International Game Developers Association. A non-profit organization that represents the interests of developers with over 90 chapters spread accross all continents. Mostly staffed by volunteers with very few actual employees, IGDA works more as a structure for its individual chapters to organize events than to actually work as a trade association.
Threat of blacklisting by founder
Ernest Adams, founder of IGDA https://archive.today/pel4K altho not holding an official position, made a tweet on 24 October 2014 threatening supporters of Gamergate https://archive.today/OM5aw. He argued that he was not threatening anyone by itself but merely saying that other professionals in the industry would remember who supported Gamergate. However, his support of the narrative that paints GG as a harassment campaign implies that GG supporters are by definition harassers and thus all of them warrant discrimination. This led to charges of blacklisting https://archive.today/BhZiE.
This was considered particularly damning considering IGDA claims to “serv[e] all invididuals creating games” and states in itself: “Mission: To advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers by connecting members with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community.” https://archive.today/4F4bJ
He has since deleted the controversial tweet.
Preamble: what is ggautoblocker
The ggautoblocker tool was developed by Randi Harper a.k.a. freebsdgirl to crawl Twitter, its goal being generating a list of Twitter accounts which followed more than one of the “ringleaders” of Gamergate. According to the initial readme https://github.com/freebsdgirl/ggautoblocker/commit/f970f83dcef698bbbf95a1b9180616a44b5e6af3:
Takes a list of the 4 major idiots of GG, looks at their follower lists. Generatees a list of sheeple following more than one account.
This “idiot” blacklist (not the same as the “sheeple” list the algorithm generated based on the “idiot” blacklist) initially was composed of @CHSommers, @AdamBaldwin, @FartToContinue and @PlayDangerously https://github.com/freebsdgirl/ggautoblocker/commit/0985008332c81d23e131862a496d41940ea52303. Also included was a whitelist, which initially consisted solely of @gamergatetxt. The “idiot” blacklist was constantly updated to add or remove the Twitter handles major supporters of Gamergate. The various alterations to the blacklist and whitelist can be seen here, here and here.
Based on these initial blacklist and whitelist, the algorithm generates a much bigger list of people to be blocked by anti-GG people in their Twitter accounts. However, the very design of the algorithm is severely flawed as it takes guilt by association to an extreme degree. See the next section for examples on the many shortcomings of the list generated by ggautoblocker.
IGDA recommends ggautoblocker
In 19 November 2014, IGDA posted an “Online Harassment Resource” aimed at game developers https://archive.today/hEXWi. Among the various valuable tips and guides for helping game developers cope with harassers, it included a link to ggautoblocker, described as “[a] Twitter tool to block some of the worst offenders in the recent wave of harassment” https://archive.today/yEhbK#selection-2317.0-2317.84. The description was changed to “[a] third-party Twitter tool developed to quickly mass block some of the worst offenders in the recent wave of harassment and also accounts that follow those offenders” https://archive.today/hdmqF#selection-2333.0-2339.1 to clarify that ggautoblocker’s author was not affiliated with IGDA itself.
Initial complaints from pro-GG people about “authoritarianism” and “censorship” were rightfully dismissed as pointless, seeing as any person is entitled to talk only to whomever they want. The controversy begins, however, with the endorsement of ggautoblocker by the IGDA. The move was seen as extremely unprofessional for several reasons: the extremely flawed algorithm itself; its users’ conflation that presence on the list was tantamount to harassment or enablement thereof; and the IGDA’s claims of impartiality towards all game developers. These three factors added together made it implied but clear that IGDA itself was condemning a massive amount of people, some of which completely unrelated to the GG debacle, as harassers.
IGDA’s Online Harassment Resource was later ammended again to remove the link to ggautoblocker altogether https://archive.today/GdAbv.
Non-comprehensive list of blocked accounts
Randi Harper keeps a Twitter account called @randi_ebooks which has itself blocked the entire list generated by her algorithm https://archive.today/OKfoO, which can be easily transferred between Twitter accounts thanks to the Blocktogether site https://archive.today/2amKc. As of the time of writing, the list blocks 10425 Twitter accounts of “harassers” https://archive.today/d7WUG, with a few search-friendly Pastebin of all account names http://pastebin.com/2TmDLdJZ http://pastebin.com/YjUk8yQn http://pastebin.com/DyphBBLt http://pastebin.com/0QMyMhXY. The people in this latest list of “harassers” include but it’s definitely not limited to:
- Game developers:
- Jason Mann
- Kyle McConaughey
- Bernard Shoe
- Neutrino Games
- Ollie Barder
- Daniel Scholes
- Christopher Arnold
- Duck Squared Games
- Vincent Leong
- Jennifer Dawe
- GravTech Games
- James Desborough [note: his interview on The Escapist was removed due to accusations of harassment on his part]
- Jason Miller [note: co-creator of the #notyourshield hashtag, and was fired for his involvement with GG]
- Paul Laroquod
- Lianne Booton
- Robert Holman
- Joshua Gibbons
- PipeWords, a game by Dream Boy Studios
- Queen Bee Games
- Running With Scissors
- Simone Tanzi
- Josh Spinel
- Xenizo Games
- Stew Heckenberg
- Evan Hartshorn
- Vox Day
- Slade Villena [note: his interview on The Escapist was removed due to accusations of harassment on his part]
- Gaming journalists, reviewers, personalities, groups etc.:
- The Fine Young Capitalists
- APG Nation
- Analog Reviews
- Alexander Macris, general manager of The Escapist
- Brandon Orselli, owner and editor-in-chief or Niche Gamer
- Crash Game Reviews
- Crotchety Old Gamer
- Button Mashers
- Gaming Anarchist
- Good Gamers
- Meat’n’Taters Show
- Mitsurugi Reiji
- My Media Critic
- Riffraff Games
- The Gaming Ground
- The Niche Gamer
- WTF Magazine
- Brian Whittemore
- Brandon Morse
- Cathy Young
- Ryan Smith
- The Angry DM
- Sean Winnet
- Sdoctmd, feminist and social justice advocate but currently distanced from GG
- the chairman of IGDA’s Puerto Rico chapter, Robert Rosario
- Arcade Sushi
- Brash Games
- DJ Many
- Fox View
- Indie Gamer Chick
- Indie Kings
- Maryo Games
- Naked Game News
- Scion Storm Gaming
- The Game Gents
- Video Game News
- The Zohar Project, a fan campaign lobbying for a HD release of Xenosaga
- David Pakman
- Unrelated to videogames:
- rapper Lil B (now removed from the list)
- rapper Mike Baggz
- fast food chain KFC
- actor Taye Diggs
- TV producer Todd Gallagher
- celebrity fitness instructor Basheerah Ahmad
- book publisher Penguin Books UK
- SEO company Excite
- renewable energy startup Crowd Energy
- voice actor Sam Botta
- neuroscience and psychology magazine Psy Post
- fantasy and sci-fi author Anthony Gillis
- Buenos Aires citizen complaint organization Denuncias Ciudadanas
- social media company Hootsuite
- paleo diet advocate John Durant
- inspirational quotes for women, Tough Women
- professional American football player Brennan Williams
- anime news site Animerica
- chief blogger for NVidia Brian Caulfield
- indie author and artist Mars Dorian
- journalist Milo Yiannopoulos
- professor and enterpreneur Nick Flor
- writer William Meikle
- business card company Kwollo
- social media print magazine Social Media Monthly
- several accounts with zero tweets
Reactions to the ggautoblocker fiasco
As of the time of writing, not a single one of the main videogame news sites has reported on IGDA’s endorsement of ggautoblocker.
“Blacklist.txt” changed to “sourcelist.txt”
Following the controversy of IDGA’s endorsement of ggautoblocker, Randi Harper, in spite of not making any concessions for the lack of quality of her program, changed the name of the included file “blacklist.txt” to “sourcelist.txt” in a suitably inflammatory and unapologetic note https://archive.today/bKpNJ. The change was seen as disingenuous at best https://archive.today/qHANZ.
Response from blacklisted individuals
One of the most notable inclusions in the massive blocklist was that of Robert Rosario, chairman of the Puerto Rican chapter of IGDA itself and who had pointed out his neutrality towards the Gamergate debacle before https://archive.today/Jbgtd https://archive.today/UtmDQ. He has expressed his displeasure at being labelled a harasser on several tweets starting on November 21, indignant at being labelled a harasser without any evidence https://archive.today/qitc8, to the point of threatening resignation of his position within IGDA.
When some anti-GG claimed he was guilty by association of being misogynist https://archive.today/L9FAs https://archive.today/YYkM8 https://archive.today/jtmt6 https://archive.today/F2gxo, he pointed out his contributions to anti-SOPA measures and pro-feminist activism. He also disparaged Randi harper’s ability as a programmer, as shown by the flawed results of her algorithm.
Randi Harper herself still laid the blame squarely at Rosario himself for “follow[ing] known harassers of women” and said he should apply to be whitelisted https://archive.today/4N80J, to which Rosario responded that he shouldn’t have to defend himself against completely proof-less accusations in the first place, claiming it to be “pre-crime” and harassment.
A feminist, social justice advocate and early supporter of Gamergate who decided to distance himself from the it because of what they saw as toxic personalities intruding in on it. They have argued in the past that their awareness and support of Gamergate came from reading Eron Gjoni’s initial testimony. It led them to make the series of videos Understanding the Zoepost https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_UKErD0uGQ, wherein they explained how they saw in it a pattern of abusive behavior on Quinn’s part towards Gjoni, and thus argued that the widespread support that Quinn received was in effect enabling an abuser.
Even tho now distanced from GG, Sdoctmd saw themself in IGDA’s endorsed blocklist and thus cut off from their intended debating audience of gaming feminists. As they explained in a post in the subreddit Kotaku In Action https://archive.today/Rukio:
But, the GG AutoBlocker, ironically enough, is hurting my ability to share my feminist views. I cannot discuss gender roles if I’m #1990 on the GG AutoBlocker. Why? Many of the people using the AutoBlocker are part of my demographic base. They are intersectional feminists interested in gender discourse within gaming. They are people who would view my project, and see what I have to say about harassment, emotional abuse, and gender representation in video gaming.
[…]But now we can no longer engage with our role models and base, because the AutoBlocker has rudely and inappropriately labeled us as “harassers.” And, choice or not, this kind of block list is seriously hurtful for a lot of us. We’re effectively blocked out from communicating with other feminists. Why? Because we (and thousands others) were curious enough to follow two people in an algorithm.
Several developers via Tech Raptor
Openly pro-GG website Tech Raptor has published an article compiling the opinions of several game developers on IGDA’s ggautoblocker endorsement https://archive.today/obAzo.
As a development studio who has stood neutral in regards to GG, Mothership Team has been tweeting their disagreement with IGDA’s use of the ggautoblocker list since 22 November https://archive.today/wizNf. As IGDA removed their endorsement of the tool, Mothership reiterated their membership and support of IGDA’s mission https://archive.today/4woqj https://archive.today/J6m4q. Despite their continued neutrality, they cited a pro-GG interview https://archive.today/R0ehG to reiterate that such lists have a malignant effect on developers’ employability.
IGDA’s endorsement of ggautoblocker has driven the small game studio GravTech Games from a neutral stance to being openly pro-GG since 22 November https://archive.today/lUNwN, and proceeded to do an AMA on the Kotaku In Action subreddit https://archive.today/g1Y0M.
Altho not included in ggautoblocker’s list, indie developer Ashley Ross has voiced criticism of IGDA’s endorsement of what amounts to a blacklist on the subreddit Kotaku In Action https://archive.today/k689u. He had made his point before that he agreed with Gamergate’s stated goals but wasn’t a supporter, but still he had this to add to the initial post:
UPDATE Since posting this just a few hours ago, I’ve lost several friends including some that I was working on a game with. No words, just blocked, unfollowed, unfriended, removed on all social media.I try to remain an open mind on this stuff. I really really try. As I stated, I don’t support gamergate, but agree with the stated goals. I try not to let my social media be an echo chamber, I have friends with differing views.I’ll tell you what though, the ‘other side’ is making it increasingly harder to sympathize with. Not only in shooting down any attempt at discussion, but also going as far as to remove themselves from a friends life? That’s just crazy to me.[…]This is a fair warning to devs out there, if you even appear to support GamerGate, even agree with one thing in it, then prepare to have your career destroyed. I know I have. I don’t know if it’s 100% because of GamerGate, or if it’s because of some other factor, but in the past 3 months I’ve made less than 10% in contract work, and my game sales dropped to 0 except in one instance where I shamefully ‘ebegged’. I don’t want to call my career over, but it’s certainly had a huge hit these past few months.
Pro-GG videogame website APG Nation left implied a threat of legal action https://archive.today/kp7dg.
Reacted with a lesson in good humor https://archive.today/NsofX.
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