#Gamergate; it’s actually not about ethics in journalism but I’d like it to be

If you haven’t been following what has been going on in the world of gaming then you may not have heard of #gamergate.

Rather than go over how it started again, check out this article by Caitlin Dewey on gamergate

There are tons of articles about how gamergate happened and I’m not going regurgitate them, this post is instead about my opinion based on the research I’ve done.

When I started writing this article, I was still  unsure of how it was going to end or what my point was going to be, all I knew was that I wanted to support those that want to improve ethics in journalism and condemn those that abuse and harass their critics.

Writing this article helped me sort out my conflicted feelings on #gamergate and I hope that it will help anyone who reads it do the same.

 

Why was I conflicted?

At this stage you might be asking, why was I conflicted. I mean people are either Pro or Anti Gamergate aren’t they?

It might be that simple for some people but for me this is a gross oversimplification.

While there have been some gains made by #gamergate, I’ve seen a lot of abuse under the tag. Gamergate supporters say that people who abuse using the hashtag are not ‘true’ gamergaters but this is basically the ‘no true Scotsman‘ fallacy and is essentialay an excuse to ignore the criticism levelled at those who are participating in the hashtag.

To ignore such criticism of people involved in a movement is dangerous  and is one of the reasons why the perception of #gamergate is that of a movement of trolls, harassers and knee jerk reactionaries.

Many people will make the argument that people are not guilty by association, but how can I know this without knowing the people involved?

TotalBiscuit is a reasonable person who called for calm & for a hashtag to get back on track but Adam Baldwin is a misogynist who peddles conspiracy theories: both could be considered leaders in the #gamergate movement. In fact, Adam Baldwin made the first tweet in relation to the current iteration of #gamergate and it was a tweet about the conspiracy theory surrounding Zoe Quinn

Who represents the true face of #gamergate? Is Adam Baldwin a fly in TotalBiscuits vision or is TotalBiscuit a shield for Adam Baldwin’s aggression?

 

Ethics in Journalism

Ethics in journalism is an important thing is discuss, I’m very concerned about ethics in journalism in general not just in game journalism.

Journalists and PR companies work together to spin stories and get the public to feel sorry for rich criminals and hate on who is the current target group.

This segment from Charlie Brookers ‘Newswipe’ explains it better than I ever could:

Too many journalists cite ‘anonymous sources’ as proof of a crime, so if it turns out not to be true, we have no-one to hold accountable to this inaccurate information.

News Media spin stories to make us afraid, by hiding scientific fact amongst a forest of fear. Take the Ebola coverage for example;  if you listen to some news sites, Ebola has evolved into an airborne virus and anyone who was even near a victim can catch it, which is simply not true.

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You need to physically come in contact with an Ebola victim’s bodily fluids or their corpse to catch Ebola and yet the Media is encouraging people to freak out about it.

Consider that diabetes kills 3.4 million people worldwide every year and the media is all like ‘ yeah, whatever

Diabetes is certainly not as dramatic or exciting as Ebola but you have a MUCH higher chance of developing and dying from diabetes in the Western Word than you do of even catching Ebola.

Of course, most western Media only started to care about Ebola when western doctors started to catch it. When it was only killing Africans; the media didn’t care but once a westerner caught it, the media was all like ‘Holy Shite, Ebola!

Meanwhile Nigeria has successfully gotten rid of Ebola within its borders and not only do Western countries not seem to be taking the lessons learnt from this success but the media has barely mentioned it!

Now homeopaths are peddling their ‘Ebola cures’ to the frightened public

*takes a deep breathe*

Let’s end this rant there, because that is not what this post is about, but I hope you understand now how seriously I take ethics in journalism.

Games Journalism suffers from less obvious lapses in journalistic ethics, but they still exist.

The community used to be very small, so anyone who has been a games journalist for years probably knows a number of game developers and they have not always been forthcoming about this connection. Good reviews have sometimes been paid for and publishers have threatened to  punish sites that run negative reviews.

I would argue that fighting for ethics in news journalism is objectively more important, but that doesn’t dismiss the importance of ethics in games journalism.

These are all things that we should be concerned about, that we should activity fight for,  but unfortunately that is not what #gamergate is doing.

 

A Confused Message

#Gamergate, has no consistent and cohesive message. There are too many people trying to use it for their own means and too many reasons why the conversation turns from ethics in game journalism to #gamergate defending themselves

You could argue that this is due to the fact that it is a hashtag but there has been many hashtags that managed to keep a consistent message, #yesallwomen is a good example.

Gamergaters say they are against censorship but, they censor.

One of the tactics of gamergaters is to email companies that advertise on sites that have written articles against them and get them to withdraw their advertising Intel pulling advertising from Gamasutra is touted as a success by gamergate

This tactic seems very hypocritical to me. They don’t want publishers to be able to censor journalists by threatening to pull advertising, but then they’ll campaign for a company to pull advertising from a site when it posts an article they don’t agree with.

This is the same type of censorship that they are supposedly fighting against and this is the same tactics that religious fundamentalists used to censor the late great Bill Hicks.

You can’t argue against censorship and then use censorship to prevent criticism.

If they are not trying to set a sites advertising pulled then they are ddosing sites, which is also a form of censorship.

They demand evidence from the people they debate, without providing any of their own.

To this day, gamergaters still say that Zoe Quinn had sex with a journalist to get a good review for Depression Quest and yet this review never existed.

They say there is proof that it did exist but never provided a link to the review or a screenshot or anything.However when people say they are being harassed or that they have been driven out of their homes due to threats made against them, they demand proof and when it’s given to them  they say it’s not enough or that it’s a false flag

Non Gamergaters who call out harassment are professional victims, gamergaters who get harassed are genuine victims.

Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Braianna Wu and others are called professional victims for talking about the abuse they receive, pro gamergaters who receive abuse are true victims when they report the abuse they receive.  This is a terrible double standard.

They aren’t against diversity in games but they don’t want to fight for it.

It’s like they think that developers will magically make their games more diverse because they feel like they should. However AAA game producers and developers can be inherently conservative and games are expensive to make.  So, they want to make sure that their game will make money, adding potentially controversial characters could prevent them from making money, so they are less likely to add them unless they know that  players will accept them.

“Social Justice Warriors” are simply just asking for more diversity in games, which tells  game developers that there is money in diversity so we’ll be more likely to get it.

Staying silent on the issue of diversity just ensures that the current list of brown-haired white male protagonists will continue to get longer.

 

Emotive Issues

Playing games is the hobby of many people around the world and like most hobbies there are people who take it very seriously. I would include myself in that group. When you take a hobby seriously, it can be hard to take any criticism of it, it is hard to take criticism of anything you love.

It is easy to become defensive when  someone is attacking something we love, our emotions kick in and we get angry, we argue that their opinion is wrong, that the critics is biased or failing that, we attack the person themselves.

I mean, surely not all women in games are ‘damsels in distress’ or background decoration, I mean there is Lara Croft, Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, Samus Aran and eh, I’m sure there are lots of others. Right?

We need to use are heads and think when things we love are criticized, as I’ve said before: until very recently, I’ve spent most of my gaming life as a man, peering through a man’s eye and gaining their experiences. This is an imbalance that needs to be addressed and it is one that can be hard to see when you are immersed in the gaming world, so critics are needed to call attention to it.

Instead both sides have let their emotions get the better of them and a freak out has ensued.

TotalBiscuit has stated that Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, & Braianna Wu are getting the most tweets in relation to #gamgergate because they have been making the most comments about it, however all Braianna did was post a meme criticising #gamergate and all of a sudden she is being chased out of her house.  Anita Sarkeesian makes YouTube videos and supported Zoe Quinn when she was being harassed and people are threaten to kill her.

These women are spending time talking about #gamergate because there had been a total overreaction to what they do online.

This of course has caused some anti-gamergaters to become aggressive and threaten #gamergaters.

This leads us to a situation where gamergaters are saying they are not all harassers but that all anti-gamergaters are, which is exactly why they are so angry at anti-gamergaters, because they think everyone involved in the hashtag is harassing people.

Basically the argument is like this, not all gamergaters are threatening people but all social justice warriors are crazy people who threaten us.

It has turned in a giant cluster fuck, where #gamergate won’t accept any criticism of people under their hashtag or use the  ‘no true Scotsman‘ fallacy and those who are against it won’t listen to any valid concerns that #gamergate has because they are shielding or ignoring the harassment that goes on.

And while originally most of the harassment and threats were made under #gamergate, no side can claim to be completely virtuous at this stage.

 

Ethics has lost control

If the hashtag was ever about ethics in game journalism (this is debatable) then it’s not any more.

Some gamergaters speak out against the harassment but they have no leader and no central leadership so what can they do about it?

In other ‘movements’ harassers can be kicked out & denounced. In #gamergate harassers can be denounced but what can be done about them, nothing, nothing can be done about it and that is a problem if you have an important message .

#Gamegate is not a grass roots movements it’s an AstroTurf movement. It was created under false pretences and it can never escape that. The trolls and harassers within the moment are surrounded by a protective wall of genuine people who believe in journalistic ethics and this wall only gives the harassers legitimacy.

Some gaming websites have changed their ethics policies in light of #gamergate, which is awesome but it’s a good news story that has been lost in the din. #gamergate has been spending more of its time talking about how they don’t support harassers rather than talking about ethics in games journalism because people doxx in their name.

Felicia Day said that she was worried about posting about gamergate because she was afraid of being doxxed and then she was doxxed right after she posted about #gamergate, people shouldn’t be afraid to post their opinion or to criticise a moment or an idea.

 

The future

At this stage I’m not longer even sure what #gamergate wants. They said they were about ethics in games journalism, many games sites updated their ethic’s polices and they still weren’t happy.

Do they want a list of all the people in the industry each person knows at the beginning of the review?

Do they want games sites to stop allowing game developers to advertise on their sites?

At this stage what would satisfy them?

I don’t know.

#Gamergate has divided the gaming community, when we were finally united.

It has soiled the name of the gaming community just when the outside world was being to accept us, it has caused more problems than it has solved.

There is a lot of venom tied up with #gamergate and anyone who genuinely cares about ethics needs to distance themselves from that poison well.

As for me, I’m a feminist and a gamer. I stand in support of the people that have been attacked and I stand in support of ethics in journalism.

 

Have a Deadly day folks!

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Posted in Opinion By Rachel
2 comments on “#Gamergate; it’s actually not about ethics in journalism but I’d like it to be
  1. Liber says:

    Seems like you have picked a side and are unlikely to consider switching, but still I just going to provide some points to make your position a little less conformable 🙂

    First off, the fight for ethics in gaming journalism is pretty much the fight to prevent some people discussing ideologies when they should be discussing games. No the skin color of a FICTIONAL character is not going to do jackshit for the acceptance and the happiness of people of color, instead better access to education, to capital, and things that people take for granted, THIS would be worth discussing but guess what **those are not video games**.

    Second, that little play on the abuse you did pretty much convinced me that you are just in the business of convincing yourself of the goodwill of the SJW side. Yes, some abuse came from #GG BUT it’s clear as day that the SJW also created some of those abuses in the hope of hiding behind them, Sarkesian crying all day on twitter that she involved the authorities in that death threats affair, when the first things authorities do is tell the people affected NOT to advertise about possible investigation *for their own safety*…. Tells how much she was actually affected by those, enough to use them as ammo instead of wisely focusing on what is important, her security.
    So no double standard here, just your lack of information.

    Third, the movement has moved on ZQ more than a month ago… So yeah, it’s no longer about asking for evidences from her, it’s about acting on the countless evidences we have gathered about ideologies, cronyism based on those ideologies, and subversion of our hobby that we can still stop.

    Fourth, #GG fights for diversity. Just not your kind of diversity. We fight for creative freedom. If someone makes a game in a Norwegian setting we don’t want people starting to say “why is there no black people??? OUTRAGE!! RACISM!!”, we want whoever who made that story to be free of shaming and FORCED diversity.

    The mod you talked about a while ago that white-washed Vivienne, well I can tell you if a game had African-themed setting (and Dragon Age doesn’t) and the princess happened to be white, I would tempted to perform the reverse operation. Is it racism or just out of respect for a culture or setting? Vivienne reeks of the character that someone changed to african origins at the last minute because “muh forced diversity!!”.

    Diversity will happen when black, indian, asian men and women graduate from universities, gain access to peaceful lives and to capital and start making their dream come true, NOT when some random white people start people of colors in their stories. Ponder on that.

    And I say all that as a person of color. I want my skin color to mean something, not be some artificial quota-filling excuse or some guilt-washing excuse.

    #GG is fighting the good fight.

    • First of all – thanks for posting a comment. I think its great to hear what people think.

      Secondly, sorry for the delay in getting your comment approved and replying to it. I’m basically leaving in Thedas at the moment.

      Thirdly – my reply

      Giving developers the freedom to choose which ever protagonist is really great in theory but it doesn’t work in practice.

      Media has an impact on people, in the past the stories we told each other were how we learnt about the world, stories continued lessons, advice, explications etc. and that has not changed today.

      You say education is needed and I agree with that, but to say that Media has no impact on us is simply untrue.

      If you grow up in a world were all the stories you hear have white men as the heroes, then when you picture a hero, you will probably picture a white man, so when you write a story, for a book, film, or video game then you will probably write a story with a white male protagonist.

      While I have no issue with a game developer using their personal freedom to create a game with a white male protagonist, I do have an issue with the ‘trend’ of most protagonists in media being a white male.

      It locks out minorities and women, making some people feel like all people like them in Media can be are the ‘best friend’ or the love interest.

      And that is the issue, if you don’t ask for diversity you don’t get it, you get a homogenized view of the world were most of our heroes are white straight men with brown hair.

      Our heroes should represent everyone, not just one ethnic group, gender or sexuality.

      In my own person experience, when I was younger I didn’t think that women could be heroes because all the books I read, films I watched & games I played had male heroes, so even when I could play as a women, like in Streets of Rage, I didn’t because the female character was going to be terrible because women can’t be heroes.

      That is the kind of impact the lack of diversity in our media can have.

      As for Vivienne, I believe your opinion of her is based on incorrect information.

      Thedas has black people, there is a whole region called Rivain where most people are black and travel to & from this region is common.

      Both previous games have had black characters, although not as prominent.

      There is a misconception that Thedas is Medieval Europe which is inaccurate, it is certainly based off some aspects of Medieval Europe, but it is not a ‘copy, paste’ job i.e. many women serve in the army.

      Even if it where a direct copy paste, there were black people in Medieval Europe – The Moors.

      The Moors arrived in Spain and Portugal in 711 and they stuck around for 100’s of years.Othello, a Shakespearean play as a black man has the main protagonist.

      Vivienne is not a character created out of forced diversity or a quota to fill

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