Gamergate is bullshit, and it’s certainly not about ethics in journalism. Threats and harassment against women in gaming is reprehensible for any reason whatsoever, and it’s astonishing that the very people who are pushing the boundaries of what gaming can do and express are the ones being attacked.
Now, I had hoped it would go without saying that that’s my opinion, mainly because I was afraid of saying it out loud. That’s right – even though I own and run a company that, by definition, I cannot be fired from, and even though I don’t have any advertisers who can be threatened, I’m still a bit afraid about speaking out. That’s the chilling effect of Gamergate, and it’s what has made me shirk my responsibility to speak out against it. I thought, better to keep my head down, which is terrible.
I don’t have a lot to add to the discussion, other than to say two things.
Firstly, publicly condemning Gamergate is a good start, but it’s not enough. Whoever you are, if you love and enjoy games, it’s your responsibility to support and champion those people who are taking a risk – whether that’s people making games that are not horribly sexist and that preferably promote feminism, or people who critique the portrayal of women in games (among other troubling portrayals). Do what you feel able to – and then some more. You’re on the right side of history, and this is the moment where your actions will count the most.
Secondly, if I were 17 right now, there’s a good chance I would have sympathised with the Gamergaters. I found it difficult to talk to and relate with girls and that made me resentful and defensive. I felt my life was difficult enough, and the notion that women had it any harder than I did was incomprehensible. I choose that word incomprehensible because I really mean it; I had no idea the level of harassment and unfairness they experienced in life, and anyone telling me otherwise was obviously mistaken and just attacking me.
Thankfully I wasn’t obsessed over this, and I had plenty of other, more productive things to occupy my time with. But it wasn’t for another few years that I began to mix with a wider group of people and read more books and experience better art and gradually comprehend that other people had far bigger and far different problems than my own. So my story is a positive one: it’s possible for people to grow and mature, if they’re helped.
If we declare that the behaviour of Gamergate is not acceptable; if we support and champion the people making games into better art; if we help those who don’t comprehend to comprehend (which will take a lot of time and patience!) – we move forward to a better world, inch by halting inch.