The 11 Theses of #GamerGate (second edition)
Inspired by InternetAristocrat's third Quinnspiracy video, I've decided that we should embrace the idea of #GamerGate as a reformation of sorts. While I don't have the money nor the time to go and nail these to to door of PAX, I am going to distribute them over twitter for the masses. Here are my 11 Theses:
1) Writers should disclose how they obtained their copy of the game, and any other financial contributions. We recognize that crowdfunding and patronage is a great way to support small, independent developers who want to avoid the corporate system and should not be discouraged. However, we believe it would be better for the writer to at the very least strive to maintain and uphold transparency.
2) Writers should disclose any serious friendships or romantic/sexual relationships if they're involved in the story or review. Ideally, writers should simply recuse themselves from the review. However, we recognize that smaller sites are hard-pressed for writers as it is and so again would prefer to at least have a greater degree of transparency.
3) Writers should behave in a professional manner on social media: using their platform to maliciously mock, deride and insult others should be a punishable offense. As public figures, these personalities are role models. Their public behavior plays a major role in shaping the public discourse. Writers should be professional, respectful, and polite at all times. We understand that trolls can be nasty, but you should never stoop to their level. Simply do not engage trolls, or block them quietly and move on.
4) When covering issues like harassment and death threats, writers should never point fingers without having any solid, non-circumstantial evidence. Unfortunately, the games media has had a history of accusatory reporting rivaling figures like Nancy Grace. Regardless if Zoe Quinn's allegations were true, media fingerpointing unfortunately led to a support group for at-risk, vulnerable men (Wizardchan) being targeted for harassment and bullying. The media should show more responsibility in upholding the international ideal of "innocent until proven guilty".
5) Likewise, if there is no evidence other than hearsay, the writers should acknowledge it as such. Treat all claims with a healthy doubt. While this may be seen as "victim blaming", writers have a responsibility to prevent a miscarriage of justice. Leaping to conclusions helps nobody in the end and may accidentally hurt innocent people.
6) Games should be judged for their content and how fun they are to play. While a political critique may have merit, it should not affect the judgement of the game's quality and should be discussed in separate. Writers should recognize that said political/social perspective may be subjective, and that there are alternate viewpoints. The idea is to encourage a "big tent" community where people from all different ideologies and walks of life can look at a game and judge if it's good for them or not.
7) When discussing a political issue, writers should not try to marginalize or silence any opposing viewpoints, no matter how socially unacceptable they may be. The idea here is to discourage hostility and instead promote positive, constructive dialogue. Again, a non-hostile article will set an excellent role model for the commentators.
8) No matter how socially unacceptable they may be, opinions are not a valid reason to ban someone from comments or any other forum. Everyone should be allowed a seat at the table provided they play nice. Promoting inclusiveness means having to include people you disagree with. Otherwise, you are contributing to a hostile, combative environment. If someone behaves poorly, they should be banned in a quiet, low-profile manner to avoid giving them the attention.
9) Writers should not use their position to target individuals for harassment on social media. Again, if someone says something objectionable, do not give them any attention or validation. Simply ignore them to starve them out. There is nothing that warrants targeting a person for harassment and abuse.
10) While no one is above criticism, writers should not deliberately try to silence one another or deny them a platform to speak. While journalists should hold each other accountable for their ethics, at the same time they should not be at each other's throats. Infighting among games writers only encourages infighting among gamers.
11) Writers should abstain from personal attacks at all times, no matter the circumstances. This may seem redundant, but this is arguably the most important point. As public figures, games journalists need to be setting the standard for discourse. The gaming community has been plagued by terrible behavior, and rather than try to improve things most writers have instead only joined in on it. In the end, this only leads to more people being hurt and lashing out, keeping the problem going. Games writers promoting positivity and civility would go a long way towards improving the community. With the perks of being a high-profile figure come major responsibilities.
All in all, I seriously hope that most editors, publishers, and especially writers will take these into consideration. As the intelligentsia of gaming, these people shape our community. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to help improve things. As judged by the events of #GamerGate it is clear that the media has done nothing of the sort and has only worked to make the problem worse. The gaming community has not gotten better, it's only become more divided and hostile. Even worse, some high-profile writers have only encouraged the problem. If we are to end this dispute as a community and let the healing begin, these 11 theses are an excellent guideline to improving the state of our community as a whole.