I’ve been blathering about this on Twitter, but there’s only so much ranting one can do in 140-character posts without it turning into spam. Since this whole mess is really kind of up my alley, being a nerd, gamer (to a degree), and a journalist who loves meta analysis of the industry, I suppose I do I have to comment.
By now, most folks who hang in geek or feminist circles know about this, but here’s the tl;dr version:
The geek world’s anti-feminist crusade of the past few years came to a head recently over a female game developer who–quelle horreur–once slept with a game critic. Not a critic who reviewed her game, mind; just someone in that profession. Said female developer was already on the shitlist of a lot of brogamers for, well, being female in an industry they like to think is their turf, and this gave them a quasi-respectable wagon upon which to hitch their misogyny. OMG JOURNALISTIC ETHICS! They cried, and then proceeded to spend maybe 10% of their time actually talking about journalism, as opposed to trying to convince people that journalism, not women in nerdland, is what they’re really concerned about. Hardcore anti-feminists/MRAs, neo-Nazis, Adam Baldwin, and assorted other miscreants, seeing a high-visibility platform upon which to spew their grossness, hopped on for the ride, and the already icky snowball became an avalanche of nasty, all the way up to terrorism threats. And so it goes . . .
I don’t doubt that there are a few earnest-but-clueless sorts who really do think there’s some genuinely unethical behavior going on between devs and gaming journalism. And, well, they’re kind of right, in an “in the same time zone” sense. What’s annoying is that the ethical issues in question–symbiotic, often personal relationships between people who create entertainment and those who cover it as “news”–have been a problem for generations. Same applies to sports coverage. Worse, it also applies to straight news. That brogamers are only now getting up in arms about this–now that it affects something they care about, unlike, oh, elections and public policy–is what grinds my gears. It’s kind of hard to take their ethics concerns seriously when they’ve been utterly silent during the decades in which Rupert Murdoch and others like him have been killing real journalism. Complaining about one developer sleeping with a game critic when outlets like Fox are actually, shamelessly, lying on-air is like complaining about someone going 5 mph over the speed limit–as virtually everyone does, and thus accounts for while driving–while someone in the other lane is committing intentional vehicular homicide. Worse, it’s patently obvious that the disparity is because the complainers already dislike the driver going over the speed limit, and consider the homicide driver a buddy. I, for one, have been talking about the relationship between entertainment producers and media for at least 15 years. Feeling icky about lax ethics in the industry is why I quit to write books instead. Seeing gamers suddenly concerned about it now certainly doesn’t impress me.
What makes me even angrier is how shamelessly they’re using this as a smokescreen. Ethics in journalism absolutely needs more, and serious, attention, but these guys are just paying lip service to the issue so they can further the anti-diversity rageflail crusade they’ve been on for years. In the process, they’re trivializing the entire issue, which is infuriating.
There’s a lot more I could say on this–digging in to why these guys feel the way they do in the first place–but I’ll keep this short for now. Bottom line: This ain’t about journalism. Not at all.