#GamerGate: Journalistic Integrity or Plain Misogyny?
by Cuirassier on February 10, 2015 - 5:24pm
In the increasingly expanding and evolving industry of video games, many fresh developers and new independent gaming studios seek commercial success and professional attention from lead publishers. Thus, initial critiques on their first released games are extremely important and can often decide whether a new blockbuster franchise is born or whether the newly created game will remain forever largely unknown and overlooked.
As the latter is made more and more evident with the meteoric rise of critic websites (such as IGN) and the increasing influence on sales figures of popular gaming journalists and reviewers (such as Angry Joe and Geoff Keighley), the integrity of these power figures are put in question. Many practices within the video game journalism industry such as endorsements, early access to games and the sharing of advertising revenue have been hotly debated as regard of their effect on the objectivity and neutrality of reviews.
In August 2014, those concerns surfaced again when Eron Gjoni wrote a blog accusing her ex-girlfriend, Zoey Quinn, of having an affair with Nathan Grayson, a prominent game reviewer actively contributing to a popular, game-focused blog “Kotaku”. This is relevant because Quinn is a video game developer that had just recently published a game entitled “Depression Quest” back in early 2013.
Therefore, gamers associated her work’s largely positive press and success as a fruit of this relationship. This caused an outrage which led to death threats towards Quinn, other female developers, and anyone who came in defense of them.
These events eventually culminated to the creation of the GamerGate hashtag, a campaign with a purpose to uncover dishonest practices within the gaming journalism world. However, those who oppose #GamerGate have pointed out that much of the campaign has involved misogynistic harassment of feminists who have come in defense of the previously attacked female developers.
From a deontological approach, some actions of the #GamerGate movement are justified if and only if we are specifically concerned on the defense of transparency and honesty in video game journalism. That is, actions such as doxing or hacking performed with the purpose to publically display conspiracies between publishers and journalists regarding game reviews are ethical since they seek to defend the universal maxim of “be forthright and full in your reporting” (Merrill 24).
However, threats of rape and death threats have absolutely no relation with uncovering journalistic dishonesty, which is why many who oppose #GamerGate question the movement’s intentions. Thus, from a theological point of view, the prominent misogynistic harassment is ethically wrong because it brings pain to the victims and their families while having no impact on the progress of uncovering journalistic dishonesty. To put simply, this excessive abuse has only negative consequences.
To rectify the useless damage that has resulted from the #GamerGate movement and continue the pursuit of honest gaming journalism, I propose a utilitarian ethical approach to the problem. That is, to attempt to “maximize the happiness in the world” (Merrill 35) or, in this case, maximize the happiness of everyone involved in the debate. To achieve this, the gaming community must stop any form of harassment, be it doxing or rape threats, towards feminists since they bring unhappiness to the victims while having little to no impact on the uncovering of journalistic dishonesty in the video game industry. Besides, these feminists would rapidly fall into irrelevance since the goal of this campaign was never to attack women in gaming. Instead, gamers should take a less hateful approach and investigate all parties involved in the incident: developers, publishers, video game journalists, reviewers, and possible themselves. The overall happiness would increase since the original victims will no longer be threatened (therefore unhappy) while gamers can be content on continuing their #GamerGate campaign, thus rendering the latter an ethically correct movement in a theological, utilitarian framework.
“Gamergate controversy.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Merrill C, John. “Overview: Theoretical Foundations for Media Ethics.” Controversies in Media Ethics, 3nd Edition. (New York: Routledge, 2011)