Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm Out. I'm Done. I'm Tired So Very Tired (Gamergate Round 2)

So for the past week I've been doing rhetorical battle with Gamergate and losing.  For the sake of my sanity.

I'm giving it a rest. But before I do I feel I owe it to myself to write down exactly why I feel the movement is so loathsome. Oh and I absolutely hate Gamergate.

I'm Sorry But Yes It Is Misogynistic
That isn't to say every person advocating the #Gamergate tag is a misogynist but the movement itself is. The tag was created in order to hold the video game press and industry "accountable" for a series of DISPROVEN scandals involving Zoe Quinn. First off the spark that set all this off was a blog that qualifies as hate speech as well as a hate campaign designed to make her life miserable, both of which were pretty blatantly misogynistic.

Now several in Gamergate want to leave all that stuff behind but 1.) I'm sorry you can't without completely disassociating yourself from it which means dropping the tag. and 2.) There are still a whole lot of guys who are in Gamergate for that reason. They see nothing wrong with the post or any of the stuff that followed it.

But let's for the sake of argument say we're past all of that stuff.  The second spark was a series of articles based on this blog post with headlines amounting to  "Gamers are Dead"

Yes the headlines were incendiary but the articles themselves were warning gaming culture about this sort of reaction. The point of the articles was that whether the traditional game audience like it or not more women and minorities are playing games and that the games industry should and is going to have to do things to appeal to that broader audience. Specifically they are going to have to deal with harassment in the form of things like Zoegate and on a more generalized level Xbox live.

And the writers making that point, many of whom were female were hit with a slew of some pretty foul stuff. Rape threats, death threats, hacking of websites, the posting of personal information. And this bile spread to anyone who was defending them again often women in the industry who wanted to take note of various double standards within it.

When somebody says hey guys you don't like women much the movement responds by (metephorically) hatcheting up the woman who pointed it out even if she is generally on their side about everything else.

That's A Problem but It's Not My Big Problem
Yes people can be douchebags to women and yes I should get off my fat ass about it more but that's not made me react.

What made me react was that in the hubub Gamergate was silencing writers who they disagreed with through intimidation.

They frame it as wanting games journalism to be objective and in reportage I don't have a problem with that I would even laud it, but as I see it most of games journalism is opinionated commentary on art. And the objectivity they want is to allow the writer's views to be divorced from that commentary.

Even with actual reportage there is a debate about how strictly objective a reporter can be but when the point of the writing is specifically for them to document their opinion about any given game or event in the community taping their mouths in that way just seems illogical.

Furthermore most of this is a backlash to SJWs or social justice warriors. Critics and writers who analyze games, video game culture, and video game news through the lenses  of social justice, feminist film theory, post-structuralism, critical race theory and politics in general.

My feeling is that it's not so much they want politics out of games journalism but they want politics they disagree with out of games journalism.  But again let's take them at their word.

It's very seldom that art is apolitical.  First off art is always interpreted by it's audience which is never a tabula rasa.  And if that audience's experience is affected by their perception of the art regardless of if it's clouded by personal politics that perception is still relevant to the discussion. And pretending otherwise is foolish because while art imitates life, life also imitates art.

And even if that were not the case video games are getting to the point where some them do have explicit political messages. Bio-shock for instance is a pretty hard condemnation on Randian Objectivism.

Part of what makes that game so interesting (I haven't played it yet it's on my list) is its poltics and they deserve to be discussed in the public. I don't like the idea of saying to writers. Nope can't talk about that.

It also strikes me is hypocritical that the movement is so offended when web administrators and moderators act to, on websites they own, silence voices they find distasteful when that's exactly what the movement has been trying to do as well except in some cases with more than a ban hammer.

That's not to say anti-Gamergate is completely blameless I just feel as cliched as it is to say Gamergate started this nightmare.

Even if that were not the case I feel that it's distasteful that rather than a strict boycott in which the consumer would forgo the convenience of a product in order to deprive the company they dislike of capital Gamergate is still reading work from the publications they hate by using archiving sites and adblock.

Look I'm no saint. I've pirated before I'll probably pirate again, but I don't like that these guys are declaring said piracy political activism, especially when some of them are using imagery and language from the Montgomery bus boycotts.

You are not Malcolm X because you are fighting for your "right" to use the N-Word and the C-Word and the other F-Word in the comments section.

And Now For An Apology
In my previous post I spread the idea that there might some truth to the Zoegate scandle. I was wrong. Horribly wrong.

The or rather a new conspiracy theory is that a group of journalists after debating it in a series of emails decided not to report on Quinn in an attempt not to spread the story. This is a pretty common thing with stories involving violent crime, or rape. But currently Gamergate has latched on it to as a sign that reporters made a collective decision not to report the news. To singularly push a narrative. I disagree with that profoundly when in the emails the journalists explicitly explained their logic for not covering it.

At first I'll admit I had a problem with such a  mailing list but I'm a member of several linked in groups and if I were smart I would try joining SPJ. Talking to and getting advice from others in a professional field isn't a sin. In fact it's what people should be doing if they want to get better at their jobs.

Moreover in general gamergate is full of untested rumors presented as fact. It's almost impossible to know what the hell these guys are mad about today as yesterday's rant becomes deemed untenable and a new outrage is found.

I dislike that these guys are talking about journalistic standards in absolutes often claiming to be more expert than the reporters, the editors, and in some cases even thier legal departments. They lash on to subjective opinions as lies and tie their authors to the flogging post.

The Harm

Here is the rub. Each article and each game is endowed just a bit with the soul of its creator. Each voice that decides they would rather leave the industry, both developers and writers, than deal with the fans is a loss. It means that we probably won't see what ever ideas lead them to sticking it out this long. And that's something we should all take heed of. We aren't just hurting them but ourselves as well.

When does it end, when every writer, developer and artist who disagrees, or has an unpopular thought is either run out or completely disillusioned about their passion. When all joy they had has been crushed and they are souless husks only left  in the business because they need the money,

And it's spreading. A lot of these people don't just work in games but in other fields and as they go to defend their friends they get clobbered. #Comicgate is already brewing. I can't do this. I spent a good week trying to argue sense but I can't anymore. I'll let Edward Murrow do it.

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