After following the unrest that has been brewing within gaming circles over the last few weeks and has reached a tipping point with the whole GamerGate saga, I am exhausted and mentally drained; as I am sure many of you are too. A part of me would very much like to sweep all this ugliness under the carpet, act like it never happened and go back to happily playing video games (my copy of Danganronpa 2 is on the way and Destiny is pre-ordered, but I digress): but that would mean I’d be doing the exact same thing as a number of influential games sites have been doing in response to this entire mess, and I could not forgive myself for that.
Until now, I have limited myself to 140 character snippets to express my views on the matter, but this will no longer suffice. The site I write for – Gather Your Party – has collectively chosen not to comment on recent affairs as it focuses purely on video games and refuses to get caught up in every game industry-related controversy that inevitably crops up. Anywho, I have taken to this blog to vent instead. When I heard news of a petition protesting the “threats of violence…hateful, harassing speech” within the gaming community receiving thousands of signatures from developers, I felt like I had been slighted for some reason; but why on earth would I be angry about this? After all, this was a harmless, positive message urging for less abuse and vitriol on the internet; only a sociopath would be opposed to that! And in truth, if the petition in question had popped up a month earlier, I would have signed it without a second thought; yet now I find myself signing this petition instead. So what changed? Well, in the wake of the Zoe Quinn scandal and the horrifying threats leveled once again at Anita Sarkeesian, developers must have felt the need to support this petition. While the intentions are noble, my problem here is that by highlighting the misdeeds of a vocal minority, I fear it will minimalize the positive efforts of the rest of the gaming community over the same time span, and it may further encourage the conflation of the current #gamergate movement with those unsavoury events.
The truth is those incidents of abuse are not connected, at least not anymore. In fact I have seennothing but reasonable and polite – if strongly worded – discourse from those supporting #gamergate. Why has this initiative received no coverage from big games sites then? Why has gameindustry.biz, a site that I always favoured for its professional and unbiased articles, all of a sudden published an article about protesting the “intolerance of diversity”? Is this the same “intolerance of diversity” that was responsible for TFYC’s pro-feminism Indiegogo campaign getting shut down? Is this the same “intolerance of diversity” that was responsible forconcerned feminist blogger Ariel Connor deciding to hide her true identity for fear of reprisal after calling out all the bullshit? Is this the same “intolerance of diversity” that drowned out the voices of the many women who used the GamerGate hashtag? No, and it was not reported on because it did not fit the SJW (sigh) narrative.
That is why a seemingly innocuous, well-meaning petition has become the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back of my battered gamer identity – because it comes on top of a wave of anti-gamer sentiment rained down by the same people that are supposed to be our representatives.
Something has gone very, very wrong when a schism has been allowed to form, and be exacerbated, between two parties that should have each other’s backs. One side feigns civility but is the first to resort to exclusionary, insulting language the moment anyone challenges its ideology (here’s a clue: it’s not the ‘sexist MRA man-babies’), and that is why reconciliation is impossible. As someone who strongly identifies with the political left, who considers himself a staunch supporter of social justice, I would be the first to extend an olive branch between the two extremes. But at this moment in time I am a tiny intersecting speck on a Venn diagram where two circles are barely touching.
Much to my chagrin I now find myself picking sides. My message to all the so-called tech/games journalists, and purported supporters of equality and diversity peddling their own brand of self-serving, hypocritical radical feminism, is this: you can drop ‘nerd’ bombs and ‘misogynist’ bombs on dissenters all you like, just know that resorting to playground insults does nothing for your cause. You can struggle in the quicksand of mounting evidence of nepotism amongst your peers, just know that it will only make you sink faster. You can go ahead and burn your bridges with your own audience, just know that you are standing beneath them.
The demands for accountability of the gaming media have been met with a deafening radio silence accompanied by a spate of editorials heralding the death of the gamer. It should come as little surprise then that gamers found influential allies in the unlikeliest of places in Christina Hoff Sommers and Adam Baldwin. There are certain blog-standard journalists who would still go to great pains to paint us as the pantomime villain, who are all too eager to present us as a single entity to be tarred with the same brush. To do so is an insult to all the individuals who simply love games, who carry fond memories of gaming within their hearts, as Kite Brite’s video beautifully illustrates. But if there are people so willing to encapsulate the gamer in a single image, it would probably be the shy, awkward kid who sits alone in the corner playing “vidya” during breaks – so why bully us into submission when we’ve probably had to deal with enough of that shit in real life?
ABOUT RICHIE KING:
I am a contributor of news, reviews and opinion pieces for GYP.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Portuguese, which I currently have no plans to make use of.
JRPG’s and SRPG’s are my games of choice, but I’m not impartial to the dreaded “narrative-driven” games, also known as “not a game” games. Predominantly a console player, I grew up as a Nintendo fanboy, until they started releasing underwhelming hardware and lost a sizable amount of third party support, and have since jumped ship to Sony.
You can follow me on Twitter.