(As a reiteration from my first article) 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. (reiteration ends here)
It’s out there. Our gaming industry is severely corrupt. Which makes sense, really. We’ve all been staring at it directly in its ugly face and shrugged with a desultory sigh at the massive tangled web in front of us. Why should we do anything else? We are mostly responsible for the way the industry is now, as gamers. But with so many of them and so many hands holding up their world, how could anyone dare to do anything? At that time, we were all just playing games and didn’t want to care about it. Now the pillars of our own internet community have turned into cruel elder gods, lording their power and cackling maniacally.
As I did in my article earlier today, here is a list of the articles involved in the media blitz attempting to label me, my wife, all of my friends (physical and virtual) and the majority of people I have known as misogynistic men who want to rape and pillage everything good in gaming. This is my revised list of sites I will no longer visit.
The list grew, and so does my disdain. It is readily apparent that the tag of “gamer” is under direct assault by the gaming press. I do not support harassment, and engaging in it is disgusting. Were it that those who harassed Anita and Zoe could be found, it would likely help in some small way. Recently a bunch of devs and journalists (including myself) got together and signed a petition to speak out against harassment. Good. It was signed by all the same people whose journalistic integrity is being called into question. Not as sure… PC Gamer tried to pawn it off as being directed at Anita’s harassers, but it is not. They are now under review for addition to my list. The petition just says:
“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.”
But there is derision among devs themselves as to whether this is the solution or not. While I am not inclined to throw out names, I will say that the discussion is on Twitter. Go see for yourself. Many who disagree with the “popular crowd’s” petition have been signing a petition by Boogie 2988 entitled Gaming Industry – Please Stop The Hate. I have signed and fully endorse this petition. Sign it if you are not a misogynistic neckbeard that squeals with rage when things don’t go your way and sends death/rape threats to people. I know I’m not. The complete text of this petition reads the same as that above, with this addendum:
“We are asking indie developers, AAA developers, and other folks to stop branding gamers as neckbearded, misogynistic, hatefueled, ignorant, homophobic, idiots. While hate exists in ALL demographics, gamers are no exception. However like most demographics, most gamers are kind, open minded, good hearted and love our fellow gamers. Stop the hate.”
One thing that is increasingly interesting about this all is the fact that everyone has just accepted male power-fantasy games as the norm for games. Sure, it is fun to spend a day killing dudes and have extreme social freedom, but that is not all there is to gaming. At some point, after the thousandth charge in Day of Defeat, someone got bored and wished there was something else to play. Something fresh, something new! Maybe even something artistic, or dramatic or made them feel something about who they are. Something more than just killing dudes.
I’ll admit it: When I was a pubescent boy vibrating with a frenzy of hormones, I soaked it up. I loved conquering and enslaving cities, laying enemies low and collecting my share of babes and loot, scarcely differentiating between the two. Some times it is still fun to indulge heroic fantasies, meting out justice to evildoers, but often I want more. Sometimes I want to laugh out loud, or explore what it means to be human.
Just because I am 28, doesn’t mean I have to give up gaming, but it sure is time gaming grew up with the rest of us. Considering the audience that games have catered to until now, it’s no wonder their uproarious caterwauling is visible across the internet, but the rest of us are pushing back.
A gamer is what I am, and I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of it. I grew up playing video games and I have been on many adventures and military campaigns. What I have experienced in games has always been something I take with me because I experience the story alongside the character.
Some years ago, there was a show called Battlestar Galactica based on an older show from the 80’s. It was so poignant in its messages about culture and society that the actors were invited to speak to high school students at the UN. While there, on of the actors, Edward James Olmos, said the following:
“You are what you eat, you are what you think and you are what you do. If you use technology […] to pass the time and get caught up inside of the game world, then you’re going to be in a game world”
Now EJO was using this opportunity to pass on some archaic beliefs about games, and that is they’ll probably destroy your life. But they cannot even start to understand just how right he was and in what manner. Some of the ways I think about my job are in the sense of a game. I sell products to get a higher score, if I sell several products at once it’s called a cross-sale bonus and if my team makes its goals, we get a payout as our loot. Seriously, this is how I look at my regular job. Of course, you have to make sure you do it right to suit the customer or you lose some of your hard-earned loot, so integrity is important. In the occupation of games journalism, however, integrity has fallen by the wayside, and this is the reason for the backlash.
Now the big issue is about what we do now that this ivory tower of gaming has erupted like a cesspool atop a live volcano. Well, I would support a full upheaval of their system, since they are trying to destroy our culture. And yes, they want it destroyed and, somehow, they will rebuild it atop the bones of gaming to be a little puppet that will do their bidding, bowing down to their every word. That is not how it works. As I have, please consider boycotting the sites listed above (Polygon, Kotaku, Ars Technica) and others that refuse to uphold the journalistic integrity they should stand by. I don’t trust them anymore where once I loved them like my big brothers. I am not just saying this because it might benefit me, I am saying it because we could hold new faces to this promise easier under the figurative piked heads of their predecessors. Just putting this out there, though. I consider myself to be a gamer, but I also think of myself as a hobby journalist. I am not saying that ALL game journalists are a problem: just the one espousing hate and printing a storm of articles about how gamers are the devil, and gamers are over, etc.
Even Vivian James is coming under attack, and you know what? I love her. I am considering getting her tatooed on my arm because she doesn’t represent misogynistic assholes who want to see feminism fume over feminist support for their cause. Vivian James, at this point, represents female gamers, the accountability of games journalists and, personally, my wife. Hopefully my daughters will likewise love games like her, even though there is no way they’ll be ginger. As a result, my wife agreed to dress up in her own version of Vivian’s customary garb and I took a picture of her. Here is the picture.
She agreed to do this, not because I tricked or forced her into it, but because she loves games and thinks this whole thing is just stupid. Not to mention she did a great job with it X D! Vivian was accepted by The Fine Young Capitalists as a symbol of women in gaming, and here she is, my lady in gaming. This is what Viv represents. And she is just as confused by all this as I am. This is not the story of sexism, it is a story about journalistic integrity. The Fine Young Capitalists had to deal with their own horrifying ordeal at the hands of the popular crowd of games writers, and now they are almost at their goal of 70,000$ to make game development a reality for female gamers. To create something that represents them in gaming and what they are capable of. It is awesome. Please support them on IndieGoGo, I know we did. Adam Baldwin did, and he has nothing to do with games, really. If you like TFYC and what they are doing, and your gamer girls do too, ask them to dress up like VivJ and tweet them with the tag #TFYVivians!
On Reddit, several threads have begun exposing instances of corruption in games journalism. There is one here. Then there are also people on Reddit talking about how we should be taking this situation. You can read that here. Not sure that you know how you can contribute, or even how to discuss this situation? Check out this video, here. Even just talking about this and propagating about this discussion and what it is really all about will help keep it in the front and center of our culture. Check out this article about the things you need to know for a thorough update if you aren’t sure! Ours is a culture of diverse characters and stories, ours is a culture of inclusion and ours is a culture of tolerance. It is time they learned that. Just don’t do it in a way that will make #GamerGate look like a group of assholes and don’t do it in a way that is harassing and upsetting. Most of us dealt with bullying throughout high school, like this guy says, so don’t start throwing it at people. It sucks.
<update> One more way that I have been seeing people speaking out against this situation is through the use of #notyourshield. Essentially, the above statement covers it. Women and minorities have a voice in gaming. Theirs is a strong voice that we want to hear. Gamers accept and celebrate them because they have been here all along. Games Journos just seem to have this idea in their heads that gamers are actually all just basement-dwelling neckbeards that feel entitled and special. As a result of moral elitists using minorities and women as a crutch to hide the corruption in games journalism, men and women of all races are now using the hastag to call them out on their shit. Check it out for yourself. Seeing this response from gamers and the internet is beautiful. We all game. We all love to game. It brings us together into something bigger than just ourselves, and gives is all a unified element of all our cultures that weaves us together like a tapestry. Are you really going to fuck with that? I will leave you with this image I found on the hastag. It is awesome. </update>
This is all evidence of video games growing up. Video games are not just for young, adolescent boys, but something enjoyed by men and women of all ages. My wife has Pokemon X in there. Sometimes she plays Harvest Moon. Sometimes she plays Farmville on her iPad. And there are plenty of others, black people play games, hispanic people play games… anyone you can imagine these days has likely played a videogame. This is why the gamer will never die: there are too many of us and our culture goes so far beyond just who talks about our games that we don’t need them. They don’t define us, we define them. When I heard Wil Wheaton speak at Pax East 2010, I loved him because he said games are an art. But he also reminded us of one thing: Games don’t divide us, they unite us! They are a force that brings this diverse group of people together and makes them all relevant to one another. As a group we are now taking to the internet and saying that this is who we are. So what if Vivian James was created by 4 Channers, some of which might deserve the flak from Gamasutra and others? She is a symbol of hope, not hate. Unlike what the games industry has shown toward us. I just want to reiterate, not all games journalists are the problem. There are plenty in the lot. Just like with gamers, there are just a number of bad apples. But in the case of major, culture-influencing journalists: there aren’t many good ones right now. This is directed at them. Thanks for reading this tirade. It is, in most ways, a collective release of all my frustration over this.