Combating the Alt-Right’s Growing Influence in Gaming
As someone who remains staunchly, uncompromisingly in favor of more diversity and inclusion in gaming, I keep an eye on the doings and saying of individuals involved with the GamerGate movement. It’s well-established that GamerGate is sexist and misogynist, but over the past year, I’ve noticed something else happening within that movement. As reprehensible alt-right ideals gain traction, so too have I noticed more and more Pepe emojis and proud declarations of “I’m Deplorable” cropping up in the Twitter avatars of GamerGate supporters. It seems a natural marriage; after all, a deep dive into GamerGate’s network of support will reveal strains of and sympathies with racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism. The GamerGate movement is comprised mainly (but not exclusively) of disaffected young white males who feel their favorite hobby is “under attack” by social justice warriors attempting to upset the “normalcy” of primarily white, straight, male protagonists. Hell, the entire movement was birthed out of one man’s desire to seek revenge on his ex-girlfriend. Supporters of the movement will claim it’s all about “ethics in gaming” while operating under the patent hypocrisy of engaging in extremely unethical behavior when attacking their targets (mostly women and game devs who don’t fall in line); don’t be fooled. If you need a recent example, you need look no further than the furor over Tracer’s reveal as a lesbian to see the truth behind GamerGate’s flimsy charade.
But what these people don’t realize is: inclusion and acceptance IS the new normal for the vast majority of people. THIS, the country we live in, is one where a black man can be the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth. Where gay marriage is legal and people of any gender are free to love whomever they want. Where you can serve in our military, regardless of sexual preference, and be offered the chance to do something heroic. Where a woman can be one of the biggest badasses in the Octagon. This is the definition of normal now, folks. That’s the America I fought for and I’m damn proud of it. The ones pushing against it and decrying the increasing number of non-white, non-male, non-straight role models in gaming are now the outliers. You’re in the minority, fellas. So, why are supporters of GamerGate gravitating towards the alt-right? You probably don’t need it spelled out for you, but you should know I actually just got done writing a much longer piece about hate-filled, malicious entities reaching out to a disaffected and disenfranchised core. I wrote effusively about the parallels between the rise of fascist autocrats like Hitler, Mussolini, Ceausescu, etc. and the recruitment tactics of the alt-right. I wrote about white nationalists approaching a group of individuals who feel targeted and telling them all who’s to blame for their “misfortunes”. I wrote all this shit down, but after reading it, I deleted it. All of it. Why?
Because honestly, who cares why they gravitate towards the alt-right? I don’t. Let’s not bother wondering why. They both fucking suck. I don’t want to understand that sort of worldview.
Instead of trying to understand what makes them tick, here’s what we SHOULD be doing: challenging and pushing back. Ask anyone who complained loud and long about Tracer being gay exactly WHY they’re so upset over it. Or maybe ask why they refuse to play The Last of Us 2 because Ellie is gay. Hell, people were upset that a black man portrayed Karl Mordo in Doctor Strange. Some folk just can’t handle game devs inserting their own belief system into a medium they’re creating. Ask them why. Ask them why they’re so upset at the growing number of female protagonists in gaming. Ask them why they’re so angry at the idea of gender options for Link. Ask them why they get so upset when industry figures provide social commentary on games based upon their own personal convictions. Ask them why they’re upset the new faces of Star Wars are Hispanic, Female, and Black. Ask them why they’re so angry a woman lampooned Sean Spicer. I guarantee not a single person will be able to actually provide one solid, valid, or insightful reason WHY they’re so worked up over any it. It’s hatred for the sake of hatred, nothing more. There’s no rhyme or reason for it, it just is. It’s depressing, tiresome, inexplicable, and incomprehensible. They’re worse than the armies of console warriors complaining about media bias. Hell, I’ll take those fools any day of the week and twice on Sunday. At least they’re only bitching about which plastic box is superior, and not which gender or race.
In a day and age where we have champions of the alt-right in the White House at the highest levels of government, you can expect GamerGate supporters to become even louder and more ubiquitous than they have in the past. We’re entering a dark and divisive age, not just in the gaming community, but on the national stage. You’ll never mistake me for a Trump supporter, and I dislike and am very afraid of the direction our country is taking. The real world is an awfully depressing place right now. If you’re reading this, then like me, videogames are your escape from the troubles plaguing our country. Gaming is supposed to be a haven, a place where we can go to have fun and revel and, yes, argue very loudly about our shared love of this medium. But the surge of alt-right support in this country is acting as fertilizer to an insidious fungal growth in our beautiful, digital garden. For many, the answer is to turn a blind eye and pretend it doesn’t exist, or appease it and allow it to own a corner of the world where it can fester and grow. But we mustn’t be Neville Chamberlain. Rather, we have to be Winston Churchill in our efforts: confronting it forthrightly with aplomb and conviction while not resorting to the same tactics. If you see something wrong or hateful, confront it and force it into the open. If you see someone being attacked on social media for their gender, skin color, or sexual preference, step in and defend them. Don’t ignore it or brush it off. Idiots will call you a white knight or a cuck or any number of silly titles. Ignore them. You’re doing the right thing. Being good to each other isn’t just the path of the valorous; in this day and age it’s a damn near necessity. Our convictions mustn’t be forged of eggshells, but of granite.
And if you’re reading this and you support GamerGate, I implore you to consider a different view. Life is already harsh enough without being consumed by so much meaningless hate. It’s like carrying a backpack full of bricks everywhere you go. Being that engorged on hatred is tiring and takes way too much work. Ask yourself whether or not you’re REALLY upset by the growing diversity in gaming. Ask yourself WHY it bothers you. And then, think about how much time and emotion you’ve wasted on hating something that, at the end of the day, has absolutely no bearing or affect on your life at all. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself. I firmly believe that for an individual to harbor so much hatred and contempt in their heart, there must be something missing inside. There must be some aspect of yourself you’re uncomfortable or angry about. I don’t believe people espouse hatred because there’s simply nothing better to do. So, I’m asking you to find something better to do. Maybe you can calm the troubled waters of your soul, and find peace.