Man is condemned to be free;
because once thrown into the world,
he is responsible for everything he does.
There is currently a hashtag campaign going under the name of #GamerGate that is surprisingly long-lived (about two months, which is millennia in Internet Time). If you look at the main media sites, it seems to be solely about white male gamers trying to harass female game developers and female journalists. A bit like “gaming is becoming mainstream, more female developers and journalists are trying to contribute, but these misogynist white male gamers don’t like them and want to harass them to get them to quit”.
And that’s a story that sells and provides some people a platform from which to reach their own, mostly self-serving agenda.
The reality, of course, looks a bit more complicated.
While the starting point of #GamerGate might seem to be a quarrel between partners (one person writing about the people his partner slept with), as one commenter on Twitter mentioned, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria started World War I, but it was not the underlying cause for it. And it’s hardly misogyny giving that the same thing would likely have happened if the sexes had been reversed.
Nope, the whole issue started when it became obvious that nepotism and cronyism (i.e., getting your friends and relatives into positions of power) was becoming a huge problem in journalism regarding computer games. And here it’s more than just reporting on games and giving them skewed reviews — it’s also about which games get promoted. After all, there are a lot of game developers fighting for attention. And coverage can make or break your game — especially if you are an independent developer. And even worse — it’s trying to influence how the games that are made should look like. It turns games from entertainment to propaganda for ideologists.
So, gamers complained about it online, which was met with censorship on major sites, biased article by the very media they criticized as lacking integrity, and more mainstream media turning to the biased game journalism and their representatives when reporting about it.
Seriously, if you get to know that someone is accused of lacking integrity, why would you trust their word without checking what the other side says?
In a way, it’s quite funny, in another, it is a striking example how people who pursue their own agenda while hiding behind “social justice” can play the mainstream media for their own gain. And yeah, with literally millions of tweets, it’s fairly easy to home in on a couple of harassing and deeply misogynist tweets — without checking whether they were really made by #GamerGate supporters. After all, faking tweets and claiming they were made by your opponents is fairly easy and any controversy attracts trolls who just want to get an emotional response, without identifying with any movement.
So it’s very interesting to follow the debate online, e.g., by looking at YouTube videos by Sargon of Akkad, MundaneMatt, or InternetAristocrat. Or following the tweets under the hashtag #GamerGate or #NotYourShield. NotYourShield is used by people who resented that those criticizing #GamerGate use accusations of misogyny and racism by claiming that GamerGate supporters are all white men. These people are not and yet they feel welcome in an area that values skill and merit. There are also good blog postings, e.g., by Cathy Young or by Paula Wright. The later one states nicely:
So when radical feminists protest that gamers are “anti-feminist”, remember this does not mean “anti-woman”. In the modern context, it is more likely to mean “pro-equality”.
And frankly, I strongly agree with that statement. I honestly do not care whether something was made by a woman or a man, but I care about the quality. I respect skill and people who make it in a tough market, no matter the sex. Looking, e.g., at literature, J.K. Rowling did not claim to be discriminated against as a woman, nor did Jacqueline Carey. I’m sure they faced rejection and they did persist and their work got printed because it is very good — and it makes some people money by making other people happy. Same with games. Complaining about being discriminated against when it’s just the market that is hard does not make a work any better. Most markets are hard — computer games, literature, hell, even or especially Academia. And it’s a bad idea to see criticism as a personal attack — as it’s needed to improve the work.
But why should you care? Especially if you do not play computer games yourself?
Frankly, because there are people who are solely after their own benefit and they enter movements — any movement — and try to get money (via exposure, power, etc.) by making accusations of sexism or racism. These parasites do not really care about the issue, but what it can get them. They know how to get attention, how to get trolls to attack them and then blame it on the whole movement, and then use it to play the media and dupe a lot of otherwise very smart people. They do not care that they cripple movements in the process.
It happened with atheism (causing a split) and it currently happens within gaming — but it wont stop there. And if these people — whom I think are little more than crooks — do not get strong resistance until even the mainstream media realizes that they were being played, it will go on and on. You can easily transfer the strategy and tactics to any area as they create their own “evidence”.
And we will all be worse for it.
But don’t take my word for it — have a look yourself. But as usual, get different views. And here, unfortunately, even sites like Wikipedia might provide a very biased one. Just take a look at the opening paragraph of the GamerGate entry:
In video game culture, Gamergate (sometimes referred to as the hashtag #GamerGate) is an online movement which emerged around false allegations of unethical conduct levied against indie game developer Zoe Quinn in August 2014. Some supporters have stated that they are concerned with ethical issues in video game journalism, particularly conflicts of interest between video game journalists and developers. However, Gamergate has become most notable for a series of misogynistic and violent threats and harassment targeting Quinn and other prominent women in gaming, which have drawn widespread condemnation of the movement. Though the harassment is seen as coming from a minority of Gamergate supporters, the movement’s unwillingness or inability to control the attacks carried out in its name is generally seen as preventing constructive engagement. The harassment campaigns against women, combative rhetoric, and criticism of those examining video games from feminist or other minority perspectives has resulted in the movement being widely viewed as fighting a culture war against the increasing diversity of video game culture.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamergate_controversy (26th of October, 2014)
Well, the disclaimer above it should be taken seriously:
As to why, if you are interested, look for yourself. As usual, it pays to think and to be careful of confirmation bias and self-justification. Just one thing, regarding “the movement’s unwillingness or inability to control the attacks carried out in its name is generally seen as preventing constructive engagement” — it’s funny how “unwillingness” is put together with “inability”. There’s a huge difference between the two. As far as I can see, those interested in GamerGate do their best to stop trolls (and agent provocateurs) by flagging their comments as harassment. But it is rarely reported — nor are attacks against supporters of GamerGate. But as for demanding a movement to “control [the] attacks” — how exactly would you do that on Twitter where any troll can quickly create a new account and tweet under a hashtag whatever he or she would like? You can inform Twitter, but you can never completely prevent it.
But to end on a slightly positive note — it seems that even usually strongly biased sources like Huffington Post can at least discuss with people having a different opinion (baldly, but at least the other side was heard). Especially the unfortunate tendency of people criticizing GamerGate to hide behind accusations of misogyny and racism.
Like I said, it’s an interesting situation to see what is happening in society as a whole — and how some social justice parasites are using the current climate for personal gain.
At the moment it seems to be a(bout) game(s), but it wont stay there.