DeconstructionCraft: GamerGate and Malcontents

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In last week’s DeoncstructionCraft, Steve covered the recent maelstrom of game journalism and GamerGate in detail, and this week, I will be discussing topics that have some relation to Steve’s work by trying to offer a different perspective on the issue. To be forthcoming, I am not as well-informed on the issue as Steve is, but this article will focus on impact rather than substance in order to make claims about the current nature and atmosphere of gaming, gamers, and game journalism.

One of the reasons why I have not paid close attention to the GamerGate issue is because, prima facie, it appears simply to be sensationalist journalism. Many of the issues revolve around the practices, ethical or not, of the journalists, sex for publicity, and the nature of journalism as it approaches and affects gaming. As gaming becomes geometrically more advanced as a method of storytelling, it is counterproductive for journalism to focus so single-mindedly on these issues. Rather, there is a plethora of scholarly articles that contain opinions, perspectives, and research that could do great things towards focusing the industry and separating gaming from negative stigma that other journalist venues have placed it into. Instead, GamerGate has become the perfect example that unethical journalists outside of the gaming sphere need to further expound on and exemplify gaming as a terrible thing populated by unscrupulous individuals. This is not to claim that GamerGate should be completely ignored, but the focus of the coverage should lie as predominantly as possible on the facts. Journalists should avoid faulty or unprovable information, gamers should behave as human beings, and everyone, no matter their stance or beliefs, should approach this topic with some semblance of intelligent discourse. The fact that a multitude of popular game journalist sources have focused, at least recently, so closely on GamerGate has had negative results for gaming, and this is because gaming and gamers has been forced into a place it should not be. Coverage of GamerGate has not improved the situation in gaming; rather, it has worsened it. Scholarly articles and work from informed and intelligent people has been further ignored, as it was already considered unimportant by journalists before GamerGate, and placed so far outside of conversation that gamers and game writers suffer for it. Coverage of GamerGate has focused attention even more closely on the negative aspects of gaming, real or imagined, and pushes valuable writers and their works further outside of recognition.

This is tragic. Gaming, as DeconstructionCraft has covered in previous articles, is the most advanced, thorough, and explorative method of storytelling that mankind currently has. Anyone currently in a college that has access to a scholarly article search engine can pull up a sizeable list of articles that approach gaming in such an intelligent way that it seems asinine for game journalist to make a career out of game sensationalism. Gamers of years past struggled daily to get videogames taken seriously, and rather than continue that struggle, game journalism would rather set gamers back than further the cause that gaming should be taken seriously. Gaming, thanks to improper coverage of the GamerGate issue, has reverted to the ignorant opinions of who gamers are and what they struggle to achieve. Game production companies will now have to consider coverage and a reputation similar to GamerGate rather than using their games to explore themes, concepts, and storytelling in a way that no other venue can. This is supremely detrimental to gaming, and gamers will suffer repercussions that are not readily apparent at the moment. Should we accept this situation, then it becomes obvious that there is an overwhelming necessity for the craft to change. Gamers must improve their positions from which they argue, and rather than make death/rape threats, they must treat each article scholarly. This, in turn, will force anyone who writes scholarly on games to improve their own work, and should this occur, articles endemic with logical fallacies, will be refuted not through ad hominem or ad baculum attacks, but through reason. This will positively impact the way game production companies approach their work as well. Production companies will be forced to focus on scholarly aspects of gaming in addition to pure entertainment, and games, therefore, will improve in quality of experience. As games improve in the areas and facets that are actually important—narrative, character development, and message—then scholarly writing on video games will increase accordingly. The cycle then becomes positively reinforced, and each aspect of gaming contributes to the constructive, progressive, and optimistic growth of each of the other elements. Hypothetically, the situation surrounding games, gaming, and gamers then becomes much more intelligent and respectable than any other form of journalism and its content. Gaming, then, becomes the exemplar to which other mediums aspire to. Game designers become the most advanced storytellers of our era, game journalists become the most expert at their craft, and scholarly writers become some of the best writers and researchers of any genre.

Contrarily, we could all continue the current path. Gamers could continue to make death and rape threats that force game journalists, scholarly writers, and game designers into a pigeonhole from which they cannot escape lest ignorance and threats force them back into a place that furthers no one and no thing in gaming. Game journalists could continue to make a career out of sensationalism, and rather than gamers being exposed to relevant and revolutionary information, journalists could make a career out of exposing gamers, against their will, to topics such as who slept with who and ignore important information about games. Gamers would, then, be forced into an imposed ignorance about the nature of the gaming world since they would be fed information of only one type: bad journalism. Even worse, scholarly writers who approach games, gaming, and gamers from an objective and productive standpoint would continue to be ignored, but their situation would become worse as the focus shifted further and further away from real knowledge about the gaming world. Gaming, in this scenario, becomes the modern version of the Dark Ages.

However, this is not to claim that coverage of GamerGate and anyone, even those tangentially or marginally, involved is not worth some awareness. Gaming requires diversity, and the fact that there is such a backlash against it is symbolic and indicative of two things. First, gamers must cultivate themselves as individuals before they can make cogent and sound arguments about gaming and game culture. Ignorance about gaming is unacceptable if we are to advance the medium and make others, people outside of gaming, take the medium seriously. Threats of rape and murder by a section of the gaming population place all gamers, by association, in a situation that is untenable. Despite the illogicality of applying definitions in a generalized manner simply because there is a fraction, however small, of the population that holds an improper position, journalism, particularly game journalists, will latch onto that position and present it as if it were a popular opinion as we have seen with the GamerGate issue. These issues, though, need to be confronted in a multifaceted and investigative manner, but there needs to be some level of credibility lest it all be for naught. If all investigations of morality in game journalism are questionable, then there can never be certainty in terms of the authenticity or accuracy of an article. In this state, then, there can be no certainty amongst gamers who are also readers of these journalist venues, and this leads to an atmosphere of discontent and distrust. In these conditions, no one succeeds in a positive manner.

To remedy this, I will do my best in subsequent articles to explain, from my perspective, how gaming, gamers, games, and game journalism should advance. I hope there are many people who agree and disagree with me so as to further intelligent conversation on the topic which will, in turn, become exemplary for the craft as a whole.

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