I’m gonna be radical here and say that Gamer Gate isn’t actually a “movement.” After all, there is no central leader or structure that defines GamerGate. People who criticize the motives of one Gamer Gate person often find that that person has different views and goals from OTHER Gamer Gate people. So Gamer Gate can literally mean anyone... and no one. It’s a nebulous mist. A swarm of bees with no central queen. An army without a general. And as such that makes it VERY hard to criticize OR legitimize pro-GG people. Gamer Gate is literally just a hashtag. But HOW that hashtag is being used is interesting.It’s not about women... except when it is!
Do you know what astroturfing is? Link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrotur…
Astroturfing is creating a campaign designed to look like a grass-roots movement for progress, while concealing it’s more sinister (cynical) origins or goals. So many pro-GamerGate people SAY they are all about “journalistic ethics,” but the overwhelming amount of women being silenced, doxxed, harassed, bullied, threatened, and attacked would seem to suggest otherwise.
Here’s the thing... many of the people who are FOR journalistic integrity and ethics are the ones themselves being harassed BY pro-GamerGate supporters. Jim Sterling, for example, worked very hard to reorganize The Escapist’s journalism ethics policy when GG first started becoming a thing. Now? He’s viewed as an anti-GG social justice warrior (SJW for short). Likewise, many of the people being ATTACKED for “ethics” are not people even associated WITH gaming journalism.
Overwhelmingly the people being singled out and attacked are women. Zoe Quinn, Briana Wu, Anita Sarkeesian, and now Felicia Day. While there are men being attacked and harassed as well, the extent of their harassment is in no way comparable to what these women have had to endure. And the worse part is that none of it is even really JUSTIFIED. The attacks on Zoe Quinn using sex to promote her game were proven false almost immediately, yet SO MANY GamerGate supports keep trying to push that as evidence when it’s not even TRUE.
And ACTUAL journalistic news sites and magazines have picked up on this. They’re looking at this mess from the outside and they don’t see all your “keen” nitpicking points about Zoe or Anita. They see a group of people angrily and unjustifiably attacking prominent women in games for having opinions. And that’s what they report on. That is what YOU LOOK LIKE when you support Gamer Gate to them. Gamer Gate supports? You are not winning this war. You are backing yourself up into a corner, and sooner or later there is not going to be anyplace for you to turn or run anymore and you’re gonna have to DEAL with reality.Dealing with Reality
Gaming and geek culture needs to grow up. A LOT. You do not see people who criticize movies, books, or music getting the same types of harassment you do anyone who criticizes games. And I get the immature mentality behind it too. Once upon a time, when I was younger, I GOT and UNDERSTOOD that it bothered me when someone would say something bad about something I liked. “How can I enjoy this thing when someone is saying bad things about it?” Link: twitter.com/ADobsonComics/stat…
But I grew up. I learned that it’s OK for difference of opinions or even different perspectives and world views. Being able to criticize things you love makes you more mature and grown up. Hell, there are some movies and books I absolutely ADORE that some critics absolutely HATE. And that’s OK! It doesn’t make my enjoyment any less real or diminished!
A lot of this just comes from a fundamental lack of comprehension about criticism. The number of people I’ve had to deal with who seem to think Jack Thompson (a once licensed Lawyers who actively ran campaigns to shut down or stop games he personally found objectionable from being MADE) is comparable to Anita Sarkeesian (a feminist who made a series of videos about problematic tropes) is disheartening. I’d really like to think that people out there are SMARTER than that. That people can realize saying “something is problematic” is IN NO WAY comparable to actually trying to enact actual LAWS and CENSORSHIP to prevent games from even being MADE.
There is a severe and fundamental difference between a laywer making laws that are actual legal forms of censorship... and a person saying “this trope in a video game is kinda bad, maybe we should not keep using it and try something else, please?” I mean, do people in Gamer Gate believe that Roger Ebert hating a movie means he was trying to CENSOR the filmmakers? Because that’s what Gamer Gate sounds like when they try to censor Anita for speaking.
For me, it seems like Gamer Gate is just a new hashtag that the very same people who unironically threw tantrums over “Fake Geek Girls” can hide behind. Remember that? Remember when gamers and comic nerds got so upset at the growing number of women coming into geek culture that they started calling them “fake geeks?” Geek culture had reached such a mainstream peak that it was FASHIONABLE. You would THINK that would mean REAL geeks would be happy... right?
Unfortunately I think that geek culture being mainstream helped serve as a “reality check” for many “true” geeks. They realized they were no longer special. That their “identity” as gamers or comic fans was no longer something they could hold on to themselves. That now that everyone and their grandmother was playing video games and knew about superheros and comics... they were no longer special. And that pissed them off. That made them MAD. It’s the whole “when everyone’s super, no one will be” mentality.Sidenote: that’s a good point. GamerGate? You’re Syndrome from The Incredibles.Sidenote 2: Also, you know who you can thank for geek culture becoming mainstream like that? Apple, Marvel, and Nintendo. Both Apple and Nintendo popularized the idea that anyone can play video games and have fun with apps and the Wii/DS. And Marvel helped usher in the idea that superhero movies aren’t just for geeks, and that anyone can enjoy them now. So if gamers and geeks are mad at anyone, they should be made at those companies.
Anyway. First they tried to exclude women by calling them “fake geeks.” But when they realized that wasn’t working, they switched tactics. Now it’s about hiding behind “ethics” while attacking women (and anyone who supports them). And because there’s no central movement leader, no written in stone goals, no IRL meetings and agendas that can be adhered to... Gamer Gate can morph and change into whatever it needs to to keep attacking women. Anyone who tries to get a fix on what Gamer Gate actually IS will get bombarded by hundreds of different messages and ideologies from a variety of people who all have their OWN internalized idea. It’s like trying to fight the ocean from making waves.It’s about Ethics, except when it’s not!
If Gamer Gate really is about ethics... where was GamerGate when Warner Bros was found to be dictating what YouTube people were “allowed” to say about their game Shadow of Mordor? Link: www.escapistmagazine.com/video…
If Gamer Gate people really believe Zoe Quinn’s game is so corruptible and bad it shouldn’t be allowed on steam... why aren’t they advocating for a change in Steam’s greenlight policy that allows shit like “The Mountain” or “Air Control” from existing and charging actual MONEY for broken gameplay experiences?
Why is it that even when Gamer Gate does something POSITIVE, like donating to charity, it’s out of SPITE for a woman they determined wasn’t being transparent enough with her own charity fundraising? Why can’t they do it because they WANT to, and not as a passive aggressive “fuck you” to a woman they already seem to hate?
How can Gamer Gate people claim it's about ethics and integrity, when they actively harass and whine about a video game not being given a perfect score on a website they don't like? Remember when Dragon's Crown got ONE poor review? Or when Polygon knocked a few points off of Bayonetta 2 because the reviewer didn't like all the sexualized content? Demanding everyone march in lock-step and never have any different opinions is the OPPOSITE of having "ethics" and "integrity."
Why is that when Felicia Day, well known gamer and a popular geek personality talks about her LEGITIMATE FEARS about Gamer Gate, she gets doxxed and harassed as a way of silencing her?
The answer, of course, is simple. Gamer Gate ISN’T about ethics. Ethics is just a cover story. The astroturfing covering the true intentions. Gamer Gate is about silencing women (and anyone who supports them) out of fear that these women will come in and CHANGE everything they love.Change is scary... but also good!
When people talk pro-Gamer Gate, they’re really saying “I don’t want change.” They don’t want variety. They want to keep things exactly where they are right now. It’s familiar. It’s comforting. But it’s not progress. Change is scary, but it can also be GREAT. And frankly, I’d rather there be more voices in gaming than less. I want more people playing, more people ENJOYING games than ever before. And the best part is? It doesn’t have to decrease ANYTHING you enjoy! Embracing social justice and equality does not mean you can’t still enjoy games like Bayonetta 2 or Grand Theft Auto. Those games will STILL get made, the only difference is that now there will be more variety and other options for people who don’t want to play those games.
Social Justice is not “evil.” Wanting more variety in games, and asking NICELY for game developers to CONSIDER not including or perpetuating potentially bad tropes in games is not “censorship.” Having more OPTIONS does not reduce the ones you already HAVE. That’s what bugs me the most about people who try to silence those working towards equality. This is a magical slice of pie that DOES NOT GET SMALLER when you ADD more people to it. A game that adds a woman character selection does not mean the male character doesn’t exist anymore. A game that allows people from all genders, races, and ethnicities to enjoy it, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it either. A game that doesn’t rely on outdated stereotypes and tropes about women, does not mean the gameplay will “suffer.”
And you know what? Harassing people, doxxing their accounts, attacking them IRL and stalking them online is terrorism. Domestic terrorism. I know the word “terrorism” is loaded now, but by pure definition that’s exactly what Gamer Gate is. Terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.
What is Gamer Gate now if not terrorists? So many women (like Felicia Day thisfeliciaday.tumblr.com/post…
) who are too scared to even SPEAK UP about the issues they have out of FEAR of being attacked. That is terrorism. That is creating fear through intimidation and violence. Nobody
should be scared to talk about video games
.Don’t be defined by a hashtag
I cannot support Gamer Gate. From where I sit it’s just a hashtag used by some incredibly nasty individuals as a cover shield for their nasty actions. I believe in Journalistic Ethics. I also believe in variety being “the spice of life” and that by having MORE people from different views and opinions entering the industry we’ll have and even wider range of games and comics and stories. I believe inclusivity is better than exclusivity. And I believe that allowing people to criticize the things we love, will ultimately result in more variety and opinions and voices creating new and amazing content.
And I don’t need a hashtag to support those goals.PS: My advice for anyone who believes in REAL ethics in journalism and professionalism in gaming is to ditch the Gamer Gate hashtag and just fight for those rights like you normally would. Associating yourself with a group that is seen by the general public as a “hate group” is not going to help you. Don’t let a hashtag define who you are, and don’t let a hashtag keep you from speaking about issues you feel should be talked about. I know there are actual good people in GamerGate. Please don’t get dragged down by the sinking ship, ok?