Hey look, Gamergate opinion.
So, last month I wrote a long screedy article about GamerGate, focusing on the appropriation of the Gamer identity. There I said a lot of things about the people doing this misogynistic crap. I called them shit-golems. I’d like to apologise for not going far enough.
Any large group of people has those who believe they are the heart, but are actually the bowels. The people who you cringe when they open their collective vocal-hole, because they’re going to say something awful, and are going to say it on behalf of you too.
But it’s the responsibility of the sane majority to denounce them. It’s the responsibility of the Christian church to denounce the Westboro Church, it’s the responsibility of feminists to denounce TERFs, it’s the responsibly of the group to denounce the lunatic fringe.
Not all of the people involved in GamerGate are the lunatic fringe. Some are asking important questions about the relationship between gaming magazines and PR departments. About well-lubricated “awards ceremonies” that reward not shaking the boat. About PR companies like Play Social, who – this week – released review copies of Shadows over Mordor only to those Youtubers/Twitchers who signed a contract that promised only to concentrate on positive aspects of the game, and the ones the company talked about. About having a game go gold in September, but not give review copies out for its launch in mid-october, to maximise the amount of time before any reviews come out. There are *absolutely* massive problems of accountability and integrity in the gaming industry.
Zoe Quinn isn’t part of it, though. The original accusation – that she slept with journalists in return for publicity for her game – doesn’t match any timelines, any existing articles, or any actual proof. It’s almost as if the reporter in question recused himself from talking about anything his current partner was involved with.
A side effect of Gaming’s original central market segment being teenage boys is that a lot of the founding tropes of the industry are built on quarter-century-old male empowerment fantasies. As the industry grows up, and out, we need to sweep out some of those cobwebs, and one of the people who is shining a light in those dark places is Anita Sarkeesian, who this week cancelled an appearance in Utah because someone promised that a “Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees”.
That’s not against corruption in gaming, that’s making people terrified enough that people don’t feel safe speaking. It’s literally terrorism.
And those people are taking anything that is *worthy* about a discussion on the morally grey areas of the industry and smothering it with so much bullshit that nobody outside can see anything else.
But when someone writes an article criticising this part of GamerGate – the bit that is targeting women for speaking out and sending them death threats – the comments that come back are how everyone always focuses on those people and not the real issue.
When someone in your organisation is making terrorist threats, I’m sorry but that *is* the real issue now. Anything about ethical questions in the gaming industry is overshadowed by ethical questions about standing beside, and protecting, the lunatic fringe who believes they should “Just Kill” Zoe Quinn. If you want to talk about serious issues, you need to house-clean first.