feel it break: why GamerGate is still bad, bad news for women and minorities in gaming

On blogs past, one of my more defining entries was about having lost places to participate in pickup turn-based and tabletop games because of the shrieking fear that any unknown female-ish person coming into pickup spaces was a “fake geek girl.” It struck a chord that to this day mystifies even me…why did 378 people share that on their Facebook? It also brought in a wave of cis lady fans scattered throughout the world, and my real defining question: why the hell am I so popular in NEW ZEALAND?  (…which has at least one better game blogger than I.)

Something about that post struck a chord with a lot of people. Okay, so maybe people who like tourists, sheep, and letting governments take turns on an almost-scheduled basis think my blog is cool and that’s why I’m large with the Kiwis. Or maybe it’s that much of the rest of this world looks on with horror at how much the “manosphere” in the US has attained frightening degrees of control, because a lot of my blogging really is about the creeping hate of the “manosphere” when you’re one random girl in an empire in decline and its chilling effects within a country sliding rightward. The whole principle of the “manosphere” is that things should dictate solely to the needs and desires of cishet white men, i.e. the same people who compose almost the entirety of the “Men’s Rights” Movement. The MRM’s various messiahs are just generally awful people…I can rehash the complete feculence of Paul Elam, but BuzzFeed did it better and anyone who’s read this blog has seen his seething hatred discussed before. There’s Glen Sacks, a racially exploitative misofgynist, homophobe and transmisogynist. And, of course, we have our semi-local shame, violent misogynist W.F. Price, who is fond of harassing any feminist he can find and who spends much of his time whining about trans women. These are the masterminds behind GamerGate: the ties between GamerGate and the Misogynist Rights Bowel Movement are incontrovertible. Sure, they have help from 8chan’s child-porn-loving Brennan (not to be confused with patriarchy-lovin’ T**F Cathy Brennan) and…where do you even start with Mike Cernovich…but at its heart GamerGate is caught up in expanding the manosphere. And unlike the 95% of men who can be decent human beings and not sit with their legs wider open than the Grand Canyon on the bus, the manosphere wants to spread. GamerGate is their means to an end. And, well, that manosphere is why I’ve lost being able to go to pick-up games at the Games-n-Stuff shops: the idea that my hideous self is there to suck the spinal nectar of men and look for boyfriends when, according to the theology of the MRA, I’m not even a woman, much less a human, much less desirable. (Nor do I want to be desirable to the manosphere, as I’m sure they’d hate me for being queer even worse then…)  I just want to play some turn-based RPG, preferably 3.5e D&D please and thank you, but I’m open to other ideas, as long as it’s not 2e because old-school THAC0 and I don’t get along.

But that’s interrupted by the manosphere’s insertion into the presence of an unknown woman (or to use the gross livestock-sounding term that MRAssholes and radfauxs/T**Fs use, “feeeeeeeeeeeeemale”) being seen as some sort of threat. So I’ve lost those outlets for gaming…nobody I know locally is into anything geekier than Settlers of Catan, and though I can joke about wood for sheep until the end of days, that’s not something you find pickup games of. I have finally learned to play it semi-competently, I understand 3:1 ports and the simple joys of a Year of Plenty card, and all, but I miss D&D. I miss playing Magic: The What Expansion Pack Is This Gathering with strangers, some of who became friends. But no, the manosphere has taken that. And my gaming world is basically reduced to video games. Whether it’s Destiny, Guild Wars 2, or World of Warcraft, that’s my outlet for games.

Rather than spending my Wednesday nights debating the beauty of a red-green monster deck or why white-blue control is criminally underrated, I spend them whacking murlocs in Tirisfal Glades. I’m not going to lie: I miss the hell out of sitting around a table with people. The Internet’s great, but video gaming isn’t the same as playing with three-dimensional people, so I feel great sadness that that option is lost. But GamerGate is about coming for that last refuge of many women and minorities shoved out of physical gaming spaces because the manosphere says we’re “fake” or misinterprets why we’re there: video gaming.

The veneer of “ethics in games journalism” has at this point been proven to be outdated at best or false at worst, as all GamerGate is about anymore is cooperative harassment of targets of the MRM itself.  I’ve asked multiple GamerGaters, but given their abusive insistence that they know something about Brianna Wu’s genetics, what’s to be gained from calling a woman by the wrong pronouns? They never answer, or they claim they’ve been “disrespected” by Ms. Wu somehow. I mean, I don’t always agree with Ms. Wu. I am uncomfortable with some of the terminology she’s used in defending herself against GamerGate’s MRAssholes, but I understand why, and I know she means well enough that it’s not disrespect. Similarly, these are game consumers, all of whom have said they’ve never played her game claiming this ephemeral “disrespect”. (I strongly recommend Giant Spacekat’s Revolution 60, by the by. No, I haven’t been paid to say this nor do I have any financial interest in it.)

But driving women and minority gamers out of video gaming only means we don’t have any space for gaming anymore. I’m sure there’s some lady-positive super-great pickup Magic: The Gathering game out there somewhere on some random weeknight, but I haven’t found it yet, and after being accused of being a “fat needy bitch” the last time I committed the sin of showing up for a pickup D&D game allegedly open to the public (it was 4e, sayin’), I’ve given up. I mean, yeah, I’m fat, and I may be needy, but I’d said nothing besides “hello” at that point, so they had no way of knowing that, and I believe to their mindset all unknown women were regretfully “bitches”. Too much of the manosphere telling me this treehouse isn’t for me because of their fears of women, and in particular women who their theology considers undesirable and somehow evil, has led to just giving up. GamerGate is an attempt to be the final nail in that coffin. From the jerk (and complete scrub, I should add…how do you fail at DPS with a mage?) who stands in front of the bank on my Warcraft server spamming about how Brianna Wu needs to be “re-manned” (what does that even *mean*) and how Anita Sarkeesian is “for-profit to harm video games” to the endless wave of Twitter MRAssholery that awaits most mornings in my mentions about how apparently being against GamerGate-MRA theology makes me “against gamers” and “gamerphobic” (I was literally called this…), it’s a concerted effort to get the people the manosphere considers inconvenient out of video gaming so the manosphere gets its exclusive province over gaming.

In that world, the girls can come if they just “behave” on the terms of what a cishet white dude MRA wants. In that world, Janet Bloomfield seems to be the only “acceptable” woman, a pretty chilling idea for the rest of us ladies. People of color can come if we just accept not being represented in games. Disabled people…well, let’s not even get into the ableism of GamerGate, since I promised myself this would be a short (…shorter?) blog entry. In the world of the manosphere controlling vidya, they’re going to shut the people they hate out of the last bastion of gaming we have…and that’s precisely why GamerGate is still such a threat.

(Love my work? Mildly amused by my corny references? Against trading wood for sheep? Help subsidize more goodness from FCG…and maybe a server transfer! If you can, please consider e-throwing something in the Tip Jar. You can’t get me to say nice things about your games by donating, though…especially if you’re WotC trying to buy forgiveness for 4e.)

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