YOU draw.

          1. No argument here. Look for racism, you’ll find it. Look for homophobia, you find it. [Frown]

            1. Look for ANYTHING hard enough and you’ll find it. Which is why the smut-finders always come out with the most astonishing ideas about why this book or that book is indecent – and then totally miss the likes of Shrek’s Lord Farquaad.

              1. In fairness, if you look hard enough at video game art, you will see penises everywhere. This is because they are actually there; one of the favorite hobbies of video game artists is trying to sneak penis images past the art director. One art director used to joke that his title should be “Professional Penis Spotter”.

                Even as a producer, I got accustomed to penis-spotting. I once identified seven penises, including one ejaculating, in an airline’s kiddy meal box.

                1. Now that I’ve stopped giggling over this, I’ve got to say I’m not surprised. I’ve heard rumors of animators doing the same thing – it’s something of a challenge, I gather. “Let’s see what we can get past the bosses”… Almost but not quite an easter egg.

    2. Dr Mauser – good luck finding THAT in a simple google search. I certainly didn’t. Mind you, I got more than enough stupid for one rant out of what did show up.

  2. This has been a *long* time brewing. I started gaming with a ZX81 (yes, im that old), and by the mid 80’s there were scandals about how women were perceived in games / game advertising. Hardly suprising given it was a male dominated environment. Its been percolating ever since, with the odd flare up like Jack Thompson and the moral panics in the 90’s.

    The whole Zoe Quinn debacle was the spark that lit the tinderbox, and the “Gamers are Dead” colluded articles poured a few barrels of petrol on the flames. And its been raging ever since, with the like of Anita S and Amanda Marcotte fanning the flames alongside a number of the so called “game journos”. Throwing some doxxing and trolling of both sides by the morons over at Something Awful, and its a recipe for disaster.

    Its is in part like the SJW / GHH takeover of SF/F – except I believe they picked on the wrong crowd this time. Outside of the trash talking 12 – 18 year olds, most gamers are pretty tolerant folks, and pretty diverse. However, the GHH crowd didnt factor that gamers are effectively wired to win – if an encounter doesnt work, theyll go back and try a different approach. Repeat until win.

    The biggest problem that gg has is that the anti-gg crowd are a bunch of zealots, and there is no reasoning with them *at all* .They are uninterested in facts or evidence, and far prefer to sling crap to see what sticks. I bumped up against this myself, when I has the temerity to question the motives of the Almighty Anita. Lies, hyperbole, insults, insinuation, comments taken out of context, attempts at shaming – everything but fact and evidence. Which says a lot about the anti-gg crowd.

    One thing I really found interesting though – this seems to be a really big example of the left eating itself. One GG tweeter compiled a politcal compass graph of a significant number of pro-gg supporters – the vast majority of which were left leaning libertarians (bottom left quad iirc).

    1. Gamer geeks are NOT going to let anything get in the way of their gaming. And yes, most of them are super-competitive and used to looking for ways around whatever happens to block them.

      The GHH crowd hasn’t figured out yet that a lot of people have realized there’s nothing but glitter there. It’s not going to be pretty.

    2. You’re very likely correct. I tend to doubt that it is a coincidence that the initial anti-SJW schwerpunkt in SFWA turned out to be a lifelong gamer and game developer.

  3. I didn’t know who Rhianna Pratchett was until you mentioned her, other than suspecting that she might be related to Sir Terry. (Indeed: she’s his daughter). So I looked her up. Wow, that’s a lot of writing chops — good for her.

    And while I’m talking about her, I’m going to comment on something. Her Wikipedia article linked to a 2009 article where she said that games should “make people smile, not make people cry”. And while I mostly agree with her, there is one game in particular that is a counterexample. If you can play this game without crying, you have a heart of stone — but it’s done so well, and leaves you with such catharsis at the end, that I would recommend it to everyone.

    That game is Mother 3, the sequel (sort of) to Earthbound.

    We will now pause while everyone who’s played it wipes a tear off their eye. My, it’s dusty in here, isn’t it?

    1. I haven’t played that one, but there have been a few games that left me kind of misty-eyed in places (Myst 4, the “good” ending – tear-jerker but uplifting as well). It’s part of the immersive experience when done well.

  4. Note, the SJWs have been using the “threats” to justify saying that if you are against their agenda you support the threats so gamer people sit down and shut up you evil males

    1. Exactly. Damien is concern-trolling GamerGaters by saying they *have* to abandon the movement, otherwise they support violence against women.

        1. It’s interesting to see GamerGateophobia spreading through the Leftoid hive mind. Guys like Arthur Chu can tweet about nothing else.

        2. Really? Should someone tell him he’s as insignificant to GG as he is to SF? Cause he isn’t in the discussions at all.

          It’s been a riot to see how many “anti-harassment” people are vocally pro-harassment.

          1. Damien is on the sidelines flinging poop.

            Which is actually a good metaphor for his career.

            1. Poor poop. It’s tragic to see perfectly decent fecal matter being degraded by Damien’s presence.

  5. And now we’re starting to see the real agenda peeking through the SJW outrage. They don’t like that games are made by big corporations. They don’t like that some games are made with military cooperation. They want to ban violent video games. As usual, they use outrage to push their agenda. Same tactic, different industry.

    1. But of course. How could ANYONE like something they think is vile? Poor privileged darlings think the rest of the universe is as sheltered as they are.

  6. Thank you for explaining this, I had no clue. Don’t video game, I’m a terrible puzzle solver, and had no idea what this whole thing was about. But now I understand ‘some people’ were ‘gaming the system’. That’s something I can understand.

    Usually I just ignore it, have, and will continue to ignore it, but now I see what it’s all about.

    Thank you

    1. At its basest level, Gamergate is a consumer revolt against corruption and agenda in games journalism. The incident Kate talks about was the Archduke Ferdinand moment that caused a conflagration that has sucked in discoveries of journalistic collusion, favor trading, and the disdain that the games journalists have for their audience.

  7. These days, I play some clicker/idle games. I think I could develop one. I have other aspects that put me low on the gamer totem pole, if on the pole at all.

    All the talk of where Advanced Squad Leader sits in the hierarchy of gaming has made me wonder if ASL has rules for fighting the waves of diversely armed women, children and old people the Japanese had planned for Downfall.

    1. I really don’t think you could sell a game like that to anyone who wasn’t a professional military planner. Nobody likes to think about all those nasty little details like fanatical civilians poking at you and your men with improvised bamboo spears, or running at your tanks with shaped-charge lunging poles. Mowing down civilians just doesn’t have much of a “fun” factor, despite the greater realism such a scenario would have for a game simulating WWII invasions of Japan’s home islands.

      Which is one reason I’ve never been able to “get into” gaming any more; I used to be an avid gamer, back in my pre-military days, and played hours and hours of Squad Leader and Third Reich. After about my first two years in the Army, I suddenly noticed that those were emphatically games, and ones without a hell of a lot of fidelity to the real world I was experiencing as a private soldier. I’d catch myself in the middle of a Squad Leader session, and realize “Hey… Where are the broken-down trucks? The idiot fellow soldiers who aren’t where they’re supposed to be? All the ten-thousand and one other things that make getting anything done around here such a complete nightmare…?”. Not too long after that, I was a Corporal, and sorta dropped gaming for doing the real thing. And, to be honest, the gaming wasn’t that much help in my later military career, other than as a guidepoint for how not to set up training to simulate the real world. Game designers, I’ve concluded, have a hell of a hard time capturing the reality of things. I’m not sure I could do it, myself.

      The military itself has a very hard time being honest in game design, for training. Witness the whole fiasco with the 507th Maintenance Company, the one Jessica Lynch was assigned to, as an example. That unit was never properly trained, as an organization, and never should have been put where it was as an independent unit. Why did that happen? Mostly because the Army, in its infinite wisdom, never conceived that such a unit might have to operate independently in combat, and never spent the money to include units like that in the excellent training at locations like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. While I was there as an Observer/Controller for the exercises, I noticed that the rear-echelon units like the 507th never participated in the training. Ever. Why? Because “…this expensive training is meant for the maneuver units, only…”. So, no participation, no training, and bang… The 507th happened. And, I will hold, at least partially due to really, really bad real-world fidelity in the training exercises held at the NTC. Units like the 507th should have been included, if only so that the commanders of units like the 3rd Infantry Division could get habituated to dealing with essentially untrained-for-combat units like the 507th.

      One of my old bosses was a leader in the unit from 3rd ID that was just ahead of the 507th in the movement column north into Iraq. Paraphrasing what he said about the situation over numerous conversations we had about the whole thing, he and his bosses “…just didn’t get how poorly prepared the 507th really was… The commander would come to the meetings and the OPORDs, but he’d never ask any questions, or participate much. Looking back on it, the guy looked like a deer in the headlights every time I ever saw him…”.

      Poor real-world fidelity in training gets people killed. In the gaming industry, it sells games.

      1. I recall an article in either Stars and Stripes or Army Times about a video game where they really did try to make it realistic (Based off the Battle of Mogadishu). Make the bad guys hard to distinguish from the civilians, wounds really incapacitate people, ect… I never heard about the game beyond it’s release. Apparently it didn’t sell because it wasn’t fun and was way to hard.

        1. Games are not training simulators. I really don’t get people who can’t see that there’s a difference between the two.

          1. Just a note to add. I knew at least one Korean Vet. in 1960. He told me why he drank to sleep at night. The NK would round up civilians, herd them in front. He and his squad were unloading flame throwers off a plane when the North Koreans (civilians in front) attacked his base through the landing field. No way gaming can be real.

            1. Well, yes. There were similar situations in WW2 with the Russian defense more or less operating at the level of burying the (better equipped and better armed) Germans in corpses.

              The only way a game that did that would sell is if it was a parody and playing the whole thing for laughs (minus the gore and so forth – games that send players running for the loo to eject their last meal aren’t going to do well)

          2. That was the point I meant to be making… Poorly phrased, on my part.

            Game=something done for fun.

            And, while you can teach through gaming, I think that there’s a certain point past which it just doesn’t work, at least in the current state of the art. Maybe future fully-immersive games could be utilized in a training context, but I don’t see anyone paying for those suckers. A really accurate rendition of wartime service would probably include the potential for creating PTSD, and I can’t see someone buying something like that.

          3. Not usually, no; I know there are a few games that use actual base/ship/plane layouts, there’s at least one flight simulator game that is assigned in various courses to familiarize students with what the planes are capable of, and I think it was the Army that put out a version of their training simulator as a free or cheap game.

            There are a ton more that do Hollywood version of reality, but that SOCOM commercial with a special forces group wiping out an opposing team? Totally happens. And HALO tournaments are epic.

          4. Kate, the problem is that so many people lack sufficient contact with reality/age, to envision what _can_ go wrong. They *believe* that it “will always go right.” Sigh. *Some* of us have seen enough “go wrong” that we have no problem seeing it. We just hope that we can “McGyver” our way out of it.

      2. Mostly because the Army, in its infinite wisdom, never conceived-

        Covers a HUGE chunk of most anything military that goes wrong. No offense to the folks who do the work in the Army– I just thank goodness that I wasn’t the rebellious sort to join the Army just because my dad’s first response when I told my folks I was thinking military was a (rare) order to NOT go Army. (he was Army!)

        Another way that I’ve heard it phrased is that the Army views its people as equipment.

        (((FWIW, other services are really stupid in other ways, which I don’t think need to be detailed)))

        1. I was Army. I usually counsel Air Force for the kids i know considering the military. The Army, though less than the Marines, require someone with some testosterone. Unless you have a serious fascination with boats the navy is silly for someone from a landlocked state. And I changed the names of the services from the ones I usually use. Chair Force is insulting unless you were in 🙂

          1. Navy also has planes and nice travel options. 😀 Travel without having to walk there, or deal with Zoomie rules. (Navy has dumb rules, the AF drowns in them….)

  8. People who are honestly concerned about ethics in game-industry journalism should be doing their best to distance themselves from GamerGate. Seriously, that brand name is toxic now. It’s indelibly associated with misogynist attacks on women and rape and death threats. It doesn’t need to be the majority or even a significant fraction of GamerGaters responsible; those rotten apples have spoiled the whole bunch.

    I feel really sorry for the on-line computer game store GamersGate, with an “S” in the middle. They couldn’t have had any idea when they chose the brand name that a movement with such a similar name would spring up. (Though, in retrospect, given the meme and all, picking any name that ends with “-gate” is probably a bad idea in this day and age.) Reminds me of the diet pill “AYDS,” which had the misfortune to launch its ad campaign right as the AIDS epidemic was first making the news.

    1. So, the new SJW tactic is to make death threats under a false flag and then say no one who is associated with the group the death threats is credible. Goood tactic, instant victory without needing any pesky logic or fact or right.

        1. Chris is a real person, long time Barfly. I believe he has been led astray here but, I believe he is a sincere person trying to find truth in a very murky landscape of modern society. In other words I believe he is wrong but his heart is in the right place. Don’t think he is a troll or fake

        2. Image search brings up a lot of Scalzi and similar results under the same account that’s here, Robotech_Master. (It appears he went Real Name about 2010)

          So, not a troll, just don’t agree with his tactical sense.

          My husband is a middle aged gamer, has been gaming since the 80s, and though we’re not big at it these days– his response to the question of if he’d heard anything about Gamer Gate was to smirk, snort and say “Yeah. Idiots got caught and think lying will work on this crowd.”


          Seriously, trying to use general socially stigmatize against gamers? Next, shall you threaten us with a lack of access to the organic farmer’s market?

    2. “Wolf” has been screamed enough that I, for one, no longer care.

      Game-industry journalism is corrupt, and this has been proven beyond all doubt.
      And we’re going to keep right on hammering it.

      The SJWs are trying to force their way into a gatekeeper role.
      And we’re not going to let that happen.

      If someone calls me a misogynist for doing so, I will laugh in their face.

    3. It’s been made toxic because of all the fascist censors and wannabes who’ve blocked every outlet of conversation they could bully into submission too keep people from even discussing the issue, while screaming over and over again about how it’s all a bunch of misogynists.

      And sadly – some of those attacks and death threats are credibly shown to be self-inflicted, like so many other SJW “I was attacked” cases at campuses/etc. One in particular concerns an account that managed to post several posts a minute, obviously worded for brevity, over the course of several minutes, that had only been around for an hour or less before that, screens hotted from outside of the attacks twitter account mere seconds after it went up.

      That stinks of prewriting and copy and paste, and the timing of the screenshot, the VERY short life on the account, the very rapid “discovery” , and the fact that, while nominally on her computer, she wasn’t logged into her account smell to high heaven.

      Heaven forbid ladies get “death threats”. It’s not like guys do… oh, wait…..

      I’ll be concerned when said death threats rise to the level of swatting – spoofing a 911 call from their home number reporting an active shooter, complete with the arrival of hair-trigger swat team ready to blow someone away if they twitch wrong. Like they have for a number of, coincidentally (of course), conservative political commentators.

      So I get Ken Burnsides posting over at ESR’s that he’s seen some vile stuff in several lady devs mailboxes, but I and many others have also seen a community far more willing to bend over backward to take in women (she wants to play? COOL!), and every community has asshats.

      Keep in mind the liberal argument checklist. Call names, and disqualify.

      We certainly haven’t come in and told a bunch of people enjoying games they mustn’t have women in them (though ASL would be somewhat ahistorical if it included them….), or be enjoyed or written by them.

      We certainly HAVE been told that all the games we enjoyed, many of which are, despite years of trying to recruit women, not at all interesting to them, are sexist/should be more inclusive/etc., and that instead of getting new people to write more games like they want, people already writing games should stop writing games the gamers want na ddl something different, or shame on them.

      Sorry. Have a number of girls in our group. They love Suburbia/Catan/Etc. and several others. The one who plays Pathfinder with us also plays descent, Level 7, and some of the tactical horror/exploration games, but won’t do Space Hulk, Malifaux, Warhammer 40K or Warmachine, (another of the ladies will do Malifaux) and NONE of them will run through any of the old Avalon Hill war-games, Command and colors, or Loremaster/Memoir 44.

      So people like Anita who come in, who by their own admission stick to the shallow end of the game pool, who cherry pick their arguments (no, the game ALLOWS you to kill the woman, does not encourage it, and actually encourages you to kill lots more guys, but hey, someone can kill a woman, so its sexist), and who seem to gather round like pod people screeching at anyone who dares to want what guys are interested in ( guys saving the world and hot babes).

    4. Why is misogynist toxic? Especially why does it have any weight coming from those mouths?

      Why ought I consider these reports of rape and death threats credible? I have heard allegations that certain personalities involved have a history of fabricating fake ones against themselves.

    5. So, that she received death threats makes it okay for a game designer to sleep with a game reviewer to get a good review? Is that how this works?

    6. We hear that all the time, we point out that our own people are receiving worse from anti-Gamergate people, and we’re told that those are isolated cases and only the attacks on anti-Gamergate people, which in some cases we’ve identified the person in question (some of Sarkeesian’s threats came from a clickbait journo in Brazil doing it to drive a story), matter.

      It reminds me of the push to declare the Tea Party as racist. IIRC, that prize that Breitbart had for evidence has still gone unpaid.

    7. Actually, it’s only toxic in the glittery hoo haa circles. The general public, as far as I can tell, doesn’t give a shit.

      And “misogynist attacks” kind of falls flat when “this game is boring” is treated as a misogynist attack.

      I agree about the poor computer store. They’re probably fielding tons of pissed off emails with really shitty grammar right now (so bad it’s probably impossible to set up a rule to autodelete the things).

    8. Chris,

      Before you believe the claims of “misogynist attacks on women and rape and death threats”, make sure the threats aren’t being faked:

      At this point, I’m not inclined to believe any of the claims myself. I know some of them are going to turn out to be true — there are indeed rotten apples in every bunch — but I’ve heard this cry of “death threats! Harassment! WOLF!” before, and this is just the same song, umpteenth verse.

  9. Someone made a very boring game called “Depression” that literally could not be won, and it tanked. Because that person was female, she chose to cry “sexism!” rather than admit that maybe playing a depressed girl stuck in her apartment wasn’t all that marketable. The game was very well reviewed by someone who was sleeping with the designer, and she decided to cry “sexism!” again, rather than admit that a review from an SO is unprofessional. Everything else is in retaliation for her not getting what she wanted.

    1. It’s actually Depression Quest. It’s a “pay whatever you think it’s worth” game, and while researching the whole #GamerGate thing, I decided to judge the game for myself.

      First, I can see why people are quite sure Zoe Quinn had to perform sexual acts in order to get good reviews. It’s boring as hell. After five minutes of looking at options in a text based game (many options lined out, suggesting that people with depression don’t do those things even though I myself did some of them), I eagerly waited for the option that would let me slit my wrists and end the misery.

      No such luck.

      The “game” is, at best, a simulator of what it’s like to have depression. It’s not remotely entertaining. The developers know this. At the “end”, it straight out admits it’s not fun, but apparently it’s not supposed to be fun. Not all games have to be fun (sounds like something someone said about books at one time or another, doesn’t it?).

      The journalistic ethics aspect of #GamersGate are horrendous, and the gaming news sites aren’t helping themselves by refusing to address it. In another other genre of journalism, most of the reporters would be fired for what they’re doing. Absolutely pathetic.

      1. Why would anyone want to simulate what it’s like to have depression? I can tell you right now, no one is missing anything by not having depression. I play games for fun. I’d rather be a pirate or a ninja or a mage or a plumber. Sheesh.

              1. Y’all have been pirating my story idea pile, haven’t you? ‘Cuz I had three of the four covered! *grin*

        1. If it was being marketed as something to have family members play to try and understand what it’s like to have depression, a sort of mental health simulator, then maybe…maybe there would be something there. But nope. It’s supposedly a game.

          Like I said, it’s a “pay what you think it’s worth” type of thing. If I did that, then Zoe Quinn owes me somewhere in the mid nine figure range.

            1. Yeah, I’m not holding my breath. After all, she couldn’t even cough up cash to bribe reviewers and has to resort to her own “arts and crafts”. 😉

              1. And who knows what the reviewers caught from that. In addition to the bad case of glitter, of course.

                1. Having seen her, I’m not sure what all they caught. I just know that even if I were open for such bribery, I’d still be safe.

                  Those pesky “standards” kicking in again.

            1. And by making a spectacle of one’s misery, you can put the extra special into your special snowflakiness, and get all kinds of attention and notoriety, without having to nurse out those cutting scars.

              1. Well, of course. Scars aren’t photogenic you know, and *real* misery is just *so* last week.

  10. Complete tangent but I actually look forward to the day of the Gate-Gate scandal. Just imagine people trying to say that with a straight face. Perhaps it could involved Bill of Microsoft fame. Then it would the Gates-Gate scandal.

  11. “Otherwise the saying “the ends justify the means” would never have been said.”

    Interestingly, the original meaning of that phrase was almost the exact opposite of the one it has now: it meant that intentions (“ends”) give a moral dimension to (“justify”) actions which would otherwise be morally neutral. For example, running is morally neutral, running to help somebody who is being mugged is good, running away because you just mugged somebody is bad.

    I know this isn’t hugely relevant to the point at hand, I just like how the English language changes over time.

    1. Oh, yes. The way language shifts is a lot of fun. Like the way “Cool” can now mean “hot” depending on context, and many, many other such things.

  12. Maybe I am wrong, but the way I see it…

    Once upon a time game journalists *were* essentially gamers who liked to talk about games. They somehow figured out how to get paid for it. Capitalism rules!

    Then more people came and saw the money and said “I like games, too. Can I write about games?” And lo, gaming journalism was born.

    Gaming journalism became work. As we all know, work is a four-letter-word for not-fun. The fun vanished like spell ingredients and left behind money, which is best used to buy books (and games, if you’re woven that way).

    Some gaming journalists discovered the fact that they were “journalists.” So they decided to learn more about this “journalist” thing that made the money they so adored.

    And they were told to be a good little journalist, you had to Decry Capitalism! Care about Gender Issues! Equality! And lo, did the gaming journalists heed these words, and began to bedevil the very hands that fed them (money. So eating money would be pica. It’s not a perfect analogy).

    Thus did one day the gamers discover that the gaming journalists were *not* in fact gamers. Gamers were DEAD. Zombie gamers. The zombie gamers decided “If we’re to be zombies, this must be The Apocalypse. Also, brains?”

    As we stand now, the gamer-zombies have been gnoshing ‘pon the skulls of their foes, but have gained but little (if any) sustenance thereof. The antis, they have no brains. So sad. What good is a zombie apocalypse if there are no brains to chew?

    Pardon me whilst I remove this tongue from my cheek. No idea how it got there…

      1. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, and unless you happen to have an exorcist in your pocket… It’s mine now! *grin*

  13. It would be nice if casual games were more challenging and realistic, but then they would not be casual or cheap. But actual casual gamers (ie, Grandma as opposed to SJWs) constantly complain that there are so few difficult games that aren’t buttonmashers, or hard for Grandma to see on her screen. Frex, hidden object games where there is a lot of shadow that translates into total darkness on normal screens, or where objects are too small to see in any light. They want a game, not pixel hunting by trial and error. People want tough but fair puzzles. They want interesting things to do, not just grinding.

    Without ceasing to be family friendly, a lot of people would like farm and animal raising games to be a richer experience, too.

    1. Well, yes. There’s always going to be that tension. It’s the old triangle again – good, fast, or cheap: pick any two.

  14. I hadn’t heard about gamergate, I’m not a hard core gamer and I wasted far too much time trying to figure out what was going on. My conclusion. The gaming media decided to simultaneously commit seppuku. Why they did this, I don’t know. But to all go and insult their readership, on the same day, takes a stupidity on a level that is only rivaled by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. If The Japanese were risking there oil supplies by declaring war, Gamer media is risking their lifeblood, advertising revenue. There’s one number they should have been keeping their eye on. 12nm(nanometers). Why is that number important? Well Norm from tested’s new computer that he built is a pretty good clue.:
    He paid $1000 for the Haskell processor and then wrapped it in a $5000 dollar box. That processor is either 12nm technology or the next generation back 19nm technology being used to fund the 12nm technology infrastructure. That infrastructure is incredibly expensive. I interviewed with the company that makes 80% of the worlds IC stepper machines. The 12nm stepper? Think of a machine the size of a bus with a resultant tolerance measured in millionths. Think lenses made of salt sitting in water. Multiton granite blocks moving on air bearings to kill vibration. All of this stuff has to work in clean rooms where a dust mote is a major disaster. These machines are incredibly complicated and full of unbelievable technology with price tags to match. Intel made a 9 figure down payment to make sure that nothing was going to slow implantation up. This is what Intel has done in the past, made the big gambles. But this may be a gamble they shouldn’t have made and Intel is probably very revenue sensitive. Enter gamergate. There’s been all the noise. But the gamergaters started doing something else. They started sending emails to Intel and other gamer media advertisers saying that they will withdraw their business if they keep advertising on those site. What happened net can be summed up in the following quote.


    “This is when everything fell all the way down the shitter.

    Early this month, Intel announced that it would cease advertising on Gamasutra. It would later claim that it was unaware of Gamergate when it ma…de its decision, but that it would stand by the decision and not advertise on Gamasutra. A handful of trolls, vaguely waving their hands about a non-existent sex scandal, had successfully bullied a corporation with a $158 billion market capitalization into doing their bidding.”

    All the way down this scandal, you can see one side which has POWERFUL financial and political motives for smearing and discrediting destroying gamers. To make the whole thing go away. The thing is, by doubling down, they are only making things worse for themselves. I think that it’s better to get the story from a source that doesn’t have a financial interest in one side of the story:


    So they had much fun smearing their readership and celebrating the likes of Zoe, Brianna and Anita. Meanwhile the gamergaters pulled strategic end run and hit the game media supply lines. Now game media say whatever they want. But hey have to understand that their might consequence and things that they might not know that that they don’t know.

    Intel can’t afford to piss off people buying those $1000 processors and their chipsets. Which is why Intel is dropping advertising on the corrupt sites. Game companies can PR there way out of a bad game and probably think that they can do without the gamer community. In fact I think that they would be glad to lose the “nerds” millstone around their necks. Intel on the other hands NEEDS gamers to buy their new high end processors. Intel has invested HUGE(billions) sums of money on the next generation chips and needs high end customers to buy those $1000 dollar processors. You don’t buy that much processor without wrapping it in a $5000 to $10,000 machine. It used to be that the markets for the high end were engineering and gamers. The problem is that engineering computers are mostly purchased by corporate bean counters and from personal experience it’s getting harder to convince them that You NEED the power of the latest and greatest when Solidworks runs just fine on the machine you have, which is a laptop and not a high end desktop anyway. There aren’t very many aircraft and shipbuilders that get real bang out of the high end processors and average computers have been able to handle most of the load for some time. So Intel needs gamers to keep buying high need machines for the performance. Now these machines are not cheap and require significant investments for what is a just a hobby. So Intel is terribly vulnerable to a boycott and that’s why it’s a HUGE deal that they dropped advertising. They can’t afford to lose 100,000 or 200,000 chipset sales. They are in too deep, they’ve invested more than they probably can afford.

    The gamers have the power of the purse and that’s why the game press is working so hard to convince them that they don’t mean much before the boycotts REALLY hit. They are the desperate ones here. The Intel quote proves it. The problem is that doubling down on the name calling and victim is not going to make the problem go away, it’s only going to make things worse. Now that gamer media has had their Pearl Harbor they are going their Midways, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Iwo Jimas and if they don’t change their tune real fast, their Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Anita’s death threats, Zoe’s sexual antics, the character of gamers, none of that really matters. The only thing that matters is 12nm and the money behind it. Money that is too big to be risked because a small bunch of media idiots want to insult Intel, AMD, Nvidia and the others customers and make them unhappy.

    1. I wasn’t aware of that twist, but it makes sense. The hard-core gamers will pay incredible amounts to make their top-level games run faster and smoother – and they really do not like being told how evil they are for liking what they like.

      1. I think that I’m probably the only one who’s put all the pieces to together on this, but I had the interview I was talking about with the company around the corner from me that makes the stepper machines, Just finished reading “The Intel Trinity” about Noyce, Moore and Grove, and saw Norm’s video about building a computer. When I saw the paragraph about “it all went into the shitter” a little light went off.

    2. Just realized.. this is probably the first time a lot of these bullies have faced “‘nerds” who have at least equal power to them– you can’t expel them from common culture, and now you can’t force the people they buy from to support you, because they’ll just stop buying.

      The Geek Subculture has a REALLY long memory about things like falsifying reviews/tests.

      1. I think that this is the first time the SJWs have had to face people who are consumers rather than producers. This is the first time the other side has had leverage and been able to make that leverage visible. Poor book sales can be blamed on a lot of things and some of the excuses I’ve heard from editors from the traditional publishers over the years have been masterpieces of rationalization. But here, the advertisers are telling the SJWs why the ads are being pulled. The white flags are already starting to go up.

        1. Truthfully, I hope surrender is not accepted, but I’m feeling vindictive. Actions should have consequences, especially dishonest and dishonorable ones.

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