I recently had the chance to conduct an interview with Oliver Campbell. Most of you know him pretty well, since he’s been a prominent figure in GamerGate since the very beginning. I’ve gotten the chance to serve side-by-side with him throughout the course of GamerGate, and I can safely say that he’s a great guy, who cares deeply about our cause. As far as talks go, he appeared on my show a month or so ago to discuss the past year, but I think this interview flushes out a lot more detail.
As you know (if you read this site), Oliver recently said he was going to be quitting GG. That didn’t happen, and he attributes that to a pep talk C.H. Sommers, a.k.a. Based Mom, gave him in Miami. Here’s a tweet detailing that experience:
— CommanderPaul1 (@CommanderPaul1) August 26, 2015
I’m glad Ms. Sommers talked Campbell out of quitting, because we’re going to continue to need people like him over the course of the next year. I think I speak for most of GamerGate when I say that he’s been an integral part of things since the outset. I also believe that Oliver will have much more to contribute over the next year. He’s keeping very busy as we speak. He’s got a book out, and although he didn’t ask me to plug it, I’m going to anyway. You can buy it here (Disclosure: Amazon partners with TheRalphRetort). As for the interview, let’s go ahead and get the show on the road. I’m splitting this up into two part, by the way. Part Two is available here, and will be linked below as well.
You’ve talked about what motivated you to join GamerGate way back when. But what made you stick with it so long? Also, what do you think made others persevere for so long in the face of this media onslaught?
I think, as time went on, it became more and more apparent to me that the gaming media wasn’t going to take responsibility for their actions up front, even after Jemma Morgan, Georgina Young, and Jennie Bharaj being on Huffington Post Live, even after all the ad revenue lost by Gawker. To see people so caught up in their pride that it would lead to their downfall, that’s when I realized just how bad things were. It bothered me a lot.
I think what has made people stick with this for so long is the fact that this is their life. For many of us as gamers, this is what we do as our primary hobby. People have a lot of identity tied up in this (I include myself in that), and a lot of personal investment. I think the fact that people did give a damn to care for this long says plenty about gaming culture; Resilient and steadfast.
But what has personally, as an individual, kept me here in GamerGate? You may or may not know her, but Thornblossom is what keeps me fighting. For those who don’t know, she’s a tiny little older lady. She’s been here since the beginning. She’s very sick, and she loves video games because she can live vicariously through them. She didn’t do anything to anyone, but according to these messed up journalists she’s the scum of the earth. When people have lost touch with reality on that level, they’ve gone too damn far. What kind of person do you have to be in order to sit down and libel an old woman who just wants to play games and smile? So that’s why I fight; I fight for those who want to fight for themselves but can’t.
Speaking of the media, all the polling shows it’s held in very low regard. What would be some simple fixes for the gaming press, and the press in general?
Easy: Stop attacking your audience. I said this a year ago; this is a 100% pure textbook case of biting the hand that feeds you. I think many journalists seem to have forgotten who they serve. It is no different than a customer going into a restaurant, ordering their meal and the server spits in their face. Why would you expect that customer to stay? Of course they wouldn’t.
The next thing that they can do is open up a dialogue. Any person in business can tell you that if you ask your customers for feedback, they’re going to give it to you in droves. It will be more feedback than you can even deal with. There’s a few sites that picked up on this idea and sure enough their traffic has gone up and reader interaction and support is at an all-time high.
What do you think are some important initiatives in the post-AirPlay GamerGate? SXSW is one, and you can talk about that if you’d like, and give your thoughts on its importance. But what are some others?
Last year, GamerGate started the Rebuild Initiative that consisted of creating newer and more dependable media (as well as helping to bolster some smaller sites that at the time had less traffic). Rebuild Initiative is still one of the best things that they can do. If we look at what happened with the Hugo Awards fiasco this year, the people we’re dealing with have zero problem with a scorched earth policy; they’ll burn it all down and try to catch everyone else in the flames if they can. Simply put, we mustn’t let them do that.
Make great alternative media, and make great games. It’s your industry, always has been. Love it and fight for it as you always have.
What was the hardest thing about being thrust into a bit of fame over the last year? I know that GamerGate has no leaders, and I subscribe to that 100%. But there’s a lot of pressure that comes with being a known voice, in my opinion. How do you feel about that, or do you disagree completely?
I never did quite grasp the whole ‘e-celeb’ thing. Didn’t make much sense to me. I have close to 12,000 followers on twitter, but that doesn’t actually translate into much (at least on my end it doesn’t). Nothing I’ve ever done within the sphere of GamerGate have I profited off of monetarily, and I have no intention of starting as we roll into our second year. It just always felt wrong to me, but that’s just my own personal principles.
When I first started talking about GamerGate, I just wanted to add my input as someone experienced with the industry into the discussion. I didn’t realize that the things that I had to say would have so much value to so many people. Very early on I realized that people had a great deal of trust in me, and that’s something that I don’t ever want to betray. Trust is so hard to earn and so easy to lose. It matters to me.
I absolutely agree that there’s a level of pressure that comes with being a known voice, and this is very different when you’re not anonymous. Sure, I was already a public figure being an author, but this was/is a whole different level. The very worst pressure oddly enough comes from inside GamerGate. That’s not a negative thing, mind you. A lot of people have been hurt, and they’re still afraid a year later. People want to be able to trust, and if they feel that something might damage that trust in the tiniest of ways, they sometimes blow it up bigger than the situation itself is. However, I’ve seen that intensity come down quite a bit with the passage of time. Just as I said, that pressure isn’t negative from my point of view! I’m kind of thinking of it as training wheels for the next big step forward, if there ever is one for me.
Cover art by @