|Posted by Josh Griffiths on September 8, 2014 at 4:25 PM|
While #GamerGate is… underway, it’s important to remember that the world beyond video games is one that doesn’t stop for anything. As people continue to harass and force others out of the game industry, we should all remember to stop and look outside our window. Maybe then we’ll see some truly putrid things going on.
Take for example the Ray Rice situation.
Ray Rice is a football player for the Baltimore Ravens. Actually, he’s formerly of the Ravens. He was released from the team today (September 8th) fired as you and I might call it, or sacked if you prefer.
On February 15, 2014, Rice and his then fiancée Janay Palmer were arrested and charged with assault after a fight between the two broke out at Revel Casino in Atlantic City. Shortly thereafter, TMZ released security footage of Rice dragging the unconscious Palmer out of an elevator. Eye witnesses say that there was no fight, but rather Rice hit Palmer and knocked her out.
In March, Rice pleaded guilty to third-degree aggravated assault, and married Janay Palmer. In a press conference, Rice apologized for the incident and Palmer vehemently defended her now husband, saying that she was the aggressor and it was her fault. The NFL suspended Rice for two games and the issue seemed to be over for the most part.
Today, TMZ released more security footage. The new video shows not only Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator, but the act itself. Rice is seen entering the elevator, smacking Palmer in what appears to be an unprovoked manner, and then punching her in the side of the head, rendering her unconscious.
As a result, Ray Rice has been released by the Ravens and has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
There are conflicted reports about whether or not the NFL had access to the video prior to today. Several websites are reporting that the NFL did in fact see it, but the NFL is saying that they asked the police for access and were denied. What is clear at this point is that the police themselves did indeed have access to the footage.
At time of writing, there are no hashtags, no #ESPNGate, no #NFLGate, no #PoliceGate. There’s no one decrying how the journalists handled this situation, no one asking why the video didn’t make its way online sooner. It stands to reason that if there’s a camera directly outside the elevator, then there has to be one inside as well right? Did journalists not ask about it? Were they denied access and just not mention it?
To be fair, people were upset about Rice only getting a two game suspension. This anger was perpetuated by the fact that another NFL player, Josh Gordon, was suspended a full year (16 games) for substance abuse and a DUI. That substance being marijuana according to reports.
The media did a good job covering the debate; how can someone who smoked marijuana and got a DUI have a punishment 8x more severe than someone who “allegedly” beat his fiancée? What the media did not do, however, was ask the appropriate questions about the incident. They did not delve into the specifics of the case, they did not know of or bother to find the security footage taken from inside the elevator, and they just moved on relatively quickly.
Yes there’s outrage on social media now, and indeed there was outrage prior to this video being leaked. But the outrage is directed at Rice and the once again failed justice system of the US. No one is angry at the media for not discovering this video earlier.
No one is mad because the media is not asking why the NFL would suspend him indefinitely only now despite the fact they knew he was found guilty in a court of law. Above all no one seems to care that questions aren’t being asked about the safety of Janay Palmer, who is now married to her abuser and clearly forced to lie about the situation to the world.
Meanwhile #GamerGate erupted immediately, all because an ex-boyfriend alleged a woman had sex with a man.
Let's not forget where this all started; a free visual novel called Depression Quest was released on Twine that dealt with depression. Zoe Quinn, its creator, received death threats and harassment for daring to make a game about depression and releasing it on Steam. Fast-forward to Zoe’s ex-boyfriend alleging that she slept some guy who wrote a positive review for the game on Kotaku, and all hell broke loose.
That’s ignoring the fact that a large audience already hated Depression Quest. That’s ignoring the fact that a large audience already hated Kotaku.
Since then the whole thing has spiraled into a twisted mess of harassment, hatred, calls for ethics reforms, and wild conspiracy theories all at once. People are declaring war on one another over “Social Justice” and game reviews and carving up battle lines like its fucking World War III.
Game journalism has its issues, issues that need to be addressed. But the issue isn't with game journalists. We all remember the Jeff Gerstmann incident a few years ago. That wasn't a case of a games journalist being corrupt, it was the people above him. It was the AAA publishers and advertisers making shady, backroom deals with the owners and editors of Gamespot. Not with people writing game reviews, not with people who simply want to talk about the thing they love.
Just as game journalism is flawed, so too is this notion of the "SJW" and needing to go to war to try and stop people who only want to be treated equally. The term “Social Justice Warrior” is a disposable, throwaway term that invalidates the need to establish an argument. You can just type three letters and move on with your day instead of articulating your thoughts. This sudden explosion is nothing more than the pent up feelings of everyone who simply types “SJW” and calls it an victory.
The fact of the matter is #GamerGate #Yoloswag is a movement born of hatred and bigotry. It’s a movement that wants to return to the status quo. That status quo being that games should be about fun and entertainment and nothing else. The idea that games should not touch on political or social issues and should be nothing more than stomping on the heads of Goomba’s and shooting the bad guys in Call of Duty. That’s why #GamerGate is going after journalists with a history of writing about equality and indie developers who deal with topics the AAA industry wouldn’t touch.
Gaming has been around for about thirty years now. In the grand scheme of the world, that’s not very long. Novels used to be about a hero fighting some bull or some mythological creature and saving the world. Movies used to be about comedians having houses fall on them and vampires biting people. Both mediums have evolved, and it’s time that video games do as well. But evolution comes at the cost of that status quo, those childhood memories of simply sitting back and playing the NES, SNES, Genesis, what have you and experience the joy of getting killed over and over again and not letting that game beat you.
The status quo is safe, familiar, and comfortable, and having to deal with games like Depression Quest that deal with topics video games have largely ignored is scary. Having women and minorities say they want to be better represented in games is different. Writers pointing out the sexism and racism of the current gaming climate is seen as an attack. The same way gun owners think the government is going to come around to their house and round up their weapons is the same mentality owned by proponents of #GamerGate; that women and minorities and white men “who only want to get laid” are going to come to your childhood home and rip your NES out of the wall.
The evolution of video games will be a painful one. Games will change, and the way games are covered and talked about will change. There’s nothing wrong with thinking that game journalists need to reform their ethical guidelines. Hell, I’d say there’s nothing wrong thinking that games should just be about fun if that’s what you want. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to harass or to send death threats, or to shove your fingers in your ears and to ignore everything game journalists are saying about the issues right now.
#GamerGate is destined to fail because its foundation is that of hate and bigotry brought on by fear and hysteria. Change cannot begin until this poisonous “movement” is over. Those who want their “just for fun” games will still have their games, and those who want games to be more inclusive will have their games as well.
In the meantime, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, video games are just another form of entertainment media. There are more important things going on in the world that need to be addressed. Things like Ray Rice and his now wife Janay Palmer. Things like the war in Ukraine, the wars in the Middle-East, Scottish Independence, Ferguson, and most importantly the journalists that are supposed to cover those events.
The world is a shitty place, and instead of trying to make it better everyone is more worried about harassing people who just want to write about and make video games.