You think this is about misogyny, representation of minorities, about the maturing of a medium, about art etc and you think this is about some sort of pushback from a conservative cultural group that embodies – for some reason – everything that you hate.
You think your cause is just and so you think the ends justify the means. Those ends seemingly and possibly include twisting media representations, taking control of academic debate, avoiding peer review, applying pressure via various means, writing hit pieces and failing to question your own conclusions and positions. [See here]
Now, personally, I wouldn’t consider that a conspiracy, it’s just activists trying to do what activists do, but it does contain a lot of underhanded tactics, dogmatic thinking and ethical issues. Trying to avoid peer review? That’s a pretty serious breach of academic ethics that you don’t normally see outside of Creationism, who have also set up their own ‘journals’ to try and legitimise their ideas. This ties in with Anita Sarkeesian here.
I recognise that you think you’re doing the right thing and I agree with you on a lot of your ideas and claims – just not all of them or the way you go about it.
I don’t think there’s anyone in #gamergate who is against more kinds of stories, more kinds of characters, different stories, different approaches and all the rest. Flower, Journey and (less so) Flow all did pretty well with ‘conventional’ gamers. The Last of Us was praised (also damned, showing you can’t win) for its presentation of female characters and story. So this side of things isn’t really the issue aside from a very small fringe of actual misogynists and bigots who genuinely deserve to have those slurs thrown at them.
The issue is the tactics espoused by DiGRA, the dishonesty, the nepotism, the lack of journalistic ethics and – yes – the politicisation of game media and the censorship that goes with it. [See here]
And yes, I know you’ll claim that it’s not censorship because government isn’t involved and its not legally enforced, but I find that to be a very, very narrow understanding of what censorship can be. Self-censorship is a form of censorship and it stems not from government or law, but from the kind of harassment campaigns that ‘social justice warriors’ launch against anyone or anything outside their narrow, political and social ideology. Strangely we never hear complaints about this side of harassment, we only hear when someone gets harassed for ‘speaking out’ and then, usually, only because they’re a woman, the fact that they said or did something awful is never brought up and they’re ‘brave’ and to be looked up to for sticking to their guns, while a publisher who determines to stay gory or sexy in what they produce is not.
Still, this all has a chilling effect on creativity and free expression. People feel less free to make art (even if it is commercial art) that they want to and that is the opposite of your stated goals.
I need you to understand that we on the other side to you, whether devs, journalists, people working in related or unrelated media, and gamers themselves, also think we’re doing good and I happen to think our position is clearer, less muddled and lacks the hypocrisy of your side.
I genuinely believe in free expression and that that freedom includes ‘problematic’ expression. It also covers your right to criticise, of course, but pointing and shouting ‘witch!’, harassing the people who make the materials and infecting reviews with your dogmatic viewpoint is not criticism, plus it leads to shitty reviews. [Satire here]
So long as your agenda is going to be ‘you’re not allowed to like these things and we want to stop them being made’ you’re going to encounter resistance. So long as you try to push the idea that the fictive world of games (books, movies etc) has a real and profound effect on interactions in real life, you’re going to encounter resistance for the same reason Jack Thompson did.
The way you, and everyone, wins is to commit to a world of free expression where games of all kinds can compete in the marketplace of ideas, if not necessarily the economic marketplace. Games like Beyond, Heavy Rain, The Last of Us or the Lara Croft reboot do far more for your ’cause’ than any amount of ideological brow-beating or collusion to try and game the system or avoid peer review. Make good games from your perspective and broaden people’s horizons, rather than shitting all over what other people like and trying to constrict their ability to express themselves.
There’s room in the world for Depression Quest, Dysphoria and Gone Home alongside Grand Theft Auto, Dead Island and, yes, even Battle Raper. It’s not a zero-sum game.
Make more art.