A Blast from the Past

This is for people on the fence about Gamergate, or who are trying to give the movement the benefit of the doubt for the sake of “There’s always two sides to every story.”

There’s a historical example of a movement within gaming that I think most of us (or at least most of us of a certain age) are familiar with. That’s the anti-D&D hysteria of the 1980s, in which it’s absolutely true that there were two sides to the story. Except that the side saying that D&D was an occult plot and that gamers were killing themselves by the score was categorically wrong. About everything. It was a movement based entirely on falsehood, which was ultimately revealed to have not a single shred of factual evidence to back up its false claims.

The parallels between the anti-D&D movement and the present state of Gamergate are fairly profound, I think, in that Gamergate is pretty much all false claims. Actually, that’s too generous — Gamergate is false claims hiding beneath even falser claims, which are turn hiding beneath a steaming mess of reptile-brain aggression. Gamergate started with some dipshit disgruntled mouth-breather going net-raging on his ex-girlfriend by falsely claiming that she had slept with an online games journalist to secure positive reviews. Everything else extends from that. Gamergate is lies, innuendo, fear, and misogyny all wrapped up in a paralyzing amount of conspiracy theory, circular logic, and argument to moderation. That’s the rhetorical arsenal of the core group of haters who insist on taking this shit to its logical conclusion of death threats, rape threats, and attempting to drive female game developers and commentators out of their homes, out of sight, out of mind, and out of the industry.

Thankfully (if there can be a “thankfully” in any story in which death and rape threats are the lede), the number of people in that core group of haters is small. But a potentially bigger problem is that there’s a far larger group of people latching on to some aspect of the outrage that Gamergate purports to be about — that would be the oft-heard and oft-mocked (by me, anyway) cry of “Ethics in videogame journalism!” And where this ties back to the original point is that the movement that opposed D&D ultimately consisted of a relatively small number of people willingly lying in an attempt to discredit and destroy something they didn’t like, and a much larger number of people who unknowingly spread those lies through misguided good intentions.

So to all ye of good intentions of the “Well, I obviously don’t approve of the death and rape threats, but let’s look at the larger issues…” variety — No.

Just no.

You’re being lied to. You’re promoting the agenda of people who have lied to you. Cut your losses. Walk away.