if you’ve followed gaming media at all during the past six weeks it’s been difficult to avoid mentions of #gamergate. It began with the unpleasant public humiliation of a developer of an interactive Flash-based game, accompanied by examples of the worst harassment and cruelty an extremist minority of trolls are capable of.
This ugly incident served also to expose a microcosm that has been the catalyst for a much broader discussion.
I do love NPR, but the article in the link is poor. I know it’s a blog, but they’re flying NPR’s colours. There is no attempt at balance. There are no quotes from an opposing point of view. Assertions are accepted without question. Perhaps this might be because the writer has already concluded that #gamergate is the work of beligerent trolls that hate women. An inaccurate and unfortunately common position. One should reasonably expect thoroughness and impartiality from a major publicly-funded news organisation.
The devil is in the details. A rudimentary search of the Twitter hashtag would reveal that there are plenty of women tweeting in support of #gamergate. Indeed the demographics found on the tag don’t fit the description in the NPR piece at all. The article makes no mention of the collusion, minor corruption, and dubious ethics that have been reported among some gaming journalists, public relations reps (in some cases, one and the same) and their developer and industry friends, and no this is not, despite protests "…just the way it is." That is a rationalisation spoken by those justifying unprofessional behaviour.
There’s no mention of the coercion and hostility towards those in gaming journalism who questioned the position advanced in multiple editorials and a leaked mailing list. I’m not going to link to them here; they are easy enough to find.
There is no problem with gamers; they don’t need ‘fixing’. Gamers of every background and stripe are doing just fine. Rather, there is a cultural war instigated by certain writers with a political agenda and an obsession with gamers as a class, flanked by opportunists with an eye on crowdfunding, and a vast regiment of social media supporters believing in the virtue of the mission.
They attacked their audience, their own customers in the case of games journalists, whom they had judged as meek and passive. They were wrong. That is the real story of #gamergate: That there has been broad, diverse resistance from gamers, developers, and - to their credit - a fair few gaming journalists. That this has surprised people has been an eye opener. What did they expect?
There is little explanation why gamers deserve to have this aggression foisted upon them. There is some cheap equivocation that what happened to Zoe Quinn and others is symptomatic of the culture at large, but just as it would be unreasonable to condemn society for it’s worst elements, it’s hardly fair to do the same to gaming. Nobody involved in the Quinn scandal came out looking shiny, and as some gamergate supporters would tesfify, harassment is a factor on all sides.
There is more commonly a vague assertion that gaming is changing/diversifying/evolving away from "lonely basement kids". Well, it is, and gamers are changing with it, as they always have done. They don’t need the guidance of self-elected intelligentsia, just as they don’t deserve to be bullied from the pulpit by those acting in their own interests.