Gaming

Silence is deafening

This is not what I wanted to have as my first post over here. But the matter in question is way more important than what I had in mind (it’s still coming, don’t worry. Just, not now). In case you haven’t heard or read from anywhere else, Nintendo of America just fired one of their Treehouse employees, Alison Rapp, due to Gamegaters, basically. No, wait, let’s put it better. They have been forced by Gamegaters in mulitple ways to part with Alison. And this is, as says the title of this post, disgusting. But why this happened? Let’s go back a bit, a few weeks ago, when this just intensified, because gaters’ harassment towards her was present since last year, but March was when it escalated. And no, this time “It escalated quickly” doesn’t bring laughs, sadly.

Basically, she’s been selected as a target because she made comments against GGs, and in March they decided to convince the president of an anti-sex trafficking corporation, the Wayne Foundation, to stand with them about some papers she wrote on college.

Papers that, going by GameGaters, were about a thesis that was pro-pedophilia (a very, very delicate topic). If you want to read the original thesis, you can check it here

It’s pages 32-49. In case you want a decent summary, here’s one from NeoGAF’s user KojiKnight

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=197336218&postcount=1008

So I’m reading this thesis… and I’m not seeing what a lot of other people are seeing… I think partly because I’m reading the whole thing instead of just skimming and picking one or two lines that, outside of context, appear damming.

For instance, I saw someone quote this line…

“It is not a dangerous condition in and of itself” in reference to pedophilia… but intentionally ignore the fact that she’s using a text book definition for the term, which means it’s only about the thought of the individual, not the action.

I can think about going into work and shooting one of my coworkers because they annoy me, but that doesn’t make me necessarily dangerous by merely thinking it. Now, if this is a consistent issue, the correct response from an outside observer should be to push me to get psychological help.

This is part of the problem that a lot of people with mental illnesses in the west (depression, PTSD, social anxieties) have, but is especially bad for those with ‘taboo’ thoughts that need help (pedophilia, necrophilia, cannibalism, etc). Simply having the thoughts doesn’t mean they are harmful if they haven’t acted on them, BUT it can be exceptionally difficult for these people to seek or obtain help, which is more likely to push them into actually acting which is where the real problem is.

The issue at the heart of the thesis is that by having such strict laws on mere possession of CP (often times not even of real children, but manga or computer generated as well) as most western countries currently do, you’re not actually helping to eliminate the problem. It’s just driving the people who consume the material without producing it underground, keeping them from seeking help that could prevent them from becoming producers in the future. While there is no hard evidence in the thesis (as far as I’ve read) to support this claim (partially due to the nature of the subject, it’s incredibly hard to do reliable studies on), it is using correlation to the fact there are far more reported instances of child sexual abuse in western countries than Japan as a reason why such laws would be at best ineffectual, or at worse a contributing factor.

Now, whether this is all sound, or if you agree with it or not is going to, of course, depend on individual viewpoints… but nothing about the thesis itself is pro-child pornography. No where in it does it advocate the production or dissemination or abuse of children. It’s only a critical look at Western anti-possession laws and how cultural imperialism is being used to push similar laws in Japan.

That said, for anyone inclined to paint her as a pedophile, or pro-CP… there are a LOT of easy to grab lines that can be taken out of context to paint her as such.. which is what is happening here.

Going to finish up the last few pages and see if I suddenly stumble upon the hidden pro-child porn angle.

So, yeah. It’s not pro-pedophilia, it’s about how current Western legislation could be just too focused on just the possession of child pornography instead of how to treat with people that are fascinated by them. Again, a very delicate case. But, honestly, this is not the real matter that brought me to this post. Nope. It’s two other elements of this story.

The first one, obviously enough, is the harassment that Alison had to suffer as a gaters target. Especially considering how she was targeted for Fire Emblem Fates’ localisation despite NOT working on it directly (she worked in marketing). And what’s really ironic is that, after all, her views about censorship are much nearer to what gaters’ themselves think of it. They harassed one of the people in Nintendo who were against censorship. Gg, gentlemen. Nice work, as always.

Yeeeeaah, this is not the first time it happens. Harassment towards females in gaming industry has been a thing for a long time, starting with Jade Raymon’s harassment back in 2007. Then, the whole Gamergate movement made things escalate even more (again that verb): more harassment, more stalking, more doxxing, more and more females going out of the industry. And Alison is the last one. For now. We all know it won’t stop here. Actually, and this is hard to say, Nintendo kind of legitimised them by firing Alison. But it’s also worse to read today’s Alison’s posts on Twitter, like this one

Or many others where it was perfectly clear how the situation reached such a point that not only she was harassed, but other workers at Nintendo and her friends were targets. It even seems it reached a point where other Treehouse members thought about locking or fully delete their accounts. Because they were scared. And this is probably why Nintendo (who was perfectly aware of her 10-years-old paper and okay with it, after all) had to fire her: it wasn’t just her in danger now, as absurd as it sounds. And this is why I can’t fully be angry towards Nintendo about them firing Alison. It got way too fucked up. And we all know how Twitter, as a social network, is both a great resource for humanity and a great weapon for the worst side of humanity…pieces of her thesis with no context posted freely in the wild? I can’t see what can possibly go wrong about it! Especially when the anti-sex trafficking corporation’s president that is supporting gaters’ case seems to be, well, on their same line of thought. Yeah, quite a shitty and disgusting connection.

But the other element is probably worse. Yeah, this is absolutely horrible and all, but…it’s not like gaming media or, well, the same companies that produce videogames has spoken up that much about the whole phenomenon, did they? Patrick Klepek thinks the same: just read how he ends his own take on the matter (frankly, it’s probably 1,000 times better than this improvised heart-to-hand movement)

http://kotaku.com/nintendo-employee-terminated-after-smear-campaign-over-1768100368

We don’t know the full details of what happened, or what the conversations were like between Rapp and Nintendo. It’s possible that Nintendo truly was uncomfortable with Rapp’s college essay, despite it being publicly linked on her Linkedin page, and decided to part ways with her.

But we do know this: Nintendo was publicly silent while one of their employees was harassed and smeared online over something she did not do. That’s a fact. It’s not in dispute. Nintendo watched Rapp become the center of a witch hunt and did nothing publicly to defend her. Despite my requests for comment, the company said nothing. As it turns out, maybe that silence said everything.

The response to Rapp’s firing has been swift, vocal, and mostly negative, even in places normally hostile to outspoken individuals like Rapp. “Nintendo is in the wrong for firing her,” said a poster on the GG-friendly subreddit Kotaku in Action. “Good job guys you fired a person who literally did nothing wrong,” said another on 4chan. (Other posters in both threads celebrated Rapp’s firing, of course.) The Nintendo of America Twitter feed is being deluged with people protesting and condemning the decision, and one indie developer even says he cancelled a game planned for Wii U.

Whether any of this prompts Nintendo to respond is unclear. For now, the silence continues.

Or let’s take his recent tweets about the article

Because yes: silence solves everything! If you don’t talk about something, it means it doesn’t exist anymore! Gaters? Pfft, a thing of the past! Doxxing towards innocent? No more! Targeting women ruining their lives? We’re evolving so quickly as a society, soon we’ll conquer different dimensions! Hurray for us! Hurray!

No.

Silence can’t continue.

And I know that I probably shouldn’t have called the harassers Gamergaters, it was just to get the point across more easily, and I’m sorry for that. It’s more than that. It’s a culture war, as Klepek states, where social media allow the scam of society to ruin everyone’s lives. And for what reason, in this case? Because they DARE to represent the attempt (I’m eager to define it as “poor”, sigh) to widen the gaming industry reach, why is inclusivity a thing, they don’t DESERVE (pay attention to the verb I used: DESERVE) to stay here. And what’s worse is that Alison’s case hasn’t been covered that much. Actually, by saying that it was almost not covered at all by gaming journalism is better. No, the problem doesn’t go away if you ignore it that much that you’ll forget about it. And this goes even harder for the gaming companies themselves, who more or less ignored the whole movement against females in the industry. Nintendo included, after all.

This is a problem that goes well beyond our favouritism for a company or another, this is something that is, well, unacceptable. The silence can’t go on: the industry needs to address as much as possible this problem, to side with all the good workers that have been harassed or worse. Heck, if only it were about female workers…it’s about females as a whole

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/13/gtfo-sexism-in-gaming_n_6804106.html

This brand new episode can’t be forgotten. The harassment has to be recognised, publicly condemned by everyone and stopped. As civil as possible, though. Because, otherwise, it’d mean giving to Gaters, neo-nazists (yeah, there’s much more than meets the eyes. And no, so far nothing has changed) as all other groups the win by playing at their game, with their rules. We cannot stand against inclusivity. We have to embrace it, fully. For a better industry. As gamers and, above all, as persons.

If you want to contact Nintendo about what happened, show them why you’re disappointed / disguted with their course of action, here (thanks to Gaffer’s LiK)

http://en-americas-support.nintendo.com/app/ask/ht/576/cp/599

If you want to show your support for Alison, here’s her Twitter account

https://twitter.com/alisonrapp

Break the silence, which is only giving harassers strength to operate in the dark.

Probably, this won’t do anything at all. But if even just one single person is motivated to do even the smallest effort to break the silence, I’ll be happy.

If this post is not as articulated as it could be, I’m deeply sorry. But I just had to write something on it. Even if it’s 1:35 GMT over here in Italy, and I’m obviously tired. But I haven’t really cared up until now.

See you soon, world

P.S. #westandforfemalesingamingindustry

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