by Courtney Stanton

This is a guest post by Courtney Stanton.

I want to say something to games folks, specifically the queer and indie games community (roughly, what is now known as altgames). I want to say something about how I know I did harm, how I made things harder, not easier for people sometimes.

I want to say I know I'm one of the people Katherine Cross is writing about when she writes about feminists who are put on a pedestal and behave abusively from it. (Writing "I want to say" sounds wrong though; if we write that someone will say "look she says she wants to say it, not that she's actually saying it, she's not admitting anything"; I can't tell anymore, still, what is safe.)

I don't want my place back in the community, or to be considered part of the community, or to be included in it (I'll still never call anything I make a game again), and I don't expect anyone to forgive me. I am sorry for contributing to the toxicity of the culture. I feel like I could spend a great deal of time asterisking that statement to try and prevent misogynists from conflating feminism with toxicity, but I generally don't do things for men these days, regardless of how well or poorly they live their lives.

I also feel like I could spend a great deal of time talking about my perspective and why I behaved the way I did, because I've still got a lot of ego and anger going on, and that usually flares up in the form of "why are we not talking about me yet?". I don't think this is uncommon to the abusive thought process, but I don't want to talk beyond my own experience. My experience might be useful somehow, but it's far more important to center on the harm I caused and the impact of my behavior on others, especially in a public apology to those people.

I do not know what sort of impact this statement might have, if any, but my hope is it can bring at least some of the people I've harmed a measure of peace knowing that I am aware my behavior was harmful and I'm taking steps to heal myself so I will no longer harm others.

I will not list out names, in part because I do not want to draw public attention to people who are not prepared for it and did not agree to it, but also in part because I am shamefully confident I will not remember to include everyone who deserves an apology. I will also not do a blanket apology for "everything" or "my actions", as I do not think that demonstrates a level of self-awareness that anyone, including me, can find comfort in.

I am sorry for the times when I would not accept an apology and instead would insist I got to decide when someone was sorry "enough". That is loud-and-clear abusive thinking straight from the domestic violence playbook. I am sorry for dot-at-replying or retweeting people who weren't harassing me but rather just asking questions I found clueless or basic, thus launching them unexpectedly into an audience of (semi or fully hostile) thousands.

At that time, I was burnt out and needed to take care of myself so I could once again tell the difference between an attack and a question. Instead I started attacking in turn, and that was incredibly cruel. I am sorry for using Twitter while I was blackout drunk. Which was often. I am sorry for getting in fights publicly and then using at-replies to apologize (thus making it a much smaller audience). That was clearly about my ego and wanting to avoid looking "bad", not about me wanting to communicate with another human being honestly. I am sorry for when people would try to call me out on Twitter, directly or indirectly, about my behavior, and instead of listening or taking it as a wake-up call, I would fav or retweet the messages about how mean or inappropriate my behavior was.

I'm sorry for being so focused on the abusive shitty power structures I wanted to change and dismantle in the larger culture that I was oblivious and resistant to seeing how I was creating one of my own. I was very willing to acknowledge the power and access I had in the wider games community when it could open doors for me, but I refused to be considerate of that same privilege and power dynamic when working within my actual community. My denial of my own relative power and influence had me treating people very badly from a position of authority, setting the worst example of what leadership, respect, and community should look like among creative equals trying to support each other in their artistic and personal goals.

I have no excuse for this, or any of my behavior; through a great deal of intensive mental and physical health care, I do feel like I have a better understanding of the ways substance abuse and mental illness can exacerbate abusive thinking and behavior, but they certainly don't create or excuse it. And while I slowly gain an understanding of myself, I do not expect the rest of the world to just... accept that.

I also know that I have done other things that directly and indirectly contributed to an atmosphere of fear, hostility, and judgement in the community, that I owe people overdue apologies for. If I have not covered something here, it is because I have not realized it yet as a problem, or I have yet to find the words -- I am still working. I know that may not be enough for people, and I get that. I'm not sure it would be enough for me, were it the other way around. But that is how it is, for me, for today. I don't think it's anyone's job but mine to work through this, and I don't expect folks to explain to me why they're hurt, or what sort of apology I still owe them.

All of that said, if anyone would like to talk, about anything, I would like that as well. I cannot change the past, but I can make amends for it.