Today marks the one year anniversary of #GamerGate, an online phenomenon that has permanently altered the world of online journalism and the landscape of media ethics. It has had an impact, as well, on politics and public policy. For an introduction to #GamerGate, please see Mytheos Holt’s primer on #GamerGate from yesterday. Today we post a tribute from a Hollywood veteran of this freedom fight.
One year ago, I coined the hashtag #GamerGate on Twitter. I couldn’t have imagined then the controversy that would follow. Ever since, I’ve been near the center of an online conversation that’s transforming an industry I’ve long admired, and worked within.
In helping to catalyze that conversation, my hopes turned to opening the eyes of young consumers: the people who help support the video game industry, as well as many careers in Hollywood. They’ve long been incredibly passionate, devoted friends and lovers of the art that we create — playgrounds where people can live out their dreams and aspirations after long days on the job.
Although my work has mostly been in front of the camera, I’m no stranger to the video game industry. Because I’ve found a cluster of genres I enjoy working in, I find myself connecting to mostly the same audience across various mediums. It’s not uncommon for me to be approached by someone who realizes that I’ve voiced Superman in one of the most beloved stories in the Superman mythos, Superman: Doomsday, or that I’ve done voice work for one of their favorite games — say, Firefly Online, Halo 3, or Mass Effect 2.
The audience I’ve come to know and love is uniquely passionate. Fans love to connect with us, and they are fiercely protective — they don’t like people stepping on their turf. “Don’t Tread On Me” comes to mind; our industry’s biggest fans represent that very American ideal. I’ve spent a lot of time conversing with gamers, in particular, over this past year, and let me tell you: if they are nothing else, they are outspoken.
Gamers are precise about what they do and do not like, and they are happy to tell you what they will and will not accept. The discussion over the past year in #Gamergate, about culture, about ethics, and about freedom, is one that has been sorely needed.
It’s also a discussion that would have been impossible without the forthright, tenacious attitude of intellectually diverse gamers; men and women of every race, ethnicity, and culture.
Politics are downstream of culture, and we are witnessing a change. A cultural shift, if you will, in American politics. Political correctness is evil because it stifles varying viewpoints through fear and intimidation. It has been running rampant on our college campuses, in our entertainment, and even in our one-on-one conversations.
Iconic comedians refuse to do their routines in traditionally outspoken venues. Some of the most brilliant visionaries in entertainment have been metaphorically tarred and feathered because they refuse to bow down to left-wing authoritarians’ demands to make their content pander to someone else’s professed “feelings.”
At the epicenter of this debate is a propagandist’s dream: an ideologically closed-minded and unapologetic media that has traded credibility for prestige and reliability for protection.
Gamers detest this. As do I. It’s crucial for the sake of creative freedom that this tide be thwarted and turned back. But it has only been gamers, uniquely in the history of fandoms, who were bold enough to proclaim, “Stop!” Fantasy, comic books, you name it: all fell before the gamers.
But the gamers have heroically resisted the efforts of cultural scolds and progressive authoritarians to muscle in on their hobby and start prioritizing identity politics “diversity” over good storytelling. Gamers don’t want to be lectured and bullied and told they’re bigots for enjoying their hobby.
They know they are not any of those things.
And so do I.
Gamers like to win, and they’ve been unapologetic and relentless in their pursuit of victory in this battle of the long culture war. They’ve been called a lot of names and accused of a lot of things they didn’t do. But they’ve never given up.
Gamers deserve our thanks — and our admiration.
Happy Anniversary, #GamerGate!