Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Can You Help Me Understand This About Gamergate?

I have tried to distance myself from the very recent and very prevalent Gamergate Twitter and social media movement that has blown up in the past month. I try not to talk much about things that I don't fully understand, but after tonight's news of the creator of Tropes vs. Women, a popular series of videos on the web, Anita Sarkeesian's withdraw from speaking at Utah State University due to another of a list of long death threats thrown at her, I just couldn't stay silent anymore.

Part of me is enraged, part of me is embarrassed, and part of me is just too darn confused. Gaming is a huge part of my life, and I'm currently in college to move onto a career in game design. Being so caught up in gaming, I very much care about how the hobby is perceived and how games are viewed as an art form, or at least a serious form of entertainment and not just for kids.

The early goings of SuperPhillip Central and even recently called out games journalism many times for being unprofessional and a blight against the industry in gaining importance in the mainstream. The quest for proper ethics in games journalism is a significant ideal for me, personally.

That's part of what Gamergate, then a movement with no name, was originally developed for. It was meant to call out corruption in the gaming media, but it was done in such a misguided way. Zoe Quinn's jilted ex-boyfriend posted a wide variety of now-known-to-be-unfounded allegations towards Ms. Quinn, such as her having an affair with a games journalist from a well-known site. This led to the idea from many that the positive coverage of her browser game, Depression Quest, was only based on Quinn's personal encounters with various members of the gaming media. What can one say when a movement is based off something false, even with the best intentions?

Well, you can apparently say a lot, as some pro-Gamergate movement members began harassing fellow women in the industry. Women in gaming have been "greeted" with death threats, rape threats, and this was after having their home addresses posted online in very public places. People have made very detailed explanations about how severe they would sexually violate these women. People have called in bomb scares to conventions where women in this industry were scheduled to speak.

This wouldn't be so bad if these were isolated events, but they're so commonplace and related to the Gamergate hashtag and movement. It continually becomes less understandable why people continue to want to stand by the Gamergate movement when reprehensible acts happen time and time again, much more when people continue to become apologists for it.

It's not that most people against use of the term are against the idea of "no corruption in games journalism." Most people who are against the use of the term, such as myself, don't care for it, find it abhorrent to use nowadays, is because of how toxic it is. Gamergate is no longer associated with the noble pursuit of ethics in games journalism. No, it's associated by many of us with acts of domestic terrorism, rape apologists, people who send bomb threats into conventions where women are set to speak at, and so much more repulsive acts.

My confusion comes in the form of a one-word question-- Why? Why are so many innocent people with noble ideas still attached to this movement, this term, Gamergate, that has been soiled by the acts of a very vocal and very harmful minority? Why even associate yourselves with it? You can do well and encourage ethics in this hobby without attaching your name to a term and movement that is synonymous with hatred, misogyny, and just the evilness that some of humanity can unleash on others.

The majority of folks who have harassed others in disgusting ways online has shown just how bad gaming culture can be. Is it possible that the majority of pro-Gamergate people are just attaching themselves to the cause as a detriment to others who seriously want change? The ones who want change want change in positive ways, ways they don't encourage threats, intimidation, and ruining lives in the process.

I am just taken aback by just how evil people in my own hobby can be. There's been so many false equivalencies displayed (e.g. "threatening one's life is OBVIOUSLY a proper response against someone who posted an article talking about positive roles women can have in gaming"), people saying so and so "deserved it", so and so is just getting herself open to threats for the "publicity", and so much more completely downright scummy things being said online. My meager little mind can only try to think that there's a way to end this hostility before the well has been so poisoned that gaming will never recover, much more someone innocent who just wanted to open minds to gender equality in the gaming industry winds up dead.

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