Update: You may consider this my swan song of my participation in the ongoing games media ethics and culture movement that is #GamerGate. I have a new initiative that I will elaborate on in the future called Return To Gaming (#ReturnToGaming). As it were.
A fine chap, Sean Morrison offered a list of questions for people who support GamerGate. Sean is a journalist and all around decent guy who ventured out to hear the voices of people who make up the movement, and that included voices you may not be familiar. I figured this is the closest thing to being heard and I appreciated the outreach. While he will be compiling the responses in a future piece of his own, he also gave his blessing in posting my full response on this very blog. Because he’s nice, you get it!? Hit the jumpity-jump for my full response to see where I am with GamerGate. He has some interesting questions and I hope to have a two-way with him in a public, real-time way someday.
(Sean Morrison’s questions in bold)
1. Are you pro- or anti-GamerGate, and what is your reason for that stance?
I am Pro-GamerGate.
My reasons are a tad more complicated than caring about whether or not a tabloid gaming news/blog has ethics or not. GamerGate, as a consumer revolt and a cultural shift, was a necessary thing because the gaming industry itself had begun to fall apart.
Many games journalists regardless of gender no longer knows a thing about game design, which is premise one as far as I’m concerned. It’s no wonder it’s become social-political and personality based; they’re not talking about design anymore. It’s become about increasingly vague descriptions, feelings, and interpretations. More than a few times I’d leave a comment on an article not talking about the subject, but correcting or educating the professional writer about an element of the game they didn’t seem to grasp. That a great majority of the chief offenders are concerned with feminism and/or social justice is merely a byproduct of allowing lightweights to hold a microphone for so long.
I don’t care if they’re ethical or not; I care that gamers are no longer stewards of games journalism.
This is on top of gamers becoming involved in fan-boy wars and worrying about elements of the industry that barely concern their hobby. They feed on divisive articles comparing different versions of multiplatform games. They flame each other over resolution and sales. Consumers have become ‘value-blind’, almost instinctively purchasing titles. They cry in unison, “No more Assassin’s Creed, give it a rest!” while consumers of other industries wonder why they don’t send a message by simply not buying another Assassin’s Creed. Gamers get hostile at differing opinions fairly easily, and tact amongst them leaves much to be desired.
Gamers have done their part to tarnish the industry. Consumer bases have their bad apples, but we’ve never heard of SWATing within the food lover’s community, have we? There are things we only ever hear coming from the gamer community and I’m not gonna be blind to that. Doesn’t mean we’re all bad, but stereotypes don’t come out of nowhere.
Lastly, the AAA model of games have also led to some of the biggest disasters in the history of our industry. Games are more broken than ever, and big companies are becoming increasingly blind and deaf to consumers. Like the last two big points, this is all on the back of disregarding what’s important about gaming – the games. Great gameplay experiences that once upon a time you wanted to drop quarters for. Or couldn’t wait to sit with your friends and play. Games that made you stay up for One More Hour. Now it’s about pre-orders, resolution, the slickest ads, paid-for preview articles, and the ever damaging ‘Call of Duty numbers target’. Don’t even get me started on Metacritic.
You see, my interest in the gaming industry is the deliverance of good games. None of the three pillars of the industry (gamers, companies, journalists) are serving that anymore, and here we are. So then comes GamerGate, a movement that aims to treat only a few symptoms of my concerns – but it is such a movement. That something like this can begin and sustain itself tells me that people will support some form of course correction.
I would very much like to see it through, even if I have a passing interest in some random writer’s ethics. And so I am Pro-GamerGate.
2. Why do you think this is such a hot-button issue now?
It involves very sensitive subjects. As far as the mainstream is concerned GamerGate is a hate movement who targets women especially. The mainstream media’s thirst for eye-catching, sympathetic stories to run makes it a simple spin. Also this is an opportunity for many games writers with pre-set audiences to wax heroic about how evil gamers are and why they must be subverted. So we have a lot of people stirring the pot.
Let’s be real here, videogame journalists having inappropriate relationships with their subjects wouldn’t be a blip on the radar of anyone who isn’t a gamer. The victimized women angle, the sex scandal tied to the very beginning, the resurgence of how society deals with online harassment; these are more likely the reasons some tech writer on some online news site even knows what GamerGate is.
GamerGate is ‘hot’ for every reason except its main thesis. Unfortunate but kind of expected.
3. What’s the solution? How do the two sides come together?
(The solution is something I elaborate on in a later answer, so I’ll skip that portion of #3.)
I think the idea that two sides are supposed to come together is the first and most common mistake people from the outside suggest.
I totally get it… I really do. But if I may be ‘that guy’ for a sec, I want people reading this to entertain the thought that the two sides will likely never reconcile their differences. It’s like asking how Democrats and Republicans will come ever together; aside from a few bipartisan stunts it’s just never going to happen. Because the two sides, at their core, have entirely different premises. They will not come together. One side doesn’t merely disagree with the other; it’s become a moral rift rather than a professional ethics one.
But that’s fine. What people don’t remember is the gaming industry is a capitalistic industry. Burger King fans don’t have to ‘come together’ with Wendy’s fans. They can just eat at their favorite burger joint. I alluded to this earlier but I do feel instead of fixing games media we simply move on to sites that speak our language. Even now I try to remember writers and sites that focus on elements of videogames I personally find paramount. Why do I have to come together with anybody who wastes two paragraphs on whether or not a scene in a AAA shooter isn’t PC enough? I’ll find a new writer, unless I succumb to a clickbait headline even I can’t resist.
This works both ways, of course. I feel rather than a swarm of social activist bloggers attacking game companies with their wishes for games to adhere to their worldview – perhaps they simply forge a new path. I don’t like Gone Home, but I’m not gonna email the developers asking for stealth kills and a horde mode so the game could appeal to me. I either take it for what it is or leave it be. Every game doesn’t have to be for every body.
The two sides don’t need to come together. At the end of this, we’ll likely see new market demographics and games going after them, nothing more. And this is just a case of two demographics clashing as far as the games content debate goes. It’ll pass, and people will just buy what they buy.
4. What would you like to see come from GamerGate and all this dialogue, on the Web and elsewhere?
New, unique markets to satisfy this much more varied generation of gamers. Get your social justice games coverage over there if you want. Here’s some shallow AAA coverage over here if you’re so inclined. And then some stuff in between for that gamer who spends $60 based on the funniest GameStop ad. I want a games industry that no longer tries to dictate what ten million people might want to play or read. I want this cultural shift to usher in an age where people of all types can find something to play or read.
Basically what the food and porn industries are now. And I’m not writing that for levity, either. I’m dead serious. This industry can learn a lot from food and porn.
5. These ones get touchy, so feel free to answer or not. There are a few parts to it, so you can chime in on any or all of them:
No, it’s fine. frankly I’ve been waiting for somebody to simply ask me about my thoughts in all this. You’re the first and I appreciate your reaching out to me and other people who support GG.
5.1. What do you think of the women’s gaming community’s reaction to all of this?
There’s no such thing as the Women’s Gaming Community. To posit this is to posit there being a Men’s Gaming Community; which I certainly missed the invite to. Either you’re a gamer or you’re too self obsessed to actually join a community. I’m a gamer. I’m not a ‘Black Gamer’, or a ‘Male Gamer’ – nor am I instantly sided with some nebulous ‘Black Gamer Community’, you see what I’m saying?
However, I do see the principle of your question; the reactions of females to GamerGate. Well, it just leads to another reason I don’t think it’s right to conjure up the idea of a Women’s Gamer Community. GamerGate has female supporters. So what’s happened is the media would assume there is some unified feminine reaction to this, and in doing so damned women who think differently to silence.
For instance; Anita Sarkeesian. People would prop her up as the voice for women in gaming. But there’s a great deal of YouTube videos and blogs by women who dissect her arguments. Because the media jumped the gun and assumed she would be accepted by female gamers, they are now forced to protect that idea by ironically dismissing female gamers who speak out against her.
The reaction of female gamers to this drama is the same as males; they chose a side.
5.2. What type of voice should women get in the video game community?
Same as mine, I suppose. Can’t imagine how else I’d answer this.
5.3. Why do you think some feel mistreated?
(Before I answer this wanna provide the context that I have a Criminal Justice background.)
Some people have an inflated sense of themselves, to be blunt about it. In my experience I find that people who are actually mistreated or discriminated against are not concerned in making sure people know they felt that way. They highlight the aggressor and see that justice is done. And in the event we’re not able to curtail the perpetrator you take measures to prevent this from happening again. These are basic responses to transgression that speaks the language of empowerment and overcoming adversity. Things I deeply believe in.
I might be veering away from the issue here, but I find that we as a society have veered away from the tenets of empowerment and the ability to overcome. We now coddle people who feel they were victimized, to the point that trying to verify the case is considered immoral. We speak of voices and feelings rather than solutions and prevention. This is all done in the name of victim awareness, but in fact does nothing to help or prevent new victims in any demonstrable way.
So I’m sorry but I’ve become jaded to the announcement that somebody ‘feels’ mistreated. I will hear their story, verify, identify the villains in questions and/or see what we can do prevent transgressions. But I will not offer such consideration to somebody’s feelings alone. We can all do better than that, and real victims deserve better.
5.4. Not everyone involved in GamerGate has shown aggression toward women who tweet about it. A small minority have, but their responses get a lot of attention. How do you feel about those voices, and how do they affect the perception of the pro-GamerGate movement?
Trolls will be trolls. They target your weakness and snipe it. Nothing more to be said really. And I think we’re both well aware how they affected the public perception. It’s unfortunate. But I suppose that’s where guys like you come in. Thank you for the questions.
As I listed in the headline this is the last time I bring up GG in this blog. I’ve been neglecting this blog in lieu of real life issues and mostly been active on Twitter and occasionally YouTube. While I still care of the ongoing cultural rift and social politics, it’s really not helping going from my personal issues to the circus this has become. I’ve found my self angst ridden about the actions of both sides, and I think there’s a great missing of the point. But whatever, I need to focus on my writing and putting up fun stuff on my blog and YouTube. I’ll just butt in when I feel my sense of balance is required, if I may be so pompous.
You guys have a good one. Feel free to yell at me on Twitter if you want. I won’t block you, promise. Oh yeah, here’s Sean on Twitter as well. He’s cool, trust me.