Earlier this week, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or ABC, posted up a report on their official news programme airing on national television about GamerGate. Once again, the station has done very little actual research onto the issue, and has instead cherry-picked its interviewees on the topic, choosing only to talk to people that view GamerGate as a hate movement. For those unfamiliar with GamerGate, it’s a group of gamers tweeting under a the hashtag #GamerGate about corruption in video games journalism.
One of the things that this segment can be known for is that it at least looks like it makes an attempt at trying to find out what GamerGate is about, by interviewing people that are involved with it. These people include people that oppose GamerGate, and only people that oppose GamerGate. From memory, these included: Hex (from Good Game), Brianna Wu (from SpaceKatGirl (IIRC)), a local game developer named Rebecca and a small few random gamers at PAXAus. Yes, PAXAus, where there were literally thousands of gamers, they chose the interviews that ran with their narrative.
Our main gripe is that, once again, the ABC fails to uphold any kind of jounralistic ethics when it comes its reporting. In this case, it has purely only told one half of a story, and only given screentime to the side that supports the ABCs narrative in this case. In the past, shows such as The David Pakman Show have brought out members of both sides of the argument to present their cases to the audience. This lack of impartiality actually goes solidly against the ABCs own policies on reporting, in particular, this policy on impartiality (link is a pdf). How have they broken this impartiality? By only presenting one side of a story, cherry-picking testimony to prove their own narrative, and then presenting what is only effectively, one half of an argument to their audience.
What’s interesting is how even the ABC has simple events completely mixed up in this report. The first of which is that they claim GamerGate started because of questions into Zoe Quinn and her “sleeping with someone in order to get good reviews for her game.” This is patently false, this initial line of questioning was into a separate thing known as the Quinnspiracy saga. From here, people started to take note on how gaming journalists have behaved themselves, going so far as to sleep with their contacts without noting that they have a relationship with those contacts. Things got worse when they (the gaming press) released 12 articles on the same day calling gamers dead and several other insults.
In the report, a bunch of quotes are thrown up on the screen with some ominous music playing. Why is the ominous music even relevant? This is just adding un-needed drama to make the viewers at home, perhaps unconsciously, feel like what is being reported on is bad (and also true). What’s even worse, is that none of these quotes are given any context on where they came from, who said them, or what they are even in relation to. Certainly, if these were about Gamergate and came from Twitter, then these quotes would also likely to have included the #Gamergate somewhere within them.
What’s most hilarious is that when they’re actually showing tweets with the #GamerGate that have a negative inflection, nearly all of these tweets are the ones insulting #GamerGate supporters. For example, that one tweet likening all #GamerGate supporters as worse than members of ISIS. However, they use this to spin their narrative that #GamerGate is about abuse, and not about ethics in journalism.
After this, they bring the one and only, Brianna Wu out into an interview, where it is stated that she has been forced to leave her home and that the FBI are now looking into things. At this point, everyone should know where Ms. Wu stands on GamerGate, it’s not the pro-ethics side. While this interview is playing, there are more quotes, presented without context or any note given where they came from. Curiously, any mention of GamerGate is missing in any of these comments of unknown origin.
BRIANNA WU, GAME DEVELOPER: They threatened to murder me, to rape me. They threatened to sever my husband’s genitals and choke me to death with them. They threatened to murder any of my children that I might have because they would grow up to, you know, want women to be equal.”
MONIQUE SCHAFTER: Brianna Wu’s personal address was posted online in an attack known as doxing.
(male voiceover): “Guess what, bitch, I know where you live. You and Frank live at …”.
If anyone knows where that message about their address has come from, can you let us know? We still can’t find it anywhere on the internet.
After this, we have Leigh Harris, a games journalist turned independent game developer that has a statement where he talks about how women in journalism and development have left the industry after this debacle. We’re sure there was more to this interview, but presented in the manner it was, it’s clear it’s an anti-GamerGate message. What’s curiously missing from this is a rebuttal about how GamerGate supporters funded something like $75k into getting women into development through The Fine Young Capitalists development program.
After this, queue a montage of cherry-picked scenes in video games where women are shown to be playing beach games, in submissive positions due to context in the story (but taken out of context to make gamers look like misogynistic playgrounds) and more. Curiously lacking in this segment are strong female characters like Samus Aran, Lara Croft, Bayonetta, or any other female character that doesn’t fit their narrative. The same goes for any scenes that empower women, they’re all curiously missing, showing only scenes where women are painted to be subservient or weak. What’s most interesting is the scene in Red Dead Redemption where the Mexican guy is trying to sell a woman to the games protagonist. Curiously missing from this scene was its resolution.
Overall a lot of the message in the last segment was how people want more diversity in gaming. This is a strong sentiment and one that is already happening. Strangely, when you put this sentiment next to a piece that’s clearly pushing an agenda, it’s hard to not think that #GamerGate are about being anti-inclusive. However, whenever I hear sentiments like those, I think of that one website that interviewed a GamerGate supporter and an Anti-GamerGate supporter and the GamerGate side were all about inclusitivity. Even the commenters took note on how much more accepting the GamerGate side came across.
Australians affected by this impartial reporting can write to their Members of Parliament to have the ABCs funding cut. The ABC is supposed to be an impartial organisation so that Australians can rely on their news being delivered without bias. It has failed in this regard, so why should Australians have their Tax dollars going to an organisation that has failed them?
For the readers that are curious about where GamerGate stands, check out the dossier that followers have posted here.
Imparitality notes – http://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/GNImpartialityINS.pdf
Original Story – http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2014/s4127293.htm
GamerGate Dossier – http://press.gamergate.me/dossier/
Note: The author may have presented some bias in this article due to being sick of the ABCs rubbish reporting and lack of integrity in following their own journalistic guidelines. There also may be a slight bias at not liking that the author has been attacked by gaming journalism for simply enjoying playing video games.