Gamer: It’s a Good Thing. Stop Making It Slimy

by Guest Blogger Ryk Spoor

I rarely make what could be considered political or activist posts. This is mainly because of two things:

  • I am rarely 100% certain of everything I say, contrary to many people’s impressions of me. On important subjects, I hear people talking, with apparent authority, and saying things that come to opposite conclusions. I’m not equipped any better than most of these people to decide who’s right and who’s wrong. I may come to a conclusion of what *I* think is the truth, and maybe even post it, but I’ll do little more than that most of the time, because either there’s a possibility that I am wrong and I’m not going to waste time defending a possibly-wrong position, or I will be involved in an acrimonious online argument, leading to
  • I hate arguments that actually make me feel angry, sad, or otherwise negative. An intellectual debate about things that don’t emotionally batter me? Fine. But if I get to the point that it’s actually making me mad or sad? I stop, because I don’t like feeling that way, I have other things that are more important that can cause those emotions, and I’m not going to waste the significant emotional resources dealing with them in some stupid online debate.

However, every once in a while, a subject comes up that strikes close enough to my very nature that I can’t get it out of my head. #Gamergate has become one of those.  gamergate_icon

I’m not going to detail the origin of this clusterfuck (and yes, I’m not censoring myself for once). Basically, some jerk became an ex-boyfriend rather than a boyfriend, posted a screed against the ex-girlfriend – as jerks have been known to do for decades, although in pre-Internet days they’d just rant to their friends and start rumors in school. Among the resulting rumors was that the lady in question had effectively offered sex to a reviewer in exchange for a favorable review for the game produced by the lady in question.

This produced a bunch of insulting, threatening outrage – directed not at the putative reviewer, whose actions would have been the real problem, but at the woman in question. Oddly, the fact that THE REVIEW IN QUESTION DIDN’T EXIST never seemed to matter in the slightest.

So, the actual rage? Had nothing at all to do with sex-for-reviews or in fact anything ethics related. It had everything to do, basically, with the fact that a woman dared tread into the hallowed world of gaming and expect anyone to listen to her.

This got worse. It escalated to rape and death threats. This then extended to other women whose only crime was that they dared point out that something was rotten in the state of gaming, to the point that some of them, including Brianna Wu, left their homes because they were afraid that some of the threats – which included their home addresses and other information, a charming little behavior called “doxxing” (documenting)– might be genuine.

This makes me almost incoherently furious. See, I *am* a gamer. I’ve called myself a gamer since before that was a “thing” – long before the video games that these asshats get so flamingly stupid over existed. I’ve played RPGs since 1977, played computer games since the 80s, played on consoles since 1995, and “gamer” is a proud title, one I’ve been passing on to my kids. I met my wife-to-be gaming. My best friends are ALL gamers.

And these bastards are making this personal part of my life, the very label and symbol of something I’ve used as both a professional and social tool, something that’s been part of my very existence for decades, a word that people now shy away from.

I don’t, personally, know any of the high-profile names in this mess, though some of them I recognize. But I *DO* recognize the evil, small-minded, petty, selfish, sneering, slimy, putrescent foulness their detractors spread all over everything. I know you bastards. I’ve seen it all before. I’ve watched it in gaming clubs and in anime groups, I’ve heard it in fanboy groupings and video-game chats. I’ve seen it in high-profile science-fiction fandom and in small private gatherings. I’ve seen it used against women (most often), gays, or just that guy or gal who’s “different” – and always, ALWAYS against people they think haven’t got the resources, strength, or guts to confront them, or else from behind a mask, never with the courage to face anyone as an equal.

People out there saying it’s just a small group of trolls? BULLSHIT. This is endemic. It’s not the whole of the gaming community, no. It’s not even the majority. But it’s far, FAR from being just a few loonies. Oh, there are loonies involved, no doubt about it. But for every ten assholes out there actually posting rape threats and talking about shooting someone or breaking into their house and dumping their targets’ contact info, there’s a hundred or a thousand more who are thinking the same things and secretly, or not so secretly, cheering them on, and a bunch more who may wince at what’s being said, but try to convince themselves with oh-so-reasonable tones that “well, there’s something to what they say…”

NO. There’s NOTHING to what they say. There’s nothing but hateful misogynistic cowardly gutless bullshit to what they say. It’s not about ethics – no one, least of all these sons-of-bitches, cares whether reviews are influenced by sex or anything else, or they’d be asking why it is that there isn’t a high-profile game released that gets less than a 4 out of 5, and more like 4.8 out of 5, from any big-name source, and getting all furious about the fact that game companies are pressuring reviewers to be dishonest instead of saying “Final Zelda Combat 6 is a total piece of crap. 1.2 out of 5 stars, and I’m being generous”. But they don’t. The ethics and sanctity of gaming? Meaningless to them.

No, they’re targeting a woman because she’s in their goddamn stupid clubhouse. They’re threatening women who point out that there is hardly a game published that doesn’t show girls and women as targets, prizes, or eye candy. They’re furious that women dare try to be a market force and push those subhuman wankers’ little pathetic piece of the world out into the light of the fucking twentieth century (yes, I said twentieth. These GamerGate dickheads aren’t IN the twentieth yet, they’re still in the nineteenth, if we’re lucky). They’re mad because women aren’t content to SHUT UP and stay out of the clubhouse. Or in some cases mad because they think they should “have” a woman of their “own”, and are incapable of grasping that that very thought is the problem.

You know the only thing I think their targets have done wrong? To leave their homes. Notbecause I think the threats are empty; some of them might be very real. There may be real danger. And it’s true that this is only my feeling – I can’t really judge what other people’s fear and choices are.

But from my point of view, they’ve let those gods-damned bastards WIN. Those pusillanimous filth know now that they can shatter the lives of their targets just with disgusting invective and threats, sniggering behind the anonymous safety of their screens hundreds of miles away. They don’t have to actually carry OUT threats. They can drive their targets out of their own homes with fear, make them hide, drain their resources, their time, their energy – in short, destroy them without ever even FACING them.

Cowardly thugs without even the courage of the bullies I knew in high school; at least they’dsay insults to my face. I spit at these people – and I abuse the term ‘people’ in that context. They disgust me.

I have a wife who has been a gamer with me. She is my partner, she is my friend – my best friend in the whole world – she is a fan and a reader and writer and part of the geeky world that is my home. I have two daughters, both of whom take joy in video games and Godzilla and anime and Frozen and Avengers.

And they BELONG IN ALL THOSE PLACES. I want my wife, or my daughters, to be able to go into any convention, or become part of any damn industry, they want without worrying that some asshole is going to threaten them, harass them, treat them as anything less than they are simply because they happened to have two X chromosomes instead of an X and a Y.

You monstrous, gutless, worthless pieces of shit in #gamergate – YOU are the ones who don’t belong. Get the hell back to whatever misbegotten shithole spawned you. You’re not defending anything. You’re agents of destruction, vicious little remnants of savagery who have no place in a civilized world. Grow up – or go straight to hell.

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Ryk E. Spoor is a science-fiction and fantasy author as well as the R&D Coordinator for a small high-tech firm; he has written manuals, technical documentation, gaming manual materials, and patents (and holds several patents of his own). Born in Omaha, Nebraska, he and his family lived in several locations around the country, but mostly in the Capital District of New York; he has a BA in Psychology and a Master’s in Information Sciences. He lives in Troy, NY with his wife, four children, one poodle, and a lot of chickens.

Aristocracy vs. Democracy

You know, I think this quote may summarize things better than I thought, and applies to our social culture as well as our economy.    meme

It always comes down to whether decisions will be made by “our leaders” or by us. So much of American history has been the fight for the average person to get rights from those in power. The right to vote, the right not to be discriminated against, the right to a decent wage … It’s always a struggle between those who have power and those who fight against them.

That’s why voting is so damn important; it’s the best tool we have to keep them in line.  And it explains why they are always trying to limit it — from poll taxes to voter ID laws to fighting against early voting and otherwise just making it as damn difficult as possible for you and I to exercise the most basic right in a democracy.

As I used to tell my students back in the days when I taught Constitutional Law: All politics is about getting power and then writing the rules to make sure you keep that power.

But the power really is with us.  The problem is:  We’re too lazy to use it.

If we don’t take the simplest and easiest path to hold these people back by voting, then we get the government we deserve.

 

What the upcoming election won’t mean

The election will not be an affirmation of conservative politics, no matter what happens.

The party that holds the presidency always loses congressional seats in the midterms.  In the last 50 years, there have been only two examples where that did not happen:  In 1998 (when Republican attacks on Clinton backfired) and 2002 (when Bush was still riding high after the 911 attacks).  So it will be an absolute surprise if that does not happen on November 4th.

But we know that if the Republicans gain control of the Senate (which is likely but not guaranteed), it won’t be because of some great mood in the country to embrace right-wing politics.

How can I say this with such confidence?  By looking at the governor’s races.   Tea-Party-agenda-GOP

Four years ago, when the GOP reacted strongly to Obama’s election by voting in great numbers and sweeping Republicans into power, some very conservative Tea Party candidates became governor.  “Hooray!” they exclaimed.  “Now we can put our policies into play and prove that our ideas will save the economy!”

They did what they said they would — they cut taxes on businesses and the wealthy, cut funding to education, and trimmed government down to next to nothing.

These states are now in the worst financial condition they have ever been in.  The Tea Party experiments all failed, to a one.  And the voters are mad.  These governors are all losing their re-election bids.

Here in Pennsylvania, Governor Corbett is over 15 points behind in the polls.  This is in a state where a governor has never lost re-election.  His policies pushed Pennsylvania back from one of the fastest-growing job creating states in the nation to dead last.  Our debt rating has been lowered many times.

Governor Brownback in Kansas similarly destroyed his state.  Maine is floundering.  Wisconsin is in bad shape.  Even Florida is struggling.

All of these states elected Tea Party governors and all of these governors are fighting to be re-elected.  That is hardly an endorsement of their policies.

This is not a nation-wide trend.  Other states are doing great.  California, which was in terrible state when Schwarzenegger left it, elected a bunch of Democrats who put into play policies which have given the huge state a budget surplus for the first time in many years.  New York is doing just fine.  If you look at which states are doing best economically, you’ll see mostly Democratic-run ones at the top (you have to get to #9 to find one run by Republicans) — and this is despite the fact that there are more Republican governors than Democratic ones.

And even if you ignore the economy, these guys fought tooth and nail against women’s health issues, gay marriage, and giving their poorest health care.

The fact is, as I’ve pointed out before, angry people vote more, and no one is ever angrier than a Fox-news-fed Republican.  If Republicans and Democrats voted in equal percentages, we’d always win because there are more of us than there are them.  But we don’t.  We Democrats tend to stay home on election day and then wonder how such idiots could get into office (when it’s really our own fault).

So don’t let the pundits tell you on November 5th that the GOP wins is a sign of voters loving their policies.  The facts state otherwise.