I may be a bit late to the game (pardon the pun), but Felicia Day’s recent post on her Tumblr seemed like better-than-average prompting to finally talk about the somewhat recent issue of “GamerGate“, which is supposedly a movement that is fighting for proper ethics between video game developers and the online gaming press.
The problem is that it began when indie game developer Zoe Quinn was essentially accused of trading sexual favors for good reviews of her games—by an ex-boyfriend, nonetheless.
Not surprisingly, these accusations were eventually deemed unfounded – though it was a bit too late for Zoe to not be affected by them. And unfortunately, the #gamergate movement refused to just let things die down; instead, a group of #gamergate supporters on 4chan decided to back a gaming project from The Fine Young Capitalists (a.k.a. TFYC)…because that group had had a prior dispute with Zoe Quinn.
Someone—possibly Indiegogo, but more likely a hacker—eventually shut down the Fine Young Capitalists campaign, stating in their message that, due to the participation of the #gamergate supporters, TFYC were at least inadvertently participating in the harassment of Zoe Quinn. Unfortunately, the account wasn’t shut down until after they were able to create a video game character with the money they’d raised. The character, named Vivian James, is a gamer herself—a cute young redhead designed by 4chan users via a series of polls.
This writer also feels the need to acknowledge that while the four leaf clover on Vivian’s headband is a nod to 4chan, it seems sadly apropos that they would design the character wearing the clover with red hair and green eyes. Have we learned nothing from Marvel’s awful comic book character Molly Fitzgerald? Perhaps 4chan users were being unintentionally offensive here, but then again, this is 4chan we’re talking about…
Back to the main problem at hand, though: as originally noted by Allegra Ringo of Vice, Vivian James was clearly created out of spite. 4chan was sadly able to successfully use TFYC and their campaign to pit women against each other. In an attempt to ‘prove’ that they weren’t being misogynistic in their #gamergate movement, they were in fact blatantly misogynistic. Maybe they were just ignorant of what they were actually doing, but when they were called out on it, they— not surprisingly—continued to defend themselves rather than own up to their mistakes.
As for the aforementioned post that Felicia Day made, though, she focused more on her own personal issues with #gamergate – how she reacted to the movement and how it made her feel. Her passionate words reminded me of a recent speech I wrote, entitled “Self-Definition: Geeky and Proud!”…not only because I briefly mentioned Felicia herself, but because I also wrote about the evolution of the term ‘geek’, how I personally self-define as one, and more.
But now I realize that the one thing I never mentioned in that speech is that I play video/computer games. I actually don’t say much about it period, except to my closest friends, but I do play them. I played Star Wars Galaxies and Old Republic. I barely allowed myself to sleep once I started Telltale Games’ Walking Dead game. I’ve spent countless hours playing Red Dead Redemption and, more recently, Grand Theft Auto V. I don’t claim to be very good at gaming (I’m actually probably not ‘good’ at it at all), but I do enjoy it. Yet I’ve never referred to myself as a gamer.
Why? Why am I so open about being a geek, but stay generally mum about gaming? Well, I’m no Felicia Day, but like her, I let “the actions of a few hateful people influence my behavior”…even after I stood on a TedX stage and told people to embrace their passions, their GEEKINESS—to accept it, nurture it, and share it.
The point is, it’s a new world for geeks and gamers alike, and whether it’s simply not being afraid to label ourselves gamers, or outright supporting/encouraging fellow geeks and gamers no matter WHO they are, it’s past time to start putting an end to misogynistic movements like #gamergate or the “fake geek girl” meme/general accusation—before they gain footing.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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