Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's Time For Gamergate to Establish a Presence Offline, Before Things Get Worse

For a while, now, I had intended to make a new video blog talking about the need to get our message to the people o0n the streets.  What held me back was that I've been missing some of my camera gear for a while, so until I can locate it, I can't upload videos.  While that quagmire maintains, though, events recently have forced my hands, and now this is going to be text blog.

The gist of my blog was always going to be this: Look Gamergate; I know we've accomplished a lot online.  Anita's propaganda is now toxic for media to touch.  I'm as proud as the next person that we gave ABC News a massive egg in the face, even if they won't admit to it.  We've made sites cave in to demands for more transparency and less douchebaggery.  Our own competing, Gamergate-friendly sites are moving up the ladder.  We're winning almost all of our battles online.  Unfortunately, battles aren't the same as a war. 

The offline front, which hosts its own battles, is almost entirely dominated by our opponents.  Gamergate isn't a huge topic in meatspace, but when it spills out at all, it spills out spun by Anita Sarkeesian and her ilk, and that's a problem.  Even while we stand tall with our rebuttals and downvotes online, they continue unimpeded from venue to venue, selling their warped take on things to news agencies that are either too unenlightened or too ashamed to go against them.  If this continues, and they sway enough people, pretty soon backlash will spread online.  People who were completely disconnected to gaming will come into it with a highly negative attitude.  People with good intentions will jump into the online trenches that offline manipulators dug for them.  They will come after our jobs, our sponsors, our Kickstarters, our Patreons, anything they can to wreck us.  They will tar our names and our websites as hate groups and people who don't know any better will buy it.

All that is what I have warned people about for quite a while now.  Then, instead of us getting these merely economic blows, one of us got doxxed and threatened, horrifically.  Hardly unprecedented for our side, but it must've been much worse this time because she's withdrawn from the Internet.  Milo Yiannopoulis applauds that at the very least, a news organization is picking up on the events--and a leftist  news organization to boot!  Still, I don't think I had ever heard of Daily KOS; I don't think many people have ever heard of them.  Furthermore, Ollie Garkey recommends Crash Override Network as a go-to party to stop this harassment--CON, as it's already being satirically abbreviated--is run by Zoe Quinn; hardly a neutral party, and accused of harassment herself.  In short, our side of the story still isn't getting out into the real world, the way it needs to be.

Which is why, I repeat, we must act as our own advocates.  We need the sort of ground-up support that comes from people organizing amongst themselves; not the media leading them on.  Back in December, I was already calling for street-level action against the media's one-sided narrative; now I reaffirm that we need it.  Save for truly horrendous criminals, anyone getting doxxed and threatened is bad, but when doxxing is going both ways and media is going only one way, it falls on the concerned to do what the media doesn't before these terrorists tactics make further and further inroads unimpeded.  The good news is that now, in a way I don't think was as possible before, we have a chance of swaying the media.

There's a reason major news organizations buy into Anita's "Listen and Believe" guff, and it's not because they're evil (all of the time); it's that they're by default so distanced from video games and the culture surrounding them that without someone to hold their hands, they're at a loss for cause and effect.  Anyone who knows, A, a lot about video games, B, about Anita Sarkeesian's work, and C, that gamers hate Anita Sarkeesian, can connect the dots and conclude that D, gamers probably hate Anita Sarkeesian not because she's a woman, but because she has blatantly lied about their medium to push a flawed argument.  People unfamiliar with games don't have the background to conclude that, so she gets to make their conclusion for them; however, they'd likely see her abstract arguments as too inconsequential to publicize if not for her getting outright threatened.  They still don't care much about games, and although they are almost certainly aware of the legal issues surrounding dual-relationships, they similarly don't care much about those issues in what they see as the trivial realm of games journalism.  I doubt we can make them care, but what we can do, and in my opinion, should, is make them aware that another woman has been doxxed and threatened, demand to advocate on our and her organization's behalf, and protest if they ignore.  Our opponents fight us online by many means, but offline, they've essentially got only one talking point: That Gamergate supports the harassment of women, and this proves gaming culture is misogynist.  If we can barge in and let people know it's not that simple, then we can nip a very dangerous factor in the bud.

Some will say we shouldn't fall to the level of our enemies in using the misfortunes of women to incite people to action.  To this I say two things: First, rushing to the aid of a harassment victim is not in itself a low-level action, and if we already know the truth and check each other on it, we can't lie about the circumstances the way our opponents have.  Second, you may regret this, but education takes time and incentive.  Who among us can say that when we learned to read, we were not taught via extensive use of illustrations, colorful letters, visual demonstration of what notable things began with what words, etc?  You need hooks before people follow, and it's been proven that women getting harassed hook audiences in.  That's not the only angle we can or should play, but it's the one that's burnt into people's minds offline, and the sooner we take it head-on, the sooner we can move them away from it. 

That isn't just something we owe to our victory, either; we owe it to the more universal goal of peace.  People rightfully outraged at harassment are being led in the wrong path against it.  The media has them thinking it's all coming from a specific organization, that it will stop when the organization is stopped, and that they can actually stop this organization, when in fact barely qualifies as such.  They're being distracted from the real roots of a problem, and the sooner we let them know, the better off we'll all be.  Not that I have all the answers about how truly to stop doxxing and harassment, but it will take a more complex understanding on all of our parts before we can really address it.

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