Just recently I (Robin Ek, TGG) got a chance to do an interview with James Desborough. So I asked James about everything from his upcoming GG book “Inside GamerGate“, Gaming, censorship in games to the SJW madness that’s been going on for years now. Well, this is the full context of that interview. So, please enjoy =)

james desborough

James Desborough is a British game designer, blogger and author.

Robin TGG
As not everyone might be familiar with whom you are, would you be so kind and give us an introduction of yourself?

GRIM
My name is James Desborough, but everyone – in a long time – has called me ‘Grim’. I’m a tabletop game designer and writer, mostly working in role-playing games, though I’ve done a bit of work here and there on things like social media games and am looking to further broaden my remit. I’ve worked for Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackon Games, Mongoose Publishing, Cubicle 7 Entertainment, Nightfall Games and a lot of others as well as self-publishing. I recently released a licensed game based on the Gor cycle by John Norman. I’m something of a controversial figure I suppose, because I’m interested in difficult subjects and creative freedom… which brings us back around to Gamergate.

Robin TGG
What could you tell us about your “Inside Gamergate” book? And how did the book came about to be? (the transformation from an idea into a real project).

GRIM
I had been mulling the idea over for some time, to give my perspective. Perhaps in a series of blogs of Youtube videos. With people like Milo Yiannopoulos supposedly going to be writing a book about it I wasn’t sure it was necessary. When it was finally confirmed that Zoe Quinn’s book was coming out though, I felt it was really necessary to have an alternative viewpoint on the record. I’ve a lifelong interest in history and it concerns me greatly that the only viewpoint on Gamergate going into the historical record appears to be a biased and erroneous one. So I thought I’d see if there’s enough support out there to create the book. It seems like there might be. That’s what’s important to me though – to correct the record.

Source:
Inside GamerGate
Inside Gamergate Crowdfunder

Robin TGG
What are your goals with the “Inside Gamergate” book? And has there ever been anything close to a book of that kind in the past? And what have the response and feedback been so far on your indiegogo campaign?

GRIM
My goal is really, only, to present that alternative point of view and have it on record. From someone who was involved since before Gamergate was Gamergate, who was – prior to Gamergate – sympathetic and even supportive of Quinn (not that she really has much to do with Gamergate proper). I want to contextualise this revolt and the moral panic and bad behaviour it was responding to, to ones from the past such as Thompson, the PMRC, the Satanic Panic and so on and to show where it contrasts. I also think my personal story and experiences have a powerful emotional counter-narrative that confounds their viewpoint and can fight back on the emotional level they have been operating on.

I think many people have written books from their own perspective on what happened and whether you think they’re guilty or innocent of what they’re accused of it provides an opportunity to learn and understand. That doesn’t seem like too hard of a sell. Responses have been mostly positive but that’s coming mostly from within the Gamergate veteran crowd. That said the more noxious elements that attached themselves to Gamergate are responding negatively, as are the AGGro (anti-Gamergate) people – as you’d expect.

Robin TGG
What is your story with #GamerGate? (when, where and why did you get involved in GG?) And what’s your take on GG then Vs GG now? (the evolution of GG over time, and the differences between the current GG, and the GG that launched back in 2014).

GRIM
Well I don’t think there really is a Gamergate now. It won, broadly. It did leave a lot of invested and activated people though, who are now acting as watchdogs and putting on blast anything nefarious or stupid. Friendship networks created back then still exist.

I started with it before it was Gamergate, back in the Five Guys and Quinnspiracy days. See… I’m a depression sufferer so I had been supportive of Quinn and felt that her game was a rather flawed but possibly useful way of getting friends and family to understand. When she was mugged I donated to support her, I tried to back her up and reassure here during pre-Gamergate trolling and objections. When I heard about the potential issues of corruption (and other matters later on, like Helldump, the Game Jam sabotage and TFYC) I was concerned. I didn’t know whether it was bullshit or true but I wanted to find out more either to defend her, or to see if I had been supporting someone who was a bit of a shit.

What made me angry and kept me engaged was discovering the corruption and nepotism that was going on, and then the censorship. After that, it all just kept coming – and still is.

Robin TGG
I don’t know if you have heard it yet, but just recently Anita Sarkeesian ended her “Tropes vs Women in Video Games” Youtube series. Well, as you probably already know. The series have been anything but honest towards its audience (the cheery picking parts, for example), and there have also been quite a few scandals surrounding “Tropes vs Women in Video Games” (the DVD’s that didn’t get sent out, the refund money, the long production times between each Youtube video). So what’s your thoughts on that matter?

GRIM
When someone like that is on record, video even, saying they’re not a gamer and don’t care about or like games… and people still support and apologise for them on their project? You have to wonder what the hell is going on and what’s wrong with people. It’s con job, but a ‘virtuous’ con job. Like a lot of people on that side of the aisle they think the ends justify the means, even to the point of hypocrisy.

I can’t really fault her on lateness, having had late projects myself, but on the dishonesty, the thievery of art and so on – especially on a supposedly professional project – I absolutely can.

Problems with Sarkeesian go back before Gamergate, but she helped create the atmosphere that made Gamergate, or something like it, inevitable with the heavily politicised BS and attacking things people love – from a basis of ignorance.

Source:
Euro Gamer
A Message from Anita on the End of Tropes
Imdb

crash override how gamergate nearly destroyed my life zoe quinn

“Zoe Quinn is one of the most critically acclaimed, widely recognized indie developers in the gaming industry, and a leading voice in the fight against online abuse.” – Ehrm…

Robin TGG
Zoe Quinn (game developer, author and #GamerGate “survivor”) is going to release her GG book “Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate” in September this year. So what’s your take on Quinn and her upcoming book so far?

GRIM
There’s a good reason she ended up being called ‘Literally Who?’ by Gamergate. Other than being the Franz Ferdinand of the whole thing she’s not that relevant, save that she kept grandstanding and trying to profit from her ersatz victimhood. This book is just another aspect of that, like CON. She’s not the only one to do this, but it’s her book that demands a response and correction of the record.

Source:
Amazon

Robin TGG
Not so long ago R. S. Benedict (writer for Unicorn booty) and Estelle Tang (writer for Elle.com) published the following articles about Brianna Wu (game developer and the founder of Giant spacekat):

“Trans Game Developer Brianna Wu Is Running for Congress”, and “First She Fought GamerGate—Now Brianna Wu Is Taking On Congress”

Well, I don’t know if it’s just me, but the sites like Elle and Unicorn booty  sure seem to be biased as hell when it comes to #GamerGate (the same could also be said about MSM) at large. Furthermore, Miss Wu appears to push her “GamerGate survivor” agenda where ever she goes (it’s almost like it’s some kind of a life time achievement to her).

That’s also why I would like to ask you what you think about Brianna Wu and anti-GG sites and media?

GRIM
I think Wu is a deeply damaged individual, some of which would normally elicit sympathy. However these ongoing delusions of grandeur, attempts to bend the narrative to her own self-aggrandisement and so on… these make maintaining any kind of sympathy incredibly difficult. I think she’s basically a horrible person who is exploiting the whole situation even more than Quinn, Sarkeesian or others have.

I also think calling her a game developer is a bit generous of you.

I don’t like her very much, in short. I would trust her near government about as much as I trust her to design a human-looking game character.

The media bias when it comes to the games media is malicious, but I don’t think anyone really expected them to ‘mea culpa’ when they were the ones being attacked for their wrongs. The mainstream media is just lazy and picked up on the gaming media narrative, along with the existing ‘women in tech’ preconceptions and just ran with that. Lazy, stupid and self-destructive. It’s part of what has destroyed a huge number of people’s trust in the media. Mine included. Even state broadcasters got it wrong, especially in the UK, Canada and Australia. Horrendous.

Source:
Trans Game Developer Brianna Wu Is Running for Congress
First She Fought GamerGate – Now Brianna Wu Is Taking On Congress
Did just Joey Relton put Brianna Wu among female video game pioneers?
Brianna Wu may have lied about fleeing her home

Robin TGG
What’s your thoughts on Randi Harper (mainly her involvement in the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative), Google ideas (it’s now called “Jigsaw”), the crash override network leaks and the #ZachAttack dox crew story?

GRIM
Another largely talentless person trying to cash in, and a particularly horrible one at that. Her slanderous and libelous blocklist (that labeled everyone on it an harasser and guilty by mere association) combined with the earlier Atheism-Plus autoblocker has horribly distorted online discourse and made echo chambers much worse. I think these stories speak for themselves about her, and she’s far from the only one. That’s the irony of Gamergate I guess, the supposed Gamergate harassers and horrible people were all anonymous trolls who could have been anyone. The harrassment etc coming from anti-Gamergate were all identifiable people, yet they’ve faced no price for the horrible things they’ve done.

Source:
Best Mom Eva interview  – The uncensored story of the #ZachAttack dox crew
Bonegolem interview – #GamerGate, games journalism and the crash override network leaks
Google ideas? More like Google abuse and Google censorship
Randi Harper continues to bully and harass people
Randi Harper Vs Darren Porter and free speech

Robin TGG
I would love to hear your take on the censorship and SJW madness that’s been going down in the games industry for so many years now (especially when it comes to lewd content, for some strange reason).

GRIM
Its weird, but it’s not new. This stuff goes all the way back in one form or another as far as you care to go. I guess the defining one for ‘nerd media’ is Wertham’s moral panic around comics that led to the Comics Code coming in. Then it was teenage degeneracy they were worried about, now it’s ‘these games will make people sexist!’ Nonsense of course. These things seem to come up every 5 to 15 years, just with different language and a different gang of arseholes pushing the agenda.

There is a difference this time around though, in that the attackers are within the culture they’re attacking – at least in a shallow fashion. Previously these moral panics tended to come from outside the culture. It’s an important and fundamental change. Lewd content is caught in a double bind. On the one hand development costs etc are up and there’s more financial pressure to be as PG13 and broadly saleable as possible (and this applies as much to platforms as well as individual games) and on the other hand there’s a very sex-negative wing to a lot of the ‘social justice’ mob that singles this out for particular assault.

Source:
Why does Mass Effect: Andromeda´s female characters look so ugly? – Bioware SJW design 101
Magic: The Gathering is infiltrated by SJWs, this needs to stop
Mighty no. 9´s former CM appears to have been trying to inject SJW and feminist politics into MN9

Robin TGG
#GamerGate has been accused and blamed for a lot of things since 2014 (like having Brianna Wu flee for home), but what exactly has been proven to be true? (not a whole lot, from what I’ve heard).

GRIM
Pretty much nothing. Even the WAM study failed to really link anyone to anything short of people who had used the hashtag (and that could be pretty much anyone). Even then there was a marked lack of harassment even by that rather loose standard. What did Gamergate demonstrably do? Argue, disagree, force change and improvement, stopped some games getting censored and shitposted a lot. If you call that harassment you need a dictionary.

I don’t doubt that some harassment came from within GG but as a very big and essentially open movement, characterising it by that apparently tiny minority is just negative propagandising. It was interesting to see how the media that failed utterly to understand the concept of a leaderless open movement with Gamergate, understood it completely and easily when it came to something similar – Black Lives Matter.

Source:
When something goes wrong blame everything on #GamerGate
#GamerGate´s 1 year anniversary, up close and personal
Giant Spacekat´s CEO states that she can´t find her parents because of #GamerGate
Brianna Wu may have lied about fleeing her home

Robin TGG
Just recently we wrote about the scandals and shady business practices of Paul Ryan’s Gaming site Brash Games, and then we followed up that post with an OP   called “The issue with reporting in video games” (the post points out the problems with dishonesty and disappointing moral compasses in games journalism).  Well, I think it’s safe to say that there is a big problem with lack of morals and ethics in the industry.

So I would like to ask you if you think that games industry and games journalism has become worse or better since #GamerGate kicked-off?

GRIM
Better, but still not very good. Deepfreeze.it never seems to be at a loss for new content on some failure to disclose links or other issue and games writers are still underpaid and vulnerable to bribes, or nepotistically linked to indie developers along political, personal or relationship lines. Sites did change their policies and we do see more disclosure… so there’s been an improvement, but not a big enough one. For a business worth so much money it’s hard to see why the effort can’t be made and why so many games journalists spend so much time hating on something that’s supposed to be their beat. Gamers want a fan perspective, not a frustrated journalism graduate’s perspective. Someone who understands games and gaming culture and can tell you whether they think the game is good or not and why, not whether it reinforces ‘cismale heteronormativity’ or whatever. Who cares? Go write a pseudoacademic paper for DIGRA if that’s what you’re interested in.

Source:
Brash Games is an unethical train wreck that exploits their writers and much more – Ethics 101
Brash Games blames their recent scandals on ex-writers and Opencritic?

Robin TGG
I’m more than aware that Wikipedia is anything but a reliable source of information. Even so, I couldn’t help to notice that the following has been written about you on Wikipedia:

“Desborough has been quoted or used as a pundit on men’s issues in various places, including The Stream on Al Jazeera.[ Some of Desborough’s work has been criticised for being “hateful, violent and misogynistic“, leading critics to petition game companies to drop his work.”

So, do you have any comment on that one?

GRIM
Parts of what I’ve written have been called that, so it’s technically accurate. Then again, I could say ‘Brianna Wu is an invisible space lizard from Alpha Centauri, wearing an ill-fitting human suit’ and someone could add that to her Wikipedia entry with a link back to this article. ‘Brianna Wu has been described as an invisible space lizard…’

Most RPGs contain or allow for violence of some kind, so I’m not sure why that’s there. Hateful? I don’t think so. Misogynistic? Again, I don’t think so. It’s hard to answer without specifics. Yes, there were petitions against me, though they were dropped and pointless. I was getting death threats and rape threats against my wife during that period, so that was fun and yet another example of the hypocrisy and double standards.

I play with controversial topics and often with sexuality in my work. This annoys some people and they try to spin it into something its not. You can see from that why I’d take an interest in Gamergate, especially the misreporting and censorship angles. Yes I have spoken on men’s issues, but as an egalitarian rather than an MRA, though I have a lot of sympathy for many of their causes and despise the way they’ve been slandered. Back to media problems again…

Source:
Wikipedia

Robin TGG
I’m rather curious to know what your thoughts are on Kerzner and her “Lady Bits” Kickstarter campaign? (we did an interview with her just recently?).

GRIM
I like Liana, I used to support her Patreon until I needed to save every penny I could. I pledged to Lady Bits and I think she’ll do the job properly. Some people don’t like her but I think she’s great. For a ginger.

Source:
Liana Kerzner interview

call of cthulhu

Desborough has worked on D&D, third-party Call of Cthulhu work and tons of other game projects in the past.

Robin TGG
Which games have you been involved with in your career so far? And do you have any plans on working on some new games in the future?

GRIM
I never really stop. At the moment most of my efforts are tied up with Gor and getting the most from the license and supporting the game. I’ve worked on D&D, on third-party Call of Cthulhu work, all sorts of things. I think my next project will either be finishing the companion to my space-opera game ‘Machinations of the Space Princess’ or the start of a trilogy of survival games, called ‘The Green’. I hope to get some opportunities to work more in computer gaming in story, plot or voice acting in the next few years.

Robin TGG
What games are you currently playing and which games are you looking forward to play? I would also like to ask you how you got introduced to the world of games? (your first game, childhood Gaming memories, etc.).

GRIM
Like I say I’m mostly an analog gamer. Our semi-regular sessions we’re currently playing Iron Kingdoms (the Hordes/Warmachine RPG), Star Wars D6 and Eclipse Phase, with occasional X-Wing minis battles in between. Computer game-wise I just finished Horizon and have been working my way through Persona 5. After that I have Prey and Nier: Automata to get through, all while still finding enough time to work…

Robin TGG
What’s your take on the hysteria surrounding video game violence and video game addiction?

Source:
US News
WHO
Reddit
Germany´s minister of interior blames violent video games for the Munich attack?
Jonathan Blow and a handful of journalists blames the Orlando mass shooting on violent video games

GRIM
An addictive personality is an addictive personality, the fault – if there can be said to be one – is in the person, not the material – unless it’s a physically addictive substance. As to violence, no link has ever been proved – much as with the sexism and other issues people bang the drum over. Fear of the new, fear of the other, we’ve all been here before… many times. It’s bunk.

nordic game 2017 in focus highlights

Anita Sarkeesian will speak at the Nordic Game 2017 event (yay!…).

Robin TGG
I found the following text in a press release about Anita Sarkeesian’s visit to the Nordic Game 2017 event, any thoughts?

“Anita Sarkeesian, Executive Director, Feminist Frequency “Diversity is not a Checklist”. Only a few years ago, white men were the undisputed rulers of the video game realm. Female characters were often plot devices rather than actual characters. While there has been some progress in the industry, the effects and reach of that progress should not be overstated. At times it can feel like a case of “one step forward, two steps back”. In this talk, Anita Sarkeesian will explore some of the recent growth and evolution in the field, while discussing ways in which video games and video game culture resist change.”Nordic Game 2017

Source:
Nordic Game 2017

GRIM
Well, she’s right in that it isn’t a checklist, but then its her efforts – amongst others – that have made it one. I don’t see the increased censorship and outrage directed at companies as progress. Anything that stifles free expression and creative freedom is regressive, not progressive. I think we’ve all seen jarring moments or drops in quality, even harm to immersion, in games where they’ve tried to appease people like Anita. I value good gameplay and a good story over this box ticking, so it sounds like a case of making your bed and laying in it.

Robin TGG
A couple of days ago, Bitch Magazine published an article called “NO GIRLS ALLOWED: THE LASTING RULES OF GAMERGATE AND TOXIC MISOGYNY THE FRAGILITY OF GAMING CULTURE”. So I would love to hear your thoughts on that one.

Source:
Bitch Media
KotakuInAction
On The Bitch Magazine Article On “Toxic” Gaming

GRIM
Its arse-backwards. They almost seem to get it at the start of the article, stating how games have been defensive against bullies and tormentors, but what they don’t understand is that they ARE bullies and tormentors, trying to ruin something people love and shame those who engage in it. This is a common thread in a lot of this sort of activism, they don’t understand that they wield the power and are the establishment now and they make the exact same mistakes they accuse their ‘oppressors’ of. Anyone with a lick of sense and

honest engagement in the gaming community knows this is hogwash. Personally, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more open and accepting group than gamers, that might betheir issue in fact, that they let these kinds of people in and tried to appease them. You can’t please them. They tear down rather than build. My personal suspicion is that gamers treat these kinds of people the same way they treat everyone else and rather than victimisation they’re experiencing equality. Without the benevolent sexism that’s normally present, that can seem like negative sexism. I believe there’s a couple of studies on this that show that treating some people equally – women in particular – is seen as sexism.

On the facts, that article is just wrong. Go look up Nathan Grayson on Deepfreeze.it and follow the links. It’s all there.

Robin TGG
What’s your plans, hopes and expectations for the rest of this year? And is there anything that you would like to say to our readers?

GRIM
I hope to keep building and improving my Youtube channel, keep putting out great tabletop game material and to keep expanding my repertoire of things I do. Hopefully ‘Inside Gamergate’ will fund and that will be another accomplishment I can put behind me. As to what I’d say… support the book, help me with the funding and the research. Whether you were for or against Gamergate I think you owe it to yourselves to have a record from its perspective, to offer balance to the other horribly biased accounts out there.

I’d also say give the people whose games and material you love some positive feedback. In this day and age things are so relentlessly negative, so if you love something let people know. If you want things uncensored and authentic, let them know, and stand up for them when they’re attacked. Artists need audiences that will support them, financially, ethically, socially, emotionally.

***Disclosure***
I have supported #GamerGate since 2014. I like lewd content, and I’m not a fan of people like Brianna Wu, Randi Harper or Anita Sarkeesian.  

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

Related Posts


More by Robin Ek:

Tags: , , , , , ,

EwinRacing Calling Series Gaming Chairs

Save 3$ with our Play-Asia coupon code "thegg"

6 Comments ON " James Desborough interview – Inside GamerGat... "
  • Lyle

    Nice interview. Will back when I get some more money…

    • Thank you =) We got more interviews coming up 😉 Ah, that should make James day for sure.

  • Feminism Is Cancer.

    Not just in video games, but in every other entertainment media.

    White-knights, manginas, male feminists, betas, neutrals and fence-sitters need to just f**k off, because all these people do is simply give SJWs/feminists even more power. Which makes them part of the problem.

    It’s either free speech/free expression OR censorship/restriction of expression.

    There is no middle ground. If you want a middle-ground with SJWs/feminists, you’re basically advocating for censorship and having politics injected into games.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/01f80c1f021160253fe566ebd145fd579f1c51296e89052a4434c0e737690939.jpg

    • “Feminism Is Cancer”

      – The truth of the day, just look at Europe and most of the Western world at large. The core family has been destroyed, the gender war is one and so on. Interesting, I have never seen that picture before. I’m going to keep that one, because it’s going to come in handy for sure.

      Yes, and Sweden is a perfect example of that (the same could be said about France and Germany as well).

  • Great interview, Robin.

    • Thank you =) We got plenty more coming up 😉

Advertising spot

Help us stay alive

Paypal Patreon logo

Google ads (please turn off your adblock)

Advertisement

 

Play-Asia.com - Buy Games & Codes for PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U and PC / Mac.

 

 

Recent posts

Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash is coming to EU and Australia in September

Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash is coming to EU and Australia in September

IT’S TIME TO LOAD YOUR WATER PISTOLS... SENRAN KAGURA PEACH BEACH SPLASH RELEASE DATE IS CONFIRMED! [...]
ROCCAT present Kone AIMO and Horde AIMO - Gamescom 2017

ROCCAT present Kone AIMO and Horde AIMO - Gamescom 2017

• ROCCAT shows the Next-Gen Kone gaming mouse • Horde redefines gaming keyboards with Membrane 2.0 [...]
Nintendo opens up Gamescom 2017 with new content for Splatoon 2 and ARMS

Nintendo opens up Gamescom 2017 with new content for Splatoon 2 and ARMS

The Gamescom 2017 event is now at full swing, so I/we are doing our very best to cover the event wit[...]
XPO Game Festival boasts VIP streamers What’s Good Games, Game Attack, iKasperr, and more!

XPO Game Festival boasts VIP streamers What’s Good Games, Game Attack, iKasperr, and more!

Tulsa’s largest game festival returns to Cox Business Center October 13-15! TULSA, Okla. – Aug. 2[...]
The Escapists 2 is out now for Xbox One, PS4 and PC!

The Escapists 2 is out now for Xbox One, PS4 and PC!

Press release: UK – 22nd August 2017 – Award-winning international games label Team17 and developer[...]
Zombidle: Remonstered releases "The Land of Turtles Event" in collaboration with GonzoSSM

Zombidle: Remonstered releases "The Land of Turtles Event" in collaboration with GonzoSSM

Press release: Zombidle: Remonstered, the addictive F2P zombie Idle RPG available on Steam for Wind[...]

Google ads

Our sponsors

Kinguin
EwinRacing Calling Series Gaming Chairs
TGG v2.4 © 2014 - 2017 *The Gaming Ground* all rights reserved
twitch icon youtube icon google plus icon twitter icon facebook icon rss icon
alexa
Privacy policy
TGG ethics policies