For nearly all my life, I’ve been an avid fan of video games. Some of my earliest, most cherished childhood memories involve gathering around our Nintendo Entertainment system with my sister and parents. My dad was a huge movie buff and lover of science fiction, and it was from him that I believe I really inherited my passion for video games. I was rubbish as a child, but I loved watching these amazing stories play out before me. Castlevania, Mega Man, Metroid, Mario and Zelda all inspired me with their rich worlds, catchy music, and fantastic gameplay. They encouraged me to improve and motivated me to perform better, and rewarded me with greater challenges and experiences. Even now I can recall the sense of pride I felt when I completed a game, the mixed rush of happiness that you had won and the bittersweet regret that the game was truly finished.
My sister wasn’t as enamored by video games as I was, but she was still a fan and a gamer. Together we pooled our allowances, and we eventually saved up for a Super Nintendo System, a system that had been out for several years at that point. Looking at the boxes of various titles at Blockbuster on our family movie knights both teased and motivated us, growing our love of the hobby by introducing new games and series to us. Years later we would repeat the same process with the Nintendo 64, which became my sister’s favorite console. She was and remains a racing game master, a fiend in literally every racing title I’ve seen her pick up. To this day I struggle to match her in Mario Kart.
For myself though, I relished the sense of adventure and accomplishment in games. Racing games were fun, but I was drawn towards the action, adventure, and RPG genre. Video games are also where I got my love of horror from, being drawn in at first by spooky titles like Castlevania and then becoming a die-hard fan with Resident Evil and Nightmare Creatures.
I continued to make console purchases, slowly saving up for systems and being rewarded with a rich library of titles. Xbox, Gamecube, and Playstation 2; every system offered a bevy of unique titles and experiences.
Despite my love of these platforms, however, my heart remained with portables after a Christmas gift of a Gameboy Color and Pokémon Blue made me a lifelong fan of handheld gaming. The multiplayer aspect these platforms offered was perfect for me, someone who was frequently was traveling with my family or frequently over at the houses of friends, and then as I got older, often in and out of hospitals. I had numerous health issues in my teenage years, and video games are something that truly helped me keep my spirits up at that time. My family and friends were wonderful and supportive and I don’t at all mean to sound as though I cared more for material goods than for human interaction. I cannot, however, understate the feeling of adventure and freedom of starting up a new Pokémon game while you are confined to a hospital bed.
To this day I remain a lover of video games, and I still play games with my family and friends. The video game community has always accepted me for who I am, not only when I was playing games with them but also just talking to them in general. Yes, there have been negative experiences and brushes with horrible people, but I think a great deal of the human race can empathize with that. Video games have fans who are human beings, and it is a sad fact that some human beings just want to make others miserable. Every community has some like this, but these bad apples could not and do not drown out or trivialize every single amazing person who is a fan of gaming, of which there are an enormous number.
It is to this end that I am saddened by the increasingly negative brush that the gaming press has continued to paint me and my fellow video game fans with. Frequently I have been called a racist, a sexist, an abuser, a bully, an advocate of rape. I am not these things, and the majority of video game fans don’t seem to be these things either. These hateful accusations are spun by a press that has been found to collude in private email groups and smear people, fans and developers alike, who do not cater to their line of group think. We’ve seen it happen with titles such as Dragon’s Crown, and we are seeing it now with Bayonetta 2. These writers accuse the games of being ‘shameful’, and when situations offend them they demand that content be changed or, in the case of Lords of Shadow 2, even removed entirely.
As a writer and creator of fiction, I will not stand this line of thinking. The thought of being told what I can and cannot create, and neither should anyone else be. I do not wish to sound like a hypocrite in this regard, as I absolutely feel people should have the right to create these opinion pieces about the games. They deserve the right to exist just like the games they criticize. However, these pieces are not reviews, and revolve primarily around painting the negatives of the game as shameful and embarrassing. They are making no attempt at being objective, and are more concerned with pushing forth an agenda that specific titles are ‘bad’ for video game culture. This is especially ridiculous when you realize that the people saying this are operating in unethical ways ranging from being financially tied with sources to outright lying in articles that demonize a consumer revolt (John Walker being among the most recent of these). The era of the Hollywood Blacklist was arguably one of the worst periods in the history of film, and I do not want to see video games become the host for such a savage disregard of artistic freedom.
It is becoming increasingly irritating in particular because when I voice my concerns with the video game press, I am shouted down or spoken for by the very corrupt people who claim to represent me. I have always been accepted as a woman into video games by most video game fans, and I know the majority of women will likely agree with me. Sure there were people who hurled sexist remarks or acted like a jerk, but they were on both sides of the spectrum. I was bullied by girls in school even as I was told to go back in the kitchen by a boy online. To act as though hate exclusively came one gender is incredibly misguided, as it paints one gender as being entirely guilty of the sins of a tiny, tiny group of people. To do this is to generalize. To do so is to condemn innocent people.
It has been two months since I was told by the gaming press that I was dead. But much like how they were wrong in how they conducted themselves in the GameJournoPros email group, they are mistaken on this fact as well. I am not dead. I am still a gamer, and I will likely always be a gamer. Some of the best people I know, men and women alike, they are gamers too. Some of my heroes are in the industry of creating video games, people like Hideo Kojima, Corrine Yu, and Michiru Yamane. And I know that all the other gamers who stand with me in a pursuit of ethical video game journalism are alive as well. We are all in this together, men and women of every color and creed saying that we are alive. To me, that sums up how I’ve always felt about video game fans; a tight-knit group of hobbyists who are some of the most accepting people I’ve met in my life. They are all gamers, and they are all alive.
It’s funny because I actually should be one of “them”.
I am in my 30’s, white, gay, and went to school in San Francisco. I work with a focus on issues within our community, which has varied from outreach, program planning, clinics, drop-ins, getting our at risk kids into school, food banking, cooking weekly for those in need and so on. San Francisco instilled in me a special love for working with homeless people, especially LGBT ones. I am a fan of Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails, Anarchist borrowing-bookstores, and a lot of on the ground support for people in need. Oh, and I love Adult Swim late night TV.
I am reading everything I can about Huey P Newton. I had a mentor once tell me about how back in the day in San Francisco/Oakland, the Panthers were known for protecting Gays and Lesbians from haters. GamerGate reminded me of that, so with a set of gay eyes I am going over everything I can about him. The man for whatever he was impresses me even beyond that.
Funny joke there. A militant Black Activist IN San Francisco or Oakland these days would be taken out by the very same Tumbler Activists who apparently support equality and are down to fight all these problems.
As for games, I always will hold RPGS closest to my heart. I started playing D&D with mostly girls as a kid. No fucking joke. Now I play table top with Female DMs/GMs and a bunch of gay and straight guys. It’s funny to see/hear heterosexual life collide with gay sass in-game. It really warms my soul knowing that there are so many people in gaming that still play table top. If anything I think that should be gateway into the scene. At least consider it.
You know it’s funny…I have a few hundred games on my steam. Mind you, that quantity is mostly from charity bundles. Yet I only play really Civ5. GW2, Archeage, and the Final Fantasy series. Those are the games you usually find me playing. BUT I am a huge WOW fan. Blizzard in general, really.
WoW was important to me because it provided support in a time of need: It helped me get over a teen HIV+ meth head client of mine dying. There were nights after that where I didn’t want to be around people, because the very people I was around helped create an atmosphere that lead to the exploitation, addiction, infection and eventual death of that kid. But as you kids know, nights are cold and lonely and have that sucky weight you can’t shake. WoW was a good buffer and it stuck with me.
Why do I side with Gamer Gate.
Clearly because it’s fucking right. There is a problem, one we could fix together. Yet hey chose the, “FUCK YOU” route. Now we have an obligation as the customer to pull them down from their perches, where they preen all day masturbating to their own greatness, and to teach them the lesson all arrogant people who preach from on high eventually learn: Never shit on your own dinner.
It’s because their (anti)-activism here does not pass my smell test. It’s that simple. The primary thing I ask myself is, “as a guy who fucks dudes and has no interest in women, how does their ideology work for me? How is this framed if I am a lesbian?” Most of it does not work because it only is targeted at heterosexuals. They do not get to do that; to say to my community, “Oh well since you are not THEM we will do it for you, so hush for now.”
I am not a fan of reprisal and smear. All those people have done IS reprisal and smear. I have dealt with this kind of shit before. Believe me when I say they will reap the rewards they all truly deserve in private. But they will forever make sure the image never cracks to the public. Every one of you has an obligation to make that image crack with the truth of their actions.
What worries me is the fact the longer GG goes on, the more crazy the grasps at attention will get. My fear is that a Queer or Trans person may be attacked at GaymerX or some other Cali/Vegas con attacking. Believe me: They WILL escalate this to self-harm or physical attack. Because that will the only thing left.
None of this shit has to do with games.
Let me leave you with this line: “The controls for Mirrors edge 2 is not intuitive for women.”
That encapsulates everything wrong. Everything.