Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Holy Shit, Gamergate!

ESRB M Rating
If only.
For as long as I can remember, "gamer" has been one of the main points of my identity. Gaming was a constant companion for most of my youth. Several of my strongest and most enduring friendships were formulated on the foundation of shared interest in games. Games were a comfort and a release when I was a morose teenager.

Recently, I've started to shy away from calling myself a gamer. There are several reasons for the change. I have newer, more important ways to identify myself these days -- like husband, and more recently, father. But it's not like I don't still play. I do. Every chance I get, even if said chances are few and far between.

The bigger reason is Gamergate. Gamergate is a movement that is ostensibly about corruption in the games journalism industry. That's a very real problem. There have been instances of journalists being fired for writing honest reviews of games whose publishers were providing advertising revenue to the host site. That is all kinds of unethical, and it's not an isolated problem.
Giant Bomb
But we got these guys out of it. They're cool I guess.

But that's not what sparked Gamergate. Gamergate started when the jilted ex-boyfriend of an indie game developer posted a video manifesto that aired all of their dirty laundry, including accusations that she had cheated on him and exchanged sexual favors for positive coverage of her game. The Internet exploded in the way it only does when there's a new woman to harass. Of all people, Adam "Jayne from Firefly" Baldwin coined the movement's the midst of one of his bat-shit, right-wing Twitter rants. 
Jayne, your mouth is talking. You might want to look to that.

It could have been a decent movement, to be honest. But from its inception, the people who were saying, "If that's true, it really says something about the state of games journalism" were instantly drowned out by the hordes of ignorant shits screaming, "It must be true! What reason would a jilted ex-boyfriend have to lie about his ex-girlfriend to her peers? Our only reasonable course is to threaten to rape and murder her."
They're like this, but with death threats.
And I am not fucking kidding about that. Zoe Quinn was driven from her home by threats of sexual violence and death, from people who had found and published all of her personal information, including her address. Anyone of any standing in the industry who spoke in her defense was given the same treatment, including Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist critic who had already seen her share of death threats because of her video series that asks the question, "Do the games industry and gaming culture maybe treat women poorly?"
Threats against Anita Sarkeesian

The movement is completely out of control at this point, and it might be the biggest threat to gaming since the industry crashed in 1983. A largely falsified rumor about a woman's sex life has started a horrific campaign of harassment against women who are interested in games and want them to be a more inclusive medium. I mean, Jesus Christ, when I was a teenager my heart would have burst with joy if I learned that games were considered "art" enough where they could be subject to feminist critiques. I've always insisted that video games could be more than toys, and now that people outside of the traditional gaming demographic are acknowledging that, a bunch of children are trying to drive them away with death threats.

So as much as I'm not done with gaming, I'm done being a gamer. I know from the responses within the industry to Anita Sarkeesian and to the Gamergate lunacy that I can look forward to a richer, more diverse culture surrounding games. But gamers? I won't be a part of that world anymore.

Holy shit.

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