Can we just put a moratorium on contextualizing tragedies around GamerGate? Not even a moratorium, can we just outright stop? Forever? Not everything’s about GamerGate, damn it!
The past few weeks have been pretty hard for the world. I don’t say this ironically either. From the constant state of war in the Middle East and multiple terror attacks all around the world, to the more local tragedies in the United States of multiple mass shootings, the news has been pretty grim. But if the gaming media and certain talking heads are to believed, the worst tragedy of all is that GamerGate is still a thing.
Depending on who you follow on Twitter or what news sources you read, you may or may not know about GamerGate. I’ll save the long summary, but suffice to say one side says GamerGate is a consumer revolt seeking more ethical journalism, while the other side says GamerGate is literally worse than ISIS. Not as bad as, but apparently worse. Sure, ISIS may commit actual murder and atrocities, destabilize entire regions, and cause thousands to leave their homelands, but at least they’re honest about it, right?
I’m trying my best to not be hyperbolic. There are plenty of talking heads on Twitter and various games journalists who don’t fall into these traps, but then again many of the most popular voices do. It’s like after every new tragedy they have to find some way to jam in the point that GamerGate supporters are the true villains in the world. A man shoots up Planned Parenthood and somehow that’s linked to GamerGate. The links were also drawn to the more recent attacks in Paris and the tragedy in San Bernardino where one witness either mistakenly or falsely claimed the shooters were wearing shirts with GG on them.
This in’t exactly a new pattern, however. It’s been going on for pretty much as long as GamerGate has been around. Brianna Wu, the lead developer behind Revolution 60, tried to link a DC murder to GamerGate. The Guardian tried to tie the shooting committed by Anders Breivik to GamerGate. Multiple people attempted to tie the charlie Hebdo attacks to GamerGate. The tragic shooting in Charleston, SC was also a reason to drop the GamerGate hashtag. Honestly, the list kind of goes on.
These comparisons are, on their face, completely ridiculous. It attempts to tie real world tragedy and violence to online bullying and disagreements. It puts the context for the entire world news into a bubble and compares everything to a disagreement over the role of feminism and diversity in gaming and also the demand for more ethical games journalism. Side note, those two demands aren’t mutually incompatible. These talking heads claim this consumer movement and revolt (which, alright, I will admit has plenty of trolls and plenty of people I disagree with) is just a few steps away from turning into a local insurgency ready to actually start killing people in the name of… less feminism? Ethical journalism? I honestly don’t exactly see how gamers are supposed to be radicalized to the point of legitimate violence over GamerGate, but that seems to be the claim being made. Could the same point be made over the fact that multiple GamerGate functions have had to be cancelled or evacuated due to bomb threats?
Then again, if we dig a little deeper, are these claims really all that crazy?
Yes. Yes, they are. Not only do the comparisons act to make the Anti-GamerGate voices sound ridiculous, they belittle true tragedy and come out sounding like petulant children who aren’t getting enough attention. Shoehorning GamerGate in (or GameDropping as some call it) stomps over real issues like the Syrian refugee crisis, the gun control debate, freedom of religion, and more. Instead of just allowing issues and tragedies to actually be tragic or have their own context, discourse, and revelations about deep issues, these talking heads instead want everything to be about the true danger in the world: gamers who may or may not disagree with them on social justice issues.
Don’t get me wrong: GamerGate is far from innocent either. Aside from obvious harassment claims, we saw some bullshit immediately following the Paris attacks. Some trolls photoshopped an image of a Sikh Anti-Gamergater to look like he was taking a selfie wearing a suicide bomber’s vest, then tweeted to to news agencies claiming he was one of the terrorists. Looking closely, you can actually see the vest was photoshopped in and the Kuran he was holding definitely wasn’t there. Instead, he was holding up an iPad in the real photo. News agencies like Buzzfeed took the photo and ran with it, publishing the claims all over the web, effectively pinning an innocent man as a terrorist and murderer based off a simple tweet.
Whomever created that image and shared it to the media also belittled a real tragedy and potentially did serious damage to a man’s reputation for little more than a prank and getting a dig in against someone who disagreed with them on ethical gaming journalism. While I don’t know who created the image, the fact that they used someone who was vocally Anti-GamerGate at the very least points in a specific direction. It also goes without saying that this shows why media outlets need to do a better job of researching and confirming sources before posting wild speculation.
Either way, this bullshit needs to stop. It’s this exact kind of idiocy that makes all of gaming look bad. We can try to claim that gaming is a mature medium for adults all we want, but so long as our loudest voices act like petulant children, that’s how the rest of us will be painted by society.
I recognize I spent most of my time here ranting against the Anti-GamerGate side, but that’s honestly because they’re vocal about having the moral high ground. They’re the ones who claim to know what real tragedy is, and honestly that doesn’t seem to be the case. GamerGate isn’t worse than ISIS. They aren’t even on par with ISIS. And maybe, just MAYBE if both sides would stop yelling at each other and actually have real conversations about what they want without harassing the other side (this is a 2-way street), then maybe things would actually get better.
Or, y’know… you can just keep insulting each other and come up with all the reasons why I support the side you don’t to try and discredit me. That works too. Jerks.