GUEST EDITORIAL by Matthew Conway

If you’ve ever listened to Ralph’s Wednesday streams (aka ‘the relatively sane streams’) you might know me as the idiot who vainly attempts to get a little gaming talk going at some point during the show. I’ve been flirting around the GG discussion since the start, and the main thing that brought me into it in the first place was, well, because I’m a gamer. As much as I enjoy a good scandal, as much as I enjoy discussing politics, and as much as I enjoy exposing social justice warriors for the hypocritical hobgoblins they really are, I’m a gamer first and foremost. Outside of masturbation, I’d say gaming is easily my number one hobby. I’ve been playing since I was old enough to see the screen on the Donkey Kong arcade cabinet and I’ll probably still be turning Tetris pieces over in my head as I lay on my deathbed. Basically, I think video games are pretty fucking magical.

A charge I often see thrown at Ralph from fans and detractors alike is that he doesn’t focus on games enough. (He most recently talked about it HERE) Even when he produces an article specific to a GamerGate related happening, those pieces are more often than not directed at the principal players of anti-GamerGate and their usual shenanigans of fleecing money from unsuspecting rubes or trying to get their freak on with animals and small children. In other words, the space is dedicated to these cataclysmic human train wrecks who hate gaming, not on gaming itself.

Thus, I have taken it upon myself as The Ralph Retort’s self-appointed in-house “game journalist” to talk about gaming for a moment. And since this is TRR and we’ve talked GamerGate a fair amount here, something that deserves to be examined is what kind of effect GG has wrought on the games industry and gaming culture at-large. We often muse on what changes (if any) GG has brought about for games journalism, but what about the games themselves?

Strictly from the gamer’s perspective, I don’t believe there’s been much effect at all. Granted, development cycles for big budget titles often take up large chunks of time, so it’s possible we may yet see some more significant reactions to GG as the next wave of AAA games are released – but I wouldn’t bet on it. On the whole, after a year and a half of GamerGate, I’d say the effect it’s had on the average gamer is almost negligible.

Yes, I know some of the more ardent supporters find this difficult to come to terms with, but GamerGate is merely a storm in a teacup as far as the masses are concerned. Most ‘average joe’ gamers I’ve spoken to over the past year and a half don’t have the first clue what GamerGate is; they’ve not been exposed to either the pro-GG camp nor the despicable mainstream media’s ‘hatred of women in games’ rhetoric. To these gamers, the type who routinely go out and purchase the latest AAA titles and related DLC packages without much of a second thought to politics (ie. the core demographic keeping game publishers in business), a seemingly never-ending online culture war is simply not on the menu.

Even for someone like myself, who has tried to keep up with the swathe of scandals and controversies surrounding GamerGate, I find all of the bitching comes to a screeching halt when it’s time to get my game on. As I sat on my couch the other day playing a Hell in a Cell match in WWE 2K16, I’m 100% certain I was entirely oblivious to the bleating of the likes of Jonathan McIntosh or that ghastly homunculus otherwise known as Ben Kuchera. I was not thinking about how there was no transgender option in the create-a-wrestler portion of the game and the only ‘punching up’ I was doing was to the Undertaker’s stupid face as I desperately tried to retain my goddamn WWE Title. This is the experience of the vast majority of gamers. When you’re knee-deep in escapism trying to survive a Covenant onslaught in Halo or navigate the turns of the Nürburgring in Forza, the last thing you’re going to contemplate is whether or not the game caters to otherkin on Tumblr sufficiently. You’ll be too busy experiencing that ‘neurological trick’ they call ‘fun’.

As far as the games themselves, the GamerGate controversy doesn’t appear to have done much in changing the thought process of developers – at least not any developers that really matter. For all the grandstanding of the progressive sect about ‘evolving’ games and urging games to ‘grow up’ and be ‘more inclusive’, the most praised games of 2015 – whether it’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Super Mario Maker, do not contain a lick of social justice brio in them. It is clear developers in AAA-land have ignored the online shitstorm and simply continued to go after those ‘average joes’ who aren’t hooked into social media outrage all day long. These games cater to the wide-spectrum of appealing pop culture, not the uber-niche San Francisco crowd calling for wholesale changes to the heart and soul of gaming. The best part is, social justice warriors are keenly aware they’ve been ignored. So hungry are they for some kind of validation in the wake of GamerGate, they will latch on to a tangential occurrence such as EA’s decision to include women’s international teams in FIFA 16 – a move that was most likely always on the cards for them anyway – and proclaim it as some kind of great moral victory against the evil, misogynistic gamer empire. Never mind the fact that those same alleged misogynists were the ones shooting FIFA 16 up to the top of the sales charts…

Yes, there are exceptions that might indicate social justice has had an adverse effect on the current gaming landscape – a dirty limerick removed in Pillars of Eternity here or a booby beach volleyball game missing out on a US release there – but if you step back and look at the history of gaming, censorship issues are a constant bugbear that rears its head throughout the years: Nintendo replacing blood with sweat in the first Mortal Kombat or Thrill Kill getting the axe on the original PlayStation because it was deemed too violent and sexually charged, to name just a couple of the many game-related censorship controversies that have arisen in the past. Then, as now, developers and publishers are always vigilant of fringe groups looking to cause them grief through bad press and will take countermeasures against damage to their bottom lines. Yesterday that grief came from the religious right; today it’s the progressive left. Regardless of where it comes from on the political spectrum, the gaming industry is simply too big a global powerhouse to be brought to its knees by hand-wringing and moaning from people who don’t even play games in the first place.

In other words, a scandal initially involving improprieties in games journalism really hasn’t done fuck-all to video games. Who could have guessed gaming journalists were really that insignificant to the people who make the games? :^)

17 comments
  1. Some people see this differently. Maybe 95% of gamers don’t know and don’t care, but suddenly one day the games suck and what happened? The reason Twitter is so dangerous when it comes to witchhunts is that a small group of lobbiests have direct communication with the heads of gaming companies. Not caring is not the same as not being affected.

    Gaming is late to this party. As a way of offering an analogy, the college experience in America has changed due to a tiny group of feminist radicals endlessly circulating lies about “rape culture” and an epidemic of rape on campuses. Suddenly the President himself is repeating this 1-in-5 lie and the Dept. of Education sends out “Dear Colleague…” letters extorting colleges into handing sexual assault cases themselves rather than the law by threatening their funding based on the further lie people don’t report rape. Imagine the scam if a burglary insurance company inflated burglary stats and said no one reports burglaries, so get your insurance now, and the President backed them up.

    Over in Science Fiction, because there is a much shorter lead time in the creation of stories as opposed to games, feminist radicals have destroyed the literature in the short span of only 3 or 4 years. Good SF novels just aren’t there anymore. Any young, talented white, straight, heterosexual SF writer has said “No, thanks” and gone elsewhere.

    Gaming companies are vulnerable to extortion precisely because of their wide consumer base. If gaming were an underground indie thing it wouldn’t matter because feminists couldn’t do jack shit by approaching the U. N. or other nonsense.

    1. “suddenly one day the games suck and what happened? ”

      If they suck, then don’t buy them. It’s really simple.

  2. So, I guess the “hilarious” ‘its about ethics in games journalism’ “joke” isn’t so funny anymore.
    Who would have thought that “these hyper consumers” aka we gamers would be important for these sites? Oh right, EVERYONE!
    Ego destroyed a lot of real celebrities. These assholes thought they where rockstars.
    Newsflash: Before GG most of them were unknown. Who knew Leigh, Kuchera or Schreier before GG? I bet most people didn’t.

    What goes around, comes around.

    1. I saw one of Anita’s videos a few months before GamerGate started. I was like, “Okay, lots of women are portrayed as being helpless and wear pink…that’s the whole premise of this channel?”

      Then I shut it off and never paid attention to it again…until GG decided to make these people celebrities.

      1. Yup. Thats the dark side of this whole thing. SJW’s are too dumb to see the forest for the trees. How can one be so dumb thinking that pieces of shit like Ashley “klan leader” Lynch, Arthur “rape is normal” Chu and Chris “pay me and i’ll be quiet about the rape” Kluwe are only fihgting “duh evul gators” because they can’t watch this INJUSTICE!!!
        All three of the peopel I listed are losers. failed film student, failed celebrity, failed football player. Of course they are in it for the attention (as we all know).

        Just theoretical: What if GG would die tomorrow? Would would these “#stopgamergate2014” (I’m still laughing at that retarded hashtag) losers do if it goes away?

    2. I’m sure these idiots thought they’d really become rock stars once GG started pillorying them if they didn’t think they were before. Yet what do they have to show for it at this point? As you said most of them are best best known as whining shitheels howling about “internet harassment”. It’s not just financial failure that awaits them.

      The average GGr left months ago, burned down their accounts and started over or simply stopped talking so much about it. A handful of GG e-celebs will always be inextricably tied to it no matter what they do but most of us will vanish into the background once again whether we intend to or not. The big name SJWs though? Their merry little sixteen month pants shitting tantrum is going to be their defining history, it’ll be a load they’ll carry the rest of their lives. Every time they hear laughter in a room full of strangers they’ll have to worry it’s because they’ve been recognized.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them are getting relevant derisive memes shouted at them in real life as many as ten years from now. The consequence of even a brief period of professional victimhood and/or professional shit stirrer is living as a punching bag forever afterwards. Want proof? Just go look at Micheal Moore’s twitter replies and mentions.

      Want to see exactly how even one of the most successful SJW types innevitably ends up? Go look up Mykeru Media on youtube and see how things ultimately worked out for PZ Myers the father of atheism+.

    1. Sadly, the SJWs are like “I don’t like it, i’m not going to buy it unless you change it to ruin it for everyone just to suit my needs!”
      Devs are like “okay, fiiiiine, here. Will you buy now?
      SJWs are like “fuck no, that’s a waste of money!”

  3. A wise man once said, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Feminists and SJWs don’t give up. Also, if you don’t thing they’re making inroads into AAA titles, look at Bioware, in particular ME3, and DAI. First, Kaiden Alenko goes from straight to suddenly bi, and then in DA you have zero straight options. All characters are bi, or gay.
    This trend will continue with others.

  4. Good article Matthew, I think we need a reminder every now and then just how ineffectual (so far) they’ve been in trying to turn AAA gaming into a wholesale political vehicle for social justice instead of, you know, fun.

    Just watching them fail at shaming CDPR over “muh diversity” in The Witcher 3 and how virtually no one gave a fuck (even the mainstream press loved TW3) showed me that they’re not winning the battle anytime soon.

    1. Honeslty..i hope they continue to try….it’s so ridiculously funny reading their unfounded criticism of The Witcher series.

  5. this is a lot of disregard for the bigger picture, just because games still come out it doesn’t equal to nothing going on
    I can even recall something minor being changed in one of the recent wrestling games with the female characters

    and saying that because most people don’t know/care about what happens that equals to nothing happening is like saying that politics don’t matter because most people aren’t involved in them either, the policies are still being made, the effects are still making a splash

    and some effects aren’t seen immediately
    it takes a while grinding it out until the results come down in full
    specially when dealing with social conflicts where the power of public narrative matters or the public consensus

    the lack of a gamergate would have meant that the gaming journalists could have continued their unopposed and unstoppable reign of terror, the small examples of influence they’ve had now would eventually grow into bigger things if it went that path

    so in a way you can effectively say that gamergate must have reduced the impact they have had or would have had in a future
    figuring out what that hypothetical impact is would be tricky but considering the nature of the sjw types who have no clear goals in mind and just act perpetually offended and exponentially push for more and more and more it’s just reasonable to conclude that they wouldn’t stop at any point if not opposed

  6. I really just read the title, but I wanted to say that I was recently looking at a game on the PSN Store, and it had all of these recommendations on it, with quotes from the like of PewDiePie, TotalBisquit, etc. Notably missing: Kotaku. So yeah, apparently people trust the youtubers more.

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