I’d almost forgotten about the month-old controversy, but then Business Insider Australia brought it up. It’s official, ladies, gents and every classy other – Gamergate is actual news.
The issue has become this:
On one hand, you have some rational, level-headed representatives of the gaming community arguing that Zoe Quinn, after creating a terrible video game, had a sexual relationship with a guy who reviews video games and received a positive review as a result, thus exposing an insidious trend of interest conflict corrupting gamer journalism across the board. On the other, you have the people who are still ticked off about comments like,
“I’ve got a K-bar and I am coming to your house so I can shove it up your ugly feminist ****.”
There were a lot of them at the outset of the controversy, leveled against Zoe Quinn and her friends and often followed, like the one above, by the angry commentator’s finding and posting the address or phone number of the target, who most of the time was female. Threats have resulted in a number of women having to leave their homes for safety.
Gamers then respond that while those threats are bad, that’s not what’s at the heart of Gamergate and is no good reason to stereotype gamers as sexist since violent vitriol is part of gaming culture and is leveled against all gamers based on whatever it is that makes them uniquely special, be it gender, race, sexual orientation, weight, nationality, or mental capacity.
I’m not a gamer, and like most of the rest of the people who read about the issue, Gamergate has been my introduction to gaming politics. Like it or not, this is historic. The media is aware of gamers as a political and cultural demographic now; gamers, you have officially arrived.
This has implications as far as the politics of Gamergate itself. Violent vitriol in general may be a part of gaming culture, but society will not easily dismiss or forget the early waves of violence that brought this mess to all of our attention. In any controversies that follow, no degree of woman-hating is going under the radar. It’s simply too late to re-frame the issue in terms of journalistic integrity alone. The media narrative that’s begun has already locked onto misogyny and rape interest as core, not just to Gamergate, but to the newly officiated gaming demographic.
If you want that narrative to go away, you’ve got two choices: 1) Apologize collectively, without rationalizing or dismissing the horror of the threats these women received, or 2) Stop talking about Gamergate. You don’t need this label as a frame of reference for self-identity or group values anymore.
You’ve established a platform in the broader societal consciousness. If you want the world to remember it, then seize on this moment in time, before it’s too late to tell us all what you do stand for.
UPDATE: This is a good start: https://medium.com/@andreaszecher/open-letter-to-the-gaming-community-df4511032e8a