Thursday, September 04, 2014

Targeting Systems Offline

I've already given my opinion on the treatment of people (aka – fellow human beings) in the gaming industry when people don’t like them or disagree with their views. But recent events involving threats of violence against people in the gaming industry and have made them even scary places. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve considered taking a break from social media and just hiding away in my own personal gaming world until it all blew over, but to do so would be cowardly and wouldn't actually help the situation. So…here we go.

If you've been following the timeline of what is now being called “GamerGate” from Zoe Quinn to Anita Sarkeesian to dozens of other lesser-known journalists, developers, and personalities in the video game industry, you've undoubtedly noticed a huge chasm form between many gamers. There are the GamerGaters, people who believe what they are doing is right and fixes the industry by purging it of those who have conflicts of interests (COI) and use shady practices to get ahead, and those who believe that the targeting and harassment done by GamerGaters is excessive, often illegal, and is founded on white male privilege that is so prevalent in the industry.

I've looked into both sides since things got ugly with rape and death threats, and I've noticed a rapid shift in tone from those who identify as part of the GamerGate movement. While there were (and are still) those who threaten “toxic” journalists and developers with sexual and physical violence, there are many people a part of the GamerGate movement who are trying to expose those with COIs and have them removed from the industry through more civil means. I’m in no way defending the movement – I personally believe this is just a more subtle version of coercion – but it’s worth noting that there are people who still believe they’re doing the industry a favor by ridding it of these “cancerous” individuals.

But let’s be honest with ourselves as gamers for a moment. What is this actually solving in the video game industry? Sure there are big(ger) fish that are targeted like Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian who may or may not have hidden agendas when they write and create; that’s not for me to judge. But lately I've seen a lot of GamerGaters go after mainly small-time journalists, and, here’s the kicker, the overwhelming majority of them are women.

Perhaps women are just more likely to have COIs and use shady practices to get ahead in the industry, and if you believe that I have some nice ocean-front property in Arizona you might be interested in. Regardless, while some people in the GamerGate movement are using civil coercion to force people to quit or their companies to fire them, there are still a large number of people who use threats of violence to scare them and show them that they “mean business”.

The fact that this has to be reinforced is not a good sign.

Now I know that these people don’t necessarily represent the GamerGate movement as a whole, just like any subset of a movement or group doesn't really define the whole at its core, but it begs the question, where should people really be targeting their efforts to cleanse the world of video games of wrongdoers and those of little to no scruples? Perhaps the bigger problem with the gaming industry and community at large is this belief that if somebody is seen as a threat to our beloved hobby, then threatening them with rape and violence, DOXXing and SWATting them, and overall abusing them is justified. Maybe those who see themselves as white knights for the gaming industry need to clean up their own back yard before complaining about the state of the neighborhood.

It could be the way I was raised, but I see a much bigger problem with fellow humans being forced from their homes because of fear of bodily harm than I see with them writing a review for a game that their friend helped create. COIs, sexual favors, and whatever else people have been accused of doing to gain a foothold in the industry is no excuse for calling their parents with threats and making them feel like their life is in danger. It’s people like that that continue to rot away at the image of gamers and the industry.

I think those in the GamerGate movement need to stop just encouraging people to use more civil tactics and instead target those who continue to threaten people to get their way, because it’s those people who are the more prevalent threat to the industry. They’re the reason why I almost hid away from the industry and community that I loved so much, but they’re also the reason why I decided that I shouldn't just sit back and watch the hobby I love become identified as a bunch of misogynistic loudmouths who prefer scare tactics to being a decent human being.

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