So it’s been a while since i wrote a post and in this time i have actually tried to take a step back from the discussions regarding feminism and sexism. I feel quite comfortable with my own view and my own position. I know how i treat people, and that i treat them regardless of who they are and what they are. I treat people based on how they are – their character, their attitude, their personality.
That step back does not mean i no longer have an opinion, or opinions of other people don’t result in a response of sorts from me. That step back simply means i have realized that arguing with extremists, particularly on the internet, has no use whatsoever. Anyone engaged in it, which to a degree included myself, is deluded that they actually have a shot at convincing people of a different opinion. The reality is nobody really convinces anyone.
Which brings me to the whole #GamerGate and Sarkeesian issue which has been blown out of all all proportions over the last few weeks.
It started with the whole Zoe Quinn debacle, where a spurned ex dished out the dirt on their relationship, which happened to include infidelities with games journalists and other influential people in the industry. It clearly did highlight that at least some games journalists are biased and anything but objective.
But why is this news in the first place? This is someone’s personal life, and personal issues. Regardless if Zoe Quinn has used her body to gain an advantage or not, this should never have become such a big news item as it has. It’s her choice, her life and her story – nobody’s business but her own and that of her partner at the time.
It was meant to point to the fact that the gaming press is largely untrustworthy, biased and has an agenda. Well who does not know this by now? I don’t think i have a single friend working in the industry who can tell me a single gaming news site that is 100% reliable and worth reading. I could list at least a dozen articles and videos on games i have worked on over the last few years which have blatant lies and falsehoods in them – not necessarily because the reporter is mean or has it in for the game, but simply because they were too lazy or too incompetent to ask questions or do 5 minutes of research.
The gaming press, for the most part, is utterly rubbish. And it only has itself to blame. It’s all about speed and competition these days in in a rush to beat the competition quality suffers. And then of course it’s all about money. Getting those clicks on an article, getting the advertising money.
But be that as it may. Sides were drawn – those pro Zoe and those anti Zoe waded in. The internet was full of homemade videos, pictures, conspiracy theories, linking threads and finding random emails and posts – years old. For what? For what purpose? Does anyone think that they can convince the other side they are right? People have made up their mind already – either you are with us, or against us!
Shortly after the Zoe stuff, Sarkeesian put up her latest video, followed immediately with a few tweets about online threats and police involvement. Again both sides of the argument sprang to life. Those against Sarkeesian pointed to the fact that the anonymous twitter account was posting too fast, Anita’s replies too quick – suggesting she had sent them herself. Those in the Sarkeesian camp branded every critic a misogynist hater.
It does not matter what is true. It does not matter who thinks they got it right. Does anyone actually believe that either side will convince the other?
No matter how many videos with evidence surface (true or not is irrelevant), the people who think Sarkeesian set the threats up herself to promote the launch of her new video, won’t convince a single Sarkeesian supporter that this was the case. Likewise, no matter what Sarkeesian or her followers say, nobody on the other side will believe a word.
Instead what we get is insults, threats, twitter stalking and hack attacks – from both sides. This actually will lead to nothing, and it’ll only get worse as time progresses. Firing off insults, threats and being nasty on the internet is simple. You never have to actually face your “opponent” – it’s all done long distance. People use language and actions they would never consider to use in real life, people behave like assholes. on both sides.
What is the disgusting part is that people make money off of all this. Regardless of what Zoe Quinn and Sarkeesian have done or not done, regardless of who is right – the spectacle around them has made them a ton of money. Zoe Quinn’s patroen has shot up to over 3000 USD a month in support of her plight. Sarkeesians video has received a much increased number of hits. Both have received a ton of media attention and favour.
And this is where the rub lies. Not necessarily that the gaming press is corrupt and actually not that good at reporting on games, but that a lot of the gaming press actually has picked up these so called “Social Justice Movement” stories, which are not at all related to games themselves. Simply because they are click bait. They are contentious topics and those bring in the cash.
An average news post on Eurogamer (you know, about games and stuff) will attract between 40 and 200 comments. A Zoe Quinn or Sarkeesian article attracts up to 10 times that. It’s not about games anymore. It’s about creating as much controversy as possible, stir up the shit, shout very loud and then see where it ends up.
Even some game developers can’t help but wade into the debate, or get dragged into it, taking sides. God knows why, because we should stay as far away as possible from any of these issues as we can. We sure as hell did when some aspects of the media and certain groups tried to claim that mass shootings are linked to violent video games. When THAT was raised, i can’t remember hearing a single game developer saying “yep! It’s us. we make games that encourage people to kill others!”.
The vast majority of male and female developers simply want to make games. Games and content they are passionate about. Not games and content which is tailored to suit either side of the Social Justice debates. We don’t want our games analysed on some arbitrary social or moral scale. We don’t need people who never in their lives have gone through the process of creating a game, putting blood sweat and tears (and many extra hours) in it, to tell us “oh well.. this scene is sexist”. We don’t need people taking elements of our game completely out of context to try and make their point – in fact using our materials to further their agenda, using our work to make money for themselves.
On the other hand we don’t need anyone to defend us either. We don’t need gamers sending hate messages and threats to people who don’t like what we make. We don’t need gamers threatening the lives of developers and their families when they tweak the balancing of a weapon.
All we want to do is make the games we want to make, with the content we believe in, the story we want to tell and the characters we have built. Let us do that and then judge us with your wallet. If you like what we create, if it entertains you, if it makes you cry, if it makes you laugh or if it gets your frustrated when you chase that high-score – then pay us for it. That’s all we ask. That’s all we want. In many cases we are just happy when we entertain you.
But please don’t wage this battle of social justice on our backs, using our products to fuel your arguments.
How about we all take a step back then? we accept that people can think differently, that people don’t necessarily see things the way we do and that they don’t necessarily have to. We also must accept that what we think of as normal, or moral or just even acceptable, does not necessarily apply to others. Just because we find something extreme or morally wrong, does not mean it is. There are laws for a reason and as long as creative content is within the rules of law, it is nobodies business to claim the moral high ground. Once you take a step back, you actually let go of the hate and anger, life becomes a lot more fun, games become a lot more fun when not viewed through a critical eye every time. It’s still ok to have an opinion, just stop arguing and trying to convince others of your opinion – it’ll never happen anyway and all that energy is probably spent better elsewhere.
Enforcing your worldview, your moral compass, on content you do not create, judging others for what they make and how they think, that is bordering on censorship. That never works and it only gets people upset. If you want content that conforms to your views, make it. Publish it, if enough people like it, you can life of it. And if you work in the industry and you make games you don’t agree with, but still bitch and moan about content – get off your high horse.
Stay away from content you object to. It’s quite simple really.