For a while now I have seen the game playing communities of the world slowly coming to a simmer, like a pot of water that is over the stove, forgotten, but left to boil. Gamers for years have been dismissed as neck bearded man children basement dwellers, and now, sexist, racists, and even compared to Islamic terrorists by a press and media that fundamentally loathes them. But why? How did it all get this bad? Why are we now in one of the most divided hate filled venom pools playing Marco Polo with each other?
I'll tell you why, but before that, do remember that this is a quite essentially a first world problem, and there are some really messed up things going on in this world you should equally if not more so pay attention to.
10#. The Few, The Bad, The Blanket Statement.
This is the fundamental cycle that has started it all. The few do something so crass and terrible that it makes its way into a blanket statement of the identity. This in turn brings more people to the attention of it, causing a rift that just keeps growing and growing. This is what we have seen happen over the past 7 years to the point where people stuck in a weird and confused adolescence feel like everything is an attack on them, which leads in to......
9#. The Boy who cried, "THEY'RE ATTACKING US!"
With the Blanket Statements going on so long, and so many, Gamers have not learned when or how to pick their battles, instead battling every front that comes their way, no matter how insignificant it is. This not only exhausts its own part of the community but feeds the growing rift in the community. This is when Gamers start to be discredited in their opinions, as being trivial or non-existent, even if there is legitimacy to the argument. Then we have....
8#. Public Dismissal
The Public Dismissal happens in a couple of places, such as game press and media, outside media outlets, publishers and game developers, and even the opposite end of the fractured community. That is quite the intimidating bunch, but at this point is really indifferent and dismissive on any issues brought up to them. It's as if you are talking to someone about something you believe in only to be responded to with "Whatever", and when someone does this to you, you start to be.....
7#. Pissed Off.
Nothing like going in to a rage, with a group of people that think like you do. After all there is a group of people like you, how could you be wrong? This is what we see on both sides of #GamerGate , but more on that later. This is also better known as the mob mentality, something all humans are susceptible to, and this is where facts start to mean less and less, and identity comes into play. It is also where we see the games press who were never ready or mentally capable of handling fame mobbed with discontent and the most bitter parts of what fame brings. This eventually leads to one of the worst things...
6#. The press and media no longer identifies with its readers.
This is the turning point which tests the grit of the press and media. This is also where press and media can make mistakes with their community, so large, they will never recover from them, carrier wise and socially. This is also where they will be demanded to take a stand, something that 99% of media and press are not ready to do, leading to hasty choices leading down a slippery slope with their readers, which they already do not identify with. This also is so wide spread that it leads to something that if, on its own, would be benign, but coupled with their readers being pissed off makes....
5#. Press and Media's new identity inherently spiteful towards their readers.
The thing that ultimately put them in the position they are in now, is also the thing they hate. The feeling of being grateful for having a following, good or bad, is completely boxed in. I can't count how many times over the past 10 years of going to E3 that I have heard press and media totally shitting on their own readership. It's a popular topic of discussion, and one that is indulged way too often. It also makes it seem totally acceptable to do things they shouldn't.
Now up to this point you might be asking, "When is he going to get to the ethics part of this?" And I would have to say, "You're standing in it." Ethics is a large responsibility that press and media take up once they pick this profession. That encompass some very basic, but vast thing. With this, let me introduce the 3nd Rule of ethics as stated by the Society of Professional Journalists;
The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
– Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
– Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.
– Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
– Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
– Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.
Kind of an amazing list, wouldn't you say? We see all of these broken too often, and it starts to mold a mindset. This ultimately leaves press and media in a level of comfortably of saying something that has leads to the explosion that is GamerGate and that is...
4#. Attacking the Identity of your own followers.
You can never take this back once it happens, and you should, in good taste, never do it. Not only for the fact you open yourself to investigation on a level you are totally not ready for (we all have skeletons) but this is like causing an oil spill. You might be able to clean up most of the mess but the damage will always be there, and you are bound to bring groups of people you never intended to have in your shit, in your shit, so to speak. This leaks over into the already divided community leaving everyone quickly taking sides. As if two atoms just smashed together, there is now a smoldering crater quickly filling with toxicity where the original topic stood.
2nd Rule of ethics as stated by the Society of Professional Journalists;
Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
– Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
– Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
– Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.
– Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.
– Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
– Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.
– Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.
Now you will say the obvious, "GamerGate did not do this, some people broke all these things" And I will say that GamerGate is not only NOT a single person, which it is treated as, but NOT a group of Journalists who took the mantel of Press and Media. This amplifies the fire when you state "Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do" With all this we are left with...
3#. Exodus from Games Media.
Here we stand, the most active part of the gaming community, with the most emotional investment in it, totally and utterly disenfranchised with all major media sites, adopting boycotts, using ad blocker, with a taste for blood for anyone that now stands to ignore, ridicule, denounce, make fun of, or attempt to discredit. This is also where the crazies come out, and a more and more bad apples start showing up as the dishearten community sees that the Media and Press mock them instead of attempting to understand the problem. Left demanding change, more frustrated attacks from the fringe surface. This is the straw that breaks the community into....
2#. Two communities that will never truly be whole again.
Both sides so polluted with ideology, one feeling betrayed by people they felt would understand only to be mocked openly over and over while struggling to weed out the more bitter and unsavory elements while having no clear leader, the other, Smug with the idea of a higher ground and perceived ideas that truly does not exist, supported by media and press that wants to look like the moral good guy in the most pandering way possible, while shuffling their dirty laundry under the rug. This all comes to a precipice that is easy to succumb to and fall off...
Because this has boiled down to two major things that humans struggle with every day, Ethics and Identity, rationality and facts on both sides give way to passion. This leads to both sides filled anger and desire, in many different aspects. At each other, at the prominent members of the respective opposition, at their own position in all this, their own beliefs, and their own goals. Passion also leads both sides to drown the others most intelligent banter out with cries of misogyny and Social Justice Warrior respectively.
The major way that everyone can help, is by openly embrace the ability to have dialog in both groups and to denounce anyone who tries to silence opposition. Even if you whole heartedly disagree with that person, you respect the fact that they are willing to tell you their ideals, in the hopes that they, in turn, do the same and just maybe, both of you walk out of their a little smarter. Remember, a little love and compassion will go a long way.
And as always gaming enthusiasts, thanks for reading.