I love games. I’ve been playing them for years. Whether it’s board games like the Game of Life, Monopoly, or even something simple as Mouse Trap, or even card games. Yes, from Cribbage all the way up to Magic: The Gathering. And this includes video games.
When Marvel Comics got into the collectible trade card game, I even scooped that up. Then DC, and Image got involved. I had an Avengers Deck, I had a Spider-deck, I had a Hawk deck which had Huntress to fill it out with Hawkman, Shadowhawk and Falcon. I played these games for hours and hours with friends.
There was table top D&D. From creating the characters to playing the campaigns. This sprang into video games.
But the first video games I played were some of the old Sierra adventure games. Hero’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest. I played the original Wolfenstein 3D. I played Duke Nukem 3D. Doom. And Quake. I played the Tomb Raider series, even getting excited for the movie series (which I went out and bought and still watch).
The games have changed today. I don’t play a wide range of them as I’d like. There’s no M:TG group I’ve found in Humboldt. No table top gamers I’ve found. But that doesn’t stop me from appreciating a game. Guild Wars, Guild Wars II, Skyrim, Star Trek Online, City of Heroes, Champions Online. And each has taken a step toward becoming a true artform. Becoming the ultimate in interactive storytelling.
For years, video games have struggled to be accepted in the mainstream. Same with comic books. That’s starting to change. When you’ve got the Marvel Studios juggernaut churning out hit after hit (not all, but most) and drawing new audiences not only to the movies but to the comic books as well, that’s a good thing. It’s wide spread, main stream acceptance. Video games are piggy backing onto that trend.
But things like GamerGate, the continued harassment of female game journalists, the open harassment at conventions. That’s undermining everything that gamers have done to propel games, comics, and the geek genres into the mainstream. When you have magazines like Forbes or Time taking a look at GamerGate and critiquing it for what it is, you’re sending a message that you’re not ready for the main stream.
Oh, and what it is is pretty simple. GamerGate includes those who believe that game journalists are taking payola, corrupt and in the pockets of the developers and can’t produce true critiques of games. Which is bullshit. Being a friend of a developer doesn’t mean automatically you’re in their pocket. It means that as a journalist, you’ve got the opportunity to say to said developer that they may have done something really shitty without getting pissy in public. As a friend, you can warn your developer friends that you might actually have to write an article detailing some crappy things about the game.
I know this from another standpoint, far and away from game journalism. I worked in broadcast journalism for ten years. I worked with police agencies to report on serious criminal investigations, being given names and having to give my word on fear of prosecution that I wouldn’t reveal them until an embargo was lifted. I’ve had to work my way through the ins and outs of politicians, both conservative and liberal (both little c and big C, for Conservative Party and Liberal Party), in order to get a comment for a story. You get to learn when a politician can talk (when they’re in Opposition) and when they can’t (when they’re the Government).
While game journalists don`t have such things to deal with as police investigations (all the time), they do have a consumer aspect to report on. They`re basically the ones who are reporting facts to the consumers.
But let`s face facts. GamerGate isn`t about game journalism. It`s about getting back at a woman.
Comics and games have seen a huge influx of female readers and gamers over the past few years. They`re making their mark. This was the stuff that as a younger gamer I really wanted to see. Not only women involved, but more people. But the truth is, I don`t need main stream nods to validate why I play games. I do it for my enjoyment.
But things like GamerGate are getting attention. The wrong kind of attention. The kind of attention that says `see, I told you they were a bunch of whiney losers`. Because those who are behind this “operation” are the ones ruining it completely. Instead of striving forward and making something great out of games, they’re burying their toys in the sand, demanding the “wrong people” stop playing with them.
If this keeps up, the familiar lament of “why aren’t there any girls who game” will soon sound out again.