Lately, the news depresses me. Not only are we dealing with ISIS and Ebola, but we also have this incredibly asinine movement known as Gamergate.
What is Gamergate?
Gamergate is a serious gaming issue that’s less about gaming and more about feminism and women’s rights. Yes, there’re people asking for more ethics in game journalism, but this potentially positive concept is becoming a veil for misogyny.
The ethics of journalism argument is in question as well considering game journalism is an enthusiast press. If these so called forward thinkers of #gamergate want people to think of game journalism as an important piece, they’d essentially need someone like Anderson Cooper or even Conan to review the games. But really, let’s be serious here, the only news in games that should be worthy of being reported on are these few points:
• Industry capital – how much companies are taking in?
• Technological advancements – what new technology is being pushed out?
• Scandals – did Itagaki steal Ninja Gaiden from Miyamoto?
• Equal rights in gaming – oh wait… how did this get here?
Journalism handles large pressing issues. Game reviews are not one of them.
How did this serious gaming issue known as Gamergate start
It all started because a jilted ex-lover of Zoe Quinn posted his angry and petulant rant about why his relationship with Zoe ended. It said that she had a lot of shady business practices and more importantly, she slept with 5 men in the gaming industry to receive better reviews during her relationship with Eron Gjoni (the jilted/petulant/deserving of scorn ex-lover).
Let’s take a moment here to jump ahead. It’s been 3 months, and Zoe Quinn is still getting flak. Where’s the flak for Eron Gjoni being a petulant and horrible human being? Can we talk about how childish this all was? Where’s the scorn for him? Why isn’t he being doxxed?
Oh right. He’s a guy. Let’s jump back now!
The Firestorm Against Women
So Gamergate started and it went nuts. It tagged back in on the “shady tactics” of Zoe Quinn, and this group known as the Fine Young Capitalists (TFYC) came out saying that Zoe destroyed them because it would be against her own Rebel Jam.
TFYC is this radical feminist group that shared its story, which fueled more hatred toward Zoe. They then took money donated by 4chan users to create a female avatar for an upcoming game called Vivian James (a play on vidya games). Vivian James is supposed to be this cool and normal girl who just wants to play games. She doesn’t want to cause drama and talk about how she’s a girl when she plays games. She just wants to play games.
Opinion moment: When thinking of 4chan, I definitely don’t think of feminists.
These users start going by the term #gamergate (created on 4chan – link to Arstechnica), and some #gamergate affiliates begin to harass Zoe Quinn with misogynistic slurs. They even begin calling her family and friends. They threaten her with rape and murder.
Let’s take another moment here to recap. Girl allegedly cheats on her boyfriend for better reviews. She also allegedly has bad business practices. People threaten to rape and murder her.
Returning to the story. Some press begin to pick sides. You have press that calls #gamergate misogynistic, and you have people saying that Zoe Quinn did bad. At no time, do they condone the repeated threats, and all decry it.
Edit – Addition:
Kotaku addresses the Zoe Quinn’s favorable reviews for sexual favors and shows in a timeline as well as an example of journalistic integrity that it did not happen. Still out about Zoe’s business practices, although it’s on no similar scale to start threaten their lives and well being for it. Decry them, sure. Threaten them, no.
Time passes, and more women are drawn into the fire. You have feminist youtube critic Anita Sarkeesian pulled into it and doxxed. Anita Sarkeesian analyzes and critiques companies, products, and movements using her own understanding of feminism. She presents these videos on youtube for people to view.
Opinion time: I’ve only seen one video of hers – the Lego one, and I do think that yes – Lego could add some more “female” products in the grey tone, but I also know that quite a few girls/women actually like the color purple and want “girly” things. I don’t know why people got so upset with her Kickstarter though to promote her videos.
Returning to the story: Anita Sarkeesian was to present at Utah State University, but she canceled when both she and the school received a mass shooting threat if she were to present.
More people joined the #gamergate following because of Leigh Alexander’s (of Gamasutra) article about how “Gamers are Over.” In it, she talks about how the term “gamers” should no longer be used because people are no longer being defined by single terms. People took offense and felt that their identity was being attacked.
Recently, Felicia Day was asked about her opinion on the situation. She merely commented about how female gamers were being treated, and that she was afraid (link to Felicia Day’s post). Hours after that, she was doxxed.
Chris Kluwe wrote an essay of vitriol aimed at #gamergate where he expresses his anger at these “gamers” who are harassing women and mad that their media is being “culturally appropriated.” He believes that this (edit: cultural appropriation) is a victory for everyone especially gamers because games are finally becoming something that everyone can enjoy. He finds that instead, these gamers are afraid of some kind of new world order, and that they’re losing their identities.
As far as I know, Chris Kluwe has not been doxxed.
A brief opinion on these last 3 people. I don’t really know any of Leigh Alexander’s other writing, but she does seem to say some crazy things online. I am not a big fan of that weird “gamer” craze circling around Felicia Day. It also made me feel weird to know that people support someone solely based off of a single “hobby” – and this goes for people who are madly in love with bands, actors, athletes, etc. I had no idea who Chris Kluwe was until I read his article, and I thought, man – this is going to piss off more people. HILARIOUS though.
What I think about this Gamergate Gaming Issue
I spoke with a bunch of friends and coworkers about this the past few months to really get an idea on these things. I really do dislike and disagree when a gaming site puts in some kind of political perspective into a review that lowers a game’s score. But I do believe that they have an absolute right to do so, and that happens to be their opinions, which I respect.
I brought up Polygon’s review of Bayonetta 2 to my coworker to see what she thought. She said that she was offended by the overly-sexualized character and would not play the game. However, it’s absolutely within people’s right to do so. I asked her if she thought in the future, games like Bayonetta would exist. She said that it could, but much like how blaxploitation films no longer are made, similarly, these types of hyper-sexualized games will also fade.
I thought that was a great parallel. I don’t exactly know if there will ever be a time when games will not feature sexy women or men, but I do think that what is considered sexualization will change in many ways – both good and bad for feminism.
Overall, I think it’s two major points: don’t limit your identity to a single modifier, and there is plenty of room for you to allow a different opinion.
A Multi-Faceted Person
I’m not a Chinese-American. I am not a person of this universe. I am not a gamer. I am not an artist. I am not an art-aficionado. I am not a foodie/glutton. I am not an exercise-junkie. I am not a Disney fanatic. I am not an anime watcher. I am not a coder. I am not a designer. I am not a married man.
I”m a Chinese-American, gamer, artist, glutton, Disney fanatic, anime watcher, coder, art-aficionado, exercise-junkie, designer, married man, person of this universe and more.
Think of Others
There’s enough room to always keep in mind other concepts. You may not agree with them, but they should be there to help open your mind. And always, if you don’t like the game – don’t play it. If you don’t like the person, don’t support them. If you don’t like the article, don’t read it. You have the power to make change by not supporting them. You can even voice it in proper ways. Let people know you don’t support them because you think they’re unfair and have bad journalistic practices. Find a new hashtag to use. But the fact that some #gamergaters are threatening with rape and murder edit: and revealing private informationis just absolutely horrendous. That isn’t freedom of speech. That is hate speech.