[ Blog ] Approaching #GamerGate Part 6: “One More Final: I need you”

This is the last I’ll be talking about #GamerGate and I hope that this SXSW thing is the last I’ll ever hear about it as a debate from both those for it and against it. It’s getting tiring and it’s turning into one of those problems that people have lost the meaning in what they’re fighting for and focusing more on the fight and the hate that comes with it. Just a heads up, too, to those who might be sensitive, I’m going to be cross-referencing End of Evangelion a lot, here, as evidenced by the title, and that shit is not pretty by any stretch of the imagination: there is a purpose to it, though, and it will come full circle to a point that I think we all need to face, as people in the gaming industry: we have a good thing, here, and we’re wasting it away because we’re too focused on fighting with one another.

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Seele: Traditional Media

They’re the ones who have been, who are, and always will be. They set things in motion to go in the direction they’re going and, if they have their way, they will continue. They are great minds who see people as the beings they are and have since learned to manipulate them to their own needs. Of course, traditional media giants and Seele share a few characteristics but the evil mega corporation that is Seele is fairly single-minded whereas traditional media is not. I can already hear the thoughts from some of you: “Well, okay, so why bring up traditional media first, then, in your line of cross references?” There’s a huge point, here: traditional media has an agenda. They have always had an agenda for the people who have consumed traditional media. I’m not going to be donning any tin foil hats anytime soon but I do know that a greater agenda of traditional media – movies, music, television, news, print media – is to get people to continue to be interested in their sources, at their leisure, using their methods that have worked for decades upon decades.

Right now, their progress is being threatened by two major players, right now: video games and “new media” sources like YouTube and the rest of the internet. New media is a threat for two major reasons: it’s now becoming easier for the viewer to consume what they want, when they want, on their time and it’s becoming harder to control where the money flows. Traditional media does not like this shift in power. As for video games’ threat, it comes right down to the fact that it’s combining what’s great about movies, television, music, and making them better by making them wholly interactive. They have their own industry that is completely separate from traditional media and they cannot control anything about it, directly. They do own some of the developers and the production companies and some companies have tried merging things a little and giving traditional media a bone but traditional media does not like this one bit because this changes their agenda from one of complete market control to one where they have to share profits and share control.

They’ve already started their campaign against new media and they’ve done pretty well: the mainstream consumer believes that new media is watering down information and is filled with crap. They have done the same thing with gaming, now, as I sincerely believe that traditional media – or, at least, someone in traditional media – created #GamerGate as way to destroy gaming from the inside to lower its staple in popular culture and possibly send it flying into another great crash similar to the one gaming experienced in 1983. We’re already at a point of ultra-saturation with the way some franchises are released on a yearly schedule and some games get churned out without a second thought to what the consumer wants so all they need now is to make the mainstream consumer begin to hate it and resent it. Considering gaming is huge in the mainstream, right now, creating a culture of in-fighting and hatred is the way to go.

All they needed to do was create figureheads like Anita Sarkeesian and leak a little information in regards to journalistic mailing lists, point a few fingers, create a huge dramatic stir that has nothing to do with anything and watch it explode. That’s exactly what happened and #GamerGate was born, stifling the positive mindset gaming had, for the most part, up until that point. You see, gamers have always been a competitive bunch and that, as the medium grew in the mainstream spotlight, just got worse and worse and it seems a good portion of us were already at a boiling point.

Traditional media wants this to destroy gaming so people start going back to consuming the old media and enjoying tropes and trends that we’ve been accustomed to. It wants to create a poisonous atmosphere for gaming like it used to have in the eighties, so that way those who held on to it would have to learn to regret it or learn to accept the discourse that came with it.

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Asuka: Third Wave Feminism

The embattled. The arrogant. Those seeking to prove themselves, succeeding, and still wanting more. Working to the point of exhaustion and never rewarding herself. Jealous, petty, and angry at the world for her transgressions; ultimately, though, she feels vulnerable, alone, and wanting validation. Though so full of rage, so full of oppression, all she needed to do was realize that everything she needed from life was right there all along and it gave her power. However, that power was not enough and she still failed. She overcome every plight in her life and she still failed, only to return as a memory to fulfill someone else’s choices.

One half of this whole debate is in regards to how the gaming industry has represented women and how the common belief – as feminists are wont to do – is that gaming is a ‘boy’s club’ and its very nature is oppressive to women. This is one of those arguments you avoid, typically, in most discussions, because nobody wins in a discussion about the fairer sex: both genders have strengths and weaknesses. That’s what it basically comes down to and when it comes to representation in video games, it was kind of a speaking point but that’s slowly changing as we already have loads of positive female role models in video games and the industry itself, both past and present, and that’s increasing with time: a great example is Ellie from The Last of Us; who, potentially, was the strongest, most composed, and emotionally intelligent character in the entire cast. In the industry, perhaps the oldest example I can think of was Roberta Williams, who is most famous for her creation of the King’s Quest series of games but created and worked on some of the most full experiences to be had in PC gaming at the time.

A lot of this also comes with the question of transgender representation in gaming and the industry and while I’m not entirely sure about industry representation, there’s been characters that are well loved and well known to be transgender. It’s easy to dismiss the fact that we’re not exactly in a place where everyone is happy with where it’s at but considering how popular the medium is and how many people consume it daily it’s hard to say that everyone is going to be 100% happy, 100% of the time; it’s literally something that’s impossible to do. You just have to do your best and hope that people, generally, are happy with the results and accept those that won’t be happy without shaming them. I think, though, that we’re getting to a place that we can start representing any topics in gaming that are on people’s minds, be them sensitive or not. Going back to Roberta Williams, she created Phantasmagoria which not only starred a female lead, she was very real and was dealing with her deranged husband who had been possessed by demons – but it will always be remembered for a rape scene in the game that happens prior to the main character knowing about her husband’s possession. While it’s far from realistic and it’s hard to believe someone would just continue on from that point, it’s still something to see that someone’s willing to show that kind of thing for the evil it is and forcing people into a position where they have to talk about it.

Am I saying that feminism has nothing to fight for? No. Am I saying that feminism is to be disregarded? No. I am saying that the half of #GamerGate that started this argument, feeling that females and gender minorities are not being positively represented in video games and gaming industry are flat out wrong and that it’s moving towards what they’ve wanted and it’s been a positive trend for some time now. I am saying that this side of the discussion seems to be less about representation in video games and more about how they feel personally oppressed and how, instead of personally changing, they expect everyone else to change.

I am saying that, like Asuka, the fight will never stop so long as you have something to fight against: those who feel that way will always feel oppressed, will always feel like they’re struggling, will always dislike the majority, will always have a superiority complex due to the fact that they need something to hate, to dislike and, therefore, something to fight. That is why Asuka failed and why this end of things will fail, too: if you fight until you have no more you will eventually find someone who fights you harder than you and will defeat you, once and for all. Sometimes you just have to accept your victories and move on with what you’ve won and be happy with that.

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Shinji: Ethics in Journalism

Childish. Short-sighted. Feeling like they’re the only ones who’ve suffered. Capable of so much but refuses to do what’s necessary without getting what he wants from life. Extremely logical, questioning, and persistent but comes off as whiny, pathetic, and childish. When validated, he just comes off as arrogant and spiteful, kind of telling the world “I told you so” in the most cowardly way possible.

Welcome to the other half of the discussion of the #GamerGate debate, those who decided to tackle the issue of whether or not gaming media act with integrity or ethics when publishing their content. While this is a valid argument, this is also another one of those discussions that has little really to do about gaming because it’s a topic that has been approached many times and has even had its claws in gaming media for nearly as long as I’ve been alive. The reason for that is simple: print media has always been this way. Print media has always engaged in these kinds of tactics and if anyone has paid any real attention to their publication of choice for long enough, they will see that it’s been around for as long as print media has been around and the same goes for any branch of it as well.

This, too, is a debate that should have been had many years ago as publications such as GamePro and Electronics Gaming Monthly have dabbled in these kinds of measures quite often and even popular gaming publications that depended on a “for the gamers, by the gamers” mentality such as Game Players have engaged in this. Some of the editors and contributors from all those publications ended up under some of the worst examples of press and media corruption: Gawker Media. If you’re surprised at all by this, you just haven’t been paying attention, it’s just that you were ignorant to it before and now that it’s been exposed, you can’t ignore it as it’s made you angry and justifiably so.

The only problem with this is that the gaming media and print media as a whole don’t care about your scare tactics, how angry you are, or how ethically wrong they are. They speak a pretty simple language: money. They speak in sales, clicks, advertising, and readership. When you yell, scream, and kick a fuss, they’re not hearing you because you aren’t speaking a language you understand. Every time you click, read, or take in something they put out, regardless of the reason, they get more drive to keep going and doing what they’re doing.

Like Shinji, you’re obstinate and you continue to go on about things that everybody knows and understands. You flail around, expecting people to understand you but people don’t want to listen when you’re carrying on the way you do when you get emotional and angry about something. You’re going on about problems everyone knows, everyone understands, and everyone has grown adjusted to how to solve, but you insist on fighting it in a way that won’t solve anything and serves only to hurt others, push people away from you, and cause brand new problems. You’re all about self-satisfaction because, the truth is, you just want validation from those that count, you want people to acknowledge you and tell you that your efforts and knowledge are enough, that you’ve solved the crisis in front of you. However, so long as you continue on the path you’re going on, all you’re going to do is self-destruct. Problem here is that those who are close to you in this confrontation are also those who feel battled, oppressed, angry, and upset and when neither know what to do with those emotions, they often turn them on one another…

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Shinji & Asuka’s Relationship: #GamerGate

The above picture pretty much says it all in how this comes together: Shinji has finally had enough from the world and after continued poking and prodding from Asuka, he unleashes all of his anger, his depression, his oppression and his confusion on her because he feels she can take it and won’t fight back from sheer terror and not expecting things to go this way. It was a rather strained relationship but they bonded together through their struggle and their pain; it was a relationship that should have blossomed and could have been something beautiful but because they both insisted that the other didn’t know their pain and could never understand their struggle, they were in constant contention with the other. The problem was that their struggles were similar but very different in the sense that Asuka’s pain came from her mother’s suicide and feelings of inferiority whereas Shinji’s pain came from his mother’s death and feelings of abandonment: they were both tied to their Evangelion units, though, and their pain came from their parentage. Asuka tried to heal her pain through aggressiveness towards her male peers and promiscuity towards people she saw as father figures while Shinji often withdrew from everything, satisfied with the fact that while there was nothing else in his world, at least the pain didn’t get worse.

This is #GamerGate and what has culminated in the last year and change: two groups that should be side by side, relating in their struggle but instead competing, trying to fight about whose struggle is worse, about who understands more, about whose pain is stronger. This grew until some of the more fundamentalist on both sides didn’t know how to handle the emotions this was putting them through and they lashed out at others, turning this into some kind of hateful, spiteful, and altogether negative fight fueled by those who just wanted to be loved and accepted and found none of that because both sides brought their fight into an arena where fighting against one another wasn’t meant to be: one can even say that bringing this fight into gaming is the reason they’re fighting in the first place. While the comically public Zoe Quinn situation – and I say “comically” not because of what happened but rather because it became as public as it did, when it should have stayed only between relevant parties: I do think she deserved to feel regret and embarrassment as a result but not to this scale – is what tipped everything over the edge, these groups had been waiting to get at each other for some time.

Gaming, much like these pilots and their Evangelion units, were grounds for friendly competition and unity. They were the last hope for humanity and eventually they became the tools for Seele and their agenda. You tie that into the discussion about #GamerGate and things become a little more clear: traditional media has their greasy little fingers on the whole situation and both sides of this thing, along with those involved, are just pawns. They’re being used to destroy gaming as they’ve attempted many, many times before and, if everyone not taking a side in this can hold firm in their belief in the positive side of gaming, they will not succeed. Speaking of which…

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NERV: The Gaming Majority

These are the people caught in the crossfire and may end up being the ones truly suffering as a result of this fight if #GamerGate actually changes anything about gaming. Like NERV in End of Evangelion, you have people who don’t really know anything about the conflict and among those that do, they either don’t know enough to take a position or they don’t care enough to get themselves involved. In the end, though, Seele’s agenda ended up changing everything for people at NERV forever and, as a result, all of humanity. This is what traditional media wants for everyone and has been their mission: to undo gaming, gamers, and turn us back into customers of theirs. It’s all about money, in the end. Given, traditional media’s mission didn’t come as the result of some prophecy of the Dead Sea Scrolls but their mission has been repeated many times and they will continue until they succeed.

You only have to see what happens to NERV as a result of Seele’s attack in End of Evangelion to understand the gruesome picture I’m painting here: while I’m not saying the same thing will happen, literally, step by step; however, I am saying that it could be the death of gaming as a whole. At the very least, it could bring the industry near death again and running away from this isn’t going to make it any better. We have to hold on to what brought us to gaming in the first place and what makes it good for those of us who aren’t interested in the fight and take a stand for it: ignorance and complacency isn’t going to save gaming from the maws of those who would crush it. It takes each and every gamer to say something positive, to take a stand without belittling those against you, to unite and say that this is ours, this is what we enjoy, and if there are those against us, we would rather be left alone.

You see, like NERV, for a lot of us, gaming is a home away from home. It’s a place where we’re supposed to feel safe, even beyond those who feel safe in other ways. It’s a place where we’re supposed to be able to escape to and not escape from. It’s supposed to be our shelter when times get tough and the means by which we gain the motivation to take a stand in our lives. For a lot of people, gaming was the strength that allowed us to live full lives. For some of us, gaming was what we did with ourselves when we were faced with things in our lives we didn’t know what to do with or in times we had emotions we couldn’t comprehend. It was the means to continue living happily and it wasn’t these negative things that traditional media and #GamerGate, on both sides, are trying to paint gaming as.

Sure, traditional media’s roots are what gave birth to gaming – and we’re grateful to them for it – but it’s time to move on as gaming is the natural evolution of the entertainment medium and fighting against it is only going to cause the cycle of pain and fighting to start anew.

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Human Instrumentality: Gaming as a Medium

I could go on about the Human Instrumentality Project but, honestly, I could be forever talking about it, get nowhere, and potentially be wrong – as the Human Instrumentality Project is, more or less, Seele’s agenda in that it’s a prophecy to break down the barriers of individuality as set out by the Dead Sea Scrolls to end all pain and suffering in the world and make everyone a single entity; Seele feels it’s the natural evolution of humanity to transcend their current state – but the point I’m making is that gaming, I feel, is a natural evolution of the entertainment industry, a natural evolution of creativity, that interactivity and completeness is what brings everything together and makes it a better, larger whole. Of course, there will be parts about it that kind of suck and there will be instances of it that won’t be that great for various reasons but the medium as a whole is growing exponentially because that’s where entertainment is going. Everything in the gaming industry has been leading to this point and this will be what drives the future of technology and entertainment: with television and movies, you saw the invention of the television as a display and then move it from black and white to color, whereas music and movies helped introduce the optical disc as a viable medium, and now we have gaming without its own unique development, however, one seems to be on the horizon: a true step into virtual reality and things will only grow from there as this new technology begins and grows on its own and with gaming.

It’s an exciting time to be a gamer but only if we embrace the changes, only if we embrace the evolution, only if we decide to unite and move forward and that’s the parallel I’m going for here: this is the path we’ve chosen and this is the path that’s been set out for us. Our job is just to walk it, experience it, and do the best with what’s down the line.

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Third Impact: The Gaming Individual

You see, this is another one of those complicated plot devices, but I’ll break it down real simple for any of those not in the Evangelion fanbase: The Third Impact is the act of starting Human Instrumentality by using many Evangelion units and their pilots, more or less; in the instance of End of Evangelion, Seele thought they could control how and when it went down by automating the process but they did not account for Shinji’s emotional state as a pilot and his tie to the soul of his mother, which resided in his Evangelion unit. As a result, things went haywire and the cycle started anew once Shinji came to a life-changing epiphany during the process.

I know this is getting way too long – probably one of the longest articles I’ve ever written – but this is the last step and, perhaps, the most important. The gaming individual: you, me, and everyone else, individually, can be like Shinji in this regard, for the situation, both negatively and positively as the impact you make as an individual can be Earth shattering, depending on the choices you make, the actions you take, and the things you say. Us, as individuals, have the power to change worlds for people and some of us, myself included, have trouble understanding the power of the individual.

A lot of this comes from the mistaken use of the power of the individual to change the lives of those in the global community: if I can spout out any advice for those who are reading this article, let’s break the cycle by shrugging off this silly argument and injecting some positive feelings back into gaming, into our world, and turning it back into this wonderful thing that we all cherish.

Let’s just forget this #GamerGate thing and move on with our lives, people. This isn’t what gaming is about. This isn’t about in-fighting and it isn’t about proving others wrong. If you’ve already moved on or you were never involved, in the first place, good going – keep on keeping on.

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