GDC, DiGRA, and the Delusions of Academia

One thing I’m glad #GamerGate has done is helped spread awareness of what’s going on in the gaming industry. Before all of this, I had never even HEARD of DiGRA. Honestly, now I’m starting to wish I hadn’t, because the sheer degeneracy on display makes me physically ill. I’m not even sure why I’m so shocked- when I was in college I witnessed first hand how genuinely awful academia was. But DiGRA manages to take things to a new level, that just astounds me.

To begin with, let’s talk about why academia is so awful. If you want a primer on why I generally disdain higher education, you can start here. The goal of academia can generally be summarized as advancing society through research. Unfortunately, for the most part that’s almost entirely redundant in a capitalist society. The largest innovations in technology and science in recent years have almost always come from the private sector. After all, private sector research inevitably leads to a new commercial product, which leads to more jobs in production, and more goods for sale, which is good for the overall economy of the nation. Of course, not all fields are created equal. If the private sector takes all the hot fields where progress is in high demand, that leaves academia with, well, everything else.

If you’re familiar with the alternative right or even the right at all, you’re well aware of the rest of the picture. If not, let me explain this. Almost all of academia is overwhelmingly liberal and progressive. All the work is run through a liberal filter. For instance, if you were to bring up the transformation of Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew, it would be dismissed as irrelevant due to the authoritarian, legalistic, anti-egalitarian policies of the government. Somehow, the discomfort of a few natives under apartheid invalidates the miraculous success of colonial states like Rhodesia or South Africa. The era of Manifest Destiny and western expansion is somehow treated as a shameful period in American History rather than an ideal time. It’s a complete degenerate cesspit with the most skewed priorities imaginable. Rather than actually advancing society and civilization, a higher priority is put on the feelings of utterly unimportant individuals.

So obviously, this carries over to DiGRA. Let’s compare DiGRA to the GDC for a moment. For all intents and purposes, the GDC is the private sector equivalent of DiGRA. At GDC, you’ll see talks mostly oriented towards the business side of things. For better or worse, DiGRA are professionals. Everything they do is dictated by the industry and the profit motive. As I’ve noted before, you are going to find periodic worthwhile discussions at GDC where real talk can happen. Even the pozzed portion of GDC is still kept in line by capitalism. The feminist talks are given with the intent of gaining and retaining female customers. Hardly ideal, but there could be worse.

And that worse usually finds itself in DiGRA. I browsed the #DiGRA2015 tag today on twitter and was appalled by the sheer nonsense of what I was reading. Most of it was absolutely meaningless- comparisons of Mario to Nichetze, rambling about tabletop game mechanics, and other pretentious nonsense that has no impact on making games that sell. Because DiGRA isn’t for professionals who make games and rely on those games making money- it’s for academics who need grants to justify whatever asinine research they want. None of this is actually beneficial or important to the games industry- it won’t make anyone any money.

As I mentioned in a twitter rant, as a history student, most of this DiGRA nonsense reminds me of Weimar Germany’s “culture” in the sense that it’s totally vapid. Back in the post-war era, Germany was rife with rampant inflation, socialist/anarchist/communist terrorism, and plenty of other problems. However, the intellectual and cultural “elite” of Germany, the artists, filmmakers, and writers, were all more obsessed with making movies about women and gays and the deconstruction of traditional values than they were actually fixing Germany. For all of Hitler’s faults, at the very least he was initially acting for the good of the nation.

The most irritating thing in all of this is that despite their complete lack of worth, DiGRA still has relevance. As Sargon of Akkad has shown, DiGRA writing still finds its way into the gaming press. So as much as I’d love to ignore this little gathering of utterly worthless people, I have to begrudgingly realize that it is a very real problem that exists. Make no mistake- it is for the good of the industry, perhaps even society as a whole, that DiGRA and their degenerate nonsense about “queer mechanics” and such be removed from gaming. They have nothing of value to offer us as gamers. They have nothing of value to offer developers and publishers. They have nothing of value to offer to us at all. They are nothing but a toxic drain upon the community.

So yeah, vitriol and all aside, it should be the goal of #GamerGate to forcibly remove DiGRA from the industry and the culture around it. There should be no quarter for their utterly useless, irrelevant, and outright degenerate nonsense. We must make it overwhelmingly clear that this is our territory, and that they are not welcome.

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Surprising Real Talk at GDC

So, it seems that the first round of industry conferences and conventions is upon us, this week being the ongoing Game Developer’s Conference of 2015. While I couldn’t go (nor was I especially interested in going) I did happen to hear about this talk given by Ralph Koster, Richard Vogel, and Gordon Walton on handling internet drama as a community manager. I was dreading another typical prog screed about how you need to purge your community of evil undesirables, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was actually some real talk coming from Koster and friends, perhaps more real talk than they’re aware of. You can read a summary of it by gameindustry.biz here.

First, let me get to what I had mentioned on twitter, the points that the presenters seemed to miss or gloss over. I think Vogel is wrong to blame anonymity as a major problem for online communities. Personally, I’m of the belief that anonymity helps produce a more stable community. By removing the importance of reputation, you remove the status jockeying that goes on in your average online community. The reason sites like NeoGAF are rapidly declining in popularity is precisely because of the constant signaling and forced consensus. Meanwhile, communities like 4chan’s /v/ tend to be some of the biggest movers and shakers in games culture precisely because the anonymity allows original content to prosper without the pesky matter of status jockeying. If you want innovation, originality, and a fun time, you want to allow as much anonymity as possible. Reputation creates a stale, boring environment where fresh ideas are not able to rise to the top.

Another interesting point I think Vogel misses in his critique of anonymity is that his solution involves building a collective identity that encourages the group to co-exist with each other. To that, I’ll respond by using /v/ as an example. Certainly, to an outsider, /v/ looks like a disaster, with so many different users butting heads on nearly every conceivable topic. However, the best way to find a consensus? Mention Reddit or NeoGAF or, god help you, tumblr. Suddenly, the group identity is obvious. Users will put aside most petty conflicts and bond over a mutual disdain for outsiders. Thus, you create a healthy, stable sense of community without ever needing to abandon anonymity.

But that leads me to my much larger point, the part of their talk that absolutely floored me. Ralph Koster actually said that Switzerland’s low crime rate is due to its homogenous population. Combined with his earlier statement that most crime in Switzerland is in areas where different groups live, I’m amazed that a horde of rainbow-haired she-twinks with their goony man-beard escorts didn’t storm the stage and tar and feather the man for being racist. Indeed, his entire lecture touched on one of the points that the right has been yelling about for ages: diversity brings conflict. Of course, any criminologist will tell you that a homogenous community is less likely to have crime than a diverse one (barring other factors like poverty and single-parent households and other statistics).

Koster initially seems to complain about people forming tribes and those tribes coming into conflict with each other. Indeed, he draws parallels to segregation when discussing Switzerland’s tribal conflicts. Of course, Vogel and Watson proceeded to drop an uncomfortable truth-bomb on the conference: that segregation was part of human nature. I can just imagine that when he said this, Arthur Chu stopped masturbating to his own reflection and gasped in horror. People naturally choosing to associate with people similar to them is the perennial fact that proponents of multiculturalism are obsessed with trying to deny, or in Chu’s case, undo.

Walton also pointed out that it’s much harder to be a criminal in a town of only sixty or so people instead of being in a large, massive city. First they acknowledge basic human tribalism, then they point out why urbanization is bad? Oh the humanity! Someone stop these evil creatures! Even more heinous is that all the developers agreed that the solution to the problem of online nastiness lied in the same key idea: promoting a shared identity. Not only do they acknowledge that tribalism is a very natural behavior, but they even understand it to be the solution to their ills. They want to create a tribe out of their community, a group with a clear, guiding identity beyond basic consumerism. Back up now buddy, this isn’t Stormfront!

I’m being a little facetious here, as you can tell. I don’t think any of the three men in the panel genuinely got what they were hinting at. If they actually understood the dangerous nature of the ideas they were playing with, they’d probably never have given the talk, lest it undermine the greater good of ideological purity. Yet I suppose a man can dream that there are still nerds who value functionality over petty ideology. Maybe next year we’ll see developers talking about human biodiversity affecting games? You never know…