I don’t get it
(I didn’t intend for this to be such a long read but that’s how it worked out)
I’ve tried to raise my kids in such a way that celebrates diversity, the diversity of individuals and independent thought. I’ve told them that it’s not only that it’s okay if someone doesn’t agree with you, that it’s different viewpoints that bring about a greater collective, a better stage for discussion, a way for each of us to learn and grow both individually and as a whole. It’s a beautiful thing that we’re not all alike, that we each have unique aspects to us and it’s the combination of those parts that make us stronger. It’s not that you won’t find common ground with others. You absolutely can! That’s how we make friends, after all. It’s about respecting others and their rights to think or feel differently than you do. If you don’t respect another’s rights then, in my opinion, you can’t expect anyone to respect yours.
It’s a two-way street, that.
I found my common ground with other gamers. I LOVE playing video games on my computer, my consoles, even my phone. I played games in arcades growing up, at friends houses, whenever I could. As I got older I was shamed for playing games and learned I couldn’t talk about my hobby with just anyone. Finding a gaming community online was both freeing and fortifying for me. I no longer felt alone or that I had to hide it.
That feeling of acceptance, of not being shunned, it’s a magnificent thing!
My gaming community is made of up men, women, young, older (some older than me and I’m 43), people with kids, grandkids, people with careers, people who live at home with mom and/or dad, people who enthusiastically visit cons, movie premieres, shop Black Friday sales, bar hop, never (much) leave the house, religious folks, atheists, Doctor Who fans, pie-lovers, coffee addicts, tea drinkers, die-hard sports fans (#goBEARS!), people who can barely stomach seeing sports related messages and tweets. My group of gaming friends cover a wide and diverse group of people from so many different walks of life. And it works because of our common ground, our love for gaming. When someone is in need you can expect to see messages of encouragement. Likewise when someone is celebrating a boss fight or a job promotion, a birth or new elite gear, we celebrate with them. We’ve found we have more in common than just gaming and do relish those connections but we don’t shun each other for our differences. What we do, when we find something that we just don’t like or agree with, is filter that bit out. Ignore it figuratively or otherwise.
Why slam someone because they’re different?
This #gamergate mess caught me off guard. I first heard of it through one of my Twitter buddies. They are a passionately compassionate person that regularly gives their time to support rights for others. They are accepting and encouraging. They wanted to help rid the gaming press of corruption and insist on a code of ethics. I will admit that I didn’t pay this much attention at first, if at all. I eye-rolled at the idea of game reviews being legit. I’ve never done reviews for a couple of reasons, one being that if you give me the product for free I’ll feel more obligated to write a positive review. I’ve never thought of review sites as …. well, as trustworthy for opinion and when I’m reading an article somewhere and I get that first whiff of ‘they gave me it for free’ I tend to leave and go elsewhere. I don’t think negatively of the writers for this as I’ve always assumed the ‘review freebies’ either came with strings or strings heavily implied beit it on the part of the giver OR receiver and it’s their job. When I want to learn more about a game I’m thinking of buying I look for people who are posting about their experience, not ‘doing their job’. It’s just my preference really, and that has peppered my view of what I thought #gamergate was all about.
Now I’m so gosh darned confused I don’t even!
I had never heard of Anita Sarkeesian before #gamergate happened. I do not consider myself a feminist in any way. I stand for people rights where color, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs …. none of that makes you better or more … anything. I believe there’s a time and a season for all of us both individually and collectively. I believe that our differences make us stronger and that no one group should have more rights than another. Gender, for instance, should never have to enter the ring of equality. Equality doesn’t see curves anymore than it sees eye-color. ‘Least, in my utopia, that’s how it would work.
The last week or so I’ve been trying to understand exactly what #gamergate is for, why it is and who the players are. I’ve read countless blogs both for and against, picking apart the many heads of this beast we’re calling #gamergate. It was, for me, like a horde of hungry zombies with no discernible direction. How in the hell does wanting ethics in game journalism spiral into rape and death threats against women in the gaming industry??? That’s the part that was throwing me for a loop, one I just could not understand. Then last Friday happened and I saw some of these threats being hurled against Brianna Wu and her family … I just said that in past tense when it’s not anywhere near an ‘over and done’ thing for her, Anita or Zoe Quinn. They’ve fled their homes in fear, afraid to go back.
I know exactly what that’s like only my attacker was just one person and he had a face. We knew him and, for us, it was over after a couple of weeks. I know the fear but, in all honesty, I was never really sure he would have followed through on his death threats. My attacker was mentally ill, very sick, but he’d raised me (my step-father) and I’ve always wondered, ‘could he have really gone through with it?’ I was very fortunate in that once the cops found him, it was completely over for us. Haven’t heard from that man in over 20 years now.
Women in the gaming industry are being attacked. I’ve read stories of hostile working environments where, every day, they’re ‘not good enough’ because they’re female. How does that even happen? Why does that even matter? If you can do the job, why does your gender EVER come into question?? And now, in the name of #gamergate, horrible and vicious threats are being made to encite fear against women, and men, in the gaming industry.
I just don’t get it.
I do not hold the same beliefs as Anita Sarkeesian. I don’t feel, as a female gamer, that I’ve been victimized or portrayed in a bad light. It could be the games I play … I play what I want and don’t spend money on games that I don’t want. I don’t feel threatened by Anita either. I think there’s PLENTY of room in the gaming industry for everyone and, honestly, that’s exactly how it should be. I play games for a fun escape from real life, not wanting to emulate my life. I want to kill orcs. I want to behead dragons. I want to be the hero and the games I play allow me to do just that. The games Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu made don’t appeal to me in the slightest but even though I won’t play them, I absolutely applaud them having made them. Not because they are women but because they were able to make a game they believe in. There’s room for everyone.
#Gamergate has been tainted by a sick group of people who fear change. They fear difference. I don’t understand why Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu or any other women in the industry has to mean change for them. Demographics are going to change regardless of who’s working in the industry. It’s how life works. That doesn’t mean they can’t keep playing the games that makes them happy. It doesn’t mean they have to listen to Anita, for instance.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to be so afraid that you feel you have to resort to such depravity and work so hard to ruin another’s life. But, then, I’ve never been a coward.
I think there are some very honest and well-meaning people in #gamergate who absolutely do not condone the violence we’re seeing. I think they’re fighting for a cause they believe in because they want to make the world a better place. I also think a group of cowards have worked very hard to ruin this for everyone.
I wish I knew exactly how to bring this to a swift and safe end, a resolution that would bring about a much needed change for the gaming industry. I do not think it’s fair that a group of individuals have ruined #gamergate and turned it into hate. I do think that’s what has happened, however. That hashtag is ruined and for those still fighting the fight for better ethics in the industry, you have to extend that to include a fight against those who have worked so hard to use your cause to encite fear against the industry you’re fighting to make better. Rise above. Your hashtag is hurting people and that has to count for something.