My name is Karl, and I am a gamer. I was born with a stick between the legs and am therefore of the male gender, but see myself as a human being. Over my years of gaming I have mostly seen myself as a gamer. Today I have a really hard time calling myself a gamer. I want to be part of the gaming community, but find myself taking one step back from the world of gaming every day, and it is all because of the hate from gamers filling every corner of the internet. Games have always been in a sort of hateful retaliation to different people and companies, but with Gamergate, we have reached an all-time low. It is not just a low for gamers, but for humanity in the whole.
While games are made for us to enjoy ourselves, to move around in worlds we could never encounter in the real life, where the possibilities are unlimited. But today we have both a nightmarish real world and nightmarish gaming world, were women are afraid to talk about their experiences with game, and even afraid to play, only because there is a hate-fueled mob out there with no common sense what so ever. This week, Massive Thought will not be about research and studies, this week it will about gamers and the gaming community, and how the gaming world has reach an all-time low as human beings, this week is about Gamergate, and the awful harassment of women following it.
For those of you who don’t know what Gamergate is or what has happened the last couple of months, here is a very short overview. Gamergate is mainly a twitter hashtag used by people harassing women connected to the gaming community. And through it or in ways connected to it high profile women have been threatened to the degree that they had to leave their homes. It has also created a very far-fetched conspiracy about how women make these threats up to get bigger attention, which of course is extremely stupid.
The latest entry in this hate campaign against women was when Anita Sarkeesian where to hold a speech at the Utah State University, but an anonymous person had emailed the personal saying that if she talked, that person would make this the deadliest school shooting in American history. Because of the concealed weapon laws in Utah, she did not make that speech. And while I am not a big fan of Sarkeesian’s basis for her arguments, which you can read about in the last Massive Thought. This hatred towards women is another awful thing we must do something about. We have over 20 years worked hard to remove the negative labels of video gaming, which stated that gaming fosters violence, but only in a few weeks, “gamers” have demolished all that work and once again put games as the biggest evil in the world.
If a game is good, it is good, whether there is a woman behind its creation or a man. If I play with others it really doesn’t matter what gender the other gamer has, as long as I have someone to play with. If someone doesn’t like a video game because the story is boring, characters are underdeveloped, females are viewed as a sexual object, gameplay is stiff, that is their opinion and we should of course respect that. And if we don’t agree we should let our arguments clash on why we think as we do, and in a true Habermas ideal, we will by discussions reach some sort of “truth” based on the strongest and best based arguments. If we don’t reach this point, it is only because we believe and think differently, and we should respect that.
But the people supporting Gamergate, and the even more mindless people producing threats against women are not engaging in this open discussion. They are in many cases hiding behind some anonymity; typing away arguments which have no base what so ever in research or statistics. And the only reason I can see for this hiding, is that they know there arguments are so weak, that the arguments would be crushed in an open discussion. This leaves us with so called “gamers” who are acting like childish and in many ways crazy conspirators. On the other side we have women, who had to leave their homes because of threats against them and their family, but who are still going out in the public given their arguments and thoughts in the public sphere, showing the rest of the world what I means to really stand behind ones arguments, which makes them the bravest of all.
Video games are something that should be fun, something that should be enjoyed by as many as possible. We should be able to call ourselves gamers with pride, not be ashamed of something so wonderful. But these are dark days; we have reached a point where a women can´t say how she feels about games. Where we, the players can´t complain about certain aspects of a game that might ruin a perfectly good game otherwise, without being threatened and humiliated by a mindless mob. It is time for gamers to rise from the ashes, to show the world how the video game community is a place for everyone, where we can play, laugh, debate and be ourselves without having to leave our home. A place where we can be ourselves without anyone harassing anyone. A place where we are all the same, and where we can handle critique about our beloved games, without acting like small children in the school yard getting mad when there is only one bucket to use in the sandbox. Let us show the world that the video gaming community is the place to be, and the more the merrier. Let us leave this awful and hideous harassment of women behind, and move forward to greener shores, and change games and the community so that everyone can fully enjoy them.Related: Column, Massive Thought, Real Life