An unanswered question

Originally posted via twitlong, 31 Aug. 2014

[It’s been two weeks and one day since I asked this. I’ve also asked the question on Reddit, the official Penny Arcade forums, and probably two dozen game journalists since #gamergate started. Not one has acknowledged the existence of the question, let alone given an answer. On the other hand, I have received plenty of insults for it by #gamergate opponents.]

This is my question for PAX Prime 2014. This is an entirely open question, I don’t care which panel or which speaker addresses it, I just want someone — anyone — to answer it. I don’t even care if it’s answered at PAX.

In the last week we have seen an aggressively anti-“gamer” campaign in games media, by online personalities, bloggers, and journalists alike. This campaign claims to call out bigotry, harassment, and hatred in the gaming community, in the name of inclusiveness, acceptance, and equality. However, this campaign is pervasive in language that is thoroughly ableist, and body-shaming. It has been there from the beginning, continues to be awash in it, and will ostensibly continue indefinitely, and not just occurs with the express approval of social justice-minded journalists, but is actively perpetuated. It is so pervasive, and foundational to the campaign, I cannot imagine its continuance in its absence.

I say this because this campaign characterizes to what it refers as “gamers” in terms of traditional negative stereotypes: socially awkward, lazy, emotionally-stunted shut-in cisgendered heterosexual white males.

Many gamers are introverse. Many gamers are on the autism spectrum. Many gamers suffer from social anxiety disorders. Many gamers have physical health-related issues with which they struggle every day. When journalists invoke stereotypes of gamers and include words like “lazy”, “shut in”, “socially awkward”, “emotionally/socially stunted” or even “retarded” as some have, “ugly”, “fat”, “virginal”, “unygienic”, or “crazy”, they are trivializing the real struggles against which many gamers — not just white, cisgendered, heterosexual males, but ALL people who play games — face on a day-to-day basis, and capitalizing on their lack of privilege.

Moreover, by framing those who take exception to this, among other issues, as exclusively white, heterosexual, cisgendered males, journalists erase the existence and voices of women and individuals of non-binary genders, people of color, and LGBTQ’s.

All of this, in the name of social justice, intersectional feminism, inclusivity and acceptance in gaming. This is deeply problematic, and it makes me question the sincerity and motives of those who initiated and perpetuate it, and utterly fail to hold themselves and others accountable for it. Honestly, and with all due respect, I would go so far as to call it hypocritical.

It isn’t social justice to harm the people for which one claims to speak by collateral. It’s oppression, it’s shameful, and it needs to stop. Will journalists, bloggers, and online personalities acknowledge this pervasive ableist language and body-shaming, make amends to those harmed by it, hold one another accountable, and find a way to call out sexism and misogyny in gaming without engaging in behavior that is, itself, deeply problematic?