Friday, October 24, 2014

Gamergate: Why Movements are Bullshit Now

No greater friend, no worse enemy.

That is one of the sayings when it comes to United States Marines: we are so loyal to those we care about that we will bend over backwards and then some in order to help them out; at the same time, we’ll do everything in our power (legally and otherwise) to “destroy” a perceived enemy.  It’s been a saying that I remember hearing for over a decade, and General James “Maddog” Mattis, possibly the greatest general the Marine Corps has had since Lieutenant General Lewis “Chesty” Puller, both of whom take a larger-than-life presence in Marine Corps history/lore, quoted it when speaking to Marines and sailors in Iraq.  We are truly the most steadfast and true friends you can ever have, and many times that goes for our sister services as well.

As a gamer, I obviously have female guildmates and the like that I play with, and am thus also protective of.  As I stated in my last posting, I recognize and understand the hardships that female gamers go through.  It’s simply part of the fact that over 80% of the playerbase in almost every game is male, and also socially-awkward.  When a being with tits shows up on Ventrilo, you can hear the collective boners popping up, and you pray to whatever deity you worship that nothing else pops into your head.  My guild master in Rift is a woman, and she’s someone every person in the guild would kill a motherfucker to protect her.  It’s not because she’s a woman, it’s because she’s someone who gives a shit about all of us.  Sure, being viewed as a sister and thus everyone wanting to be a big brother certainly helps her as well, but she’s got a husband so no one is under any impression they have a chance.  Simply put, we’re protective and that’s that.

The problem now is that you have those same subsects of humanity that are using someone’s gender against them.  I only became aware of this today when I saw an article on “gamers” who dox’d Felicia Day (“DOX”ing” someone means you release their personal details—such as address and telephone number—on the internet for anyone to find), and was only marginally aware of what is being dubbed “Gamergate” prior to this.

For those who don’t know, “Gamergate” revolves around two camps of the gaming community and is largely based around perceptions of misogyny and sexism in the gaming community, as well (and to a lesser extent now) as journalistic integrity and ethics when it comes to people who review video games as a whole.  It started in August 2014 when an ex-boyfriend of Zoe Quinn, an “indie game designer” posted that she had had romantic relations with a Kotaku journalist, and the perception was that because of this it had an influence that was easily a conflict of interest.  Now, it came out that the allegations were unfounded, but the damage was done and Ms. Quinn found herself inundated with a deluge of harassing e-mails and the like, threatening violence and rape against her.

Once again, this is not a political piece, and I don’t want people to view it as such.  But this is what has been happening with a social media network generation that knows “everything” and can help propagate the lies without doing any fact-checking.  And while many of us may not be willing to (or even expected to) actually check the facts, it is still preferential to the alternative, such as rioting in the streets because a white officer shot a black man and everyone’s claiming it was an execution, only to have the evidence of the case come out over months that that narrative was unfounded and patently untrue.

The rampant misogyny and sexism would be fine if it was just words and jokes.  But the problem is this vociferous fringe group has gone beyond that, issuing threats of rape and murder against female journalists and gamers who they believe are stepping “out of line” with their viewpoints.  Felicia Day was one such person to be subjected to this type of vitriol, and it runs counter to everything that the majority of gamers actually believe.  We are not here to denigrate women—the game companies do that well enough with the female avatars running around in plate string bikinis.  Sure, we all say sexist and misogynistic jokes and what-not, and we might say stupid shit but the vast majority of us do not mean it.  This subsect, while they may think what they write, will never act on it.  Here’s why.

I’ll go back to my opening statement.  Marines (and most servicemembers) are the best friends you can have.  If you’re in a pickle, we’ll do our best to help you.  More to the point, we’re stupidly protective of our female friends and relatives.  I have been present when my friend Erica wanted to move out of her abusive boyfriend’s house.  She was afraid he’d beat the everloving manshit out of her, and probably hurt her daughter as well.  She asked me to come along to help her move her shit out, and I did.  I didn’t say anything.  I simply followed her, helped her move, and that was it.  Sure, he said shit, but he wasn’t actually going to follow through while someone was there.  One, it’s a witness.  Two, he’s never had to actually fight for his life (and yes, he would have been doing that had he acted).  And my friends know that if shit happens and it can be validated, I have a network of servicemembers through the United States and Canada, as well as friends in Israel, England, and Ireland whom I can turn to in order to make a point.  If you fuck with me or mine, I fuck with you.  And while we may bend the rules a bit, it will never be to the point that they won’t find your body, and if you press charges, you’d be surprised how many juries clear us on all charges because we’re veterans, and because you’re a fucking cunt and we have evidence of it.

But this vitriol is aimed at women, and has been.  Feminist Anita Sarkeesian canceled a speech at the University of Utah after receiving death threats from the fringe group of gamers, and Utah’s concealed carry laws meant that the campus couldn’t guarantee her safety.  Felicia Day had threats of rape and murder launched against her.  Yet when former NFL star Chris Kluwe called these same people “basement-dwelling, cheetos-huffing [sic], poopsock-smelling douchepistols” nothing happened to him, despite him being a much softer target in terms of publicity and the like.  It is stupidly easy to find his information, after all.

Women are simply seen as much safer targets to take out criticism and anger on.  They’re not as likely to actually find out where you live, come to your home and murder you in your sleep.  As such, these people (and I am using that term very loosely here) feel that they are in a much safer place with regards to being able to act like badasses.  Making a bunch of threats you will never be expected to carry out makes one a man on the internet, and the community understands that even if they also ridicule you.

Sure, you have instances of gamers being dox’d, along with the name, work location, and school locations of children.  You have the threats of violence against your family if you don’t do what they want.  This happened a few years ago in EvE Online, when a group of Russian players decided to release that information to the public, with the very real and clear threat against the families of the players part of Goonswarm Federation, the player-run alliance made up of Something Awful forums denizens after there had been talks of invading and capturing space owned by said Russians.  But this is by-and-large not the norm, because people understand this is a game, and even the most sane, hardcore gamer will tell you that much.  It is legitimately not worth going to prison because you don’t like what someone says.

I have plenty of disagreements with gamers and game companies.  I’ve voiced them, and been quite vociferous.  I have submitted a letter of no confidence that was signed by players against the CEO of CCP Games, even if it was several years ago.  I have not, however, threatened to hunt down someone I have had problems with and threaten to kill him and his family.  I’ve seen those threats made in-game, and the companies tend to react accordingly (enjoy your ban).

And what’s more, this fringe group has received more publicity from other media outlets simply because of how outrageous they have acted, and because of that its cast a net of complete and utter inability for people to differentiate between the “good guys” in the movement and the “bad guys”.  Now given, this stems more from the media enjoying sensationalized stories of people acting like cunts, because it sells papers.  But what started out as a decent movement—fighting against the corruption or biased “reporting” of media outlets is something we should all want, whether we care about the news or not—has become synonymous with a rape culture and the stereotypical gamer: the type that hides in mommy’s basement, unwilling to leave and run their own lives (as Mr. Kluwe pointed out).

Is it important to distinguish between the two camps?  Absolutely.  But it’s really not going to happen in the media because it does sell copies.  Period.  Ratings go up.  Sold copies go up.  In either situation the bottom line is affected positively, and that means that Gamergate has a negative stigma associated with it.  The group of journalists that want to demonize something like this will just lump the fringe group in with the main one; the group that wants to protect and point out their grievances will not be heard, and so it’s now important to belittle and shame that fringe group.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’ll work: you have to have a sense of shame in order to feel it.  These are the people you bring behind a bar and put a bullet in their head, because they offer nothing of value to the movement, and really nothing of value to humanity as a whole.

Am I afraid of being DOX’d and having someone show up in my house to kill me?  No.  I know they’re cowards, but more to the point I have on me at all times a FN57 pistol, which has a notch in the handgrip.  It’s killed before and it’ll do so again if I need it to.  But as I said, they’re cowards, and it won’t come to that point.  Plus I have a penis, so that automatically protects me from them.

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