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On Hoaxes
Posted on Wednesday, November 5 2014 @ 14:06:25 Eastern

The media hoax is as old as media.  The bathtub hoax, the spiritual medium hoaxes, Peter Popoff, and even false video game leaks.  They come in several flavors but can be broken down into two broad classes - japes and scams.  Mencken's bathtub hoax was a jape.  The spiritual mediums and the likes of Popoff are scam artists.  To my knowledge phony press leaks for things like anticipated upcoming titles are more along the 'jape' line in that they are intended to make money or cause trouble; they're meant to amuse and in some respects the uncovering of them is part of the game.

So that Fallout 4 Trademark filing in a German office turned out to be bogus - surprising no one.  There were obvious red flags.  For starters, its actual substantive content consisted of nothing but material recycled from previous hoaxes.  Its provenance was dubious (the filing cost the person responsible nothing up front, unless paid for it would disappear by the end of November anyway, it was not done in the US, et cetera) but the actual content of it set off more alarms.  It was not a numbered sequel.  It referenced Boston yet again even though Boston has never been confirmed and every single source on Boston has been revealed as a hoax or Kotaku but I repeat myself.

If Bethesda is in some way behind all this (unlikely) then this might be some kind of elaborate fake-out campaign alongside rumors of Bethesda employees scouting around Boston so that they would be free to choose any general location they liked.

The truth is that there is no information publicly available about whether the game is even in development let alone any content elements such as setting.  It's entirely possible that Bethesda Games Studios is working on something else at the moment or have simply kept quiet.

The most worrying thing, to me, about all this is that amid numerous hoaxes there has not been a single legitimate leak.  As anticipated as this game is (it will likely outsell Skyrim and be a real killer app for the new consoles) not a single intern, fired production team member, janitor who overheard something interesting or the like has ever released anything which has gotten out to the public.  It is impossible for anyone who is not working for Zenimax to even confirm the thing is in development at all or ever was or ever will be.  It's true Bethesda Softworks wants to do shorter pre-launch PR cycles with more finalized content in the promo cycle (early Fallout 3 screens reveal the game was originally set in the year 2106, which explains the staggering disconnect between the supposed date and the condition of the environment in the final build) so whenever it's announced it would likely be at or less than 2 years' remove but the total blackout into 2015 is worrying.

It is now November 5th so here's a prediction - this game is not getting announced, teased, revealed or otherwise admitted to in any way until next year at the very earliest.

Remember, remember the fifth of November.

Also, I called it for this year.  Sorry to gloat.

Possible Follow-Up:

Feature wish list for Fallout 4

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Amateur Scholar Hour
Posted on Wednesday, October 29 2014 @ 13:48:45 Eastern

On 'Motherboard' Jason Koebler whines about the use of Archive.today and other such services to mirror site content in an article titled "Dear Gamergate: Please Stop Stealing Our Shit". Gamergate activists have latched onto Archive (and services such as Pastebin) as a way of subverting the trap that any attempt to critically examine anything on an ad-supported website necessarily entails giving that site clicks.  It's a new application of an old idea as Chris, creator of "Slower than Slow, Thicker than Thick", explains.  The problem with criticizing, say, Jezebel publishing sexual assault photographs to draw pageviews is that any attempt must necessarily, according to proper decorum, link to the page.  A site can go on blithely doing anything which draws page views and if it draws more page views due to blistering critique of their unethical behavior they benefit from it.  It's Morton's Fork - don't link and have your integrity impugned, do link and become complicit in the bad behavior.  Archive allows a break - there is now a way to see an archived version of such media and cite it directly without giving revenue to the site.  This has the further advantage of hamstringing any attempt to whitewash or scrub a site of objectionable content.  A few quick line-item rebuttals follow.

"Or, you could go to Archive.today,  a site that disgruntled GamerGate members are using to illegally divert traffic from websites the movement says it’s protesting."

[Citation Needed]

"As far as piracy goes, it’s one of the easiest things you could possibly do, and the site’s copies are often just as readable and just as fast to load as the original."

At no point does Koebler establish it actually qualifies as piracy.

"Sites like Archive.today have been used by climate change deniers to share and criticize links to popular climate news websites, for example."

Nice guilt-by-association attack.  I'm sure you plucked that example out of any other possible ones purely at random.  You could not possibly be trying to paint something you do not like with a tar brush by lumping it with something most people do not like and dismiss as crackpot.

"But, well, recently, it’s been all GamerGate."

Let's play a game; take the above badly written quote in mind while reading the below quote.

"Web traffic analytics company Alexa notes that 13 percent of Archive.today’s traffic comes from reddit (the most of any site), and a search of reddit shows that the majority of its links to Archive.today come from GamerGaters."

See if you can spot the contradiction.

"In any case, it’s become increasingly clear that whoever is archiving our site isn’t doing it as a protest tactic—they’re doing it simply because they like our site and want to read it."

Koebler doesn't see the contradiction.

"To be clear: Regardless of morality or protest value, this is illegal and not a "fair use" of copyrighted content in the United States."

[Citation Needed]

"For the record, I messaged every moderator of the most popular GamerGate subreddit where this stuff happens and no one responded. I messaged Archive.today and no one responded."

Someone's copy editor is asleep at the word processor.  That's at least $1.05 they should not have had to pay you.  No one responded to you because no one cares.

"My request for comment did, however,  spur this post on loltaku, a Tumblr associated with GamerGate"

Loltaku (actually the blog's name is "Slower than Slow, Thicker than Thick") has been around since August of 2012.  As the name hints the blog is about games journalism and has been documenting some of Kotaku's more egregious content since that time.  Its scope has grown to include other sites such as Polygon.  Unless Gawker media and other such outlets burn to the ground in the process of this whole Gamergate thing running its course (one can only hope) it is unlikely the blog is going anywhere when Gamergate does.  For the price of three mouse clicks you could have saved your employers $1.55.

"The loltaku webmaster is right: AdBlock isn’t illegal, but wholesale copying, screenshotting, and sharing of a website definitely is, according to three separate copyright fair use attorneys I spoke with."

None of the three lawyers actually say that - assuming the three lawyers quoted below this point are the same three lawyers.  They say it's 'probably illegal' but cite no case law or precedents (or if they did Koebler was too lazy to include this information) to that effect.  Furthermore, a quote from the third quoted lawyer is used as a kind of money quote above in the article, as if it unequivocally damns the use of Archive.today form a consequentialist view.

"Would you take a different view if it were someone you agreed with taking these precautions? Like, if it was folks monitoring Nazi speech and someone's Nazi site has straight up unapologetic Nazi advertising on there?" he told me. "Would it be OK for a civil rights rights activist to mirror the site to make sure it wasn't getting advertising? The answer to that question shouldn't be different than what it is for GamerGate."

That isn't a question for us, the readers, it is a question for Koebler which Koebler does not answer and apparently does not understand was meant for him.  I'm going to ask a simple question to anyone who reads this - what are the actual qualifications/hiring/job search process for becoming a professional writer for a site?  I'm pretty sure most people, including yours truly, could do better.  I'm sure I'd work harder to earn $0.35/word than he has.

"But, but using those tools to copy entire articles so people can continue to read sites their movement ostensibly disagrees with is just plain old stealing."

This conclusion reads like stammering.  It also baldly asserts what the article it concludes does not properly support.  Stating, 'lawyers x, y and z tell me it's likely theft to do this' may not have the desired rhetorical strength but it does have the significant advantage of being true.

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I Don't Want to, but I Have To...
Posted on Monday, October 20 2014 @ 11:43:07 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
Well, Gamergate has spilled over into the mainstream media and the coverage appears to be nearly uniformly dreadful.

Take "What is Gamergate, and What Does It Say About Gender In Video Games?" by David Konnow as an example.  It appears that the writer has done little to no research at all on the relevant topics.  He says practically nothing and leaves a hypothetical tyro just as uninformed as they were before reading the piece.  It is completely worthless as journalism.  The basic slant is obvious and the lack of citation, link or substantive information is a uniform indicator to a lack of integrity.  The present post is a fisking.

"Gaming has come a long way since Atari and Nintendo."

Nintendo is still in the business.

"Yet there are still segments of gaming culture that are not as evolved as the rest of humanity, as can be seen in the current "Gamergate" controversy."

The phrase 'as evolved as' is as meaningless in the context of evolution as natural selection is in creationism.  I have little doubt the author understands neither.

"A lot of people haven't heard of Gamergate yet, but what had been a small dust-up deep inside gamer culture is slowly becoming a national uproar."

Weasel words - 'a lot'.  Also, you really have not done anything to clarify what it is, how it operates or anything else.

"It all began when the ex-boyfriend of a female game developer started posting sexual allegations about her on his blog."

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted on October 15, has not been edited. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan
That's rather like saying World War I began when Gavrilo Princip shot Franz Ferdinand.  Factually correct but utterly misleading.  Furthermore, 'his blog' consisted of nothing but said allegations.  To dignify it by contextually suggesting it served any other purpose than dragging her private life into public view is ridiculous.

"This wasn't just a one-time thing: it was the opening of an awful floodgate of animosity, including an allegation that this developer (whom we're not going to name because she's had her name dragged through the mud more than enough already) had traded sexual favors for favorable reviews of her games."

The allegation was included in the posts previously mentioned.  The above portion suggests otherwise.  The unnamed developer has made one game, not games plural.  It was not favorable reviews of the game she is alleged to have traded sexual favors for, or even that she traded sexual favors for anything, but positive coverage.  More accurately, the allegation is that her relationships, not merely sexual but also and much more significantly financial, with various individuals in the gaming press skewed coverage of that among other unsavory activities such as sabotaging a charitable organization for not towing her ideological line.

"Other women in the gaming community, including the initial game developer who was targeted, have had their personal information broadcast across the internet; more than one has had to flee her home because of rape and death threats. Just last night, feminist social critic Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel a speech at Utah State University after receiving multiple online death threats, including threats of an Aurora-style mass shooting, prior to the event."

It is a good thing for your publication that at no point have you actually attempted to connect the dots and say that someone involved with Gamergate had anything to do with these activities.  I'm guessing we have a prudent editor to thank for that.

"Although many who align themselves with the Gamergate mission claim that their intent is to expose the incestuous relations between game designers and gaming journalists, an increasing number of opponents have pointed to it as a clear sign of misogyny within the gaming community."

No indication of whether or not the former claim is true (spoiler alert: it is) or whether or not the opposition argument might be an attempt to deflect such criticism (spoiler alert: it is).

"One gaming developer posted an open plea for people to fight against attacks from Gamergate proponents, and publications like The Washington Post and the website Jezebel (who called Gamergaters "a hate group") have publicly denounced the men driving the effort."

First, what is a 'gaming developer'?  Who actually develops 'gaming'?  Haven't heard language that mushy since the closure of Tiger Telematics.  Second, citing Jezebel for denouncing someone for doing something unethical is so idiotic it brooks no immediate comparison to other idiotic things.  It's an outlet which posted photographs of a sexual assault to bait clicks.  Third, link please.  Fourth, are developers unanimous in believing that?  Have you reached out to anyone yourself to get even a single substantive comment?

"Video games themselves have also reached new levels of depth and intelligence in their storytelling."

That's, uh, nice.  I guess?  It's not exactly true, but it is nice of you to say it.

"So an incident like Gamergate really shows how far some people haven't come in the gaming community."

You're right.  There are people out there who call themselves journalists but don't understand that it is unethical to have financial or other similar ties to a subject whilst covering it as a journalist.  That's a serious problem and a possible violation of FTC regulations.  Those same people could not possibly be using gender issues as a shield to deflect relevant inquiries, no sir.

"There is a fear -- and it's a rational one -- that as this incident penetrates the mainstream popular culture that's indifferent towards gaming that it could give videogame culture a black eye after years of progress."

Who holds this fear?  Did someone say this?  Quote them, please.

"One would think women would be welcome in what's been a male-dominated world for decades, so why the misogyny?"

So you haven't bothered to find out if games journalism is rotten?  You're just going to take sides without doing any actual research?  You're going to advocate instead of report?

"We've seen cases of inherent racism and misogyny in gaming before, but rarely of this severity and length."

[Citation Needed] - I'm not saying he's wrong but some examples would really improve his vanishing credibility at this point.

"While we know where the first initial threats came from, it's hard to tell why this has mushroomed to this extent."

Do you have definitive evidence who they are?  Can you name them?  Why have you not done so?  Why have you not pointed out their connections to Gamergate?

"One strong theory is that the men involved in Gamergate are sexually and socially frustrated in other areas of their lives, and resent the idea of women entering the one arena in which they feel they have some expertise."

That's your 'strong' theory?  Armchair speculation about the social and sex lives of people you do not know?  You complain about stereotyping and yet indulge in it here?  What evidence supports your theory?  What sort of metrical tests have you applied to it?  What predictive power does it have?  How well does it explain the behavior as against other possible theories (trolling, false flagging, etc.) which may also fit the evidence?  Do you know that 'theory' is neither a synonym for 'unfounded guesswork' nor 'psychologically comforting thing I wish to be true' right?

"We' re certainly hoping these cowards will be tracked down and brought to justice."

Who are 'these cowards'?  Did they pack up and vanish into the night after sending their threats?  If you have even the faintest hint of a clue who they actually are it's because they already are on their way to getting tracked down.  The police do take substantial death threats seriously.

"No, we don't wish death on them like they wish on others; some jail time will suffice."

All right.  That's the end of the article.  At no point does our author ever bother to connect the illegal activity of various creeps with Gamergate.  We have no idea what Gamergate even is by the end of the piece or who coined the term.  One could be forgiven for disbelief, even shock, at learning that a large number of women are supporters if this article was the only introduction a reader had.  There is not a single phrase or sentence so much as implying it.  No evidence is given whatsoever.  Konnow simply places the two objects (harassment and Gamergate) next to each other on a table and leave them there in the hope that the reader will continuously associate them after that point.  There is Konnow's word and that is all.

This subject was already dreary.  Now it's getting ridiculous.  I need a drink.

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A Brief Response to a Recent Upset
Posted on Tuesday, October 7 2014 @ 11:56:23 Eastern

The recent dustup between pissed off gamers of various stripes and pissed off journalists of various stripes has left me cold.  Commentary is solidly locked into two camps - one dismissing the complaints about corruption and collusion as either ...   read more...

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On the Possibility of a Ninth Generation of Consoles
Posted on Monday, September 29 2014 @ 15:38:04 Eastern

As Mr. Osborn is wont to do, he posted a link to one of Michael Pachter's intellectual...movements and there was some discussion of the merits of his thesis.  For our purposes it's fair to note that Pachter's predictive rate is lower...   read more...

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Booth Babes as Prismatic Side Show
Posted on Thursday, March 20 2014 @ 12:18:06 Eastern

This post began life as a simple rebuttal to Daniel Bischoff's essay, "Join Game Revolution in the Fight to Ban Booth Babes from E3" and has since grown into something a bit bigger.

Concerns about the industry's image...   read more...

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Hurdles to a Possible Final Fantasy VII Remake
Posted on Saturday, March 1 2014 @ 15:53:54 Eastern



In a recent post discussing Yoshinori Kitase's thoughts on possibly remaking Final Fantasy VII an interesting discussion broke out about why they would not and what might get in their way. 

First, let me be up ...   read more...

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Prolegomenon to Reviews for the New Thief
Posted on Saturday, February 15 2014 @ 15:07:04 Eastern

Eidos Montreal have released a seventeen-minute video of the upcoming Thief.  GR has it posted here.

Mr. Osborn, in his remarks on the post notes that while it appears to promise a competent stealth title in the near future, he is...   read more...

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Preparing for the Upcoming Thief
Posted on Friday, January 24 2014 @ 19:39:34 Eastern


When a new entry in a franchise comes along, it behooves us to acquaint ourselves with that franchise's past entries. Imagine, if one were alive in 1870, starting to read the serial edition of War & Peace at around chapter 240. About ...   read more...

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Adam Orth Resurfaces or, Gamespot Still Sucks
Posted on Monday, January 13 2014 @ 01:08:25 Eastern

Adam Orth needs and deserves no introduction beyond 'he's a jerk who said a stupid thing and it cost him his job.'  He produced a public apology which followed the Jon Corzine school of not understanding what he did wrong or why h...   read more...

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