#GamerGate from a Gamer’s Perspective
I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while. If you don’t know me, I have a very “heal and forgive” mentality so it’s actually particularly difficult for me to see the entrenched, motionless, culture war stalemate that is the gaming industry right now. So I suppose this is my appeal to the anti-GG crowd, to Anita Sarkeesian, or anyone else. Progress and dialogue can only happen when we try to understand the opposing side’s point of view, and I sincerely hope there might be some out there who are looking for such.
I began gaming as a kid on Sega Genesis. It was an awesome way to play with my siblings. In high school my friends and I avoided the party scene for religious reasons, and gaming was an alternative way for us to get 16 people together on a Saturday night and play Halo on Xbox LAN parties without ‘morning after’ regret. After high school we all went to different colleges, but we’d make time to stay in touch over internet matches of League of Legends.
Now that we’re all out of college, and married, looking to start families of our own, we can’t get together every weekend but we can put on our headsets and talk about life while we shoot terrorists and defuse bombs in Counter Strike.
As an avid twitch.tv watcher I had mustered up the courage to start a channel of my own in 2014. I had never been interested in Twitter before, but I knew as a streamer I wanted to make one to help build my online presence and build the stream. I began following all my favorite pro-streamers and professional gamers. Twitter started catching on and suggesting who I should follow. Some of the suggestions I took, and one fateful day, I followed the suggestion…Leigh Alexander. If you don’t know who Leigh is she is/was a prominent anti-Gamergate blogger.
I began seeing her tweets about this horrible, terrible group of men called #GamerGate that were apparently doing and saying violent sexist things. I was appalled. Certainly I was against such things, I mean gaming had always been the most inclusive environment I had ever known. Behind a controller or keyboard it didn’t matter if you were black, white, gay, male, female. It didn’t matter how much money you had or background or disability -we were all equals. In the game world none of that ever mattered. And if this GamerGate was trying to ruin that, then I was for ruining them.
But as time went on, the “anti-gg” tweets, especially from Leigh, didn’t make sense. They would say bad things about men in general, or all men, that didn’t sit right. I would ask questions like “As a man who’s completely against sexism and racism, what do you suggest we do?” but they always went unanswered. And more and more things didn’t make sense, and I was completely sidelined. The anti-gg people always talked about being silenced, but they never seemed to have anything to say -except that they we’re being silenced. So one day I decided to see the vile hate mob for myself, I went and searched for all the #GamerGate tweets twitter would show me. And I was stunned.
What I saw, despite what I had been told, was men, women, boys, girls, of every color -gamers like I had always known, saying something about problems with gaming journalism, and defending the right to make and keep games of every kind (yes even the violent ones). I suddenly thought of Galadriel’s line “But they we’re all of them…deceived,” talking about me. The equality, and freedom, and wonderful place where everyone is welcome and anything is possible was indeed under attack, but not by GamerGate.
And this is the part where I’d like to address you Anita, although this also applies to most of the prominent “anti-gg” crowd. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, and say you are completely sincere and want equality in gaming. I really want to. Sometimes I’ll see you on TV in an interview or something, I want to think “We could be friends, maybe she really could be a gamer.” But if you truly are, and want us to believe you, then you need to understand why that’s difficult for us to believe:
So to start, 2010 you start off saying you’re not a gamer, you’re not a fan of video games. So it’s hard to take your word on the state of the gaming community over…the word of the actual gaming community. Next, it’s really really hard to believe you are being genuine because you have never ever let your claims be challenged. You go on Colbert, you go on Nightline, and anywhere that it’s just you and a nodding head agreeing with everything you’re saying. That’s a problem. If you really believe what you claim, you should believe it enough to think it would hold up to scrutiny.
Which brings me to my next point. I don’t believe you are genuinely fighting for equality because your claims don’t hold up to scrutiny from anyone who’s actually played a game. GTAV does let you shoot and run over women. And that’s bad. But it also let’s you shoot and run over 1.5 million men, women, police officers, and do countless other heinous things. So when you come on TV claiming that it’s promoting inequality and violence targeting women, we know you’re lying. We’ll we think you’re lying. The only other possibility is that you just don’t know because you haven’t played it. Either way, we disagree, and we think the former is probably more likely.
And finally, I have to look at what is the outcome, what is there to be gained for you from your claims (you know, the ones that don’t hold up to any scrutiny). Unfortunately, it’s a lot. When you think of people fighting for real, honest, sincere equality and change, fighting “isms” of all kinds -you don’t think about fame, fortune and six-figure salaries. GamerGate has never succeeded in keeping anyone out of gaming as you claim, and even if they could, there is nothing to gain from it. But you have gained from the current situation, quite a lot. A massive amount of money, TV time, fame and support simply based on the claim that you are target and victim of some questionably authentic harassment, and some definitely inaccurate claims about the gaming industry.
So you see the problem? At the very best, giving you all benefit of the doubt, you are a well-meaning, but entirely misguided activist against inequality that doesn’t exist that just so happens to be making a stellar career and small fortune from your incorrect (but well meaning) claims.
Or. At the worst, you are very literally a fraud. You simply saw gaming (which you don’t participate in or know much about) as an easy subject to stir up public outrage, knowingly making inaccurate claims and pretending to be the victim in the name of that almighty dollar and a 30 minute spot on television. Either way, I can’t get behind you on that.
But what I can do, and hopefully many more GG’ers support me in saying this, is dialogue. If you’ll let us. Yes, it is completely wrong when a guy in game tells a female gamer “haha suck mah dick noob”, and in case you didn’t know, that guy also says that to male gamers. And it’s also just as wrong. Things like that, are a very real, valid discussion to have. We may disagree on something about violent video games, GTAV is violent there’s no debating that. But it’s not “inequality targeting females and misogyny” and the list goes on and on. It’s equal opportunity violence.
My point is there are actual real discussions to be had on things like harassment and violent games, some things I’m sure we’ll disagree on, but it’s still a valid discussion. And if you want to get to those valid discussions, you actually have talk to us, and you have to stop forcing the topic of discussion to be fake issues.
If you want real discussion and progress on real issues, if you want healing and compromise and change, then let’s talk about real issues that have basis on fact. If you just want to keep making tons of money off a stalemated culture war that you’re helping to create and fuel, engaging no dissent, weathering no scrutiny, then don’t change a thing. You’re doing that really well.