What does GamerGate Mean to me?
I wrote a rather biased opinion about the scandal in my last post. But this time I want to talk about something different. I want to talk about how GamerGate has affected me personally. Also, this post will try to touch on some of the issues in it as well (no cause is without flaw).
As I did in the last post, I want to state upfront that I am biased.
- I'm not a journalist, this is a blog not a news site
- I'm white and biologically male
- I go on 4chan semi-frequently and enjoy the culture
- I love playing Video Games
I absolutely love IRC channels, when I first learned about Harp I went into their IRC channel and became part of their community. I don't go in as much as I used to, but I still actively blog on my tech blog about using it. The #burgersandfries community is a group of random people, over 300, that come from different countries, communities, race, gender, and walks of life. But we're all banded together in a single united cause.
That cause is #GamerGate. Asking someone what GamerGate means to them is like asking a feminist what feminism means to them. You're going to get different statements. In the same way that feminism is composed of a group of people who share a collected voice around the ideal of equality, GamerGate is a consumer revolt shared around the idea of integrity.
But let me hold off on that, we're talking about the community here. One of the things that binds every one of us together is that we're gamers. And while the media may claim we're dead, we're very much alive and well. Because all it takes to be a gamer is to play video games. So how could we die if there's still such thing as gaming media/journalism? You can't have an industry without consumers.
Twitter, something I didn't use much before all of this, has become a massive voice to me. I've made friends with various members of the chat and followed them. In my mind, together we form a sort of microphone for each others voices. In the same way that people who don't agree with #GamerGate boost each other's opinions, we do the same. We share links, articles, and come to each others aid when we run out of ideas or need help debating a topic. To draw an obvious parallel, we're playing on the same team in an RTS and actually coordinating.
That last comment reeks of an "us vs them" mentality. This brings me to my next point about #burgersandfries: we actively police each other. Some of us are (rocketman120, warning!!*) triggered by different things, some topics set us off on a rage and we immediately start to lose reason and want to go on a crusade. Within the IRC, this get's policed. All members of the IRC are reminded to keep the following in mind:
Infographics like these are spread throughout /v/** threads supporting #GamerGate, spread via twitter from people making them, and on reddit threads as well. Infographics are a way of communicating to people who don't want to read something that's 30 pages long. Or people who can't be bothered to look at sources themselves. They are the most useful propaganda*** that anyone could possibly push. Useful ones that follow the rules about debating in the image above are actively used.
Despite all of this, despite how active #burgersandfries is in promoting #GamerGate, and providing a space for people to talk about it, it is not a hivemind. The IRC channel in no way are masterminds of the whole event. There's already a great narrative and timeline explaining where the hashtag started. 4Chan didn't start it, but the gamers within 4chan and a lot of other websites definitely rallied around it.
*the mentioned IRC member is triggered by trigger warnings and must be
warned of them in advance.
**That's a link to a video game board on 4chan, if you don't like 4chan: don't click it.
***The definition of Propaganda: information used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.
Why I actively promote and push the #GamerGate hashtag
When people have opinions that they view as important, they want to talk about it. In the same way that I really want to write a post about the disgusting treatment by the US government of the issues within Ferguson, I want to talk about #GamerGate. Because it's important to me. Because when an industry releases 6 articles proclaiming the death of an identity within 24 hours, something is wrong. It makes me pause and wonder: wait, why do they want to dissuade their consumers from labeling themselves as their consumbers? And when that identity is one that I am a member of, then yeah, I'm going to start looking into things.
So, you might wonder, how did this guy hear about this? I was browsing /v/ when someone said: "So how does it feel to know that gamers are dead?", they linked to an article. Which I looked at and saw the wonderful words "misogynists" to describe anyone who plays video games. I felt attacked. Why was this website spouting off over-zealous claims that an entire group of people were horrible? It's not unheard of for such a thing to be true (I'm looking at you Neo Nazis), but to me it definitely wasn't true about gamers of all people.
Sure, when I think about playing a first person shooter online, I know that people are gonna trash talk each other. It's par for the course. I know some people, when trash talking, get carried away and use language that they might not in everyday conversation. I know that there's a lot of assholes. But to me, that doesn't mean that the entire culture of the identity is screwed up. A few minor voices in a group do not represent an entire group. And this goes for every single group out there.
As an example, a few months ago I got into a debate about feminism with a few friends. My girlfriend at the time talked to me about it, and we talked about it like civil adults. I listened to her. She listened to me. We both came out learning a bit more about each other's views. Specifically, she learned a lot of statistics about male-centered issues in the US court system, and I learned to understand that the people who I called "Feminazis" were a small sect of feminism. They don't represent the full group, nor do they represent the ideals of the movement.
My point, is that the moment you start looking at only the people in a group as being a complete view of that group, you're wrong. You need to take a step back, and evaluate what the group stands for. You need to get more opinions from as many of the people within the group as you can. And with all this information, you need to come to your own understanding of what the group is. For me, with feminism, I was focused on the extremists, after it was pointed out to me that that's not what it's about, I changed my views on the group. One of the reasons I push the #GamerGate tag so hard from my own twitter, is that I think other people need to have the same wake up call. Other people need to realize that the ideal of journalistic integrity and transparency is what #GamerGate is all about.
Fighting for an Ideal and the border on Harassment
So all of this said, we end up looking at a couple of things. How can you support something that could be damaging to someone elses career? How can you sleep at night knowing you might have robbed someone from their job because of something you pushed? How can you know what you're doing is right or not? How can you fight for #GamerGate if you think about the effect it has on very real people?
Something that I've wrestled with is my own exitement when the vindicating facts come in. Things like this got me really excited. Because people had posted screenshots of the allegations in email form, but no one had provided any audio proof with the department. It got me excited, not because I want to see this woman burn, but because here was someone actually doing their research. Finding facts. And sharing them in a way that could be validated. In other words, journalism. Before you get all crazed, the man who posted that is still following up with the FBI for details on the case since it might have gone to their jurisdiction. Update: someone posted a screenshot of an email, I'm still waiting for the original video poster to respond to it though. This type of thing, where facts are checked with sources are what I want to see more of out of the gaming media. I think that the escapist has set an example for everyone with their public statement to revise their policies and I hope more people follow.
What is the End goal of #GamerGate to me?
As recent events have shown, the media protects their friends regardless of whether it's right or wrong. They don't fact check, investigate, there's places where cronyism is rampant. I want game's to be respected due to their merit. Not favoritism or because someone slept with someone else. You can check alexa.com on sites like kotaku and polygon and see that their popularity and rank have dropped dramatically, this is how you can tell that #GamerGate is more than just arguing about a he said she said event. This is how you can tell, undeniably, that #GamerGate is a consumer revolt against a media that has failed to represent their own. And when the consumer is appeased that a website has gotten back to integrious journalism: they're allowed back with welcome arms. This is a free market system actually working.
The end goal, for me, is to see a revival of ethical business and journalistic standards within the Gaming Industry. Objectivity, honesty, and research in each article that's published. At the same time, the games produced and marketed must be criticized in a way that makes sense. If a game is blatently sexist or "tropey" then it should be pointed out so, in a biased and objective manner. The end goal is not to cause people to lose their jobs, but to help them become better at them. I don't want feminism ousted from gaming, in my opinion it offers a valid lense to look at a piece of artwork through. I want feminism within the industry to push and empower women, as The Fine Young Capitalists have done. What I don't need or want, is an opressive voice silencing artistic freedom of expression for it's own furtherings of unresearched propaganda. Sometimes, a duck is just a duck.
In the end you must decide for yourself what you believe. In the end you must decide if you will research your own facts and look at the sources of articles. You must decide if you will allow others to think for you, or if you will take your grain of salt with each article, each blog post, each headline you read. It is your choice and no one but you should ever make that decision for you.comments powered by Disqus