This is according to some Social Justice Warrior types on Twitter. They're very disappointed that I'm a Gamergater. Gutted, even. And it's weird to me, because I didn't even know I was a Gamergater. Heck... if anything, I thought I was anti-Gamergate...!
I guess there must be all sorts of other things I didn't know I was a part of. A member of ISIS, maybe. A senior officer in the Khmer Rouge, perhaps. A whimsy fartlord?
Admittedly, I didn't ever really identify with Social Justice Warriors either - I'm not a huge fan of labels or "sides" of any sort - but I at least felt that the aims of SJWs (hey, let's not be nasty to women, gay people, the trans community; that sort of thing) was much more my bag, than what I saw Gamergate as being about.
You know: being nasty to all of the above, doxxing, harassment, misogyny. That type of thing. Oh, and ethics in games journalism, or whatever it is they say they're after. I guess I was wrong though. I guess I must be a Gamergater, then. Whew. Blimey. Did not see that coming. Oh well.
See, a funny thing happened yesterday. And by funny, I mean "not funny, but weird and tiresome".
You may be aware that I wrote an article about Nintendo's firing of Alison Rapp. I then spent the remainder of the day explaining myself to certain people who identify as Social Justice Warriors, trying to gently and respectfully point out that my intention wasn't to blame all victims as the root of their own misfortune.
While some of them, with a profound lack of self-awareness, attempted to draw me into precisely the sort of drama triangle I'd spent much of the article describing as proven to be a dysfunctional and toxic model of human interaction.
Madder still to me, I ended up getting a ton of praise on KotakuInAction - the infamous sub-Reddit forum, that's as close as it gets to an official Gamergater hangout - for what was seen as my even-handed and neutral approach.
So, good work there, everyone who contributed to that, because now I'm fighting hard not to think that all SJWs are mental. And - before you descend on me en masse... that's not me making light of people with actual mental health issues, because....
...Ohhh... what's the point? Frankly, whatever I say you're going to take issue with it, right? Yeah - look at me playing the victim there. Boom!
I was confused by all of the above. I read deeper into the Alison Rapp situation, Gamergaters, and Social Justice Warriors than I'd ever done before, and just came away even more confused. Neither side comes out of it looking good. There's so much spin and counter-spin that it's virtually impossible to find the truth in the situation. There are good points and dumb points on both sides.
Frankly, I don't blame GGers and SJWs: it's far easier to take a subjective side than adopt an objective approach to Gamergate, because it's so damn bewildering.
I also ended up muting some Gamergater fellers on Twitter last night, because they'd included me in on a conversation about where they might find nude photos of Alison Rapp. Plus, I somehow managed to trigger a Social Justice Warrior by using the word "trigger". Both of which are beyond parody, frankly.
Gamergaters and Social Justice Warriors are everything I ever feared they were... and they're also none of that too. There's a shocking lack of self reflection from huge swathes of them. And at the same time, there seems to be decent, balanced, people on both sides, too. Those who really believe in what they're doing, yet come at that from a sane, sincere and reasonable place - feeling their communities have been misrepresented by a handful of noisy and destructive zealots, who are damaging their real message.
Although... and it seriously pains me to say this... it's mostly the Social Justice Warriors who take issue with me when I try to be balanced and neutral. That's just a simple fact: since starting this site, I've had more arseyness from SJWs than Gamergaters. How am I meant to interpret that, when I thought I was on their side?
I mean, to call me a Gamergater - with all the connotations that label has become associated with - is beyond the pale. For a start... I don't even know what somebody might mean by that. That I hate women? That I harass people online? I don't, and I never have. All I can really take from it is that anybody who doesn't blindly agree with whatever the SJW priesthood has to say is automatically considered a Gamergater.
To quote George W. Bush: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
The majority of the comments I received on yesterday's story - not all of them admittedly (people who addressed me directly on Twitter were mostly pleasant and balanced), but the majority - were from these so-called Social Justice Warriors.
I was repeatedly accused of victim-blaming, while they tried their level best - whether they were aware of doing so or not - to draw me into Karpman Drama Triangle that I'd been writing about. It was textbook.
I desperately don't want this to be the case, but I'm so weary of the knee-jerk reaction that I get from some of these people, that I don't care anymore whether this piece offends them. They need a major reality check, frankly.
Well... I barely care. Of course I care a bit, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. But not that much. My fingers hurt from trying to explain that I'm on the side of... well... people who don't enjoy the misfortune and unhappiness of others. And if I'm not on your side, then I am - at worst - neutral, because I accept that I don't understand the baffling nuances of both armies in this self-proclaimed "culture war".
It speaks volumes about how these "warriors" are fighting their "war" that my sympathies have turned almost 180-degrees over the last 18 months. Albeit... wavering in the wind, still, like a weathervane.
See, the messed-up thing is that part of why I brought Mr Biffo back is because I empathised with Zoe Quinn. I'd been through my own harassment, and I saw her putting herself out there and figured that if she could do it, so could I. Like others, I pretty much dismissed all of Gamergate as a campaign of harassment and abuse against women in gaming. An orchestrated effort to destroy lives.
I mean, I accept that I might've got the tone of yesterday's article wrong. Obviously, I got something wrong - I tried to be neutral, and ended up being told by Gamergaters that I was fair, and by Social Justice Warriors that I was unfair. I'm fine with that to a point, because sometimes when you're delivering a message of tough love it can be hard to hear, and you expect people to lash out when you challenge their beliefs.
At the same time, I've been left wondering just how much some people want Gamergate to end.
If Social Justice Warriors sincerely want this mess to be over, having an inflexible, knee-jerk, automatic response to moderate discussion is not the way to go about it.
A black and white view of the world is never going to solve anything. It lacks empathy, it lacks reason, it lacks in any ability to admit that we're not flawless beings. That we all get things wrong. Yes: even Social Justice Warriors...!
It's why I'm so tired of modern politics. It's why the world is so screwed up, and why I feel so removed from it. There's no fixing anything, when nobody will negotiate. When they come at things from the perspective that anybody who disagrees with them is always going to be in the wrong.
I get why the Social Justice Warrior movement has such support - because, again, I used to be someone who thought he supported it. People don't want to be seen as lacking compassion for victims, least of all me. I trained to be a psychotherapist because I care about people, and wanted to help. Too much frankly. I'm riddled with impotent guilt. However, part of that training made me aware that sometimes what we see as helping isn't helping at all.
I speak from a great deal of experience here when I say that there are, whether you like it or not, some people who are happy to remain "victims", and play to that. Calling that out, when it's apparent, is the moral thing to do, because people often aren't even aware they're doing it. It's not victim-blaming or shaming, or being a Gamergater.
Drawing attention to it is the compassionate thing to do, for the individual's benefit - and for the benefit of real victims, who really deserve the attention. And for the people who slip into the rescuer role.
Just like plants, people will never grow if you huddle around and shield them from the elements.
I say again, for the billionth time... there are victims, and there are "victims". You can't realistically tell me you've never met somebody who doesn't constantly complain about their life, yet never seems to do anything to fix it?
"Oh, I'm so lonely... I hate my life..."
"Join a gym. You might meet somebody."
"I don't like gyms."
"Go on a singles holiday."
"I don't like holidays..."
I know how hard it can be to turn a ship around mid-course, but if all you're doing to help is keeping a person's hands on the wheel, then you're part of the problem. You have to see through the surface to find the real victims. Stepping away helps more often than not. Don't tell them what they say they want to hear: tell them what they need to hear.
And look... that simply isn't victim blaming. That's "victim" empowerment. That's breaking a cycle of negative behaviour. We get locked into patterns, and sometimes we need help to break those patterns, - especially when there are those around who are facilitating and colluding and reinforcing those patterns. Not everyone who cries wolf has seen a wolf. Or they've gone and poked a wolf up the bum with a toothbrush. People have to take responsibility for their actions.
I get there are subjects which are virtually impossible to discuss without inflaming outrage, and that this is one of them. Just look at what happened to Stephen Fry yesterday, when he dared to suggest that self-pity was actually counterproductive to mental health. He's someone who knows more than a little about mental health, and how mollycoddling doesn't, ultimately, help anybody get better.
Fry's words weren't, perhaps, the most delicate, and consequently he was torn apart for daring to suggest as such. Because we all want to feel like good people, we all want to feel we're helping others. Yet often that help isn't help at all. God forbid that we don't wrap everyone in cotton wool, and pander to their pain 24-7. Yes, it's hard not to feel like a victim when you're being attacked... but it's hard not to act like a victim when you choose to perceive everything as an attack, outside of your control.
But, y'know... this doesn't matter. It's what I more or less tried to suggest yesterday, and it got me nowhere. Well, nowhere with the people it was actually trying to help.
I want Gamergate to end, because it's a stain on what gaming should be about. It's a toxic whiff hovering above the history of this industry.
We all know how Gamergate started. We all know what some within the Gamergate community are capable of: the harassment, the misogyny, the homophobia, the abuse. I abhor it all. I'm sorry for everyone who has been on the receiving end of it.
Unfortunately, some within the Social Justice Warrior community have now succeeded in all but destroying what sympathy I had left for their cause by being so frustratingly militant, inflexible and oversensitive. And, likewise, some in the Gamergate community continue to adhere to the stereotype of being borderline, women-hating psychopaths. All we can do is change our own patterns, take responsibility for ourselves. Step away, if needs be. And stop seeing aggressors in everything.
Something that I have yet to see from Alison Rapp, and others. All it does is perpetuate a cycle of abuse that is destroying lives.
If I've learned anything over the past 18 months it's that I don't identify with either side in Gamergate, but that there are individuals - Gamergaters and Social Justice Warriors - who I've learned to have some respect and compassion for. Some of those are its advocates, and its moderates. And some are those who have been genuinely hurt through no fault of their own. The real victims.
I've learned that a situation like this is never as simple as black and white, and that there's good and bad in every community. I've learned that accepting everything at face value is only ever going to give me a distorted picture of the truth.
And I'm as surprised by that as anyone.
Now.. before you comment, I just want to ask a few questions: if you're a Gamergater or a Social Justice Warrior, what is it that you want to achieve? How do you think you are helping the situation, and what would you do to help bring an end to this rift? What would you do to heal the games industry?