On October 23, games journalist Ian Miles Cheong released a YouTube video and a LULZ article reporting on the doxxing and harassment campaign targeting CD Projekt Red employees and their relatives. The report quickly went viral, reaching the Reddit front page with the most popular thread earning 5,6k upvotes.
The story was already bizarre: the entire hullabaloo had started over a tweet accidentally gender appropriating the #WontBeErased hashtag for a non-transgender purpose, after all.
Then a Daily Dot hit piece appeared. And while the article itself could find no factual fault with the reporting, its title suggested the polar opposite — and far worse. Ian had become a literally Hitler.
It’s not every day that I feel the urge to defend myself from spurious claims by the fake news media over something I report, but this is an instance where I not only want to but believe it necessary. Reporting for the Daily Dot on October 26, blogger Ana Valens made an issue of Hype Break’s report on Good Old Games and CD Projekt Red and the incidences of harassment and doxing directed towards employees of the company—a report that was reproduced in written form on LULZ.
The article, titled “Alt-right Gamers are Lying to You on YouTube,” draws attention to the Hype Break video, “CD Projekt Red Employees Doxed & Harassed by Game Journalist Mob,” incorrectly describing me as “alt-right.” Valens was encouraged to reach out to me, but only solicited comment hours after the hitpiece went up. Valens did not contact me prior to publication, responding to me only after I took the article’s credibility to task on social media.
Perhaps the blogger was incensed by my efforts in taking game journalists affiliated with Daily Dot, VG247, VICE, Rock Paper Shotgun, and a number of other outlets to task for participating in an on-going harassment campaign against employees of the company who, in their eyes, committed a mortal sin by misusing sacred Twitter hashtags. Or perhaps the author seeks to craft a narrative around the popularity of YouTubers who are very quickly grabbing views away from dying websites like DailyDot to not only demonize YouTubers to their audience, but also attack the credibility of alternative games media.
Whatever the case, Daily Dot tries, but fails to undermine the reporting on Hype Break and instead admits that my report was correct regarding my claim about the mob not only doxed a social media manager (and others who earned their ire) but also invited harassment to the victim’s family members.
I make no apologies for my report, nor do I make any attempt to hide my disdain for any form of harassment done in the name of “social justice” or any other brand of politics. The motivation driving the mob is clear, and their intentions are obvious in countless postings on both Twitter and the ResetEra forums, where members of the forum, including an administrator, participated in some so-called “internet detective work” to out an individual whom they blamed for a tweet on the official GOG account, which they deemed transphobic.
It’s worth addressing as a point against the DailyDot article that GOG’s offending tweet, which used the hashtag #WontBeErased to promote GOG’s library of classic video games, was neither intended to be a mockery of transgender people, nor would anyone who isn’t already geared to be offended by every little thing that comes across their screen find it offensive. But some people found it offensive, and because it made their tummies hurt, calls to fire the company’s social media team followed, like clockwork.
Amidst all the gnashing and wailing of crybabies across the gaming and entertainment media about the firings of Jessica Price from ArenaNet and Chuck Wendig, both of whom were dismissed for their poor conduct on social media—and not because anyone complained—there is no small amount of irony in calling for others to be fired for remarks that are clearly meant in jest and not innately offensive to begin with, much less participating in a harassment mob and justifying it thereafter. That’s precisely what Dominic Tarason, a writer for Rock Paper Shotgun, did, along with Kirk McKeand of VG247, who republished the dox of a GOG employee.
It’s also worth noting that GOG deleted its tweet less than two minutes after the company’s social media team recognized their mistake. It matters little that the company addressed the spectacle less than 24 hours later in what I construed as a clarification of the company’s position on politics in video games, and what others, like Rock Paper Shotgun, referred to as a “dogwhistle” for GamerGate supporters.
Why is it so terribly offensive for game developers and platforms like GOG to leave contemporary politics out of games?
The article is also worth addressing for claiming that “the gaming community largely condemned GOG’s tweet,” because contrary to the belief of its writer, a couple hundred grievance mongers on Twitter do not represent the “gaming community.” Most gamers are too busy playing games to care about some stupid tweet. I had to pause my playthrough of Red Dead Redemption 2 to write this article and I hold Daily Dot responsible for stealing my time away from the game.
The Daily Dot correctly admits that my report was indeed correct. According to Valens, a source close to the incident confirmed to the Daily Dot that a GOG employee’s family members were receiving harassing phone calls over the controversy. The only thing they couldn’t confirm was that the employee’s home address and phone number were posted on ResetEra.
Although this is a fact that was never in dispute by anyone who read the forum before other administrators of the website stepped in to purge the thread of personal information identifying employees of GOG and CD Projekt Red, the Daily Dot claims that it “seems unlikely” that ResetEra posters ever engaged in doxing. It’s worth noting here that Valens then admits, in the very next sentence, that two users had posted personal information, thereby contradicting her previous claim that dox had not been posted.
One of the biggest claims made by GOG’s detractors links a GOG employee’s article criticizing both Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathan McIntosh over their attempts to politicize the annual video game convention, E3. This article is incorrectly described by the Daily Dot blogger as “his past writing on Anita Sarkeesian,” which is a way to manipulate the reader into thinking that the employee in question spent most of his time obsessing over the founder of Feminist Frequency. When did it become forbidden to criticize another critic?
Furthermore, there is no evidence that the person the mob chose to target was responsible for the tweet or the clarification that followed less than a day later. GOG has a social media team. No one person is responsible for everything they post on GOG, the CDProjekt Red twitter account, or the Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account—all of which have come under fire at some point or another over some tweet.
I reported that GOG employees were doxed and harassed. I reported that they were being targeted by a social justice mob. I reported that game journalists joined the harassment campaign and, in some cases, even shared the personal information of targets highlighted by the mob.
Where is the lie?
The title of the Daily Dot article clearly states that I lied to manipulate “unsuspecting viewers”, but the body says that my report was correct. That’s not even getting into labeling me alt-right. It says in the article that I do not identify as alt-right, but that’s precisely how they chose to paint me, claiming that the political beliefs in my videos “largely reflect alt-right beliefs.”
What does that even mean?
The blogger claims that the “NPC” meme is an “alt-right meme” dehumanizing opponents of the far-right, as if the term isn’t being used all across the board to describe anyone who uncritically consumes the news and follows a narrative. Valens also incorrectly defines wrongthink as a reference to “queer and feminist spaces as cults where people who think the ‘wrong way’ are punished.” The term itself has its roots in George Orwell’s 1984, synonymous with crimethink and thoughtcrime. It refers to the act of punishing someone for refusing to go along with authoritarianism. Is the Daily Dot writer admitting that identity politics breeds authoritarianism? Because that’s certainly true.
Valens takes issue with my reference to the phrase, “no bad tactics, only bad targets,” which I used to describe the mob’s actions against the targets of their ire. As Valens herself states, the phrase is used to describe how mobs attack targets with no concern for collateral damage, and implies that I sensationalized their actions. Once again, it is not a lie to point out that this is exactly what happened to a GOG employee, who was doxed, and whose family received harassing phone calls over the controversy.
The Daily Dot article is interestingly framed, focusing on the idea that I lied, while simultaneously acknowledging that I was correct in every one of my claims. Here’s a free tip for Ana Valens and the Daily Dot: if you’re writing a news report next time, don’t force a conclusion if the facts don’t support it, because it makes you look like an idiot, a liar and a propagandist.