I took a break from writing for a while, my last piece was being an interview Liana Kerzner. The result of that huge conversation we had is something I will forever be proud of as it got a lot of attention and praise, it could even go down as my best piece ever but only time will tell I suppose. After, I attempted to try and find something else to write about, something that really spoke to me as a writer but the amount of hostility in the gamesphere lately, left me feeling very depressed and I left my laptop alone for a while. This week I finally turned my laptop on to write again, not as a writer for a website, but as a life-long gamer who was never sexist or racist, and to wonder out loud “what the hell happened to my hobby?”
The first thing that really annoyed me was back in January; at the time I chose to say little about it as I was a fan of Angry Joe. Angry Joe’s Top Ten Gaming Controversies List hit Youtube and started to make waves. We all knew Gamergate was going to be number one, there was simply nothing else that rivaled it. Joe tackled the issue with his usual style but I found what he had to say insulting, stupid and frankly antagonizing. Now, I am pro Gamergate and I will always be, I showed my support to it after reading those horrible articles released by major press outlets before I started writing for this site and for him to come along and suggest that most people hadn’t even read them disappointed me so much I wondered why I still watched his channel at this point. He also glossed over so many points before coming to the great line that “it needs to stop!” but offered no way of making this so. According to him, he had pissed off both sides of pro and anti over his approach and I was not surprised either, he (sorry for this next line) came in swinging like a wrecking ball (I know, I know) and had a lot of people savage him on Twitter for his attitude to the whole thing and I didn’t blame anyone who did so for that, if his channel lost any subscribers I would think it served him right.
That annoyed the hell out of me and coupled with some other stuff that I had had to deal with, I felt very depressed and gave a lot of thought to just quitting gaming and anything that went along with it. I wiped my Twitter account and even gave up writing about it as thanks, in large part to the gaming press and people like Wu, Harper, Sarkeesian and McIntosh. The world of gaming has become such a hostile place. I would mention the SVU episode about now, but it got more attention than it deserved and I do not want to give it anymore, besides Ship2Block20 has already covered it plenty.
During all this, along came Mark Kern. A developer behind such hits as Diablo 2, Star Craft and the CEO of MEK Entertainment, the fighting had gotten too much for him as an observer and he took the noble step of getting involved by creating a petition that not only accused the likes of Polygon and Kotaku of Yellow Journalism, but called upon them to help heal the rift and fix the damage they have done. When I first saw this I was full of doubt as I feared that the situation was too far gone at this point but I later took a leap of faith and signed it. Ken Levine joined Kern in his desire to put a stop to the fighting and both of them were opened up to a large amount of criticism on the subject, and whilst Kotaku responded with silence on the matter, Ben Kuchera responded with utter hostility towards him whilst still hiding behind the block bot, of course. VG247.com responded with an article that came across as a threat (which would later be denied), warning people not to sign it and denying Kern the chance to respond to it on their site. More fighting continued over this, with Total Biscuit getting involved at one point by defending Kern and Levine, but had to put up with Leigh Alexander branding him “Total Chode” but things at one point seemed to be settling down and I had some hope of Kern’s petition actually doing some good, at the time of writing it has 3568 supporters and I had hopes that something could be done. What I forgot though was that some people are just too entrenched in their beliefs, they will never change. But little did I know the worst was to come.
As you can see from above, Tim Schafer, whilst giving a speech at the Game Developer’s Choice Awards, made a joke. The "joke". I first saw mention of it on my Twitter and sure enough I saw a lot of people very angry at him for it. These people were mostly women and people of many different races and back grounds and the anger from them was flowing strongly. I looked on the whole situation with the same feelings I do as I write this now, utter sadness, as did people like Kern, who was left speechless by what Schafer had said. It now seems to me that this hostile situation is going to be going for a long time and it also seems there are people out there who want it to. It must be remembered that Feminist Frequency received over $400,000 in donations last year, Brianna Wu has a Patreon bringing in around $3500 a month and even Zoe Quinn’s Patreon is still going strong at around $4000 a month and she apparently went back packing around Europe last year. I wonder how that was funded. Randi Harper cannot be forgotten here either. The creator of the block bot also has a Patreon of just over $2500 a month which she is doing full time now after being fired from her job, the reasons of which are unknown but here I will point out that I will not dwell on her much more, as my colleagues on this site, Stephanie Greene as written a series of good articles on the subject and I invite you to read them.
My point is that these people have made a lot of money from this and as long as Gamergate continues, they will keep doing so. Those who donate to these people must stop and ask themselves what exactly they are funding and why as it reminds me of that saying “a fool and his money are soon parted”. If there are Patreons out there that support an individual making content for YouTube or to help keep a good website going then I am all for that as they will always offer regular results of either more content or an improvement of it, I am unsure if Brianna Wu has even started development on another game yet but pictures of a motor bike she had just paid off made a lot of people wonder how she was using her donated money. One Patreon that caught my attention lately was one for The Investigamer, a Youtuber who had been made homeless after some unfortunate family problems and was trying to get back on his feet, that is a Patreon worth funding in my humble opinion as I believe nobody should suffer like that in this day and age, and his guest video on The Amazing Atheist’s channel on Gamergate is one of the best ones out there. Maybe I’ll even fund that one, and that’s a first for me.
I find myself trying to constantly remember the good that has come from all this and thankfully there are some shining examples in the months of darkness. Bob Chipman either left or was fired from The Escapist (he has a Patreon, funny enough) and Brandon Morse and Elizabeth Finnegan (@lizzyf620) have been taken on as new writers. Liana Kerzner will also writing pieces for the site as well as continuing her work on metaleater.com. This to me is a major positive and I wish the website well with all their future efforts as it shown that the site has made major efforts to reform itself after Gamergate exploded.
Leigh Alexander has left Gamasutra and is now working on the website offworld.com with the company BoingBoing but after I thought about this numerous times I found myself unable to really care about it that much. Her article, “Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. Gamers’ are over” was the worst of the August 28th articles and to this day it is a very spiteful and hurtful piece of writing. The fact that she now has a smaller platform to shout from, I see as a positive and can only wonder if she left, or was fired from Gamasutra over either the trouble that article caused or the way she conducted herself publicly. Who knows, maybe the megaphone finally ran out of batteries.
Many found joy in the fact that basedgamer.com was successfully funded after it looked like the Indigogo campaign nearly failed but no results have been seen of this yet and April is not far off, but I will remain interested to see how it develops. Many are also waiting to see the finished Sarkeesian Effect documentary from Jordan Owen and Davis Aurini, but a very public falling out between the two has caused a lot of concern for fans and backers alike.
I still look at the last seven months and wonder just what the hell happened to my hobby, to the world of gaming. It was a place for people to relax and enjoy themselves, you could forget about a lot of life’s worries and just cut it loose with a controller and some friends for a few hours but suddenly some people came into the mix and decided change was needed but didn’t expect gamers to defend themselves as strongly as they did and they pushed back, hard. Gamergate was born as a result of all this. I find myself wishing that it could just stop and we could go back to how thing were, but I know deep down it’s not going to happen like that. It is also amusing to me that many of the people we took issue with, like Alexander, Sarkesian, Kuchera and now even Schafer all publicly throw stones at those of us that took a stand whilst hiding behind the block bot and using it as a shield. I cannot help but smile at the irony of that. As for Schafer and the “joke” he made, I don’t think he realize just how much damage he did with it, I do think it may bite him in the ass later on though. For now, I’ll finish this by leaving you with a quote on the matter by the Youtuber Mundane Matt, who summed it up quite nicely:
“Sadly, the Tim Schafer I grew up with, Grimm Fandango, Psychonauts… hell, even Brutal Ledgend, that mother fucker is dead, and good riddance”.