In recent months, you could not even peek at a social media stream without catching talk about feminism, offensive video game tropes, journalists selling out, and inauthentic game reviews. That was just the tip of the iceberg. All these things culminated in what is affectionately (not really) called GamerGate.
Do not confuse #GamerGate with #GamersGate – they are two VERY different things!
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GamerGate went beyond the issues of feminism, alleged “sex scandals”, and the need for reformation in the gaming industry as a whole. It is culmination of the desperate outcry of gamers, consumers, and even industry professionals who are tired of the BS. We feel cheated, used, underappreciated, and deceived. Those feelings were sadly focused into fear of change, finger-pointing, dirt-slinging, and other petty drama.
Many attribute the GamerGate fallout to the Zoe Quinn debacle. I won’t re-hash the whole thing but it sure got ugly. Certainly, there are double standards when it comes to adult relationships but people sure LOVE jumping to extreme conclusions. The trolling was real. Heck, the whole thing went beyond trolling.. Hacking, Total Biscuit, Phil Fish, and more craziness got thrown into the mix!
I would say the breaking point really came thanks to Anita Sarkeesian. Her web series, Feminist Frequency, may have served as a catalyst to the turmoil and resentment. Opponents felt she was merely playing the self-righteous role (i.e. #SJW, Social Justice Warrior) to draw attention to herself. The reality is that all the debate and angst came from tension long in the making, through no fault of her own or any specific parties.
I do not wish to downplay the personal attacks Anita got for speaking to issues she feels are important. Discrimination and objectification are very real things in any medium or industry, not just video games. That said, there are deeper issues here that the PC (political correctness) police are tucking away in favor of their own agendas. Right or wrong, it feels like the outspoken few are holding on to their own biases and skewed worldviews.
Let me be clear: it is wonderful and worthwhile for folks like Anita Sarkeesian to encourage perspectives that focus on the artistry and social issues driving or driven by video games. It’s equally important to remember to have fun and not assume every creative work is ridden with offensive material or tropes. It’s easy to find issues when you dig deep but is that really what we should be expending our energy on? More importantly, women should not aim to be the equals of men.. That is setting your sights too low. I kid, I kid.
The core issue here is one of trust, not social hierarchy or constructs. Even for more casual gamers, there is a substantial investment of time and money which we all feel justifies our serving as keepers or critics of our gaming hobby or lifestyle. The dissatisfaction and distrust with gaming journalism is a reflection of the course corrections we are seeing in social media, communication, and business [ethics] as a whole.