Oh, #Gamergate

I’m a gamer. Yup. You got it. I’m a 55-year old black woman (er, well, genderqueer) gamer. I’ve been playing video games since PONG. Right. PONG. I don’t have a console now, but I’ve had 4 in my life. I have 144 games in my Steam Library, and I have downloaded probably hundreds of Android games. I play a game (or two) just about every day. Every once in a while I’ll even spend a good chunk of the day on an especially compelling game. I spend far more time gaming than I do watching TV and movies. I have been sitting on my hands, drooling, waiting for the release (tomorrow!!) of Sid Meyer’s Civilization Beyond Earth. And I will happily plunk down my $50 to get it and play it (tomorrow!!) And, my dream (really, my dream) is to write for games. I would love aspects of my novel “The Right Asteroid” to make it into a game. I love strategy, space, puzzle and sim games. Really, I love them.

OK, I’m done with the gamer creds. But truthfully, if you play Candy Crush Saga on Facebook, you’re a gamer. If you play Bejeweld on your phone, your a gamer. Most importantly, if you ever have spent a dime on a game, you’re a gamer. You might not resonate with that label, but as far as the game industry is concerned, they want to know who you are. And you know what? It turns out, that there are a lot more women and people of color gamers than anybody thinks. Well, not anybody. The industry knows. They have been slow to respond, but they are responding, and games are changing, and great diverse indie games are appearing. Hence, #gamergate.

So what is #gamergate, anyway? I don’t want to spend much time outlining it here. This is the best article summarizing the whole thing that I’ve read recently. Go read it. I’ll still be here. What is fundamental to #gamergate is that it is, as that article says, a symptom of a much bigger issue. Let’s be frank, here. It’s White Guy Fear Syndrome.

Maybe I’ll coin that term: WGFS. White Guy Fear Syndrome. Maybe it will make it into the DSM VI (that is, if there actually ever is a DSM VI.) Of course WGFS is everywhere. The backlash against women in technology is a symptom of WGFS. Ferguson was a symptom of WGFS. People like Mike Huckabee show the classic symptoms of WGFS. You can think of many, many others. The news is full of them. (Note: Luckily, WGFS is found in a minority of white men.)

The hallmark symptom of White Guy Fear Syndrome is the desire to cause fear in others. In some cases, this is creating fear in allies, so that they will act in certain ways. The other is to cause fear in enemies.

Actually, I don’t really want to pathologize these men (although some of them have done pathologically horrible things.) What I want to say is that the core of all of this is fear. Their fear of not having a place. Their fear of not having control. Their fear of losing what they have. They are afraid of change.

Sound familiar? Guess what, we all have those fears. They are deeply human, and normal.

What happens when a woman challenges the status quo in the gamer community? She gets threats, and she gets doxxed (which means her physical address is shared publicly.) This has been happening a lot, and most recently, Felicia Day, a well-known actress and fabulous geek, spoke out about #gamergate, and she got doxxed. Many men have also spoken out on #gamergate, including Will Wheaton and football star Chris Kluwe (read this article, it’s great.) Men don’t get doxxed. There is no question, that #gamergate is aimed squarely at scaring women. It is misogynistic at it’s core. And misogyny is fear of women. Yup, there’s fear again.

So what to do about #gamergate? I think the only answer is for all of us, especially on the female side of the spectrum (born or identified) to stand up and say: “Yes, I’m a gamer, I want a game industry that is diverse, and not misogynistic, and I’m not scared of you.”

Go ahead. Dox me. No, wait, I’ll dox myself. 2480 Rio Lindo Ave. Healdsburg, CA. 95448. I’m waiting for ya. You’ll get some tea.

Update: Upon posting this, getting some interesting responses on Twitter and other places, it appears this is getting pretty complicated.  It seems #gamergate proponents are a much more varied, diverse lot than the press is suggesting (even feminist/progressive press, which is where I’m getting most of my news on this – I don’t read about games and the game community much – I just play games.) Some are still very adamant about ethics in game journalism (ethics in journalism is always a good thing.) Also, apparently (although this is disputed) there is a pro-#gamergate group called #notyourshield, which is made up of women, trans and poc gamers. So I want to clarify one thing: I clearly can’t say #gamergate as a whole is a symptom of WGFS, but I will say that responses to women and others that were anti-#gamergate, where they were doxxed and/or threatened under the aegis of #gamergate is a symptom. And I stand by my statement about a game industry that is diverse, and truly represents the wide variety of people who play games. For me, that’s the bottom line, the crux of the matter, and any backlash against that is where the problem is.


6 thoughts on “Oh, #Gamergate”

    1. I do actually appreciate your response, No one cares, and your alternate viewpoint. I’m still pretty skeptical, but I’m reading more.

  1. I don’t know when straight white dudes became the new scapegoat for literally all the world’s problems of today, but it’s really kind of getting annoying.

    Okay so here’s the basic rundown from Ground Zero: A male gaming journalist (of Kotaku.com) & a female gaming developer were caught in relations (and didn’t tell anyone about it, which is kiiiiinda looked down upon in the journalist field, no?) People ask “Y U DO STUFF U NO SUPPOSED TO DO, JOURNALIST GUY?” People were inexplicably shut down from talking about it. Soon that stopped, and now you’d think that the journalist would get some kind of punishment for breaking the rules, right? Ha ha ha WRONG! Instead they divert the attention to the developer and cried “NO BUT YOU SEE, YOU’RE REAAAALLY ATTACKING THE FEMALE GAME DEVELOPER!” (spoiler warning: no one was), and soon a flood of articles from their buddies websites started posting the same, and people went “…yeah okay, ya’ll are full of shit and we’re done taking it from you.” Hence, GamerGate.

    Nowadays GG is focused on busting more and more bad stuff they do behind the scenes until they A) apologize and reform, or B) get all their site traffic driven away, because pissing off your consumers is a good way to go broke.

    So yeah, this really did all spurned from the head boss of Kotaku not wanting to fire his little golden boy. Hopefully it costs them everything; couldn’t happen to nicer people if you ask me.
    “And I stand by my statement about a game industry that is diverse, and truly represents the wide variety of people who play games. For me, that’s the bottom line, the crux of the matter, and any backlash against that is where the problem is.”

    That’s exactly what GamerGate/NotYourShield is TRYING to say. Those sites I’m talking about are acting like we don’t already KNOW that gaming is super diverse with people from all across the spectrum of humanity. But they keep drumming up this fear narrative about “oh gamers are still basement dwelling misogynists/rapists/homophobes/etc and GamerGate’s trying to keep it that way.” No, we just wanted you to be open about and own up to the crap you do. NOT use Zoe Quinn as YOUR SHIELD to distract from what you did (get it? That’s the secret beauty of Not Your Shield, because it was KOTAKU that used a woman as a shield to cover for a man…yet they try to accuse GG of the same thing. The hypocritical projection anti-GG people are doing is wonderful, really).

    1. I definitely hear that there is some serious misinformation happening. I read Kotaku on occasion, but not regularly, so I haven’t been in the loop at all about all of this. But there are a couple of things.

      1) You can’t deny that there have been folks using the #gamergate hashtag and seemingly pro-GG, who harassed, threatened and doxxed women, and acted horribly.

      2) Your comment “I don’t know when straight white dudes became the new scapegoat for literally all the world’s problems of today, but it’s really kind of getting annoying.” – Try living in a patriarchal white-supremacist society as a black queer woman, for frack’s sake. Then you’ll get it. If you want a straight white guy to explain it to you, here’s this: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/

      1. 1. Well yeah, we ARE on the Internet after all, so people will use any excuse to harass people they don’t like. No sane person condones what happens to these women, but at the same time it’s unfair to try to paint the ENTIRE scenario as just one big hate movement just because people abuse the tag. The most we can do is keep reporting the bad eggs as much as possible…

        2. I guess as a 24 year old nerdy black kid that’s been in the suburbs most his life, I’ve guess I’ve just kinda decided that everyone sucks and everyone’s to blame for the world being crummy :P. Not saying that some creed of folks don’t have a harder time than others (even I can attest to that), I just sometimes worry that we might be heading down a path we really don’t want to go back down if we don’t pump the breaks at least a LITTLE toward our resentment to the white man, you know what I mean?

        1. Both points well taken. And I appreciate that you took the time to make comments here. I think my basic point was really about fear, and the effect of fear, and people living from fear. I actually don’t have much in the way of resentment, I just observe what’s happening, and what has happened.

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