Ethical Gaming 3 Comments

When “gamer” culture weaponizes discussion

You may have seen one of the articles from over the weekend about a young woman who got ganged up on over social media because a previous Gamergate luminary declared her to be responsible for all of Mass Effect: Andromeda’s allegedly janky animations. I personally enjoyed the title of Kotaku’s take on the whole thing, “Scumbags Harass Woman For Working On Mass Effect: Andromeda Animations“. And here is the comment to that article that inspired me to write today:

I’m not going to make a moral argument about why telling a game developer to kill themselves if you don’t like their game is wrong, because I assume everyone reading this is a rational human being who already understands that. But there’s something irritating me today about all this, beyond the usual gross display of “gamers” that yet again makes me question my choice in hobbies.

When you weaponize an issue, and wield it to bludgeon someone in an aggressive and harassing way, you’re making it impossible for the majority of us rational folks to ever take that side of the issue again. Like, I think some interesting discussions could be had about our expectation of AAA games, and whether we should all just wait for the bug-patched GOTY versions of major releases, and even if animations matter in a game that has built a reputation on its story.

Instead, now when I see one of the admittedly hilarious animated GIFs on Twitter of a character flouncing across the bridge of a spaceship in a particularly broken way, I think about how that animation is part of a collective weapon that was used to inspire rape threats. I actually don’t care if the facial expressions are wonky or not, but if I did I sure wouldn’t want to be salty about it in public today, in the wake of the weekend madness, even if that’s otherwise a very reasonable conversation to have.

Heck, I wanted today’s post to be about how excited I am for 9:00 p.m. PT tonight when I get to make my triumphant return to SPACE, but instead I felt it was necessary to comment on this latest episode.

The harassment movement that thrives in gaming culture — no, not all gamers but yes, we let it live among us — not only drives people out of enjoying and building games and shows a nauseating side of humanity, but it also stops us from being able to talk about games with any kind of nuance. Weaponizing discussion is incredibly frustrating for those of us who like to write and think about this kind of thing.

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    belghast
    March 20, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I was largely disconnected from social media Thurs/Fri/Sat so I missed this entirely. The facial animations are janky as hell, but they also don’t really hurt my enjoyment of the game. I was on board with this title from the moment someone got “Mass E” out of their mouth during an E3 presentation. This is getting to go on yet another jaunt in a much loved franchise and if it can capture even a glimmer of the magic of the previous games I will be happy.
    All of that stuff said… harassment in any form is pretty shitty. I hate that it has become synonymous with the term “gamer” because growing up that was one of the few “titles” that I actually felt a kinship with. I am a white straight male and have really nothing that made me interesting or unique. I didn’t have devotion to a sports team, or really like cars… or hunting… or any number of things that one could talk about in public with their heads held high. Instead I was a geek and that never really seemed to have the sort of social momentum to really be something worthy of being proud of. Gamers were pretty much the only group that seemed to have that going for them… be it arcade rats, or console junkies… or the folks hanging out at LAN parties there was a unity in that group that seemed to be lacking elsewhere. Then during the 2000s it all seemed to go to shit… and a we started fighting amongst ourselves more than we actually did anyone else.
    Ultimately I mourn the loss of Gamer as an identity that I want to be associated with. At some point in the last year I updated my short form bio to exclude the word. Even though I write a daily gaming blog, and record a weekly gaming podcast. I don’t really have a lot of things that I can list in my obligatory string of adjectives, or at least not anything worth noting anymore. Though I think that general lack of feeling like I fit in, has made me who I am… and caused me to try and collect people and drag them along the journey with me.

  • Reply
    Hannah
    March 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    I would argue that this behaviour isn’t exclusive to games. You see people acting like shits in just about every hobby, it just so happens there are A LOT of gamers on the internet. And I think “the internet” is the key word here. We’ve been joking about the correlation between anonymity and assholery for years but look where we are now? It’s disgusting, frankly, how shitty people are just because they perceive no consequences for not holding back. And on the subject of weaponising debates, I’ve seen folk on the left and right sides that made me want to just shut my PC down and go to bed. Yeah it’s the right that disgust me the most, but anybody bashing a point across your face is entirely offputting. Aggression doesn’t get results, it just divides us. And it fucking pisses me off. Rargh. If people could just stop going into attack mode and LISTEN that’d be greeeaaat. :(

  • Reply
    Going to Space – Tales of the Aggronaut
    March 21, 2017 at 5:08 am

    […] note there are absolutely some detractors to this game.  Firstly even though it was the ammunition for some horrific bullshit…  and I do not want to have any part of that…  the animations are bad.  It is no so […]

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