#GamerGate

So, I’ve been trying to catch up on the whole #GamerGate thing since it hit Utah so hard recently with the death threats against speaker Anita Sarkeesian at Utah State University recently.

Coverage on all the local networks brought it to the front, and I was exposed to the hashtag “GamerGate” in more than just passing fashion.

So I did what we do in today’s society: I googled it.

Holy cow: there are a LOT of moving parts to this thing.

Allow me to interrupt myself at this point and say that the following paragraphs are for summation and logical discussion. If you want to see my opinions/conclusions in DoD-approved bullet format, get to the bottom of the post.

Mostly what I got was a re-hashing of the alleged sexual contact between a female game developer, Zoe Quinn, and a gaming journalist, possibly for positive game reviews of a text-based game called “Depression Quest.” The fact that the allegation was lobbed by an ex of hers, well, that should have been a red flag for everyone. Here’s why:

If the first argument you make about someone you are in competition with (in whatever form) is to attack their character as opposed to their product/results/experience, then how much ammunition did you have in the first place? In any other scenario, this mode of attack would have been dismissed as “petty” or “juvenile.”

Why not here? You’d think journalists would try to protect the reputation of one of their own.

Who knows? But regardless, the #GamerGate controversy was on, given its name by none other than actor Adam Baldwin, he of Firefly and Chuck fame. It was, in the beginning, simply a way to call for journalistic integrity in the gaming industry (although maybe we need a #MediaGate campaign against media and politicians, media and big business, etc). It became, through sheer numbers of people (or maybe just a few with a LOT of time on their hands), a “Scarlet #” to hang on people “real” gamers considered inferior, or whiny, or female, or simply NOT MALE ENOUGH to be “real” gamers.

It became, in essence, a license to bully.

Why bully someone over video games?

Video games have always been a man’s arena. Boys played, girls didn’t. That’s just the way it was. Until recently, that is. Women are growing in numbers as gamers, and more women are designing games. Now, those women, growing in both purchasing power and design influence, are trying to clean up the rampant, misogynistic depictions of women in those games.

You know what I’m talking about. Skimpy outfits, big boobs, impossible figures, and in some games, the ability — hell, the encouragement — to rape and beat those women.

Now, if there was a video game that depicted, oh, say, life on a cotton plantation in 1850, and the gamer had to manage the plantation by planning the planting and harvesting season, beating his slaves (for both fun and profit) and raping the female slaves (who would have the added bonus of looking more like Tyra Banks than Mammy), do you think that game would get a “9.3/10” from the gaming magazines?

Do I really need to say it?

So, obviously, today’s growing population of female gamers and developers would like to see these uses and depictions of females corrected. Is that really too much to ask?

Apparently, for some people, yes.

So now we have death threats against women speaking on the subject, campaigns against women developers based on nothing but hearsay, and a whole industry in a tizzy because men like to look at women.

Well, we do. But guess what? 99% of people, if presented with a game that didn’t have those depictions of women, but offered a great story and outstanding gameplay, wouldn’t care how the women looked, and they would play anyway.

Those people are called gamers. The other 1%, those who howl about people leaving their games alone? They would stop playing in some sort of protest.

Those are not gamers. They play games, of course, but they’re not gamers. Gamers want to get together and have a good time, to have a gaming experience that is entertaining, challenging, and enjoyable.

They also don’t care who else comes to play, as long as they share their passion, and, if in a multiplayer setting, don’t get the party fucking killed.

Gamers, real gamers, are a welcoming bunch.

So again, why bully over video games?

Maybe, and I’m speculating here, the ones trying to keep women out of the gaming industry and gameplay are simply scared that their own positions might be lost to them. And it’s a valid point. If your work isn’t as good as someone else’s, shouldn’t you lose your position to that person?

Now, some of them may also feel that in this era of Political Correctness gone wild (and it has folks, admit it), that some women might be given advantages over men just to make a company or social cause look good. Again, it is a valid concern.

However, I would hazard a guess that most women moving up in the gaming industry are getting there because they’re good at what they do.

Now I know more about what #GamerGate is supposed to be about. I also know more about what has grown up around it and inside it, both good and bad. This doesn’t even get into the discussion of what the definition of a “game” really is, as evidence by the Zoe Quinn episode.

And here are those bullet-points I promised you:

– I am not a gamer. Not anymore, anyway. When I was younger I played, but life and time other interests have supplanted gaming for me. I own a PS3, but it streams movies more than anything else. I haven’t played a video game in anger in years. I’ve toyed with a couple, but frankly, that’s just not my lifestyle. I appreciate what they can do with them, however. Wow, what they can do.

– #GamerGate is meant to demand journalistic integrity in the gaming industry, meaning games would be designed/built/rated based on their merits.

– #GamerGate has been glommed on to by other efforts, both worthwhile and antagonistic, in an attempt to either secure press for their cause or to attack female game designers/players.

– If you make a good game, people will play it, whether the female characters are Daphne or Velma. If the game is good, people will play it.

– There will always be men that demean women, and who benefit from being a man in the good-old-boys club.

– There will always be women that demean themselves to try to get ahead on looks rather than talent.

– People need to grow up. All of them. Men need to get off their high horses and admit that women can design damned fine video games. Women need to realize that men want to look at attractive women, and if they design a game, that’s what you’re likely to see (sometimes taken to ridiculous and unrealistic extremes). Does that mean you have to like it? Hell, no! And if demand drops for games that use that as a primary selling point, so will the instances of it. But you will never eradicate it completely. It’s just not going to happen. Sorry, but it’s true.

So, thanks to my daughter (gamer, cosplayer, geek) for talking with me about this as I tried to figure it out, and for giving me a thumbs-up on this post.

And remember the old adage, gamers: “Jesus saves, and so should you.”

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