Goodbye, Console Hacking

Today is a bittersweet day. This is my last day in the ReSwitched Discord, and the console hacking community at large. But before I dive into why, some background.

ReSwitched began with just me and the goal of hacking the Switch to run homebrew code. I started a Discord in case anyone was interested in watching/helping out and I registered to throw information I/we gathered. I tweeted about it and posted it on Hacker News and it grew slowly but steadily. By the release of the Switch, we had something like 50 users.

At first, the work we did was primarily in public channels, then in “private” channels. To get into the latter, you simply had to message me and tell me that you didn’t work for Nintendo. No skill test, no participation threshold – just a simple assertion, which could be a lie if you cared enough. This was enough until we started making real progress on hacking the console; we made it a little stricter, but wanted to keep the bulk of our work out in the open. This was, in some ways, a mistake. A day before the release of the first version of Pegaswitch (our Switch browser hacking toolkit) it was leaked to the public. Not a big deal, but it made us realize that things needed to tighten up as we got closer to the Good Stuff.

This was when the first signs of community toxicity really started to get to me. Not long after dealing with these leaks, it was discovered that one of our most prominent and productive members was involved in a long-distance relationship with an underaged person, and that he was planning to visit said person. We banned him from the community and contacted law enforcement with what we knew (including a direct confirmation from the team member himself). That should’ve been the end of it, but one of our other team members started leaking critically important data (e.g. the first game dumps, if I’m not mistaken) to the banned member. They were immediately banned, of course, but these people are still in the Switch hacking community at large. It’s this kind of acceptance that drags us all down.

More recently – after I handed over control of ReSwitched entirely – a master key for the Switch was released by a rival group. Normally this would be a non-event, but they included 3 Yugioh cards, each edited to dox myself and two other members of the community. While I’m a completely open book about what I do and who I am (though they incorrectly asserted that I’m transgender, along with the standard slurs), others in the community don’t have that luxury and privilege. The fact that it wasn’t immediately decried by everyone in the community is a huge sign that we have a major problem.

When the amazing Fusee-Gelee exploit was released by ktemkin, one of the doxxed ReSwitched members, it had a single – seemingly fairly uncontroversial – comment inside the main Python script:

# this code is political -- it stands with those who fight for LGBT rights
# don't like it? suck it up, or find your own damned exploit ^-^

This was immediately responded to with transphobic comments, left and right. It was mocked on Twitter by plutoo, a very big name in the Switch hacking world:

plutoo tweets

This, again, wasn’t immediately decried by everyone. Instead, these tweets have hundreds of likes. This community either tacitly accepts the transphobia, sexism, and racism that goes on, or it actively encourages them.

Frankly: Fuck that. This is not acceptable, it’s not conducive to real progress, and everyone who has watched while this has gone down and not said anything should be ashamed; you are part of the problem.

Many console hackers complain about the users – that they’re entitled, annoying, etc – and there’s plenty to support all of that, without a doubt. But they aren’t the ones with the megaphones. Those that have them should use them for good, and that simply isn’t happening right now.

ReSwitched has, by and large, remained an oasis in this ocean of shit, but it’s not immune. I got out of moderation for the server primarily because of the number of people I had harassing me. People accepting the rules and then immediately violating them, then harassing me in DMs in hopes I would … unban them? No. I already have one baby to take care of; I don’t need more.

At the end of the day, even a well-run community like ReSwitched can only hold back the flood for so long. It’s going to degrade over time unless people start standing up and dealing with these fundamental, widespread issues. I remain exceptionally proud of the work we did and the things we accomplished, but I simply don’t have the time or energy to continue to be a productive member of the community, so it’s time for me to exit. I hope that something changes while I’m gone.


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