Why My People Suck: Taking the Gamer out of #Gamergate

(WMPS is a new column I've been tinkering with to ramble and gripe bout aspects of my long life as a gamer, geek, and general cranky bastard. Take with a grain of salt. Consult a physician if anger erection lasts more than 4 hours.)

I've been a gamer for most of my life, ever since I stood knee high to an Atari 2600. It's a title I've held with pride alongside "geek", "nerd" and "goofy old bastard". So why the fuck is it that the name has changed in context, but the people that use it seem to cling to old definitions?

The beauty of "gamer" was how all-inclusive it sounded, there are no gender specifics in the word. Listen to it: "game-r", someone who games. It's a term that has grown and engulfed everything from collectible card games to board games to every next generation electronic diversion the video game industry makes to separate us from our greenbacks. There are men gamers, lady gamers, old gamers and young. Gamer can be casual or hardcore, professional or newbie. The very open-endedness of the word allowed it to be used by anyone that wanted to embrace it. Gamer: open sourced and proud.

But there is an internet "movement', and it seems as much a movement as the last crap I took, called "#GamerGate". If you look at the surface of it, you see things about ethics in gaming journalism. There's this muttering concern over people thinking gaming is dead. You hear buzzwords like "Social Justice Warrior". You see female game designers and journalists reacting to aggressive attacks on their products and their reputations. But look closer and you see one unifying thread to GamerGate and it's detractors: fear.


Everyone is afraid where GamerGate is concerned. Some in the gaming industry have been reluctant to speak up, out of fear of their personal information being released. Others see the waves of email and social media death threats and decide it's better to not speak up for fear of becoming a target. Even large corporations like Intel and Adobe have shown fear of their target demographics by taking ads away from websites of detractors under email pressure from GamerGate supporters.

But the ones who are scared the most are the hostile trolls who have become the unseen backbone of the GamerGate movement. The ones who send the threats of death and rape, the ones that doxx the opposed. These are the scared little people who stoke the torchfires and sharpen the pitchforks for the rest. They see the concept of gaming changing and it terrifies them, as if the opinions of women and casual gamers will take away their specialness.


Not that I'm saying all GamerGaters are hateful misogynists clinging to their outsider status in some underlying attempt to keep the world of gaming the ultimate clubhouse with "No Gurls Aloud!". There are people with serious and valid concerns about financial and social support of certain games over others, something that has been just as relevant in other forms of media. They see this group, with a name coined by a right-wing actor that has never been involved in gaming, and think they have a voice. They just aren't really listening to what some of the mob is saying.

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