I am a gamer. I am also a feminist. Two different ideologies hate me right now, because I dare to be two things at once. Two things that are, definitely, not in any conflict that is not strictly manufactured. After a few days of reflection, and a few conversations about the "big issues" across various media, I feel clear-headed enough to say one thing with confidence: You're both acting like spoiled children.
I am a gamer. I own 400? 500? Far too many games in physical or digital form. Hell, just today I added three Super Famicom games due to a huge collection being traded in a shop I frequent (Ogre Battle, Gundam F91 and Super Bomberman 5 for those interested). I've played or beaten hundreds of games in my life.
I am also a feminist, so long as the proper definition of the term - belief in equality for and fair treatment of women - is used. As some of you know, I regularly donate to a women's shelter that I lived at for a few months after my parents got divorced. I don't think it's at all acceptable to treat women as anything but equals; I don't think it's fair to treat them like garbage, nor do I think it's right to give them better treatment than anyone else. I do believe strongly in true equality.
I've been following this GamerGate thing since it's started, and while I was initially on board with its stated ideals - transparency in media, opposition to excessive political correctness, preservation of artistic freedom - the whole movement has become a shelter for conservative ideology, internet trolls, and yes, actual misogynists. They accuse "feminists" of talking about one idea while implying another, but they do the same thing. Zoe Quinn is a shitty person, sure... But why are people still talking about her infidelity? Why does her having nude photos online still come up as a talking point? Moreover, why is Breitbart, a neocon news outlet, suddenly an avenging angel? Shit stinks, as they say.
But what's the other "side" of this debate? There's Anita Sarkeesian and her poorly researched videos which, yes, some websites actually still hold up as if they were the ten commandments. You have sites like Polygon still running opinion pieces that demonize gamers while failing to address any (admittedly, valid) questions the GamerGate side asks them. They're extremely quick to silence their critics, either with name-calling or aggressive censorship of comment threads. They are completely incapable of conceding when they are wrong, which is a sure sign of overinflated arrogance.
And it reminds me of something. Has anyone played the Metro games? Well essentially, there are two major factions; the Nazis and the Communists. They both do horrible things. They both murder people, trample on civil rights (or what's left of them after the world goes boom)... And they both want to play nice and convince you they're the good guys.
This is what this situation is. It's a wrestling match between two extremist ideologies employing the same tactics and trying to convince you, the reader, to pick a side.
But you don't have to.
As I mentioned, I've played hundreds of games in my life. Have I ever felt that a game was misogynists or hateful in any way? Sure. I mean, you can look at the jiggly tits of Dead or Alive or the dehumanizing of Samus Aran in Metroid: Other M and tell pretty quickly that, yeah, some games are pretty shit at representing women. But does this apply to EVERY game? Of course not! I mean, there are hundreds of games out there with fair depictions of women as strong, self-reliant, complicated people. And what about the THOUSANDS of games that aren't trying to espouse any philosophy at all? Does Chrono Trigger talk about what it means to be a woman? Does Ocarina of Time talk about the media's role in the lives of young girls? No! They just want to tell an epic story. Are we going to turn around and fault Dune for not having a female protagonist? Is The Trial sexist because it explores the angst of a man in a confusing bureaucracy without considering the female perspective? No. And expecting them to do so would be insane, because that's not what they're trying to talk about.
I mean, sure, there is misogyny in certain corners of the gaming world... But you can choose to ignore it. You can choose to spend your money on games that interest you personally, games that don't offend you. It is not, I feel, right for any mindset to police artists. But at the same time, it's okay to admit that certain games and gaming personalities espouse harmful ideas. I can admit that. But unlike the modern day Tumblr feminists, I don't agree that those people should be silenced. If we find their ideas offensive, we as a society can choose to ignore them. We are grown-ass adults that can make our own decisions about what we do and do not want.
To address another thing to thoroughly irks me, political correctness, truly, is going too far. It's coming to a point now where actual issues of social justice - domestic violence, income inequality, racial tension, police and prosecutorial misconduct - are being shifted aside so upper middle-class people can complain on Twitter about how "raped" they feel when someone doesn't agree with them. That, folks, is a crock of shit. I grew up in a broken home. I grew up in poverty. I know the real issues that come from those situations. I, truthfully, do not know what issues face gays, ethnic minorities, women or anything else that I am not. But that does not discredit me or anyone else from addressing our own issues, nor does it prevent us from holding our own opinions. You have the right to disagree with anyone, you have the right to be offended by something and raise your voice about it, but my rights, and the rights of others, do not cease to exist where your feelings and opinions begin. It is frankly a travesty that people - whether they be on Tumblr, in the gaming media, reading this post right now - think they have the right to silence and, frankly, oppress others on a whim. That is the sort of authoritarian bullshit that no one should ever accept.
It may seem that I have a bone to pick specifically with hypersensitive types, but it's not just them I'm upset with. To the gamers out there - and yes, if you play games, you're a fucking gamer - who honestly think it's okay to call someone a faggot online, or to stalk and harass someone for the crime of being born with a vagina, you are fucking scum. To the child-minded idiots who send police to someone's house for beating them in League of Legends, you don't deserve the life of luxury you currently live. If you're the kind of person that thinks calling someone "Jewish" is an insult... I don't even know, did someone drop you down an elevator shaft as a child? If you think that someone liking the X-Box One more than the PS4 warrants death threats, you are rat feces. Granted, all of the people above are GAMERS, they are part of our community; but the same can be said about a millionaire child molester living in the Lavish Heights community. Each and every community is going to have its assholes, and gaming is no different. We don't want any of the above people to be part of our hobby, but when the barrier of entry is only a $500 machine and an internet connection, there's not a heck of a lot we can do besides telling them to go away. Sorry, Totilo, Kuchera, and the rest of you - we cannot wave a magic wand and poof these idiots to the shadow realm. Believe me, if we could, we would have already done so.
The final point I want to drive home, and I don't know exactly the best way to articulate this... Just be fucking independent. Don't let anyone on this Earth tell you what is objectively right and what is objectively wrong. Don't let anyone tell you how to think, or how to act, or what you can and cannot like. Both sides of this "debate", the hypersensitive Tumblr addicts and the bigoted pond scum, are trying to force different brands of the same narrow, hateful virtiol down your throat. Don't let them. Use your own brain - think for yourself. You don't have to choose one camp; you don't have to accept that one is right and one is wrong. Both "sides" here make valid points, and they both espouse harmful ideas. It's perfectly acceptable - and in fact, beneficial - that you acknowledge the truth lying somewhere in the middle. No extreme ideology is ever correct, and if you ever see a group of people acting as a hive mind, constantly regurgitating the same ideas in unison, be extremely skeptical. I can absolutely guarantee nobody involved is working for your benefit.
When I think about this issue, or any other divisive topic, it all seems like one big "divide and conquer" scheme. People use terms like "privilege" to segregate white poverty and black poverty, as if the colour of your skin means you're not fighting a common enemy. People use terms like "appropriation" to prevent cultures from intermingling and sharing ideas. It might sound conspiratorial, but... What if all this fighting is scripted, if it's orchestrated to keep us from uniting and fighting bigger issues in the world? Because that's really what it feels like to me. The socialist in me wants to believe it's a construct of the elite class to keep the peasants poor and stupid, and the egalitarian in me wants to believe some party in the world is benefiting from inequality and infighting. I truly don't know if there is a root cause, but I do know that this fighting over literally NOTHING has to fucking stop if we're going to advance as a society. We have to start communicating and stop demonizing everyone that doesn't agree with us.
Death to the barriers that divide us. Let us stand in unity and better the world.