There’s been a lot of fallout recently over the whole #Quinngate or #Zoegate or #Gamergate or whatever you want to call the thing, and you know, anyone with a functioning brain can tell you for sure that, nope - sending harrassment to any person via the Internet or otherwise, for any reason, is indeed wrong.
But, for several games media sources to decry, insult and ostracise people who identify as ‘gamer’? A little childish and reactionary, if I’m honest.
I saw it said on some article recently, and this was in regards to #NotAllMen, that although the majority of people (‘men’ in this example, but this is true of all) are inherently good and the bad ones are seriously outnumbered by them, it “only takes a few grapes to sour the bunch”. Like, I don’t know, the 10% poisoned M&Ms analogy.
I don’t buy it. Needless to say, I disagree entirely. Two reasons:
1) People are still inherently positive. The nasty few who decide to be disproportionately-vocal in the most-unpleasant way about any given thing they can throw a firebomb into, they don’t actually change this. What they are doing, is abusing a platform that could otherwise be used constructively; and by spotlighting their actions and reacting publicly to it, you are giving them a voice. Not only this, but providing an opposition that legitimises their tactics; if in their own mind, they are the (anti) hero, you provide the villain that they must fight. And fight they will.
I’m not saying ‘ignore the bullies and they’ll go away’, or ‘do not feed the trolls’, because neither of these work if there’s the slightest hope of eventually provoking a reaction. Some of these tenacious bastards will dig rock with the tiniest toothpick in the world if they think they’ll eventually hit the comedy platinum lulz of the reactions you’re giving.
In fact, I don’t have any answers and it would be audacious and downright stupid of me to claim I do. I do, however, have a suggestion. Why don’t we reach out to these people?
Sounds crazy, I know. On Twitter I’m quite regularly saying “it’s not smart to make enemies out of people who would otherwise be allies”, and this is the train of thought I’m riding to HeyWhyNotLand. Let’s say someone complains about Anita Sarkeesian’s bold and (unfortunately) controversial Tropes vs Women series, insults the living shit out of it. Instead of calling them a misogynist right off the bat, what’s wrong with asking “why, what’s wrong with it?”. And, instead of attacking their response, digging further. The point here is to understand the objections they have instead of going on the counter-offensive.
Why would you do this? Because if you lash out at anybody, chances are their defense is going to be to respond in kind. Not always, of course, and I don’t generalise that #YesAllGamers or whatever are like that. But I offer you this comparison to understand my viewpoint; it is very well-known that many clinically-obese people are so because they comfort-eat. They do this because of their low self-esteem, and that low self-esteem might be because to begin with they were larger than average and some inconsiderate nutbucket called them out on it, called them names. When they could have done instead with support.
And that’s where I’m going with this. Someone relentlessly harasses someone else (online or otherwise), they could be a sociopath. They could be a high-functioning autistic with no other release for their frustration at things that don’t match their narrow world-view. They could be temporarily-depressed and have their judgment impaired because of this. Or they could be a grade AAA jerkweasel.
You’re a good person, right? You like to help people, right? What better help than to help someone stop hurting others. Instead of hurting them right back and actually contributing to the larger problem.
2) And this is where I get a little controversial, but I trust that anyone who reads this is a good intelligent person who won’t knee-jerk at the first idea they don’t immediately agree with. Hell, you’ve got this far; and thank you for that.
Because, generalising ‘gamer’ as all being like one small fraction of the overall demographic is a little too close to profiling for my personal liking.
If a small group of girls kill some people, it is absolutely the wrong thing to do to extrapolate from this the conclusion “yeah, girls kill people”. Wrong, you hear? We all know this. We don’t (or at least SHOULDN’T) profile by gender in this shiny 21st Century we’re sitting in. I’m not even going to give a race example, because my point should be clearer than crystal through brand-new prescription spectacles by now. It is profiling, and that is intolerant and wrong.
So, why the exception now for ‘gamers’? Because it’s a larger percent doing the harassing? Absolutely not. You realise that women are now the largest gaming demographic now, right? I doubt these people include the misogynistic ‘angry dudebro’ stereotype that the gaming media are propagating when they declare war on basically their own customers. And of the less-than-half of gamers who are male? Even if exactly-half of those were the instigators of recent unpleasantness (and I doubt that, personally), that’s actually less than a quarter of ‘gamers’ overall.
I don’t even know. It’s not okay to generalise and profile a demographic like this, it’s not okay to tar your entire readership with the same brush as a few fucking idiots who decided it’s playtime in hatesville, and it’s certainly not okay to turn this into some kind of war. No matter what the reason.
I don’t generally buy into dichotomy, but gamers are either adults or pre-adults (divided into adolescents and children). As the former, it’s actually our responsibility to guide and teach the latter. And to lead by example, which isn’t really going to happen if we’re unwilling to deal with this whole thing like, you know, adults.
As ever, I reckon we should all be getting along with this. United as we are by a love of games, we shouldn’t be making enemies out of people who share this with us. They could even be allies.
I don’t know. I admitted earlier I don’t have any answers. Just an opinion about it all with no foregone conclusion. Let’s talk it out, okay?