Why do people INSIST on proving me right in the worst ways possible? Seriously, why? Once again, this is related to Gamergate, as the websites who have become known for claiming “gamers are dead” have continued to show their arrogance and complete disregard for anyone unwilling to toe their mentality. However, this story starts with a petition and one man’s attempt to “heal the rift” that currently exists in the gaming community.
About two weeks or so ago, a man named Mark Kern made a call to action. If you do not know his name, you most likely know his work, as he was one of the main developers of the Blizzard classics Diablo 2, World of Warcraft, and Starcraft. If you want something more rescent, since leaving Blizzard, he was one of the designers for the game FireFall that made a buzz at Pax a few years ago.
But his call to action was not for gamers, but to the “game journalists” of Kotaku and Polygon in the form of a petition on change.org. In this petition, he did his best not blame the sites, but asked them to lead the way and help bring an end to the whole #Gamergate event going on.
Since then, he has spoken to a lot of gamers and adjusted his wording because no one was backing the idea that these were not at fault for telling the same story again and again so much that the mainstream media bought it, tarnishing the title of Gamer in the public eye.
Even so, I have to be up front and say at this point, I was completely against signing, even with the new wording then and to this day I still am. My reasoning is very simple however: it is too late. I might have considered it a month or two in because all this infighting is not going to help anyone and at that point, I could have considered the idea that the sites claiming their audience dead had a change of heart and realized how dumb that stance is. But we are now approaching seven months and they have not budged. I simply hold no hope for anything in them. I left in anger of the moment, but I do not return because that mindset is of no use to me and not one I can ever trust. This for me, is no longer a boycott. It is simply moving on to better places and things and leaving the broken ones behind. As such there is no malice in my decision to not support the petition… just no use behind it. Still, to be fair to my readers, you should know where I stand.
That said, Mark was almost immediately attacked by one of the sites for it when he made the gamer-demanded adjustments. VG247 posted a rather interesting and lengthy article in response to the petition in which they claim he is shooting the messenger by basically blaming the two biggest rags on the internet gaming site scene for reporting what is real. And while I have trouble believing that both by what I have seen in the community around a rather well known hashtag and the kind of stories I used to see on both sites before leaving, this is about what everyone expected. The collective gaming media has been fighting for almost 7 months to avoid all claims of collusion and corruption with backing from a mainstream media that still remembers a recent US election where they were caught doing the same exact thing. (Yes, I do have my suspicions that wasn’t ended so much as much more successfully brushed under the rug.)
But within the article Patrick Garratt (both the author and publisher of the website) also went as far as to include a veiled threat to budding developers who would sign the petition, saying that the ink would be tough to erase in the future, so they better think about their career before signing.
“I’m going to finish this article with a call to developers thinking of jumping on this particular bandwagon. Please don’t. You’ll only make yourself look foolish to anyone other than the people that really are to blame for the negativity recently, and rightly, placed on “gamers” by the mainstream media over misogyny. You’re being suckered, and certain elements are obviously confused as to the real issue here, which is helping to ensure the video games industry – be it development, the press or simply the action of playing games – is inclusive, non-sexist and non-abusive. As was made blatantly obvious by Gamergate, the last thing the gaming community needs at the moment is more ill-informed bigots getting angry on the internet. Think before you sign. It may be very difficult to erase the ink.”
This is a new low, even for the alliance around click-bait sites like Kotaku, and Mark decided to email Patrick directly about the article, and actually got a response, which you can read in one of the petition updates. Unfortunately, what Mark thinks of as civil discourse, is basically Patrick stone-walling into his position that you are on his side, you are a misinformed idiot, or you are a sexist bigot… period. There is no possibility that you can be against the behavior of the press and your view has nothing to do with anyone’s gender. Simply put, this is incredibly irrational and the shit I used to see made fun of in political cartoons. I never thought I would see someone actually put the argument that “none of your complaints are valid cause I believe you are racist/sexist/whateverist” in text so directly. It proves me right, but to be so blunt… yeah….
In any case, Mark went on to ask if he could at least have a rebuttal on the site, and here’s where thinks get wonky. He actually asked for permission to post a response article, and Pat shut him down, sparking the whole “#LetMarkSpeak” hashtag that has been raging along side the gamergate one for a few days.
But I don’t think Pat was completely in the wrong to deny him. After all, it’s Pat’s site and it’s his right to run it however he wants. HOWEVER, considering the petition in a week had over 2,500 signatures, even as there were a lot of people for various reasons on both sides of this “rift” refusing to sign, it was also very stupid to just shut him down. It showed at least the image of the very stone-wall I saw in that update so strongly that even Mark could no longer deny it, outlining the very reason Gamergate exists still and why I simply have turned my back on all the “dead gamer” sites for good in one single response. In Pat’s place, a much smarter move would have been to turn down the article rebuttal, but offer an interview. It would have shown the possibility of give-and-take that, frankly, the healing Mark is looking to bring about is going to need. If nothing else, word might get around that the site is trying to be fair rather then just stick to their story at all costs, which would believe it or not score points with many places.
Instead, this stone-walling has just encapsulated the mentality that we have seen in the established gaming press, distilling the whole problem Gamergate has with them into one interaction that can be seen, read, and easily understood. This is most likely the only time I will link to VG247, as this is the same broken mentality that made the other sites worthless to me, and Im sure I’m not alone. I’m sorry Mark had to see the ugly reality up close and in person.