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Editor Note: Flame Shield Activated! is a safe space to share opinions on disagreeable topics. The views expressed are those solely of the writer, and we do this with the knowledge that the internet will likely disagree with our findings.

For those whose fingers are far removed from the pulse of current events, Australians have recently banded together to demonstrate their general distaste for a couple of individuals. “Pick-up Artist” and borderline rapist, Julian Blanc, was barred from entering the country; as a people, we weren’t exactly “turned on” by the sensual art of Sexual Assault. Anti-vaccination advocate Sherri Tenpenny has had every one of her organised venues cancel on her in the face of our generally pro-vaccination population telling her to GTFO. Doctors are even petitioning the federal government to have her barred from entering the country. Makes sense, I suppose – the instructions they’re implicitly giving to people pose an immediate physical threat to the rest of the population.

It’s not something I can make sense of, however, when the same sort of treatment is being given to Hollywood stars that aren’t Roman Polanski. I’ll make it clear from the outset that I don’t agree with everything, or even a great deal of what Adam Baldwin has said and I’ll absolutely agree that some of what he’s said is inflammatory at best. I don’t, however, understand why his involvement in GamerGate earns him the same sort of reception we give to sex offenders and crackpot couch-doctors. He’s hardly guilty of the kind of indoctrination from my previous two examples; in fact, he hasn’t told anyone to do a damn thing. This isn’t to say that what he says is acceptable, but it also hasn’t been leading, instructing, or otherwise explicitly directing the actions of others.
 
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Though, if you can interpret it, still vaguely offensive to women, chess pieces and probably Jayden Smith.

That’s important because you need to remember that he isn’t coming here to spread hate, he’s coming here to talk about the things he’s acted in. He isn’t rallying other “GamerGaters,” he’s just another dickhead on the internet, who happens to play one of my favorite characters and said dickheadish things amid a sea of screeching and flaming. So, before anyone gets into their hatemail groove, just hear me out on why GamerGate is just silly to begin with and then why we shouldn’t be excluding people on the premise of fucking thought crime.

WHAT IS GAMERGATE?

That’s a very good question, because the definition changes depending on who you ask. Some call it a cultural movement, others a hate group and it’s otherwise simply referred to as “a controversy.” A culture clash, a question of journalistic integrity, a hotbed for trolling, a debate of gender interaction, a magnet for violent threats – GamerGate is all of these things. It probably stands for many other things in some minds, since GamerGate as a whole was far from being organised. Whether you were “pro-gamergate” or “anti-gamergate,” and if you can work out what either of those groups stand for, there wasn’t any clear leadership for either “side” of the debate. As a result, “Gamergate” became synonymous with various undesirable traits of the gaming community, diluting and obscuring any one point the movement – or whatever – might have had.
 
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I’d wager that this is the source of at least 90% of all in-game abuse online.

So how did it all start? The ex-boyfriend of developer Zoe Quinn published information online alleging that she had been sexually involved with several prominent figures of the gaming journalism industry. The biggest issue with that is that these journalists had written positive reviews/articles about, or contributed funding to Quinn’s new game (at the time), Depression Quest. These alleged contributions and relationships are worrisome since, if true, they extend beyond the average professional relationships one expects journalists to form with industry members. Their non-disclosure of such activities before writing about Quinn’s Depression Quest demonstrate a pretty big breach of journalist ethics and integrity – if they’re true.

That isn’t where things end, though; Youtuber MundaneMatt uploaded a video which discussed the alleged relationships, a video which was taken down due to a copyright claim from Quinn as it used a still image from Depression Quest. Whatever the reason for putting forward the take-down, Quinn kicked the Streisand effect into overdrive by doing so and the debacle attracted the attention of the internet at large. This included other developers, other journalists, celebrities, many members of the general gaming community and, of course, lots and lots of trolls. As with many past brouhaha’s on the internet, the flames of GamerGate were largely fueled by the death threats, rape threats, and online harassment which followed many involved.
 
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“I’ll fuggin kill you bish.”

From there, things become even less clear and it would be impossible to cover everything that’s happened, and all involved, in a single article. This did start out as an open, frank debate about journalistic integrity and how games journalists interact with their industry counterparts. It pretty quickly devolved into virtual shit flinging of the worst kind, with the rest of the gaming community getting caught in the thick of it. Despite involving so many different groups and ideas, the GamerGate argument has created something of an “us vs them” mentality within the gaming community. There’s a perception of there simply being a “right” and “wrong,” a narrative of good and evil with all grey areas being swept aside in favor of these absolutes.

If you wanted a strict definition of “GamerGate,” I would posit that such a definition would be “destructively divisive and without a point.”

WHY IS ANY OF THIS IMPORTANT?

For one, it marks a major shift in the attitudes and perceptions of the gaming community as a whole. Regardless of how you want to look at what GamerGate is, or what it represents, it’s facilitated one of the biggest culture clashes the industry’s ever seen. Many would say that GamerGate has largely become about Feminism in gaming and the resistance towards it’s influence on the culture. That is probably quite accurate at this point with those on the receiving end of the violent threats being women and much of the debate now centering around female industry members. I’m not entirely clear on where it all started being about Feminism in gaming or why, since men and women are hardly the only two groups that represent gamers as a whole.
 
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Pfft, get out of here Papers Please! Take your questions about classism and authority with you – this is the only thing that matters right now!

A quick glance around the internet shows that there’s an estimated 1.2 billion gamers around the world now; that is a mind blowingly massive and diverse demographic. It consists of far more than just “men and women,” which just goes to show how childish and narrow minded this entire thing is. In a sense, it also shows how much the industry has grown despite the apparent resistance towards exactly that, with the question of “What is a game?” never being more relevant. The offerings that are available through the indie scene, which has boomed over the last few years, continue to push the boundaries on how we consider traditional gameplay. In an industry where stagnation has been looming for some time, it’s a much welcomed kick up the ass and it’s been done while exploring a number of different issues and themes.

I don’t believe for a second that the industry is majoratively “against” any particular group. I think it’s quite the opposite, in fact, and we’re seeing a lot of really fantastic diversity in the games we’re playing now and I think it’s only getting better. If you’d listen to some people on the internet, however, you’d think that it were an unconditional requirement that all games pay homage to the almighty penis. Of course, the opposite is also true, and there are people who believe the industry is slowly being taken over by the feminist agenda. Both of these groups would claim a vast conspiracy, created either by the Patriarchy or some Feminist Illuminati, and both are equally ridiculous. At best, they’re knee-jerk reactions to a rapidly changing face of the gaming community.
 
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This is a puzzle-platformer about a Iñupiaq girl and her fox friend as they explore their heritage and folklore. That is a game you can play, right now.

It’s fine to be wary of change, even to be intimidated by it somewhat, but some reactions have been disproportionately outraged, even disgusting at times. As previously mentioned, there have been a few wretched individuals who’ve used violent threats of rape and murder – however serious they may be – to inflame the situation. Organised groups on both sides, gathered to “discuss” the situation without a single thought given to actually hearing out their philosophical opponents. Again, this is all without a distinct leader for the anti, or pro-GamerGate side of the debate. It’s ironic that, simply by existing, they’re proving that there are whole groups of people on the internet who are bent on causing others misery.

Anyone who takes a “side” in this argument is doing so in ignorance, because this isn’t a problem that is simply “black and white.” There’s no “us and them,” this by and large doesn’t really effect most gamers because it’s only a very small portion of those 1.2 billion that give a shit about this either way. Well, hadn’t effected us before now.
 
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While reading the next segment, please keep in mind that Zoe Quinn was also involuntarily made a “leader” of GamerGate.

WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH ADAM BALDWIN COMING TO SUPANOVA?

Nothing, really, which is why I’m pissed off that I might not get to meet Jayne. Maybe get my picture taken with him while we both wear very cunning hats! Because that’s why I’m going to see him at Supanova – I love me some Firefly. Believe it or not, I do spend time doing things that aren’t strictly related to gaming and sci-fi telly is one of those things. Firefly is easily my favorite sci-fi show and, out of a cast of amazing actors and characters, Jayne is my very favorite character from the whole gorram lot. There’s probably some other shows he’ll talk about, during which I’ll glaze over, but I doubt either of us will be expecting to discuss GamerGate that day. Well, he probably should, but I’d really prefer if he just stuck to Firefly.

Adam Baldwin coined the term GamerGate, which is probably his biggest and only significant contribution to this entire circus – anything else he’s had to add hasn’t exactly been ground breaking. Most of it has barely made sense:
 
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I… what?

He hasn’t instructed people to carry out threats, or dox attacks, and he hasn’t done any of these things himself either. He’s simply expressed his opinion on the subject and, if we’re being fair, it is pretty distasteful, pig-headed and bigoted. It’s not an opinion which attempts to justify violence or harm of any kind (unless you’re Chelsea Manning), and he’s not attempting to call anyone to some kind action at the event. That alone should mean he’s free to come to Supanova and talk about stuff which is completely unrelated, which as I understand is exactly what will be happening. Keeping him from the event because he’s said some mean things before and that you think he might say mean things there is literally punishing him for thought crime. Fuck. That.

If he ends up talking about GamerGate, it’ll more than likely be because he was directly asked about it. I have a hunch that the question will come from someone who didn’t want him there in the first place, as well. I get the feeling, however, that most people who will be going to see him will be for the same reasons as myself – none of which are related, at all, to GamerGate. If my arguments thus far haven’t swayed you, then simply consider what happens if this campaign to keep Adam Baldwin out of Supanova were to be successful. Wouldn’t silencing and removing someone purely on the basis that you don’t like what they’re saying, not because they’re dangerous, defeat the point of your argument to begin with?

Patrick Waring

Patrick Waring

Executive Editor at GameCloud
From Perth, Patrick has played video games from a young age and now has "opinions." When not fretting over whether using words like "fretting" is effeminate, he likes to write jokes about video games. Sometimes he goes outside, and other times he just sits at his PC, thinking way too hard about Nintendo games.
Patrick Waring

@PaddyJWaring

Executive Editor at @GameCloudWA, gamer, enjoyer of tinfoil hats! https://t.co/m0NvT0gs4M
@moomoomang As long as it's a day ending in "y," you're good to go. - 20 hours ago
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