I don’t actually fall into either of your categories. Rather than be part of an increasingly incendiary us and them conflict, I am neither for nor against GamerGate.
[PixieJenni note: put this in both the pro and anti sections so all ‘sides’ can see it, it was hard to pick a category!]
The problem for me is that GamerGate (which I am not taking as Baldwin’s coining of the phrase, I am taking as the culmination of a couple of years of building tensions) is an incredibly confused movement that faces a huge uphill battle to be treated legitimately. If we look at the positive side of GamerGate, there are two facets:
1) We want transparency in media
2) We are a diverse and inclusive population of people (where I am treating NotYourShield as part of this movement)
These messages are good.
Unfortunately, from the outside, there is almost a Sinn Fein / Hamas situation (or even Britiain First / UKIP). There is a political arm striving for recognition but it is underpinned by a vitriolic military/extreme streak. Where that reads similar to some statements from the journalistic side which were akin to “these guys are terrorists”, this is not the case. If you read any of this and come out with “we have been called terrorists” then you are wrong. Without question.
GamerGate has been trying to distance themselves from the questionable side of the movement to gain legitimacy. Nothing wrong there. Unfortunately, the questionable side are more than happy to carry on under the banner of GamerGate as it suits an agenda. There has been a distancing from voices on places like 4chan and unencyclopediadramatica but it is all lumped into the same mess. Look at the foundations of propaganda icon Vivien James, where some are downright abusive, where some are idealistic, where some want to take down the SJW’s, where some are loving donating to “buttcancer” to retain a higher morale ground (wonderful result, by the way, but a bit like Westboro Baptist Church giving to an LGBT charity to say “oh hey, we’re ok so you can shut up now”), where some are slapping down the idiotic conspiracy theorists, some chipping in to decry the tin hat brigade and extremists.
It is a fucking mess, a cherry pickers delight on both sides. BUT it all goes under the unifying source of GamerGate. Think of it as a wonderful pure looking river that has had a leaking barrel of toxic waste plonked further up at the source. No wonder there is an inclination to distrust this – we can use diversity to stop the SJW’s, we can use charity to look good, let us support anything that we can use against SJW’s, we can beat all their arguments if we do this. You can’t just say “well, we aren’t about that no, we’re not part of them”. With GamerGate comes all of this. 100%.
Obviously, it should go without saying here that this is not a sweeping statement that EVERYONE in GamerGate is fingerpointed as one of these black marks. It should go without saying. But it needs to be said, sadly.
As gamers, we’ve all known about the rather undesirable populous that exists. Those who only wish to see their views represented and will fight tooth and nail to see anything contrary to that suffocated. The press made an attempt to highlight these people, but got it totally wrong. Their pieces attacking “the gamer” was directed at the nasties in the world. I didn’t read anything they said and think “that is about me, a gamer”. It went without saying. It should have gone without saying. Unfortunately, by painting a picture at “typical single angry male nerd”, they got it wrong. The truth is that it isn’t typical single angry male nerds, it could be anyone, from any background. Christ, it extends outside of the gaming world.
Rather than think “does this apply to me?”, the reaction was actually something you can look back at and expect. Gamers are constantly under attack. Mainstream media and society has a particularly dim view, “your hobby is pointless,” “your games cause violence and shootings.” When the people who we see as being on our side seemingly join this mentality (even though these outlets are enthusiast gamers themselves), then of course there is this reaction.
I see why GamerGate sparked into life in this respect, I think it is misguided and I can’t throw support against something that didn’t slight me. But I understand why this is happening.
Outside of the drive for transparency, there is an alternative agenda – the drive to remove social commentary from games journalism. This is being paraded under the banner of objectivity but is essentially a case of “stop portraying this views I do no agree with”. This directly contravenes the GamerGate ideal of inclusivity and diversity. Shouting down the voices. Gaming media tackles a huge array of social commentaries, and they approach it not in a “this must be censored, this is the truth” approach, it is in a “here is a thought” approach. This is fine. I’ve seen some pieces that have gone well wide of the mark and I treat each and every piece on individual merit. If I think that it is misguided, I don’t take to the internet to shout it down, to shout the author down, to demand that this is never brought up again, close the sites.
Here, again, is where the negative agenda of GamerGate sparks into life. People want to attack, people want firings, people want to see things burn. How can you take this seriously? Often, it feels like people are scrabbling around to find something, anything, to attack a selection of key targets in this industry – namely social commenters, websites that have social commentary that does not subscribe to the perception of what should be allowed to be covered, smaller developers. The entire Jenn Frank debacle was embarrassing, being harassed (and we are taking harassment with collections of hashtag activated masses waving “proof” and “facts”, demanding that a viewpoint that is not in direct support of GamerGate justify themselves). Reading how the “very bad article” was actually subject to a huge amount of moderation, a COI considered, passed through the legal teams of a incredibly reputable 200 year old paper is saddening. The internet had decided that it was not ethical, not transparent, was wrong and needed to be brought to justice. By the time this comes to light, people are over it, onto the new target and there is apparently NO discussion on it whatsoever. Why was the spotlight then not turned around? “we were wrong but that doesn’t matter, look at all these other points now.”
This is similar to the current Zoe Quinn “has she donated?” furore over Depression Quest. Is there any truth here? Christ knows, all I see are people digging for weapons to attack with, presented with victory, only to be rebuffed. It’s like anybody under question is suddenly living the life of Luke Skywalker undergoing blaster deflection training, except there are 500 attack drones all firing live rounds. And THIS is the reason mainstream media is not covering anything. There is no truth. All we have is a huge mess of information, absolutely none of verified in the process of looking for wins. No surprise nobody credible outside of the more extreme agenda media outlets are picking this up. They’d be laughed out of town. They cannot run with any of this.
Unfortunately, there is no chance to actually sit back to actually review what is going on. There is a scrabble to attack anyone seen as “bad” and anything that says anything vaguely contrary to “GamerGate is right and here are all the things they have found out” gets decried with “bias”, “generic fallacy”, “confirmation bias”, “where are your facts?” I have no idea why the outlets, youtube channels, leaks are being subjected to the same ethics and transparency demands that these entities are. Who are you? What is your history? Do you have any agenda bias? I have absolutely no reason to trust what is being brought to light. For the solid facts that are brought to light, there have been more than enough (dismissed) rebuffs. I’m thinking of the way Rab Florence’s RockPaperShotgun piece on Max Temkin is being highlighted as contemptuous in the face of John Walker saying that personal life gossip will not being comment on. Rab actually had to take to twitter to describe the difference between something that is based on an official press release (“Hi guys, these are the facts, report on them”) and a gossip blog / situation that makes Tetsuo’s final form in Akira look like an organised and controlled evolution of a human being. Yet this is what is happening. Scrabbling for material to attack with, discredit anyone and anything that is against, bolster and support anything that is for. Which some might term as subjectivity.
As such, I have no idea what to read into with the entire IGF expose. Is it real? Can I trust these people, these youtubers, these sudden flag bearers who are bringing it to life? Perhaps RockPaperShotgun’s look into the clique of the Indie scene a couple of years ago may be a good place to start. Except it is RockPaperShotgun and is sourced by people who would be termed as SJW supporters. A rather sad byproduct of “good news” vs “bad news” that has popped up.
So here we are, while the fire of GamerGate is going on, I cannot put myself behind it at all. For all the good that it is flying as its main objectives, there is the undercurrent of confused aims, the poisonous streak that wish to sweep in their manifesto of bringing key figures down and stifling social viewpoints contrary to their own subjective ideals, the constant hearsay and gossip masquerading as fact, the environment where people are demanding to be listened to but will not listen to anything other than unequivocal support for GamerGate. Until the fires die down, the salient points come to the fore, the regressive negative element is stifled, then nothing will happen. The only thing that will happen is the shutting of channels. The huge publishers won’t engage, no chance, although they are seemingly free from any sort of transparency scrutiny. Media is already abandoning communication bar any who see fit to align it to an agenda, such as Milo Yannopolis (his misfiring “Jennifer Law is to blame for her leaked pictures” article was nice, with the “I suppose I’ll be told this is victim blaming” / “Jlaw – hotter in clothes than out of them – discuss” / ” She’s hot, in an I’ll-let-you-put-it-anywhere kind of way” combo over twitter – so I will be fully expecting the Anita Sarkeesian inquiry of “how much of a gamer are you?” any second now, starting at his “the fact that I didn’t care much for video games”). Most importantly is that gamers are now being pitted against gamers. That is not unifying, it is destructive. Still, if you like to see things burn for lols, then this is a cracking win.
So what needs to happen?
GamerGate needs to die down and the tin hat stuff stop. At this point, things can be examined and conclusions drawn. They might not be conclusions want but the fevered nonsense will be stripped away leaving only the reasonable matter. I’ve seen people denounce The Escapist’s ethics review as more media lies, I’ve seen a pro-GamerGate gamejam mistakenly accused of trying to dilute the message. This is a complete mess.
Ethics and transparency. This is certainly a good thing, developers, media outlets welcome this. It can’t be talked about right now as there is the mentality of “support what we say or you are wrong”. Also, the same ethics and transparency needs to be shone on those who have risen to prominence over the last few weeks. I’ve got involved in this, been snarky, had some actually decent conversations with people who are like “we just don’t want to be slandered and have our voices listened to”. This is good stuff, the former needs to happen though.
Inclusivity and social commentary. These are both wonderful things and go hand in hand. We want everyone to be part of gaming and we want to strive to constantly make things better (not censor). All topics for discussion welcome, all commentary welcome, all game types welcome. The nasty individuals must learn that they will not get their way. THAT is GamerGate right there.
Is that happening? Hit the forums, hit the hashtag and get your answers.
I write this as a final take as I go away to wait for this all evolve into something sensible. I fully expect to have this examined to the minuscule detail, for *something* to be found which means any sentiment can be stuck off with a debunk, dismissal. Which is sad, and the fact that I feel I have to conclude with a defense is a sad symptom of the entire environment.
I am not for or against GamerGate. I am for positive people, wonderful games and progressive thinking.