video game journalism

Intellectual bankruptcy, gaming, and schmuckbait

Sometimes, I wonder if it’s possible to create a schmuckbait-to-thinkpiece conversion ratio. It plays to both sides of the cultural political debate: Just find one thing that triggers a person, and they write some longform piece that is all about “THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYTHING.” Sometimes, they even throw in some intellectual criticism as though to settle the score in a smart way. It’s fun, fascinating, and you can probably make a drinking game or bingo or both about whatever cultural tragedy du jour is a meme. And really, that’s what memes that trigger emotions are: Schmuckbait. We’ll be getting to our colleague and latest victim to this in a moment.

Given that I’ve recently acquired a Nintendo DS and have been playing the Zelda games on there with some enthusiasm after having been consoleless since 2007, you might think I have some opinions on #GamerGate/#GameOverGate/Zoe Quinn. I actually don’t, really. Been too busy living off Twitter lately (though a rebirth is in order). But more importantly, I’ve come to understand that once you bring gamers into an argument, you might as well take your ball and go play elsewhere before they start calling you a faggot who likes to be fudgepacked by niggers in the ass (redundancy intentional) or a camwhore slut who deserves to be raped and murdered (and lord help you if you’re non-white or TG). Why? Simple:

A group gathering on the Internet + anonymity and/or lack of consequences = High chance someone’s going to act like a fuckwad.

We who have had enough experience in the gaming business refer to this as the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, or the GIFT. Supposedly devised either by Jerry Holkins or Mike Krahuliak (I think the former, since the latter just seems to have intellectual Tourette’s), it explains why most Internet discourse ends up turning into a shitstorm, more than anything else.  Gamers just happen to be specialists at this because, well, hormones + competitiveness + overstimulation = mental vomit. While this matter has long been limited to the forums and other dank locations of the Internet, Twitter and Tumblr and other social outlets have caused the GIFT to be amplified by 1800 decibels. It’s enough to punch out a black hole the size of the Solar System. Why? Our inane propensity to share things as though they were shiny. Even if it’s our own dick pix.

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Intellectual bullying and the postmodern discourse of GamerGate

The discrediting of voices in intellectual discourse is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, when a person holds a position that is indefensible and plain wrong, they should either accept that they are wrong or have their soapbox revoked. Most of the time it isn’t this clear. Different opinions are held by disagreeing parties, and silencing dissenting voices requires tactics that are a little more underhanded. The tactic of dishonestly re-framing a viewpoint into something outrageous in an attempt to discredit those who hold the viewpoint is known as intellectual bullying.

Black_box bulling

This is a powerful tool. With enough voices dishonestly insisting that someone holds all those beliefs that everybody hates, the person in question will either be shamed into silence or suffer from character assassination. The black box takes an honest input and produces a dishonest output. But what goes on inside the black box? I am going to try to explain that, both in general and specifically for the GamerGate controversy.

A lot of of the tactics of the anti-GamerGate intellectual bullying campaign were famously codified in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.  The ideological guerrilla warfare tactics encouraged in that book and others like it include character assassination, isolation, and ridicule. Ad hominem attacks are implicitly encouraged, because people are easier to hate than abstract ideas. Strawman arguments are particularly effective – rather than addressing actual arguments, so one should ignore the points of those who disagree with you and respond to something else.

I initially scoffed at the prospect of Cultural Marxism being real, because in common parlance among conservative pundits, it’s used as a stronger pejorative in place of “political correctness.” Despite what the noise around the provocative term might sound like, Cultural Marxism is not Alex Jones-style paranoia. From the beginning, Marxism rejected positivism – positivism meaning the belief that mathematical logic and scientific experimentation are the sole authoritative sources of knowledge. This should be interesting for the reader who has heard of Marxism being scientific socialism. To Marx and Engels, scientific was merely a nice sounding word that meant that their socialism had a philosophical methodology behind it. This is true: Marxism does have a methodology, it’s just a non-rationalistic methodology.

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