Obligatory #gamergate post

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

ampp3d on #gamergate

Seriously abbreviated version of the #gamergate mess:

A bunch of predominantly male gamers are using “concerns about the ethics of games journalism” as a shield for a series of deeply misogynistic attacks on prominent women developers, critics and even celebrities.

Does game journalism have ethics problems? Yes. Are they any worse than those over other branches of journalism? No.

However – we in the media might be guilty of one thing: giving the #gamergate supporters too much publicity. As Ryan Cooper points out:

[…} there aren’t that many committed Gamergaters, a few hundred at most. They openly boast of using sock-puppet accounts and bots to give the illusion of strength.

It’s not quite as clear-cut as he makes it sound – there are many more people than that who define themselves as in support of #gamergate – but that’s certainly about the size of the core. Indeed, it’s the mainstream media’s lack of understanding of sock puppetry and non-Facebook and Twitter social tools that mean that many mainstream press accounts don’t really understand the underlying dynamic of the movement.

The end of the gamer

I suspect that lurking under this is the fact that “gamer” is becoming meaningless as a term. Would you describe yourself as a “televisioner” or a “cinemaer”? No – because these are mainstream activities, and you actually have to look to sub-genres to find some sense of identity from them. Think “horror movie buff” or “historical drama fan”. Gaming is reaching the same point. The number of people NOT playing some form of digital game is rapidly becoming vanishingly small. There will always be some – just as there are those who don’t watch TV. But not many.

It can be profoundly unsettling to have something you hang your identity on assimilated by the mainstream – that’s at the root of people in their 20s complaining that bands have “sold out” when they become popular.

Dealing with shifting identity is part of being an adult, though. And no sense of threat justifies this sort of behaviour.

tl;dr – #gamergate in two sentences.

  • Games journalism is no better or worse than most journalism in its ethics
  • None of this justifies your insecure misogyny
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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.