An open letter to Mr. Bob “Moviebob” Chipman

Originally sent via private message on The Escapist’s webpage, and posted on its forums, 4 Sept. 2014

Mr. Chipman,

I’m writing you as one person who greatly enjoys your videos and perspectives, respects your opinions, and as someone who supports the “other side” of this gamergate mess, rather vociferously and at times perhaps unduly tactlessly. I just ask you hear me out.

I don’t care about what started this mess, I really don’t. I’m against hatred, bigotry, and the general toxic nonsense such as harassment and threats as any reasonable person. Which is, quite honestly, my main motivator for getting active in this.

There are a lot of gamers out there who have been bullied. There are gamers who are introverse. There are gamers who suffer social anxiety and are on the autism spectrum. Many gamers have serious health and physical issues that impede their general quality of life.

I bring this up, because many journalists and bloggers have engaged in some deeply problematic language over the past week and a half — “lazy”, “shut in”, “socially awkward”, “emotionally/socially stunted” or even “retarded” as some have, “ugly”, “fat”, “virginal”, “unhygienic”, or “crazy” — gamer stereotypes. The problem with this language is that it trivializes the very real struggles with which many gamers, not just the able-bodied white cisgendered heterosexual male, face on a day to day basis, and it capitalizes on their underprivileged status to further a narrative. It is even triggering for some of us.

That language isn’t needed to call out toxic behavior in the gaming community. Simply calling out toxic behavior will do. All that language does is harm by collateral the gamers who aren’t toxic — the ones for which this anti-bigot campaign ostensibly claims to be. It’s ableist, and it’s body-negative.

Moreover, invoking that white cisgendered heterosexual male prototype, women, trans, PoC, and LGBTQ gamers who are critical of this and other aspects of this controversy are being erased and their voices negated.

Simply put, calling out bigotry and toxicity while being bigoted and toxic does not work. And indeed, there are many journalists and bloggers who are behaving in an extraordinarily toxic and bigoted manner. The narrative, as it exists, will never resonate with gamers and continue to incite rage as long as it exists; it is completely unnecessary, and for my part it makes me question the sincerity and motives of those engaged in it. That is not social justice.

I am not saying you are a part of this, but many journalists and bloggers would do well to check their privilege, and convey their message without harming underprivileged gamers as collateral.

At this point, you would say these problems are not as bad as those faced by women. I do not deny women face serious issues, but that is an appeal to relative privation and it does not negate the underprivileged status of many gamers which must be considered. That’s why intersectionality exists.

All I can ask is that you consider what I have to say, consider the tone of journalists and bloggers, and whether it is genuinely one that promotes social justice. Thanks for your time.