Friday, September 5, 2014

GamerGate: Tempest In A Teapot

I've followed the GamerGate "scandal" for a few weeks now.  At the risk of besmirching the name of a fine Minmatar battleship, I think the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot.  Although the participants would disagree.  For a rundown on the whole scandal, please read Erik Kain's excellent piece published on Forbes yesterday, "GamerGate: A Closer Look At The Controversy Sweeping Video Games."  For those who don't want to take the time, here are some points to take away:

"First, we have a young industry that began, like so many others, as a male-driven industry on both the producer and consumer side now experiencing growth pains. The media is even younger than the industry itself and it’s experiencing growth pains, too. These growth pains have resulted in some raw, open wounds that fester whenever controversy erupts, and risk being infected further by politicized forces that care less about video games and more about political agendas. (All of this is a distraction from the real business of reporting on the video game industry and critiquing video games, though I think there is plenty of room for cultural commentary with political slants here as well, just like in TV, film, etc.)

"Second, we have deep mistrust between consumers and the video game industry thanks to years of bad DRM and other poor business practices. That mistrust is now being cast on the press that’s supposed to be covering the industry to protect the consumer. Consumers (gamers) have increasingly viewed the press as 'in bed' with the industry rather than working for consumers. This is enforced by stories of chummy developers and journalists, lavish AAA publisher-thrown parties, high-scoring games that aren’t particularly good, and so forth.

"Finally, we have a video game press with a largely left-leaning political bias in some ways alienating itself from much of its readership. This seeps into the first two problems and complicates the matter, but isn’t in and of itself an invalid complaint. If the video game press were deeply conservative, you’d have a lot of left-leaning voices decrying it as well. The tenor of the discussion has become so 'us vs. them' at this point, that many gamers simply feel unrepresented and condescended."
I've only spent 15 hours or so researching and reading about the topic, but in that extremely brief time I've come to one conclusion: who cares?  The matter is about as important as mass-based ejection in wormhole space in EVE Online.  Extremely important to those involved, but on the scale of the millions that play video games on planet Earth, not very significant at all.

Excuse me if I ignore 4chan, because that's my policy on dealing with 4chan if at all possible.  That was reinforced with this whole "scandal".  The only thing I can say is that they've appeared to have gotten better, at least in projecting a more positive image upon an unsuspecting audience. 

As for the "social justice warrior side", are these people I should really worry about?  I'd never heard of any of these people before.  After what I learned doing my research, I wish I'd never heard of them.  That goes for the indie game developer involved as well as the games journalists who wrote the "Gamers Are Dead" pieces.

I think I need to say this about the games journalists in question.  Not only have I never heard of these people before, but for the most part they write for gaming sites that I only visit if it comes up on a Google search.  As for the quality of those sites, if I have a choice between any of those sites and PC Gamer, Eurogamer, or Massively, I don't use the sites that published the "Gamers Are Dead" articles.  Sites like Gamasutra, Polygon, and Kotaku always seemed sketchy to me, so I'm glad to see my judgement vindicated.

So what we have is a scandal a game developer who make games I'll never play and the relationship with writers whose work I never read on sites I rarely visit.  The group that really pushed the story, 4chan, is one I try to avoid if humanly possible.  Then I think about the tens of millions of people who play video games.  Do they even care?  I highly doubt it.

As the title of the post states, the whole GamerGate scandal is a tempest in a teapot.  Unless the scandal grows way beyond where it should (and that is a real possibility), I'm done with this topic.

6 comments:

  1. I was going to say something, but it honestly isn't worth the effort to craft the comment.

    I do visit Polygon regularly, but mostly because they have a special section devoted to Pokemon. Nintendo probably paid them for that, and half of what they print is press release grade stuff I could get from the Nintendo site, but they have an RSS feed unlike Nintendo, so there is a value add for me.

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  2. Care about wormhole mass spawns. Care, damn you! Oh fine, nevermind.

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  3. I agree... Gaming journalism overall is a joke. I wouldn't even call it journalism. Its entirely opinioned based. In this day of age with demos, twitch streamers, and trusted bloggers, most consumers can make a judgment without referring to a paid off writer. Video games aren't dead. "Gaming journalism" is dead.

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  4. "I was going to say something, but it honestly isn't worth the effort to craft the comment."

    Thus proving you are way smarter than I.

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  5. Gaming is dead......isn't twitch the 3rd most viewed site on the internet? Guess they missed that part

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  6. Couldn't agree more. Such an incredibly invented dramafest over something nobody should care about all that much: gaming journalism. Certainly social justice as it in anyway tangentially relates to gaming. The only thing I've cared about regarding this bullshit is the volume of retweets that have filled my board.
    BC wanted to talk about this one night and I've been successful thus far in dissuading him since I know it will just degenerate into "all of these people on both sides are sperglords of the highest order."

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