When Gamergate happened months ago, we knew we had to get on the inside and interview a gamer to get the real story. Unfortunately, all of our attempts to find a gamer on Reddit or 4chan resulted in death and rape threats. Finally, armed with bribery in the form of some leftover stuffing waffles, we found a gamer willing to sit down with us on the condition of anonymity. But he brought something to the interview we never expected: reason.
The Gabbler: Hi, thank you so much for meeting with me!
Anonymous Gamer: You’re very welcome, ma’am.
TG: What?! “Ma’am?!” You’re already starting in with the misogyny?! We’ve been here two seconds! A woman is more than just her age! Her young, young, practically infantile age, in my case.
AG: I’m sorry, miss. I just saw the wedding ring and assumed…
TG: Wedding ring? Oh, this? That’s just that ring from Lord of the Rings or whatever. I just wanted to blend in, you know. Go deep undercover. So that’s THE ring finger? The one for wedding rings and stuff? Good to know.
AG: Oh, well I’m sorry to have offended you. So, we’re here to talk about Gamergate?
TG: That’s right. I assume, as a white male gamer, you’re on their side? You probably think I’m a dirty whore for even daring to question you about the topic, right?
AG: Well, no, actually. I’m kind of in the anti-Gamergate camp, actually. I think what those men (and women, to be fair) are saying to Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn is just awful. Death threats because women dare to criticize your precious games and freely practice your sexual agency? Come on, gentlemen, we’re better than this.
TG: So you admit it.
AG: Admit what?
TG: That you think Zoe Quinn’s sexual! Which is code for “slut.” I KNEW IT!!!
AG: No, I think Zoe Quinn, as a grown woman, possibly engaged in consensual sexual acts, as she has every right to. I also realize that none of these sexual acts resulted in any coverage of her game Depression Quest, positive or otherwise. And, really, it’s not any of our business what she did or didn’t do. She doesn’t owe us anything.
TG: Ummm, well that’s good? So what do you think about the whole Zoe Quinn/Eron Gjonji thing? His claims that, while they were dating, she cheated on him and slept her way to positive reviews is what started this whole thing.
AG: Like I said, it’s really not any of our business, but I do think it’s pretty clear that she didn’t “sleep her way to the top” and that her relationship with gaming journalists did not actually result in any positive reviews of Depression Quest. Nathan Grayson, the journalist who Quinn dated, never reviewed any of her work after their relationship started. It’s as simple as that. So that claim was absurd. As to Gjoni’s other claims that Quinn emotionally abused him, disregarding his struggles with mental illness and manipulating him throughout their relationship, I don’t know. I do think those allegations should be taken seriously and looked into. Any claims of abuse should be taken seriously, regardless of the gender of the abuser.
TG: Ah ha! I KNEW there was a misogynist under all of those layers of soft, cuddly, reasonable man! How could there not be? You’ve been taught to objectify women your whole life by the gaming industry! Women are just skimpy clothes holders with giant boobs in all those silly games you play! How could you possibly learn to respect us with that image constantly reinforced?!
AG: Because I’m a human being with my own mind that is capable of critical thought? Raised by a strong woman in a house full of independent, smart, and sometimes bossy sisters who demanded respect and taught me to demand equality and recognize my own privilege? That might have something to do with it.
TG: Okay, Mister Smarty Pants. If you’re such a “human being” who examines things critically, such a fan of smart, independent women, then how can you DARE criticize Zoe Quinn, a woman who’s under attack right now basically because she’s smart and independent?
AG: That’s not what I’m doing at all. Let me clear about one thing: the death threats, the rape threats, the cries of whore and slut, the doxing, those are terrible and nothing that Quinn did could justify them. Gjoni himself has come out against them. But I have read some allegations that Quinn was extremely emotionally abusive. I don’t know if they’re true, but I do know that when a woman claims abuse at the hands of a high-powered man we demand that she release his name to the public so we can all vilify him. So why punish a man for doing the same when he believes he’s been abused? Of course, the beginnings of Gamergate, with Quinn and Gjoni, are so far removed from the issues at stake it hardly matters. But I think it’s a possibility that few consider because the trolls latched on and everyone seems to focus on them, despite the fact that no one has ever changed a trolls mind in the entire history of the internet.
TG: So it really IS just about ethics in journalism?
AG: I feel like you’re not even listening to me…
TG: Well, no, because you’re using a lot of words and none of them sound angry, so it’s pretty easy to zone out. So if Quinn is awful and the trolls are awful, then who’s right? What is this whole thing even about?!
AG: It’s about a bunch of whiny white men get all upset that women and minorities are playing in their sandbox. So they’re acting awful and cloaking it in claims about ethics in game journalism. What passed between Quinn and Gjonji was tangential, a heartbreak that blew up into a movement, or really just an excuse to treat female gamers like shit.
TG: Sounds like we should just gang up on all of those whiny white men and push their heads into the sand. That way we can have the sandbox all to ourselves.
AG: But can’t just one side act like adults? For a while the internet was riddled with articles claiming that anyone pro-Gamergate deserved to be bullied. Seriously? Can one side of this whole conflict treat human beings like human beings? Even if they are terrible human beings who say awful things and don’t deserve courtesy or respect? It’s like the perfect storm of internet-based ignorance. Only articles that create an intense emotion are clicked, so everyone runs away with their emotions and no one stops to consider the real nuances, the ways that we can impact and improve society. Instead everyone yells at each other and the page views roll in and nothing ever changes. Can’t one person take the high road?
TG: I’m pretty sure the high road is where websites go to die. No one likes the high road! It’s just boring! Anyway, it’s been great talking to you, but I really was hoping for someone angrier and more terrible. So I’m just going to spend some time on internet comment sections to get my fill of rage. But thanks for taking the time to talk with me! Hopefully if we meet again you’re a little more filled with rage and a lot less reasonable. Work on that, okay?