Full disclosure; I consider myself to be, and tell others that I am a gamer.
I’ve been playing games for as long as I can remember. I played games on my father’s commodore 128. I had my mother read to me from my gameboy game manuals. I remember when the family got a 486DX processor and I could play Doom at it’s full resolution. Now I game on a three monitor setup that I put together myself, with over 500 games in my Steam library. I like games.
It was a huge surprise to me when at the end of August news outlets everywhere were calling an end to the “gamer”. Site after site after site after site claiming that the term gamer is no longer being used and the culture is dead. Because of the sexists and violent tenancy of the male gamer, the identity is forever destroyed, and good riddance. I didn’t notice any of this, because in true gamer fashion, I was playing games.
Below is a review of what this #GamerGate is all about. (click to enlarge)
As a gamer, I’ve run into all sorts of people that play games. Men, women, kids, misogynists and asexual xenophobes. The framing of this issue as a barbaric male VS oppressed female doesn’t fit with my experience. I know plenty of female gamers. During a ski trip a friend of mine brought her XBox so she could keep playing Skyrim. I know a woman who can speed run the first world in Mario 3 in under 10 minutes. I’ve bought video games for girlfriends before and talked about Final Fantasy at bars in a mixed gender crowd. In the UK, it turns out female gamers out number male.
This death of the gamer mantra is bullshit. Gamers love their games and will continue to do so. Yes, there are dicks out there that will say awful things; that’s true everywhere. Yes, people will say very mean things on the internet; they also do that in politics in plain view of everyone and keep getting elected.
There is a simple formula that you need to follow on the internet.
The news this morning, unfortunately, wasn’t much different than any other day. There was violence in the middle east and a US Embassy was attacked. I really didn’t think much of it, and I suppose that’s telling of the times. We are continually reminded of wars, unrest, famine and destruction between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia; or so it seems. After a time it fades into the background. The beings known as humans can adapt to amazing situations and forget the gravity of events as they become common place. As I sat at my desk with a light workload this morning, I started to surf the Internet; I then realised how close to home this attack really was.
We live in an interesting age, where many of us carry on in different realities. We have friends on Facebook that we wouldn’t recognize if we saw them on the streets and good friends we’ve never met in person. We conduct our business via email and carry on with our day to day lives with electronics carrying our emotions and intentions.
Now and then I play a game called EVE Online. EVE is remarkable for several reasons, but one of the main ones is that it all takes place in one universe. What that means is your actions, if they are large and sustained, shape the future of the game. It’s hard to put into words; you have to experience it to understand it.
The game runs on social interactions.
The attack on the embassy claimed the lives of several people, including a very influential EVE player. Sean “Vile Rat” Smith was killed while working in the IT department of the Embassy. And when I say influential, I mean the man created and toppled empires. I didn’t know him, I never had dealings with him. Truth be told I didn’t know his name until I read the news stories. I am aware of his actions however, every player in EVE was affected one way or another if they knew it or not. He touched a great many lives.
As I write this, there are tributesgoingup all over EVE. Space Stations are being renamed in his honor and players are trying to set up a fund for his kids. This man gave his free time to diplomacy in a game and gave his life for diplomacy in Benghazi. I don’t know what else to say… I’ll let the video say the rest.