Rexperienced Points

By Shamus
on Nov 19, 2017
Filed under:
Column

I had a pretty good run over at the Escapist. I was a contributor there from 2008 to 2016. I made comics, wrote a weekly column that ran for 265 installments, and posted a few Let’s Plays which I’ve since reposted here on the blog.

Sadly, The Escapist is sorta-dead. Most of the staff is gone and aside from Zero Punctuation there’s not really much new content. While nobody has said so explicitly, I get the impression that the current owners will keep the site up as long as it brings in enough traffic to pay for its own overhead, and there’s no telling how long that will be. It could be years, or the whole place might just vanish the next time the domain registration comes due.

These days I have two problems:

  1. I don’t always have a good topic for my weekly Tuesday column.
  2. I’ve got some good topics in the archives over there, and now that the site is in zombie mode that content doesn’t get much (any) traffic.

So what I’m planning on doing is cribbing from those old columns for new content. I don’t plan on doing a copy / paste job. Most columns were linked to the news of the day, which makes them kind of stale by now. Also, I don’t want to match the content at The Escapist word-for-word, since Google tends to recognize this as bot behavior and lower your page rank accordingly.

But I do plan on taking those old topics, reusing their best points, and rewriting them to make new content. I’m pointing this out now so you don’t worry I’ve gone senile when I start revisiting old ideas.

I already have a couple of old columns picked out that I plan to refurbish over the next few weeks. If you’ve got any favorites you’d like to see me revisit – or just a request that I cover a specific topic – let me know in the comments below.

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From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There was much rejoicing.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Better even than the first time around, when there was only joicing.

      • methermeneus says:

        Idunno, I thought Joyce’s death was a big turning point where Buffy the Vampire Slayer started going downhill.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Some of the best stories and episodes came after that one,so I strongly disagree.

          • methermeneus says:

            I actually sorta do, too, but it was the best response I could think of re: joicing.

          • ehlijen says:

            It’s where the central conceit of the show lost effectiveness though. Buffy as a confused teen with a calling worked. Buffy as a young adult struggling to find herself worked. Buffy as the put-upon single mum didn’t work because, by the premise, she shouldn’t have had any financial troubles. She literally had an army of foreign rich dudes at her back with no purpose other than to support her. Yes, they were arses, but she’d already browbeat them into paying Giles. Why not her, too?

            The death of Joyce wasn’t a problem, it was excellently done as far as storytelling goes. But all the following nonsense about money, fast food jobs and needing to be an adult who can’t ask for handouts was contrived and ruined the already fraying setting. More good stories followed, but the foundation was compromised.

        • TheCheerfulPessimist says:

          That’s a bit like saying that the part where Luke gets his hand cut off was where The Empire Strikes Back started going downhill. Losing Joyce was both an incredibly powerful and emotional process for the characters and a very big story beat (almost a sort of acceleration) leading inexorably towards the end of the season, which was planned (in some drafts) to be the end of the series.

  2. CliveHowlitzer says:

    I’ll always have to thank The Escapist for showing me that you exist.

    • Grey Rook says:

      Yeah, me too. Damn shame what’s happening to it, but I guess you can’t change corporate culture.

      • Mattias42 says:

        Going to be interesting to hear the behind the scenes stuff, actually.

        I mean, they were on top of the freaking world there for a few years. Zero Punctuation, Shamus, Jim Sterling, Manly Guys Doing Manly Things…

        And that’s just off the top of my head.

        Say what else you want about The Escapist, but they got a ton of high quality content creators started, and I’m morbidly curious about just how that all got pissed away.

        • krellen says:

          GamerGate.

          I’m not joking, either. The Escapist took a pro-gamer stance during GamerGate and lost a lot of their audience, talent, and staff over it. It’s been bleeding out since 2014.

          The ExtraCredits debacle a few years earlier didn’t help, either.

          • Shamus says:

            The following information is mostly second-hand, but here is what I heard:

            They INTENDED to do a “balanced” thing. The other big sites were either silent or openly anti-GG right out of the gate, so the Esc thought they’d give GG supporters a chance to speak for themselves rather than having their positions filtered through their critics. I thought it was an admirable idea.

            So they ran a block of short op-eds from pro-GG or just GG-curious folks from the industry – mostly developers. The intent was to follow this up with another block of anti-GG stuff. At the same time, there was a LOT of heat as the flamewar spilled over to the owners. I don’t know what form this “spilling over” took, who was contacted, who contacted them, what side they were on, or what they said, but it spooked the owners at Themis media. So they immediately handed down the decree: No more talking about GG. Period.

            The editorial staff pleaded with them. “We just ran pro-GG stuff. We have a block of anti-GG ready (or in development) as a counterpoint. Please let us run that stuff and then we can close down the topic.” The owners refused, and that was the end of it.

            The only reason I was privy to any of this is that the staff also reached out to the “talent”. Guys like Yahtzee, MovieBob, Robert Rath, and myself. We all wrote little op-eds. Those were all eventually canceled as well, but I got rumors of the behind-the-scenes drama during the back-and-forth email thread. This was actually a multi-stage process. We all weighed in. Some of us took a strong stance, some of us encouraged empathy, and so on. Then their publication was delayed while some debate went on inside the company. Then we were asked to chop our opinions down to short little 500 word bits. Then after a few more days they were canned completely.

            Again, my account above involved a lot of reading between the lines. I’m sure I’m getting some details wrong or over-simplifying some things.

            All of this is to say: The editorial staff did not INTEND to take a pro-GG stance, and the fact that it seemed like they did made some of them VERY unhappy.

            If you’re curious, my position was pretty gutless. I didn’t see any value in addressing any of the central points of the debate while tempers were so hot. There was nothing to be gained. So I just wrote a bit denouncing harassment and encouraging people to have empathy for each other.

            • Pete_Volmen says:

              I’d be interested in reading those pieces (yours but also of the other talent). I wonder if such a thing could be released now most of them aren’t tied to the escapist anymore.
              Doubt that it would get released now, though. The only thing that might cause it would be a “setting the record straight” type thing.

              • Viktor says:

                Yeah, I don’t see any way that ends well(and I’m usually one who wants Shamus to be more political). GG has mostly moved on to political politics, the Escapist is dead, and most of the Escapist staff are far enough from their association with the Escapist by now to not be tarred by the pro-GG brush. Dredging back up the pro or anti GG columns would just make a massive mess for no benefit.

                • Mattias42 says:

                  Agreed. At this point, that’s the type of dirty laundry that simply better kept buried instead of aired.

                  Still, thank you, Shamus, for the answer. I kept mostly clear of the Gamer’s Gate thing, so I had no idea it got so toxic as to cause that type of fallout.

            • Kronopath says:

              You call it “gutless” but to me it sounds like you took (or were going to take) the mature approach, while so many other people were busy frothing at the mouth.

            • ThaneofFife says:

              Hi Shamus,
              I wouldn’t post this, but you asked for people’s opinions on GamerGate, so here’s mine. I’ll preface this by saying that my analysis rests on two assumptions: (1) the actions of the most visible and vocal members of a group reflect the priorities of the group as a whole (in part because people who disagree leave the group); and (2) an activism group should be judged more for its actions toward non-members than for what its members say when talking to each other.

              Now, my rant:

              First, although there are legitimate issues to be raised about video games journalism and potential conflicts of interest, that was not GamerGate’s primary (or even secondary) focus. GamerGate started with a man’s misogynistic rant about his ex-girlfriend, and continued in that vein. The fact that his core allegation (i.e., that his girlfriend cheated on him in order to get a good review for her new game) was false doesn’t seem to have mattered.

              Look at the person who became perhaps biggest lightning rod for criticism and abuse in the entire GamerGate affair: Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian, a media critic and lifelong gamer, decided crowd-fund a project in which she played literally hundreds of video games in order to conduct a sociological analysis of gaming trends, and to critique them from a feminist perspective. Did she occasionally make a mistake in describing a specific game? Absolutely. Is there room for disagreement with Sarkeesian’s methodology, conclusions, or recommendations about how to make gaming a more inclusive hobby? Sure. That said, none of this can possibly justify the literally thousands of death threats, rape threats, and other instances of online abuse that Sarkeesian received.

              These threats and abuse–and especially the rape threats–cannot be adequately explained by GamerGate’s mere disagreement–even vehement disagreement–with Sarkeesian’s conclusions. To be clear, Anita Sarkeesian wasn’t saying that any games should be banned, or that people who played them were bad people (she explicitly started every video with an explanation of how it’s okay to enjoy problematic things). That said, the fact that appears to have pushed many of her online abusers over the edge was that Sarkeesian was a woman talking about inherent sexism in popular games. That’s why she started getting abuse as soon as she posted her kickstarter–before even a single video had been produced. Again, misogyny (either conscious or unconscious) is the uniting theme.

              Put another way–GamerGate may have also directed criticism at UbiSoft or EA, but no one made a widely-publicized online game in which you could beat up the CEO of a major game developer. Instead, they made a game in which you could beat up Anita Sarkeesian. Any other legitimate criticism of ethics in games journalism that GamerGate might have also made was drowned out by this torrent of abuse directed at women in gaming and their supporters.

              Finally, I’d just point out that there is no inherent conflict in believing both that (1) there are serious ethical issues in video games journalism; and (2) many video games either omit women and minorities, or portray them in problematic ways. I personally believe both of these things. The fact that the most vocal and visible portion of GamerGate spent its time focusing its comments and abuse on people criticizing video games, rather than the companies whose ethics were dodgy, shows what the movement’s priorities were.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Ok,lets assume that all what you said was absolute truth and that all of the death treats and horrible behavior are the sign of misogyny.How does that explain the exact same thing happening to Jack Thompson when he tried to spin the same kind of narrative?And how does that explain all of the harassment and doxxing aimed at John Bain(TotalBiscuit) for daring to say “If Quinn acted in the horrible way she is said to have acted,then she is a horrible person”?How does it explain a sixteen year old girl “being a good feminist” and doxxing a guy for daring to support gamergate?Are all of those cases of misogyny?

                It is really easy to glance over just one side of the issue and conclude that it must be 100% true while the other side is Literally Hitler and everything non evil about them can safely be ignored.

              • DHW says:

                (Shamus is probably going to regret leaving this open.)

                For my sins, I was actually familiar with most of the major figures in GG and anti-GG well before the whole thing exploded; there had been a fuse drawing down on a bomb for a long time.

                And the thing is, folks who became prominent in anti-GG were just universally terrible people. Quinn in particular was the sort of person who left trails of drama and abuse around the Internet like oil from a leaking supertanker. Sarkeesian was a former MLM scammer. The leading “anti-abuse” types had made a career out of harassing and mobbing people on Twitter before they made a career out of complaining about harassing and mobbing people on Twitter. And so forth. (You’ll have a hard time finding this data nowadays because their partisans have industriously scrubbed the Internet to a gleaming shine to make them look good, but it’s there.)

                None of this is to say that the most prominent GG types were particularly admirable, either. The leading figures tended to be ascended trolls, scammers like Yiannopoulos, fringe political activists looking for warm bodies, and generally fanatical obsessives who needed some better purpose to life. I’d have no problem with declaring both groups of leaders equally terrible as each other, at an absolute minimum; maybe one is worse, but they’re both bad.

                But I find the anti-GG types more offensive and destructive in the long run because the overculture — including, incomprehensibly, all gaming media — embraced them, declaimed how noble and innocent they were, censored their critics and called them Nazis, and had them even address the United Nations about a stupid video game flamewar. Just about every relevant institution, from journalism to politics to major corporations to Wikipedia to even freaking 4chan, was distorted by the need to protect an abuser who somehow had friends in high places everywhere. That’s not cool, man.

            • ehlijen says:

              I think you made mistake opening this topic, Shamus.

              The way I see it, GG, the phenomenon, started with someone deciding to take an obviously dubious source of information (revenge slander is never credible) at face value and dismissing all evidence against it, simply because it happened to state something they were willing to believe. No one since that spark has changed this basic premise of GG. It’s all people shouting past each other and accusing each other of lying and using whataboutism to discredit each other. No one is arguing fairly.

              I suggest closing the comments now, Shamus. Whatever the true issue behind GG is, the label is too tainted by its conception.

          • DwarfWarden says:

            Yeah that’s not even remotely true. All the site admins and forum moderators were staunchly anti-GG as well as at least 50% of the content creators. The site itself tried to be neutral on the matter but those who were anti-GG just had to make sure everyone knew what upstanding SJWs they were. So of course when you insult people for thinking journalists have way too many conflicts of interest and have completely lost the plot you kill your site traffic.

            But then again maybe I’m wrong and all those walking simulators are truly pieces of high art and games like Cuphead are too tough and should have ‘skip gameplay’ buttons.

            • Viktor says:

              Oh, games journalists absolutely have too many conflicts of interest. But your post reveals the problem. You don’t cite EA buying 6-figure ad campaigns on sites that review their games. You don’t talk about Ubisoft flying reviewers out to high-priced Vegas hotels to play an ultra-hyped game weeks before release. You’re focus on ‘walking simulators’ and strawman difficulty complaints. Why was GG so intent on Sarkeesian and the various debunked complaints about a small-time indie dev getting undeserved good reviews when shit like the Jeff Gerstman debacle has been going on for a decade?

              Also, Walking Dead was the most positive Spoiler Warning they ever did, so clearly the walking simulators are doing something right.

              • Bloodsquirrel says:

                >You don’t talk about Ubisoft flying reviewers out to high-priced Vegas hotels to play an ultra-hyped game weeks before release.

                GG talked quite a lot about that kind of stuff, actually. You just don’t see it because you’re getting all of your information filtered through anti-GG sources.

                • Viktor says:

                  I encountered plenty of GGers over the course of those 2ish years. Reddit threads, Twitter arguments, comments on sites like this, you couldn’t avoid them without using browser extensions and mass blocking tools.

                  Again, you, personally, were talking about what mattered to GG and you went with “Walking Simulators get treated as high art”. Why is “games women like get good reviews” where you go rather than “Games from AAA publishers have massive, conflict-of-interest generating ad campaigns”?

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Again, you, personally, were talking about what mattered to GG and you went with

                    You are responding to two different people.Bloodsquirrel did not bring up walking simulators.

                    And I saw quite a lot of gamergaters constantly reminding people of doritosgate and similar crap,so saying that they were all like DwarfWarden is disingenuous.

                  • Bloodsquirrel says:

                    http://deepfreeze.it/index.php

                    GG has actually cataloged issues of game journalists posting reviews without disclosing conflicts of issue. This is the kind of thing that you would know if you had more than incidental contact with people you disagreed without before using browser extensions to block them.

                    In fact, DwarfWarden even explicitly mentions conflicts of interests, and you decide to ignore that and fabricate something about “games women like get good reviews” instead. This kind of straw-manning is why we can’t have a civil discussion about GG. You want it to be about harassing women, and so you’re going to see that in people’s posts, regardless of what they actually say.

                    • Shamus says:

                      Maybe Viktor is making a strawman argument, but maybe Viktor is simply going by the information they saw.

                      GG was a lot like Occupy Wall St. Suddenly this giant movement coalesced and took everyone by surprise. But when you went and talked to them, they weren’t really all marching for the same reasons. Student loans. Income inequality. The environment. Corruption. Minimum wage. It was all over the place.

                      No leader. No *defining* principles. Just a big angry crowd as the result of a long period of silent frustration.

                      Which means everyone’s disparate views on GG were correct based on their own experience. If you thought it was all about harassing women, you could find proof of that. If you thought it was about corruption, you could find proof of that. It depends on what circles you traveled in and who you trusted.

                      Heads up: I image this thread is headed for the same ditch all GG threads gravitate towards, but I’m kind of curious what people’s views are these days. I’m going to let this slide for a couple more hours and then close it when I need to go to bed, assuming it doesn’t turn ugly before that point.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Student loads

                      Oh my.

                    • djw says:

                      The more I think about it… the more I blame TWITTER for the fact that we can’t have interesting discussions about anything.

                      (Because it amplifies noise and does nothing for signal).

                    • BlueHorus says:

                      The more I think about it… the more I blame TWITTER for the fact that we can’t have interesting discussions about anything.

                      While I see your point, and am more than happy to call Twitter ‘Shit With a Capital S’, I present the argument that that Twitter is merely the latest iteration in problems with ‘discussions’ on the internet. The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory precedes it by roughly 10 years, after all…

                      Hey Shamus, weren’t you going to do an article about Twitter at one point but cancelled for some reason? Would be interesting to read.

                    • Shamus says:

                      On Twitter: Yes, I had a long article on the mechanics of Twitter and how they purify toxicity and dilute information. I had trouble writing it in such a way that it wouldn’t just re-open the GG debate, which I didn’t want to do.

                      I believe Twitter is a big reason everyone has such wildly different views regarding what GG was “really about”.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      The problem with twitter is that everyone is using it wrong.It should be a place where you post announcements and snippets of full things that you are doing and people can check out at PLACE.Yet everyone is using it to (try to) have full conversations.

                      Imagine if people tried this in the era of newspapers,using the ads you can buy there for full on conversations.

                      In fact…now that Im imagining it….Someone should definitely make a comic of page from a newspaper where this is going on.

                    • Locke says:

                      Twitter is the latest and most grotesque form of the problem, but Facebook and Reddit both have the same underlying cause: Internet businesses benefit from making their content hold people’s attention, but not from making it easy to get your point across. Things like upvote/downvote systems and the Twitter following incentivize posting content that will not just be popular, but be popular in such a way that people want to specifically support what you’re saying (and in the case of downvotes, it strongly disincentivizes posting anything unpopular and allows opponents of a position to clearly demonstrate a strong consensus against it without anyone having to actually raise any objections). They also swallow up old conversations very rapidly, making it impossible to have the kind of long discourses required for nuanced, complex positions to show their resilience as compared to oversimplified but initially compelling perspectives.

                      YouTube is another major means of online political discourse, and its incentives are set up to encourage drama, because the algorithm rewards watchtime and doesn’t really care if you’re getting more dislikes than likes. Being offensive and outrageous in such a way that makes opponents want to share your content is incentivized, whereas being nuanced and/or moderate is not. Even if people will say they want more of the second kind of content, even if they would choose that kind of content if it was as simple as pushing a button, even if they subscribe to channels that produce it and don’t subscribe to channels that are more polarized and extreme, if their total watchtime is still mostly going to the polarizing videos, that’s all YouTube cares about.

                      Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory notwithstanding, the internet was in a better place when online conversation sites were very simple “new posts bump conversation to top of the board, all posts are listed in chronological order of posting, issue posters are resolved by moderation.” That’s not to say that you couldn’t improve on that (the Escapist forums relied on that tech and they were a dumpster fire), but the actual features sold by online community platforms as solutions to these issues are only exacerbating them.

                    • BlueHorus says:

                      Shamus:

                      Yes, I had a long article on the mechanics of Twitter and how they purify toxicity and dilute information. I had trouble writing it in such a way that it wouldn’t just re-open the GG debate, which I didn’t want to do.

                      Twitter’s so good at distorting discussions that it would even distort the discussion of how it distorts discussions, huh? Hah!

                      Still a shame, though. It’s definitely worth discussing.

                    • DHW says:

                      FWIW Shamus, I’d appreciate your thoughts on Twitter if you ever decide to return to the topic. (I find it absolutely poisonous, myself.)

                    • djw says:

                      I present the argument that that Twitter is merely the latest iteration in problems with ‘discussions’ on the internet. The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory precedes it by roughly 10 years, after all…

                      Sure, I can agree with the sentiment here. Trolls have been around for a lot longer than Twitter.

                      However, Twitter built a system that amplifies the worst part of discourse and then brought it to the masses. I think the process of calling out and shaming people on Twitter appeals to our Lizard Brains in a much more destructive way than just the internet writ large.

                      I don’t really see a solution, aside from “don’t go on Twitter”, but I hope that our culture evolves some resistance to this kind of thing. Odds are we will see more GG level ragesplosions before that happens.

                • Zak McKracken says:

                  The only encounter I had with GG people was in comments to an article about a planned GG movie, which focussed on the harrassment, doxxing, SWATting side of things.

                  …and wouldn’t you know it, the huuge mob flooding the comments claimed to either have never heard of this harrassment thing, never noticed how most of those evil biased journalists and devlopers were female. But they were all very worried that the movie did not focus on conflicts of interest for gaming journalists.

                  Sorry, you don’t get to wear that the GG badge and then claim ignorance about the proper evil stuff that’s been done in its name. This is a classic variation on the “but what about…” defense. This movement scared the shit out of some people, and destroyed the lives of some. It arguably drove a few people to suicide. That’s not something you get to overlook or conveniently forget about. If you have a genuine interest in games journalism, that’s totally fine, but whoever affiliates themselves with the GG mob needs to address these things. Of course there are “bad apples” in any movement or organisation, but the rest of the movement needs to be judged by how they behave towards these people. I have read hundrets of comments by GG “members”, claiming “it’s just about games journalism”. Not a single one denouncing or even acknowledging harrassment tactics. That says it all.

                  • BlueHorus says:

                    Sorry, you don’t get to wear that the GG badge and then claim ignorance about the proper evil stuff that’s been done in its name.

                    So…when an incoherent mob of angry people all angry about different things have only a hastag or label to link them, all incidences of that used hastag are as bad as the very worst one?

                    Here are some people who might have got involved in GamerGate:

                    -Gamers genuinely concerned about conflicts of interest in games journalism.
                    -Gamers angry that their precious masculine gaming hobby is being taken over by this feminist bullshit.
                    -Angry feminists who’ve got the impression that this ‘GamerGate’ thing is just about hating women.
                    -Gamers who care about games journalism angry that they’ve been called sexist trolls.
                    -Feminists angry that they’ve been called feminazis for denouncing rape threats.
                    -Trolls who’ve spotted a chance to rile people up and gleefully encourage both sides.
                    -People just jumpin’ on that bandwagon. Gotta get involved, even though they don’t know and don’t really care. Don’t that that stop you posting, though!
                    -People who came with a legitimate point but are now just so mad at what other people are saying. They’ve had enough and it’s time for ALL CAPS!
                    -People trying to discredit legitimate complaints about games journalism conflicts by falsely posting mysoginist comments with #GG on them as smear tactics.
                    -People who don’t care about this ‘Gaming-Gate’ thing, but have realised that slapping #GG on their posts and mentioning games gets them a larger audience for what they wanted to say anyway.
                    -others, in endless variation.

                    Now. Since this is the internet and people have pride, every one of these people is capable of lying about or changing their motivations, especially if it saves them from looking bad.
                    OF COURSE all the pro-GG people said they were only concerned about journalism. And OF COURSE the anti-GG crowd accused the other side of being sexist man-babies. Everyone’s just too angry and too unwilling to back down to acheive anything useful, and that’s before considering any ulterior motivations that might be at play.

                    I’m sure a reasonable discussion was possible, but…have you been to the internet before? This is – sadly – kinda standard operating proceedure.

                    Wow, wall o’ text. TL:DR? Shamus said it better above.

                    • Zak McKracken says:

                      Now. Since this is the internet and people have pride, every one of these people is capable of lying about or changing their motivations, especially if it saves them from looking bad.

                      That’s precisely the point: Of all comments I’ve encountered (which, yes, is only a sample), Every single one fits into this category. How I know? Try to have a reasonable exchange where you build a few bridges to get them to acknowledge “the dark side”. I went in expecting, hoping, to say anything about how they hate that their movement has a bad name because of some idiot mysogynists, but the only ones who ever even acknowledged the harassment went along the lines of “well, if you’re screwing gamers over, you’re bound to get some angry comments”, and then quickly changing topics. Sorry, but swatting is not “some angry comments.
                      Every single one of them used the “I’ve never heard about this harrassment thing before, let’s talk about journalism” defense, so persistently that I’m quite certain that the vast majority was not being genuine.

                      Before or after the GG explosion, there was very legitimate reason to complain about the games media and their entanglement with the industry, but to me, GG is the movement which hijacked this issue and tried to turn it against games as an art form, and primarily against women (that is: those women who don’t conform to certain expectations). It’s more a form of culture war than anything else. I’m sure that all of the reasons for being part of the “battle” you list are valid but I’ve never encountered GG’ers who either acknowledged the harassment side of things, or could be convinced to even have a discussion about big games corporations sponsoring the games media. What I have seen is several attempts at ignoring the former, and slowly twisting the latter into a rant against certain (incidentially female) indy game developers and “walking simulators”.

                      This leads me to comclude that actually it’s mostly about guys who think that all games must be made for them, and that games they don’t “get” must be fought because what if they infect all the other games, and then everything becomes a walking simulator about fuzzy feelings? It’s kind of like abstract art was treated when it was new.

                      If you have a link to a thoughtful forum discussion of GG’ers which does not follow the above scheme, I’ll be happy to have a read and reconsider.

                    • Shamus says:

                      Thanks to everyone who participated in this thread. I’m really grateful that you were able to share you viewpoints without turning on each other. I wanted to see what people were thinking these days, and I got that.

                      In retrospect, it might have been better to say “post what you think, but don’t bother arguing with anyone else.” Ah well. It worked out.

                      I’m going to close this thread now. I think we’ve skimmed all the gems and from here it’s just going to be a repeat of old arguments.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Not a single one denouncing or even acknowledging harrassment tactics.

                    And I can say the exact opposite.Everyone I saw supporting gamergate said “These people dont deserve harassment and death treats,despite all the lying and scummy practices they did”,yet no one from the opposite side ever apologized for constantly contacting the bosses and family of those who dared to support gamergate,threatening them and leaking all of their personal info to the world.So I conclude that actually its gamergate thats the saints and its their opposition thats the devil.

                    Unless you want to say how its different when the other side has plethora of such people on their side because Their Cause Is Just.

                    • Zak McKracken says:

                      Can you provide a link?
                      I have not read too many online discussions (flame wars, rather), but i’ve taken part in one or two, and found it impossible to elicit this kind of sentence from any GG supporter. The best I got was “well, if you do that sort of thing, you get some angry comments”. –“that sort of thing” meaning “make a game we don’t like and then have an angry ex-boyfriend who writes lies about you, then posts some intimate details”.

          • Bloodsquirrel says:

            I keep hearing that, and it’s frankly just not true.

            First off, their “Pro-GG” was, at best, “Willing to at least interview somebody from the other side instead of blindly posting whatever GG’s critics were spouting”. Not insta-banning everybody from their forums who supported GG isn’t being “Pro-GG”.

            Second, I’ve yet to see any evidence that this supposed “Pro-GG” stance was what led their bleeding talent and staff members. There was no great exodus in 2014, and in fact they had already been losing talent before that due to payment disputes. They certainly weren’t stopping Jim or Moviebob from posting their political opinions before they left, and it’s a little silly to suggest that contributors who were still leaving in 2017 were because of GG.

            Third, it’s easy enough to look back at them and point out how badly they were mismanaged. Their forum moderation was a disaster, a capricious orgy of bannings over minor issues while leaving long-time trolls to run free. Their financials were a mess way back in 2011, and you had some shady incidents like the Extra Credits kickstarter fiasco.

            Fourth, the changes in how content is produced and supported on the internet went through some major shifts, and the Escapist didn’t really keep up. Patreon became the new standard, while add revenue dried up. The Escapist tried to make up for it with that whatever-it-was-called premium membership, but, yeah, that mostly involved perks for their forums, which, as mentioned, were an unholy disaster. Other content producers- like TGWTG- were also hit pretty hard by falling add revenues, but survived because they moved on to Patreon.

            Blaming the Escapists death on GG is little more sensible than blaming your last stubbed toe on them.

            • Viktor says:

              Read Shamus’ post. He debunks your first paragraph completely, and reading between the lines on his stuff I can absolutely see your second one being wrong as well. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a mass exodus for people to be leaving. Someone’s contract is up for renewal 6 months later, so they look at the money they’ve gotten, the fans they’ve gained or lost, the workload, what their life is like, and then they make a decision to stay on or leave. “A bunch of long-time fans thought I was with GG because I’m on this site and they quit reading my stuff” is an incentive to move your videos elsewhere, even if the actual decision is reached for other reasons. Basically, the Escapist being pro-GG may have hurt their content and readership at a time in the industry where they really couldn’t afford to be losing either.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                He debunks your first paragraph completely

                Um,how?Shamus said that escapist were trying to do a balanced thing,doing one side first then the other side,but were stopped before they got it all out.That is exactly in line with Bloodsquirrel’s first point.

              • Bloodsquirrel says:

                >He debunks your first paragraph completely,

                No he doesn’t. I read the original Escapist “Pro-GG” articles, and I was on the forums at the time. In fact, here’s one of them:

                http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/features/12306-Female-Game-Developers-Make-Statements-on-GamerGate.

                And here’s a quote from it:

                “If you are a #GamerGate proponent then you need to realize that the hashtag was started by a small fringe group as a PR tactic to try and divert the attention they were getting for their inexcusable behavior.”

                So, no, there are no two ways about this. The Escapist was not Pro-GG. Saying otherwise is displaying the extremist disease of thinking that someone who agrees with you 99% of the time and your opponents 1% of the time is a rabid member of the opposition.

                >can absolutely see your second one being wrong as well.

                Well, yes, if you’re going in with a pre-existing bias and desire to believe that something is true. it’s very easy to see things. Fitting those things to the facts is much harder, however, and the facts are that there was no mass exodus following GG, and statements about people leaving 2-3 years later being because of GG is baseless speculation. Blaming GG on things that were known issues in 2011 is just plain wrong, and there’s no getting around that.

    • PoignardAzur says:

      Personally, it was the Batman rants. (and DMoTR, of course)

      • Nick-B says:

        I honestly don’t know what got me here. I think it was DMOTR (which I love, and wanna see in .CBR form… If only I had a good CBR capable device…), but am not really sure. Either way, I don’t think I’ve missed a single word you typed (except the history ones. I have a LOT of empathy and feel uncomfortable reading about other people’s problems. People making fools of themselves in movies also make me cringe).

    • Christopher says:

      Same here. Out of all the contributors on the Escapist, Shamus and Zero Punctuation are the only ones I still regularly follow. And Josh I suppose, though I forget what he did for them.

      • Christopher says:

        With regards to Gamergate, considering you specifically asked for our views: So many discussions on games since GG happened have devolved into us vs them, people drawing lines in the sand over THOSE PEOPLE who would like this or THOSE PEOPLE who defend this. It’s exhausting and horrible and has, in my personal experience, done zero good. If one dork hadn’t accused his ex of cheating and getting improved review scores and people hadn’t somehow latched on to that to fight corruption in freaking games journalism, nothing of value would be lost.

        It feels like it happened yesterday, and I hate it. I’m on videogame sites on the internet because I love games and want to talk about them with people who feel the same way, and read what people have to say about them. I’m not here to get wrapped up in bullshit internet drama that often ends up revolving around the left/right politics of an entirely different country than mine. So much of it is always about the inclusivity or diversity of a product. Does this game have a woman as a protagonist? Is there gay romance in it? Are there people of color in it? And then some people love the inclusion or hate that they aren’t there, and a group of people shit on them because they don’t care, and they don’t care very vocally, right in their face, in insulting ways. What’s that got to do with truth in games journalism? I feel like Gamergate was a complete waste of time that’s now haunting every comment section like a miserable grudge.

        It was nice to read your comment about the Escapist, Shamus. From the outside looking it, it just seemed like GG murdered the site. One look at the popular forum threads-thing on the front page and all I saw was endless chatter about GG topics.

        • Daimbert says:

          The problem is that Gamergate was one of if not the first big public battle in what is clearly and definitely a culture war happening in society right now, around things like inclusivity and Social Justice and what all of that is supposed to mean. And one of the reasons that it blew up like it did is that the inclusivity side hit an audience that had a number of people that were not only willing and able to troll people who they disagreed with, but generally took it on as one of their major strategies (see, for example, the comments Shamus received when he mockingly criticized Linux for not being like Windows). So, things came out that irritated those people, they reacted as they usually did, the inclusivity side reacted as if it was extreme racism and sexism as opposed to pretty much what those people normally did and attacked ALL gamers based on that, and gamers responded, and it became … well, what it became.

          Add in that number of game review sites and gaming companies revealed that they were willing to take sides based not on facts but on shallow impressions, and that many of the critics clearly didn’t know what they were talking about when it came to games or gamers (Sarkeesian and Alexander being the most public and obvious examples), and you even had reasonable people screaming at each other over the screaming that the other people were doing to each other. This then also served to overshadow the reasonable discussions over inclusivity that gaming had been having for years up to that point.

          And you can see the same things happening in lots of places: movies (the new Ghostbusters movie), science fiction (the Hugos “Puppies” issue) and even in American politics. At this point, this battle has pretty much ruined almost every form of entertainment for me because this garbage has infested all of them, making it too hard to know what might be good and making me unable to rely on critics who are more likely to critique on the basis of ideology rather than quality. From both sides.

          Shamus is still good for this … but we don’t like the same sorts of games or media, which makes him a poor resource for me for what’s good and what’s bad [grin].

  3. General Karthos says:

    Could readers maybe give topic suggestions? Or ask questions? I mean in a more direct way, like a mailbox for suggestions or something? You could take a suggestion on a topic, or take on a question if it interests you. Or, if there’s nothing that interests you, don’t…. Just something more direct than the comments here. I appreciate that you read every comment your site gets (but you almost never mention those steam showers) but i sometimes have questions I want to ask you that might get a more direct response than a comment.

    For example: We both think Master of Orion II is the pinnacle of the 4X Genre, or at least, you thought so a few years ago when you wrote that article. (I still play it today.) I just wonder…. Do you still play 4X games? They’re a serious time commitment; I just sunk an entire weekend into a Civilization game that’s still in the Classsical age. If you do… do you have an opinion on what’s the best (recent) 4X game out there, or if you play any of them, which do you play? There are a lot to choose from. Stellaris, Endless Space (2), Civilization (VI or After Earth), etc.

    Anyway, I’m not saying: “MAKE A SUGGESTION BOX AND DANCE FOR US!”. I’m just suggesting… maybe make a suggestion box, and if the mood strikes you/if there’s a good suggestion or a good question/number of questions… you could answer those questions, or write an article. I know that out of all the people on the internet, I enjoy reading your columns the most. Of course, I can understand the concern that you might feel that if you made a suggestion box, you would have to respond to all the suggestions… so I can certainly understand if you wouldn’t want to.

    Anyway, just an idea. I enjoyed all your escapist content, and there’s some of it that could do with an update to modern times, which’ll be fun to see.

    (My favorite column all time of yours by the way, aside from some issues of the DMOTR comic, is “PC Hardware is Toast”. I still go back to that when I need to laugh uproariously.)

  4. Pranav says:

    Shamus would you consider tackling the problems posed in the International Olympiad in Informatics. It would make for an interesting read and also bring back the programming series

    • Droid says:

      Really? They mostly seem to be not very challenging math problems packaged with “computer language trivia” questions.

  5. Decius says:

    Were the terms of your contract with The Escapist such that you own the right to create derivative works of those columns? I honestly don’t know; some media companies demand full ownership, and I saw signs in the Extra Credits exit that their contracts were more restrictive on creators than I was comfortable with. (And I stopped visiting The Escapist when EC left).

    • Shamus says:

      The terms of the contract were very loose. I’m pretty sure I could just repost the original stuff without violating it.

      • Nimrandir says:

        Given that Bob Chipman planned to compile his Intermission columns into a series of e-books, I think you’re good to do whatever.

      • DGM says:

        Might be worth grabbing and archiving your old stuff while you can, and I don’t just mean your articles. Stolen Pixels will also vanish if The Escapist goes down, won’t it?

        • Nimrandir says:

          I try not to think about a world where I can’t go back and revisit Stolen Pixels and Unskippable.

        • Locke says:

          Second. So long as you’re trawling through your Escapist content to spruce some up for new articles, why not copy/paste them into an archive that isn’t dependent upon their servers to stay alive while you’re at it?

  6. nobb says:

    While you talked a lot about prey, you never really reviewed it. it went from “guys this is exciting! can’t wait to talk about” to “I have bugs now” to “I fixed the bug, let’s never talk about prey again”.

    Of course anything that have to do with coding would be great .

    And I’m curious as you deep dive in your own work what you find yourself regretting/being in disagreement ?

  7. BlueHorus says:

    Sounds good. At the very least there’s gotta be some mileage in comparing the subject as it was then to as it is now.
    Also second Nobb’s comment above – have your view changed on certain topics?

    As for recommendations…I liked Stolen Pixels a lot. It was fun!
    Would love to see more in that format, provided of course it’s not too much work/you’ve got decent material. As and when.

  8. Warclam says:

    The article about how Joel was right to take down the Fireflies was a favourite of mine, I’d love to see a revisit.

    • Anitogame says:

      Look up Joseph Anderson’s Uncharted/Last of Us videos on Youtube if you haven’t already seen them. Some of the best analysis of those games you’ll ever see. Probably THE best actually, especially LoU.

  9. The Rocketeer says:

    There’s a joke about prestiging or going infamous to be made here, but I’m too thumbless to make it.

  10. Sebastian says:

    I started reading your column somewhere beginning of 2016, and I loved it. A couple of weeks later it ended and that was really unfortunate. At the same time the backlog was just intimidating big, so I didn’t bother reading that.

    So this is great news and I’m in the lucky position that almost all of the topics will be new to me.

  11. Christopher says:

    Experienced Points was so long ago and topical that I find it hard to remember specific topics that I liked. But as a person half your age, from another continent, who mostly plays games on consoles, I think it’s interesting to learn about things that I have no frame of reference for. Like when you did the Leisure Suit Larry column and managed to explain both the appal of the games and why they are so dated these days. For instance, I know you love Descent. But you’re basically the only person I’ve ever heard talk about it, and I have no idea about the specific appeal or why there aren’t a ton of Descent-likes these days.

    A more current topic I’d like your take on is modern graphics. 3D and sprites is all well and good, but another look, 2D art, has gotten more and more popular. Both flash animation like Rayman Origins, Dragon’s Crown or Castle Crashers, or hand-drawn animation like Skullgirls, Hollow Knight, Jotun, Banner Saga and most certainly Cuphead. Even just painterly backgrounds or illustration-style portraits, like Pyre, Persona and Oxenfree. As a dude what draws, I’d love to hear about that stuff if you have something to say.

    Alternatively, if you just want some peace of mind while you write that book, I think you could write an article that just says “Dark Souls” and piss off while the comment section grows larger than ever.

  12. Redrock says:

    I may be a boring bore, but I think that a big reason for the Escapist ultimately failing wasn’t just something fancy like taking a wrong stance in the whole GG thing, but the fact that the site seemed increasingly cumbersome to use. The videoplayer sucked. Their one-time attempt to hide mobile viewing behind a paywall sucked. Also, as the death of Gametrailers, people were increasingly loathe to watch videos anywhere except Youtube. Again, that’s solely an outsider’s view, but in my experience no one topic or scandal is bad enough to sink a solid media outlet. You’d need some systemic factors as well.

    On a more relevant note, I’d love to see some refurbished Experienced Points. I mean, time is a flat circle, so what the hell.

    • Locke says:

      People want to believe in karmic retribution and cosmic justice and so on, but the truth is that moral stances are rarely rewarded or punished nearly as swiftly or dramatically as having a slightly inconvenient product/service.

      • Khizan says:

        The thing here isn’t that GG didn’t have to drive away large swaths of their readership to have a large effect on the Escapist.

        All it had to do is make content providers say “I don’t want my brand associated with a platform that’s perceived as pro-GG”, because their readership only existed because of their content providers. No providers, no readership.

        Likewise, the true story or whatever about GG doesn’t matter at all, because it’s all a matter of perception. As soon as popular opinion paired it up with rampant misogyny and rape threats, whether or not that pairing was deserved, GG became toxic and nobody reasonable would want to associate their brand with it or its supporters.

  13. GTB says:

    Wow I hadn’t read that at all. I was never really a big fan of the Escapist, it always seemed like the Entertainment Tonight of video game news: Really big and slick and always late on everything while they waited for opinion pieces. I don’t need a big e-zine, I need information fed directly into my eyeballs as quickly as possible. I like my video game journalism with minimalistic [H]ardOCP style.

    This open letter is weird. Are they asking for volunteer content? What a bizarre thing. The weekly content schedule is eerie. I wonder what Yahtzee thinks of being the only person on the whole schedule except for a twitch thing.

    I quit reading EvAv over the gamergate nonsense. I stayed and spoke up for a while but it was pretty clear that most people on that site- including the owner- were pretty rabid about conspiracies and “cucks.” I eventually just got tired of it and switched to RPS which is PC gaming focused anyway.

  14. Rivlien says:

    Know what could be fun one day? Revisiting Fable. I remember you did three or so pages on fable 2, those were good reads. Would be neat to see how the trilogy holds up in retrospect.

    I myself am playing through Fable 2 as we speak (I am listening to the Bowerstone tunes right now from the tv behind me, is good music) and find it more enjoyable than I did the first few times around. And played Fable 1 through last month, a game that, while archaic, still holds up pretty well as a simple RPG.

    • Zekiel says:

      I’m not sure I share you opinion that more on Fable would be good but I did want to weigh in that Shamus’ Fable 2 series is some my favourite writing on this site. I go back and read it every once in a while for a chuckle.

      • Redrock says:

        I always get a little bit annoyed because whenever I read that series I get an overwhelming urge to actually try out the game, but seeing as I’ve never owned any Xbox console that remains impossible. Funny how they never ported Fable 2 to PC. They did with the original and with 3. Well, they later killed of the Fable 3 PC version together with (shudder) GFWL, but still.

  15. Paul Spooner says:

    I’m curious where you got the splash image from. Did it used to say something else?
    So, then I just TinyEye-ed it, and yeah, used to say “Glass”. Good job converting it! Looks genuine.

    Looking forward to the rejuvenated columns. I never really followed the Escapist, so it will probably be my first time seeing this stuff.

  16. TMC_Sherpa says:

    I’m pretty sure I found the Escapist from this site and that I got here from Fear The Boot. Shamus was one of the first interview podcasts they did (It might have been about Chainmail Bikini? It was a while ago.)

    Anyway, I feel like Yahtzee was possibly the best and worst thing that happened to them.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    Moar comix plz?

    But seriously, I miss the programming stuff. Even if you don’t end up “finishing” what you’re working on, it’s really great just to read about the process of how and why you’re making something.

    Or you could, you know, play D&D and write about it. I don’t know if you’ve ever considered doing that before.

  18. Lars says:

    There is this game I really liked, that was recently remade. Shamus, you refered to it in your blog once in a while. Mostly when it comes to graphics (voxel-graphic).
    Appeals “Outcast – Second Contact” is out now. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this polygon-reinvention. Does it hold up in this day and age. Game Design, Art Design, Story, Graphics, Music (okay – The music is a timeless videogame classic) I would steam gift it to you.