If you’ve been watching mainstream media outlets such as ABC or even read articles on the Guardian or the Independent for example, you’d think that the movement known as Gamergate was nothing more than a misogynistic hate group that want to keep women out of the video game industry. Of course, if you want a visual caricature of what these outlets portray Gamergate to be, take Law and Order: SVUs recent episode ‘Intimidation Game’ as a given example, demonstrating how outlandish these characters seem to be compared with reality.
Do these stereotypes or rather analogies of a typical supporter of Gamergate match up to the evidence though? Or rather, are they even remotely true? I hope to clarify some of the issues surrounding this consumer revolt and highlight why exactly the debate surrounding this movement is important. Ultimately, the aim of Gamergate is to provide a transparent service between reviewers and products within the video game industry, enhance diversity within gaming and curb aspects of corruption within these media outlets.
Where did it begin? That’s up for debate, some people believe it occurred after allegations about Depression Quest creator Zoe Quinn came out but most people rallied in support of Gamergate slightly later during the Game Journo Pros incident. There, Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart revealed a private group of over 150 writers, bloggers and editors from various media sites, emailing one another in a group chat which portrayed the abhorrent corruption going on among these developers and journalists. All this was done in the name of revealing ethics’ violations which many of these individuals have partaken in, while stifling the debate and changing the message to be an ideological one, rather than in the best interests of the consumer.
In a nutshell, some of these individuals seek to smear Gamergate as a vile, extreme right-wing, misogynistic, nihilistic, libertarian hate group with the intent of keeping the gaming market for men, by men and oriented towards men. Indeed, some of these conspiracy theories are so absurd that Bob Chipman (an ex-writer at the Escapist known as Moviebob), proclaimed that the entire movement was set up in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s election campaign because of a fear of progressiveness and a woman taking the presidency in the White House.
On the contrary, when people were asked of their political beliefs in Gamergate, there were very few right-wing ‘extremists’ that are part of the movement, in fact, while most people associated with the movement are indeed Libertarian, many of Gamergate’s supporters are predominately at the center or even left-wing. The reason this myth is perpetuated is because it creates a ‘this and them’ framing narrative, a simplistic black and white view of the world in order to retain a shallow ideological viewpoint of the movement. It has become more problematic because the media haven’t necessarily been friendly to the video game industry (they are part of their competition and seek to demean them in order to retain profits), even mainstream news sites such as ABC are perpetuating the notion that this group continually harasses people.
The problem with associations like this is that it is the fault of said individuals who threaten people, not the movement itself. Gamergate should bear no responsibility for this because we exist as a leaderless movement with the common goal of enhancing ethics policy in journalism and transparency between reviewers and producers. Yes, there may be individuals who abhorrently go out of their way to abuse others, but anyone can tell you that these people are publicly exposed and are reported online if they partake in abuse.
We are being labelled by people like Jessica Valenti and Anita Sarkeesian as misogynistic, simply because we offer criticism of looking at video games from an identity politics standpoint. Some points made are wholly relevant and I agree with the fact that more diversity is needed in games, but getting there isn’t required through coercion of the market, but by allowing and promoting new developers that will make these games.
Gamergate is not for censorship, it wants to see the video game market flourish with new methods of innovation and new forms of storytelling, as opposed to making everything about politics and wanting to keep everything puritan (see example of Obsidian Games as of late). No one gets to dictate what games should and shouldn’t be made, that is up to the consumer. Enforcing your worldview upon others and in the realms of media / forms of escapism takes away what video games are all about. They are there for entertainment purposes, as a means of escapism, arguably as an art form and even to aid with one’s co-ordination and motor skills, as it certainly has been for my case.
These same arguments have been made for years however, look at Jack Thompson for instance. The same arguments that try to explain how video games / movies cause violence, sexism, rape and murder have all been debunked in the past and many people are getting sick of hearing the same inane and falsifiable logic. It’s not the various media forms which cause people to do these sorts of horrid acts, but rather the individuals themselves because of greater issues such as lack of mental health care, childhood trauma etc.
Different opinions can be scary to some people, but most people who support Gamergate are up for debate on these topics. Many on the opposite side have taken to block bots on Twitter in order to stifle debate and hide in an echo-chamber where only one opinion is heard on the grounds that their idols told them Gamergate is entirely abusive. None are reasonable and ergo there is no reason to talk to them because they are all the same.
In short, Gamergate is a movement dedicate to the consumers of the gaming industry who want to see more transparency from those producing video games and to enshrine an ethical policy in journalism so that consumers know what they are getting into. I’ve been playing video games for 18 years or so now and the last thing I personally want to see is innovation being stifled in the name of censorship. I want more diversity in gaming, I want transparency of these companies, but coercing the world to your ideology is not the way to do it.
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/224400/Gamers_dont_have_to_be_your_audience_Gamers_are_over.php (an example of corrupt journalism in the wake of Gamergate)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2DhaT8-uH0 – Sargon of Akkad on Moviebob (Bob Chipman’s claims)
http://www.gamewatcher.com/news/2015-04-04-obsidian-patch-pillars-of-eternity-with-retroactive-fix-for-stats-censors-controversial-limerick – Obsidian Games controversy lately