Editorial – I applaud the SJW

Editorial – I applaud the SJW

The ‘gaming community’ (if there even is one these days) has proven to contain dark groups of characters that like nothing better than to harass women and claim that there is a clique of games journalists trying to destroy their hobby by shining a light on issues…like the harassment of women. Things came to the fore a few weeks ago with the targeting of Zoe Quinn (this is a good summary of events) and more recently when Anita Sarkeesian left her home after threats were made against her (see the lowdown on The Verge). This come admist a bomb threat made about a flight Sony’s John Smedley (check that on BBC News) was on recently.

It all stinks and reveals that the gaming community has bigger problems than rumoured corruption in the games press (as Emma Woolley highlights). Leigh Alexander also makes some strong points over on Gamasutra

A fairly neutral news story on the Anita Sarkeesian situation on PCGamesN was ripped apart in the comments, so much so that normally friendly community saw the comments closed.

Amongst all this have been the cries about ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (see header image) “ruining our [as in gamer’s] hobby”. As a part time writer who runs a fairly inconsequential website in the grand scheme of things, I don’t have the time to write about the issues that I cited above as much as I wished. If I did, I wouldn’t doubt that some would brand me with SJW label. I’d say, bring it on. I fully applaud those in the games press who are bringing these issues of harassment to our attention.

Isn’t that what the media and press are there to do? To bring people’s attention to issues within different communities? If all we ever saw from gaming websites was news stories about the latest trailer for the next big AAA game or review for the latest entry in an ageing AAA franchise, we wouldn’t see any progress as a what should be a community of people who are interested in games.

It takes people like Leigh Alexander, John Walker, Nathan Grayson and others to let bring our attention to the darker elements of the gaming world. They shouldn’t have to, as there shouldn’t be issues where developers are being harassed and threatened, but sadly we live in a world where that happens. So I applaud them, and other members of the SJW for bringing these troubling stories to light.

It might be helpful if the gaming press provided greater clarity on what is a news article and what is an opinion piece, that way those who don’t want to read about the actions of misogynists and trolls don’t have to. But really, if they don’t want to read about the darker side of gaming, they don’t need to click on the article, they don’t need to read all the way to the bottom and they certainly don’t need to leave comments that leave me questioning the nature of human beings.

Personally, I liken those who are rallying against the coverage of the dark side of gaming to those who call for the abolition of the European Convention on Human Rights. I mean, why would you argue against something which sets out our human rights in law?

I’ll stop before I get into a political debate, but I would like to make one last point. The British newspapers have many issues (just look at the phone hacking scandal), but they tend to be united on one thing. They all speak from the same voice with regards to racism in sport, and increasingly so when it comes to sexism in sport.

If the mainstream press can shine a light on the darker elements that exist in sport, why can’t we in the games press?

Go forth those labelled as Social Justice Warriors, I support you.

One thought on “Editorial – I applaud the SJW

  1. I think this speaks to a wider cultural issue rather than one pertaining just to video games. To focus just on the problem aspects of the community in gaming is, I think missing the point. This problem exists, everywhere. It only seems to exist ‘more’ in gamong because of the ‘concentration effect’.

    This type of reprehensible behaviour occurs when there is a lack of repercussion. Unfortunaltey, it’s inate in humans; look at small children in a playground, and only later on as
    we approach adult hood do we ‘un-learn’ these behaviours.

    Trolling, and the abusive attitudes of a small minority of gamers, and it IS a small minority, contrary to what people may believe, is not, Unfortunaltey, something that is going to go away so long as there is a lack of repercussions (fostered by anonymity).

    So while i wholly applaud and support the SJW, I feel they are on a hiding to nothing. ‘Deal’ with one generation and the next just pops up.

    Instead, a more systemic approach is needed where we look at accountability and repercussions for what we do on-line. Legal framework is already being mooted around this, and that is the avenue that should be pursued and championed by the SJW’s. Shape the future of the Internet and it’s accountability, rather than target individuals.

    Or to put it another way, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

    At least that’s my take.

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