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Gamergate, anti-gamergate, SJW’s, female, transgender, feminists, white CIS males, black, asian, misogynists, sexists, racists, fascists, Democrats, Republicans, loud chewers, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Did I miss anyone?

It’s that time of year again, the holiday season, where smiling should be a little easier and people should feel compelled to love their fellow person.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or <insert any other Holiday celebration here>, happy early holidays to you, your friends, and all your loved ones.  That’s what this month reminds us of that we as people have a tendency to forget the other eleven months of the year.  If this is the month of sharing, caring, and loving your fellow person, why is there still so much hate and so much anger?

One of the hardest things for me to do in my life right now, besides trying to get sleep having a young baby, is to get my four year old daughter to understand that Christmas (what my family celebrates) isn’t only about receiving presents.  Blasphemy, right?  Of course, she is excited at the notion of tearing through wrapping paper to see all the stuff Santa left for her, but what I really want her to learn in this month is compassion, understanding, empathy, and optimism.  Those are hard to teach to a kid that young, but my wife told me a story that made me feel she is starting to get it.  My wife always takes our kids, to the store with her.  Anyone with kids knows that children on a grocery run has a tendency to be a literal hell on Earth, but we found ways to incentivize our daughter to assist in the trip, and she has fun with it now.  Good trips can yield her a reward of a whopping, fresh, crisp one dollar bill that she can put in her piggy bank or use to buy something.  This particular trip was one of those very good trips, so she received her dollar after checking out at the cash register.  On the way out, there was a small station to make a donation, and my daughter asks what it’s for.  My wife explains they are trying to raise money to get presents for kids in need who may not receive any.  My daughter, befuddled at the thought that some kids don’t receive presents for Christmas, asked if there really were kids who didn’t get presents for Christmas?  After my wife explained to her that there are, my daughter took her dollar, gave it to the charity, and told her mother she hopes one of those kids gets a good gift from her.

Doesn’t that melt your heart a little?  It did for me, because I realized my daughter is starting to get what we as parents want to teach her.

So why bring up this story, what does this matter in regards to gamergate versus anti-gamergate, SJW’s versus gamers, and so on?  Right there, she understood what it meant to be unselfish toward someone she doesn’t know.  Not only that, even though she didn’t know them and they weren’t physically in front of her, she recognized some other kid somewhere needed help, and that kid was a real human being to her.  That’s something many people have a tendency to forget.  We live in a time where the world is much smaller through the wonder we know as the web.  Anyone with an internet connection and a little bit of know-how can speak to millions of other people around the planet.  That’s both a gift and a curse, poses benefits and many concerns.  We’ve all heard about internet tough guys, and they exist because the consequences for them are not real.  It turns into a game since these people are safe in their homes and rarely have to incur any backlash.  It’s that distance that poses the biggest problem.  When the person on the other side is nothing other than a wall of text, it’s very easy to de-humanize them and forget they are a real person, with real feelings, and a lot of that is going around within the whole gamergate battle.

I’ve talked in circles, and still haven’t answered the question the title asks: So which side are you on?  The quick and easy answer, neither.  Each side stands for something they feel strongly about, but I feel many on each side go about business in all the wrong ways.  They lose focus on their objective or intentionally use it as a means to troll or tear down members of the opposing “faction”.   Even though I have my own set of beliefs and ideals that may coincide more with one side, I don’t associate myself with them.  Stronger than my beliefs in this conflict, are my beliefs that people should treat each other with respect, as if they are… Wait for it… Actual human beings with feelings, families, friends, etc.  Both sides have done many things that are wrong, but continue to blindly point fingers at the others short comings without recognizing their own.  It’s classic us versus them mentality, they are different than us, so they are the enemy, and they are less than us.  I refuse to associate with that.  To be blunt, I’m for the side that doesn’t try to be abusive and make other people feel like shit.  I’m for the side that refuses to harass others while defending their stance.  I’m for the side that understands even if someone disagrees with what I believe and feel, they have a right to it even if I feel their stance is nonsense.  I’m for the side, that when your beliefs are tread upon, you rise up to defend it in a conducive manner, and make a positive difference.

So who shot first?  It doesn’t even matter anymore, both sides continue to keep firing, shelling out round after round of cheap insults, empty threats, and harassment, all steeped in overwhelming immaturity.  Stop threatening each other, quit glorifying the people who dox and DDoS the other side, and understand that it’s not “cool” regardless if it’s on the other side, or yours.  Should journalists report without bias and agenda?  Of course they should, but this isn’t a perfect world, and people aren’t inherently unbiased.  Should the world of video games be censored or should creative influence be limited by strict boundaries or guidelines?  Not at all, video games are an entertaining form of art, and no art form should ever have a creative vice grip on it.  Could video game developers be more mindful of female characters, their personality traits, responsible proportions, and so on?  Of course they could, but a forceful, demanding approach isn’t the proper way to go about that change.  There is much that can be done differently in the world, and much the same could be said about video games.  In a time where gamers are dealing with the greed of the big name developers, insulting us with on disk “DLC”, locked game modes, and releasing incomplete games to meet a deadline while using us gamers as another layer of QA, we have other battles that are far more important.  My advice, cease fire, both sides.  If you want to make a difference, actually do something to make a positive difference for your position instead of simply mud slinging and tearing down others.  If you don’t like what the other side has to say, don’t give them your business or time, and you keep working to better your cause.

TL:DR version:

benderownside


Jonathan Greenwell

For years I have been a systems administrator, a husband, a father, a gamer, and now, to add to that list, a budding games journalist. My family always comes first, but a close second would have to be gaming. My favorite games tend to be RPG's, MMO style games, and MOBA's, but I'm no stranger to FPS and action games as well. My only hope is that my writings and opinions can help the gaming community and that I don't invoke the wrath or ire of gamers everywhere... because you scary gaming community!