I grew up playing video games. By the age of three, I started mastering my parents’ old Atari 2600. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends, and those I did have, didn’t live close by, so video games always helped keep the loneliness at bay. By the time high school rolled by, I was well into making mods and eventually even experimenting with making my own games. Video games even helped me bond with my mentally disabled brother. A bond we both still share today, even after 20 some odd years.

I tell you this to stress how important video games have been throughout my life, and what they mean to me. Even with all that said, one thing I’ve never considered myself to be however, is a gamer. The ‘gamer’ identity is toxic. It always has been. It was manufactured by businesses urging a distinct demographic to consume certain things in specific ways.

I’m just someone who plays games. I play everything from Hearthstone and Skyrim, to indie games like Gone Home and Velvet Sundown. But video games are only a small part of my life. I like art and photography. I love to travel. And to code; I probably spend more time programming than I play games nowadays. I’ve even started to learn how to crochet. I do not base my identity around any single one of these hobbies, but instead around all of them. Each one of them makes up a part of who I am.

Anyone who bases their identity around solely playing game is limiting themselves, and not truly experiencing life to the fullest. They are the people I run into at PAX and other conventions trying to collect every piece of free swag they can, just because. They are the ones wearing Halo baseball caps and League of Legends lanyards carrying around shitty cardboard boxes with The Evil Within stamped on it. If that’s what you want to do, that’s cool, but know you’re limiting yourself, and that those brands you’re wearing don’ care about you, or really make you who you are.

I spent a long time thinking about whether I was even going to comment about about what’s been happening over the last few weeks, because quite frankly it’s been so idiotic and depressing. Yet, laughable at the same time. I felt it was beneath me; that a lot of what happened was too personal, and that it had no place to be discussed in a public forum. I thought it would eventually die down and things would carry on as usual. I was wrong. Over the past couple weeks the gamer kettle has since boiled over, spewing this toxic nonsense to every corner of the internet. People like Adam Baldwin are now talking about it on the radio, promoting ‘gamers’ and the hashtag #Gamergate’ to ‘take back their word’ and culture. People don’t even understand what they’re fighting for.

Let’s Recap

This all started when a vindictive ex-boyfriend of Zoe Quinn posted a blog, revealing intimate details about her sex life. The blog went on to suggest she exchanged sexual favors to get publicity for her game projects. Then to try and justify his own behavior, he claimed it was to “warn others” of her deceitful ways when dealing with her.

I can relate to a lot of the things her ex has said in the post. I’ve been there myself. But, if you ever have to take to the internet to scream how crazy your ex is, then let’s be clear- You are the crazy ex. It’s you, not the other person.

We’ve all dealt with bad breakups and “crazy exes”. It’s natural to feel like you want the world to know how horrible the other person in the relationship was, often times as way to try and gain a form of closure. I get that. Let me make it clear though, it is never okay to post it to the internet for the world to see. No matter how much an ex hurts you, they don’t deserve it, and it just makes you look like an asshole for posting it in the first place. It also doesn’t solve anything. Finding closure comes from within, not from slinging mud at a former significant other.

The only time it is ever acceptable to name or shame an ex is if they’re an abuser. Rapists should be named and shamed. Not an ex who hurt your fragile male ego.

I also didn’t want to initially comment because the personal lives (especially one’s sex life) is not news. It’s tabloid garbage. The gaming community took notice though, because some of the people she supposedly slept with just happened to be ‘game journalists’; calling for journalistic integrity. This spun further out of control when Phil Fish (creator of Fez) stepped in and openly supported Quinn after she was being harassed. Not only did Fish get his social media accounts hacked, his company, Polytron was hacked and several gigabytes of internal data were supposedly leaked to the internet.

Let that sink in for a moment. Developers were harassed to the point of receiving death threats and even had their accounts hacked over something so personal that should not have been news in the first place.
If that wast enough, Anita Sarkeesian , (creator of videos of feminist critiques of common video game tropes), was literally harassed out of her home after her latest video, which gave examples of violence against women serving as a backdrop in video game plot-lines.

What’s sad is this really isn’t even anything new for Quinn or Sarkeesian either. Anita has been dealing with this kind of harassment since her kickstarter project, while Zoe’s been a constant target since her first successful game, Depression Quest.

The idea is that gamers, which itself is a small part of geek culture, are reacting so harshly is because most of them do not really know what’s actually going on. They believe they are the ones being attacked. In reality, who is really behind this are anti-woman trolls. They’re using the guise of ‘ethics’ in game journalism and cries of their “dying game culture” as a cover to justify the harassment they participate in. That is the real scandal going on. It’s not about journalists and developers being friendly with each other. It’s not even about “social justice warriors” and rainbows. It’s about a vocal minority that congregate around sites like 4chan and Reddit, who adopt this exclusionary term of ‘gamer’ as their identity, that have united to try and silence those that do not share their views.

There are some that truly believe everything happening with the #GamerGate isnt about misogyny. That it really is about keeping the gaming press accountable. There are also some that rally around the hashtag that truly believe their culture is under attack by ‘social justice warriors’ that want to ruin or take away their video games and change what the word ‘gamer’ means.

Whatever you believe or whatever your concerns about the video game industry may be, the root of #GamerGate is about misogyny. Yes, there are real, valid concerns over ethics and how close some journalists are to game developers and publishers. It’s not uncommon to hear about advertisers pulling their ads from sites or magazines because the publication in question gave them a bad review. never-mind the whole incident involving Jeff Gerstmann and the Kane and Lynch debacle. Weird how everyone took Jeff’s side without even second guessing though, huh?

The thought that game culture is somehow dying or under attack is laughable though. Video games are more popular than ever. These slights, imagined up by gamers are just that, imaginary. These people claim Zoe Quinn received free press and positive reviews in exchange for sex. Yet when you ask or search for proof, nothing can be found, except vague exagerations. These same people continue to fabricate stories how feminists or game journalists are trying to destroy video games and promote their own agendas.

Let me reiterate, #GamerGate is not about gamer culture.

Even if it was about gamer culture and redefining what the word gamer means, is that really such a bad thing if the word was changed to something more inclusive? I don’t know about you, but 13 year old me would have loved it if video games weren’t a boys only club.

Video games are great, whatever your take on everything happening is. They allow us to bond with people we otherwise might not. It’s when we start telling people what we should or shouldn’t play or harass others that don’t agree with us, we become the very problems so many of us use video games to escape from.

Author’s note: If you want to label me in with all the other “social justice warriors”, that’s fine. But for the record, I prefer the title Social Justice Sorcerer.