I’m not going to do a “Gamergate” post. I haven’t followed it closely enough to have much of a thought process on the subject, and what I do know doesn’t interest me enough to provoke any further research. What does concern me a bit, however, is how much these circumstances, the implications, and the responses has disturbed the people with whom I feel a strong affinity. I hate to see my friends in agony over the actions of the ignorant.
The thing that does strike me about the whole situation is the complete contrast between the perception of the gaming community within the circles I run in and the ugliness being spewed over social and conventional media. My friends tend to think of gamers as friendly, inclusive, progressive, and thoughtful, and for the most part I would agree with that assessment. Of course, the risk of being inclusive is that you have to include those who you don’t agree with, those who are not to your taste, and even those who are not inclusive!
While I don’t want to disrespect the heroics of the actual soldiers who keep my country free from tyranny with an ill-advised comparison, I can’t help but recall the US’s “war on terror” brought about by the September 11 atrocities in 2001. The US has always prided itself on being a refuge for all, including the “tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. Yet the attacks on our homeland had even the most even-headed among us wondering if perhaps we hadn’t been too inclusive in that list. Had we foolishly thrown open our gates to every nut job with a bomb-vest and an axe to grind? It’s so tempting to have the knee-jerk reaction. We need more intelligence. We need more guards at the border. We need more security at the airport. Lock it down. We need to do something.
Now, I don’t know how I can continue being a moderate voice, even if it’s just to my friends. How can I talk about how I think game journalism is flawed when the idea has been inexorably linked to people who will literally ruin someone’s life over it? How can I opine that some games journalists, some of whom happen to be women, are not terribly interesting when that same idea has been wielded like a weapon against people’s safety and livelihoods?
During the war on terror, it was also very difficult to maintain a moderate voice in the immediate wake of the attacks. The “patriot act” was universally supported by politicians on both sides of the aisle, passing the US House of Representatives 357-66, and then the US Senate 98-1. In hindsight, most moderate Americans would probably admit that this particular piece of legislation should have been debated more aggressively and perhaps not even passed at all, considering the compromises to our freedoms that it included. But in the clouded state of affairs and with the feeling that we needed to do something, the act passed and the rest is history.
To those who are feeling overwhelmed by the current state of affairs, I would say hold tight. Cooler heads will prevail. To those who feel pressured into silence or into a more radical position in order to “balance the scales”, I’d say don’t change! Time will prove your position. Don’t become less inclusive, less friendly, less progressive, less thoughtful. To let the circumstances change you is to let the “terrorists” win. To do otherwise is to truly prove the radicals wrong.