Friday, September 26, 2014

#GamerGate: Righteous Crusade Or DudeBro Creepiness

I took some time off after a successful Summer Of 8-Bit and return to something called #GamerGate. I was under the impression that the hashtag was created under noble intentions, but later discovered that it was nothing more than a ruse created by 4Chan users, scumbags, and trolls to harass a female game developer.

They did a good job hiding their true intent, and by bringing up a long rumored act of publishers offering payola to game journalism sites for good reviews they called to arms a number of gamers who were already leery of these sites. The thing about the truth is that it always comes to light, and the persecution of Zoe Quinn started to feel a lot like the witch hunt started when Anita Sarkeesian went on a crusade to analyze and bring attention to many of the archaic tropes in gaming. The attacks on both women have been treated by some in gaming communities as if they are some sort of mythical creature, but the threats levied at their families and friends are definitely real. They are so real that Quinn has gone undercover in 4Chan forums and downloaded entire chat logs discussing how they will attack her.

In recent discussions with people on assorted social networks, I've discovered that some folks truly don't believe that the attacks on Quinn are the real problem, but they do believe that #GamerGate is all about exposing some secret conspiracy hatched by government organizations to censor the content of our beloved video games. This all comes off as typical tin foil hat territory, and even if there is some truth to it, that is no reason to completely disregard the blatantly horrible treatment of gamers who aren't straight white males. It does go to show that those who aren't affected by not being privileged don't recognize the problems that some people face simply for existing.

The #GamerGate situation is a microcosm of the problems facing society as a whole, but it is more a situation that again makes me ashamed to be a gamer in some instances. If your crusade was truly about developers and publishers paying off gaming journalism sites for positive reviews, you would point out infamous examples of said practice like former gaming stalwart Gamepro Magazine offering positive reviews in exchange for advertising space. If someone is to ever want to really have that discussion, I'm all in for it. Until then, I advise you all to not believe the hype behind #GamerGate.

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