Just recently I had the great honor to sit down and do an interview with Best Mom Eva about the #ZachAttack dox crew, #GamerGate, the games industry and much more. So without further ado, please enjoy my interview =)

best mom eva twitter picture

Best Mom Eva likes to use pictures from the “Neon Genesis Evangelion” universe (she used to watch the series a lot when she was younger, and even her name is based on NGE).

Robin TGG
For those who don’t know who you are, could you please introduce yourself?

Mombot
I am an anonymous poster that frequents online message boards like futaba, 2ch, 4chan and 8chan. When the events of GamerGate made 4chan inhospitable, I migrated to 8chan and started to take interest in the events surrounding GamerGate. Shortly after, I decided to make an account on Twitter to add my voice to the discussion. The rest is history.

In real life, I am a mom who works as a medical research translator while finishing up my post-grad education. I live in Tokyo with my husband, our two daughters and our cat. I like to spend what little free time I have arguing about video games online, and have made this a habitual practice for over a decade.

My favorite game is EverQuest, which nearly caused me to flunk out of my master’s degree program!

Robin TGG
If I´m not wrong now, you have been a supporter of #GamerGate for quite some time now, right? How did that come about? Also, what do Japanese gamers think about #GamerGate in general?

Mombot
I joined GamerGate at the tail end of 2014, several months after it started. Initially, I did not follow the events of GamerGate. From my perspective the movement concerned Zoe Quinn and her relationship with people in the indie game industry, and that wasn’t really something that I cared about at the time.

However, my opinion changed when 4chan’s moderators cracked down on free discussion of GamerGate on 4chan’s video game board. When I tried to ask questions, I was permanently banned from all 4chan boards. In other words, I was expelled from 4chan despite having no real interest in GamerGate and having no real desire to participate in it. Only then did I start paying attention to the events that caused GamerGate.

In regards to GamerGate in Japan, there are still many regular gamers in Japan who have no idea what GamerGate is, or have only read translated Huffington Post articles which are direct transcriptions of anti-GamerGate talking points. However, there are some gamers, mainly from the chan communities, who have gone to the trouble of doing the research. One such person is the Japanese poster who goes by the pseudonym “Okakura Fuuken”. He has written a very long summary of GamerGate in Japanese here: http://roninworksjapan.tumblr.com.

Robin TGG
What´s your take on the ongoing censorship of games in the West? Especially when it comes to Japanese games that get butchered once the game(s) in question is localized.

Mombot
Since joining GamerGate, I have been vocal about the negative impact of censorship of video games in the western market. Through the hashtag #TorrentialDownpour, many gamers have come together to voice their concern over what they see as cultural imperialism perpetrated by politically-minded video game localizers. My participation in this hashtag has invited some very strong criticism from western game journalists, bloggers, internet personalities and game localizers. At the same time, I have received encouraging words of support from game developers and artists, both Japanese and foreign.

As a translator myself, I believe that a good translator is invisible, and if the reader is aware of their presence then the readers’ emotional investment in the story and characters is harmed. For example, inserting nods to current political events into a fantasy story that seeks to escape from reality fundamentally betrays what the original creators of that story sought to achieve: a story removed from our own reality. “Authorial intent” has become the watchword for participants in the #TorrentialDownpour hashtag.

Robin TGG
Could you perhaps tell us what went down in the case with Ubisoft´s creative director at Blue Byte Palle Hoffstein, and the #ZachAttack dox crew? As I would love to hear you tell us the full story behind the doxing scandal, and the trap that you set up for those who wanted to dox you.

Mombot
In April of 2016 I was approached by an anonymous GamerGate participant called Rudderhouse. He suggested to me that he could compel key people in anti-GamerGate into incriminating themselves by acting as their informer and feeding them false information about my actual identity. All he would have to do is gain their trust and then provide them with the information, and the anti-GamerGate people would do the rest of the work in putting it together in their attempt to intimidate me off of social media with threat of revealing my true identity. I agreed.

In the following days, I played along with Rudderhouse by pretending to argue with him on social media during the row over Dead or Alive Xtreme 3’s cancelled western release. Sometimes, our act got very heated, and both Rudderhouse and I did our best to act like we were truly at each-other’s throats. After a few days of back-and-forth, Rudderhouse fired a parting shot and blocked me, which I gleefully announced to my followers. Both GamerGate and anti-GamerGate bought the act. Rudderhouse was in.

Over the next four months, Rudderhouse and I worked together quietly. Rudderhouse built up a fake identity which we named “Zachary Miller”. He was given a face, a place of birth, address (of a burned down building), employer, and social media accounts. I provided details and embellishments, drawing upon my knowledge as a Japanese citizen. Most of all, Zachary was imbued with traits which we knew that anti-GamerGate would love to hate: we made Zachary rich, white, heterosexual, anime fan who cosplayed as Naruto and posted fetish hentai porn on his private Facebook account. In almost every doctored screenshot of Zachary’s Facebook account which Rudderhouse made, he inserted a subliminal clue which would tie Zachary’s identity to me, thereby “incriminating” me.

best mom eva thinking pose

Best Mom Eva´s “Neon Genesis Evangelion” avatar is most likely famous worldwide by now.

Meanwhile, Rudderhouse was busy socially engineering a handful of anti-GamerGate trolls who we considered to be the most gullible, dumb and vindictive of the lot. Rudderhouse fed each one a story via private messages. Rudderhouse alleged that he had ridden in an elevator with another white man at Comiket in December of 2015 and overheard a conversation about experiencing a “gender crisis” because of his Twitter exploits. Rudderhouse lied to the trolls, telling them that he had taken a curious look at the man’s phone and seen that the man was tweeting from the mombot account! As every troll Rudderhouse contacted had an axe to grind with me, they all readily believed this story and couldn’t wait to call “mombot” out for the pathetic anime-loving white man that he was. But wait, there was no evidence yet, Rudderhouse explained to them. He told each of the trolls to wait while he scoured Comiket hashtags on Twitter for an account or incidental photograph that would lead to further clues. Nearly every troll, thinking that they possessed exclusive information, waited for Rudderhouse to come through with further confirmation.

Our preparations were finally nearing completion in the beginning of August when another unrelated incident focused many angry eyes on me: Robert Marmolejo, a volunteer aid worker for Zoe Quinn’s Crash Override Network, was accused by many women in the anti-GamerGate camp of exploiting his position to solicit sex from online harassment victims that had contacted Crash Override Network seeking help. However, members of Crash Override Network quickly denied Marmolejo’s involvement in their operation.

Hours later, an anonymous source entrusted me with leaked chatlogs of Crash Override Network’s Skype group, the contents of which corresponded with claims being made against Marmolejo: that he was active in the Crash Override Network’s Skype group and was delegated the task of counseling harassment victims. I gathered these findings together into an article and published them here.

My article aggravated anti-GamerGate very badly. The next day was accompanied by much combativeness and trolling. Many Twitter accounts that I had never seen before came out of the woodwork to question my race and gender—as if those things had anything to do with my arguments. It was then that I knew: this was the wave that I was waiting to ride. Anti-GamerGate wanted to discredit me by any means possible. I contacted Rudderhouse and we began the sting operation on Tuesday afternoon, August 9th Japan-time.

As is recorded in the chatlog here Rudderhouse gathered the anti-GamerGate trolls he had tricked into a chatroom and told them that there had been a “development”: a months-long scouring of social media for pictures of Zachary had proven fruitless, but a real life friend who had listened to Rudderhouse’s description of Zachary at Otakon was, by sheer luck, a mutual friend with Zachary on Facebook. This was convenient for both Rudderhouse and I, because it allowed us to provide nothing for evidence aside from a locked, private Facebook account and doctored screenshots which revealed its alleged contents. Anti-GamerGate bought the story hook, line and sinker and immediately went to work for us trying to find more details about Zachary online, even going so far as to get in touch with a “contact” at the California DMV. Thrilled with the idea that they were finally going to “bag mombot”, they started to crack jokes and make memes about the Zachary persona. The trolls renamed the chatroom to “ZachAttack!”

As time went on, more accounts joined the chatroom. Izzy Galvez, one of Zoe Quinn’s trusted Crash Override Network associates and a self-titled “internet abuse specialist” eagerly joined the chatroom after Rudderhouse, in a private message, informed Izzy that my doxing was underway. Rudderhouse took advantage of Izzy’s well-established egotism by tempting him with a chance to be the hero of the mombot dox operation: He presented Izzy with a tweet on my account, the context and content of which perfectly matched one of the Zachary Facebook screenshots. A smoking gun. Izzy couldn’t contain himself. “I’ll be in the DM group lol”. From that point on, in the main dox chatroom, Izzy claimed that it was he who had discovered the matching Tweets, to which all present raucously congratulated him. Rudderhouse, for his part, silently surrendered all credit of the discovery to Izzy.

best-mom-eva-zachattack anime

You will find tons of Best Mom Eva and #Zachattack memes on the Internet right now.

Also present in that chatroom at this point was was Ubisoft Creative Director Palle Hoffstein. This was surprising to me, but not unprecedented. I had humiliated Hoffstein in the past for forcing him to publicly apologize when he mocked the physical appearance of a wheelchair-bound GamerGate supporter.

As evidence mounted through Rudderhouse’s story-telling and the trolls’ own detective-work, which “uncovered” further evidence that they were intended to find, the anti-GamerGate trolls began to feel certain that I was Zachary’s alter-ego. The would-be doxers couldn’t contain themselves anymore and began to send me tweets and private messages with “ZachAttack!” memes, shadowy allusions to my true identity and—most damning of all—the Facebook pictures which revealed my face and full name—Zachary Miller. Just according to plan.

I immediately made a few panic-stricken tweets, deleted them once I confirmed with Rudderhouse that the doxers had archived them, protected my account, and went radio silent. On my signal, Rudderhouse deactivated Zachary’s Facebook account. If the bait was already in anti-GamerGate’s mouth, this was the setting of the hook. I was Zachary.

Over the next 12 hours, I did not Tweet at all. My private messages were a sea of worried well-wishes, but also many anti-GamerGaters mocking my apparent downfall. I resisted the urge to reply. Instead, Rudderhouse and I, along with several other anonymous friends, meticulously archived the bedlam that was occurring in my mentions. Dozens and dozens of tweets from anti-GamerGate accounts, all celebrating that I had been doxed. Izzy Galvez, one of the people in the chatroom that was working to dox me, blatantly lied and tweeted “I don’t not know why mombot was locked down, but considering all the abuse they are responsible for, I am OK w/ this.”

We decided that 12 hours was a good window for the sting because Rudderhouse and I estimated that by that time the anti-GamerGate trolls would have figured out that the dox were fake, but it would be too late and they would have already made a fool out of themselves by celebrating, sending me threats, and generally ceding all semblance of the high ground which they had claimed to hold since the beginning of GamerGate.

anti gamergate threats banner

Anti-#GamerGate lost yet another battle against GG and Best Mom Eva.

However, not everything went according to plan. It was not, in fact, the anti-GamerGaters which discovered that the dox were fake. They had completely bought into the narrative Rudderhouse had fed them, and had ceased to check their own lust for revenge. They wanted the dox to be real. Instead, it was GamerGaters who—approximately 7 hours into the 12-hour window—analyzed the Japanese lettering in one of the Zachary photos. This led to the true source: a stock photo for a traveler’s WiFi advertisement. Zachary was a lie. Either Anti-GamerGate hadn’t thought to perform a search based on the Japanese words in the advertisement, or no one present in the dox chatroom could read Japanese. At any rate, GamerGate beat them to the punch and discovered Zachary’s true identity first. Ironic!

The news of the discovery threw the dox chatroom into confusion. Had mombot stolen this man’s identity? Was the stock photo model pretending to be Zachary, who was pretending to be mombot? Was this all a giant ruse? Some of the doxers started to express suspicion, but even then they refused to give up the lie. My behavior had been too suspicious. My behavior had been ‘precisely what one should not do when one is doxed’. They kept digging, and eventually managed to find various accounts and websites belonging to the stock footage model.

Pretty much no one saw this one coming (neither GG or Anti-GG supporters).

Pretty much no one saw this one coming (neither GG or Anti-GG supporters).

It was at this point that Rudderhouse and I decided that the ruse wouldn’t keep until 12 hours had elapsed. Instead, we decided to drop the curtain after 9 hours. The anti-GamerGate dox chatroom, for their part, did not put the pieces together in time, and remained certain until the very end that they had doxed me until they were shown that Rudderhouse was a mole and that they and all of their friends had been the target of an incredibly long con.

The reveal, and the immediate fallout, can be viewed here. (https://twitter.com/mombot/status/763721623828520961).

Presently, many of the trolls who got caught in the trap are sending angry tweets at journalists like Brad Glasgow for picking this story up and writing about it.

Robin TGG
Do you feel like we have just seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of scandals and corruption in the games industry? Because that is the vibe that I get when I think back on what has been exposed up until now.

Mombot
Yes, I do. There is much more to come.

Robin TGG
What do you think it will take to end censorship, SJW nonsense, gender politics and liberal agendas in games and games journalism?

Mombot
An improved global economy, because that would allow all of these disaffected people stuck in an industry that they hate to find jobs that pay them “what they are worth”.

Robin TGG
What was your reaction when you heard of Nick Denton’s court loss against Hulk Hogan, and that Gawker is to undergo a bankruptcy auction in the near future?

Mombot
Total delight. Getting kicked out of 4chan is what made me pay attention, but it was Jason Schreier’s Japan-bashing clickbait articles are what compelled me to join GamerGate. I still haven’t forgiven Schreier for his attempt to publicly shame George Kamitani when it was Schreier that provoked their confrontation by labeling Kamitani’s art as that of a perverted pre-teen. I know that Jason Schreier’s writing career will likely survive Gawker’s auction, and that his articles will stay up on whatever new outlet takes Kotaku’s place, but at least I know that the people that owned the company and propagated the onerous culture within it are absolutely ruined.

Robin TGG
Do you have any theories on why people are more triggered and offended by digital booty in games today, than they were 5-10 years ago? In my opinion, I think Mr. Clint Eastwood said it the best “Secretly everybody´s getting tired of political correctness, kissing up. That´s the kiss-ass generation we´re in right now” Clint Eastwood, Esquire (http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/a46893/double-trouble-clint-and-scott-eastwood/)

Mombot
Again, I think that it is economics. When you’re young and poor, or even not-so-young, and cannot distinguish yourself from your peers economically, then do it morally. Distinguish yourself with how exclusive the group is which you belong to.

Robin TGG
What´s your thoughts on Jonathan Mcintosh and Manveer Heir’s rants about “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided”?

Mombot
At the time, I was very busy overseeing the massive sting operation which I described above, so I did not keep up with these events.

Correct me if I am wrong, wasn’t the term “Mechanical Apartheid” thought up by a pair of Frenchmen, one being Congolese and the other Vietnamese? I think the drama surrounding this issue can be safely ignored.

Robin TGG
Over the last 6 months, we at TGG  have noted a huge rise in anti-white propaganda in the games industry in the West (like in the case with Bioware´s Manveer Heir Vs the creators “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided”). My question to you is: Do you think that it´s hypocritical to scream out against racism while propagating racism towards white people? Also, why is all of this happening now?

Mombot
I can’t really comment with any acumen on the race issues happening in the West right now, as I don’t live there and do not actively follow Western political issues outside of gaming, but I think that a lot of the hatred is disingenuously propagated by the media. Hatred sells.

Robin TGG
Since “some” people tend to be offended and triggered by everything nowadays (real safespaces anyone?). Isn´t there a big risk of that resulting in having less creative freedom and freedom of speech for video game developers? (American McGee and Ken Levine have warned people of this plenty of times in the past).

Mombot
Artistic freedom is sacrosanct, and the motivations of anyone who attempts to interfere with it should be questioned.

Robin TGG
What´s your thoughts on characters such as Jim Sterling, Adam Sessler, Bob Chipman, Izzy Galvez and Jonathan McIntosh?

Mombot
They are self-promoters.

best mom eva japanese housewife

It´s not true that Best Mom Eva is a thirtysomething Japanese housewife.

Robin TGG
I know that one shouldn´t believe or care about rumors, but is it really true that you´re a thirtysomething Japanese house wife?

Mombot
No. I turned 40 this year. Also, I have a job! My husband does the cooking.

Robin TGG
How did you come up with your name? (“Best Mom Eva”, Aka “Mombot”) I take it that you´re a huge fan of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” since you post a lot NGE related pictures, gifs and on your Twitter account.

Mombot
Best Mom Eva” is a double entendre. Eva Unit-01 is a giant green and purple robot with a mother’s soul in it. It seemed apt. I am not a tremendous anime watcher, but I like the classics from when I was little. Eva has grown on me more since GamerGate started, thanks to my online persona.

Robin TGG
Do you think that we´re beginning to see the end of the established gaming media news sites and a renaissance of fan-driven games media? Do you feel that more and more people are starting to get fed up with corrupt, biased journalists that take swings at games and gamers whenever they get a chance to do so?

Mombot
We’re making it happen right now, aren’t we? However, just a decade ago, Kotaku was the young, bright-eyed alternative media outlet that you are. Media with principles—whether in print or video or something else—will earn a faithful consumer base. Other outlets looking to make a quick buck will spring up, get big, sell out, lose readers and eventually die. Then the cycle begins again. Good luck!

tgg author avatar robin ek
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

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