In materials science, fatigue is the weakening of a material caused by repeatedly applied loads. It is the progressive and localized structural damage that occurs when a material is subjected to cyclic loading.
In short, if you bend a piece of wire enough times it will break. I’m sure you’ve done it at some point, taken a piece of wire and bent it and bent it until it finally snapped. Maybe not even snapped, just gently let go, and suddenly there were two pieces of wire. Or a broken wire.
I read this piece on Medium, by L. Rhodes. Rhodes writes about the fair minded proponents of GamerGate, and yes, I am aware you’re out there, and that you’re trying your best to make a difference and help. The quote below, I can agree to some extent with this. I think a reduction of corruption is a good thing.
“What do you see as the overarching goal of #GamerGate?” When, as was often the case, you answered “corruption,” I made a point of following up by asking what practices you had in mind. And it’s there, in your answers to that question, that I could see the goals and imperatives of your activism begin to diverge. Some asked only for more prominent disclaimers whenever a writer had a potential conflict of interest. Others argued that disclaimers weren’t enough, and that writers ought to be recused whenever a relationship might be thought to go beyond the bounds of the professional. Still others felt that developers were capable of exerting too much financial pressure over the gaming press.
As Leigh Alexander rightfully points out, there IS corruption in game journalism, but it has less to do with romantic relationships than you think. She lists a number of offenses that hasn’t even made a blip on the radar of GamerGate. Labour practices, cloning game ideas, forbidding games that question the ethics of sweatshops, how the US military is using games as an inspiration, how arms manufacturers uses games to advance their political agenda, game retailers owning game publications etc. All of these practices would deserve a closer look, but instead, the GamerGate “movement” is concerned with, and I quote:
Women’s sex lives, independent game developers’ Patreons, the personal perspectives of game critics, people having contentious or controversial opinions, who knows who in a close-knit industry (as if one could name an industry where people don’t know each other or work together).
The problem is, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before, is that the ethics in games journalism is a good cover for less well intentioned people, who are using GamerGate as a shield to harass primarily women in games.
That’s the side of GamerGate that I’ve seen. I’ve seen a rise in the level of harassment that is frankly terrifying. Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian driven out of their homes. Anyone speaking up being targeted, and often it’s not enough with the person expressing doubts around GamerGate. Their friends, their family is also targeted. That is the image I have of GamerGate.
I do have a point with my introduction.
As the GamerGate controversy rages on without any signs of slowing down, there’s something I need to point out. It’s becoming difficult to even mention the hashtag on Twitter. A mention will without fail lead to a number of GamerGate proponents jumping in, often tweeting the same information multiple times, jamming the notification inbox with pro-GamerGate messages. Even though the person tweeting may be well intentioned, the act of responding can feel threatening.
Having the same video tweeted at you from ten different directions is threatening in itself. Having so many standing up and saying “Hey this is what it’s really about” interspersed with maybe one or two much more threatening tweets can be very tiring.
There’s a form of aggression known as microaggression. It’s often unintentional, but it serves to reinforce a certain message. When I tweet something about GamerGate – as a woman clearly stating that GamerGate to me is a way to harass women in games – and a multitude of people answer with a denial, the message I receive is that my concerns about GamerGate are not valid.
Slowly but surely, the repeated message that GamerGate is about ethics in journalism is actually wearing me down, and creating an even more threatening environment for me. Because by tweeting these things, my experiential reality is invalidated. In particular in a context where the few harassing comments are still popping up in my feed. In fact they don’t even have to be about me. I can read about other women being treated badly and feel unsafe. I can see the threats and harassment, but I can also see that my experience is invalidated by a multitude of people. This reinforces the sense that I do not belong in gaming. I am inferior in status to the multitude and I can expect to be treated worse than a valid gamer, in this case someone agreeing with the GamerGate message.
Yes, if you want to discuss specific points in GamerGate, feel free to tweet or respond. If your purpose is to repeat the same spiel over and over again, then you will reinforce the harassment. You will create an environment that is not inclusive. If you want me to listen, don’t start by telling me that my experience doesn’t really exist.
Wanna do something?
Sign the diversi petition and take a stand.