From the outset, I need to say that this article is in no way connected to any of the reporting outlets for which I produce material. Everything published herein is a product of my independent reading and research on this topic, and can only be said to be connected to those who choose to support it. I will present my findings as objectively as possible. I was up until 3am last night just reading and reading and reading about this situation and I am no more decided on this than I was at the start. I will only explore the arguments and each side’s standpoint so those who have no idea on what is going on can at least get a picture of what is going down on the internet. Again, this is in no way connected to any Games Journalism site that I develop and produce content for outside of my own.
Figuring out where to start with this is difficult as even placing one argument above another in a list-type article could be construed as preferential. However, since this is turning into a war between gamers and those reporting on the games we love, I will start with the gamers. Hell, I am a gamer myself. My biggest concern is the “Death of the Gamer” as it is being coined and the “Death of an Identity”. On this topic I am a little upset, since I have always called myself a gamer. I am. I grew up playing video games and gaming has gotten me through some tough times. I tried to walk away from it, but it is so key to the things I love that I couldn’t do it. Across the past couple weeks, however, numerous games reporting sites have put up articles blatantly stating that the Gamer is dead. I have filtered these through DoNotLink to avoid directing clicks to them.
So we’re over? That’s it? Honestly this just seems like the most childish smear campaign ever. Gamers will never be over. As long as there are games, and people growing up playing them, gamers will be alive and well. I love how they didn’t say the “death of misogyny in games” or “the cleansing of gamer culture”: They just outright attacked everyone that plays games. It is disheartening, honestly. I will no longer be granting these people ad revenue by directing links to their site, I will start using DoNotClick to send readers there without adding to their viewing statistics.
Now they make some valid points here. Harassment is messed up for any reason. If anything, people deserve to be allowed to keep some things to themselves, and their personal lives should be the big one. So, I don’t care who it is, harassing people for any reason is insidious. If you are trying to destroy someone’s credibility, harassing them will only provide them with a wall of anger and hatred to champion a cause against. This, in turn, only grants them a valid soapbox to stand on, especially if you end up having a serious effect in their real lives.
The most powerful accusations in this situation come from the gamers themselves, actually, and it seems to be the reason gamers are so incensed over this. These accusations are pretty thoroughly summed up by the Internet Aristocrat, focusing primarily on Zoe Quinn. When I first saw this guy’s video, I thought he was just another hate-mongering asshat with a silly wig; but seeing some of the evidence presented, he makes a compelling argument. If any of what he says in his video is remotely correct, then there is definitely something really ugly hiding in games journalism. Of course, the video also makes some leaps in logic, such as not wondering if the ZoePost Blog was entirely true and not just the rantings of a jilted ex.
Now he says a lot in there, including that Zoe Quinn has single-handedly been able to manipulate all of games journalism with the magic power of her vagina. Now that is a tall order, but if something wasn’t true about the level of journalistic integrity being called into question, why would Kotaku and Polygon both alter their policies on Journalistic Transparency in response?
Another big name at the center of this controversy is the girl at the top left of the banner for this article. Her name is Vivian James. She is a character created by 4chan (note her hair adornment) to represent females in gaming. She was adopted by The Fine Young Capitalists. They are creating a Game Jam where female gamers submit game ideas and TFYC work with developers and artists. These games are then sold and the proceeds go to charity. The really bizarre thing here is that 4Chan is known for being a haven for those with anti-feminist and anti-inclusion beliefs. VICE.com recently posted an article about Vivian where they actually defame Vivian as being created for the sole purpose of spiting feminists. I also find her initials mildly comical since they sound like a euphemistic term for a woman’s.. ehem. You get the gist. Personally, I like Vivian since she resembles my own wife, who plays 3DS, iPad games and loves Mountain Dew all whilst wearing hoodies.
Major internet games media has a lot to answer for, really, but if there is some element of journalistic integrity that needs to be called into question, it should be openly discussed and investigated. Harassing people is always wrong, and my heart goes out to those that have suffered in the wake of this shitstorm, because it honestly is a shitstorm. There are plenty of people, famous and small-time, who want to see this situation calm down and seek to peacefully support progress in the direction of an inclusive gamer culture. Support The Fine Young Capitalists and their IndieGoGo Campaign. Contact people and tell them it is time for transparency and serious discussion about inclusive gamer culture. But don’t let the raging flame war continue, because it is hindering progress. I know that I will no longer be reading Kotaku, RPS, Polygon and others since I no longer know who I will be able to trust.
Some things that have come out of this, however are good. First, The Fine Young Capitalists are at 71% of their goal. Second, girls in gaming now have a character, albeit fabricated by 4Channers, that represents them. Honestly, someone should inspire them to make characters representing various faces contributing to gamer culture and turn it into a webshow. There is also a petition being signed by developers, gamers, social media outlets and others that calls for combating internet harassment. I don’t need to tell you that is a good thing, but as long as it is enforced equally there shouldn’t be a problem. PC Gamer tried to say it was signed to support Anita Sarkeesian, but the letter itself just states:
“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.”
And they are right. I would have signed this thing myself, but it was closed by the time I found it. (UPDATE: it has come to my attention that I did, in fact, sign this petition. While some have said it might be a petition of the “major people” involved, the message is still one I wholly endorse. I remember sending my name in, but I also thought I was too late and not important enough anyways. My thanks to Vlak for the ) Finally, and most importantly, people are calling for gaming journalists to be held accountable for their actions. To this measure, I will share with readers the games and campaigns that I have supported via Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Some I have already openly mentioned my contributions to, others not so much. Either way, here they all are:
Elysian Shadows – I funded them worth 50$ and wrote an article about their game.
Goblin Quest – I funded them worth about 50$, but it is based in the UK, so I really gave them 30£. I haven’t written an article on the tabletop yet, but I am considering doing so once I get my hardback copy of the book.
Beguile – I funded them worth 59$, which was about 65$ Canadian after shipping outside Canada and exchange rates applied.
Redneck Assassin – I funded them worth 15$ since I was really poor at the time. I haven’t reviewed the game, but I plan to once it is finished.
The Fine Young Capitalists – I funded them worth 25$ and haven’t done an article on them. I probably won’t write an article, but I think what they are trying to do is noble and pretty freaking cool.
I don’t think there is a problem with supporting campaigns that I like, especially when they’ve made so much already that my contribution is just a drop in the bucket. From now on I will be posting how much I have contributed and whether I have a plan to do so, but sometimes it is just a spur-of-the-moment decision. And that is honestly it. This is really all that I have to say about this topic for now, so hopefully it has been informative and gives readers that are still confused about this situation an idea of the arguments on both sides. There will be more to come, including my own strong-armed opinions, but for now, objective discussion. As per usual, I will be creating a topic to discuss the situation on my Steam group, Crotchety Gamers United.