Thursday, October 02, 2014

Why I think #GamerGate is Complete BS

This is still a work in progress. This is intended to be an honest look at the issue facing the games industry. I have loved video games since I was 9 and it hurts me to see my hobby go through this strife. This is intended to be a civil discussion where we can talk about all the parts of the issue. If there is any rudeness, I will just ignore you. I have that privilege being a white straight male, with little fear for my personal safety. If there are any threats, you've lost the debate. Just FYI.

I've been trying to get my head around this whole GamersGate or GamerGate or whatever for a while now. I enjoy reddit very much, but the average age of the userbase in certain subs is really starting to show. There are a ton of misconceptions and misinformation floating around about this whole sequence of events, but I'm going to try and synthesize it all here, and why I think that the entire thing, is nonsense.

Here is my understanding of the timeline of events.
1. Zoe Quinn cheats on a guy with other guys.

2. This guy gets mad and publishes her sexual history with other guys, implies that maybe she was sleeping with people for game coverage. He does this on a blog post that is huuuuge, with lots of details and sources for it.

3. People start being like "oh gaming journalism corruption!! see woman dont care about games! She's trying to sleep to get ahead to promote her games!"

3a. This all came along at a time where Anita Sarkeesian published this piece on games and how the medium is rife with misogynist tropes and cliches

3b. People on the internet react with "she doesnt even play games!!! shes not a real gamer! shes trying to slander us all for her own publicity!"

4. Games websites editor's and mods decided that "look, this may be a journalism ethics thing, but this whole Zoe thing is much more about slut shaming and woman hating then journalism", so they started to ban people who kept making posts about it. This made even MORE people cry, "CENSORSHIP! THOSE EVIL WOMEN ARE TRYING TO CONQUER US MEN. SJWS ARE TRYING TO TAKE US ALL OVER".

5. Someone stumbles upon the Google group that journalists use to communicate with each other
and they blow it open like its a huge conspiracy, like these people aren't supposed to talk to each other. Considering MOST of the people in the industry are like 25-35, it would be like people our age doing this. of course we would all talk.

6. They publish this nonsense that tries to make the press seem like the Illuminati or something. Like literally, you look at what these "elite" have written, its basically arguing to help not harass Zoe. The editors are interested in professional courtesy and maintaining an atmosphere where people feel safe. When every post on a video game forum is about you and is out to slut shame you, that's not a safe place. I do not believe that they censored these posts because of video game journalism ethics, I believe they censored them for anti-slut shaming reasons.

Now I will talk about why I think what they think they've exposed, isn't  important.

Some of these people are responding to this banning with, "NO ITS NOT ABOUT THAT ITS ABOUT JOURNALISM ETHICS" which is bullshit, because video games journalism has always had issues. People didnt give a shit until there was a woman to harass. Shawn Eliot was trying to blow this entire story wide open back in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Go listen to GFW Radio. He points out and expands upon several conflicts of interest that video game review companies have with the game publishers themselves. This has been an issue, however it doesn't seem like many people cared until Zoe came along.

I think the term "elite" is hilarious to use in context with video games journalists, and here's why. They make 0 money. Nada. Video Games Journalists are mostly free lancers, and even the big publications, don't get much funding. You know why? They hardly bring in revenue. Print media is dead. Subscriptions are a thing of the past. These journalists are in this industry because they love video games, not because it will make them rich. Even the people at the top, none of them are on the Fortune 500. Here's an opinion piece (so yea, its not a factual source) but it is basically saying the same thing I am. There is no underground network. There are no high stakes. These people are middle class, AT BEST, and they do this because they love it. To call them "elite" is putting them in the same class as investment bankers, wealth management brokers and natural resource tycoons. Wanna know their profit margins? Billions of dollars. How much do you care about that? You should be pissed off about that level of inequality and corruption. Video games journalists are mostly middle class, white males. There is an increasing trend to women and minorities, but that is the predominant demography. I love The Comedy Button. But 4 of the 5 guys are white, and Anthony is white passing. You should not be accusing these middle class joes of being corrupt, when there is ACTUAL CORRUPTION INVOLVING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in other parts of the world. To compare video games journalists to the actual elite by using that world, you make your argument sound hyperbolic and ridiculous. These people aren't ruling the world or oppressing people. They are covering a hobby you love.

and you look at other reviews industry, movies, books, music, etc
the producers always give review copies to reviewers
and people are too naive in the gaming community to see it
and THEN
some people (who i agree with on the Zoe part) have taken to calling the entire gaming community misogynistic, which then nerds turned around and were liek "NOT ALL OF US!" and proceeded to threaten people with death if they didn't recant 
i dont agree with generalization, but it takes like half a brain to know that they are generalizations, and are applying to the people they are applying to, not all of them
they are not literally calling every gamer a piece of shit. they are saying our culture has bad tendencies
our medium is stuck in cliches
theres a test in movies now, the Bechdel test
it checks for gender bias
To pass, a movie must have: (1) at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.
how many games would fulfil that?
and its like "wow thats a crazy test!" but then you think it would be pretty easy to do that for men
in video games, women are mostly objects that you interact with
someone to save, a companion 
there are not many that have fleshed out personalities
especially when you compare it to men with fleshed out personalities
you can argue that its made by men, for men, but when that inequality exists, you have to look to why

and in the end, I just want to ask all these guys, how many WOMEN can you find to agree with your side of story? how many girls, in real life, or ones you know on the internet, how many will agree with you? Do you care about women in your life's opinions on this? I sure as hell do. If someone has a complaint, I try to understand where it's coming from. If even 5% of women feel attacked by something, its worth looking into why. If our medium scares so many women away, that none of them know about this controversy, I think that speaks to what kind of medium we have. What about after you explain what happened to these women, do they agree with you then? Do they think Anita is just another attention seeking woman? Or will they identify with all the catcalls and harassment they receive on a daily basis and side with her?

Another thing I want to shake and tell these guys, they are not calling you a sexist. They are calling the medium of video games sexist. This has little to do with YOU. It's about a collective. This also comes down to issues of Author's intent, which i will expand upon soon.

Another point, is that the patriarchy hurts everyone, including men. This is not to make feminist struggles about men. I do not wish to make the argument "men should care about women, because it benefits men". But it is one with which will convince a lot of men.

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