It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write anything involving video games. Some of it has been my job, which requires me to write blogs all day, assuring that writing is the last thing I want to do when I get home. Some of it has been my forced exodus from the industry due to personal matters. Life happens and all that. However, there is another reason I stopped not only writing, but stopped being involved in gaming at all, and that is what I want to talk about.
To begin, I’d like to address a certain segment of the population here. Women, minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, and any other functional, healthy member of society can probably skip all this. Straight, white males like me, you need to sit the hell down and listen.
I used to joke that it wasn’t a day on the Internet if I wasn’t called a “faggot” at some point, which, while funny, is also depressingly true. Homophobic and sexist insults have been par for the course for a long time, but it seemed like that practice was eroding as we went along. When someone called you “gay” or “bitch” it only helped to invalidate everything they said before and after, and we all moved on. It was only a matter of time before such ignorance and unoriginality evaporated. The future of the gaming community looked bright. Then something happened.
In 2013, I posted a satirical blog on a rather famous gaming website about why men who chose to play as men in games like Skyrim or Mass Effect were living homoerotic fantasies. I mean, why would you want to stare at a man’s ass for 10 hours or more if you weren’t a little curious? Now, I’ve never been accused of being smart or funny, but it was very obvious what I was doing. I posted it and went to bed. The next morning, the comments were hilarious and vitriolic. That afternoon it continued. Then, a little after dinner I got a phone call from an unavailable number, which I didn’t pick up. The message they left painted a graphic picture of how I could be raped to death by my own severed penis. It went on from there. The blog came down; I stepped away from writing, and spent a few days getting wonderfully colorful threats through my email and phone. Good times!
All of this coincided with other disasters and I stepped away from writing for a very long time. I lost faith in the culture I grew up with. I knew that a lot of gamers were assholes, a truth applies to EVERY culture and interest there is, I just thought we were better. Most of us that are older than 25 remember being picked on more often for our hobby than not. I just assumed the people that loved comics, games, books, and every other niche of the nerd world would remember why we invested our time in the medium to begin with, the ability to escape. Turns out it made a very loud group of you bitter and unbelievably sad.
When this “GamerGate” idiocy started, I assumed it would fade out like the other groups of its ilk. I mean, the Ku Klux Klan and Westboro Baptist Church got a ton of attention for a time and then disappeared. Sure, they tried to make waves now and then like a bored kid at dinner trying to get everyone to look at him, but they were a joke. The GamerGate folks are identical in action and message as those two groups, so why would they stick around? Well they have, and they are now representing my demographic on the national stage. I’m a white male that plays games, and now I am lumped in with a group that is desperately trying to stay relevant and protect itself from all the evil girls out there, and it is the same for every white male gamer out there. Now it’s time to not be silent.
Here is my proposal guys. We don’t get to sit and watch. We don’t get to just play games and ignore the obscene violence and hatred that is running rampant. We are letting Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu, Anita Sarkeesian, and others fight for us. We are standing by while they are chased out of their homes. It is up to us to join them and help stop this insanity, and simply tweeting “You Rox!” to them isn’t enough. I want as many straight, white men that are not afraid of women, minorities, or the LGBTQ community to stand with me and help shut this down.
Are you online and hear someone yell “faggot” or threaten to rape someone? Block and report. Enough reports and that asshole stops being able to game. See something in a thread or on Twitter? Don’t respond, just report them and move on. If the millions of us manage to just simply push those people aside, refuse to engage them online, and refuse to let them play games with the rest of us, they will go away. It’s small, and certainly not the cure all, but it is a gesture that can make a difference, that actually does something other than show verbal support. You don’t need to put your name on anything, and you shouldn’t get involved with those cowards sending death threats, but you can help silence them. Just like the KKK was on the wrong side of history, so are the stalwart GamerGate members, and it’s up to us to show them that. The vocal minority can gnash their teeth and scream all they want, just not in my game lobby, and they shouldn’t in yours.
Gaming should be inclusive, and we need celebrate the diversity. Having developers like Quinn, who made a game that would never have even been conceptualized 10 years ago, makes sure gaming doesn’t grow stagnant. Imagine if we only had the 5 networks for all TV still. Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones. . . none of those get made without more channels, so why are people trying to keep us locked with 5 publishers and 3 genres? The entire GamerGate movement wants to stop us from having Breaking Bad and keep us only watching Three and A Half Men. Time for the intelligent and creative to take back the reigns.
So men, lets help take back the conversation and help shut this abhorrent behavior down. If a few hundred misogynists can cause so much of an uproar, imagine what a few million decent people can do. After so many years combating the image of gamers as acne-ridden virgins who shoot up schools to build up cultural legitimacy, we can’t let these people tear us down again. Time to fight back.