I really did not want to talk about GamerGate here. The whole thing is so deeply stupid that I don’t like dignifying it with words. Yet I am going to stipulate that by being pro-GamerGate, Fine Young Capitalists have- at least- internalized certain patriarchal assumptions that make them emblematic of the problem. That’s worth a look.
The two contrary impulses in Video Game writing are between “games as cultural artifacts” (also called “New Games Journalism”), and “games as consumer items”. Leigh Alexander does a pretty good job here summing up which side she’s on, and what the sides are. “GamerGate”, roughly speaking, is an attempt by people who prefer to think of games as something to consume to silence the voices of those who want to take a deeper look at games. They’ve had at least a small measure of unfortunate success.
The truly weird thing is the GamerGate perception that Feminism is a defining feature of New Games Journalism. It isn’t. The perception that it is, however, isn’t surprising, given our patriarchal assumptions. When the default assumption is a male voice, we notice the female voice far more than it actually happens:
Another study reported that a male science teacher who managed to create an atmosphere in which girls and boys contributed more equally to discussion felt that he was devoting 90 per cent of his attention to the girls. And so did his male pupils. They complained vociferously that the girls were getting too much talking time.
“Fine Young Capitalists”. The name invites comparison between capitalism and cannibalism. I can’t help but enjoy that. Then you see that they’re in favor of “GamerGate” and they believe that gamers need “kingmakers”.
So: they don’t realize they’re being silly. But usefully silly! They are silly in a way that illustrates a deeper problem. They are so deeply committed to games being consumer items that they can only think to write about games journalism to the extent that it is consumer education. Kingmaker. Singular. They see gates crumbling and are decrying the lack of gatekeepers. They are, ultimately, upset that they are being shut out of the kingmaking process.
Steam is slowly opening its’ gates to allow more games on the system. In the coming years, Steam will be transitioning to an open gate policy, or for their system to be seen as a platform for any game designer to host their game. This has the potential to cause another indie game crash as the market gets flooded and consumer’s can’t find the quality among the crap.
Fine Young Capitalists want to be Kingmakers, they want to be Gatekeepers. They think that without these things, Indie games will die, and AAA games might also go down. That’s…. that’s pretty much patriarchal thinking in a nutshell. The fact that they want to solve the “problem” of the crumbling of gatekeeping by appointing themselves the new gatekeepers is just a logical extension of the idea.
And then another approach:
To me, signal boosting is the most important thing you can do to spread work that doesn’t get to be shared on a regular basis.
This isn’t meant to be read as a grand political movement, but just to show appreciation to devs and critics who like to experiment with unique tools and concepts. People have been making alternative games for a very long time now, and I just wanted to create a bot that collected and curated them.
That’s a totally different mindset. It attacks the same sort of problem, but from a non-patriarchal place. It does not replicate the structures that don’t work for the problem she wants to attack, but instead approaches the problem of obscurity from a different direction.
The key, what makes it non-patriarchal, is that it isn’t exclusionary. It does not set up a “king of the hill” system that allows only a single winner. It allows for differences in tastes and opinions, or even moods.
It’s almost grown up that way.