Fatigued and Forlorn
My wife and I have very different online circles. She is super hardcore into mathematics, and I pretty much only following gaming folk. As such we don’t actually follow each other on twitter, since there really is very little overlap between our communities. The math conference that I helped out with over the summer has lead to a bit of overlap, but it is still super minimal. The other day she hollered into my office at me “What is your gamers gate shit doing in my feed?”. Sure enough the madness that has infected what used to be my happy place, had spread over into other communities. These were not folks choosing sides in the battle… they were folks shocked and dismayed at the death threats and hatred being directed towards women. Once again reinforcing a very negative stereotype against our community, one that I feel we have fought really hard to get past.
I’m 38 and have been a gamer my entire life. There are things that I have done through gaming that I am extremely proud of. I am proud of the days of trying to make 25 people that have no tangible connection to one another work as a well oiled machine… or at least an oiled enough one to take down a boss. I am proud of the community that I built from the ground up that over the course of its existence has housed literally thousands of “stalwart” gamers. I am proud of the blog that I have built, and my two podcasts (one of which has yet to see the light of day). I am proud of the events like Blaugust and the Newbie Blogger Initiative that I have been involved in. I am proud to know so many awesome people, some of which have actually transitioned into my day to day life… or that I have hired because of their awesome non-gaming abilities. All of these things took lots of effort to make happen and were all pretty cool things that I SHOULD feel proud of.
Wish I Was Proud
The problem is I can only feel proud of these within certain “safe” circles because the world as a whole still sees us as basement dwelling troglodytes. The problem is… as much time as we have spent trying to change this image with really awesome things like Extra-Life… Gamers Gate is proving them completely right. It is proving to the world that we are not quite ready to crawl out of the primordial ooze of our basements, not quite ready to exist in normal society yet. Chris Kluwe spun up a pretty incendiary rant yesterday about how the whole situation pisses him off, and I feel everything that he is saying… I just wish he had chosen to write the article without the same sort of aggressive language that I expect from the GG folks. Ultimately that article itself somewhat proves we are not quite ready to pull ourselves up out of the muck.
While I work for one of the coolest bosses in the world, I am still part of a society that seems gaming as an aberration. I live in flyover country, and here gaming is still viewed as something “kids do”. We were inching closer and closer to being able to get people to understand that going home and raiding with our friends is no different than going out to a bar with theirs. We had reached a point where just maybe folks were starting to understand that waiting in line for a video game release is no different than waiting in line for a midnight showing of the latest movie. Our culture was slowly grafting itself to the mainstream… and this was a good thing for those of us still dependent upon the mainstream for our livelihood. Every day that Gamers Gate exists, and makes the press about their impotent “movement” and the harassers that freely associate with it… is a day that chips away at the progress we have made towards being “normal”.
Tried to be Neutral
I honestly did not sit down this morning and intend to write this post. Sometimes you sit down at the keyboard and and your words develop a life of their own. I started out this GG madness trying to stay in the middle, and remain supportive to those who needed supporting, but unaligned to either Gamers Gate or the Anti-Gamers Gate camps. The events pretty much made this an impossibility as the assault on the already under represented sections of our community continued. The thing is… the longer this went on the more it pushed me into the Anti-GG camp. So much so that I have systematically pruned my social media of anyone supporting it. The problem is… there is just as much negativity going on against it as well. Over the last year and a half I have worked seriously to limit the amount of negative feedback I keep in my loop. Its not that I am trying to be a Pollyanna or anything… I just find it healthier to dwell upon the good things, and avoid the bad ones.
The problem is I don’t feel like I can avoid Gamers Gate, because it has become so attached to every part of this community that I love. It is like this disease that has spread, and I am uncertain how exactly to cut it from these limbs without sacrificing the things I care about in the process. Ultimately I just want it to go away, and I want the hatred and the fighting to stop. I want people to treat each other with basic human decency. Because really at the end of the day that should be a basic thing. Since the golden rule of “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” is woven into every single religion and culture on our planet… you would think that it shouldn’t have to keep being explained. There is nothing that can be salvaged at this point from Gamers Gate. The media has spoken, and they have rightly chosen to focus on the real harm to actual lives that is being done with this “movement”. It is time for it to go away, or it might literally succeed in destroying the games we love.