We’re All Gamers. All Of Us
What a time it’s been to be a gamer, huh? The ‘Quinnspiracy’. #GamerGate. The concerted effort by the gaming press to end the notion of gamer. It’s quite the mess. Before I begin, let me set something straight; there will be nuance. There is no ‘picking sides’, it’s not as black and white as being a gamer or being a ‘social justice warrior’. There can be equilibrium. There needs to be.
As Totalbiscuit said on a podcast with JonTron, no one likes being put in a box. The labels we assign to people are destructive. By making sweeping generalizations about anyone, we accuse the many for the actions of the few. This is why it’s my belief that it’s not right for gamers to be mass criticized for the actions of internet harassers, and it’s equally bad to label anyone with an opposing viewpoint as a ‘social justice warrior’, or ‘SJW’. The recent events have been illuminating; we’ve witnessed how industry corruption is the same as other mediums and we’ve seen how easy it is to spin a narrative based on threats of abuse.
Disclaimer: abuse is wrong. I’ve had it leveled at me that I’m ignoring or even enabling the abuse of people by not condemning it, but I have something to say on that fact. Most normal, good people think bad actions are wrong. It’s common sense. Most will often distance themselves from the perpetrators, ignore them, or report them using a website’s appropriate tools. To suggest that not publicly condemning an action is a sign of support is disingenuous. However, it is still necessary to call out wrong actions when the situation demands it, therefore the game industry petition to ‘end the hate’ isn’t categorically wrong either. The heart is in the right place; to find a way for people to rally together to weed out misbehavior and make the community liveable for everyone. The sooner we work together, the better.
What this also means, is that the industry has some responsibility too. No one likes being insulted, talked down to or treated as ‘misogynerds’ or pariahs simply cause some people’s actions are wrong. Articles such as the one by Leigh Alexander are mercilessly inflammatory and paint an unfair picture of the gaming community. Let me ask you this: are all movie watchers monsters, because some have killed people? Are all music listeners psychopaths, because some have hurt others? Are all book readers insane, because some have spoken in harsh haste? Are all gamers vile, because some choose to use this medium as a vehicle to promote their horrid attitudes? Of course not. Granted, condemning an entire community through reprimanding isn’t always indicative of bigotry; people don’t necessarily think that ‘all gamers’ are bad, however the callous nature of the generalization is harmful regardless.
Everyone is different. People often go into an entertainment medium with an agenda, an ideology or a plan, and often the medium supplements that angle, rather than crafting it. If someone was a bad person to start, they likely will do things that are wrong regardless of where they are. It’s unreasonable to warn people of the horrors of Xbox Live just because some people are bad on there, in the same way it’s unreasonable to warn people of going to a restaurant because you met a bad customer once. Is it somewhat legitimate to suggest that these places facilitate and encourage unruly behaviors? Perhaps. And it’s just as reasonable for people to call out bad actions when they see them. But we need prudence, we require nuance and we most certainly need to do what’s right. Identity offenders individually, report them sort, them out.
The issues at hand need to be in focus too. We can’t be threatening people, harassing individuals or lashing out at anyone, we as gamers need to stand up for what’s good and wholesome and show that we’re here to just enjoy the medium. That’s right, you and me. We are gamers. All of us. The 4 guys going home to play Smash Bros. The girls getting ready for another round of League of Legends. The parents finding suitable games to play with their kids. The elderly person getting in a quick game of Bejeweled. The gay person looking to customize their character in a RPG. The young child struggling to understand Rayman’s mechanics. The feminists campaigning for better representation in games. The young adults supporting sexy characters designs in fighting games. We are all here. The industry is big enough for all of us.
This isn’t an ‘us vs them’, this is a war on corruption and wrongdoings, by anyone. The gaming media isn’t to blame, feminism isn’t to blame, gamers aren’t to blame. The onus is upon all of us to do the right thing. The game industry can and will be able to accommodate for different tastes. Diversity isn’t the end of creative freedom, nor should it mean that game developers should be forced to do certain things. A level of consideration is need of course, but different games can cater to different people. There’s room for everyone’s tastes, and as the industry grows we’ll begin to see more games do vibrant and different things, whilst others remain true to what they’ve always been about. And when all is said and done, and we’ve marked our conspiracy theories as solved, and we’ve found all our answers, and we’ve apologized for our wrong-doings, let’s remember. We are all gamers. And we should never be ashamed of that fact.[Featured image is the slogan from the Call of Duty: Ghosts' reveal trailer]