Hi, this is kind of.. like general small-p political stuff so feel free to skip it if you’re not interested!
Well, one more post related to all the recent mess becase it’s been weighing heavily on my mind this week. I’ll be talking about the G-word hashtag movement itself over the weekend on the Contains Moderate Peril podcast (thanks for the invite, Roger!) along with some other folks, and you should listen in if you’re interested.
Anyway. I’ve always considered myself to be kind of a moderate when it came to interpersonal politics, but I’m having a hard time knowing where being moderate fits in to the current climate in gaming.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I’ve called myself a feminist since I was 10 and I vote with vigour to defend the “socialism” parts of Canada’s social democracy, but I’ve also always believed that as long as two people held similar tenants of being excellent to each other, you didn’t have to sweat the small stuff.
I would never intentionally tell another woman how she should or shouldn’t talk about sexism, for example, but being routinely confrontational about it made me uncomfortable and wasn’t something I enjoyed in my environment. (Did any of you post on the wow-ladies Live Journal back in the day? Oh man, the fights.) I really liked Cuppy’s post back in January about finding more positivity in social justice, and it resonated strongly with my own attitude.
And game journalism, jeeze. You’ll have to take my word for it, but I have at least two fully written screeds against game journalism in my drafts that I never posted because they just seemed too mean and too “inside baseball”. One from June is titled “Game Journalism is Not Worth Saving” and talks about how much more I value what my fellow unpaid bloggers say than most publications. I actually published one post about how I don’t think “journalism” is the right word for what we have in gaming now, while back in 2012 I wrote that many journalists were being uncool when they called gamers entitled for not liking the ending of Mass Effect 3. I told vaunted writer Leigh Alexander that she was being an “elitist jerk” in a conversation on Twitter a few years ago, because she was.
And man, do not get me started on the game development industry. I guess I don’t really even have to start because if you’ve been reading this site with any regularity you already know some of my problems with it. I dislike money-grubbing DLC, and free-to-play, and I still don’t understand how people can be devoted to Blizzard after being left for over a year of content drought.
My favorite professional game journalist was Jenn Frank, winner of the 2013 Games Journalism Prize. I enjoyed her articles mostly because I think she’s a brilliant writer. But also I really appreciated her moderate attitude towards things. She was a force to be reckoned with on Twitter during the Dead Island Boob Statue debacle, but also counseled calm discussion during one of those (many) moments when Mike from Penny Arcade said something horrible. Frank wrote that she was a teenage sexist, and although I called myself a feminist I was too in many ways.
(A thing that young Liore said on many occasions: “I just don’t like other women. They’re boring, and men get to do all the fun stuff anyway.”)
I say that Jenn Frank was my favorite games journalist because on Wednesday night she was harassed by g-word hashtag people to the point where after nine years she quit the industry. But it’s not enough that she promised to never write about games again. No, she’s been driven out of every aspect of a hobby she loved.
@mikesacco What's saddest is, I just can't talk about video games anymore. It's toxic. Even mentioning one opens you up. I can't take it.
— Just Jenn! (Frank) (@jennatar) September 5, 2014
There have been multiple journalists who have quit writing about games over the past few weeks, all of them women, and it’s a damn shame about them all but it hurt me to see Frank quit. She was a moderate voice, someone who advocated being kind to everyone, hardcore gamer and casual dabbler, women and people who have problems with women.
Now, I don’t know how I can continue being a moderate voice, even if it’s just to my friends. How can I talk about how I think game journalism is flawed when the idea has been inexorably linked to people who will literally ruin someone’s life over it? How can I opine that some games journalists, some of whom happen to be women, are not terribly interesting when that same idea has been wielded like a weapon against people’s safety and livelihoods?
How can I keep enjoying games when such gross things are done to “protect” them, even if it is a minority?
These are rhetorical questions, of course. But right now I don’t know how to bridge this gap, and instead of coming closer together I just feel pushed into being more and more radical in my beliefs, because I fundamentally cannot in good conscience ally on even the tiniest issues with the horrible people who do these horrible things in their name.
So where do we go from here?