If you are easily offended by rage-fueled profanity, you should probably stop reading now. If you are not, however, you might want to take a look at one of the most pointed and vicious takedowns of Gamergate to date.
Chris Kluwe, former punter and record-holder for the Minnesota Vikings, posted an essay on Tuesday on Medium that attacks the fundamental underpinnings of the Gamergate movement, and repudiates the damage being done to the public perception of gaming on account of Gamergate.
Kluwe is an outspoken, progressive social critic. His past support of marriage equality includes a letter to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. that said:
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster.
That’s just one of several creatively constructed curses that punctuate Kluwe’s points in the letter. Aspiring comedians who want to shock their audiences would do well to look around at Kluwe’s other missives over the years.
In light of his politics and a predilection for language that might have been appreciated by George Carlin, Kluwe’s letter to Gamergaters makes sense, especially because Kluwe is a gamer who is tired of being misrepresented by them.
Like Carlin, dismissing Kluwe’s observations on account of his language alone would be a mistake. He’s clearly angry, and he’s also coherent. Take this, for example:
“There’s this herd of people, mainly angsty teenage caucasian men (based on an informal survey of 99 percent of the people who feel the need to defend this nonsense to me on Twitter), who feel that somehow, their identity as ‘gamers’ is being taken away. Like they’re all little Anne Franks, hiding in their basements from the PC Nazis and Social Justice Warrior brigades, desperately protecting the last shreds of ‘core gaming’ in their unironically horrible Liveblog journals filled with patently obvious white privilege and poorly disguised misogyny. ‘First they came for our Halo 2’s, and I said nothing.’”
Kluwe demonstrates his gaming bona fides by citing his experiences with some of the best games released for early game consoles, like Battletoads on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Final Fantasy VI on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Metal Gear Solid on PlayStation 1, and avows his love for massively multiplayer online games by citing his love affair with Ultima Online, the MMO that popularized the genre.
A cynical observer might suggest that Kluwe did his research and cherry-picked the games that would designate a dyed-in-the-wool “core” gamer by way of trying to lend his arguments against Gamergate the cred they require to be taken seriously by any fellow core gamer. But this statement reeks of authenticity:
“I am a gamer. I’ve had 24-hour LAN parties, fragging people in Duke Nukem and Quake, pounding Mountain Dew to stay awake, WinAMP playlist blasting my favorite songs at high volume. I’ve traded Nintendo Power facts and tips with my friends on the playground, and tried to figure out where the next boss was, or the best strategy to use (complete with horseshit stories from that one friend who just loved making things up and—NO! — you cannot save Aeris, goddammit).”
Most of the criticism prior to the mainstream press coverage was from the progressive voices in video game culture who are being targeted by Gamergaters.
We have not, however, read or heard many core gamers—members of the traditional audience Gamergate is attempting to appeal to—striking back at the movement, which is precisely what Kluwe is doing.
“Every time I see one of you slackjawed pickletits link me something like ‘I’m a moderate #Gamergate’r,’ or ‘#Gamergate in sixty seconds YOUTUBE CLIP,’ or ‘Here’s an anecdotal story from this one woman we found that completely negates an entire history of misogyny and abuse of women, not just in videogaming but in the entirety of human existence so support the REAL GAMERS,’ it pisses me the fuck off because you are ruining something I enjoy.”
When infamous and since-disbarred lawyer Jack Thompson went on a crusade against violent video games at the turn of the century, progressive voices within the video game community struck back against his arguments. Cultural conflicts such as these are what set the stage for gaming to become a mainstream hobby and to be accepted as just another form of mass media that shapes our culture.
These voices who stood up for video games almost two decades before the rise of Gamergate are ultimately the people under attack by Gamergaters. This is the irony of a movement that claims to be defending video games, a point Kluwe observes in his essay.
“All the real gamers? They’re the developers now, the reviewers, the writers and the players who remember a time when you couldn’t download a virtual copy of your game, but instead had to go to a Toys’R’Us and hope they had it in stock. The real gamers, both men and women, look at your frantic rantings about ‘ethics in videogame journalism,’ and they shake their heads sadly, wondering how you could get sucked in by some script-kiddie /b/tards and conspiracy-nut celebrities gleefully using you as a smokescreen for misogynistic hate. They look at the rich diversity of games that exist now, and they are THRILLED, because no one ever thought we’d get this far, and real gamers like PLAYING GAMES.”
While frustration with the movement in general has broken into the mainstream press, frustration with so-called “moderate” members of Gamergate has less of a public face. In the face of reports about the misogyny and hatred being perpetrated in the name of Gamergate, some of its supporters try to explain what the movement is really about, by way of having their concerns about ethics in game journalism heard.
Frustration with these so-called moderates is growing louder within video game culture itself, however, and Kluwe’s final words are for them.
“Unfortunately, all you #Gamergaters keep defending this puerile filth, and so the only conclusion to draw is the logical one: That you support those misogynistic cretins in all their mouthbreathing glory. That you support the harassment of women in the video game industry (and in general). That you support the idiotic stereotype of the ‘gamer’ as a basement-dwelling sweatbeast that so many people have worked so hard to try and get rid of. And you know what? That pisses me the fuck off. I’ve spent too long as a gamer, seen too much progress made, to let you tarnish that name. I hope you all, every #Gamergater, picks up a debilitating case of genital warts. The rest of you — find a different hashtag.”