When it comes to the topic of Totalbiscuit and GamerGate, we reached the fever pitch of the recent “controversy” surrounding TB. Post-mortem.
Before even touching the GamerGate stuff there’s something hugely critical in regards to understanding where John Bain’s mindset on things was back then. Little is it known that TotalBiscuit put his job on the line in order to defend Zoe Quinn, the central figure of GamerGate and indie developer. TB defended the accuracy of reports surrounding the GAME_JAM debacle that Zoe Quinn was involved with earlier on in 2014. He spent a full hour on the TGS/Co-Optional podcast to be up front and criticize their network’s failures. It was a risky move to make, especially since this was during the transitional period of Disney’s takeover of Maker. In a call with the company’s VP, Bain stood by his podcast’s brutal honesty. TB stood by his defense of Zoe Quinn. He threatened to walk if the company clamped down to censor the content.
Before GamerGate, TB hated the sloppiness of games media. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone he had that critical eye on them after. At most, his ire expanded to mainstream media too. Well. Moreso than it already had. He basically thought traditional gaming journalism had overstayed its welcome.
In February 2014 there was some sort of drama with TB abandoning his go-to community subreddit for his channel. In the retrospective light of GamerGate, it was a molehill to the mountain a few months down the road. What matters is TB showed up and addressed the state of affairs. He talked about personal stuff. He talked about his feelings about his work. Read the full thing. I’m going to quote a majority of it and highlight important details, too.
It absolutely vindicates him as someone who was acting in good faith, come GamerGate.
“It’s when the audience stomps on my principles. I think that’s what hurts the most. I made a career out of trying to protect my audience from bad purchases. It’s hardly saintly, its still just videogames on the internet, but whats a little light entertainment/info for you is MY LIFE. That’s what I get up for every day now, that’s what I live for. I work that job 6-7 days a week and I do it because I believe what I’m doing is helping, that it’s making gaming better even if it’s just a little. Ignoring your blatant misrepresentation for a second, when you say something like “It’s not the devs fault there’s bugs”, or you go after me because I don’t support early access and I want to be consumer-first, dev second, that isn’t just a debate point, you’re attacking the principles that are at the core of my day to day life. This sounds really dramatic but this is my life, this is ALL I DO. I only exist to do this right now.
I’ve read so many people with their “advice”, oh… you should get a thicker skin! You should just ignore it! Those people have no idea of the volume of it all, or how constant it is, it never stops, it’s day in day out 24/7, no end in sight noise. So many people talking at once… It’s death by a thousand cuts. That thick skin isn’t invincible, occassionally it buckles and when it does I tend to react badly. I’m not sure you actually understand just how fucked up I am. My hair is going grey, not to mention it’s falling out. Yeah, my hair is grey at 29. Great right? I’m pretty sure I have chronic health problems that have been made far worse by stress. I’m even worried one of them might be life-threatening and I’m getting really paranoid about it. I fucking eat because I’m sad or angry or whatever, I have days where what should be a dream job is something I don’t even want to think about doing. I’m seriously fucked in the head and I have been for a very long time. I CANNOT stop reading feedback. I can’t just leave comments. I gave my Twitter to my staff months ago to try and stop me from reading it, which actually worked surprisingly. Turning off Youtube comments was great and for a while the subreddit was small enough and friendly enough that I could actually handle dealing with it. Now I dread reading it every morning and I CAN’T STOP MYSELF. God how many times have I tried to “get better?” over the last few years? Every time it’s fucking failed, every time and I hate myself for it.
But do you know how much it hurts to read stuff like this? That I think my audience is irrelevant? I live for my audience. I put myself on the line for my audience. Right now my livelihood is under threat because I said what needed to be said to make sure my audience stayed informed. I give everything I’ve got on a daily basis to try and make my audience happy. So imagine how I feel when they lash out at me. Yeah, you’re right, I should handle it better, but I can’t. I mentally cannot, I’m a mentally broken person who likely can never be fixed. I hate myself everytime for that, way more than you could ever hate me for the things I say here. I kinda hoped that some people would realize when I did that piece on the Flappy Bird dev that there was more than a bit of my own personal issues in there. When I asked people to understand what it’s like to get a bunch of attention you’re not equipped to deal with that maybe a few people would realise but that’s my fault, I should have just come right out and said it. I’m in a bad place physically, emotionally and mentally. I am not equipped to deal with my audience right now and frankly I should have deleted my account weeks ago so I can try to recover and not have individual viewers bear the brunt of that process.
You are not blameless but you are not the root of the problem either. Understand what it is you do to the people you apparently like. Everyone you like feels this way to a greater or lesser degree. Some people handle it better than others. I handle it terribly. I probably always will, so it’s best I do what others in my position do and put a wall between the audience and myself to prevent further damage being done to both.
I’ve always been a believer that professionalism and worth speaks through your actions not your words. So I’m going to take away my words for a while so there’s nothing else to drown out my actions.”
This one Reddit comment is the lens one needs to put on when it comes to understanding GamerGate from Totalbiscuit’s shoes. All the motivation and intention behind that time in his life makes absolute sense when taking into account TB’s state of mind back then.
How TotalBiscuit first stepped into the swamps of GamerGate was with a Twitlonger addressing the subject. Before it even had a formal name. In a time where the concerns were met with indifference, TB throwing his weight behind the issue by his sheer acknowledgement of events started a snowball effect.
As you can see here, TB had no idea the snowball effect that was going on. The rumblings of GamerGate that began in the thralls of massive Reddit censorship.
On August 29th, 2014, two day after the GamerGate hashtag was coined by Adam Baldwin, TB wrote a long essay in regards to the state of affairs. This is a front-row seat inside Bain’s motivations going into this GamerGate era that’d end up lasting until his death.
Despite the lengthiness of it, I seriously recommend anyone wanting some clarity to read the whole thing (click here to do so). But if you don’t have that kind of time I’d wager the most important paragraph of the blog is the very end:
“You can call me a hypocrite if you like, after all we all are to greater or lesser extents. I’ve not only engaged in the very behavior I’m now criticizing but my past is hardly angelic, I’ve said and done some things I am not proud of, but hey, who better than an alcoholic to tell you not to drink too much alcohol right? We want the same thing, better games. We have different ideas about how to accomplish that goal. We don’t need to destroy each other to get there, nor ignore what came before. There is no benefit to trying to be inclusive while simultaneously using exclusionary tactics to achieve your goal. There is no benefit to driving critics out of the industry, even if you don’t agree with what they say or even dislike them as a person. Try to realise that these are real people you’re going after, on all sides of this thing, try to understand why they feel this way, why they’re angry and upset and perhaps common ground can be found. I’m not trying to reach across the aisle. I was never in the other aisle to begin with. I walked into the chamber and it was on fire and people were stabbing each other. It sucked. I have a slant, I have biases and I have things which I believe to be true and things which I do not. You can probably see that in this blog, but my opinion like so many others is nuanced, not neutral. That’s ok.”
One of the elements that intersected both GamerGate and Totalbiscuit’s career work was the advent of the Steam Curator system. On September 22nd 2014, Steam unveiled it for the first time as a part of their Discovery overhaul on the storefront platform. It was that same day that Totalbiscuit set up his Curator page. As a guy known on YouTube for recommending Steam games in his videos, it was a natural fit for TB to set up a page directly on Steam itself in order to do just that. Within two days he had 150,000 followers. That’s how quick Bain became one of the leading Steam Curators. The 250,000, 300,000, 400,000, and half a million milestones happened within the first year.
This is what being a Steam Curator more or less amounted to looking like.
The success of Totalbiscuit became the object of jealousy in the eyes of certain indie developers. There came to be regular motions to suppress TB’s visibility as a Curator. From the get-go, Bain thought people taking the curation system so personally were silly. When people were calling TB a “jerk,” he was too busy focusing on advocating for proper disclosure practices, and getting game industry members together for discussions to stimulate the public conversation surrounding the system. All the meanwhile as a harassment mob tried to petition for TB to be deplatformed.
No matter what obstacle came up, Totalbiscuit remained committed to sticking with Steam’s system because he believed the consumer’s interests came first.
As you can imagine, in the end, Valve ended up siding with Totalbiscuit. He was so good at recommending games to people, Valve themselves ended up taking advice from him. They invited Bain and Jim Sterling to the company headquarters in order to gain insight as to on how they could better improve their Steam platform. The company recognized Sterling and TB as the best representatives of the gaming community’s interests. Which in the end turned out to be great for both Totalbiscuit and the industry. He passed the benefits to them and shared the boon. This happened with the introduction of new features such as the ability for game developers to directly send their products to curators through Steam itself.
TB had big plans in store for the Curator system in 2018 despite his health condition. Sadly we’ll never see that come to fruition because he lost that battle, but Bain did his best to work until the end.
The importance of this is that the Steam Curator system was introduced right as GamerGate started off in late 2014. It served as sort of a hook for TB’s adversaries to criticize him. They often used his success as a Steam influencer as a jumping off point for personal attacks against him.
Back on August 29th 2014, JonTron showed up to the Co-Optional Podcast. He was fresh off of a boat full of internet controversy. People speculated the show would dive into that and address it. Sure enough, they did.
JonTron was a comfortable series regular that the whole group had good sentiments with. In this outing Jon was able to deliver on discussion. Being enthusiastic with Destiny coming out, and talking about Diablo 3 and Paragon. JonTron pointed to the fact that he played games since he was 2 as a source for this joy. They talked about DOTA for a while when they get stymied by a Twitch outage. TB blames Time Warner and passes the hosting position off to Jesse Cox for the time being. JonTron makes jokes about jacking off because of a nearby paper towel roll he brought out to stop coffee spillage. He thought Last of Us Remastered was “SO GOOOOD” but Dodger took issue with the controls. This turns into a general discussion about contextual controls and how open world functionality works with that in the modern gaming age. They nitpicked at Batman Arkham Asylum and the Arkham City sequel. “The bane of my era was the waypoint,” says Jon. Jesse hated the blue line on-the-street navigation of Watchdogs because it distracted from any impact the surrounding city environment could have on the player. JonTron saw Assassins Creed IV as “open world done right” in light of the conversation at hand. Later on they talk about Steam’s lack of quality control and compare it to Atari’s saturation back in the olden days. They make a big laugh at an “8/10” headline on a Steam game’s page, hyping up the fact it’s “ok.” It turns into a discussion about bad games vs bad movies, where Jon goes off on a tangent about Tangled, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph. Jesse talks about playing Back to Bed and Lethal League. When they talk about Oculus Rift gaming, JonTron can’t help but being impressed with the Star Wars games and how up-close and real things like the Death Star were in the midst of the experience. Some people can’t pull themselves away from gaming, as the podcast goes on to mention with the case of a dude playing Starcraft for several days straight and dying. Both Jesse and Dodger played Five Nights at Freddy’s. It seemed mild compared to the fascination Jesse had with figuring out the ending to P.T. They praise the graphics and sounds and are entranced by the mind-blowing bonkersness. This Kojima game demo made it inevitable for the discussion to drift over to Ground Zeroes. Which was also a demo. That in particular pissed JonTron off. They WERE going to talk about Bravely Default but had to be careful because JonTron was paranoid about spoilers.
They transition control of the show back to TB for the news portion. They talk about Twitch being bought by Amazon. It subverted the expectation they’d be bought by Google. But the possibility of that being considered a monopoly was blatant. TB in particular didn’t want Google to acquire Twitch because of the antitrust issues involved with that.
Then they talk about the JONTRON controversy that happened in the days leading up to the birth of GamerGate.
Jontron says he’s been tweeting his opinions for the last few weeks and as a result he’s been called sexist and ablest. This in itself kicked off when Tim Schafer tweeted an Anita Sarkeesian video about women as background decoration. JonTron’s personal political viewpoint is considering himself feminist in terms of humanism. He’s all for equality but against the pandering of them. “Elevating to someone’s else’s level, not bringing others down” basically. He’s against white straight males being discriminated against. TB was annoyed that the biggest problem about this discussion is that they “weren’t allowed” to have it. He blamed Twitter and blogs for cultivating that mentality. But make no mistake. Everyone seemed more or less against the “retarded” joke JonTron tweeted. TB wasn’t afraid to call JonTron out for using it to describe a person. But describing the PS4 with it was fine though. “Whatever,” was Bain’s wording. In the end cases like this were all about context. TB stands firmly against today’s practice of an angry mob of brow beating people into submission as a response to behaviors. It doesn’t teach people anything in the end, only serving to choke out with a veil of fear. Dodger asked a friend of hers who studied cultural relations about “abrasive” sorts of posts. She said such things aren’t “written for you, but them.” JonTron says his personal decorum is to talk rather than yell. He reassures he doesn’t mind listen to the opinions of others, either. JonTron makes it clear that being called sexist and ablest is bothersome to him because he’s personally all about equality. He articulates schools of thought like feminism as having both normal and extremist elements to them. TB remarking that people pick sides and dig trenches which contributes to the mainstreaming of viewpoint polarization. Cox chimes in by saying people are now afraid of saying anything AT ALL these days on the internet. He found himself electing to delete blog posts he authored on controversy responses, seeing it better than dealing with backlash. Jesse says people would rather weigh on the “safe side” of issues publicly, even if its NOT what they believe privately. Further, making a note that he knows some hypocritical people in that regard. JonTron openly encourages public debate and sees the benefits of that. In particular, that Anita Sarkeesian has every right to post her videos on online and that there were valid points in there. However he takes issue with how she goes about things and her overall presentation. Jon and Jesse agree that Anita Sarkeesian cherrypicks, as the discussion goes on to explore sexiness and art in a more general sense. Cox disagrees with Anita’s implicit message that such aspects of gaming need censoring or removal. He calls for a middle ground on that, if one exists. When it comes to violence in video games, JonTron is adamant in reminding people that the FICTIONAL aspect of that needs to be more fully weighed in the debate. But all in all, despite the initial disagreement with what JonTron did, TB comes to his friend’s defense. He says the angry internet people yelling at JonTron are assholes who have no clue about who Jon really is as a person. That the “Jon hates women” crowd was coping out.
Dodger too was enjoying the debate. She made a joke saying “no I’m gonna let the straight white males discuss this.” But she was genuinely enthralled with how it was unfolding and was on the same wavelength as the three guys.
TB critcizes the vacuum of nuance on the social media internet. His problems with Anita’s videos are things like taking Let’s Play footage from other YouTube channels and using it without crediting them. His other concern about Anita is her particular opinion on the media’s influence is vastly different than the actuality. The all in all “this is problematic and this has influence on males or whatever” slant doesn’t sit right with TB. The podcast isn’t afraid to shy away from the topic of video game tropes themselves. But their approach points to lazy writing more outright. Jesse says go ahead and make a game with minorities and LGBTQ+ or whatever, but don’t make that the sole selling point of the product itself. TB brings up the possibility of more women playing video games thanks to advancements made on mobile phone App Stores for that sort of gaming product. Then the generational aspect of gamers and the industry marketing was in focus. Towards the end of the show, TB expressed his disappoint about “people he respected” who were engaged in mob tactics online and dismissive of other points of view. They spoke against the term “SJW” as it put people’s opinions in a box. But extremism was a more apt to term to describe both sides of the political spectrum.
All TB wanted to do was get back to his YouTube career. But, GamerGate’s strides towards making games media better fit with his own goals. So he worked that in. But to be clear, TotalBiscuit had no interest in Zoe Quinn. The best way to describe what TB’s stances actually were are best demonstrated in ordeals like the Shadow of Mordor affair. Where WB Games DMCA’ed various YouTube videos of the game without warning, in what turned out to be a promotion deal gone awry.
“When the dust settles, remember who it was that fed their own readership to the wolves. I will.” — Totalbiscuit, 12:46 AM – 15 Oct 2014.
Allow me to demonstrate the nuances involved when it came to John Bain and the GamerGate conversation. On October 24th 2014, TB manages to demonstrate the importance of not looking at things in a polarizing black-and-white fashion. First with Jason Schreier’s snafu of calling GamerGate “ebola.” Then with his encouragement of supporting IGN for their GamerGate related article they put out.
Coincidentally we also get an example of the “harassment” John Bain is alleged to have caused. The initial encounter started when Totalbiscuit wanted people’s suggestions for an anti-bullying charity to donate to. Dominic Tarason, initiating the conversation with TB, demanded him to use his “enormous YouTube clout and truly denounce” GamerGate as a hate movement. TB said that would be a lie if he did that, and added Dominic’s own violent rhetoric was unhelpful. Bain tweeted further (and very important to note that TB was only giving an example of Dominic’s violent rhetoric) and provided the example that Dominic had suggested GamerGate needed to be launched into the sun.
He told Dominic to grow up and he was part of the problem.
A week afterward, Dominic shows up in the replies after a harmless tweet from Mike Bithell. “Fuck TB. He accused me of pushing violent, hateful views (I think Gamergate is bad) and sicced hundreds of assholes/eggs on me,” Dominic wrote in a huff and a puff. Bithell took pity on the poor soul and inquired to know more. “He dug around my history, found a tweet where I suggested Gamergate be launched into the sun, then set me as a target. Fun,” Dominic answered.
At no point did Dominic make it clear to Mike that it was Tarason himself that initiated the exchange with TB in the first place. The way Dominic recounts this story to Mike makes it seem Totalbiscuit acted on his own volition. That Bain went out of his way to “dogpile” Dominic out of thin air.
But of course that’s not the case. TB responded and took the time to point that out. But in the months that followed, Dominic would spread the rumor of his TB encounter. Always leaving out the critical details that explain how the exchange between himself and TB came to be in the first place. To this very day, in fact, Dominic Tarason is still angry at Totalbiscuit.
You don’t have to look far to find out what Totalbiscuit’s GamerGate stances and thoughts were.
On October 25th 2014 he posted a Twitlonger speaking to that exact effect:
“I believe the media narrative is scewed [sic] and that in order to ensure this is brought to a peaceful end, Gamergate requires someone with a big enough platform to address the otherwise vast power imbalance between the media and those involved in the hashtag and activities adjacent to it. If I am able to use my influence to appeal for calm, focus the issues on journalistic ethics and condemn harassment, then that is better than simply disassociating with it. It should be noted that historically, Gamergate is actually the 2nd attempt to disassociate from previous activities, after people were concerned that association wtih [sic] Zoe Quinn and harassment she had received would prevent them from getting their concerns listened to. Unfortunately, regardless of what hashtag or name they adopt, the same narrative continues to follow. I do genuinely believe that the majority of people involved in this thing actually want to talk about journalistic ethics and are being increasingly frustrated by trolls and one-sided narratives. I also believe that some are being taken in by some extreme viewpoints and I want to try and prevent that from happening as much as possible.”
That’s from the second part of TB’s response to somebody. There’s a much longer first part if you wanted to see him respond to someone’s accusations point-by-point.
It can’t be stressed enough that TotalBiscuit gave a significant amount of attention to the issue of ethics in games media. On October 29th, 2014, he managed to get the editor-in-chief of Kotaku to sit down for a nearly two-hour long discussion about these issues.
To clarify. TotalBiscuit’s beliefs on GamerGate were for putting the consumer first. On November 5th, 2014, he wrote on Twitlonger to make that point.
“Many believe “Gamergate” irredeemably tainted. I honestly do not agree and believe that any efforts to talk about journalistic ethics in any context will be tarnished with the same brush. What some people see as a hate group I see as a group of very frustrated individuals who wanted their voices heard and were shut down and insulted. They are angry and they feel betrayed. On the other side, I can totally see why anyone who had received harassment would be taking the stance that engaging with a group they perceive as responsible can never happen. Then we have a bunch of fringe folks just causing more trouble one way or the other, making the situation worse. Is the solution to shove everyone involved in Gamergate into a box with” misogynist” writteon [sic] it? No, that makes a bad situation worse. The solution is to freeze out those responsible for harassment and discuss the concerns of the moderate majority. My sole concern is ethics in games media, it’s a topic I’ve been very interested in and covered for several years. I don’t buy this whole “social justice is co-opting our media!” thing but I would like a discussion on how to approach political issues in games coverage. I don’t buy “burn it all to the ground!” either, because I don’t believe games media irredeemably tainted (at least not anymore, I used to) just as I dont believe Gamergate irredeemably tainted. These are my views and they are as always, consumer first. Agree or disagree, that’s fine, but I think you’d be surprised how much people have in common when you peel back the facade that is created through the dehumanization process and media narrative.”
I’m taking the time to emphasize this because it’s lost in this modern discourse around where John Bain stood on the GamerGate issue.
— The Game Awards 2014 winner
(2:15 PM – 30 Dec 2014) Ben Kuchera posts an article on Polygon that sources a video claiming I have a “long standing axe to grind with minorities”. Bugger off Ben [http://archive.is/H5Jsz]
TotalBiscuit responded to the AbleGamers crisis by doing a livestream to raise any money for the donations lost because of this snafu. Since he was partners with that charity, TB took the time to acquire their approval before announcing it on Twitter.
— January 1st 2015 Charity streamer incident [http://archive.is/g2f50]
Even in the face of Intel Corporation partnering up with Feminist Frequency. (explain the $300 million investment)
By the end of January 2015, the esteemed David Gallant laid out a list of GamerGate related grievances against John “Totalbiscuit” Bain over on Gamasutra.
Yes, that guy laying on the bed in the picture above is David Gallant. The differences between him and Totalbiscuit included dressing up nice and wearing (any) clothes.
Here’s the moment in Gallant’s article where things go awry.
“He’s a cancer survivor: that alone is admirable. He’s undoubtedly done many positive things that I’m sure will be listed in the comments below this post. However I need to make an appeal to you, the Gamasutra audience, and the collective games industry: We need to stop enabling this man.”
Gallant mentions many of the things I’ve already covered here. But the underpinning effort by David is to paint TB as some sort of mega harasser drunk on power that was spearheading the GamerGate charge.
NOW THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS OF INTEREST IN THIS ENTIRE ESSAY. ONE WORTH THE BOLD/ITALIC/CAPITAL LETTER FONT TO HELP CAPTURE YOUR ATTENTION TOWARD.
John “Totalbiscuit” Bain was vehemently against harassment. So much in fact that he spent dozens of times pointing that out to people over the years. Click here for a Twitter moment I made in order to spoon feed this information to you.
The tragic part of it is people still won’t comprehend this information despite my effort here to make it as clear as humanly possible. Just to reiterate it, though. Totalbiscuit disavowed harassment: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen times.
A majority of this was said by TB before the release of Gallant’s article, making it prudent to the original point at hand. So much in fact that when David’s article was published, his anti-GamerGate colleagues questioned the effectiveness of Gallant’s strategy here.
David Gallant didn’t provide links to each particular claim. Rather, in the Gamasutra article, he links to a (now defunct) Storify with an assorted mush that backs up a bit of what Gallant is mentioning. But it’s so disorganized, to the point where you the reader are forced to make your own conclusions.
“heck if you wanna investigate further, you could probably debunk all those claims,” Totalbiscuit wrote on January 26th 2015 in regards to the piece.
So let’s go through these allegations one-by-one. I’ll put in the extra effort that Gallant didn’t care to in his sloppy defamation effort.
- “Retweeted a charity stream that asked him not to do so, then argued with the streamers as his GamerGate-supporting followers flooded the stream’s chat and made it unusable”
- “Threw a fit over Intel’s new Diversity Initiative” (No. In fact, Totalbiscuit applauded Intel.)
- “Appeared on a livestream with several prominent GamerGate organizers, including harassers like Slade Villena”
- “Been buddy-buddy with Milo Yiannopolous, the same “journalist” who harassed Brianna Wu over her dying dog and who asserts trans folk are merely mentally ill”
- “Participated in GamerGate’s ‘Thunderclap'” (you mean this one?)
- “Links regularly to posts on /r/KotakuInAction, one of GamerGate’s organizing points, and a place routinely filled with slurs, transmisogyny, racism, etc.”
- “Routinely mocks concepts like “punching down”, chosen pronouns, trans identities, etc.”
- “Created a short Twine game for the explicit purpose of mocking Twine games and their developers” (in that case the people who first pointed it out admitted they were wrong and did a retraction. TB explained it in full in a Twitlonger as well. Here’s the game itself so you can see what the fuss was about, as well as his original tweets that started it all. )
- “Expressed support for notorious YouTube anti-feminist Thunderf00t”
- “Recently incited hate against Brianna Wu” (for what? this? TB had run-ins with Wu on two separate occasions AFTER the Gallant article. He mentioned this one day when Brianna was harassing another games journalist. Overall? Wu went after TotalBiscuit several times.)
Totalbiscuit responded to it in full.
What credibility does Gallant have? He’s a one-hit wonder who joined the anti-GamerGate mob. That’s the most generous description in David’s favor one could possibly give. David Gallant made his I Get This Call Every Day video game in 2012 as a means of “venting” anger about his work. Keep in mind IGTCED was David’s seventh overall game in his “career” that he considers as being established in 2011. The point-and-click game itself is a simple conflict where the player has to contend with a nameless customer at the other end of a telephone line. The conversation ends up being an overall trial of patience, with the objective being convincing the guy on the phone to call back later.
A ten minute experience. One that pales in comparison to any game title in the Totalbiscuit “WTF Is” video library of coverage.
The only reason I Get This Call Every Day got any attention whatsoever was because in January 2013 it came out that Gallant got fired over it. Gallant’s job in the first place was at the Canadian tax department. They didn’t take kindly to the fact their workplace and customer service were being ridiculed in such a crude, embarrassing fashion.
On behalf of the National Revenue Minister at the time, a communications director sent this message to The Star:
“The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable. The Minister has asked the Commissioner (of Revenue, Andrew Treusch) to investigate and take any and all necessary corrective action. The Minister has asked the CRA to investigate urgently to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised.”
At face value you would see Gallant’s dilemma as an interesting tale in the world of video games (at least back then, when the gaming community hadn’t gone full throttle and was still young). Kotaku certainly lapped that sweaty pile of mess up. Which, visually looks like one in the first place because David Gallant made the majority of I Get This Call Every Day while on a train.
The bottom line is Gallant is also a metaphorical heap of slag, along with physically being one. Look at David’s tweet here to get a definition of slag in this context. But in the broader sense of value, Gallant has all in all tweeted nothing of meaningful value or impact in the past eight years. If you went to his Twitter profile looking for insight, you’d come out empty handed.
Short version. This was what Totalbiscuit stood against here.
“Shout out to all the conference-goers who are conference-going this week. Y’all be safe and punch any encountered GerberGaters in the dick.” – a tweet from David S Gallant, 7:25 PM – 28 Feb 2015.
It’s super important that I point out this wasn’t a one-off tweet that can’t be used as a representation of the type of person David S Gallant is. It is. He mentions it again over a year later in October 2016, and shows no remorse. A demonstration that Gallant is capable of self-reflection, but he’s working off a faulty set of interpersonal values. The kind that are commonly found within a schoolyard bully.
If you want some sort of backstory for him, here you go. David S Gallant will go down in history as the man who masturbated to GamerGate. It’s worth explaining why anyone would ever confess to something like that. The reason being is Gallant has no thought filter. None. None at all. The most significant of “real” developments was making I Get This Call Every Day available on Steam, and then having that blow up in his face after trying to discriminate against his own consumer base. At the end of November 2014, Gallant said he had “something very cruel” for people who bought his game that happened to also be GamerGate supporters.
“Basically I’m making sure those folks don’t get keys,” David tweeted. What was Gallant’s motive for doing this? He had an answer for that too, stating his intent being all because he was “a very bitter man.”
Gallant was serious about it, too. Outlining the specifics in a games media article detailing how he planned to carry it out. The scheme was a bad idea, considering I Get This Call Every Day ends up being the only (actual) game Gallant has to his name. It was all he had to show when it came to convention season. He himself more than once scoffed at the label of being a game developer, yet there Gallant was, hounding Totalbiscuit as he was dying of cancer.
“what am I even doing with my life,” Gallant tweeted. Wasting away on Twitter and smelling like cat piss. David leading a sad life, all as John Bain was clamoring to buy himself more minutes and hours of flat-out life in general.
David Gallant (extensively) clung onto Zoe Quinn and the like for some time (and showed up in some leaked chat logs with them). He is a self-proclaimed attention seeker with daddy issues. Spent years being lonely but would rather other people he hates in this world be depraved of friendship. Eventually even Randi Harper became publicly sick of him. Polygon too. After a thorough review of David Gallant’s tweets, I can safely conclude he will not aspire to do anything noteworthy or mentionable with his life from here on out. Why? Gallant is perpetually stuck at a dead-end job he hates (going as far as saying he prefers unemployment), and for some reason he likes to make himself miserable. If that wasn’t already evident given how lowly David regards himself. He knows there’s the burden of his own past hanging over his future prospects.
“I’m not saying this as an excuse. I’m saying this as a warning. Please do not assume I’m safe or “one of the good ones.” Be wary,” Gallant says.
It was an intentional attack against Totalbiscuit’s reputation too, as seen by the follow-up #ZeroBiscuit hashtag that immediately followed Gallant’s smear piece against Bain. It was supposed to be a “boycott” according to the starter of it, Arthur Chu. It was geared towards stopping game developers and reviewers from “legitimizing” him. Moreover it was an attack on Totalbiscuit’s source of income and livelihood, as seen by Chu’s plea that “YouTubers & e-celebs” cut any contact and collaboration work between TB and themselves.
How did this pan out in the end?
GamerGate supporter @PwnParrot did what any gator would do back then. They turned the negativity into a positive by hijacking the #ZeroBiscuit hashtag and making it a charity fundraising effort. They started it on the evening of January 27th 2015, and gave it a nudge out into the public eye. By the morning of January 29th the effort reached the halfway point. $1000 raised to fight world hunger in under 48 hours. Two days after that on the 31st, @PwnParrot happily revealed that #ZeroBiscuit was a success. $2000 (and then some) was collected for charity.
If you want to know how that kind of turnaround is possible? Look no further than the GamerGate “harassment campaign.” Somehow, all these people got together and aspired to do something good for the world. Someone must’ve reminded them of the importance of their personal values.
SO TO REVIEW: hashtag followed by an attack on Totalbiscuit’s livelihood, followed by another hashtag. For what? Taking the piss out of game journalism.
The tragedy of all this is even though it’s blatantly a sham, the messy smear job by Gallant manages to create a snowball of negative attention in the days following it being published. The bottom line is David Gallant’s efforts to blacklist Totalbiscuit from the games industry we’re futile in of themselves. He tried it on and off again in the months afterward.
But at the end of the day, Gallant paid his dues in “shaking the beehive” of Totalbiscuit controversy.
And that was just David Gallant. All the meanwhile, you had people like the Yogscast backstabbing Totalbiscuit. Despite the fact that TB placed significant weight on his valuation of friends. On more than one occasion Bain went to bat for the Yogcast. He considered them friends and wasn’t afraid to defend them when it came to the infamous Notch feud, either. At the outset of GamerGate, TB placed special emphasis on the need to make friends with folks on the other side of the political spectrum. So for TB it was hard to see Simon throwing him under the bus. He much preferred to hash out their differences in private. The tensions were still heated a few months after their initial falling out, with Simon calling TB a “pissbaby.” Bain reacted with indifference and simply wrote Yogscast off as opportunists. All over the fact that TotalBiscuit just wanted Yogscast to give a little more disclosure. In return, they lobbed the accusation that more of Bain’s content is “paid for” than he let on.
JAMES PORTNOW IS OPPOSITE PERSONALITY OF DAVID GALLANT
— Extra Creditz January 28th 2015 http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1skbco2 http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1skam53
— 11:09 AM – 21 Feb 2015 No “Gamergate” did not threaten to Sarin gas PAX holy shit it is time to stop this insane fear-mongering. Lunacy! archive.is/pZ6y2
In March 2015, Totalbiscuit responded to Moviebob’s outburst about him. He accused TB of hiding, and that he was only aligned with GamerGate in order to “hurt his (superior) competitors.”
Now. Time for a little review. Here’s a July 2015 tweet from GOG.com. By now, the toxic outrage that resulted from Totalbiscuit’s GamerGate involved had several months to seep into the gaming community.
This brand-deal (in the sense that it was using Totalbiscuit’s name to sell a product) tweet shows up.
Right in the midst of GamerGate’s first full polarizing Summer.
What I want you to do is sit back and put on your thinking caps for a moment. Take a moment. Picture in your head what the replies look like. On one side, his critics. On the other, his fans. As you can imagine, the replies to the GOG tweet are clash, after clash, after clash.
February 17th 2016 BBC 3 Interviews TotalBiscuit about online harassment and gaming – Full audio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y9bS5cqLaM
— How GamerGate impacted his friendships
— “It is interesting. Spent 4+ years helping indie devs wherever I can with huge exposure, yet many turned on me the last few days.” (8:58 AM – 20 Aug 2014) archive.is/fnrGj