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.