If you're unfamiliar with the business side of the arts, this may look like a proper target of outrage. If you've ever worked in publishing or film, you're having good laugh at all the #GamersUnited dopes because you know every creative industry is like this. Meritocracy is one of those comforting lies no one really believes, like Santa Claus or Jesus, and these sorts of chummy relationships are how everyone advances. Everyone. Particularly in publishing, where authors write glowing reviews of other authors who wrote them glowing reviews.
While such entrenched nepotism and its ties to an exploitative capitalist system is worth discussing, gamers naturally didn't go for that. They just called the accused dev a cunt and sent her rape threats. Kinda like they do to Anita Sarkeesian whenever she puts out a new video - and that particular hatedom got a second wind with this latest outrage over a successful woman having a sex life. The harried feminist critic had to flee her home and now the FBI is involved.
|"I am not a misogynist! I'll prove it with rape jokes!"|
The irony is that Sarkeesian is giving gamers exactly what they want: the treatment of video games as an artistic medium. Her analyses place everything from indie games to Triple A cash cows in a cultural context, examining how things like Dragon Age and Braid reflect and interact with existing gender stereotypes. This is Critical Theory 101, applied to a body of work often dismissed as too immature to warrant such consideration. Tropes vs Women in Video Games legitimizes video games as an art form better than anything else.
And gamers hate her for it. Because even the most cursory analysis of popular games reveals reactionary gender politics from the bland to the brutal. So too with some of the greatest works of Western literature, but the gamer dweebs are too binary to understand the distinction between "This reflects retrograde aspects of the dominant culture," and "The thing you like is bad therefore you are bad."
Really, the biggest barrier to video games being accepted as art is the gamer culture itself. The past few weeks has seen a level of misogyny usually confined to Mad Men, with the the enraged horde demanding first that their hobby be purified of incestuous business practices - like that's even possible in America - then freaking out over one of the few attempts to grant video games the seriousness they insist on.
While the two may seem rather disconnected, they both reflect the immature entitlement of gamers. They expect the production of video games to be some pure, artistic process and then turn around and disparage any critical analysis that isn't fawning, two-dimensional praise of all the badass guns and titties. Which should come as no surprise because, for all their "serious art" pretensions, gamers understand nothing but dumb consumption. That's their raison d'etra:
Gamer identity is tainted, root and branch, by its embrace of consumption as a way of life. If gamers suddenly became completely inclusive, if all of the threats and stamping of feet went away and the doors were flung open, conspicuous consumption would still be the essential core of their identity. The mythical gamer who does not exist to consume is not a gamer. ~ Ian Williams, Jacobin
If the video game industry, from the indies to the Call of Duties, really did turn into some magical meritocracy for developers, it wouldn't matter because the same fools dreaming of such a thing would shout down any critical analysis. If the industry does nothing, it doesn't suffer one bit because gamer identity revolves around the consumption of games. #GamerGate is the apotheosis of a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.
Oh my fucking god, they hacked Tim Schafer! Tim "Psychonauts" "Monkey Island" "Grim Fandango" Schafer!!!
Well they took our website down. What's the Latin for, "If you can't attack the argument, attack the server?" Ad wwwominem?— Tim Schafer (@TimOfLegend) September 12, 2014
If you support #GamerGate to any degree, you are a despicable asshole and you are killing what you love.