I originally wrote this on August 24th last year. I didn’t post it, because I felt, at the time, that the last paragraph defeated the point of the whole article. Putting this grim crap behind a fold.
Right now there’s a strangled sound around the word ‘videogame.’ The word ‘gamer.’ There’s something about the term that deserves some greater analysis; something that people with wider eyes, more of an audience, the people who, you know, matter who have skin in the game, can say.
I’m a gamer. I play games. My mum is a gamer. She plays games. My dad, my sister, my friends, most of my enemies. We’re all gamers. I’m not going to hate videogames and I’m not going to hate games because some horrible assholes want to claim the word for themselves. These people are bullies and assholes – and they are trying to say that videogames, that gaming, are theirs.
I’m not going to let them throw me out of my hobbies because they are horrible. I don’t
Of course, the saddest part here is this mindset is itself a kind of privilege. I don’t really have anything to lose. I’m poor, my work in gaming is worthless, and basically nobody reads me. I am not a person with any real skin in the game, and I have to recognise that.
Well, what now? It’s been a year. It’s been a year in which I have tried to measure my behaviour and take care of others. A year of striving to be kind, which admittedly, I don’t know if I do well. A year of listening to people who are suffering and trying to comfort them as I can. A year of nothing much changing, being filled with people using positions of authority and prominence to treat people badly.
It’s been a year and things haven’t gotten better. We’ve just gotten more refined and more splintered in how we talk about it. We’ve learned to not complain in public spaces because someone has it worse. We’ve learned that by labelling a thing you can pretend it’s over, as if folk like Zoe Quinn don’t still face daily harrassment. I’ve watched people I know who have things in common like ‘awful people treat us awfully’ splintering apart because everyone’s under such pressure to be perfect people can’t just disagree any more. It’s all unified fronts. If the harrassment campaigns have done anything, it’s made people so wound up, so deeply afraid of being hurt, they look inwards and separate themselves from potential friends. Purity over all, I guess.
I’ve also seen the tiny amount of response I get. Active attempts to jam others’ culture, posting dozens of pictures of yaks to gamergate, attempting to discourage and engage strangers who are attacking my friends – nope. It seems that being a woman or of colour or queer are pretty clearly going to get you attacked.
It’s just my experience, of course. I am not a particularly big voice or prominent, and I don’t think I explode interestingly when I’m provoked. But it’s pretty rough stuff that folk who are in trouble are isolated further. Because we wouldn’t have folk being thrown under buses if buses weren’t driving all over the place we’re standing.
It’s pretty rough and sad.
I’m not really a gamer. I play games. I design games. I make games. I run games. But I’m not really a gamer. I’m not really that power-consumer demographic.
And I’m just outside of it all, I guess. I don’t really have power. Not even the power to help. Mostly I find myself repeating the same things: You’re allowed to feel hurt. It’s not fair that someone hurt you, but hurting is legitimate.
Oh well. Hopefully things are getting better.