One Big Rant: The #GamerGate Elephant

As mentioned on Twitter, this post has been stewing in the back of my mind for a while. Why? I wanted to know which side of the #GamerGate issue I’m on. I wanted to know who I would be getting behind and supporting in an issue that, on the outside, is a movement intended to improve games journalism for the consumer – the person on the end of the gaming hobby that ultimately has to throw their pounds, dollars and whatever else into the purchase of an artistic entertainment medium that offers the interactivity that separates it from other art forms such as film, theater and painting, although has elements of all of these in many of it’s interpretations across all the platforms it operates over.

So why is it taking so long for me to choose a side? Because both sides have aggressive, forceful elements that, ultimately, are so full of their own shit and have their head so far up their ass that they think the sunshine is somewhere past all the shitstorm. This tweet, as an example, was made because of vitrolic elements FROM BOTH SIDES pushing for a response from these people who, in the end, support diversity in gender and sexual orientation in gaming. PEOPLE SHOULD BE SUPPORTING THIS IF THEY HONESTLY SUPPORT #GAMERGATE. Yet you read along the replies to this, and the entire string of bullshit coming out of this is a literal shitstorm of people on both sides flinging shit like a bunch of hyped-up monkeys, blaming either side for the decision to not support the movement.

Anyone who takes sides in it? They’re the devil, no matter what, apparently. You support #GamerGate, you’re an enemy to game development, you support harassment in the industry and are the worst kind of fucking person alive, not to mention being a doxxer, hacker and abuser of indie game devs. You don’t support #GamerGate, you’re a feminazi, an SJW, a shill, a bane of minorities in gaming and a dispicable piece of shit for letting game journalists get away with shit they shouldn’t be getting away with. And this is the main reason why people like myself refuse to take a side – because both sides make you labelled as a piece of shit.

And the thing is? It’s not the only example of the shitfest. It’s been a movement that’s lasted for months at this point, and the origins are about as mixed as the opinions of those who operate on both sides of it. One origin story goes that it’s originally a 4chan “movement” that then overlapped to Twitter in a smear campaign against outspoken feminists and feminist supporters like Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkessian (and I can never be sure I spelled that name right) and is nothing more than a mask for people who are now in 8chan (because 4chan got tired of this shit, it seems) that even now continues to harass and intimidate those who want to speak up but can’t for fear of their real-life loved ones.

Another origin story is that the tag was started up in response to the “Gamers are Deadarticles that cropped up over many journalist websites (a lot of which cite up the Zoe/Anita harassment as well) and #GamerGate was the kneejerk reaction to basically throwing ALL gamers under the bus for the actions of those willing to go too far with their harassment towards people in the industry (and those outside it just putting out a voice). And yes, there are more than those four articles, all basically recycling the same thing or the initial ones that came out on the very same day (28th August 2014). Thus the idea that the journalists were fabricating the media to turn against gamers in general became a thing – and gamers would break down the gates of corruption in journalism to expose their bullshit and everything would be for the better, right?

But here’s the thing: The harassment never stopped. My opinion of how it’s gone is that there was a harassment campaign before GG began, all because of a hate post from a former relationship partner that eventually became a 4chan activist campaign. When it started getting noise and attention after Anita was pulled in to the hate campaign, journalists pitched in with what they saw and declared that there was no saving the term “gamers” from this developing shitstorm, which agitated all sides of the gamer sphere and with corruption being the word of the hour, #GamerGate began. Not that 4chan stopped the harassment under this – they just co-opted the tags to continue on under the radar and protection of a legitimate movement to improve standards in gaming journalism.

So where does this leave the discussion? In a chaotic mess of shit. You have the journalists, who see #GamerGate as an attack on their professionalism and is a large rebuttal to their opinion pieces. You have the entusiastic gamers looking to protect possibly their only hobby from being broken apart by corruption in the medium. Then you have the fringe arguments: You have the feminist gamers, who want to see more games be more respectful to women, which then brings in the gamers who are Male Rights Activists (MRA’s) to oppose them (because agendas are hateful things, I guess?), then the 4chan people (who are now 8chan people due to reasons) that continue their smear campaign against those not willing to bow down to them, the devs that stand against those people, the people who are against harassment and see #GamerGate as a campaign of such…

Yeah, as you can plainly see, it’s a convoluted shitstorm of voices. Which is why nothing is being done. And this lack of clarity is obscuring visions across the entire spectrum: When there is this much noise and chaos in a conflict, there are no resolutions, no goals, no clear messages, and so the voices eventually combine into a wall of sound that nobody in their right mind would try to hear everything of. This is why it is so hard to know how to feel about #GamerGate. No one person anymore can prove how #GamerGate started. No one person can prove things did or didn’t happen unless there’s some active ongoing archive of events – and although there is a fairly interesting effort going on here to make one, accuracy past the point of this entire thing exploding beyond control cannot be confirmed, and it doesn’t include the many debates that escalate over Twitter or discussions hidden in chat logs like the one from David Futrelle’s investigations.

There are those who actually to take a moderate, reasonable stance in this shit, from both sides. I’ve had civil, convincing discussions with those who truly believe #GamerGate is for the better of the industry, even if they have to acknowledge that there’s going to be those on the fringes that will continue to fling shit in every direction because they can and know how to. And in the eye of the storm, you have people working on ideas, means and ways of improving the system by comparing it to other reporting medias and thinking of ways for things to be improved – like having an overseer of sorts to deal with claims of corruption if they are legitimate. Something like this would actually make #GamerGate a success if going by the principle of fighting corruption!

But how can there be a resolution when those on the outside looking in are seeing all of this? How can anyone take seriously a movement to promote equality and fairness, while exorcising corruption and suppression of free speech, when the people on the edges of the debate flinging shit inwards are inequal, unfair, corrupt and/or suppressing the voices of others because they simply disagree with it? And the worst part of this? BOTH SIDES ARE AS MUCH TO BLAME FOR THIS SHIT. Supporting those who loudly try to shut down opposition to their arguments is attacking free speech AS LONG AS YOU SUPPORT THE PERSON DOING IT. But if you defend someone who’s being attacked for expressing their right to free speech? You’re a Social Justice Warrior.

Yes, it’s become that much of a gimmick that there are now BUTTONS making fun of the whole SJW rhetoric. And this is a response to the absurdity that many see throughout #GamerGate, from the GamerGate.txt Twitter account to people on the outside outright mocking the movement because of those vicious elements submerged within it. And the only reason it hasn’t stopped yet is because nobody has ended up having to feel the consequences of it: Anonymity has this bitch of a problem that when you have a thousand unknown voices shouting at the same time, there is no accountability for their actions, which means they mistake “freedom of speech” as “freedom to do whatever the fuck I want”, without realising that actions have consequences, even with anonymity, and “freedom of speech” does not mean suppressing another’s right to it. It’s a basic human right, taking that away eliminates the point of it being “free”.

Of course, the female balance issue is not just one for gaming: It’s a global concern. Which is why UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women, Emma Watson, has made it a point of debate by launching the #HeForShe trend over Twitter. Of course, with this developing all while #GamerGate extremism is still rampant, dots are connected to make out that she’s also against the MRA’s or #GamerGate in general and she gets harassment just for launching a campaign to promote equality across genders…?

And that is to say nothing of the nudes already leaked in the midst of this madness which further objectifies women and ultimately is just the ongoing smear campaign against women by hardcore MRA hacktivists with an agenda to supress all equality. Because men, apparently, “belong as the dominant species” or something, and women “should stay in the kitchen” or whatever stereotypical tag you can throw onto extremist activists like that. Which, in my personal opinion, is a complete load of bollocks. Literally.

And all while this is going on, there is still actual ongoing corruption flying about in the games industry: Publishers buying promotional material from Youtubers, editorials that criticise paying sponsorship deals all while having sponsorship deals of their own, developers advising military chiefs on how to fetishise and entice the people into buying into your views and ideals, all of which all but the most daring of voices are willing to confront and disassemble as an attempt to enforce the corruption that does exist, contrary to what others may believe.

So why does nothing happen? Because there’s too many cooks, and the broth is already spoiled at this point. There is no “victory” to be had in #GamerGate at this point. There’s too much in-fighting and bickering going on for any cohesive effort to fix the industry, and those that are trying don’t have the power behind them to make the change because of this division caused by diversity. Not that it’s beyond saving – if the shit-flingers are culled and/or prosecuted, the conversations become more respectful and progressive, the people rally behind fixing the problems and ensuring they don’t return, then there may be some saving this campaign against corruption that has been started.

But there is no “victory” to be had when the victor stands on top of the corpses of those thrown in the acid chamber of doxxes and harassment, when the victor has to then take accountability for the actions of those that came before and acted in the name of #GamerGate but instead were out for themselves, when they have to look back on the movement as a whole and see the devastation, the terracarving that came before and then explain to themselves and to those who have to write this in the history books that “it was all in the name of what was right”. And the worst part is: Both sides of the argument are becoming the monster they’re claiming to fight.

There is no true victory against a monster when you become the monster you sought to slay.

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