It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way: since someone who knows nothing about gaming has called me out strictly for being a gamer as if that was something that needed be the source of shame and disgrace. There were two other major times when this used to happen: it used to happen a lot when I was first becoming a video game enthusiast because gaming had not caught on to the mainstream in the same way it is today, meaning that there used to be a lot of shame and ridicule associated with it; it also happened for a short while when I was in that great age where you were, in the public’s eyes, “too old to like video games.” Since then, though, it’s been pretty good to be a gamer and, as it has caught on in the mainstream more and more with each passing year; it’s spoiled the crap out of me. I can go just about anywhere I want to talk about video games, even to people who don’t really know a whole lot about them. People who normally weren’t so accepting of video games as a pop culture standard are now, at least, accepting that people like them and that they’re here to stay. It’s been a very long time since I’ve had to face this kind of ridiculous criticism and that’s why it’s got me in as many knots as it has me in.
I should take a second to warn everyone that this post will contain content not suggested for sensitive audiences, ignorant audiences, or those who came here with an agenda of looking for support for their ideals. This post is to get stuff off of my back: no more, no less. It will tackle subjects that have been known to be of a triggering nature. Please keep that in mind before continuing.
What started this was actually relatively simple (by the way, please read this article if you have the time, it’s a very neutral take on the issue) and a summary of the article linked sums it up pretty well:
“…A feminist game developer pushed her game into the spotlight by making dubious claims of harassment that were never investigated. Her former lover later accused her of exchanging sex for positive reviews and a career boost in the process of cheating on him with at least five men. Owing to her connections in the game journalism industry, including people who explicitly finance her, she shut down most discourse regarding this story on major websites and got these websites to print articles in her favor despite the protests of the vast majority of gamers themselves. Those game journalists who did not conform were threatened into silence. Yet by mobilizing her fellow game journalists against anyone who wished to expose her corruption, Zoe Quinn inadvertently revealed their corruption as well.”
I’d tried to avoid the issue, at first, because this is the same kind of bullshit sensationalism that journalism as a whole is known for, in an effort to drive up page clicks and views. As someone who reports on games and the industry that creates them, I usually don’t have to participate in this usual kind of tabloid crap but this had been thrust into the spotlight and a lot of people have decided to make this a rather hot button issue. I honestly thought this stopped, at first, at an angry ex-boyfriend venting his frustration online because his former girlfriend, Zoe Quinn – an independent game developer – had been sleeping around while stringing him along for the ride. That’s as much a judgment about him as it is about her, in my books, and I found that easy enough to ignore.
What had transpired, as a result, though, set fire to the entire gaming industry – most notably the journalism portion of the industry: these guys Zoe had been sleeping with were people who were involved in gaming journalism and, to some extent, the industry as a whole. Of course, the Internet blew up, collectively, when they found out that there was the possibility that she was sleeping around to further her own agenda, especially after trying to sensationalize her agenda using feminism as fuel, before, wasn’t quite doing it, and trying to raise awareness about depression through her title Depression Quest wasn’t cutting it, either. This was easy enough to ignore, as well, as anyone who’s been a fan of gaming and has been watching the industry for some time should know that accusations of gaming journalist corruption goes back almost as far as gaming journalism, as a whole, does, and this was very far from new news. This was just something that was blown way out of proportion and sensationalized and was something to get everybody yelling and caring about it for some time, guaranteeing sales and page views for a while.
Even the issue of feminism and misogyny in gaming isn’t new – though it’s been growing as a focus in the gaming media, lately. People like Anita Sarkeesian have been trying, for some time, to bring her agenda into gaming and expose it for what she thinks it is: a market dominated by men where women are constantly objectified and shamed, whether as characters in the medium or as professionals in the industry. To some degree, she’s right – while women have been offered more and more opportunity and offered more reliable and strong roles as characters, as time has dragged on, the tropes and objectifying still exists in the industry and it doesn’t look like it’ll be going completely away anytime soon. I love seeing strong and believable roles in gaming storytelling and I strongly believe in equality for all in humanity based on many factors so this is something I support and I’m totally cool with. This was an issue I don’t compete with.
Even the implied cover-ups that have been made all over the gaming media, online, don’t really have me bothered – you know, until the fact that someone decides to take this blog down over bringing up the whole scenario which, honestly, I don’t think will happen. Every single time a vengeful person will speak up on this issue, they face bans, post deletions, emails, vague threats – it’s gotten pretty bad but none of it has been provable. I’m not really that concerned with it because it hasn’t really affected me quite yet and I don’t think I have the kind of exposure I’d need in order to attract this kind of attention. I could probably talk about the craziest stuff and no one would really pay it much mind until I took it to reddit, or something. In the widespread Internet age where everyone has access to everything, this kind of blow-up was destined to happen this way. I’m relatively accepting of this situation, as screwed up as it is.
What is not cool, however, is the shaming that happening on both sides of this coin, right now, and it’s a war that is stupid as fuck and needs to be stopped: feminists versus gamers. These two subjects could not be further apart from each other in principle and it’s terrible that we see gamers shaming feminists and people that they feel aren’t “real gamers” and we see feminists shaming gamers for the simple fact that they associate with something that they feel worsens the issue of misogyny. This little thing was something that I was attacked by, by a group of feminists because I responded to tweets talking about corruption in gaming journalism by stating stuff like that I’ve stated above, sharing feelings of lack of surprise that there’s corruption in journalism and I instantly got set against the wall for a Twitter shaming. It was barely professional but I assure you there was an agenda of shaming me for simply not blindly supporting their misandry – one of them has “I play video games but I am not a gamer” on her profile, I shit you not – which, in my mind, is just as bad as the misogyny they are supposedly fighting in the name of equality. If you’re shaming in the name of vengeance, which some of these righteous Twits were, then it would be easier to ignore as you would just be a dick… but if you’re trying to shame someone to further your righteous crusade in pushing an entire gender around in the name of equality… well… is like fucking for abstinence and it’s equally as retarded.
What’s even worse is that this is even an issue: neither subject, in its principle, should have victims. Feminism, in its principle, to my understanding, is about introducing equality across genders and eliminating judgment based on one’s gender. Gaming is a form of entertainment that is so strong and so diverse that anyone with an open mind can get into it, in one form or another, and enjoy it thoroughly. And yet there are participants on both sides who decide to take their frustrations, their vengeance, their righteous rage against the other as if the other side is somehow directly responsible for such feelings. This becomes self-fulfilling because, after a while, this becomes completely true and each side loses track of why they started getting angry in the first place: all that remains is the fact that the other side is responsible for their anger and they should pay for it.
We could spend all day talking about the “Quinnspiracy” and how she’s finally gotten her way in shooting to the spotlight in order to promote her feminist agenda as well as garner attention for her projects. We could spend all day talking about how a good number of gamers seem so protective of their hobby that any threat to the way they grew attached to it is worthy of the vilest and most sociopathic responses. We could spend all day shaming those involved in both sides of this issue but that would make me no better than those involved in this tripe. Shame on all of you, myself included, to a degree, for adding fuel to the fire and never stopping to, once, think that we could be spending all this time and effort trying to do what makes us and each other happy, instead of poking each other with sharp words and justifying hurt feelings.
In this respect, in spite of the shaming that I know I shouldn’t take seriously, those feelings of shame regarding being a gamer have surfaced again, somewhat. I hate them. I personally want to blame Quinn for this whole thing but we all know it was the Internet’s reaction to this whole situation and what it implied that did this. I can’t blame Quinn for the whole thing but she certainly had her hands all over this situation and everyone should be able to see that from a mile away. Is she a bad person? Yes. Does I need to beat that dead horse, though? Not really. I’m just stuck with this feeling and it’s really kept me from being able to write about anything else, recently, and the whole thing has been pissing me off because it’s a stupid feeling to have and there’s really no good reason for it to exist.
What should we be doing, exactly? In my opinion, if you’ve read this entire self-serving post and you haven’t gathered that, already, then there’s nothing I can do to help with that but I will say this again to make for a clean conclusion to this writing: gaming should be about entertaining yourself and sharing that entertainment with others. There’s a lot of other stuff there but that should be the primary focus. Same goes for feminism: we should be focusing on equality where gender is concerned instead of focusing on finding a person, place, or thing to take our frustration and hurt out on. Bottom line is the main focus of both is finding a way to enjoy life and what we like without restriction or judgment. Why can’t that be the focus?
If you’ll look over at my tags, you’ll also see that I’m doing a little bit of Quinn’s game back at her: I figure that if she’s going to cheapen everything in order to get some personal gain from it, who am I to say that I’m better than it? This kind of thing needs to get talked about and I want to make sure that it reaches as many people as possible, even if the main purpose was to get some shit off of my chest. So… you know… take that!