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#GamerGate - scandal going down the wrong way

Jack Graal
29 October 2014

#GamerGate is trying to tell us that some reviews are not always written in accordance with journalistic ethics. But wait, it's not the end of the story. We also learn that "the only true gamers are heterosexual men who like to look at sexy women and scenes full of bloody violence".

I always thought that (all kinds of) products are created because of the needs. With pure desire to create (internal needs) or because of demand (external needs), and the only condition is the financial one. But where did #GamerGate come from? The paragraph below is only the summary, so there is no specific information given.

In a nutshell. The former partner of a female indie developer published some blog posts, in which he described, among others, that during their relationship she cheated on him with several guys. One of them was an editor of a popular gaming website. He was claimed to have written favorably about the game she was working on. It started a discussion on the authenticity of this statement. It was also revealed that a number of other journalists supported her financially through Patreon service. Thus was born #GamerGate, which in fact is just another incarnation of the problem of corruption and cronyism in the media. Unfortunately, the whole affair suddenly became less important because discussions on the presence of women in the gaming industry began on Twitter and online forums, releasing a wave of misogynistic comments and threats.

Thus #GamerGate divided into two parts: the theoretically good one and the without-a-doubt bad one.

The Good Part - the problem with the ethics of journalism in the video game industry

Strict objectivity does not exist, and as such "objectivity" operates only in purely informational texts responding to the questions "what?", "who?", "where?", "when?" and "how?". The next two questions, namely "why?" and "with what result?" are too dependent on the point of view. That's why transparency and separation of the comment from the information are so important.

Objectivity does not exist. There is only transparency

As for reviews (not just game reviews). Well, calling a reviewer "non-objective" is a compliment, not an insult. However, there are some limits. Giving a pretty good game a score of 1/10 only because something did not work is a lack of reliability. You can't complete a game? Write about it, or post an incomplete review, but hang on with the score. "But 1/10 will get so many clicks". Sure it will. Like any video with a kitten.

If there is an attack of clones and the market is full of nearly identical games - we should not blame developers, nor the media. Players are to blame (me too), because we want to play the same kinds of games over and over again. Why some games are not a commercial success, although they receive excellent evaluation in the media and often carry a deeper message? Fortunately, the gaming trends always pass, leaving behind only a small group of devoted fans.

Game publishers who are willing to pay for a better score or giving a financial bonus to the developers if the game gets a predetermined score on Metacritic is also a problem that lays in the nature of Public Relations and defects of the capitalist world. Is it possible to write a fair review, if the journalist is showered with gifts from the publisher? Is a friendly relationship between a developer and a journalist wrong? Is a financial support to developers by journalists unethical? Leave aside the fact that the media are usually involved in the promotion of the game many months before the release. Without the support of the media, gaming wouldn't evolve at such a rapid pace. That is why it is so important to follow the journalistic ethics, which for years was becoming less and less respected.

If that was the end, #GamerGate would be just one of many scandals about corruption in the game industry. But unfortunately this ship chose a slightly different course ...


The Bad Part - women as the scapegoats of the video game industry

I have no idea how is it possible to go from the topic of ethics to death threats. One factor could be that the media suspected of corruption began to identify supporters of #GamerGate as misogynists. They pushed the topic of the affair toward feminists present in the industry with hope that it will divert the spotlight. It turned out that at the same time a new video appeared on the Feminist Frequency channel run by a radical feminist Anita Sarkeesian. People joined the dots and put everything into one bag with the #GamerGate nametag.

Two weeks ago (October 14th) Anita Sarkeesian's lecture at the University of Utah was canceled due to a threat of gunfire. The university was unable to provide adequate security measures because in Utah it is allowed (with a permit) to carry a concealed weapon. In the past Sarkeesian had received similar death threats in relation to the films on the channel.

If Anita Sarkeesian says in her videos that a game is sexist or created only for the pleasure of "straight male gamers" - ok, Anita thinks so and shares her opinion. She has every right to do so. This is called freedom of speech.

You can disagree with her and you have every right to do so. You can tell her about it, you can even try to convince her to your case. But your rights end where the rights of another person start. If you can not cite reasonable arguments, then give up and think whether you're right. Do not grab the stick.

Similar threats were also sent in the direction of many people who have opposed the misogynistic part of the affair. A new hashtag #NotYourShield was coined by those who tried to remind people that the whole scandal is in fact about something completely different (game journalism ethics).

Some support #GamerGate (I’m not talking about trolls), because they want greater accountability and transparency in the media that review games. And some are fighting with an unwarranted hatred of women in the game industry.

#GamerGate's biggest problem is that people who use this hashtag are mostly anonymous. Each of them uses different wording and arguments. We have to wait for some solid voices that would clearly convey a substantial point of view.



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