IGDA

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 [1]https://archive.today/pel4K altho not holding an official position, made a tweet on 24 October 2014 threatening supporters of Gamergate [2]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 [3]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.” [4]https://archive.today/4F4bJ

He has since deleted the controversial tweet.


 

ggautoblocker fiasco

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 [5]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 [6]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 [7]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” [8]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” [9]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 [10]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 [11]https://archive.today/OKfoO, which can be easily transferred between Twitter accounts thanks to the Blocktogether site [12]https://archive.today/2amKc. As of the time of writing, the list blocks 10425 Twitter accounts of “harassers” [13]https://archive.today/d7WUG, with a few search-friendly Pastebin of all account names  [14]http://pastebin.com/2TmDLdJZ [15]http://pastebin.com/YjUk8yQn [16]http://pastebin.com/DyphBBLt [17]http://pastebin.com/0QMyMhXY. The people in this latest list of “harassers” include but it’s definitely not limited to:


Reactions to the ggautoblocker fiasco

Media blackout

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 [18]https://archive.today/bKpNJ. The change was seen as disingenuous at best [19]https://archive.today/qHANZ.

Response from blacklisted individuals

Robert Rosario

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 [20]https://archive.today/Jbgtd [21]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 [22]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 [23]https://archive.today/L9FAs [24]https://archive.today/YYkM8 [25]https://archive.today/jtmt6 [26]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 [27]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.

Sdoctmd

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 [28]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 [29]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 [30]https://archive.today/obAzo.

Mothership Team

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 [31]https://archive.today/wizNf. As IGDA removed their endorsement of the tool, Mothership reiterated their membership and support of IGDA’s mission [32]https://archive.today/4woqj [33]https://archive.today/J6m4q. Despite their continued neutrality, they cited a pro-GG interview [34]https://archive.today/R0ehG to reiterate that such lists have a malignant effect on developers’ employability.

GravTech Games

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 [35]https://archive.today/lUNwN, and proceeded to do an AMA on the Kotaku In Action subreddit [36]https://archive.today/g1Y0M.

Ahsley Ross

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 [37]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.

APG Nation

Pro-GG videogame website APG Nation left implied a threat of legal action [38]https://archive.today/kp7dg.

Brennan Williams

Reacted with a lesson in good humor [39]https://archive.today/NsofX.

lkjhgf14jpg

   [ + ]

1. https://archive.today/pel4K
2. https://archive.today/OM5aw
3. https://archive.today/BhZiE
4. https://archive.today/4F4bJ
5. https://github.com/freebsdgirl/ggautoblocker/commit/f970f83dcef698bbbf95a1b9180616a44b5e6af3
6. https://github.com/freebsdgirl/ggautoblocker/commit/0985008332c81d23e131862a496d41940ea52303
7. https://archive.today/hEXWi
8. https://archive.today/yEhbK#selection-2317.0-2317.84
9. https://archive.today/hdmqF#selection-2333.0-2339.1
10. https://archive.today/GdAbv
11. https://archive.today/OKfoO
12. https://archive.today/2amKc
13. https://archive.today/d7WUG
14. http://pastebin.com/2TmDLdJZ
15. http://pastebin.com/YjUk8yQn
16. http://pastebin.com/DyphBBLt
17. http://pastebin.com/0QMyMhXY
18. https://archive.today/bKpNJ
19. https://archive.today/qHANZ
20. https://archive.today/Jbgtd
21. https://archive.today/UtmDQ
22. https://archive.today/qitc8
23. https://archive.today/L9FAs
24. https://archive.today/YYkM8
25. https://archive.today/jtmt6
26. https://archive.today/F2gxo
27. https://archive.today/4N80J
28. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_UKErD0uGQ
29. https://archive.today/Rukio
30. https://archive.today/obAzo
31. https://archive.today/wizNf
32. https://archive.today/4woqj
33. https://archive.today/J6m4q
34. https://archive.today/R0ehG
35. https://archive.today/lUNwN
36. https://archive.today/g1Y0M
37. https://archive.today/k689u
38. https://archive.today/kp7dg
39. https://archive.today/NsofX
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