I want to start by saying that I was surprised by the attention that my article, GamerGate in Review, got after publishing last night. It has been by far the biggest response, and the most interaction with readers, that I have gotten so far. A lot of concerns were brought to my attention about parts of the story on which people, mostly of Team Gamer (I do not think my article got as much traction in the media that considers the story over), felt that I came up short in representation. I have appreciated the feedback.
The biggest, most profound subtext that I took away from the experience is the extent to which the people in the GamerGate community have been underrepresented. It is a diverse group of people with complex concerns. Many of them gave me incredibly positive feedback, saying that they saw it almost as a favor that I steered clear of dragging them through the mud. Their right to self-identify got lost in the narrative as it played out, along with many details, such as that there are self-identified feminists who have cast their lot with GamerGate (I can only imagine the abandonment that they feel), who were denied a real opportunity to say for what they were fighting, and that honestly, there are multitudes of the next generation that will be called on to lead who have bus tracks on their backs and a damaging distrust of the news media.
GamerGate, as a community, came together to say that they want a more ethical field in gaming journalism. What happened when they did was that they were basically laughed at and told that those concerns were a story they made up to take the heat off of their collective misogyny. What they need is a more ethical field of journalism, full stop. Simply participating in GamerGate has been allowed to become a litmus test that they automatically fail. Whoever they may be, they are made into an oppressor, most likely an overweight one, who lives in their parents’ basement and curses at pictures of women. They likely fetishize the violence against women in games, using it to fill the void left by their lack of actual physical relationships.
Those are the types of insults that get attributed to their Reddit handles and other online personas, and they amount to an enormous factor of something like a high school popularity contest existing behind the scenes. The diversity of the people comprising the group ends up blurred and swirled into a caricature of an easy villain – likely a bigoted, Caucasian male one. The effect of that narrative has been that it has inhibited most of the media from speaking with these people. There is no leader to speak for GamerGate as a whole, which makes it more critical than ever to engage with members of the movement en masse. That is, if their testimony was something that society remembered to value in broader terms.
I wanted to break the fourth wall of journalism for a bit, and that is why this is being written as a blog post, rather than an article. I felt like it was important to employ the first person perspective, and to admit to the implied bias that comes with it. I cannot help myself but to sympathize, or if I may be so bold, empathize, with the voices that I have heard after the publication of my first article on the subject. When I was offered a contract to write for Guardian Liberty Voice a short time ago, I was told that the company had a two-word constitution; “Boldly Inclusive.” Those words reflect a value that has been enshrined in the democratic conscience, regardless of who uses or claims them, that encourages us to strive to seek a better understanding of the truth.
The people of GamerGate are people, and the media blackout that they have received is immoral. There is a lot more to the story than I have touched on in either this post or my previous article, and there are untold thousands of journalists looking for stories to cover. I would like to personally challenge the broader media to show up, de-weaponize the narrative and try to untangle the events. The most heinous criminals are afforded due process and offered a public defender at the minimum. GamerGate was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion with no due process and no representation. That is simply unjust. Maybe GamerGaters are the proverbial canary in the coal mine, suffocating to inform the broader public that when it is their turn – when they need a voice – they could face being laughed at and yanked off the stage with a comically oversized shepherd’s crook, too.
Blog by Brian Whittemore
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski – flickr License