For those who asked, my response to the recent drama

(Note: the following is written assuming the logs in question are legitimate.  I have been unable to verify this first hand.)

If you know what this is about, great.  If you don’t, it’s for the best.  I don’t want any more accusations leveled at me than what I’ve already had to deal with.

For those in the know… another month, another data dump.  Data dumps seem to be the political warfare tool of choice these days, and I’m going to say off the top that I find the whole thing uncomfortable.  That’s not to say that dumps of this sort can’t do some good – Edward Snowden’s activities are an example of that – but the release of people’s private catty conversations… there’s no predicting which way they’re going to blow up or who they’re going to hurt.

People are not perfect.  People need the ability to vent without it coming back to bite them.  So individual statements made by people who I already knew couldn’t stand me?  This is not especially relevant to my existence.

I’ve said some choice things about many of the people involved as well.  People get pissed off and they talk.  There is nothing nefarious about people hating me.  The trouble starts when they start acting on that hatred to get other people to hate me too… or worse, hurt my career.

I wasn’t the only person who had cruel things said about them, but I can only speak for myself.  Where I’m concerned, the pattern appears to have been about twisting innocent things I said and did to make me seem like, quote, “the devil”.

My natural inclination is to respond to these things with humour.  Sadly, this is precisely the sort of response that made me a target in the first place – these individuals took jokes I’d made and made them somehow seem serious.  Comments I made about video games were twisted to sound like I was mocking historical oppression of people.  Jokes about my dog were warped to apply to people.  So I can’t defend myself with humour this time.

I should add, as a caveat, that the age of these comments also means that some of these people may have changed their minds about me.  I hope they’ve also changed the tactic of manipulating someone’s words to make them look bad because they don’t like them.  I’m aware this is probably a naïve hope.

Many of the accusations are not new.  They ended up on the Gamerghazi message board.  I’ve always maintained that Gamerghazi has been the public face of an aggressive clique within gaming, so it’s hard for me to be too angry since this is vindication in this regard.

The biggest source of concern for me is that these people didn’t keep their attacks contained to their private chat group.  This may very well be the source of the industry blacklisting that I’ve received.  If you’re an editor or convention organizer that’s rejected one of my pitches because you heard I was a problem, there’s another side to the story.

So let’s go through the worst of the assertions, one by one. I’ll include the dates to make the age of the comments clear, and I’ll leave the dates and the screen handles of the chatter on, because I think context is so important here:

[22/12/2014, 8:02:59 PM] Secret Gamer Girl: Did I ever mention the time Liana confided in me that a trusted source let her in on how you had a friend dox and send death threats to Brianna to get her to join your side?

I treated comments about Zoe Quinn such as this as rumors.  The point I was trying to make at the time – and I remember this because I repeated it a lot – was that accusations of harassment were flying from both sides without substantiation.  I wanted everyone to calm down.  Honour a cease fire.  Because people were getting hurt.

For the record: doxing is wrong.  Doxing is an attempt to frighten someone.  There is no need to publish a person’s full legal name, address, or other identifying information that could be used to stalk them.  It does nothing to disprove the substance of their argument.  Any claims that I somehow condone doxing for any reason are categorically false.

 

[22/12/2014, 8:06:27 PM] Ian Cheong: Liana seems more interested in driving her personal vendettas than she is in any principled activity.

Big note here: Ian has profusely and unreservedly apologized for his conduct, and I believe he’s sincere.  I’m bringing up this point because I’m pretty sure he’s not the only person who believes this about me, and this is an insidious accusation because it’s almost impossible to disprove.  We have no way of ever confirming a person’s motivations, but I hope it speaks for itself that, between 2014 and now, I have gone to great lengths to separate my professional disagreement from personal vendettas against some of the people involved here.

Not only is there no evidence to support the idea of a personal vendetta on my part against Zoe Quinn, you can see evidence above that refutes that theory.  Here are the facts of my publicly stated opinions regarding Zoe Quinn at that time.  On August 13, 2014, I gave $5 USD to “The Quinnspiracy” as a donation to Depression Quest.  I know the exact date because I still have the paypal receipt.

On September 19, 2014, I made the following public statement in my first Gamergate article: http://metaleater.com/video-games/feature/gamers-live-an-in-depth-analysis-of-gamergate

Before last week, I’d been aware of the controversy surrounding independent game developer Zoe Quinn, her pissed off ex, Eron Gjoni, and a writer for Rock Paper Shotgun and Kotaku named Nathan Grayson. I didn’t think much of it, other than that it was highly ironic that the central figure in a debate about ethics in journalism was Quinn (who is a developer). It’s no longer important, since the allegations have already been investigated by both websites.

In a follow up article published on October 31, 2014, I said:

No one wins against the spotlight because it cuts both ways. Various press sites ran articles about Zoe and Anita in attempts to “support” them. This was misguided. By running one-sided stories about various women, both for and against, the media has turned these women into greater targets through those biases. I’m not suggesting we adopt victim blaming mentalities. I’m saying we need to stop making the victimization worse.

My articles regarding Feminist Frequency weren’t published until early 2015, so those can’t even be factored in.

The breakdown regarding Zoe Quinn and myself occurred when I was dragged directly into her battle with Eron Gjoni.  I first encountered Eron Gjoni when we were both guests on a livestream run by a third party.  To be clear: I was not a part of the guest selection.  I did not seek out Eron Gjoni for comment.  During this livestream, some bad actors decided to attack me in the stream chat and on twitter.  Some pretty nasty things were said to and about me.  A certain individual who has since been banned from twitter actively whipped up harassment against me while I was on the stream.

Unfortunately, it seems someone told Zoe Quinn that people were attacking her, not me.  This livestream became involved in Quinn and Gjoni’s ongoing court battle, and I ended up speaking to a police officer in Boston for about 45 minutes.  For the record, I don’t remember the officer’s name, and I wasn’t involved further, because the police officer told me that in order to officially enter a statement into evidence, I’d have to travel to Boston to give a statement in person.  The officer didn’t think that was necessary, because there was a recording of the stream so it was easy to verify what, in fact, was said on it.  I told Zoe Quinn on twitter that I did not appreciate being involved, and I wanted her to stop disseminating the false statements about what happened on that livestream.

quinn proof 1

This was on October 19, 2014.  According to the logs, Zoe Quinn apparently did not stop spreading false rumors about me.

 

[22/12/2014, 8:06:53 PM] drinternetphd: fun fact: liana’s also buddies with my ex now

“drinternetphd” is apparently a pseudonym for Zoe Quinn.  Based on context, the “ex” in question is Eron Gjoni.  I am not friends with Eron Gjoni.  I have never been friends with Eron Gjoni.  I’ve communicated with Eron a handful of times, in my role as a journalist covering the Gamergate controversy.  It was a combination of being at the same place at the same time, as I outlined in the comment above, and a responsibility to respond to Eron taking issue with describing him in an article as a “pissed off ex”.

 

[22/12/2014, 8:06:56 PM] Secret Gamer Girl: … she’s a hardline GGer with a really great poker face who’s particularly creepy since she’s been on the receiving end and knows exactly what she’s exposing people to.

This is a foolish accusation.  I have been repeatedly and viciously attacked by hardline GGers for not being a hardline GGer.  They even went after my husband and mother.  I wish I had a great poker face, but the reality was that at that time, I was so overwhelmed that I broke down and cried because people were ganging up on me in a livestream.

 

[22/12/2014, 8:07:05 PM] Ian Cheong: Like she tried to get me to publish an anti-Anita Sarkeesian article up on Gameranx.

Absolutely and categorically false.  The article in question, found here http://gameranx.com/features/id/23196/article/why-the-term-girl-gamer-still-isn-t-helping/ was actually published.  It contained a couple of lines related to Sarkeesian and a paragraph about the Tomb Raider reboot that the editors found objectionable because they claimed they violated site policy.  I removed the offending paragraphs without argument beyond asking to see the referenced site policy so I could conform to it.  I never got that document, so I did no more writing for Gameranx.

I do not create content that is against Anita Sarkeesian as a person.  I don’t know Anita Sarkeesian as a person.  My issue is exclusively with her theories.  I see comments otherwise as doing little more than creating drama between two women with strong opinions about games.  I disagree strongly with Sarkeesian’s opinions.  I still maintain that she has a right to have them.  (Note: again, Ian Cheong has apologized.  I’m just making my position abundantly clear.  I think it’s important based on things that come later.)

[22/12/2014, 8:15:59 PM] Veerender Jubbal: Nicholas did the screenshot before she deleted it, and it spread a lot–thank God.

Note the evidence of this group spreading screenshots to encourage harassment.  This is in response to a comment I made innocently enough, but social justice types took offense to it.  I apologized and deleted the tweet out of consideration for the hurt feelings.  They wouldn’t let it go.  They spread it.  That’s encouraging harassment.

 

[26/12/2014, 1:35:41 PM] Secret Gamer Girl: retroactively funny thing- back when I was talking to Liana for my anonymous harassment story thing, she asked me not to mention anything about the anti-semetic stuff GG says

I did ask her to not reference the specific Antisemitism directed at me.  I did this for two reasons: I was told that it was likely the people doing it were not actual GGers but third party trolls trying to cause trouble, and that particular type of harassment had stopped and I didn’t want to encourage a new wave of it.

 

[26/12/2014, 1:37:28 PM] Sarah, Butt-er of the Butts: i’d love for you to write about gamergate. just don’t mention the anti-semitism. or the racism in general. or the transphobia. or the misogyny. or the harassment or doxxing or backwards ideology. it’s about ethics in game journalism. that’s all you’re allowed to mention

In the same article that was published on Sept 12, 2014, I wrote:

The misogyny within our ranks is real. The racism is real. The homophobia and transgendered stigma is real. The stigma against mental illness is real. Our juvenile relationship with sexualized violence is real. These things may only occur in small subgroups of gamers, but that doesn’t give us the right to turn a blind eye to it.

So contrary to Sarah Nyberg’s assertions, I do, in fact, mention racism, transphobia, and misogyny.

[26/12/2014, 1:37:31 PM] drinternetphd: I’ve talked with some of her former editors

Now this is disconcerting.  This is a claim, allegedly by Zoe Quinn, that she has been talking to former supervisors about me.  If they did, in fact, break professional confidences, that’s utterly unprofessional.  Any way you slice it, it’s completely inappropriate for someone to directly meddle in my career.

 

[26/12/2014, 1:39:49 PM] Quinnae: She called me a bully for talking about how GG has a high school obsession.

[26/12/2014, 1:40:06 PM] Quinnae: Due to her ranting about the subject that day.

I didn’t, in fact, call Katherine Cross a bully.  I cautioned her against being a bully.  I did accuse her of taking a shot at me.  I explained that I felt she was condescending and mocking in response to my comments that Feminist Frequency’s supporters were trying to bully me in high school fashion.  My point, as I told her at the time, was that as a member of that faction, her comment that she “felt sad” for me was inadequate.  In response to that, she went to the bullies and joined the pile on.  I reiterate: it’s high school level behavior.

 

Now we jump forward to April 2015, when the harassment against me, or as I called it, “bullying” by this group, had been going on for six months.  It got so bad I almost quit writing about games and I had written about this in February of that year.

 

[04/01/2015, 12:57:12 PM] Quinnae: I get frustrated with her because it’s women like her who very, very deliberately make things harder for other women by trying to be the “cool kid” who acts like the sexism she’s immersed in is no big deal.

Let’s break this statement down…

“Women like me” who “very deliberately” make things harder for other women.  I wish I could have challenged Katherine Cross what she meant by “women like me”, because it seems like a pretty insidious dog whistle.  Furthermore, her assertion that I’m doing anything deliberately lacks evidence.  She didn’t know me nearly well enough to speculate on my intentions.

Then she says I act like sexism I’m immersed in is “no big deal”.

This is ridiculous.  If I didn’t think it was a big deal, why would I continue to talk about the treatment of women in videogames?  I started talking about these issues publicly back in 2012.  I wouldn’t continue to talk about the slut shaming, body shaming, and exclusion of… well, to use Katherine Cross’ phrase, “women like me” if I thought it was all “no big deal”.

I’m so tired of being treated like a town whore in this industry by people who don’t bother trying to get to know me as a person.

My entire point has been that the terms like “women like her” have been used synonymously with “slut”, “whore”, “tramp”, and other similar words.  My precise issue with the Feminist Frequency camp is that they have a grudge against “women like me”.  And Katherine Cross provided evidence for that theory right here.  This isn’t feminism.  It’s Meangirling.  You shouldn’t have to be the right kind of woman to be welcome in the videogame community.

I attempt to teach gamers about things like objectification because I believe it’s important.  I just believe in picking my battles, and that the issues involving women in videogames are substantial enough to not need to overstate them.

 

There was more, but I think you get the idea.  Any joke, quip, or attempt I made to regain a shred of dignity in the face of constant personal attacks was more fuel for them thinking I was “the devil”.  This wasn’t a measured response.  It was, in their parlance, victim blaming.  Do I care about the stupid name calling?  No.  Do I care what they think of me?  No.  The only three things I care about are:

1 – The appearance of enabling and participating in harassment – collecting and disseminating out of context screenshots, spreading rumors, Othering.  This continued after the founding of Crash Override Network in January of 2015, and was still going on only one month before Crash Override Network became an official Twitter trust and safety resource.  There’s evidence that Zoe Quinn herself attempted to interfere with my career.

I’m not going to call for anyone’s head or insist that CON be shut down.  I do think that both an official apology from the organization, as well as from individuals, is in order, and I think that the gaming industry at large needs to reassess opinions they formed based on Crash Override members’ comments.  If these things are true, the Crash Override Network needs to come clean about the harassment that was fostered under their own roof.

 

2 – the use of a dog whistle “women like her” comment from Katherine Cross, someone directly involved with the Feminist Frequency organization.  That someone directly involved with Feminist Frequency was feeding into personal attacks against me doesn’t come as a surprise.  However, that unsurprising quality doesn’t make it right.  Vague, negative comments about any group of women from a feminist organization are inappropriate, and I believe an apology is appropriate there too.

Let me be clear: the issue is not comments about me.  The issue is the comment about “women like” me.  Since Feminist Frequency takes a consistently sex negative approach, notably involving sex workers, it’s important from the perspective of integrity to be sure that these opinions are professional opinions and do not stem from a personal dislike of any type of woman.

 

3 –Randi Harper, who continues to include me and thousands of others on a block list of “twitter harassers”, was directly involved in these chats.  It’s hard not to believe that my inclusion on this list is politically motivated marginalization.  If this list is being used to bully, it should be removed from twitter in keeping with twitter’s free speech mandate and rules against harassment and intimidation.

 

When women bully other women, it’s often difficult to spot.  When it does become clear, it looks an awful lot like what those logs show, described in this paragraph on an article on the subject:

According to Dr. Cheryl Dellasega, female children who bully often grow into adult women who bully. What happens as female bullies get older is that they become more sophisticated and subtle in the way that they target others. Many times the in-group or cool clique support targeting. This aggressive behavior frightens its members, both girls and women, to go along in order to get along. Further, when women bully, they can elevate their own feelings by diminishing those of others, as they gossip, discount, reject, demean and exclude the focus of their enmity. These behaviors sabotage any opportunity for direct, honest and healthy friendship.

http://www.empowher.com/emotional-health/content/what-do-when-women-bully-women

I don’t think I can find better words to describe what those logs display.  Yes, men were involved too, but that doesn’t make it less wrong.  You have seen evidence of me telling them multiple times to stop what they were doing, so they knew, at least to an extent, that it was hurtful.

In an ideal situation, this is an opportunity for everyone to slow down, take a breath, and use this to build bridges.  Wrongs can be righted here.  It’s evidence of what I’ve been saying all along: the Gamergate controversy was ugly and all sides included periods where people didn’t behave very well.

What I don’t want is for this to turn into an all out war because of some catty, snide stuff that people said in 2014.  The vast majority of it is meaningless, even if it’s not very nice.  I don’t want anyone going to war on my behalf.  I don’t want to be a weapon here.  There are a few serious issues that I’ve outlined above, but these things are easily addressable if people have the will.  There are ways to be productive.

(Note: This article has been edited to correct typos and formatting errors)

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5 thoughts on “For those who asked, my response to the recent drama”

  1. Talk about epic level of cleric patience being displayed by Liana right here in this piece. Damn girl you are being so much nicer then I think I could be and I get told I am the most polite arguer on twitter…
    have a Hug and a High Five from Australia. You certainly deserve one.

  2. I just want to say that while I disagree with you on a lot of things, I am almost in awe of your ability to stay classy in the face of things like this. I’ve tried more and more over the years to just stay out of these discussions, because taking part just leads to me posting hate-filled rants and then feeling disgusted with myself, so keeping my feelings to myself is really the best thing I can do. How you manage to stay calm and keep on trying to talk sense into both sides is beyond me. I tip my hat to you, madame.

  3. Hi Liana,
    I’m sorry that you had to go through. That is one thing that scares me about speaking out online. Not only am I afraid of being doxed, but I’m afraid of someone of destroying my reputation and livelihood. Thanks for sharing.

  4. It will be interesting to see what (if any) response individuals and organisations who are affiliated with Crash Override Network will have to the conduct of the network’s members. This is assuming of course that these revelations will even break through a social media bubble that is guarded by blockbots and a penchant for ideological conformity.

    I doubt that the skullduggerous scheming exposed by these chat-logs will be particularly revelatory to anyone who has been following this drama over the last couple of years and still has possession of their critical faculties. I don’t exactly know what the positive impact of this will be given that it will likely be largely ignored by much of the media but one can always hope that some good will come of it.

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