Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's About Ethics In Game Journalism. A Parable.

Some hardcore Gamergate supporters*  gathered for a party at a strip club.  Because the movement has been accused of sexism and misogyny, they made an effort to point out that ladies were present, and not just those ladies who offered lap dances or table dances for a fee, but female Gamergate supporters:

The 8channers gathered at the club moved their chairs into a ragged line and gawked for a few obligatory minutes as a compact Asian dancer extricated herself acrobatically from a fishnet body suit, before forming into tight-knit clusters around small round tables. They were overwhelmingly young white men in their early to mid 20s. An enormous bald man named Hans, an 8channer who had flown from Texas for the party, pointed out three women in attendance, two bona-fide female 8channers, and one girlfriend, a model and actress with a neat Suicide Girl look who was the only partygoer dressed more for the club than Comic Con. “Naturally, accusations of misogyny are thrown around, but as evidenced by the presence of women, of which there are a few, it is a diverse group.” Hans paused, then winked. “By the way, table dances are $10 and lap dances are $75, if you’re interested. May I recommend Ms. Rain?”

Suddenly Brennan zoomed into the apartment, sparking applause. Someone wheeled in a suitcase full of cheap booze to even more applause. A MacBook was set up to live-stream the party and Brennan posted a link from 8chan’s official Twitter account. He read a message from an 8chan user. “They said, ‘Where are the girls? You said there would be girls.'” Everyone laughed, and Sarah and Brooke waved at the camera.

Fascinating.  This story is a parable for the Gamergate, implicitly defining the rules for women's participation in a particular type of world.  The party is at a strip club, aimed to please heterosexual men with its services.  Girl gamers can be present, too!  But it must feel awkward for them.  A little like being an honorary chicken guest at the foxes' annual chicken dinner celebration.**

*This post gives a short summary of the issues.  Gamergaters argue that the movement is about ethics in gaming journalism, their critics argue that the movement looks to be largely about misogyny.  Data tends to support the latter rather than the former argument.

Oh, and the title is because there's an Internet meme using "it's about ethics in gaming journalism" applied to all sorts of utterly unrelated things, to demonstrate how unlikely it is as an explanation.

**There's much more to that story than the parable I pulled out.  We could peel the onion of ideas much deeper to try to understand why one of the gamers present felt this:

...but a skinny guy named Mike, who had flown out to California to help Brennan with the move, became increasingly agitated. SJWs were trying to take away one of his last bastions of freedom and he felt personally under attack. “They think everything we have is shit, and they want to change it!” he shouted. “This is all we’ve had — for years!”
I wish the writer of the article had asked Mike more questions about what he would want to have, in the meatspace world, and why certain aspects of the games are so important for him.  Is this about someone whom life has treated especially harshly?  Or is this about someone who would like the reality to be like the most misogynistic games out there?  How much is entitlement and how much is pain?   And why must a game be a certain way to be exciting for him?