A Guide to Ending “Gamers”, etc

Usually I post this stuff more quickly on here.

I wrote a blog over at Gamasutra called A Guide to Ending “Gamers” (where it’s become a Featured Post, always a nice pat-on-the-back). I was pretty floored by how much attention it got (mostly positive, I think… so that’s cool). Kris Ligman was kind enough to include it in This Week in Videogame Blogging, too.

Ultimately, August 2014 was really ugly.

First, I was horrified at what was going on in Ferguson. Not being there and not being anywhere close to an expert on the types of things that were happening (or what to say about them), I mostly just looked on in shock as new abuses came to light on Twitter. I tried to signal-boost folks here and there. I didn’t comment much.

Then some different things came up that are more within my realm of knowledge, if I have any knowledge whatsoever: videogames are experiencing some really intense controversy right now. You can find some of the details in TWiVB above.

Plenty of self-identifying “gamers” have strongly disagreed with my “guide”. Often, they twist my words to fit what they wish I’d said (so I’m easier for them to roll their eyes at). Sometimes, they deliberately ignore the context of my post, despite my first sentence providing sources that contextualize what I mean by “ending ‘gamers'”.

Those people were easy enough to deal with, not that it didn’t become kind of a time sink. When people aren’t actually criticizing what you *did* say in a situation, it’s not too difficult to calmly point that out and move on. And even when people weren’t misconstruing my words, I could often understand that their objections were either rooted in values I don’t share, or that they were actually proving me right.

What I had a really hard time dealing with, however, was a Facebook friend becoming part of this new, offensively misguided, selectively critical typhoon of misogyny done in the name of “journalistic ethics/standards/integrity” in games.

I don’t want to encourage people to seek out this truther nonsense and its accompanying violations of someone’s privacy (someone who I care about), but I’ve now lost an acquaintance over it.

This woman was one of the first people I met at UB as an undergrad, and we’d been Facebook friends since around the first week of classes. However, for me, Facebook is mostly just used a way to text my wife and some friends for free… I have probably dozens of friend requests piled up waiting for my response, and I kind of just ignore them because I don’t do much with Facebook. My Facebook friends are mostly people who I met when I cared about paying attention to Facebook. Ultimately, folks who want to “internet” with me can find me on Twitter (and my FB posts are 99.9% automatic posts from my Twitter feed).

So, even though this woman and I have never been especially close and my investment in Facebook is pretty low, I was awake from 1 AM to 4 AM arguing in a regrettably bitter comment thread.

I’m finding it difficult to briefly and tastefully summarize the matter this morning, and I’ve spent too much of my time engaging with this issue already.

My view is that conservative “gamers” are suddenly getting very concerned with abstract notions of journalistic integrity in games, now that videogames are starting to become different from what they’ve been for much of their history.

Where were these people when Giant Bomb was drinking with Capcom employees (some of whom are now even more influential in the industry) on (Giant Bomb-published) video, in connection to a commercial game back in 2008? This may be one of the more ill-advised and extreme cases of Giant Bomb being inappropriate with developers/publishers, but it’s a trend that exists throughout the entirety of what Giant Bomb has done. I can’t say I approve of it, but I’m personally not even out to demonize this and Giant Bomb has a special place in my heart (even if their recent editorial hire has disappointed me for more than one reason). I have vanishingly little interest in defending “games journalism”, but people conveniently kept quiet about this obvious, continued fraternization. That is, until women dared to make free games about mental health.

People taking laughably unprofessional YouTube videos or annotated images as proof of anything while being offensively skeptical of other people’s (primarily women’s) claims of harassment and mistrustful of game outlets’ integrity… that’s all very confusing, frustrating, and deeply saddening to me. While I mostly get where people are coming from when they disagree with my “guide”, this fundamentally flawed campaign being advanced by misogynistic psuedo-gumshoes baffles me and leaves me less able to believe in humanity’s basic goodness (which I do firmly believe in… it’s just more difficult when people reject their inherent capacity for kindness so passionately).

So I’m taking a break from Twitter for a week to try to regain my composure. I just can’t keep looking at this unabashed ignorance. More importantly, I really need to stay prepared for my classes.

I do care about games, a lot. That’s why I’m working towards a PhD in what could easily be the best game studies program in the world (I certainly think it is).

But I don’t want to be a “gamer” and I want the tribalistic nonsense to go away.