thoughts

GamerGate: how intelligent gamers are being hoodwinked

2014 is a confusing year to be a gamer. Suddenly the gaming culture is called into question where before it was relegated to a level that did not deem it worthy of criticism. As the spotlight falls on the industry, gamers are pushing back against the criticism and pointing out the hypocrisies they see in games journalism. GamerGate has turned into one of the most divisive moments in gaming history.

Let’s address something right out of the gate (bad pun), doxxing and threatening people is wrong. Something really disturbing about human nature has emerged from all the volleys shot over the last few months. People get really sarcastic, angry and hateful and start threatening and abusing other people. We have had little logical open debate, it’s either black or white. Everyone is so quick to point out how incredibly stupid the other person is, to ignore their words in favour of pushing their own agenda. Here’s some examples:

Anti-Gamergate Person: “Hey, here’s an idea, let’s not attack female game developers because they are female. Being female is a good thing, which is lucky because they didn’t have much of a choice in the matter…”

Pro-Gamergate Person: “It’s about accountability in games journalism! “(And if they are of the particularly eloquent variety: “F*** you! You stupid s****, go f*** yourself, i hope you choke on a f**** **** and then **** all over your stupid *****.”)

or

Pro-Gamergate Person: “I am for accountability in games journalism, I don’t like the clearly biased views I see in media. I am in a minority and I self-identify as a gamer. ”

Anti-Gamergate Person: “You’re shifting the goalposts, you are an idiot, you are evil (insert profanities as above if the person similarly can’t be bothered to pick up a dictionary).

This is not how debate works in the real world. The clamouring, raging voices are a sign of the times and, for me at least, are the death knell to the idea of digital democracy.

Now onto the meat of the matter…

Zoe Quinn’s boyfriend uploaded a pathetic revenge video about his ex. I’ve been through some insane relationships and yet I’ve never felt the need to go all “loose change” on my former lover. It’s over, move the hell on and get over it. If it was really so bad be glad that you got out when you did, but for christ’s sake don’t go posting it all over the internet like a teenager looking for attention. The first occurrence of the GamerGate hashtag came to us courtesy of Adam Baldwin, the guy from Firefly. My favourite character in Firefly.

God damn it.

Of course he has to use his fame to promote a video that makes the revenge video look relatively sane. As soon as he used it to humiliate Quinn, gamergate became a thing to reject. If gamergate is so concerned with accountability and corruption in games journalism, why did originate in puerile garbage? Because the entire point was to harass a woman.

Make no mistake about it, that was the first use of the hashtag, anything after that point is cynical rhetoric, and if you are sucked into it you are falling victim of people who have way more time than you to sit around being hateful. It’s truly horrible stuff; feigning outrage and injustice in this situation is the most delectable irony for the puny little humans who masterminded the entire debacle on 4chan. They must be very pleased with themselves.

From the other point of view…

There are a lot of folks who are getting sucked into the pro-gamergate argument because they are legitimately interested in changing the definition of a “typical gamer”. It’s not surprising that if you put out a whole bunch of articles telling people “gaming is dead”, and that all gamers are “neck beards” and the like, those who identify as gamers are going to get angry. Sam Biddle, a writer for Gawker came under fire for trolling gamergaters (I shudder to use this collective pronoun) by tweeting:

“Ultimately #GamerGate is reaffirming what we’ve known to be true for decades: nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded into submission”

Clear satire and fun-poking, but ammunition for the trolls to launch a counter offensive declaring Sam Biddle (and by extension anyone who works in journalism/has hair/drinks water) a bully.

If you are a gamer and you have represented gamer gate online, it’s OK. You probably didn’t know about the background, believed the hype and jumped on board. Everyone does that at some stage and you won’t be judged for it. Go ahead and hop off right now though. Corruption in games journalism is a thing, and it’s most definitely something you should actively fight against. #GamerGate is not the way to do it. Breaking through gamer stereotypes is a noble pursuit. #NotYourShield is not the way to do it. No matter what anyone tells you, the first occurrence of the tweet is all you need to know. Nothing born out of ridiculing a woman leads to any good.

The people at the fore of gamergate think that social justice is not something you should fight for. Smugness and cynicism doesn’t make them right. By the same token snobbery doesn’t make anti-gamergate right. If we want to change the industry we need to be inclusive. It is very easy to dismiss someones views as insolent and ignorant when we are not walking in their shoes. I don’t think the majority of gamers are misogynistic, gamers come in many flavours. The scoffing loathsome folks behind gamergate have been able to use the generalisation of gamers made by journalists recently to their advantage. Not all gamers are white male and cisgender. We cannot win the battle against the deplorable sides of the industry without enlisting these people. We certainly cannot win if we imitate Sam Biddle and feed the troll.

The frustrating side of this is that the contingent that are suckering in recruits to the gamergate cause come across as exactly the stereotypical gamer. Unwilling to accept women into the industry, hateful, violent, simultaneously intelligent and moronic, young white and male (that’s not to say that there aren’t female trolls out there getting their rocks off at ruining a woman’s life because they also deem her a slut). Perhaps they’re so cynical, they don’t even buy their own message. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that they merely enjoyed the chaos they have created and, by continuing to feed the trolls, we do nothing but extend that chaos.

Lets stop responding to anyone who doesn’t want to engage in an adult debate. Lets agree that there are people on both sides who just want what’s best for their favourite past time. Lets get critical; that doesn’t mean we don’t get any more Grand Theft Auto, it just means that we actually think about how ALL humans are represented in games. Being critical of something doesn’t preclude enjoying it. What’s more, by thinking about how some females are being represented (i.e. as hollow characters and MacGuffins) we can actually improve games. We might evolve past the various narratives that relegate women to these roles, and build more complex and realistic games.

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Short Fiction

The Cleric – A short story from college

It was a November evening, darkness overtook the sun in a battle lost ever earlier as the weeks passed. Cold air crept after Terence Julien, biting at his heels moving the young man to walk more briskly, as he pressed onwards toward the cleric’s house. The issue at hand was of utmost importance, an earnest enquiry that demanded immediate attention. An artistic dilemma which had been growing in his psyche for months, years maybe… This in turn had begun to tear apart his entire livelihood. Julien had upset the painters guild, who in turn had informed the philosophers and they, of course, had intervened and contacted the local religious authority.

In the year of our lord, saviour, and ultimate church of ultra-gospel creed, 2109, he experienced what his peers described as a “full mental collapse”, but which Julien himself regarded as the turning point. He painted a “nude” figure. Provided that the painting was realistic, and genitalia was masked with cloth, this was relatively acceptable. The human form was seen as god’s greatest achievement, his masterpiece which the human race could learn from by attempting weakly to mimic it on paper. It was the particular positioning of the model which drew offense. The guild had deemed it pornography, and when Julien suggested that the bible was filled with the profane, without logical or allegorical explanation, he was sternly warned that his actions were not appreciated.

Henceforth Julien had very publicly broken taboo after taboo, each of which had been firmly in place for as long as anyone alive could remember, certainly since the incident. Wave after wave, building up in him like a crescendo. He screamed to anyone who could hear that the skies above were not the home of god, but the resting place of empty space. Needless to say his opinions were hostile, and much of his work was soon banned. However he had not yet been refused the right to continue to practice. A slap on the wrist is all the authorities had intended for him, until he finally went too far.

The dank and mouldy walls of the rooms in the cleric’s house had for some time been sinking into a state of disrepair. Since the incident not much headway had been made on any affair that involved the aesthetic. Taking pride in ones home was considered heinously sinful, and the more disheveled a person’s home, the greater their esteem among peers and neighbours. In truth however since the incident, very little by way of home supplies could be obtained, and what could be salvaged from the warehouses had long since been used. This was the world Julien had been born into, though he knew as everyone knew, that it had not always been this way.

The cleric was an old, white haired and rosy cheeked man. He had a generally kindly exterior, which masked an enquiring nature, but his advice was sought by all, as it was seen as sage and sound.
“Father,” Julien paused and regarded the old man, “I need you to show me the way forward.” He reached for the wooden tube he had crafted from ash to hold his portfolio and unfurled his latest work on the Cleric’s old oak table. The scene he had crafted from oils portrayed an old man looking into a mirror, the reflected image showed the image of his younger self. Julien had called the work “reflection” and it was his first imaginative work, and this was the root of his current predicament. It was considered a mortal sin to paint the imaginary.

“My boy,” The cleric was nearly whispering now, “by painting the imaginary, you illustrate your personal, sinful worldview and your own twisted thoughts. You equate our lord God and saviour Jesus Holy Christ, whose image you are privileged to paint for us, with the inner workings of your mind. But he is beyond your mind! You may paint his earth, the gifts of his bounty he has delivered to us through his brilliance and sympathy for our plight, but no more.”

Julien waited and when the Cleric remained silent, he gingerly spoke, his throat tight with worry, hoarse and wavering with fear. “I painted from my mind, from my perspective, is my perspective not by proxy gods perspective? Are we not his children?”

“You paint from your own perspective,” The cleric’s tone was harsh now, “but your worldview is nothing, it only leads to individuality, which we all know leads in turn to hate for your common man. There is only the correct perspective, do you not see? This is the only perspective you need to portray in your paintings, all else will lead to bitterness” He rubbed his fingers against his nose, they were bony, skeletal, and sharp looking, “I want to tell you about the last painters who did what you are doing now. It was long ago, before the incident, and the world had changed for the worst. Evil was everywhere, and the evil was rooted in a land that also gave birth to our own church. One man had the audacity to sign his name on his paintings! His name was Giotto Di Bondone, and he would inspire Leonardo, a madman whose plotting would bring about the incident and the end of God’s love for the world. A family who called themselves ‘De Medici’, they commissioned painters like you, and they commissioned Leonardos evil works”, he shook his head, “That menace called himself Da Vinci, and he called himself an ‘artist’. A blamed con artist he was. His inventions were used to bring terror to the world. The designs he drew forward from his mind, the ideas, they brought about the horror you and I live through every day.”

The names meant nothing to young Mr. Julien. The past was not part of his future, and his future hungered for change. Anger swelled up in his heart, and he lashed out, driving his masterpiece across the room with one strong lash. The fire inside was still present, as his eyes settled on the old man in front of him. He had never known such an intense emotion. This was hate, unbridled and new.

”Emotions fall in resonance,” Terence Julien gasped for breath, “the world was never destroyed by paintings, only dogma and hate. Art never made men hate each other, I won’t ever believe you! I can’t!” He raised himself, fists clenched, anger and adrenaline coursing through his veins. In a blur of violence, red and black, he was gone, out the door away from the cleric’s house. Running now, hoping beyond hope that his memories were lying to him, hoping the man on the floor of the cleric’s house was not dead.

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Writing Journal

Recent work

Hi to anyone who happens to be reading this.

I’ve not been active on here recently, mainly because my attentions are focused elsewhere. I’m currently editing a comic and then on to continue this sci-fi novel that has been hanging around my neck. I have a few old short stories I’ve found again, so I’m going to post those and there will be new poetry every so often when I’m breaking from the other stuff.

In other news, life as a technical writer is never dull. Learning a whole lot about how to get a message across. Learning to be more of a minimalist in my writing.

I hope you enjoy some of the stuff I’ll be bringing out soon. I hope that it’s good, there’s nothing worse than the internal doubting narrative that convinces me I’m not able to string words together. I seem to swing naturally into a mode of self deprecation and loathing. I am now, however, unequivocal in my ambition to paddle against the roaring seas of doubt.

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