Yesterday, I said a thing about #GamerGate and dinosaurs and extinction. And, in a video last night in support of the Pixel Project’s Read For Pixels endeavor (which is about addressing and stopping violence against women, and which you can watch now), I noted how something like #GamerGate reminds me of what happens to yellowjacket wasps as autumn rolls on. As the cooler months rise to replace the heat of summer, wasps start to get fucking pissed because, as it turns out, they’re facing death. Winter is coming, just like in Westeros, and the wasps know that food will become scarce and their time on this earth may be limited. As such: they become more aggressive. They’re likelier to swarm and sting.
The response I received from this was —
Well, it was m… mixed?
Okay, to put it politely, I received some total wackypants responses, and I got some emails that were… let’s go with “less than nice.” I received a lot of response from folks who may or may not have been actual humans and who may or may not have been avatars of an anti-agenda agenda (?!), or who may have been anonymous sock-puppets or trolls or who-the-sweet-fuck-knows.
But — but! — some of you appeared to crave actual discussion.
And, further, some of you claim a legitimate purpose, which is to cease corruption in game development and games journalism, which is all very nice and official-sounding, and certainly is reasonable enough. And I like reasonable things! I really do!
I want you to understand why this is going to be hard for you.
Let’s say you have a letter you want me to read.
It’s written on nice paper. Elegant calligraphy.
You say, “These are my wishes and my beliefs,” and you confirm that this letter is very official, very smart, very wise, and it contains a great many good ideas for the future. Okay. Excellent.
Except, then you place the letter on a pedestal.
And that pedestal is surrounded by four miles of diseased animal feces in every direction. I’m talking a major swampland of creature dooky. Fly-flecked, stenchy, diarrhea. And you say, “To go and read my very reasonable ideas, you will need to wade through a four-mile radius of animal waste,” you say. I, of course, make a wrinkled, upset face, because I don’t feel like hiking through Uncle E.Coli’s Taco Bell Animal Waste Extravaganza to get to your point, but okay, fine. As I churn through the muck and slurry, I am pelted by shitballs from hidden malefactors. Then, when I finally get to the pedestal, I lift your letter off the stone only to discover that stapled to it is a dozen other “letters,” and these are by no means as eloquent or as pointed as yours. Some are written in crayon. Others penned with smudges of the crapmire I just waded through to get here.
You say, “But GamerGate is about bias in journalism.”
But that guy over there? He thinks it’s about getting bias out of game reviews, which is a mostly silly idea. That guy over there wants to remove agendas from game journalism (haha what), whereas over there is another person who wants agendas out of game development (oh, god, really?). One dude says he wants bias out of journalism but what he really means is that he wants journalists with whom he disagrees to shut up because they said not-nice stuff about a game he loves and if there’s one thing we can’t abide it’s people disliking what we love or digging what we hate. Then there’s that other guy who thinks there’s some kind of 9/11 Truther-Birther-Evolution-Big-Pharma-style conspiracy going on, and then there’s that weirdo shouting at the ceiling fan about SJWs and femi-nazis and he’s foaming about Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian and threatening Leigh Alexander and basically that guy’s covered in his own rage-barf.
As I said in my MRA post, “Being interested in white linen bedsheets doesn’t mean you join the KKK.” You cannot be a part of GamerGate without acknowledging that a lot of this thing is really super-gross. All that horrible stuff — the harassment, the nastiness, the lies — get staple-gunned to your cause. You can’t separate them.
Maybe you have good things to say.
Maybe you have noble ideals, here.
But you can’t maintain that nobility while supporting a cause that has simultaneously helped to further abuse. It makes you complicit.
You can’t be part of the solution while also being part of the problem.
Could be that this movement genuinely has a pure heart.
That pure heart, though, is encased in a body of rotten meat.
Right now, at this very moment, there is an exchange going on in my Twitter feed. I’m not partaking — I’m just linked in (not LinkedIn because ew who uses that thing) because of yesterday’s post. And in this conversation, feminism has been attacked for its “rampant oppressive dehumanizing misandry.” Another tweet conjures up the phrase, “another thin-skinned faux-liberal pussie [sic]…” Only then to add, with a flair of the truly melodramatic: “welcome to the downfall of the usa.” Sarkeesian and Quinn are being called “bullies” – with a further correction of, “shaming artists into changing their work is bullying.” The conversation isn’t uniformly toxic — but more and more folks just keep jumping in, and the ugliness pervades. You cannot escape the ugliness in this.
One very charming brony (wait, really?) said:
“One day, they’ll prove people like you are cheap, retarded and dickless fucking scumshit. Die in a pit of fire, you fucking fag”
Hunh. (Looking at rest of his feed — talking about killing feminists, sooooo, okay then.)
It’s very hard to extract real value from this without getting mired in all the rest.
Anyway. My advice, which you will not take:
If you really believe that there’s an ethical debate to have, don’t have it in this hashtag. You’re poisoning your own efforts. Write smart, compassionate pleas for your own agenda (and by the way — you can’t be anti-agenda because that’s an agenda). Stop jumping in with the same 20-30 toxic voices. Vote with your dollar. Don’t be an asshole. Support blogs and voices that are ethical, intelligent, compassionate. Don’t use your voice to rob others of theirs. If you don’t like Sarkeesian, Quinn, anybody — ignore them. Don’t like a game? Don’t buy it. Like a game? Buy it and write a review (and not an ‘objective’ review because, really, those don’t exist in a meaningful way).
#GamerGate is stuck in the mire of its own nastiness.
Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way we can be sure.
Vox.com: A good GamerGate primer.
#GameOverGate: ZQ stealthily susses out the true origins of #GamerGate
Tabletop game designer David Hill (who I’ve worked with in the past, if you feel that such transparency is important here) does a good run down (better said than me in this post, really) about the problems that come with associating your cause with #GamerGate
Jennifer Hale (FemShep, voice of) says in this post: “I myself would love to see more equal representation of women in games, more empowered roles. Let’s remove gender from casting everywhere we can and play around with it. Let’s do the same with race. Let’s go on and create the next level. We can’t do that right now. I’m nervous about what this piece of the community is going to do to me for speaking up about anything, and that’s not OK. We can’t do anything until we deal with that.”
The Escapist’s Jim Sterling on GamerGate and corruption.
And no way in Hell am I turning on comments. Pssh. Pfft. Ha ha ha no.