Game Developer Interviews About Gamergate: David S Gallant

David S Gallant, creator of I Get This Call Every Day, on the topic of Gamergate.

  1. Hi David, please tell us a little about yourself and about the game you worked on.

My name is David S Gallant. I’m a relatively new game developer: I started learning to code and make games in 2011. I’ve developed eight games, though most folks know me for the first one I ever sold, which is a short point-&-click conversation titled I Get This Call Every Day.

I’m a 31 year old married Canadian who has three cats. I like hamburgers, Transformers, and playing games with my wife.

  1. How has Gamergate personally affected you?

First of all, I’m a friend of Zoe Quinn. We met when she was living in Toronto and just starting to make games herself. When some internet rando linked me to thezoepost (the one-sided diatribe by her ex that kicked off GamerGate in earnest), I knew something bad was coming. It wasn’t the first time folks tried to make Zoe’s life hell, and frankly, the post itself had some dead giveaways that it was a thing written specifically to hurt her. I got vocal on Twitter, one of my tweets got RT’d by Phil Fish, and before I knew it, I was in the crosshairs of a group of kids from the UK who felt the need to harass me. It started mainly with them calling me fat and making sexual remarks about me, but they eventually sought out and found my wife’s account, and my mother’s account, and looped them in to the harassment. When they started threatening to rape my wife, I finally started reporting accounts. My wife locked her Twitter, and my mother completely deleted her account. This group still pops up once a month or so to start some fresh harassment for me.

I’m very active on Twitter, and with that activity came a lot of harassment. I spoke out against The Fine Young Capitalists; he came into my feed and brought with them dozens of hostile followers. I spoke out against Brad Wardell; he came into my feed and brought with them dozens of hostile followers. I spoke out against Slade Villena: he came into my feed and brought with them dozens of hostile followers. Before ggautoblocker (the tool developed by Randi Harper that identifies GamerGate supporters by checking those who follow more than one of their figureheads), my feed would regularly be flooded with GG garbage. I already suffer from anxiety and depression, so this constant onslaught of unrepentant bullshit exasperated things to the point where I would not be able to function.

Eventually I decided to do something with the only power I might conceivably have: deny any GamerGate supporters a Steam key for I Get This Call Every Day when it launches on the service. I foolishly tweeted about the plan before I had even determined if it was possible, and GG members discovered the tweet, which kicked off a new round of focus on me. GG folks were claiming I was committing fraud, which was false – purchasers of the game had already received what they paid for at the time of purchase. Clarifying this in a Storify did not help; GG continued to spread false information about my actions, contacting my storefront partners and publishing articles about my actions on pro-GG sites (TechRaptr, PowerGamer, and OneAngryGamer). Ironically, this incident didn’t harm game sales at all: December was my strongest sales month since last January, and the game is still coming to Steam. Unfortunately I discovered that my plan to withhold Steam keys from GamerGate supporters is impossible.

Since that incident, GG folks have taken to stalking my feed and making screenshots of any of my embarrassing tweets to spread around (including a few times where I referred to GG and masturbation, an unpleasant admission I made in vulnerability). I’ve had to lock my account to prevent this. While locked, Slade Villena asked GG folks to contact local law enforcement on my behalf, claiming he believed me to be suicidal. This was a blatant SWATting attempt and it forced me to contact my local police department to warn them.

Most recently, I was doxxed by the owner of 8chan while attempting to report that site’s child pornography boards to their passthrough service hosting company, Cloudflare. I remain on high alert and have to monitor 8chan’s /baphomet/ board for advance warning of any action taken against me.

  1. Do you think that there are issues in games journalism that need to be addressed?

Absolutely! Games journalism is an incredibly insular community dominated by mainly straight white male perspectives who have a tendency to hire other straight while male writers, often ones who are already active in the industry. There is a dearth of diverse voices, who most certainly exist in this space but are usually relegated to freelancing or finding some alternate means of support. There’s also a lot of space in games writing devoted to essentially free PR for game publishers. Speaking of publishers, some of them have taken advantage of the somewhat unregulated but incredibly lucrative host of YouTube game reviewers.

That a games writer might be influenced because of a personal relationship to a game dev, or over a paltry amount of money given through Patreon, are literally non-issues.

  1. Has Gamergate affected your ability to make games?

Yes. Every day I wake up worried that one of my friends will be a new target for GamerGate. I am hearing, constantly, about the horrible things they are saying and doing to friends like Zoe, Veerender, Arielle, and others. And now that I”ve been doxxed, I’ve had my own safety to worry about as well. I am trying to finish version 1.5 of I Get This Call Every Day so I can launch the game on Steam, but most days I’m unable to get anything done.

Worst of all, it’s made me hate being a part of games culture. I continue to make games because it’s really the only thing I know how to do that generates income. But honestly, I want out of games. I want out so bad.

  1. What impact do you think Gamergate has had on the industry?

Personally it’s led to a lot of resentment towards the corner of the industry that’s remained silent or only made ineffectual statements on the matter. There are several major game sites, who have covered me in the past, who I’ll refuse to work with now.

Aside from my own feelings, GamerGate has dealt a huge blow to the industry’s attempt to become more diverse. They’ve sent a loud, clear message that anyone attempting to make the kinds of games they don’t like is at risk of being harassed, doxxed, and generally made to feel unsafe and unwelcome. This goes double for women and anyone who isn’t white. It’s not a new message; GamerGate made it worse, and louder, and I fear we’ve lost many great voices in games because of this hate mob.

  1. What do you think the industry can do to deal with this issue?

The entire industry needs to take a firm stand to tell GamerGate that they are not welcome in games. Every publisher and developer needs to make a crystal-clear statement that they do not support this hate group and that they do not want its members as their customers. I have made myself an example in this regard, with a statement on my site’s front page that I do not want any members of GamerGate to purchase or play my games.

  1. Why do you think the industry has yet to take a firm stance on Gamergate?

I can only speculate on this, but I feel that most in the industry have ignored GamerGate simply because they can. It hasn’t affected them personally. Frankly, my experience with much of the professional development community revealed a group of people unconcerned with anything going on outside their own studios other than the development of other games. Most shareholder-run publishers don’t have a social conscience either, so they have zero incentive to care about folks getting hurt and driven out of the industry. They simply don’t care that GamerGate is going on, and their silence is being interpreted by GG as support. I’m sure some are aware and just hoping it goes away.

  1. Do you think that speaking about this issue will paint a target on you?

If I didn’t already have a target on my back, I’m sure this would paint one on me. GamerGate has always been vindictive against its critics, and they’ve only gotten worse. One simply needs to look at how they’re treating srhbutts or Veerender these days to see what I mean.

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I wish there was more I could say – some reassuring words that things will get better, or some inspiring quote to give people the bravery to stand up to these assholes. Unfortunately, I’ve got nothing. The past five months have literally broken me. I just want to keep making games without having to worry when a hate mob might decide to target me or a friend because they take some issue with what we make.

I just want to be done.