Blizzcon has just begun, and while we could be talking about the many exciting announcements coming from Blizzard's convention which celebrates 20 years of Warcraft this year, instead everyone is talking about co-founder Mike Morhaime's opening speech which decried the harassment carried out throughout the gaming industry over the last couple of months.
“I’d like to take a moment to talk about something serious. Over the past couple of months, there’s been a small group of people who have been doing really awful things. They have been making some people’s lives miserable and they are tarnishing our reputation as gamers. It’s not right.
Blizzcon is a great example of how positive and uplifting gaming can be. Let’s carry the good vibes from this weekend out into the world all year round. There is another person on the other end of a chat screen, they are our friends, our brothers and sisters our sons and daughters. Let’s take a stand to reject hate and harassment, and let’s redouble our efforts to be kind and respectful to one another.
Let’s remind the world what the gaming community is really all about”.
Websites such as Kotaku, Polygon and Incgamers, have claimed incorrectly that Morhaime was referring solely to the supporters of #GamerGate, a consumer-led movement which was established over 2 months ago. In reality, as you can see above, he did not name any specific individuals or groups, simply referring to the small group of harassers who many people, including supporters of #GamerGate, have been addressing for some time. With hate and harassment targeted towards many different types of gamers from all over the #GamerGate spectrum: from famous opponents to the movement, which is fighting to change the gaming media: Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu, to supporters who have received less mainstream media coverage such as King of Pol and Milo Yiannopoulos; I personally felt that with Morhaime's inclusion of both genders, he was speaking of harassment as a whole.
In fact later when interviewed by Geoff Keighley, jokingly known as the Dorito Pope, Morhaime didn't comment. Keighley links Morhaime's words to #GamerGate, while Morhaime's straight face shows he is unhappy with the assumed pairing. While it is unclear whether Morhaime simply wanted to avoid confrontation through his ambiguity, or whether he has noted harassment on all sides, it is simply incorrect to state as fact, that he was referring only to supporters of #GamerGate.
One thing we can be sure, is that Morhaime wanted to end harassment. However, in the day following his already infamous speech, attacks from the media outlets listed above, have lead those who oppose #GamerGate to interpret the co-founder's words as damning of the movement and have further sought to demonise those involved. The speech has had the opposite effect to that which Morhaime intended; the exact kind of attacks and harassment which he condemned. I believe this is all best intended, but when Morhaime called for us to be "kind and respectful" to "our brothers and sisters" I don't believe he meant "as long as they agree with your ideology". His message is clear. Be kind and respectful to all people, no matter how you perceive them. After all two wrongs have never made a right. Harassing someone who you feel harms others does not make you a good person; we are simply left with two bad people where there was one.
In contrast, since the speech, several #GamerGate supporters have spoke out on Twitter to stand by Morhaime in preventing any further harassment. Finally, gamers have found a message we can all stand behind. Thank you Morhaime, we are with you 100%.
EDIT: The original article stated that Keighley linked Morhaime's speech to the supporters of #GamerGate. However, it has since been pointed out that he referred to the #GamerGate scandal as a whole, and not specifically the supporters.