The Overgaming of Milo Yiannopolous

Back in the days when he was writing about “game” – the art of male seduction of females – Roissy over at Château Heartiste mentioned something called “overgaming”:

Overgaming is usually poison to a pickup when the girl is very high value. Hot chicks experience the pleasures of smooth alpha operators more frequently than do lesser girls. Your clever retorts and masculine lack of punctuation are nothing new to the hot chick. She will enjoy it and place it in her mental pile with the rest of the suave suitors. You need to bring something more to the table, and that something is *escalation*. Escalation is what separates the men from the dilettantes.

Girls want to be played, but they don’t want to be sloppily overplayed like a marionette. She will balk if she thinks you have assured yourself she is an easy mark, and her ego will reassert itself, even at the expense of losing a mating opportunity with a higher value male.

Overgaming kills attainability, and male attainability is a necessary (but not sufficient) precondition for female surrender. Sharing a self-effacing story designed to humanize you will establish your attainability, and draw her closer to you.

Roughly, “game” in this context is the process of gaining a girl’s attention and getting her interested in you sexually. This is achieved by adopting certain mannerisms, vocabulary, body language, and other attributes designed to make you stand out from the crowd and win her affections. In the early stages of flirtation this normally involves being cocky, aloof, and a bit of an asshole (which, even if you don’t buy into the whole “game” theory, is undoubtedly better than being a complete drip who can’t look her in the eye). But what a lot of wannabe pick-up artists miss is that “game” is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The end is to get laid, preferably more than once. “Game” is merely the means with which to get there.

That is what Roissy means by “escalation” in the first paragraph: at some point, when you have secured her interest and are holding her attention, you must move beyond the witty banter and flirtations towards meeting them in person or initiating physical contact. Roissy’s post highlights the fact that some people don’t know how to stop “gaming” when its usefulness has (at that point) been exhausted. What they need to do is dial back the “game” a notch and start being normal and nice for a bit.

I was reminded of the concept of “overgaming” this morning when I read that Milo Yiannopolous has had his much-hyped book deal cancelled by his publisher Simon & Schuster. Milo burst onto the scene a year or two ago with the aim of garnering as much publicity as possible with his flamboyantly gay style and outspoken opinions. His notoriety has gone from strength to strength as Twitter first unverified him and then kicked him off completely before he embarked on his Dangerous Faggot tour of the US which culminated in riots outside UC Berkley last month which were reminiscent of the Vietnam War protests.

Whereas it is hard to deny that Milo hasn’t been extraordinarily successful in promoting himself (hence landing that $250k book deal in the first place), I did wonder at the time of the Berkely riots where all this was heading. Garnering fame and notoriety is good in the early stages of a career when you want everyone to know who you are, but what is the end game here? When you have the BBC running front page articles on you and coverage of the riots protesting your talks are making headline news, it is fair to say the “game” side of your campaign is done. But what comes next?

I know what Milo’s goals are: he wants to destroy political correctness, restore the principles of free speech, and make SJWs cry. All laudable aims, and I understand he used inflammatory language and controversial behaviour to get people to listen to him, but once he had the world’s attention it was time to take it down a notch and start portraying himself as a serious, mature individual who beneath the act is really worth listening to. Instead he stuck with the jokes about sucking black dicks, “feminism is cancer” remarks, calling Trump “Daddy”, and others, all of which were crucial parts of his early “game” of getting attention but made him look as though he was never going to be serious about anything and was purely a professional attention-seeker. As Ben Shapiro said:

“Being a provocateur just for the sake of being a provocateur is worthless.”

I don’t think Milo is only an attention-seeker, I do genuinely believe he is trying to do some good out there. But he got caught up in his own hype, and started to resemble those that he was attacking: he was fond of issuing writs against publications that called him a white supremacist or a Nazi, which was somewhat at odds with his stated belief that freedom of speech should be absolute; and he was increasingly playing the victim and complaining he was being treated unfairly and called nasty things, when he’d spent his entire career to date telling SJWs to suck it up because feelings don’t matter. In doing so I think he started to alienate some of his natural supporters. The “feminism is cancer” thing never sat well with me: there are better ways to oppose feminist stupidity than implying cancer is preferable, and it is inevitable that this would not go down well with those of us who have lost close friends and relatives to the disease. But this could possibly be overlooked given he needed to say outrageous things in order to get noticed, which I presume is why he saw fit to give an interview last year in which he implied that some 13 year old boys might be able to consent to having sex with adults:

Another man says: “The whole consent thing for me. It’s not this black and white thing that people try to paint it. Are there some 13-year-olds out there capable of giving informed consent to have sex with an adult, probably…”

The man says, “The reason these age of consent laws exist is because we have to set some kind of a barometer here, we’ve got to pick some kind of an age…

Milo:You know, people are messy and complex. In the homosexual world particularly. Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents. Some of those relationships are the most -”

It sounds like Catholic priest molestation to me, another man says, interrupting Milo.

Milo: “And you know what, I’m grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.”

The surfacing of this interview, and the outrage it is causing even among his supporters, is looking as though it will finish Milo off (at least for now). He is backpeddling furiously, issuing clarifications left and right, and is scheduled to hold a press conference in New York this afternoon. None of this will help. The actual topic under discussion isn’t that bad: it is perfectly legitimate to acknowledge that the age of sexual consent is arbitrary and some individuals might find themselves on the wrong side of that line. And what Milo says in the second paragraph might well be true, but just because something is true it doesn’t mean that it should be endorsed. He would have been better off just stating that this happens and leaving it at that.

But that wouldn’t be Milo, would it? He just had to go and say that final paragraph, which puts a completely different slant on things by making it look as though he is endorsing the sexual abuse of minors. The whole discussion is on the edge to begin with, which is fine. But by stepping over that line with that sentence, Milo alienates the tens of thousands of men and women who believe in free speech and hate feminism in its modern form but really, really don’t want their 13 and 14 year old sons – gay or straight – to fall into the clutches of an older male authority figure who “helps them discover who they are” and “provides them with love” which takes the form of oral sex.

I’m assuming this video didn’t get much attention at the time because not many people saw it, but now the MSM has dug it up it is impossible to ignore. Simon & Schuster, who stood by Milo through all his latest controversies, have finally pulled the plug as they don’t want their brand to be tarnished with this sort of stuff. It is a colossal tactical error, and Milo ought to have known better.

There was a time not so long ago when Milo would appear at campus talks with serious social commentators like Christina Hoff Sommers. She no longer shares a platform with him. When he first entered Twitter he benchmarked himself against Ben Shapiro and even briefly enjoyed more followers than him, but Shapiro – who also gets banned from campuses and has protesters shouting him down – portrayed himself seriously with the odd clownish moment, and now seems to have carved out a career for himself. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ran for office in some capacity in the future.

With Milo, it was difficult to see what he actually wanted to do with his success and had he some idea he might have conducted his interviews with a bit more care. It was serious tactical error to say those words, but the error came from having no clear strategy. It was all “game” and he didn’t know when to stop.

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19 thoughts on “The Overgaming of Milo Yiannopolous

  1. Spot on.

    I saw an interview on American TV where Milo ‘lost’ and I felt let down. He came across as lightweight when he is not necessarily. I was a great fan (and hope I will be again). I believe he has a vital role to play ‘going forward’ (yuck).

    I recognise the gaming theory and I have noticed when the moment to stop has arrived and you need to up the game to a new level. I also recognise that I have sometimes upped the game and sometimes haven’t (but back then, I knew not what I was doing) and when I didn’t, I can remember feeling as sick as a pig when things went nowhere.

    But back to Milo
    Milo now badly needs to take his hard-earned following and lead it to somewhere valuable. He cannot continue to play ‘just’ the provocateur.

    He needs to win me (and I imagine many like me) back.

  2. I liked Milo a lot, and followed him on twitter before he was banned for saying things that hurt sensitive snowflakes (especially as these tended to be people who weren’t sensitive about mass rapes, beheadings and the hanging of gay people in sandier countries). His ban merely reinforced in my mind he was on the ‘the right track’ for a saner world.

    But, maybe Milo is burning himself out in ways I might not have imagined. Maybe it was spurred by the illusion of fame, maybe the rawness of the smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepaint… I dunno. Perhaps life simply moves on and declines in all sorts of ways. However when your flag-waving leader doesn’t come across as a true leader then, meh…

  3. All of the outrageous traits of Milo are of a like kind with all of the outrageous traits of Trump.

    Trump succeeds by outraging, and then pushing back hard when people express outrage. He’s been successful so far because the Right has managed to hang in there and cheer him on.

    Here we have one the of the first times when the right has crumbled – it has fallen all over itself to disassociate itself with the outrageous, just as the Left has so desired that we do.

    My prediction is that a bunch of shriveled prudes who have willfully misinterpreted Milo have now fractured the tenuous bond that has so unexpectedly allowed Trump to plow forward, and we’ll now also see half of the Right apologizing for the “horrible” things Trump will no doubt come out with in the future, and the Trump avalanche has ended.

    We have plenty of our own virtue-signalers on the right, and I think they’ve just handed the US back to the Left.

  4. We have plenty of our own virtue-signalers on the right, and I think they’ve just handed the US back to the Left.

    It’s a two-way street. If you think of yourself as part of a group with a mission, then yes, you’re entitled to expect your allies to support you when attacked. At the same time, though, you owe it to your allies to pick your battles wisely and not force them to do nothing but rationalize away your latest asinine statement. Not everything that offends the left is a statement or principle worth defending. Milo is just the mutant offspring of Alcibiades, Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde. He would happily let the right ruin itself defending his bratty outbursts, then reinvent himself as a truth-telling liberal who has finally seen the light, once he senses an opening in that market. Virtue-signalling, hell; “ends justify the means” rationalizations are a bipartisan phenomenon, and they never work out according to plan.

  5. All of the outrageous traits of Milo are of a like kind with all of the outrageous traits of Trump.

    Indeed, and one of the biggest fears of Trump’s supporters and people like me who simply don’t want the mainstream politicians (of either party) to get their way is that Trump will not be able to move beyond the outrage that got him elected and down to the serious business of governing. I admit that he needs to retain some of those outrageous traits to do the job and he has got off to a reasonable start, particularly with the Mattis and Tillerson picks, but it remains to be seen if he can transform between electioneering and governance. Obama never managed it.

  6. At the same time, though, you owe it to your allies to pick your battles wisely and not force them to do nothing but rationalize away your latest asinine statement.

    This. Excellent point.

  7. I don’t see what the issue is. As you say he started off making a reasonable point, which he probably should have qualified a bit more, then at the end saw an opening for a clever line, which, as it turns out, was considered to be deeply unfunny. Been there myself (with different subject matters.) Milo clarifying should be the end of this, as long as he doesn’t overdo it.

    As it happens I think there are good signs that Trump is taking his game to a different level. The whole ‘lets come together’ crap he said after his election for example. He’s still capable of saying stupid or nonsensical stuff of course, but the central message is different. Whether he turns out to be ‘best President since Reagan TM’ (a low bar if there ever was one) remains to be seen.

  8. Mr. Newman, I think your “game” theme is misplaced here.

    Milo grew up gay. This isn’t an easy role in most societies. Estimates are that gay teens commit suicide at a rate four times higher than straight teens.

    On top of that, he was serially sexually abused by a beloved and trusted priest at the age of thirteen and fourteen.

    I’m guessing that his over-the-top flamboyant-gay persona is simply the defense mechanism that his psyche settled upon to allow him to continue life with some feeling of self-worth. This allows him to proclaim mastery over the otherwise overwhelming parts of his life that cause so many others to succumb.

    “Game” implies choice. I’m not sure he has that choice anymore.

    Our complaints about the supposed immorality of the life he described are really complaints about the immorality of the life that we as a society have consigned young gay folk to. There’s very little choice involved in the life of a gay kid, and the concept of immorality depends on having a choice.

    He is what we made him. It’s no game; it’s someone aggressively embracing the unchangeable parts of himself that everyone else ridicules and abhors in self-defense. “Dropping his game” would be, I think, step one of self-negation.

    But, in Doonesbury’s words, hell, what do I know, I’m just a begonia.

  9. I reckon he should double-down.

    Someone else will publish the book, assuming he has the work ethic to write the damn thing (he is a left-footer, after all).

    The joke was ok, not “one-legged Tarzan”, but still amusing.

    The reaction is just confectured outrage. If not for this, it’ll be something else.

  10. bobby b,

    There is an article I saw yesterday which speculates that all of Milo’s “act” is a result of his being sexually abused when he was younger, and we should all pity him. Perhaps it’s true, but I’m just daft engineer and this sort of stuff is way outside my area of expertise (insofar as I have one).

  11. Someone else will publish the book, assuming he has the work ethic to write the damn thing (he is a left-footer, after all).

    I don’t know why he can’t just self-publish it. The added value of a mainstream publisher is that it can market a book well; it’s hard to believe Milo’s book lacks marketing.

    The reaction is just confectured outrage. If not for this, it’ll be something else.

    I agree, it was just a matter of time. My point wasn’t so much that this one joke is beyond the pale but:

    1. Sooner or later he was going to alienate a lot of normal, middle-of-the-road natural allies; and

    2. What’s his end game?

  12. Daedalus lived a long and productive life. He never lost sight of the real objective.

    Indeed.

  13. Yep, if it’s written I assume he’ll either self-publish or get someone else less mainstream to do it.

    He’s certainly getting lots of free “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

    I wonder if the likes of Amazon will stock/Kindle it, though. A couple of books he’s co-credited on are still for sale there.

  14. I wonder if the likes of Amazon will stock/Kindle it, though.

    I’m not sure how much censorship Amazon go in for. I know they’ve come under pressure for selling certain items, but I don’t think they’d go so far as to block Milo but you never know.

    But even then, it can’t be too hard to publish it himself independently of Amazon. It’ll mainly be his die-hard followers who buy it anyway.

  15. Tim,

    Very good point about the value of traditional publishers. When I wrote my book, the marketing was pretty much all they were offering that I couldn’t do or contract someone else to do more cheaply. As I wasn’t writing it to make money from the sales I gave them the flick.

    Regardless of whether Amazon have decided to take a side in the Alt Right vs SJW war, he will find a printer and online portal who will be only too keen to tap into his social media followers’ market.

    Perhaps my one disappointment with Milo over this is his reach for victim status as a partial justification. How about, “I thought it was funny, many of you didn’t, oh well” as a more honest and mature response?

    I’m thoroughly bored of identity politics and the “who can play the more valuable victim card?” game.

  16. Perhaps my one disappointment with Milo over this is his reach for victim status as a partial justification.

    He’s not been immune to playing the victim for quite some time now. To be fair, I don’t think any of us would be either.

    I’m thoroughly bored of identity politics and the “who can play the more valuable victim card?” game.

    Same here.

  17. Amazon has been known to cave:

    http://mentalfloss.com/article/67754/10-things-amazon-pulled-its-virtual-shelves

    Okay, the paedo book I can understand, if it really is what it sounds like, ‘cos then it’d be a guide to doing stuff that’s illegal in most of the civilised world.

    The confederate flag stuff was just silly, since you can easily buy a Soviet flag there.

    The thing with Amazon is it’s one of the main go-to places for ebooks. And if the sales figures from them are good (or bad), it would likely hit the news. Journalists seem to be a bit lazy these days, hence reporting Tweets as news, and Amazon sales figures would be easy to get. It’ll be quite something if they stock it and it sells well. There’ll be outrage.

    Gotta admit, even though I wasn’t that interested in the contents, I was “wishlist” tempted to buy through Amazon just to show support for dissenting views.

  18. I’m pretty sure Amazon will not hesitate for a second to sell his book. The publicity he has received means he’ll sell even more than he would have before. It’s true that Amazon is a multi-billion dollar company so individual books aren’t critical to it, but I can’t imagine Amazon throwing away the $1 million or more it would get as its cut for selling his book/ebook. Simon & Schuster will almost certainly end up regretting cancelling their version (especially because they are almost certainly on the hook for a significant part of the advance since they cancelled it not him)

    Basic sums: Assume ebook selling for $9.99. Amazon gets 30% = $3. Depending on how the print book is done (hardback / trade pb / mmpb) and priced the dead tree version is likely to net a roughly similar amount (and for hardback, depending on Amazon’s decision to discount or not, potentially considerably more).

    I cannot see how he can fail to sell at least half a million books/ebooks based on the way the book was a pre-order #1 best seller in politics and way up there in the overall non-fiction category – even if some people are turned off by the alleged pedophilia support.

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