Thoughts on Altgames, #GamerGate, and the alt-right.

I’m about to do something that will be very, very shocking to my readers, especially the ones that know me: I’m going to endorse an idea of Zoe Quinn’s. Now don’t get me wrong, I still despise Zoe Quinn. She’s an abuser, an adulterer, a liar, and altogether and unpleasant person who doesn’t belong in gaming. But her recent post on the idea of “altgames” is 100% spot on. In it, Quinn describes Alt Games, a spinoff of indie games. Altgames could be defined as DIY games and games criticism made by amateur indie outsiders not as a commercial product to sell, but as a means of expression. In what I think is very spot-on, she compares it to punk rock.

I’ll admit, I’m not well-versed in punk. Most of the pretentious liberal bullshit doesn’t speak to me and makes me roll my eyes. But I do have a history with the genre. When I was an angry kid in my senior year of high school fighting mental illness, I found transgressive punk bands like Anal Cunt and GG Allin And The Murder Junkies. Those bands to me were punk: disaffected dudes who didn’t fit in with the world lashing out in frustration and discontent. It was the same thing that attracted me to black metal: a feeling of general discontent with the world. As I got into college, I forgot about punk. But when I dropped out and started working, I started listening to bands like Blood For Blood and Antiseen: artists who made music for low-class people talking about the lower-class lifestyle. I wasn’t from the white ghettos of Boston or the backwoods of South Carolina, but I was a working man trying to make my way in the world. I felt like an underdog, so I listened to underdog music. It’s helped me really find a sense of contentment with my existence as a prole. So while I’m not 100% punk, I get punk well enough to see what Quinn is going for here with altgames.

If we expand the definition of altgames to include games criticism, then I was altgames before altgames was even given a name. Make no mistake, as much as I’ll shill my gratipay, The Right Vidya (and now The Right Drama!) is a labor of love. It’s my desire to create games writing that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Putting up a new blog post is exhilarating. When Nick Land and Adrian Chmielarz shared my post on Hatred, my heart skipped a beat. To me, getting the attention of a blog like Xenosystems or a dev like Adrian Chmielarz was more valuable than any cash donation. I felt like what I was saying mattered and made a difference. I was helping introduce video games to the alt-right and the alt-right to video games. I was merging the two. I’d like to think that I still am, given how much traffic my posts on KotakuInAction get me.

This is why I’m throwing my support behind the idea of altgames. I get that a lot of people in the alt-right, especially neoreaction, look down on Rachel Haywire for her idea of a punk aesthetic for the right. For most of us, outside decadent skinheads, punk is seen as a degenerate liberal cesspit. I disagree. The key element to punk is that it’s subversive- a word that I’ve been thinking a lot about in the past few weeks. As our alt-right critics will note, there’s a lot of LARPing going on in NRx: too many people talking about what the glorious neoreactionary future will look like and not enough people focusing on the here and now. What we should be doing is focusing on how we can subvert the Cathedral and undermine its reach. I think #GamerGate is a major breakthrough for us: we saw a bunch of young, unassuming enlightenment-friendly types openly challenge their progressive “betters” and manage to keep it going for over six, soon to be seven months so far. Part of the success of #GamerGate lies in the DIY culture that permeates it: you have tons of people making #GamerGate art, starting #GamerGate charity, hosting #GamerGate streams, and even making #GamerGate games. Hell, The Right Vidya was inspired by the DIY culture of #GamerGate. It’s their ability to produce content that has helped them keep going.

But we need to be better than that. What helped turn me on to the alternative right was the work of HP Lovecraft, telling the kind of stories about social decay that no one else told. It helped subvert what I was learning in high school at the time as I realized that Detroit and other urban centers confirmed the predictions in his work. It taught me to look outside the box and embrace esoteric political wisdom. Obviously it wasn’t the only factor: the transgressive punk and black metal that I mentioned before helped me really clarify my distaste for modernity. Neoreaction needs to get on that: we need more media out there that subverts the cathedral and undermines it. And that’s why we need to hop on the altgames train. We need to take advantage of a DIY-centric scene and use it as a means of subversion. Altgames are already pretty big, and they’re only going to get bigger. I think one of the smartest things the alt-right did was to embrace tech, because with the tech boom we grew and prospered. I think when it comes to altgames, this is a boom coming that we could use to our advantage.

As for my brothers and sisters in #GamerGate, the idea of altgames is important to us as well. We all know that the community in the game business is awful: the testimony of guys like Roguestar and the work of the ShortFatOtaku team tells us that much. It’s a closed little circlejerk of industry buddies all working to get each other over, even at the expense of everyone else. Altgames is about realizing that the circlejerk exists and using various platforms like itch.io, twine, Patreon and more to really help break it up. Imagine if the DIY spirit of #GamerGate met with the DIY attitude of altgames? We could build a new, better GDC, a better IGF and Indiecade. We could an alternative to the corrupt, broken industry and build a much better one. The nature of altgames is about trying to empower amateurs and beginners. It’s perfectly in touch with #SolutionSixMonths and #OpRebuild. It’s the perfect platform for #GamerGate to use to help expand our influence and get our message out. We are the real alternative, and we need to make ourselves known.

So in conclusion, I suppose you should think of this post as another call to action. It’s time we stop rolling our eyes at the DIY platforms and start using them to help build the newer, more improved gaming community, whatever that means to you. Now more than ever, it’s become easier to take control and choose where you want to guide a scene. This is perhaps the best chance you’ll get in a long time to make an impact. It’s time you take advantage of it.

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It’s Cool To Hate

Hatred, a game announced by the Polish developer Destructive Creations, is in my opinion the apex of art. The game is simple: it revolves around the player character slaughtering as many people as humanly possible. There is nothing light-hearted or ironic about Hatred: the violence is all sickeningly realistic, as is your victim’s pleas for mercy as you heartlessly execute them. The game makes no attempt at hiding the fact that you are not gunning down cartoonish caricatures, but rather real people with real lives. Everything is seen through a dismal, depressing grayscale, with only explosions, sirens, and muzzle flashes sticking out. Everything is rendered in the generic ugliness that only the Unreal Engine can provide. I’m actually very proud to say that the gameplay trailer made me genuinely uncomfortable. This is a game with no redeeming qualities.

One of the things that stood out to me is that one of the developers in the Destructive Creations photo is wearing a Black Witchery T-shirt. From what I’ve gathered, Black Witchery is a black metal band from Florida. Black metal as a genre has always been interesting to me. There’s a great documentary called Until the Light Takes Us which covers the origins of the genre and its eventual development. Most people will agree that the second wave of black metal began with the Norwegian band Mayhem. Mayhem was, from 1989 to 1995, the apex of cool in the same way I see Hatred as being. It was the brainchild of guitarist Euronymous, who, much like Destructive Creations is doing, set out to create a band with no redeeming qualities. He had been disgusted with how death metal had developed a sort of ironic acceptance and was no longer considered truly dangerous. Under Euronymous’s direction, Mayhem strove to reject all that was good and acceptable in the world. He deliberately strove for horrible, low-fi recording, poorly tuned instruments, and painfully harsh vocals.

Mayhem’s stage act was beyond unacceptable, thanks to the work of mentally deranged frontmen who would perform grotesque acts of ritual self-mutilation. People were used to seeing this from punk stars like Iggy Pop and GG Allin, but those had become acceptable under the guise of random chaos. The self-harm that Maniac and his more famous successor Dead brought to the table were deliberate and thus far more messy. To add onto the mix, they would surround the stage in barbed wire to prevent fan interaction and mount severed animal heads fresh from the slaughterhouse onto the mic stands. It was a grotesque, repulsive display. And yet, unlike the punks of England and America, Mayhem was entirely sincere in their transgressions. Indeed, Euronymous reveled in the blatant immorality of Mayhem. He celebrated the burning of churches, and when Dead fatally shot himself, Euronymous took pictures and sent pieces of his skull and brains to other bands he deemed worthy. Before Euronymous’s murder in 1993, Mayhem was easily the most evil band in the world, considered so foul that no media outlet would reach out to them.

This made Mayhem cool. It was cutting-edge, LITERALLY. There was nothing like it at the time. It was the most extreme, most insane band in existence. If you wanted to be the most hardcore metalhead, you listened to Mayhem. It didn’t even matter if you liked the music, liking the spectacle was enough. It was aggressive and transgressive, and it showed that you were willing to put up with what others couldn’t.

I see the same thing in Hatred. It’s a vile, disgusting game that does nothing but celebrate the very real murder of innocents. The developers even outright say that Hatred is a rebuttal to the modern, safe, consumer-friendly indie games. It’s a direct assault on the intelligentsia as much as it is an assault on consumerism. And that’s what makes it genuinely cool. To endorse Hatred with sincerity is to brand yourself a supporter of sincere violence, especially violence against women and minorities. It’s a rejection of all that is good in our culture.

Certainly to the average reactionary, Hatred would seem to be a degenerate sort of game that contributes nothing to a healthy society. And yet, that is why it should be endorsed. See, in Until the Light Takes Us, Varg Vikernes says that his peers were less excited about death and destruction that would come with a possible third world war and more about what would come afterwards: the rebuilding of Nordic society this time based on the old, pre-Christian Nordic ways. However, that meant celebrating the collapse of civilization and the sort of destruction that came with it. In that sense, I would argue that Vikernes is right on the money for neoreaction. Our goal, as Moldbug even reminds us in his Gentle Introduction, is to let things take their course and then step in when democracy, Americanism and the modern world ultimately fails. Thus, much like Mayhem was before us, Hatred is the next step towards the inevitable collapse of the modern world. It is intensely nihlist, rejecting all the modern world has to offer. Indeed, the growing popularity of it despite it being public enemy number one for sites like Polygon, is a sign of growing disenfranchisement with the modern world. At present, the game has already been greenlit by Steam users, and will likely be a best-seller (by indie standards).

And certainly, raising dissent is a noble goal- this piece from Henry Dampier on Socialmatter regarding the recent “Black Brunch” protests summarizes what I’m trying to say. The more people are upset, hurt, and miserable, the more that they will begin to feel disenfranchised and frustrated with the modern world. And of course, as I’ve said before, this will push them into the “despair” phase of rampancy. The worse the world gets, the more and more people will realize that progressivism does not work. Even if they endorse classical liberalism or some other alternative to neoreaction, it still undermines the overall social control of the cathedral. The Chinese mandate of heaven makes it very clear that the consent of the people is derived from their happiness. When we take away that happiness, the consent of the people and thus the legitimacy of their ruler vanishes. Certainly, real-world violence is unacceptable. Yet despair? Outrage? Frustration? Those are all important to spread.

Therefore, we can do nothing but praise Hatred, for further rejecting the modern world. While the game most definitely rejects us, what difference does it make? It is only another step to oblivion for our broken, miserable society. It’s certainly a step in the right direction.