What is the future that you see, scared male gamer?
Is it an apocalypse? Are you there, huddled amongst the ruins? A fire weakly crackling at your feet, your faces lit by the light of a PS Vita, struggling in vain to eek out the last few moments of battery life before the wandering bands of feminists descend upon you to tear you from this mortal coil for your crime of gaming?
Are you afraid that the scary skeletons of social justice are going to take away your precious games? Because if so, let me tell you that your fear is fucking nonsense.
Let me lay out a couple of basic facts. Firstly, feminism is a movement aimed at getting equal treatment for all genders. It is not about denigrating men, it is not about promoting women above men, it is about giving equality to all. Men benefit from feminism greatly as it works towards taking away the stigma attached to things associated with women. When a man is insulted for not liking sports, when a man is ridiculed by other men about being sexually assaulted, when a man is insulted about not conforming to societies views of men it is a result of misogyny. It is a hatred of what is considered “feminine” and not “masculine”, it is a result of the inherent sexism running throughout our society. That is not to belittle the men insulted, but to point out that feminism erases those stigmas, feminism helps those men and ALL men by making the world a better, more equal place for everyone.
Secondly, no feminist is trying to take away your games. Applying basic critical analysis on a game, in Anita Sarkeesian’s case from a feminist viewpoint, is not trying to destroy games. Hell it’s not even controversial. It’s an obvious, easily viewable fact that women and people of colour aren’t well represented in games, to deny it is literally just denying reality. All that feminists want is for people to be better represented, for games to have a wider, more informed viewpoint, which can only lead to deeper, more interesting stories and characters.
Thirdly, female developers and critics are already gamers. They love games, they’re making careers out of loving games, they’re as keen for games to continue to exist as anyone CAN be, they are not enemies!
There is no terrible endgame to this. Games will continue and, if they embrace feminism, they’ll be better than ever before. Your identity will not be sacrificed; you’ll be the same person you ever were. So why are there so many men out there willing to send violent rape and death threats, even terrorist threats, to women in order to “defend” their games? If you’re truly not misogynistic, if you don’t hate women, what is there to fear?
There is nothing.
Now Gamergate is, purportedly, a consumer movement that thinks games journalism is subject to corruption. Not from big publishers, not from proven sources, but from small indies and, especially, women. Despite the proclamations to the contrary this is an easy conclusion to come to. Gamergate began with an ex-boyfriend posting claims that his ex-girlfriend, independent developer Zoe Quinn, had slept with some other men, at least one of whom was a games journalist. This ignited a campaign against her, with some people saying she did it to get favourable coverage for her game, which was entirely disproved. She was subject to threats of assault, rape and murder, there were some who organised together to discuss how to attack more efficiently, some in those chats discussed how great it would be if she killed herself. Gradually the narrative shifted from attacking her to suggesting that games journalism was corrupt thanks to friendly relationships between writers in this enthusiast press and small indie devs.
Of course it’s hard to find that corruption. It’s easier to uncover corruption by large publisher who hold sway over the access to games that writers have, but that’s not what is being talked about. When I asked gamergate supporters directly what they wanted they said they wanted all possible relationships between writers and devs exposed. This was then instantly, without prompting, followed up with an attempt to paint Zoe Quinn as dishonest using her retweeting some of the hate she was being sent as evidence, because previously she’d said she wanted the whole ordeal to go away. The instant connection to Quinn, along with the continued harassment of female devs and writers and the origins of the movement paint a much more obvious picture, one society shows in abundance, and that is the fear of female sexuality. Women are routinely shamed and attacked over expressing their sexuality, the most common and obvious double standard being that a man with many sexual partners is seen favourably and a woman doing the same is a “slut” and a “whore. Even the most hated men in the industry, such as Bobby Kotick, don’t get the level of vitriol and campaigning that many, many women have had to endure. Zoe Quinn’s sex life is not a public matter, it never was, and it never will be for any women in the industry, the reactions to it are all too familiar.
Gamergate has picked up some followers who believe there is a real problem in games journalism and while it’s clear the corruption at the core of gamergate is false, there could be merit to looking at genuine ethical concerns. Gamergate is not how to do it, it is a movement born of hate and is using the moderate supporters to hide the insidious and awful actions at its centre. Even it’s most vocal supporters can’t provide any real issue that doesn’t rely on lies and sexism. If you want to look at corruption then create a new group, a group actually focused on that, not one that exists in mire of feculence
I’ve been struggling to articulate my thoughts on this. The actions of the men involved are so horrific, so disgusting and yet so fucking typical that keeping calm while writing this has been a genuine challenge. But here is a final thought:
If you have sent these threats, if you have thought “Well she deserved it”, if you offer support or feel that this harassment is at all justified then please, please, go fuck yourself.