In the past couple of weeks, there have been a couple of disturbing crisis points in our community, in that I am speaking of the wider community of gamers in general. ((Maybe you don’t think there’s a “WoW community”, but maybe you’d at least grudgingly agree there is a wider gamer community out there? Maybe?))
I won’t go into details on it, but I will link to some excellent overviews. Here’s a link on the Anita Sarkeesian situation at Polygon ((Damn it, every time I drop them from my RSS reader, they get interesting again!)) which tackles some sacred cows, and the cows thrash back. Here’s a great breakdown of that, plus the Zoe Quinn situation. Incidentally, Adam Baldwin is now dead to me. ((And by the way, Joss, why are you yet silent on this? You guys rub elbows a lot on the con circuit, don’t pretend otherwise.))
So this blog post isn’t about that.
Instead, it’s about the other troubling trope that’s been getting carried around with these incidents, one that is well represented by this article at Gamasutra ((And incidentally, a website that supports the concept of the ‘art’ of gaming but hosts an opinion article rejecting the concept of ‘gamer’ and ‘gamer culture’ is a truly grand feat of irony.)).
‘Game culture’ as we know it is kind of embarrassing — it’s not even culture. It’s buying things, spackling over memes and in-jokes repeatedly, and it’s getting mad on the internet.
Weak-kneed, flimsy, pasty-colored tripe, is what that is.
It is understandable that gamers recoil in horror from a thing that is horrible. But the problem is, the thing that is horrible was created by gamers. The unhealthy, disturbed lashings of the people going after Zoe and Anita and all like them are coming from people that have been welcomed, suckled, and groomed by the very culture we live within.
As such, there are only two ways for some people to go ((There are certainly “other ways to go”, but I’m addressing a certain subset of our community right now, and those are the two ways they typically roll in this regard. Be at peace.)). They can either claim that “that culture isn’t my culture”, or they can claim that “there is no such thing as gamer culture”. Either way, it is an attempt to dodge culpability for the situation.
But here’s the thing, people.
We ARE responsible.
We are the ones that have built this culture. When events that were just a little bit disturbing took place, we pushed it off to 4chan or something, tried to ignore it, pretended that it was an aberration. The one thing we did not do was rebuke it.
Pushing things off to some spot where you don’t have to look at them only accomplishes one thing: it concentrates it. The fact that we don’t have to look at it that often doesn’t change that. And when we DO look at it, it gets progressively worse and worse, and we continue with the fiction that it has nothing to do with us.
On this, the weekend of two of the biggest celebrations of geek and gamer culture in the world – Dragon*Con and Pax Prime – we only have to look at the history of those two events to be reminded that these terrible things are spawned from within. Pax has especially long been a source of massive misogyny, and in that particular case you can draw a line directly from the misogynists to the motherships of geek and gamer culture. Excuse the pun, but it’s a “prime” example of how we allow our own esprit de corps to mutate into less agreeable forms of enthusiasms. ((And yes, I am aware that people will try to say that PAX has nothing to do with “real” gamer culture. I have one word, three syllables. DEE NYE AL.))
It is, in other words, on us.
It is natural to want to avoid responsibility for this sort of thing, to pretend it’s someone else’s fault. But the reality is that we only make matters worse when we do that. We have the responsibility to make things right. Every time someone is a gigantic douchenozzle in raid chat, for example, we should be calling that shit out. Instead, we usually ignore it or go elsewhere because AssHatMan is ‘such a good raider’. We have to start making it clear to others that we won’t tolerate this kind of bullshit – to the perps, to our GMs, to our guild officers, everyone.
Fuck accusations of drama. People will use “drama” as a smoke screen to avoid the uncomfortable issues. To hell with them. This is bigger than that. Maybe a little drama is what we need right now.
Ignore this problem, and it will continue.
Ignore this problem, and it will only get worse.
It’s on you. It’s on me.
And we have to fix it.