Occasionally I sit down to write a blog and all I can muster is a blank stare at the computer screen; not because I don’t know what to write or can’t figure out where to start, but because I know exactly what I want to say but have no idea if it’s worth revealing. I doubt myself; “what if what I have to say is primitive and I’m just too dumb to realize it?” It’s more comfortable to say nothing and maintain the illusion of relevance than to risk exposing myself as inferior. This hesitation has prevented me from writing about Gone Home for almost a year now. I have started writing and stopped, opened and closed my blogs folder over and over and I can’t bring myself to put my feelings on paper. I would love to describe one of the most profound interactive experiences that I have ever had, but I’m immobilized by the thought of discussing it for fear of my experience being deemed unworthy.
With all the bullshit that has been going on throughout the gaming community over the past few months I have realized I no longer have any excuse for fear. Writers are having their lives thrown into shambles while I sit here and worry about what people think of my writing. I sat idle under the guise that I prefer to avoid “politics” on my site. I want to be a fun gaming site; I don’t want to touch something so volatile. I want to cover Star Wars and how Dear Esther is like figure skating. I felt attacked by articles claiming that the group which I have associated myself with since I was five years old was dead; accusations that harassment was somehow my fault because I was not “policing my own kind.” Articles oozed the same misguided generalizations so often associated with cable news shows discussing how Islam is corrupting the world: “If Muslims really condemned terrorism they would put a stop to it themselves!” I felt alienated from both “sides” so I thought it best to sit this one out.
Having the luxury of perspective is a wonderful curse. I can sit here, read the previous paragraph and admit that I was missing the point. Right now there are no games, no sides, and no debates to be had. A group of terrorists are trying to destroy something great right before my eyes in the name of a false God. Anyone still trying to debate ethics or journalism is missing the point, regardless what viewpoint they are touting. The war we must wage immediately is for humanity and decency. We can all do an audit of journalistic ethics when everyone is safe in their own homes. Debate over the meaning of the word “gamer” and the problems with “gamer culture” can resume once death threats aren’t happening on a daily basis. All of this shit is meaningless compared to the ordeals these human beings have slogged through.
We need to stop artificially dividing ourselves by pointing out the relatively minor differences between us. I was a prime example of someone being driven away from the larger point by a small number of minor grievances. I take full responsibility for my cowardly inaction, but that does not change the fact that I am not alone in feeling ostracized for a tangential relationship I have with a loose grouping of subhuman monsters. The fight against harassment must be inclusive. The more we focus on our common belief that it is absolutely unacceptable to threaten anyone with violence, the easier it will be for us to fight back together. I find it particularly distasteful when people on the “right side” perpetuate the mudslinging by continually bashing groups of people. Tweeting, “I don’t understand what [insert disparaging term here] would still associate with X or Y,” is a great way to embolden and justify people’s allegiances in their own mind. I believe #stopgamersgate2014 hashtag can only damage the cause of civility by driving a wedge between what actually matters and the people who may have associated themselves with a group for the wrong reason. Why attack people who may not have done anything wrong? Is every single person associated with a group an absolute zealot? We are carpet bombing people because they’re near enough to the individuals we dislike. How can we expect these people to reconsider their choices if we constantly belittle them? Be constructive, not destructive. Tell people what you are looking for and the reasonable ones will talk right back. The goal here should not be to attack people for what is posted on burner Twitter accounts; the goal should be to improve gaming discourse, starting right now.
The worst part of GamerGate (I feel slimy even writing that) is the lingering feeling that the damage has already been done. Vigilante scum have already traded in their Guy Fawkes masks for anime avatars and they won’t stop until the “lulz” are gone. I fear that no amount of fighting back is going to end this insanity. People will continue to be harassed and doxxed until the radicals get bored and move on. This is why I think it is so important to avoid collateral damage as best we can and get to work improving the culture together, with anyone reasonable enough to listen. I would much rather suffer united with people who hold vastly differing opinions, than watch quietly as anarchists attempt to annihilate something I love in the name of preservation. So, let’s huddle up and ford this river of filth together; maybe we can talk about some video games along the way.