Posts Tagged ‘call to action’

How GamerGate lost the Media War

February 5, 2015

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play“- Joshua, Wargames, 1983

So recently, I found out that one of my favorite detective television shows, Law and Order:Special Victims Unit  would be airing an episode based off the events of Gamergate. The episode, titled “The Intimidation Game” will feature a story about a woman who is about to launch her first online game, of course she receives threats and harassment from men online. Another part of the episode has a female employee assaulted at gamer convention. The episode details can be found here.

As much as I love Special Victims Unit , I know how these episodes that are based off of real life events play out, usually from a one sided perspective that demonizes the perpetrators. Be they a pop star accused of touching children(an episode based off the Micheal Jackson allegations) or a radio shock Jock who’s fan goes off and does something stupid all so that he could end up on the Shock Jock’s show (clearly based off Howard Stern and the controversy that used to surround the infamous Howard Stern Show). The opposing “party” gets persecuted  straight to hell by the detectives, in a ploy to show the audience how evil or screwed up they are. “ The Intimidation Game” will most likely be no different. Gamers are going to be portrayed as nothing more than woman hating mongrels that will stop at nothing to impede the progress of women into their “boys club”.

Which is what brings me to why I gave this post it’s title and why I used the quote from Wargames. At this point, as a person who has watched the Gamergate issue erupt and turn gamer against gamer and gamer against journalists  I have to say that it’s over, in the court of public opinion, Gamergate and what it stands for has been mangled so badly that there’s absolutely that I feel that there’s no way to turn it around and here’s why.

“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course”. John C. Maxwell 

This is my biggest gripe and why I felt that pro-Gamergate side took such a beating, there was no “leader” per say or even a spokesperson. On a topic that has the likes of Anita Sarkeesian and media outlets like Polygon constantly beating the public over their collective heads through generalizations, disingenuous reporting or just plain bashing. It doesn’t help your cause when you don’t have a figurehead that’s at the forefront to at least explain where you’re coming from and refute some of the claims your opponents are throwing out at you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone ask “What’s Gamergate all about?” and immediately receive a cut and paste response that you’d see from the comments section of Polygon. Labeling anyone that dare stand with Gamergate as a “Fedora wearing, basement dwelling white male that hates anything that deals with Gays, Transexuals and Women and their involvement in video games”.

I can’t tell you the countless times I, as a Nigerian born, 28 year-old, non whitenon fedora wearing male would have to then reiterate and explain that yes, there are extremists but those extremists do not represent Gamergate or gamers at all. However as I’ve come to learn, those efforts are almost as futile as arguing with someone that  only watches Fox News and wholeheartedly believes that every person that associates with Islam is automatically a terrorist. Yes that’s how bad it’s gotten and probably the best way I can drive my point home.

When the only explanations that people read or hear about are coming from your opponents side of the argument it’s easy to form a bias. There are plenty of people who talked about Gamergater that were Youtubers, bloggers and writers. There are no shortage of Gamergate defenders but with little to no organization any formation of a front was quickly brushed aside and ignored.

An example would be the #Notyourshield sub movement of gamers who were tired of the gaming media using women and minorities to deflect and essentially shield themselves from any kind of criticism that could be slung their way by feigning support of both groups. Another example, when Christina Hoff Sommers aka “The Factual Feminists” released a video titled “Are video games sexist” that criticized the gaming media and it’s motives for suddenly moving against it’s perceived audience. Like #Notyourshield  Ms.Sommers was immediately written off, described  as a conservative who only  wanted to gain the favor of embattled male gamers.

Battling against a biased media.

“Something I’ve often noticed is the willingness to shame anyone that doesn’t agree with Ms. Sarkeesian or any of the issues that she speaks of. While we know that disagreement is a common aspect in society, the problem becomes apparent when you’re not just disagreed with, but you’re shamed for disagreeing.” – From:The Culture of Infallibility that surrounds Anita Sarkeesian

The day that ‘The Colbert Report‘ had Anita Sarkeesian on as a guest, was the day the final nail had been struck into the GamerGate coffin. The masses who are not as “plugged in” as those of us were treated to a big helping dose of that classic Sarkeesian bias. Being a gamer and watching someone like Anita Sarkeesian go on national television and call gaming a “Boys Club” was cringe worthy. The whole interview took me back to the days when career activists like Jack Thompson or politicians like Joe Lieberman would routinely appear on news circuits to complain about video games. This time however, the games and developers aren’t the ones under siege but the people who play them as well. The fact that so few people see the parallels between now and then is bothersome.

Back when Thompson and Leiberman were on their media tear, there wasn’t much of a voice to oppose them,  the ones that were loud enough to gain the public’s attention were disregarded. Now in the age of Anita, we are seeing the same thing take hold. People have been blinded by the gross misappropriation of  gamers, by misappropriation I mean the instant dismissal that all gamers are social awkward basement dwelling and have no idea of social context and what it means to be a productive member of society. With television shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “King of the Nerds” the image of people who are gamers or are involved with gaming hasn’t really progressed in the eye of the general public. EVEN THOUGH there are more gamers NOW than ever before in the history of the medium.

End Game

There were several missteps in Gamergate, in the world of Public Relations, getting out ahead of the news, especially if that news could be damaging to you or your client is essential. Inaction leaves you open to attacks from your opponent. Your opponent can now twist your image in anyway that they please. This has been the literal case with GamerGate, Polygon pushes out an article about Anita being harassed and it’s immediately tied to GamerGate, no investigation done, no real research that connects anything to anyone.

Yet with the way the gaming media has set this up, every single time someone is attacked online for speaking about anything that has to do with women in gaming, it’s Gamergate no if ands or buts.Controversy brings comments and clicks and with those two, revenue. Gaming has always been a besieged medium, from angry parents to “activists” and Politicians, there has always been someone there who wants a piece of that proverbial pie and honestly, who can stop them?

Anyway, thank you for giving this piece a read, I’ve been stewing over it for some time now and trying to find a way to put what’s on my mind to paper. Please share your thoughts and let me know you know how you feel. Do you think Gamegate is lost? or do you think there’s still a chance to properly get the word out?