This was a very difficult post to write. For some weeks now #GamerGate has been a part of my life and the biggest thing on my Twitter timeline. It was what inspired me to really start writing these blogs. I have met great people while part of it. I have believed in the pursuit of gaming journalism ethics with passion and dedication. In my first ‘Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer…’ blog I referred to #GamerGate as “a war of words” and I did my part to fight in the battles, I took part in the discussions, I shared information, I tweeted on the #GamerGate and #NotYourShield tags. I established camaraderie with my fellow soldiers.
Yet in the midst of all of it I have tried to remain a voice for reason, rationality and positive change. I have tried not to get caught up in witch hunter mentality and have tried to keep my mind open and my ideas fluid, open to new information. When I debate I try to listen and really understand the perspective of the other person, why they may feel this way. And so it was that recently I found myself in debate with someone that was anti-GG. We were both engaged in combat, our word weapons sharp and to the point. Tempers were fraying, I didn’t feel he was really listening and I told him so. I felt he hadn’t really researched #GamerGate properly but had only looked at as much as he wanted to, in order to fit the opinion he’d already made. He had told me that #GamerGate’s interest in ethics had been lopsided and self-serving, that #GamerGate was only interested in beating down Social Justice Warriors and discrediting those that had criticised gamers. He argued that #Gamergate had not succeeded as a movement because it wasn’t really about ethics, it was about rejecting the narrative shaping and agenda pushing that we saw as being used to attack us. I had told him that I was wasting my time, we clearly weren’t going to agree, but then I stopped. I stopped and really looked at what it was he’d said. I then took a moment to look at the #GamerGate tag, really look at it, and I realised…he was right.
And here’s where things get messy. There is so much anger in #GamerGate right now. I understand it, I really do. People just want to be heard and they feel that instead of listening to our concerns game journalists declared war on us. The media that was meant to represent us in our cherished hobby and the people within that media that came from the ranks of gamers themselves, turned on us and hurt us. They rejected us and so we rejected them and their supposed ideologies. I have seen so many in #GamerGate demanding that we “keep politics and social issues out of video games” and “don’t let SJWs and their media cronies destroy our hobby” but that isn’t what #GamerGate is about is it? It was supposed to be about the ethical behaviour of journalists wasn’t it? That is them covering people they have relationships with or that they support financially. How does that include banning game journalism from covering social issues that they feel are relevant to gaming? When was that ever what #GamerGate was about?
The fact is that we were burned by our media and so we have sought others that would represent us. But here’s the thing, people like Milo Yiannopoulos and Christina Sommers may seem like heroes to us now. They may seem like they will treat us with the respect that we deserve. We have fled the bad relationship with our media and, on the rebound, have given ourselves over to the first people that have showed us kindness but they are using us, they have their own agenda to push and their own ideologies to market. They are not our friends, as before with our own media, we are a tool to them and we must not forget it. They have chosen our targets and we have run with it, trying to silence those that have hurt us just as they would silence us. Meanwhile legitimate examples of what we seek to end have been ignored, lost in the general din. We lack focus and as such are easy fodder for manipulation. We have become too defensive and are rapidly in danger of existing merely to justify our existence.
At this point in time I am tired. I am beginning to view #GamerGate as the cynical veteran soldier, surveying the smoking ruins and wondering if this is what they signed up for. When did we get so bitter? Because while #GamerGate has done some good, the funding of TFYC and raising money for depression charities, is what has been achieved been worth all the vitriol? The doxxing (of anyone no matter their side)? The harassment? The hatred? The selling of our souls for a moment of kindness? Has it been worth it? This is me not giving up, this is me truly understanding what #GamerGate has become and making the choice to let it go.