Thursday, 23 October 2014

Even if you don't game

This week the wonderful Felicia Day wrote a blog post about her personal feelings towards #gamergate. Now this thing has been going on for weeks and it shows no sign of stopping. I've had this blog post going round my head since I first heard about it and I guess I felt I should write it down.

I'm not a gamer. Once upon a time I might have been. I was one of the guys in my group of friends and as such spent a lot of time around video games. But a combination of lack of interest and a certain amount of not being allowed to join in by the guys meant it just never sank deep into my soul. Then I found knitting and that killed any possibility of me being a gamer. You can't game and knit at the same time ^_^ But, back in the day, I did like playing a few games. I liked fighting games most of all. Tekken was my favourite but I also loved Soul Caliber and Bushido Blade too. I also had a soft spot for Sonic and this weird platform game called Bubsy the Bobcat. It was bizarre. One of my fondest memories after my parents split up was my Dad and me going to our local video/game rental spot and renting out Streets of Rage. It took us forever to finish that sucker but we had a great time. I think that's where I learnt to swear at games hehehe. Another memory is of being at the local arcade with the boys. They were playing some zombie shooter and I was playing Tekken. They finished before me and came to hover while I finished. I was, at the time, kicking ass. I remember one of the guys commenting to my then boyfriend that I was really good. He sounded ridiculously surprised.

So, despite all that, I am not a gamer. I am not up to date on the latest releases. I have found nothing that would pull me away from my knitting. Occasionally I wish I had access to Tekken if only to make me feel better by kicking the crap out of something on a bad day. This is why I have been hesitant to speak at all about #gamergate. I almost feel I don't have the right. But I realised today that this is stupid. I totally have the right as does anyone with half a brain. Because #gamergate doesn't really seem to be about games.

Ostensibly it is about ethics in journalism. It's hard to sort out the beginnings of this debacle in all the crap that has followed but my understanding is it is a bunch of people who are annoyed at a game journalist and believe that she wrote biased reviews due to her having relations with some people in the industry. However it seems to have become a giant hate fest. The original jouranlist and a lot of her supporters have been threatened with death and rape. Their home addresses have been posted on the internet and people have quite literally forced them of their homes through fear. It doesn't stop there. The abuse and threatening behavior is leveled at a huge amount of women who have spoken up about #gamergate. Not so much towards the men who have offered there support.

This is no longer, if it ever was, about ethics. It is about power and fear. It is practically terrorism. (Yes I know that the strict definition of terrorism relates to political goals but it is the closest comparison I have) What boggles my mind more is that the same people who will claim it is about ethics will happily sit by and either issue these kind of threats or support those who do. How is that ethical? At what point does anyone, male or female, think that death and rape threats are the correct way to go about winning an argument? You will hear an outcry from many of the people on the side of the gamergaters saying that they do not support this reaction. But they are not fighting it either. They are not defending their point in a reasonable way. They are letting these violent misogynists be their voices.

This week my 13 year old daughter said in passing that she wished that Emma Watson would shut up about feminism. That she didn't see the point in it all. (This started quite the rant amongst the group we were with which I do not think she expected) I had to take a step back and try and look at it through her eyes, To her there is no point because she has not experienced it. It ranks alongside her believe that there is no need for Gay Pride parades because being gay is no different to being straight. And damn but I love her for these thoughts and beliefs. But I look at #gamergate and all the things like it that keep happening and all I can think is that it won't be long before she understands. It won't be long before she experiences her first bit of sexism. She is quite the nerd and already some of the boys she knows have raised doubts when she mentions Marvel. Fortunately she is quite vocal and has some epic opinions and is working on her knowledge like a good nerd. I sincerely hope that it is a long time before she understands why myself and my friends had such a reaction to her statement. I hope that she never has to fight these kind of battles.

And I hope, dear sweet bob I hope, that she is never threatened in any way simply because she is a woman.

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