NeoGAF’s Shadows II: Boogie2988’s War

Jon Jafari isn’t the first to face NeoGAF fueled controversy. A YouTuber by the name of Boogie2988 got a taste of the website’s dark side back in 2014, with the outbreak of GamerGate. He does a lot of gaming related videos himself, along with blogs about his life and discussions about current events. NeoGAF has a reputation of actively opposing the topic. This is the same website that deemed Red Letter Media “gamegators” for one simple movie review.

I was an acquaintance of Boogie’s back when he was going through all of this with NeoGAF. I can testify to the fact that he went through the incidents of doxing and harassment he alludes to during this period. It was difficult to see someone that thousands of people look up to in such a moment of weakness. For years I’ve felt guilty about not being able to do more to help him back then.

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NeoGAF’s owner Tyler Malka came down hard on GamerGate in September 2014.

After this #gamergate mob has continued its crusade, against NeoGAF in particular — for attempting to be socially progressive and for banning some of the hateful #gamergate proponents — I threw out some (crass, of course; I love it) tweets toward the movement in response, and have since been met with harassment, hate speech, and doxing attempts.

To be clear, this is a movement with no real discernible agenda other than hate and harassment, stemming from disdain toward the idea of social equality. And its main weapon seems to be, hilariously, throwing back all of those terms at its “oppressors.” Socially progressive website like RPS that has tried to expose and tackle difficult social issues in the gaming scene? Label it sexist, misogynist, hypocritical, *and* “SJW.” Same thing for NeoGAF, Kotaku, Polygon, and whatever other sites have tried to talk about gaming’s social problems. No matter what the stated agenda is, the commentary always comes back to this bizarre “SJW vs MRA” debate, and that colors the whole argument.

A full transcript of Boogie’s posts on NeoGAF is available here. While the context might help put things into perspective, be warned that the overall journey is uncomfortable and painful to read at certain points.

But it also serves as a great example of what happens when someone takes their ideological stance and presents it in full earnest to NeoGAF.  It gets destroyed.

His first NeoGAF foray was on September 4th, 2014, when he engaged with the community to talk about his I Am NOT A Bigot. Are You? video. It was one of Boogie’s earliest responses to the GamerGate controversy, and he encouraged people on both sides to discuss ideas rather than make any kind of personal attacks against one another.

Boogie’s main interests were: protecting gaming from being attacked, standing up for gamers as a community, and warning folks that the media would take the GamerGate narrative and run with it. Boogie stressed his support for feminism and disavowment of harassment, talking about the topic with NeoGAF into the wee hours of the early morning. All to make sure his points weren’t misunderstood.

From September 6th and onward through October, Boogie took a deep dive into NeoGAF’s GamerGate general discussion thread. This 400-page leviathan is where discourse about the events unfolding with GG was contained. From the outset, Boogie was stuck in a position where he had to make it clear he was only responsible for his own behavior, yet he couldn’t help but emphasize with the terrible things happening to others online. He expressed a desire to try and keep order between the warring sides and to make something good out of the mess that was happening.  Early on, the goal of making gaming journalism more honest was on the forefront of his mind.

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The first night had Boogie expressing optimism about NeoGAF before he went to bed. But it would become clear later on that he might’ve spoken too soon. By that evening, he was reiterating on his aims to fight back against blanket statements the media was making about gamers. He saw the conversation about women in gaming and the need for transparency in journalism as ideas that complimented one another. But Boogie’s weaknesses would begin to show, as he made it clear to the thread lurkers that he was trying to please everyone. Boogie tried to protect his self-image, and as a result, he couldn’t help but argue with NeoGAF posters accusing him of various forms of “attacks” online. These scuffles would normally end up with a confession by Boogie saying he was running on little sleep. Whenever he did dose off, he expressed hopes that the internet would calm down by the time he woke up.

It was naive. But Boogie gave it his all, making long posts fully explaining his experiences and points of view whenever he felt necessary. In return, NeoGAF threw more assertions and claims at him for him to have to explain.

September 8th, 2014. Boogie admits to having his first breakdown.

I am sincerely dying for that day. Like literally dying. I broke my diet for the first time tonight. I ate a fried fucking pie. I cried while I ate it.

I’m not sleeping, I’m having heart arythmia, I can’t think straight, and I’m just scared shitless and I feel terrible for everyone on all sides of this thing being harmed. I’m constantly second guessing myself and damning myself for the role I’m having in it and that’s manifesting in the return of the depression and my compulsive over eating.

I would do literally anything for gamergaters and gaming journalists to try to find some sort of common ground. but its not happening and I know it and I feel I’m letting myself and plenty others down if I don’t continue to participate and reminding people to remain civil.

The negative criticisms I’ve seen in this thread, though warranted, are making me feel evern worse. But I guess I knew that was coming for speaking my mind.

I’m just hoping I survive this at this point. Or maybe I’m hoping I won’t. I don’t know yet.

But I can’t wait until its over to find out.

He was aware of his flaws as a person. Regardless, Boogie continued his NeoGAF discussions as he felt it would help making people have empathy toward the situation. The vicious cycle continued. Boogie stood firm to his ideals and desires to help, NeoGAF posters would twist his words, and the end result of that would be a personal admission by him of being tired and worn outIt was fueled by NeoGAF’s tenacity to keep pushing the envelope. He felt obligated to respond to anyone online who defamed his character.

Boogie hit the eject button on September 8th, announcing his decision to step back from the conversation in a blog post. But he’d be back.

On the 15th of September, Boogie wrote he was being harassed by people on NeoGAF and by folks in the gaming industry. Reentering the conversation after seeing his name brought up in the thread, he confessed to discussing GamerGate with 4chan users. Boogie gave a personal assurance that he preached the same message to them as he did to NeoGAF. Not only was he defending himself, but now he was also defending the other websites where this controversy got discussed. Still unwavering, Boogie tried to stress the humanity behind everyone, express his love for the gaming industry, and hope for a peaceful resolution to the GamerGate situation. But he was biting off more than he could chew. As he grew more concerned about his career being threatened, he was still drawn in by his empathy for others. This contrasting combination of factors spurred him to push his passion for the discussion even harder. The thread’s response to Boogie’s neutrality was attempting to prod him towards one direction or another.

Same day. 09:29 AM.

I believe that the people involved are starting to get frustrated and agitated and they’re currently employing some sort of “you’re either with us or against us” and since I am clearly NOT for their side (or any other side) its frustrating for them to deal with this.

its certainly not how the majority feel but its how some of them feel and I’m curious to see how far they’ll take the notion. Its entirely possible my efforts will be for naught and my attempts to preach kindness and moderation to them will be lost and I’ll have done all of this damage to my reputation for no good reason.

But that’s the price you pay when you dance with the devil, I guess.

Boogie was having a journey of identity and introspection. He said he was “grateful” to NeoGAF despite the stress and trouble it caused him. Listening intently to the responses from the thread, Boogie slipped into a state of hyperawareness of his word choice at their behest. The impact of NeoGAF’s replies to Boogie are clear, when you see his reiteration of discussion goals now includes what NeoGAF wanted from Boogie. Rather than what Boogie wanted for himself.

By the 18th, Boogie’s conversation with NeoGAF turned to the topic of extremism. His definition of extremism was: not being open to new ideas, stubborn about your way of life, and hostile to opposition. At this point of the thread, Boogie made it clear that he wasn’t a GamerGater anymore, only continuing his public dialogue about these topics because of their impact on the gaming industry. As a self-designated third party, he hoped to continue the discussion. That in itself turned it’s attention toward threats and doxing as Boogie revealed what had happened to himself. He explored the ideas of where the blame should be placed for such things.

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Boogie called part of his job as “endures torture by assholes,” but it’s unclear if he was referring to NeoGAF as a whole or something in particular. For him, it was all about trying to make the best of the environment.

On the 22nd, Boogie hit an obstacle with general online discourse after discovering he was on a Twitter blocklist. This is where the GamerGate discussions started getting under his skin.  Back in 2014, Twitter blocks worked differently and allowed a blocked user to see the profiles and tweets of someone who blocked them if it was brought into their personal timeline. Boogie found out about the existence of a list after he tried to reply to a tweet from Anthony Burch and couldn’t send it. He didn’t see any particular list, but he was told about the potential of one and being on it himself. Boogie was aware that his words were under close scrutiny on Twitter and everywhere else online, and he chalked up the ordeal to the fact that GamerGate was highly polarizing.  Boogie even called out a Cracked.com article for this pattern of behavior by dissecting the message it was trying to send readers. Clickbait. He spent most of an afternoon talking about how people in the GamerGate movement felt, along with how the Cracked.com article exacerbated that. But by this point, NeoGAF was broadening the definition of what GamerGate was. Boogie’s fight was now stopping the generalization of gamers as a whole. He told the thread the best bet was to appeal to the majority in the middle, rather than speaking in absolutes. But the big guy’s overall sanity was cracking. Boogie told NeoGAF on the evening of the 23rd he had spent the last two days fighting off toxicity on social media. It began to dawn on him that the topics at the center of GamerGate were going to be keenly focused on for a long time, even if the hashtag itself died off.

At the start of the 24th, Boogie announced to NeoGAF he was doxed a third time. r/shitredditsays targeted Boogie2988 along with Jontron and shoe0nhead, in a coordinated attack against what was their assumption to be the leaders of #GamerGate. While expressing his own concerns about people accusing him of faking it for sympathy, Boogie said he was going to coax his attackers by livestreaming.

The psychological trauma of this shows us this is the point where Boogie should’ve stepped back from the conversation completely. The merits of having a meaningful discussion on NeoGAF were evaporating, as more urgent matters of safety took precedent. In Boogie’s defense, he did vanish from the NeoGAF thread for a time after that. Checking back in briefly on the 28th to reassure everyone he was still in one piece.

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But that didn’t last. He was banned from NeoGAF on October 13th, 2014. The reason for the ban was posted voluntarily by Boogie2988 himself. Reading as follows:

Your time at NeoGAF has been spent consistently apologizing for — and disingenuously ignoring the actions of — a movement of harassment and hate, while diverting as much attention as possible away from the issues at hand and toward yourself. You are not the victim here for being thought less of in your tacit support of disgusting and illegal behavior. Individuals standing up for victims continue to receive thousands of hate messages and death threats, and a third member of the video game industry is forced out of her home and into hiding. People you claim are your friends are leaving social media behind in the wake of mass harassment by the movement you are championing. These are your people. This is your movement. As you’ve also expressed a strong desire to leave NeoGAF but continue to participate, you’ll now have some more free time to reflect on your decisions of the past several weeks. -NeoGAF Administration

This post, presumably by ‎Tyler Malka himself, paints NeoGAF as a gated community that prides itself as an ambivalent authority working on behalf of the gaming industry’s best interests.

It was driven by NeoGAF’s beliefs toward GamerGate. But maybe being banned was for the best for Boogie’s well-being.

But let’s back it up a bit.  We can see a microcosm of Boogie’s downfall on NeoGAF by glancing at his Twitter feed in the days leading up to his ban. On October 11th, Boogie was happy to tweet that the Shadow of Mordor incident had an impact paid promotion contracts. He was confident that game studios would let influencers show the flaws of the game and be more impartial in the future. “This is how it’s supposed to work. Shady shit happened. Shady shit got exposed. Shady shit got changed. Take note, game journalists,” he wrote.

On the 12th, Boogie disavowed the attack on Brianna Wu. In his thoughts on the topic, there was extra emphasis on the need for the media to not make sweeping generalizations. Lines up with what he told NeoGAF in their discussions. Topping it all off was a nervous breakdown about the GamerGate controversy. He filmed a video venting his thoughts, calling his effort to do so “career suicide” in advance. I’d share it here but he deleted it at some point afterward.

This is what a month long effort to talk to NeoGAF results in.

DiscourseOnNeoGAF

Boogie stepped back into NeoGAF to refute anything they’d say about his nervous breakdown video (which was taken down at some point after all of this took place).  He had hoped it would slip unnoticed to the eyes of NeoGAF, but it apparently came up in the discussion thread. Boogie told them all he was going to get attacked no matter what, GamerGate or no GamerGate. It was just a fact of life.

The situation reared its head in the early morning hours of October 13th.

I honestly don’t fucking know whats even going on any more but its killing me inside that I’m some fucking monster because I continue to see the point both sides are making. I wish one of you (or even some crazed gamergater) would have the decency to just fucking make good on your threats and ACTUALLY FUCKING KILL ME so i could get a moments rest and get away from this fucking agony.

Boogie made it clear to NeoGAF their words disappointed him the most, before requesting again for someone to kill him. He again asked for death after shouting at the thread that his goals for industry integrity and diversity were apparently meaningless now. It actually started to make people worried. In response, Boogie brought up his wish to be “put out of my misery” once more. All the effort out into a dialogue was for naught, corrupted by the barrage of NeoGAF posts that attacked Boogie and called him garbage. To him it seemed like the end of his career (and by extension of that his life), and Boogie thought the best option at that point was someone ending it for him. In this last emotional breakdown, he laid the blame for his woes on NeoGAF. The experience made him feel terrible about all of his hopes for gaming as a hobby. In Boogie’s own words, defending video games and the people in the community was as much of a compulsion for him as eating was.

“christ. i’m just fucking exhausted. I hope whoever is going to make good on these death threats will just fucking get it done already. I’m not afraid of dying, but i’m terrified of continuing to live in fear,” he told them.

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Boogie2988 let NeoGAF guide his thoughts, self-esteem, and decision-making. As a result of that, he had a mental breakdown and ended up getting banned. I don’t think Boogie deserved the emotionally draining rollercoaster he went on. Far from it. But the mods were right in banning him because of the amount of personal suffering he was going through, asking people in that thread (multiple times) to kill him. The confusion arises in the fact that wasn’t the stated reason on the official ban notice itself.  He went into a GamerGate GENERAL discussion thread with the goal of trying to find a middle ground and please everyone. But his ideas and words were presented to not just fans or people who watched him, but strangers as well. What Boogie was attempting to do was a suicide mission. No matter how often he made his stances, goals, and points of view clear?  There was no way for that venture to have a positive outcome. There was always going to be people dead-set in their own ways, and Boogie would feel compelled to respond.

All around, what happened with NeoGAF and Boogie2988 in 2014 wasn’t pretty.

But it plays into the NeoGAF pile-on dynamic pretty clearly. Boogie2988 was overwhelmed by the amount of negativity going on in the thread, and it fried his brain.

There was still more to it though.

Jason Schreier of Kotaku was a participant in that NeoGAF thread, and he got into arguments with Boogie over his stance on GamerGate. Boogie would later claim that Kotaku had blacklisted him during this time period. He sums up the ordeal in a November 2015 video that goes over the topic. What he defines as blacklisting is regular lines of communication being cut out and stopping any level of acknowledgment in their articles. Boogie admits that Jason didn’t outright say that Kotaku would never write about him again. Instead, he encourages viewers to look over the statements that Schreier made publicly on NeoGAF to come to that conclusion.

Here they are.

Jason called it a lie. “@jasonschreier @TalonBrown Jason, what possible reason do I have to lie? What would the gain be? You even said it publicly. It’s on neogaf,” Boogie wrote.

But he could be referring to another statement when using the “It’s on neogaf” phrase. Earlier in that tweet thread, he told someone that Jason publicly demanded Boogie to condemn GamerGate, and he got shunned from that moment on.

That did indeed happen.

Kotaku’s Editor-in-Chief Stephen Totilo denied the blacklisting claims and reached out to Boogie privately via email to discuss the matter. He’d would end up writing a Twitlonger about the subject on the 22nd of November. Boogie felt hurt about what Kotaku did to him back in 2014, but he also expressed regret for making the situation worse for them during a difficult time.

And that’s the pretense for what happened with Boogie recently in the recent JonTron controversy. A transformation from love and admiration, to fear and regret, and finally a deep sense of bitterness and disgust. A ban from their website is something that tends to be remembered for a long time.

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Fast forward to March 2017, and we see the same vicious Boogie/NeoGAF cycle repeat itself.

Boogie threw his hat into the internet ring with a response video on March 14th, 2017. He decided to talk about Jontron, Pewdiepie, and Colin Moriarty all at once. Boogie says in the video that he was going to discuss Philip DeFranco’s drama as well but he never did.

NeoGAF took offense at the fact that Boogie was soft in his critique of JonTron. During the start of a thread dedicated to Boogie specifically, they were quick to bring up he was banned from the site. The title itself “Boogie2988: I don’t agree with JonTron, but I dont fault him for trying on the idea,” summed up GAF’s complaints. Much like his stance in 2014, Boogie tried to take a middle of the road approach when it came to talking about the situation. He was added to the “nazi list” in their eyes, and NeoGAF painted Boogie’s words in the most extremist light possible. They never discussed the contents of the entire video, instead latching onto points of it that made NeoGAF outraged. Some of them directed their anger towards YouTubers in general. Others wanted to push the controversy as much as possible. At least one GAF member would say Boogie earned the public’s ire and deserved whatever happened to him.

But what stands out the most in Boogie’s rambling about JonTron’s situation was this one statement. “Make no mistake though. There are some key players doing everything they can to damage jon and his career because they don’t like his views,” Boogie wrote.

What did Boogie mean by this?

Boogie would end up deleting all the tweets he made on the subject, replacing it with a Twitlonger on the 26th of March. He acknowledges that he shouldn’t have lumped in Jontron’s situation with Pewdiepie’s and Colin Moriarty’s, as the former engaged in a serious political debate while the latter made jokes. Going on to explain his neutral approach to the topic, Boogie stands by the notion that being destructive about this whole thing isn’t a good idea. The practice of publicly attacking others online and causing a dogpile is something he says he’s incapable of doing.

He alludes to some of the feedback he got as a result of his involvement in the Jontron discussions:

I believe most of what can be said of me has been. I’ve heard things from as innocuous as “boogie doesn’t seem to really get it” to “isn’t boogie dead yet? I wish he’d die soon so he’d do less damage.” I have been called a “piece of shit” by people more in the last 24 hours than I have been called a fat ass.

NeoGAF played a large role in that wave of toxicity that Boogie received. He had legitimate fears for his career back in 2014, and it echoed in his statement about “key players” attacking Jontron when the Yooka-Laylee controversy happened almost three years later.

So how exactly did the games industry get intertwined with NeoGAF?

Part 3 answers that question.

Part 1 talked about JonTron’s Yooka-Laylee controversy.

Click here to return to the hub page.

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