Full Tilt SJW Crazytown (or: Fuck My Entire Life)

Jesus Christ do I hate having to make this blog post. I hate politics and I have tried my entire life to avoid the discussion of or involvement in politics. But this turned out to be impossible. Politics in life. On top of that, this is post is a heaping helping of nothing but capital D Drama. Something else I have striven to avoid at every turn. Something else.

0. Foreward. Almost no one reads this blog, and I know that no one reads this blog. If my regular readership were to be counted in the 10s, I would consider myself lucky. Due to the events that precipitated this blog-post, that readership is even more unlikely to go up than it was before. A concentrated effort on my part will be necessary to spread and signal-boost this post so that everyone even remotely interested in the online tabletop roleplaying community has a chance of seeing it. Even thinking about this endeavor makes me feel incredibly tired.

I. #GamerGate. Maybe you’ve heard of it. If you haven’t heard of it: this is not an adequate introduction or summary, and if you’re at all interested in the changing shape of the internet, you should do some research, and be omnivorous in that research, sampling all sides.

#GamerGate, a little over a year old now, is an online hashtag movement with an unbelievably bad reputation. No, strike that, it’s such an understatement that it’s inadequate to the point. By late 2015, #GamerGate’s PR situation and public-facing reputation is the worst you will ever encounter outside of the public launch of the “Baby Rapists and Puppy Murderers Club”. The reason for this is primarily that the mainstream media has flawlessly and ceaselessly controlled, curated, and simplified the very simple and unchallenged narrative that describes #GamerGate to the general public. If you are not in #GamerGate, and you’ve heard of it, chances are you perceive #GamerGate as a misogynistic hate-group that targets women. In the interest of fairness, what doesn’t help this terrible, terrible, terrible public image is that early in #GamerGate’s history, some asshole misogynists did use the hashtag to harass women online, thereafter poisoning the movement’s image forever. Since then, even if it’s members’ behavior has improved, its image has only gotten worth via the snowball effect.

#GamerGate portrays itself as a “grassroots consumer advocacy movement advocating for better ethics in game journalism” and is nearly universally reviled as a “misogynistic hate group”. The truth in my opinion lies somewhere in-between. I call bullshit on the idea that #GamerGate came into existence purely out of some noble drive to improve ethics in game journalism. Otherwise it would have been born in 2007 when Jeff Gerstmann was fired for giving forgettable turd Kane and Lynch: Dead Men a less-than-glowing review, rather than being born in 2014 out of the Quinnspiracy. Since I began following the movement in late 2014, after the shitstorm’s apex, I have seen basically no evidence of misogynist behavior. #GamerGate’s leading lights certainly hate the shit out of CERTAIN WOMEN, but not because they are women, rather because those particular women are assholes spreading genuinely toxic ideologies. I myself am certainly not a fan of these particular women: I have said unkind things about them on multiple occasions. That is because I think they are terrible people and that they ideology they represent is a cancer. Not because they happen to represent as women.

Instead, I would describe #GamerGate as a reactionary force against the equally reactionary trend in the gaming community of shrill, perpetually offended social justice warriors that openly favor censorship, enforced political correctness, and overt politicization of videogames.

This is a chart I whipped up of what kind of reaction you can expect online should you make a positive or neutral mention of #GamerGate now in late 2015 based on your political environs in the digital sphere. I make no guarantees to its accuracy, so you’ll have to rely on your own judgement.

#gg chart

II. RPG.net. Active since 1996, RPGnet is one of the oldest and largest online websites for discussing, reviewing, dissecting, and enthusing over tabletop roleplaying games, not just the heavy hitters like D&D, Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness and Shadowrun but with a special focus on fringe indie games much like the ones that well…that we make. Referred to as “the big purple”, with over half a million threads teaming with 16 MILLION posts by 115,828 members nearly 10,000 of which are presently considered active, RPGnet is 200 times larger than its next largest competitor among general Tabletop RPG discussion sites. Obviously, RPGnet is an invaluable place to have access to if you are a person who likes to engage in open and vibrant discussion of tabletop RPGs (I am just such a person) and especially if you are one of the intrepid souls involved in the creation of indie RPGs.

As of this post, I have been permanently banned from RPGNet. Before I discuss this revolting development in any more detail, let me write my second paragraph about RPGNet.

I joined RPGnet extremely late in its history, maybe…three to four years ago? I didn’t begin posting with any degree of regularity until the past year. I noticed almost immediately that RPGnet was the most heavy-handed, heavily overmoderated forum I had ever seen on the entire internet, to a comically over-the-top degree. Without getting into the inherent bias of this over-moderation, the over-moderation itself was a serious problem. Disagreements basically were not allowed. As soon as anything got the slightest bit heated, moderators swooped in heavy-handedly handing out “infractions” and warnings. Two new concepts were really hard to get my head around. One was that there were “[+]” or “[-]” threads where only negative or positive perspectives on a topic were allowed. This was a huge red-flag to me, because to me, echo-chambers are something to be avoided, and something I’ve never seen consciously purpose-built before. Who would want to create meaningless threads where posters were only allowed to agree with each other and preach to the choir. The other incredibly toxic policy I saw was something called a “thread ban”. If you said something in a topic that the moderators arbitrarily decided was “out of line”, you would be banned from posting to that topic. Other posters still in the topic could rebut you, insult you, mock you, and misunderstand what you had said, but you were not allowed to respond or to clarify what you had said. The other thing I noticed when looking through older threads that I thought was kind of odd was that at least half of the usernames I saw there had the word banned under them.

RPGnet is full-tilt SJW crazytown. The moderators are the actual, literal Social Justice Gestapo. If you fail to think and say the “right” opinion, if you fail to toe the party line, they will break down your proverbial door and drag you off to be disappeared. It is the single most insane fucking thing I have ever seen in my entire lifetime of bouncing around the internet. SJW if you didn’t know stands for “Social Justice Warrior”. There is a subset of people on the internet (let’s call them “reactionary jerks”) who use “SJW” as an epithet to describe anyone who doesn’t believe, for instance, that racism in America is over. As a liberal democrat, I am not part of that subset. When I say SJW I am talking about perpetually-offended reactionary bigots who parrot insane things they read on tumblr like “there is no such thing as racism/sexism against white men”, about people whose psychotic zeal for “social justice” supercedes for them all of the basic principles of liberalism such as freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, freedom of dissent, freedom of thought. These people are dangerous. Their ideas are toxic. They are crazy extremists. They are in total, unsupervised dictatorial control of the largest open tabletop RPG discussion site on the planet.

This brings me to my ban and Thank God, near to the end of this incredibly arduous and draining and upsetting post. The condescending and hostile explanation of my “permanent” ban mentioned a few infractions I’d received in the past. Most of these “infractions” amounted to me discussing why I personally didn’t like certain roleplaying games, or why I personally did not think that they were very good. Any reasonable person would expect that on a site for discussing roleplaying games, this would BE ONE OF THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF DISCUSSION, let alone something that would be moderated. The fact that I did not like certain games or did not think they were good was somehow construed as “simmering hostility and contempt for fellow RPGnet posters”. This of course could not be further than the truth. I think the Twilight franchise for instance is nothing more than terrible, worthless dreck. That doesn’t mean that I hold “simmering hostility and contempt” for its millions of fans. I happen to know that the–again, extremely heavy handed and in-depth–moderation system allows for, besides warnings and threadbans, three-day bans, one-week bans, one month bands, three month bands, and so on and so forth. I had never received any of these disciplinary measures and immediately went from zero to a PERMANENT BAN. Why did that happen? Well, guys, I’ve kind of pulled an H.P. Lovecraft and saved the punchline of my entire story to put in one sentence, the entire fucking point, at the end, in Italics.

The other two things mentioned in my permanent ban infraction were that I had “advocated for gamergate via private message”  and that “you don’t feel you’re a good fit here. We concur, and as such, you are permanently banned”. In other words, the key reasons for my ban were that a) when someone asked me via PM, I told them I did not think GamerGate was a hate group and b) that they basically just didn’t like me, nana nana poo poo. Leaving aside the ridiculous childishness of the latter, let’s reflect for a second on how disturbing the former is. In the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, thoughtcrime is the criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question the ruling party. In the book, the government attempts to control not only the speech and actions, but also the thoughts of its subjects. To entertain unacceptable thoughts is known as crimethink in Newspeak, the ideologically purified dialect of the party. In the end, I was banned because the moderators went into my private messages, or I was ratted out to the Gestapo by the person I was privately conversing with (I’m not sure which is more disturbing), and punishe dme for the thoughtcrime of secretly holding the wrong opinion.

I did not harass or abuse anyone. I did not publicly advocate for #GamerGate in any forum or topic. I privately responded–when I was ASKED–that I believed #GG was not a hate group. For that I was permanently banned.

The Orwellian idea of crimethink is alive and well on RPG.net.

– Devon

Postscript

Strawman Says: Devon, if you hate and are sickened the insanely draconian, Orwellian moderation policy at RPG.net and their unbelievable hypocrisy, why do you even want to be a part of that hellish toxic shithole?

Answer: I’m glad you asked, Man of Straw. The problem is, those free-speech hating Social Justice Gestapo reign with an iron fist over the largest open tabletop roleplaying discussion forum on the planet, two hundred times larger than its next-largest competitor. As someone who loves to talk and think about roleplaying games, for my sanity, I need to have access to that vibrant and lively discussion. As someone whose entire livelihood comes from publishing indie roleplaying games, I need to have access to that marketplace. I am a person who has done nothing wrong, nothing that could be construed as harassment or abuse. I am literally and actually entitled (ooh, there’s that dirty word!) to access to this forum for discussion. For these reasons, I am not going to take getting permabanned by SSJWs for crimethink lying down.

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6 comments

  1. I’m a roleplayer myself and though my discussions mainly happened on /tg/ at some point I too started feeling that the community was becoming too “PC” (yes, on 4chan.) and having lots of people arguing that something was sexist in a fantasy scenario. (not that many times, but still too much for me to think it was normal). In some of the boards (/co/) it even reached the point where the moderation seemed obsessed with transforming the place into tumblr-lite. It’s quite ridiculous when a place where you’re supposed to have “those conversations” because they don’t allow you to have them anywhere else, starts censoring and neutering everything.

    It’s certainly incredible, that games that are supposed to be about imagination, about would bes, about scapism and about fun…
    It’s certainly incredible that there is so much people trying to regulate them.

    Life is short, and spending it being forced to act, say and even thinking certain stuff is one of the most cruel ways to waste it. Spending your life being thought and not thinking for yourself.

    Like it or not, you have a stake on this now, you understand more than ever that there is a real problem… and you are aware that you didn’t do anything wrong.

    Good luck.
    And remember, you’re not alone.

  2. Pro here. Not a lot I can do beyond start to follow you and spread word about this, but if you want to try and set up some kind of protest on the forums to get your account back, I’ll have your back.

  3. Hey, I just want to say how much I appreciate all the support I’m getting both here and on reddit. I’m still pretty bent out of shape about this (I’ve got less-than-perfectly medicated depression and anxiety issues, so I take internet drama harder than most) but seeing sympathetic responses from reasonable, sane people and knowing that such people exist really helps.

    I feel like I could explain more why I’m actually upset at getting kicked out of a shithole that is ruled with an iron fist by shrill, censorious, militantly radicalized aGGro SJWs, rather than just responding with “hey fuck that place, I’d rather post somewhere cool anyway”.

    It’s kind of a three part reason. One is simple enough: when I say that RPG.net has two hundred times the scope and reach and activity level of the next general RPG discussion site, that’s the actual math, not any kind of exaggeration. Two, I think that most of RPG.net’s actual posters (and probably even some of the mods) are not actually feminazi gestapo that would lynch you for not liking storygames. I think that most of the people that post on RPG.net and probably even some of the mods are just normal people who like to talk about RPGs. Most of them are probably a bit wiser than me about keeping their heads down when “politics” comes up: they go along to get along to avoid being banned from the biggest RPG discussion site on the net. The toxic, radical element may control a lot of the mod/admin power base, but it doesn’t represent the entire userbase.

    Third, and finally, I have had trouble finding any pro-#GG communities that are heavily into tabletop roleplaying games, especially the indie ones I make as a small press publisher. The overlap between people into indie TTRPGs and hardcore SJW hipsters seems to be close to 90%, however. Basically, just avoiding everyone and everywhere with SJW leanings and similar red flags–as appealing as the idea may seem–is just not a viable business strategy when for whatever reason so much of the market place for indie TTRPGs is really, really left leaning. (Actually, I am a liberal myself, I’m just not an authoritarian progressive. This year has been a lot about me understanding the difference.)

  4. Hi, I’m a participant in #gamergate, as you can see here: https://twitter.com/Haunted_Backlog

    I’m also a tabletop RPG enthusiast, and I’m especially (but definitely not exclusively) interested in system-light games.

    I have a differently-named account on rpg.net which I manage very carefully. I’ve always known there are thoughtcrimes over there, and my account has survived because I diligently read all the infractions and avoid revealing certain positions or even using certain common turns of phrase that have become verboten due to perceived association with thoughtcrime. (I also try to focus on ideas instead of people, but I don’t think that’s an important factor in my account’s longevity.)

    I’ve never used their report system except for spam, but once someone reported another account on my behalf and they were threadbanned from a discussion we were having — very annoying, particularly as nothing they said offended me. You may find it darkly amusing that the threadbanned newcomer almost immediately adopted SJW social signals after this brush with authority.

    Although I have no idea if I have been reported, or for what, or by whom — being an accuser is very attractive in this system; the only possible negative outcomes are conditional on the mods disliking you, since only they can see it — I’ve never been “moderated,” which leads me to the mixed-feelings conclusion that in dystopian conditions I am one of the many people who just keeps their head down and falls into line. Even in my PMs.

    rpg.net is a really fucking difficult place to have a productive conversation. I’m always conscious of the extra burden of “walking on eggshells” (a phrase you better never utter on rpg.net, of course). Many times I have stepped back and taken a break, although I have never announced I was doing so because it would create a paper trail of my skepticism about the value and experience of participating, which is thoughtcrime. When I was a more active poster, most of the posts I started, I never posted — always remembering that infractions are tied to posts, so if you post nothing, the moderators have to go out of their usual patterns to get you.

    Of course, sometimes they DO. There are a few charges that the userbase at large has no way of testing for accuracy: the accusation of being a sock (often dressed up in “mod humor”), and things about private communications (PMs, reports, emails, etc.). I was disgusted when they banned you, but not surprised. There but for the whim of mod go I.

    Unfortunately, after losing friends over #gamergate, I don’t have an RPG group and haven’t done much actual play in a long time. If it weren’t for that, I’d declare myself interested in your work, but as things stand, who would I play it with? It could be that while this period of moral panic lasts, RPGs will wither awhile, like comics in the heyday of the CCA.

    How does this storm break? Maybe with a fledgling internet RPG community built around the declaration that they will not be susceptible to SJW tactics? Right now — as opposed to back when I cautiously-but-perhaps-not-cautiously-enough made my rpg.net account — I don’t want to join anything that hasn’t rejected social justice, because I know how it turns on people. I’d be at permanent risk of ostracism, and why get invested in a community when you can so easily lose that whole investment?

    I’d like to close this by sharing with you some of the most insightful writing I’ve found on this topic.

    https://www.notehub.org/2014/12/30/to-begin-with-a-note-on-language-im-goin
    https://www.notehub.org/2014/12/30/the-above-submission-doesnt-say-anything

    Please contact me if you think there’s anything I can do for you.

  5. My problem with gamergate is not that I think it’s about frothing-at-the-mouth hatred and harassment against women, it’s that the movement itself and it’s stated goals are just so dreadfully and utterly unimportant. Ironically, the small subset of angry 14 year olds tweeting death and rape threats is the only thing that keeps gamergate from being completely asinine.

    1. >Dreadfully and utterly unimportant.
      Not really. It’s just that you feel that you’re not affected by cronysm and collusion. You’re.

      It ruins the market as indie developers are not properly covered, journalists beneffiting their friends over the rest.

      It ruins the market as certain opinions that don’t match the population are sold to devs as truth.

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