presented a video game concept depicting the horrific struggle of a 7-year-old girl in a "wartime post-apocalyptic survival horror first-person shooter" being orphaned by cholera, losing family members to violence, escaping to overcrowded refugee camps, and ultimately being forced into prostitution to feed herself. After several people walked out due to its horrific nature, a Sudanese woman got up on stage and revealed that this was her story, as well as the story of many other children in South Sudan.
A lot of commenters here have said that the "prank" was unfair because it was deceptive, or that the resources spent on it could have been spent more directly on refugees, or that gamers aren't the right campaign target. All of those comments are wrong. In fact, in my opinion this campaign's failing is only that they didn't make a real video game. Here's why this campaign is brilliant:
• Geek culture is obsessed with wartime dystopias. As it turns out, they're very real.
The wartime/post-apocalyptic/first-person shooter video game industry churns billions of dollars every year. Millions of Americans are obsessed with romanticized narratives of extreme poverty and violence yet they seem to be unaware or uncaring about the atrocities those games are mocking which occur in the real world every day.
• Investing in publicity campaigns is the only way to increase charitable donations.
The whole reason charities do these "stunts" is because they realize that by raising awareness they can get more money than they started out with. Besides, awareness is an end unto itself.
• Most gamers have time and money to spare.
Gaming is an expensive hobby. Consoles and computers and smart devices tend to cost at least $100 each, and games themselves are usually around $5-$60. People who play video games enough to identify as gamers (and especially those who can go to game conventions) must, almost by definition, put a significant amount of time and money into entertainment. They have money to spare which, if they so decided, they could definitely spend on charity.
• Games are a great medium for social advocacy.
While it obviously would have involved an exponentially higher investment, had this campaign created an actual playable product, it could have been distributed to a hugely wider audience through video game platforms like app stores and Steam. Due to their highly expressive and immersive nature, games are as ideal an art form as any to convey personal experiences and present powerful messages - basically the point of awareness campaigns. One of the best examples of this is the indie game Depression Quest (which is involved in its own, thoroughly-undeserved "controversy" among the most toxic members of the gaming community). As someone with depression, I can attest to the game's ability to powerfully convey complex ideas and invoke deeply-affecting emotions in its audience with little more than text and a piece of background music.
If were able to make this into a compelling game (a definite possibility) it would be able to reach a wide audience and convey a more powerful and convincing message than most other awareness campaigns. At the risk of commodifying an individual's experience, they could even sell the game for a buck or two with all proceeds going to help those for whom the game is advocating. If organizations like the have told us anything, it's that gamers are, on the surface-level, selfish; but if you give them a game, they are totally willing and able to spend money on charity.
In doing so you're essentially saying that forcing people to look at horrible real-world situations makes them more of a victim than people who have lived in them. This is not true. There is absolutely nothing wrong with forcing people to be aware of injustice.
The problem with this video, a collection of personal testimonials from people (largely women and other minorities) who claim to support #NotYourShield for a variety of reasons, is not that men are evil or that games or bad or that people should be silenced or that women can't be reasonable people with differing opinions. The problem here is that #GamerGate as a collective has failed to illustrate even one example proving its entire point: that there is widespread and harmful corruption in video game journalism. By supporting #NotYourShield you are approving of a community and a collective ideology. You can't say that you approve of #GamerGate without also approving of the opinions, actions, and impression of the group overall, because that's all that it is.
Here's a Breakdown of What's Not Right With This "Movement"
• A video game developer formerly being close to someone who works for a video game review site which gave her game a review from a different author is not even slightly corrupt. Zoe Quinn was in no way conspiring to gain favorable reviews, and in any case a small, free, indie, otherwise-low-key video game getting favorable reviews has no inherently significant impact on gamers or the gaming industry whatsoever.
• Anita Sarkeesian is a media analyst whose opinions are neither hateful nor uncalled for. It is simply impossible for the majority of the threats against her to have been fabricated since they were publicly made by real Twitter accounts, many of whom have been active (some of which also blatantly anti-feminist) for a long time.
• #GamerGate has been completely and irrevocably characterized by hate speech, threats of violence, and rampant sexism. This is not due to manipulation by either its victims or the mainstream video game media. This is because that is what the vast majority of GamerGaters have chosen, particularly those who founded the "movement." #GamerGate would not exist as a movement were it not primarily fueled by the shaming, threatening, and silencing of feminists among video game journalism. This wouldn't be the case if the collective had any real argument for their cause of repairing the "corruption" in journalism; however, since the group has no significant persuasive purpose beyond hurting women, it will likely never be able to mean anything more.
Are GamerGaters Really Being Silenced?
Obviously everyone regardless of sex, gender, and sexuality is capable of having a unique (or mainstream) opinion and no one should be silenced simply for having their own opinion. However, no one (I repeat: no one) in the #GamerGate movement is being silenced. Statistically speaking, threats against people for supporting #GamerGate are inconsequential compared to the sheer deluge of violent language against feminists. The fact that some people (not even a majority by any means) in the video game journalism field are feminists and disagree with #GamerGate does not mean that the media has some kind of oppressive bias. Maybe it just so happens that their perspectives are valid? Furthermore, just because this video consists of primarily female or queer people does not mean that it has jack shit to do with the makeup of any ideological group, feminist or GamerGater or otherwise. This video does not disprove the argument (however true or untrue it may be) that #GamerGate consists primarily of cisgendered, heterosexual, white men.
People Can Support Causes That Actually Hurt Them
Actually, let's take that last point a step further. Regardless of the actual demography of the #GamerGate and #NotYourShield groups, they are still arguing for the privilege of cisgendered, heterosexual, white men. By supporting a movement which slut-shames, denounces feminism, and refuses to respectfully accept or even acknowledge the well-rationed, well-documented arguments that mainstream video game culture objectifies women and that it seeks overwhelmingly to appeal to the interests of cisgendered, heterosexual, white men, even non-cisgendered, non-heterosexual women of color can undermine the cause of equal, respectful representation and equality for all genders. People are perfectly capable of supporting causes which undermine or hurt them, though this is usually done out of misunderstanding. They can also support causes which might seem to help them as individuals but which undermine a group or group(s) to which they belong.
You should probably read my whole before commenting. But, if you must:
TL;DR: The #GamerGate and #NotYourShield "movements" do not have a valid case for corruption in video game media or for their own widespread persecution. It is impossible to support #GamerGate without also supporting the hate speech and violent threats which characterize it because #GamerGate is itself nothing but a hashtag whose associated posts largely have no other plausible cause or argument. A small handful of people are not necessarily representative of movements as a whole, and they are certainly capable of acting against the interests of the broader groups to which they belong.
I didn't say that. It's pretty obvious that GamerGate uses NYS as a shield, because they've got something to prove. I mean come on, get a grip, you can't deny that and have any credibility. SEE WE HAVE REAL WOMEN AND MINORITIES! SEE? SEE? But having something to prove doesn't mean that you have something to cover up.
I think to just accuse GG of misogyny is essentially meaningless. Misogyny is just a prejudice and we all have prejudices. You can't always prove that someone is a misogynist, and you can be a misogynist and still be right about something.
I'm really much more interested in GamerGate's horrible misuse of the concept of "ethics", but that's a whole nother topic.
>>Group A criticize Group B.
Group B claims Group A is misogynist and racist and claims to speak up for the minorities.
Group A reveal that it is filled with minorities and even they know that Group B is full of shit.
If I say something is racist, it's pretty much my own opinion. I'm not speaking for anyone else. but NYS seems to be speaking for all minorities. There are plenty of women, minorities, and white males who think GG is fucked in the head, and plenty who don't. Some white males are smart, and some are dumb. Some women and minorities are smart, and some are dumb.
Previously, we provided options for “Male,” “Female,” and “Other,” to encompass both those who don't fit into the traditional gender labels and those who don't want to declare their gender to the world at large. Now, the gender field on your profile will contain four entries, “Male,” “Female,” “Decline to state,” and “Custom.” When “Custom” is selected, a freeform text field and a pronoun field will appear. You can still limit who can see your gender, just like you can now. We’ll be rolling this feature out for all users over the next few days.
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This video is another example of Americans who end up being deeply offensive in their misguided and astonishingly misinformed attempt to "make the world a better place." Let's unpack some of the ways in which this song is horrible:
• This song sings negatively about "Africa." Africa is a continent, not a country. Originally, it was used to spread awareness of famine in Ethiopia, just one of the 53 countries in Africa. Now, it is being used to spread "awareness" of Ebola, which is an epidemic in exactly three countries in Africa. Still, it does its best to portray Africa as a depressing wasteland full of nothing but death and misery. Which of course couldn't be further from the truth. (Source: http://goo.gl/Jz6ck4)
• This song is patronizing at best, and colonial at worst. It pretends that people in Africa don't know about Christmas, and worse, that they should care. The majority of people affected by Ebola in Africa are actually Muslim. Why the hell would they care about Christmas? Those who are Christian obviously already know. The song's implication that Africans are worse off for not knowing Christian practices is deeply disturbing, as it implies that their culture is somehow less valid and that they "ought" to become Christian.
• This song is dominated by white people. Two of the three singers of color who contributed to this song made their own versions of some of the lyrics to be more affirming and non-racist. Their edits were completely denied. (Source: http://goo.gl/Qesy2z)
• This song is made for white people. People who are suffering from a deadly epidemic in developing nations are probably not able or interested in watching a YouTube video of millionaire white celebrities telling them that they are inferior for not embracing Christmas.
• This song's "Christmas spirit" is actually neocolonialism. Christmas was originally an appropriated pagan solstice ritual used to help violently-converted people maintain their traditions. Now, it is used as a consumerism-worshipping American event which places far more emphasis on the purchasing and exchanging of goods than the false moral ideology ingrained in its religious origins. By imposing this pro-consumerist, pro-Christian doctrine on Africa, this song is essentially neocolonialist in spirit.
• This song might not actually help people affected by Ebola. is attempting to gain publicity and direct revenues for its halfhearted "charity" efforts. As of right now, nowhere does its website specify how the proceeds will actually help those affected by Ebola. (Source: http://goo.gl/esvH1d)
This song clearly does more harm than good, and is little more than a bunch of extremely wealthy celebrities attempting to garner publicity and profit from a feeble and utterly false effort to "do good."
If you're interested in seeing some music which more accurately and respectfully represents the Ebola crisis, sung by West African artists in their own languages and musical styles, I highly recommend you check out Africa Stop Ebola here: Africa Stop Ebola - Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare and others.
On the other hand, random Internet users certainly didn't fail to come up with crazy things for a celebrity to do on camera.
- Earlham CollegePeace and Global Studies and Computer Science (Tentative), 2014 - presentQuaker Fellow • LIFT Fellow
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