As of this writing, NeoGAF, a very popular invite-only message board for video games, is down following sexual assault allegations leveled against its founder. In the past few days, brave people have shared with their stories, likely emboldened by the #MeToo movement and the Harvey Weistein scandal to come forward. This abuse has allegedly been going on for years, and now that it has come to a head, all mods have left in protest and it’s looking like the site is either about to experience extreme change in management or be retired completely.
It’s apparent that the damage has been done. The userbase has run for the hills to other communities and aren’t likely to come back except in the unlikely chance that Tyler Malka, the owner who has taken hard political stances in solidarity with progressive values like racial and gender equality, steps down. NeoGAF is his baby, and he possesses complete control over it.
The hypocrisy here is what has me bewildered. Here we have someone who is, like Weinstein, outwardly on the side of the survivors of sexual assault and progressivism then commits sexual misconduct himself. The firestorm on Twitter, or rather the schadenfreude on NeoGAF’s situation spares not a second to illustrate how Malka’s actions are indicative of the website’s community-wide hypocrisy as a whole.
NeoGAF cultivates a certain political persona, you see. Every potential member of the forum is vetted and discussions are heavily moderated, as it is designed to combat the omnipresent threat of internet trolling and shitposting. Over the past few years, the moderation style of the site has trended towards acceptance of progressive and liberal ideologies and extremely intolerant of alleged right-leaning ones (Boogie2988 was banned for being a proponent of GamerGate for example) , existing on the other side of the coin to sites like 4chan and Reddit that are decidedly less moderated and are these days, especially in 4chan’s case, more right-friendly.
This situation once again has left me feeling lonely in the middle. I browse 4chan a lot but am disgusted by the intolerant and racist views lauded by /pol/, the board that has an unironic nazi general thread. They’re the ones celebrating the fall of NeoGAF, and though I’m not a fan of liberal hugboxes either, it’s still a community of people who came together to discuss video games where they didn’t need to deal with the overuse of the word “cuck”, Pepe nazi saluting, and racist slurs. They’ve lost that community, and if I were to lose 4chan, particularly the parts that I like, a part of me would be lost as well.
But at the same time, when I see NeoGAF refugees establish themselves on Waypoint, which is a gaming outlet I respect simply BECAUSE it has the balls to wear its political biases on its sleeve, joining the company of those who advocate violence against white-supremacists on the basis of supposed self-defense, I feel alienated. I can’t condone aggressive physical violence against anyone, and at a larger level it saddens me to see our politics increasingly infest every aspect of the voices of the internet. Where I can’t side with fascists or militant anti-fascists.
My empathy, again, goes to the brave women who have come forward against Tyler Malka. His actions and hypocritical attitude are worthy of nothing but scorn and he needs to leave the industry. And I also feel for the communities of NeoGAF who have lost a home, and I hope they can find solace in Waypoint, a reborn NeoGAF or whatever places they go. But there needs to be accountability for people who smokescreen their abusive behavior with fake empathy. And it’s increasingly clear that elements of the progressive left can be guilty of this, which is equally as bad as the outright bigotry in elements of the conservative right.