So I was linked to this article in MCV regarding the ‘aftermath’ of #Gamergate (which is still ongoing by the way, and Intel just pulled advertising from Gamasutra in response, so there’s that).
In reading it, one really has to wonder precisely what universe it is that the writers inhabit.
Matt Lees: It’s already caused people to loudly leave, and we’ll see plenty more quietly shuffle off because of this in the next few months. Multiple events across a number of years have made one simple fact clear: success as a woman in the games industry will likely lead to severe harassment at some point. We’ve seen the media and a few studios stand up against this awful trend, but publishers need to have a stance on the matter – it’s an environment where vocal women can never feel safe. Who wouldn’t feel deterred by that?
This isn’t what #gamergate is about, it’s never what #gamergate has been about. Even going back to Quinn’s sexcapades (which were never really people’s issue other than her poor boyfriend) gender had fuck all to do with it while manipulative and dishonest behaviour, up to and including collusion, corruption and nepotism, were.
EVERYONE gets harassment on the internet, regardless of race, sex, gender, height, weight, sexual proclivity, sexual activity, choice of hat and even regarding what games console they prefer. Various studies have shown that men get most of the harassment online , . Studies such as these are, of course, flawed – as are the studies specifically into the abuse of women online, but they do challenge that dominant narrative. What definitely is different is the seriousness with which such abuse is taken depending on gender, both by the victim and by society at large.
Female journalists do seem to get more abuse – though less than male politicians – but perhaps this is because so many female journalists and bloggers online are presenting a contentious feminist (veering radical) viewpoint, rather than presenting more mainstream opinion and views. One would not be in the least bit surprised if, say, Laurie Penny got more abuse than Jon Snow, simply because of the nature of their content.
Anyway, the point is that this is an attempt – yet again – to reframe #gamergate as a misogynistic hate mob and to make the argument about claimed sexism, rather than about corruption, collusion, nepotism, censorship-by-other-means and the politicisation of games media. Of course, as such, it stands as just another example of the politicisation and corruption of games (and tech) media.
Matt Lees: So much of the ire aimed at the media boils down to a complete disdain for games journalists and a complete lack of any kind of trust. I don’t see any point in negotiating – anyone who thinks we’re scumbags and liars will never be convinced of anything otherwise. When dealing with people who have irrational beliefs about widespread conspiracies and corruption, you’ve got to be pragmatic about what you’re likely to gain from any conversation.
The disdain for games journalists stems from their status as a) shills and b) political ideologues who put that agenda before serving their audience. Trust has been eroded to the point of non-existence with many sites while others who have negotiated, have talked, have acknowledged issues and taken steps have reaped the benefits of so doing. People certainly won’t be convinced you’re not scumbags and liars if you keep lying and being scumbags – as happened in this interview.
As to these ‘irrational’ beliefs? These beliefs about what has been going on are not irrational. It’s long been an open secret that AAA developers have been buying reviews and even seeding forums and social media with ‘positive bots’. It’s long been known also that AAA developers have been holding sites hostage, threatening to withdraw early access and review copies – and advertising – if they don’t stick to the script. What’s relatively new is discovering that the hectoring, lecturing, high-horse indie mob have been just as bad. DiGRA is an ‘open conspiracy‘ with the aim of ‘dismantling hegemonic masculinity’ amongst others. Yes, ‘conspiracy’ makes it sound stupid because we’ve all been dealing with crazy 9/11 ‘truthers’ since 2001, but in this case the evidence is damning, not to mention the leaked Gamejournopros mailing list content.
Own your shit.
Matt Lees: This movement has actually exacerbated a very real and present problem; too much games media is solely supported by advertisements from video game publishers. The advertising issue is also being hurt by the swarming nature of angry hate-mobs. People don’t want to advertise on websites filled with comments by scumbags, which is rough – because these people aren’t indicative of the actual audience, and often aren’t even a part of the audience at all. Unless something changes, the future of games journalism will either mean arriving with a thick suit of armour or explicitly avoiding all contentious topics.
I have an alternative hypothesis.
People don’t want to advertise on websites that insult, denigrate and demonise the target audience they’re trying to reach and that audience doesn’t want to read websites that insult, denigrate and demonise them (other than the occasional masochist or guilt-ridden SocJus apparatchik).
How much cognitive dissonance do you need to still think the problem is the audience, while you’re hemorrhaging advertising dollars? How much cognitive dissonance do you need to think it’s about ‘contentious topics’ rather than spurious, politicised, unevidenced attempts to manipulate and guilt trip your audience?
Fuck this guy.
Keith Stuart: Anything that makes journalists assess how they operate is probably a good thing – even if there are utterly horrible aspects to the events of the last few months. Most major sites are doing okay – they understand their reader bases; they understand that alienating them will directly affect revenue eventually, and they behave accordingly. I honestly don’t understand the endgame of some of those in the Gamergate movement. If you don’t like sites, don’t read them – set up alternatives. Maybe that – a lot more game sites – will be the outcome. I hope so, because that would be something positive, and lord knows we need some positivity right now.
But you’re not reassessing Keith, you’re doubling and tripling down. You’re digging a deeper grave for yourself day by day. If sites are continuing to employ people Like Matt Lees or Leigh Alexander, who clearly don’t give two tugs of a dead dog’s cock for the audience, the medium or the games, then they don’t understand their reader bases.
The endgame of #gamergate?
I think it’ll continue to be a long battle but I envision the endgame being something like:
- Better ethics in games journalism (declared CoI, open about biases, editorialising limited to editorials).
- Preservation of free expression (SJW journos and activists have been trying to do an end-run around forcing censorship via legal means).
- A change in the landscape of games reporting, with other sites becoming more prominent.
I also hope that, as a result of this consumer revolution, we see a rollback of SJW and activist influence over tabletop games, art, SF&F, film, cinema etc and a greater acceptance of a diverse range of content, including things that are ‘problematic’.
SJWs and activists should ‘Fuck off and make their own shit’ rather than trying to co-opt the pastimes and hobbies of others.
That seems a worthy endgame to me. Greater ethics, greater diversity, whining activists putting their money where their mouth is.