Sunday, March 30, 2014

Complicit silence normalizing a peer culture of harassment

I think the operative word is "expressing" one's objection. What i've learned over the years from listening to speakers on the topic of harassment is that being silent is the worst thing you can do because it reinforces the peer pressure to applaud the bad behavior, which supports the status quo.
Jackson Katz's Bystander Approach (anybody who is not a perpetrator or a victim in any given situation; peer culture relationships) "How do we not remain silent in the face of abuse?"..."Isn't your silence a form of consent and complicity? Well, the 'bystander approach' is about giving people the tools to interrupt that process and to speak up and to create a peer culture climate where the abusive behavior will be seen as unacceptable. Not just because it's illegal but because it's wrong and unacceptable in the peer culture. And if we can get to the place where [people] who act out in [bigoted] ways will lose status"..."as a result of it. Guess what? We'll see a radical diminution of the abuse because the typical abuser is not sick and twisted, he's a normal guy in every other way. Isn't he? Now, among the many great things that Martin Luther King said in his short life was, 'In the end what will hurt the most is not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends'"..."It's not easy in male culture for guys to challenge each other. Which is one of the reasons why part of the paradigm shift that has to happen is not just understanding these issues as men's issues but they're also leadership issues"..."Because ultimately, the responsibility for taking a stand on these issues should fall on the shoulders of adult men with power, [whom] we need to be holding accountable for being leaders on these issues."..."When somebody speaks up in a peer culture and challenges and interrupts he or she is being a leader."..."We don't need sensitivity training, we need leadership training"..."Caring deeply is not enough. We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other."

I find Anita Sarkeesian message to resonate so strongly with this current "earthquake" (as Ripard Teg puts it) that i'm going to transcribe a part of her TEDx talk starting about 6 minutes in. I'll let her words speak for themselves.
What type of game is it? (it's fundamentally a social one) "Now we don't usually think of online harassment as a social activity, but we do know from the strategies and tactics that they use that they were not working alone. They were actually loosely coordinating with each other. And this social component is a powerful motivating factor that works to provide players/perpetrators with incentives to participate and to actually escalate attacks by earning the praise and approval of their peers. We can kind of think of this as an informal reward system where players earn internet points for increasingly brazen and abusive attacks. Then they would document these attacks and then they would bring themselves back to the message boards as evidence to show off to each other. Kind of like trophies or achievements. So, we have this general structure of a social game."..."The end result is maintaining, and reinforcing, and normalizing a culture of [bigotry] where men who harass are supported by their peers and rewarded for their [bigoted] attitudes and behaviors."
She tends to not have any other decent talking points because she is a pandering hack who routinely devolves into useless anecdotes. That doesn't take away from her one and only salient point above, albeit probably plagarized.


What do i really think about this whole sordid episode?
  • Of CCP i think it was merely PR damage control...It came down to public relations and controlling the message.
  • Of the perpetrators i think they proved Anita Sarkeesian's point about "this social component is a powerful motivating factor that works to provide players/perpetrators with incentives to participate and to actually escalate attacks by earning the praise and approval of their peers."
  • Of  the victim i thought a while ago it was designed as a huge troll, except according to FunkyBacon this happened back in November, and there's been "hundreds" of bonus rooms (and golly gee "one winner"...riiiight) But, you see there's something really suspicious about a 2009 character falling for a jita local scam, who from his eve-who stats looks all the world like an alt...He's actually made forums posts (two following his TS appearance) which strikes me as disingenous. So, yeah, i still think it was a massive troll and Jester bit down real hard. It's a damned good thing he did because i'm betting this CSM bid by E1 was going to have something splashy to crow about CCP's silent complicity in the villain peer culture.
  • Of the patsy i thought Ripard Teg proved Jackson Katz' point about leadership skills and challenging abusive behavior, even if he found out about it long after the incident and regardless of the victim's apparent claims he's been misrepresented and ignored.
So, yeah, what i said on Minerva Zen's blog still holds true in my mind: "I believe it was just a huge troll on the part of the 'victim' and the griefer that would have been revealed if CCP's continued apathy towards enforcing their eula/tos against flagrant cases of griefing (aka 'The Code' and this tool) made it attractive to dump on bloggers championing on high horses."
You see, the griefer was running for CSM before he was banned. What better way to garner lots of attention than destroy the recent platform of a prolific blogger, on ethics? Gotta wonder who exactly brought this to the belated attention of Jester's Trek and more importantly why...

I think this problem is bigger and more systemic than simply E1 being a bad apple. I think Ripard Teg's hasty Pontius Pilate act is typical of him avoiding the real issue in the hast to throw out the griefer, bath water, tub and entire house connected to the bathroom. It's effectively making E1 the Messiah; a Martyr.

There is The Code griefing right under the nose of the EULA/ToS about "roleplaying" not being an excuse to grief/harass/etc, griefers running amok in starter systems with aggro traps, duel popups and basic trolling of n00bs, griefers using neutral RR while awoxing; griefers basically using whatever convoluted loopholes they can abuse in order to interfere in the gameplay of others at almost zero risk/energy on the part of the griefer.

There are devastating loopholes in the corporate (aka social engine) mechanics of this game defended by trollish examples of bullshit roleplayed stories of daring do against Ubiqua Seraph and the dissolution of BoB.

But, sadly, i suspect this is merely CCP doing damage control on a single bad apple and, like Ripard Teg (who's merely following their example), washing their hands of the entire affair. I doubt this will motivate the community to demand CCP finally close those systemic loopholes, and will have the griefers in The Code realize they just dodged a bullet and conclude CCP condones their roleplay.

Also, what will fascinate me is if Psychotic Monk gains alot more votes than expected and gets onto the CSM because of this episode.


  1. Thanks for the mention.

    I fear that if I were in the place of CCP, I would have developed a similar level of callousness to player complaints. I have run open mic poetry readings in the past, and the ability that people have to hallucinate obligations on me that I have never agreed to is simply stupefying.

    I also think that were I in Jester's shoes, I would have had to recenter quite often on what EVE means to ME. I respect him for doing that, and for prosecuting this with far more fervor than I could. It takes a metric crapload of time to be the CSM member that he has been.

    I guess in my world, those are more in the right the more they do honest work. So be the troll-or-not status of this Bonus Room what it may, I think we should all see past that as best we can. We seem to be in basic agreement there.

    provided an intriguing counterpoint to CCP's callousness, or should i say PR machine.
    I truly think that they are, at some level, tracking the downtick of carebears whenever some 'epic story' of daring do (aka oh look, pvp breaking out like a case of hives) hits the gaming news.

    The problem lies deeper in another topic, mainly CCP's obvious lack of vision (i don't really believe anyone buys the crap they pedal every once in a while)
    If you view eve through that filter you'll quickly come to the conclusion CCP really don't know where they've come from nor where they are going...more troubling is they really don't know where eve is at (how it's played) right now at a company business model concept, other than a developer's view of "how are they dealing with that new patch?"

    for, you see, eve is not as much 'dark and dystopian' because of it's content but for the broken mechanics in the social aspects of this game. Ask yourself why CCP has cast a blind eye towards corporate mechanics (besides Sovereignty)...they have no idea how utterly unfair this game is to the average n00b in an average small corp created by your average mmog player who start out in high sec and are unlucky enough to gain the attention of a griefer (either by corp fratricide/theft or by wardec) who's probably been plying his trade for years.

    noone intends to create a corporate vision that bites the hand that feeds. noone. But, that's what they've created. It works because, ironically enough, player retention in a mmog depends on frustrating your customer. It's stagnated but survived on that principle. How long though until the 'killer' percentage reaches that critical threshold and the game's population dwindles i cannot say.
    Hopefully CCP will realize it is not the "growth" of the player base that matters as much as keeping the killer percentage in check.

    "would there be any benefit of having a social group, more than just a chat channel, without the baggage that corps are (i.e. the assets, wars, etc.)?" CCP Xhagen

    You see, CCP has never been interested in the social dynamics because they are a typical developer run gig: they believe THEY are the dynamic in the social experiment they're conducting...what 'use' is a mechanic that humors the subjects?