What #GamerGate Means to a Black Gamer

Hi there. Black Gamer here (more on this later). I’ve spent my entire life playing games. I’ve played as Black dudes, White dudes, Black girls, White girls, and all colors in between. I’ve never been the type to look into a deeper meaning with games (for the most part) simply because they’re an escape from real life and an opportunity to visit worlds that were once impossible to visit. From saving the Galaxy as Commander Shepard, advancing on the enemy nexus on Summoners Rift, to constantly getting C- teammate scores in NBA 2K, I’ve played all sorts of games.

Growing up, I was primarily a Nintendo gamer. I was subscribed to Nintendo Power and would wait eagerly for the next great issue to come into the mailbox. It might have been my impressionable mind as a kid, but I always had the idea that Nintendo made the best games and make the best experiences for my friends and I. I eventually grew into opening up to Sony and Microsoft (while shunnung Nintendo during the Wii era), to a point now where I can only stomach a few PC games and Nintendo titles.

I don’t know exactly what changed between the late 90s and today. It could have been my taste in games, or growing out of some titles, but one thing has never changed, and that is my love for video games.

Over the past week, all gamers have heard about the Zoe Quinn scandal, and the ensuing #GamerGate movement happening on twitter. Over the past half decade or so game “news” has taken a sharp turn from informational to opinionated, and not just about games. While the internet is an amazing thing in which people can share their ideas and convictions, those who claim to be journalists must still adhere to a code of ethics and professional decorum. I learned this in my basic level communications classes.

Racism, Sexism, Mysogyny, Feminism. If you were to ask me, these are some dirty words being used quite frequently in all aspects in gaming talk. These blanket statements are used to silence critics, prop one’s ego, and shape the way the video game industry is viewed. Not only that, review sites are sent pretty generous gifts from studios and developers to get a good word out on that blockbuster title it just released. It’s hard to see where the line separates fairness from influenced writing.

Let’s not pretend this doesn’t only happen in games. A left leaning person will spit venom at Fox News, while MSNBC will gladly stretch the truth for its left leaning viewers. Conservatives will claim Fox is the end all be all in information, while scoffing at anyone who watches MSNBC is ill informed. While both sides have valid arguments, these people will cling to what they want to believe and hear, and take it as fact.

Game news is no different. Whether it’s an article about console wars, Social Justice, or Battlefield vs. Call of duty, we all have our own opinions, which helps advance the medium every day. When opinions are silenced, censored, or plain ignored by the media, this will cause a stagnation in the conversation about games.

Living in Los Angeles allows me to rub elbows with the Game Industry on an every day basis. The Industry has some of the best people I’ve met, and some of the most creative and wonderful minds I’ve come across. I hate to see developers go under because jobs are lost and I see what effort it takes to put out good games. These people work hard to give us our experiences, and I don’t want to see those handicapped because of radical views on what a game should be. These same developers may be too afraid to take a risk in their game because of backlash from the media, while a less deserved game will be propped up as the game to end all games.

As a Black gamer I’m told to be upset about the lack of diversity in games. I’m told to hate the straight while male demographic that dominates the industry. Maybe I’m out of touch with my people or my roots, but I simply don’t care. Give me a chance to make a Black character, and I’ll take it… But I won’t boycott a game simply because it has 3 White protags. I won’t blackmail a developer because of the story THEY want to tell. It might be my upbringing, but I just can’t bring myself to be offended about these things.

That being said, developers have an expectation to deliver great games, with FULL experiences out of the box, and give us VALUE for the money I spend.

I want games discussion to be open. I want to be able to engage with SJWs on a person to person level without being called nasty blanket terms because I disagree with a point. I want to have a civil conversation as to whether or not Wii U will come back as a desirable console. I’m hoping for too much, only because human nature will always get in the way, but in the meantime, #GamerGate will have us THINKING about how we talk to each other about games, and will hopefully encourage transparency to the media that covers it.

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14 thoughts on “What #GamerGate Means to a Black Gamer

  1. Jay says:

    Hey Tony, great sentiment and I totally agree with you. Gaming has done more to bring me together with different types of people I would never have met – for example, one of the leaders in a game I play is a young Muslim guy and the only Muslim I know. Just being able to talk to him and understand that he’s just like me and we like a lot of the same things is a benefit to everyone.

    Anyway, the brush we are being tarred with right now is fake. The just don’t want to admit it’s fake, because if they do that then they have to admit that they were wrong about a lot of things, particularly the lengths that they went to in order to silence criticism.

    We just need to keep hanging on and spreading truth and love instead of lies and hate.

    To those sister gamers out there – you know that the good guys out there love you and respect you and we’re grateful that you put gaming and gamers ahead of divisive politics. It may surprise some people, but we already knew you were badass enough to stick up for yourselves.

    Peace to everyone and good luck!

    • I know a lot of girls who love gaming, and girls who want to get in the industry. They’re all awesome people just like their male counterparts. Gamers don’t hate women. Gamers hate those who want to undermine their hobby and push an agenda.

      Love hearing about your Muslim friend! It’s true that while two people can come from two different worlds, the game can bridge those gaps and create a conversation or even a friendship. Keep gaming! The truth always triumphs over lies, and I think we’re finally seeing that happen.

  2. Tom says:

    I don’t think anyone is making you care about diversity. Just contemplate it. You may not care per say, but I am a black gamer and I care very much. I feel like the lack of minority characters in video games (the media as a whole really) has an effect on who we see as heroes, and in general more representation is never a bad thing. You don’t have to be offended, or hate white men, or boycott white protags, few people are asking this. A lot of people just want diversity. And I don’t think its too much to ask for. Personally, all I ask of people (and not you per say) is that if they don’t care about who they play as, then let people who do, who are largely underrepresented in gaming have a voice. I don’t think I agree entirely with the “their story to tell” though, because there’s so much careful planning, budgeting, marketing, through out the whole video game making process, especially in the AAA sphere, that it cuts away at the pure creative process. It has to sell to recoup some of those crazy costs. And white men tend to sell. Sexy women tend to sell. We don’t know what the original story creator wanted, but to think that the end product that we play is the unadulterated artistic vision of the creator might be a bit off.

    • mike says:

      it comes down to “write what you know”, a straight white male author will write about a straight white male protagonist. if you force a straight white male author to write a story about a black girl it ends up wrong. like an old man saying really old slang in order to seem ‘hip’ with the kids. so you can have well written white straight men characters, or other badly written characters.

      • I agree. I feel like a lot of the Black characters in games are pretty much the same. Maybe I haven’t played as many as I should, but for the ones I have… yeah. Jacob Taylor from ME2 seemed to have some “newness” to him… but It’d be nice to have black writer write for black characters etc. I just hate when diversity is forced, because then it just looks stupid and obvious.

  3. Such a great unbiased read. I am from India, gaming here is not a big thing and not many people can afford games and the game prices some other countries see as fair are just too expensive for us. Yet we pay fairly and play games. I for one want to make a career out of it and someday bring gaming to my country in a mainstream way. I don’t want this to turn to Agenda driven industry or hated one. I just want the matter to be regulated with honesty and journalistic integrity. It is not us telling them how to live life and not what to do. Just ask that we have more reasons to trust their articles and have no agenda driven opinion in it. Could also let people comment different opinion without being felt as the wrong or bad guy in the room.

    I do want to see what boundaries gaming medium can push so we get some new thought provoking game ideas and stories. If a studio wants to deliver a message I rather it be free of medias criticism because we are ultimately who will judge it, not them telling us why we should. Ladies personally I think kick ass in gaming. They are Badass strong independent women who don’t need any agenda or opinion to stop them from playing which ever games they want. Harassment is sadly part of our culture specially in challenging competitive games but in games like Journey anyone can be anybody and you share a journey with them irrespective of their gender, race, color, cast or creed.

    I for one don’t want this happening ever again, I want regulations and fair punishments for such matters. I really would like to just let this all go but sweeping it all under the rug with not solve anything for us in the future. There needs to be some sort of regulation in the conduct of journalistic integrity and ethics. We depend on them and I would like to think they depend on us to not rule over us from the shadows like a nutjob.

  4. TA says:

    Hey!
    I have always played with people of all sizes and shapes and I have been happy to call them friends.
    It’s unfortunately important that you and others make your voice heard to show that we gamers don’t exclude, that what we care about is playing and talking about games we enjoy with people that like the same thing. And what we want with #GamerGate is a more transparent and less corrupt gaming press, not to keep our fictional white “no girls allowed” club.

    I said “unfortunately” because the problem many of us have is that even though we know it, even though we try to say it, we just get our opinion shot down because of our gender and the color of our skin. The very things many of us never cared about have suddenly become important, because of the very people who say it shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t have to be that way.

    Thats why its so important that ALL gamers make their voice heard.

    Personally I want to just see more games, and more diversity as a result of that, because hey, thats more fun.

    Thank you.

  5. williamca says:

    Great article man! As a black gamer i have a lot of the same views as you do. I just want to enjoy my video games. I don’t need the added -isms, it actually makes the game less enjoyable.

  6. As a white male, it is hard to actually talk with someone about this without being called mysoginistic or racist.

    I have no problem with playing with black protagonists or women. Hell, CJ from San Andreas is still my favourite GTA character, just as Trish from the Witcher series is my favourite character when it comes to RPGs. I want to like a character because it’s well written, not to be forced to love one just because of it’s color or sex.

  7. “I’m told to be upset about the lack of diversity in games. I’m told to hate the straight while male demographic that dominates the industry. Maybe I’m out of touch with my people or my roots, but I simply don’t care.” — This, this, so much this. As a female feminist gamer, a lot of people don’t understand my support of #GamerGate. I laugh thinking “If I should be mad about the lack of female main character options, how the hell should my Chinese gamer husband be feeling??” haha

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