Things are moving forward
I think that the video game industry is doing an incredible job diversifying, refining, and improving, and gamers are not opposed to change. They're just opposed to change for the sake of change. The wars over sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia have been brought into the video game community. These wars did not start in the video game community. Some have been going on since before video games existed.
What we're laboring under is the perception that bigotry is somehow worse in gaming. Is there evidence for this? Very little. There's no published evidence that playing video games increases anything but the most benevolent kind of sexism: the kind that involves opening car doors for women, and generally being politer to women than men. There has been no firm proof that playing video games increases the hostile form of sexism that we collectively agree is a problem. Instead, sexist people seek out and make sexist content. A capitalist society cannot seek to stamp out sexist content completely, since there will be sexist consumers and therefore a free market demand for sexist games. However, numerous video game companies are producing products with better-written female characters and less meatheaded men. Both sexes are benefiting.
But if things are getting better, why is there so much negativity? It could be connected to the online communication tools gamers use, not gamers' inherent attitudes. A study by Cornell University in May 2014 determined that the down-voting feature used by many websites actually leads to detrimental behavioural changes. Those who received negative feedback contributed more moving forward, but the contributions were of diminished quality and negativity spread throughout the community. Interestingly, the most polarizing opinions were the ones that had fairly equal numbers of positive and negative votes. Meaning? If you want the Internet to completely freak out, take a moderate stance.
That gives journalists quite a challenge, since we're supposed to strive for minimal bias. Someone described it to me as writers being "True Neutral" alignment in Dungeons and Dragons. True Neutral characters like druids are some of the hardest kinds to play in D&D, but I never applied that to the real world before. Druids, throughout fantasy literature, are distrusted, feared, and shunned, in part because they're extremely difficult to predict... kind of like ethical journalists who don't just tell people what they want to hear. So, okay, maybe us game writers can't hope to be very well liked if we do our jobs properly, but we can, perhaps, aim to be respected.
So this is what my gamer identity has taught me regarding this personal GamerGate fiasco: I shot off my mouth intending to do good. Some guy told me I get my tits out for a living. Other people piled on like schoolyard bullies. It hurt. A lot. But in the long run? Big deal! I'm a frickin druid, man! That's cool!
Images courtesy of LucasArts, Ubisoft, and Microsoft Studios. GamerGate collage copyright 2014 Metalater Media.