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Good Morning, Orthodoxy is a series of articles examining a coordinated attack made against gamers on August 28 and 29. The sixth and final installment is a hodgepodge of observations and reflections.
#GamerGate is very personal for me
I had no idea how personal it was for me until I started writing GMO. It’s truly multi-faceted. One part is being a gamer before I had the ability to express the thought. Like many folks who have talked about how they came into gaming, I came into gaming at a very early age. My first console was an Intellivision; my first RPG was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: The Cloudy Mountain. It was brutal in its simplicity: 6 enemies, 4 items, 1 weapon, and 1 win condition, but to me it was best thing ever. I was able to join the Pitfall Harry Explorer Club before I started second grade. I remember the first time I hit 1,000,000 points in Tron Deadly Discs; I remember the first time I received the 50,000 point “pacifist” bonus on the first 5 levels of Bump ‘n Jump, as none of my friends could duplicate it. Intellivsision to Genesis to Pinball Cabinets to Playstation to PC, gaming has been an important part of my entire life. I made new friends in college through gaming. After college, I moved across the country to start a career, and all of my close friendships are a result of a shared love of videogames. I started a podcast in 2006 to talk about videogames, and in the process, I met tons of awesome and creative people, one of whom would become my wife. Most of my truly happy moments from ages 3 to 37 involve gaming. This would be enough for a “gamers manifesto” in and of itself, and I haven’t talked about waiting in line 45 minutes to play a sit-in version of Star Wars arcade, or the countless hours spent in arcades around my hometown putting up the initials TOD any chance I got. Gamer is an identity I keep with me because it has always been a safe place I can retreat to when I need it. So, to read 14 times in one 36 hour period that a big part of my identity is dead; that I need to be killed; that I’m irrelevant; that I’m an obstinate child throwing a temper tantrum; that I hate people I’ve never heard of; that I’m holding the medium “back”; that because I am a gamer I’m a misogynist; and that my identity is over was a shock to the system. I’m quite sure I didn’t ask any of these people for their permission to call myself a gamer in 1981 when I first unwrapped the Intellivison, and I don’t need their tacit approval to call myself one now. Further, I reject the notion that this identity I’ve held with me for so long is inherently bad. This reason alone would be enough to want to get involved in #GamerGate, but for me it runs deeper.
My very first job was as a broadcaster for the AM/FM radio station in my home town. I don’t want to go into very much detail about this job, as by no means was this some kind of journalism job—the closest I came to being a journalist was editing copy from the Associated Press wire to do a news broadcast on Sundays when Green Bay wasn’t playing. In college, I held the position of Sports Director for the UW-Eau Claire campus cable TV station. Again, we were not breaking news stories or anything like that, but we did have access to all the university sports teams, and we did interviews and some play-by-play. After college, I started the podcast, then co-founded VTW Productions with some friends, and now I am a games writer for TechRaptor. Off and on for 20 years, I’ve done broadcasting/media of some form or another, and in some infinitesimally small way, journalism as well. Perhaps I took the responsibility that came with the impossibly small amount of actual journalism I had done too seriously, but to look at all these obvious op-eds with no tags at all or tags like “Exclusive” or “Featured Post” as if they were factual was repugnant to me as a broadcaster. This reason alone would be enough to get involved with #GamerGate as well. Add the two together, and the #GamerGate fight has become very personal indeed.
We know where many people stand
Leigh Alexander, Devin Wilson, Luke Plunket, Chris Plante, Casey Johnston, Mike Pearl, Allegra Ringo, Dan Golding, Luke McKinney, Ben Kuchera, Christian Nutt, Kris Graft, Chris Grant, Chris Tognotti, Steve Totilo, Patricia Hernandez, Kyle Orland, Keith Stuart, Joseph Bernstein, Dan Seitz, Devin Faraci, Garrett Martin, Jill Scharr, Tadhg Kelly, Leo Reyna, Elizabeth Harper, and Martin Belam all have one thing in common: they all, to a person, don’t give a damn about gamers, videogames or gaming. Some on this list posted articles part of the 2 Minutes Hate (the event that really started #GamerGate), or are the Editors in Chief that allowed the 2 Minutes Hate to happen. Some produced piss poorly researched #GamerGate related articles after the tag took off over Labor Day weekend; you can sniff out the garbage #GamerGate articles immediately: if a #GamerGate article starts with ZQ, AS, and harassment, then it is piss poorly researched. Some on this list have flown below the #GamerGate radar specifically, but are most assuredly corrupt, writing favorable reviews for people they have relationships with without disclosure. Their orthodoxy tried to take part of our identity. Their orthodoxy tried to make everything into a game. Their orthodoxy tried to paint us all as straight, white, heterosexual, violence for pleasure seeking harassment machines. Their orthodoxy tried to shame us for the hobby that we love. Their orthodoxy tried to shame us for wanting to be informed consumers. They wrote this orthodoxy for self-serving and nefarious reasons. They have failed in their task.
Hold the line
There’s been talk about how #GamerGate is winning, given the news that Intel has pulled an ad campaign from Gamasutra. While I love the sentiment and the energy, I see #GamerGate in slightly different terms. I see a metaphysical line drawn across the internet. I see #GamerGate, #notyourshield, TB, InternetAristocrat, Mundane Matt, Sargon of Akkad, L. Rhodes, Erwin Murillo, The Investigamer, Ricky Morris, Games Nosh, Niche Gamer, APG Nation, Alexander Macris, Greg Tito, Allum Bokhari, Jordan Ephraim, William Usher, the Youtubers streaming about #GamerGate every day, Based Mom, Based Socks, Milo, yours truly and TechRaptor, and more standing at that line, arms linked, speaking with one voice, “The line is drawn here! This far, no farther!” It will be a long struggle against a determined foe, but we will hold; many have come to join the line. We must hold, because I don’t have to tell you that Stationary Rainbow Cube Simulator 2015 is going to suck, and Stationary Rainbow Cube Simulator 2015 is all we get if we fail to hold the line.
Vivian James: Ginger Anime Chick of Spiting
Sounds kinda dumb, doesn’t it? Actually, this is a wrap up post, so why be charitable? This is catastrophically, galactically stupid. Vivian James: Ginger Anime Chick of Spiting is the brainless love child of Allegra Ringo and Luke McKinney. In McKinney’s manifesto of a cognitively dissonant fun sucker, he says:
“Vivian James” is the mascot of their movement, and she’s an anime girl because of course she is.
It should be awfully quick to prove or disprove this assertion through the vast and awesome power of the google image search engine. “Vivian James” gives this:
“Anime Chick” gives this:
Strangely enough, the Vivan James pictures all stay relatively consistent in the google image search, while the Anime Chick pictures get more sexualized. I wonder why McKinney would make the misleading assertion about Vivian. Oh yeah, because she was made by 4chan’s /v/. You might not know about the good things /v/ has done, because the only narrative told about 4chan by gaming’s fake journalists is one of harassment. Would it surprise you that roughly 30% of the 71k raised for The Fine Young Capitalist’s indiegogo project came from /v/? Would it surprise you that Vivian James was made by /v/ to be used for the winning game from the project? Would it surprise you Vivian as presented is as un-sexualized as one could imagine? One more question: would it surprise you none of the “journalists” listed in the first list above has bothered to write a single word about TFYC or Vivian? Except, of course, the following pejorative on Vice from Allegra:
Vivian James is the fictional everywoman of gaming. She wears a striped hoodie and drinks Mountain Dew Throwback. Her name is a play on “vidya games.” She’s a regular person who wears jeans and spends too much time on the internet. And she was created out of spite by the historically anti-feminist gamers of 4chan.
In future, I recommend trying harder.
I want to finish with an observation about public figures and race. We start with a side trip to the 1980s of all places and the man who built the first professional football betting line in Las Vegas. You can read for yourself about Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder. What we care about are the events of January 16, 1988. On that day, The Greek was fired by CBS for making the following comments to a Washington, D.C. reporter:
The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade … the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid…
Sounds pretty racist, doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t fit into 140 characters that you can stuff into Twitter, like this, this, or this. So, to tie off Good Morning, Orthodoxy, I have two final questions to cut through the doublethink: What’s the difference between 1 racist comment in 1988 and 3 racist tweets in 2014? Have we really regressed that far in 26 years?