So is the rest of Gamergate.
Courtesy of TheQuartering on YouTube.
Gamergate may look a lot different now than it did back in 2014, but its patrons still behave very much the same??the elaborate grift designed to manipulate gamers into thinking there?s an all-out cultural war against them has made the lives of game journalists and industry personnel a living hell. The group that has historically reaped the industry?s spoils??being?of the cisgender heterosexual white male variety???has its dominance threatened, and in a bid to preserve it, it?s lashing backhard.
Naturally, that gave rise to TheQuartering???a new figure to the Gamergate movement, but by no means revolutionary in terms of tactics. Since vlogging about Magic: The Gathering didn?t prove itself to exactly be that lucrative, Jeremy Hambly turned away to parroting Gamergate talking points to his audience, lacing it with as sensationalist and provocative a presentation as possible.
It?s not dissimilar from the litany of ill-faithed game criticism that already exists on YouTube, but what sets Hambly apart from everyone else, is that he has a frightening capacity to shape the discourse in parameters that make it almost-impossible to defy his framing. The deck?s already stacked against a potential target of his ? what?s left is for his fanbase to take the not-so-subtle hint and go wreak havoc of their own.
There are obvious problems with TheQuartering that extend far beyond directing angry mobs of gamers at unsuspecting targets, but most bizarre of them all is the notion that he?s the true custodian of gamers? demands of a better product, and a better industry ? to put it lightly, Jeremy Hambly is a lying MF.
So much of what Gamergate hedges its bets on when railing against games media is the appeal to authenticity???for the movement, journalists have become fodder for corporate greed and are nothing but peddlers for publishers? own agendas, with nothing of critical importance to add to the conversation. The problem is that this presumes content creators along the lines of Gamergate are any more independent to express their own views without pressure, which with the thump of an audience who made it their specialty to bend the most adamant to their will, isn?t exactly that sound a conclusion to make.
If unlawful financial compensation by publishers is indeed the presumed carrot being dangled in front of journalists to chase after, Gamergate?s is just as contingent on satisfying a set of audience expectations that by definition require a measure of consistency in defying what is perceived as the ?mainstream?. This inherently makes Gamergate?s opinions harder to trust because unlike journalists, they don?t have a financial safety net they can cushion for when the circumstances are dire, whereas Gamergaters of TheQuartering?s ilk rely on manufacturing controversy to supplement any potential lack of engagement.
The paradoxical nature of a free market argument for diversity.
Another point where Gamergate ultimately fails to make the case for its existence, is the unduly amount of indignance it is quick to display at depictions of characters that are non-male, queer, and/or of color (Japan?s cultural produce notwithstanding). The thinking goes that representation for minorities is disproportionate to the population consuming them???which already presumes an Americentric narrative of game sales???but the data just doesn?t bear this out. The female representation index for video games is at one of the lowest points it?s ever been???queer, brown and black characters not faring that much better???and if there?s often this erroneous notion of inevitablism that casts a shadow on the entire discourse,inclusivity hasn?t exactly taken on a linear adoption course as one would predict. If the gaming industry was truly plotting the erosion of the white man from its fixtures, it probably could?ve done a much better job seeing it through.
Then comes the issue of the ?common man versus corporation? narrative, which Gamergate is quick to use whenever it feels its back against the wall. For TheQuartering ? or so he purports ? part of leading his crusade is to show that an independent creator can stand as a capable counterweight to corporate influence, which can only manifest as anti-consumerist behavior with the sole purpose of screwing over players ? to put it charitably, this thesis does a subpar job of diagnosing the real issue with corporate influence in the gaming industry.
The question very few are asking.
To defy the tug of corporate greed in the industry means that utmost attention has to be paid to those standing to lose the most from it???those being game developers. Their role belittled by Gamergate, developers are often the ones being dealt the blunt end of the stick. Between issues of poor compensation, workplace misconduct and crunch, the gaming industry?s got a whole lot to atone for???any initiative that seeks to liberate gamers from the deadly grip of capitalism has to factor in labor reform as a necessary prerequisite. Gamergate had the opportunity to peddle that when the industry?s #MeToo moment came, but they quickly squandered it in favor of the customary misogynistic drivel. It?s not about catering to Gamergate?s identitarian discrepancies???it?s about making the gaming industry sustainable, so that it stands a chance of ever surviving its potential demise.
Where this comes back around, is the seminal thesis of Gamergate ? that if enough noise is made, change will happen, and that change will inevitably be to the gaming medium?s benefit. The opposite is manifesting itself to be true however ? since gaming culture has become almost synonymous with toxicity, more are showing reluctance to join it. Be it journalists or developers, the cost to doing something that can be easily framed as an anti-gamer gesture is far too high, and seeing the reputation some have accrued for standing up for themselves and fighting, it?s not too far a throw to suggest that the gaming industry has become one of the worst professional career paths in recent years. The trauma from being isolated by mobs of harassers is far too great even for the well-paid to stomach.
Jeremy ?TheQuartering? Hambly is only one such example of a grift explicitly set up with the purpose of sapping confidence from a field where the culprit to bad outcome is more-often-than-not fan outrage ? but his analogues are many, and his supporters even more so. If unchecked, his rhetoric will continue to fuel the very worst in gamer toxicity ? feeling utterly terrorized not to anger the wrong crowd is a state of affairs we can?t allow to persist. It?s a failure of our culture?s self-corrective faculties that such behavior remains even within earshot of acceptable, but alas, to a great sum of people, it is.