Community Piece: The Humanity of #GamerGate – 10/18/2014
By Lo-Ping - Sat Oct 18, 2:29 pm
From a young age, I’ve been fascinated by video games and enjoyed them greatly. They’re an interactive fusion of many different artistic forms. I enjoy a challenge and I’ve always been into art, animation and music, so I think that’s what makes video games so appealing to me.
Through-out high school gaming was a comfortable escape for me. It was about forgetting your problems and just playing some vidya with a few friends. These days I don’t really qualify as a gamer anymore, because I’m too busy to buy/play games all that much but i’m still very interested in them. In fact the reason i’m busy is because i’m building up a creative portfolio. I hope to create art and compose music for games. That would be my ideal job.
So why do I care about #GamerGate? Because this corruption in the industry (specifically In the gaming press and indie scene) hurts the devs, it hurts the gamers and it’s detrimental to the games we all love. A small group of people in positions of power are using that power to aggressively attack and condemn anything that doesn’t line up with their extreme values, whilst unfairly and unethically promoting their friends who share their ideals.
Gone are the days where artists were free to celebrate the beauty of the human body… well do whatever the fuck you want with males but If you create a female with a healthy body and large breasts or If you portray her in a way that displays any weakness what so ever, then just like that you’re labeled a misogynist and your game is slandered across the media with any reactions or counter arguments to the articles silenced. This sort of mentality is disgusting. It’s not progressive, it can kill artist’s careers and It flies in the face of creative freedom.
We can’t leave these people unchallenged, we must call them out, we can’t have journalists promoting their friends and not disclosing the nature of their relationships, We can’t allow the IGF and people with toxic engenders to control the indie scene, we can not give a minority the power to bury games and ruin careers. We have to let the industry know we are the majority and we don’t want this.
That’s why #GamerGate is important to me
As far as demographics go, I’m as bland as you can get when you think about gaming’s “target audience”: I’m a straight, white male in my early 20s. Demographics only paint part of a picture, though. They gloss over the details. Demographics won’t tell you about the 15 years or so I spent in the fine arts, split between ballet and theatre. Demographics won’t tell you that I’m training to go into a woman dominated profession. Demographics at their core are the basic template of a person. These lead to gross oversimplification, and gross oversimplifications are one of the biggest contributing factors that lead to the situation gaming finds itself in now.
What got you into video games?
It’s a clichéd answer, but my first video game honestly was Super Mario Bros. My father had an NES, and I played Mario, TMNT and Gyromite feverishly. It wasn’t until the Pokemon craze hit in the US that I really got into video games proper, with a beat up copy of Pokemon Blue and a GameBoy Pocket that I saved up for.
Why do you care about video games?
First and foremost, the same reason that anybody cares about their hobbies: I enjoy it. They’re fun to play on your own or with friends, whether you’re simply playing through the story, playing against each other or creating your own challenges.
Second, video games provide an experience few other forms of storytelling entertainment can provide. Think of most traditional forms of entertainment: movies, songs, plays, books-all of these are presented straight to you as a finished product. Video games on the other hand are different. You may have a story, but the action over the course of the game is up to you. Do you want to sneak around undetected? Do you want to take out as few people as possible? Or do you want to leave none standing upright in your wake? Do you want your party to be up close and personal brawlers, or do you want to unleash a flurry of magic attacks on your opponents? These decisions are up to the player. In great game design the gameplay can actually play into the storytelling, such as forcing a player to walk out to face something they may not want to or having the player’s health slowly drain as a result of something in the plot, creating an added sense of urgency as you rush to fix the problem. These kinds of experiences are things that books and movies can’t provide on their own-a sense of agency and involvement in the story, the realization that you can do something about what’s happening on the screen.
Why are you here (at #GamerGate)?
#GamerGate has been a long time coming, and the recent events are merely the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s no great secret that gaming journalism has been a joke for years now. They’ve been struggling for relevancy in an age where gamers can simply look up gameplay or trailers on youtube. The bar for gaming journalism started to sink lower and lower as they struggled to make ends meet. Many sites were forced to resort to sponsorships (for more, search for doritogate/dewritogate online). They also became reliant on ad revenue from AAA publishers, placing journalists on a tight leash where they were forced to give a minimum score even if the game didn’t deserve it for fear that the publisher would pull funding. Many gamers got tired of it and simply stopped reading reviews altogether.
In their desperation, many gaming sites turned to so called “journalists” that would be laughed out of anywhere else. They started to focus less and less on games and more and more on ‘the gaming community’. They rely on clicks and page views, so they resorted to sensationalism and inflammatory articles to make their living. They started telling women men didn’t want them in gaming. Then they started telling minorities and the gay community the same thing. Then they started claiming the games themselves were driving everyone but white males away-yes, even the games that came from Japan. As a longtime gamer, I found these articles absurd at best. Like most gamers, I don’t care who or what you are as long as we can just play the game. I stopped paying attention to video games journalism entirely, writing it off as something that could be safely ignored while it babbled away at such perceived slights as “why aren’t there women in a FIFA game?”
If ignoring games journalism was all there was to it, #GamerGate wouldn’t exist. With the latest rash of scandals, gaming journalism has not only proven itself unreliable and unprofessional in the most blatant ways, it has proven to be an active detriment to the community. It was discovered among other things that some publications published stories smearing a feminist game jam based on pure hearsay and without any research at all. When confronted on these and other issues, 10+ sites released articles declaring gamers-the people that should be their core audience-dead. They would rather drive off their reader base than admit any wrongdoing. When people tried to hold them to journalist standards, they demote themselves to bloggers so they can deny scrutiny. They generalized all gamers as angry white mean, then when confronted with the women and minorities of #notyourshield they covered their ears or called them ‘sockpuppets’ or worse, ‘weaponized minorities’.
To boil down the complaint of #GamerGate to its simplest terms, gaming journalism has become detached from journalism, gaming, and their audience as a whole. Most journalists even lack the skill to play video games anymore since they play games on the easiest difficulty to get through it as quickly as possible. They wholeheartedly believe that video games make people sexist, racist, and bigoted when a decade ago they laughed at Jack Thompson for declaring that games made kids violent. They promote and praise developer friends in their cliques and shut out small scale and indie devs who don’t agree with their dogma. They look down at gamers and sneer as they preach to them about how they know best. And they’re never going to change if you do nothing and let them keep going.
So I decided I can’t sit idly by anymore.
I can’t just sit there while charities get shut down because some writer’s friend had a disagreement with them.
I’m not going to just sit there while gaming journalists tell me how horrible of a person I am for being a straight white male
I’m not going to just let journalists call people pedophiles if they’re attracted to large breasts.
I’m certainly not going to listen to a never ending tirade on morals from journalists who accept press kits from publishers that they can turn around and sell for $2,000, who are treated to tablets by publishers, who do not disclose that they are living with or have long term friendships with developers whose games they review, or who tout the title journalist when it suits them only to hide behind the title of blogger when it doesn’t.
I’m not going to respect a group who have repeatedly broken the basics of journalism such as:
Always hold accuracy sacrosanct
Always correct an error openly
Always strive for balance and freedom from bias
Always reveal a conflict of interest
Always guard against putting their opinion in a news story
Never fabricate or plagiarise
Never accept a bribe
(Taken from Reuters’ list “The 10 Absolutes of Reuters Journalism.” 7 out of 10 were broken).
Nor will I respect people who smear, defame, and misrepresent the consumers lobbying against them in an attempt to save their own hides.
I cannot sit by while people who are speaking out for consumers are having their personal information leaked and are targeted.
I can’t stand idly by while gaming journalists dehumanize women and minorities by telling them they don’t really have their opinion, they’re being manipulated and weaponized by white men
I cannot stand by while gaming journalists try harder and harder to drive people, particularly women, out of gaming both as gamers and developers by telling them they need to be afraid.
And I cannot just watch anymore as they continue to make things worse.
Gaming is huge, and it brings together people from all over the world-people of all races, genders, religions, and orientations. In the past two years alone I’ve become friends with people all over the US as well as the UK, Mexico, Canada, Israel, and more due to one game alone. The #GamerGate movement has also brought gamers and people of all stripes together, from a gay UK journalist to feminist college professors to actors and politicians and more. I find myself hard pressed to think of a more diverse movement where people of so many different races, creeds, genders, orientations, and political ideologies banded together. And together we are slowly but surely making a difference for the better.
Gaming journalists have long lamented the fragmentation of the gaming community. Isn’t it ironic that the thing bringing gamers together is how terrible they’ve been at their job?