Instead of the planned link roundup, here is a special edition dedicated solely to #gamergate.
When your identity has been manufactured by corporations urging you to consume certain things in prescribed ways, then any change, no matter how small, is an existential threat. When women challenge decades of almost exclusively male fantasies of sex and power, this alters the content the gamer consumes. And when that content is altered, gamer identity itself under threat. The vitriol isn’t contrived or artificially manufactured. It has a source.
Seeds of #gamergate
The problem is this. Even after reading a ton of info on this, I still have no idea how much of it is true, how much of the controversy is genuine concern about the state of the industry and how much is just rabble-rousing for the sake of it. Misogyny is very real in the games industry, it’s pretty disgusting, but it’s also a problem that is not confined to our industry and most of what is being said about it is repetitive noise. Any right-thinking individual knows that hating women is bad, we don’t need libraries worth of articles to tell us that. We know that some people that play videogames are also horrible pieces of shit.
We should expect journalists who form relationships or close friendships with people in the industry to recuse themselves from any further coverage of that person. When that line is crossed there is an obvious conflict of interest. But sometimes knowing where that line is can be tricky.
By the turn of the millennium those were games’ only main cultural signposts: Have money. Have women. Get a gun and then a bigger gun. Be an outcast. Celebrate that. Defeat anyone who threatens you. You don’t need cultural references. You don’t need anything but gaming. Public conversation was led by a games press whose role was primarily to tell people what to buy, to score products competitively against one another, to gleefully fuel the “team sports” atmosphere around creators and companies.
Admission of Guilt
By banning its writers from backing any game developer on Patreon, Kotaku hopes to present the staff as personally, emotionally and financially detached from the developer’s professional success. By this policy they believe an ethical standard is met.
However, Kotaku still allows its writers to directly purchase a game for reviewing, or to back projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, two other, more established platforms for people to crowdsource revenue, despite the fact that both of these transactions also involve the writer financially supporting the developer.
I publicly told Kotaku’s Jason Schreier that, while I recognize I am not a game designer—“support” of writers, after all, is not necessarily being dropped by writers of major outlets—I also recognize that I am most indebted to my own “creative” work, same as many games designers are. As a “creative” writer, have I any longstanding protection from Kotaku’s new policies? If we create these new precedents about “support” of “creative work,” how are all other types of freelancers to protect themselves?
Gamers at the Gate
Yes, there are a few “terrorist gamers”, and as mentioned above, we thoroughly condemn their actions. And in this writing, we have tried to show you how the actions of the extremist SJWs are just as bad as those of “terrorist gamers” (but you are less aware of them because of biased coverage). We have consistently called them “extremist”, as we would like to believe that not everyone who considers themselves SJWs condones such attitudes or actions. We have extended the courtesy, of not letting a few rotten apples spoil the whole basket. Please do the same for us – do not condemn the entire gaming population, just because of the actions of a few.
I have found a lot of the actions of self-confessed hardcore gamers horrendous, upsetting and unjustifiable over the past two weeks. I have mocked and criticised the excesses – and I was happy to commission Jenn Frank’s piece on the disgusting excesses of anti-social behaviour in some quarters of the games community. But I have come to understand that the gamers suspicious of the games press cannot be classed together in one homogenous group – just as games journalists cannot. Objectification is never the answer. Which is why #gamergate has become so problematic.
(Shortly after this piece was published Keith Stuart announced he was retiring from Twitter for an indefinite period.)
For example, someone recently and bafflingly tried to hack into my email and phone contacts. This is all very frightening to write, and so I must disclose that I am biased, insofar as I am terrified. I have worked in this industry for most of the last nine – not always perfect – years and I have never professed to be a perfect person. However, my values, my belief that abuse must not, cannot become “normal”, “acceptable” or “expected” is at odds with oh, God, please, why are they doing this, what’s the point, don’t let it be me, don’t let it be me.
(Pay close attention to the convoluted disclaimer on this article, the original absence of which fostered accusations of “corruption”. Shortly after publishing this piece, Frank announced she was quitting games writing due to sustained online attacks in the wake of The Guardian article. Mattie Brice confirmed she was leaving games writing at the same time.)
I think being angry and defensive when you’re being harassed for your gender or for how much sex you’ve had is a totally valid thing to be. But I’m so sick and tired of how some people I otherwise respect and agree with keep responding to those who disagree with them. This isn’t tone policing, this is asking you to stop using words and concepts that exclude people.
Let me tell you where these kids are coming from, because I used to come from there. The first thing that’s happening is that they’re mostly males who are socially unaccepted. They’re outsiders, losers, weirdos and freaks. And most of them aren’t just male, they’re white males. What’s happening is that these men are feeling powerless in their own lives, and then along comes someone like Anita Sarkeesian telling them that as white men they are the MOST powerful group in the world. And that they should be aware of this privilege and they should be careful how they exert it.
#GamerGate, you told me, is about inclusion. That’s part of why you placed so much value on the term gamer, and why you were so frustrated at the recent spate of articles suggesting that the gamer identity is dead or dying. Gaming had connected you with a community where you felt accepted, and to have that repudiated felt like another form of exclusion.
Speaking in an interview with the New Yorker magazine, Beard revealed the pair had remained in touch after he took her to lunch to apologise for sending her a tweet that read: “You filthy old slut” followed by a derogatory comment about her genitalia.
Beard retweeted it to her 47,000 followers to out her abuser, but said she had now taken to writing job recommendations for Rawlings so he didn’t suffer in the long term for “one moment of idiocy”.
if we want this stuff to go away and stop being a problem, in whatever form it takes, then we need to be able to map the source of it, to provide context, and to understand that at some fundamental level we’re all in this together.
A friendly hello to all youse waging wars on the Internet. I’ve got not a whole lot to chime in with – too busy building this bunker while you’re pontificating the meaning of JLaw n00dz and ethical decay, Oof! I’ll continue to watch the dialogue unfold from afar into even more slimy David Cronenberg whatthefuckery, but for now let’s leave with this – Kurt Vonnegut on love and decency and making things work.
Late Storify Additions
“I guess it’s a good time to mention that I’ve been lurking in & recording 4chan’s raid IRC channels for a few weeks”
“There’s been a ton of back and forth on the Internet over the last month, and it has intensified over the last week and gotten angrier and angrier as time has gone on. I’ve found myself really getting wrapped up in all of that to the point where it has really unhealthy for me. I don’t want to diminish the very real harassment I’ve seen go on; that is real and needs to be addressed. But I know I’ve been getting caught up in this and decided to make every possible effort. The other person in this insulted one of the creators of Depression Quest and suggested that it was terrible and useless.”