I just so happened to see a petition that has been put up on Change.org. It is a petition with a very noble goal – to get Kotaku and Polygon to stop their biased journalism and help bring games journalism back where it needs to be. The interesting thing is who started the petition. It is a man named Mark Kern. He is the CEO of MEK Entertainment, President of League for Gamers, and was a game developer for Blizzard. He had some very choice words. I’ll include a link to the petition, if you are of a mind to sign it, but I want to share his words with you, because it shares a sentiment that I have been thinking about for some time. Here is what he said, in its entirety.
An Open Letter to Kotaku and Polygon
On Feb. 11, Law and Order SVU aired an episode about video games called “Intimidation Game” that is being called the “Reefer Madness” of our times. It was a relentless and histrionic parade of slander against video games and gamers. It has helped set back the public image of the video games by years if not decades. It made absolutely nobody happy in the gaming industry.
This result, this episode, shown to millions of non-gamers worldwide is the inevitable result of months of gaming press coverage on the rift between gamers that currently plagues our hobby. A rift that the gaming press are accountable for conflagrating through a slew of articles that only served to fan the flames, celebrate the extremists on both sides, magnify the rift and sensationalize the issue. There is a term for this, called yellow journalism, and it has started wars before. It has no place in a gaming press that is supposed to support our industry and gamers in particular, of all walks.
Now we’re asking you, as the vanguard of the face of gamers to the mass media and the wider non-gaming masses, to help heal this rift and fix the damage you have caused.
You are our first line of defense when our industry and our hobby is attacked by a mass media and our own law-makers bent on either trivializing or demonizing our past-time, or worse, legislating it out of existence. You were there for us when Jack Thompson attempted to shut us down. You were there for us when we won 1st Amendment protection for video games in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. We want you to be there for us now.
At stake is no less than decades of work that we have all put in to win the right of games to stand alongside other media as art, as free speech, as valuable learning tools for our children, and more.
Help us. Help us restore the damage that has been done. Help us stop this wasteful, self-defeating, sensationalist coverage that does nothing to solve our differences, but only serves to drive us apart. Find the common ground, drive productive dialogue, and find solutions instead of simply pointing fingers.
We know you can do it. You’ve defended us before and we need you now more than ever. Wield your pens not as swords, but as the connective, collective narrative that will pull us together once again. Don’t let “Intimidation Game” stand as the last word on our hobby and the face of gaming to the public. Do not go silent into that good night…
@Grummz on Twitter
Now, I am a GamerGate supporter. A lot of you might think that I am betraying something by saying this – I agree with Mark. We have been fighting it out in brutal trench warfare of words. The battles have been ugly, the casualties great, and no sign of it stopping anytime soon. Indeed, today saw two new hot-button issues crop up. The first was a petition by Mercedes Carrera to help her friend, who was the victim of a sexual assault during a home invasion. The second was a post talking about how GamerGate wants to swamp suicide hotlines and prevent people from getting help. Both cases have been started by people who are true believers in their respective cause. It would be one thing if they were just troll mercenaries, hoping to stir shit. But these people actually buy into this. Thus, both sides have been exchanging volleys. GamerGate has come out on top in at least one. I found out that Mercedes got the money she was asking for in her charity. Good on her.
But you know, there has to come a point where we stop this war that we are fighting. The soldiers are getting tired. The games journalism industry is getting hammered on all sides, and it is having financial consequences. The war has gotten so brutal, and it is having real consequences.
I may laugh at that god-awful strawmanning in ‘Intimidation Game,’ but the reality is that that episode has done real damage to the perception of gaming outside of our circles. Over the last decade, gaming has been getting ever-closer to mainstream recognition as art. But now we have been set back. In one night, our hobby has been thrown back to the world of teenage boys and exclusion. This is unacceptable.
Something has got to give here. I think that an olive branch might be the way to start to repair this rift that is making the industry weary. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Kotaku and Polygon, which are rightly to blame for how this all got started, do have a lot to answer for. But if they can actually admit to some wrong-doing and be willing to work to move forward, we might just be able to get ahead of the weariness that has been setting in.
I’m not calling for us to forgive the people at Kotaku and Polygon for what they did. But it’s time that we called a cease-fire and maybe start working to move forward. Because the sad truth is that the soldiers are getting tired. After all my ranting on things like what happened with Mercedes’ charity, I am starting to see how this will never end if the battle doesn’t stop. At some point here, someone is going to have to come to the table and be willing to talk. This petition might just be a step in the right direction.
Let me know what you think in the comments section. The free flow of ideas could go a long way to ending this problem, before it gets worse.
Until next time, a quote,
“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” – George Carlin