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06 Jan 2015 20:27
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Dave Thier Contributor

I write about video games and technology. full bio →

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I'm a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New Republic, IGN.com, Wired and more. I cover social games, video games, technology and that whole gray area that happens when technology and consumers collide. Google

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2015: The Year Everyone Forgot About Gamergate

I, like the vast majority of gamers, did not think about Gamergate over the past few weeks. It was nice. I brought my Playstation Vita home to show the Unfinished Swan to various members of my non-gaming family, who mostly seemed to enjoy Giant Sparrow’s unique first level. The troubles of the gaming industry throughout 2014, from Driveclub to Halo: The Master Chief Collection (See? A Sony Sony and a Microsoft Microsoft exclusive) to the attacks on Anita Sarkeesian, only popped into my head a few times, and I spent the rest of the break just generally remembering that there exists a world where people are sort of shocked that anyone cares about video games journalism one way or another.

Gamergate is still around as a twitter hashtag and a forum topic, but the relevance is waning from its peak in the fall. That’s going to keep happening. Part of it is inevitable: movements with only nebulous goals and no leadership have a hard time maintaining momentum — and the other part is just cultural: the Internet is not famous for its attention span. A movement born out of disproven claims originating from a jilted ex-boyfriend’s blog post, the whole business, legitimate and illegitimate, reasonable and cruel, was tainted from the beginning. But the tempest that it stirred up has likely left an indelible mark on the gaming industry and the culture that surrounds it, and I’m excited to see what this whole world does in its wake.

I have a lot of hopes for video games in 2015: I hope that the we can make genuine movement toward a more functional, informative and transparent version of games journalism than we have now, one where the massive PR wings at large publishers have less and less control over what gets printed and when. I hope that we can continue to write about race and gender in games when appropriate, and I hope that the largely liberal-leaning gaming media can develop some intelligent and effective conservative voices to keep an exchange of ideas from turning into an echo chamber. I hope that we can divorce all of that from the doxxing, harassment, rampant misogyny and vile trolling that dominated the conversation in the latter half of 2014.

Most of all, I hope people keep making cool games. I hope we get our fill of big-budget AAA blockbusters like Uncharted and Halo 5 or a hopefully bug-free Assassin’s Creed: Victory, as well as smaller titles like Octodad, Gone Home, or Depression Quest. I hope that when developers release titles that don’t look like what gamers expect, they can do so without an army of commenters complaining that “it’s not even a game.” I hope that Destiny gets its weird act together.  I hope that the game industry can finally grapple with the role that extreme violence and embarrassing depictions of women have in their work without worrying that they’ll suddenly morph into Tipper Gore overnight. I hope that we can all realize that nobody is taking our games, that video games are one of the dominant forms of entertainment on planet Earth, and that we are in no way, shape, or form participating in any kind of “war.”

Ultimately, I hope that Gamergate will be both the end of one thing and the beginning of something else: a moment of calcified rage hurling itself out of the mid-90s and landing like a stone in 2014, a neat little punctuation to remind us that games have become too big and varied for any one culture to claim ownership over them. I hope that we can forget about it, but remember why it happened, and do better on all sides.

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