By ALEX FRUECHTENICHT
#GamerGate, as it is commonly referred to online, has been the talk of the video game industry for the second half of 2014. What started off as a bad relationship between creator and critic split the video game community in two.
The controversy has forced gamers to explore serious topics, ranging from sexism, feminism and the role of females in video games to journalistic ethics, reporters’ personal lives and interactions between critics and creators.
Let’s take a quick look at what #GamerGate is and how it started.
Last August, a writer from video game website Kotaku wrote a few blog posts about his ex-girlfriend Zoë Quinn, an independent video game designer. He claimed she cheated on him with several other video game journalists.
Angry gamers attacked Quinn online, saying she had done this to create publicity for her video game, Depression Quest.
Websites 4chan and Reddit buzzed with comments about how feminists were trying to ruin games by pointing out the roles of women.
Attacks spread to other women in the video game industry, including feminist blogger Anita Sarkeesian. She declined to give a speech at the University of Utah because of multiple death threats she received.
There’s another half to #GamerGate. Many movement members want to reform the video game news industry. They claim that the critics who review the games and the developers who make them are too close.
Kotaku researched the case with Quinn and the writer, and discovered there was no ethically questionable material in the pieces he wrote.
However, the website has since banned employees from donating to game designers on Kickstarter as a precautionary measure.
There is much more to #GamerGate, and I implore you to look online for the entire story.
As I see it, #GamerGate is divided into two camps: those who talk about the role of females in the video game industry and those who want changes in video game journalism.
Let’s tackle the first camp, feminists and video games.
Taking a stand is difficult for me because I can see both sides.
I agree that many women are misrepresented in video games.
There are far too many examples of females depicted as sex symbols instead of as in-depth characters.
Games like Lollipop Chainsaw, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball and Bayonetta show hyper-sexualized women in suggestive positions.
It doesn’t end with playable female characters. Think back to the original Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda, where players must rescue a damsel in distress.
“Maybe the princess shouldn’t be a damsel and she could save herself,” Sarkeesian said in an interview on “The Colbert Report.”
This is where the other half of me sits on the fence.
There are games where the princess does just this.
Games from Tomb Raider, The Last of Us and The Walking Dead Season Two all have strong-willed female protagonists who don’t need anybody to save them.
Even Princess Peach from the Super Mario franchise, the quintessential damsel in distress, had her own game. In Super Princess Peach, she rescues Mario from evil.
Ellie from The Last of Us, a 14-year-old girl immune to a deadly virus that turns people into zombie-esque monsters, is a perfect female role model.
A young gay teenager who feels lost and alone in the world makes a great character and represents someone who resonates with girls close to her age.
The camp debating ethics has more shades of gray. Journalism ethics are a complex, touchy subject. This is especially true with video game journalists because of their close relationships with developers.
#GamerGate targets video game journalists because of the apparent conflicts of interest. Many believe the developers are too close with the critics who review and report on their games.
Having personal relationships between journalists and developers can be a very bad thing.
How would you feel if a website you like and respect reviews a game and gives it a high score, only to learn later that the publishers paid for a higher score?
Unfortunately, people generalize all too often.
My idol is Colin Moriarty, a senior editor for the Playstation sector at Imagine Games Network.
Over the years, Moriarty has been in direct contact with Sony-owned studios and executives. Despite his personal relationship with the developers, he remains unbiased in his reviews.
More video game journalists should follow suit, not only because of the industry they are in but because of the impact they have on gamers.
I’m glad that video games are in the news, but sad that it involves such a negative subject. Please share your views at aztecpressonline.com.