This is going to be a bit of a hard and sober piece for most supporters of GamerGate to swallow. Bitter medicine is how I would describe it.
GamerGate in its current form will likely not exist a year from now. Chan movements don’t have the energy to sustain themselves for longer than a year without a significant drop in firepower, especially if the other side begins to take steps to starve them of oxygen: apathetic responses, instead of white hot rage, from the SJWers, as well as lack of concrete success.
Project Chanology didn’t win. Occupy Wall Street did not win, either. The fundamental problem with mob action is that while low orbit ion cannons are a formidable force in the short run, the crowd soon grows weary hitting the same target again and again. Sustained guerilla warfare is a tough endeavor and requires commitment. Frenetic energy and the emotional grip of battle fades over time, only to resurge on occasion, as in the case of Anonymous exposing the Scientology ad-network over Craigslist sometime in October 2013. Doubtless there are a few other hangovers in Anonymous who have some sort of personal stake in seeing Scientology collapse. But the lumbering mass of the chans no longer actively have Scientology on their minds. Scientology is still here. It is still around.
So the historical lesson is this: the fire will die, and gamers will move on. GamerGate may last for a year of crusades, until gamers are thrown a few token sacrifices for appeasement. Either way, without lasting infrastructure and plans for the long-term, GamerGate will wither away.
Do not approach this article with foggy lenses. Carefully watch your reaction and ask yourself whether it is ultimately useful. “Fuck you, we’re apolitical gamers who are tired of the gaming establishment forcing SJW memes down our throats! We will crush them, we are winning!” and so on feels good and should be employed as earnest propaganda on news sites.
But enough sloganeering, for a minute. Slogans and platitudes are good in the right place and the right time. Not now. This is a place, a forum to talk soberly and sincerely about the long-term.
It’s a war of drudgery. Gamers never wanted to have to do this. They wanted to be left alone. That’s all they wanted. GamerGate is like a hibernating bear who’s been poked too many times. He just wants to sleep, so he roars a great roar and scares off the SJW kid carrying a sharp stick. The bear has awoken momentarily because the SJWs miscalculated. They were too greedy. They pushed too hard, too quickly, taking too much ground.
Nevertheless, slumber eventually must overtake the bear once more, and his consciousness slides into the back of his head as he drifts off to sleep. With a gleam in his eye, the kid slowly makes his way back. He’s smarter this time, and he’s brought some friends with him, too. Sharper sticks. Reinforcements. The whole deal.
GamerGate is not invincible in the long run. It is not eternal. Like any other movement, it is subject to entropy, and entropy will have the last say. Movement Entropy is a killer. The SJWs have been organizing for many years, and they will be back.
So, what’s to be done? How do gamers get back to their games without worrying about the SJW menace?
“We want SJWers out of our video games!”
That’s vague and imprecise. No good operation is run that way. That’s an overarching objective, but the victory condition isn’t laid out. Moreover, the logistical how is often as important as the what itself. Assuming this is the goal, how exactly does it defeat the problem of movement entropy? Logistical questions become easier when we hammer out exactly what we want.
First question: What is your victory condition, GamerGaters?
It’s somewhat of a war, and gamers are wont to frame their fight in terms of military language. If Gawker goes, will that be all? If Sam Biddle goes, will that be all? Jumping aimlessly from target to target without an end state (or just a vague end state) speeds up movement entropy.
The objective I laid out above is no good. Let’s try and tighten it up:
“We want to capture or secure commitments from 3/4ths (or whatever number deemed feasible) of gaming journalist sites that they’ll be apolitical in their coverage and reviews of video games. We want them to sign a statement on ethics in game journalism and to immediately remove journalists who demonstrably violate these terms. Owing to violations of journalism ethics, we want retroactive removal of violators X, Y, Z, etc. from your gaming sites.”
A classic Magna Charta strategy. This formulation is much better than the previous, since it allows the gaming media to capitulate to concrete demands instead of playing on the defensive because of uncertainty. If the media doesn’t know the victory condition the gamer hordes are searching for, it makes sense to shore up defenses when the hordes rush the gates.
Who can blame them?
An ethics statement is important because it establishes thorough commitment. As a sort of contract, it makes vigilance a lot easier. Lots of gamers read gaming sites already, and so it’ll be easy to spot violations. For the rest, GamerGate has shown itself to be incredibly thorough at poring through evidence and linking together disparate pieces to illuminate dark scandal. GamerGate is good at muckraking. All it takes is a little investigation and a little time.
Having a set number of people who volunteer on a centralized site to patrol the gaming journalism network is not a half-bad strategy to organize vigilance. For those who want to get back to playing games, the proposal works well. And for those who are interested in whatever it takes to push back the wider cultural forces of SJW, there’s no shortage of work to be done or other forces to join, which focus not just on games, but on every area SJWers have infiltrated in, say, the last thirty years.
With a victory condition, entropy is staved off longer: gamers are less uncertain about when they can return to games in peace, and so will keep up the fight until the achievable objective is achieved. Do you really play a game with no victory condition programmed into it? One or two counterexamples isn’t enough.
What else is needed? Maintenance of cultural norms. In order to hold journalists accountable, gamers need cohesive norms about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. For gamers, the common leftist slogan that the personal is the political is anathema. Game reviews are supposed to be about games, not sexism in games from writers who disparage and despise gamers and admit to never playing games, anyway.
The personal is the political? Anathema. Yet, on a philosophical point, ‘GamerGate is apolitical’ is an important slogan in that we all understand what it communicates, even though it’s technically incorrect. Group culture must in some sense be political to keep the bad politics out. Free speech is a political value. Individualism is a political value. Meritocracy is a political value.
By apolitical, gamers mean that there should only be a very small, base set of values, rather than an expansive set of anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-this, anti-that values. GamerGate supports thin political values, not thick ones.
Even if you reject the potential solution that I’ve offered here, rejection alone doesn’t negate the problem of movement entropy. GamerGaters will have to recognize that decay is a real phenomenon, and that something, rather than nothing, has to be done.