The past couple of weeks, y’all.
I usually do Party Chats (irregularly) on Fridays but so much has gone down between games journalists and gamers the past two weeks that I wanted to make a post rounding up important links, if only as an explanation as to why I have been so, so unmotivated to write about games.
And man am I unmotivated to write about games. I haven’t even really played any games lately, to be honest. I’m no games journalist—I’m far too invested in writing about my feels to be comfortable labeling myself as anything more than a games writer (and does that sound like I write the scripts for games, or what? Games memoirist, maybe? PS. why is it always a plural “games” with this stuff?)—but a whole bunch of my IRL and internet friends are journalists, and in spite of it all, other people sometimes think of me as one. But I’m a gamer too, and through all of this I’m finding it hard to understand how and why those two things are somehow mutually exclusive.
First off, an orchestrated campaign of harassment was launched against an indie game developer, instigated by accusations of moral failings in their private life. Lots of people decried a lack of journalistic integrity as justification for misogynistic attacks against said developer, a tactic that did nothing more for me than make me think, huh, if it’s about journalistic integrity, why aren’t the attackers going after the journalists in order to shame and terrorize them into being better, moral people? Oh right, because that’s actually not what’s going on here at all. Paul Tassi wrote a good summation of what went down over at Forbes. [Forbes]
Next, god help us all, a new episode of Feminist Frequency’s “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” was released, and with it, more hounds. [Feminist Frequency]
Almost simultaneously, another game developer was personally targeted by the anonymous hordes, leading to some calling for a virtual ceasefire. [Badass Digest]
After the Feminist Frequency episode went live, more threats were leveled and the rift between gaming press and “gamers” (in quotes because unfortunately the term is beginning to mean something other than “people who play games”) grew even wider. [Twitter (Trigger Warning)]
Throughout everything, a real discussion about journalistic ethics was taking place, including but not limited to whether or not writers for gaming outlets should be supporting game devs on crowd-funding sites such as Patreon. Stephen Totilo, EIC of Kotaku, released a statement on that front. [Kotaku]
Honestly, I still don’t know how I feel about Kotaku’s new policy. I don’t disagree in theory, but there’s something in it that smacks of pandering to the very crowd who thinks it’s cool to publicly threaten the well-being of a fellow human being while willfully obfuscating that harassment within a call for “ethics.” Kotaku’s own Kirk Hamilton offered another perspective: [TwitLonger]
One thing I do know is harassing people via rape threats and publicly releasing their personal information is bullshit, and I don’t care how many instances of journalistic ethics were compromised. The fact that much of this is being done in the name of keeping gaming “pure” is atrocious and frankly, makes me want to give up the hobby entirely.
Especially when “pure” seems to mean “free of women or anyone else who challenges the status quo.”
8.28.14: Updated to include this piece on “Gamers” by Leigh Alexander, who puts things into perspective better than I could. [Gamasutra]