It was only a matter of time before something like Gamergate happened. It has been a long time coming. The biased pandering in gaming journalism have been obvious for years. The critics of the community have tried their hardest to attack every aspect of gaming. Attacking a marginalized group inevitably leads some within the group to lash out. That anger often results in threats and harassment, which often met in kind.
While many people sound the death of gamers and relish skewering the gaming community as white, straight men whining because they are losing their privileged and entitled status, few have presented a reasonable explanation of why the situation devolved so fast.
Allum Bokhari solves that problem with an article explaining why the situation is so bad. He uses Jack Thompson as an example. Thompson spent much of 2005 railing against video games. His attacks on the gaming community were met with ridicule. Gaming journalists reported his efforts to rid the world of its “culture of violence”, yet they did not side with him. When Thompson received death threats, the journalists reported on them and admonished those sending them, but did not side with Thompson. As Bokhari notes in his article, the gaming community continues to mock Thompson.
But Bokhari offered a hypothetical alternative:
But imagine if they hadn’t.
Imagine, instead, that prominent game journalists embraced Thompson’s core argument – the one about games normalizing violence. Imagine, furthermore, that they began to rally mobs of activists on social media to pressure other websites into censoring dissenting opinions. Then imagine that the moderators of gaming communities and comment sections declined to allow any critical discussion of Thompson and his work.
If that had happened, #GamerGate would have arrived several years early.
This is essentially the problem. While many on the far left like to paint gamers as misogynists sitting in their mother’s basements (curiously it is always the mother and never the father) fantasizing about raping scantly clad digital avatars of women, the gamers see themselves as fighting back against those who appear to hate their community.
Most gamers are white, straight men. However, many gamers are not, and they have grown tired of the far left simultaneously pretending they do not exist and using them to attack the community they love.
Gamers have also grown tired of the double standard at play. Bokhari writes that many media outlets covered the death threats against Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn, yet few have mentioned the threats sent against defenders of the gaming community:
There has been an awful lot of hate on both sides of this divide. As with the allegations that gamers are “anti-inclusive,” there is more than one side to the story.
Gamers are “worse than ISIS,” according to one journalist. Another implies she will sink the career of anyone who brings up the topic. “F*ck you, you self-hating b*tch,” says one activist. “Toxic parasites,” says another. “Let’s expose their personal info.” Death threats. Racism. Doxxing. And general unpleasantness.
These are just a small selection of the hatred spewed over social media during the past few weeks – often by professionals who should know better. This was accompanied by a deluge of articles in the gaming press declaring (in a stunning example of wishful thinking) that “gamers are dead.”
That is not just sad and disgusting, but also embarrassing. It would appear that gaming journalists and the pejoratively (albeit aptly) named social justice warriors have no problem decrying such language when directed at feminists, but openly supporting it when directed at the very community these people claim to want to be a part of.
Much of the problem comes from an unwillingness to listen to anything gamers say. This is a typical progressive and feminist response. From the far left perspective, the only choice gamers have is to admit that they are sexist, racist homophobes and allow the progressives to change them for the “better”.
However, that is not the only choice gamers have. Gamergate is an excellent display of that. One would think feminists and the far left would realize that attacking a marginalized group will not work in their favor. The whole point is to control the community, right? But who is the community? Is it not the very gamers they attack? If the gamers pick up their toys and move on, there goes the community. If they revolt against the negative characterizations, there goes the community.
Comic book publishers like Marvel and DC Comics have learned this the hard way. Playing to a niche crowd only works if they buy your product. Attacking your core fan base and taking away the very things that made them buy your product may win brownie points with the progressives, but you lose your audience and market base, and in turn have a hard time selling anything that remotely looks politically correct. (To be fair, this tends not to play out initially, but over the long-term. Putting #1 on an issue tends to prompt people to buy the books. Initial sales may be high, but they fall quickly. This happened recently with the all-female X-title “X-men”. The first few issues sold well, yet the solicits and sales quickly dropped despite having two popular creators working on the book.)
The gaming industry should take note of that. The very straight white men feminists attack are the ones who spend the most money in the West on console and PC games. If you want to sell games, it would be best not to attack them. Likewise, most people who read gaming magazines are straight white men. If you want to keep your audience, it would be best not to attack them. The last thing you want is an audience that wants nothing to do with you.