Author Edit: Full honesty, I wrote this as a weekly post for a class. Looking back on it, I cringe at the over-simplification and over-looking of some pretty major aspects of this issue. My feelings and thoughts about this aren’t as one dimensional anymore, and I’m happy to discuss it with anyone. But this post is no longer a conclusive or accurate description of my outlook.
I love video games with a passion. There’s nothing I want to do more than lose myself in the game industry. Nothing. I’ll take anyone on if they doubt my dedication to the medium. But it’s the love I have that gives me the ability to not take it seriously. I understand that video games are a damn art form. But they, like movies and paintings, aren’t a matter of life and death. They aren’t a field for hard-hitting investigative journalism (mostly).
The idea of “ethics” in a wholly subjective medium that typically revolves around, “Should I buy this?” is strange. Disclosure is absolutely necessary– FCC regulations exist for a reason and readers don’t want their content to be transformed into native advertising. I understand and want that too; that’s as black and white as it gets. “We want legitimate writings, not decorated ads.” Understandable, right?
That being said, it’s certainly not worth the spite directed towards organizations like IGN. Criticize them, sure. But I’d hardly consider the issue of #gamergate worth the militant attitudes and unrepentant hate without any clear goal other than a vague call for “ethics.” However, this bites into the argument that I’ve absolutely despised– #gamergate is just another vehicle for gamers (who are also “dead” because of reasons) to harass indie developers/women/people who are alive.
It’s this weirdly annoying arena where game hotheads call out “SJWs,” corporations, and women as being professional victims and such and twitter hotheads call out gamers for death and rape threats and such. The problem with this stupid battle is that the two never clash– they draw in the moderate crowds on both side (gamers who want more disclosure and people who feel like there are some issues that need to be addressed in gaming culture) and make it impossible for the two to hold any kind of discourse.
Totalbiscuit’s blog post about this was one of the few responses I actually looked into– two parts in particular stick out.
I firmly believe that focusing on the minority perpetrating harassment and abuse will perpetuate more of it and give them the power and attention they so crave. The media, either mainstream or gaming does not seem to agree with me on that one and keeps hammering out article after article after article on harassment. Does it help? Has it done anything what-so-ever to slow down the #Gamergate hashtag? Has it done anything to reduce online abuse? If it has I’ve seen no evidence of any of those things. Gamergate associated boards and subreddits continue to grow, the hashtag continues to go strong long after futile slacktivist efforts to kill it such as #stopgamergate2014 have imploded and gone away. Why you might ask? We wrote so many articles condemning harassment, why isn’t Gamergate going away?
Because you are peddling a one-sided narrative.
Additionally, in reference to mainstream media:
You gave them the mainstream media on a silver platter, you failed to learn the classic lesson about the internet, that you do NOT feed the trolls. I condemn harassment in all its forms and in whatever name it is perpetrated. I don’t believe condemning it does anything, but I’ll do it anyway just to reaffirm my stance, which by the way should be assumed as being the default position of a reasonable human-being.
When gamers get called “dead” or “the worst community” or get written off as perpetrators of death threats, all opportunities for discussion are quashed. It inflames the community as a whole– if one calls out a minority within a group as the whole group, it erases the responsibility of the minority for their actions and falsely labels the majority as the minority.
The main point of all of this is that every bit of this incident has been terrible. Every response from every side has sucked. The only solution for all of this is calm, rational addressing of the issue. “Here’s our policies, here’s how we enforce them.” instead of, “The internet is a jerk, we won’t say anything else!” The issue isn’t about whether or not a reviewer grabs a bottle of water in the middle of a convention (shoutsout to Greg Miller) but the relationship between parties. That small bit has been overswept by the sea of twitter trolls, which is just disappointing.
It’s a damn shame every avenue for discussion has been blocked by both sides: you’ve got a wall with one side yelling, “SHILLS!” on one side and the other yelling, “HARASSERS!” without either paying attention to everyone else not banging on the Berlin Wall of Gaming.
Harassment is bad. Failing to include relevant information is bad.
The fact that both happen does not nullify the importance of issues within our community. If this big a mess has been made, maybe we should just talk about it. 1v1 Final Destination Fox Only No Items this whole issue and move on to a better level.
That last sentence was something that’d be on a CNN article about #GAMERGATE. I’m sorry.