Holy shit! For the first time since its conception it may not actually be about the ethics in game journalism but instead about network viewership numbers! Huh, who saw that coming?
The polarising social media campaign GamerGate has been covered in almost every media possible ranging from personal blogs and reputable gaming websites to behemoth news outlets like The New York Times but never television drama. Well, that was until popular Law & Order spinoff, Special Victims Unit, decided to take a crack at it.
According to fan blog All Things Law and Order, Law & Order: SVU will air an episode next month titled “The Intimidation Game”. The episode centres around a female game developer gearing up to launch her first title, only to barraged by “a stream of online insults, intimidation and death threats from the male-dominated gaming community.” Ha! As if that would happen in real lif…oh, wait. Hold up, there’s more. The ante is upped when a female developer is physically assaulted at a gaming convention, leading to the intervention of justice loving Detective Tutuola (Ice-T).
It’s no secret that I’m in staunch opposition to the outcomes of the GamerGate movement. I’ll wear that proudly and I’m more than happy to engage in intelligent discourse on the subject. You’ll notice that I say outcomes and not the idealized, enigmatic hashtag itself. Sexism, racism, abuse and harassment, homophobia, transprejudice and a litany of other crude and unconstructive attitudes should not belong or be tolerated within in our gaming zeitgeist. Simple as that. The vocal masses that identify under the banner of GamerGate to spread these backwards and frankly uneducated views, undermine any “integrity” the movement ever could have gained.
Which leads to the second issue. GamerGate itself. It’s not actually a thing. See, movements, regardless of their nature, have central leadership and an agreed-upon manifesto. GamerGate suffers from the fact that no one has control over its chaotic and fractured pseudo-existence, resulting in it suffering from clinical not-knowing-what-the-fuck-it-wants-to-be syndrome. It’s an idealistic and flimsy premise, embracing and subsequently throwing around the rhetoric of integrity, equal representation and the us-against-them mentality, minus the all important context. Most of its bannermen and women unfortunately rally under a misrepresentation of the industry they are attempting to change, due to one vile and unclassy vitriolic outburst of a scorned lover.
That being said, I’m more than a little concerned that SVU is attempting to tackle such a volatile powder keg. The writers over at the crime drama powerhouse haven’t especially handled videogame related storylines very well in the past, preferring to fall back on the tried and true tropes that videogames make the youth unstable killing machines or cause you to starve your baby to death. This doesn’t strike me as the best forum to handle our industries systemic problems and most recent unsightly stain.
I suppose we’ll just have to see what unfolds. Hopefully it’s covered in a respectable and honest manner, representing the offenders as the rational, albeit internet-empowered adults bigots they are and not a caricature of poor mental health.
FYI: If any of ya’ll want to make this personal or just feel like engaging in fully grammar checked parlay, you know where to find me @JonnyTheRobot . Just remember, I’m a Social Justice Medic, not a warrior.