“The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions”, as the old proverb goes. In other words; people will commit heinous acts in the name of what they believe to be a good cause. History is full of countless examples of this facet of human nature – whether demonstrated by the medieval crusades, or tragedies such as the holocaust – our own humanity can lead otherwise good souls into propagating evil deeds. As civilized as humanity has become; there still exists that link to the animal world within all of us, from which our passion flows forth. I do not intend to simply invoke Godwin’s Law; but plainly put, an individual can easily get caught up in a passion so strong, that they may not find the time to think. Even if deep down we know what we are doing may not be right, our natural desires – the chemicals rushing through our bodies – sometimes makes it hard to control ourselves in lieu of these circumstances. More crucially; we are all human, and thus susceptible to our own inefficiencies.
I am aware that I mentioned a few weeks back that I would no longer report on GamerGate – but recently a post from some individual within the gaming industry has afflicted me, and I find myself with another sort of passion that I find the need to express. I do not intend to link to this post, due to the wishes of the author to stay out of the ongoing controversy as a whole – though I feel that the context surrounding their post are important to the gaming community, regardless of what sort of stance you have adopted during these past few months. I will be mentioning a few other individuals that have been affected indirectly, as well – but these individuals (that will also remain unnamed) simply serve as a backdrop to showcase that the thoughts held by the primary source of this article (henceforth mentioned as The DEv) are not mutually exclusive to that individual. I would also like to mention that some of what I will be discussing is based, again, of off the context of The Dev’s words – so while I feel confident that I understand what this individual was trying to insinuate, please – if the name of this individual is revealed in some way, do not mistake my words as their own. Furthermore, I would like to believe that I am not alone in respecting their decision to remain separated from the controversy at large.
With that being said, let me begin.
The Dev recently commented on a person’s question regarding the effects of GamerGate as a whole (most notably, its effects on developers and publishers), and whether or not these effects would be negative. They declined to answer in specifics, stating that taking any stance would create conflict for themselves in one way or another. Alone, this of course answers the question they were given – but what really alarmed me was two things.
1. The parallels to comments from other devs regarding the recent events.
2. More importantly, the aforementioned context from which this comment was given.
You see, Dev hasn’t had the best year so far. They’ve been harassed, they’ve been threatened – they’ve been driven off the very Internet, over a controversy surrounding a game that they had worked on. It was only recently that they returned, and it was only under a circumstance that was in a way worse than the former conflict. They were stalked, and an individual – presumably a fan – confronted them near their work. Thankfully, it was not a violent encounter – but I could not help but be reminded of these two situations when I read their most recent words. Dev did not hold the actions of the either parties against them, but compounded it made them weary about their fans as a whole. It’s worth mentioning that these two groups of fans were entirely separate – as far as anyone can tell, the individuals that harassed Dev had nothing to do with the individual that stalked them, and vice-versa. As far as Dev was concerned, it didn’t matter from which walk of life the conflict stemmed from – only that it existed, and they didn’t want anything to do with it.
Similarly, it doesn’t matter which “side” of GamerGate that would start to badger or attack them – simply due to the virtue that the landscape surrounding the controversy is toxic, is enough for individuals to want to stay away. As the controversy continues to infiltrate the rest of the medium, this disconnect between devs and their fans will only continue to grow along with it – and despite the best intentions of individuals on both sides of the fence. Other neutral developers have stated that it has become a scary time for women to be in gaming – even more have stated that the politics surrounding the controversy has tainted the industries image for years to come. As some individuals cheer Gawker’s hemorrhaging advertiser list, others worry that this decline showcases a growing distrust in the security of the gaming industry at large. It goes without saying that the actions from both sides has disrupted the status quo – but what will be the results of their actions? It’s already too late to salvage much of the mediums image – but what is the end game? I remember seeing some ideas being thrown around a few weeks ago, but where are those ideas now?
GamerGate has been ongoing for nearly 3 months now, with no signs of slowing down. It looks more and more likely that these discussions – these arguments – will continue on well into the next year. The worst part about this is that most of the events that have been driving this controversy forward, have been the actions of lone individuals, that don’t necessarily reflect either movements as a whole – there have been liars and cheats on both sides. Although I personally believe that the “pro” side of GamerGate has not been given due coverage on many sites, it would be a misrepresentation to say that any side as a whole is innocent. Although I believe that it has been the media’s misrepresentation of the controversy that has propelled many of these misconceptions into the spotlight – the continued badgering on both sides has left a particularly sour taste in my mouth. One things for certain – much like The Dev’s conundrum, it seems like no-one can provide their opinion of the event as a whole without fear of being subject to semi-organized masses of individuals trying to either ostracize or co-opt them. I must imagine that many devs feel the same – that they see the controversy as a whole as a toxin that has continued to erode the industry. The toxin being GamerGate as an event, and not necessarily GamerGate as a movement. Again; to them, it doesn’t matter what stance they take. Taking a stance at all is opening up a can of worms that won’t be closed for possibly years to come.
I worry that as this toxin spreads, more and more individuals will leave the industry due to increasing tensions. I just hope that whatever happens within these next few months minimizes that loss.
Addendum: When this post was initially scheduled, there were no twitter posts or monologues I felt that I could link to that would accurately describe my feelings on #GamerGate as a whole; though as luck may have it, in the days leading up to this article, some popped up in the /r/gamerghazi subreddit – most notably with regards to posts by the individual YellowSandals.
I feel that YellowSandals quotations regarding the controversy accurately reflect many of my thoughts on the matter; and I whole-heartedly recommend others to consider what he had to say. Thank you.