Perception can sometimes be more important than the truth itself. #Gamergate is an underground movement created to expose corruption in gaming journalism, but one wouldn’t know about the true purpose of #Gamergate because celebrities, major news outlets, minor news outlets, and high profile game developers alike continues to speak out against #Gamergate. At Blizzcon 2014, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime is the latest game developer to take a stand against the supposedly evil movement that is #GamerGate
“Over the past couple of months, there’s been a small group of people who have been doing really awful things. They have been making some people’s lives miserable, and they are tarnishing our reputation as gamers. It’s not right,” said Morhaime. “Let’s carry the good vibes from this weekend out into the world all year round. There is another person on the other end of the chatscreen. They’re our friends, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters. Let’s take a stand to reject hate and harassment. And let’s redouble our efforts to be kind and respectful to one another. And let’s remind the world what the gaming community is really all about.”
He did not mention anyone by names, but we all know what he was referring to. This speech begs the question, why does it seem like everyone is speaking out against #gamergate?
In the general public, #gamergate is known as the online culture war that involved harassment and violent threats against women. Even though that is not what the movement is about, it is what it is known for. There is no reason for anyone else to think otherwise about #gamergate because this is how the movement is portrayed by every news media. This fails to even scratch the tip of the iceburg.
#Gamergate exposed not only the lack of journalism in gaming but also the lack of journalism in reporting. Instead of investigating and actually traces how the movement came to be, everyone took the easy way out by choosing to side with “victims” Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian. As a result, Quinn’s story of her sleeping with gaming journalists and Sarkeensian’s lack of basic video game knowledge and lack of coherent logic in her videos are not known by the public. Instead of being criticized for being unprofessional and illogical, they are rewarded and worshipped as the second coming of Martin Luther King Jr. by the establishedment
The general population today are too busy to do their own research. People don’t pay attention to news unless its something major like Ebola or Amanda Bynes going to jail for the 10th time. They believe that what they read is authentic enough. Think about it from their perspective—how can all these news websites be wrong about something? “She was on Colbert Report!” As one can see, you simply can’t fault the general population for not supporting the movement. They are too busy watching twerking videos on youtube to care much about this. It’s easier to just agree with everyone else.
Conformity by definition is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group. This change is in response to real (involving the physical presence of others) or imagined (involving the pressure of social norms and expectations) group pressure. In a famous psychology 1950s study, Solomon Asch demonstrated the degree to which an individual’s own opinions are influenced by those of a majority group. He found that participants are likely to give out an incorrect answer to easy questions when the rest of the group gives out a wrong answer. These incorrect responses often matched the incorrect response of the majority group. in contrast, When the participant is alone the error rate was less than 1%.
At this point in time, it is a bad move for anyone higher up in the gaming/geek industry to express any form of public support for #gamergate even if they actually want to support it. Put yourself in Mike Morhaime’s shoes. Are you willing to risk your job, reputation, Blizzard reputation, and your family by supporting #gamergate? Imagine the initial backlash that you’ll have to endure just from the people at Blizzard alone. Forget about right and wrong. Survival runs deep in our DNA. Isolation from the tribe causes great discomfort. This is why you shouldn’t be mad that your friends or your favorite game developers speak out against #gamergate—a movement that is about “harassment” and “violent threats” against women.