Gaming journalism has dated back years. From the magazines like Nintendo Power right back in the eighties to the ones many of you readers used to follow as children, like Games Master. The art of writing about games has grown with the technology itself.
Right now, gaming journalism is headed up by big sites like Polygon, Gawker and Kotaku, which you’ve no doubt found an interesting article on. These kinds of sites are known as ‘clickbait’ – sites that earn money from getting clicks, and accordingly use ludicrous headlines to pull in a potential viewer and push them over the edge.
Many of them engage in unethical practices. In journalism, there are a number of things you have to keep in mind: for example, leaking personal information about someone can be damaging, and you also need to provide a disclaimer for your connection to any case. For example, I will now state that I’m on the side of #GamerGate, a movement which this article will discuss.
#GamerGate spans various websites, but it’s mostly fought out on Twitter, hence the hashtag. The movement intends to bring ethics back to gaming journalism. It is peaceful in nature – if there’s someone that the people of #GamerGate want to persuade to change their ways, they’re normally kind about it, albeit urgent. They might forget manners, but they’ll never forget respect.
#GamerGate began a year ago, when indie developer Zoe Quinn released Depression Quest – a visual novel (essentially a choose-your-own-adventure book crafted for PC) from the point of view of a woman with depression. It was given sterling reviews – however, said reviewers had failed to admit that they had been in a relationship with Quinn. Her ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, released a scathing letter full of Facebook evidence revealing that she was unstable and abusive in nature.
More recently, #GamerGate has found bigger fish to fry – frustratingly radical feminists who campaign against abuse but still state ‘kill all men’, the biggest of which is easily Randi Lee Harper (http://www.breitbart.com/big-journalism/2015/06/29/harping-on-the-hypocrisy-and-lies-of-twitters-most-notorious-anti-abuse-activist-randi-harper-part-1/); Gawker, who outed a married gay man and potentially ruined his life (to think they’re relaunching on Monday under a different name!); and most recently of all, a convention for open-source software (that is, software that is often free but the source code is shown publicly so those who know what they’re doing can check it out) that used Harper’s auto-blocker tool to exclude hundreds of innocent developers from discussion over Twitter in the name of ‘harassment protection’. I myself have been blocked by Josh Simmons, the community manager for said convention, who enforced the auto-blocker.
#GamerGate has also been targeted by feminists for standing up for free speech. Many people believe that games should not have violent content, period. It’s also a common belief that many games are male power fantasies, such as the Grand Theft Auto, Just Cause and Saint’s Row series. However, GamerGate has never stood against female lead characters in games. It’s easy to ask someone, and they’ll easily reel off one of the following: Beyond Good and Evil, Freedom Planet, Mirror’s Edge, Metroid Prime, The Legend of Zelda (in which the titular princess herself plays a heavy role in the game, among other females like Saria and Malon), hell, even Shovel Knight (in which Shield Knight really comes into her own at the end).
Headed by a community-created mascot, a completely normal gamer girl named Vivian James, #GamerGate’s plight for justice is sure to continue for years. Whether or not the movement is right, journalism as a whole needs truth and no censorship. An Orwellian 1984 could easily be not too far away. Whichever side you stand on, #GamerGate will be waiting to bring the fight. Will you do it with them?