Hi, this is kind of.. like general small-p political stuff so feel free to skip it if you’re not interested!
Well, one more post related to all the recent mess becase it’s been weighing heavily on my mind this week. I’ll be talking about the G-word hashtag movement itself over the weekend on the Contains Moderate Peril podcast (thanks for the invite, Roger!) along with some other folks, and you should listen in if you’re interested.
Anyway. I’ve always considered myself to be kind of a moderate when it came to interpersonal politics, but I’m having a hard time knowing where being moderate fits in to the current climate in gaming.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I’ve called myself a feminist since I was 10 and I vote with vigour to defend the “socialism” parts of Canada’s social democracy, but I’ve also always believed that as long as two people held similar tenants of being excellent to each other, you didn’t have to sweat the small stuff.
I would never intentionally tell another woman how she should or shouldn’t talk about sexism, for example, but being routinely confrontational about it made me uncomfortable and wasn’t something I enjoyed in my environment. (Did any of you post on the wow-ladies Live Journal back in the day? Oh man, the fights.) I really liked Cuppy’s post back in January about finding more positivity in social justice, and it resonated strongly with my own attitude.
And game journalism, jeeze. You’ll have to take my word for it, but I have at least two fully written screeds against game journalism in my drafts that I never posted because they just seemed too mean and too “inside baseball”. One from June is titled “Game Journalism is Not Worth Saving” and talks about how much more I value what my fellow unpaid bloggers say than most publications. I actually published one post about how I don’t think “journalism” is the right word for what we have in gaming now, while back in 2012 I wrote that many journalists were being uncool when they called gamers entitled for not liking the ending of Mass Effect 3. I told vaunted writer Leigh Alexander that she was being an “elitist jerk” in a conversation on Twitter a few years ago, because she was.
And man, do not get me started on the game development industry. I guess I don’t really even have to start because if you’ve been reading this site with any regularity you already know some of my problems with it. I dislike money-grubbing DLC, and free-to-play, and I still don’t understand how people can be devoted to Blizzard after being left for over a year of content drought.
My favorite professional game journalist was Jenn Frank, winner of the 2013 Games Journalism Prize. I enjoyed her articles mostly because I think she’s a brilliant writer. But also I really appreciated her moderate attitude towards things. She was a force to be reckoned with on Twitter during the Dead Island Boob Statue debacle, but also counseled calm discussion during one of those (many) moments when Mike from Penny Arcade said something horrible. Frank wrote that she was a teenage sexist, and although I called myself a feminist I was too in many ways.
(A thing that young Liore said on many occasions: “I just don’t like other women. They’re boring, and men get to do all the fun stuff anyway.”)
I say that Jenn Frank was my favorite games journalist because on Wednesday night she was harassed by g-word hashtag people to the point where after nine years she quit the industry. But it’s not enough that she promised to never write about games again. No, she’s been driven out of every aspect of a hobby she loved.
@mikesacco What's saddest is, I just can't talk about video games anymore. It's toxic. Even mentioning one opens you up. I can't take it.
— Just Jenn! (Frank) (@jennatar) September 5, 2014
There have been multiple journalists who have quit writing about games over the past few weeks, all of them women, and it’s a damn shame about them all but it hurt me to see Frank quit. She was a moderate voice, someone who advocated being kind to everyone, hardcore gamer and casual dabbler, women and people who have problems with women.
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?
How can I keep enjoying games when such gross things are done to “protect” them, even if it is a minority?
These are rhetorical questions, of course. But right now I don’t know how to bridge this gap, and instead of coming closer together I just feel pushed into being more and more radical in my beliefs, because I fundamentally cannot in good conscience ally on even the tiniest issues with the horrible people who do these horrible things in their name.
So where do we go from here?
For you fortunate souls who don’t know what “Gamergate” is, beyond a very poorly formed word, it is a current huge drama storm in the gaming community that involves accusations of corruption in games journalism, a great deal of trolling, and our old friend straight up misogyny. As someone who loves games, loves media analysis, and has done a lot of reading about feminism this would initially seem to be a subject that I would love to write about. So why haven’t I?
It’s because I am afraid.
As a woman who has public opinions about video games, even on my very tiny scale, watching the events of the last few weeks unfold has been, frankly, brutal. I have seen high-profile women and their families have to leave their homes because of threats that specifically mention personal addresses. I have seen women become targets of account hacking, right down to their pizzeria account. I’ve seen threats of assault and personal injury and horrible, horrible things.
I’ve seen what happens when a woman in particular mentions a hashtag or a key word on Twitter, and the anonymous opinion squad that immediately shows up to call them c****. I’ve seen links to porn of these women drawn by their detractors. I’ve seen women who even have a vague opinion be written up in lists of people who should have their livelihoods ruined. In the last few weeks I’ve seen women literally be hounded out of the game industry and off of social media.
A couple of years ago when I wrote for RIFT Junkies I earned a hater. For six weeks this fellow would be the first comment on any post I wrote, calling me a stupid bitch. He was never quite clear on why he hated me, just some mishmash of liking RIFT and having the temerity to be overweight and on the internet. The experience was so tiny compared to what I’m seeing happening right now, and yet it really bothered me. Admittedly I am a little sensitive, but I can’t even imagine dealing with something more vitriolic or on a larger scale.
There are a ton of brave men and women right now who have a bigger audience than I do, who speak more boldly on this subject than I ever will, and who take a lot of shit about it.
As for me, at some point a couple of weeks ago I literally became scared of stating an opinion about video games. I realized that there is no escape. You can never be temperate enough, talented enough, logical enough, kind enough to avoid the train of angry gamer mob justice when it spots you on the tracks.
Together they describe elements of their perfect video game, share the scariest moment they’ve ever had while playing, and coo over crushes on game characters. What games have our favorite music? What was the last game we finished? And much more!
We also talk about what being a “gamer” means, and whether it’s a label we want for ourselves. Should people who feel alienated from gamer culture still use the word in the hopes of making it more friendly? Elly thinks so, but Liore and Aro aren’t so sure.
Also Liore gets scared by the Silent Hills teaser! Elly tells a story about naked murder! Aro really loves Peggle!
Like to watch? This podcast has a livestreamed video version:
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* The Gamer Questionnaire on Cannot Be Tamed.
* Jesse Cox and friends get drunk and play P.T. aka the Silent Hills teaser.
* Play Zuma for free online!
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
If you haven’t noticed yet, as of Sunday I gave up on Blaugust. I was going to have to stop early this week anyway because of a vacation, but I just kind of ran out of steam. Thanks to Belghast for setting up the whole event! Now let’s never post again.
No, seriously, I posted every day for three weeks which is something I didn’t think I could do, and even more importantly I think I wrote some legit good posts during that time. Writing every day also let me talk more about just playing games, which is fun, plus I had time for some non-game content. I will very very happily go back to my 3-ish days a week schedule now, but not worrying so much about making Serious Important posts is a good lesson.
Running out of Steam on Sunday means I missed the This Week in Liore post, so allow me to summarize:
* A couple of weeks ago I said I started watching Burn Notice and it was terrible but I take it all back now because I’m addicted to the show. The plots are still.. ennh, not that great, but the acting and character writing is phenomenal and I totally have a crush on main spy dude Michael Westen and his great facial expressions.
Someone figured out exactly how to trigger the ending of the Silent Hills teaser. Worth watching just for the detailed puzzles!
Do you like food? Have you visited 8bit Kitchen yet? I haven’t even posted lately because of all the great bloggers who are stepping in with their own posts, whether it’s writing about a favorite picnic spot, or sharing delicious recipes, or Murf recording himself drinking an aloe vera mango beverage thing. It’s just really neat to see folks all over the world talk about what they like to eat and drink. Check it out, and follow 8BK on Twitter.
Finally, thanks to the generosity of folks at ArenaNet, I am giving away a copy of Guild Wars 2 Digital Deluxe version to an Extra Life donator! I also have 3 codes for 400 gems for the in-game store. Also we’re almost halfway to the 2014 donation goal! Please consider donating — even $5 will help a lot, and all money goes to the Children’s Hospital of BC.
It’s 11:49pm so this totally counts for Blaugust. Also, just like two weeks ago, it’s the last minute and you get MORE SCREENSHOTS. I am truly terrible at doing anything on Saturday.
Vanilla RIFT remains my favorite MMO ever. One of the wonderful things about it was the flexible costume and dye system. (Nowadays too many costume pieces are cash only for my taste.) These are some of my favorite outfits for my cleric Mercredi:
After you finish the legendary cloak quest in Mists of Pandaria you get to see a big hologram of your character. I really liked the whole questline, even if it was a looot of LFR. I got about halfway through getting a second cloak for my alt, but at the end of the day it wasn’t worth staying subbed just for that.
That being said, legendaries are nice but sometimes it’s all about the little moments.
One of the most fun things about TERA was the totally ridiculous mob design. What am I killing here? Is that a baby chicken wearing a large hat and riding an armored toad?
Glitch was not the kind of game that I would play every day, but I really liked it nonetheless. It was sweet and fun and there will probably never be anything quite like it again.