#GamerGate: Camps form in video game industry

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.

Aztec Press photo illustration by Larry Gaurano

Aztec Press photo illustration by Larry Gaurano

Filed Under: Opinion

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  1. Reagan says:

    “There are far too many examples of females depicted as sex symbols instead of as in-depth characters.”

    How is women depicted as sex symbols a negative thing? When is a single case of a sexy woman one sexy woman too many? Who has the right to make this claim? The answer is that no one does.

    If we ban background and even main female characters who are attractive and scantily clad would those who disagree with me so far at least agree that the same types of images of men must also be curtailed or even banned? Just look at the cover of harlequin romance novels. They are certainly not there for the male gaze and thus not a reflection of male power fantasy. They are there for eye candy to attract a female gaze in the hopes that woman will then contemplate buying that romantic/erotic book. It is in our DNA to make generalizations. It is a natural things humans do whilst our brains struggle to make patterns and meanings where there are none. Especially when it comes to laboring over establishing a positive correlation between fantasy settings and made up characters somehow affecting how people think and act in real life to such a degree that they harm others.

    Did I lose you? Then I must say you are a hypocrite. Tapping into and expressing sexuality is not a negative thing; the fact that there are feminists who are sex negative just goes to prove the ‘horseshoe theory’. The hard left has not put itself in opposition of the right; it has instead curved around around to the point they are essentially identical to the hard right: Authoritarian with puritan values. They wish to control thought through language control and stamp out ideas and means of expression they dislike. The only narrative allowed is theirs and anyone else will be lashed out at, silenced, shunned and crushed.

    There is room for all types of ideas in video gaming. There is no room for anyone who thinks they can become gaming’s gatekeeper. No one can say what is right and what is wrong then go out and organize ‘deeply concerned/offended’ social media blitzes against developers that are tantamount to harassment with legitimate threats of violence. Nor is anyone welcome to bring down the level of discourse to shaming people for what they enjoy and then become indignant when the opposing side lobs their own hateful mortar shells back and then run crying that you’re being oppressed. Neither is valid criticism of critiques made by individuals. There is such a thing as objectivity. Game reviews should be objective. It is a piece of software with specs, performance and it can fail to work. Leave opinions to the blog posts.

    I can decide for myself if I am offended. I am an adult who has control of his own emotions and actions. I look inward when troubled instead of lashing out at others to make the complicated feelings go away.

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