GamerGate: One Man’s Response to One Woman’s Journey

This editorial is a response to the article by Sara Benincasa, “GamerGate: One Woman’s Journey into Fear and Loathing in Video Games“.  It is the opinion of the author, and it’s views do not reflect those of Twenty.oz.

First up Sara, I would like to disagree with you.  You are brave.  Bravery is defined as standing up to something even though you are afraid.  That being said, you did a remarkably fair look at #GamerGate from the outside, and that takes a lot of courage, especially considering how those who have taken one side or another have been treated.  And that goes for both sides.

But there aren’t two sides to this.  There is Pro-GG, and Anti-GG, yes, but there is also a third side.  On both the pro and anti side we have seen the toxic minority.  There are toxic individuals in every ideology.  But what about that third side?  We have heard of this side, a side which a phrase from a recent movie is attached.  That third side is those who just want to watch the world burn.  They don’t care about either side.  They just want to pour gasoline on the fire and make it burn.  This is the source of most of the hatred and bile that is coming out, at least the hate that is pointed against the Anti side.

You talked about how you never felt any pressure to leave gaming.  At least not from men.  You felt pressure from women, not direct pressure, but peer pressure to fit in.  Men would have never chased you out of gaming.  We have no reason to.  Gaming is an identity you choose, and at the time you were growing up, it was one you chose with a cost.  When you chose it, you were ostracized.  In the 80’s gamers of the tabletop variety had to deal with the conservative Patricia Pulling and the Mothers Against D&D, with the whole spiel that they were satanic and caused suicide, despite the evidence to the contrary.  She was accepted, and the FBI even used her as a source for a while.  In the 90’s it was the conservative Jack Thompson and the violence in video games that it caused, once again despite evidence to the contrary.  He was laughed at, and later disbarred.  Now we have the liberal Sarkeesian telling everyone that video games cause sexism, despite no evidence at all.  And we have people taking her seriously.  Notice a trend?  It’s not the political side, as we have a liberal and a conservative both being listened to.  We only listen to the women, even when they are wrong or their claims are unfounded.

As many of the women, and the LGBT people in GamerGate can tell you, gaming culture IS inclusive.  The only thing we ask is that you love games, and keep politics out of it.  Think back to your time in gaming, do you remember any politics?  Do you remember anyone trying to force them down your throat either in the game, or in the journalism about them?  Of course not.  They wouldn’t have been accepted, and now they are just plain toxic.  Not just that, they are attacking the industry itself, and I will get into that more later.

But what of the two sides themselves?  We have one side saying it is about journalistic ethics, a corrupt journalism industry and ideologies infiltrating their culture.  And the other side says it’s about harassing and pushing women out.  The other side has presented it’s evidence that it is right, but all they have shown us is that some women, outspoken ones with controversial opinions or questionable attitudes, have been criticized and harassed.  As any investigative journalist will tell you, those who talk about controversial things are bound to get hate.  We will get back to the validity of such hate later, but for now, let’s look back at the other side.  The discussion in the media has been largely on the harassment, and dismissal of the corruption talk.  Why?  What are the journalists so afraid to talk about?  If there is no corruption, no collusion, no directed PR narrative, why won’t they talk about it?  Why won’t they just admit they slipped up, make a code of ethics, and go forward?  Why are they so defensive to talking about this?  To put it bluntly, what are they hiding from?

Now, back to the harassment.  We know the people doing it are toxic.  But what proof do we have that they are part of GG?  We have the word of those who are attacked.  And no evidence.  The thing is, look at a couple things in the timeline.  Certain things seem very convenient.  Quinn gets threats.  She gets publicity.  Sarkeesian gets threats.  She gets publicity, and a new video comes out.  Wu gets threats, after poking the hornet’s nest herself.  Wu gets publicity.  Sarkeesian gets threats.  She gets more publicity.  Notice a trend?  It’s like they are trying to one up each other, and one of them can’t stand to lose.  Here’s a couple things to consider: Many of the threats against Sarkeesian are, at best, questionable.  The ones that made her leave her home were all done in a span of 3 minutes, and they were screen shotted 12 seconds after the last tweet was sent.  Convenient that the last one was done when the screen shot was taken, and so close after the last one.  The latest threat at the university, the FBI terror division investigated and found that there was NO REASON to be worried.  She cancelled her talk all on her own, despite police, university and even FBI assuring everyone that things would be safe.

At least you had the courage to stand up to your demon.  Of course, that is assuming there actually WAS a demon chasing Sarkeesian.  There is a reason the GamerGate side is demanding an investigation into the threats at the university AND a reward is offered to anyone giving information leading to the arrest of the person.  But you don’t hear about that in the media, do you?  You also don’t hear about the scourge of fake accounts made by a Brazilian journalist to promote his own site, using both pro and anti GG tags, harassing people of both sides and Sarkeesian mostly.  And you don’t hear that GG folks have been shutting them down with Twitter as fast as they can.  All of this, protecting Sarkeesian.

So, back to why we want politics out of gaming.  Gaming, as you probably remember, is an escape from the real world.  It is your own magical little place where you can go to avoid the troubles and crap in the real world.  And inserting politics into games destroys that.  Sure, you can have politics well hidden in games, and that’s fine.  You can also talk about things from a political standpoint, but to use that as a criteria for making reviews, that is just dishonest and hateful towards the developers.  Gaming is very inclusive.  We have all ranges of the political spectrum, all ranges of race, sex, and sexual orientation.  As such, on the topic of politics, there is simply no consensus, despite what media sources lately tell you.  As such, while one gamer may think Republicans are terrible, another may think they are doing the right thing.  So we keep politics out of gaming.  More than just that, when the politics interfere with the review, like the recent Bayonetta 2 review, it becomes hateful towards the developers.  What you may not know is that many developers give bonuses to their teams based on the meta-critic score a game receives.  So a poor review can compromise this.  While I think that is a terrible thing for a company to do to it’s employees, it is just as bad for those who are part of the system to abuse it to punish those they don’t agree with politically.  And this is what is happening.  Groups of ideologues are colluding in mailing lists, deciding what lives and what dies based on their own moral compass, ignoring the people who actually play the games.

This is what we are opposed to.  Yes, there are a few toxic people in our midst, but we do our best to stop them when we can.  What has the anti-GamerGate side done to stop their toxic people?  I can forgive the anti-GG people for ignorance, considering all the media is painting us with a corrupt brush, but those who do realize, what is their excuse?

I’m not asking you to take a side which compromises your personal beliefs and politics.  I am asking you to emphasize with the side which doesn’t want politics or personal beliefs to play a part in what is fun.  There is nothing wrong with talking politics.  There is nothing wrong with talking about the politics of an art medium like games.  There is a problem when that interferes with actual non-political discussion and who gets paid.  GamerGate has spoken, we don’t want politics in games.  Apparently the other side has a huge problem with that, and will do anything they can to make us out to be evil, just to accomplish their goal of ramming THEIR politics down the throat of everyone else, with no care or concern what the actual customer’s beliefs are.  Would you like it if the conservative crowd decided that all TV must conform to right wing Christian beliefs, and actually got their way?  Of course not. We don’t need a repeat of “Banned in Boston.”

This being said, we are not saying people cannot have politics in their games.  They are free to make them.  And we are free to not buy them or buy them.  This is a free market.  The good games sell and make millions of dollars.  The bad games don’t sell and have to be given away on Steam for free.  No one is stopping them from making them.  But when you demand that the companies which are making things we like, without politics, to stop making them in order to make things they like, with their politics injected, that is a problem. If the big companies wanted to make games with politics, they would.  Apparently their own market research tells them they won’t sell well.  The best thing the opposition to GG can do is to prove them wrong.  Make them and make them so good they sell well.  But we don’t see that.  We don’t see them wanting to make games, just tear down existing ones.  How is it diversity to tear down what exists?  It’s not balance if you have to burn down anything you disagree with to do it.

You are always welcome as a gamer, if you have the same passion and drive to game.  All that we ask is that you love the hobby, and leave your politics at the door.  My Battlefield clan has four main leaders.  One is black, one is a woman, one is gay.  There is diversity.  There is acceptance.  It is inclusive to those who love it.  All that being said, gaming is an identity, one you take up.  Gaming is an identity you choose, and right now, it was one you chose with a cost.  When you chose it, you are ostracized.  How the times have changed.

About Noah Pern

Noah Pern is a long time gamer, having been playing video games since Pong, and played multiplayer games before the internet was even widely known. A background in programming, beta testing, art and music gives him a broad sense of what is needed for a proper experience in gaming.
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  • Nerve Man

    I have been a gamer for more years than I would like to admit. If we relegate those years to just the digital era then I have been gaming since 1972 when Pong was released. But really I have been a gamer all of my life around games like Operation,Risk and many others. Never have I ever felt that gaming was a gender associated form of entertainment. One element of gaming stands out in my mind and that is that there is no place for politics in gaming. Gaming is escapism in it’s purest form. While it is obvious that there have been patterns of misogyny in some games, those games that show women in a poor light are no more than reflections of society as a whole. Did I play Tomb Raider with Laura’s big ass? Yes but I would have played it with whatever ass she was given or no ass at all. I see no more misogyny than I see misandry on television. You know , the bumbling inadequate father. Typically in gaming online there is an unwritten rule that “It’s all about the game” and discussing personal lives and politics is frowned upon and just brings the game down. I delight in the fact that more women game these days. To attack gamers as a whole subset of society as being misogynistic is so far off the mark as to be laughable. Please ladies, do develop more games. Please ladies, play more games. But please do not label gamers as misogynists and as some subset of society that needs to have some sort of progressive lobotomy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fix your issues by working with the developers and having real dialogue with them. I will join you in the good fight but I will not tear down the truth for you to create a utopian vision that cannot possibly exist in a world where shades of grey will always exist.

  • Chris Wedge

    Even politics has it’s place. BioShock proved that. But in the free market of ideas, what you have to say must be worth a damn.

    A chapter of an artistic, cerebral game where the boss challenge is to have your male protagonist avoid false rape allegation in accomplishing a mission is a Thing That Could Happen. It’d make a good indie experience, somewhat like Papers, Please. All you’d need to do is release it, there’s a bit of a market for that kind of thing.

    The problem people have with the gaming journos (and hell, journos in general) pushing this ideal of feminist social justice is both that they’re a bunch of liars, and also that they’re attempting to suffocate that free market. Moreso the latter than the former – as known liars have attracted controversy before, but not a three-month ongoing campaign from people who have had the shit “red-pilled” out of them by that first sustained attack.