10 Thoughts on #GamerGate and #GamerEthics

By on Oct 30, 2014 in Food For Thought | 0 comments

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Tonight, I got into an extended Twitter conversation with #GamerGate advocates who took issue with this post:

I love games. Sometimes, I hate gamers; especially #GamerGate misogynists. GG doesn’t harass men? #comeatmebro

That tweet linked to an article which showed some of the uglier reactions to Anita Sarkeesian‘s appearance on The Colbert Report. For little ole’ me, with a total of 60 Twitter followers, the response was pretty overwhelming.

Initially, the ratio of ranting screed to thoughtful defense of #GamerGate was 20:1, which holds true from the other times I dipped my toe into the murky waters of #GamerGate. And, to be fair, as one critic pointed out, I did say “Sometimes, I hate gamers” as opposed to “Sometimes, I hate SOME gamers“.

Obviously, I love games and I love MOST gamers. But much of the ugliness of #GamerGate, simply upsets me — as a gamer.

The vast majority of gamers are good and decent people. Most male gamers are the opposite of mean-spirited misogynists. I do think that there may some legitimacy to the #GamerGate battle cry: “Actually, It’s About Ethics In Games Journalism“. I’ve played some highly-rated stinkers in my time. I get it.

When discussing this with my friends, my central point is that #GamerGate never belonged to those with legit ethics concerns, despite what some in the group now believe. This was the crux of the many and varied Twitter exchanges this evening with — eventually — #GamerGate advocates with legitimate ethics beefs.

These discussions were mostly civil and, in one case, very fruitful. Despite reading about #GamerGate extensively, I had never seen a legitimate news source defend the group until @MissBeeblebrox pointed me to “#GamerGate Is Not A Hate Group, It’s A Consumer Movement” by Erik Kain of Forbes.

Kain has an interesting take on the issue and it is very much worth your time to read. It may not change your mind, but it will offer a bit more balance to the conversation.

Ultimately, I think my position remains valid.

#GamerGate grew from a very poisonous seed. That seed attracted the dregs of the gaming community who very quickly took what may have been a legitimate critique to a very dark, ugly place. The mainstream news coverage of these bad actors is, I feel, balanced and entirely merited. Furthermore, I get the frustration of more moderate #GamerGaters who feel the media is attacking gaming and gamers as a group and not just the few bad apples.

Still, that ship has sailed.

Anyone with a real concern for ethics in gaming journalism needs to drop the #GamerGate hashtag immediately. It cannot be redeemed. Marshall the troops under a new banner. I suggest #GamerEthics because it applies to everyone in the gaming community — gamers, game developers, game companies and gaming journalists. As it applies to the community as a whole, #GamerEthics cuts both ways. It can be used to call out both unethical journalists and the sexist trolls that subverted #GamerGate.

To be clear, I am not laying claim to coining the #GamerEthics hashtag. Apparently, it has been floated to #GamerGaters before. So, if #GamerEthics, by some miracle, becomes “a thing”. It wasn’t me. I didn’t do it. 😉

I closed out my Twitter discussion with a ten point synopsis of #GamerGate and how I think those with real concerns about ethics should frame this debate. I list those below as I think they form a condensed set of talking points for future reference. This list is lightly edited/expanded here because I have more the 140 characters with which to work.

10 Thoughts on #GamerGate and #GamerEthics

  1. #GamerGate started with ad hominem attacks on indie game developer, Zoe Quinn when she claimed she was being harassed. These attacks used her sex life (see slut shaming) in an attempt to discredit her. The uglier corners of GG jumped all over it.
  2. Starting with the slut-shaming of Zoe Quinn and continuing similar attacks/threats on other female game developers and critics, #GamerGate was co-opted by the trolls under the bridge.
  3. There may be legit concerns about #GamerEthics, but those are now lost in the morass of #GamerGate.
  4. If you have legit concerns about #GamerEthics, stop defending #GamerGate. You are defending trolls.
  5. Defending the #GamerGate hashtag — now owned in the minds of the public by misogynistic trolls — only distracts your audience from any legit #GamerEthics concerns you might have.
  6. If you have sound evidence of violations of #GamerEthics, compile them and engage (don’t attack) journalists. I do not know many journalists who would not love to expose a huge corporate payola scheme.
  7. If you are in the game industry and have legit evidence of corruption/payola, we have whistleblower laws to protect you. Expose the truth.
  8. There is no conspiracy against gamers or the game industry, at least not in the mainstream media. Take off the tinfoil hat.
  9. When Stephen Colbert calls out #GamerGate as specious, you should know it is time to abandon that hashtag if you really want your concerns heard.
  10. If you rant against points 1-9 (above), you do not have a legit #GamerEthics beef and are probably no more than a troll.

I hope you find this useful. In closing, I’d like to thank everyone who engaged me on Twitter tonight; even those with whom I had a bit of Twitter donnybrook. 😀



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