Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


The Gaming Witch Trials

When I was still passionate about Ronin’s Rants, I was going to widen my scope from TV to include internet original content, my reasoning being that the internet is becoming a new form of art and media distribution. From there, I would eventually do a video critiquing Anita Sarkeesian; it’s not because I disagree with what she stands for in the long run, but because she represents a brand of feminism that, on the whole, gives the movement a bad name. The fact that she has made huge errors in her research certainly makes things worse. Today, however, even if I were still doing the show, I would officially put that idea in the bin forever, due to recent disturbing events.

There exists a game developer named Brianna Wu, who developed a relatively unheard of but well-received mobile game called Revolution 60. Recently, she has fled her home with her husband after a slew of death threats were launched at her on Twitter, included one that posted her home address. This would normally be just horrible, but the fact that has happened to other women in the gaming community recently turns this into something downright disgusting. Wu now joins Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian herself in a group of women that has undergone the same harassment and left their home for fear of safety. I don’t know how many others there are, but here’s how I look at it: once is a case of misanthropic asshole, twice is a disturbing fluke, but three times is a trend, one that I had seriously hoped we as a people had grown above by now.

Earlier in the year, in the wake of Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest, there came to light a post from one of her jilted ex-boyfriends. He claimed that Zoe had been cheating on him with other people, including a game journalist covering the game. Suddenly, accusations were flying about how Zoe slept with the journalist to get a good review, bringing up questions about journalistic integrity and nepotism in the gaming community. Firefly alumni Adam Baldwin discussed the matter and coined it #GamerGate. Backlash ensued, but there were two strange things about it. First off, said journalist was not reviewing the game, but simply mentioned it, so any existing bias would be minimal. Second, it was Zoe who received the majority of the backlash, not the journalist boyfriend.

Since then, the whole thing has turned into a shitstorm and became sort of a haven for a lot of the more vitriolic attackers. Recently, something even more disturbing has come to light. Apparently, the post that incited #GamerGate, made by the ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni, was actually spiced up to add fuel to the fire, meaning the inciting incident of the movement’s existence was based on a spin story. In short #GamerGate is the video game equivalent of FOX News or the Tea Party, an organization/movement spawned from hype and lies that they have bought into, full stop.

At this point, the hashtag #StopGamerGate2014 is in full swing, supported by countless game developers, game studios like Naughty Dog, and celebrities like Seth Rogen. Cracked even did an article about how #GamerGate just makes the human race look bad. #GamerGate is now destined to forever live in infamy. Whatever goal they were trying to accomplish has been obliterated by the people that make threats while invoking their name.

Let’s pretend for a moment that feminists are the rage-filled bags of hot air that their detractors say they are. They still would not deserve attacks against their privacy and threats against their lives. Wu and Quinn weren’t even championing a feminist cause like Sarkeesian was. They were simply creating games they felt passionate about and apparently that was enough to piss people off. The pretense is gone. These are attacks fueled by misogyny. And I’m not talking about the dollar-store kind of misogyny that Frank Miller or the remake of The Wicker Man pedal out, I’m talking about misogyny in its original definition: “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.”

To bring it back home, I will never be Anita Sarkeesian’s biggest fan. I find the flaws in her research astounding, her unwillingness to give credit to the people she takes footage and art from insulting, what she thinks passes for anti-feminism at times head-slapping, and I just find her an all-around terrible feminist. But I will still not go forward with my critique video of her, even if Ronin’s Rants comes back to life. Why? Because I refuse to let the points in that video become ammo for the people launching these sick attacks. I am not willing to let my name be associated with these people or my words be repurposed by them to justify their death threats. Some people may say that I don’t have control of that, but I disagree. This is the internet, where the interaction between creator and audience has never been closer. If Anita and I have a face-to-face confrontation, I will tell her these things myself so that there is no miscommunication about it. But I will not allow myself to give power to the hateful aggressors in this hateful witch-hunt.

Posted under Musings

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