Remember the days when a “gate” involved an office complex? What about that “gate” that involved my home football team (The New England Patriots) spying on other teams during games? Oh, remember that “gate that involved Janet Jackson’s nipples (greatest seconds in television history if you’re a guy or a girl that interested in that sort of thing, I won’t judge, this blog is as safe zone as it gets). Anyways, before I get carried about about Janet Jackson’s nipples or how Justin Timberlake purposely ripped that breast plate off (He could have been a gentleman and covered her but he sat there twiddling his thumbs and watched what we watched for as long as it took for the cameras to move away). Now before I get really get carried away I need to explain to you what a “gate” is and what this has to do with me. A “gate” is a scandal and when referring to a scandal you attach that suffix at the end of whatever noun refers to that scandal. The origin of this term is the infamous “Watergate Scandal” that involved the Nixon administration and took place at the Watergate complex. An example of this phrase would be the whole Janet Jackson Superbowl incident was referred to as “nipplegate” because it involved her breast getting exposed on national TV in front of millions of families including children (OMG THE CHILDREN, ANYTHING BUT THE CHILDREN, LITTLE TIMMY DOESN’T WANT TO SEE JANET JACKSON’S BREAST). Listen, before I get back on topic, little Timmy enjoyed all three seconds of that as much as I did, maybe even more so stop being so naive. Your child has seen way more than nipples at his age if he’s lucky. You can’t protect your kids from smut no matter how hard you try. Now, let’s get back on track and don’t let me get derailed again otherwise you might get run over.
You’re probably wondering what a scandal has to do with me being on the spectrum. This blog post isn’t about a scandal involving people on the spectrum, it’s about a scandal that tainting the one thing that helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. By now many people are familiar with “gamergate”, a movement that once involved ethics in gaming journalism but has grown so over bloated an convoluted it trips over itself. It’s like the thing tied it’s own shoes together and now it’s just constantly trippin’ and shit. Took a whole bag of shrooms and it’s constantly trippin’ and shit. Took a truck load of acid and it’s just constantly trippin’ ans shit. Took a, okay I think you get the point. The movement started with a now bogus claim about a female game developer made by her angry ex about her sleeping with a journalist and maybe even more in exchange for good scores on her project. This followed by statements made by various other journalists and even some feminists sent the internet into a shit storm. People from many different walks of life jumped into a battle they think they understand but everything got so muddy and dragged out so long that people have forgotten why they started fighting in the first place. Soon the banner #gamergate means a whole bunch of things and not what it stood for originally. Some use the badge to defend ethics in journalism, some use it to defend the nerd/gamer identity, some unfortunately use the badge to justify acts of misogyny that involve threats of sexual violence against women and unfortunately it’s that part of the movement that gets the most media attention from all the wrong places (I’m sorry but you know shits gotten out of hand when CNN starts covering it).
Now I can spend this entire post talking about the origins and goals of gamergate but that would be the biggest waste of time. You could google it and you will realize just as I did that it’s a clusterfuck of information that will confuse you and expose the inherent flaws in the movement. With no clear origin and no clear goal the whole thing is just a mess. As my brother described it yesterday, it’s a movement about everything and a movement about nothing. Again the goal of this post isn’t to talk about what gamergate is but for me to rant about the damage it’s doing. At the end of the day the only thing this movement has accomplished is that it’s slowly tearing a part a community that I represent with more pride than a group of lions. The gaming community is a mess right now and no matter what end of the movement you’re on one thing is certain, we ALL look pretty fucking bad right now. The small subset of people that turned this movement into a war against women and others that people feel don’t belong into the gaming space has given us honest gamers a terrible name. My gamer identity means more to me than people will ever know. It was the only badge I was able to wear growing up on the Autism Spectrum that was a sign of skill, strength, and prowess. The gamer badge was the only badge that made me feel like I belonged somewhere, it was the only badge that made me feel good about myself in those early dark days. Back in my day gaming used to be about tolerance and acceptance, it was about banding together as a community of outcasts in order to create a safe place for ALL walks of life. The mess that this scandal has become isn’t the gaming space that made me feel safe when a lot of people hated me. As a matter of fact it’s the complete opposite, a space where saying the wrong thing to the wrong person warrants bigotry, misogyny, and threats of violence, especially if you’re a woman. That’s not what gaming is about and I don’t ever want someone on the outside looking in to hear the word gamer and immediately think “smelly basement dwelling virgin who threatens women from behind a computer from speaking their mind”. I want people to see us as a community that protects their own no matter their gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and gives people a space to feel good about themselves in a way society never could.
I honestly don’t know what the end game of this movement is but it doesn’t have to involve the tarnishing of a reputation that a lot of us honest people put blood sweat and tears into building. I love my gamer/nerd identity with everything I have and I refuse to let a small subset of angry people destroy that identity. To all the people who are committing actions on the internet that tarnish our good name, remember in your youth when you felt alone? Remember those days when you felt that nobody understood or wanted nothing to do with you because they felt that you didn’t fit their standards of a likable person? Remember how good it felt to finally find people who were just like you and understood your pain of being an outcast and they welcomed you with open arms? I do and I firmly believe everyone should feel as good as we did so can we stop fighting each other and waging war on others we feel that don’t belong? Because at the end of the day we wound up looking no different than those who ousted us in the first place. Gaming should be about friendly competition, escaping our sometimes lackluster and shitty lives to explore other worlds, most importantly it should be about having fun and banding together as a community to enjoy what brought us together in the first place. Stay classy people…
For more blog posts about my love of video games and all things nerdy,