Ed Driscoll

Making Sense of #GamerGate

“I’m a political writer and I don’t pretend to be more than a casual gamer,” Ashten Whited writes at Pocket Full of Liberty, which puts her one up on me. As I’ve said before, I largely retired from videogames when I unplugged my ColecoVision — there are only so many hours in the day. (Though I do have a product review up at the PJ Lifestyle blog this week that hints at the hobby that I also use my computer for.)

“However, I find GamerGate remarkable. I know people express antipathy to bringing politics into GamerGate, and I don’t seek to hijack it, but hear me out: GamerGate is already about politics,” Whited notes. Which is true — the left views everything through a political lens; after all, it’s been their stated opinion for decades that “the personal is political” (is personal, to complete the Mobius loop):

’Gamers’ are over,” social justice charioteer Leigh Alexander pronounced smugly.

Mainstream videogames do not cater to feminists’ tastes. That does not mean that women are being “marginalized,” it means they are not the target consumer demographic, as they freely admit when they declare male-oriented games unappealing. Despite this, gamers placate feminists like Anita Sarkeesian who hold gaming culture in disdain and view escapism that is male in nature, such as Call of Duty or rescuing Princess Peach, as a problem that must be eliminated under their magnanimous direction. Feminists especially hold male sexuality in contempt, and are fussily ruffled by voluptuous, pixelated vixens that titillate the “male gaze.”

Radical (read: contemporary) feminists define the problem as men. Thus fantasies of male heroism are slated to be wiped from public consumption. Male chivalry is dead; women are the new white knights. Today’s third wave feminists (or “Third Wave Frustrationists,” as cleverly coined by Milo Yiannopoulos) kvetch the tired refrain, “Feminism is about equality!” It is a transparent Trojan Horse. These feminists are intolerant of masculinity, and their movement is about having power over men. They do not recognize healthy interdependence between the sexes, instead seeing a power struggle. They seek to feminize men and in doing so, masculinize themselves— and they are succeeding, through targeting boys. In public schools, boys are falling increasingly behind in performance, according to scholar Christina Hoff Sommers. In psychiatrists’ offices, young boys are overdiagnosed with ADHD and autism and are “medicated” for being “rambunctious” (i.e. behaviorally modified to fit the prevailing PC norm for how little boys should behave). This ideology is about subjugation, through wheedling, subtle manipulation and emotionally blackmailing rhetoric like “if you’re not a feminist, you’re a misogynist.”

In short, feminism in the West has assumed the features of an authoritarian movement.

But then authoritarianism was in the bloodstream of feminism long before Nolan Bushnell ever set paddle to Pong.

However, according to Jasyn Jones, who blogs at the tastefully named Website “Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery” (I love it), the “’Gamers’ are over” manifesto has had some very interesting pushback:

You can read a bit of it there on the image, and the rest of it here, but it said (in essence) “Gamers are dead, and good riddance!” After all, gamers are “obtuse shitslingers” whose “only main [sic] cultural signposts” are “Have money. Have women. Get a gun and then a bigger gun.” In short, abuse. And pretty vitriolic and one-sided abuse.

And that same day, in a coincidence so outrageous it staggers the imagination, this happened:

Click over to Jones’ post to see a fascinating example of what appears to be Journolist-style collusion behind the scenes to advance the “gamers are over” narrative, which dovetails into Milo Yiannopoulos’ series of posts at Breitbart London on the videogame journalism industry’s own Journolist scandal. Followed by the aforementioned Leigh Alexander personally insulting her readers on Twitter. As Jones writes, “This isn’t just insulting your customers wholesale, it’s insulting them retail. Personally. One by one. In alphabetical order, for all I know:”

The odd thing is, most gaming media figures have joined her. But there’s a problem, and it’s one I can’t solve: what’s their end game? What do they think they’re accomplishing by insulting the people who provide them with paychecks?

As I see it:

Attack customers -> they leave. No customers, no clicks. No clicks, no ads. No ads, no money. No money, no site.

Is it really all that complicated? You don’t punch your customers in the face repeatedly, and expect them to remain your customers. Doing so anyway is a recipe for bankruptcy. (And is sheer lunacy.)

See also: implosion of MSM organizations that go full-on into social justice warrior mode and insult their customers. By the time the Washington Post was sold to Jeff Bezos last year, as John Nolte noted at Big Journalism, it had lost 87 percent of its value from the prior decade. (Along similar lines, Mark Steyn compared Bezos $250 million acquisition fee last year of one of the most legendary newspapers in the world to the much less influential Worcester Telegram & Gazette in Massachusetts being sold in 1999 for $295 million.) Prior to Bezos’ acquisition, the Post famously unloaded Newsweek for a dollar after its foray into hard left politics caused it to shed most of its readership.

Similarly, the New York Times has been hemorrhaging money since the Howell Raines era; arguably, only Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s financial backing has allowed the Sulzberger family to maintain ownership, but only at the cost of cutting 7.5 percent of its staff (on top of other employee cuts in recent years). And as we noted last night, MSNBC is getting their clocks cleaned in the ratings department; “MSNBC: Best Demo Night In Two Weeks Is ‘Lockup’ Marathon,” Big Journalism reported on Monday.

But back to Jones’ post on GamerGate — as he notes in his conclusion, Intel, which builds the chips inside of everyone’s computers including those owned by computer gamers, decided that they did not want to be corporate sponsors to someone whose mantra is “’Gamers’ are over,” and pulled their advertising. As Jones notes:

And other advertisers will take notice. And, hopefully, so will other gaming media sources.

Gamers don’t want to kill these news sites. (Or didn’t, before. The more abuse they absorb, the more gamers change their minds.) They want transparency, neutrality, and a modicum of respect.

There is no good end-game here for Kotaku, Polygon, and the rest. If they lose, they lose their audience, advertisers, and likely their business. Gamers get their news elsewhere. Nothing good there.

Suppose a different outcome. Suppose Intel is the only advertiser who takes action (and I doubt they will be), so #GamerGate gets frustrated and goes away. Suppose, in short, that they “win”. In that case, they just lose their audience. Which means, eventually, their advertisers, and likely their business. And gamers get their news elsewhere.

“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

Throughout this post, I’ve been trying to place GamerGate into the context of the scandals that have enveloped journalism as a whole over the last decade, as its multiple genres have shed the cloak of objectivity to became “Democrat operatives with bylines” and “social(ist) justice warriors.” (to repeat myself). To further place Gamergate into context, and because I’ve been looking for an excuse to link to it, if you’ve got an hour to kill, here’s a video of Rob Long of Ricochet, giving a recent lecture to a Budapest film school, on the topic, “Is Hollywood Doomed?” Rob explores how he started off in Hollywood as a producer for Cheers in the late 1980s, just before the World Wide Web took off and when cable TV hadn’t completely devoured the networks’ lunch. Long now produces Sullivan & Son for TBS, in a very different and much more competitive media environment.

During his lecture, Long discusses how technology has dramatically transformed the film industry, the TV industry, and the music industry. But along the way, as he hints at in his lecture, and as the commenters to the post with this video at Ricochet note, leftwing politics has also dramatically alienated Hollywood and the music industry from its consumers:

[jwplayer player=”1″ mediaid=”76116″]

For years, the videogame industry was largely immune to such intrusions, until the “social(ist) justice warriors” decided to make their long march through that institution as well. What happens next when money meets politics?

Based on what happened to newspapers, Hollywood, and the music industry, the results won’t be pretty; invariably politics wins, but at the cost of devouring its host’s business model. Will the videogame industry — and/or the videogame journalism industry — be able to saved from this assault?  “Yesterday Intel blew up the Internet, and a consumer rebellion got a shot of hope and a newfound credibility,” Jones concludes. “Who knows what will happen tomorrow?”