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Platypus Musings: #GamerGate, A Perfectly Valid Question

I never thought I would agree with the Guardian on anything, but this article by Keith Stuart makes a lot of sense. Particularly this quote:

And ultimately, those members of the gaming community who distrust the games press, have a really wonderful option: make the alternative. Instead of constructing strange conspiracy theories and flooding games sites with vitriolic comments, withdraw entirely. Make your own game sites. It has never been easier – or more viable. Because however much you mistrust them, the big gaming sites serve the needs of millions of gamers who don’t worry about the relationships between the press and the publishers – who just want approachable reviews, cool videos and funny list features; that’s their choice. They can’t be denied or derided either. So the best, most positive option, is to create something else.

I seldom visit Kotaku, Destructoid, or IGN and I never even knew Polygon, Gamesutra, and many other sites involved in this debacle even existed before Zoe Quinn’s ill-advised DCMA request turned the video gaming world into a raging inferno. Why even visit these sites when it clear that the people in charge of them have nothing but unbridled contempt for their audience? Maybe it is time for those on the gamer side #GamerGate to write their own “Declaration of Independence” and make their own websites by the people, for the people (so to speak) or look elsewhere for honest reviews. Many of the reviewers I trust are people like AngryJoe and  YouTubers like BalrogTheMasterKwing, and many others who are not involved in this, to my knowledge. In any case, the gamer faction should not patronize these sites at all, even if they have AdBlock on. Visiting these sites only lets these people know we are still looking at their articles. Why give them that pleasure?

As for another point Stuart makes:

The games industry is a global, multi-billion dollar giant, fuelled by money, not dogma. There will be no social justice revolution.

Let us be completely honest here. Is Nintendo really paying close attention to this controversy? Is Sony? Is Microsoft? I am guessing they are not because the “Social Justice Warriors” are a niche market at best. People like Zoe Quinn, Patricia Hernandez, and Anita Sarkessian by deride games as sexist and oppressive, but guess what? The late Roger Ebert (rightly) savaged Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but that did not stop the film from grossing over $800 million worldwide. The impact Quinn and her ilk make in mainstream is akin to a ripple a pebble makes in the Pacific Ocean; not a big one. Perhaps it is time we, as gamers, walk away from this. There is nothing to gain by engaging with ideologues who compare gamers to ISIS and the Nazis. That only makes them look foolish in the end because gamers are not committing genocide like ISIS is doing to religious minorities in Syria and Iraq or what the Nazi did in the Second World War. There is no comparison to be made, and the “Social Justice Warriors” are losing the argument if they are making such claims.

The gamer is not going extinct despite those on the SJW side of the debate would like their readership to believe. Not any more than film buffs or bookworms are these days. As long as video games exist, there will always be gamers of various stripes. People like Quinn and Sarkessian may believe they wield a lot of power but their influence is negligible beyond their sphere. Nintendo will keep producing games where Mario and Link save the princess; people will still obsess over World of Warcraft; and Call of Duty and Battlefield will still sell by the wheelbarrow-full regardless of how much the SJWs crow about sexism or whatever their agendas. Let them have their indie festivals and let us go back to the games we cherish,


Platypus Musings: Thoughts on the Quinnspiracy

First, I must confess that I do not follow the current generation of video games or gaming journalism and have not for years. To be brutally honest, I feel that I live in a time warp where the nineties never ended and thus I pay more attention to what Nintendo releases on the Virtual Console and retrogaming from the fourth to sixth generations. However, I find the controversy over Zoe Quinn and her exploits has aroused my attention because of the firestorm that erupted from it. To the six or seven who have not heard about it yet–Eron Gjoni, Ms. Quinn’s former boyfriend aired his dirty laundry about how she cheated on him with five other men. Something I would not normally condone because of how petty and vindictive it is but the interesting part of the post is one of the men she slept with was her boss, Joshua Boggs, another was Nathan Grayson, who writes or wrote for Kotaku and RockPaperShotgun, and the other three being independent developers. With Ms. Quinn being an independent developer herself, now (in)famous for Depression Quest, the implication now is that gaming journalism and the independent gaming scene itself is rife with neoptism, elitism, and no one is familiar with the term “conflict of interest.” It appears that the masses are rising up against them and the aforementioned Kotaku, RockPaperShotgun, as well as the Escapist, Destructoid and other gaming news sites are circling the wagons.

Another thing I must make clear is that I do not identify myself as a feminist. Like the good reverend Martin Luther King Jr., I believe that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin or the the chromosome they had received at conception. This group called The Fine Young Capitalists wanted to start a production that would promote female developers, something I actually believe would be an excellent opportunity for any woman to get her foot in the door– except Ms. Quinn torpedoed it. TFYC stated that they would create concept art for them to pitch their game, people on the Internet would vote on what game they wanted, and TFYC would produce said game without cost. The winner would receive 8% in royalties and the rest would go to charity. Somehow Ms. Quinn deemed this “oppressive” because “they expected women to work for free.” Apparently Ms. Quinn refused to consider that being the winning entry would look good on the winner’s resume. I mean, people use volunteer work as experience on their resumes doing things they feel passionate about, why not games? In any case, Ms. Quinn destroyed a perfectly good promotion that benefited women to suit her ideological ends.

As Internet Aristocrat mentioned in my previous link, the gaming media has taken a “social justice” flavor that paints the vast majority of gamers as misogynistic troglodytes. The trouble with so-called “social justice” and its acolytes that dub themselves “warriors” is that their thinking restricts itself to binary think. From what I have seen on Tumblr (and needed to take a cold shower afterwards), Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) believe there are two categories of people: the oppressors, who are typically white cis males, and the oppressed/victims, who are everybody body else. The oppressors are responsible for everything that is wrong with society (i.e. the patriachy, for one) and the victims are not responsible for their actions because it is always the oppressors fault and never theirs. In the case of Ms. Quinn, she intertwined her professional life, something that is largely public, with her private like when she got under the sheets with Boggs and Grayson who were contemporaries of hers. Yes, Eron Gjoni did a something horrible by exposing her infidelities, but it solely Ms. Quinn’s fault for compromising what little professional integrity she had by sleeping with (allegedly) five guys. However, I believe that Zoe Quinn sees herself as a perpetual victim of “the system” and thus absolved of any responsibility of her actions. In some ways her mewling over her private life is an implicit suggestion that she sees herself as an inferior in need of an army of (mostly white cis male) white knights to defend her. An irony that is not lost on me because the idea of a woman dependent on males to defend her honor strikes me as very anti-feminist.

In the end, I believe that video gamers are tired of the gaming media talking down to them and decrying them for being misogynists over actions of trolls. Forbes writer, Paul Tassi, seems to be indicative of how detached gaming journalists are from their audience when he says:

In truth, no one wants you to be completely unbiased, as that’s usually inescapably dull. They just want you to have their bias. Right now, the general consensus of the games press is to be extremely biased against those who use terms like “White Knight” and “Social Justice Warrior,” often the same people who will harass and threaten and psychologically destroy those in the industry, or often the press themselves.

And yet it is so easy to look the other way when Zoe Quinn send her pals in the video game press corps to ban a group that wanted to showcase women in video games from Twitter and dox one of the organizers.

Their hypocrisy is galling, but at least the gaming press will learn a painful lesson (assuming they are capable): those that sow the wind will reap the hurricane. The media is nothing without the trust of its reader/viewership and in their attempts to suppress an honest discussion of this issue by issuing bans, the they only make themselves appear guiltier.

As for me, I think I will go play some Super Metroid  because as a misogynist white cis male gamer, I hate playing a game with a woman as a protagonist.