After attending the European Conference on Game-Based Learning in Berlin last week, I was looking forward to writing about exciting papers and newly-won friends (and a few scientific lemons, to be sure). But with what’s still going on, unabated, under the false flag of the #GamerGate hashtag, business as usual isn’t an option. Chattering away unperturbed about how games make you smarter, drive innovation, are great educational tools, have a bright economic future, and whatnot, while ignoring the disgusting reality and real-life consequences of a spectacularly vicious misogynist attack on our co-gamers makes you nothing less than an accomplice—just ask your history teacher, or possibly your (grand-)parents, how these mechanisms work. And I’m especially looking at you, Intel. [Annotation: Intel made good for it big time.]
And lo and behold, it isn’t just the “gaming community” where this kind of hate cancer has erupted in our midst lately, so I can take two paragraphs from PZ’s “Sunday Sacrilege” post and apply it here by changing four words, marked in italics:
There’s also a really low bar set here. Valuing diversity—the idea that the gaming community should be equally welcoming to all races and sexes—and valuing equality—that everyone in that community should have the same status—are such basic ideas that it’s shocking that anyone could regard their promotion as a sign of a corrupting conspiracy by Social Justice Warriors. Who the fuck would argue with those ideas? Virtually no one. Definitely no one that we would want to accommodate in the gaming community.
Demanding that part of the responsibility of being a gamer should also mean being a decent human being who wants to build functional, useful communities doesn’t sound like a particularly onerous expectation to me. Of course, what that also means is that the gaming industry needs to broaden its goals to serve a larger proportion of the population.
So that’s what we have to demand and defend now? In the one-and-twenty? This is just incredible.
I expect everybody from the scientific community to take a stand against #GamerGate, to not look away. I expect important gaming sites and gaming news sites to resist getting bullied into silence, and I most certainly expect the big players in the video game industry to set course toward diversity and equality, both for their companies and for their products. Because, as I already quoted in a previous post, if you’re a big player in the games industry you are very probably, and that applies to #GamerGate as well, part of the problem: “When your leadership isn’t gender-balanced, it’s tough to have a balanced customer base.”
* I like to thank Elizabeth Simins for providing this article’s headline for free.