A few years back, I made a lot of forum posts that made people think of me as a horrible, manipulative person. Like, I was very honest about the fact that I intentionally wrote characters in a way that would make people grow attached to them, and acknowledged that one of the benefits of writing Elder Scrolls fanfiction is that it gave me an automatic, interested audience. I’ve always been very open about the fact that I consciously make decisions in a way that will maximize their impact.
I haven’t really changed much in that regard, though I think people have come to understand me better. They know that I’m actually very passionate about the Elder Scrolls series and game design in general, They understand that I break things down into formulas because I want anyone to be able to do them. Even when I do something outright evil it’s out of a love of my fans and ideals.
Can you imagine what would happen if I said “Elder Scrolls fans are trash, I just use them to get my name out there”, or “games are for little kids, but assholes on the internet will still read it if I write about game deisgn”? I mean, surely, nobody in their right mind would get into writing about something they aren’t passionate about, nor would they outright attack their core audi-
This whole GamerGate thing is amazing if you look into it. Like, I originally didn’t care that a game designer slept with a reviewer. Except, then she started accusing people of misogyny and anti-feminism if they brought it up. I originally didn’t care about the whole journalistic integrity aspect of this. Except, then more and more journalists and developers started attacking gamers as not caring about feminism, and acting as though gamers weren’t literally their audience.
Everyone implicated just keeps digging themselves deeper and deeper. You have a bunch of big-name gaming figures and journalists saying “let’s talk about the harassment of female gamers!”, and you have a whole bunch of gamers - and even feminists - saying “no, let’s talk about this whole journalism scandal you’re ignoring”. And then, you have a bunch of smaller or has-been gaming news outlets saying “Yes! Let’s talk about this journalism scandal”, while the more well-known journalists quickly change their tune to “yeah, maybe you’d talk about that… if you’re a fucking gamer!”
This started with one developer sleeping with a reviewer, and has descended into this frantic web of developers and journalists trying to talk about feminism instead instead of themselves. If you look at the #GamerGate tag on Twitter, people are trying to flood it with pictures of babies behind gates and talking about how childish gamers are for not wanting to talk about feminism. It’s reaching the point that some bigger names in feminism are even stepping in and saying “yeah, this is not okay. This is people using feminism as a coverup.”
The important thing to understand - especially if you are a feminist - is that the people implicated in this are gambling on feminism to be their salvation. They’re trying to make this a feminist issue, so that if you speak out against Zoe Quinn, or corrupt journalism, or the nepotism in the indie gaming scene, or even the openly unprofessional and slanderous conduct of their writers, you are also speaking out against feminism. They are not supporting you, they are desperately clinging to you - trying to make it so an attack on them is also an attack on feminism (I wrote about this exact concept two months ago!).
The best thing you can do is not let them make the tie. Say “yes, I am a feminist. Yes, let’s talk about the harassment of female gamers. But let’s do it after we talk about this separate issue with Zoe Quinn”. Don’t let them change the topic, don’t let them walk away from this, and don’t get discouraged when they call you a misogynist because you stood up for the very ideals feminism supposedly champions.
No matter what happens, 4chan, gamers, and The Fine Young Capitalists have already won this. There are enough of them to independently support gamer-positive news sites and feminist organizations and be their own niche, with the added benefit of being non-exclusionary to outsiders. Remember, 4chan doesn’t care if they’re called misogynists. If gamers as a demographic also reach the point where they don’t care, that will be a huge loss to feminism. If you make people choose between being feminists or gamers, all it’s going to do is reduce the number of people who identify as feminists - even if you reduce the number of gamers even more.
I guess what I’m saying is don’t be stupid. This is a beautiful real-world illustration of many of the things I write about. You can see defensive generalization, you can see information control, you can see helplessness fetishization, and you can even see offensive fear tactics happening right now. You have a very real villain, posing as a hero, applying these ideas to save their own hide.
Whether it ultimately works or fails, it will be a beautiful example of social manipulation.
EDIT: I feel I should add that we saw a gaming fracture like this once before. People who were dissatisfied with the casualization and entry barriers in the gaming industry broke off and formed “indie gaming” - a niche market of games by-and-for gamers. Now, you are seeing those same two elements re-emerge in indie gaming. The question is simply whether it will stamp them out or relive its genesis with a new split.