Phew, did I pick a good week to take a vacation away from video game news.
A quick recap of the tub drain hairball that is this whole #GamerGate thing — last week two women, Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn, were the victim of misogynist mobbings, Anita for posting another video dissecting video games from a feminist perspective, and Zoe for some personal allegations levied by an ex.
Rather than reporting these unfortunate events in an objective manner, a number of gaming outlets wrote up a series of oddly lockstep articles painting all gamers with a negative brush and declaring gamer culture as shameful and/or dead. The gamers who support these sites were understandably peeved by this and sought to call the games media out on their unfair representation of their audience through the #GamerGate hashtag. Of course the misogynistic a-holes that started this whole fracas immediately glommed onto the #GamerGate hashtag, and the circle of stupidity turns, turns, turns.
I’m not here to further dissect this particular flare-up. Dan laid it out nicely yesterday if you want more detail. No, I’m much more interested in figuring out how the gaming community can prevent such ugliness in the future. Here’s five simple rules that would make online gaming discussion far more civil, respectful and fun…
Follow these rules and you too can be like a stock photo person using a computer (aka the happiest people on earth).
1) Personal attacks in response to somebody’s opinion on entertainment are never acceptable.
Arguing about silly disposable entertainment is what us nerds do. It’s healthy, it’s fun, hell, it’s how I make my living. That said, if you attack another human being on a personal level because they said something you didn’t like about a video game, movie, TV show or any other form of entertainment you’ve crossed a big, red, immutable line.
By all means, pick apart the lapses in logic or errors of fact in Anita Sarkeesian’s videos (there’s a few to choose from) but the moment you bring her appearance, her unspoken motives or things she may have said that weren’t meant for public Internet consumption into the discussion, you’re in the wrong. Zoe Quinn’s video game is fair game for dissection and criticism; her sex life is not. It’s simple, it’s black and white, and if you see anybody cross that line, don’t support them or turn a blind eye out of some misguided “gamer solidarity”. Also, this should go without saying, but if you make death and/or rape threats because somebody said something you didn’t like about f*cking video games, you sir or madam (probably sir), are human trash.
2) Gaming-related editorials/think-pieces spawned by personal affairs are never acceptable.
Serious situations that have the potential to throw a real human being’s life into turmoil or even put them in danger should be treated seriously. Stories involving personal allegations, harassment, threats or anything of the like should, for the most part, be kept private, but if they demand to be covered, they should be reported with restraint, dignity and without spin.
They should absolutely never be used as fodder for editorials or think pieces about goddamn stupid video games. Using a real woman’s concerns about her safety as a launching point for audience trolling articles about video games is f*cking ghoulish. The first instinct when you hear a human being is in trouble should not be to fan the flames, and shame on every outlet that’s done so over the past week. The personal issues of real human beings stay on this side of the room and video game naval gazing stays waaaay over on the other side of the room, got it?
“Anita Sarkeesian Death Threats Mean The Xbox is Better Than the Playstation!” — what a lot of sites may as well have posted.