March 07, 2016

#GamerGate: Real life is not a video game

Alex MazeyRebel Blogger

The so-called culture wars began in the US in 1990, when left/right fissures that first appeared during the 1960s grew even wider, and opponents clashed passionately over hot-button issues like feminism, abortion, gay rights and pornography.

Thanks to their near monopoly on media and education -- and their strategy of fighting using vocal, unified "group identity" battalions armed with the cudgel of "political correctness" -- progressives tended to win these battles, imposing their views and vocabulary on the rest of society.

For the less informed among us, our first visceral experience with this long march of leftist cultural authoritarianism began with the assault on video games -- depicted by many gamers as the last bastion of freedom -- by gender feminists, social justice warriors, and the other shock troops of identity politics.

This supposed "battle of the century" has been taken up by the supporters of GamerGate, who don’t "fight on the beaches" and "in the streets," but on internet forums and Twitter. GamerGate started as a movement concerned with ethics in game journalism, before culminating more generally in a debate over video game censorship in the name of "political correctness."

For those for whom GamerGate has been their first exposure to censorship, Annabel Patterson's 1984 book Censorship and Interpretation helpfully provides one historical example of censorship after another. She hopes an examination of these examples "might fit into a much larger investigation, not only of censorship throughout Europe in the early modern period, but also of the cultural impact of censorship since then, in Eastern Europe, for example, or Latin America."

Look, I’ll save you the history lesson and fast forward to the Misty Poets of the 20th Century whose censure culminated in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Looking to more recent events, there’s the censorship of cartoonists from depicting the Prophet Muhammad, or the lack of liberal concern for the proposed censorship of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.

In short, cultural authoritarianism and the various issues involving censorship have been around for centuries. This is nothing new, and gamers certainly aren’t either novel or even particularly noble warriors of freedom, especially when they fail to defend "freedom" in other areas of society.

For example, true freedom fighters would defend feminist Anita Sarkeesian’s right to criticise video games within democratic discourse, not attack her ad hominem. To add to the galling hypocrisy, supporters of GamerGate often evoke Martin Niemöller’s famous poem, "First they came..." They seem oblivious to the fact that comparing a controversy about video game content with Nazi Gleichschaltung is beyond ignorant, certainly melodramatic, and possibly stupid.

In touting the world historical importance of their anti-censorship battle, gamers point to their own sheer numbers. In a column for Forbes, John Zogby cited an analytics poll that showed "the great significance that video games play in the lives of young people." This is an attitude echoed by Nick Shore in an article published in the Harvard Business Review, called "Millennials Are Playing With You." (The term, Millennial, being used as a categorical term for those roughly between the ages of eighteen to thirty-four.) In that piece, Shore cites a 2011 study where half of Millennials said, “People my age see real life as a video game.”

Looking at these statistics, I wouldn’t be wrong in assuming the majority of video gamers are Millennials, which isn’t surprising given their position as "the largest population demographic in the U.S." Additionally, Verizon’s 2014 report on Millennials & Entertainment shows, "More than half of Millennials are either regular or avid gamers, compared to less than a third of non-Millennials."

Millennials are often accused of having a deep disconnection with history, literature, and essentially anything that doesn’t reflect a 21st century cultural trend. And when it comes to the Millennial supporters of GamerGate, I can see why.

Arguably, Millennials are a generation informed by "The Harlem Shake," "Gangnam Style" and the narcissism of reality television. In these circumstances, I often recall the vignette of an English professor tasked with the job of teaching Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In that classroom, the ninth graders were less terrified of his imagined dystopia, and more impressed with the idea of eugenics, and the ease of education via hypnopaedic processes.

Sometimes, I feel like video gamers have taken this Millennial attitude to the other end of the spectrum in the form of GamerGate, myopically seeing themselves as the only hope for humanity. These supporters really do perceive “real life as a video game,” complete with an imagined evil that needs to be overcome -- in their case, this evil manifesting currently as the "Feminazi."

Of course, supporters of GamerGate continuously comparing gender feminism to the people who built Auschwitz doesn’t help dilute this image. In fact, I’d always assumed that particular comparison was a staple of nonsensical, leftist thinking – perhaps I was wrong.     


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commented 2016-03-08 11:42:23 -0500
“Real life is not a video game”

Oddly enough, most video gamers know this. Video games is just another form of entertainment. Not much different than playing Bridge, except you have to uses your brains more in a video game and most require you read a fair amount.
commented 2016-03-07 23:47:36 -0500
Thank the gods it says “Rebel Blogger” and not journalist because this is Kotaku level bullshit. Must be why you ignore fact to run with this laughable piece of shit blog entry. Glad to also see you failed to understand any of the points you brought forward. When people use the “First They Came…” poem, they aren’t comparing Feminists to Nazis, although dumbasses have called them Feminazis for decades. The whole point of the poem was that because no one opposed the Nazis when they came after other groups there was no one to oppose them when they came after the writer’s group he was part of. While it was written during WWII, it is the factual view of what happens if you ignorantly ignore groups that take over other groups or remove them. Feminists and social justice are trying to take over film, television, comics, music, and games, but gamers are the only ones that have fought back.

You are right though, Anita can critique games all she wants, when she actually critiques them rather than lying about them with cherry picked game footage that also shows her critiques are invalid. "Hitman encourages gamers to kill innocent women in the game. " I love her claim that games teach gamers to objectify women while ignoring that games draw from real life (prostitutes, porn stars, escorts, models, et. al. are jobs that require objectification in order to make a living; the very jobs she complains about objectifying women in games, the very same jobs that have existed for decades before video games). Men finding women attractive, women finding men handsome or cute, women finding women sexy, men finding men appealing, et. al. is purely biological, sexual attraction, which she deems sexual objectification, is a biological fact of life and not this ridiculous “construct of society” that feminists claim.

Let’s talk about the fact that WAM (Women, Action, and Media), a women’s organization, did a study where they examined the most heinous harassment tweets toward women and found that only 12% were GamerGate related. Randi Harper, in her infinite wisdom, gave us a great tool which measures how many GG members there are and when the math is done only 0.66% of GamerGate was harassing anyone. WAM looked at 538 harassment tweets and found 12% were related to GamerGate, or rather 65 people identified as a GamerGate supporter and sent harassing tweets to women. According to the GG Autoblocker, Harper’s blockbot, there were 9844 GG supporters blocked at that time, (65/9844) is 0.0066030069 *100 = 0.66% which means the media for two years now has labeled 9844 gamers as harassers, sexist, and misogynists based solely off 65 people (or labeled 100% of supporters due to 0.66% of it being assholes).

Disagreeing with feminists is not harassment. Calling a woman a liar isn’t harassment. When there is video evidence of the woman stating she wasn’t a fan of games and then appearing on news and at lectures claiming she loved games from childhood, that makes her a liar. Getting $158,000 to make a series you claim will be done by December 2012 only to announce between 2015/2016 that you are changing format and won’t be doing all the content she was paid for, then it makes her fraudulent. Media going on about Anita does completely remove the two year old lie that GamerGate is a hate mob seeking to chase women out of tech though because Anita isn’t in tech, being critical of games doesn’t magically make you in the tech field. When she starts programming in Assembler, C, C++, D, C#, Java, Javascript, Python, Perl, etc. then she will be in the tech field.

As for gamers and real world, gamers understand the real world. You see, it isn’t gamers that are sitting around whining and moaning about the fictional representations of fictional women in the constraints of a fictional world while completely ignoring the real world women that are enduring real world suffering. Sex trafficking, domestic violence, rape (not to be confused with the fictional “Rape Culture”), and murder. All things that existed long before games and will exist long after games which shows games have nothing to do with society. Games are pure fiction that add societal problems into the story to give it more meat for feeling realistic.

The “gamer” identity has always been inclusive; yet I watched game sites declaring their reader’s identity to be dead.The reason people don’t identify as gamer anymore isn’t because it isn’t inclusive; rather it is because there have been too many op-eds that tell gamers how terrible they are for liking certain games on gaming sites. Gamers screamed back in unison and has spent two years battling lies while just simply enjoying games. Gamers aren’t going anywhere because we know you can’t make SJWs/Feminists happy; they will never play the games; and when that day comes, the gamers everyone spit on will still be here playing and silently watching the war against feminists trying to destroy their hobby.
commented 2016-03-07 22:19:42 -0500
Now no one should wonder why Alberta has an NDP Government, nor should they wonder why we have a Flake for a PM….
commented 2016-03-07 16:00:57 -0500
My previous comment was directed at Gavin.
The last sentence was at Alex.
Neither of you really understand the topic, and both of you like to belittle Gamers.
commented 2016-03-07 15:54:51 -0500
Dude….you REALLY need to actually talk to some gamergate supporters that were there for the whole thing. You have got a few of your early facts….off. Not wrong exactly, but off a little bit. Gamergate didn’t make the rift in the left. It just exasperated it. Talk with gamergate’s “Mom”. She can tell you about rift in the left.
The reason the right wasn’t able to make this stand is because the right insults gamers just as much. You even said yourself you don’t like gamers. You think it is stupid hobby. The media has taken that fallacy and run with it. Gamergate is NOT made up of ‘the right’. It is made up of the marginalized from both sides. That prefer to share common ground than brutalize each other over the differences.
Gamers, which is just a modern term for geek or nerd have been the brunt of jokes for generations. “You don’t worship Football. You are a beta cuck, that needs to be beat up.” Zoi & the rise of Gamergate was the straw. The geeks and nerds, (or gamers), had had enough. We said “Just leave us alone” let us play and socialize the way we want, but NOOoooOOOOooo your stupid politics and ‘social rules’ MUST be enforced upon us.
Gamergate is not a right vs left issue. It is a ‘foff’ issue. Gamergate is against sanctimonious clowns who think they are better than everyone because of the hobbies they enjoy or the opinions they hold.
Gamergate was/is the real life version of “Revenge of the Nerds”. Ya, it started as “Ethics in Game Journalism” but that was because the Zoi thing confirmed the long time grievances of the media bashing gamers for years. Oh, and Anita was WELL KNOWN to gamers long before GamerGate.

Well that was a bit of a discombobulated comment, but no more that this article.