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International Game Developers’ Association’s Reputation in Tatters #gamergate

International Game Developers’ Association’s Reputation in Tatters #gamergate

On Saturday we reported that the International Game Developers’ Association had wrongly labelled over ten thousand Twitter accounts “harassers” after the Association endorsed a widely ridiculed and technologically discredited “block bot” made by a feminist agitator with a criminal past.

Developers across the political, social, ethnic, sexual and gender spectrum have been quick to condemn the IGDA, whose authority to speak for the entire developer community has been seriously dented after it branded so many of its own staff and members, not to mention celebrities, journalists and feminist academics, as harassers.

“As a developer who is hopefully just getting started and has been placed on a block list by the IGDA and labelled as one of the ‘worst offenders in the recent wave of harassment’ I don’t know why I would ever trust them or want to be associated with them. As a developer I don’t really see how they are helping developers with stupid ideas like this,” developer Simon Bates told TechRaptor.

Kevin Gray of GravTechGames told the same publication: “We do not endorse or engage in harassment, yet by being on that list we have been labeled as such. IGDA should know how difficult it is already for indie developers to gain exposure and there are multiple developers on that list besides us. Reaching our audience just got a little harder.”

Many IGDA staff members can be seen tweeting in a hostile manner about GamerGate, the consumer revolt demanding higher standards in games journalism and rejecting feminist critiques of mainstream video games, calling into question the Association’s ability to represent members with whose opinions it disagrees. The block list is being seen by many as merely the latest assault on a movement that some estimate has as much as 75% support among developers

In fact, the IGDA, called out for internal dysfunction by its own board members, has a long history of targeting its own members and the people it was ostensibly established to support. It has even been accused of copyright infringement by game developers and its executive director Kate Edwards is a long-time feminist critic of video games, in apparent contradiction with the majority of video game developers and the vast majority of consumers. Edwards has a history of getting into messy online brawls.

Such is the low level of community confidence in the IGDA, there is even the suggestion that the Association was itself involved in creating the “block bot” that Edwards denied it had anything to do with. A member of the IGDA’s Women in Games organisation was seen on Facebook claiming credit for “major load work” creating the bot. 

If her statement is true, and given the IGDA’s endorsement of an “industry blacklist” and the political statements of many of its staff members, including its director, the Association may, according to lawyer and GamerGate supporter Mike Cernovich, be violating its charitable obligations.

This isn’t the first time the Association has failed to get its messaging in order. In a peculiar and humiliating move, the IGDA was forced to publicly distance itself from its own founder Ernest W. Adams, no fan of GamerGate, a month ago, when Adams tweeted, relatively innocuously, that developers should be mindful of what they say about GamerGate lest it affect their careers. 

Kate Edwards is an unapologetic supporter of feminist trolls and activists who have been accusing GamerGate supporters of threats, abuse and harassment, despite there being no evidence linking GamerGate to death or rape threats female developers say they have received. No arrests have been made or prosecutions pursued as a result of these claims, despite the involvement of several police forces and the FBI. 

Edwards even favourited a tweet claiming that her own Puerto Rico chairman, Roberto Rosario, was “threatening” the IGDA. Rosario was in fact warning that he would have to tender his resignation unless the IGDA removed him from its discredited harassment block list, which included Rosario’s Twitter account. Rosario has been an advocate for women in gaming for many years.

Edwards also favourited a tweet that appeared to threaten gun violence against GamerGate supporters, a childish and irresponsible manoeuvre surely in contradiction with her ambition to become a point of reference for the FBI for its enquiries into game developer harassment.

Perhaps it’s no surprise the IGDA is seeking to assert its feminist credentials now. Just last year, Brenda Romero, co-chair of the Association’s Women in Games group, and board member Darius Kazemi both resigned after the IGDA co-hosted a party at which scantily clad women had been shipped in to perform sexualised dance routines, to the pearl-clutching horror of the Left-wing gaming press

It could be that Edwards has redemption for her earlier misstep in mind. But the developer community will be left to speculate: she, and the IGDA, have repeatedly failed to return requests for comment.

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