I could not understand what is pushing me more and more towards #GamerGate until today.
If you are a long time follower, then you might have noticed how my stance on #GamerGate was evolving. From being unconditionally against #GamerGate (which, btw, I stand by – the beginnings of the whole affair were extremely ugly) through tweeting reasonable voices (like @TotalBiscuit’s) to following a pro #GamerGate-r and expressing my frustration over some aspects of the anti-#GamerGate narrative.
Today, I had to unfollow a game developer and a journalist – people whom I enjoyed reading for a long time – because I just could not stand their unreflective carpet bombing of #GamerGate anymore.
All it took was typing “#GamerGate” in Twitter search and listening to these voices for a week or so.
And I wondered… What. The. Hell. Is. Wrong. With. Me?
I am an egalitarian. I have made a game with a woman who is the exact opposite of the Damsel in Distress trope. I have made a game that shows the atrocities of bullying. I love and promote “walking simulators” as a wonderful branch of a gaming tree. I have been harassed by trolls and idiots on gaming forums, Twitter and Facebook. Some cooperators on my games come from LGBTQ community.
I *must* be against #GamerGate, right?
But somehow, I’m just not. Not anymore. Again, what the hell?
Some of it is simply due to facts. For example, when Newsweek (kind of accidentally, as it wasn’t their goal) tells the world that 95% of #GamerGate tweets towards “the most hated by #GamerGate” were neutral, I cannot just ignore that. The sad truth is, we live in an era of an Internet Troll, so 95% neutral is astonishingly high. But still, I did not take their word for it and just spent the last week browsing. When I see that most of the tweets are civil, and that there’s more toxic behavior from the opposite side than the #GamerGate side, I cannot just ignore that.
But still, that could not be all there was to my change, could it? After all, I can easily see the bias on both sides, I think that a lot of #GamerGate is a storm in a tea cup, and I don’t even like some of what even the cleanest and calmest of #GamerGate demand (e.g. the idea of “objective reviews” is just silly to me, hey, let’s just have a one gaming website then, why would we need more if the reviews are to be “objective”?).
And today I realized I am not hating #GamerGate simply because I spent the first 18 years of my life in a communist Poland.
I am not talking about the darkest side of that communist Poland. In the city I grew up in, one day when I was eleven years old, three people were killed by the regime's police, one of them right in front of my mother's eyes. I saw a policeman throwing a tear gas can into a stroller. But I’m not talking about that, I’m not touching that. Don’t even for a fucking second think that I would ever compare a Twitter hashtag feud to the atrocities of a communist regime.
I’m talking about the propaganda side of the 1970s-1980s Poland. There was the official narrative that whoever opposes the government and “the people” is a traitor, a bum, a troublemaker, a bad egg. TV and newspapers, famous writers and prominent politicians – they all supported and promoted that narrative.
And then, of course, there was the truth. And it was nearly everywhere – from a punk concert to the underground press. Or when you just talked to a neighbor or a friend.
The whole thing was quite surreal, to be honest.
Today I realized that this period of my life is why I have a chronic allergy to when the “official” narrative is simply out of touch with the truth.
Of course, both things – the propaganda of the communist Poland and #GamerGate – are not directly comparable. For one, #GamerGate-rs are nowhere near as "pure" in their goals as the anti-regime Poles. Also, more importantly, unlike it was the case with the communists, I do think that most of the anti-#GamerGater-rs mean well and are fantastic, passionate and compassionate human beings.
It’s just that they keep believing in the boogeyman, in the misogynistic cabal of harassers, haters and trolls that, according to the official narrative, is #GamerGate.
I don’t want to be associated with #GamerGate, and I have already explained why a couple of times (even in this long tweet today, just look above). But vicious ridiculing and painting a false image of #GamerGate in its current incarnation, when the fact are just one Twitter search away, smells too much to me like what I experienced in my youth. And I just can’t stand there silent. I just can’t.