Up until a few days ago, this whole Gamergate mess was outside of my radar. I was too busy enjoying my gaming hobby to really get myself into this divisive atmosphere. Then, I decided to catch myself up on this situation. I’m sorry for the unfounded claims set against Zoe Quinn and for the women involved the industry who are trying to do their part to make gaming better for everyone. I was not set to take a side in this issue since there are people who on both sides who have legitimate concerns. Women in gaming shouldn’t have to deal with such immaturity and insecurity, yet expecting gaming journalism to be ethical and without a feeling there’s conflict of interest is something applicable to all press.
Yet, my ire over the whole thing isn’t with the bullies who first harassed the female gaming populace. They’re a small minority. We’re talking about a few hundred, a few thousand to be generous. This is out of a community of millions, a minute percentage. My resentment is reserved for the gaming media, for they had the audacity to lump all gamers together as being of the same ilk as the bullies. To that I say, I have no intention of ever supporting another video game media outlet.
Personally, I have every right to be angry at gaming media for generalizing all gamers as being bullies. Just look at the Gamasutra article, “’Gamers’ Don’t Have To Be Your Audience. ‘Gamers’ Are Over.” Other media outlets included The Financial Post, Ars Technica, The Daily Beast, The Stranger, Beta Beast, and Polygon. Not only were gamers targeted, but those who presented arguments in favor of gamers, such as Christina Hoff Summers, aka The Factual Feminist.
To be fair, there are those of the Gamergate side that are keen on addressing the issue of journalism ethics. Unfortunately, there is a noticeable number of people who have bastardized the Gamergate tag to share their own narrow-minded stances towards women. Here is when the Gamergate proponents must make it clear they don’t share these boneheaded ideals. Sure, its not all members of this side of the internet conflict, but its grown enough that not standing for such behavior needs to be stated. While you may not share such notions, it would only harm your cause to not address such.
As pointed out by Luke Plunkett in the article, “We Might Be Witnessing The ‘Death of An Identity,” he said the tag “Gamer” doesn’t refer to all gamers, just the people being jerks. To that I say, then use the term “jerks” or “bullies.” Of all your journalistic prowess and mastery of linguistics you can’t use a more fitting word? You have to use the most inclusive of titles to address the dickish fringe element?
Imagine if all of a community were labeled as antagonistic because of the actions of a few. That’s the logic perpetuated by gaming media. Imagine if I exclaimed, “Anita Sarkeesian’s threat against her life in Utah was a hoax for publicity because she’s associated with Meg Lanker-Simons, who pleaded no contest after police found threats against her to be fake and interfering with a police investigation.” Not fair, is it? Then why should all gamers be slandered because of the actions of a pathetic, vocal minority?
In fact, Anita Sarkeesian in a tweet said that one person threatening her admitted to be associated with Gamergate, so she concluded that all who support Gamergate are accomplices after the fact. Its okay for her to accuse all people of a group as evil, but present even the slightest criticism against her and you’re banned from Twitter, as what happened to Dr. Phil Mason aka Thunderf00t. If it wasn’t clear enough, all sides of the issue of Gamergate reek of hypocrisy.
Also, it would be bitter irony for these media outlets to propose the end of the gamer label. Why? Because studies show that the number of women gamers is on the rise! The Daily Dot, CNN, The Entertainment Software Association, The Guardian, The Washington Post among others have reported that women make up the majority of the gaming population. As stated in her video, Ms. Summers noted that gaming is becoming more inclusive. Even the label of gamer not only refers to those who play on consoles and PCs, but also on smartphones and table top games.
Many women have taken steps to provide gaming alternatives. Today, we have Zoey Quinn and Brianna Wu continuing the foundation set by the likes of Roberta Williams, Carol Shaw, Dona Bailey, and Amy Briggs. The more they can contribute to gaming, the more people can see how the likes of Duke Nukem Forever, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, The Guy Game, Rumble Roses, Leisure Suit Larry, and Custer’s Revenge are not what gaming should be. Gaming will change for the better and it will happen organically.
What do I propose? For painting gamers with the broadest strokes, I say stop supporting video game media. Don’t get your news from the likes of Kotaku, IGN, Gamespot, GameTrailers, Polygon, The Escapist, Game Informer, or any resource other than your gaming retailer and the gaming developers/publishers themselves. For the any of the aforementioned outlets not involved in Gamergate and may feel wronged for being dragged into the conflict, I can only say this: welcome to my world.
Gamergate image courtesy of avoiceformen.com