Tag Archives: gamers

Why We’re Thanking GamerGate

No Girls Allowed

by Vanessa Tottle & Gabriel Valdez

Dear GamerGate, what is it about my gender that pisses you off so god damn much? Anita Sarkeesian. Zoe Quinn. Brianna Wu. If you really cared about objectivity in games journalism, instead of persecuting women because you can, you would go after pay-for-play, or the AAA developers’ use of influence and access to manipulate critics. You wouldn’t be sending rape and death threats to single-employee studios.

That’s Vanessa in the bold, this is Gabe in the plain text. Every woman I know in the gaming industry has received physical threats. Every one of them. Elizabeth Tobey’s written about them, Meagan Marie’s shared them in interviews, and countless others who shy away from the spotlight have relayed that they have each endured threats that have escalated to FBI referrals.

It is the only combination of job and gender I know for which the chief requirement is being able to interface with the FBI.

Here’s the shocking thing – I know more men who are leaving the industry because of this than women. Men who can’t take selling a piece of their souls to sit idly by while this shit happens. I know more women for whom this has crystallized their desire to enter the industry than ever before.

Those supporters of GamerGate don’t know what’s about to hit them. Yes, hate is effective over the short term – nothing rallies better than hate – but after it blows over, after its core audience inevitably finds some new distraction, GamerGate’s going to be a buried artifact of the past.

A funny thing I learned working as a campaign manager in Oregon is that negative campaigning is usually met with an equal and opposite reaction. Single out something negative about your opponent (whether true or false) and you can raise funds off it and gain points off it, but so will your opponent. It’s been shown again and again that these negative campaign moments are mirrored by accuser and accused pretty much dollar for dollar, polling point for polling point. The result is that negative campaigning has very little real effect on ongoing campaigns. It simply raises the awareness of politicians’ names on both sides. Even in the most hate-filled campaigns, whoever wins (be it accuser or accused) will find a readier and more willing audience down the road. The effect, whether intended or not, is only to celebritize the eventual winner.

The hateful core of GamerGate should have learned after their hatred of Sarkeesian KickStarted her career. After she sought $6,000 for her video series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, she raised $158,922. You may have made her life difficult, but your hatred and harassment escalated the conversation surrounding her to such levels that she became an overnight sensation. You didn’t create your worst enemy – she was already on her way to kicking your ass. But you did give her a much, much bigger audience to watch her do it.

History does not remember the passing hate of a moment. It remembers the people who respond to it. Sometimes, a culture responds to it the wrong way. Sometimes, a culture responds the right way. Take a look around, GamerGate, at the women you’ve boosted onto MSNBC, CNN, at the surge of concern you’ve caused not just in the gaming community, but in American culture at large.

How do you think this culture is responding to you? You’re already losing steam, your casual members have left you, you’re continually chased off Reddit, and you’re paying for your crusade essentially out-of-pocket. I haven’t seen a single one of you show your face on a network.

Meanwhile, conversations about gender-equality in gaming that were once comfortably pushed off as avoidable and eventual are now being treated as imminent and immediate. Including women and their perspectives is now a front and center concern for developers and publishers. Your harassment of these women – death threats, forcing them from their homes, hacking their finances – has forced the industry to reassess how they treat female employees in the workspace, as well as female characters in their stories.

Keep in mind what I said about politics. Negative campaigning only works for the winner, giving her a bigger audience down the road. You have accelerated the increasing role of women in game design and criticism in a way you couldn’t fathom.

Donations to games designed by women have increased. Coverage of women in game design has increased. Women appearing on news channels or addressing crowds of thousands have only ever encouraged more of us to look at what they do and say, “I want to do that, too.” You are creating a generation of women game designers by shaping and popularizing the icons who will inspire them.

The only mark GamerGate will leave – the only mark – is in the surge of strong women who will learn to create games just to spite you, to show you they can, and because they see other women having the kind of success measured by CNN and crowds and the number of articles on them, whose names pop up on Google now as first options. They will see those women and hear their voices and regardless of what you say, game design will become a more viable and desirable option for them.

You didn’t make these icons for women in game design. They were already on their way to kicking your ass. But you did exponentially increase their audience, an audience that is overwhelmingly siding with them.

This is Gabe. Thank you GamerGate, because the games this surge of women create in just a few years’ time? They’re going to piss you off so much, and I can’t wait to play them.

This is Vanessa. Thank you GamerGate. Your hate has given us icons tempered by fire. They had strong voices before, but now they stand above the industry itself. You took individual critics and developers and, by your hate, you have made them arbiters.

This is Amanda Smith. Thank you GamerGate.

This is Rachel Ann Taylor. Thank you GamerGate.

This is Cleopatra Parnell. Thank you GamerGate.

This is Shayna Fevre. Thank you GamerGate.

This is Eden O’Nuallain. Thank you GamerGate.

This is Olivia Smith. Thank you GamerGate.

This is Himura Sachiko. Thank you GamerGate.

E3 Reactions — Eden O’Nuallain’s Top 3

Ori art

by Eden O’Nuallain

What does the word “gamer” even mean anymore? It used to mean a teenage boy with acne ousted by social isolation into a windowless basement, like a cross between Steve Urkel and Buffalo Bill. Now, I ride the bus every day with a dozen people who are glued to their phones. In a strange reversal, experienced gamers are now the elitists who wouldn’t waste a minute, let alone days of their lives, on Candy Crush and Flappy Bird.

I don’t have the time I used to have to play Tomb Raider and Team Fortress. I like games that are like a cake now. Every little slice is a complete experience. Not being able to complete a level in one sitting isn’t a task in frustration. These are the games I can jump into and out of at a moment’s notice, but unlike Candy Crush and Flappy Bird, I can still enjoy a real story and experience progress beyond a level number. This means 2-D games. Art is at a premium in 2-D games, so they have to tell their stories very efficiently. I don’t believe they can get away with adding as much filler as first person games like Call of Duty do. Players would lose their patience too quickly. Stories are told via environments instead of narrators.

Inside is from PlayDead Games, the makers of Limbo, a deep, dark, depressing game that nonetheless incorporated the hilarious macabre of Edward Gorey. Their next game looks stern and powerful, but wacky and irreverent, too. Part Terry Gilliam and part Guillermo Del Toro perhaps?

Ori and the Blind Forest came out of nowhere, but after two minutes I know it’s an experience I must have. Sometimes these games can be like a chance to live inside moving artwork. I can just feel the breeze on my face, and I’ll dream of those flowers lighting up in the night.

My game of the show is Valiant Hearts: The Great War. 2-D platformers were pretty dead until the indie game boom revived the style a few years ago. 2-D engines were the only kind that were affordable. Smart developers like Epic Games and CryTek have followed suit: their latest 3-D engines are incredibly affordable. Both companies are taking their profits off a release’s back-end; they know it will result in a similarly much-needed injection of originality and increased appeal in first-person gaming.

2-D has become so mainstream again that Ubisoft, one of the biggest, baddest developers out there, has started designing indie-feeling platformers focused on individual visions and unique art styles. Valiant Hearts: The Great War has a retro-cutout, handcrafted style that gives it the innocent energy and excitement of a child’s diorama. Combine that with a story about war and lost friends and I wonder if games are going the route of superhero movies: previously childish things banished to the Buffalo Urkels of the world, but that artists are suddenly figuring out how to fold complex social commentary into on a massive, irresistible scale.

Eden O’Nuallain is a financial ghostwriter and freelance editor. Her script notes are as vicious as she is right about them. She encourages everyone to commemorate our new LGBT History Month by learning about your local organizations, sharing them online (you never know who’s reading), and volunteering some time with them.