Monday, September 8, 2014

Harassment and Hashtags

I'm not sure what's repeating myself, what's transcendently obvious and what's bandwagon jumping on something that every point I could make has been written about better by people directly affected and deeper in the community than I am. The first 17 minutes of this podcast are instructive.

Here goes: #Gamergate started off as a new edition of an old saw (games journalism is too dependent on personal friendships, inside sources, "exclusives," etc etc), if in fact, it was ever anything more than a way for Zoe Quinn's vindictive ex to get back at her. If I was a teenager now, maybe, if my life zigged and not zagged, I could see getting up in arms about "integrity" but as it stands, I'm not a teenager, so I don't have a lot of patience for the people that keep the hashtag going despite the persons from 4chan and random people interested in mayhem joining the hashtag.

As I did journalism in high school, I'm aware of the limitations of an enthusiast press, especially in a time when people don't want to pay for actual journalism by professionals.

I'm at a loss as to what to say about the persons who terrorize Ms. Quinn. They are the true and willful authors of her degradation, they are doing a thing they likely believe to be directly harmful to a human being. In this respect, they're bad people. I cannot see myself or any of my friends, no matter how warped by circumstance, terrorizing her.

The worst part is of course, the harassment and threats that Ms. Quinn faces hourly, if not minute to minute. The saddest part is that the people who terrorize her, if given distance and I imagine, a couple years to grow up, might be fans of her work. They're terrorizing a game developer, chosen because she's a woman with an opinion they don't like and can be brought via slander into the conversation.

Pause. The second saddest part is that the people who terrorize Ms. Quinn value the mealy and unappetizing present over the possibilities of the future.

Pause again. Were the world two degrees to the left, they're terrorizing a person who might have been their friend.

(Reminder: Terrorizing people is bad. You shouldn't terrorize anybody.)

Harassment of women with opinions will continue to be more visible on the internet, which allows us to recognize it publicly as abhorrent. Before this, the harassment of female developers wasn't so obvious. Given a timeline beyond my lifespan, the sexism will be corrected, slowly. While we live, we push the stone as far along as we can.

The rest is washing up: Ms. Quinn will live with this the rest of her life, regardless of whether she remains in the games industry. Her terrorizers will forget all about this next year. We hope that Ms. Quinn will continue to make games, we understand if she doesn't.

I suspect I'll write this next year and the year after that. I believe the year that I won't be compelled to write this is coming. I do not believe I will live to see it.

"Get the fuck out/here there's no interest in what you're about.../we're here together/we're here to stay" Three's A Party. Kid Dynamite. Short. Fast Loud. Hit play already. This post was edited at 7:30ish pm the same day it was published. It was edited again a couple hours later.

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