I’ve been keeping my head down recently – just getting on with reviews, playing as much Destiny as I can, and as such – I haven’t really paid all that much attention to the GamerGate debacle. Which is why this piece is a little bit late. Sure, I know the basic gist of what’s going down, but I haven’t taken to Twitter on either side of the argument or written any bombastic clickbait. Sexism is a hot topic in the industry right now and it’s easy to see why.
Saying something along the lines of ‘can’t we all just get along’ seems purposefully shallow and borderline ignorant. But ultimately that’s at the core of what I want to say right now. First, I’d like to say a few things in defense of Invision Game Community.
This is the website that got me my proper start in games journalism. It’s a good setup. It doesn’t pay cash money, but you’re rewarded with free games and peripherals for your work – which helped me sustain my gaming habit throughout my journalism course at university. I’ve had some absolutely standout opportunities over the years – a trip to Ubisoft Germany to play some new web games, and that same company’s grandiose announcement of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag in London. But here’s the deal.
That hasn’t influenced my opinion of those products one bit. I wrote good reviews of those free to play web games because they were good games. If they had been terrible, I would have laid into them with my usual vitriol. No amount of Ubisoft schmoozing would have changed that. These games and opportunities are my reward for taking the time to review them in the first place. Gaming journalism isn’t something you do for the money. It’s something you do because it’s an industry you love – and getting free games is part and parcel with that. For some of us at Invision, it’s the only way we could possibly play as much as we do. We love our hobby. The great thing is, we’re as indie as they come – there aren’t any sponsors or corporations with their hands up our arses or their fingers at our strings. Everyone is allowed to write what they want and state their opinion. It’s how I get away with being so foul mouthed all the time.
The thing about gaming is that it attracts people from all walks of life, and some of those people are bigger and louder and angrier than others. But let me ask you – when the protest movement really took off in the sixties, did people try to change anger and violence by using anger and violence? No. They used acid. And the whole peace and love thing.
Is sending somebody you perceive to be misogynistic or racist death threats really the best way to combat that kind of behaviour? When you send a hateful person a message of hate, all you do is reinforce the way they see the world. If you’re against guns, you don’t try to threaten people into not using guns with guns, do you?
Yes, there are some arenas where basic things like equal rights must be fought for. But first, consider what you’re fighting for. Are you genuinely sending people death threats and boycotting their sites because you just hate hatred that much? Or are you masking your misandry by being a social justice warrior or a white knight so no-one figures out just how bigoted you actually are?
Sexism – wrong. Racism – wrong. Responding to sexism and racism with death threats from behind the safety of your keyboard – foolish. Gaming should be for everyone. And even if it’s getting better, it sucks that it’s not as progressive as it should be. But take this as gospel. When has fighting hatred with hatred ever worked out well for everyone? We’re pretty much from the culture that created trolling. What does a troll do when people react to them? They troll more. They get more obscene, more unreasonable, and ultimately, all they serve to do is infuriate people out for genuine discussion for the sake of it. Sometimes it seems like people against sexism try to fight it with yet more sexism, which boggles the mind. I genuinely saw a post on a forum saying “All male critics are sexist”… which is the very definition of sexism. Right.
I’m not saying don’t fight for equality. For the love of gaming, which is something we at least hold in common, please do. But when a site runs an article saying something derogatory about Zoe Quinn or Anita Sarkeesian – who have been absolutely bombarded with death threats – surely it makes sense not to propagate that behaviour? Oh, let’s send the people who have already degraded themselves to base threats through a comfortable veil of anonymity some more death threats. We’ll just get a big ol’ death threat circle jerk going.
Before you type that death threat in all caps to that person you’ve never met, consider some words from Mahatma Gandhi – ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world’. If you want to see a more progressive world where everyone has the same opportunities and no-one should have to face hatred based on race or gender, then be progressive. Make sure that your feminism isn’t just misandry finding a more acceptable way of belief to latch onto, because then you’re just replacing bigotry with bigotry. Changing the old hatred for the new one, and achieving nothing in the process. Don’t become the thing you despise so much in the process of despising it.
We all love games. Doesn’t matter whether you’re Xbox or Playstation. Smartphone or DS. Ultimately, that’s why we’re in this melting pot together. We need to try and remember that if we’re going to move forward. Give the decent critics a chance, and let the dodgy ones know when they’re being sleazy. But for the love of all that is digital, don’t sink down to their level.
Oh, and if you take exception to anything I’ve said here, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.