Quick Thoughts on #Gamergate

I have not paid a whole lot of attention to #Gamergate from any perspective other than an outsider. I loosely consider myself a gamer, but I have a lot going on so I don’t always get as much time to play as I would like. Though I’m close to 40, I am of the generation that grew up alongside computer games. I played Breakout when I was five, and by the time I was 18 I was playing Civilization. I will never outgrow gaming in the same way I won’t outgrow good hard rock music, computers, or sci-fe. I was formed with computer games as a legit form of expression and entertainment.

I have to say though, growing up, there weren’t many if any girls who played computer games. Part of this is due to my unfailing unpopularity with girls growing up, but even on the messages boards I would occasionally frequent, dudes dominated. Back when I was a Tribes master of the disc launcher, our online battles were dominated by dudes. This is perhaps why the Quake clan “Crackwhores” were so well known. They were, for most gamers, the most public women out there. My wife loves horror, zombie, and post-apocalyptic movies, but I’ve yet to convince her to play something like Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas.

Times have changed, and by most surveys, women are now a significant percentage of the gaming culture. While I wouldn’t include Candy Crush players as “gamers”, even the games I play, Fallout, Civilization, Dragon Age, etc, there are a lot of women players. This is of course, a great thing. It couldn’t only be a bad thing if half the population felt cut out from one of the greatest forms of entertainment ever created. And yes, there are issues with a myriad of -ism’s in gaming, as they are a reflection of people.

Early in the 80’s, the barriers to entry with publishing games was perhaps low, but with such a tiny market and even tinier population of game developers, it’s fair to say that games were a very poor reflection of the breadth of cultures and viewpoints in society. Later, we went through a consolidation, where the barriers to entry became much higher. I think though, we’re back to a lower entry, with indie games plentiful, toolsets more available than ever, and funding sources like Kickstarter. Games are poised to explode and cater to more tastes than ever before.

That’s kind of what makes me sad about #gamergate. I can’t say the concern over gaming journalism rings true to me as the main cause, considering gaming journalism has always been corrupt. That much was obvious when I would buy gaming magazines in the 80’s. No, #gamergate has largely been co-opted by horrible people on Twitter. I don’t even think this has that much to do with gaming culture, but it’s all about Twitter culture. Twitter has a real problem, in that their platform can be abused by such a small number of people. I’ve seen this in skepticism and atheism drama battles on Twitter, where it’s usually less than twenty people who ruin it for everyone. There are millions of gamers out there, and majority of them have nothing to do with #gamergate, or gaming journalism. They just want to play good games.

I hope they want everyone included, too.

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