Do not go gentle into that good night
Gamers should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
– Dylan Thomas, slightly edited
#GamerGate began quite awhile ago, by the standards of pretty much any justice movement online – several months of intense misdirection, false claims, defensive reactions and hatred at being called out for poor behavior and a lapse of journalistic integrity have not gone unnoticed, and I’m here, today, to tell you that this is not the end, but merely the beginning.
For those who missed what #GamerGate is all about, a vaguely brief overview is simply that gaming journalism, for quite some time, has been backing itself into a corner. Accepting free copies of games from studios to review by promising to give a good review, whether it was deserving or not, being given favours under the table, or simply being good friends with developers and giving favoured treatment where there was a conflict of interest were only some of the issues that gaming journalism had.
Worse, was the financial issue: with the crash of the dotcoms over a decade preceding the #GamerGate scandal, ad revenue for these sites plummeted. No longer could a gaming journalist afford to play a game for more than 15-20 minutes before writing an article and hope to get paid adequately for their time, and so it came to be that quality journalism had to suffer.
Under these conditions, gaming journalism found a new way to support itself: clickbait.
Rather than provide useful commentary about which games were worth buying based upon gameplay, story elements, character design, replayability and so on, the journalists found that all one had to do in order to get a million views was to enrage the population with wild, baseless accusations against their very own readers. We were drawn like moths to the flamebait, one thousand voices or more at a time in angry protest over being called vile misogynists or neckbeards, needing to tell them how wrong they were… except they already knew. That was the whole point.
Gaming journalism simply wasn’t profitable any longer. It just didn’t pay the bills to tell the world which games were worth buying, or to spend several weeks playing an MMO before being able to provide it a detailed review. The key was in pissing off as many people as possible, as often as possible, in as short of a time as possible.
Somewhere, in the back of our collective consciousness, we knew what was happening, and we knew why. We knew that it had become festering with a black rot, that the very foundation of why gaming journalism even existed had been lost. We knew, but it was a quiet thing, resting peacefully in the back of the mind, ever present, yet little more than a gentle snore now and then.
And then, everything changed.
The sleeping giant awoke, and we found that it had grown to a formidable beast during its slumber. All it had taken was the hard evidence of a single case, a single example where a journalist had traded a good review for a blatantly bad game in exchange for sexual favours. A single drop in the ocean of tears that had been shed over such matters before.
This time it was different, though. It began with the standard protests as it always had, and should have ended there. To fire those involved, to brush it off as a mistake, to simply apologize. So many things could have been done to prevent the tsunami which erupted, but that’s not what happened.
Instead, it was covered up, brushed under the rug, and anyone who pointed out trading sexual favours for a good review defeated the purpose of giving a review in the first place was attempted to be silenced and shunned, accused of hating women or their sexuality.
It didn’t work.
The fact of the matter is, the giant had been nudged awake, and likely would have rolled over and gone back to sleep in our metaphorical representation of the collective gamer population’s anger. It would have quieted down with little more than a gentle lullaby comprised of simple placations and empty promises for reform.
Instead, the gaming press poked at it with pitchforks and yelled at it to stop snoring so loudly, and thus the beast arose to the mighty din with a roar of pitched anger, and still, the press threw pebbles at it, tried to direct it to damsels tied to posts, with cries of equality, assuming it would be too stupid to notice the blatant bait and switch used upon it.
Unfortunately for the press, this isn’t what happened. The beast that was #GamerGate saw through the flimsy attempts at obfuscation and misdirection, and barreled straight for them anyway.
We stand, now, in the wake of the giant – it still barrels past all that those who awoke it throw in its way, yet they are on the retreat, losing ground with every step it takes, and with each new attempt to dissuade it, the rage it feels only grows.
Behind the path of destruction, lies the calm after the storm. An eerie silence which permeates the air, and there are those with vision who have seen what a lush paradise has been left behind by those who have set off in terror.
This is the beginning of a new age of gaming journalism, you see. We have uncovered the ruins of what once was, and learned the lessons of those who came before us. We see, now, that the purpose of the journalist is not to justify their own existence with a paycheque, but rather, to provide a service and be granted recompense only by fulfilling that service.
The service which was always meant to be provided was to let gamers know which games were worth playing, and which were not worth spending the time and money on. As a gaming journalist myself, and as an Editor for 20oz, I will state flat out that it’s not our job to tell people whether they should be enraged at cleavage in a game, nor is it our job to tell the player what they should or should not enjoy. It is our job only to report what factors are there, so that our readers can make up their own mind over whether they want to play the game in question or not.
It is most certainly not any journalist’s job to tell anyone that their culture is dead, or that they’re horrible people. We exist to report what is, not to guess at what might be, nor to try to make what we want to be reality, regardless of whether people agree with us or not. We simply get the facts, and report them. Preferably with a touch of personality to go along with such.
You see, the gamer isn’t dead; we have always been here, since the days of the console wars, since Mario fought Sonic, since the days of the Atari and the Commodore 64, since the long forgotten night of the arcade machine, and this is not about to harm us nor deter us. If anything, #GamerGate has provided us room to grow, with dozens of new websites and content providers springing up all around, eager to fill the niches we have noticed go empty. Strong minds and hearts toil away, even as I write this now, to provide what should have been.
I, as the writer of this article, am a bisexual, transgendered woman of Lithuanian descent who is legally blind. I’ve worked as a writer, a manager, a concept artist, a 3D modeler, and as a designer for several game design companies, and I am both a gamer and #NotYourShield. I am the very poster-child of what Anti-GG claims to stand for, and have found them wanting.
I support #GamerGate, because I believe in journalistic integrity, because I care about gaming, and because I care about equality, rather than the Animal Farm-esque “some are more equal than others” brand of “equality” that the opposition has touted around.
I’m here because, like so many others, I’ve seen an opportunity to become part of the solution. Were it not for #GamerGate, I would not have felt the need to lend my support 20oz at all in the first place, and you would not be laying eyes upon this text at this very moment.
The gamer lives on in all of us, because we say it lives on. We will not be told our identity is dead, nor that we are “evil” by bullying tactics and ad hominem attacks. We will persevere, and they will never break us. If we survived the barrens run of WoW, the voice chat of XBox Live or CoD, and the forums of League of Legends, what makes them think they even hold anything in their verbal arsenal that could harm us anyway?
And so, dear gamers, game on, and let us go out this evening for pleasure. The night is still young.