It has been a little over a year since Gamergate started and a little over a year since I became involved with it. My traffic has more than doubled in the last year, so I think it’s a good time for a reflection on the matter for new folks. I will also go into my relationship with Sad Puppies. This is a personal disclosure, rather than a defense of all the particulars of either movement; I want to put out there why I supported these things.
First things first, for those who are wondering about that image over on the right side-bar, that’s Vivian James: she’s the unofficial mascot of Gamergate whose creation was crowdsourced by the artistic members of the community that grew around the whole debacle. Why is she standing in front of a Confederate flag? That image was created in part of the response to game storefronts who decided earlier this year that the Virginia battle flag was so offensive that historical games featuring it were being pulled from digital shelves. As a historical war gamer, that was a pretty big deal for me. The OpSkyNet hashtag it links to was created as a networking tool.
Why did I come out in support of Gamergate? I first heard about the whole debacle that started Gamergate from James Desborough back in late August. In his post, he actually defended ZQ to some extent while acknowledging that there is corruption in games journalism. What followed, however, were wave after wave of articles condemning anyone who questioned journalistic practices all sorts of ugly names. The media spun a provably false narrative of Gamergate being comprised of white male misogynists who wanted to run all women out of gaming; what I saw was an incredibly diverse and talented group of creative people who were not only upset that the media covering their hobby was corrupt but that the media was accusing them (many of whom are non-white and women) of trying to impose white male hegemony over gaming. It was absurd!
Gamergate is a very different thing today. As a movement, it accomplished a lot, and being acknowledged by the Society o Professional Journalists as having a legitimate grievance about media corruption was huge. Is there still media corruption? Absolutely. But the initial push was about exposing and getting people to recognize the issues regarding media malpractice. What has happened, however, since SPJ (and to some extent leading up to it) is that the movement (as all movements do) began to slow and wind down; the community is still there, and there is a very diverse (including politically diverse) group of people who are not quite sure what to do now. Keep fighting, or plant the flag and go home? A lot of folks don’t want the party to end, and to an extent, I understand that: it feels good to have been part of something. The community is still there and the cause is still there, but some of those differences in opinions manifest themselves in unpleasant ways, and the community (not Gamergate) is struggling to deal with them.
In the end, I think it was a good thing filled with mostly good people trying to accomplish a worthy goal, and I’m proud to have been a small part of it.
Not long after I started blogging, I became a member of the now more-or-less defunct* RPG Blog Alliance. One of the many blogs I was a regular reader of from there was Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog. When he was announced on the Sad Puppies 3 list, I had no idea what Sad Puppies was or the whole story behind the Hugos drama; I just thought it was cool as heck that someone from our community had been noticed! This was a big deal for those of us in the tabletop community.
Then I started noticing something happening. Something so familiar! News outlets were saying that a bunch of racist white men were trying to run women and minorities out of science fiction! I saw a mind blowing amount of not just hatred and meanness but falsehood being directed towards these people, including someone I really like and respect.
Now, I’m very fortunate that this did not spill into my personal life more than a little. I did nearly lose a friend, however, who sent me numerous blog posts and articles, including one that invoked the Holocaust, trying to convince me how terrible these people were. If anything, it had the opposite effect; the worst and even many of the milder things they were accused of struck me as so obviously false that I couldn’t help but sympathize with them. To the “this individual is pompous, rude and disagreeable”, I may say “Okay”, but to the “these people want women out of science fiction!” I must raise my eyebrow in suspicion. I’d seen this very thing before reported about a different group of people in many of the same outlets.
The gist of what I saw was “These people are racist sexist misogynists who have bad taste in fiction!” It was the old Arson, Murder and Jaywalking. See, if the response I had encountered was simply “The Sad Puppies have bad taste and they’ve nominated bad stories”, I don’t think I would have been inclined to take any position on the matter. Ultimately, I may have found myself disappointed with nominations I did have time to read (I did not participate in nominations and did not vote in categories wherein I did not read all the works), but I still sympathize with any group who has been so unfairly, wrongly and falsely maligned.
So THAT is why I wound up on the side of the Puppies this year.
I am not interested in fielding “what about (something gamergate/sad puppies allegedly did)?”questions, but if anyone has any questions for me about my interests or involvement with either of these things, I would be happy to discuss them off-site.
*There is a G+ community, but it has a largely different membership and just really does not feel the same; with the exception of Rumors of War, none of the stuff posted there is from the blogs I regularly followed from the old web portal days.