For the last two months, the gaming world has been in a state of civil war. After some women in the industry were harassed and threatened by a few unhinged individuals, several gaming sites called for the end of “gamers.” This lead to the creation of the GamerGate movement and hashtag in opposition to the attacks on gamers.
This was a battle I quickly dove into.
Gaming is a big part of my life and it has given me much. I wasn’t going to sit idly by and let big gaming sites slander me, my friends, and the artform I love. They openly displayed their contempt for gamers so I didn’t see the need to hide my own disdain for them any longer. It was mutual animosity and I welcomed it because at least now they were being honest about how much they despised the average gamer. The world finally saw them for what they were. I took the GameGate hashtag and ran with it for the sake of gaming. It was a banner I waved high.
After arguing and debating those who stood up for the gaming sites and who opposed GamerGate for nearly three weeks, I took a break because Destiny had been released. It was time to indulge in the thing I was fighting for and I let myself be absorbed into the game and didn’t pay much attention to the outside world. I would still check on the latest GamerGate related happenings but not as much as I used to. I saw that some had gotten big companies such as Intel to pull funding from gaming sites like Gamasutra. I was totally behind this as it showed the true power of the consumer. Don’t fuck with those who pay your bills. I loved it. I kept an eye on things but for the most part I was too busy having fun playing games to be an active combatant in this war.
“In my eyes, the fight was over. We showed the world how corrupt and pompous some of the big gaming sites are.”
I received a review copy of Shadow of Mordor and put Destiny aside which gave me a bit more free time. I saw that GamerGate was still going strong and it confused me a bit. In my eyes, the fight was over. We showed the world how corrupt and pompous some of the big gaming sites are. Their credibility was shattered and now people looked to other outlets for their gaming needs. Game over, right? However, I still saw GamerGate supporters continue to get companies to pull their ads from sites and to tweet things people from these sites posted in opposition to the movement. The hashtag was still everywhere I looked.
I wondered what the end goal was and asked it on Twitter using the now famous (or infamous) hashtag. I got a flurry of responses and no two answers were alike. “The end of big gaming sites, equality in gaming, honest journalism, to punish those who are against us,” a wide range of different goals. This bothered me as I don’t like pointless endeavors. It seemed like there would be no end to this since people had their own personal goals but not a singular purpose. It appeared to be fighting for the sake of fighting. I didn’t see the point in that. Still, the ideals for which I backed the movement, to defend gamers and to show the world that we’re not the terrible people the media make us out to be, were still something worth defending this movement for despite the fact that I was growing weary of the neverending war.
More debates happened and it became harder and harder to defend GamerGate. Some (a small amount) were using the hashtag to actively harass women and others whom they disagreed with. This is something I couldn’t and will not support. You don’t attack someone that you disagree with. You engage them in a debate and try to understand one another’s viewpoints in a civil manner. THAT’S how you’re supposed to do it. My message of proving how awesome games and gamers are was being lost amid all of the horrible things being done to the opposition. The opposition in turn was attacking GamerGate proponents and it was just becoming a big ugly mess. No one could hear what I had to say amid all the din and chaos. Some flat out refused to listen to me because I supported GamerGate.
“My message of proving how awesome games and gamers are was being lost amid all of the horrible things being done to the opposition.”
I was having a conversation about this on Facebook with a friend and several of his friends who didn’t know me. Say what you will about Facebook but it’s a much better platform for debate since you aren’t limited to 140 character posts. At this point I was completely exhausted with debating but this was my friend and I felt the need to hear him out since the two of us have never actually talked about this before. His friends liked me and said something to the degree of “You’re not like the typical GamerGate person, you’re actually having a constructive debate with us.” I found this somewhat odd considering that the GamerGate people I know are just like me. We just want to talk and have people understand where we’re coming from. However, I could tell that these guys have engaged with the more hostile supporters of the movement. The same people who have more or less hijacked it.
I explained my position: that I am here to advocate for games and gamers. To show the world that gamers are good people and that video games are an artform as worthy of acceptance as movies and books. The following response is what made me rethink the entire situation. One guy said to me, “That’s a great message, everyone can get behind that.” This is when it hit me, my message was a sound one but it wasn’t being heard because of the GamerGate blanket. This is when I realized that for my message to be heard loud and clear, I needed to drop the “GamerGate” label. I can continue to fight for gamers, games and expose those who would make us look bad without using the hashtag. It was unnecessary and was hindering my efforts to promote gaming as a positive force in the world.
At that moment I decided, no more using the GamerGate hashtag.
This isn’t to say that I am now against GamerGate. Far from that. The majority of the people in the movement are good folks who want more ethical games journalism and to be treated with respect by the media. I cannot in good conscience go against them, especially since I’m still fighting for the ideals that GamerGate was founded on. This also doesn’t mean that I am now supporting the opposition. I will never get behind people and websites who look down on gamers or who are actively trying to destroy this medium that I love so much. If these people start attacking games and gamers then you had best believe that I’ll be in the front to meet them. My not using the hashtag doesn’t mean my vigilance will lessen. I’m keeping my eye on them.
“Please keep in mind that these threats only serve to undermine the message.”
I do want to say something to those who are still part of the GamerGate movement. You don’t need it to have your voice be heard. Create a blog or join a site and let the world know how much you love video games. You don’t need to constantly be at war. Step back and play the video games you love and then go and tell the world why you love them so. I realize that a lot of you are young and this movement has given you a sense of identity and purpose. That’s great, but you have to see how GamerGate has been sullied by those who use the hashtag for nefarious ends. You can still oppose corruption in the industry without this movement. You can still show the world how much gaming means to you without a hashtag.
With that said, if you are going to continue the fight then please do so in a civilized manner. The people who are using the hashtag to harass and threaten do not represent you. You should fight them as hard as you do those who are against GamerGate. Please keep in mind that these threats only serve to undermine the message. This is a large reason why I’m no longer using the hashtag. I can’t continue using it if it is also being used for evil. Weed out those who use this movement to harm others but also try to form a cohesive message. As of now, GamerGate is the Wild West, it’s lawless. Try to band together under a single goal and move forward from there.
The core of what GamerGate was originally about and the ideals I support are noble but the movement has been tarnished and is actually making gaming look bad. The message of ethics in journalism and for gamers to be respected has been all but lost. It’s now an ongoing war with no clear goal and no end in sight. Until this movement gains a unified objective and the rotten apples are disposed of, I’m letting the hashtag go and moving on with my agenda. Again, I am NOT against GamerGate, I just won’t be using it to further my goals in this industry any longer. I can stand up for gaming, gamers, and fight those who would attack us without using some hashtag.