OK, I know I said I was going to stop talking about #GamerGate, but it’s been three and a half weeks and they don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. So instead of doing the articles you usually see about the movement, which usually boil down to “#GamerGate is bad” and “#GamerGate is good” I think I’m going to spend some time analyzing the issues and motivations behind the movement, and the way it is carried out.
The other day I took to twitter and said that I didn’t really approve of the use of SJW and White Knight as pejorative turns. The responses were a cascade of accusations about how SJWs want to change gaming to suit their needs and get their message across or how White Knights repeatedly blow up non-issues for their own crusade. That’s when I realized another reason why I am made uncomfortable by #GamerGate when I have basically been speaking out against corruption in the gaming industry since the day I wrote my first review: the social narrative.
Social narratives are, essentially, the story that a movement tells about itself. Narratives change throughout history as our points of view on different historical events evolve.
The narrative surrounding #GamerGate right now is an “Us Against Them” narrative. Specifically, #GamerGate seems to be campaigning against certain people, and pointing at them as the source of corruption in the gaming industry. You have all heard the names Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian at this point. However, beyond the icons, they cite SJWs and White Knights as the problem as well. They frame the #GamerGate movement as a war between two sides: the people who want to destroy gaming and the people who want to save it.
But… that’s not how corruption in the industry actually happens. There are no Snidely Whiplash characters in their top hats and black capes, twirling their curly moustaches and cackling evilly as they plan the downfall of gaming and gamers everywhere. There are no legions of doom ready to march on gaming and take away your gruff army men while flooding the game journalism world with feminist essays. There is no “them” for “us” to war against. That’s why I feel as if #GamerGate is so misguided.
Real industry corruption is not a “them.” It’s not a person at all. It’s a set of actions. Real corruption comes from unchecked business practices and poor industry standards. It comes from a push to make more money, churn out more product, and expand your fanbase without regard for morals and ethics. Once again this isn’t because of people. No one person goes “SCREW STANDARDS WE ARE GONNA MAKE THE BIG BUCKS!” It’s because, when left unchecked, businesses can slowly slide down a slippery slope into corruption just with time. A journalist gets paid less here, a review score gets tweaked there, advertising exaggerates more and more, and given enough years, journalists are working for free, review scores are decided by publishers, and all advertising is false.
The real fight against corruption is a fight to regulate the industry, to hold it up to certain ethical standards. This won’t be accomplished by running a certain “them” out of the industry. This is accomplished by holding up institutions to scrutiny. The SJWs are not out to get you. So ignore them, and instead think about what the industry can do to hold itself up to better standards of journalism.
Former Contributing Writer