For the past few days on Twitter, the hashtag #GamerGate has been inescapable. While a gaggle of gamers object to what they refer to as corruption in gaming journalism, their hyperbolic language makes them all but impossible to take seriously. A number of outlets with a better grasp on gaming and gaming community have dealt with the accusations. These accusations could be referred to as zombie arguments – no matter how many times they’ve been debunked they just won’t die. Compounding matters, as they say, are the “Social Justice Warriors,” who by criticizing the gaming community have left irreparable damage to gaming. This, it should be said, is total nonsense.
As much as they say that this about journalistic integrity, they’re really fixated on Anita Sarkeesian, a gaming critic, and Zoe Quinn, a developer. From their viewpoint, Sarkeesian’s work into gaming, its tropes, and its relation to feminism is somehow affecting their enjoyment of gaming – that her criticism devalues gaming or something. On the other hand with Quinn, they accuse her of sleeping with a gaming journalist for special treatment. These two women have been the subject of countless attacks, some so vile and threatening that Sarkeesian had fled her home and contacted authorities. After the attacks on these women gained traction in the media, the gamers started the #GamerGate hashtag as a form of resistance to the dreaded Social Justice Warriors (I can’t type that without laughing).
It came across my feed that using the hashtag with a simplistic anti-gaming statement would garner multiple responses from people monitoring the hashtag. Boy, they weren’t lying! For whatever reasons, these people feel the need to create new Twitter accounts en masse, 90% of which feature anime avatars, and reply to anyone they disagree with. It’s not hard to mess with these people either. Like a wind-up toy, it doesn’t take much to get them spinning. They respond to any over-the-top statement and reply with a straight face, thus making the matters funnier. As if they’re working off of a script, they repeat the same platitudes over and over, never with anything resembling intellectual consistency. They speak of journalistic integrity while decrying the agenda of the Social Justice Warriors (Should I say Social Justice Warios?) without any rational explanation of what this agenda entails.
Now it’s one thing to have a hobby. It’s perfectly acceptable that you feel passionate about that hobby. But when the hobby moves into the dominant force of your existence, that self-identifying as a gamer is more important than anything, you’ve crossed into another realm, a dark and scary place where all is driven by hate, fear, and anger. But this idea that there’s no outlets that aren’t corrupt is laughable. The focus on the sex life of a female developer is abhorrent. As a film fan and critic, I constantly read stuff I disagree with. What separates me from the #GamerGate crowd is that when I see something I disagree with, I move on. I know that there are more works out there of greater intelligence, and it’s more draining to focus on the anger.
Look, I’m not innocent here. I was purposefully pissing people off on Twitter. But it takes more energy to actually care about what some yahoo on Twitter is saying than to just ignore it. Everything that is circulating around #GamerGate is rooted in an anger and fear – “They’re coming for your games!” It’s not a coincidence that anger-mongers like Adam Baldwin and Breitbart.com have taken the side of the #GamerGate crowd – they make a living off fear and anger, exploiting it for political gain and personal profit for some time. Their tactics and language are just as easily transferable to the health care debate or gun control. Facts don’t matter. What matters is repeating the same point over and over.
I’m not, nor have I ever been, a gamer. I’ve played games, some multiplayer, but I don’t have the time or interest to regularly commit myself to gaming. Even with all the crazies, I did get some decent replies from the #GamerGate crowd. Even with the few nice folks who understood my jokes, the amount of people who took the increasingly outrageous freak-out bait seriously is rather alarming. If a person demands to be taken seriously and you laugh at them, it drives them insane which makes it all funnier. My advice to the #GamerGate crowd: ignore the trolls. If you don’t take us seriously, we go away. I only continued messing with #GamerGate because of all the replies. Had I gotten no notifications, it would’ve ceased after the first tweet. More than anything, #GamerGate must learn to accept that change happens. Often we’re powerless to change. It can be frustrating, scary, but it never stops. Fighting to maintain old status quos is a certain path to unhappiness, to becoming obsolete. Feel free to speak up, but things like gaming don’t die because of critical analysis. As a matter of fact, critical analysis is proof of how much gaming is a part of our culture.
If anyone was seriously offended by my tweets, I’m sorry. Well, kind of. Just know when you take my trolling seriously, you’re giving me more power than I deserve. It takes more effort to reply to a tasteless joke than to ignore it. As long as you take my bullshit seriously, I’ll never take you seriously.