I hate myself for what I did Tuesday.
I remember voting for the first time in 1994. Walking in to a small community center in a village of less than 500 in rural Wisconsin with my parents filled me with a Capraesque sense of awe. Maybe it was the echoes of people shuffling through a basketball court that could only come from Hoosiers; maybe it was the act of punching an actual ballot for the first time; or maybe it was the feeling of finally being able to affect change, in an infinitesimal way, after hearing my parents talk about labor relations, income disparity, and a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body for the overwhelming majority of my childhood. Up until Tuesday, the act of casting a ballet gave me the same kind of feeling that Jimmy Stewart injected in to Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or for something more modern, up until Tuesday I felt the same since of civic pride from casting a ballot as I did for knowing the words to I’m Just a Bill on Capitol Hill, or acting as Speaker of the House for the mock Congress in my American Government class in high school.
That first election was not without controversy. There was a referendum on the ballot for funding for a new high school building. The educators at my high school took it upon themselves to bring everyone that was going to be 18 on Election Day into the band room so they could show us all how to vote, “in favor of the school funding issue.” I remember talking with my parents at dinner on the day of about how we were shown how to vote. Above all, I remember listening to, and later participating in, an uncountable number of conversations around the dinner table: Organized labor (my parents combined have been members of unions for roughly 50 years), butter > guns, the need for strict separation between church and state, and a desire to ensure that everyone had equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I am was a liberal. I am was not ashamed to call myself one, even after moving to Colorado and taking a job in a conservative pocket of the tech industry, where unashamed liberals are the vast minority. I would regularly hold court on Fridays while our design team was eating breakfast together; it got so “bad” at one point that I was given the nickname “Pinko Todd” in honor of my rampant socialist rantings.
After Tuesday, I don’t know that I can call myself a liberal anymore.
It’s not that I don’t want to call myself a liberal. After all, as I understand liberal ideals, I still believe in most of them, if not all of them. No, I guess I’m not a liberal anymore because Bustle, The Verge, Salon, Polygon, Kotaku, Gamasutra, The Mary Sue, The NY Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, and others spent the last 2 months telling me I’m no longer wanted as an unashamed, voting liberal. They did this based on my primary hobby and the Y chromosome I was born with. They did this after some of them told me I was dead or needed to die for the crime of holding my primary hobby as a part of my identity. They did this because some people I don’t know made threats against people I’d never heard of before; subsequently, I was told I needed to die because of my Y chromosome and my hobby.
And for what? The nebulous notion of making gaming “better” than it is now? To stroke the sense of entitlement of self-proclaimed “game developers”? To turn game developer into the third vocation in human history that is competence optional behind politician and journalist (apparently)? Equality of Outcomes between AAA game development, good independent game development, and terrible independent game development? An esoteric notion of games as art, based on meaningless definitions of “gamer” and “game” combined with a pejorative definition of “consumerism”? A wanton desire to usurp the will of the consumer and the creative process?
I hope character assassinating gamers without regard for collateral damage over the last 2 months was worth it.
Tuesday resulted in several firsts for me. I’d never voted full ticket—not in 20 years of participating in my civic duty. I did on Tuesday. I’ve often considered or voted for third party candidates when at the polls over the last 20 years. Tuesday I did not. Over the past 20 years, I’d spent between 2 and 6 weeks studying candidates and ballot measures to be as informed as possible. This election cycle, I was finished in hours. On this day, I stand before you to say that I did my part to hand the Legislative branch of the American government to the Republicans. Not that one vote matters in the grand scheme of things, but every traditionally Democratic vote that goes Republican is a two vote swing. So the Republicans own the Senate, but not with a “super majority” to completely dictate terms legislatively.
From my new perspective after Tuesday, it’s one down and three to go: Super majority in the Senate, the Presidency, and one Supreme Court justice. I’m disgusted for writing that last sentence.
What choice did I have? It would appear that the DiGRA was right—The Playful is Political. It would also appear that my politics are now a matter of survival for pieces of my identity that I hold dear. It can never be emphasized enough that 10 news outlets on the same day said I was dead or needed to die because of those parts of my identity. Will I forgive? Eventually. Time heals all wounds, after all. Will I forget? Never. The imgur’s will exist forever, as will the archives and screen caps of everything the hypocrites, charlatans, and their willing media puppets said and did to make me question two parts of my identity: gamer and liberal. It is only by force of will and self-determination that I don’t let those people immure me in self-doubt and regret. Right now, there is virtually no price too high for them to pay for what they tried to do to my identity.
There are roughly 730 days until Election Day 2016. The media that drove me away from my political leanings is going to need every one of those days to convince me that bashing gamers from August 28th until Tuesday was just a misunderstanding. They will need every one of those days to convince me that my input into the liberal ideology is valued regardless of my hobbies, support for GamerGate, or my gender. The alternative is to hand both the Legislative and Executive branch of the US Government over to Republicans, and as I found out on Tuesday, it is well within my capability to do so.
Tick tock. Tick tock.