#GamerGate

Here I go again, walking into a minefield.  And this time post-surgery so my leg feels great.  So I dunno what my excuse is this time.

So.  #GamerGate.

Hunh.

I buy, play, and enjoy video games, to be sure (my bank account hates me for it every Steam Summer and Winter Sale), but I really don’t consider myself a “gamer”, mostly because I feel nigh entirely detached from the issues that gamers tend to have.  I really don’t care how many “p”s a game is rendered in.  I find the console wars a silly arms race often won not by the company that has the best product, but by which one of the three fucks up the least.  I find “physical vs digital” sales and game ownership to be largely a non-starter.

But one topic that has caught my ear is because journalism WAS an intended field of mine, and the flimsy ethics of journalism and the portions of society they cover extends far beyond video games.  That sort of corruption is a sad, despicable fact no matter where you go; be it sports, politics, food (yes… there is corruption within FOOD reviews.  And apparently there’s some pretty big money in it).

Yet as I read into the entire #GamerGate fiasco, I find myself tripping over some issues that honestly confuse me.  I don’t want to lump anyone into “sides” of this “debate” (because I find that does nothing but stir further ire).  So I offer these questions openly to anyone who wants to answer them.

1) Why is Zoe Quinn the flash point here?

Total honesty; I barely played Depression Quest.  I honestly felt it was a fairly insipid over-dramatized version of depression from what little I was able to get into it.  I don’t get what makes it so important.  Yet, a sentiment I’ve seen is that her antics (presuming the entire “Five Guys” thing is even true) were the “flash point” that lit the entire powder keg.

Why?

Why was some marginal indie developer the thing that finally caused all the frustration to explode, and not (for example) Microsoft paying $750,000 to the online publication Polygon?  What about Bioware brazenly offering a speaking role in Mass Effect 3 to a TV host at IGN?  But it’s the unverified rants from an ex-boyfriend of a mediocre indie developer that sets this all off?

I don’t mean this as an attack.  I honestly don’t get it.  Am I missing something here?  What makes this the straw that broke the camel’s back?

It’s very easy for someone “outside” the fiasco to reach the conclusion that the “gamer” crowd is using “journalistic ethics” as a flimsy cover to attack a woman who is perceived to threaten their “boys club.”  I’ll be honest, it’s very easy for me to reach that conclusion, knowing second hand just how hostile the gaming industry and fans can be in general.  On top of that, what tends to bubble to the top of the social ocean when women are involved has not historically been pretty.

But at the same time, I know first hand how dirty and insidious journalism can get, and I don’t doubt for one second that gaming journalism is any better.  So I don’t think its fair to dismiss that, even as the spark that lit the wick doesn’t make any sense to me considering there were open bonfires burning all around it.

Help me out here.

2) Why are efforts to bridge the gap mostly ignored or rebuffed?

As far as I can tell, The Fine Young Capitalists are a group that is genuinely trying to open avenues for women in gaming and encourage female gamers.  When they reached across the aisle to 4chan to try and show that it’s not all about sexism and misogyny, and that you can even find redeeming characters on /v/ of all places, that group nigh instantly came under attack for accepting funding and feedback from gamers who wanted to support their efforts.

Are we running out of enemies so quickly we have to manufacture them now?

What was so frightening about the idea of trying to brush away the battle lines?  Why did that scare feminist groups?

I understand that women in gaming have had a rough time.  Believe me, I’m very aware of that.  And I’m also keenly aware that 4chan is such a wretched hive of scum and villany that it makes the Mos Eisley cantina look like a Young Republicans convention at Dartmouth.  But is such a broad brush really necessary?  Do we have to assume that any support from an unusual source must inherently be somehow malicious in nature?  Is it imperative to assume anyone who doesn’t immediately prescribe to the proper talking point must be an enemy?

3) What is the real fear feeding the fire on both sides?

Because I do believe that at the heart of this conflagration on both sides is fear, and it’s real easy to get one side to say what the other is afraid of.

“They’re afraid that their sexist, bigoted games will be ruined,” is the claim from feminist camps.

“Sexism’s dying, and they’re afraid they’re losing influence,” claim gamers.

But I don’t really think that’s it.  That’s the excuses being given to rationalize ever increasing aggression.  That’s the equivalent of propaganda; exaggerations thrown through the magnifying class so that one side can dismiss the concerns of the other without actually having to think about it.

That’s the fear talking, but that’s not the fear itself.  And of course, getting people to say what they are afraid of isn’t easy, if damn near impossible.

So, I suppose this question isn’t one I expect an answer to.  This is something that people should be asking themselves.

What do you fear, and why do you think it will happen if your side “loses” the fight?

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3 Responses to “#GamerGate”

  1. enviouscasca Says:

    I’m Pro-GG.
    What am I afraid of if we lose… a few things, actually.

    I strongly hold to the belief that creative work is sacrosanct. For example, Harry Potter is what it is, and if you believe it promotes Satanism, its your personal responsibility to not buy it. Not to begin a campaign to smear and destroy JK Rowling’s work. When a person creates something, it is that person’s vision and effort, and artificial interference from politically correct thought police has no place in the discussion. The creators of Divinity: Original Sin wrote a piece about being pressured to change things in their game here.
    http://orogion.deviantart.com/journal/Save-the-Boob-plate-380891149
    This isn’t the only story, but it is the only link I had handy, so take that as you will.

    I don’t really have an opinion on boob armor, or whether its silly or not. I don’t care, mainly because its not my place to tell them what is allowed or not allowed in the game they designed. If no one will buy a game because it has boob armor, then the free market will sort that out on its own, without interference. I firmly believe, and will always believe, that we are blessed to live in a world where I can have every volume of Love Hina, and Marx’s Communist Manifesto on my bookshelf. That we live in a country where both of those are allowed to exist.

    If our antagonists were interested in creating games, they would. But they’re not satisfied with competing with the open market, and so they befriend like-minded people in gaming journalism, and begin to push this bizarre narrative that gamers hate women, that gamers want to destroy indie games, gamers this and that. It is, without exaggeration, completely insane.

    There are millions of gamers worldwide, and 48% of those are women. (according to the Entertainment Software Association) If a person felt that women were underrepresented, the best way to reach them is to make something, not to demand someone make it for them. Imagine kicking down Stephen King’s door with a group of people and demanding he rewrite The Shining because you didn’t like how he portrayed Wendy Torrance. Its unthinkable right? But somehow, because “Its just videogames LOL”, its allowed.

    Secondly, the gaming media, and the few other outlets that have weighed in in lackadaisical manners have continued the narrative that gamers are all evil white men, and absolutely shunned the women and minorities of #NotYourShield, #GamerGate’s sister tag, when not dismissing it as “fake”, “astroturf”, “and “sockpuppets”, as well as much worse. This is horrifying. Dehumanizing, even. Every day, these men and women have to prove multiple times that they are actually women, and actually minorities to the SJW hordes “championing diversity”, only to be ignored and mocked. Fun fact, nearly all of the harassment, hacking and doxxing Pro-GamerGate has received has been directed at #NotYourShield. Food for thought.

    Lastly, the misogyny. I’m not certain what exactly the game journalists thought they were doing, saying to all female developers “Hey! The industry is sexist! You can’t succeed! Gamers are sexist! You can’t succeed! No one will buy your games, no one will allow you to work, you will suffer harassment from all sides, from everyone, forever!”

    However, with the revelations of how closely knit the journalists are with the indie developers, I am starting to see a picture I don’t like. That picture is one of the journalists, using their positions as bully pulpits, extracting money and favors from developers, deciding who gets coverage and who does not. Basically setting themselves up as the gatekeepers of the entire rapidly growing indie industry for profit, and their excuses of “defending women” are just to stir up the excitable internet reactionaries (SJWs) to defend them. I pray that this isn’t the case, but every new article from the GameJournoPros cabal chips away at what little remains of my optimism.

    btw, I love Megatokyo.

    • enviouscasca Says:

      Okay, because its late I guess I can’t read so well, lemme quick answer your other questions.

      1) She’s not, not really.
      I’ve never read the infamous “Zoe post”, but from what I’ve gathered interest arose because of two people named. One was a judge at Indiecade, a contest she won, and one was Nathan Grayson, reporter for Kotaku, who may or may not have written about her game. The real flash point was that when people began asking questions, there was complete and total lockdown, comments shut off, the forum bannings, across multiple sites, including Reddit and 4chan (which was shortly relieved, and then banned again). Seemingly everywhere you went, all the sites were saying “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

      Then 14 articles came out in a single day, declaring Gamers Are Dead misogynist fat neckbeard etc. etc. That was when things really kicked off. But a lot of gamers were already angry, and have just gritting their teeth. For instance, Jeff Gerstmann’s firing in 2007, for his Kane and Lynch review not being high enough. If not for the immense backlash against the initial questions from game journos, there would be no GamerGate now, but something would’ve sparked it eventually.

      2)TFYC
      They got totally screwed by the press. The general GG consensus is that “Women make videogames” doesn’t generate as many clicks as “Gamers are hateful misogynists”. TFYC has been hacked, doxxed, and ddos’d, and /v/ came to the rescue. Now, whether you believe they did it to thumb their noses at Zoe and the gaming press, or because maybe they aren’t actually the internet Illuminati, its undeniable that they saved a charity actually trying to do something for women, while the GameJournoPros ignored them.
      Also, they’re not really Mos Eisley as much as poker night in a frenemy’s garage. Think of /v/ as that guy you know who talks too loud and swears a lot when drunk, and he’s always drunk.

      I hope that answers some of your questions.

  2. Ruined games? That’s the least of my worries. Since the beginning of man (insert sexist joke here) there have always been shit games, as well as great ones.

    I’m afraid that if “GamerGate” fails, the notion will arise that “censorship is okay, as long as we’re doing it to protect a minority”, that eventually only that which is politically correct will be legally correct, that our First amendment will be amended, in spirit, if not name.

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