Intel Caves To #GamerGate Pressure & Pulls Ads From Gamasutra, Which Is Disappointing
You have to give the proponents of #GamerGate this, at least — if you're loud enough for long enough, apparently regardless of cause, some people will end up listening to you. On Thursday, the anti-journalistic corruption in games media (cough, anti-feminism) campaign scored a considerable victory by convincing tech company Intel to pull its ads from gaming website Gamasutra, by deluging them with complaints about their partnership. So yeah, Intel's basically on board with #GamerGate proponents now. Or, at least, they're willing to play ball for the purposes of their business.
#GamerGate is a months-old online hashtag campaign which claims to be about improving transparency and ethics in games journalism, but has also been an outlet for virulent misogyny and harassment. The post that got the #GamerGate crowd so riled up was by veteran games writer and Gamasutra editor Leigh Alexander — tellingly, it always seems to be the women who suffer the worst of this alleged ethics campaign.
In fairness, Alexander's piece, titled "'Gamers' don't have to be your audience. 'Gamers' are over" was a strong, aggressively worded critique of so-called gamer culture, and it's not very hard to understand why. It was posted Aug. 28, with a large-scale harassment campaign against women in gaming truly hitting its stride. Basically, Alexander wrote an opinion piece from within the eye of a storm, so it comes as little surprise how passionately opposed to the how thing she was. She lambasted the concept of the "gamer" identity, and implored her fellow writers and creators not to be beholden to the demands of the #GamerGate crowd.
You don’t want to ‘be divisive?’ Who’s being divided, except for people who are okay with an infantilized cultural desert of shitty behavior and people who aren’t? What is there to ‘debate’? ... Developers and writers alike want games about more things, and games by more people. We want -- and we are getting, and will keep getting -- tragicomedy, vignette, musicals, dream worlds, family tales, ethnographies, abstract art. We will get this, because we’re creating culture now. We are refusing to let anyone feel prohibited from participating.
The response to Alexander's piece, even before Intel pulled its ads, was pretty widespread through the #GamerGate movement — people abusing her online and accusing her of being a racist. But make no mistake, the genesis of the outrage against Alexander was the exact same thing that roiled #GamerGate folks about game developer Zoe Quinn, pop-cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian, and most similarly, former games writer Jenn Frank — she was willing to respond to a campaign riddled with harassers and sexism in an uncompromising way, and now she's being targeted for it.
"Don't fuck with us" — the moral core of an ethics movement? It's an odd tact for #GamerGate to take, revealing the flimsiness of its internal concept of "freedom of speech." Zoe Quinn, for example, has been the target of near-constant attacks because some media haven't wanted to embrace discussion of her ex-boyfriend's invasive allegations about her sex life. But a female games writer authors an opinion piece detailing, well, her opinion, and you see just how fast the tide turns.
Really, it's doesn't seem to be about a free dialogue for all. For all intents and purposes that already exists, with countless mainstream and independent gaming outlets from myriad perspectives, and hoards of bloggers and YouTube personalities. Rather, it's about attacking anybody with a certain kind of opinion — people preoccupied with equality, sexism, or progressive criticisms in gaming specifically, who hardcore #GamerGate devotees sneeringly refer to as "Social Justice Warriors," or "SJWs."
Sadly enough, whether through an earnest solidarity with its ideals or a quick cover-your-ass judgment call, Intel has jumped into the deep end of #GamerGate. And they've given the movement exactly what it craves — another trophy on the wall, so to speak, validating their relentless roars against any prominent games writers who think sexism in gaming is real (duh) and worth talking about.
For their part, Intel confirmed to tech site Re/code that the ads were pulled in response to #GamerGate criticisms, via spokesman Bill Calder: "Intel has pulled its advertising from website Gamasutra. We take feedback from our customers very seriously especially as it relates to contextually relevant content and placements."
Images: Leigh Alexander/Twitter