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Not All Gamers

Not All Gamers

Fri 05 Sep 2014 5:59am GMT / 1:59am EDT / 10:59pm PDT
Online

"Gamer" identity is still important, but it must be reclaimed from bullies and abusers. It's our responsibility to keep it decent and welcoming

The past few weeks have been thoroughly depressing and disheartening. Starting with an utterly awful revenge-porn fuelled attack on a female game developer, horror has piled upon horror as a small but vicious and resourceful gang of bullies have made death and rape threats to female developers and critics and their supporters, including, in some cases, publishing hacked private information about their families. Critic and film-maker Anita Sarkeesian, no stranger to nasty responses to her work, was forced from her home after this latest wave of threats to her safety. Adding gross insult to injury, the bullies responsible proceeded to distribute fake or irrelevant information supposedly "proving" that the women being targeted were actually faking the attacks on themselves in order to seek attention; a derailment aimed at heaping yet further attacks on the victim.

"The war on games is over; games won"

This situation is thoroughly horrible. It's all the worse because it's happened at a time when gamers should be in a celebratory mood. Never in history have gamers been better served by the technology, the media, the creators and the companies who make up the industry. Never in history have games of all sorts - from AAA through to indie through to casual - been so successful. Games have won the culture wars; the threat of censorship or regulation has disappeared. Ill-informed politicians and tabloid journalists rarely turn to games as a scapegoat any more; those who attempt to do so end up just looking silly. Games' most fearsome enemies, people like Jack Thompson and Leland Yee, have been disgraced and silenced. The war on games is over; games won. Now the borders of gaming expand every day, as a new wave of developers explore different approaches to the medium and new creative and critical voices emerge to chart new paths, while existing genres and game types become more refined and more glorious with each iteration. There's never been so much to play, so much variety and so much scope.

Games, for absolutely everyone involved - hardcore, casual, whatever - have never been more plentiful and more interesting. It's a brilliant time to be a gamer. So why are we tearing each other apart about something as simple and reasonable as equality? How the hell have we ended up in this awful place where "social justice warrior" - literally, someone who fights for a more just society - has become an insult?

I think part of the reason why this shocking, bullying behaviour has escalated into such a widespread and bitter conflict is that the reaction of a great many people to awful behaviour by gamers is to say, "not all gamers are like that." A great many of us identify with the term "gamer" - it doesn't just mean someone who plays games, it means someone steeped in game culture, and as such it's quite an important identity to many people. When we read, "gamers are doing this awful thing," it feels like an attack on that identity. Unfortunately, our reaction is knee-jerk; instead of condemning the awful thing and trying to find ways to help to stop it, we take offence, leaping up to attack the person who has dared to smear our identity.

On the other side, we find some people who, while absolutely on the side of the angels in this debate, have gone down the path of declaring that the "gamer" identity is a horrible, corrupted relic of days past, a term which should be abandoned and left for the knuckle-dragging misogynist man-children to claim. Proper adults who play and enjoy games, these commentators suggest, shouldn't demean themselves with the label "gamer."

"'[G]amer' really is an important identity to a great many people - the vast majority of whom are, in fact, 'proper adults,' or well on their way to being so"

This isn't helpful or reasonable. It misunderstands the fact that "gamer" really is an important identity to a great many people - the vast majority of whom are, in fact, "proper adults," or well on their way to being so. A great many of my friends, within and without the industry, think of themselves as gamers. It truly does mean more than "someone who plays games"; it's a subculture in itself, loosely organised but globe-spanning, founded upon obsession yet generally diverse, welcoming and filled with warmth. The dreadful behaviour of the past few weeks is the work of a small number of people, all the more upsetting precisely because it's such an aberration from "gamer" identity. Suggesting that the word "gamer" itself and the culture it labels have been irreparably corrupted by these events just invites hostility from people who feel strongly about their gamer identity; it actually lends credence to the otherwise ridiculous notion that gaming is "under attack" (when in fact, for the first time in its history, gaming actually isn't under attack at all).

This does not excuse the "not all gamers!" response. Just like the famous "not all men" line, it's a classic derailment tactic; it's an attempt to turn the discussion away from the people who are actually being victimised (the women who, let's not forget, are still being targeted with streams of abuse, rape and death threats, hacking attempts, stalking both online and offline, hate campaigns directed at their families, friends and employers, and plenty more besides) by getting offended and shouting "we're not all like that, and by implying that you're actually victimising me now." Derailment has been par for the course in this discussion - first, the bullies claimed that they were actually trying to expose "corruption" in the games media (which seemed to boil down to "some developers are friends with some journalists"); now, they claim that they're trying to defend "gamers" from an evil conspiracy to destroy them by, er, pointing out that some of them bully women and minorities online.

The important thing to come back to, I believe, is that while "not all gamers" is a terrible response to current events, since it ignores and derails the discussion of actual bullying and victimisation which is occurring, it is also absolutely true. I said at the outset that what we are dealing with is a small number of vicious and resourceful people, and that's undoubtedly the case. They puff up like cobras to try to disguise their small numbers, creating fake disposable accounts on Twitter or Reddit, or confining themselves to anonymous boards where it's impossible to see how many people are actually involved. Sure, a much larger number of people, mostly ill-informed and often children, have been caught up in the "media corruption" or "gamers under attack" narratives they've spawned, but the core of this bullying is a group of people whose numbers are in the low hundreds or perhaps even just the dozens; it's from them that the truly nasty, often illegal actions have come, and it was they who concocted the cynically composed derailment arguments. They're terrible people, damaged and criminal, but they are few in number. This is no comfort to someone receiving countless graphic death threats, seeing their personal data shared online or being confronted on the doorstep of their private home, of course; but it is the truth and it's important. There is no silent majority of gamers who despise feminism and want women and minorities gone; there is merely a tiny band of wicked, howling degenerates who have found that the echo chamber of the internet can make their voices sound like the roar of a stadium crowd.

"If 'gamer' is our label, our identity and our subculture, then we - all gamers - bear responsibility for our reactions to the bad behaviour of those who claim to act in our name"

Not all gamers are misogynists, or homophobes, or transphobes, or racists; very few of them are. Not all gamers are abusive or nasty; very few of them are. Not all gamers are angrily opposed to new critiques and new perspectives on the medium; most of them welcome it. Yet here is the rub; even if not all gamers are responsible for the horrors of the past few weeks, all gamers do have a role to play in fixing this situation. If "gamer" is our label, our identity and our subculture, then we - all gamers - bear responsibility for our reactions to the bad behaviour of those who claim to act in our name. The bullying and victimisation of women, minorities and those with a social conscience is being done in the name of "gamers"; our responsibility, as a consequence, is to take a stand, to say "not in my name" and, where possible, to report, remove or shut down the egregious abuse that has polluted our subculture.

I am a gamer. It's an important part of my identity, something which has shaped my life to a great extent. My career, many of my friends and even the country I live in and the language I speak have been determined in part by my identity as a gamer. I refuse to abandon that identity or to be ashamed of it; nobody should be asked to do that. I am angry, and sad, and horrified at the bullying, the abuse, the criminal invasions of privacy and utter indecency being directed at women and others by a handful of vile people who have stolen my identity, my subculture, and claim to act in its name. I sincerely hope everyone reading this feels the same. This vicious and subversive censorship of critics and creators through threats, intimidation and abuse is not "protecting" gamers; it is an attack on games, on gamers, and on all of the good, decent people who make up this industry and its fans. It cannot and must not be tolerated.

55 Comments

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

837 671 0.8
Popular Comment
A proper adult understands that "gamer" is an identity that describes him but doesn't make him a better or worse person. That is why I see a problem in fanboys too, I think is alarming (and incredibly stupid) when people around 30 feel superior to other just because they play in a particular piece of hardware over another.
When this is used to attack or harass others, well... needless to say what to think about the intellectual/educational level of that person.

TL-DR: First be a person, then be whatever you like. If you are unable to do this then you are not even an adult, mentally speaking.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 5th September 2014 8:31am

Posted:2 months ago

#1

Andrew Haining Programmer, Ratus Apparatus

2 3 1.5
I agree with the article, a rare voice of reason. It's worth beating in mind that Leigh's article steamed from a different experience with the word than we are familiar with. In the us cod kids and Microsoft's awful marketing have changed the phrase from what basically meant d&d fan in the 90's to e-jock.

Posted:2 months ago

#2

Kirsty Rigden Operations Director, FuturLab

15 45 3.0
*applauds*

Posted:2 months ago

#3

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

273 624 2.3
I think it is a good sign that "gamers" are trying to address this problem head-on, when worldwide this is a massive flaw in society that is too often overlooked. Sure, we get a bad wrap for the actions of a few, but we are voicing our anger at these idiots who spoil it for everyone else.

So even with all the shite we are going through, I am still proud to call myself a "Gamer".

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 5th September 2014 10:20am

Posted:2 months ago

#4

Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments

310 399 1.3
Seen good arguments both ways now on whether the term "gamer" should be deprecated.

Overall, good article; don't entirely agree with the point about numbers though. Yes, the "hardcore" of individuals who actual send death threats is probably very small. That doesn't mean the group who contribute to the problem is small.

Posted:2 months ago

#5

Peter Harries Development tools QA, The Creative Assembly

1 5 5.0
I think whether we like the game tag or not, as human beings, we should be rallying behind the people who are being targeted by these few individuals and showing that as a whole we won't accept this sort of abusive behavior.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Harries on 5th September 2014 10:33am

Posted:2 months ago

#6
I'm definitely sad that it has come to this point too.

I have no problem with more inclusive game characters or games targeted for anyone and I don't even quite frankly play or make the games that have been labelled sexist and misogynistic preferring to play more light hearted games normally on Nintendo platforms.

However I can definitely understand why gamers and developers who play and make those games have felt under attack with the words, language and behaviour of some people criticising them them for the last number of years and unfortunately that has lead to anger, which has lead to hate, which has ultimately lead to the dark... oh wait. Only a few days ago on this very website someone was told the only reason he held that opinion was so he could have characters to masturbate to. I'm sure there are plenty of other incidences like this and while I am making no comparison to the death threats which are in a totally different league it's still unacceptable and serves no good purpose. Even the words sexist and misogynistic should be reserved only for the very extreme cases because calling gamers that is akin to Malcolm X calling all white people the devil.

In all this I think the message of a more inclusive industry has been totally lost and both sides have simply drawn out the battle lines and went to war.

I think it has been this inflammatory language that lit the fuse and unfortunately until the games industry and in particular the games media look at how it's communicating with it's audience I worry that this situation will only get worse.

Posted:2 months ago

#7

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
In all this I think the message of a more inclusive industry has been totally lost and both sides have simply drawn out the battle lines and went to war.
Developers, no doubt, have always been about inclusiveness. But I do wonder if publishers have contributed to this almost tribal-like state of affairs. Sega vs Nintendo. MK vs Street Fighter. Sony vs MS. Is it any wonder "gamers" are defensive about inclusivity, when parts of the industry have long-fostered exclusion, and definition of personal character through the choices made in purchasing.

Posted:2 months ago

#8
@Morville

I think the publishers definitely took advantage of people's human nature to be tribalistic but I think it also happens naturally and if anything it requires people to consciously try to avoid it. I remember one comments section here that I was particularly annoyed by where all I wrote was "Go Team" because it was obvious everyone was just starring every comment from the side they agreed with. I doubt anyone was listening.

Posted:2 months ago

#9

Anthony Gowland Lead Designer, Outplay Entertainment

212 746 3.5
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Developers, no doubt, have always been about inclusiveness.
Given the opinions and views I've heard many developers spout over the years, I have no doubt this isn't true.

Also to the comment about "the games labeled sexist". I think there's fundamental misunderstanding here, which has led to a lot of the defensiveness. Sarkeesian points out tropes in games that she views as sexist. That's not to say that the whole game is sexist, or that anyone who enjoys or makes those games are sexist.

Posted:2 months ago

#10

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,162 1,232 1.1
What? Teenagers and young adults making arbitrary life style choices, which they then defend against others for no obvious reason? People entering conversations for the sake of establishing their alpha-male dominion of opinion? PR slapping the euphemistic term evangelist on that behavior and actively encouraging it to their end? That could never happen and get out of control, right?

Non physical verbal violence and abuse is for today, what football hooliganism was for the 80ies and 90ies. The key difference being that online there is no limit to how many people can kick a person on the ground. The internet has long since been weaponized.

Posted:2 months ago

#11

Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship

215 441 2.1
Popular Comment
I very much liked this article, Rob. I do wish the early wave of editorials had shared some of its obvious qualities and nuance.

I've never been convinced that the tone of an argument does not matter, where people who ask for civility get chided for 'tone policing' or 'derailing' (also known as discussing). I understand the source of the sentiment; people who are wronged have a right to be angry, and resent being asked to effectively calm down when they are often victims themselves of aggressive and hurtful (and worse) comments. But:

Firstly, the fact is that communicating in a written form is difficult and fraught with ambiguity. Body language helps us communicate enormously by moderating what we say. Internet discussions are usually enflamed because they are missing all the moderating cues of body language and people are not often fully clued in (or in some cases, care) to the difference in tone in their own heads versus those of their intended audience. In short, tone is massively *more* important in written communication, *if* you care about changing minds, which leads me to point two.

It is evident that when you object to people calling for civility, you are not interested in persuasion or discussion, or in bringing people to your viewpoint consensually. Rather, you wish to create an atmosphere where it is unacceptable to express a particular point of view. That may well be valid (in the case of explicitly illegal or hateful stuff). But unless the writer is unusually skilled, they will almost inevitably fall prey to their own bias and stake out areas of entirely reasonable discourse as being beyond the pale. When people are forced to pick sides in this way, a false choice is presented, battle lines are drawn and these differences become entrenched and ossify over time. People have a right to be furious over the abuse they have received. I'm not sure they have a right to parlay that anger into wide ranging disparaging comments that are perceived to be insulting to innocent parties, and to attempt to shut down discussion that is reasonable.

Lastly, tone is important because there are unintended side effects of pursuing a scorched earth strategy of forcing everyone to 'pick a side'. If you answer everyone who dissents (ignoring the nuance of their particular dissent) with accusations of bigotry, you are, in effect, stating two things. One, that reasoned or critical dissent is ineffective; don't bother trying to engage with it, you'll be treated the same as the trolls. And two, you're telling the trolls that their response is as valid as the reasoned critic.

So, I'm afraid this whole thing is, to me, a testament to how important tone actually is, and how ineffective 'area denial' is as a strategy for addressing this problem.

Posted:2 months ago

#12

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
Re: Inclusivity:
Given the opinions and views I've heard many developers spout over the years, I have no doubt this isn't true.
I said what I did to differentiate "brand tribalism" that publishers/manufacturers espouse with developer thoughts/feelings. Obviously, developer thoughts/feelings are as broad as any other human, but unlike pubs/manufacturers, developers (almost without exception) don't seek to gain from pitting groups against each-other.

(Edited for better phrasing)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th September 2014 1:01pm

Posted:2 months ago

#13

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

58 183 3.2
@John
In all this I think the message of a more inclusive industry has been totally lost and both sides have simply drawn out the battle lines and went to war.
It's true that the "can't we all just get along" message is drowned out. But I don't think it's helpful to pretend that victims of doxxing, rape and murder threats are "just as bad" as the harassers because they occasionally use the F word.

I hear a lot of people calling for a civil debate, which implies there is something TO debate. We're long past the merit of Anita Sarkeesian's videos or the so-called "ethics" of Zoe Quinn's friendship with journalists. The only important issue now is that online harassment is hateful and illegal and I want to hear EVERY voice in the industry condemning it. And I don't want to see replies saying "well OBVIOUSLY I don't support hate attacks" - there's a lot of idiots out there who think it's not fucking obvious at all, and as an industry we need to spell it out for them, or be complicit in their hate.

That goes for both sides - although I'm not aware of Adam Baldwin getting any murder threats from feminists.

Posted:2 months ago

#14
@Chris - Since you directed this to me directly I'll respond. I didn't say they where "just as bad", in fact what I said was:
I'm sure there are plenty of other incidences like this and while I am making no comparison to the death threats which are in a totally different league it's still unacceptable and serves no good purpose.
I want to see it stopped too which is why I have made my comment. The games industry can't stop people from making death threats or acting in this way but what it can do is stop throwing petrol on to the flames. I really fear someone is going to get hurt and we will have a Columbine like incident.

Posted:2 months ago

#15

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
Does anyone else think the stunned-silence that publishers are partaking in is adding fuel to the fire? Unless I missed something, Valve, EA, Acti, Ubi etc. have not uttered a word in condemnation.

Posted:2 months ago

#16

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

58 183 3.2
@John - Fair enough, I read it as both sides being at fault. I certainly share your concern that some fool will act on these threats though :(

Posted:2 months ago

#17

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

58 183 3.2
@Morville - I would like to see more organisations taking a stand - I think the IGDA and possibly TIGA have publicly denounced the hate. Has anyone heard of official statements from anyone else?

Posted:2 months ago

#18
@Chris

As Nick said that's part of the problem however make no mistake I did mean there is fault on both sides. I wasn't looking to say that one justified the other or they where the same. I was just stating that to continue with a one side narrative will only make the situation worse.

Right now is not even the time to continue at all. There should be a long break to allow things to cool off and when ever if ever these discussions are resumed people should be careful of the language they use.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 5th September 2014 1:48pm

Posted:2 months ago

#19

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

58 183 3.2
@John
if ever these discussions are resumed people should be careful of the language they use.
Nope. That is victim blaming.

Posted:2 months ago

#20

Dan Game Developer, Jagex Games Studio

4 4 1.0
The whole thing is just ridiculous and is fuelled by PR-generating campaigns that play on prejudices minority slants.
Regardless of this, people dont seem to grasp that being a "Gamer" is not actually something to be proud of. I like playing games whenever I can, but I dont want to be seen as someone who wastes away his hours of the day doing so. Even if I actually do... :-)

Posted:2 months ago

#21
@Chris Ok - It's like talking to a stone. You know what whenever there's a victim of a serious physical assault they won't care.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 5th September 2014 2:44pm

Posted:2 months ago

#22

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
There should be a long break to allow things to cool off
Hah... Yeahhhh, tell that to the consumers tweeting that hashtag and hounding people out the industry.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th September 2014 2:44pm

Posted:2 months ago

#23
@Morville

I'm not saying that the industry should call of things like the petition and whatever legal steps can be made. That does needs to be dealt with.

Posted:2 months ago

#24

Shehzaan Abdulla Translator

124 245 2.0
I commend this article for not falling into the trap of using cheap, misleading shock-tactics headlines to get attention. The people responding to the "gamers are dead" fad were upset that those headlines were turning on their readership (and those that didn't read the articles upset that the "articles were turning on their readership"). And why should a readership value a writer who doesn't value them enough to not drag their name through the mud with their headlines?

The worst part is that most writers responded blue-in-the-face, trying to get people to look back at the issues of abuse without addressing their own shortcomings.

Sadly ever since videogame writers have gone extremely quiet on the issue with only a small number of people daring to speak out against how absurd the almost orchestrated tirade was. The writers speaking out against abuse is natural of course and a catalyst for why they all sounded off on the same topic, but there's seemingly no rationale for why they all used the same clickbaiting, readership defaming strategy in their headlines. But that they did suggests they think little of their readership, and worse, that they view their readership as fundementally different from themselves and as having different interests and concerns.

But perhaps that has something to do with those writers crying out the death knells of their increasingly obselete profession (and I say this as a writer myself): http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/bitwise/2014/09/gamergate_explodes_gaming_journalists_declare_the_gamers_are_over_but_they.html

The content of those articles may have been different from their headlines, but by the time those headlines were read the damage was done. And those writers only have themselves to blame for that: they couldn't have been so naive or disconnected from their readership that they couldn't have seen the problem coming from a mile on.

This whole debacle has damaged the image of videogames writing as a whole and brought its function in this modern day and age into question. It's a question I have answer to, but only because I'm in the unique position of being a JP-EN bilingual. The kind of disillusionment seen on consumer forums is unlike the typical backlash you might expect - even the most mild-mannered of intellectuals expressing their dismay at the way games writers have handled the issue.

Controversy on all sides in this industry and those involved around it is common, but this is one of those rare cases that won't blow over or be forgotten. Things are different now, people rely increasingly on Youtube personalities and community feedback to inform them.

edit: There are two seperate issues here: the one of abuse and the one of videogame writers poor handling of the issue at the expense of their readers (in poor taste) which exposed them as self-interested/seperate from their readership. I don't believe you have to choose here or that only one issue should be courted and another ignored.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shehzaan Abdulla on 5th September 2014 3:02pm

Posted:2 months ago

#25

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
Oh, no, I know... I was just despairing. Don't mind me. *weary smile*

Posted:2 months ago

#26

Shehzaan Abdulla Translator

124 245 2.0
@Chris

I'm not sure if this helps or not but it's the only thing I've heard:
http://www.examiner.com/article/open-letter-to-end-hate-gaming-community-hits-2-000-signatures-from-devs

Posted:2 months ago

#27

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

58 183 3.2
@Shehzaan
Yeah, I signed that. Hoping that companies would speak up, since some GamerGate activists genuinely think all those names are faked :(

Posted:2 months ago

#28

Shehzaan Abdulla Translator

124 245 2.0
[Post deleted. Offensive tone and language used to make a point is still offensive tone and language. Please keep it out of our comments. - Brendan Sinclair]

Edited 1 times. Last edit by a moderator on 5th September 2014 4:33pm

Posted:2 months ago

#29

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

273 624 2.3
being a "Gamer" is not actually something to be proud of
@Dan

But that is the whole problem and why you can't let these idiots win. If you are defeatist about this and would rather not call yourself a gamer because of some hateful assholes, then they have already won. I like my hobby/job and it is worth fighting for, you can't just roll over and admit defeat by not calling yourself a gamer even though you say you are.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 5th September 2014 3:13pm

Posted:2 months ago

#30

Dan Game Developer, Jagex Games Studio

4 4 1.0
True, but the point I am trying to make, is basically saying: "actually, you lot can keepfighting over that diseased, dead rat. In the meantime I'll be over here eating this plump roast chicken..."

Or something like that. I dunno. Its Friday and its been a long week..lol

Posted:2 months ago

#31

Tom Keresztes Programmer

695 351 0.5
"We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."

Posted:2 months ago

#32

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

58 183 3.2
@Shehzaan
:)
My point is that I am not now justified in replying to your post with threats of violence. Even if you had threatened violence against me. That behaviour is unjustifiable.

Also there's nothing wrong with Anita Sarkeesian's tone - I'm astonished she can stay so calm and collected during this ordeal. So the argument "don't get shrill if you don't wanna get doxxed" is patently false.

Posted:2 months ago

#33

Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship

215 441 2.1
Chris, the issues with tone (at least as I discussed them above, and I think in Shehzaan's case as well) had nothing to do with Anita herself; she is blameless.

Posted:2 months ago

#34

Craig Burkey Software Engineer

219 414 1.9
Popular Comment
I disagree with Anita Sarkeesian's tone, it's very sensationalist, clips heavily weighted to emphasize her opinion (eg no user action or incorrect user action allowing the scene to play out to the worse possibly outcome), often treating her personal opinion as fact. For me I don't feel that the sense that she respects each game as a work of art, the creators right to create it and the "Gamers" right to enjoy it, despite it's content is adequately conveyed. It's her general disdain for the people that play and enjoy the segments she criticizes that I feel resonates the most.

That said it's no justification to hurl abuse and threats at her.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Craig Burkey on 5th September 2014 4:28pm

Posted:2 months ago

#35
Good article on this

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/03/gamergate-corruption-games-anita-sarkeesian-zoe-quinn
Does anyone else think the stunned-silence that publishers are partaking in is adding fuel to the fire? Unless I missed something, Valve, EA, Acti, Ubi etc. have not uttered a word in condemnation.
And this quoted from this article probably explains why.

"This is a tiny subset of writers and developers sharing a left-leaning ideology - they are big on Twitter, but they are not going
to convince Activision, EA, Capcom or any other multinational games corporations to stop making games that conflict with their beliefs"


Hopefully with time the only people reading these articles will be the Choir so no-one will feel the need to disagree about anything.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by John Owens on 5th September 2014 5:06pm

Posted:2 months ago

#36

Christopher Garratty European Counsel, Electronic Arts

86 109 1.3
Popular Comment
@Craig

1. Anita's disdain for gamers.A lot of people seem to mistake Anita's criticism of games for criticism of gamers. I've enjoyed a lot of games with sexist content, I've enjoyed a lot of films and books which have sexist depictions of women. This does not make me a sexist and no one is saying that it does. All Anita is saying is that in an equal society, it is notable that the games she enjoys do not treat women equally.

2. Weighting/emphasis Her series is about the depictions of women as tropes in games. By its nature it involves cherry picking moments and saying "here are all the examples of women used as objects in games". If I made a video series of "Tropes vs Red Containers" I would of course cherry pick every red barrel and red crate that explodes in games and say "For some reason red things are treated as volatile. This stands out to me." It doesn't matter that there are plenty of games that feature red cars that are no more explosive than blue cars, or games that feature green barrels that explode or the occasional game with red health pickups, the fact remains that if there is a red thing in a game, chances are, it will go bang. The major difference here is that in real life red barrels are inanimate objects and not people who see themselves being reduced to a tool or an objective in the majority of big ticket, mainstream games they are offered for their enjoyment.

3. Creators right to make games I've never heard Anita suggest that games should not contain the sexist content she highlights. All she does is say, "Look at all this sexism." Of course if you are inferring that this means that the content should not be in games that's probably good as you get that being sexist is a Bad Thing™. You just appear worried about what fixing the Bad Thing™ will do to the games you enjoy. Which is only natural.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Christopher Garratty on 5th September 2014 5:15pm

Posted:2 months ago

#37

Todd Weidner Founder, Big Daddy Game Studio

420 1,000 2.4
nice article and discussion. From my lil vantage point, I actually find that if I do mention my gaming at all in social settings, I am sure to call myself a casual gamer ( although there is nothing casual about my interest in gaming). It just sounds a lot better. "Gamer" comes with a lot of baggage now as has been mentioned. Even I cant stop my brain from defining gamer as loser, bully, arrogant know nothing with too much free time due to lack of meaningful employment. Hey its just the first thing that pops in my mind. Too many years in gaming forums I guess. I'm pretty sure in many social settings and social circles that may well also be the predominant definition.

So I stay safe if I mention gaming at all, as a "casual gamer". That allows for a gaming conversation to begin if there is one to be had, or it allows the conversation to continue on in other directions, all the while not painting me as some sort of mid life slacker.

But hey thats just me, but truth be told I much rather talk about games than cigars and golf, but hey social convention is what it is.

Posted:2 months ago

#38

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
There are two seperate issues here: the one of abuse and the one of videogame writers poor handling of the issue at the expense of their readers (in poor taste) which exposed them as self-interested/seperate from their readership.
Regarding the bolded part, why can games media not have this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_editor

?

Posted:2 months ago

#39
It's a brilliant time to be a gamer.
Hmm, while I'd agree that yeah sometimes it's good to be a gamer, there are a lot more times over the past few years when it's not, and it's quite embarrassing. Just look at any gaming related site and all you'll see is trolls and fanboys going off at one another, It's old, boring, tedious and needs to stop. Youtube (amongst several others) are one of the bigger culprits for allowing disrespectful hate filled unnecessary comments, and is clearly in need of a better form of moderation and banning.

Gamers in general are not to blame for it all though, some of the blame lays squarely at the feet of the companies, gaming sites and facebook pages that thrive on the trolling fanboy / hate culture..

I'm honestly tired of it all..

Posted:2 months ago

#40

Nick Wofford Hobbyist

180 190 1.1
I attend a University that's hit the news a good bit in the past decade for its racist past. Now, most people not from the state think the University of Mississippi is full of racism. But it isn't. It's just that the racists are being thrown out, and they're raising hell about it.

I feel that 'gamer culture' is similar. I've personally met only a handful of 'bad' gamers, but they're so loud that it gives off the wrong idea. They're only this loud now because we've all stopped consenting to their crap. People always throw tantrums when that happens.

Posted:2 months ago

#42

Shehzaan Abdulla Translator

124 245 2.0
@Chris
My point is that I am not now justified in replying to your post with threats of violence. Even if you had threatened violence against me. That behaviour is unjustifiable.
No, you're not. Violence in this context is not justified self-defence or a measured counter-response. It's codswallop and you know it. And Sarkeesian's tone is besides the point, I'm making a point on tone policing in general.

The issue I'm taking with tone isn't whether it works as a justification to treat someone a particular way, but that crying "tone policing" it is a cheap diversion tactic for someone to shift blame over whether their message is heard or not unfairly onto their audience. Something that is not considered even remotely acceptable to do in any non-[insert human issue here] debate.

And it's arrogant for anyone to think they can say or do something however they want and be owed an audience. If they were just happy to concede "Well. I've been unfairly harsh. Guess it's natural they won't listen" it would be fine, but these people typically get bigger and bolder and somehow more deeply embroiled in their own pursuits - claiming that they have exclusive moral appropriation of the issues at hand and that (and only that) is the reason behind why their audience doesn't want to hear them out. The truth is much simpler: The speaker is untolerably annoying and overbearing.

The argument is "don't shrill if you actualy want people to actually listen to you and what you have to say". The fact that this point seems to elude you (and so many other posters) speaks to some kind of catastrophic breakdown of empathy, commonsense or both.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shehzaan Abdulla on 5th September 2014 7:39pm

Posted:2 months ago

#43

Shehzaan Abdulla Translator

124 245 2.0
@Morville: That is a very good point. I've always wondered why the industry doesn't have an ombudsman or a group that fulfills a similar role.

Posted:2 months ago

#44

Eric Pallavicini Game Master, Kabam

331 229 0.7
Replace "gamer" by "human being", "industry" by "government", "companies" by "institutions", "games" by "society" and "medium" by "mankind" (etc.) and the article still makes a lot of sense! :)

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Eric Pallavicini on 6th September 2014 1:30am

Posted:2 months ago

#45

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
@Shehzaan

Yeah. I know we're enthusiast press, but it's like this industry exists outside of every normal press/journalism safe-guard. Just bizarre.

Posted:2 months ago

#46

Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online

138 81 0.6
@Nick McCrea:

"If you answer everyone who dissents (ignoring the nuance of their particular dissent) with accusations of bigotry, you are, in effect, stating two things. One, that reasoned or critical dissent is ineffective; don't bother trying to engage with it, you'll be treated the same as the trolls. And two, you're telling the trolls that their response is as valid as the reasoned critic."

Thank you for this keen and hurtingly accurate observation.

Posted:2 months ago

#47

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,195 1,169 0.5
One thing that would.. no, WILL help this matter out is killing off the whole "console wars" nonsense that's become lazy shorthand for click baiting on many sites and helps spread this division year after year.

Granted, gamers on any side of the fence have been roped in for too many cycles to believe all the hype tossed at them and yeah, good marketing (and bad) get used for countless stories about what's "best" for loyal owners of all brands, but we're at the point where the first handful of comments on a non-industry site are "First", usually followed by insults about that that degrade into "(insert company/creator here) SUCKS", followed by the usual suspects trolling for people to fall into their traps.

I still think site moderation will help out a great deal, as this forces moderators to read comments and choose ones that FIT the topic. We need to train people that being an automatic asshole with a keyboard is NOT acceptable (free speech doesn't mean no responsibility for one's actions) and guiding things onto topics with healthy debate and not insults is a better means of communication, period.

Hell, isn't that now a practice here on gi.biz? Let it flow into the public arena as well!

g.

Posted:2 months ago

#48

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

58 183 3.2
@Shehzaan
My point is that I am not now justified in replying to your post with threats of violence. Even if you had threatened violence against me. That behaviour is unjustifiable.
No, you're not. Violence in this context is not justified self-defence or a measured counter-response. It's codswallop and you know it. And Sarkeesian's tone is besides the point, I'm making a point on tone policing in general.
You misread my reply, we agree on this.

I agree that debate should be civil and a measured tone is a good thing. But as you say, Sarkeesian is blameless - nothing shrill in her tone, despite what Craig seems to think. So a measured tone is demonstrably no defence against death threats.
The argument is "don't shrill if you actually want people to actually listen to you and what you have to say". The fact that this point seems to elude you (and so many other posters) speaks to some kind of catastrophic breakdown of empathy, commonsense or both.
I agree with that. What I object to is the notion that harassment victims have brought it on themselves by being shrill. Because A) there IS no justification for harassment and B) the harassment happens regardless of tone.

Posted:2 months ago

#49

Craig Burkey Software Engineer

219 414 1.9
@Chris I disagree with her tone but she's not to blame for the actions of some idiots

Posted:2 months ago

#50
I've taken a step back from my hobby thanks to the more aggressive parts of the online gaming community.
I distinctly remember playing Rainbow Six Vegas on 360 when I first got broadband. As I remember it the online community (at least in that game) was nearly always pleasant. I remember being congratulated on wins and - more importantly - not flamed for doing literally anything.
I had a couple of years away from online gaming, came back at about Halo 3/Modern Warfare 1 time and it had all changed. I was instantly struck by the hostility. I persevered until I realised nobody could control the sheer number of loud, obnoxious fools (On R6V there were times troublemakers got kicked out by the host for being just this).
It came to a point where I decided to abandon online competetive play entirely, and still do.

Destiny is out tomorrow and I know for a fact that I'll never, ever play the competetive side, and that's pretty bad.

Problem is, we all want a nice place to play, but with absolutely zero punishment and risk to themselves the trolls will just keep multiplying.

As for the term 'gamer' I (rightly or wrongly) refuse to apply it to the ultra competetive cod, battlefield and fifa players. In my eyes they're generally so caught up in one tiny aspect of gaming that they don't even understand what the rest of us "casual" (by comparison) gamers get out of it. We want fun. They want to win.

I can't help but feel there should be some "internet law". If you upset enough people (by trolling, not discussing) you get a black mark next to your name. That goes for forums, games, everything.
Then when you have that black mark you've been condemned to living under a big bridge with the other trolls, where you can do no harm to anyone else. all your accounts are still active but you can only interact on this lower plane with other hateful people. No entry to matchmaking with the nice guys if you flip out because you just lost a match.
What a terrible idea, but it's the only one I can think would carry any weight and cause them to think twice :(

Posted:2 months ago

#51
@Morville
Developers, no doubt, have always been about inclusiveness. But I do wonder if publishers have contributed to this almost tribal-like state of affairs. Sega vs Nintendo. MK vs Street Fighter. Sony vs MS. Is it any wonder "gamers" are defensive about inclusivity, when parts of the industry have long-fostered exclusion, and definition of personal character through the choices made in purchasing.
I think I get what you where getting at now with this since I've done a bit more research on this issue.

Some websites have effectively come out and said that gamers never existed and it was merely a manufactured term created by the platforms, publishers and media. Now because they're looking to "grow" the gaming audience beyond the traditional audience and that traditional audience has reacted to this social engineering they're looking to destroy the term altogether.

Well and this is the real issue with gamer-gate. Gamer might have been a manufactured term however originally it was simply nerd or geek and that existed long before and certainly wasn't manufactured. These attacks have been seen as nothing more than nerd bashing from people who may be in control of their hobby but where certainly never the nerds or geeks.

The ironic thing is that nerds and geeks are the most inclusive and welcoming people you can get and the suits and journalists would know that if they ever did come from that background and really deserve to be treated better.

Posted:2 months ago

#52

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,613 1,476 0.9
The ironic thing is that nerds and geeks are the most inclusive and welcoming people you can get and the suits and journalists would know that if they ever did come from that background and really deserve to be treated better.
Gamers give as good they get, though, and many times without being baited into it, so I'm afraid I don't completely buy-into what you say. :) Look at Fat/Ugly/Slutty. Dare you defend the people whose comments appear on that site? Do they deserve to be treated better, or do they actually deserve the contempt of writers and developers? They're abusive, and about as far away from the inclusive nerd/geek as it's possible to get; they're the very worst of gamers/nerds/geeks.

That said, I think both the inclusive nerd and the abusive Halo jock are two extremes of a wide spectrum. And I don't just mean in the sense that we can both pull examples that suit our arguments, but also in the sense of stereotypes. It seems like "gamers" could almost be an American High School, so cliched are the sub-groups within it - the jocks (Madden fans, naturally), the RPG fans, the "trenchcoat brigade" (fps-players), the casuals (only game to get laid?).

I think if the move against "gamers" hadn't been a reaction to events, it would have made far more sense. As examples, art connoisseurs don't divide themselves into cliques based on artist, and neither do classical music listeners, though both have sub-cultures - Cubism, Dutch Masters, Period Instrumentation, etc. Even, really, role-players don't - you get some who are ardent D&D fans, but on the whole, role-players are platform/brand agnostic. Saying this means no disrespect to any group - it simply means that we all have to grow up, and change terminology to fit what's happening. Unfortunately, changing terminology is hard when it's so embedded in consumer's personalities.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 8th September 2014 7:47pm

Posted:2 months ago

#53
I have no interest in defending anyone's and certainly not the people you mentioned. You just asked if the platform holders and publishers where responsible for creating the tribalism which exists and ultimately why "gamers" have felt the need to circle the wagons.

Basically the answer is "it's complicated" and I don't think you can even say its as simple as the journalists reacting. The other side feels like they're the ones that have reacted to an attack on them. I don't know if there is a definite answer to who fired the first shot.

Posted:2 months ago

#54

Eric Leisy VR Production Designer, Nike

117 127 1.1
Good article. First, I'm horrified and heart broken to hear the news about these attacks on female developers and Anita - I hadn't heard of this before now. It is just astounding the capacity for evil that some people have. I think it might be worthwhile to note that this behavior isn't just limited to gamers, right? It's an aspect of all anonymous or remote communications. We've all seen youtube comments, or even the comments on a CNN or Huffington Post article from "normal" non gaming people. Take away the threat of any real consequence, and people are just bloody horrible to each other.

In my opinion, This isn't a gamer problem. It's a human problem. We're sadistic creatures, and more often than not there is a place in us that takes some pleasure in seeing a car wreck, and not being the one involved.

I guess I'm sexist, but I love women- and I think we should treat our women as goddesses, queens, and princesses. I hate seeing anyone demeaned or attack, but I take particular issue when it's the softer more fairer sex. This makes me so mad and sad to see this hate and abuse. I hope we have the ability to evolve past this.

Micheal Smith:
I saw your comment on Destiny, it's actually not too bad playing Destiny. The developers (wisely) chose to NOT have a general or public chat channel. You don't hear other gamers, unless they are your friends and you choose to group with them. It's actually something I noticed, because it's really pleasant. You only communicate with other (random) gamers through the default gesture system, kind of like JOURNEY and the like. The experience is a lot more pleasant than most multiplayer competitive games, and it also doesn't break the immersion as much.

Posted:2 months ago

#55

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