I was under the impression that there were better things than a big internet flame war to expend energy on?

Computer gaming, its culture and the way people traditionally view the people who are “gamers”, has changed remarkably over the years. I remember, in the nineties, when computer games were best enjoyed underground by nerds and those who had no chance of getting laid, at least in high school. But computer games are taken seriously in mainstream media now, with ads on public transport, newspapers, international tournaments and big prizes. But, with mainstream attention, comes mainstream issues.

The biggest issue that has hit presses lately, is the Gamergate debacle. The whole thing stems from accusations of infidelity leading to journalistic impropriety in a positive game review. Now, since those accusations have been proven to be unfounded, you’d think that this would have ended. But no, not on the internet. No, the internet allows you to hide behind your conspiracy theories and borderline insanity.

Somehow, this has led to debates about the role of women in computer games; not just playing them, but designing them and participating in the overall debate, all due to an alleged affair someone had with someone else. I mean, the role of women in anything, should not really require debate, rather acceptance, surely. What is there to debate? If the player kicking my arse in Battlefield 4 happens to be a teenage girl, what does that mean? It means that I’m not as good a player as she is. How is that any different to being beaten by a teenaged boy? You’re still not good enough!

Look, if people want to debate the role of women in the computer game industry, from their portrayal in the medium, to their playing in tournaments or any other possible means of participation, surely that’s a reasonable question. But why, oh why, do people decide it’s perfectly acceptable to issue death threats and stalk women who are a voice for change?

You may not agree with everything (or anything, really) they say, but to resort to desperate tactics means that you’ve actually lost the debate. I mean, how pathetic is the person who threatened Anita Sarkeesian before her speech at a university because “feminists have ruined my life”? I’ll tell you who ruined your life: you did. Because you allowed someone to take away your own dignity and so you resort to pathetic statements like this. Go build yourself up, like a real man, and then come back to the table.

Here’s the thing. I love computer games, as a hobby, an art form and frankly, great entertainment. I am proud that my hobbies don’t include shooting animals for fun, and that in general, it can bring people together and form communities. Hell, I’m proud that the medium has evolved over time, to make the player think about their choices and consequences. But I don’t know how this can lead people behaving of viciously, and destructively. I mean, there are other others out there, in the real world, making death threats and mistreating their fellow man over some trivial dispute. This is not rational, or acceptable anywhere, especially not on the internet.

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