Most of the horridness has been a direct result of #gamergate. The vitriol an hatred pouring out of some of the manifestations of the movement have been awful. Women game critics and developers have had to cancel appearances and even evacuate their homes in the wake of a movement claiming to be focused on ethics in game journalism, but that has been putting a focus on how women in particular are changing the gaming culture and the developer landscape.
#gamergate does not like women, and that’s a fact.
I suspected something awful was approaching during late summer. That was when Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni wrote a long, mostly unverifiable blog post about what an awful person Quinn was. Since Quinn also happened to be a game developer, the reactions to the supposed betrayal and untrustworthiness were not far away.
The gaming culture is nothing if not completely predictable when it comes to “intrusions” on the “true order” of the business of the gaming culture. The reactions are often close to instinctual and personal and sometimes not even based on facts. The critics of games and the gaming culture (is the default reasoning) can never be right, since games and gaming culture can only be understood by a select few. Those people that are approved and do understand it, are those who never criticise.
I still think few had imagined the level of vitriol that would spew forth. I think few understand that in some cases the avalanche of hatred is still ongoing, still kept thundering down the mountains. This avalanche was and is primarily directed toward women and other marginalized groups in the industry and culture. All it took to get it rolling in a unified direction was the tweet from Adam Baldwin with the hashtag #gamergate. In it Baldwin – self professed almost non-gamer – linked to a conspiratorial video discussing the alleged missteps of Zoe Quinn.
Proponents of the hashtag would have you believe it’s not about misogyny, Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu or Anita Sarkeesian. It’s actually about ethics in gaming journalism. The truth is that it doesn’t matter what it’s really about. It attracts those who think women have nothing to do in gaming.
Among her many alleged crimes Quinn was said to have traded sex for favourable reviews. Never mind that any question of ethics should have been directed at the journalist, and never mind that the journalist in question never wrote a review of the game.
I sensed the onslaught early and decided to support Quinn regardless. Her private life has very little to do with her game making. #gamergate would have you believe otherwise but few (if any) accusations levelled against Zoe Quinn (or any other women caught up in this mess) were true.
What #gamergate came to represent to me was that the undercurrent of sexism in gaming stepped up and showed its ugly face in all its glory. Previously it was a hunch, a gut feeling, but #gamergate supplied proof. Countless twitter accusations, threats and debates uncovered the truth within gaming culture – that the culture itself in many cases is hostile towards marginalized groups and that those people who gain from being in a privileged position within gaming rarely want to give that position up.
Luckily for the gaming culture and the industry, #gamergate also created a countermovement that spawned many initiatives to improve the climate.The industry became aware of the resistance against change in 2014.
I’m hoping that 2015 will be the year when gaming takes a step toward inclusivity.