I have no interest in conspiracy theories and what little I have vanishes completely when doomsday speak creeps in to the conversation. As a result I have found myself pointing and laughing at whispers of DiGRA’s (The Digital Games Research Association) supposed interest in taking over the gaming industry. Having said that I can still take the time to point out that they just declared war on the industry and culture that they, and any writers that they may influence, purport to “love”.
After the Digra2015 conference this year, which had a twitter hashtag taken over by #gamergate supporters and flooded with memes and gleeful mockery, Torill Elvira Mortensen, a former DiGRA Board member and currently a professor with a PHD in games and culture, decided to lay out her response to the whole affair. She also took time out of her, no doubt extremely important and busy, day to attack Mark Kern, a prominent game developer on World Of Warcraft (a game she admits to studying and admiring). The following are some choice quotes from that response that look bad in almost any context, even within it.
“He also claims that the tweets are libelous…however, if they happen to be making slides with a funny, ironic or even quite correct text that somehow responds to a campaign heavy with misrepresentation, lies, harassment and threats, that isn’t libel”
Except, you know, if those statements are untrue at best and monstrously ignorant at worst. Any person with a brain can spend a day or two browsing the hubs of gamergate and find nothing supporting harassment or threats.
Lies and misrepresentation accusations have more weight behind them only insofar as they relate to knowingly pushing them as such, which in the case of an online movement digging up every possible connection to explain why gaming media seems to hate its own consumer base, can happen, but not as often as less enlightened people think.
Once any proof or proper explanations are given (which is quite the chore to drag out of people sometimes, almost as if they really do have something to hide), then such threads are dropped quite fast I assure you oh knowledgable critics of anonymous online movements. So yeah, someone might be understandably concerned if you call them, or anyone they are heavily associated with, harassers.
“Mark Kern feels that he…knows better than the critics”
It’s good to know that critics, who exist as reactionaries to help artists perfect their forms and functions, feel entitled to superiority over the creators, without whom they wouldn’t have a job. She then goes on to state that Kern, and other creators, always point out “let’s see you do better” which, of course, the critic can never. Quite. Do.
And of course, the real kicker of the blog post:
“Perhaps it is time, after years of thinking of games as an almost universally good thing and a medium to be defended, to question that truth. Perhaps games, design and gamers aren’t so special after all, and need to be studied more as hostile objects resulting from a hostile culture, than as the labour of love it has been to so many of us.”
Noting that this is someone who earlier said that she “knows better” and it’s quite obvious how awesomely hypocritical her statement becomes. The quote above, of course, comes after a lengthy spiel about how her, and other researchers of games, are doing their level best to contain their disdain towards “gamers” (quotation marks not mine).
If anything justified “gamers” and #Gamergate’s reactionary ambivalence towards gaming academia and the gaming media that they influence (for good or ill I should add), then statements like that certainly don’t help their cause.