September 30, 2014

Content to Ignore Gamergate

Gamer
Gamer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been asked a few times why I have had nothing to say about the gamergate controversy currently raging on social media. I have explained that I don't know enough about it to have much to say.

To unpack that a bit more since it seems to be of great interest, I have steered clear of gamergate for at least three reasons:
  1. I do not consider myself a gamer.
  2. Much of the controversy sounds so familiar to what we have been hearing from social justice warriors about atheists and skeptics that I'd prefer to address these issues in the context of atheism and skepticism.
  3. I have outrage fatigue.
Not a gamer

With a few brief exceptions over a decade ago, I never really got into into PC gaming. I enjoyed a few titles for awhile but had neither the interest nor the money to build the sort of gaming systems that were required to keep up with the latest and greatest. I have minimal experience playing with others online. I guess doing so never held much interest for me.

At the present time, my gaming activity consists of occasionally playing obsolete sports games on an equally console. If it died tomorrow, I wouldn't bother to replace it. So no, I don't see myself as much of a gamer at all.

What I will say is that sexism and misogyny were certainly evident the couple of times I dabbled with online gaming years ago. Same with racism, homophobia, and all sorts of other unpleasant utterances. This didn't surprise me in the least. I assumed that most of the people I encountered in these online gaming communities were teenage boys. Having once been a teenage boy, I figured that this stuff probably comes with the territory. This doesn't make it acceptable; it makes it typical.

On the question of whether sexism and misogyny are serious problems among gamers, I'll gladly defer to the avid gamers. They are in a much better position to evaluate this than I am.

The familiar controversy

From what little I've gathered from what is admittedly a largely disinterested vantage point, the controversy boils down to two things: (1) accusations of sexism and misogyny among gamers, and (2) ethics in gaming journalism (e.g., one-sided media stories demonizing gamers, blatant conflicts of interest and lack of impartiality). Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

If I was an avid gamer, I'd likely be at least somewhat invested in following the controversy. I'd probably have strong opinions on at least some of it. But since this sounds so much like what has been happening among atheists and skeptics, at least since Atheism+, I'd prefer to ignore it and limit myself to what has been happening among atheists and skeptics. I find this more relevant.

I understand that if you are both an atheist/skeptic and a gamer who opposes social justice warriorism, it must feel like you are fighting on two fronts. Perfectly understandable. Perhaps it strikes you as selfish of me to ignore gamergate. We all have to chose our priorities, and gaming is pretty low on my list. I'm not saying it shouldn't be important to you, only that I have a hard time getting too worked up about it.

Outrage fatigue

Someone asked me the other day whether my reason for cutting back a bit here lately involves the tiresome behavior of the atheist social justice warriors. At the time, I said that I did not think it was at all relevant. After more reflection, I'm not so sure.

I still don't think it has much to do with why I'm reducing my posting frequency. I have many other reasons for that. But I do think that it has something to do with me not wanting to be Facebook and Twitter as much as I used to. Outrage has come to dominate social media communication so much that I have found it less enjoyable to be there. And when I do use Facebook or Twitter, I find that my mindset has gradually shifted away from "What's been happening in the world of atheism?" to something more like, "What is everybody outraged about today?" Maybe it was inevitable that it would shift once again. Now I find myself wondering, "Why bother?"

I don't need any more outrage than what I'm already seeing. I prefer to limit myself to the outrage I consider personally relevant, interesting, and/or deserving of comment. This includes manifestations of social justice warriorism among atheists and skeptics. Gamergate hasn't made the cut.

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