Don’t Believe the Hype

The main media narrative of Gamergate has been that it is primarily a mysognistic hate movement, with a hint of racism for good measure. This narrative is pushed hard by the mainstream media in addition to the games media. A thing to note about all of these articles is their abysmally bad evidence for their claims. Either there is none, the data is represented in a misleading way or they outright just source each other or themselves. This has lead to a downright embarrassing situation where Wikipedia, the world’s go-to place for info (unfortunately), has the majority of it’s Gamergate article dedicated to calling it sexist, starting with the first sentence, citing ‘reliable sources’ like The Guardian and ABC, who in turn are citing the very games media that is accused of corruption and using the sexism accusation as cover, along with a few individual ‘self-inserters‘.

This narrative has both major benefits and some pretty bad downsides to those who adhere to it, and to reasonable discourse as well. The obvious upsides are that it is, in theory, impossible to oppose this narrative, since who would want to be for the harassment of women, or in general? Who would call themselves pro-rape? It also makes it easier, though logically unsound, to attack any Gamergate activists, since they can be dismissed as bigots not worthy of listening to, let alone debating (in the minds of some, anyway). It is also very media-sexy and therefore easier to pass onto the mainstream media, as witness last November, by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s response (http://blogjob.com/oneangrygamer/2014/11/gamergate-abc-reporter-admits-they-chose-harassment-coverage-over-corruption/) to criticism of their Gamergate coverage. Corruption in a seemingly obscure hobby media is not of interest to the general public. It would be easy, in light of this, to proclaim that the global, or at least Anglo, mainstream media has been infiltrated by anti-Gamergate sympathisers. While that is actually true in at least one case, the bigger reason is far more likely the reliance of mainstream news on easily digestible narratives. This happens in other news stories (an apt term) as well, to the detriment of the truth. Facts are twisted or outright omitted which has in the case of Gamergate lead to incidents tantamount to character assassination on the part of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the most egregious being the labelling of very neutral, leaning towards anti-GG, independent journalist David Pakman as a harasser of women in a televised piece on the happenings. They also declined to interview pro-GG game developer Jennifer Dawe, as they had already chosen their narrative and could not veer from it. In this case, the near-impossibility of going against the narrative was displayed by the comments of the CBC journalist behind the piece, John Bowman, when he tweeted, quote: ‘Women are being harassed. That’s the story. Talk to the women. We tell the story’ and ‘What’s the ‘’other’’ side of the story of women being harassed online? That they aren’t?’. By equating all harassment of women online with Gamergate he weasels, or rather crowbars, the bigger narrative into a much more nuanced series of events. A culmination of sorts to this coverage was the infamous Law & Order SVU episode ‘The Intimidation Game’, which featured white male gamers forming a nerd ISIS, beating and raping their way through any women who dare to set foot in ‘their’ industry. The writers didn’t forget to throw a few shout-outs to the gaming media either. With such steamrolling coverage from the mainstream news it requires much more work on the part of neutral outsiders to understand the situation, and in most cases, has probably led to an acceptance of the narrative and moving on with others.

This one-sided shutting off of debate has led to a rhetorical stalemate. Both sides stick to their own talking points, the Antis still parroting the ‘war on women’ angle and Gamergaters calling for better ethics practices, transparency and listening to all viewpoints (note, not both, because there are several). The heavy-handed tactics of the Antis has not had the effect of killing Gamergate. Quite the opposite, it has acted to steel the resolve. Many commenters attribute this to the fact that Gamergate is made up of gamers, who are notorious for gritting their teeth, trying again, grinding at it and refusing defeat. The revolt continues and is slowly morphing into more of an errant watchdog group. Meanwhile, the Anti camp, having buttoned down all hatches, is getting increasingly paranoid, attributing almost any event they don’t like to the Gamergate bogeyman. Two recent events that bring this to the fore are the immediate labelling of the Sad Puppies slate at the Sci-fi/Fantasy Hugo Awards as a Gamergate sub-section and the expulsion of a pro-Gamergate feminist culture-collective from a comics convention in Calgary. The Sad Puppies is a group dedicated to diversifying the ideas and themes in sci-fi/fantasy writing, whatever quadrant of the political compass they fit on. It has existed for over three years, far longer than Gamergate. The Honey Badger Brigade, thrown out of Calgary Expo for not altogether tangible reasons, were about bringing more women and ethnic and sexual minorities into ‘geek culture’. Being openly pro-Gamergate, they could not be allowed as they were clearly straight, white males looking for a fight. Both these events show how taking themselves out of any debate on the issues, the anti side has whipped itself into a panic, which both hurts their coordination and destroys any legitimacy of their arguments to outsiders.

Not addressing the actual issues of Gamergate has also led to the ruin of the Antis’ websites and any air of legitimacy for the journalists. At the time of writing, Kotaku has lost all advertisers on its site, with the exception of insidious ‘sponsored posts’ hidden in among its articles. Website viewership has dropped dramatically. Once prominent writers have been shunted off to run smaller blogs where they can do less damage. Journalists are ‘taking breaks’ from the industry. In effect, the Antis have burned themselves out with their fabricated narrative.

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Don’t Believe the Hype

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