On the Alison Rapp/Nintendo Scandal

This scandal has made it all the way up to the Washington Post, and shows no sign of abating. For those not in the know, a PR rep from Nintendo got fired for moonlighting, blamed Gamergate, and everyone went nuts. In the ensuing fight, information became public that Rapp may or may not have worked as a prostitute.

People getting fired for technicalities is not new in any wing of the entertainment industry. Contracts are written to protect the employer, and no matter how much negotiation you do, these gigs are usually “at will”, meaning the employer can fire you whenever they want, with or without cause.

What’s unique here is the war that ensued because of the Gamergate accusation. As far as I can tell, the nastiest stuff came from a splinter of Gamergate known as GG Revolt, who spread some dox – personal information or documentation – on a service known as kiwifarms. I’ve never heard of kiwifarms before in association to Gamergate, so I think I understand why people got upset: the dox didn’t originate with the core Gamergate participants.  However, the people who claim the dox was spread by a “pro-Gamergate” faction aren’t wrong… they’re just not aware of how complex the divisions are within the ranks of these online crusaders against so-called “social justice warriors”.

Before we get into what I think about this whole mess, I want to outline my unique perspective. I was also subject to one of these supposedly “life ruining” data dig operations at the hands of Gamergate. In fact, certain people did it twice. They found some tweets that, taken out of context, looked worse than they were. People yelled at me about it. I apologized more than a few times, and most people moved on. Yeah, it was an unpleasant few months, but I’d hardly call it life ruining.

Some gamergate-related websites published some nonsense about me being a former stripper. They published photos of my husband and mother to call them ugly. That made me furious, but again, it was not life ruining. It was just underhanded and low.  Others active in Gamergate accused me of plagiarism. When asked to provide evidence, they didn’t. Because there wasn’t any.

Some of my personal information did get out.  It was handled quietly.  Alerting the world to the fact that you’ve been doxed is a great way to spread dox.  However, I know for a fact that some bad actors tried to release other information, and pro-Gamergate groups didn’t want to have any part of that.  There is some honor there.

The unsubstantiated accusations also flew fast and furious from the opposing, so-called “Anti-Gamergate” side, the side that has stridently backed Rapp in this latest dust up. Anti-Gamergate types called me “transphobic” because of a conversation I had on twitter with a parody account held by a cat.  A user on a subreddit called Gamerghazi described, in detail, the street I lived on, the contents of my house, and the general part of the city I live in.  It was an elegant not-dox that still disclosed personal information, and Gamerghazi didn’t see it for what it was.

They accused me of numerous other forms of bigotry, including the accusation that I abused a person with autism who turned out was lying about having autism. They accused me of fraud, non-payment in business dealings… the only thing that seemed to give some of them pause was when their compatriots started slut shaming me.

But to be fair, there’s just as many Pro-Gamergate types that legitimately oppose slut shaming too. Both sides have their hypocrites. Neither side is a monolith, and neither side has behaved especially heroically… nor consistently.

One side, however, decided to ostracize me. That was the Anti-Gamergate side. They’re very much a “you’re with us or we’re against you” type group. I’m on at least one block list used by people like Alison Rapp for the crime of following the “wrong” people on twitter. Heaven forbid I follow people I disagree with because I’m trying to keep an open mind.

So it’s no secret that I’m no fan of the clique that’s now rushed to Rapp’s defense, generating numerous articles that mention her alleged prostitution that are going to come up whenever any potential employer googles her name. I’m sure they mean well but, speaking from experience, game companies don’t care about things on a moral level. They care whether more people are going to start screaming at them. So this PR campaign, as well-intentioned as it may be, will hurt Rapp in the long run. The best play was to keep this as quiet as possible.

I know this because I wasn’t able to keep my own situation quiet. I was accused of “getting my tits out for a living” early on in the Gamergate controversy, and the ensuing war has made some game companies not just unwilling to hire me, but they won’t even grant permission for me to interview their developers. I’m “too controversial”. So all you have to do in the games industry now is level an accusation of a sexualized nature at a female professional to wreck their professional prospects. It doesn’t even have to be true.

It doesn’t sit right with me that Alison Rapp may have trouble finding work due to allegations that she’s a sex worker. I’ve seen plenty of drugs passed around at or after gaming events, which is also illegal. But it’s not sex, so the industry turns a blind eye. If someone is caught using, say, cocaine, it’s seen as a “medical problem”. If they stop the drugs, they’re hireable again.  At least, they must be, because I’ve seen people do coke who are still working in games.  Illegal activity isn’t enough to make you persona non grata, provided it isn’t illegal activity that involves a vagina.

That being said, I think Nintendo is totally within their rights to hire or fire anyone they want.  The stated grounds for termination was moonlighting, not being a whore.  Yes, it’s very common for some people to play fast and loose with contracts and keep their jobs.  But when you knowingly violate the terms of a signed agreement, you do so at your own peril.

I don’t think, however, that Alison Rapp should be shamed out of the industry, nor do I think that she should be held up as any sort of hero. Neither of these outcomes help her find another job, because sadly, the worst thing you can be in gaming, walking into an interview, is too visible. Game companies want minions right now – little adorable harmless critters who are hard to tell apart. The minute you’re known for something, someone may not like that something, and game companies are so risk averse that they won’t take a chance on anyone with an unpopular viewpoint.

Throughout my career, I’ve had shows cancelled, positions eliminated, and offers withdrawn. A career in any sort of creative field is a house built on thin ice.  But in all this talk about promoting women in gaming, the message has really been “promote women in gaming except for the dirty sluts”. And that’s not promoting women in gaming, because any woman can be labelled a slut at a moment’s notice. I know, because it happened to me.

I’ve deliberately avoided seeing myself as a victim in this whole thing. I firmly believe that these online trolling tactics, these “life ruins”, only work if you let them. This isn’t easy for me to say in days when half the gaming industry doesn’t want to be seen with me for fear they’ll get bullied by the anti-Gamergate mob. Plenty of people like what I do privately, but very few industry types will actively and publicly support me, because they don’t want to be the next target of a pack of influential bullies. It’s cowardice of a sort, but it’s a form of cowardice I totally understand.

The narrative is that I’m supportive of a group that tore into my life. I’m not supportive of those actions. I’m supportive of the people who don’t do that crap, and if you lump everyone with a complaint into the “evil Gamergaters” group, then you empower the bad actors. It’s like a monster that feeds on hate. As someone who came through it with my head held high, and who is forging a business independently because I love gaming even though gaming doesn’t want me right now, I can say with certainty that Gamergate isn’t the big problem in gaming when it comes to women. The Gamergate Controversy is just a symptom of a great many problems that aren’t about women, but they do more noticeably affect women.

We shouldn’t care so much about whether or not someone is a sex worker. I can see a company not wanting to be associated with illegal activity, but this mess has gone beyond that into a condemnation of a woman engaging in sexual activities the collective sees as beneath a “decent” woman. Prostitution is a role that we’re told turns women into “background decoration”. The categorization is dehumanizing. The thing is, media attention is dehumanizing in its own way. The best thing Rapp’s supporters can do is buy her a few drinks – or more than a few – let this calm down, and quietly help her get her career back on track. A headline helps no one but the site that’s getting the click.

Now before you claim I’m hypocritical on that statement because I myself wrote an article, remember that I’m not a Rapp supporter. I can’t be: she uses the blockbot I’m on, so I’m blocked from contacting her even though I’ve interacted with her in person at the Nintendo booth at E3.

One could claim I have the right to feel happy that “now she knows how it feels to be rejected”. I don’t. I’m very worried that the video game community is so divided into factions based on what they oppose. The minute you identify as “anti” something, you’re a destructive force. Your intent is to destroy. And many powerful people in the video game community are successfully causing a lot of pain right now.

(Edit: This article was edited to correct a copy/paste error)

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5 thoughts on “On the Alison Rapp/Nintendo Scandal”

  1. As ever – you speak with wisdom and empathy. Unfortunately – those that want destruction are the ones controlling the narratives on either side. there is a very ugly horrendous faction within GamerGate that has systematically driven anyone that has a shred of decency away from associating with the Tag. I know, I was one of them. I fought the Ralph and his minions vs moderates war within the tag. I fought the ayyy team, a trolling group that arose during the GG harrassment patrol fiasco, Now there is an extremely distastful group called GG revolt, who want the entire thing to burn, utilizing the very tactics and methodology that GG was against.

    These were the same group of people who advocated for microsoft utilizing exotic dancers now deliberately slutshaming Rapp. They do not care, their sole focus is to burn anything they deem “SJW” to the ground and then salt the earth. It is not enough for them that Rapp had already been terminated, regardless of who the Klepicks and others believe was responsible, this woman insinuated that GG was the reason, so she had to burn.

    Yet, those that are against GG and those that support aspects of it are just as guilty of the same acts. In a converation with a person the other day I pointed out his double standards when dealing with groups https://twitter.com/Escroll3/status/719392534569426944 (if this violates anything please forgive me, it is not intentional).

    So I have come to the conclusion that both viewpoints of this conflict are null and void at this point. They have become blinded by their hatred of each other that anything valid is now is lost. There are reasons people like Oliver Campbell, Jenn Medina (who has a creepy GGR stalker), myself, and a lot of others have and are abandoning the tag to the radicals.

    1. Yeah, that’s pretty much what I did myself a good while back. The craziness and group-think was getting too much for me so I bailed. The last time i paid serious attention to the happenings of GG was during the SPJ debate.

      There are bullies hiding behind both sides, claiming to be the righteous ones. And it’s pretty damn sad to see the power the internet has given those people thanks to social media.

  2. This entire conflict is baffling, what it’s turned into. From what I’d seen, and I did the unpleasant job of browsing through Rapp’s Twitter, it should have been over and done with on the moral side of things, but I suppose that my rose-tinted glasses don’t apply anymore. Gamergate still is just as bad as anti-Gamergate, if less corrupt.

    My point is that things that should have eternally condemned Rapp have been swept under the rug at this point. To clarify, she is, uh. An all-too-vehement defender of Japan’s age of consent laws, and had made a number of very questionable statements. Yes, Twitter isn’t the best platform to make statements on, but it’s a half-step from there to assume that that woman sees nothing wrong with peaedophilia. Not just that she defends Japan’s laws, she seemed to be very willing to have the same implemented all over the world, and, from memory, argued that children are being ostracized by being denied legal sexual conduct.

    She’s a total fucking cook, but that’s somehow not good enough. Fuck Nintendo, fuck this Gamergate group, and Alison Rapp as well.

  3. Is anyone else suspicious that Nintendo might be outright lying about why Alison was fired?

    Her job involved directly working with children and she was defending child porn (actual child porn, not just drawings) on a twitter account associated with her work. That’s the kind of bad press that I could imagine Nintendo doing anything to avoid, up to finding a justification for firing Alison that doesn’t involve the words “child porn” so they can downplay that there was ever a problem.

    And with the timing being just shortly after a professional anti-child pornography advocate contacted them… well I’m suspicious.

  4. Fair enough write up. But the thing is that this all continued that deep into her personal life because she and the media, and everyone else on the outside blamed GG.
    GG got her fired
    GG harassed her
    GG’s fault.
    We said that we didn’t. We said it wasn’t our fault. Nintendo released information saying it wasn’t our fault, still the press and Rapp herself kept blaming GG.
    So some people set out to prove everyone wrong. They went out to find evidence that we did not get her fired. It was her “Second Job”.
    We. Could. Not. Win.
    If we did nothing they would all just keep blaming us for getting her fired. If we found proof it wasn’t us then we would be called out for “slut shaming” and “doxing”.

    It was a rigged game from the fucking start and now GG is being blamed for getting her fired, doxing, digging in personal life, slutshaming etc just because we wanted a lying sack of shit and her media buddies to stop blaming us for fucking everything.

    So we found out she was an escort. This was the “second job” Nintendo talked about. The reason she got fired. So it got posted. Not to slut shame her but to prove it was not us.
    She was the one knowing damn well why she got fired but still playing the victim and blaming GG.
    She didn’t think anyone would find out. It was “safe” to blame a group of people that the media was itching to just jump on and blame.
    So they blamed us. We found evidence everything was a fucking lie. Then we got blamed for finding the evidence that she was lying and the media does no research.

    If she was afraid of this info coming out, she should never have stood on a high horse after she got fired for what she damn well knew wasn’t gg and yell she got fired because of gg.

    But who cares right? The articles are written. The clicks have been had. Rapp has an army of beta motherfuckers sucking up to her every thought. And nobody except seemingly GG does any fucking research.

    The blame game keeps rolling.
    And the odds are stacked against us.
    Every. Single. Time.

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