The Building of a LAN Gamer – Part 4 – #GamerGate

Halfway through 2015 and I am a month or so older from my last post in this short series. In that month I’ve explored the online world of gaming a little, and I’ve played a few of the new games on offer as well as revisited a few old ones.

The small LAN network is complete now, though the computers on the end of it need a bit of attention to play some of the games we’d like to play; and Paul and I have spent some hours on Left 4 Dead and its sequel "testing it out" (purely for academic reasons of course).

I think back on my final post and I still wonder a little what all this means. I think it’s connected to quite a few things in my head. Perhaps to a degree it’s simply my age and a need to recapture some of my youth, but I don’t think that’s a major part of it.

To be completely blunt an awful lot has to do with the GamerGate hash tag campaign and the online reaction to it.

Like most people about a year and a half ago I knew nothing about GamerGate, but unlike a great many people I actually took to twitter and started following the proponents of the campaign and what they said on their blogs and YouTube channels. I also followed what was being said about them, and I found that quite a lot of the time the two things had little in common.

Now I’m not going to tell you that there is no online abuse going on, there is, but to blame one set of people when billions of people are online is just foolish. The idea that 10,000 people who use a hash tag is somehow responsible for all online abuse people receive is short sighted to the point of insanity. It would be like insisting that MacDonald’s is a racist hate group because one person writes something tasteless on a MacDonald’s toilet wall, in one MacDonald’s, in one backwater town.

There’s a lot of obfuscation going on, a lot of sleight of hand and it’s a real pity many in the movement have decided to follow certain bits of bait. To put it simply, if people didn’t respond to certain individuals then people would not be so easily convinced that those individuals are the core of GamerGate’s interest.

I suppose this is why I’m only just starting to talk about this four posts into this series (and a year or so after I started coming to my own conclusions about the mess). Unfortunately this topic is a bit of online touch-paper to an ever ready powder-keg, but it’s also something that brought something into sharp focus for me, and probably others too.

Through GamerGate I began looking at statistics, and through these I began to see quite clearly the way many people use them to prove points they do not actually prove. The way violence in entertainment affects its audience is a prime example, people say that it does but what they rarely say is how it only has an affect if the parenting of the subject is sub par enough for it to have a foothold. Basically speaking all the studies clearly show that any affect entertainment has on a child is marginal, and whether the child’s parent reads to them at bedtime has a far more profound affect.

But as this is not something that can push an agenda (unless that agenda is "parents should look after their kids") then the statistic are reformatted to mean anything the reviewer wants them to.

Much of what I’ve seen regarding GamerGate has been very similar.

Even though I have been looking into this almost since it began I have been reluctant to talk about it, and this is mainly because I find I am consistently pro-GamerGate.

This in itself this says a great deal to me.

Why would someone who is a proponent of what many consider a "hate group" reluctant to come out and say it? Surely the whole point of being a "hate group" would be to be hateful? Surely someone like that would not be afraid of people’s reaction; surely they would welcome the possible conflict that this would raise from people?

The simple truth is of course that though there may be hateful people within any group, this doesn’t necessarily make the group one of hate. As there are also likely those who are anti-hate in their approach and even more who are neither, and are just people arguing an idea.

When push comes to shove I look at the sorry mess and I ask a simple question to myself. If people won’t just let you enjoy your life without trying to twist you to their own ideals; how should you react?

Interestingly this question works just as well if you are pro or anti GamerGate, as both sides see themselves as the ones maligned by the other; each side seeing the other as the one trying to "twist you to their own ideals".

So how much validity do I see in their claims?

Really this deserves its own post, or series of posts, but to sum it up I think both sides have real validity in at least some of their claims.

GamerGate is correct in saying that gaming journalism is a corrupt mess, and little of what they say can be trusted. (Recently a broad sheet newspaper wrote an article claiming "gamers were illiterate" and I wonder whether they base this on those journalists.)

Anti-GamerGater’s are also correct in saying that there should be more women in game development, and perhaps in some areas of gaming as well.

As far as I can see those are the main concerns of both sides.

What I notice about these two arguments is that they are not mutually exclusive, and that we can (and I do) say "yes" to both of them. I don’t think we need more women in gaming development (games need no one in particular, just people), but I’d welcome it completely as I think it would make for more interesting games, not to mention online interactions. I also believe that gaming journalism is nothing of the sort and should be considered by its (lack) of quality as throwaway.

So what’s the argument about?

It’s about things unconnected to anyone’s real concerns. It about third parties getting involved and making the arguments their own; and the only thing I will say about these third parties are that they are all trolls. Either they are people trolling for sympathy or they are trolls giving them reason to.

I come from a family of strong people, and especially strong women, so I know how a strong woman reacts to abusive behaviour. They shut it down and make the potential abuser sorry they tried. The absolutely last thing they do is complain or make a scene of it, because the last thing they want is sympathy; or in most cases even help. Strong women, strong people, know that to be strong you have to be able to deal with issues yourself, without the aide of others as much as possible.

It’s ironic to me that the two sides of this particular online coin are at odds with each other, mainly because third party trolls (the kind that troll for sympathy as well as those who give them cause to) are rattling their sabres.

It is very sad that the tone that the trolls take (and that anti-GamerGater’s often adopt) is that Gaming is anti-women or unwelcoming to women, and this is detrimental to the actual cause of getting women into gaming.

Using specific criticism (or even genuine hatreds) of specific women does not prove a criticism or hatred of all women. There are legitimate reasons why certain women connected with gaming should be criticised, as there are with certain men, but using these criticisms as evidence against all women is damaging and untrue.

I’m almost up to a thousand and a half words so far in this post, which is about my limit for an article that has had no specific research or planning put into it, so I’ll leave it at that for the moment.

There’s a lot more that I could say as this is not by any means all that could be said on the subject. To me this connects even more deeply with what can only be described as a “gender war” that’s raging online.

But that is obviously for another post, and probably a long one.

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